Posts Categorized: Self-promotion

How To Use Google Webmaster Tools In A Non-Overwhelming Way


This guest post is from Olivia of Early Bird Strategy. She helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and bloggers create and grow their online presence. She digs process, content strategy, SEO, A/B testing, Oregon IPA and email marketing. You can sign up for her free resources newsletter here - don’t worry, you can sleep in.

Google judges you based on your technical issues. Even though you have awesome content - sometimes the Googlebots can’t find you (which means awesome customers and potential Internet-besties can’t either).

Thankfully, you can play by Google’s rules, using one of their free tools. After plugging in your site, you can find any errors or areas for improvement and get back to focusing on the fun stuff like cat videos and writing.

In this post, I’m going to show you three smart ways you can use Google’s free tool Google Webmaster Tools to learn about - and fix up - your blog, to ultimately improve your SEO. When you’re a blogger, it can feel like you spend all your time writing and connecting. So more “technical” things might sound like a terrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but putting in a little effort can get big results.

1. Find out how people are finding your blog and what searches you’re showing up for but people aren’t clicking on

Sure you might know what some people searched for to arrive at your site from using Google Analytics, but do you know what people are searching for when your blog comes up in a search on Google, but they DON’T click on you? Would you believe me if I told you this was something you can find out?

1-GWT-queries 1-GWT-queries

If your mind just exploded from the above image, here’s what’s happening… This part of Google Webmaster Tools takes a look at some of your top posts, tells you about how many people saw it on Google (Impressions), how many of them clicked on it (Clicks), what that click through rate was (CTR is clicks divided by impressions), and what the average position on Google was (for example #1, would be the very first result).

As you can see in the above image, even though I only wrote the post on editorial calendars a couple weeks ago, I’m already getting Google traffic from it. It’s still pretty far back (#28, which would be the 3rd page) on Google results, but it included a free download of an editorial calendar template and was something I spent a lot of time on, so I expect it to continue bringing me traffic, potential customers, and connections.

Actionable homework #1: In Google Webmaster Tools, navigate to the Search Traffic>Search Queries area, and click on the Top Pages tab. Then, sort your list from largest to smallest, by Impressions. Make a note of the three pages with the highest CTR, and the three pages with the lowest CTR. What can we learn from this? The higher your CTR the higher relevance (or perceived relevance) someone searching on Google thought you had on those search terms. What a great way to know what your first impression is on what people are finding useful!

What else you could write about similar to those topics. For the low CTR pages, take a look at the post. Is there something in the post title or meta description that people aren’t finding your little preview snippet compelling enough to click on? (how rude!) What can you learn or change about this?

2. Use Google Authorship to have your profile show up in search results

Have you noticed sometimes when you’re searching on Google that you see a little picture of the author in the results, like this:

Did you think it was only for massive sites like Mashable and Gawker etc.? It’s not! You can show up here too. One of the most overlooked areas of Google Webmaster tools is bloggers passing up this great opportunity to have your Google+ profile linked to your content, and more often than not have your profile picture in the results! Hello higher click through rate!

One of the Google Webmaster Tools Labs features is showing you statistics for your verified author posts.


Actionable Homework #2: Get the ball rolling for Google Authorship, whether that’s first signing up for a Google+ account or verifying your email address. Here’s Google’s Guide for linking your content to your Google+ profile (2 options).

3. Fix those crawl errors

This section of Google Webmaster Tools can feel like homework. {Hey, where did everybody go?!} While it can be tedious to clean up some of the broken stuff on your site (especially if you’ve been around a while), it can also make a big difference in traffic. Think of it as spring cleaning and from a reader’s perspective how frustrating is it to click a broken link!?

With one of my clients, I found thousands of crawl errors that instead of fixing one by one, we were able to fix in one go, during my Website Audit and Action Plan, by adding an automatic redirect! This tiny change resulted in a significant increase in organic traffic that previously had just been landing on a broken page - while a few people had managed to find their way to the homepage, most had just abandoned ship.

Actionable Homework #3: Navigate to the Crawl>Crawl Errors area in Google Webmaster Tools. Click on the “Not found” tab. Clean up a few of these by click on the line item, which opens a little popup window with more info. The “not found” url at the top is the link that is broken. By clicking on the “linked from” tab you’ll find where this traffic is coming from. For example, if you’d mistyped when linking up this on another post, you could go in and correct it.

If you log in and find that you have a lot of crawl errors, try not to feel too overwhelmed. Instead, fix a few to get an idea of how it works, and then set a reminder to come back and do recurring maintenance in this area.

To wrap things up, even if people are finding you via social channels, overlooking organic search is like pulling a humble brag trick on your content. “No thanks, you don’t need to look over here, I just spent tons of time creating all this. Look away, I don’t want to be found!”. With a few small tweaks you can set yourself up to be found.

To learn how to add and validate your site in Google Webmaster Tools, here’s an in-depth post with additional advanced things you can learn.

Have you tried Google Webmaster Tools?

Win A Free Solution Session For Your Small Business!

In the spirit of the holiday season (and helping you + your business get a jump on 2014), I wanted to do my small part in spreading good cheer.  In an attempt to repair my karma after regifting that sweater and making my cat wear costumes, I’m giving away a Solution Session to one deserving company, creative, or entrepreneur.

Last year, Arc’s Value Village won.  They’re a Twin Cities-based, chain of non-profit thrift stores that supports children and adults with disabilities.  Last year, their stores brought in over $2 million dollars to fund special needs programing. Isn’t that lovely?  I was flattered to be able to work with such a wonderful organization. (You can see nice things previous clients have said about my work here.)

While I’ve got a weak spot for nonprofits, you needn’t be rescuing puppies or curing cancer to win this Solution Session.  I love businesses and people who are passionate about their mission - whatever that is - and show that they’re serious about what they’re doing. You’re on at least one social media platform. You update things regularly. You do not quake in the face of terms like “at mention” and “Hootsuite.”

Sound like you?  Wonderful!  Fill out this questionnaire to apply for the free session; I’ll choose a winner next Tuesday.

And? This is probably a good a time as any to tell you:

My Clever Sessions will go from $250 to $300 and my Solution Sessions from $1,000 to $1,200.  If you’ve been thinking about working together, you might want to book now and lock in my lower rate 😉

Why the change? I need a break from sales pages and About pages.  I’m working on one (or three) apps, a book proposal, and a new ebook. I’m planning trips to Mexico and Alaska and Florida.  My clients have straight up told me I should be charging more.  And honestly? I’m ready for something new.

As always, I am so, so thankful that you make Yes and Yes and this blog part of your online life.  I so appreciate it!

In Which I’m Ridiculously Open About My Rates + Money

Has this ever happened to you?

One of your favorite, widely-read blog announces that they’re taking sponsors.
On Facebook , a graphic designer friend says they’re taking new clients.
A writer whose work you admire announces that she’d be happy to help people edit their book proposals.
But none of them actually mention how much they charge.

There are plenty of super valid reasons not to post your rates.  You want to write up individualized quotes for each client.  You want some wiggle room - depending  on how eager you are to work with someone.  Or maybe nobody else in your industry posts their rates and you’re worried that yours are way, way too high (or too low.)

There are also lots of reasons to be totally, totally open about your rates - which is what I’ve decided to do.

Reason 1
I want to save time - both mine and my potential client’s
I spend at least an hour every day responding to queries about my rates and how I work.   The answers to these questions are always the same and I do have a template email that I use - but wouldn’t it be a lot easier if I just posted my rates on my site?

Reason 2
I don’t want people to assume I’m out of their price range
Hiring someone to write a sales page for you seems like a Big Huge Deal that will cost you $500+ and take a month.  And maybe that’s accurate with some people or marketing agencies! My turnaround time is 2-3 business days and I charge $180 for each permanent page.

Reason 3
Being secretive exhausts me
I can’t be bothered to charge people different rates.  Isn’t transparency a million times easier? Now I’ll know that every person who emails me for copywriting or editing work has downloaded my rate sheet, knows they can afford me, and has (probably) decided to hire me.  Easy peasy, right?

Of course, there are projects that don’t fit on my rate sheet: 100-word elevator pitches, mottos, researched and ghostwritten blog posts, on-going consulting gigs.  And of course, there are projects and professional fields that don’t lend themselves to rate sheets - a static webpage shouldn’t costs the same as a totally interactive, built from scratch website.

But it brings me (and my inbox) a lot of peace to be open about how much I charge.

Do you post your rates online?  How do you deal with putting together quotes for clients?

P.S. other money stuff:  If you’re self-employed are you topping out your Roth IRA?  You should be.  I’m doing it and it’s not nearly as complicated as I thought. I also keep my money at a credit union rather than a bank and I looooove it.  Also, if you’re self-employed and you travel for work a lot, you should know about per diem tax deductions.  This ish will save you thousands of dollars a year. 

photo by // cc

5 Ways to Bring In The Money Without Feeling Sleazy

This post comes to us via Michelle Ward, PCC (aka The When I Grow Up Coach). She helps creative women get out of their soul-sucking jobs and into work that feels like play. Her first book, The Declaration of You (co-written with the artist Jessica Swift), was recently published and encourages everyone to clarify their purpose sans super seriousness.


Are you afraid that talking about your biz turns you into a used car salesman overnight (greasy pompadour and mismatched suit included)?

Then you’re gonna wanna buy this article you’re reading now, 5 Ways to Bring In The Money Without Feeling Sleazy! For the low low price of just $19.95, I’ll throw in a set of steak knives! Get your credit card ready and call –


When we think of Selling, we usually think of steak knives, Crazy Eddie and operators who are standing by to take our calls. We think of in-your-face aggression, one-way conversations, and telemarketers who interrupt our dinner.

Do me a favor and wave goodbye to the slimiest of salesmen that lives in your head.  Smile.  Give him a hug, even. Watch him go, dejected.

See, in your world, that slimy salesman won’t ever be able to make an appearance. Not only because you won’t let him, but because you can’t possibly become him. Ever.

You have too much of an interest in connecting with others, in bringing them goodness and improving their lives so that you’d never strong-arm someone into buying something from you that they don’t need.

It’s just not who you are, what you offer, and how you want to build a relationship - and you can bring that into all aspects of your business. I pinky swear it.

Stop Calling it Selling
Thinking of having to “sell”, “market myself”, or “advertise” brings on a big case of The Icks.

I decided long ago to group those things under one umbrella, and call it Hooplah - something silly, and fun, and a bit ridiculous, too. I had another client decide to call it Ballyhoo (isn’t that the best word ever?), and it immediately brought a sense of celebration to it all. Conversely, a coach I had called it Inviting, and it immediately created an intimate, personal connection.

Find your word for Hooplah/ Ballyhoo/ Invitations and ban the Selling/Marketing/Advertising from your vocabulary for good.

Create Your Client Profile, and Speak to Her Directly
Who will read your blog, buy your product, or hire you for your services? Think demographically + personality-wise. By starting to answer them and create a client/ customer/ reader profile, you’ll be able to have a picture in your head of who needs to pick up what you’re putting down and why. You can even cheat and use your favorite client or best friend!

Once you have that person in your head, you can write your copy and blog posts for her directly and tailor your products and services to her specifically, too. It’s so much easier than writing for My Audience, I promise (because really – who the heck is that?)!

If you’re having trouble answering these questions, grab a magazine and start leafing through. Rip out anything and anyone in those pages that speaks to you, even if you don’t know why. When you’re done, create a collage and hang it in your office space, or make it your desktop. Keep it in plain view when you’re writing, and write for the person(s) included there.

Be Yourself, Loud and Clear
When I started my blog, I was initially under the guise that, as a life coach, I had pretend that my life is perfect and I have it all figured out, instead of disclosing that I still worked a day job and was pretty damn scared and vulnerable at the time, I realized pretty quickly that my blog was so boring that even I wouldn’t read it. That’s when I chucked the mask I was wearing and let it all hang out – my “real” life, my challenges, my loud personality, my enthusiasm, my sense of humor, my silliness, my day job, my wins and the excessive use of the word “amazeballs.”

Uncoincidentally, that’s when I started getting steady readers and clients who were already excited to work with me despite never having a consultation call.  I inadvertently realized that I never have to sell anyone on working with me who’s read anything I’ve written online because they know what they’re gonna get. That’s THE BEST!

Make It Valuable
Quick - which statement below makes you want to Click Here?

“I wrote a book! It’s so great! Click here and buy it!”


“Want to uncover your own declarations around life’s big, scary topics in a fun, creative way? Click here to make it happen!”

I don’t know about you, but I see Option 1 more than I’d like - on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs - they’re all over! If someone comes to your home on the Interwebs, they want to get to know *you*, and what you sell is just a portion of that. I gotta tell you, nothing keeps me away from the Follow button more than someone with a feed full of outgoing tweets that link back to their own stuff and/or only talks about themselves. Yuck.

So, swap it around and start crafting your copy to be about what your audience will find helpful (yes, that includes sharing what other people are putting out there) - not what you wanna tell them about yourself.

Have a Conversation
There’s a reason we have two ears and a mouth – it’s to listen twice as much as we speak.

On my consultation calls, there’s never a schpeel. I’m never waiting to “close” them. I’m there because I get to gage whether I can help someone, or know someone that can help them. I’m there to answer their questions and give them the information they’re looking for so they can make the best decision for themselves. I’m there to listen to dreams and offer encouragement and make a connection.

Honestly, the Hooplah doesn’t even come into the equation, and I don’t think of my consultation calls as “prospects” or “sales.” I think of them as “creatives” and “go-getters” and, um, “people.”

Imagine that.

How do you feel about selling?  What tips/tricks have you found useful?  Share in the comments!

photo by tax credits // cc

How To Get Noticed Online (And Still Be YOU)

Oh, but the internet is crowded with interesting blogs, cool products, and one million people trying to tell you about one million things.  How’s a fledgling blogger or company supposed to gain any traction in a market that already feels totally saturated?

Well, pretty much the same way that anybody ever accomplishes anything: with a plan + lots of hard work.

Here’s a basic break down of how to get people to notice you on the internet.

1.  Create helpful, engaging, beautiful, well-written content

Dur.  Write tutorials that your readers will find useful and forward to their friends.  Take gorgeous photos.  Create content that resonates and connects with your readers and their lives.  (I realize that this is sort of easier said than done - I’ll tell you more about this in future posts!)

2.  Post that awesome content consistently and promote it multiple times on social media

Remember why it’s so important to post consistently?  The more awesome content you put on the internet, the more likely it is that people will notice you.  And remember that because of the way Twitter works, you can tweet links to your posts multiple times without annoying anybody!

3.  Interact with your peers

Assemble Twitter lists and Google Reader folders of the people in your field you’d like to collaborate with.  Chat with them on Twitter, link to awesome things they’ve done, leave comments on their posts, and then email them with collaboration/guest post/let’s-get-coffee ideas!

4.  Pitch your stuff

It’s unlikely that Apartment Therapy and Designsponge are going stumble upon your website of their own volition - pitch them!  The same goes for websites you’d like to guest post for. Pitching can be a bit intimidating, but the worst that’s going to happen is that they’ll ignore your email - pretty painless, right?

5.  Engage your community

The people who read your blog, buy your products, and link to your content are your most valuable resource.  Make sure they know it!  Ask them questions, reply to their comments, give them freebies and discounts.

6.  Don’t be afraid to do something totally different

Sometimes your biggest successes will come from ‘un-monetizeable’ ideas or things you’ve never seen done. Prior to Danielle LaPorte’s Burning Question series, I’d never seen bloggers ask their readers a question and then link to reader responses within their own blog. Storychord is a monthly short story that you read while listening to a hand-picked soundtrack. My own True Story series is sort of an internet anomaly that brings me zero dollars but lots of traffic.

Is this a lot of work?  Yes.  Will these things help you make more sales + gain more readers + network with the best of ’em?  Also, yes!

Do you have any tips to share?  How do you get noticed on the internet?

P.S. How To Write Self-Promotional Blog Posts That Don’t Feel Gross