What Are Web Editors Thankful For?

For those in the US, today is Thanksgiving, so I will keep it short. In keeping with the spirit of the day, I’d simply ask, “What are you – as a web editor – thankful for?” I’ll start.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I am thankful for the opportunity to blog for this Web Editors group. I found a wonderful community of like-minded folks from whom I have learned so much. Whether it’s Alan Eggleston updating us on SEO and Google algorithms, or Gazalla Gaya describing quality content, or Anne Moreau explaining analytics, I never fail to learn something relevant and actionable.

Beyond that, I am thankful to re-learn the lesson that the online world is a wonderful complement to – not substitute for – engaging in the “real” world. I love my laptop. I can read, write, edit, explore, research, view, get updates, and more – without ever leaving my office. But even with a website, a Facebook page and monthly newsletters to clients, I still found more clients more quickly when I met people in person (or at least Skyped with them!)

I may identify prospects online through LinkedIn or Facebook. I may research them online to see what we have in common. I may initiate contact with them online. But in the end, meeting them in person usually seals the deal. Not always – but often enough to make me adjust my approach in 2013.

What are  you, as a web editor, thankful for this year? A new tool that makes your life easier? New people? New ideas or frameworks? Please share it here.

I wish all our US-based folks a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tightening the Screws on SEO Cheaters

by Alan Eggleston

With Panda, Penguin, and now EMD (Exact Match Domains), Google is tightening the screws on SEO cheaters. Don’t get caught between the screws.

Google has been tightening the screws on cheaters – black hatters who try to pull tricks on search engines to artificially improve their rankings in searches. It sometimes also affects optimization practitioners who think they’re white hatters but are skirting the edges of the rules or simply trying to compete with others who are skirting the rules. With Panda, Penguin, and the new EMD algorithm, it’s getting harder to manipulate the page to improve your page ranking. But not impossible.

I’ve talked in earlier articles about how to avoid getting caught up in algorithm changes: Follow the search engine guidelines. I’ve been doing it for years and have yet to suffer a set back for doing the right thing. Here is a brief synopsis of how to handle these three relatively new dangers to SEO:

Quality Content (Panda Filters)

  • Provide unique, well written content created for the reader not for the search engines.
  • Don’t repeat content and handle material from content farms with caution.
  • Forget about content aggregation and do your own content.

Quality Coding (Penguin Filters)

  • Avoid spam techniques.
  • Optimize your site to be found not to rank high on search engines.
  • Write for the reader not for the search engines.
  • Follow search engine guidelines in spirit as in rule.

I haven’t said much yet about the new EMD algorithm but it can be no less lethal to the spammer:

Domain Name Pages (Exact Match Domain or EMD Algorithm)

  • Optimizers who otherwise follow search engine guidelines should be fine
  • Use an exact-match domain but write content natural to your audience and don’t exaggerate keywords to over-emphasize the domain.
  • SEOs who keyword spam to match the EMD will lose ranking – find a more natural mix!

I have seen mixed results on exact-match domains. One client with a domain name match has improved ranking because we have followed guidelines – a competitor who does not has been blown out of the water.

Losing ranking from any of these filters or algorithms is avoidable. And making your website visible to your audience or customer is doable. The search engines are going to continue tightening the screws on cheaters, and you don’t have to get caught between their screws.

Community vs. Trolls. Who Wins?

This is just a quick roundup-style post.

My last post on blogging success has kept the concept of community (online community) at the front of my mind. And I’ve long been wondering what deal is with trolls, usually ending with a thought like,“Who the hell does that kind of thing?”

In light of that, I present three great pieces that address those topics. If you haven’t read/seen the three pieces below, I hope you’ll check them out.

Some thoughts and musings about making things for the web: a rather lengthy comic by The Oatmeal.

In which being an Internet writer:

  • is freeing and creative
  • has zero credibility
  • comes with a tornado of shrieking trolls

How to Kill a Troll, from Erin Kissane.

In which:

  • it’s ok to like troubling, imperfect things
  • we can have civility and standards in comments
  • when changing minds (and trolls), we’re stuck with love

There’s Only One Thing to Do When the Internet Calls You Fat,
a video of Lindy West speaking at Back Fence PDX.

In which:

  • the Internet doesn’t know what you look like…until it finds out
  • trolls get all their bigotries mixed up with some candy corn–flavored Oreos
  • obsessing about trolls leads to a vlog in a dank living room and an aha moment

I hope you enjoyed them, and have a great Thanksgiving (for those of you in the United States).


Questions and Answers with Liza Bauer Barth

The Web Editors blog would like to introduce you to some of the incredible talent we have in the LinkedIn Web Editors group. Today we present Liza Bauer Barth, who is the web editor at Consumer Reports in New York.

Liza, thank you for joining us. How did you enter into the web world? How long have you been a Web Editor?
I was working in television production after college in the mid-1990s.  During my time there, I noticed a shift to using Macintosh computer programs for television graphics.  It was also the beginning of the Internet boom, which I found so exciting.  I wanted to learn more about these new technologies, so I decided to get my master’s degree in Media Studies at The New School in New York City with a focus on web design.  I left my TV production job in 1999 and went to a  small cable TV channel writing news for its website, and I’ve been working on the web ever since.

Have you ever had a mentor or someone who guided or inspired you in the web field?
I was inspired by my New School professor (his name is escaping me) who taught an online research class.  I learned how to search for information on the web through the original search engine, Alta Vista.  I loved how easy it was and after that class knew I wanted to work on the web.

Did you work in print journalism, communications, public relations or marketing before you became involved in the web?
I have a degree in mass communication from SUNY Plattsburgh and went into the television field first, then transitioned to online writing, editing and content management.

Which style (AP, Chicago, APA, AMA, etc.) do you use on your organization’s website?
AP style

How many people work on your organization’s website editorially?
While there are some designated online editors, all editors in our specific areas (cars, electronics, home, money, etc.) are involved in providing content to the website as well as to our other print publications.

In your work for Consumer Reports, what special challenges have you encountered?
It’s taken a while, but we had to work very hard to blur the lines between writing for print and online.  We have learned that content is content no matter where it lives.

Do you use a content management system? If so, which one?
We are using the CQ content management system, which is part of Adobe.

Do you have a workflow (approval process) established for your organization’s website?
When we migrated to the CQ system, a workflow process was instituted. It starts with the web editor and then it generally goes to copy and then publish depending on content.

Is any of your editorial work outsourced? If so, what do you outsource?
We had outsourced some newsletter and ShopSmart writing, but most has now been brought in-house to save on costs.  Online work has never been outsourced.

Which resources do you read regularly to keep up with what’s going on in the Web world? (blogs, e-newsletters, magazines, books, etc.)
I read much of my news via Twitter.  I follow many news organizations (New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, and NPR) in addition to automotive and vehicle safety groups since my focus at Consumer Reports is on cars.

Do you attend seminars or webinars to keep up with your profession? Which one(s) have you found most useful?
No, I haven’t had much opportunity to attend seminars.

Along the same note, have you taken or are you taking university or other classes that helped you professionally, and what are they?
After my Master’s degree, I have not taken any further classes.

Do you have any editorial pet peeves?
Not being given journalistic freedom to develop a story to its full potential.

What would you advise someone just starting out in the business?
Know what’s going on in the world, read and follow the news. To gain experience, start writing your own blog or try to do some freelance work.

Do you have a favorite saying or inspirational quote that gets you through tough days?
No, but listening to Pandora during the day helps.

What do you like to do outside of your profession to relax?
I take a dance class once a week and exercise during lunch.  I also like to spend time exploring the world with my husband, 6 year old son, and 4 year old daughter.

What is your greatest challenge in being a Web Editor, and how do you deal with it?
Communication always seems to be the biggest challenge.  I try to ask questions and meet face to face with colleagues.  Walking over to someone’s office and talking can save a lot of time.

What was your greatest triumph or success (so far) as a Web Editor?
I am proud of my work at Consumer Reports especially working on automotive safety and becoming the organization’s expert on distracted driving.  I had the opportunity last June to present on the topic at the National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Orlando.

If you have one lesson learned to share with our readers, what would it be?
Keep learning and challenging yourself.  If you have an interest in a topic, become an expert on it.  Make your mark.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Stay tuned for more interviews coming up!