Sunday, 28 March 2010

Psycholinguistics and SEO

The study of how an individual chooses which word to say in what circumstance is known as psycholinguistics. It is a discipline which investigates the way we categorise and use language. Incidentally, it also offers the strongest argument as to why an SEO copywriter should never optimise a website for just one keyword.

It is estimated that there are over 750,000 words in the English language. Naturally, only Stephen Fry can remember them all and the rest of us have to put up with knowing only a small proportion of the dictionary.

Still, we don't all use the same words and each of us has a completely different armoury of lexical choices to choose from in daily life. There are a number of factors which can influence the vocabulary range of an individual, such as education, location and experiences. Users do not all use the same words and lexical choice widely differs from person to person. It can be be as individual as someone's choice of clothes, music and favourite films.

How people choose words

One of the main psycholinguistic theories stems from the belief that every person chooses individual words from a self-defined network of categories; different words are grouped into a number of mental boxes depending on the personal views of the speaker.

Imagine a collection of CD's – they can be arranged alphabetically, by genre or by the colour of the album cover. The categorisation depends on the owner. The same principal applies to words.

For instance, jeans can be categorised as clothes, clothes which cover the bottom half of the body, or clothes which have buttons. Each individual decides which mental box to pull the term 'jeans' from, depending on their personal views surrounding the item.

How does this relate to SEO copywriting?

An SEO copywriter needs to be aware that users after an identical item, a pair of jeans for example, may not always use the same keyword. Internet browsers may use a different search phrase depending on their unique semantic network; one individual can prioritise certain qualities of a product in a search in relation to which mental box they place the term in.

Indeed, a user looking for a pair of jeans may do any of the following searches:

  • boot cut
  • straight leg
  • denim trousers
  • trousers
  • men's trousers

Not all users apply the same words in order to get to the same objective. An awareness about semantic networks and a knowledge of how users express concepts, offers SEO copywriters the opportunity to spread their keyword net.

While the majority of users search for the key generic, there are always going to be those searchers who use different words and phrases. Concentrating your SEO copywriting efforts on one term may get you a proportion of browsers searching for that particular term. But where do you rank in searches for the other 749,999?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

SEO blog comments - how to spot a spammer

SEO Manchester - Blog spam
As an SEO blog, Manchester SEO has had its fair share of comment spam; posts by other authors for the sole purpose of procuring a link to a third-party website.

Here's a guide to the five main types of blog spam (All examples are taken from comments submitted to Manchester SEO and posted verbatim).

The fame (spam) monster

Some spammers are starstruck. Faced with an SEO blog of such fame and celebrity, they go weak at the knees, suddenly turning into those screaming teenagers you see clambering over railings outside a premiere for a Robert Pattinson film.

They're so overwhelmed with emotion, they can only express how amazing your online work is. A bit like this. (00:43 for full effect)

Still, they're able to regain their composure towards the end of the comment and kindly include a link to their own site. Bless their little socks.

"Hey. I don’t normally leave comments, but I just wanted to say thanks for the great information. I have a blog too, thoughI don’t write as good as you do, but if you want to check it out here it is. Thanks again and have a great day!"

I'm the saddest blog spam in the world

Pessimistic SEO blog spam knows it isn't going to see the light of a Google spider. It's had a few bad experiences in the past and, quite frankly, it doesn't even want to be a comment on your blog. It would rather be at home watching Come Dine With Me.

This kind of comment is quite easy to spot. It hasn't made an effort, it's full of typos and incoherent sentences. Occasionally it even forgets to put on its keywords. It knows that it's not going to get past the admin process, so it doesn't even bother.

"simple looks simple yet can reach out lots of people there in just a single twit.."

The 'I love lamp' spam

This blog comment likes stating the obvious. It thinks that 'SEO copywriting is good' and is adamant that 'Google likes keywords'.

Its bowel-shattering insights are award-winning; boiling complex 500-word essays down to six-word sentences and summarising a blog post for the reader as if they were a drooling monkey.

"twitter is one of the most used social networking sites nowadays :) it's easy to use."

Wham, blam, thank you blog spam

Some spammers don't have time for foreplay. They're not really interested in getting to know you or taking you to the cinema; they just want you for your PageRank. All they're after is a quick and dirty link.

If you let them into your house, they'll take advantage of your hospitality. They'll selfishly use your precious blog for every single keyword and once they've got what they came for, you'll never see them again.

"This is very useful blog for all. SEO: SEO Services, Best SEO Company (Search Engine Optimization Company), Expert in SEO/SEM services, SMO, Pay par click services link building services, offering professional website promotion services include local search marketing organic web promotion services and SEM services."

An officer and a generally good comment

Occasionally though, you'll come across an irresistible blog comment. Posts which are insightful, thought-provoking and crucially, prove that the author has actually taken the time to read the blog before sharing their musings.

These comments tick all the right boxes. They're presentable, charming and insightful; the kind of blog comment your mother wanted you to marry. Yes, they may just be using you for a link but, by gosh, it's hard to say no to that fine piece of comment.

"Brilliant! I love comparisons like this that bring theories back to reality with a bump. I did start watching Lost but gave up halfway through series 2, think I will have to get the boxed sets and catch up."

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Geotagging Twitter - where do we go from here?

Last week, Twitter gave its web users the opportunity to geotag their updates.

While the concept is nothing new to those using third-party applications on their mobile (such as Tweetdeck and Echofon), tweeters chained to their desktop computers will now find they have the choice to include a location with their message.

Biz Stone, head tweet at the company, summarised the new feature:

“People who choose to add this additional layer of context help make Twitter a richer information network for all of us—location data can make tweets more useful.”

No doubt team blue bird will be hoping that geotagging becomes common practice across the site. Location sharing is entering its salad days and the successes of Gowalla and Foursquare have probably influenced Twitter's decision to roll out the feature to its web users.

Still, while the geotagging option for Twitter users may make the service 'more useful', it's arguable (if popular) that companies will be the overall beneficiaries from the mass use of location sharing.

You are here. So are we.

Much like SEO copywriting, a Twitter campaign revolves around keywords: targeting users who transmit relevant phrases and queries. It's not a new marketing tactic and as a strategy, it can be a bit hit-and-miss.

If you're automatically following individuals who use a certain word, there's a strong chance you're going to connect to a number of irrelevant people; particularly if your keyword phrase is a heteronym.

Geotagging (or more specifically, an increase of users opting to share their location) opens up the door for laser-sighted social media strategies. Knowing where a user is at any given moment offers the opportunity to target and advertise to individuals with greater accuracy.

Take this fictional tweet:

“Waiting in town for a friend. Hope she hurries up. I'm starving.”

Three minutes later, a nearby restaurant replies to the user with a link to its menu. Inspired, the customer travels to the restaurant, eats the food and pays the bill. Smiles all round.

We know where you live

The opportunity to use the service for consumer research may be just as fruitful. Theoretically, a series of geotagged tweets could be used to create a refined marketing campaign; using Twitter updates to form a coherent advertising and social media strategy based on a collection of locations.

For example:

Twitter user A goes to bar B, buys groceries from shop C and lives in D. Company E wishes to attract more individuals like A. The business refines its marketing strategy based on the locations tagged by A and other individuals.

Facebook adverts, which target the interests and hobbies users submit to the site, are dependent on the honesty of the consumer (and how many of us have listed War and Peace as our favourite book to seem intellectual). The chance to base a social media campaign around the actual activities and interests of a user is, I suspect, too tempting to pass up. If only because the data is truthful.

Where do we go from here?

There are a few websites which offer local maps of real-time tweets. Twittermap and Twittervision provide a service of sorts, but both have various failings which reduce their effectiveness for those wanting to incorporate geotagging into a campaign. The iPhone Echofon app probably gives the best visual example of how useful location-based updates could be.

If geotagging takes off on Twitter, I'd be surprised not to see more tools designed to pull in location. Indeed, sites such as tweetalarm and twilert, which send Google Alert-esque emails when keywords are mentioned in tweets, could be modified to include tweets from specific areas. Of course, this is all conjecture.

It all depends on if enough users choose to share their daily lives with the rest of the internet.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tips for productive copywriting

Manchester SEO brings you four easy tips to become a productive SEO copywriter.

Online objections

The internet is a wondrous thing; it provideth fascinating content, an insight into the lives of people you've never met and a veritable mix of sport, film and music news. Don't even get me started on the time leak that is Wikipedia.

But the internet also taketh away; stealing minutes and hours from the copywriter desperate to meet a deadline. If you're all too easy led astray into the dark undergrowth of the internet, it's time to cut off your connection. You can live without it. Just for a little while.

Ringing off

Mobile phones are crafty little time wasters. When they're not offering an array of pixelated games, they're begging for attention; noisy buggers piercing the silence with shrill rings and maddening bleeps.

Put the phone somewhere where you can't hear it. Here are some suggestions:

  1. In another room
  2. In a draw
  3. In the oven (ensure the oven is not already in use)

Alternatively, you could just turn it off until the article is finished.

Soundtrack to my copywriting career

Music is the medicine of the mind. The penicillin of the brain.

Copywriters are allergic to penicillin. Music can savage a good work ethic, making a writer lose focus and distract them from the content at hand.

Music is a major time waster; especially when you are on a deadline. There's always a better song on Spotify or the extra time to search for a radio station without Chris Moyles.

Smoky Joe

Writing is stressful and sometimes the pressure of remembering to end every sentence with a full stop can be too much. Time to calm your nerves with a good old drag then.

Still, that tasty puff of formaldehyde can have devastating consequences for your article and many a copywriter has watched in horror as their train of thought floated away in a cloudy wisp of smoke. Indeed, returning to the groove can be increasingly difficult when you have to excavate the 'j' key from a miniature recreation of Pompeii.

Put the cigarettes away lest your article suffer from passive smoking.

Alternatively, ignore everything written here

I am a hypocrite. During the composition of this SEO Manchester blog, I have constantly refreshed my Twitter feed, occasionally answered text messages, listened to a number of albums on Spotify and regularly smoked during quandaries regarding the correct usage of semi colons.

Copywriting shouldn't be a chore and occasionally, distractions can be a good thing. They can give you an opportunity to reflect; the chance to find creativity and inspiration away from white, blank page.

What works for one copywriter – what helps them reach their word count – may not hold true for another. It's about finding what assists you in getting the job done. And sometimes, that means singing loudly to the soundtrack from Glee.