Search intent

In SEO, you need to figure out the search intent. Best place to do this is to study the SERPs, auto-suggest, and related searches.

Notes to keep in mind:

  • Don’t target content without first understanding the searcher.
  • Look at Google SERPs, search suggest, related searches to determine search intent.
  • Look for gaps.

The future of blogging is … plogging

I found this Wired article discussing Facebook’s recent Notes update for long-form content and Medium.

Apparently, “plogging” stands for platform-based blogging.

Related link: What Andrew Sullivan’s exit says about the future of blogging

Links and ideas from last week’s WordCamp in Zürich #wcch

I attended the WordCamp in Zurich last Saturday.

It’s been a while since I attended a similar geek event and I enjoyed listening to others.

It was encouraging to hear about WordPress. I’ve used WordPress since September 2004. And it’s truly a great sign of continuity that WordPress is still here. Not only that, but there’s a thriving community and a company that want to keep it that way as well.

Secondly, it was encouraging to hear from other bloggers and web developers.

Here’s a quick run through my Twitter notes and faves (like a Storify summary of Tatort on Spiegel.de ;-)).

First talk I listened to was on trends in enterprise blogs. I found this talk useful for my day job.

Large, enterprise blogs have switched off commenting and are experimenting with new forms of integrating user interaction, e.g. by using annotations, or by asking specific questions, or moving comments entirely to Facebook.

Regarding content length, short texts and long analysis articles (aka Longreads) work best. It’s the mid-length texts between 500 and 800 words that are read least frequently.

And many of the enterprise sites use extensive email marketing to bring readers to their site.

The slides are here.

Next talk that inspired me was by Vitaly Friedman. He had a fun starting point by looking at typewriter art in the late 19th century, which led to ASCI art and teletext.

If the Internet hadn’t appeared, we would all be teletext designers and developers.

I think I’ll print this tweet on dead wood and post it on my office door:

Vitaly had some excellent UX examples. His message: details matter for usability.

Another very enjoyable talk was by Paolo on virtual offices and distributed teams. First thing to note it’s not only about tools. The tools should not be the first thing you try to solve when setting up a distributed team. Three common mistakes are

  1. Trying to mimic a local office setup
  2. Measuring work based on the wrong metrics
  3. Suffering instead of embracing change

Recruiting is a very important part of distributed teams. And because your team is in different places and different timezones, managers need to empower their team members. Managers must trust team members to perform and deliver their work packages in time, in high quality.

Next talk:

I liked Christian Leu’s humorous talk about how to become a successful blogger. His point was there are tonnes of articles on successful blogging. There’s no point in repeating this.

Many long-term bloggers have moved to Twitter and are blogging less. Main reason given by many is lack of time. As a result, @leumund presented 10 simple tips to find more time for blogging.

It’s important to stay true to yourself.

In summary, it was an enjoyable day.

Videos of the talks will be published WordPress.tv at some point.

Observation:
There were several talks on maintaining multilingual sites with WordPress. For me this is a sign, that WordPress is used increasingly in a Swiss business environment. Many Swiss websites (even for SMEs) need to display in German, French, Italian and English. My humble tip: Consider using Drupal instead of WordPress for multilingual sites. Maintaining multi-language sites is part of the Drupal core.

While listening to others present, I thought of two WordPress presentations which I could present to share some of my more recent learnings and experience:

  1. Idea no. 1: POSSE and IndieWeb plugins for WordPress – Using Webmention plugin, an URL shortener and Jetpack’s Publicize (see corresponding entry)
  2. Idea no.2: Security for non-techies – Make your WordPress site less vulnerable, even if you’re a non-developer; about WordPress resources, plugins, advice, where to get help

Further links:

Storify

Blogging in an imperfectly multilingual world

Live blogging notes by Evren Kiefer

On communication within a distributed team

The end of time

The blog is dead. Again.

Recommended read: Article by Jason Kottke.

The blog as we once knew it is dead, but many of its elements will live on.

If you want something to cry about, cry about the decline of the open web, the death of which would be a huge blow for us all. But perhaps that’s a topic better left for 2015.

A fave for http://www.wenger-2-rad.ch/

This is a blog post to say thank you to http://www.wenger-2-rad.ch/.

On Monday morning, I noticed that I had forgotten my bicycle lock at home. Since I don’t have a lockable place to store my bike near work, I hurried to the closest bicycle shop planning to buy a substitute. When I noticed I’d forgotten my purse in the same place where I’d left my bicycle lock.

Great way to start the week.

I usually attach my bicycle lock to my bike rack.

The owner of Wenger 2 Rad was kind enough to lend me a bicycle lock for a day. Without charge. Which is great, ‘cos I already own at least 3 bicycle locks and don’t really need a fourth one to forget.

Thank you Wenger 2 Rad. I appreciate the help.

My wish list

Inspired by various gift lists that are showing up in my timeline, I thought I need to write my own wish list.

On my wish list:

New takkies.
new takkies
I’ve started running again on a regular basis. And I noticed I need to replace my Asics with a fresh pair. Bought my current pair in 2010.

“Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, nur schlechte Kleidung”
I need to buy some clothes for winter.

I’m very happy with my current line-up of gadgets. Favourite gadgets in use in 2013 are a good old 13″ MacBook, an iPad and a Lumix camera.

Android smartphone.
I don’t need a smartphone. But looking at current reviews, I’d probably get a Nexus 4 or an LG G2. I’d like to learn more about Android. My multi-operating system strategy is a good excuse, don’t you think?

Apple TV.
I remember a meeting with an online marketer who strongly recommended getting an Apple TV, when it first came out. Maybe he’s right. Or maybe Google Chromecast is a cheaper alternative?

But these are all material wishes. Not essential.

Happiness, health, peace, love, joy, wisdom, kindness, goodness, knowledge are worth much more. And much more difficult to gain.

kraft

One wish of mine is to improve my writing skills. There is more fun in creating.

riding a bicycle

Writing for the web – assessing my own writing style

I love reading list articles. This one crossed my paths this week.

Just for fun, I’ll run thru the list and assess my own writing for the web style on this blog.

So let’s get started…

Provide a Reader’s Digest or Executive Summary version.
I don’t write a reader’s digest or summary for posts on this blog. But it’s definitely recommended/good practice.

Many of my Chiperoni blog posts tend to be short.

Next tip:

Key words in every post titles.
Good tip. Often the post title displays on its own. Key words that clear reflect what the blog post is about will help readers decide to click and read the article. And there’s the SEO aspect.

Self-assessment: I don’t spend much time on developing post titles for this blog. I often opt for descriptive titles. Copyblogger lists helpful formulas and categories.

Lead with the conclusion.
Answer the question “what is my benefit if I commit to read this post?”
Same applies for presentations. Straightforward advice. Often we tend to forget the reader’s perspective. Some posts may look confusing.

Chiperoni.ch is a collection of notes. More reviewing would be better.

Be sure and provide hyper links to your sources.
This is something I do diligently. It is only fair to provide a backlink to your source of inspiration. And it’s a way to document good online resources and build my own knowledge database.

Make your content scannable to the eye.
I try to keep paragraphs short and use bullets and headings. A further improvement would be to define H2s. I like the improved typography in web design.

Write in an Inverted Pyramid style.
Yepp. I don’t use this approach on my private blog. Again, the goal is to convey my main message in the top part of my post.

Use common language.
My writing style is simple and I tend to use common vocabulary. There are a lot of good reasons to use plain language.

Why use plain language?

Plain Language:

  • Shows customer focus
  • Communicates effectively
  • Eliminates barriers
  • Reduces time spent explaining
  • Improves compliance

 

Get to the point, quickly.
We’re all busy. Impatient.
Don’t meander.
Get to the point, quickly.

Looking at my own writing style at Chiperoni central, I don’t edit my posts enough. But, I don’t waffle on for pages and pages either

Make your post visually pleasing.
Again, very obvious advice. Add graphics. Add photos.

Basel to Blantyre and back

My daily routine has engulfed me already. But I want to add some notes on my recent visit to Blantyre. And point you to some photos. And travel tips.

Untitled

Let’s start with the travel tips:
A very favourable recent development for Blantyre-bound travellers is the fact that Ethiopian Airlines now flies to Malawi’s commercial centre from Addis. In fact, there are daily flights to and from Addis.

And Kenya Airways flies to Blantyre from Nairobi 3 times a week.

This is a great development. Some competition is good and I hope fare prices will fall.

Untitled

My second tip is:
Visit Liwonde National Park if you’re into game viewing. We saw lots of animals. August is a good time to visit. It’s not too hot yet and very dry. The animals walk down to the river and graze in the plains of the Shire River. Liwonde and Machinga district are densely populated and it’s good to support national parks and conservation areas such as Liwonde.

One lasting memory I will try to cherish is the beautiful sunlight I saw on the day when I arrived in Blantyre at around 4 pm. It is so beautiful to arrive in Chileka and see the familiar outline of Michiru mountain.

While travelling from the airport on that first day, we encountered a funeral procession crossing the main road. As is the custom, all vehicles on the main road stopped. People got out and stood next to their vehicles. The first part of the procession was singing one song while the latter part sang another. There was loud crying. Quite a cultural difference to Europe.

Later on the same day, at the shopping mall in Chichiri, a man was lying on the ground bleeding from his mouth. A crowd of people had gathered. Maybe he had been caught stealing? In which case, he can only hope that the police is nearby or the mob may beat him to death. Street justice is widespread.

My stay in Blantyre was happily uneventful. No zigubu queues. Hardly any power cuts or water supply interruptions.

I am fascinated by the mobile phone culture. People walk around with 2 or 3 cell phones in their hand. You can buy airtime, units for prepaid SIM cards, every 50 meters. TNM and Airtel have achieved distribution networks comparable to that of Coca-cola. Both mobile phone companies are advertising their mobile payment options on a wide scale.

Because writing helps

Sometimes I wish I had developed Chiperoni.ch into a confessional blog. You know the kind where you write about your worries and sorrow and challenges.

Why? Because writing helps.

I noticed yesterday that writing helped me to sort through a difficult web navigational problem that I am encountering. It helps me to reflect.

The benefits of writing daily. Which i don’t manage to do. Yet. Weekly would be a first, reachable goal.

My head is buzzing with lots of questions and ideas. This is where I can list them and then return at leisure. Still in line with my blog definition of 2004.

riding a bicycle

Some articles on web and social media content that I’d like to mention here:

The first is not new for bloggers. We noticed this long ago. In addition to quality content, frequency matters.

Here’s an interesting entry on link building and local SEO. In a nutshell: Focus on developing good content and engaging with your community on social media rather than spending $$$ on dubious SEO providers that add links from low-quality sites.

Writing tip via Seth Godin: Say the opposite. This also works for ideas. Try and think of your worst idea ever. So
stupid and dumb, nobody would ever use it. Often this helps you to find original ideas.

I am hearing a lot about Kaizen and I have questions:

  1. Aren’t Kaizen and Scrum related? What are the differences?
  2. And a dumb question – If Kaizen is a way to improve continuously, and Kaizen originated in Japan, why is the Japanese economy stagnating for so many years? Is it not used as much in Japanese business?

I found a great website that rates the Terms of Service of various web and mobile apps.

IMG_7580

This morning I remembered some ancient poetry that we used to sing at school assembly in Blantyre.

Enjoy the warm weather.

Successful blogging?

I love reading list articles. Here’s one that appeared on my radar today:

6 Pillars of a Successful Blog

And just for fun, I’ll run thru the list and assess my own private blogging chez moi.

So let’s get started…

Purpose/Message/Mission
This is a private blog. The main purpose is to learn and reflect.

It’s an ever-evolving mix of learning, reflection, discovery and knowledge management. I’ve always said it’s like a scrap book. Chiperoni.ch will no longer do well from an SEO point-of-view, because the topics are too diverse, too sporadic. I write about the Internet and online marketing. I link to my huge Flickr collection of snapshots. I write about architecture and travel. I post Youtube videos. I try out WordPress plugins and themes.

If you’re setting up a blog for business purposes, think about your purpose. Brainstorm ideas. Put together an editorial calendar. This will help you stand out from the crowd.

Email Newsletter
I don’t send out an email newsletter for this blog. While this Google service still exists, you can get an email notification via Feedburner:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

There are some pretty cool email newsletter plugins for WordPress. I briefly tried Wysija. There’s also Sendpress and Email Newsletter to try. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree… if you want your blog to grow, send out a regular email newsletter.

I do have a cool WordPress plugin called Thank me later, which sends auto-sends thank you messages to people that leave a comment.

A Free E-Book/Manifesto
There is no free e-book to download. There is no manifesto to link to at Chiperoni.ch. Yet. I have plans to write a book or two. Maybe. Some day.

David Meerman-Scott uses e-books very effectively for his topics.

I am a regular reader of the e-books at Hubspot.

IMHO, you should spend some $$ on your e-book layout to get a better return.

A Product/Business Model
There is no business model at Chiperoni.ch. I am here for fun. This is a private, non-profit blog. There is no advertising. So far I have not published any paid blog entries here. If this changes, I will publish a disclosure statement.

Again if you’re planning to offer a product or service, put some thought into your business model. A good starter is this business model generation canvas. It leads you through various business questions.

Site Design
I like minimal blog designs. Currently I am using themes by Elma.

If you’re building a business, test your site design using a poor man’s usability test. Ideally before coding; using a paper test. Find 5 people that fit your site’s target audience. Think of some site tasks you would like to test, e.g. how to contact you; how to ask for a quote. Ask your test person to think out loud while performing the tasks. And then sit next to them and quietly observe how your test person navigates through your site.

Check your site design from an SEO point of view. Are there enough text areas for your key phrases on your main landing pages? I would avoid overusing fancy carousel and slider plugins. Do you have one sentence explaining your main mission, written in HTML?

Effective Self Promotion
It’s 2013. You need to find creative ways to promote your business blog. The Internet is a vast ocean of data. Nobody is waiting for your cool product or service. If your self promotion is too low-key, nobody will notice you. If your self promotion is too heavy and your service offering doesn’t match, you will put people off.

I am stating the obvious. My only advice is to try various ideas and find a marketing mix that works for you. Trial and error.

Or build a private, non-profit blog like Chiperoni.ch. And as such I don’t need to join the success theater.

looking closely

Identity and culture

Somewhere deep inside of me, I have this blog post bubbling up and forming about identity. It is influenced by my own state of being an eternal foreigner, an Auslandsdeutsche. But also influenced by other observations on organizational cultures and the changes within the internet.

I started watching this talk by Anil Dash:

He says being a blogger in the early years (a decade ago, from approximately 1999 to 2006) was an identity. Bloggers had a shared set of values. There was a culture and a common understanding.

Nobody calls themselves a Facebooker.

I recommend viewing this video and reflecting on the thoughts.

Moving from Google Reader to WordPress.com

Even though Google Reader showed up prominently in yesterday’s SERPs for “best free RSS reader”, someone at Google has decided to end the product life of Google Reader.

Heh Google Search! Google Reader is closing

It’s time to move on to a new RSS reader.

Several RSS readers managed to survive despite Google Reader’s dominance. And some new ones emerged. These tools are getting frequent mentions:

  • Feedly
  • NewsBlur
  • RSSOwl
  • Zite
  • The old reader

Digg decided to build a new reader the day Google announced the end of its Reader. In some ways, that’s the silver lining. RSS readers are getting more attention than in the past years combined.

WordPress.com

This is how you can import your RSS subscriptions into WordPress.com.

First, go to Google Takeout to download your Google Reader data:

google-takeout

The process is fairly straightforward.

Google Takeout

Click Download and save the zip file on your computer.

Google Takeout

Voilà. Saved the data for future use. Who knew! I’ve got 6.5 MB of shared Google Reader articles.

WordPress.com offers an RSS reader. I don’t know if I’ll make WordPress.com my RSS Reader, but there’s one advantage. I already have a login for WordPress.com. And it’s easy to try out. This is what I did to add my RSS subscriptions (not my past shared articles!) to WordPress.com:

Wordpress Reader

Click Import your subscriptions.

Wordpress Reader

I used the special service: Import your Google Reader sunscriptions directly.

I allowed WordPress.com to access Google Reader.

That’s it. Done.

Wordpress Reader

The challenge: so far WordPress.com isn’t in my regular flow of news sites that I visit. I use it for special photo projects, Akismet and Jetpack.

Bufferapp stats for tweets and posts

I am confused by the analytics view shown in Bufferapp. Consider the 2 tweets i posted this morning:

bufferapp stats

One has 0 (zero) clicks and one has close to 200. I am not questioning the 0. It’s a known fact Twitter engagement has gone down. Disappeared. But… I am fairly sure that nobody clicked on my other tweet either. The number shown must be the total number of clicks on this bit.ly link, right?

Is this useful for me?

Why show me the total number of clicks worldwide on this link? My educated guess is that Bufferapp (or any other Twitter stats tool for that matter) can only count clicks via the URL shortener service. I.e. close to 200 clicks where registered for http://bit.ly/P0Hjpe. Which is somewhat misleading. Or, in other words, it shows me which tweets are truly original vs entries which are just part of a larger echo chamber.

I guess, it can be said in this day and age, we really need to closely at how stats are derived.

For example, a tweet starting with @name will still generate up to 10 views on Flickr. While the tweet is public and can be viewed by others, I sincerely doubt that the views displayed on Flickr are *human* views.

Traue keiner Statistik, die du nicht selbst gefälscht hast

Success theater is boring

I recommended reading this article:

Twitter : nchenga: "It’s boring." http:::t.co:UXaVF5Pb

Success theater is boring. Directly related to the increasing lack of privacy. All the world’s a stage.

Social media featuritis is part of a never-ending cycle. Ironically the author mentions new tools (Snapchat, VidBurn and Facebook Poke) to replace the broadcast tools.

Keep calm.

Don’t join the rat race.

Use social media in good measure and in a personable way.

Create rather than consume.

Consider your true motive. Cost and benefit.

BTW, I’ve read some predictions about a blogging comeback in 2013. Experts predict that the author tag will get a higher Google rank.

2013: The Year of the Online Writer

Due to Google Panda and Penguin, everybody is talking about the need for high-quality content.

The reality is it will be extremely difficult for middle-of-the-road online writers to gain any kind of traffic. Compared to 2003 and 2004, the ocean of data has increased exponentially. Gone are the days where a private blog entry google-bombed its way into the top SERPs. I am not saying it isn’t possible. But it takes strategy, resources, commitment, personal drive, writing skills and some SEO expertise. And most of us with a day job, hobbies, and a long to-do list will no longer be part of the top Google rankings. At least with the current setup.

Here is an interesting slide deck on how social media will develop in 2013:

I wonder where “social everything” and “mobile everything” will take us.

Ten twenty seven

Sipping coffee. Reading tweets. Faving Flickr photos. And listening to “Klassik-Pop-et cetera” on dradio.de.

Some music references to remember:

Paul Gerhard “Ich steh an deiner Krippe hier”

Mahalia Jackson “Go tell it on the mountain”

Pete Seeger

Johann Sebastian Bach “Ich lasse dich nicht denn du segnest mich denn”

IMG_3869

pasta

blue

Some ancient poetry that crossed my internetz path:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

IMG_3654

You know the year is nearly over when the first posts on “future trends” appear. I thought this slide deck quite intriguing:

Heading out to take care of errands. And to take photos of bicycles. Yours truly, nchenga.

Charly Gaul

Building websites with Jekyll, Github Pages

This post has made me very curious. They use a different stack:

Jekyll for page templates and static file generation
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files
GitHub Pages static HTTP server
Supplemented with external APIs where necessary

I guess, you can convert WordPress to static HTML. I found this description.

Looking a little further, there’s this setup using Really Static.

Why static HTML? HTML is secure and faster.

Speed: Any web server, will serve html files a lot faster than PHP generated files.
Security: If you are serving just static files, there is no way to hack your site.

Here’s a thread on the same at Quora

And using the WordPress static output plugin

Nice to know I could offer a flat static HTML version of this site.

I will have a longer look at Jekyll.

BTW, one year ago I tweeted about something similar:

Any experience? Opinions? Further resources to look at?

Barcamp Bodensee 2012

I attended Barcamp Bodensee in Friedrichshafen yesterday. Very enjoyable.

Big thank you to the organizers. It was worth getting up early.

It started with breakfast and an emotional greeting by Oliver Gassner: “The internet is made of people.”

And it was truly impressive to see so many people attending and participating.

The location at Zeppelin University on the shore of Lake Constance was perfect.

A few highlights:

A talk on sleep by Jan Krämer
“sleep is good for creativity”

Facebook community management
Romy showed us how she manages comments, spam on a large Facebook fan page. Her advice: never delete a comment or block the user. Rather mark the comment as spam and then explain why. She recommended having a page on policies and handling of comments in a “Netiquette” page. She showed the new content management features that went live recently for fan pages: you can now schedule posts and assign different admin roles. And her take: all the brands are spending $$$ to gain Facebook followers; very few followers are organic.

I learnt a lot just by listening.

And if I ever start a company, I would go to each and every barcamp in Europe and present my idea. Startup presenters get so much free and useful consulting and marketing ideas from attendees.

Thank you.

Links:
allfacebook.com
nutshellmail.com/
http://unhosted.org/
https://www.flinc.org/
http://www.pixoona.com/

BTW, the DB train along the German side of the Rhine river is very noisy and made me feel queasy and travel-sick. Buy some new trains and renew the tracks. Or maybe SBB should take over this route?

Sunny Sunday

I just got back from a run around the Finnenbahn. The distance is nothing to write home about, but it was a pleasurable experience with temperatures around 18 degrees. Spring is here.

With all the fresh air rushing thru my system, I was in mindblogging mode. Reflecting on all the data I have been consuming here and there.

Yesterday afternoon I tried out new bicycles at a bicycle shop in downtown Basel. I am thinking of buying a new bicycle. My Univega will soon be 10 years old. And a lot has been happening in the bicycle space since then.

mein velo

I read Scoble’s post on reducing noise on Facebook. Useful! I don’t really have the a signal to noise problem on FB, but they are offering more and more control. Which is good.

On Twitter: Did you see that you can now embed tweets?

How to find the embed code:

  • Select a tweet.
  • Click on Details.
  • Click on Embed this Tweet.
  • Copy the code to your webpage.

Although I am quite sure that I will keep my screenshot collection of fun tweets.

The effort to tweak all these corporate social media channels is getting higher than high. Don’t let the social media corporations take over.

Instead of just consuming content, I encourage you to create content. Write a blog, take photos, learn something new, write how-tos, write about your area of expertise, own your own data, participate, enter into dialog, have fun. Here are some ideas:

I am planning to attend BarcampBodensee in June. Anybody else coming from the Basel area? It would be a great opportunity to present an updated version of my presentation on mobile internet usage in Malawi.

So much has happened in this space. And even in a downturn, TNM has managed to increase its subscriber base by 35% in 2011. Compare and contrast those kind of numbers with the saturated markets here in Europe.

The number of Facebook users from southern Africa is increasing despite the high internet access costs. Socialbaker lists 95 820 users from Malawi.

socialbaker stats for Malawi

Leave a comment or contact me if you can provide further interesting data / anecdotes / user behaviour on internet usage patterns in the warm heart of Africa.

Thank you for reading and supporting chiperoni.ch. Alles wird gut.

colorful and calories

P.S.: I missed a LOLCat photo opportunity today: a cat stretched out on the seat of Vespa. Unfortunately I didn’t have a cam with me.

Everybody is a foreigner

I don’t know very much about Swiss politics. But I am reacting to the SVP posters.

@ svp: i found the black sheep you were talking about!

Everybody is a foreigner, almost everywhere.

I didn’t select the family, city, country or continent I was born into.

Get a blog!

Via this tweet, I stumbled across this article:

“A new study from Forrester Research has found a decline in the number of content creators across social networking sites, even while general use and participation on these sites has risen.”

High time to start blogging and creating content.

I personally feel that we are moving back into a media world where news is controlled by a handful. Simply ‘cos many of us (me included) have no time for citizen journalism.

Creating is more fun than echoing other folk’s content.

One of my fun projects is the boring flower snapshot set

Current projects:

  • Website project manager – Adding features and landing pages to a Drupal website
  • Testing a Powerpoint template for MS Office 2007 – I found out that PPT 2007 uses themes
  • Planning vacation – Going south I think. Tas and/or Malawi?
  • Learning about indoor photography – Asking Dive-angel how to take photos at an indoor event with my beloved DSLR

I am also planning to take a closer look at Open Atrium and Heart of Co.