Month: April 2017

5 Costly Myths New Bloggers Too Often Believe

The Internet can serve as a double-edged sword of sorts. It provides valuable information and makes knowledge easily accessible with only a few swift strokes of the keyboard. But whenever massive knowledge becomes readily available with few if any restrictions or fact-checking mechanisms, it’s easy for false and inaccurate information to circulate.

Perhaps this is especially true when blogging enters the picture. A simple Google search for a basic blog-related topic will often yield millions of results. And although there’s likely plenty of useful truths in most blog posts, there are also lots of poor suggestions.

For example, you’ll readily encounter the following myths … and they can lead a new bloggers astray.

1. Keyword Stuffing is a Good SEO Practice

The tricky part about a lot of misinformation with regard to blogging is that it used to be true. But the people who share the information today don’t necessarily realize how obsolete it’s become. Keyword stuffing is a prime example.

As an article on the Green Residential blog states, “there’s no need to stuff your articles full of keywords. This is an outdated SEO tactic that can actually hurt your search engine rankings rather than help them. Simply using the keywords a couple of times in the article where they fit appropriately will help bring you search traffic.”

2. The More You Write, The Better

It used to be that short, 200- to 400-word blog posts were enough to get noticed by search engines. Then algorithms changed and long, 1500-word-plus articles became the norm.

Long posts are still valuable on blogs, but today length isn’t the defining metric for value. Writing more won’t automatically produce better results.

Quality is much preferable to quantity. You’d do better to write three high-quality, 1000-word entries a week than to churn out five low-quality, 1500-word posts every seven days. Focus on becoming a better writer, not on output.

3. Blogs Are Easy to Monetize

Once people realized you could make money from blogging, thousands of wannabe entrepreneurs flocked to this niche. The problem was that monetizing a blog is nowhere near as easy as industry gurus will try to assure you.

It’s certainly possible, but it requires lots of time and hard work. You won’t achieve success by being passive.

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge the challenges involved in developing a monetizing blog. The obstacles are many, and you’ll want to weigh each one before you get started.

4. If You Build it, They Will Come

Another story blogging gurus will tell you is that success is as simple as securing a domain name, using a website builder, and publishing regular content. This is another comforting myth.

It’s not as effortless as writing an online diary and waiting for people to crowd in. You’re going to have to develop a traffic acquisition strategy and work hard to funnel people to your pages, even if they’re good.

If you don’t, you’ll never get the results you want.

5. Traffic is the Most Important Metric

Because traffic acquisition is one of the largest challenges a blogger faces, it can be easy to start obsessing over traffic stats. But traffic, in and of itself, won’t make you successful.

In addition to getting and maintaining high traffic numbers, you need low bounce rates, high average time on site, and high conversion rates. Otherwise you could be doing nothing more than artificially inflating your stats and garnering quick yet worthless exposure.

Pay attention to website traffic, yes, but don’t focus on it at the expense of other vital metrics.

Due Diligence is Critical

If you’re a new blogger, you have to be very careful about whom you trust. Get your coaching only from experts who have firsthand knowledge and experience with blogging. This will ensure you set a strong foundation upon which to build and expand your blog.

Original post: 5 Costly Myths New Bloggers Too Often Believe

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6 Ways to Make Each of Your Blog Posts More Engaging

What’s the most fundamental sign of blogging success? Engagement. When your blog is engaging, your readers will share your content, tell their friends, subscribe, and even make purchases. It’s one of the best things you can do for your blog or business.

According to research compiled by Impact Branding & Design, your blog content is the key to success. Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI result. When your blog posts are highly engaging, you’ll get more shares, likes, comments, and overall brand exposure.

Talking about writing engaging blog posts and actually writing them are two completely different things. If you’re in the market for more engaging content, here are some suggestions.

1. Target a Very Specific Audience

Blog posts can’t be engaging if they aren’t aimed at the right people. If you’re talking about retirement options or opening your own business to a group of teenagers, you won’t have a very captivate audience. Define your audience and direct your content towards them. If you have a specific idea for what you want your content to do, that’s even better.

Consider Nike’s goal to generate more loyal female customers. For several weeks, the majority of their new content distribution was aimed at women. They wrote articles, published news pieces, created videos, and shared memes about how adult women can be powerful and sexy. It was incredibly effective and reached a very narrow niche. Your blog content should do the same.

2. Presents Actionable Tips

The content should also give consumers an action plan. The topic should be unique and action-worthy so that readers know exactly what to do with it when they’re done. It should also provide some kind of value that they can bring into their everyday lives.

As an example of this, consider a blog post from the plumbing and home servicing company Legendary Home Services. It’s called “6 Toilet Hacks – Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger or a Plumber.” It uses multimedia and text to demonstrate six useful tips that the everyday consumer can complete themselves. When someone has a plumbing emergency, they’re much more likely to call a plumber who has proven their expertise in the past.

3. Embed Videos

According to research, videos attract about three times more links than text alone. Consider ways that you can incorporate videos into your blog posts. It’s not necessary that you create your own videos—you can often find useful video content from a non-competing source that will complement your blog posts.

However, if you create a few quality videos, it can help brand you as an expert. Consider the example blog post from Legendary Home Services. They use several videos of their own making to demonstrate different toilet fixes. This makes the post engaging and authoritative.

4. Offer a Comment Section and Engage Often

Many businesses disable the comment section on their blog because they don’t want controversy. However, that may be doing more harm than good. It’s important to let consumers express their opinions so that you know when your content is doing well and when it needs improvement.

It’s also a good opportunity for you to connect on a personal level with customers. When they make a comment, respond. It encourages future audience participation and makes individual customers feel valued.

5. Use Truly Great Photos

It might seem like skipping visuals is a great way to save time and money, but it can actually sabotage your content. Study after study shows that blogs need quality photos to drive engagement. About 40 percent of people say they respond better to visual content than plain text. What’s more, people retain 65 percent more information when there’s an image present.

If you can avoid it, don’t go with stock images. Take your own photos or purchase them from a quality photographer. Even if a photo isn’t perfectly edited, it will still get more engagement than a boring, free stock photo.

Buzzfeed’s blog is the perfect example of this. It’s one of the top-ranking blogs in the nation, and it relies on imagery. The images used are not always professionally done, but they aren’t stock photos, and their engagement shows the benefit of this tactic.

6. Practice Your Headlines and Hooks

The headline and first sentence should have the power to reel in the reader with ease. Your words should also be optimized for search to attract more organic attention. However, too many blogs ignore the importance of this step.

Research from Moz shows that 80 percent of readers don’t make it past the headline. What’s more, traffic has a 500 percent variance based on the headline. In other words, if you don’t have a catchy headline, you don’t have the potential to go viral.

Most people read the first paragraph before deciding whether or not they’ll continue. If the first paragraph is engaging, they may read the entire post instead of scanning it.

Scan the headlines of blogs like Buzzfeed, Hubspot, and Kissmetrics for examples of great openers. You can also get ideas from top-trending headlines on Google search. You’ll see the titles that have received the most attention in the past while also ranking for search term relevance. Overall, it’s a great way to improve your writing.

Learning to be a better writer is no easy task, but it’s vital for a strong content marketing strategy. With some time and an updated content strategy, you’ll see increased ROI and a stronger blog platform.

Original post: 6 Ways to Make Each of Your Blog Posts More Engaging

4 Tools and Gadgets Every Blogger Needs to Thrive

You could argue that productivity is the single most important thing to a blogger. If you aren’t able to maximize productivity, then you miss deadlines and squander opportunities to grow your brand. Part of being productive has to do with arming yourself with the best gadgets and devices available. Are you prepared?

The 4 Things You Need on Hand

Everyone is different. Some bloggers like to hole themselves away in a quiet spare bedroom and get work done in the early hours of the morning before the kids wake up. Others like to spend late nights at coffee shops churning out post after post. But regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall, the following tools and gadgets will help immensely.

1. A Mobile Hotspot

Nothing is more important to a blogger than a strong internet connection. And while you may spend most of your time in your home or in coffee shops that have free public Wi-Fi, there are times when internet isn’t readily available. Perhaps in the passenger seat on the way home from a weekend getaway or at the park with your kids.

In situations like these, it can be helpful to have an unlocked mobile hotspot. These devices give you internet access anywhere there’s a GSM network available (which is virtually everywhere). Plus, it’s totally secure!

2. Strategic Productivity Apps

Spend enough time in the App Store and you’ll get distracted by pointless games like Angry Birds and Tetris, but there are also plenty of helpful productivity apps that can help you get more done as a blogger.

Two of the apps you absolutely need are Dropbox and Pocket. You’re most likely familiar with Dropbox, but it simply lets you store files on the cloud so that they can be accessed from any of your devices. Pocket is an app that lets you save articles that you run across on your phone and want to read later. This is helpful when you have those moments where you think, “Where did I read that article?”

3. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Most bloggers need to get in the zone when they write. If there’s a lot of outside noise vying for your attention, then it can be challenging to get anything done. That’s why many bloggers swear by noise cancelling headphones.

The great thing about noise cancelling headphones is they don’t just play music – they actually block out the noise around you. So if you can’t work with music playing, you can simply turn on some white noise or an ambient soundtrack and start writing.

4. A Good Digital Camera

Stock photos are the worst. (Please tell us you don’t use them on your blog?) But if you can’t use stock photos, what are you supposed to do? It’s expensive to pay for images and there aren’t always royalty free images to satisfy your needs.

The best solution is to take your own images. But this means you need your own equipment. While the camera on your iPhone 7 is pretty good, a professional digital camera is even better. You can usually find a good quality camera for less than $750, which shouldn’t totally break the bank. And if you keep good records, you should be able to write it off come tax season.

Are You Prepared to Maximize Productivity?

Productivity is something that’s hard to grasp, but you know it when you have it. If you’re failing to maximize input and minimize distractions, then you need a little help. Some of the gadgets and devices highlighted in this article may help.

Give them a try and see what you think.

Original post: 4 Tools and Gadgets Every Blogger Needs to Thrive

4 Ways to Get Traffic To Your Site

Content might be king, as they say, but in that case, promotion is queen! Unless you get people to visit your site, your brilliant content will not get noticed by anyone, let alone read and shared!

Below you will find 4 methods you can use to increase the traffic to your website.

1. Organic Traffic

Search Engine Optimization is a must for any website owner. This involved making sure that both your internal (website structure, permalinks, mobile optimization, etc) and external (backlinks) factors are optimized to make sure that you get a lot of traffic from Google.

If you are new to SEO, start with The Beginners Guide to SEO, published by the folks at MOZ. It will give you all the information you need to understand how search engines work and how you can optimize your site to get good traffic from them.

2. Paid Traffic

Search Engine Optimization is a great long-term strategy, but sometimes you need traffic right now! In that case, purchasing traffic can be a good solution. Another advantage of paid traffic is that it is more flexible. Your SEO work will be attached to a certain website/niche, but with paid traffic you can get visitors today for your fitness website and tomorrow for your cooking site, in case you decide to change strategy!

Check providers like TrafficBot if you want to try this method. Many of them offer free trials, so that you can test the service without risk. Second, costs are not that high. For as low as $10 you can already get a decent amount of visitors to your site.

3. Social Media Traffic

People live in social media these days, so having a presence on those networks can deliver a lot of visitors to your site.

At the very minimum you want to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Other networks you can consider, depending on your niche, are Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Research on Google about the methods and strategies that work on each of these networks, and start appying them to your accounts.

4. Email Traffic

If you are not building an email list, you are wasting time and leaving money at the table! An email list is one of the best resources you can have to generate relevant traffic.

The number of visitors you will get from email marketing might not be as large as the other methods mentioned, but it will be much more relevant and will produce higher conversion rates, because you will have a much more direct and intimate conversation with those subscribers!

Email marketing providers like MailChimp let you host up to 2000 subscribers free of charge, so get started today!

Original post: 4 Ways to Get Traffic To Your Site

Google April Fools’ Day 2017

April Fools’ Day should probably be called Google Fools’ Day, since there are so many Google hoaxes.

Google Japan developed a “bubble wrap” version of the Japanese keyboard. “The Google Japanese input bubble wrap version is a keyboard that realizes ‘I want to press in my mind, I want to keep pressing’,” according to Google Translate.

Another product for your smart home? Meet Google Gnome, “a voice-activated, hands-free tool designed to make backyard living effortless. Need to know what animal is squeaking in your bushes? Stay still and ask Gnome what sound an opossum makes. Running low on birdseed? That’s where Gnome comes in. You can even use Gnome’s proprietary high-intensity lasers to trim your hedges into whatever shape your heart desires.”

The Chrome OS team brings the most popular mobile accessories to the Chromebook, which already blurs the line between mobile and desktop. Chromebook Groupie Stick, Chromebook Cardboard, Chromebook Workout Armband will soon be available in the Google Store. “To take advantage of beautiful, high-resolution displays, as well as great photo editing apps, we’ve carefully engineered the first Chromebook-sized selfie stick. Never again will you miss the perfect groupie.”

Haptic Helpers make VR even more immersive. “We’re taking VR to the next level with Haptic Helpers. Using a modest set of everyday tools, these VR virtuosos can simulate more than 10,000 unique experiences, all from the comfort of your own home. Smell the roses. Listen to the ocean. Feel a fluffy dog!”

You can now play the classic arcade game MS. PAC-MAN in Google Maps. “Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Sue as you swerve the streets of real places around the world. But eat the pac-dots fast, because this game will only be around for a little while.” Just go to the Google Maps site or open the Google Maps app for Android or iOS and click or tap MS. PAC-MAN at the bottom.

Google Cloud Platform expands to Mars. “By opening a dedicated extraterrestrial cloud region, we’re bringing the power of Google’s compute, network, and storage to the rest of the solar system, unlocking a plethora of possibilities for astronomy research, exploration of Martian natural resources and interplanetary life sciences. This region will also serve as an important node in an extensive network throughout the solar system. Our first interplanetary data center — affectionately nicknamed ‘Ziggy Stardust’ — will open in 2018,” mentions Google.

… To be continued …