Google Juice

I am not an expert on Search Engine Optimization but I’ve been messing around with it a bit lately and thought I’d pass on a few tips. These tips relate to both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) proper, which means helping people find your blog posts, which, in turn, means hyping up your Google Juice, as well as general social networking. Almost everything here is obvious but I see many blogs that I really like not doing at least some of them.

Social Networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Your blog should have an easily available set of social networking buttons on each blog post. Ideally these buttons should be on the view of your blog that shows the various recent posts (titles and summaries) as well on the individual blog post pages. Many blogs have buttons that link the reader to the blog author’s Twitter page or other places, but this is not what I mean. I’m talking about the twitter (or other social networking site) button that instantly generates a tweet (or other appropriate action) when pressed.

This button should not lead the reader to a place where they can sign up for the ability to share a blog post. Some blogs do that and it is counter productive. A lot of your readers will ignore this. The social networking buttons should include a lot of options because, even though most people probably use Twitter with Facebook a close second, there are still lots of people who use Stumble Upon or other sites. So when choosing what buttons to show (by adjusting your social networking plugin) be generous.

It would also be nice if your sharing buttons were clearly marked and readily available and distinct from your “follow me on X” buttons.

Some bloggers have a Twitter button that generates a tweet with an @ tag like “@wordpress.com” or something along those lines. That is pretty useless. The @ tag should be more specific to your on line presence. Nobody cares that a tweet was generated from a WordPress blog. That @ tag is to bring relevant individuals into the conversation, not to advertise a generalized blogging network. So adjust that if possible.

Depending on your blog there may be a plugin you can use (or replace) to do this.

Search Engine Optimization

Google ranks and finds sites using a number of criteria most of which are at least initially mysterious. SEO developers (those that develop plugins or strategies etc) attempt to “game” this to enhance their users’ or clients’ Google Juice. Google then adjusts. It is an arms race that you will lose if you don’t keep up. So keep up.

Also, it is probably true that faster rendering sites get higher up on Google search pages than slower rendering sites. So, make your site faster.

Themes or templates for WordPress sites that are old should probably be replaced. Newer templates or themes may be better optimized for speed.

Themes or templates can be “SEO optimized.” But if that is something that was done a couple of years ago, it is probably outdated. Make sure your theme or template is updated (usually a largely automatic process but you need to press a button).

At the moment, it seems that templates or themes that make use of “schema.org” work way better than those that don’t. Search engines use schema.org markup to get at the information on your site. Make sure your theme or template makes use of schema.org. It will say that in the description.

In short, if you have an old template or theme, replace it and make sure the new one is schema.org ready.

I assume it is also true that you should be using the most current version of WordPress or whatever other blogging software you use.

SEO and Social Networking Plugins

To get those sharing buttons, and to improve SEO, you can get various plugins. Get recently developed or updated ones, and keep them updated.

Specific SEO strategies

Pick good keywords. The first keyword you list is the keyword you think will lead people to your post. If you use a generic keyword, your post will be one of a gazillion other posts on a Google search. If you use a more specific one you may get better results. This obviously depends on what people are searching for.

Use your keyword a reasonable number of times in the post, including the title and the “slug” (the part of the URL that identified your post).

Try to write the title of your post in the form of a likely common Google Search. If I write a post on how high sea levels may rise with global warming, I might title it “How high will sea levels rise with global warming” and/or use a phrase like that in the post. The keywords might be “Sea Level Rise, Global Warming, Climate Change.”

Use headings (headers) and put the main keyword in a header tag. This may be extra work since you may have to hard code it, but it is not that difficult. Use HTML code to make an H2 level header and put the keyword in it as part of the title of that section. Many of us think of using titled subsections as a tool for long text, to help break it up, and you may be reluctant to use headers with short text. Forget that convention and use the headers even when your blog post is short.

A blog post that is under 300 words has less google juice. I can imagine why this is true, but I don’t know. But it appears to be true because all the SEO experts say it. At least for now.

Using graphics in blog posts

Graphics seem to increase Google juice. If you use graphics, there are a few guidelines that may help.

  • Retitle the graphic, if needed, so it says something that makes sense. So, change 23272w90348408.jpg to Map-of-sea-level-rise.jpg.
  • Put a phrase that uses your keyword (if appropriate) in the alt-test and description, and include a caption with that as well.
  • Enhance Discoverability

    Put links to your other posts in your posts, when appropriate.

    Use title tags properly

    Each HTML page has a “title tag” that is said to be very important for search engines. Google will create the search engine result largely from the title tag. There are SEO plugins that allow you to manipulate this data. I am somewhat agnostic about this approach as I’ve seen mixed results, but if you have an SEO plugin you should try doing what it tells you do to about post titles and descriptions.

    Don’t be an idiot about post titles

    The title of your post is probably the most important thing when it comes to SEO and in general getting someone to read it.

    The first rule is don’t be cute. Well, be cute if you want, but don’t create a title that has great literary value or that conveys some subtle bit of humor or makes a nuanced connection between two things you are writing about, etc. etc. unless the title also states what the post is about.

    In other words, the title of your post is the ONLY means to tell a potential reader what your post is about. It is NOT an IQ test or a test of popular culture knowledge or anything else.

    Let me put this yet another way. Your post title should not be a quiz that only your “smartest” or most socially aware readers, or more typically, your most telepathic readers, will understand. The title of your post should not be a challenge that only some will overcome in order to unerstand what your post is about.

    Have I put that enough ways?

    For example, this post is titled

    “Expanding Blog Readership Through SEO and Social Networking”

    If I wanted to be more literal I might have said,

    “Clickety–clack 10 SEO hacks”

    “Link or cut bait”

    “Searching For Juice”

    … or any number of titles that make a subtle, nuanced link between something you weren’t thinking of and something in my own head. Don’t do that. Google won’t figure out that your post is there, and if Google does, and puts your post on the only page in a search result that matters (page 1) readers won’t figure out what you are writing about.

    Save The Drama For Your Mama

    And by Drama I mean your inspired literary blog post title and by Mama I mean a header within your post.

    See what I did there?

    Expanding Blog Readership Through SEO and Social Networking, according to YOU

    Please make your brilliant suggestions (and corrections of what I’ve said) below!

    Andreas-Lubitz-germanwingsjpg

    A few links to places addressing this important question:

    Andreas Lubitz: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

    Lubitz, 28, was a German national living in Montabaur, Germany. Montabaur lies in the famous Rhineland region of Germany, about halfway between Cologne and Frankfurt. The Telegraph reports he lived there with his parents and also had an apartment in Dusseldorf.

    The FAA lists “Am Spiessweiher 8, Montabaur, Germany” as Lubitz’s address. Google Street View is not available for Lubitz’s home, but the Google Map below shows that he lived in a suburban area.

    Who is Andreas Lubitz? Everything we know so far about Germanwings co-pilot

    Full name: Andreas Guenter Lubitz.

    Who was Andreas Lubitz? Germanwings co-pilot who ‘intentionally killed’ 150 passengers in deliberate Alps crash

    German media reports he had 630 flight hours and joined budget airline Germanwings straight out of Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen in September 2013. Authorities have not confirmed if he had any experience as a professional pilot prior to that.

    Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who ‘locked out captain and crashed flight 9525 into French Alps’?

    Lubitz is that the 28-year-old was from Montabaur, a town in the district seat of the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

    The LSC club, where he was a member, posted a death notice on their website naming him.

    Andreas Lubitz a young co-pilot loved flying, no terrorist links

    Lubitz scored 100 per cent in his psychological testing to become a professional pilot, Carsten Spohr, an official with the Germanwings parent company Lufthansa said on Thursday.
    “There wasn’t the least doubt in his capability,” Spohr said at at press conference.
    Lubitz started his training in 2008, which was interrupted for several months for an unspecified reason, Spohr said.
    “I can’t say more about the reasons for his absence,” Lubitz said.

    08potato-master675

    You probably already know that Patrick Moore is a guy who was involved early on in Greenpeace, and has since used his Greenpeace connection (claiming to have been a founder, though he wasn’t) to get paid speaking gigs all around the world. He speaks out in favor of nuclear energy (much to the annoyance of Greenpeace) and he is a global warming denier.

    Anyway, here is a very funny interview with Moore that is supposed to be about GMOs but turns out to be about … well, just watch:

    Hat Tip GM Watch

    Meanwhile, don’t forget to listen to my interview with Anastasia Bodnar on GMOs.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.50.44 AM

    It is almost National Point Out Dog Doo Day. The exact day depends on your local conditions. This is when the snow banks melt, and you can find dog doo left over the winter everywhere.

    These days this is a bit of an atavistic celebration, like the King Cake eaten at Mardi Gras. Nobody who gets the king in the King Cake ever actually gets to become king any more, and because of government interference in doggie deification practices there is precious little dog doo to go around anymore.

    But at Mount Everest, the shit is about to hit the fan. And by “fan” I mean “global warming.”

    The Washington Post, always on top of important news, has the story.

    For some 62 years over 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest, with many more getting part way up. Few of them, it seems, have practiced the age-old rule of hiking in the wilderness: Leave only your footprints, and poop as necessary, behind. The routes up the great mountain are littered with broken equipment, empty O2 canisters, trash, and dead bodies (people die doing this). And, of course, human excrement galore.

    As the glaciers melt due to global warming, this stuff is making an appearance. The Washington Post reports Mark Jenkins as saying, “The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are … disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps.” (See also Maxed Out on Everest.)

    Apparently the cesspool left by the Conquerors of Everest has reached the point that it is now a health problem. Wapo:

    Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.

    It is estimated that approximately 26,500 pounds of human excrement generated in the area every years, though most of that is carried by Sherpas to a disposal site, which apparently has become a point pollution source because of this. The excrement does not deteriorate very quickly, so it builds up. Yaks fall into the disposal pits now and then.

    New rules are being implemented. But the poop in the ground already is not going to go away any time soon.

    Read the whole story here.

    elephant-ent-17

    Circuses are famous for their clowns, and the captive elephants that are forced to do humiliating things. I haven’t heard any reports of the clowns being mistreated or dying unexpectedly, but we do hear this about elephants.

    This all makes me wonder why people go to circuses. I suppose it is something to do.

    Anyway, people have been complaining for some time now that circuses should not have elephants. This is, apparently, coming to fruition at least in part; Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is expected to phase out the elephants by 2018.

    Executives from Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, said the decision to end the circus’s century-old tradition of showcasing elephants was difficult and debated at length. Elephants have often been featured on Ringling’s posters over the decades. The decision is being announced Thursday.

    “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers,” said Alana Feld, the company’s executive vice president. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

    The New York Times has the details here.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 7.11.18 PM

    Please Don’t Paint Our Planet Pink!: A Story for Children and their Adults” is a new children’s book by Gregg Kleiner about global warming. The idea is simple. Imagine if you could see CO2? In the book, it is imagined to be pink. The imagining takes the form of a quirky father, one imagines him to be an inventor of some sort, coming up with the idea of making goggles that would allow you to see CO2 as a pink gas. This is all described by the man’s patient but clearly all suffering son, who eventually dons the prototype goggles and sees for himself.

    I read this to Huxley, age 5, and he loved it. He kept asking questions, and saying things like, “Is that true? Really?” I knew he would enjoy the book for its witty chatter and excellent illustrations, but frankly I did not expect him to be enthralled. He is fairly laid back when it comes to matters of science, nature, and for that matter, mathematics. He tends to absorb, then, later makes up song about it or comes up with difficult questions. His reaction was unique.

    Bill McKibben’s reaction was pretty strong too. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve often wondered what would happen if CO2 were visible. Now I know!” … except he already knew. There would be pink everywhere. At the density of about 400ppm. More than the 350 value that gives his organization its name!

    I had only one small problem with the book, and that is the description of what fossil fuels are. The majority of oil probably formed in aquatic, mainly marine, environments as the detritus of mostly small organisms and invertebrates, not dinosaurs and old trees like the book says. Coal is probably most plant matter, but boggy plants and detritus formed in low spots. And so on. Had I edited the book, I would have asked for a sentence or two to broaden the concept of where fossil fuels come from, and maybe a sentence or two to underscore the fact that the fossil fuels we use today were deposited in fits and starts of many tens of millions of years. The process of painting our planet pink over just several decades has released a huge percentage of that Carbon, mainly as CO2. It is like taking five years to fill up a glass of milk then spilling half of it on the sofa in one second. (A proper analogy for the targeted reading age for this great book.)

    People often ask me for a recommendation on a book about climate change for kids. This book is great for that purpose. It fits a wide range of ages, but primarily little kids and elementary school. This is not an explainer on global warming, but rather, a great story that gives a sense of the importance of climate change without totally freaking out the audience. The illustrations by Laurel Thomson are excellent.

    Of you want to do something about climate change, buy a few copies and give them to your local school’s library (they probably call it a media center) or your local preschool. And your kid, of course. Or to your annoying climate denying cousin’s kids. That would be good.

    Gregg Kleiner also wrote Where River Turns to Sky.

    maddow_earthquakes_1

    Good question! It depends. And I’m not an expert, but Amy Bickel had details for you. For instance,

    At least one policy endorsement obtained by The News showed that earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” were excluded from earthquake coverage.

    It could mean potential litigation if a claim was ever filed and denied by the company, Kansas’ former insurance commissioner noted.

    While hydraulic fracturing isn’t suspected as the cause of Kansas quakes, state geologists have linked southern Kansas’ earthquakes to the saltwater injection wells used by oil companies. The hydraulic fracturing process creates more wastewater, which, in turn, is injected into the Mississippian formation.

    The endorsement also notes that “sequestration of carbon dioxide or any other gas, solid or liquid” is also among the exclusions listed. It’s unclear if that definition could include wastewater disposal.

    Other companies, however, said they had not heard of that exclusion in their own policies.

    In a way, this makes sense, because earthquakes are an act god. In this case, I assume Hades or Pluto (gods of the underworld).

    Or the god of hell perhaps. Which suggests that if you want insurance for human caused earthquakes you will need to see Ms. Waite, who is in charge of such things. First name Helen. If you want damage to your property caused by Big Fossil to be covered you’ll have to to go Helen Waite.

    spinning_beachball_of_macYou can google and hunt and search and read and find all sorts of ways to speed up your iMac, but I have here one small suggestion that may help you if you have a specific problem.

    The problem arises when you invoke a dialog box that access the file system, perhaps by right clicking on a graphic on a web page and choosing to save it, or a save or save-as menu item in any piece of software. Then, the dialog box does not appear instantly, and instead you get the Spinning Beachball of Wait, and after several seconds, the dialog box finally appears.

    This is a bug. It should not happen. But when it does happen, it appears based on my perusal of the Intertubes and some experimentation, it may be related to your computer being hooked to a network drive, or even a simple USB external drive. If you can just eject/disconnect all of that, you’ll have faster response.

    That may not be an option, and if that is the case, you are screwed. Maybe.

    There is a second kludge that may also work. Temporarily disconnect said drives. Your computer’s use of the file system will go to normal. Then, later, reconnect. Your computer may continue to be normal. Eventually, possibly later that day, the problem will return. This is obviously not a great solution but it may be good for some people who only occasionally use such drives.

    This problem is annoying and I wish it would go away. If you have any other suggestions pleas add them to the comments!

    Denial of climate change, as seen here, is fast becoming a thing of the past.

    Denial of climate change, as seen here, is fast becoming a thing of the past.

    Imagine you are a Senator in denial of climate change science and you just won re-election by less than 20% of the vote. In six years, about 10% of your voters will be dead, replaced with a different 10% harvested from America’s youth. The dead old white guys were on board with denying climate change, the new voters want you to address climate change. That 10% shift closes that 20% advantage in your voting base. Your political career is over unless you do something about it. People are changing their minds and politicians will eventually follow.

    Peter Sinclair has a post at Climate Denial Crock of the Week on Rick Perry’s apparent shift towards thinking climate change is for real. We recently saw a vote in the Senate that has most Senators admitting it is real, though very few Republicans admitted it is human caused. But a few did. One of the most conservative and traditional entities on the planet, The Vatican, is now telling us that not addressing climate change is immoral. Expect at least some US priests and bishops refusing communion to climate change deniers! (Maybe.) The National Hockey League recognizes global warming as a threat to their sport. Pipelines to transport fossil Carbon-based fuels are seen as less and less viable every day. Even utility bosses now routinely see renewable, clean, energy sources as a big part of the future, and the American Petroleum Institute sees anthropogenic global warming as a major threat to our future, which they acknowledge must be addressed by shifting away from … petroleum!

    Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.59.57 AMThis was sent to me by a colleague as an excellent example of highly disciplined and effective messaging.

    But I saw two other things: 1) A person who should be running for office just because of her ability to stay on message; and 2) a person who should be mayor or governor or something because she seems quite willing to push back against the constant, incremental, creep towards a police state every time some thing or another happens.

    FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

    Climate Change Hoax Guru Jim Inhofe

    Gets his science from the Bible, invented the term “climate change hoax”.

    He’s paid for by big oil, he takes up hours of the Senate’s time going on and on with the most senseless drivel ever heard in that building (see video below) and he has single handedly probably done more to stop action in this country on climate change. That clearly makes him one of the worst people in the world. I’m rather pissed off at the people of Oklahoma. They sent him there. They should be ashamed.

    Emily Atkin has an update on Jim The Moron Inhofe’s latest ranting about the “climate change hoax”.

    Continue reading

    5970-fullThis is an important step in keeping the Carbon in the ground.

    The Mojave Solar Project has been online and fully operational since December, but today, a grand opening ceremony celebrates this massive achievement. The plant uses advanced parabolic trough technology that has made the 280 MegaWatt plant one of the most innovative projects in the country and the second-largest plant of its kind in the world. Abengoa, owner of the Mojave Solar Project, is hosting a celebration

    Read the rest here.

    Car makers and dealers have to get with the program.

    JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association is suing the state revenue department for allowing electric car maker Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers rather than using a dealership as a middleman.

    The car dealers, including Reuther Ford Inc. and Osage Industries Inc., filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court claiming the department violated state law by licensing the California-based manufacturer as a franchise.

    Department of Revenue spokeswoman Michelle Gleba said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

    Car manufacturers typically provide cars to a franchised dealership to sell, but the department in 2013 licensed Tesla to sell its vehicles in a University City facility.

    The lawsuit filed this week claims the department “created a non-level playing field where one entity — Tesla — is subject to preferential treatment and all bona fide dealers are discriminated against.”

    Read more here

    Two interesting stories about racism in North America:

    McDonald’s sued for racial discrimination in Virginia

    Ten former McDonald’s workers have sued it in the Virginia federal court for racial and sexual discrimination.

    The suit alleges that some employees were fired from one franchise because there were “too many black people”.

    It is being backed by a group campaigning for better wages for fast-food workers and the local Virginia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    #BBCTrending: Is Winnipeg Canada’s most racist city?

    The mayor of Winnipeg was surrounded by indigenous people as he spoke to the press Thursday – the same day his city was declared the most racist in Canada.

    “Ignorance, hatred, intolerance, racism exist everywhere,” Mayor Brian Bowman said, fighting back tears.

    “Winnipeg has a responsibility right now to turn this ship around and change the way we all relate – aboriginal and non-aboriginal, Canadians alike from coast to coast to coast. … To do so, we have to shine a light on the problem we do have in Winnipeg, and the problem we share with communities across this nation, because without the light, we can’t see what we’re fighting.”

    Since his inauguration in November 2014, Mayor Brian Bowman has been seen as a bridge builder.

    He is Winnipeg’s first indigenous mayor, and is the first mayor to acknowledge in a speech (at his swearing-in ceremony and on Thursday) that Winnipeg was built on the traditional homeland of the Metis nation, who are descendents of indigenous people and European settlers.

    This is crazy. I live, apparently, near one of these zones, and for several years lived right in the middle of one. No one ever told me to not “go”!!! Shouldn’t there be signs or something?

    Anyway, now Paris may sue FOX over this:

    The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said she plans to sue Fox News for a broadcast that described parts of the French capital as “no-go zones” for non-Muslims. But is it possible for a city to take out a libel action against a TV channel, asks Thomas Dahlhaus?

    John Abraham recently quipped that we were going to run out of room on the y-Axis for displaying measurement of Ocean Heat Content. Aaron Huertas over at Union for Concerned Scientist quipped that it was like “Jaws” … “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” So I figured we should really have a bigger meme:

    GonnaNeedBiggerChart

    Original chart and concept of running out of yroom from here.
    Scientist Photo Credit: Curious Expeditions via Compfight cc

    And, for completeness: