Best Practices for Content Optimization

Time for another round of SEO tips from the fine folks at SEOMoz…

Is it possible that in all the years we’ve been writing at SEOmoz, there’s never been a solid walkthrough on the basics of content optimization? Let’s fix that up.

First off, by content, I don’t mean keyword usage or keyword optimization. I’m talking about how the presentation and architecture of the text, image and multimedia content on a page can be optimized for search engines. The peculiar part is that many of these recommendations are second-order effects. Having the right formatting or display won’t necessarily boost your rankings directly, but through it, you’re more likely to earn links, get clicks and eventually benefit in search rankings. If you regularly practice the techniques below, you’ll not only earn better consideration from the engines, but from the human activities on the web that influence their algorithms.

Content Structure

Because SEO has become such a holistic part of website improvement, it’s no surprise that content formatting – the presentation, style and layout choices you select for your content – are a part of the process. Choosing sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are wise choices for the web; Verdana in particular has received high praise from usability/readability experts.

Font choice is accompanied in importance by sizing & contrast issues. Type smaller than 10pt is typically very challenging to parse and in all cases, relative font sizes are recommended so users can employ browser options to increase/decrease if necessary. Contrast – the color difference between the background and text is also critical – legibility usually drops for anything that isn’t black (or very dark) on a white background.

Content length is another critical piece of the optimization puzzle that’s mistakenly placed in the “keyword density” or “unique content” buckets of SEO. In fact, content length can have a big role to play in whether your material is easy to consume and easy to share. Lengthy pieces often don’t fare particularly well on the web, while short form and easily-digestible content often has more success. Sadly, splitting long pieces into multiple segments frequently backfires, as abandonment increases while link-attraction falls – the only benefit is page views per visit (which is why so many CPM-monetized sites employ this tactic).

Last but not least in content structure optimization is the display of the material. Beautiful, simplistic, easy-to-use and consumable layouts garner far more readership and links than poorly designed content wedged between ad blocks that threaten to overtake the page. I’d recommend checking out The Golden Ratio in Web Design from NetTuts, which has some great illustrations and advice on laying out web content on the page.

Read the full article: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/best-practices-for-content-optimization

VOLUNTOURISM VIA YOGA RETREATS

Dr. Sally Brown recently brought  to my attention a great way to differentiate the voluntourism product – combine it with yoga. The yoga customer is very similar to the voluntourism customer, so why not blend the two? Love the innovation!


As voluntourism continues to be on the cutting edge, what better way than to mix it with one of the fastest growing activities in the U.S.—-> Yoga.     Dr. Sally Brown, one of the pioneers of Voluntourism, is expanding the concept through her love of yoga and serving children in developing countries. 
A recent trip to Costa Rica with a group of 16 just cemented this love of mixing yoga, humanitarian work, and adventure travel by kayaking and ziplining through the jungles. 

Through Peace through Yoga, individuals can participate in yoga retreats with humanitarian service to Costa Rica and India.  Yoga classes are offered twice a day along with working with children in orphanages or schools in these countries.   Serving others is also called Karma Yoga.  

After traveling to over 130 countries, Dr. Brown says there is no better way to travel than immersing yourself into yoga as well as the local community.  Sally is a certified yoga teacher and enjoys teaching to all levels on many of the Peace through Yoga International Retreats. 

For more information, visit www.peacethroughyoga.com or call toll free at 866-326-6110.

VolunteerCard.com Launches

Global travel discount card now available exclusively for volunteer travelers

 

 January 27, 2009, Burnsville, MN — Experience all the rewards of volunteer travel and save some money at the same time.volunteercard

 

International Volunteer card (www.volunteercard.com) has launched a new product that offers volunteer tourists with discounts on travel essentials from guide books to insurance, and 24-hour traveler assistance  from anywhere in the world.  

 

Voluntourism has surged in popularity among travelers of all ages.  Gen Y and retirees alike are attracted such travel for the opportunity it provides to see the world and make a difference in the local communities they visit.  According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, 15 million (4%) of US travelers, have taken a volunteer vacation.  In spite of the softening economic climate, this segment is growing three times faster than any other in the travel industry.  

 

Now volunteer travelers can benefit from over 100,000 products and services offering up to 50% discounts with the International Volunteer Card.  Sample savings include:

 

·         International Airfare: discounts range across 13 major international airlines

·         Domestic Airfare: 5% on all domestic US flights. (United Airlines)

·         Travel Gear: 5% – 30%  off Backcountry, Rockport, Avis, Eddie Bauer, Sports Authority

·         Travelex Currency Exchange: No Exchange Fees (coming soon)

·         Park and Fly: 50% off

·         Travel Guide Books: 25% off Lonely Planet

·         Passport and Visa Services: 20% off A Briggs

·         Luggage and Travel Accessories: 5% – 25% savings at XSBaggage, Samsonite, Ebay

·         Car Rental: 5% – 30% discount at Avis, Alamo, Hertz

·         Electronics: 40% off Philips electronics

·         Shopping: 10% savings at Target

·         International Phone Card: $5 off eKit

 

Cardholders will benefit from 24/7 travel assistance from a dedicated service line. Whether they lose luggage, need emergency cash transfers, seek passport assistance, the Volunteer Travel claims team can help members with any travel issues no matter where they are in the world through a free collect call phone number. 

 

The Volunteer Travel card also includes travel insurance coverage for all volunteer trips taken within the annual membership period – not just for a single trip. Travelers can select from a set of insurance coverage options upon purchasing the card.

 

Six Volunteer Travel cards with varying ranges of benefits and discounts are available.  Prices range from $25 for a Basic individual card to $85 for a Premium family card.  The cards are valid for purchases made in the US, and are good for one year, renewable annually.  Visit www.volunteercard.com  for more details and to apply for the card. 

 

Volunteer organizations can join the Volunteer Travel card affiliate program and receive commissions for the number of cards that they sell.  Affiliates will be provided with links to www.volunteercard.com to help drive traffic to their own websites.  Volunteer organizations interested in becoming affiliates should call     877-865-6877     or e-mail contact@volunteercard.com for more information.

 

 

 

Tourdust.com Launches – Great Way to Promote Voluntourism Opportunities

A new website recently launched called Tourdust.com, its all about discovering & sharing authentic travel experiences. Most important to voluntourism providers are the free listing opportunities it offers. You can list your trips for free, even include a link to your site and in return if someone books through Tourdust they get a commission – pretty fair I think.

 

I recently interviewed the founder Ben Colclough and below are a few of his thoughts.

 

Why start this sort of site in this economy?

  • Of all the travel sectors I expect the niche / independent /adventure travel sector to suffer the least.  As a rule it would be fair to say that independent travellers are very passionate about their travel and so getting away will come relatively higher in their priorities than maybe it would do for those looking for a sun/sand holiday.
  • There will be a lot of wealthy people out of work with a healthy redundancy check thinking about taking gap years and therefore looking for some memorable experiences
  • Hopefully small authentic operators will increase their focus on getting new business and will be looking for risk-free opportunities to promote themselves

Why this business model? How does it work for the providers and customers?

  • Most importantly, we needed a design that really gets across the inspiration and personality behind each experience.  The character of the individual guide and host is a hugely important part of each and every experience on Tourdust.
  • With a long tail model, you can’t afford to hire a sales team to approach each and every partner.  We needed a pricing structure that made it a no-brainer for the right kind of business to sign up.  After all, a lot of the best authentic travel businesses get most of their custom through recommendations – so they are never going to consider paying out large listing fees or commissions. If you’re interested you can find out more about pricing and signing up at http://www.tourdust.com/sell.  Our model is absolutely reliant on getting good word of mouth referrals going within the travel industry itself.
  • We have tried to make it easy for providers to sign up and manage their content.  My benchmark was that it should be as easy as selling something on ebay.  It is just a question of entering some text and loading some pictures.  We’re not asking people to give us live availability feeds or anything – we’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible. 

To sum up I guess, it’s free to sign up, it’s easy and hopefully your listing is going to look really good and get some new customers excited. So why not try it? www.tourdust.com

Voluntourism a Dirty Word?

 

How did you respond to this article by Lucy Corne at BootsnAll?

Voluntourism a Dirty Word?

You’d think that giving up a few hours for a good cause while you’re on vacation would be a positive thing, but despite its apparent virtue, voluntourism sure comes up against a lot of criticism. Is it just miserable onlookers determined to complain about everything or is there actually a negative side to donating your time to a charity while you travel?

For those who aren’t too sure, voluntourism is exactly what it sounds like — a blend of volunteering and tourism. Normally arranged through agencies in your home country, a voluntourism trip typically lasts two or three weeks and involves plenty of sightseeing as well as a few days working with a local cause. For those with more time to spare, specialist agencies organize long-term placements lasting from one month to a full year,  though it’s not just time you’ll need an excess of — these trips will typically set you back $2000-3000 a month.

To read the rest: http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/09-01/voluntourism-dirty-word.html

Voluntourism Operator Discusses Sustainability Model

HANYINI RESEARCH STATION – A MODEL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & LOCAL CAPACITY CREATION

 

By Dr. Matthias Hammer, Managing Director of Biosphere Expeditions

 

logo-small2We are delighted to be announcing the opening of the Biosphere Expeditions Hanyini Research Station in the Caprivi region of Namibia. The station was built by our local scientists, Julia Gaedke and Francois de Wet of the Wildlife Community & Development Fund (WCDF) and funded by Biosphere Expeditions through a very simple, but effective model. 

 

 

How it works: 

Biosphere Expeditions provides an interest-free loan to the scientists and this loan is then paid back over the years with the scientists providing “free” accommodation for Biosphere Expeditions’ research teams until the loan is paid back.

 

That way we generate capacity, local jobs and facilities and in the end our scientists have a research station that belongs to them for their research & conservation work, generate income from and provide employment for local people. A “win/win situation” for everyone concerned.

    biosphere

Situated right on the border of Mamili National Park, the Biosphere Expeditions Hanyini Research Station boasts 14 twin room huts, an office, a kitchen & communal area, showers, toilets, stores & a workshop and elephants migrating past on an almost daily basis. It is built from local materials using local labour exclusively on community land in the Caprivi region of Namibia and provided employment for 25 local people during its construction phase and now 12 for its day-to-day running. Local resources are not touched as the station is self-sufficient in its power generation, biological sewage treatment and has its own water source and biological filter system.

 

The station will serve as the base for Biosphere Expeditions’ Caprivi expedition and negotiations with universities and NGOs are under way to also make the station one of their research bases.

 

Kathy Wilden, a Biosphere Expeditions Director, says, “We at Biosphere are immensely proud to be involved in this project and to have our name on this beautiful research station. It will stimulate research, provide local employment and help secure the future of conservation in and around Mamili National Park. This park, the Caprivi expedition’s main study area, is directly adjacent to famous wildlife hotspots such as the Okavango and Chobe National Park in Botswana, but it is rarely visited by foreigners at all and as such is one of the last true wilderness areas left in southern Africa. We are delighted to be well placed now to make sure that this wilderness is protected and enjoyed in a sustainable way for future generations.”

 

Learn more about this expedition and Biosphere Expeditions at www.biosphere-expeditions.org

Want your Voluntourism Options On the Site? Email Me.

 

OK – so I was slightly shocked the other day to see that this blog was on page 1 of Google when I searched ‘voluntourism.’ It changes everyday and today we’re back on page 2, but since that wasnt the goal of this blog its kind of cool.

I realized that having that rank also means that potential travelers will also stumble upon this site so I added a page called Looking for Volunteer Trips? If you’d like to be listed just send me a blurb about your organization and a logo and I’ll get you up there (obviously no charge). I know its not pretty right now but I’ll change it to be more user friendly soon.