3 Reasons Why You Might be Reluctant to Start a Hotel Blog

Starting a hotel blog One of the best ways to enhance hotel marketing efforts is to start a hotel blog. But many small properties and boutique hotels don’t engage in blogging. If you’re a property owner or hotel manager, you may be reluctant to start a blog for one of these 3 reasons: Continue reading


How to Get More Views for Your YouTube Videos

YouTube logoThe beauty of video marketing is that once you upload a video to YouTube, it can be viewed months and even years later, as long as the video has been optimized properly with the right keywords.

Your videos can also get new exposure to a wider audience thanks to some recent changes in YouTube’s format. The home page and user channel pages have been given a new look on YouTube, and the social sharing options have been changed as well.

When you log into your YouTube account settings, you can link your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then not only can you automatically share your videos to those accounts, but you can also share comments about the video.

YouTube account settings
I think this is a very cool feature. When you respond to a comment about your video, not only will that comment be posted on Facebook & Twitter (if you have enabled those settings), but the video will be displayed there as well. Here’s an example from my Facebook timeline:

YouTube comment on Facebook
This feature can expose your videos to a whole new audience that may have missed the video when it was first uploaded.

For more social media and SEO tips, please subscribe to my YouTube channel: gloriarandvideo.


Why Quality Trumps Quantity for Blog Content

[tweetmeme]One of the challenges of writing a blog is coming up with new article ideas. During a recent webinar I conducted on blogging for business, someone asked whether it was better to write their own blog or use articles from the Internet.

In a word, my answer is “No.”

I say that especially because of Google’s crackdown on so-called “content farms” during its recent algorithm update. Here is an excerpt from Google’s Blog about why it changed the algorithm:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Write Original Blog Content

As you can see, it’s more important than ever to write good blog content that is original and that provides excellent value to your readers. While it may seem nearly impossible to come up with an original idea — check out the latest film remakes in Hollywood, for example — at the very least, you should put your own spin on a given subject. As Google said, if you only republish existing articles found online that content could be considered “low-quality,” and your blog would suffer in the search rankings as a result.

How do you come up with fresh content? I recently posted an article called “42 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Business” that can give you a lot of ideas! That list has worked for me, when I get stuck. You can also keep up with the news in your industry and write opinion articles about the latest happenings. Set up a Google alert for relevant keywords in your business and use the articles that the search turns up for ideas.

If you still need help writing blog articles, I’ll be happy to help! Just send me a message using the “Contact Me” form on this blog.


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SEO Best Practices – Title Tags, Keywords & Inbound Links

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation on search engine optimization at a luncheon mastermind workshop of the National Association of Entrepreneurs in Winter Park, Florida. In the following video clip, I share some basic best practices you should keep in mind when optimizing a website for Google and other search engines.



4 Reasons Why Your Website’s Search Engine Rank May Slip

It’s no easy task to get your website to show up on the first page of Google for a certain keyword. So, when you finally achieve that noteworthy status, it’s a day for celebrating.  Now, you can finally start attracting more traffic and doing more business.

Then, one day, the inexplicable happens. Your site drops off of page one. Traffic slumps. And you’re left scratching your head to figure out what happened.

There can be many reasons why. But Evan Bailyn, president of First Page Sage, a search engine optimization company in New York City, recently told MarketingVox about four of the most common ones:

1. You’ve been outcompeted. The most common reason a site doesn’t rank on the first page is because the competition is playing Google’s algorithm game better. Google’s algorithm is based on site age, URL relevance, and Trustrank. “Trustrank, for those who aren’t SEO geeks, is the actual measure of the level of trust that Google holds for your site, which is largely based on the number, quality, and age of incoming links,” Bailyn explains.

2. Your site has been sandboxed, or re-sandboxed. “Sandboxing” refers to the ranking freeze that Google places on almost all new websites while it builds up a profile of trust. The sandbox period lasts anywhere from two months to a year, depending on the link patterns a site establishes in its first few months, Bailyn says.

“… most people don’t realize that a site can go right back into the Sandbox if Google perceives that the site cannot be trusted to abide by its quality guidelines anymore.” A common way to get re-sandboxed is to link to spam websites, he says.

3. Your site has been penalized. “A penalty is the most sinister thing that can happen to a website because Google does not explain it anywhere, or even acknowledge it in a site’s Webmaster Tools control panel.” On forums like Webmasterworld and Digitalpoint, webmasters have reported a “-10 penalty” or a “-40 penalty,” which means that their site is ranking ten (or, in some cases, forty) spots lower than it used to for a crucial keyword, he says.

This penalty is real, but the number of ranking places a site can be penalized is not so standardized. “The reason a site gets knocked off the first page has to do with a sudden change to the links going to the site. Google is cracking down hard on paid links now, so if you were, for instance, to buy a number of paid links and did not include a “nofollow” in the linking code, it is likely Google would penalize your site.”

4. You’ve been banned. While this is the worst thing that can happen to your site, it is also the easiest to spot, Bailyn says. If your site has been banned, Google may e-mail you, or else you will have a notification in your Webmaster Tools control panel. Another clear sign that your site has been banned is that a search for http://www.yoursite.com in Google brings up no results – in contrast, if your site has been penalized, the same search will bring up your site’s home page.

Google only bans sites that are involved in black hat SEO (cloaking, doorway pages) or are linked into “bad neighborhoods” (adult, pills, or gambling).”You can always submit a reinclusion request once you’ve cleaned up the mess, and Google does reinclude banned sites in its index after a manual investigation,” he concludes.

If your website has slipped in the rankings, consult with your SEO expert to try to figure out what might have happened. If you’re not linking to spam websites, or engaging in any black hat SEO, or buying paid links, then you may want to consider adding more keyword-rich content or freshening up what you already have on the site. If you’re not already engaging in social media, you should start – create a blog or a Facebook fan page to generate more interest in your website.

In fact, if you’d like more ideas, reach out to me by becoming a fan on my Facebook page. I’m happy to help!



SEO Tips for Video Marketing

When you create a video to promote your business, how do you get anyone to see it?

Search Engine Optimization, of course!

SEO isn’t just for Web sites. Your videos can reach more online viewers when you create them using best SEO practices.

Here are 6 tips to remember regarding SEO for Video:

  1. Create Useful, Relevant Content – Videos won’t be a successful marketing tool unless they contain useful content. Remember – you’re not making a music video! Think substance, over style. Be sure to include relevant keywords in your audio and video content as well.
  2. Shorter is Better – Attention spans are short today. Your videos should run between 3 and 5 minutes for optimal viewing.  Don’t despair if that’s not enough time to cover everything. Just break up the content into two or three parts. Tease the second part at the end of the first video to entice your viewer to keep watching!
  3. Keyword-rich Titles – Include relevant keywords in your video’s title, as this will likely be the first thing the search engines look for in deciding where to rank your content.
  4. Keyword-rich Descriptions  – Make sure your video has a keyword-rich description that details what the video is about.
  5. Tags – Tag your videos with relevant keywords.  You may also consider adding the word “video” to the title, description and tag, such many people add the word “video” to their search phrase. 
  6. Ratings and Reviews – Allow viewers to rate and review your video. The higher your rating, the more authority your video is perceived to have by the search engines. In addition, if your video gets a great review, it’s more likely to be shared – so your video gets seen by more people.

Need help writing an optimized script for your video? Contact Gloria Rand at Gloria@gloriarand.com today.



How to Attract Visitors to Your Website and Convert Them into Customers

Ever wonder why some companies seem to struggle online, while others rank high on Google and make money hand over fist?

If all things are equal between two companies in the same industry – the difference probably lies with the firms’ websites.

Odds are the successful company has a user-friendly site that features a customer-benefit headline so a visitor can quickly see what that company has to offer.

Write content for your site that quickly conveys the benefits your company provides to potential customers.

You only have about 3-5 seconds to make an impression online. If you don’t have an attention-grabbing headline on the home page – your visitor will hit the back button and do business with someone else. 

Once you grab that visitor’s attention, keep it by writing copy in a conversational style. Make your paragraphs short and to the point. Emphasize the benefits of your product or service, not just its features. People buy because they want to, not necessarily because they need to.

Of course, if you are in the B2B market, features are important.  A person shopping for a new copier for their business wants to know if the machine can handle small or big jobs, whether it can print in color or just black and white, and the printing speed.  But don’t neglect the benefits here either. If a particular copier will make his job easier, and doesn’t cost his company a fortune, those are important benefits to note in your copy.

Include keywords in your website content.

Keywords are words and phrases people use to search for a particular product or service. If you want your website to be found by the search engines, the content on your site must include these keywords.

To ensure the search engines find your site, keywords also need to be included in the title and description meta tags found in the source code.  The title and description are displayed on the search engine results page. If you don’t specify this information in your source code, Google and the other search engines will pick out information from your site and display whatever it wants.  Creating unique titles and descriptions for each page of your website, and including carefully selected keywords in them, enables you to control the content displayed.

How do you find these keywords? Google is a good place to start. The popular search engine has its own keyword tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. This tool helps you see which keywords are used frequently and which are not. Two other excellent sources are KeywordDiscovery.com and Wordtracker.com. These are subscription services, but they do offer free trials.

The key to effective website design is keeping your customers’ needs in mind.

Provide solutions in clear, concise language and include appropriate keywords for the search engines to find. When you take these steps, you’ll convert website traffic into paying customers. That’s a return on investment your business can appreciate, in any economy.


From TV Writer to SEO Copywriter

Why did a former writer and producer of the award-winning public television program, “Nightly Business Report” become a freelance copywriter, specializing in search engine optimization?

As the song says, “Money, money, money, money…”

Just kidding. Well… sort of.

I worked at Nightly Business Report for ten years before striking off on my own to help launch a half-hour business news program for Florida’s News Channel, a cable news  outlet.  I wanted the challenge to see if I could handle something on my own, and boy did I get a challenge!  At NBR, we had a producer, writer, two associate producers, and a stocks producer. At FNC, we had me! I was the producer/writer/stocks producer all in one – plus, instead of producing one show a day, I did two!

The adventure didn’t last however. My husband had stayed back in Miami, while my 5-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son and I had moved to Tallahassee for this job. My husband wasn’t able to find a job that matched the salary he made in Miami, so I reluctantly quit and moved back to become a stay-at-home mom.

I kept busy helping out at my children’s schools – writing press releases and newsletters, even substitute teaching.  I also became the leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop.  Taught the girls how to build a fire, pitch a tent, sell a few Girl Scout cookies!

At the same time, I went back to Nightly Business Report on a part-time basis.  I produced the show when the senior producer went on vacation or got sick.  I’d work for a day or two weeks at a time – just enough to stay connected to the working world.  It was a great arrangement as long as I lived in Miami.

But, when I moved to Central Florida… let’s just say the 4-1/2 hour commute didn’t appeal to me!

However, I kept my hand in at NBR, working from home to write a monthly promo of their upcoming specials and series.  But that only took a few hours a month, and it didn’t pay a whole lot.  With my son and daughter heading to college in a few short years, I needed to find a new outlet for my writing.

I kept getting this brochure in the mail with the headline, “Can you write a letter like this?”  It was from AWAI – American Writers & Artists Inc. – advertising a home-study course in copywriting.  I pondered it a while, but then tossed it.  Then a year or so later, they sent me another one.  I studied this one a little more closely and decided, “Hey, I can do this!”

In addition to the copywriting course, I took their course on search engine optimization.  I’d been hearing what a great niche it was, and I realized there were a lot of companies in my area that needed work on their websites.

And that’s what I’m doing today.  I write keyword-rich content for company websites to help them move higher up the search engine ranks, and convert that increased traffic into sales.  I’m having a blast doing it too.  I learn about different industries, and I earn money helping business owners improve their sites so they can make more money.  It’s a win-win situation all around.

So, stick around. I plan to share with you some of the tricks of the trade, and my experiences dealing with clients. Stay tuned….