Inside Writing for Handshake 2.0

As a writer for Handshake 2.0, we ask you to follow these Handshake 2.0-specific and TypePad-specific and client-focused guidelines in addition to those listed in Writing for Handshake 2.0 and our Writers’ Guidelines.


We have high standards and high expectations for the writing on Handshake 2.0.


That said, commercial mandates and superior customer service determine the viability of Handshake 2.0’s business model.  Even Michelangelo followed the dictates of his patron, the pope.


Length


Contain your content in a blog post to 300 words or fewer.


Composing a Post


Text posted to TypePad must be in plain text. 


Here’s the process we recommend to make that happen.

  • Compose in Word and use Word’s spell check and grammar check tools to assist with editing.
  • Copy the text, open Notepad, then paste the text into Notepad to strip it of Word’s formatting.
  • Copy the stripped, format-free text from Notepad and paste that into TypePad.
  • Add the links by opening another browser window, find the desired site, copy its URL, highlight the text to link in TypePad, then click on the link icon (two links in a chain).  This opens a dialog box into which to paste the URL.
  • Follow the same procedure for text used from e-mails or to be quoted and cited from other Web sites.

From TypePad’s KnowledgeBase:
 
“Copying and pasting from other applications such as Word can generate error messages in TypePad, cause validation errors in your weblog and prevent your selected theme from appearing as intended. When pasting in content composed in a different application, the format used by the other application merges with the format TypePad uses. This merging can cause errors in the TypePad application and prevent spellcheck from working correctly. This also adds unnecessary code into your weblog posts, thus causing validation errors.”  Here are the technical details.  Format from other programs can also interfere with feeds.


Space and Time


Remember that space online is absolute, not relative.  Please include state names with towns or cities; sometimes names of nations are needed.  This helps users know exactly about where they are reading and helps us and our clients with search engine results and listings.


Remember that time online is absolute, not relative.  “For two weeks” has no meaning if, a year from now, someone uses a search engine to look up information about “Roanoke Regional Airport” and a Handshake 2.0 post from six months ago is in the listings.  Most people won’t scrutinize the date and time of posting.  Please include month, date, and year in posts that refer to time.


Typography


Instead of dashes, use space + hypen + space. 


Even though “services—represented” is correct, online, it ends up a very long term and breaks the flow of the text for both our site and for site that might want to copy and paste the line to quote it.


Link Keywords to Companies

 

In the body of the blog post, link the first mention of the name of the company to its URL.

 

In the text of the company’s description at the bottom of the blog post, link keywords to the company’s URL rather than linking the name of the company to the URL.

 

Search engines scan blog posts for linked text.  We want to foster search engines associating keywords with Handshake 2.0’s clients in addition to their companies’ names.  Search engine users type in terms for what they’re looking for more often than they type in company names.  For our clients, we want both associations.

 

For example, note this company description for Coldwell Banker, Townside:

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  It strives to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the Roanoke Valley and New River Valley. Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service. 


If you click on the highlighted keywords, they take you to the CBT site.  We want search engines to link CBT with its real estate products and services – represented in the keywords – not just with its company name.


Here’s another example in this the description of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

 

The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a technology park, a research park, and a science park on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The research park provides high-technology companies access to university faculty, university facilities, university equipment, and business-related support services.  The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center fosters commercialization and technology transfer of university research for both high-tech start-up companies and established technology businesses.

 

Rather than the VTCRC’s name itself, keywords such as “technology park” and “research park” and other terms search engine users might use to find the VTCRC are linked to the VTCRC’s site.

 

If opportunities for linking keywords to the company’s URL arise within the body of the blog post text, and linking to those keywords would flow naturally with the content of the text, linking those keywords to the company’s URL may make sense.  Otherwise, focus on keyword links exclusively in the company description at the bottom of the post.

 

Context

 

On April 28, 2009, Handshake 2.0 turned nine months old.

As we continue to evolve as a site, we are currently focusing on these subject areas for the blog:

  • Local high-tech companies
  • Local companies
  • Use of Web 2.0 technologies for businesses, variously termed new media, social media, social networking

Ideally, Handshake 2.0 blog posts on local businesses have universal value.  Rather than simply being stories – which they do need to be to interest readers – they need to also serve as case studies for greater business truths or fundamentals.  We want to continue to be of value to our local, national and international readership.  For that readership to continue to grow, stories with a local focus need to serve as specific examples of general principles.  We showcase a local “snapshot” but reveal how it also fits into “the big picture.”



That creates both a local it’s-who-you-know audience for the site as well as a global audience for those interested in best business practices.


Specifically, Handshake 2.0’s audience arrives in layers of users – loyal readers or curious first-timers who type in the URL to visit each time, subscribers via e-mail and RSS feed, search engine users typing in keywords we’ve featured, users of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and, of course, by The Great Forward.

 

For our clients – primarily local companies seeking growth – we try to create a national, even global, presence.

 

The more you can create content for Handshake 2.0 that keeps in mind this context, the more value your content is to our clients, the site’s users, and our mission.

Larry Bechtel - Sculptor and Storyteller
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