My Favorite Podcasts: True Crime Edition

My Favorite Podcasts: True Crime Edition

There is a short list of things that I really love to talk about; affordable fashion, my cats, reality TV, traveling abroad and my favorite podcasts. I am constantly sharing on Instagram which podcasts I am listening to but I thought it was time that I dedicate a series of blog posts to one of my favorite subjects, podcasts!

I love all kinds of podcasts; pop culture, news, politics, business, basically any category you could name, I love it. There is one category of podcasts that I am especially drawn to and that is all things true crime. OOOhhhweeeeeee, I LOVE a true crime podcast! I am always listening to podcasts, when I am driving, working, working out, curling my hair, cooking dinner, ALWAYS!

My love for true crime podcasts started with the rest of the world when season 1 of Serial premiered in 2014. I was working in Santa Monica at the time and I would spend my entire lunch walking around Clover Park so I could listen to every last detail of every episode. I was so obsessed with  Serial that I would listen multiple times a week and it would never get old to me, I would eat every last detail up.

I love every true crime podcast, I go hard for My Favorite Murder because DUH!! but y’all already know everything about Karen and Georgia. So today, I am sharing my favorite true crime podcasts that have premiered in the last 12 months. Let me tell you, there have been some of the best-produced podcasts this past year. 

The Best True Crime Podcasts

Steve McNair: Fall Of A Titan

Before listening to this podcast I had NO idea who Steve McNair was (he played in the NFL) and yet I was immediately drawn to this case. This series reinvestigates the murder of Steve McNair and puts crucial details in a brand new light.

Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez & Football Inc

The Aaron Hernandez case was always so sad and fascinating to me, from the outside it appeared he it all. A further investigation into his upbringing and football career exposes a dark past.

Bear Brook

This podcast investigates all of the scary and awful details of a New Hampshire murder. This case changed the way murders will be investigated forever (think Golden State Killer).

Over My Dead Body

A podcast investigating a VERY Florida case, a messy divorce ends in murder, but what really happened? Please be warned that there is no true conclusion to this case!

The Dropout

This is the only non – murder podcast that made the list but it is still a true crime must listen! If you don’t know who Elizabeth Holmes is, google fast! The Dropout covers the rise and fall of Elizabeth’s company, Theranos. This podcast was a perfect listen for my husband and I because it was just enough drama for me and no one was murdered, which is important for him.

Broken Harts

This story and investigation left me completely SHOOK. An investigation into the death of two women and their 6 adopted children. This podcast really helped remind me that social media is JUST a highlight reel!

Case Closed

A deep dive into the disappearance of 19 year old Erin Corwin; this podcast has it all young love, an affair, a murder, and an arrest! If you love stories with an actual resolution, than this is for you!

Carruth

This investigative podcast exposes new details of one of the most shocking crimes in the sports world. This is the perfect podcast for the sports lover that wants to listen to a true crime podcast.

Next up on my favorite podcast blog series is: all things pop culture. Until then, what are you listening to? Whats your favorite podcast out right now?

Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog
Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog
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Blogging Basics: SEO For New Bloggers

Blogging Basics: SEO For New Bloggers

I recently asked on Instagram stories what blogging specific post my audience wanted to see, to my delight the response to my poll was SEO for New Bloggers. So here I am today sharing all of my SEO tips and tricks for beginners. Don’t get me wrong I am absolutely new to the blogging world so this post is just me sharing what I have learned along the way/ what hours of reading & research have taught me.

As a new blogger, I am sure you hear about SEO all the time but what is SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the practice of increasing the amount of traffic to your site by improving organic search results.

The goal of implementing an SEO strategy on your site is to improve your ranking on search engines. The search engines I get most of my blog views from are google and bing, this past month, over 50% of my blog views came directly from Google.

If you google, Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation Dupe, my blog post is the second result that comes up. While this might seem like a very specific thing to search, I get 1000 blog views to this post from Google a month! I’ve only been blogging a few months so 1000 views to a blog post a month from Google is a complete success to me!

SEO Success

SEO for New Bloggers: Increase your Blog Views

When first implementing an SEO strategy one of the most important aspects is Keywords. Keywords are at the core of SEO. A keyword is a word or phrase in your web content that makes it possible for people to find your site via search engines. The goal of SEO is to rank in the top search engine results pages for your chosen keywords.

Keywords For SEO

Finding Successful Keywords

Your SEO strategy should start with identifying successful keywords. These should be words and phrases related to your blog post topic that people are regularly searching for.

Lets’ go through my strategy when it comes to keywords. I start by writing down the most generic topic for the blog post I am working on. Say it is March and I am working on a blog post about dresses, the keywords I would start with would be “Spring Fashion”. That would be the overarching keywords then I would break it down to more specific phrases that further describe my blog post such as Spring Dresses, Spring Fashion For Women, Spring Fashion For Work, Spring Outfits, etc.

Now that I have my list of generic keywords all written down, I am going to take this list and start plugging it in to search engines as well as Pinterest. I am going to write down the top results from that search on my keyword sheet. This tactic should leave you with roughly 25 – 30 keywords and phrases. Later in this post, I am going to refer to this as my list of researched keywords and phrases.

Using keywords

Now that you have the keywords, there are some general guidelines on where to place the keywords. The most important places to place keywords are in the subject, the first paragraph, the several headings throughout your blog post, the ALT – Text ( I’ll talk more about this in a bit) and the closing paragraph.

One last thing about keywords, do not overstuff your content. Search engines are VERY smart and overusing keywords throughout your post does not work. Use your keywords naturally because a blog post overstuffed with keywords can get penalized.

Now that keywords are out of the way, lets talk about all the other basic guidelines that will increase your search engine ranking.

Write An Actual Blog Post!

Here’s my rant of the day – one of my biggest pet peeves is when I see someone has a new blog post and then I click to read their post and the post is a few words and a few pictures! If you have a committed Instagram following that clicks on everything you post then maybe a short post is okay but if you are looking to diversify your audience and increase your SEO, then that is absolutely NOT OKAY! Your blog post must be at least 300 words! At least! To increase your SEO you need more text, in the way of SEO, more text better SEO.

In addition to the length of the post, regularly posting new content is very important. If you want to take your blog seriously than you should be consistently writing new blog posts. Search engines love websites that add fresh content. To increase traffic to your blog, you should be writing at least one blog post a week.

Research Trending Topics

If the subject matter of your blog post is not regularly being searched for, then the chances of the blog post being seen on search engines is slim. I rely heavily on social sites (Pinterest & Instagram) to keep a pulse on which topics are trending and what topics will attract my intended audience.

Add SEO Plugins

There are tons of SEO resources out there, use them! I use WordPress as my hosting site and have installed Yoast to help with all things SEO. Yoast is a great resource that provides tons of recommendations that help increase my search engine ranking.

Provide ALT – Text For All Of Your Images

ALT text is a readable description of the images on your blog. When it comes to ALT-text, what I like to do is take a keyword from my researched list and use that as the ALT- text. Like I’ve stated before, I use WordPress for my blog and they make it very easy to change the ALT -text on my images.

Beyond ALT- Text, make sure that all file names are also SEO friendly. Change your generic file names (such as IMG22545.jpg) to a keyword from your researched list or a short text describing what it is. If your keyword is a phrase, use hyphens to separate the words (hyphens are read as spaces on search engines).

This is the very simple, basic elementary introduction to SEO. Take these tips and implement them into your next blog post and let me know the results, I would love to see/ hear your results!

I am working on a bit more advanced level SEO post and can’t wait to share that because I have a lot to say about long tail keywords and audience behavior.

Blogging and techniques that increase my blog views is something I am very passionate about so if you are ever looking for someone to chat all things blogging, I would love to be your girl.

Hat On The Map | Lifestyle and Fashion Blog

Amazon Fashion Haul: Last Minute Holiday Outfits

Amazon Fashion Haul: Last Minute Holiday Outfits
Casual Winter Outfits

Sweater Dress | Boots

Earlier this year, I started doing a monthly Amazon fashion haul and it has been such a hit! I search Amazon up and down and purchase about 10 pieces of the best quality, affordable pieces from Amazon. Well,  my December Amazon haul might have been my favorite haul thus far. This order has brought my favorite new winter fashion staples.

Can searching for fashion on Amazon be a chore? Yes, you must search and search some more but Amazon has some really cute items! I am able to find the exact pieces all the popular online boutiques have but on Amazon. The best part is, these pieces are much more affordable on Amazon.

The theme of the December Amazon haul is “cute outfits for a fun night out with your friends from high school”. Who doesn’t want to look their best when they run into the cute boy you sat behind in geometry?  During the holiday season, there are always so many casual meet-ups and a new, cute outfit is exactly what is needed for those nights out.

Holiday Outfits

Sequin Mules | Faux Leather Skirt | Star Sweater

Last week, I did an Instagram try on session of this December haul and that  is saved under my highlights on Instagram.

Okay, lets get to the fun winter fashion.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hello, Nice To Meet You!

Today is my 25th blog post (wow, that happened fast!) and I’ve never given a proper introduction! I was so excited to get relevant content out that I forgot to introduce myself, also why is writing about yourself so awkward? If you want to really get to know me follow me on Instagram.

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My name is Heather Townsend, my initials are HAT and that’s been a life long nickname. Someday I plan on changing my last name to my married name but I really love Townsend and my HAT initials.

I’ve been searching for a creative outlet that I could control the speed and content. I’ve spent my career working on marketing teams for a myriad of industries but working on this blog has greatly increase my digital marketing and SEO knowledge. It’s crazy how much more you learn and invest in something when you are wholeheartedly passionate about it.

Instead of writing a traditional about me I spent my time writing 10 fun facts that help explain who I am, my passions and my real loves. It was still hard and SO awkward.


I’m obsessed with Hanson. Yes, that Hanson. I’ve traveled many miles, stood in long lines and waited many hours to see them. When I got married we used lots of Hanson songs; our first dance, my father/ daughter dance and the cake cutting song was all Hanson. The love is real.

We just moved back to California from Birmingham, AL. I was skeptical about living in the south but I loved it so much. I would move back tomorrow if I could, miss it so dang much!

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The Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, AL

My favorite wine is Sauvignon blanc from the Marlborough Valley, it’s so dang delicious. We based our honeymoon off a trip to the Marlbourgh Valley and I was not disappointed. I’ve been to over 100 wineries; Ive toured vineyards in Marlborough Valley, Tuscany, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Napa Valley, Temecula and Edna Valley. Clearly, some of these regions are better than others.

I met my husband in a pool in New Hampshire while working at separate summer camps. It’s a great story I could dedicate 10 blogs to our super fun love story but I’ll save everyone. He’s from Florida and I’m from California so there were lots of coincidences that made it work.

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Engagement Photos in Birmingham, AL

Traveling is my favorite hobby. I’ve spent time in 45 of the 50 states. I used to travel a lot for work and it took me to those states that I probably wouldn’t have visited on my own. Still need to visit Alaska, Delaware, Ohio, Nebraska and Iowa. I only count the states that I have spent a night in or else my list would look a bit different.

I have a serious love for reality TV like not healthy love. My current favorites are basically everything on Bravo, I started watching Vanderpump Rules and Southern Charm this year and I’m obsessed. I try not to add new shows to my lineup, that’s why Im so late to those shows. I don’t watch the bachelor or bachelorette, nobody has time for all that

My sweet baby Penny is the love of my life. When we first moved to Birmingham I wanted a cat SO BAD! Mike agreed that if its meant to be it will be. Fast forward a few weeks and Mike called me while I was on an extended business trip to tell me he got a cat. I thought he was kidding but then he sent me pictures of the most precious baby I’ve ever seen. It was love at first look. Some horrible person dropped a litter of kittens off in the middle of the talledega woods and Penny was determined to find a family. She weighed less than 2 pounds and clawed and meowed at Mike until he took her home.

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My Sweet Calico Cat, Penny

I love the outdoors. I love it all; the desert, the beach, the mountains. Being outside is my favorite place to be. I spent a lot of my childhood going camping with my family, I didn’t appreciate it at the time but I know those trips crafted my love for the outdoors.

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On top of Half Dome, what an adventure.

I am obsessed with beauty and makeup products. My absolute favorite products are hydrating skin oils, sheet masks, full coverage foundation, a dark mascara, a great highligher and a bold lip.

I love, love, love to cook. One of my favorite things to do is make dinner while drinking a cold glass of sauvignon blanc and listening to my favorite podcasts. We eat little to no grains at home and very little meat so most of my meals consist of vegetables, beans, and maybe some cheese or other form of dairy.

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I’ve never met a cat that I didn’t fall deeply in love with.

Writing 10 facts about yourself should be easy right? but that was so hard.

 

The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

Another great post by my husband Mike. A geologist by day, adventure writer by night.

Enjoy.

-Heather


Do you ever go on a trip or an adventure and afterward think “wow, I can’t wait to do that again” but then never do? Yeah, we do that at least once a month. When we moved back to California earlier this year we put together a list of places and things that we have done once and have been dying to experience it again. 

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Adventures by Mike

Whether you have lived in California for years or are just visiting Southern California and are looking for a few untraditional things to do; this list is sure to please all types of adventurers.

Malibu Winery, Malibu, CA

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Malibu Winery

For  Heather’s  25th birthday we went with friends up to Malibu Wines, a winery and tasting room in the hills between Malibu and Thousand Oaks in Southern California.  The wines are from the Saddle Rock Winery, just next to the tasting room at Malibu Wines. The views in and around the tasting room are excellent, the wine is also pretty great.  They have some add-ons now including a wine safari that we really need to adventure back to enjoy.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, San Luis Obispo, CA

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Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort on top of Avila Hot Springs

This resort sits on top of the Avila Hot Springs, in a quiet, hidden, woodsy area.  Out the back of every room is a hot tub that is piped into the hot springs. You turn a valve and 100+ degree spring water flows directly to you.  Luckily the Sycamore Resort is located conveniently to the Edna Valley, a low key wine region in Central California. The Edna is a cooler wine region and produces lovely Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.  After a day of wine tasting, there is nothing better than unwinding with a bottle of wine, soaking up the ocean breeze, and hanging out in your own private hot tub.

Skiing/ snowboarding in the mountains and golfing in shorts the same weekend

California is one of the few places I know where you can legitimately accomplish this. for the overachievers, you can technically, do both in one day. I played golf on Friday in LA and snowboarded in Big Bear on Saturday.  Pick your favorite summer and winter activity, come to southern California, and accomplish both in the same weekend! (Best to plan in January or February).

Take a random Las Vegas road trip

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Las Vegas at night

Mostly a rite of passage (at least in my opinion), Las Vegas is so close but yet so far from the cities in Southern California.  Although we have been to Vegas dozens of times (literally dozens) this trip was one of my favorites. Heather and I planned the trip with another couple on a Friday night, left on a Saturday morning, and came home on a Sunday.  Next time you got a free weekend, head to Vegas for a spontaneous weekend of fun.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park – Behind the Scenes Safari

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Visit this cutie at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Heather likes zoos, has a serious affinity for large, wild animals. This safari park has special excursions that take you right up to the animals and give you a much different experience than a traditional zoo. The Safari Park is experienced via tram so its a great activity for all ages and all abilities.

What are some adventures that we need to add to our Southern California list?

Happy Adventuring!

-Mike

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