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Tech Talk: What is a hashtag?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Tech Talk - Talk, Wimington NCThere’s a lot of terms flying around in this new age of “social technology”, where companies like Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter are becoming household names. But what do any of these terms really mean and why should you care? That’s what I’ll be explaining in my weekly Tech Talk.

What is a hashtag?

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional information and context to messages on Twitter. This is accomplished by using a hash sign ‘#’ and having a “tag” immediately after it.

Part of understanding hashtags means understanding tags. People use tags to easily clasify the topics or categories content is related to. The classification of content through the use of tags benefits the individual as they’ll know what to look for when wanting to find the information again, and benefits other internet users who may be looking for similar content by a similar tag. This process also frequently mentioned with taxonomy.

For example: At the bottom of this blog post, you will notice there are a few tags that I have used to classify topics this blog posts relates to.

How are hashtags used?

Hashtags came about with the advent of Twitter. Without users having any formal way of organizing tweets into categories, but wanting to add additional information, the twitter community began adopting the notion of a #hashtag. As such, hashtags have are used in a variety of ways on Twitter.

For those who love LOST, on Wednesday nights, you could frequently follow the hashtag #lost for what people thought about the episode, what they were guessing the next plot twist was, or placing bets on when Sawyer would punch someone in the face.

Conversely, and much more useful, hashtags have been used to follow the elections in Iran, to keep people posted about fires in San Diego, and or to share thoughts on what the latest going on is in the news.


10 Questions To Ask An SEO Consultant You’re Looking To Hire

Friday, May 29th, 2009

If you don’t know the questions to ask when hiring a SEO consultant to help build traffic to your website, you’re not alone. SEO is complicated, so it can be challenging to evaluate candidates’ expertise without at a baseline understanding yourself.

To provide a basic overview of SEO, we hosted a webinar entitled SEO or S.O.S?: Buyer Beware – Shop Smart for SEO. You can download the recorded presentation and slides here. As a follow up, we created 10 Questions to Ask a SEO Consultant to test the knowledge of a consultant or employee before making any hiring decisions. We have also provided a printer friendly version of the questions for download.

We encourage you to utilize these two resources to make fully informed decisions about SEO. Good luck!

1. What type of content is most easily crawled by search engines?


2. What is the best way to improve the frequency in which search engines crawl your site?

Update your content frequently.

3. True or False? Out of all the major search engines, Google is considered to have the best tools for researching the link information of a competing website?

False. Yahoo!’s Site Explorer and search engine is considered the best source for acquiring competitive link information.

4. True or False? The maximum number of characters that Google takes into consideration when looking at the Title tag of your page is 70.

True. When using keywords on your page, you want to make sure all relevant keywords and information are in the first 70 characters, as that’s all Google pays attention to.

5. Why is it important for a website to have a flat site architecture?

You reduce the number of links a search engine must follow to get to content. In addition, the flatter a website, the easier it is to spread a larger portion of the link juice being passed to various pages on the site, thus boosting the ranking power of each page on the site (unless page sculpting is being done, preventing juice from flowing to certain pages).

6. What should be considered when deciding on the URL path for a web page?

The web page the URL is directed toward is an important factor in being chosen as a relevant search result. The page determines the keywords to be placed into the URL path.

For example:
The above would be a good path, leading to a page on our site related to SEO and internet marketing.

7. True or False? The number of times a keyword is used on a page is an important factor in how search engines determine what your page is about.

False. Keyword density having an effect on search results is a myth. Properly using HTML tags in a document and the accompanying text is how a search engine determines what your page is about.

8. Why is the long-tail theory important when considering keyword choice?

The long-tail theory states, in reference to keyword choice, that instead of going for a single highly competitive keyword, you will see better immediate results and long term results by creating several pages that rank well for less competitive terms than one page that is trying to rank for a highly competitive term (which also has much higher fluctuation).

9. True or False? Meta descriptions are an important factor in search engine optimization.

True. While not necessarily playing a role in getting your site to rank well, the meta description does play an important role in driving traffic to your page. The meta description is frequently used as the description for your page on the search engines result page, and a good description entices users to click on your page listing. This is why SEO is about driving traffic to a website, not just improving pagerank.

10. True or False? Using keywords in the H2, H3, and H(x) tags aren’t important as long as you use your keywords in the H1 tag.

False. The H(x) tags are an important part of optimizing a page, the same way the STRONG/emphasis tags are an important part of optimizing a page. There have also been some instances where H2, H3, and H(x) tags have taken greater precedence over H1.

In addition to the questions above, you will also want to ask the following questions to ensure they are a good fit for your needs.

•    What is his/her keyword research/choice process?
•    What does he/she considers “good” links?
•    What is his/her link building process?

Use the following grading scale to determine if he/she is a true SEO expert.

Each question is worth 10 points.

100 points – Knows what they’re talking about.
80 points – Knows what they’re talking about, but if he/she missed any questions after #5, they may not be up to speed on the more advanced methods and processes.
70 points – Knows some components of SEO but may not know enough to accomplish what you want for your website.
60 points and below – Does not know enough about SEO to ensure a successful campaign.


Talk’s Social Media 101 Webinar - Slides

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Thanks again to everyone who attended our social media webinar! If you have any additional questions that we didn’t get a chance to answer, please feel free to leave it in the comments below and we’ll respond how we can there!

We’re working on getting a video of the presentation up on our YouTube channel today. We’ll post a link to the video here once it is up and running. In the mean time, if you want to peruse the slides, we have our presentation shared on SlideShare below.

Further more, if you want to continue to get great information about social media, internet marketing, or PR, you can subscribe to our blog either in an RSS reader or by e-mail.

Did you like our webinar? Tweet it!



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