Dec 302015

My friend Clarissa writes:

Many people are lured into believing that apps can do everything a computer can and never acquire crucial computer skills. They go around brandishing their smartphones and tablets and have no idea why, in spite of all the productivity apps, they never seem to catch up. It’s especially sad to see young people get caught up in this self-defeating mentality.


photo by Miles Basil

Dec 252015

In an excellent article called “How Much Is Involved in Building an Authority Site” (in, author Steve Cartwright notes that “Authority websites have the potential to generate a tremendous amount of money, but the downside is that they can take a tremendous amount of work. However, a niche website that isn’t an authority website is almost as hard to keep updated anyway. It’s difficult to continually produce enough quality content to keep the search engines indexing your website enough so that your website remains at the top of the search results.” True, though not so difficult for individuals for whom the goal of websites and social-media is professional reputation and branding rather than financial profit. For owners of business websites, though,

How long each aspect of the authority site takes to develop will depend on your skill levels, as well as your budget. If you have the funds to hire out various aspects of the site building such as the web design and even the content creation, you’ll be able to rank higher faster. But, building an authority website still takes time. The way in which Google decides that your site is an authority site is by the age of the domain name, incoming links referencing the website, and the amount of relevant, high-quality content on the website.

When starting an authority website some experts will tell you that you need lots and lots of short highly focused articles. Each one of these should be focused on one particular topic and should include basis search engine optimization. The sole purpose of these articles is to gain indexing within the search engines. On top of this you’ll need to include some longer articles, these are your main authority articles and the idea is that these build on the grown work done by the SEO type articles. Authority articles tend to be longer than those written for search engine optimization alone, there sole purpose is to educate the audience on a particular topic. When I started Website Designs, I decided that I wanted to concentrate on lots and lots of authority articles, this is why you will not find any short SEO type posts on this website. …

If you work really hard, you can have a website up and running in about 30 days (sometimes less) depending on your own skills in terms of creating a website and graphics. You can fill it with 50 pages of content to get started, and then work on keeping it updated with fresh content on a part-time basis, but understand from the onset that it takes lots of work this is why most people don’t do it and many give up before they are successful. Spend at least equal time promoting the website as you do adding content to it. Expect it to take at least 120 – 180 days to start seeing a marked increase in traffic from search engines. Then spend time each week keeping the momentum going.

Dec 252015

It is a truism that dormant websites and social media platforms can do more harm to you than good, no matter how active you have been in the past. I teach my students numerous methods to keep their online presence bubbling even when they are busy with other things – the holiday season, finals – or when they are ill. I have certainly used these methods myself, in both situations, to keep my many platforms up to date.

For websites and blogs:
– Feel free to recycle past posts that have a timeless quality to them – maxims, insights, humour. (I make sure that such posts are at least three or four years old. I also make it clear that these are re-posts.)
– Point your readers to good writing posted by others whom you bookmark or follow via your news-feed (see below). There is nothing wrong with a post that is composed mostly of another writer’s thoughts. Give credit where credit is due, and Bob’s your uncle.
– Create and use an extensive photo library. A photograph with a short description will indicate that you are still “on the case.” And people like pictures.

For Twitter:
– No matter how busy or under the weather you are, you can usually get out of bed and review your news-feeds (see my own Feedly feeds); this can take as little as twenty minutes.
– Then: Tweet the posts and articles that will appeal to those who follow you.
– To make sure that you don’t spam your readers, spread out your tweets. There are numerous tweet-schedulers. I use Hootsuite and Buffer. With these I can be tweeting all day with just a few minutes’ effort in the morning.

For LinkedIn:
– Many, if not all, of your blog posts will be of interest to your LinkedIn “connections.” Post these in your LinkedIn updates. There is nothing wrong in repurposing your work this way.
– Once or twice a week, head over to your LinkedIn account and see what your connections are doing. Comment on or “like” their updates. Show that you are still attending to the work and insights of your online friends and colleagues.

So there you go: easy peasy lemon squeezy. Keep your online presence active and your ‘brand’ beaming. Have a wonderful holiday!

Dec 192015

Picture 1My new favourite website is, which tracks and archives changes made to online news articles over time. Currently it follows,,,, and; no Canadian publications yet, alas. Click on the image to see how a New York Times article from today has been revised.

This website can be a wonderful resource for high school and university students in writing classes.