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What Will I Learn in a Proofreader Course?

What Will I Learn in a Proofreader Course

Find out what an author can gain from taking a proofreader course

What Will I Learn in a Proofreader CourseWriters often overlook the mistakes in their work. You may read through your finished piece and think it is fantastic, but are you the best person to judge? You may be aware of your inadequate spelling and grammar skills but unable to afford to pay a professional proofreader to go over everything you write. A proofreader course will help you assess your work objectively. Look for a proofreader course that will help you recognize common mistakes and improve the salability of your writing.

Spelling mistakes

No one is perfect at spelling. When you read over your finished work, you are unlikely to spot errors in words that you just don’t know how to spell. There are some common pitfalls in spelling that millions of people repeat all their lives. Your proofreader course should be able to list the most frequent spelling errors and help you look out for them. Also, these courses can direct you to tools that will highlight your spelling mistakes.

Grammar

As with spelling, your proofreader course should include a list of the most frequently made grammatical errors. You won’t be forced into the stilted phraseology sometimes used by academics, but you will be taught the correct way to phrase commonly accepted English. Because spelling and grammar are closely related, expect a lot of interaction between these two topics. Words alter their meaning based on the grammatical context, even if they retain the same spelling. Similarly, words that are spelled differently but sound the same can be used correctly only in specific grammatical contexts.

Typos

Typing errors should be the easiest mistakes for you to spot. Most of the spelling and grammar mistakes you make are probably because you do not know the correct spelling or you haven’t been taught proper grammar. Typos, however, are simple accidents that occur when you’re racing to type out words on your keyboard in an attempt to keep up with the speed of your thoughts. Your proofreader course should provide you with a method for tracking down typos in your written work.

Language

A proofreader course should remind you to always be consistent with the language you use. This type of proofreading sorts out the muddle that exists between the different varieties of the English language. Remember the saying “England and America are two countries divided by a common language”? Don’t mix British and American spelling in the same piece. Your proofreader course should teach you to stick to one standard dictionary.

Organization

Good proofreading requires good concentration. Your proofreader course will recommend ways to organize your work so you are less likely to get confused or distracted. You may be hoping to take up proofreading as a career, so the organizational part of the proofreader course should cover the business of being a proofreader.

Reminders

Your proofreader course won’t be of much use if the lessons don’t sink in. You should expect the course to include periodic tests. Specifically, you should be able to check your comprehension at the end of each module. You might be daunted by this prospect, thinking back to the three-hour-long exams you took in college. However, online courses have more subtle methods to make sure you understand the contents of the course. ProofreadingCamp, for example, includes interactive games to reinforce key points and help students check their progress. So relax, and look forward to your proofreader course. You will soon be sharpening your writing skills and improving your earning potential.

Image source: photastic/Shutterstock.com

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Should I Try Freelance Editing?

Should I Try Freelance Editing

You don’t have to join the rat race—get into freelance editing

Should I Try Freelance EditingEditing is a precise vocation that requires a particular mindset. Some people have a natural ability to edit the work of others but can’t fit into the regular nine-to-five structure of a typical desk job. If you have started a career in editing but can’t stand the idea of being permanently tied to one company, you might find that freelance editing suits you.

Employment

Being a corporate player has its advantages. Getting experience in a well-respected publishing house will associate you with the reputation the company has within the publishing industry. If you have ambitions to be in charge of a publication as a managing editor, full-time employment is the best way to arrive at that goal. Freelance editing is not for everyone, and those driven by career goals should not necessarily opt out of permanent employment.

Experience

A permanent job can get a little boring for some. By tying yourself to a specific company or publication, you will find yourself pigeonholed in a particular subject area. Repetitive work can get some people down, but sticking with a fixed job may seem like the only way to gain a promotion. Freelance editing brings a wider range of opportunities. Companies generally supplement their regular editorial staff when they have a new project and need people to work on it so their regular employees can continue with other projects. This may result in freelance editing contractors getting the cutting-edge work, while the permanent staffers find they are trailing behind.

Promotion

The Peter Principle states that employees get promoted until they find their own level of incompetence. If you enjoy your job and do it well, you are likely to be promoted out of it. This continues until you get promoted into a job that you don’t enjoy and so perform badly in it. Many people pursuing promotion for a greater income and more influence find they get promoted into a job they hate, but can’t return to the job they loved because that would entail a wage cut. Freelance editing enables you to stick to the job you love while gaining diversity in your daily challenges by frequently switching projects.

Pay

One of the main reasons people seek promotion out of the job they love is simply because they want to earn more money. Permanent employment earns you more than just a wage: you also get holiday pay, sick pay, retirement plan contributions, and health insurance benefits. If you are young and healthy, however, you may decide to forgo the non-wage benefits of a permanent job. The absence of benefits can mean that take-home pay, on a daily wage basis, is higher for freelance editors than for employed editors. This means you can increase your pay without having to climb the corporate ladder.

Security

Freelance editing could be a good career move if you don’t want a management position, don’t need health benefits, and want varied work experience. There is a reason, however, that many in the industry are not drawn to freelance work. Permanent employment gives long-term security that freelance editing rarely brings. You may have worked full time in an office that has used the same freelancers for years and are drawn to the advantage you would have with such a long-term contract. However, such situations are rare, and most freelance editors see gaps in their employment. If you worry about making your next mortgage payment and have kids in school, maybe freelance editing is not for you. But if you have few commitments, don’t need loans, and don’t prioritize job security, consider the leap to freelance editing.

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Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online Business

Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online Business

Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online BusinessBritish colonialism, world wars, Hollywood blockbusters—for reasons that stretch back for generations, English dominates the world scene, particularly when it comes to business. As the world shrinks and communications diversify, global professionals have come to rely on the Internet for fast, reliable, and shareable online business exchanges. In this system of global online communication, English has trumped other languages on the Internet as the one most commonly shared between international parties. For those who speak little or no English, online translation services like Google Translate offer some help, though not nearly enough.

Although Google Translate has made leaps and bounds in improving its accuracy and information base (you can still get a laugh from Translate’s less-than-perfect days, as seen in this endlessly entertaining video), it hardly serves as a reliable (or realistic) means of viewing all potential business-relevant websites in your native language. Online professionals are finding that a sturdy knowledge of English is the best way to get the most out of an online business experience.

Forbes Magazine discussed the English language’s international transition from being a “marker of the elite” to serving as a basic necessity for those entering the workforce. Much more than just a trend, evidence of this progression can be seen in Japan’s major clothing retail store Uniqlo, the Nissan Motor Company, Finnish telecom company Nokia, and German airline Lufthansa, which are just a few examples of the many international companies that have adopted English as their official language of business. The British Council predicts that two billion people will be studying English a mere five years from now.

As explained by linguist Kachru, the use of English across the globe is divided into countries where it is the mother tongue (e.g., the United Kingdom), those where it is an official second language (e.g., Singapore), and those where it is a prominently used foreign language (e.g., China). The latter categories are of particular interest, as these countries (many of which, such as Japan, Korea, China, and India, are major economic drivers) actually use English as the go-to common language or, as stated in The Japan News, a “social resource.” Whether meeting the needs of a social network, a large conglomerate, or a small online business, English is fast becoming the language of commerce worldwide.

An agency from Argentina may do business with companies in Japan and Saudi Arabia, but more than likely the language they use to speak to each other is English. English also distinguishes local businesses from those with international targets. Walking into a hair salon off the street in Taiwan, you’ll probably be greeted by a Mandarin Chinese–speaking clerk; however, if that same business has shops across Taiwan and a few in Korea, you’re more than likely to find its website in English. This is where the importance of knowing English comes into play to be profitable online.

A 2013 study reports that Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese are growing at faster rates online than English, but English is still the most commonly used language. As pointed out by Business Insider, the only language that has some real possibility to challenge English’s online reign is Mandarin. Yet because the Mandarin language is “one of the world’s most difficult to master, and least computer-friendly,” a successful coup is unlikely. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg made some news by holding a Q&A session at Beijing’s Qinghua University entirely in Mandarin (which is hilarious, for Facebook is still blocked from online users in China), but English still runs at an impressive lead over other languages on online platforms. In 2013, 55.5% of websites used English as their main content language, with German occupying the second-place slot at a lowly 6%. Mandarin, in contrast, was the language of choice of only 2.8% of websites, despite the fact that Chinese speakers made up the second largest body of Internet users worldwide (English speakers being the first, with over 800 million users, and the Chinese not far behind, with 650 million users).

As business enterprises encompass our ever-shrinking globe, one thing is for certain: English won’t be retreating any time soon. For online business professionals and others, knowledge of English is no longer merely a plus on a resume; it’s the backbone of communications and online profitability. Fortunately, the Internet is also a giving beast. With online courses such as GrammarCamp, anyone can initiate his or her own English-learning experience and kick-start a more profitable relationship with the online business world.

 

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Top 6 Business Tools

Top 6 Business Tools

Improve your efficiency with the latest business tools

Top 6 Business ToolsWhether you are a sole trader or a growing concern, chances are that you never seem to have enough time to complete all the tasks your business demands. Technology helps the entrepreneur expand his or her efficiency to stretch those precious hours. You can improve your own productivity and that of your enterprise by employing the latest business tools. This list covers six handy services and apps that will solve the problems you face in your working day.

1) Fuze

New businesses pop up everywhere. You don’t need to pay high rental fees for big-city offices to be a success. However, every salesperson and product designer will tell you there is no substitute for face-to-face contact, and getting to meetings with faraway customers can be time-consuming and expensive. If you feel that email contact isn’t enough and you want to work with collaborators and customers all over the world, consider using a video-conferencing business tool. Thanks to improvements in broadband speed, video conferencing is now a very effective way to get face-to-face contact without having to travel. The Fuze video-conferencing system offers HD-quality video and sound. Best of all, there is a free version.

2) DudaMobile

The biggest trend in web access during 2014 was the shift from access through desktops and laptops to access via smartphones and tablets. Since January 2014, more Internet access time in the U.S. has come from mobile devices than from desktops and laptops. That fact sent big Internet companies, such as Google and Amazon, scrambling to produce mobile-friendly versions of their sites. The IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014 found that 77 percent of executives use a mobile device to research products and services, which shows that you need to get a mobile-formatted version of your site prepared. Small screens require different layouts compared with those traditionally used for webpages, and getting an expert to produce your mobile version can be expensive. DudaMobile is a business tool that enables you to quickly create a mobile-friendly site for your business via a series of templates and apps. You can also add “click to call” buttons and interactive maps to help boost your conversion rates.

3) MailBox

Many entrepreneurs find they now access their emails from their phone more often than from their desktop computer. MailBox is an email system specifically written for smartphones. This mail app business tool is formatted to be mobile friendly and includes some special features. It learns your habits and sets priorities for emails from those senders that it notices you access immediately, and it gives less priority to emails from senders you tend to ignore.

4) Tripit

Tripit “automagically” converts all your travel-booking confirmation emails into a travel itinerary. If you have ever gone on a business trip to a conference or seminar, or made a customer visit, you know there is enough to worry about, such as making sure you have all your notes, brochures, and samples organized, without having to keep track of all the printouts of hotel confirmations and electronic boarding cards. The Tripit business tool can be accessed from a range of devices and is even available on your phone or laptop when you do not have Internet access.

5) CrashPlan

You are legally required to keep sales and employment records for a number of years, depending on the nature of the data. However, you do not have to store all the original paper documents to comply with these requirements. Still, if you digitize your records and your computer crashes, wiping out everything, you could be in big trouble. Therefore, it is very important to back up all data, although having a backup device on your premises is a bad idea. If your office gets robbed, the thieves are likely to take any USB memory sticks they find, along with the computers. Fortunately, many online-data backup business tools are now available. CrashPlan offers cloud-based storage that enables you to back up all your data on the Internet and protects your business from data loss.

6) LastPass

Every website and online service that requires a log-in advises you to choose a password that is different from those you use for other services. Having the same password for everything would enable a data or identity thief to get access to all of your business’s online services after learning that one word. However, keeping track of all the different passwords you need to log in to all of your essential services can be a headache, and you certainly shouldn’t write down a list of them. LastPass fixes this problem by providing a secure list that is password-protected. You write all of your passwords into the system, and then it logs you in to each site you visit, prompting you only for your LastPass password. With this business tool, you only need to remember one password.

Mobile world

These six essential business tools will enable you to run your business even when you are on the move. Savvy entrepreneurs know that acquiring and adapting to new technology provides a business edge that improves productivity. The rapid proliferation of mobile-friendly business tools shows just how important it is for your business to have a website that can be accessed from a mobile device. The World Wide Web is going mobile. Make sure your business doesn’t get left behind.

Image source: Orla/BigStockPhoto.com

 

Disclosure: If there are links to a product in any of the reviews, a commission may be paid to us if you purchase the product. We will never write a review on a manufacturer’s product, nor will we promote a product, if we believe the product will not be beneficial to you.

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The Ideal Candidates for Proofreader Jobs

The Ideal Candidates for Proofreader Jobs

Decide whether to apply for proofreader jobs

The Ideal Candidates for Proofreader Jobs When considering a literary career, the first job that springs to mind is that of writer. However, there are many different career paths within the writing industry. As well as writing jobs, you have the option of pursuing editing jobs. Not everyone enjoys the stress of editing, though, and a less stressful alternative is proofreader jobs. Just consider whether you have the right temperament for proofreading before you start searching for available proofreader jobs.

Location, location, location

Not so long ago, proofreaders were limited to the opportunities available in their neighborhoods. People living in big cities had more options than those living in small towns. Yet small-town residents often enjoyed living away from major urban centers and wouldn’t consider any career that would require them to move to a city. The Internet changed this imbalance of opportunities. Now it is possible to find proofreader jobs online, which opens up a world of options for people living in rural areas or areas with few employment opportunities in the publishing field.

Types of proofreader jobs

Anything and everything that anyone writes for commercial purposes needs checking. The simplest explanation of proofreader jobs is that they require you to check through something that someone else has written and correct any mistakes. This particularly applies to spelling, grammar, and typing errors. You will often find, however, that the people interviewing candidates for proofreader jobs are looking for evidence of specialization. For example, the style and complexity of academic papers necessitate the use of a language that is much different than that used in sales brochures. If you are skilled in checking other people’s work, the subject of the piece shouldn’t really matter. However, in the real world, it often does, and you will find yourself searching for proofreader jobs in specific fields, such as technical, medical, academic, or general proofreading.

Proofreader personalities

The ideal proofreader is methodical and reliable. Often, the proofreader is the last person to approve a piece of work before it gets published, so there is no room for oversights or errors. Proofreader jobs require total concentration, and candidates who can prove they are not easily distracted are likely to excel in this career. You have to be thorough in applying spelling and grammar rules to someone else’s work. Also, you don’t need to suggest improvements in style or tone to do well in these proofreader jobs.

Someone who is easily bored or likes to handle several tasks at once should not apply for proofreader jobs. If you cannot sit still and work from start to finish on checking an article, you are likely to miss sections or waste time rereading parts of the text. Fidgety, lively people are more likely to get job satisfaction from creative work, and such people should aim for writing or editing jobs rather than proofreading.

Lifestyle

Some people can cope with stress and an unsettled home life. If you are able to completely switch off from your daily troubles when you go to work, you might consider applying for proofreader jobs. Employers may look at your personal circumstances when considering you for a proofreading role. Be prepared to be turned down for personal reasons if your résumé does not clearly demonstrate that you have a stable home life. Proofreading is not for everyone, but it can bring a financially and emotionally rewarding career to those with calm and methodical personalities.

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Editing Courses Can Reboot Your Working Life

Editing Courses Can Reboot Your Working Life

Sick of your job? Check out editing courses

Editing Courses Can Reboot Your Working LifeCareer breaks are increasingly common. Maternity leave is a well-established reason for a woman to put her career on hold, but travel, volunteer work, and hobbies also provide many workers with reasons to step off the career ladder and take time to explore other avenues. If your career break lasts too long, you may find your absence has rusted your abilities or that your field has progressed so quickly that you will need to retrain, go back to the bottom of the ladder, and start again. If you seek a new direction, you might find editing is to your taste.

Career switch

There may be a personal reason you left your career, or maybe you just didn’t enjoy the lifestyle that came with the job. However, you still need to make money, and maybe you don’t want to go back to school and start over again. You need a career that you can feed your existing knowledge and experience into. Recent developments in distance learning mean that editing has become a viable option for those seeking a new career. Online editing courses make it possible to find a new career without leaving home.

Knowledge bank

Whether you realize it or not, your previous career has enriched you more than just financially. You have acquired experiences, tips, and tricks that outsiders would take years to pick up. Many professional jobs require excellent written skills to write proposals, meeting minutes, and appraisals. Without realizing it, you have built up experience as a professional writer, even though those writing tasks seemed secondary to your main job at the time. In fact, those methods of communicating your experience, knowledge, and professional opinions served the actual purpose of your employment.

Transformation

If you are good at spotting mistakes in other people’s writing or if you can always find a better way to express a writer’s ideas, you may be a suitable candidate to become an editor. You can’t expect to become a senior editor straightaway. You will need editor training and can benefit from taking editing courses.

Distance learning

If you used to be a nurse, you would be an ideal candidate to edit articles and books on medicine and health care. If you used to be an industrial engineer, you should look for opportunities to edit brochures, user manuals, or sales documents for industrial equipment. You will find it easier to get into editing if you resolve to specialize in your previous area of expertise; from there, you can always branch out into other fields. To improve your chances of landing a trainee position, you could take a few editing courses. Fortunately, you can take editing courses online, so if you are a stay-at-home mom or a surfing fanatic, you can prepare for your new career while maintaining your current lifestyle.

Editing courses

“Editing” is not one standard role. A range of tasks are involved in the process of editing, and each can be taken up as a job. The number of editing courses available matches this range of tasks. For example, proofreading is a key part of editing, and all potential editors would benefit from editing courses in this field. You may decide to focus on just this task for your new career, so you should explore online proofreading courses.

Also look online for editing courses provided by editing services. For example, EditingCamp is training offered by Scribendi.com, one of the most established editing services on the web. Check out the course, and plan your return to work in a fresh career.

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15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. The consequences of a mistake can be (at best) losing followers or (at worst) losing your clients’ and potential clients’ trust. Those are pretty high stakes. This infographic lists 15 things to avoid at all costs when executing your business’s social media strategy. If you’d like more information about these tips, check out the full article.

15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

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Do I Have to Attend a University to Do an Editing Course?

Do I Have to Attend a University to Do an Editing Course?

There is an alternative path to taking a college editing course

Do I Have to Attend a University to Do an Editing Course?Publishing is an old and learned vocation, and the academic route to editing has been established over the hundreds of years of the profession’s existence. In the past, you had to be within the ivy-clad walls of a university to take an editing class, but the industry has moved on. Thanks to the Internet, you no longer need to give up years of earning potential to take an editing course, and you do not need to go to university to become an editor.

University courses

The traditional route to becoming an editor is to get a degree in an English subject, such as English literature, or a more specific subject, such as American literature or journalism. As the number of English-related university courses expanded, a wider range of specialized courses became available. However, despite the exciting learning opportunities these courses offer, they are not suitable for everyone. Not everyone can give up the opportunity to earn money to take an editing course at a university for four years. The prospect of paying tuition fees and buying textbooks and equipment also bars many from taking a university’s editing course. The costs and loss of income mean that university study is still a luxury available only to some.

Geography

Not everyone lives in a large town with community colleges a short bus ride away. Those living in a big city like New York, London, or Toronto could enroll in a part-time editing course or night school at a nearby school to learn while they earn. However, if your town is too small for these educational opportunities, you are left with two options: giving up work and moving to a faraway university or giving up your dream of becoming an editor.

The Internet

So you don’t have thousands of dollars to enroll in a university, you need to pay the rent and support the family, and you live in the middle of nowhere. What chance do you have of taking an editing course? Fortunately, thanks to the Internet, there is a solution to that dilemma. You can take a university editing course without having to actually go to the university. As long as you have an Internet connection in your home, you can enroll in a part-time distance learning course.

Professional training

Some see universities as too out of touch with the real world. After observing rapid changes in technology in your daily life, you may feel a three-year course could be out of date before you even finish it. Fortunately, publishing houses and editorial services now offer their own courses. This means you can take an editing course from a company that knows the daily issues involved in editing. Companies engaged in editing shape changes in the industry, so an editing course from an editing company will adapt quickly to the changing requirements of the job.

Scribendi.com

An excellent example of an experienced editing company that also offers training is Scribendi.com. This company is one of the oldest online editing services, and they have now applied their editing expertise to the development of an online training course. You can benefit from Scribendi.com’s extensive experience by taking an editing course at its training school, EditingCamp.

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9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All CostsAh, search engine optimization (SEO). There’s nothing quite like trying desperately to make an algorithm favor you to make you miss the good old days of traditional marketing and advertising. You already spend half your life trying to get people to approve of you, and now you have to do the same thing with an abstract online entity? This is not why you went into business.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how much you resent SEO best practices. Whether you like it or not, good SEO practices are key to improving your website’s visibility, thereby increasing your traffic and (hopefully) your conversion rates. Try not to think of SEO as just one annoying thing you have to do to maintain your website; instead, think of how it can directly improve your return on investment (ROI). So how can you use SEO best practices to improve your business?

The first thing you can do is avoid making mistakes. SEO newbies—and people who have been in the game for a while but have neglected to keep up with the times—tend to make the same kinds of mistakes when it comes to optimizing their websites. If you can avoid these SEO mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to a well-optimized site:

1. Keyword stuffing

If you’ve ever written copy for a website, you’ve heard about the importance of using keywords for SEO. Using the right keywords can bring the right audience to your website, and optimizing the use of these keywords properly can help get the attention of search engines. But do you know what won’t help you? Keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing looks something like this:

Keyword Stuffing Example

Cramming a keyword as many times as possible into your copy makes one thing very obvious to both readers and search engines: your content is worthless. You don’t have anything valuable to say, so instead you’re using keywords to get people to your site in hopes that getting them there will be enough to get them to convert. But search engines aren’t going to fall for this trick anymore—instead of getting results with keyword stuffing, you’ll find yourself with a keyword-crammed website with very few visitors and a bad ranking on Google.

2. Buying links

The statement “backlinks are important for SEO” isn’t false—it’s just incomplete. The whole truth is that “quality backlinks are important for SEO.” Don’t go around purchasing shoddy links from sketchy sites in hopes that they will increase your traffic and your PageRank. Google will know and, strict disciplinarian that Google is, your site will suffer for a long time for making this rookie SEO mistake.

3. Not updating your site

You’ve spent months creating a beautiful, user-friendly website. You’ve written five helpful blog posts, and you’ve optimized your site using well-researched keywords. Now you sit back and watch the traffic flow, waiting for those visitors to convert to leads and those leads to convert to customers. You’ve been working hard for months; now it’s time for that work to pay off. Right?

Wrong. SEO is a constant effort, and it involves keeping your site active. So you’ve published five great blog posts? That’s awesome, but now you need to make a schedule for posting new posts on a regular basis, and you need to stick to it. If you aren’t constantly updating your content, search engines aren’t going to notice you.

4. Using keywords as an afterthought

There is one way and only one way to use keywords. First, you have to do your keyword research. Then, you have to use that research to determine what you need to write about. That way, you can organically incorporate the right keywords into your copy.

This means that you can’t decide to write something, do keyword research, and try to figure out how to add those keywords into something you’ve already written. Keyword usage needs to be natural. One of the keywords for this blog post, for example, is “SEO mistakes.” You’ll notice that this post is about SEO mistakes, which makes that keyword significantly easier to use than if this post had been about writing blogs. Figure out what people are searching for, and provide them with relevant and helpful information about that topic. You’ll find that keyword integration is something you’ll barely even have to think about.

5. Neglecting social media

Neglecting social media is an SEO mistake.Social media is no longer optional. If people cannot find you on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, they’re going to seriously question your company’s credibility. You know what else social media is great for? Sharing the material you’ve worked so hard to optimize on your website. Sharing your content means search engines have more places to find it, which means that potential visitors can find you in different places. Building a loyal social media following is also great for brand awareness.

6. Lack of internal links

It may seem somewhat counterintuitive to link to your own content. You may even think that search engines will find this behavior suspicious; after all, shouldn’t your goal be to have other sites link to you for verification of your credibility? Despite what you may think, linking to different pages on your own website is actually a good SEO practice. It helps search engines crawl your website, and it lends greater authority to your site. You should focus on the most important pages of your site and figure out how you can link those pages to things like blog posts. Remember, don’t just do this randomly; only link internally if there is a real connection between the two pages.

7. Not measuring your progress

What’s the first thing you do when you decide to lose weight? In fact, what causes you to want to lose weight? Obviously, you need to start by weighing yourself. Then, you create a strategy for shedding those pounds, and you continue to weigh yourself on a regular basis to ensure that strategy is giving you the results you want. If it isn’t, and you aren’t losing weight, you change the strategy.

Improving your SEO is just like losing weight. You need to know where you are when you start, and you need to keep track of your progress as you go. If you don’t have solid metrics to show your progress (or lack thereof), how will you ever know that your SEO practices have been working? Sure, you may notice vague improvements, but if you can’t identify exactly what these improvements are and what caused them, you’re wasting your time.

8. Not fixing broken links

Search engines crawl websites to figure out how well those sites should rank. You know what search engines don’t like? Being interrupted. And you know what website users don’t like? Clicking on a link that takes them to a big, fat, irritating “404” page, like this one:

Page Not Found Example

Do yourself and your website a favor: make sure there are no broken links on your site. This is all part of keeping your website active and current. Having a few broken links on your site is not going to completely destroy your site’s rank, but it is a small factor to consider when you’re optimizing.

9. Prioritizing links over content

This list of SEO mistakes has made it pretty clear that it’s better to have no links than it is to have bad links. Buying links or submitting your site to sketchy directories is a great way to bomb your website’s ranking. Why? Because search engines know that, instead of creating quality content for your visitors, you’re trying to trick search engines into promoting your page. Content should be your number one priority when it comes to improving your SEO and building a better site. Links should be the consequence of that content. In case I haven’t made this clear, let me put it simply: content first, links later.

Image sources: LoboStudioHamburg/pixabay.com, Marc Chouinard/stocksnap.io

 

Inklyo's free ebook, 17 SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing.

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It’s in the Pages: Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better Writers

Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better Writers

Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better WritersDoes reading for pleasure make you a better writer? It’s a theory that has been tossed around and debated numerous times. Many people maintain that writing is a craft, and that all crafts should begin with an education from the masters—for instance, if you want to be a modern artist, you should go to Florence to study the works of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Others, as represented below by the esteemed Lil Wayne, will staunchly argue that saturating yourself in the works of others will only keep you from developing your own style.

Honestly, I don’t listen to nobody else’s music but my own. It’s kind of like sports to me. You don’t see Kobe Bryant at a LeBron James game—he just works on his own game. And that’s what I do. I only listen to me, so I can criticize and analyze and all those things. —Lil Wayne

No offense to the creative habits of Lil Wayne (and I swear my disagreement isn’t at all influenced by his use of double negatives), but there is some interesting research that shows reading for pleasure can actually make you a better writer, both mechanically and meaningfully.

Early reading and performance

Research has linked early reading habits with better performance in school-aged children. Cullinan’s “Independent Reading and School Achievement” examines several studies indicating that students who engage in free reading outside of school are better developed in vocabulary, reading comprehension, and verbal fluency, which then translates into practical writing ability. Children who establish reading habits early (at the age of five) exhibit continued academic success in later years. Cullinan states that even “six years of schooling could not make up for the loss children suffered by not engaging in literacy events in their early lives.”

In a study of 230 children, the most academically successful were frequently read to by their parents, were provided with materials and spaces for pleasure reading at home, and visited libraries purely for enjoyment. Assessments of children in grades one to five revealed that “among all the ways children spent their time, reading books was the best predictor of measures of reading achievement in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speed, including gains in reading comprehension between the second and fifth grade.”

A book title recognition test of middle school and young adult students revealed that those who had been most exposed to literature were also the most advanced in vocabulary, spelling, verbal fluency, and general word knowledge. In Writing: Research, Theory and Applications, Stephen Krashen notes that the highest-achieving college students report high levels of pleasure reading, especially in high school, compared to low-achieving students who engage in little to no reading for pleasure.

Krashen concludes that “voluntary pleasure reading contributes to the development of writing ability; it is a more important factor than writing frequency in improving writing.” Some famous examples include Malcolm X and Richard Wright, whose literacy success came not from formal education but from recreational reading.

Reading, language, and writing

Krashen compares the formation of writing ability to the learning of a new language. He states that reading for pleasure is the greatest boon to natural language development; the same goes for becoming an accomplished writer. Languages are best learned by indirect absorption (e.g., reading) rather than overt instruction (e.g., grammar memorization). Krashen calls the art of writing a “special dialect” that, like language, is acquired, not learned. In a paper presented at the RELC conference in Singapore in 2004, Krashen stated that “those who do more recreational reading show better development in reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. These results hold for first and second language acquisition, and for children and adults.”

The effectiveness of recreational reading on ESL learners can be seen in this case study of a Korean woman and also in this report of Sophia, a Taiwanese girl who immigrated to the United States at the age of six with no real English ability. The Korean woman claims that her prowess in the English language comes not from grammar books but from careful study of the feel and flow of language as she encounters it in literature. Sophia’s case presents some interesting data: her English test scores drop at the end of each school year but skyrocket after a summer vacation full of voluntary free reading.

Like learning a language, writing successfully requires not just mechanical skill but a feel for words. Grammar lessons and exercises in story construction can certainly help fill the holes in a writer’s ability, but they pale in comparison to the foundation of skill that literature gives to aspiring writers. In the words of William Faulkner,

Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.

Exposure to fiction means greater empathy

Good writing employs sophisticated style, a feel for language, and mechanical expertise. But let’s not forget that writing is also an art and a way to connect people across continents and generations. People read to understand life; those who write do so to help others understand it. How can we, as writers, access this world of understanding and empathy to become better writers? The answer is obvious: through reading. Renowned author Neil Gaiman speaks on the effects of exposure to literature:

. . . [The] second thing fiction does is to build empathy . . . Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

A good book is good because it is relatable; it taps into the human condition to make its readers feel something. You develop this kind of skill by broadening your own emotional scope through reading.

Like any craft…

Writing requires practice. Reading supplies a foundation of style and empathetic understanding in ways that formal education cannot. Technical instruction (such as the courses offered at GrammarCamp) simply fills in the gaps to help you become an even better writer.

Can I be blunt on the subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.—Stephen King

 

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