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45 Family Media Literacy Activities to Grow Smart Brains in a Digital Age – Help All in One Place

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What is “media literacy?” The word literacy connotes a high degree of competency and usually means that a person knows how to read and write. A literate person, on the other hand, is well read, using and applying high level thinking skills across a broad range of topics. Computer literacy means the capacity to use computers well. Media literacy, then, is the ability to use all forms of media well. A media-literate person uses television, movies, DVDs, computer and video games for specific purposes, just as a print-literate person reads a book or a magazine, a college text or a newspaper for specific, various reasons.

Using all visual screen technology intentionally is the first, and most important element in becoming media literate. Ultimately as parents we want children and teens to be in control of small screens and not be controlled by them. Research has verified and experts know that a child who mindlessly watches a lot of TV or plays video games endlessly is less equipped to develop the capacities for wise media use. A media literate child, on the other hand, would learn to self-monitor screen time-being able to take it in doses-rather than make a habit of it four-five hours a day ad nauseum. He or she would want to do other activities because thinking, creative children are curious beings and there’s a whole world out there to explore-screen technologies just being one small part of it.

While a print-literate person reads words; a media literate person reads images. Using analysis, evaluation, and higher level thinking skills, a media-literate person interprets the subtle messages and overt claims visual messages convey. This is where we want our children headed-in a direction of making it second nature to think well about all forms of media images.

If we boiled down media literacy for our children, I think we would find five basic skills that we would like them to acquire:

• Conscious, intentional, limited use of all forms of screen technology

• Ability to critique visual messages and understand their intent and intellectual and emotional impact

• Ability to communicate facts, ideas, and thoughtful opinions about media images

• A thorough understanding of media production techniques to fully appreciate how such techniques as camera angles, lighting, cuts, etc. impact the messages being delivered

• Ability to use all forms of screen technology purposefully, and eventually wisely

Children can enjoy becoming media literate. The 45 family media literacy activities are grouped as follows:

30 General activities that you can adapt and use with children or teens.

15 Activities for children, specifically designed for children, ages 3-6

30 General Family Media Literacy Activities

1. TV and books.

Keep track of the dates when a TV version of a book is scheduled to air and encourage your kids to read the book first, or follow up the program by suggesting they read the book afterwards. Great discussions can result from comparing the original book and the TV version.

2. Use TV to expand children’s interests.

Link TV programs with your children’s interests, activities, and hobbies. A child interested in crafts can watch craft programs for encouragement and ideas; after viewing a wildlife show, take the kids to a zoo and have them recall what they learned about animals from the TV program. How does the real life experience differ from the show they watched? Are there any similarities?

3. Time capsule.

Ask your child to imagine that he or she has been given the job of choosing five television programs that will be included in a time capsule, not to be opened for one hundred years. Discuss what type of society these shows might reflect to a child opening the time capsule one hundred years from now.

4. Different viewpoints.

All family members watch one program together. The TV is then turned off and each person writes a few sentences about their opinions about the show. Discuss and compare everyone’s opinions, pointing out to your child how different people will like or dislike the same program. Why are all opinions valid? Who had the most persuasive opinion about the show? Why?

5. Watch a TV show being taped.

Take kids to a television program taping either locally or as part of a family trip to New York or Los Angeles. To make the trip more meaningful, have your children draw the set, take notes on the format of the show, note the special effects, and talk about what it was like being in the audience. Is the audience important to the show? How? (It may be easier to visit a local TV or radio station. You could visit both and talk about the differences between them.)

6. Make up an alternate title.

When you’re watching a TV program or movie with your child, ask him or her to exercise imagination and think of another title. To get things rolling, suggest an alternate title yourself. All family members can come up with as many alternates as possible. Vote on the best. What makes it better than all the rest to convey the essence of the show or film?

7. Compare what you see with what you expect.

With your child, come up with a description of a show before watching it, based on what you’ve read in a TV schedule. Predict how the characters will act and how the plot will unfold. When the program ends, take a few minutes to talk about what you saw: Did either of you notice any differences between what was written in the TV schedule and what was actually shown? Were either of you surprised by anything you saw? Is the show what you expected it would be? Why or why not?

8. Which category does it fit?

Using a television guide, your child will list all the shows she or he watches, then divide them into the following categories: comedy, news, cartoons, sitcoms, dramas, soap operas, police shows, sporting events, educational programs, and documentaries. Which is her or his favorite category and show? Why?

9. Predict what will happen.

During commercial breaks, ask your child to predict what will happen next in the program. You can discuss such questions as: If you were the scriptwriter, how would you end this story? What do you think the main characters will do next? Is it easy or difficult to guess the main event in this program? Why or why not?

10. The guessing game.

Turn off the volume but leave the picture on. See if your child can guess what is happening. To extend this into a family game, have everyone pick a TV character and add his/her version of that character’s words.

11. Letter writing.

Encourage your child to write letters to TV stations, describing why s/he likes and dislikes certain programs. Emphasize that giving factual and specific information will be helpful.

12. Be a camera operator.

Have your child experiment with a video camera to learn how it can manipulate a scene (omission-what it leaves out; selection-what it includes; close-up-what it emphasizes; long shot-what mood it establishes; length of shot-what’s important and what’s not).

13. Theme songs.

Help your child identify the instruments and sound effects used in the theme songs of his favorite shows. Have her sing or play the music in the show and explain what the music is doing. Does it set a mood? How? Does it tell a story? How does it make him/her feel?

14. Sequence the plot: a game.

To help your child understand logical sequencing, ask her to watch a TV show while you write down its main events, jotting each event on a separate card. At the completion of the program, shuffle the cards and ask your child to put them in the same order in which they appeared during the program. Discuss any lapses in logical sequence.

15. A time chart.

Your child will keep a time chart for one week of all of her activities, including TV watching, movie watching, and playing video games. Compare the time spent on these activities and on other activities, such as playing, homework, organized sports, chores, hobbies, visiting friends, and listening to music. Which activities get the most time? The least? Do you or your child think the balance should be altered? Why or why not?

16. Winning and losing.

Tell your child to watch a sports program and list all the words that are used to describe winning and losing. Encourage a long list. You can make this into a friendly competition, if you like, with two or more children collecting words from several sports programs and then reading them aloud.

17. TV and radio.

While watching TV coverage of a sports game, turn off the TV sound and have your child simultaneously listen to radio coverage. What does your child think about the radio coverage? About the TV coverage? What are the strengths of each? The weaknesses?

18. Quiz show comparison.

Compare and contrast the wide variety of game and quiz shows with your child. You’ll see shows that test knowledge, shows that are based on pure luck, and shows that are aimed specifically at children. Which are your child’s favorites? Why?

19. TV lists.

Assist your child in making lists of all television programs that involve hospitals, police stations, schools, and farms, and all television programs that contain imaginative elements, such as science fiction shows or cartoons.

20. Television vocabulary.

Challenge your child to listen for new words on TV and report back to the family on their definitions.

21. Critical viewing survey.

Ask your child to watch one of his favorite programs with you. Afterwards, you will both fill out the following survey. Then compare your answers. Are they different? Why? Are there right or wrong answers, or is much of what was recorded open to individual interpretation?

Critical Viewing Survey

Program watched:

Characters (List three to five and describe briefly):

Setting (Time and place):

Problems/Conflicts:

Plot (List three to five events in order of occurrence):

Story theme:

Solution:

Logic (Did the story make sense? Would this have happened in real life?):

Rating of the show (from one to ten, with ten being the highest):

22. Body language.

Observe body language in commercials and/or TV shows and films. Notice head position, hand gestures, and eye movement. How does body language affect how you feel about the intended visual or verbal message? Children could cut out postures and expressions from print advertisements (magazines and newspapers) and see if they can find those postures and expressions on TV or in movies. How important is body language to convey persuasive visual messages?

23. Variations on a story.

Look at how a particular story is handled differently by different channels. Use videotaped shows to compare. What are the differences? What are the similarities?

24. Quick problem solving.

Point out to your child how quick problems are solved on many TV shows. Discuss the differences in dealing effectively with challenges in real life. You may want to include in your discussion what processes you go through to identify, confront, and resolve problems.

25. Put words in their mouth.

As a family watch a favorite program with the sound off. Try to figure out what each of the characters in the show is saying. Discuss why you believe that based on past knowledge of the program and how the characters are behaving. Encourage your child to think about how he or she would write the script for each of the characters. What are the important things that they say? Why are these considered important?

26. Make your own family TV Guide.

Gather your child/ren and ask them to make a family TV Guide for the upcoming week. What programs would they include? What programs would they make sure not to include? Ask them to give reasons for their choices.

27. Thinking ahead to predict what might happen.

This is a great activity for school-age children who may need guidance in watching their favorite programs while you can’t be there with them. Give your child a written list of 3-5 general questions that they can read before they watch a TV show. Consider such questions as: “What do you think this program will be about? What do you anticipate the main character’s troubles will be? How will he/she resolve them? Why are you watching this show and not doing something else?” Instruct your child to think about the questions while viewing-no need to write anything down-just think. As your child watches, he/she won’t be able to stop thinking about these questions-it’s just how the brain works. Intermittently, ask your child to discuss the TV program with you, along with how this activity helps to think about the program!

28. Ask: “What will happen next?”

This is a simple, yet effective activity. Mute the commercials while your family watches TV together and ask each child and adult what he/she thinks will happen next. There are no right or wrong answers! This gives everyone a chance to engage in creative interplay and then to test his/her “hypothesis” when the show resumes. Children may learn just how predictable and mundane a lot of programs are and soon improve on the scriptwriters, adding their own creative ideas!

29. Record your child’s favorite show.

Then play it back during a long car trip or around a cozy fireplace on a dark winter evening. The purpose of this activity would be for your child to hear the program, without seeing the visuals. Talk about how the characters and their actions change as a result of only hearing the show. Does your child have to listen more intently? Why or why not? What are some crucial distinctions between watching and listening?

30. Encourage your child or teen to be a media creator.

Ultimately what we want is for our children to find ways to creatively express who they are. You can encourage a child to use a digital camera and make a photo collage of a family trip, for instance. Older children and teens can create websites, blogs, even podcasts. Screen technologies are powerful tools and when used intentionally, with specific purposes, our children become media-literate in the process of learning more about their own creativity and unique skills.

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15 Media Activities for Children, ages 3-6

Screen Violence

1. Talk about real-life consequences.

If the screen violence were happening in real life, how would the victim feel? In real life what would happen to the perpetrator of the violence. Compare what’s on the screen to the consequences of what happens when someone hurts another person in the real world.

2. Violence is not the way to solve problems.

Emphasize that hurting another person in any way or destroying property is wrong and won’t solve a person’s problems. Point out to your child that many of the violent cartoon characters never seem to solve their problems from episode to episode, and that to use violence is to act without thinking of the consequences. Tell your child it’s powerful and smart to find peaceful, creative ways to solve problems with other human beings. Choose a problem your child encountered recently such as another child taking a toy away and talk about the reasonable way the problem was resolved or could have been resolved-without hurting.

3. Anger is natural.

Talk about the fact that we all get angry, that it’s normal. It’s what we do with our anger-how we cope with it and express it-that’s important. When screen characters hurt people out of anger, it’s because they have not learned how to deal with their anger. Your child could make a list of screen characters who know how to deal with their anger in positive ways.

4. Count the number of violent acts.

While watching a favorite cartoon with your child, count the number of actual violent actions. Point out that these are harmful to others and you would never allow him/her to do such things to others. Total the number of violent actions at the end of the program and ask your child if he/she thought there were that many. Decide not to watch cartoons or any shows with such violent actions.

5. Talk about real and pretend.

If your child is exposed to a violent movie or video game, it is especially important to talk with him/her about the fact that the images were pretend-like when your child plays pretend and that no one was actually hurt. Make it a common practice to talk about the differences between real and pretend with any TV programs, movies, your child watches. Understanding this concept basic to becoming media-literate!

Screen Advertising

6. Blind taste test.

Show your child how she can test the claims of commercials. Have her do a blind taste test. It can be done with a wide range of foods such as three or four kinds of soda pop, spaghetti sauce, cereal-your child’s favorites. Are the products as great as the commercials claimed? Can she tell the difference between a generic brand and a famous one? Can she identify products by name? Do the commercials make products seem different than they really are? Why or why not? This is a fun activity to do with several children. Have a taste test party!

7. Draw pictures of a feeling.

Suggest that your child draw a picture depicting how he feels after watching two different types of TV commercials. What are the differences between the pictures? Discuss your child’s feelings about the different commercial messages. Picture the buyer. Younger children can watch a commercial and then draw a picture of the type of person they think will buy the product. After discussing the child’s picture, explain how various audience appeals are used in commercials to attract specific audiences.

8. Cartoon ads.

While watching cartoons, your child can look for specific cartoon characters that appear in popular commercials. Explain the differences between the commercial and the cartoon: In the commercial, the character sells a product; in the cartoon, the character entertains us. The next time she watches TV, have her report to you if she sees any cartoon characters selling products.

9. The toy connection.

When visiting a toy store, you and your child can look for toys that have been

advertised on TV or promoted by TV personalities. Point out to him how the toys advertised on TV initially seem more attractive than those he hasn’t seen advertised.

10. Invent a character.

Your child can pick a product, such as a favorite cereal, and create an imaginary character that can be used to sell the product. He/she could draw a picture or role-play the character. Or, using puppets, stage an imaginative commercial for a made-up product. Afterwards discuss with your child what she or he did to tell people about the product. Watch a few commercials and point out basic selling techniques such as making the product looking larger than life, repeating a jingle, and showing happy children using the product.

Screen News

TV news contains elements that may not be appropriate for young children. As much as possible, watch news when your child is in bed or not in the room. Protect your little one from graphic images and topics that she/he is not ready to handle cognitively or emotionally.

Screen Stereotypes

11. Not better, just different.

Children are never too young to start learning the message that differences do not make anyone better than anyone else. Point out how each family member has his or her own individual preferences, habits, ideas, and behaviors. Differences make us all unique and interesting. When your child sees a racist or sexist stereotype on the screen, explain that the writers of the script made an error in portraying the character in that light.

12. Change the picture.

Play a game with your child: When she encounters a screen stereotype, ask her whether other types of people could play that role. For instance, if the secretary is a young woman, explain that men are secretaries, too, and that many older women are very competent secretaries.

13. Girls, boys, and toys.

As you walk through a toy store, point out various toys to your child, asking each time whether the toy is made for a boy or a girl. Ask if any child could just as well play with the toy. Encourage your child to find toys that would be fun for girls and boys to play with. Then, when your child sees toy commercials on TV, point out whether only little boys or little girls are playing with the toys.

14. Play: Who is missing?

Often what children see on the screen does not represent all nationalities and the diversity he or she encounters in preschool, kindergarten, or on the playground. While watching favorite cartoons or movies with your child, discuss who is missing-such as an older person; a disabled person, or a person of a certain race or nationality. You can also discuss what types of people your child encounters more often on the screen-young, glamorous, happy white people usually take up the majority of the visual images with men outnumbering women 3 to 1!

15. Model discussion of screen stereotypes.

When your family watches a favorite TV program or a popular DVD, you can help your youngster identify stereotypical roles, behaviors, and attitudes by holding family conversations to involve your spouse and/or older children. While watching the program or movie, the adults and the older children take notes, tracking whenever they spot a stereotype of age, gender, or race. After watching, turn off the TV/VCR and discuss everyone’s observations. Using each family member’s notes, compile a master list of the stereotypical statements and portrayals that were noted. This discussion can be made more interesting if you taped the program (or replay the DVD in appropriate scene/s), so you can refer back to it as family members discuss the stereotypes they spotted. Your little one will listen to this family media literacy conversation and absorb important information while the others share their ideas.

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SEO in 2020. Important DIgital Marketing Strategies

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Video Digital Marketing

Video digital marketing for SEO is very big in 2020 in the realm of search engine optimization (SEO). First off don’t forget to create videos and submit them to YouTube,Vimeo, Daily Motion, Blip, Wistia, Meta cafe, Veoh, and Mega video. Be sure to make each video at least slightly different. The major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Duckduckgo.com really don’t want you to post duplicate content. It’s either highly frowned upon or even Penalized. Check out Google console to see any penalties enforced by Google. You’ll also see keywords that don’t show their origin in Google Analytics in Google console. Make the video descriptions relevant with keywords that you’ve researched on Google Ad planner for traffic volume, and keyword competition.

The Web 3.0

The internet or web 3.0 is still huge albeit the term was coined a while ago. This is that the internet will be semantically or big data driven from now on. Google even uses latent semantic indexing to cross reference web pages and semantically rank them. That’s why it’s crucial to canonize your website pages especially the home page. Make sure your main URL is the same URL throughout the website information architecture.

Web 3.0 was termed by John Markoff of the New York Times in 2006. It refers to the third generation of internet-based services that all in all aggregate the smart or intelligent internet. It’s web based services that compose of the intelligent web. Those using big data are an example, using intelligent analytics reports, Google trends, Advanced advertising mathematics, Google Ad planner, Ubersuggest, and more.

Google introduced Rank Brain which we’re still only even beginning to understand in 2020. It came out five years ago. Rank Brain is Google’s AI that uses machine learning to rank web pages with latent semantic indexing mathematical models, then latent diriclay, and after that dirrivitive allocation.

This can be derived from a list of things that we can’t assume. It could be co occurrence in web documents. This refers to distance between the keywords on the page itself. Google Ranks the importance of keywords in a search phrase. So if you search for “Super Mario Brothers” it will rank the keywords that should come up and give them a score based on abstractions and meanings that Google generates rather than the exact phrase which could return the wrong results without the semantic Rank Brain modeling (connectivity modeling). Citations and links on the web. This would be if there are a lot of pages about Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Princess, Toad, that link to the web page. It looks at linking in text, Bias to corpuses. This means that Google only cares about trusted sites linking in as opposed to all of the internet. Searcher click data corpi may be used.

So this means that if you can brainstorm keywords that are semantically on topic and use them in the web page, then semantically you have a better chance of showing up first as opposed to just sprinkling in the exact keywords into the article and making the article even sound bad or robotic/un human readable or even keyword stuffed (a big white hat SEO no no).

Where the website is pointing is important. If the site links to a Nintendo website often then this is factored into the semantic connectivity. Also, be sure to look at competitors pages or other sites that are ranking for this phrase and get keyword ideas for semantic connectivity or even keyword suggest tools.

Bidirectional Transformers for Language Understanding (BERT) is the latest addition to Google’s AI.

It touches one out of ten searches. It gives Google a better understanding of how language is utilized to help learn the context of single words inside of searches. It’s important to follow these algorithm changes in case they can be optimized for in the future, which will most likely be so.

Google’s John Mueller finally gave SEO’s hints for optimizing websites and web pages for BERT. BERT focuses on the relevance of the text on the website pages. SEO’s need to make sure that the pages aren’t random at all. Being relevant also means original content. BERT is trying to catch keyword spinning tools. Don’t just post the same old same old, which an auto spinner can spin and pass SEO copy scape tools. Your content won’t be as relevant as more thought out content, more detailed content, and more relevant content that has more depth, content research, on hands journalism, and SEO content correspondence to it.

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Drum Call and Response – Another Great Game For Your Music Lessons

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Preparation:

Arrange chairs in a big circle. Set aside one chair for yourself. If you have enough drums for the whole class, put one in front of each chair. The children will be using their hands to play the drums. You, the teacher, should ideally have a cowbell and a beater.

If you don’t have enough drums for the whole class, put them in front of every other seat – or even every third seat. You can get everyone to move around regularly, so the instrument distribution will be fair. If you don’t have any instruments at all, just clap the rhythms!

Teacher-led call & response

You, the teacher, make up a simple rhythm: as long as two bars (measures) of 4/4. Start with something really simple and obvious – like eight crotchet (quarter note) beats. The children copy the exact same rhythm on their drums. Without any pause, you play another one, maybe only altering it slightly, and they copy it.

Get gradually more ambitious and more funky, emphasizing some beats more than others. If the children don’t quite get a rhythm, repeat it until they do. Try introducing a few dynamics – see if they notice when you play quietly. Do they respond at all? You can discuss it later.

Give the children lavish praise and talk about what they’ve achieved and what they’re learning by doing it.

Pupil-led call and response

When you feel like a change, you could choose a trusted and reliable pupil to take your place (for a short time) with the cowbell. Then ask for another volunteer. Keep their turns short as by no means every pupil will be able to play rhythmically or come up with the ideas.

Another variation is to get the children to come up with rhythms in turn, going round the circle (on their own drums – not the cowbell this time). Each rhythm is repeated by the whole group.

This can be tricky because, when put on the spot, some pupils freeze, or cause the whole thing to grind to a halt. They won’t know instinctively how long to play or how to give their rhythm a clear end, and so the rest of the class won’t always sense when to repeat the rhythm. Be prepared to rescue the situation by counting in the next player.

However, at least everyone gets to have a go, so it’s perceived to be fair – which is very important. It’s also fascinating to hear how the class will interpret loose or ambiguous rhythms. When they repeat a loose rhythm together, they generally come up with a consensus of something more in-time. The effect is like “quantizing” in a sequencer: tidying up the rhythm and putting the beats and stressed in the right places.

Don’t forget to say something encouraging about each attempt.

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SEO Tips for Lawyers – Five Crucial Keys to Organic Search Engine Optimization

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Business referrals also play a huge role in building a practice for attorneys, but can only go so far. What happens when you want more business or would like to expand your firm? This is when many practices turn to marketing and advertising– yellowpage ads, radio, TV commercials, lawyer directories.

These are all good ways to promote your practice, but what if I told you there is a “free” source of leads that would facilitate potential seeking you out, right at the time he/she needed your services? Well there is and it’s called the modern day search engine.

Search engines, when used to the fullest extent, can act as pre-qualifying authoritative referral sources. Just as a consumer is more likely to get product or service recommendations form a friend or family member verses take what a commercial has to say at face value, search engines can be a strong lead source in your practice’s marketing mix because of the trust they are given for finding unbiased information.

Have you ever wondered why some attorney websites have top ten rankings on search engines, while others do not? You’re about to learn some of the secrets. Do not take this information lightly. As an attorney, what you are about to read could earn you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in new cases and legal fees.

Below are Five Basic Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips for Lawyers that have taken me years to understand. While paid listings or “sponsored links” do have a high ROI when managed properly, this article in particular is only speaking toward the natural or unpaid listings you see on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

Some of these techniques may seem very easy to understand, even implement, but that is the beauty of it. With all the false information out there, it takes a long time to know what has value and what does not. As Mark Twain said, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have the time to write a short one.” It has taken me years to weed through the tricks, and fly by night gimmicks, and false information so enjoy and feel free to contact me with any questions. With that said, I present to you five crucial keys to organic search engine optimization.

SEO Tip One: Use Descriptive & Unique Meta Titles

Did you know one of the most important areas for your firm’s site in regard to search ranking is the “Meta Title” of your home page? This is the title that appears on the blue frame around your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox). The title also appears in search listings. You can see your website’s title in its raw coding by choosing “View” and “View source code” from your browser.

Anatomy of the Meta Information

In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). A website’s meta information is typically made up of three distinct areas: title, description, and keywords. According to many well-known SEO gurus, the “keywords” section is completely useless, but it can harm you if you use too many keywords.

Most major search engines have now filtered out the importance of the “keywords” section because of past abuse, “keyword stuffing,” as well as placing long lists of irrelevant highly searched terms. Do not put too many keywords in the keywords section, and do not rely on this section to help with search engine optimization (SEO). Some SEO experts still use it “just in case, ” but only place 10 – 15 keywords never repeating, and using a comma after each single term.

The title however, is still a hugely important area to naturally work in highest level key phrases, along with branding the firm, or your name if acting as an independent practice. However, do not repeat keywords, and do not use more than 12 words or around 65 characters. Otherwise, the full title will not been seen in search and having an overabundance of words will dilute its power anyway. Google also has a filter or penalty block for sites that repeat one word too often in titles.

What’s in a Name?

Check your meta title right now! Choose “View” and “View source code” from your browser. Does it only have the name of your firm? That is fine if you are doing other advertising and your firm has lots of name recognition, but you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

What about those prospects you are missing out on who are typing into the search engines more generic phrases without any firms or attorney names in mind? Example, a search engine user types in “Personal Injury Attorney Dallas.” If you do not have specific words that describe your practice in your meta title, your site is less likely to appear in the top then than an attorney who does.

Be Unique

Your meta title can make or break your search engine rankings for valuable placement. Use a different title for every page of your site, making sure it describes the page’s content and/or user function (such as an “About” page, use the word “About So and So Firm.”). With deeper pages further away from the homepage use varying logical keywords that not only describe the page, but are akin to the words a user might type in seeking out that specific information.

It may seem like if you repeat the same title over and over again on other pages your site will perform better for those keywords, but it will not, you will be cannibalizing your efforts. You can use your name or the name of your firm, but place it near the end of the title. Keep the most unique part toward the beginning. Proximity and density also play a role.

This one tip could warrant a whole article on best practices on its own, but for now start with recognizing your meta title’s importance. I will be publishing a more advanced “nuts and bolts” article covering how you should plan a reverse keyword pyramid for your site titles, as well as other titling recommendations.

SEO Tip Two: Acquire Relevant Backlinks

Links to your site are seen as votes in the major search engines’ eyes. Just so we are on the same page, these are links to your website from another website, not links from your website to another. In this analogy these popularity votes are similar to how voting existing before several human rights were established. Some were considered 3/5ths a person, and some not considered at all. Their votes were counted accordingly. In other words, not all backlinks are created equal. The quality of a link toward your site can be determined on multiple criterion.

a). Relevance – Does the subject matter of the page linking out reflect the subject matter of your site or is it about something completely off topic? Example would be another attorney links to your site from his/her blog unsolicited based on your site’s relevant content and merit verses a random site that sells knockoff Viagra wanting to trade links with you.

b). Link & Text Density – This speaks to the amount of other links on the page linking to yours on the other website. If the other site has a listing of 100s of links on all different topics, including yours, the link is most likely devalued in the search engines eyes, not only because of relevance, but because of perceived importance. These are commonly known as “link farms.” The opposite situation would be your link is the only one listed. The backlink could be considered even more valuable if the other site surrounds it with relevant copy before and after (for example in a blog or article). A less effective, but not completely worthless placement would be a listing on a “Links” page from another site where only a handful of other offsite links existed.

c). Second Generation Link Popularity- Your site is deemed more important in the search engines’ eyes not only by how many other sites link to you, but how many sites link to the sites that link to you. The link popularity is passed on using a formula that one search engine originated called PageRank(TM). In essence, you could have 100s of backlinks, but if no one is linking to the other sites linking to you, many of the links may be worthless from a ranking point of view (but could be valuable in other ways to be discussed in a later article). There are tools you can use to “pull up the curtain” and see just how people are linking to your site, as well as how many are linking to their’s.

This is a simplified explanation on how acquiring backlinks can help your SEO. As with titling, the topic of backlinks could also warrant its own full fledged article, or multiple articles. The important takeaway is: backlinks matter for SEO.

SEO Tip Three: Build a Legal Knowledgebase

The Internet was built on the foundation that people want authoritative, quality information fast. Instead of trying to remember the categories of the Dewy Decimal System and searching through different books’ table of contents, the search engine user uses keywords describing what he/she are looking for in order to find that information as fast as possible.

Not all Visitors are Qualified

First, as an attorney, you have to accept this fact that not all the visitors to your website are prospects. Many may be in the research mode of their buying cycle or may be looking for information for a friend or even a school report. The reality is the more original, helpful, and consistently you can put new information on your website, the more the search engines will show you preference. By high quality content I do not mean a sales pitch. You can use that type of language on your main pages, but you will appeal to a much wider audience if you use non-commercial, unbiased information presented as knowledgebase in your deeper pages.

By building a knowledgebase specific to your areas of practice, you accomplish at least two objectives, you are viewed as an expert becoming the authoritative source for that user’s legal question and you will likely pull prospects looking for those specific services right then and there. This is an indirect, but highly effective method of acquiring prospects.

One Page per Area of Practice

Example, if you practice copyright law and the prospect types in the search engine “copyright laws” you could have a page strictly devoted to explaining the different types, penalties for breaking the laws, defenses, highly popularized landmark cases, and other important information pertaining to copyright infringement. Create a page using at least 500 – 1500 words stratifying every area of your practice in fine detail, and your website will dominate the search engines, command lots of relevant traffic and, combined with other tools, bring a steady stream of leads. I will cover this in more depth giving more information on the best practices in future articles.

SEO Tip Four: Use specific Internal & External Anchor Text

Have you ever seen a link that says “Click here?” Oh course you have. That’s actually a waste of a link as far as SEO is concerned. Ok, maybe not a complete loss, but it does not use the link’s full potential. The words used in a link to another URL are called the anchor text and it can be vitally important to SEO.

There is a huge difference in how the search engines see a link with relevant text verses a non-descriptive or irrelevantly anchored link. This is even true for your site’s internal linking structure and calls to action. For example, instead of directing your website visitors to another internal page using the words “Click Here for information on copyright infringement,” make the words copyright infringement the actual link and avoid the cliché. You may have to change your verbiage schema to something similar to: “Learn more about the laws and penalties pertaining to copyright infringement,” which is better anyway.

Anchor Your Links or Site will walk the Plank

The more internal links on your site pointing to that page with those words, and even more importantly links from offsite with those words, the more likely the search engines will see your site, or that specific page, as being relevant for that term. Check your website right now.

Do you have any pointless “Click Here” links or something else just as useless? Right now, change the anchor text to words that describe the page in which they are linking. Or ask your webmaster to do it tomorrow morning. It’s worth it.

SEO Tip Five: Localize Your Content & Meta Descriptions

Are you an attorney who only operates in one city? Or can you work remotely because most of your work is out of the court room? If you operate in one city, or regional area, you need to make the search engines aware by using the most prominent DMA in your homepage title.

When prospects are using search engines, most are sophisticated enough to know, or have learned through search engine experience, to add the city onto whatever service in which he/she is searching. Example, a user types in “Dallas Commercial Real Estate Attorney.”

You may be a real estate attorney and your practice may be in Dallas, but the search engines will give another lawyer’s site preference if you do not spell it out for them. You may have your physical location in a normal 12 point text on the contact page, but that is not enough, since titles and meta descriptions hold more weight in the hierarchy.

Home Grown Meta Description

Some SEO gurus say descriptions are as defunct as the keywords section of your meta info. I say the meta description is the NEW keywords section of web 2.0, only the keywords must be used in a logical sentence form.

Secondly, you do not want to have to specify on a page describing individual areas of your practice or your knowledgebase that you are a “Dallas insert obscure and wordy law practice attorney” in the viable copy. While not terribly lethal, it’s a little awkward and contrived to the reader. You can use the description area of the meta for this SEO tactic.

Stay tuned for more Internet marketing tips for lawyers including more on SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and social media. Thanks for your time.

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Be a Backyard Mechanic

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Most people agree that owning a home based business is the way to go. In fact, for many people, it is a dream of a lifetime to get out from the 9-to-5 grind and become your own boss. One way to do this is to become a backyard mechanic.

Of course being a backyard mechanic is quite different than operating a regular shop. In fact, you may find legislative challenges to overcome in order to start your business. But there are still ways to operate a accurate mechanic shop without the expense of a regular shop.

Aside from basic repairs and oil changes, you may also be able to do some autobody work on cars that have been accidents. For all of this you will need to have a good supply of inexpensive car parts. So where are you to find them? Here are some ways to find inexpensive car parts when you’re starting out as a backyard mechanic:

· Type “wholesale auto parts” into your search engine browser and find an innumerable amount of car part suppliers who can give you great prices on parts, free delivery over a certain amount, and sometimes even a warranty.

· Use eBay to find a great deal on parts, especially parts that are difficult to find elsewhere, on just about any car imaginable. EBay offers a good warranty on car parts purchased through them and the only drawback is that if you lose an auction you have to buy the part from somewhere else and that can be time-consuming.

· Form an auto-parts buying club with other local car enthusiasts to be able to buy in large quantities and get wholesale discounts.

· Contact your local scrap yard dealers and ask them if they’ll give you a discount if you buy a lot of scrap parts from them and take them off yourself, thereby eliminating their costs for labor and storage.

· If you live in a large city and can specialize in just a handful of vehicles, you can buy several scrap vehicles quite cheaply, store them, and use them for parts.

Many people moonlight as backyard mechanics, fixing the cars of family and friends. If local laws allow it, there is little to stop you from doing the same as a full-time job. And saving money with car parts would help you earn a profit quickly.

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Finance

How to Identify Your Small Business Differentiator and Why

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When you are the owner of a small business, there are times when the scale of bigger companies can overwhelm you. At these times, you may wonder what you have that will make potential customers pick your brand over another. This particular factor is a business differentiator, and it helps consumers in the market identify you and set you apart from other brands.

Differentiating your company from the rest is an integral part in developing a brand, and it’s become even more difficult in recent years since it’s not merely enough to be just better than others; you need to be different. You may not have realized it yet, but being a small business is a differentiator on its own, you need to leverage it and market it enough. Here’s how you can identify your small business’ differentiators.

Analyze Your Competition

Finding your differentiators starts by learning what makes your competitors different. You need to maintain a neutral position and evaluate your competitor to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. What do they offer? What do they do better than you? How do they treat their customers?

Once you answer these questions, you discover their weak and strong points, as well as your own. At this point, you can decide whether you want to change the direction of your business to make it better than your competitors or market an aspect of your brand that’s already there.

Be Familiar with the Customer Experience

A benefit of being a small business owner is personally having experienced the life of an average consumer. By knowing the shortcomings of a large-scale company customer experience, you know what to develop in your own company. However, when working on differentiators, it’s time to start by scratch so you should map the various aspects of being a customer. What do they value? What dissuades them from buying?

You need to work on ways to build a consumer’s awareness of a need that your company can fulfill. It’s only after a consumer realizes that they need something that they will look towards brands that can provide them with a solution. You need to assess how your target demographic makes buying decisions, and whether your brand aligns with that thought process or not.

The wrong approach is to focus solely on your product because that’s not what customers emphasize on when buying a product. The best way is to address different aspects of the customer experience and develop all of them.

Know Your Strengths

The first and foremost strength of being a small business is giving customers the attention they need. Since you’re not managing branches everywhere, you can afford to look after a minimal customer base.

Other than that, each business has its strengths when compared to other brands. It could be your amazing marketing, your customer loyalty programs, or your approach to customer service. Also, a small business operates on values, so they understand the needs and requirements of the average person.

Get Involved in the Community

The community you operate in should be your focus when expanding your reach. By making an impact on your community, your brand automatically earns a reputation among the other brands in the area. The people in your district will be in favor of supporting your brand since it will have a positive influence on their community.

The Importance of Having Differentiators

It’s true that ever brand needs differentiators that give them a competitive edge for business rivals, but your brand needs it more as a small business. That’s because large companies can already offer better prices due to cheaper manufacturing practices and access to raw materials at lower costs.

Hence, having a fixed market differentiator will help consumers pick your brand despite the difference between what you and larger brands can offer. However, having a differentiator isn’t only necessary for setting your brand apart from the rest. By knowing what you can do better than other companies can, you’ll have a clear view of what you should focus on when planning a marketing campaign.

A well-planned and targeted marketing effort will help you retain customers and increase your rates of promotion among people outside your community. Without a strong differentiator, you won’t be able to compete with others head-on.

At the same time, you need to uphold the values of honesty and transparency by refraining from overloading your brand profile. By attesting to being better than competitors at ‘everything,’ you risk losing precious customers. That’s why; you need to test all of your differentiators to see if they’re true, provable and relevant.

Only market things about your brands that you believe to be true, and to gain the audience’s trust, you have to prove it; whether through ‘look inside our workshop’ schemes or quality tests. Lastly, your differentiators need to be relevant. Customers won’t consider an aspect of your brand that they don’t care about or if it doesn’t benefit them. To conclude, you need to reflect upon your band’s personality and find something about your small business that differentiates it from the rest.

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Finance

What’s Possible With Ebooks?

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Did you know that your first ebook is a springboard for many different products? That’s why almost every business owner is considering creating not just one ebook but several ebooks. The sooner you get started on your first ebook, the easier your second is to finish.

There are dozens of ebook spinoffs that all can contribute to generating additional revenue for your business. SOme of them are listed in this article. Your ebook can give you the content for 3 to 5 minute podcasts on your topic. It can be the source of inspiration for at least 100 different articles that are posted in article directories that drive traffic back to your site and drive people to buy your product line. It can be the source of content for a speaking engagement in front of a local club or organization, grade schools, high schools, or colleges and corporations.

Your ebook can be the source of info that is spun off into a child’s book or a book suitable for teens. If your ebook is a how-to-type of manual or scientific, it could be used as a foundation for the background knowledge needed to create a screenplay about a story relating to the topic.

Your ebook can be read into a microphone which is then recorded and burned onto a CD. It could be used with video footage and photos/text to create a DVD. You could then take bits of it and use it as a marketing device on YouTube.

Are you starting to see that creating ebooks is really an excellent way to boost your business and business presence? Your ebook could be broken into segments and used as individual articles that are given away as free reports. The individual articles could also be used to send to newspapers and magazines that are looking for filler information for their pages.

Some of these articles could be combined together in a little bundle, which makes them an attractive feature when you sell other products.

Parts of your ebook, such as interesting quotes and textboxes, can be used in some of your flyers and brochures. The table of contents can be used on your website to entice people to buy individual chapters if they don’t want to buy the whole ebook.

Your ebook can be given away as an incentive or sold for profit.

With all these possibilities, is there really any reason NOT to write your first ebook? I can show you how to do it with the least amount of stress.

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