Vogue Parody: 73 Questions with Ray

I intended to publish this post as an extra weekly post on Tuesday, not the Saturday one, however, due to the technical difficulties I am facing at the moment, I had to go with this one for the week.

Vogue questions, for those who are not familiar with it, is a segment where an interviewer behind the camera asks an artist/celebrity 73 random questions.

I like this segment and have watched most of them. I have to say though that I find many of them rather awkward because I feel they try too hard to make it look like it’s unplanned/unscripted which sometimes comes across cringe-worthy.

However, there are some that I do enjoy watching because I like the person being interviewed. And it’s fun too.

I was surprised to find that bloggers have created their own version of the 73 Vogue Questions as a “get to know me” thing and I think it’s cool!

I was tagged in this by the beautiful Mikaela, you can read her answers here.

I have attached an audio file below of me answering the questions to make it easier for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. Because that’s a lot of trivial reading!

But don’t mind the weird sound differences, I recorded this on more than one sitting and it’s only done on my phone. I may have also screwed a few names here and there.

Audio version: vogue-73-questions-with-ray-1.m4a


73 Vogue Questions

1. What’s your usual Starbucks order?

I don’t drink there that often, but mostly it’s Caffe Mocha, no whipped cream.

2. What does your work station look like?

It used to be my desk in my bedroom near the window looking out on a few buildings and a garden. But recently I have been just using my laptop on the couch.

3. All-time favorite food?

 I’d have to say chicken.

4. Favorite author?

Tough question! I think it would be a tie between Agatha Christie and Paulo Coelho.

5. What do you think of open relationships? 

I think it’s a weird concept, however, if it works for you then cool. I wouldn’t ever be part of one though, quite jealous for that.

6. What is your favorite video game?

I love racing games in general. I can’t quite remember names, but I remember there was a motorcycle racing game that I was addicted to. Back in the day I used to play super mario a lot too!

7. Guilty pleasure treat?

Don’t think I have one. Unless we’d consider pizza a guilty pleasure..

8. Your favorite movie?

A movie that has good plot twists, real scares, about cooking, or simply one that makes me laugh all would qualify as a favourite movie.

9. Favorite book?

It’s hard to pick a favourite book. But I’ll go with the first two that came to mind: The Secret: Daily Teachings by Rhonda Byrne and Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. 

10. Best advice you’ve ever received?

My mom used to tell me when I was younger, “If you’ll have no problem if the whole world finds out what you’re doing now, then do it.” This has been kind of my moral compass.

11. Twitter or Instagram?

Twitter to interact and share my thoughts. Instagram to me is like a reality TV show; I get a sneak peak at everyone else’s life.

12. Are you a desktop or laptop person?

Definitely laptop. I love a desktop for the keyboard, but overall a laptop is my choice.

13. What projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on an ebook at the moment and have just gotten back to writing fiction again, so hopefully I’ll manage to finish a few short stories in the near future.

14. What’s your favorite color?

Black overall; however, in clothing, I also like Red a lot.

15. Did you get good grades in school?

School here is education up until Secondary school only not college/uni.

So in school I only got good grades in the subjects I liked which were languages, literature, psychology and philosophy. Everything else was average.

16. Dream job?

When I was younger I wanted to become a forensics analyst. And when I grew older my wish was to be part of a cabin crew.

17. Played any sports?

Karate and swimming but I didn’t last long in either.

18. Do you have a degree?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Telecommunication Engineering.

19. Nationality?

Egyptian.

20. What’s your favorite kind of blog post to do?

I like ones that have a lot of information that not many people may have heard of.

21. What do you like to collect?

I used to collect local comic magazines when I was in school, now I don’t collect anything.

22. Describe yourself in 3 words?

Empathetic, thoughtful, and indecisive.

23. If you were a rapper what would your rapper name be?

I can’t really think of one, it would be a ridiculous one though like Big L or something.

24. Who was the last person you DM’d?

My sister

25. What’s on the top of your wish list right now?

Vacation, on the beach.

26. Sorting House?

Not a Harry Potter fan, if this is what that is.

27. How many tattoos do you have?

None. I only get temporary ones.

28. What are you most grateful for this year?

Grateful for everything I managed to accomplish so far to bring me a few steps closer to my goal.

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?

 I’d say the fact I have managed to spend more time with family.

30. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?

I had my hair cut at last!!

31. What’s the best thing ever?

Sunrise.

32. Favorite season?

Winter.

33. Favorite holiday?

It’s a tie between Ramadan and Christmas. I’m not a christian but I really like Christmas time.

34. Which fictional character do you relate to the most?

I didn’t put much thought into this, but off the top of my head I’d say Mort Rainey from the Secret Window.

35. Do you like surprises?

I love surprises. But the only surprises I actually get are in the form of plot twists.

36. What’s the biggest surprise you ever had? 

I think it was back in prep school. A surprise birthday party the class arranged for me along with all the teachers. It had a profound effect because I had just moved there, so I was new with not many friends. I was also a little sick at the time, so it meant a lot.

37. What’s the surprise that made you cry?

I can’t remember if I actually cried in that one above or not but if not then probably none.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve ever given someone?

I think a birthday present which was a huge package with all this person’s favourite stuff.

39. Do you like muffins?

Wouldn’t turn down a chocolate or a vanilla muffin.

40. Do you cook often?

I cook when I feel like it.

41. What’s your favorite dessert?

A Black Forest Cake.

42. Is there a dessert you don’t like? 

I don’t have one in particular but I’m not a heavy dessert eater either.

43. Cake or pie?

Cake.

44. What’s your least favorite food?

Crabs.

45. What’s your favorite condiment?

Ketchup and Mayo

46. It’s 4 AM on a Saturday night, what would you eat?

I could very much bake a cake at 4 AM.

47. If you could teach a college class, what would it be called?

It would be a research based class probably.

48. Best animated film?

Lion King and Toy Story.

49. What has a guy done or said to impress you?

A guy brought flowers and got down on one knee in the middle of the university’s entrance, asking to forgive him…

50. Best thing to do on a first date?

Listen more than you talk maybe.

51. Worst thing to do on a first date?

Show up late.

52. What’s the funniest pick-up line a guy could use on a girl?

Not a clue.

53. Best comic book character?

A tie between the Joker and Loki.

54. What are three things that are always in your purse?

A hand cream, a mirror, and a pencil attached to a tiny notebook for when inspiration hits.

55. Favorite drink?

Tea.

56. If you could play a historical figure in a movie who would it be?

Cleopatra.

57. Kittens or puppies?

Definitely puppies.

58. Tell me your favorite sushi roll?

I’m terrible with memorizing names, but it was a shrimp roll with rice and seaweed.

59. What kind of lipstick do you use?

Currently it’s NYX.

60. What kind of fountain do you use?

Don’t use one.

61. Blow dry or air dry?

Blow dry, don’t like the feeling of wet hair.

62. Who is your fashion icon?

Don’t have one.

63. Favorite Disney Character?

Probably Ariel.

64. What are you doing for tomorrow?

Relaxing probably.

65. Movie you laughed the hardest through?

A Bad Moms Christmas.

66. Movie that made you cry?

There’s a lot of them, the last one was probably Avengers: Endgame.

67. If you could sing a duet with someone, who would it be?

Adam Lambert.

68. If your life was a song, what would the title be?

The beauty and the tragedy. It’s an actual song by The Age of Information.

69. What’s your favorite animal?

White big cats and elephants. Sorry couldn’t pick one.

70. Favorite illustrator?

I don’t have one favourite, I mean I do love illustrations but names don’t seem to stick.

71. Person you wanna have coffee with?

Jennifer Garner.

72. What’s the country you wish to visit?

There are so many, but Malaysia and Italy are both at the top of the list.

73. Best way to decompress?

Pizza + Comedy + Couch.


I’m supposed to tag 10-12 bloggers for this one but I’m honestly not sure who would be interested to be tagged. I might add a list later. 

For now though if you want to be tagged let me know and I’ll add your name or simply just go ahead and write it without being tagged. This is how this thread has started actually.

Till next week, happy days!

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The Simplest Guide To SEO For Beginners

What is SEO? And how do you use it to drive more traffic to your website? In this post you will find a simple and detailed explanation with practical steps to follow.

SEO was one of the topics on my list that I knew I had to learn about, but I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it.

It was not as intimidating as getting into the stock market, but still it was one of those things that I just kept postponing. However, I know if I ever plan on using this platform to reach more people, and perhaps convert it into a source of income at some point, I will need to step into the SEO territory.

And so I ended up consuming dozens upon dozens of articles and videos on this topic, and then this post was created.

I have applied most of these techniques on my own website; some of them I already knew and some were brand new to me. But hopefully they will all be useful to you.


Jump to:


Now let’s start with the most basic question of all.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is to optimize your website to rank higher on search engines in order to be seen by users and, therefore, get more traffic.

Why do you need to learn about SEO?

I think we can all agree that everyone with a website or a blog, their main goal is to reach people, and one way of doing that is if people can find your website when they search for related topics online.

Knowing SEO is the most effective way to know how search engines work and what users want; and this way you will have the tools to adjust your website accordingly and eventually drive more traffic to your site.

Google has been the number 1 search engine forever. And it doesn’t seem like this is going to change any time soon. So it is a wise decision to start learning about the criteria on which this search engine ranks websites.

How do you know your current ranking on Google?

If you want to know your current ranking on Google, you can simply go to Google Search Console.

If you don’t already have an account, set up an account there and add your website. It will take a while before they pull up the details and the data of your website, but you will eventually have an understanding of where your website stands at the moment.

This tool shows you which queries you have been ranked for, what was your rank position, the countries in which your website appeared on a search result page, which pages exactly appeared, and how many clicks your pages received.

So it pretty much sums up all the information you need to know to figure out your current position; and it also gives you an idea of what you need to work on to rank higher in terms of keywords and pages on your website.

How can you rank higher on Google?

There are things you need to do on your own website, and then there are things you need to work on off-site.

On-site SEO

First I would like to take a moment here to brag, if you don’t mind. Because I actually found that I had knowledge in this area through a previous work experience (which I never thought was ever going to benefit me in anyway, but then here we are!), so this was an interesting part for me to read about because most of it was quite familiar.

And this also made it easier for me to explain it here.

Now, back to on-site SEO, in order to have Google search engine recognize your website and its content and actually trust you as a source to show on the first page, there are a few things that you need to check on your website first.

There is a technical aspect to this and then there is the content aspect.

Technical aspect

Here are 3 technical traps you need to check and fix on your website:

1. Mobile usability

You need to make sure that your website and its content are mobile friendly; meaning it can be viewed just as clearly and easily on a mobile phone as it would on a desktop.

This is because the majority of Internet users actually use their phones to perform a search. If your website is not adjusted for a mobile view, it will not be suggested in the results on a mobile phone.

To make sure your website is in fact mobile friendly you can use Google’s free Mobile Friendly Tool. All you have to do is enter your website’s URL and it will tell you whether your site is mobile friendly or not.

In order to adjust your website pages to become mobile friendly, you can either hire a web designer to do this for you from websites like Upwork or Fiverr or you can simply choose a theme that is marked as a responsive theme. (WordPress has plenty of options for themes that are mobile friendly).

If you want to know more ways on how to create a responsive website, you can read this article.

2. Loading speed

Another major factor that will affect whether you rank on Google’s first page or not is how fast your website loads.

The typical loading speed for a website should be 3 seconds or less. So, you should make sure that your website does not take longer than that.

To check your current loading speed, you can do so through entering your website’s URL into Pingdom, another free tool. You may want to check the speed from more than one location to figure out your average.

To decrease the loading time of your website you can try some of these tips.

3. Broken links

The third tip is to check your website for any broken links or 404 pages. These may stem from a link to an article within your website that no longer exists, or an article that has been merged into another, or you linking to an external article that has been moved or deleted.

To check if your website has any broken links, you can use this Free Broken Link Checker, it scans your entire website for any broken links whether they link to internal posts or external websites.

I actually had no idea I had broken links on here, but I was shocked to find I had 12 of them! Thankfully, all fixed now.

Note that the existence of broken links on your website decreases your website’s status as a credible and authoritative source and therefore Google’s analysis system will not be favoring it.

Content aspect

This content aspect has a few key points that you will need to pay attention to. They may seem like a lot, but they are easy to work on and fix.

1. Quality

This is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspect to be considered on a first page results. Your website needs to have quality content; quality means you need to have content that will add value to the reader. Here’s what to focus on:

A. Unique content

It’s not enough to write about a topic that everyone wants to read about; it needs to have something different.

If you write the same information that every other website has, there is no reason for Google to choose you over them, especially if yours is a new website and therefore doesn’t have authority.

You can implement unique content in different ways; the simple one is by adding your own data based on research you made on the topics, or maybe finding something that everyone has a common opinion about and draw a different light on that topic and discuss it from a different perspective that no one tried before.

You’re mainly going to need to use your creativity here. You may also find inspiration from posts like this one by Gurru Says, which suggests a number of blog post ideas that can suit a variety of niches.

B. Elaborative posts

While you can find a short post ranking on the first 3 spots on a Google search results page, the majority of the top ranking posts are actually long ones. And the reason for this is because a long post indicates knowledge and extensive information provided that will benefit the person who is looking to learn about a specific topic.

Also, if your post is too short, it will most likely cause a high bounce rate, which is the rate a user leaves your website at, so the longer and more engaging the content, the higher the amount of time a user will spend on your website.

This sends a signal to Google that this website has value, and it starts increasing your ranks for those specific queries that these users found your website through.

However, how to define a “long” post would mainly depend on the niche of the website. You may want to read about how long should blog articles be by Neil Patel.

2. Keywords

This is basically the key to how you would rank; if you do every thing on this list and you are not using the right keyword you will still not rank.

First, let’s see what it means to target a keyword.

When you use a search engine, you search for a word or a combination of words to find what you are looking for.

Example

Let’s say you search for “dog food” on Google.

This search term can have two main intents:

You either want to buy dog food, or you want to know about good dog food brands.

Now, in this scenario, I have a website that sells pet food and accessories and such.

In order for me to rank in this search query, I need to have the following:

  • The words dog + food used frequently on my website (I can check how many times I should use a word to rank by googling that word, clicking on the top result, and Ctrl+F the word to see how many times it was used there and copy that).
  • A blog on my website that has quality content on dog food (types and brands for example)
  • Have an expressive title that shows I have relevant information on my website (Best dog food brands/what type of food should you feed your dog?/etc..)
  • Have a snippet/excerpt that explains what my website/post is about; and it should have these keywords mentioned. This snippet is what appears below the website link on the search results page and it gives a preview of the content to the user.
Google’s first page results for “dog food.”

So we now know what it means to target a keyword; it’s time to decide which keywords to target.

How to choose the right keywords:

A LOT has been said about all the different ways you can find the perfect, most profitable keywords to target, and many of those tools cost a lot of money (which is cool if that’s your thing..); however, I will list below some of my favourite (free) ones.

1. Google Search Suggestions

You can Google different words that are relevant to your niche and see what Google suggests. You can then decide between them based on how many results you find when searching for that term. The less results there is, the higher your chances of ranking.

Google auto-complete suggestions shows the most common word combinations with this query
When you search for “dog food” there is a section for questions related to this query that people asked.
At the bottom of the results page, there is a list of related search queries to the term you used.
2. Answer The Public

Answer the public is a website where you can enter a certain keyword and it will give you all the questions that has been asked about that topic online.

You can use this information to decide which questions you will answer on your posts and which words you will use to have your post appear as an answer to those questions.

This website has a paid version, which will allow you to search by region; the free version does the purpose in showing you data from all over the world.

This is also a brilliant tool to use when you have no clue what to write about on your next post!

3. Google Trends

When you enter a search term in Google Trends, it will show you where this term is mostly searched by region and it will show you the related topics to this search term.

It will also give you the option to compare between the data for this search term and another one (a competitor one for example).

This is an amazing tool because not only does it show you how popular a single word is, but also shows a graph displaying how this single keyword has been performing over the years.

This can help in your decision because if a word is increasing in popularity, then this is a possibly good choice; however, if it has been declining over time that means people are losing interest in it, so there would be no point in trying to rank there because it will be a short-lived thing.

Part of the Google Trends data results for the term “dog food,” showing how this search term has performed over the past 12 months.
4. Quora and Forums

Using websites like Quora where people ask questions about every thing in life can be of benefit. You will use the topic search for the keywords you are trying to decide about and find the questions the has the most answers.

You can also try searching Google for “keyword: forum” and explore the first few results there; go to the forums and find the topics that has the highest interaction and this should be an indicator to the type of topics that many people who are interested in this niche are discussing.

You can find a list of other keyword tools (free and paid) in this article.

3. Voice Search

Optimizing your website for voice search is one of the things that can help you rank higher because many people (2 out of 3 adults) are now depending on voice tools like Siri and Alexa, and they use these to ask questions.

You will want to learn about how to optimize your website for voice search.

Because if you can create content that answers the type of questions a user asks using a voice search, you will definitely increase your chances of ranking higher on the web search results page.

Off-site SEO

And here comes the other part of setting up your website to rank higher, and that is the off-site part. This basically consists of one main thing:

Building Authority

Authority means that your website is a trusted and reliable source of information.

Now how would Google analysis systems know that?

Simple, the more websites link back to your content, the higher your authority is to Google.

But not just any websites, the websites that link back to yours need to be authority ones themselves in that niche too. This is called backlinking.

This can be a little tricky, because this will mainly rely on the responses you will get from other people. However, how you would go about this is you search for those with very popular websites within your niche. You can type your niche keywords to find such sites.

Then you will have three routes available:

  • You can check if these websites accept guest posts and try to write a post for them, so that you will have a link back to your website on their website (in the about section at the bottom of your article).
  • You can contact these website owners and tell them you have a post that discusses a similar topic to what they published and check if they can link to your post (not likely to work in most cases, but it won’t hurt to try).
  • Another option is to use a tool that displays data about a certain website/article and all the websites that has shared them. You can then check those websites and pick the ones that share a high number of the same topics, and contact those ones and send them yours. They would most likely share it too.

You can read this step-by-step article on how to find and contact potential websites to link to your post.

Internal backlinking

After you have created some backlinks for your posts from authority websites, it will make it easier to build authority for other posts in the future through using internal linking.

This is you referring/linking to your newly created post in one of your older posts that has been previously backlinked through authority sites and has already become an authority page.

This way your new post is already linked to through an authority page and you didn’t have to contact anyone for it.

Simplest guide to seo for beginners on pinterest
Click to Pin It on Pinterest.

And we have come to the end of this guide. Hopefully, this content was sufficient to understand basic SEO and to start implementing those tips into your own website for better rankings.

Till next week, happy days!

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The Versatile Blogger Award

I usually post on Saturdays, but this is a different and special kind of post.

I have been nominated by the amazing Erin Goddard (Baby Steps) to receive the Versatile Blogger award. And I must say it is such a joy and an honor to be recognized by your fellow bloggers! So, thank you so much for this, Erin!

Erin’s blog has some out-of-the-box ideas for co-parenting and growing together as a couple and a family. She is also the nicest and kindest (and probably the smartest, given her love for math) person you will ever meet. So, make sure to check her blog out!

About the award

The Versatile Blogger award is a way of bringing recognition to bloggers who create versatile, inspirational, and enjoyable content. When nominating a blogger, you put into consideration the effort they put into the writing and the uniqueness of the subjects covered.

Rules of the award

  • If you are nominated, you have been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.
  • Include a shout-out to the blogger who nominated you with a link to their blog.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 10-15 blogs/bloggers that you have recently discovered or follow regularly for the Versatile Blogger award.

7 facts about me

I am not entirely sure what kind of facts I should be posting here. So, here is some random stuff that no one really needs to know.

  1. I know this can cause a lot of frowns, but I do not like cats. (And I’m being delicate in my expression here when I say “don’t like”; my feelings are quite more aggressive than that.)
  2. I was born left-handed, but not anymore.. (thanks, Mom!)
  3. Arabic is my first language. (Adding this because I’m not sure if it’s obvious or not.)
  4. I have never been on a train.
  5. I love food. All of it. (But I can’t eat most of it because I have one angry stomach here!)
  6. This may or may not cause more frowns, but I haven’t watched any (an episode or a film) of the following: Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, Star Wars, or Star Trek.
  7. Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch.

List of 10 bloggers I nominate

The blogs below (in no particular order) are ones I genuinely enjoy reading and believe they so deserve to receive such nomination. They are run by bloggers who are obviously passionate about creating the best content for their blogs.

So, without further ado, here are the nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award..

(And the Oscar goes to…)

Sorry, this post is sharing more facts than it should.

Nominees!

Again, thank you Erin!

Till the next awards season, happy days!