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And So We Come to the End. The End of 2015.

This post is not about the year’s events, accomplishments, trials, or tribulations. Nor is it about hope and plans for the future. It is simply a little post about a few things that I learned in 2015.

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  Obviously not NYC circa December 2015

Obviously not NYC circa December 2015

Words added to my vocabulary:

  • Pleonasm: too many words!
  • A whole bunch of food-related words. Always food. Here are a few new ones. (For a more complete list, read: ‘Hangry’? Want a Slice of ‘Piecaken’? The Top New Food Words for 2015):
    • Hangry: you know this one
    • Climatarian: just what it sounds like; eating with a pronounced regard to reversing climate change
    • Cuisinomane: Canadian French equivalent of “foodie”
  • Tautophrase: You do you. Ugh, this phrase is just awful, and apparently tautophrase is the term for it. None other than the estimable writer William Safire coined this word about ten years ago to describe self-justifying constructions, which also includes “it is what it is,” another phrase that makes my ears bleed. There are many more such ugly tautophrases that you can read about in the great article How ‘You Do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture.

I also learned how to make beer bread. It’s not very difficult to make, and it’s pretty tasty.

I learned about whales tipping over whaling ships, and the subsequent little boats of sailors stranded at sea, in the book In the Heart of the Sea. I was a little bit pleased with myself that I read the book before learning that a movie was made about this tale and would be released in December.

Finally, I learned how to do some pretty cool formatting in Squarespace. This easy web tool has all kinds of functionality that I haven’t even begun to explore yet, and that makes me excited to try some new things in 2016.

So, onward ho we go!

The ABCs of SEO

If you would like to learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or are curious about the latest best practices, take a gander straight from the horse’s mouth by reading this handy guide from Google: Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Following SEO best practices will help to drive more traffic to your site from search queries.


(BTW, have you ever wondered about the origin of “straight from the horse’s mouth”? Lose no more sleep: the idiom stems from horse racing. If you receive a tip about a horse race, the most reliable sources of information come from those closest to the horse, such as the trainer or the jockey. But even better than these sources is to receive the tip directly from the horse itself, and thus, “the horse’s mouth.”)

The advice contained in this guide is pretty valuable because Google remains the search engine leader. According to Statista, as of October 2015, Google maintains just under 90 percent of worldwide search engine market share (it’s unclear whether this figure covers desktop, mobile, tablet or all types of searches). Narrowing usage down to just the US, as of August 2015 (according to comScore), Google leads desktop searches with 63.8 percent market share.

You can pick up basic tips about page titles and descriptions, and more robust guidance on content optimization and site structure. You’ll learn that titles and descriptions should be specific and that you should not cram a bunch of keywords into either one.

Oddly, this guide does not include a couple of well-known Google standards, which are based on the number of characters that will fit on a 512-pixel display. Although there is some debate about these figures, generally it’s wise to:

  • Keep title tags (page titles) to 55 characters or less.
  • Keep page description meta tags to 150-160 characters.

Learning the intricacies of SEO is really not that difficult or complicated. In the end, you still want to create content that is natural-sounding and of value to your users, and not strictly targeted to obtain the best search engine results.