Twitter Almost Replicates AOL Chat Rooms from 1988!


There are two things missing from the Internet and have been since what we originally new as “the web” became what everyone thinks of as “the Internet”. One is mass repositories of downloadable information in FTP or Gopher protocols. While some functions of the web, originally referred to as the WWW or HTTP, embrace FTP/Gopher style delivery of files and documents, the overall web is completely bloated. Think “no advertisements”, no misleading links, and easily sortable file structure. But that’s not the big one that missed the mark.

My first few “web development” jobs back in 1994 through 1997 mostly came from small business owners who had built big followings on AOL. Now it was very difficult in those days for a small business to afford much advertising on the giant network so they found ways around it. One of those ways to to post in the many bulletin board areas on all of the available networks and the other was to get involved in the chat rooms.

Spam chatter was not welcome and would quickly result in an eviction (aka kicked) and could end in a user being permanently banned. So I saw usernames like ATL-Plumbr, LifeIns, FHAchic, LoanGodess, and others. They worked but it wasn’t until the web where people could become more blatant and “run their own shop”. That said there were a lot of people who immediately began to miss the good old days of chat rooms – it’s why Facebook is so popular today; Facebook has offered the closest solution on a giant scale. Until now…

But, I think it will be little noticed even if it is much used. Twitter has announced essentially an AOL chatroom without some of the functions. “In an expansion of direct messaging on Twitter, users will now be able to have private conversations with as many as 20 followers at the same time.” -

Something that wasn’t missing from the web but was missing from Twitter was video snippets up to 30 seconds. Now it’s not missing. Honestly, I think both additions are too little too late – but there are always caveats. I was a big fan of Twitpic…

Blocking Spam Traffic From Bad Referrers

How can it be that your site which normally gets maybe 30 visitors per day is now getting 90? And why did your bounce rate go from 60% to 95%? And why is time on site headed toward 0 seconds?

If you see SeaMalt continuously showing in your analytics or web traffic reports do you know what that is? Dump it, block it, get rid of it. When I recently told a project manager about this issue for one of her clients who only has a few hits per month and about 60% of those come from SeaMalt she explained it to her client. She also told him my recommendation to block it in .htaccess – what happened next is the same scenario I have played out many times with people who think they know web technology.

The client first sent her a link to send to me about how to filter out that traffic in the Google Analytics views dashboard. Thanks, Rufus, I didn’t already know how to do that for the last half-dozen years. When I explained to her the traffic is stealing bandwidth and throwing off much more than just Google Analytics numbers and told her it needs to be done by denying access in the .htaccess file her client said, “You can’t block traffic in an .htaccess file”. Mmmmokay. Maybe he can’t but I can, and you can.

# Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons-for-website\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} 7makemoneyonline\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]

That’s the mod rewrite for an .htaccess file on one of my client’s accounts. If you’d like to copy it and modify it for your own use feel free. This will stop any visitor who clicked on a link at any of those domains from gaining access to your site. This is different than the DenyFrom function in that it checks the HTTP_REFERER and stops any traffic referred by that domain.

How To Edit Or Delete Posts And Comments On Facebook

Most people take it for granted that editing and deleting comments on Facebook is very simple to do. Still, I see people regularly apologizing for a comment or a post, or posting a correction of spelling. But why? Do they not know it’s not only possible to edit or delete a post or comment but it’s also very simple? Of course you need to know it exists and Facebook doesn’t necessarily make it overtly obvious.

Say you have made a post and misspelled a word. All you want to do is to edit that word. It’s possible. Simply hover your cursor over the text of your comment and a little marker (or pencil) icon will appear to the right. Click on that icon and choose either edit or delete.

Editing or deleting a Facebook post is just as simple. Look for the little down arrow icon in the right corner of the post and click it. You’ll have choices amongst which are edit and delete. Watch the short video for a demonstration and more detailed information.

Fun App: Oldify

A picture is worth a thousand words…or more sometimes.


There are a lot of fun apps, many of them are dangerous – this one seems to check out using the Bitdefender app for mobile devices. Pretty simple to use though it takes it a few seconds to render. Just take a selfie, align your mouth and eye, click “Ready” and in a few seconds you have your future self! When it first renders on the Android it presents you with a little motion graphic, too.

The app is called Oldify and found in the Google Play store and the App store.

Share your photo in the comments and let us all see how yours turned out!


Small Business Series – Leadership Revelations: Enforcer

This month I have 5 posts to share. These are just my own realizations/revelations over the years. The total topic is Enforcer, Steward, Manager, Influencer, Leader. Today I begin with Enforcer. This article may be wordy and it may not seem like it has anything to do with Business Leadership but in reality it has everything to do with it. Bookmark it and come back later if you don’t have the time to read it now because this is one of the “character development scenes” if this were a movie.

When were hear the word “enforcer” we may immediately think of a Hollywood stereotype of a big man in leather wearing a badge and carrying a big gun. In reality there are enforcers in many forms. Before I get into the main topic today let me explain just a little about this series of 5 posts on leadership.

Both in civilian life and the military I have studied leadership. My sister was a huge fan of the topic and left behind dozens of books on the topic. There must be at least 10,000 websites in the United States alone discussing (and selling) the topic of leadership. What I want to share today is what I personally have observed and experienced relative to leadership. Most of it is not from any book so you won’t find a branching set of links to follow – though I may toss in a quote here and there. What my goal is here is to help me learn more about how I perceive these 5 roles and to hear your thoughts on the same. Responses are invited.

From my observation there are 5 separate, main roles in the leadership game. There are others and if you feel I have missed an important one please share! I could have included “teacher” or “adviser”, and in fact had those in my notes last year, but decided to include those as parts of the other 5. After all, 5 are easier to remember than 7, right? These main roles, in no particular order of importance, are Leader, Influencer, Steward, Manager, and Enforcer. I decided to begin with Enforcer (which I use both capitalized and non-capitalized in this article) because that may be the most maligned role of leadership of the 5.

You’re Not The Boss Of Me!

When we are young we have a rebel streak. All of us. And if this rebellious desire is not curbed or properly shaped at a young age then it can become a problem, or major advantage, later in life. You may have heard or uttered yourself those words at some time. Teenage-Rebellion-in-AmericaWhile it’s far beyond the scope of this short article to examine the roots of that emotion it is important to note this is a base human attitude and actually signals, according to most professionals, a strong character. Later in life, when properly formed, this attitude can help shape the personality of the utter-er into a strong leader, manager, steward, or enforcer.

The graphic shows a few facts as reported by American students themselves to the CDC on a questionnaire. While these aren’t necessary horrendous ills they are a sign that young people have a tendency to ignore the dangers these activities pose. Even if they don’t ignore them they take action in spite of them. The circular arrow behind the facts indicates these activities affect the entire population and not just the individual. This is something that both youth and underdeveloped adults show a lack of: concern for how their actions affect others in society.

This is why we have enforcers in virtually every walk of like. If you just thought “judge” or “policeman” those are just the iconic enforcers in life. There are truly billions of others. You yourself have been an enforcer and have been engaged by enforcers you may never list. Parents and teachers may be the next most visible enforcers. They both have the position of correcting societal engagement malfunctions in their children or students.

Parents and family members, in my view, have the greatest responsibility. They are tasked with care and concern for the child as she or he grows and becomes an adult. In fact almost every discussion on wayward youth and lifetime criminals turns back to “home”. You will hear things like “he didn’t have a good home life” or “his parents were no good”. I suppose almost every religious writing, since some were plagiarized from others, includes something like, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

Rules Enforcement More Than Law

Referees are just one form of visible enforcer most people expect and do not object too. (Photo: Jim Larrison, licensed CC)

Referees are just one form of visible enforcer most people expect and do not object too. (Photo: Jim Larrison, licensed CC)

Enforcers come in many different forms. We expect whenever we go to any sporting event there will be rules. Those rules must be enforced so there are people appointed to do so. Umpires, judges, and referees are an expected part. Even in pick-up games there is often an enforcer appointed to call the rules. Nobody seems to have any objection to these enforcers being present while a growing number of people are suspicious of, and object to, local, state, and federal law enforcement people both being present and simply doing their jobs.

But there are thousands of Enforcers we meet daily. In fact we ourselves become the Enforcer on a regular basis – even when it is not our obligation. It may be, however, that we see it as our civic duty. Sometimes that even gets us in trouble. In a moment I will share a personal experience about taking the roll of Enforcer when I should have chosen differently.

Have you ever been riding with someone who didn’t have on their seat belt and you asked or told them to “click it or ticket”? You were the enforcer. Have you ever shushed someone in church or a library – even just by giving them “the look”? Have you ever stepped into a fight as the peacemaker and tried to calm the situation? If so then you took on the Enforcer role of Leadership. You used your communications tools and interjected yourself into the situation hoping to shape the outcome to what you perceived as the best result. When you did this were you braced for an outcome which was different than that which you expected?

Personally Touched

I use the following example because it sort of shocked me – and I don’t shock easily. Many times I have advised to take consideration of underlying emotions when engaging with others. It opened up something I had not faced in years and really made me take a step back. It even made me, for a few seconds, question if my motivation had been based on race. It had not been, but the response definitely made me re-examine.

Some years ago just after the election of America’s first black president I was in a local grocer and noticed a lady actually grazing on the fruit table. It was not just her, however, she was also freely sharing with her nearly adult children – by the handful. I mean cherries, strawberries, blackberries, and grapes were disappearing into these well dressed people’s faces from these boxes and bags of pre-priced goods. After standing there and watching them for no less than 3 minutes I probably made the wrong decision, but it wasn’t the worst one I had considered. I said, “ma’am, do you know that’s stealing from the people who buy those boxes or bags after you eat from them?”

Evidently she thought I chose the wrong words and she let me know in no uncertain terms that it was impossible for someone of my skin color to understand what someone of her skin color was experiencing. That she had been ripped off by buying bad produce before and she was going to make sure her children had only the best to eat from now on. She went on to tell me that “y’all are no longer then enforcers of right and wrong”. I’m sure I had a huge WT_? over my head at that point…

I was hurt. And most strangers can’t really hurt me. I was hurt mostly that I had chosen the wrong method. I had become the Enforcer when I should have become the Influencer. She was wrong, but I did not make the right choice to lead her away from her wrong. My Leadership method was lacking. Oh, she was still very wrong, but so was I.

The Enforcer Role of Leadership

It’s just one of the major roles of leadership we all take on from time to time even when it’s not our appointed position and we do not have any real authority. From herding co-workers back to the grind at the end of a break to telling drivers to slow down as they go through your neighborhood and thousands of more scenarios those are all important social functions of leadership. They are valid, necessary and often un-welcomed. When taking on the role of Enforcer, even when you are appointed as one, it is crucial to work on your leadership communications and actions skills to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Here is a short “quiz” to help gauge your progress throughout this series on Leadership and it will email itself back to you so you can keep it for future reference. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers and it will never be published so answer in as much confidence as the Web can allow.

Your Name

Your Email (required)

A coworker is making copies of a school assignment for their child. Thinking about the Enforcer role of leadership how do you act?

Your child's teacher accidentally put a note to another student's parents in your child's folder to bring home to you for their daily activity report. In it there is a mention of "getting together for a little 'puff' this weekend"; what is your action?

You are sitting in your break room at work when a visitor who came to join a co-worker begins telling racist jokes. Thinking of Enforcer, what do you do?

Remember an event where you were "forced" into the role of Enforcer and did not feel comfortable. What was the event and how did it turn out? What would you do differently as you look back?


7 Hot Social Selling Tips for 2015

Why do some marketers seem to do so well with social selling while others can’t seem to get any traction? You’ll be surprised to learn some of the answers and put them into use. We have monitored and evaluated the top social sellers to discover these 7 social selling tips to help you improve your online marketing results.

This is what successful social media marketing looks like on the other side of the screen! (Photo by startupphotos License CC2.0)

This is what successful social media marketing looks like on the other side of the screen! (Photo by startupphotos License CC2.0)

#1 Choose And Use Good Images

Many people think just having a Pinterest or Instagram account is good enough. Just having a presence on any social site is only the beginning of attracting attention. So, whether it’s one of the photocentric social sites, Twitter, Google+, Facebook or any other the use of well chosen images is key to standout posts that will result in further action. There is a psychology to images so take a little time to learn about what images say to the audience you are trying to reach. Then instead of throwing out just any image, make sure to take a little time to research and find the best image or graphic to set the stage for engagement that matters.

#2 Spend The Most Resources On The Platforms Where Your Audience Is Most Active

Let’s face it, if your audience is primarily 12 year old girls who read pony books and you’re investing all of your efforts in LinkedIn…you’re missing the mark. Make sure you know the demographic of your buying audience then match your social media efforts to them. There are some pretty obscure social sites that cater to very niche audiences which can work very well for you when the mega-sites continue to prove fruitless; having very low return on your efforts.

#3 Make Real, Meaningful Connections

Twitter is one of the easiest places to see where brands and users are either engaged or not. When they are not engaged you’ll see post after post of links back to a product or service site and no mentions of other accounts. Chances are, unless you are managing the social accounts for major corporations, the engagement level of broadcast only in the social stream will result in very low conversion numbers. On the other hand when any social manager engages directly with “real people” there will be more likes, re-posts, and other shares.

#4 Use Video To Share Your Message

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Video is worth volumes! If you have a product there is no easier way to reach all users, including those who are mobile only, that by creating relevant videos. From product demonstrations to technical specifications, video is the next best thing to being there.

#5 Be Regular With Content

Whether it is information content, educational content, news, or other content it pays to get that content out regularly. People are creatures of habit. If you have a loyal following and you have a newsletter or update that comes out at a specific time on a specific day of the week you will see that people come to expect it. Just make sure it’s interesting and relevant.

Knowing when to post to social media can make a big difference. (Photo by Selena Deckelman License CC2.0)

Knowing when to post to social media can make a big difference. (Photo by Selena Deckelman License CC2.0)

#6 Know When To Post

There are several tools to help you discover when your followers are most active. You can also make use of your own metrics using analytics tools to track click-throughs with your custom URLs. If you are posting at 2PM on Friday and your audience is absent at that time but highly active at 8AM on Sunday you need to adjust the release time of your most important information.

#7 Stay Relevant and On Topic

The Internet does a great job of diluting messages and giving plenty of choices for users to become distracted. If you are all over the board on your social selling efforts and topics you’ll just confuse your followers and lose them in the crowd. Make sure to stay on topic when using your social selling accounts so that your readers always know they are reading something important to their relationship with you.

Install Contact Form with New reCAPTCHA Spam Blocker

You’ve seen it, the reCAPTCHA tool installed on web forms. But how do they get that? How do you control spam? Chances are you need an email contact form on your site – especially one that sends an automated reply to your visitors. But you don’t need expensive email campaign systems like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. You simply can’t afford another $10 a month much less $30 or more just to capture a few emails.

Relax, there’s a solution

It’s really not that difficult to do yourself if you have a small amount of coding experience. If you don’t you’ll probably be happy to know I can install it and give you my own email response system all for an average of $65. Not $65 per month, $65 ever. Plus I’ll make it match your site design; usually within 24 hours except on weekends. That said here’s the way to do it…

First register your site and get your public and private keys from Google at Google reCAPTCHA. Once you have those you’ll just need to put a bit of information into your web page(s) and your form. You’ll generally need 2 web pages: one for the form and one for the processing. It is possible to have both of these on a single page but most do not.

If you do not have a form you’ll need to create one. I hand code them because they are so quick and simple but you can make one online at JotForms.

For a basic form you can just copy this one:

<form name=”contact” method=”post” action=”RESULTSPAGEHERE”>
<p><input type=”text” name=”fName” /> : <label for=”fName”>Full Name</label></p>
<p><input type=”text” name=”uMail” /> : <label for=”uMail”>Your Email</label></p>
<p><label for=”uComments”>Comments :<br />
<textarea name=”uComments” rows=”8″ cols=”80″></textarea></p>
<p><input type=”submit” value=”Send Comments”></p>

You’ll need to change action=”RESULTSPAGEHERE” to point to the page that processes your form.

DONE FOR YOU: Email AutoResponder with reCAPTCHA

I’ll send you a PHP script for $7 that accepts the form data, validates the content (verifies the email address is properly formatted), strips out dangerous code, sends an automated response to the person who filled out the form, prints a “Thank You” page, and emails you the form data. It can do more – but you’ll get all that for $7. It’s written in PHP so should work on just about every web hosting service out there. If you’re not sure then download the test file and run it first.


Once you download your script you can follow the simple instructions in the files to make it work with your site. Again if you’re in a hurry, don’t want to mess with it, whatever your reason – I’ll do it all for you for $65

Here is one I just installed for a client who already had a website and they just needed a form, a spam blocker, and the data content from the contact forward sent to them. (This is a live site so please don’t demo it. If you want to demo use the one at iCobb here.) I just inserted the form into their existing page, created a confirmation page that matches this page and installed the new reCAPTCHA.



WordPress Category Page How-To

So you’ve got a great WordPress site and you have some good content. What you need to know is how to create a page in WordPress that shows all the posts from only one category. Well, it’s pretty simple once you do it just one time. In just a minute I’ll show you  a video of how to do it.

Here’s an example of how you may need to use this. If you have a WordPress site for your particular topic and you have it divided in to sub-topics you may only want to show that subtopic on one page. For example you may have a catering company and your website is run on WordPress. So you may have categories like weddings, graduations, retirement parties, and Bar Mitzvas.

If you only want to show posts from the Weddings category how do you do it? Do you create a special page? Is there some magic to work with the menu? Actually it’s very simple. All you need is the category ID number. That’s it. Then you simply create a link to /index.php?cat=3 (where 3 is the actual category number you want to link to).

Here’s the video of how to create a category page in WordPress:

How To Fix WordPress Format Breaking Headings

wordpress-headings-breaks-formatting-1So you’ve taken all day to get that blog post or article just right in your head but when you plug it into WordPress the headings break the formatting leaving ugly blank spaces. I know, it happens to all of us. Fortunately for you the fix is really easy for me. So if I can show you how to do it you can make the necessary CSS (style sheet) changes in just a few minutes; Seconds actually.

First make sure you are using a child theme. (Don’t know how? I can create one for you, just contact me.) If you make changes to the theme’s style.css file they will be over-written the first time you update your themes. Now then, open your parent theme’s style.css file. You do this in your WordPress dashboard under Appearance -> Editor. When the editor opens you will see your active theme’s style.css. Since you are using a child theme (ahem) you’ll need to use the drop down in the upper right corner to choose the parent theme. Then select. Now your parent theme’s style.css should be showing in the editing window.

Look for the lines of code that look like this and specifically look for the line that says “clear: both;”:

/* Headings */
h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 {
clear: both;
font-family: ‘TitilliumText22LRegular’, sans-serif;
line-height: 1.25;

Copy that whole section and navigate back to your child theme to edit the working style.css file. Somewhere below the declarations and the call to to include the parent theme’s style.css paste those lines and delete everything so that it looks like this:

/* Headings */
h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 {
clear: none;

What was happening before was you were telling your images to float: left or float: right (or some other float command) even though it was happening automatically from the insert media function and you didn’t know it. When the heading (H1-H6) was created it was clearing that float. Now you have told your style sheet you do not want to clear those so you get something that looks like this:


A Word Of Caution

Now you have fixed the content so that the headings do not clear images – but they also do not clear other divs. This can be problamatic so remember when using custom <div></div> in your posts (as I often do) you’ll need to include a <div style=”clear: both;”></div> at the end of your special code. If you see the two columns of bullet-points below the primary topics paragraph you may know those are created using two floating divs in the content area. If I did not include the div for clearing then the next heading after “Credit Monitoring” would float to the right of that column looking silly. You can see the actual article on this site at I Write Articles.

Need Help With It?

For most WordPress installs and themes I can make these changes in less than an hour and have you on the road again. Just contact me and let’s get started!

Top bloggers know how many words a post should have

Statistics say you won’t read this post completely even if it’s highly valuable to you. Want to know why? Read on…

round-table-discussion-argumentLet the arguments begin…but first, a back story. Some years ago a few “friends” and I were sitting around a literal round table discussing such heady things as Obi Wan vs. Spock and what soccer would be like if played with square balls. Then we got around to things where religious fervor can come in to play like which social site will dominate for our market sector. Then it got really nasty when we started talking about The Length Of Posts (as in how many words). Opinion soup was the fare of the day with numbers ranging from 750 to 5000 or more. Yes, 5000 – or more.

Now people who take the fast lane need to be ready for some challengers so since I was in the 1500 to 2000 crowd, based on some actually factual evidence from years of writing and publishing content for a variety of clients, I threw down the gauntlet: what does the data say? Oh, that darned data. We love it, we hate it, we can’t get enough of it. So here I am, 3 years later, finally getting around to addressing the question of how many words should a blog post be. With data references I should add. Because it’s just possible I may have been wrong.

The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has. (QuickSprout)

Admittedly a large percentage of the articles I have been hired to write fall into the 750-1000 word variety (my prices start at $49) and they have helped a lot of sites move up in the results categories, including conversions, but maybe not in the Google PR category, inbound link category, and comment category. Since inbound links are pretty important that helps me encourage site owners to upgrade and go for the 1500 word range (about $100 starting price). I’m including prices because (a) I sell content and (b) it’s important for people who do not write to have an idea of what it’s going to cost. Of course those prices include only minimal research so that’s something to keep in mind.

Bring on the data!

First let’s look at some stats on the average post length of top ranked pages according to Google. Are you ready?According to CopyPress it’s 2416 words. Now if you have written as many blog posts for pay as many professionals you will immediately see dollar signs. So maybe it translates that posts which require more resources translate into posts have have a higher search and reader value. Which does make sense. Humans like quality – of course this statistic doesn’t say anything about the quality or content of the posts. It only gives an overall average based on the sites surveyed.

If a post is greater than 1,500 words, on average it receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than a post that is under 1,500 words. (QuickSprout)

Relax, there’s a big caveat in that number above. According to SerpIQ (the people who provided the actual data analysis) that number includes every bit of text on the page from the content, sidebars, header and footer. Another very interesting point is that the older ranking content (10 years plus) had the higher number of words per page and the new content (1 year or less) had only about 1/2 the amount of the older pages.

“Here we see that fresh domains generally have less content on the ranking page, averaging around 1800 words. Domains 1-10 years old are at around 2100 words of content, while domains over 10 years old close in on 2800 words.” – SerpIQ

So if you have a time machine you’ll really need to hammer out some content to get those numbers up. Fortunately, if you want to look at it from a “word count only” perspective, if you’re writing today you’ll do better with a lower number. But, wait; I’m not writing all of this to encourage you to write for word count. I’m writing all of this because it is a valid question and quite often a contentious discussion amongst so-called content marketing gurus. Somehow factual data doesn’t really solve the argument so please examine it and make your own determinations.

What about conversion rates?

content-test-performanceAll of my clients can tell you I have said these words to them, “Traffic costs money. Conversions generate revenue.” Keeping this in mind helps us to know why we’re writing and what we are writing about. It also reminds us that businesses are online to convert visitors to customers. How that is accomplished is another highly debated topic regardless of the data. And, it’s far too involved to include in this post. So hopefully you’ve subscribed to the feed so you’ll get that information when it becomes available.

Businesses with websites of 401-1000 pages get 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages. (HubSpot)

The folks at Marketing Tests did a nice, simple, down and dirty A/B test using content length as a qualifier to test for conversion performance. What they found was longer content outperformed shorter content by over 40%. Most people would quickly realize that’s a good thing. When you sum it up like in their quote below and put it on the banking counter it really starts to become important. Now remember the quote I give all of my clients and read the quote below:

“In our initial micro-test, long copy outperformed short copy by 40.54%. Click-through traffic sent to the short copy page was unprofitable (-14% ROI), while traffic sent to the long copy page produced an ROI of 21%.” – Marketing Tests

Raise you’re hand if you would prefer an ROI of +21% over one of =14% – exactly as suspected. Everyone likes to profit from their efforts even if they are “just writing for a hobby”. We want more followers, more likes, more shares, and many of us really like more revenue in the form of dollars and cents. Whether the revenue comes from ad sales, product sales, or service sales we like money. It helps us keep our hobbies, like eating and living in a warm/cool spot possible. So what did they consider short copy or long copy? It really doesn’t matter. The test was run 10 years ago and we’ve already learned back then long meant more than 2800 words and now it means 1800 words.

How do you test?

The number one way I prefer is to use Google Analytics. Since most search, at the time of this writing, comes from Google’s search engine it makes sense to start there. I do also use Bing and some third party apps, but Google is the launching point. If I notice search traffic, time on site, and bounce rate all improving I must be doing something better, if not right. So I continue with that trend and make minor adjustments. Of course much more can affect this than simply the length of posts such as trending topics, external interest (a television appearance for example), or others. The difference is those trends don’t last and you can usually identify what happened to cause them. Changing tactics like increasing the length of articles on your site(s) is going to be a constant as opposed to a temporary trend.

61% of global Internet users research products online. (Interconnected World)

You may want to engage in A/B testing and tracking the results. This would simply mean creating two versions of your content using the same key words (the ones you are tracking) and monitoring the performance on each page. For the purpose of this challenge I would recommend one article of about 500 words and another version with your target number of words – say 2000. Make sure you can track search terms, time on site, and bounce rate (people who only viewed that one page). These numbers will give you enough information to know which direction you need to go. If you get 0 hits to both pages we need to have a separate discussion!

What should I be writing about?

Write about what you do. Write about what your readers are interested in. If you’re a news source that could be all over the board. If you’re a real estate agent who needs to improve both search performance and conversion ratio you had better write about your local area, the homes you have for sale or have sold, and about how you serve your customers. If you are a chiropractor the chances are good people will want to read how you intend to make them feel better. Every industry and every market will determine what you need to be writing about…and when.

One word of caution is to write to your audience. This is another huge bone between so-called content professionals: reading level. (Check some here at Read-Able). Before you take off and do your best to write at a graduate level degree let me remind you to check three things.

(1) Do you only want to engage with people who have a Master’s Degree or higher?
(2) Are people with a post-graduate degree going to be the only ones who convert on your page?
(3) Who are you trying to impress?

The caveat of this, of course, is that if you are a practicing physician writing a peer reviewed paper the chances are strong you’ll be writing at that level. If, however, you are a family practitioner writing about health issues for prospective clients you may want to think in the 6th to 10th grade range. Don’t believe me? Okay, go ahead and show off your vast amount of high education and listen to the…crickets. A wise man once told me, “Never make a prospect think about anything other than doing business with you. The minute they start thinking about something else is the minute they become something other than a prospect.” Prospects are not going to convert if they spend their entire time on your site Googling words they don’t understand. Keep in mind this is situational, but if you’re the average service provider you’re going to thank me for telling you to write to that lower level.

So what does content look like when written to an 8th grade level? You’ve been reading at that level for the last few minutes. Readable, informational, inspirational, motivational, and transactional can all fit in that grade level. Chances are you didn’t have to Google even one single word – so your attention stayed on this content. Did you read this far? If you read this far leave a comment with your web address in the comments section below. We all want to see what you have written and how you’re using these same tactics to propel your site to the top of the search engines.



“Round Table” Photo Credit: Simon Blackley via Compfight cc