After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Great Google juice tips from Michael Tippett

Photograph of Michael Tippett by Kris Krug of Static Photography

Michael Tippett started NowPublic in his garage.  NowPublic lets people work together to cover news events around the world. Tippett came to talk to the Writing for the Web symposium at Hollyhock this weekend. He spoke for two hours about search engine optimization, great news sites, new software, making mistakes and how to get intimate with Google. Google is the largest media company in the world, he pointed out, and if you're not intimate with them yet (the algorithm, the robotic crawler), it's time to get to know them much better.  That is,  if you hope to push your blog, your news site, your business site, or your message out to the world.  

For starters, he suggested reading about how to write headlines for tips on how to get noticed on searches.

"Get a Facebook page, get a Twitter page, get a blog and get set-up to publish on all of these things,” he said.

 Newser, with its tag line “Read Less Know More," has his eye right now. Its visual front page with photos and links to short videos and more stories engages Tippett.

He also showed us a website called Gowalla. It's kind of like a guest book where you check-in to locations and leave messages, comments and photos about where you are and where you can also find out who else is there or who has been there recently.

Novelist Ruth Ozeki, (My Year of Meats and All Over Creation) who co-facilitated the weekend asked Tippett to explain the meaning of "platforms."  

Tippett: Something you can build on top of. In terms of blogging platforms, you've got WordPress and Blogger. I love WordPress. I think it’s amazing. I have a blog here that I've been tinkering with.

I wanted to get him to talk as widely as possible about how he thinks about the web as it is, and where the news and journalism is going.  I asked him what he was doing on his blog.  Turns out, playing.

Tippett:  It's a stream of consciousness. I use these as experimental platforms to learn things and make mistakes with, do something meaningless. 

He gave this suggestion:

Post a blog that no one is going to look at. Make mistakes on something that does not matter. Whatever your objective is, get stuff on line.

Getting stuff on line: easy.  Getting an audience: difficult.

The hard part is aggregating and building an audience. Do experiments with that. I had my birthday party recently.  I went way out there. I had a Twitter feed set up and a Tumblr account. I ended up owning the term MT40. If you type MT40 in Google, I'm in the top 10 search results. It's (elevating your page ranking on Google) is actually not that hard to do, but it requires practice. 

Come up with a unique moniker.  Easy? No.

First thing is to come up with a moniker that's unique and then get out there with as many lines as you can.  A Twitter account, a blog,..

If you do something good, they'll flock to you.  Right? No.

Tippett: If you're on the second page of Google, you're invisible, pretty much. If you're trying to own a debate or a point of view, you need to understand the language of it and understand who is competing for it.

We had three food security activists at the workshop and Tippett used them as an example.  

I mean...this is the starting point. I don't know what the terms are.  I typed in “food security British Columbia islands”...or maybe it's like “how healthy is my food” need to understand that line of inquiry.  You need to know what is the question people are asking and then you want to own that page.

 How do you use Google ads to own the page?

Tippett: It’ll probably take you a couple of hours to become reasonably competent. You just go to Google and you just go in here and sign up [for]ad programs. 

 How do you figure out what word to use and connect it to you?

More in Publisher's Platform

Koch brothers make me mad

"For billionaires who cannot buy good press, there is the option of buying the press," The New Yorker says.

Michaëlle Jean's Canadian love affair

Michaëlle Jean isn't willing to reveal the juicy details about what went on behind the scenes at that pivotal point in Canadian history "on the day the Prime Minister came to me to ask for my...

Dragons' Den's Arlene Dickinson at the Board of Trade on the power of Persuasion

Two guys with a candy company called OMG's stand nervously pitching their product. Kevin O'Leary ridicules their valuation, and the other guys on the Dragons' Den scoff and bow out. None will put...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.