What’s in a name?

In a previous post I discussed the importance of naming your book, product or company in such a way as to optimize it for search engines on the Internet. You do this by infusing the name or title with keywords.  Case in point: While I was in a grocery store the other day, I decided to test this hypothesis by examining the names of products.  The majority of packaging demonstrate this tendency.  I started to look a little ridiculous texting product names into my iPhone standing in the personal hygiene aisle, but here’s just one example of a product that has a keyword-infused name:

Right Guard Xtreme Fresh Blast Ultra Gel Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

That’s a mouth full, but I bet it comes up on an Internet search. Hey, if it works for Gillette, it can work for you…

Branding your Twitter page

Let’s first take a look at the NFL’s Twitter page so you can see an example of what I discussed previously.  Depending upon your monitor’s resolution, you will either see the NFL logo clearly visible and non-obstructed along the left-hand side of the “conversation” box.  Or, if your monitor has a lower resolution, you may see part of the NFL logo “covered up” by portions of the Twitter page itself.  Or, I guess a 3rd alternative is, now that the Super Bowl is over, the NFL people may remove or alter the logo entirely, and naturally, I don’t have any control over that.

Now that you’re looking at an example, the goal is to put something of YOURS on your Twitter page that will help you brand yourself on Twitter.  With the example of the NFL fresh in our mind, we added our company’s name to our Twitter page on its side.  Obviously, we would prefer for it to be “right-side-up” but then one runs into the issue the NFL experienced, with the graphic being obstructed or partly-obstructed by the Twitter box and/or Twitter logo.  We have two versions of our “company graphic treatment” — a horizontal version and a “stacked vertical” version — but after experimenting with different lay-outs and sizes, this was what we settled on because it was the only one that looked consistently the same, regardless of monitor resolution.

And now this opens up a number of different topics for me to blog about in upcoming posts… 1) the creation and considerations involved in creating a graphic treatment for your company name by using ours as an example and 2) the details of adding a non-scrolling graphic to the background of your Twitter page.

I could cover some of that now, but I read in a recent Entrepreneur article — about “ghost blogging,” interestingly enough — that business/corporate blog postings are ideally supposed to be under 300 words in length. So, with that sage advice in mind, until next time….

Naming your blog

The username or domain name you use for your blog  is the most heavily weighted in terms of search engine optimization, so the URL is the single most imporant part of branding your blog.  The second opportunity comes in the form of titling or naming your blog. Currently as I’m writing this (in December 2009), the name of this blog is “CEO Self Publishing Start-Up OutskirtsPress.com” which is not so much a title as a string of keywords I’m hoping will result in my blog being found in relevant search engines. An ideal blog name would be a combination of two things — an accurate, grammatically correct description of the blog’s benefits or purpose AND an infusion of relevant, highly-applicable search words or keyword terms.

My current name misses out on the “grammatically correct” portion of that criteria. Of course, I’m composing this blog posting in December of 2009 so perhaps by the time this blog launches in January 2010, I will have had time to arrive upon a better name. Like the headline of a press release, or the subject heading of an important email, or the title of a book, the name of your blog is vital, and it’s mandatory that you spend time getting it exactly right. Fortunately, WordPress allows you to change the name of your blog at any time, and then that new name propagates through previous posts. In essence, that means you can deliberately change your blog name from time to time to massage your SEO position/tactics. And, frankly, that’s probably what I’m going to do, so even though I’m writing this in December 2009, you may be reading it years later (isn’t the archival power of the Internet great?) and as a result, it is anybody’s guess what the “name” of this blog may be in the future…

Picking a Blog Theme

The typical topics of this blog won’t be so mundane as “picking a blog theme.” Or, I don’t know, maybe they will.  But “branding” is one of the topics I’ll be discussing, and when it comes to branding one’s blog, there are some concepts to take into consideration. 

When I first started blogging in 2005, I chose blogger.com as my platform because, frankly, I didn’t know of any other platforms. I found using blogger.com difficult. I had to sign-in each time, the U.I. (user interface) was clumsy, etc.   Coming up with relevant content is hard enough — the publishing portion should be easy!  Hey, that’s the philosophy behind our company. What do you know?

Nevertheless, I gave blogger.com the old college try, but eventually, other responsibilities won out over my blog, partly because using blogger was so hard, and my blogger.com blog became yet another statistic in the growing slush pile of blogs that begin with the best of intentions and then fade out slowly over time. In my case, 5 months. 

Writing consistently and relevantly is hard work!  It’s possible this blog will suffer the same fate, but I’m doing some things differently.  Like, first and foremost, I’m using WordPress instead of Blogger.   We have a number of blogs for Outskirts Press, including SelfPublishingNews.com and when I first set-up that one, I choose a theme for the blog that I was hesitant about right from the beginning. The header was too large and the way in which the blog subjects were presented was too clunky. 

The custom header had already been created for that specific header-size, so I didn’t change the theme, even though I should have.  Fast forward a year or so, and I ultimately decided to change the theme for Self Publishing News anyway — at the same time that I registered “selfpublishingnews.com” in our on-going SEO tactics.  Up until then, the blog was outskirtspress.wordpress.com – which still works. Just like the current address when I’m writing THIS blog is brentsampson.wordpress.com but will be forwarded via DNS to brentsampson.com by the time this posting goes live.

Ah yes, that reminds me of one of the biggest advantages of wordpress over blogger.  WordPress allows you to write blogs and schedule them for post in the future.  Blogger doesn’t (or didn’t in 2005 when I was using them). 

Anyway, back to the story – We kind of “re-launched” the blog as Self Publishing News and I changed the header at that time.   But we had already branded the blog the “old” way, so even though the blog looked better, and it was a better UI for the reader, readers who were used to the “old” look were probably confused by the new one.  Perhaps they thought they were in the wrong place.  It’s easy to find yourself on the wrong blog on the internet, and since many blogs end up saying the same things anyway, you could easily find yourself wasting an hour on a blog you don’t even want to be on. 

Adding insult to injury, the new theme had a narrower “main” column for the content, which means that many of the graphics we created for the old theme are now too wide for the new one, which is only problematic for readers visiting the posting archives, or for those stumbling upon previous blog postings due to successful search engine results (which, let’s face it, is one of the main purposes of a business blog anyway).

Long story, short:  branding a blog correctly right off the bat is kind of important.  So… I’m trying to settle on a blog theme for this one.  I will probably create a custom header for it eventually, but I don’t have time to do that immediately, although I’ve learned my lesson with Self Publishing News and realize I’ll need to do it soon.  Fortunately, with the ability to schedule posts ahead of time, I’m writing many of these blog postings all at once, still in 2009, with the expectation that by the time 2010 rolls around, all these little details will be completed. 

With yesterday’s initial blog posting I chose a theme I don’t even remember the name of… and then when I saw it, I knew that it wasn’t the one for this blog.  With  today’s blog I’m trying a theme called “Sapphire”  — perhaps it is fate, choosing a theme named after one of our self publishing packages.