Month: November 2016

Is it True That Long-Form Blog Posts Perform Better?

As a blogger, you spend an enormous amount of time creating content. And you want that content to succeed, right? If you’re like most bloggers, though, it’s possible that you’ve fallen into a “comfort zone” where you’re consistently publishing content of a particular length.

And if this length is shorter than about 2,000 words, you may be damaging your conversion and engagement rates. There’s a lot of evidence on the web right now to support that long-form content performs better than short-form content.

Here’s everything you need to know about long-form versus short-form content performance, and why you should be publishing more of the former.

Why People Think Short-Form is the Answer

Today, people cruise the web on tiny screens, and it doesn’t seem like anyone has time to sit down and slog through a Moby Dick-sized blog any longer. That said, it makes sense that people believe short-form content is the answer. After all, what’s not to love?

While short-form content may be easy for readers to digest, it doesn’t convert very well. Unless, however, you have a site with an incredibly high DA score.

If you don’t, short-form content won’t cut it, and you’ll find yourself falling short.

Long-Form Blogs and Google SERPs

If you evaluate the top ten results in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), you’ll notice that the average content length of content that ranks in the #1 position is 2,450 words. For proof, check out this SerpIQ graphic on the topic:

serp-graph

As the content on the graph moves from the number one to the number ten position in Google, you can see that the corresponding length drops, as well.

So why does long-form content perform so well? The answer is simple. In the last several years, the number of customers searching Google with long-tail keywords has increased, and people have begun to turn to the web as a primary source of information.

While some Google users do want short, fast content, others want in-depth, ultra-informative material. What’s more, Buzzsumo reports that there is 16x more content out there with less than 1,000 words than content with more than 2,000 words.

Since long-form content has less competition at the outset, it’s likely to rank better and find its niche of users easier than short-form content, which already saturates the web.

How to Rank With Long-Form Content

So you’ve decided you want to create more long-form blog content, but what’s next? Follow these tips to develop successful, long-form posts your readers will love:

– Format your long-form accordingly. Long-form content, when improperly formatted, can feel like a brick of text that users can’t access. Keep it accessible by formatting it accordingly. Use headers, subheaders, bulleted lists, and links to break the content up, and keep your sentences and paragraphs short.

– Include images. One of the best aspects of long-form content is that it provides all the room you need to include graphics and visuals. These graphics and visuals enhance the content and make it more valuable for readers, thus helping it rank higher. To keep your long-form content on the up and up, include visuals throughout.

– Keep it longer than 1,500 words. Content that is 1,500 words or longer will perform best. Bonus points if you invest in content that is 2,000 words or longer.

– Make it a list. To keep your long-form content skimmable, format it into a list post that readers can skim easily.

The Verdict: Creating Long-Form Content Will Help You Rank

While long-form content takes more time, energy, and effort to produce than short-form content, it’s an excellent way to help your site rank and gain more visitors. By creating more long-form content, you can easily distinguish yourself as a content leader and enjoy a higher ROI from the material you publish.

Dave is the CEO of Dave’s Computers Inc. He writes a weekly column for Daily Blog Tips covering the best tips about blogging and Internet marketing. You can also find him on LinkedIn.

Original post: Is it True That Long-Form Blog Posts Perform Better?

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3 Things to Know Before Getting into Ecommerce

You might think that since most of the hard stuff is complete — initial funding, cash flow and inventory management— that you are prepared to open up an online retail business. There might even be some semblance of a budding marketing plan to drive traffic to your neck of the World Wide Web. While ecommerce is a great industry to get into with huge growth across the country (the United States Census reported a 14.6 percent increase in overall ecommerce sales from 2014 to 2015), and world (2015 worldwide sales totaled $1.55 trillion and expected to grow to 3.4 trillion by 2019), there are some things that you might not be prepared for before you launch your new online business.

Customers Aren’t Always Nice
Working in the retail industry is difficult — whether it’s in-store or online there will always be someone out to get something for cheaper than what you’re offering.

For example, sometimes as an online retailer, you will have clearance products that will sell at discounted prices. This is a great way to clear out inventory as well as make your customers happy. However, imagine that someone bought one such clearance item from your store, and upon shipping, it was determined that the item was not fit for sale. You check around other similar retailers or manufacturers, but everyone of this item is sold out and gone. This is the nature of clearance.

If you do not have a healthy customer service plan to deal with the backlash caused by not being able to provide your customers with the products that they have paid for, you might be in trouble.

Many of the best ecommerce site builders, like Shopify, will have customer management services built-in to their platform, which makes dealing with difficult customers, returns or exchanges a breeze.

Carrier Services Sometimes Lose Packages
According to their website, UPS delivers 18.3 million packages and documents a day. Now, they are the number one delivery service in the United States, but 18 million packages and documents is a lot of stuff – it would be crazy to think that none of those items were ever misplaced.

If you want to run an entirely internet-based ecommerce store, you are going to experience these lost parcels, and you should have a contingency plan for it — or else people are going to get mad.

The best way to be prepared for this is to consider all aspects of the shipping process. It takes a long time from the purchased item to go from your warehouse to the customer. The item has to travel through various vendors, shipping providers and technologies, whether you know about it or not.

While FedEx and UPS may be the biggest names in shipping, they may not be the most affordable. Drop shippers and other third-party logistics can help keep your shipping costs low. Drop shipping is when a retailer sends a customer order to a manufacturer that then ships the product out from their warehouse. This is a particularly attractive option for many ecommerce businesses that want to boost sales, while not needing to increase the amount of space needed for their own inventory.

Be Explicit with Your Terms of Use
Of all the things you will need to know, this one may or may not be the most surprising depending on how much faith you hold in the average consumer’s ability to pay attention. You will need to be crystal clear on all labelling of products, offers, and policies. Many, if not all of your customers, will skim over the material and misunderstand what you mean.

For example, let’s say you are a small business that sells designer hats, and you want to run a contest that will showcase all the cool places people have worn your brand. You have your prize, you have your submission forms – next, you need to have blatant and explicit verbiage explaining that the contestant must be wearing your particular brand in order to be eligible for the prize. Otherwise, you are likely to sift through a veritable mountain of disqualifying submissions.

You are going to learn a lot when you open up an online business, so be sure to prepare yourself as best as you can!

Original post: 3 Things to Know Before Getting into Ecommerce

5 Joomla Tips To Improve Your SEO

Search engine optimization is has become so prevalent that it can’t be considered a matter of choice anymore. With the number of websites indexed by search giants rapidly growing, the competition to have your website at the top of the search results has grown fiercer. Bringing in traffic, specifically, unique visitors who are looking precisely for the products and services you are offering can only be accomplished by optimizing your web page. Couple that with analytics and you’ll see the first real results in a matter of few months.

Unlike similar content management systems and web tools available out there, Joomla has a set of tools designed specifically for website optimization. Bear in mind that this is not something that can be accomplished and mastered overnight and the optimization itself can prove itself to be somewhat expensive. This is why it may be a good choice to consult a professional before diving head first into search engine optimization, some practices are easy to handle, but some will require first-hand knowledge and experience on the subject.

1. Choosing the right type of server

Before you start fiddling around the serial configurations, check if the server you’re using is suitable for hosting a Joomla-based website. Using a Mac on an IIS Windows server can only result in lost equipment and the fear that the rewrite modules just won’t work well with the URL rewriting becomes a reality when installing and configuring Joomla. This is why choosing the right server is so important and Joomla generally works best on an Apache webserver with a mod_rewrite module integrated beforehand.

2. Sitemap installation

Sitemaps are used by to update search engines whenever you add new content to your website. The most important thing about sitemaps is to keep them up to date with your website structure, because and old sitemap cannot truthfully represent the current organization of your menu items. One of the best and the simplest way of creating a sitemap is to use an extension called XMap. This tool takes only second to create an XML map in a matter of seconds. All there is to do is to submit it to Google’s and Bing’s search consoles.

3. Submitting to search engine consoles

Submitting the sitemap you generated previously to Bing and Google webmasters, or search consoles is a very useful practice. This allows you to monitor the changes in your search engine optimization practices and provides you with invaluable information regarding your website, such as links, search queries, keywords and even crawl errors. Using these services provided by search engines, in conjunction with good SEO practices guarantees that your website will be indexed properly and you don’t lose any potential visitors.

4. Optimizing texts and images

This is done best using Joomla’s content management interface by adding specific META descriptions to all of your pages. Most people tend to forget this, but making a habit out of it can really make a big impact when it comes to placing your website at the top of the search results page. The descriptions themselves should not be longer than 130 characters. Furthermore, remember no never use the default image title and to add a keyword-abundant alternative short description with a well thought out title instead. Avoid using duplicate META tags as they can have a negative effect on the optimization and overall ranking of the individual web pages.

5. Creating SEO-friendly URLs

More often than not, search engines are more likely to index clearly readable URLs. Unindexed URLs simply won’t show in the results where the indexed ones get the chance of being put in the top of the search results page. Changing the old URL into a search engine friendly one is a fairly simple task once you know how to. All you need to do is log into Joomla’s administration panel, go into Global Configuration area and enable the following:

– User URL Rewriting
– Search Engine Friendly URLs

The first option addresses the issue of removing the /index.php/ part of the URL. This action requires using the .htaccess file and the mod_rewrite module used in Apache. The second option is responsible for removing the random characters generated in the URL and replacing them with the menu item list set up by the user. If you have just started using it, the experts strongly recommend leaving the rest of the options in the Global Configuration area on default settings.

It’s worth mentioning that no SEO job is complete without getting links from web pages that are in the same, or at least similar industry profession as you. Developing a good link building strategy allows your site to be picked up by search engines and being ranked at the top of the search results page. Additionally, make sure to provide the users with relevant content they could comment on and share with their friends. No matter how good your website may be optimized, nothing beats well-thought out content.

Author bio: John Stone is a Joomla developer on Nirmal.com.au. Through years of experience as a, he became a devout believer in the notion that form should always follow function and that developing the ability to think outside of the box is a prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur.”

Original post: 5 Joomla Tips To Improve Your SEO

Check Out This Chrome Extension to Network Like a Boss!

As you probably know, networking is essencial, regarless of your professional field. Whether you are a lawyer, teacher, corporate employee, freelancer or business owner, having a large and active network of contacts can make or break your career.

Back in the day networking was all about going to conventions and trading business cards. Today, thanks god, things are digital. Instead of trading business cards you add people on social networks, which include Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to get started.

With me so far? Good.

The problem is that the vast majority of business communications take place over email. Even people who still like to trade business cards will only include their email addresses and phone numbers on the business cards. That is a problem because while email helps for networking, it’s not ideal.

Networking is also about getting to know the other person, her interests and areas of expertise, her latest career moves and so on. Likewise you want to show to your network of contacts your interests, areas of expertise and so on.

Social networks are the ideal platform for that, but so far we only have the email of our professional contacts.

Is there a solution? Yes, and it’s a clever Google Chrome extension called ManyContacts.

manycontacts

I say clever because it’s a very simple yet quite useful idea: simply visit a web page and it will recognize all the emails there and display their respective social networks. For instance, if you open your gmail, it will display the social networks of all your contacts. Sweet huh? Here’s a video showing how it works:

Now get off your bu** and start adding those contacts to your social networks. If you have a lot of them, do so in daily batches (20 or so every day). It’s a bit of work now, but it probably will pay its dividens in the future!

Original post: Check Out This Chrome Extension to Network Like a Boss!

Color Theory and Blog Design: What You Need to Know

While the heart of blogging is writing, don’t assume that you can develop a successful blog without paying attention to strategic design. A good design attracts visitors and increases the likelihood that they’ll stay on your site for longer periods of time. Specifically, you should be paying attention to the role of color theory in blog design.

Why Color Matters

In order to understand the power of color, let’s pause and think about the analogy of a flower garden. A flower garden is designed to attract people. But if there are no bright colored flowers, will anyone even pause to experience it? “In order to transform a garden, it needs vibrant colors that can capture the attention of all those who walk past,” points out Tammy Sons of Garden Delights.

The same holds true for a blog. A blog is designed to attract people, but unless there are visual and psychological triggers reeling people in, nobody is going to pause to read and share the content. And much like a flower garden, color plays a role in this attraction.

Three Things You Need to Know

Whether you realize it or not, color matters. Great blog content is important, but you won’t have any readers if you don’t visually and psychologically entice them. Here are a few specific things you should know about color theory and blog design:

1. Different Colors Have Different Meanings

Color isn’t something we spend a lot of time thinking about, but the world’s most successful brands spend thousands of hours stressing over getting the perfect pigmentation in their color schemes. Why? Because they realize different colors have very different meanings.

Whereas blue promotes stability, confidence, and trust, red ignites feelings of passion, power, and desire. Green is usually associated with the great outdoors or money, while purple is the color of royalty and luxury.

Depending on your blog’s aim, your current color scheme may be helping or hindering your goals. Studying color theory and understanding the meanings behind different colors and how they interact with one other in a color theme can help you tremendously.

2. There’s Value in Negative Space

It’s easy to fall for the assumption that more color is always better, but as you’ve probably discovered from visiting other blogs and websites, the minimalist approach is popular right now. Particularly, there’s value in negative space.

“The use of negative space plays a huge role in usability,” designer Rob Bowen says. “Users not only need to be able to comfortably read all of the content on the site, but they also need to be able to easily find what they are looking for.” Negative space – which is most often white, but doesn’t have to be – creates division and simplifies the user experience for the reader.

3. Colors Draw People In

We often think about color in terms of big picture schemes and layouts, but color also plays a role in the details. For example, colors are frequently used to bring attention to CTA buttons, subscription forms, or other conversion-based elements. As you can see from this oft-cited study, simply changing a button from one color to another can have a significant impact on conversion rates. Keep this in mind as you make color decisions in these areas.

Make Color a Priority

As you can see, color shouldn’t be an afterthought. In terms of blog design, it needs to be made a priority. If you respect the role that color theory plays in influencing the human brain, then you stand a much better chance of developing a vibrant blog that reaches people on many different levels.

Original post: Color Theory and Blog Design: What You Need to Know

5 Psychology-Backed Design Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Blog Engagement

Why do people read blogs?

In some cases, they’re looking for information. In others, they’re looking for things to buy. Sometimes, they just want to be entertained.

No matter what the case may be, one thing is certain: when people find that perfect blog, they stick with it – coming back day after day to read, comment, and share.

The question is, though, how you become that blogger. If you’re looking for ways to boost your blog engagement and entice your readers to stick around, the answer may be as simple as tapping into your readers’ psychology to make your entire site more compelling from the inside out.

Read on.

How Your Blog’s Design Affects its Message

Let’s face it: people don’t base their opinions of your blog solely on the words that you use. Instead, they look at the whole picture: the layout, formatting, and design of your blog, as well as the content.

While most people assume they don’t need a beautiful blog, a beautiful blog layout can provoke powerful subconscious reactions in your customers. In addition to the fact that a well-designed blog looks more professional, it’s also more compelling, which makes readers more likely to convert.

Want a Bigger Blog Engagement (Starting Right Now)? Try These 5 Science-Backed Design Tips for

So, you want to offer the whole package – amazing content and a beautiful layout, but how do you do it? According to Neil Patel, the best approach is through psychology.

Here are five science-backed design tips that you can apply to your blog, starting right now.

1. Choose your colors according to the emotions you want your visitors to feel

Did you know that color has the potential to influence mood? Some of the biggest bloggers out there know this. Take a look at Moz, for example, which uses a color scheme of blue and white:

moz-screenshot

There’s also HubSpot, which relies on orange, white and gray:

hubspot-screenshot

According to various scientific studies, colors have a large impact on the way people think and feel. For example, one experiment conducted in Glasgow, Scotland found that adding blue-tinged (a color associated with peacefulness) streetlights to crime-prone areas decreased the crime rate. Other studies have found that red increase the rapidity and force of a person’s reactions.

With this in mind, consider what emotions you want to convey through your blog design before you choose your color scheme. To help you decide, here’s a breakdown (courtesy of Robert Plutchik’s color wheel) of various colors and the emotion associated with them:

color-wheel-screenshot

2. Use images to make your readers have a physical reaction

Visuals are powerful, and they make a large difference in the way people perceive blogs. While people remember only 10% of what they read, they remember 65% of what they see. The reason for this is simple: a picture is worth a thousand words and a quick glimpse at an image can fill us with emotions ranging from happiness to anguish, and everything in between.

With this in mind, make the most of visuals to evoke a profound physical reaction from your readers.

For a company that does this well, look no further than Airbnb, which features stunning images on both its homepage:

airbnb-screenshot-1

And its blog:

airbnb-screenshot-2

While visuals can make your blog more impactful, there are a few rules for using them. Follow these tips for best results:

  • Keep visuals relevant to your audience. If an image is of a place, it should look like the place you serve customers or live. If an image is of people, they should resemble your target audience. The more relevant an image is, the more compelling it will be.
  • Visuals must be high-quality. Low-quality visuals will damage your website more than they improve it. With this in mind, seek out high-quality stock images, or hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your products or goods.
  • Visuals must serve a purpose. If you’re going to use visuals, make sure they add something to your site. Customers don’t want to navigate random visuals, nor should they have to.

3. Use fewer social sharing buttons to increase shares

Sound like a counterintuitive bit of advice? It’s not. The reason behind this is a little thing called Hick’s Law. Hick’s law states that, when people have more choices, they take longer to make decisions. In some cases, the volume of stimuli can be so overwhelming that a person won’t make any decision at all. If that person is on your blog, and the decision is whether (and how) to share your content, that’s bad news.

Take Hick’s Law into consideration on your site by decreasing the number of social share buttons associated with your blog posts. Not convinced this will help promote engagement? Neil Patel reports that, when he increased the number of share buttons on Quick Sprout from 3 to 5, his shares declined by 29%!

With this in mind, look at the breakdown of your share percentages according to site. If there’s a button that’s not performing well, remove it and give your readers a break.

Check out how HubSpot does this on one of their recent blogs:

hubspot-blog-screenshot

4. Make the design of your CTA stand out

The human brain loves symmetry. Multiple studies have shown how symmetrical patterns like the markings on a butterfly’s wings or the patterns of a coral reef fish are pleasing to the mind. As a marketer, though, you can take this desire for symmetry and use it to your advantage by making one key component of your website asymmetrical.

That’s right.

Because the brain is so drawn to symmetry, making something asymmetrical serves to grab a person’s attention, without making them angry or alienating them in the process.

For an example of a CTA that does this well, check out how Neil Patel uses a very asymmetrical CTA button at the top of his page:

neil-patel

While the color scheme of the button (orange, like other elements on his page) allows it to blend in, its size, shape, and font are asymmetrical when compared to the other menu items. This draws more attention and, presumably, more clicks.

To bring this to your site, design the most important component of your site (your CTA button, your “contact us” button, etc.) to stand out by making it a different size, shape, or format than everything else.

5. Be interesting by being interested

People crave emotional connection. In 1995, scientists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary published a paper titled “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation.” The paper stated that people need positive human interactions and long-term care and concern from other people to be happy.

To apply this tactic to your marketing, seek to develop emotional connections with your readers on your web page. Why? When readers are emotionally connected to your brand, they’re more likely to engage with your content, share your material, and return to your site again and again.

With this in mind, here are several tips for developing an emotional relationship with your readers:

  • Be interested in them. Poll your readers for their experience, ask for their input, and feature their photos, videos, and reviews on your site. All of these things show that you care for your readers and that they play an active role in your business.
  • Tell stories. Stories are an elemental thing, and people find them comforting. Because of this, bring storytelling elements into your brand story, blog content, and social media.
  • Respond to their questions, concerns, and needs – and do it fast! To build a long-term relationship, engage with your customers via blog comments, social media, and reviews. Be advised that 39% of customers expect companies to reply to complaints and inquiries on social media within 60 minutes, though, so it pays to be snappy!

A More Engaging Blog Starts Here

Writing a blog you can be proud of starts with knowing how to use psychology to make it as engaging as possible. Whether your blog is for personal or business use, these five science-backed tips will contribute to making it compelling, unique, and engaging for your audience.

Dave is the CEO of Dave’s Computers Inc. He writes a weekly column for Daily Blog Tips covering the best tips about blogging and Internet marketing. You can also find him on LinkedIn.

Original post: 5 Psychology-Backed Design Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Blog Engagement

First 20 DBT Readers Get Free Enrollment to this SEO Program

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, involves optimizing both external and internal factors on a website to make sure that its pages and content will rank as high as possible on search engines like Google. Ranking high on search engines, in turn, will send a lot of organic (i.e., natural and free) traffic to the website, and getting traffic is the most important factor of any website.

For that reason SEO is a field that is always on the rise. From 1995 to 2005 the Web grew a lot, and those who knew how to promote websites and draw web visitors made a lot of money, either for themselves or by providing consulting services for companies and organizations.

In 2005 blogs started to become popular, and content marketing emerged as a very efficient marketing strategy. Those who knew how to craft engaging content and rank that content well on search engines made a lot of money.

Lately, the explosion of smartphones and mobile apps created yet another wave of technology change, and gain SEO was in high demand to be able to rank and promote those mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites.

If you want to get a piece of this pie and learn about SEO, or if you already work in the field but would like to polish your skills, read on!

Where To Learn About SEO

There are basically two ways to learn about SEO. You can start building websites and tweaking them to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of getting traffic (gathering information online to guide your strategies). This first option works, but will take a lot of time (sometimes years) before you start seeing significant results.

The second options is to go through a training program. With this option you will spend a bit of money to get a structured learning environment which will speed up the learning curve for you.

seo-foundations

One place you can go for such training is Simplilearn, an online platform that offers hundreds of online courses and programs, from SEO to Android development, from Data Science to Analytics. Search online and you’ll verify that their courses are very well regarded.

Step 1: SEO Foundations

One of their most popular programs is called SEO Foundations. Danny Drover, former lead SEO of MOZ (one of the most respect SEO sites and platforms in the world), is the advisor for the course and help to structure its lessons and content. Here are the main features:

– 2+ hours of high quality eLearning content
– Covers SEO measurement, design and architecture
– Quizzes to measure your progress
– Topics about algorithm updates and SEO changes
– Simulation exams

The program will give you a solid foundation about the SEO, and you’ll be able to use what you’ll learn to make sure that your blogs and websites will rank well and receive a lot of organic traffic.

How To Get This Program Free

The program usually costs $99, but the Simplilearn guys sent us an email and offered free enrollment to the first 20 DailyBlogTips readers. Sweet huh?

If you want to guarantee your spot, simply leave a comment below. The first 20 comments will receive the prize. Keep in mind that comments go through moderation, so your comment might not appear online immediately. The date and time when you comment are registered, though, so if you are one of the first 20 you will receive the prize even if your comment gets stuck in the moderation queue.

Step 2: Advanced SEO Certification Course

Once you complete the SEO Foundation course (hopefully free of charge from the promotion above!) you can take it to the next level with the Advanced SEO Certification Course. This course is was also elaborated by Danny Drover, former lead SEO of Moz, and it was designed to give you all the tools and information you need to optimize your own websites or provide SEO consulting services for other people and businesses.

Here are the main features:

– 25+ hours of high quality eLearning
– Downloadable workbooks and exercises
– Topics about on-page and architecture best practices
– Online progress quiz and practice tests
– Comprehensive and up-to-date content

After taking this course you’ll receive a certificate that is trusted by several companies, including HP, Microsoft and Salesforce.

Who Should Learn About SEO?

In my opinion pretty much every professional should learn about SEO these days, because every single business out there needs a strong online presence. Suppose you are a secretary for a law firm. If you learn about SEO you will be able to optimize and promote the website of your firm, thus increasing its traffic and the number of clients that will come through the website. Guess what, once your bosses see the results they are probably going to give you a raise or a promotion.

Other examples of people who could use SEO to positively impact their careers:
– Freelance Writers
– Doctors, Dentists
– Small business owners
– Lawyers
– Private teachers and tutors
– Marketing professionals
– Consultants

Original post: First 20 DBT Readers Get Free Enrollment to this SEO Program

5 Tips to Bring Your Physical Business into the Digital Age

When you run a local bakery or manage a small team of professional plumbers, your customers are your neighbors. It makes sense to advertise your business using the phone book, newspaper advertisements, billboards and yard signs, reaching potential customers as they go about their daily lives. But what does your business’s web presence look like? And are you really making the most of mobile technology, or are you beholden to your corner office? If you feel like it’s time to step up your game, here are 5 easy ways to bring your business into the digital age:

1. Build a responsive website.

When was the last time your business website got a makeover? If it was before smartphones surged in popularity, it is high time to reinvest in your website. You need a responsive website to reach most of your customers in the digital age. That means your site needs to respond or adjust to different screen sizes and devices. Users are no longer browsing solely on desktop or laptop computers. Now tablets and smartphones are used just as often for accessing the Internet. Viewing a non-responsive site on a mobile device involves, at best, having to incessantly scroll side-to-side in order to read the full text. At worst, a non-responsive site will be rendered utterly useless on a mobile device, causing your visitors to move on to a competitor’s site. You can use this tool to check if your site is responsive and mobile friendly.

2. Create profiles on major social networks.

Having a website is just one of many ways you can digitally connect with your customers. Customers will expect to be able to follow your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Take full advantage of the opportunity to stay top-of-mind with your customers by regularly appearing in their so-called newsfeeds. Post company updates such as special deals or product launches, or conduct market research on all of these platforms. To gain a significant following, share fun content and host giveaways to increase the number of shares and followers on each of your social media channels. Paid advertising channels are built-in features on most social networks these days, making it easier than ever to reach your target demographic with pay per click ads.

Keep in mind that there are many social media platforms these days, and not all of them are useful for every industry. For example, a B2C company many not find LinkedIn, a site aimed toward professional networking, to be useful for generating sales. However, LinkedIn is the perfect platform for B2B companies to find new clients.

3. Create a YouTube channel.

There’s no better way to demonstrate your business’s digital prowess than by maintaining a popular YouTube channel. Use professional videos to share how-to tips related to your industry, to introduce new products or to share some behind-the-scenes footage to help your customers feel more emotionally invested in the company. Videos offer boundless creativity, allowing your company’s values and vision to come to life. Explain key product features, publish product reviews or simply tell a story that showcases your product in a positive way. Whether your budget is large or small, there is a way for your business to harness the power of YouTube.

4. Migrate to digital phone and fax.

Digital phone services make it easy to manage your phone lines. Reroute calls, create phone menus, receive voicemails as emails, and more with a digital company phone. There’s no need to have a separate landline at your desk in addition to your personal cell phone, or to even have multiple cell phones. Instead, you can make outbound calls with your business number via an app that has a separate keypad. Any calls made via the app will display your business number on the recipient’s caller ID. Digital phone apps also offer all the conveniences you expect from your personal smart phone, such as easy access to missed calls and voicemails. A tool like Google Voice can also help you with some of these goals.

Similarly, digital fax services give you an opportunity to throw out the clunky fax machine and even get rid of your landline. You can easily send and receive faxes in the same way that you send and receive emails. Simply attach a document to an email and use the fax number in the “To” field followed by a domain extension provided by the digital fax service. The document will be printed on the recipient’s fax machine as usual. Likewise, you can receive faxes in your inbox, completely eliminating the need for a machine and the associated overhead costs, such as paying for a landline or purchasing extra ink and paper. And with smartphone-friendly apps like the eFax mobile app, you can send and receive important documents, such as contracts or invoices, to your clients on the go.

5. Use the Google Suite to run your business.

Google Suite, or G Suite, is an affordable package of online apps that are central to running a business. Give your business a polished feel from the inside out by creating company email accounts, integrating calendars across departments, and hosting virtual meetings with Google Hangouts. Get unlimited file storage with Google Drive, and make use of a range of creative applications to rival the Microsoft Office Suite: Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. G Suite also helps you build and manage a responsive website.

Once you have each of these 5 items checked off your to-do list, you will be well on your way to levelling up your business, reaching new customers and making record-breaking sales.

Original post: 5 Tips to Bring Your Physical Business into the Digital Age

Blog Bounce Rate: What it is and How You Can Reduce it

Your blog: you work hard on it.

It’s understandable, then, that you want people to interact with it.

For a blogger, nothing is more heartbreaking than knowing that nobody is reading your blogs– despite the fact that you’ve spent hours or days working on each piece.

Unfortunately, many bloggers find themselves in this exact situation!

Luckily, though, there’s something you can do about it. By understanding bounce rates, you can take proactive steps to lower yours – starting today.

What is a “Bounce Rate”?

A bounce rate is the number of readers who abandon your site after visiting one page. A high bounce rate is discouraging and bad for SEO. Because Google evaluates the behavior of users to determine how to rank your page, the search engine interprets a high number of “bounces” to mean that the page is low-quality.

With this in mind, decreasing your blog’s bounce rate is critical to ranking well.

How to Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate: 5 Fast Tips

If your blog’s bounce rate is higher than you’d like, follow these five tips to decrease it:

1. Make your blog posts easier to read

If your content is clunky, difficult to read, or formatted poorly, readers are going to leave. If you use WordPress, a plugin like Yoast SEO can help you format your content. For everyone else, here are some tips to get started:

  • Break up large chunks of content. Dense paragraphs are a reader’s worst enemy. To make your content user-friendly, break it into paragraphs of no more than 3-4 sentences.
  • Use subheaders. Subheaders are great for readability and SEO. To use them correctly, insert them into your text at 300-word intervals. Format them with the H2 tag and include relevant keywords.
  • Simplify your language. Simple language is easier to read. Ideally, every post you write should feature an 8th-grade reading level. If you’re not sure what an 8th-grade reading level looks like, enable the Flesch-Kincaid feature in Microsoft Word, or use an app like Hemingway.

2. Make your headlines irresistible

While 80% of people read headlines, only 20% read body copy. This means that the better your headlines, the higher the chances people will stick with your content rather than “bouncing” off of your page.

To make your headlines more exciting to readers, use action words, address the reader directly, and run your headline through a tool like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer before you publish it.

3. Limit the ads on your blog

According to HubSpot, 73% of users dislike online popup ads, and 91% believe that ads are more intrusive today than a few years ago. What’s more, Google announced earlier this year that it will start punishing sites that display disruptive pop-up and interstitial ads.

With this in mind, be careful with ads on your blog. If you’re going to show ads, stick with small banner ads at the top of the screen – the type that the user doesn’t have to click past before they can access your content.

4. Build out your link strategy

To make your blog more appealing, create a good link strategy. Ideally, you should have a healthy mix of internal links (links to your site or content) and external links (links to relevant third-party sources) in your content.

To use links correctly, attach them to relevant anchor text and use sources with a domain authority score of greater than 50.

5. Add visuals to your blogs

While adding a picture or a screenshot to your blog may seem simple, HubSpot reports that adding a colored visual to a piece of content boosts people’s willingness to read it by 80%. With this in mind, use in-depth screenshots, quality stock photos, or personal images to illustrate the key points of your blogs.

Smaller Bounce Rates Start Here

While decreasing your blog’s bounce rate may seem insurmountable, these five tips make it easy to get started. By making your content more readable, improving your headlines, limiting ads, building out your link strategy, and improving your content with visuals, it’s easy to slash your bounce rate and start reaping the benefits of lingering readers.

Dave is the CEO of Dave’s Computers Inc. He writes a weekly column for Daily Blog Tips covering the best tips about blogging and Internet marketing. You can also find him on LinkedIn.

Original post: Blog Bounce Rate: What it is and How You Can Reduce it

5 Ways to Find Blog Design Inspiration Offline

Your blog’s design and layout is something that takes time, careful planning, and careful attention to detail. But have you ever paused to think about where you’re getting inspiration for your design? If you’re only copying other blogs, are you really doing anything unique? Instead, maybe you should turn your attention towards the offline world.

Five Places to Look for Inspiration

It may seem strange to look offline for design inspiration, but remember that you’re trying to stoke your creativity – not mimic what everyone else is doing. When we study other web design projects, we find it difficult to look deep into them and see what’s really happening. Instead, our natural inclination is to copy what they’re doing. However, when you study other artistic mediums, you’re able to look at them for what they are.

With that being said, here are a few specific offline places you should look for web design inspiration.

1. Product Packaging

Believe it or not, you can gain a lot by studying product packaging. You don’t even have to leave your desk to perform this little exercise. Look at the various items in your office and study the various things they do. Notice how they deal with folds, use different textures, and combine colors to emphasize particular elements.

Not getting good vibes from the product packaging you have on hand? Feel free to browse the web for some unique selections – such as these. How can you implement similar techniques in web design?

2. Store Windows

“With the emergence of online retail, shop windows are under increased pressure to appeal to potential customers. This pressure has generated tremendous amounts of creativity in the field of shop window design,” Wix points out.

The design lessons you learn from store windows will prove especially valuable when it comes to designing ecommerce homepages. While the medium is different, the goal is the same: get people to view and purchase products.

3. Magazines and Catalogs

When was the last time you paid attention to magazine and catalog design? It’s actually a lot like web design. There’s a cover – the homepage – and an internal hierarchy of complimentary pages. There are also a wide variety of sizes, materials, colors, and layouts. Flip through those catalogs you have stacked up next to your desk and see what’s hiding within. Tear out pages you like and tack them up on your bulletin board. Before long, you may start to develop a new sense of style.

4. Art Galleries

There are art gallery aficionados and then there are those people who only visit an art gallery when they’re inadvertently confronted with one while on vacation. If you fall into the latter category, then you actually have more to gain from visiting a gallery.

When you walk into an art gallery, you’re confronted with a wide variety of displays – often consisting of sculptures, paintings, and drawings. Each has a unique flare and can send your wheels spinning.

5. Architecture

Finally, there’s much to be gleaned from studying different types of architecture. From the different materials used and the unique floor plans to the changing elevations and placement of windows and doors, every home is unique in its own right. As such, there’s much for you to learn.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Whether you’re suffering through a prolonged period of designer’s block or simply want to change things up, make sure you’re looking beyond web design for inspiration.

Specifically, turn your attention towards offline elements like product packaging, store windows, magazines and catalogs, art galleries, and architecture. You may be surprised by what you discover.

Original post: 5 Ways to Find Blog Design Inspiration Offline