Favourite podcasts

The Hidden Brain by NPR:
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain?t=1594925472583

I listened to this one all about debt:
https://www.npr.org/2020/06/15/877401074/buy-borrow-steal-how-debt-became-the-sugar-rush-solution-to-our-economic-woes

This episode all about scarcity was particularly impressive: https://www.npr.org/2019/08/05/748207152/you-2-0-tunnel-vision

podcast time

Ted Radio Hour by NPR:
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510298/ted-radio-hour

About loneliness: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/01/886292087/listen-again-meditations-on-loneliness

How I built this by NPR:
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this

How Ben and Jerry Ice Cream was founded: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/20/818918341/ben-jerrys-ben-cohen-and-jerry-greenfield

The Story behind Recaptcha: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/22/860884062/recaptcha-and-duolingo-luis-von-ahn

ARD Radio Tatort (crime fiction in German):
https://beta.ardaudiothek.de/ard-radio-tatort/1998988

L’Italiano Vero:
https://www.litalianovero.it/wp/

The only language learning podcast that I like listening to.

Social Objects and how they help me to connect

In a recent offline conversation, I dropped a comment:

That’s my common social object with so-and-so.

Me in an informal conversation

I realized how much this old blog post from the beginnings of blogging has influenced me.

My observation: If I find a common social object, it helps me re-connect. If I find a common topic, sport, technology, political view, geographic place, hobby, shared past experiences, the depth of interactions changes.

Sounds obvious.

As 2020 has changed many social interactions, routines, and aspects. I am curious to see what will return and in which way.

2020 is a catalyst for changes that started happening already.

inner courtyard

I am curious how work will evolve. Language change is an indicator of societal change. I attended a meeting on Friday where one participant said to another:

I Slack-ed you.

ironically on a Teams call

The tools may change. But, the trajectory will probably remain the same.

Note to myself: My blogger skills are very useful.

roses
Photography is a social object
The red makes it

Keyword research in 2020: a brief answer

I received this question recently:

If I create content for our company (articles for magazines, social media posts, etc), do I need to try to use KEYWORDS within the text as much as possible? And if yes, is there an online tool / website to check how well I did my job before I publish it?

Here’s my answer:

  • Brainstorm and research as much as you can about your topic.
  • Ask your sales managers how they describe the service when they talk to people on the phone; write down all the phrases they mention.
  • Jot down all the phrases and questions you think people will enter into a search engine for your topic.
  • Check the monthly search volume of your phrases using a tool such as SEMRush or Searchmetrics or Ahrefs. Or use free SEO research tools.
  • Check search intent by entering the keyphrase into Google. Analyze the results you see:
    • Are you seeing some of your competitors? That’s good. You are in the right space.
    • Are you seeing dictionary or encyclopedia or university links? That’s not good, if you are a commercial company.
    • Look at the Google results and try to understand the search intent.
  • Map out the structure and SEO elements of your article.
    • Outline the topic you want to target.
    • Write a draft meta page title and meta description.
    • Write a draft Heading 1 (H1).
    • List out the questions you want to answer in your article.
      • Questions are typically Heading 2s (H2).
      • Answers are a paragraph or a bullet list.
    • List out the keyphrases you want to target in the body text.
    • List articles that you want to use as inspiration for your SEO writing process.
      • Avoid copy and paste. Google is not dumb and can find out if you copy and pasted from another site.
    • Review SEO research before starting to write.
    • Start SEO copywriting process and include all SEO elements.
      • Include main keyphrase in your meta title tag, meta description, H1, add complementary keyphrases in H2s and body of the text, add alt texts for your images.
  • There are several tools that you can use to check the keyword distribution and density in your article. I’ve used Ryte.com, Moz, and there’s a new AI tool called MarketMuse that I am testing.
  • Important: Write for humans. Make the article useful. Think about the phrases people will use to find this article.
  • Track traffic and keyphrases in a tool like SEMRush or SearchMetrics or Ahrefs or Ryte.com or similar. There’s quite a choice.

Hope you find this list useful.

think make check
Continuous Improvement

When you have over 20 thousand photos on Flickr…

I’ve been on Flickr for over a decade.

And I have over 20 thousand photos.

Imagine.

I didn’t think this is possible.

Memories. Snapshots. Visual notes.

The primary beneficiary is… me.

I love browsing thru my photos.

I love seeing old snapshots emerge in the Flickr stats or in old links or chats.

I realize Flickr might be dying. I hope not. I hope the new owners find a sustainable business model soon. And ways to innovate.

sunset thru the curtain

Cyclists, beware of tram tracks. Dangerous spot on Elisabethenstrasse in Basel

I witnessed a motorbike crash this morning while cycling to work.

I was cycling up Elisabethenstrasse when I heard a loud crash.

A motorbiker had crashed on the other side of the street. At a place where the tram tracks and street don’t leave much space for cyclists and motorbikes.

At exactly the same spot which I’ve previously identified as being dangerous.

Not so long ago, the pavement at the tram stop was increased in height so that now the tram doors open at pavement level.

This means the curb is much higher and steeper.

At the same time, the space between curb and tram track is narrower than before and after the tram stop.

Which means on rainy days, you can easily slip on the wet and slippery tram tracks.

Dangerous.

I usually move to the middle of the tracks, away from the curb.

I think I will cycle a different route. Especially on rainy days.

Life is precious. Cycle safely.

As you can tell i am shocked.

Photowalk

I went photo-walking with the Basel Photography Meetup on Saturday. The theme was #Openings.

#opening

On my way into town, I saw this yellow monster. Nothing open about it. And very noisy.

loud machinery

I like this snapshot of openings within a gate:

#opening

This snapshot of some openings in this construction site scaffolding fits my likeable criteria equally well:

#opening

An enjoyable photo-walk thru Basel.

water fountain

I attended Medien-Barcamp 2019 – my notes and comments – #medienbc

Yesterday, I set my alarm to 6 am and jumped on the 7:33 train to Zürich-Oerlikon. On a Saturday. To attend a barcamp on media.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of barcamps, a barcamp is a conference that organizes the talks by itself, on the day, Someone provides some rooms and infrastructure such as wifi and screens. And they send out invites via Twitter and other social media channels.

And that’s how i found my way to #medienbc, the event’s hashtag.

In yesterday’s case, the Medien-Barcamp organizers had access to the rooms of SRF, the Swiss public radio and TV station, in Zürich.

It’s not my first barcamp. I’ve attended many and even presented topics at some. Yesterday I was in listening mode.

#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

Here’s a brief recap of the talks that I attended:

First, I attended a talk by Markus on Voice User Interfaces. He provided an excellent intro to the rise of voice. He says many new jobs are being created in this space. And I made a mental note to look up SSML.

Fabian and David invited us to discuss how to get more “old” people engaged on social media. The discussion covered a lot of ground:

  • The decline in journalistic quality,
  • The change in speed,
  • The fact that today journalists have access to less proofreading, fact checking and editorial staff than ever,
  • Questions like do users want to see and interact with company content on Facebook (apparently yes, 1 attendee described how a Facebook ad influenced her decision to buy).

Next, I listened to Vincenzo talk about the challenges and learnings of setting up an email newsletter for a small regional newspaper. A very honest and useful talk. His newspaper uses a tool called Revue, by a Dutch startup, cos it’s even simpler than Mailchimp.

#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

I peeked into the session on no-budget video production. I would like to learn more about this.

#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

I listened to a talk on analytics. Not new for me, but I was curious to see SimilarWeb. It looks a lot like SEMRush.

We looked at the stats for Nau.ch that had just announced it is now making a profit. The stats showed Nau.ch is investing in organic search. Markus recommended that journalists do keyword research for their articles. I would think that is obvious by now.

#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

In the last session of the day, I got valuable advice on how to prepare to speak in front of audience or take part in an interview. In my own words:

  • Stand firmly. Before you start presenting, assure yourself that you are standing firmly on the ground and that it will not disappear beneath you.
  • Find ways to relax and stand in an open, welcoming position, e.g. take deep breaths of air, yawn, make funny faces, turn into a loud and noisy monster shortly before your gig.
  • Remind yourself that you are valuable, e.g. imagine you were given a really expensive diamond worth more than 100 thousand CHF and walk thru the busy train station in Bern.
  • Prepare and know the content of your presentation. If you know your topic well, you will be persuasive.
  • It’s about your attitude and posture.
#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

Thank you to the organisers and participants for an enjoyable and fulfilling event. Good food, awesome location, great speakers. I like barcamp sessions cos we can leave out the sales speak and dig deeper. I feel excited and encouraged.

#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019
#medienbc Medien-Barcamp 2019

Summer of 2019

There are so many beautiful poppies this year. I captured some impressions on Flickr. It must be the additional rain that causes poppies to bloom. The field next to Fondation Beyeler is red with flowers.

poppies in the wind
stream

Flickr: Should I stay or should I go?

Smug Mug acquired Flickr in April 2018. The question every long-term Flickr user is asking:

Should I renew my subscription?

I’ve been on Flickr for a very long time. And seen many ups and downs. Probably more downs. And it’s 2019 and I still use Flickr.

Con:

  • Subscription has doubled in price: 50$ for 1 year instead of 2 years.
  • There is an ongoing downturn in community activity. Group discussions are rare.

Pro:

  • Without VIPs, social media influencers and advertisers, Flickr has become a quieter place far from the crowd. Which isn’t so bad if you don’t need to promote and sell.
  • The mobile app works. Nothing flashy but ok.
  • Flickr supports the main functions I need. Easy, structured photo storage that is searchable and shareable.
  • Currently, no new features are tested on unsuspecting users on a weekly basis.
  • I have nearly 15 years of links and embedded photos that I would need to update on this blog.
  • Sentimental value: faves, comments, tags, memories, stats, links.
  • Smug Mug isn’t Facebook / Google / Microsoft / Amazon.

I have some time until my subscription expires. I have a local copy of all of my photos and I’ve started to pull a backup of my Flickr account.

#biketowork #3rdJan2019 #backtowork #frohes #neues

The question is: Should I stay or should I go? And if I go, where should I go? And does it matter?

the road ahead

Jog log 2019

It’s the 6th of January. And… I already went for a run three times this week. I hope to continue my running streak throughout the winter months.

The plan is to carve out 30 minutes per day.

And perhaps I’ll write about it here. Because writing helps.

The future of SEO

Much like how today I’d take 10 email subscribers to my newsletter over 1,000 Facebook “likes,” I think in the future, we’d all much rather have 10 Google searches for our brand name than 1,000 Google searches for phrases on which we’re trying to both rank and compete for a click against Google themselves.

Sparktoro

Slides: SEO for small business websites

Here are my slides from my recent Women in Digital talk in Basel. I made them “resource-full” with lots of background links.

The session was interactive from the start. Lots of questions throughout. Wow. I think the topic hit a nerve.

Notes:

SEO for small business websites

How do you get found in an increasingly busy and complex online search market?
Are you a small business owner looking to get started with SEO? Already got a site up but the traffic is low? In my presentation I discussed key requirements for a web presence and how to stay focussed.

Intro

Be nimble, fast, smart – use your smallness as an advantage

“Small businesses can compete with large companies if they keep in mind that search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint.”

1) Learn the basics of SEO

  • Read “Intro to SEO” guidelines (MOZ, Backlinko, Google)
  • Take an online course

2) Do your marketing homework!

  • What segment are you trying to reach?
  • Who is your potential client?
  • What is your core message?
  • How would you present your services/products in a telephone call/face-to-face meeting?
  • What kind of words does your potential client use when referring to your services/products?

Carry out:

  • Customer Interviews
  • Keyword Research

See also my previous blog post on SEO for B2B services and products

3) Does your site match the intended purpose? Does it answer your client’s question?

Google looks at your site as a whole, as well as on a per-page-basis. Keep in mind that SEO is evolving. There are lots of additional items you need to grapple with.

  • Usability
  • Engagement
  • RankBrain
  • Search Intent
  • Structured Data
  • Voice Search

4) On-page factors

  • Page title/ meta descriptions
  • Internal links
  • Unique page, url, page title, meta description and content (don’t copy content from other sites or make duplicates of your own)
  • Alt image tag
  • Heading 1 and 2
  • Related terms

5) Local

  • Claim or create a Google My Business listing.

I expect Google to offer more local search results, based on location and tailored to smartphone sensor data.

6) Technical SEO

In 2018 technical aspects will re-gain importance. Test your page speed. Clean up crawl errors and duplicates.

  • Fast web hosting
  • Page speed – Get rid of bloat in your CMS
  • Make sure pages get indexed – Google Search Console is your friend
  • Minimize of crawl errors

7) Plan your content

  • Editorial calendar with deadlines
  • Quality content
  • If you have a blog, blog at regular intervals. Freshness is (still) a ranking factor. Blogging helps you to find out what works or what doesn’t

Text fonts and page layout matter:

“On an average web page, users read 20% of the words.”

Include:

  • Heading 2s
  • Bullet lists
  • Images

8) Promote your site

  • Regular email updates/newsletter, e.g using Mailchimp
  • Content amplification – share on social media (Social Media link isn’t a ranking factor but it helps with getting attention; getting indexed by the Google bot; building a community of followers)
  • Network online and offline – present at barcamps, meetups

9) Measure. Add improvements. Repeat.

A page isn’t getting enough traffic? Why? Thin content? Go back and try and figure out why. Test how you can improve? Add Heading 2s. Add an additional paragraph.

“What kind of web content would you find useful?”

Ask your clients for website feedback.

Or if it isn’t working, maybe you’ll need to re-think your marketing approach?

Links:

SEO basics for entrepreneurs: Easy tips for optimizing your website

Small business SEO: Your questions answered

How to Rank in 2018: The SEO Checklist – Whiteboard Friday

How Google Gives Us Insight into Searcher Intent Through the Results – Whiteboard Friday

Free add-on: Answers to the questions on Slides 9 and 10

Before my talk, I asked some entrepreneurs in my community what SEO questions they have, what challenges they face. Here are some answers of the top of my head:

Question 1: I don’t want to invent the wheel, so what basics do I need to know about SEO or do myself?

My answer: I recommend reading Moz’s beginners guide to SEO. If you are publishing your own website content, please read thru the section on on-page ranking factors. On-page changes are the easiest to influence and take care of.

The other thing to watch out for is that your small business website follows best practises.

If you are using a content management system, make sure the site is fast. Try to reduce CMS bloat as much as possible.

Check that each piece of content is accessible via only one URL.

Duplicate content issues may arise when Google can access the same piece of content via multiple URLs. Without one clear version, pages will compete with one another unnecessarily.

In developer’s eyes, a page is unique if it has a unique ID in the website’s database, while for search engines the URL is a unique identifier. A developer should be reminded that each piece of content should be accessed via only one URL.

(Source: Strategic SEO Decisions to Make Before Website Design and Build)

Plan your site structure. Decide on languages and regions.

Question 2: What are the top 3 mistakes that I have to avoid?

My answer: There’s lots of things that can go wrong.

    1. Avoid vague, sprawling websites with lots of sub-menus and thin content, especially if you are a small company. Put your client at the center, instead of your product/department/company achievements. Always ask yourself what search query does my site want to answer, what is the purpose, what keyphrases do my clients use.
    2. Not filling in the page title and meta description tags with a useful summary of your web page. The page title is the first part of your web page that web visitors see in the search engine result pages and it influences your SEO. Yet, very often you see “homepage”. The meta description helps web visitors decide to click on a link or not. On-page SEO is easier to influence and change.
    3. Get the basics up and running. Unstable, flaky web hosting or a broken user experience will hurt your web reputation. And make SEO harder.

 

Question 3: Is SEO and web design totally connected, or can I outsource this to separate providers?

My answer: Web design and SEO are connected by the words usability and user experience. Google looks at engagement metrics. If web visitors land on your web page and leave after a split second, despite having good SEO content, then it might be due to your web design. You don’t need to assign design and development to the same provider. The times when designers wanted to use Adobe Flash for their designs are thankfully over. If your website design follows common web design patterns, you’ll be fine. Make sure the fonts are easy to read on different devices

Question 4: How do I select an SEO provider?

My answer: Ask lots of questions. Be wary if they promise too much. Discuss your business goals.

Via Moz here are some questions to ask:

  • What process are you going to use to accomplish my business goals, and why do you use those particular processes?
  • What is your communication and reporting process? How often? What metrics do you report on? How do those match up to the business goals?
  • What do you do when things aren’t working?

Question 5: How regular should I, or my provider, work actively on the SEO to keep the good results? Or: what is my decay-time?

My answer: It depends on the purpose of your website. If you are building a webshop or an e-commerce app, you will need to invest a lot more energy, time, resources, and money than if you are a consultant for a service that is highly in demand.

As a newcomer, you’ll need to build a web reputation.

If I’m building a consultancy business, I’d start off with blocking off 2 SEO time-slots per week.
A typical, regular SEO content activity is for instance

    1. writing a new blog post and promoting it within my community
    2. re-visiting a core service page to add a new paragraph

 

Question 6: Should I do SEO in every language of my website?

My answer: Yes. Without adequate SEO keyphrase analysis, the translation doesn’t perform well. After translation, you should check and adjust headings and tags to match your primary and related keyphrases.

Question 7: Is SEO scalable? Meaning: if I have set up my SEO properly, that with every added search word, I have proportionally more results? Or do I have diminishing returns, every time I add a search word, or content improvement? Where do I reach the optimum in money and effect?

My answer: If you’ve built a good web reputation and found the topics that your clients are interested in, it will get easier. Please note: SEO is a mid-term or long-term investment. There’s a risk that Google will change its algorithm and something that worked 6 months ago may no longer work now. Google is investing heavily into artificial intelligence and in some ways this will level the playing field. I would focus on finding the topics and questions that your clients are looking for. Build a website that helps clients get their jobs done.

Question 8: How do I measure success with SEO? Proof that it works!

My answer: This is the huge benefit of digital marketing. It is measurable. Before starting any SEO project, decide on your measure of success and discuss in detail with your SEO provider.

Again, consider your business goals: What’s the purpose of your website? Do you want to get more contact form submissions? More downloads? More shopping cart submissions? Measure a conversion rate that is important for your business success.

I would avoid vanity goals like “more traffic”.

Question 9: What are the content activities I should do that help with better SEO results? Like: weekly blog publication, news items, reposting other people’s content”¦ etc?

My answer: Blogging is a good way to get started and to find what resonates and what doesn’t. If you have relevant news or if you are attending an event, I would also share these. I’ve moved away from “content curation” (= reposting other people’s content) for B2B purposes. Curating content is time consuming. If you see a piece of content that fits, I would quote it but try to write my own version. Consider other content types such as interviews, videos, audio podcasts. And build good pillar pages on your core topics.

And once you have created good content, give it as much promotion as your budget and resources allow.