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If You Have a Web Presence, You Must Understand SEO

If You Have a Web Presence, You Must Understand SEO

The internet is crowded; it can take a lot of effort to get noticed. One of the easiest ways to gain new traffic is to rank highly on search engine return pages (SERPs). To appear at a higher spot on the SERP, your site needs to meet certain criteria as set by the search engines.

While each search engine has a different proprietary processes, certain factors are known to be in play. Making use of those factors to improve your SERP ranking is known as search engine optimization (SEO). If you are new to the landscape, and have not spent time on SEO for your site, here are some tips to get your started.

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Content is King

You won’t be able to help your site rise through the ranks if your content isn’t up to par, at least not permanently. It is important that you develop your information in a way that is useful to your target audience, and that your site can be considered an authority in its own right. Keep your content factually correct, and pay attention to spelling and grammar. This is an area where quality truly matters, so efforts here are rarely ever considered a waste.

Keywords Count

When a search engine is determining what your site is all about, it is read by a computer program called a spider or crawler, and not a person. These programs are designed to analyze the text on your page and use the information to categorize your site. To help make sure your site is categorized properly, you need to make sure you use the right words and that they are used in the right quantity.

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It is also important to understand that a spider can’t understand the content in media files such as photos and videos. This means that you will have to convey the nature of the content through other means. This can include the description associated with the file, as well as designating a title and alternate title for the piece. Since this information is displayed in the site’s coding, even if it cannot be seen by visitors, the spider can better assess what the content is about.

White Hat / Black Hat

A variety of internet-based activities are considered white hat or black hat. All those designations mean is whether the chosen activity is regarded acceptable or unethical. White hat SEO techniques represent the known industry standards that are generally well received.

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Often, it requires that no damage be done to a competitor’s site directly, and all basic rules and laws governing the activity should be followed, including those set forth by the search engine. Additionally, creating content that is aimed at finding an actual human audience is at its core, and not simply creating a site to become well ranked.

In contrast, black hat SEO techniques may be questionable in nature, if not entirely illegal. It includes using keyword stuffing or invisible text to achieve a different SERP rank. It can also involve the use of “keywords” that have nothing to do with the sites content, or changing the nature of the content once a page has achieved a high enough ranking.

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When making a long-term investment into a particular site, white hat techniques are recommended. They allow the site to stand the test of time, with occasional small adjustments to maintain relevancy, instead of frequent changes to continue to trick the spiders into inaccurately ranking your site higher than it should be.

Finding More Information

There is a lot of solid information on SEO and various best practices. Some may choose to find a book on the subject, such as SEO for Growth, while others may prefer to hire a professional who specializes in web content and SEO to assist in aligning their site to the desired format.

Either way, taking the time to learn the fundamentals can help you create content better suited to SEO techniques, which can limit the amount of work that has to be done after the fact. Consider learning more about the subject and you can improve your SERP rankings faster than you realize.

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via hd.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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