Google Webmaster Tools Basics for Freelancers

Being familiar and using Google Webmaster Tools is an important asset if you want to optimize your site. It is a set of tools by Google that can give you an insight of what is happening on your website. Also, you will be able to make decisions according to real evidence instead of just making guesses about what to do.

There are several steps to take when you decide to log in to Google Webmaster Tools. First you need to add your website and to confirm that you are the owner of the site. After verifying your ownership, you will start seeing data on a dashboard. You will be able to have a look at a range of useful stuff such the amount of traffic you get, the pages that have been indexed by Google, etc.

For better ranking of your page, it is important that your website is configured. For example, configuration with site mapping will help Google to define what the pages on your website are so that it will be easier for them to index them. It is related to the traffic, the more indexed sites, the more traffic you get. Sitemaps are submitted in XML format with less than 50,000 URLs. On the other hand, if you don’t want some pages to be indexed, like private logins, you can create robots.txt file to block all the searching engines including Google.

The Diagnostic section is a useful part which tells you if something went wrong on your website. Even more, it can direct you how to solve the problem. For instance, any programs that may disrupt your computer may be discovered and you will get a warning like “Google has detected a malware on this site”. It is necessary to avoid getting malware on your server. Google will not rank your website if there is any danger of going to an infected site. No one wants to get their computer infected by being careless. Make sure to do a cleanup if you notice any malware.

These are some of the features Google Webmaster Tools offer to website owners. There are many more benefits you might enjoy if using it. It is completely free and it is worth having as it will guide you throughout the traffic by giving instructions what you need to do in order to improve your Google Traffic.

Go for it!

Common proofreading mistakes and how to avoid them

Whether you have your own blog or proofread texts for other people, there are some mistakes that most people make. It is quite important to avoid them as sometimes a spelling error could make your argument invalid or denote lack of education. It is crucial to have a flawless piece of writing especially on the Internet, where people will judge you and if you have the misfortune to find a so-called “grammar nazi”, then you are doomed. Do not worry, because this post is going to help you avoid being humiliated on the Internet, so read ahead.

  1. Trusting Word Spell Check

Either you are using Microsoft Word or any other program, they usually come with a spell check. The thing is that most of the time, we usually look to see whether there is a word underlined with red and then modify it. The main problem with this that the program identifies words that are spelled incorrectly, but not according to context. For example, you can have the words god and good and accidentally put the first instead of the second. Your text will make no sense, however, the program will not detect any mistake. The same can happen with the misuse of an accent in Spanish and the results can be horrific. This is why, you should double check the whole text, not just the underlined words.

  1. Overlooking inconsistency

Due to the fact that there might not seem to be something wrong at first, inconsistencies get ignored most of the times. Also, there are many possible errors of this type that it gets really hard to identify them. The main reason why we fail to spot them is because if we take them individually, they are not wrong. However, when the structure appears again, in the text in a different form, that is when the problem occurs. Just to have an idea of an inconsistency, think about numbers. For example, you start your text by saying: “there are 3 rivers in…” and then continue by saying: ”the three rivers”. The same happens with symbols, time and dates. The best thing is to either only write them with numbers/ symbols or spell them out. Choose only one method.

  1. Doubling words or phrases

Repeating yourself is one of the most annoying things possible. You want to get the message across and it might not seem to much for you to repeat the same phrase twice, three times in a phrase like “buy this now”. However, for the reader, this is very irritating and it will make him or her lose interest in your work. Also, do double check to see if you have accidentally written the same word twice like for example: “he has always always done this”. A slip of an extra word will simply denote lack of professionalism and it will stain your reputation.

I hope that these tips help you improve your proofreading skills. If you want some more tips on how to better proofread your text check out this article.

If you want a freelance proofreader for your Spanish texts, contact me.

3 Tips on how to improve your writing

Writing might not always come easy. Some are more talented, while others have a hard time finding their voice, their writing style. Setting aside the part where you try to achieve that flawless writing in terms of grammar and spelling, writing is more than that. It is about sending a message, about engaging the reader. This blog post is about improving your writing in terms of making it more attractive. If however, you just want to learn some tips for content writing, check this out.

  1. Read Books

In school they always made us read books. It seemed useless back then and a bit annoying to take out some part of our play time just to read. The thing is that those books helped us find our style of writing. The more we read, the more our writing evolved. We started using more complex words and our sentences started evolving and so did our content. Nowadays, the same thing applies. Read books! It does not really matter whether they are science fiction, non fiction or romance novels. All that matters is that your writing will evolve as you will involuntarily adopt elements from the writing style of the authors whose works you read.

  1. Watch Ted Talks

You have probably heard about this worldwide phenomenon called Ted Talks. It is basically an event where people go an hold speeches and they are usually very engaging. You will learn from the way they speak, the structure of their monologues and how they give arguments in order to sustain their ideas. Soon, you will start adopting those concepts to your writing and you will realize in no time that your content is more interesting and your ideas are more clearly stated and have greater arguments. All of this, with little or no effort.

  1. Watch Stand Up Comedy

This might seem a bit stupid at first, but watching stand up comedy could really get your writing to the next level. How come? Simply watch a comedian capture the attention of the public. You will see how he makes a story out of everything. A simple walk on the street becomes a great adventure if you look at it through the right lenses. They can talk about basically anything without making you lose interest and also manage to make you laugh. That is simply magic. You know how when you make new friends you soon start adopting some words that they use, their style? Well, think of stand up comedians as your friends. Watch many videos and you will soon end up having engaging texts and who knows? Maybe even funny.

As mentioned above, writing is all about finding your voice and getting a message across. If you are having a hard time engaging your audience, then you should try out these tips. You might end up writing the latest best seller. You might even get new ideas, learn new things. You will have fun and your writing will improve. That is definitely something to look forward to.

Spanish phrases for tourists

Spanish beach  Spanish phrases for tourists
“Nerja .. Andalucia” flickr photo by Nick Kenrick.. shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

If you’re spending a few weeks in Spain for your holidays you probably don’t want to bother becoming a fluent Spanish speaker. However, a few key phrases can go a long way, especially if you’re not planning to spend your trip in an all-inclusive resort. Not only does it make getting what you want easier, a lot of people appreciate it when foreigners take the time to learn a few basic phrases so it can often make you friends.

  1. Introductions

Let’s start with the basics:

Good day Buen día

Hello, my name is… Hola, me llamo…

What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama? (formal)

How are you doing? ¿Cómo estás? (informal) or ¿Cómo está? (formal)

I’m well, thank you – Estoy bien, gracias.

Goodbye   Adiós

In most parts of the Spanish-speaking world, strangers should be addressed using the formal version to be polite. However, it’s worth noting that in Spain, Argentina and some parts of Uruguay you can use the informal right away. Actually, being honest, it seems the overall trend is going towards the more informal versions.

  1. Ordering Food

A table for two, please Una mesa por dos, por favor.

What is this? ¿Qué es esot?

I am a vegetarian Soy vegetariano(a)

When the waiter asks you what you would like to drink, or something along the lines of ¿Algo de beber? or ¿Qué van a tomar?

To drink, I’ll have a… Para beber quiero…

When the waiter asks you what you would like to eat, or something along the lines of ¿Qué desean ustedes?

I would like the… Me gustaría el/la/los/las…

Could you bring me some… Me trae un/una/unos/unas…

No, thank you.  No, gracias.

Yes, please. Sí, por favor.

To make changes to your order, use sin or con for without or with. And, of course, don’t forget to thank your waiters with muchas gracias, as you would in English.

  1. Asking for Directions

In case you ever find yourself without your phone in a chaotic city like Mexico City, Barcelona, or Buenos Aires, here are a few simple questions to help you figure out where you are and where you need to be going.

Where are we? ¿Dónde estamos?

What street is this? ¿Qué calle es esta?

Excuse me, where is…? Disculpe, ¿dónde está el/la/los/las…?

Where is the bus stop? ¿Dónde está la parada del autobús?

Is it near? ¿Está cerca?

Now for the answers:

Go straight. Sigue derecho.

Turn left Gire a la izquierda.

Turn right Gire a la derecha.

Take me to this address, please. Lléveme a esta dirección, por favor.

Stop here, please. – Deténgase aquí, por favor.

How much is the fare? à Cuánto es la tarifa?

Spanish speakers have a wide variety of dialects and accents. So, while you may find it difficult to understand the questions being put to you, if you answer using standard Spanish you will most likely still be understood. However, pay attention to your pronunciation and intonation as that can confuse a local with little to no experience listening to foreigners speak.

How to use a unique selling proposition

The unique selling proposition (USP) was first developed in order to help companies create better marketing campaigns. A USP helps businesses determine whether or not they stand out from the crowd and, if they do, why. If you already have a unique product or premise – like, say you’re the only supplier of fish-shaped hats in North America – then you’re ahead of the game. But if you’re one of many people selling kitchen appliances, what’s the reason that a customer chooses to buy your product instead of someone else’s? Is there something about your company that’s different from all other suppliers? And, if so, how do you get that uniqueness across to your clients?

In order to craft your business’s USP, take some time to think about your ideal customer. Don’t just have a vague idea about your general audience, decide exactly whom you want to be selling to and why. Ask yourself what your perfect client truly wants and likes and what influences their buying decisions. Why do they choose you over competitors? Most importantly, how does your service or products solve their problems?

Once you’ve figured out who your ideal customers are and what problems their problems are, you can personalise your business’s marketing campaign to directly target these customers. Let them know that you understand them and can help them with whatever their problem is. Some businesses do this by making their customers an unbeatable guarantee, such as FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” or Saddleback Leather’s 100 year warrantee, which they suggest you mention in your will because “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead”. This kind of over-the-top guarantee will help your business stand out from the crowd.

Others do this by appealing to their customers’ aesthetic, such as Mast Chocolate. Mast is a chocolate company run by two brothers who make every bar themselves, dress like they’re from the 19th century, and ship their supplies by sailboat. While there are a million chocolate bar manufacturers, there aren’t any that can claim that kind of dedication and craftsmanship, which makes Mast Chocolate one of a kind – it also means they can charge a premium for their products.

After you’ve decided on your USP, formulate it into a quick and catchy tagline that you can use to brand your company – an elevator pitch, if you will. Going back to Saddleback Leather, their “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead” is a great example of a perfect tagline. It’s short, it’s attention-grabbing, and it sums up their product all in less than ten words. Your tagline should aim to do all that as well.

Finally, once you have a tagline that sums up your USP, use it (and everything else you’ve learned about your perfect client along the way) as the basis for an unbeatable marketing campaign. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the main goal of a USP: to make your business irresistible.