Archive for June, 2012

Life in a Virtual World: SEO

So today we’re going to talk about Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO. Woo hoo!

In case you don’t know, SEO is how good a website is at getting traffic from searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and the like. Good SEO is achieved when the fairies that fly around  the World Wide Web sprinkle pixie dust. Poor SEO can generally be attributed to fungus-munching gnomes that live in underground tunnels. Of course, the full process is more complicated and technical, but that gives you the basic idea.

I don’t know what kind of blood pact the good people at FSB Associates made when they designed carolsnow.com (if you think fairies are all giggles and glitter, think again), but my SEO is so good it borders on creepy. See, I use a couple of programs that tell me what visitors to my site typed into search engines. The programs also tell me how long people stayed on the site, how many pages they viewed, and other stuff that I don’t pay much attention to. It’s all intended to help me be a better marketer. Because pretty much everyone who goes into fiction writing secretly wishes they were doing PR.

Most people come here after typing in “carol snow” or “carol snow author” or one of my book titles. That’s nice and good and what I hired FSB to do. Less expected: for almost a year, I have been a foremost web expert on clams. No, I’m serious. See what happens when I type “how to cook steamers” into Google? The internet fairies offer almost four million results, but my steamers blog post comes in at number four, and a whole bunch of those people click through to my site. Sunday I saw a spike in traffic, presumably as dads across America requested steamers for Father’s Day. And do you know how many of those people went on to read my books? Probably none. But I kind of don’t care because I think it’s so funny.

Other posts that have generated a surprising amount of traffic include my ground-breaking report on Skotidakis yogurt dip (in which I revealed that it tastes good), my Halloween costume suggestions, and my holiday series, “Gifts for People You Don’t Like.” (Related Google searches: Gifts for people you don’t really like; Gifts for family you don’t like; Best wine for people you don’t like; and — shoot me now — Gift books for people you don’t like.)

As pleased as I am with all those web hits, I understand how they happened. Less expected search terms that led people to my site include: What (13 hits); What? (1); Babies (26); Baby (13); and Yeah You Heard Me (1).

Let us all pause to consider the aimless souls who have nothing better to do than Google “What.” Did they follow up with Where, When, Who, or Why? What in the world did those people hope to learn? Then again, vagueness may not be all bad. At least “what” and “yeah you heard me” aren’t disturbing. Like, say, these other search terms that landed people on my site:

First date white shirt see thru black bra

Adult baby torture devices

Bad lip injections

Sequin Klingon dress

Sick and wrong costumes

Toga lawyer

Unintended nudist

I gotta say: The Unintended Nudist would make a heckuva book title, though I don’t think I’m the person to write it.

 

Song of the Week: “The End of the World As We Know It,” Great Big Sea (cover)

Only in So Cal: kindergarteners enjoying man-made snow

As I dropped my sixth grade son at school this morning, it hit me. This is my last week as an elementary school mom. Admittedly, I’ve had some time to get used to this idea — eleven years, to be exact. That’s a lot of cookie dough and wrapping paper sales. A lot of field trip permission slips, holiday performances and bring-something-that-represents-your-heritage classroom potlucks. (My macaroni and cheese has always been popular. It was that or beer.)

My son is ready to transition to the big world of junior high. I thought I was too, until I found my eyes welling up as I pulled away from the curb.

Every once in awhile, the world — or at least Sirius radio — provides the perfect soundtrack to our lives. As I drove toward home, R.E.M.’s “The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” began to play. I’ve always liked that song, especially the super-speedy Great Big Sea cover. I’ve never understood the song’s meaning, so when I got home I looked it up on songfacts.com. And guess what? It doesn’t really mean anything. Michael Stipes, who wrote it, calls it “a collection of streams of consciousness.” Hey, I can relate to that.

This one’s for all the moms and dads who are attending promotions, commencements, graduations or any other ceremony that marks the end of an era, for both your child and yourself. We’re all going to feel fine. Just give us a little time (and a whole bunch of tissues).

“The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine,” Great Big Sea (Cover)

 

My Meta Blog

Wait — whoah. It’s June? And I haven’t blogged since February? How! Did! That! Happen! Oh, right: I’m kind of a slacker. This time around, I’m not going to promise to keep to a schedule because if you have any sense at all you won’t believe me. (And if you do, you are excessively trusting toward people who have repeatedly let you down and should maybe consider talking to a professional.)

So why am I blogging now? Two reasons:

1. I’ve started watching cat videos.

A week ago, I handed in the revised version of my upcoming young adult book, Bubbleworld, which should be out next spring. Someday soon I’ll write a long blog post and tell you all about it.* Now I have time to work on my vegetable garden, clean my desk, go through my closet, and take up pilates.

Pilates? Seriously? That is so not going to happen. Ditto for anything involving the phrase “clean” or “go through.” I can only check my Amazon rankings so many times in a day (“Bad . . . still bad . . . wow — I didn’t know they could go that low”), so it’s come down to watching cat videos versus writing a blog post. So here we are.

2. I’m just in this business for my fans. (And maybe a little bit so I don’t have to get a real job.)

After I handed in my manuscript, I spent a day** answering my fan mail from the last few months. My favorite letter came from a young Russian woman with an extreme fondness for exclamation points (unlike some of my writing peers, I love exclamation points!!!!) who told me that she hopes to come to America some day. In the meantime, she reads my books and blog to work on her English. So, yeah, I pretty much owe it to the international community to keep blogging. Plus, I love the idea of a future America populated by Eastern bloc immigrants who sound like deeply sarcastic, slightly neurotic women from New Jersey.

*You fell for that, didn’t you? Again: you are WAY too trusting.

** Okay, a couple of hours. If that.