How To Find Your Blog’s Sitemap

The lines between social media and search engine optimisation are blurring.  Professionals are having to become increasingly flexible and develop their knowledge in areas that 6 months ago would have been well outside their remit.   So, although my passion may lie in social media, but that isn’t going to stop me talking about SEO.  Not when it could help clients meet their objectives.

If you’re anything like me, SEO can feel really overwhelming.  With so many aspects, tools, jargon and bits of coding it can seem impossible to even know which way is up.  So I thought I’d put together some little “How To” guides to help keep you grounded.

How to submit your blog’s Sitemap to Google

Have you ever been to foreign country where you don’t quite speak the language.  Imagine being dropped in a city with a roughly drawn map and told to make your way through making sure you visit every road – you might be able to stumble your way around, but you’re not really sure whether you’re heading in the right direction.  That’s the challenge that faces Google Crawlers when they arrive at a website.  The landmarks are familiar, it’s pretty simular to other places they’ve been before, but there is always the risk that they might end up down a dead-end or by-pass some key content.

Confusing sign

Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site.  It allows Google to locate pages that it might not otherwise discover, and although Google doesn’t guarentee that it will crawl all of your pages, at least by submitting a “map” of your website to Google you can be more confident that the search engine is able to learn about the structure of your site, and get a rough idea where it should be going.

To get started you will firstly need to link your blog with Google Webmaster Tools – it’s a free service that allows you to find out some interesting stats on how Google crawls your website.  Once registered you will have the option to submit or test a site map.

How to find a Blogger Sitemap

  • Open up your web browser, and type in your Blogger blog’s URL and at the of the URL add robots.txt.  For example, if the URL of your blog is  http:/ /myblog.blogspot.com , then enter http:/ /myblog.blogspot.com/robots.txt
  • Some text should now be displayed in your browser.  It might look like an error message, but don’t panic.  Look for a line that starts with Sitemap:. There will be a URL after that, and this is the location of your sitemap.
  • Simply copy the second part of the link (the domain name part of the URL would already be included) into Google Webmaster Tools.

How to find a WordPress Sitemap

  • WordPress Sitemaps are even easier to locate.
  • Simply type your blog address into a brower but end the link with /sitemap.xml so for example http:/ /myblog.wordpress.com/sitemap.xml.
  • If you visit this site you’ll be viewing your sitemap – simply pop the second part of the URL (e.g. “/sitemap.xml”) into the box withint Google Webmaster Tools.

And that’s it.

In the words of a famous meerkat: Schimples.

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What Is The Media’s Obsession With Snow?

Yes.  We get it.

It’s snowing.

This morning every TV and Radio channel I flicked to seemed to be screaming the weather at me: Snow is forecast.  It will fall from the sky and carpet the roads.  There will be some traffic disruption.  People will work from home.  Winter is coming.But let’s get come perspective here.  We don’t live in the world of Game of Thrones.  Snow doesn’t equal apocalypse… to be honest, it’s been a pretty standard annual event for the last five years.  So why are we so obsessed with talking about it (I realise that the fact I’m blogging about this is all highly ironic)…?

The Daily Express is one of the worst weather-story offenders with regular front page splashes dedicated to it.  And with the media shouting stories like  “COLDEST WINTER IN 100 YEARS ON WAY” and “SNOW CHAOS TO CRIPPLE BRITAIN WITH -15C WEATHER PREDICTED” it’s not really surprising that the country grinds to a halt and people decide to work from home.

Back in 2009 when the sky suddenly dumped a foot of snow across most of Great Britain without warning, I agree there was a snow-story to be told.  Motorways became car parks, people slept in shopping centres – that was a proper snow day.  Maybe the media feels a sense of guilt for the lack of warning about that occasion, and since then has been trying to make up for it by ringing the alarm bells as soon as there is even a sniff of a flake.  But it gets people really jumpy.

Reading, Berks, February 2009

Reading, Berks, February 2009

It got fairly laughable this morning, I watched a news reporter, dressed as if for the Arctic, on the streets of London reporting that there was currently no snow.  A snow report about no snow.  I couldn’t help but snort over my porridge.

Social media isn’t helping the sense of hysteria either.  Facebook is filled with excited posts about “Snow Days”, Instagram gets clogged with snow pictures, and #uksnow trends on Twitter (you can even get it as an iPhone app for heaven’s sake)… we can track the spread of the white stuff without even looking out of our window.

It’s not a surprise the us Brits just love talking about the weather, but we really do need to get a grip on reality and some perspective.  Prepare for snow, obviously, check weather forecasts, look out of the window, make sure you’ve got a blanket and food in your car.  But it is highly unlikely that you’ll need to stock-pile tinned food…

The media fan the flames of our obsession, and we do so even more by driving conversation about them on social networks, so really we’ve only got ourselves to blame…

The thing to remember is that in a few days it will all melt away and the predicted chaos will be forgotten.  We’ll go back to talking about rain.

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Disappointing: Facebook Pages Manager for Android

If you happen to be both a social media nut and an Android user then, like me, you will have been probably been waiting with bated breath for Facebook to get a wriggle on and release a version of their Page Manager app that will work with your phone.  As with the majority of mobile applications, Apple came first, but for us Andriod users we’ve had to put up with the slightly clunky functions of the original mobile app for updating Facebook pages.

But then, after 8 months of waiting, I heard on the grape vine that Facebook had started a soft roll-out in Canada, Austraila, New Zealand, and then a few days later suddenly the Facebook Page Manager application was available for download on the Play Store.  As a social media professional updating Facebook pages is just part of my daily workload, so anything that is designed to make it easier gets me very excited…

But eight months between releasing the iOS and the Android versions seems, well, a little OTT.  Even if Facebook and Google don’t always see eye-to-eye, what with the popularity of Android devices, it seems daft on Facebook’s part to have spent so long leaving those users like me feeling so unloved.  I mean, it’s not as if the app was ever designed to do something overly complicated, so I have to wonder what the reason is behind all the dragging of heels.

So, was it it worth the wait?

Erm.

Lack of setting options

Well.  No.  I find it pretty useless actually.  The app allows page managers to update a Facebook page – great, but I could already do that on the native app – respond to comments – again, native app allows me to do this too – and receive notifications whenever a page is updated.  So this last point is great in theory, having a notification to your mobile phone of a social interaction on a brand’s page should mean that you can ensure proactive monitoring and swift response, but in reality it’s just plain annoying.  I have over 20 Facebook pages linked up to my Facebook account, so having that function on for a few minutes sent my phone into a strange seizure with updates coming left, right and centre.  It was chaos.

I checked the settings to see if I could tone down some of the notifications on a brand-by-brand basis, but to no avail.  All the application allows you to do is to turn on the pushed notifications or to turn them all off until 8am the following morning.  No permanent off setting, nor options to change the push notifications by brand, just a broad-brush approach.  That seems really naive on Facebook’s part.  As any Facebook page manager knows different pages have different requirements and I resent having to treat any page with a one-size-fits-all approach.

One-tap Insight data

One thing the app does do well is offer page managers both page and post-level Insights with one tap – which is handy if you’re away from a computer and want to do some simple reporting, or perhaps show a client quickly how a particular post is performing.  The app also makes it easier for page manager to delete or hide posts than with the native app – which again is useful if you’re out of the office and you have an urgent need to delete something.  However, in my experience it is only in exceptional circumstances that a post should be deleted… so whilst this function is useful I can’t see it as something that I would use on a regular basis.

Facebook Page Manager App

Insight data is available in a single tap

Photo upload

The one thing that I did like though was that I can now remotely upload images to the Page’s Wall through the Android App – you can either take a photo on the spot, search through photos already on your device or straight from an image search.  To do this, all you need to do is click the plus sign to the left of your reply, then select “image search.”  Very straight forward.

According to Google Play Store most users seem to love the Page Manager app, but all in all the app has left me a bit cold.  For something I was so looking forward to I’m a bit disappointed.  Sure, I can see it’ll have its uses, but It’s just the shame that, after 8 months of waiting, one of the first things I did after downloading the Facebook Page Manager Android App was log out.

What are your experiences of the Pages Manager app?

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Facebook Isn’t Reducing Spam. It’s Condoning it.

2012 must have been a year of two halves for the man behind Facebook.  Firstly there was the great excitement of Facebook hitting the stock exchange. After weeks of hype the company floated. Millionaires were made over night. Zuck was riding do high on the crest of his success that he decided to time was right to finally wed his long-term gal.  But then the numbers faultered. They dipped. And then they plummeted.  Everyone started talking about how Facebook might actually be a big economic black-hole…

Facebook needs to make money

It seems ever since then the Facebook has been trying to monetise more and more of its services. Advertising rates jumped, they introduced Promoted Posts – and not just for brands, individuals could choose to fork out their cold hard cash to make sure their post appeared in more Timelines… And now Facebook are testing “extreme prices” for the delivery of private messages.

Facebook private messaging

In case you’ve never noticed Facebook filters the private messages you recieve into two inboxes – messages from friends land in your Inbox and you get a notification, messages from people outside of your networks, or from pages land in the “Other” box. There you get no notification, it simply sits there waiting to be discovered. And seeing as very few people check it, it could be waiting a very long time…

But what if you could fork out some cash, which elevated your message from the “Other” folder, into the welcoming arms of the Inbox… $100 for instance may be enough to land your message in Zuck’s inbox.

Facebook is charging for messaging mark zuckerberg

Facebook is trialing what it calls “extreme” payment so that people who really want to use Facebook to contact people outside of their network have the opportunity to – and the high price point is designed to deter spammers.

Spam messages in your Facebook Inbox

Facebook is proudly talking about the role monetisation could have in reducing spam, with the VIP Facebook users (who have been selected to be part of the trial due to thier high follower numbers) recieiving only one paid for message per week.  But I disagree with Facebook’s spin – any unsolicited contact is spam, even if it gas a high price tag attached. In fact what Facebook is doing isn’t reducing spam (which will still be rife, and will continue to land in you Other folder), it’s simply allowing cold messages to land in inboxes if the sender pays for them.

If a company is looking to reach out to key influencers $100 might not seem too steep when you consider the potential returns – that is assuming that anyone ever is influenced by cold-calling.

I simply do not see this big benefit to users that Facebook seems to be trumpetting about.  Once again Facebook is looking for a way to make money, but is packaging it in such a way that it is seen to be designed to be for the benefit of the average user… I think Facebook may be being a little naive if it thinks users will swollow that one with their weekly spam.

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A Return To Blogging: Introducing Raw Discourse

Back in 2011 I wrote an open letter of apology to my blog.  I grovelled for taking time away from it, and promised to do better.  But life has a tendency to get in the way and somewhere along the way, this blog just got left behind…  It’s not that I wanted to stop writing.  Far from it – it’s always something I’ve done for my own enjoyment.  But I started writing more regularly for BOTTLE Uncorked, engaging wider in social media communities and simply having my debates on Twitter and I ended up with no reason to continue my communications blog.  I lost focus, direction and my enthusiasm slowly petered out.

Then Google started tweaking it’s algorithm.  SEO companies scrabbled around to catch up with the changes brought about by Panda and Penguin.  But then, at the end of last year things got really interesting…

Panda and penguin

Okay, so this may have been an excuse for a cute picture.

Back in August 2005 Google filed a patent for “Agent Rank” which was an indication at Google was dipping their toe in the “human” role of SEO.  Agent Rank was, unsurprisingly, all about ranking “agents” and using how their content was received online – and then using those interactions to determine how their content ranked.  But it wasn’t until the end of last year that Google’s reinvigorated “Author Rank” finally came into play.

In a nut-shell Author Rank doesn’t just take into account the content on a site, but who wrote that content.  It’s Google finally acknowledging the role influencers have to play online.  Okay, so this may be a way of making everyone use their Google+ profiles, but I genuinely see the value in recognising the “human factor.”  From a public relations point on view, when you’re trying to reach a particular target audience it is common-sense that different people, publications and websites will have more influence on your target group.  And now this all comes into play with SEO too.  It’s not just what you write on a blog, but who writes it that will make a difference to how your site rank with Google.  And so what if Google makes you jump through hoops to get there.

So with the view to full disclosure, that is partly why I’ve returned to this blog.   It’s my attempt at waving my digital arms around in front of Google’s Crawlers.  But it also with a sense of nostalgia that I return.

For the first time in a good year I’ve lavished some attention on my blog. I’ve given it  a good spring clean,  a new look,  recognised a new focus and have even given it a new name:  Raw Discourse .  I mean this blog to be a place for conversation, debate and open sharing of ideas about all things communication – from social media, to marketing, PR, offline conversation and language.

As always, please do get in touch if you are interested in contributing to the conversation.

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