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The Simple Power of Asking

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

What is asking? It is a simple act of putting together a query in order to obtain the answer. Whether you get an answer or not depends on how a question has been framed and asked.

Ask

Image used with permission

Asking has an awesome power, yet it is one of the most unused methods of advancement.

When you enter the blogging world, there are lots of things which you might want to know. You can get them by just asking. Still, most people avoid doing that: they try to get all the answers by themselves.

Asking in practice

When I started my new blog, I started to look for guest post opportunities and my first guest post What you can take from your Blog’s Worst Day got published on ProBlogger.

I created a draft and send it for consideration. I waited for the next 15 days to get a response to my email, but one came.

I could have assumed this was a rejection but rather than leaving it, I decided to ask about it. I sent a note to ask if the post was still under consideration … and I was amazed to see the response.

“So sorry for my late reply, and thanks very much for following up with me, because I thought I’d responded to your email already! I enjoyed this piece and will be happy to include it on the site.”

Now I want you to take a moment and think: what you would have done in this situation? If you’d have asked in the same manner as I did, you know the power of asking.

If you think logically, you’ll know that posts can be overlooked at ProBlogger, where they might be receiving hundreds of emails daily. It might not be the same on a fledgling blog where there are hardly any emails.

The power of asking

Asking is a sign of courage and a sign that you are ready to learn. Every question demands a response, so it generates active communication.

All you have to do is ask. And ask is what people in best-practices cultures do—all the time.—Winning – The Answers, by Jack and Suzy Welch

Winning – The Answers, is really a great book. It focuses on global business practices, but who doesn’t consider blogging as a business? Jack and Suzy Welch have mentioned one more important point in the book: if you are asking your direct competitors, you are most probably not going to get the answer.

This is true in blogging world, too. If you are looking for the best practices, look at the blogs other than those in your niche, check what is working for them and ask if it can work for your blog.

If you think that it can work for your blog, then go ahead and ask how they are using the technique. Arund 99% time you will get an answer—they will be happy to show you how they have created their blogs.

You can do the same within your niche, but be prepared for lower response rates. Still, you will find some nice people who are ready to welcome a new blogger into the niche.

Ask for topics

What do your readers want? It’s always a mystery! What could be a better way than asking them directly?

Bloggers do run many polls on our blogs as a means to engage the readers. How about running a poll for your next topic? Ask what they want to read. You may end up writing on each topic mentioned in the poll, but a poll can help you give priority to certain topics.

It also does one more thing: it engages your readers for the future posts so they will be tempted to come back and check what you wrote about the topic they suggested.

Ask for friends

Darren mentioned in 31DBBB that you need to find a blogging buddy, but what if you don’t have anybody close to you who can be your buddy?

Asking can help you find a friend or buddy. You can try asking some bloggers in your niche if they want to connect with you: just ask them. You might be surprised to see the responses. No, you might not get many responses, but you do not need many buddies.

You need to make sure that your question is clear enough to convey the message properly. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you ask for a blog buddy:

  • Use open-ended questions to encourage conversations.
  • It should not be about me—it should be about them and what they will get.
  • Try to avoid trivial questions.
  • Try to avoid Yes/No type question, as they don’t generate an opportunity for conversation.
  • Give the person enough time to get an answer.

Ask

Asking is really easy and handy tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to ask with the intent of learning and improvement, not just for sake of it. People can feel your intent in your questions. So keep asking, and keep learning.

What was the last thing you asked for to help develop your blog? What happened when you asked? Share your experiences in the comments.

Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest eBook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the eBook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.

Social Engagement is the Way Forward for SEO

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

SEO is one of the most used—and most mysterious—words in the blogging world, but it is one of the best ways to gain free organic traffic for your blog.

Till now, the strategy for SEO has been to create a new post with good on-page SEO techniques, and do the promotion to create a great off-page SEO. This ends up generating a good rank for your post and brings traffic.

A change in tack

Have you noticed a shift in this strategy? Check out the below screenshot. I took this while I was searching for “Web world” on Google.

You can see that two articles from my site, Makewebworld, are featured on the first page of results for this very competitive term. Is it actually true?

Well, if you do the search you will not get the same result. My domain name contains the term “web world, nut other than that, I’m not optimizing my content for that term. So how would my site end up on the first page of Google results?

It happened because I was logged in my Google account while doing the search. I have shared these posts with my circles in Google+. So Google showed me results based on my user account, rather than general rank system.

Now take a look at the result below, which I saw when I logged out of my Google Account.

If I am not logged into my Google Account, I don’t see Makewebworld on the first page. It only shows when I am logged in.

Social engagement and SEO

Social Engagement is the new shift in SEO.

The search engines are moving toward a non-static ranking system, which will be based on a user and their groups. Google is trying to create a more personal and refined search in which a user has more chance of finding the required information (always a goal for Google).

I’m not saying that on-page SEO and off-page SEO techniques are useless, and only social is in. But the social element has started playing its part in SEO. Google has started mixing social recommendations and their ranked pages in the search results.

Social recommendations were there earlier, but they merely played a part in the rank system. Now it can take you to first page of Google for at least some users or groups.

Why social engagement is important

Why are the search engines making this social transformation? To understand the answers, we need to dig into some stats. If you are using Google Analytics for your blog, you can check the details under the Social tab.

The stats show that people who are socially engaged have much higher page visits and average times on your blog. They also have much lower bounce rates—in fact for Makewebworld I have bounce rates as low as zero.

Go check your stats and see if they’re similar. I expect they are. Google has started taking notice of these stats, since they say that these people like your blog and they want to interact with your blog.

Why wouldn’t their friends like your blog? Why wouldn’t they want to come back in future?

You can check how many social activities happen on your blog, and which content has attracted social activity, from your Google Analytics account.

How can you increase social engagement?

There are many way you can try to increase social engagement on your blog. Main aim is to have readers share your content across the social networks.

Install the Google+ button

If you have not done it yet, you should do it now. Google has already indicated that they are going to use Google+ button for many purposes, and that they’re moving to single account structure.

Google has started using Google+ recommendations in their search results, so if you don’t have the button installed on your blog, you are likely losing some traffic.

It is easy to install Google+ button: check the official page or look up some free plugins to do the job. I’d suggest you treat the Google+ button as a backlink for your blog, because it can rank your blog higher for some people or groups of searchers.

As an author, you should also look for and verify your Google profile. Darren was one of the first few people who verified his account and shared the importance of it on Google+. If you’re looking for a how-to guide, check the Google Webmaster page help.

Install Sharebar

This is another good way to get a few extra social engagements. A basic rule of thumb is that people take action when they’re invited to. Sharebar is a great way to show social buttons all the time.

I know that this is not used on problogger.net, but do they need it? Each post on Problogger gets the required social attention. But if you’re not getting that kind of attention, do some split testing with Sharebar, or install it for a trial period on your blog.

Also, because it floats along the page movement it catches the attention. There are many plugins available like sharebar and you can use any of them.

Use Tweet Old Post and Twitter @Anywhere Plus

These plugins are good for Twitter activities. They really provide a nice and easy way to share your content.

Twitter @Anywhere plus enables the @Anywhere feature to allow readers to share your content easily on Twitter. This plugin utilizes includes easy tweet options for your readers.

Tweet Old Post is a plugin which will tweet your old posts randomly. It has options that allow you to avoid tweeting some content categories or posts, and it’s a really easy way to get some attention to your old content.

One other thing which I would like to point out here is your Twitter handle. Twitter provides a very nice and easy way to remind people to follow you if they tweet your content.

So if you use tweet buttons on your blog, you wanted to make sure that your Twitter handle is included in your tweets. If you have any issues, you can generate the Tweet button code here.

Utilize the Facebook Send button

Almost all blogs have Facebook Like buttons, but do you have Facebook Send button on your blog? Facebook Send is not similar to Facebook Like: Send has more visibility than Like on Facebook. I know that Google does not count Facebook shares in its ranking system, but Google does collect the data—you can see that in your analytics account.

They have started using the Google+ Shares and you never know when they will decide to start using the Facebook Shares. Shares have their own benefits in providing links and traffic to your blog, but they might have other benefits later on.

So what are you doing for Social Engagement on your blog? Let’s share and see how we can benefit from this shift.

Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest ebook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the ebook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.

What You Can Take From Your Blog’s Worst Day

The fateful day started with a morning that marked a month since the launch of my new blog. A blog that had ten posts and few visits per day.

On that morning I woke up and went on to sit in front of my laptop. This is my usual routine. I check all the updates, reply to comments (if there are any), and so on. Everybody knows how much there is to be done in the initial days of a blog’s life.

Phase 1: disaster!

On that day I started my laptop, clicked on the shortcut, and bang!

I was greeted by a white box on a big red screen, shouting “Warning!” in big, bold letters. A small description indicated that Google had detected counter-WordPress malware on my blog.

Distributing malware? I hadn’t even been distributing ebooks!

That was enough to start the morning. I closed the browser and called my office to inform them that they weren’t going to see me that day.

I took a deep breath and a morning tea with the newspaper. After that, I started googling the malware, and searching for a process to clean it from my site. I found a lot of information on Google, along with a few helpful threads on WordPress support forums. I collected all the information and went about the process of cleaning my blog, which took around seven hours of hard work.

I was able to clean my site and store it to its original state, though I admit a lack of activity on my blog at the time also helped in my case. This was the worst day of my blog in its short life. But it didn’t end there…

Phase 2: giving back

I was feeling pretty angry about what happened, and I had only a handful of posts on my new blog—there were plenty of others who had much more at stake, and were going through the same process.

Once my blog was clean, I dug into it further, to check the source of the attack, and what scripts had been run on my blog. I shared details on the WordPress support forum.

Inspired, I decided to help other people like me. I created a guide explaining the process for removing the malware on my blog. Then I went back to WordPress support forum to help people.

As it happened, that guide ended up ranking number three on Google for some crucial keywords, right after the WordPress support forum threads. It brought a lot of new people to my blog. That guide is still a good source of traffic for me, and varies between third and eighth rank on Google. I’ve also been able to create few other posts to which I drive traffic from that post.

So at the end of the day, because I refused to quit, and showed an urge to help others, I gained a lot from my blog’s worst day:

  1. A post that’s appearing on the first page of Google.
  2. A couple of post to which I am able to drive traffic more deeply into my blog.
  3. A handful of email subscriptions—a good thing for a starter blog!
  4. A few backlinks to my blog from other sources.

And on top of these benefits, I have this post on ProBlogger only because of that day.

So if you keep yourself calm and keep your eyes on opportunities, you can end up converting your worst day to a great day for your blog.

What have you got from your worst day as a blogger? Share with us through the comments.

Sanjeev currently owns two blogs and writes to make the Web world a better place, and help others to use it and get something out of it. You can check his blog Make Web World or get his RSS feed here.