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7 Steps to Better Business Blogging

Reader-Quick-TipsThe following reader quick tip was submitted by Ann Handley from Marketing Profs: Daily Fix.

One of the questions I often field comes from business owners who are thinking of launching a blog but are wondering, “What can I write about…?”

A recent post by Poynter contributor Vince Maher does an excellent job of giving some guidance on what businesses can write about, and, more importantly, how they can write it. All 11 tips are here but here are the seven points most critical for businesses:

  1. A blog entry is a stub for conversation. Think about creating posts that start conversations, have a point of view, and appeal to the interests of your readers. All writing must consider the audience, but for bloggers, it’s critical.
  2. Write tight headlines that pique interest. Think punchy, short, descriptive headlines that will pique a reader’s curiosity.
  3. Be scan-friendly. Bullet points (like these!) are easy to scan and have the useful by-product of lending structure to your thoughts.
  4. Link to the context. This is really important: if you write about something that other blogs are talking about in a post or conversation, offer links back to their conversations to give your post some context.
  5. Troll the blogosphere for secondary conversation. Tools like Google BlogSearch, Bloglines and Technorati will help you track what other bloggers are saying about your post. Try to update your blog with links to those conversations if they add or augment yours.
  6. Be active in your own conversations. Comment back to your readers. Social media is all about relationships.
  7. Create buzz everywhere. Include lots of relevant inbound links to your post. Via Technorati or other search tools, seek out other blogs that are discussing the same or similar issues, and participate in the conversation there.

So what do you think? Did I miss anything or can you expand on any of these guidelines?

Techniques for Improving Affiliate Program Performance

christmasOnce you’ve chosen an affiliate product or program to promote on your blog you cannot just slap a link to it into your sidebar and forget about it. The task then is in thinking about how you’ll drive readers to it.

Similarly to contextual advertising – positioning of your links to these programs is essential – as is the way you actually link to it.

Keep in mind that with affiliate programs you have two tasks that need to be completed in order for you to earn something from them.

  1. Get readers to click on the link/ad to visit the affiliate program’s page
  2. Have readers actually purchase the product

Here are a few techniques that you might want to keep in mind as you fine tune your affiliate programs for the end of the year:

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New Google Ad Placements « John Chow dot Com

John Chow has posted details of a new AdSense beta which allows publishers to highlight certain ad units to advertisers and tell them what position the ads are in. John writes:

“To use Google Ad Placement, you create and implement a custom channel just as you would before – tracking the performance of your sports pages or your skyscraper ad units, for example. Only now, you can choose to make that custom channel visible to advertisers as an Ad Placement. When advertisers search for sites on which to place their ads, they’ll see the ad placement you’ve created – with your site’s name and description – and can decide to target their ads to your Ad Placement.”

It looks like an extension of Targetable Custom Channels added a week or two back.

Here’s a screen shot of the new control panel in John’s AdSense back end.

Adplacement2

Read John’s post at New Google Ad Placements

ProBlogger Downtime

Just a short note to let readers know to expect a little downtime on ProBlogger later today or two as we’ll be moving it over onto b5media’s servers. Hopefully this will lead a few of the glitches that the blog’s been suffering the last couple of months being ironed out.

I will post when we’ve finished the migration.

Update: Migration is underway and all seems to be going well so far. It’ll take a few hours all up and hopefully we won’t loose too many comments in that time. There are also a few dead links around and things we need to fix up tomorrow.

Thanks to Aaron for helping out with this.

Blogs, forums and .edu and .gov Links

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader Quick Tip was submitted by Moshe Morris from SEM Basics.

Oftentimes links from sites with the .edu and .gov extention can be particularly helpful when trying to rank well in the search engines. Here, then, is a quick and easy way to find some (potentially) high quality .edu and .gov links. Go to google and search do one of the following searches:

“keyword” forum site:.edu
“keyword” blog site:.edu
“keyword” forum site:.gov
“keyword” blog site:.gov

For instance, if you wanted to find blogs and/or forums which relate to art simply substitute the word art for “keyword”. These searches will turn up a list of blogs and forums which are relate to keyword. All you have to do is get involved with these blogs and forums and you can start to find some quality backlinks pointing at your site. What’s more, these links may send people to your site directly in and of themselves. It’s a win-win situation.

Technorati adds Link Count Widget

A couple of days back Technorati released a new widget that counts the number of links pointing at any given blog post.

It’s called the Link Count Widget.

So at the end of a post you’ll get a little link and logo like this:

Linkcount

This is useful in that it gives readers (and you) a quick way to track the conversation that bounces off your posts. I’m sure it’ll also stroke a few egos and conversely leave a few bloggers feeling a little left out by the lack of numbers that the widget reports.

Who is competing against you for your keywords

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader Quick Tip was submitted by Moshe Morris from SEM Basics.

Ultimately speaking, what determines if a keyword is difficult or hard to ran in the major search engiens is the quality of your competition. You can compete against every site in the internet, but if none of them are well optimized for that keyword then you can (most likely) easily outrank them. As such, it is important to know how to analyze the quality of competition for any particular keyword.

In order to determine the quality of competition for a particular keyword you will first need to do a search for that keyword on Google, Yahoo or MSN. You will then want to analyze the top 5 – 10 results in the search engines for the following factors such as:

  • The quantity and quality of backlinks
  • PageRank
  • The age of the site
  • The number of times the site is listed on del.icio.us, technorati, DMOZ, Bloglines, Wikipedia, and the Yahoo Directory

Three helpful tools for keyword research:

How many sites compete for a keyword (and why you want to know)

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader Quick Tip was submitted by Moshe Morris from SEM Basics. Moshe has submitted 3 tips to this series – I’ll run the next two later today as they are all SEO related.

In SEO it is extremely helpful to know how many sites you are actually competing against for a particular keyword, for this us helps determine how diffiicult it will be to rank well in the major search engiens for that keyword. Currently, the best way of determining the number of sites that you actually compete against is to run an intitle/inanchor search on Google. This search tells you how many sites include a keyword both in the Title Tag of their webpage and the anchor text of a link which points to that page.

Placing ones keywords in the title tag and anchor text are two of the most important strategies in SEO. Knowing how many sites do this for a particular keyword indicates how many sites are being optimized for that keyword, thus indicating the number of sites you are competing against.

To perform a intitle/inanchor search for an individual keyword go to Google and type in: intitle:”keyword-phrase” inanchor:”keyword-phrase”. To perform this search for a large number of keywords use Keyword Elite (currently, Keyword Elite is the only program which offers this option, to the best of my knowledge).

How to Choose Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

christmasAnother task that is worth doing in order to prepare your blogs for the end of the year is fine tuning your affiliate programs.

Affiliate programs are quite a different way of monetizing your blog than advertising and while there are some similar principles that come into play when optimizing them they also take a different mindset to fully realize their potential.

The beauty of affiliate programs is that they have the potential to pay a lot more than most advertising programs (if you choose the right product) – the challenge is that you only earn money from them IF your reader actually takes an action (usually when they buy the product).

Choosing Affiliate Programs

There are literally hundreds of thousands of products and services that you can promote with affiliate programs on your blog. When you consider the array of products that Amazon has available (just one of many affiliate programs you can use) it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the choice. How do you make the decision what to promote? Here’s a few things to look out for:

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