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Brisbane SEO Blog — Community Consulting Summary

Our third Community Consultation finishes up today with an overview of the ProBlogger community’s feedback for Brisbane SEO Blog.

As always, the results have been illuminating. You might even be able to take away some tips and tricks for your own blog.

New to community consulting? You’ll want to read Darren’s launch post as well as Brisbane SEO Blog’s introduction to the community.

Here are the elements which proved most important to ProBlogger readers.

Lack of connection with the business

Brisbane SEO Blog is a business blog, and the primary aim of any business blog should be to raise the profile of the business and gain new clients. At the moment, the blog is not adequately connected to the main SiteMost website. If a visitor arrived via search results they would only be able to reach the main site via the About page.

I would firstly suggest making the SiteMost logo a link to the main site, as this is what visitors expect. I’d also make it clearer to new visitors that the blog is an offshoot of SiteMost — perhaps with a tagline or a paragraph at the top of the sidebar.

If it’s not clear which company is responsible for the blog (and how to learn more about it) even the most successful business blog won’t be able to reach its full potential as a promotional device.

Getting more subscribers

One of the owner’s main aims for the site is to convert more readers into subscribers. He’s taken the essential first step by offering both RSS and email subscriptions in a prominent location on the page.

The blog could attract more subscribers by adding a subscribe link to the bottom of posts, and by offering a freebie with every subscription (such as a short eBook or report). A number of readers suggested both these strategies would help to persuade them to subscribe.

Greater distinctions between posts

Some readers felt that the gap between posts was too narrow and this impacted on readability. The issue was worsened by a sub-header for related posts which matches the blog’s headlines for size.

This readability issue is easily fixed by adding some more space between each post and shrinking the related posts heading down to the text size used for the body of the posts. It’s essential that headlines be the biggest and most eye-catching text on the page.

Turning visitors into customers

A business blog presents an opportunity to convert visitors into potential clients. Without a Contact or Services page this task is made very difficult. A number of readers suggested refining the About page to emphasize the faces behind the business and their credentials.

I’d also suggest including a little information about the services offered by the company, with a link to a dedicated ‘Services’ page readers can visit for more detailed information.

Adding a Contact page to the navigation bar is essential. It’s simply impossible to get web-based business without it. As a local business it would probably be wise to include a phone number and PO Box in addition to an email address. I’d suggest promoting a ‘Services’ page in the navigation bar also.

Some readers also suggested an additional page explaining what SEO is and its benefits. I think this is a great idea. Most clients who hire SEO consultants (unsurprisingly) aren’t experts at it themselves. It can’t hurt to tell potential clients what you’re capable of.

Showcasing the best

Displaying a list of your best posts should really be a requirement for any blog. It shows new visitors straight away the best of what you have to offer. It also helps to draw them deeper into your blog (making it more likely that they’ll stick around or subscribe.) A number of readers really missed this feature on the blog.

Less is more

The content list on the main page is very long and took some time to load. Some readers requested less posts on the main page and others wanted to see only post excerpts displayed.

MyBlog Log and ads

Some readers felt that the MyBlog Log widget seemed unprofessional on a business blog. I’d also add that these widgets can sometimes be several hundred kilobytes all-together as the button images aren’t efficiently resized.

Other readers wondered why the blog was advertising third party services. It’s worth considering whether the reader attention would be better spent on SiteMost’s own services.

The good

It seems like the blog’s owner (Peter) is on to a good thing with his content as it received almost unanimously positive reviews. The visual design was also positively received overall, though some readers disagreed with the color choice and the lack of custom imagery. While color is always subjective and I don’t think you can please everyone, a unique logo wouldn’t go astray.

Another thing that I really liked to see was the relative lack of clutter on the blog. While I still think a few things could be subtracted (and a few more added) the blog is very simple and clean overall.

The prize!

As always I found myself with a shortlist of about five names who’d each written a really high quality review. You guys sure don’t make this easy ;-).

This week’s iPod Shuffle winner is ericabiz for her savvy review, though it was her partial rewriting of the blog’s About page which really impressed me and put her a step above the rest. Thanks Erica!

Make sure to stay tuned for blog number four.

Zookoda Suspend all Broadcasts

Zookoda users woes are continuing with Zookoda announcing in the last few hours on their Zookoda Blog that they’re suspending all Broadcasts due to spam abuse. Ted Murphy (founder and CEO of Izea, formally PayPerPost, who owns Zookoda) writes:

“Today we’re stopping Zookoda broadcasts. The system will remain live, but broadcasts will not be sent. We are going to be making some more changes to the infrastructure and will allow for broadcasts again in early January. In the meantime though this is a pain for our legitimate users and I can only offer my most sincere apologies to you guys for the disruption this is undoubtedly going to cause.”

Thanks to 47 for the headsup

What Have You Done on Your Blog For Christmas?

ChristmasA few weeks ago I encouraged readers to get their blog ready for Christmas.

I’d be interested to hear how people have gone with it.

Have you done anything different on your blog this holiday season? Perhaps it’s been posts you’ve written, design elements, getting your ads and affiliate programs optimized – or something else.

How have these efforts converted for you?

Let me give you an example of my own:

Christmas-Photography-Gifts

Earlier in the week I posted 9 Fun Digital Photography Christmas Gifts. I’d previously written some other Christmas posts but this one was more aimed at the last minute shopper. It was a list of 9 products – all from Amazon.

My aim with the post was to make it a little fun and ‘light’ by highlighting smaller and more interesting products than high end and expensive digital cameras (I’d done the more expensive products in a recent post on popular digital cameras).

The conversion of the post has been quite good with quite a few items in the list being purchased and also the traffic that it directed into Amazon resulting in lots of other purchases (remember it’s all about getting readers in the door with Amazon).

I also prominently promoted this post in my weekly newsletter – this drove quite a bit of traffic to it in the last 24 hours – hopefully this will convert in the next Amazon report.

The other surprising element is that the post has done increasingly well with StumbleUpon. Only a few readers have stumbled it so far but the traffic from SU has been quite good so far. I was surprised at this because it’s not a ‘tips’ post – but perhaps the slightly ‘wacky’ products featured have worked.

That’s one example of what I’ve done in the last week or so. What have you been up to?

Speedlinking 22 December 2007

A few blogging links from the last couple of days. Enjoy

Lastly – Linda put together a fun little video on blogging for money – I hope you enjoy it:

A Word About Our Sponsors

With the Festive Season approaching I wanted to take a few minutes out today to give a shout out to the sponsors of ProBlogger that have been so supportive over the past month or two. This group of companies and individuals help me to keep my eye on blogging rather than having to worry about raising money and I appreciate them all.

A0072307LinkWorth – if there’s an award for longest running sponsor of ProBlogger it’s these guys.

LinkWorth is a Search Engine Marketing and Text Link Advertising service who offers a range of products including text link ads, blog reviews, in text links, pay per click ads, rotating text ads, directory submission and much more.

Join LinkWorth today either as an advertiser looking to grow your blog or as a publisher seeking to monetize your blog in new ways.

A0070296WidgetBucks – relatively new to the ad network space, WidgetBucks have caused quite a stir and have helped a number of ProBlogger readers recently to go full time in their blogging.

I’ve reviewed them previously (before they became a sponsor) and have found them to be a great way to monetize a blog – particularly if your traffic is largely from North America (although they’ve just activated ads now for non US traffic).

A0072714Pubmatic – This ad optimizing tool is an example of where I think we’ll see advertising on blogs go in the year or two ahead.

I reviewed it recently (note: the review was before PubMatic became an advertiser) and was really impressed with this new system that will allow you to manage multiple advertising networks ads in the one ad spot. For each impression they’ll serve the ad that will earn you the most money.

The campaign that they’re currently running is part of their Pubmatic Publisher Challenge where they’ve given away free advertising to some of the publishers using them – in this case it’s WinCustomize.

A0071622Voxant Newsroom - this service provides blogs (and other sites) with high quality and licensed content.

They’ll supply video, text and images from the very highest of quality sources (WSJ, CBS, AP, Reuters and more).

Not only that – they’ll also share the advertising revenue when a news story that Voxant supplies is viewed.

Register for the service here.

A0071685RankSense – is a new SEO software suite designed to make your rankings in search engines higher than the currently are.

They’re currently beta testing and are offering those willing to give it a go credits towards eventual purchase of the final product.

This isn’t a service that spams search engines for temporary results – but one that evaluates your site to help you genuinely improve it and climb the search engines for the long haul.

A0074666Compete – I’ll be honest – I was surprised to see that Compete had joined us a sponsor. Not because they don’t fit here (they do) but because it’s a service that I use regularly.

Compete’s Search Analytics helps you to analyze what people are searching for online, find gaps in what competitors are doing and get other useful information.

As Aaron Wall says – ‘Compete Search Analytics is essential for people looking to develop competitive research into what, where and how consumers are searching online’.

250 Full LogoEntrecard – a new service that I’ve been running in my sidebar recently (as a sponsored widget) is Entrecard. It’s one of those services that is a little difficult to explain in a sentence or two – but fortunately there’s a great video that does it well on their front page.

I’ve been using it now for a few weeks the thing I like most about it is that it’s a service that allows you to network with, get to know and do some mutual promotion with other bloggers. It’s a service that I think is well worth having a play around with.

Thanks to our Sponsors

So thank you to each of the current ProBlogger sponsors. I’m excited by the type of companies that we’ve been attracting of late – some genuinely useful services in the mix above.

If you’re interested in getting your message out to the ProBlogger readership you can contact the ad sales team at b5media (who handles ProBlogger ad sales) via our Advertise on ProBlogger page. Our ad spots are currently full but we have more openings coming up.

Last Chance to Win a WordPress Blog Theme for Your Blog

update – thanks for everyone’s entries but this competition is now over.

Just a quick note to let you know that there’s just 16 hours to go in this week’s competition – Win a WordPress Blog Theme for Your Blog.

To enter you need to

1. leave a comment on that post (your first entry)

2. then on any other post on the blog (every other comment is another entry)

Genuine comments only. Entries close at midnight tonight (my time here in Melbourne).

There are 285 people in the running for the 5 prizes so far. Those odds are not too bad!

update – thanks for everyone’s entries but this competition is now over.

Zookoda Move to Manually Approve Broadcasts

Over at the Zookoda blog they’ve announced in the last day or two that they’re now going to manually approve all broadcasts to combat spammers. This means that before your emails go out a staff member at Zookoda are going to have to eyeball it and give it a tick of approval.

While I understand the spam problem – I’ve never seen any other service like this go that route.

This will impact those publishers sending one off emails most and I suspect will hurt those not in the US time zone and those who send emails on weekends (my experience with Zookoda is that they only work week days in US business hours.

I recently wrote about how I don’t recommend Zookoda any more – and this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I’ve been chatting to a helpful contact at Aweber and in the new year and transferring my lists to there. While it’s a paid service my previous experience with them shows that it’s reliable, has a high deliverability rate (my last email with Zookoda bounced with over 40% of recipients) and is continuing to innovate.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Publishing guest posts on popular blogs is a tried and tested way to get inbound links and traffic. There are certain things you can do to make this experience even more rewarding.

In this post, I want to share a number of methods you can use to maximize the rewards of any guest post you publish.

A note: This post will tell you how to get the most out of guest posting once you’ve got a blogger who’s willing to publish you. If you want more information on getting to that point, I’d suggest you read Darren’s tips on pitching to bloggers.

Do your research

A little bit of research is essential before you submit your guest post to be published. It will help make sure you’re properly rewarded for your work and that you produce something that will be well received by the blog’s audience.

Does the blogger give adequate credit to guest posters? If the blog you’re writing for doesn’t allow an in-post byline for its guest-authors, don’t bother. If you write a post including a byline for this kind of blog, the author will most likely remove the byline and publish your work without it. I’ve had this happen to me before — it’s not fun!

What kind of posts work well on the blog? Take a look at some of the blog’s most popular posts to get an idea of what worked well. Could you create something with similar elements?

Are there any gaps waiting to be filled? I wrote my first guest post for ProBlogger on drawing StumbleUpon visitors into your blog because I noticed it was something that hadn’t been covered much before. It went on to become one of this blog’s most popular posts. Ask yourself: how can I use what I know to bring something unique to the blog?

A stunning albino peacock.
The ideal guest post will show off your skills and impress. Photo by lightgazer.

Optimize your post for greater rewards

What you write and how you present it can influence how rewarding your guest posting experience will be. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your posts.

Link to yourself and others. If you’ve written something that relates to the guest post on your own blog, find a way to work in a link. You can link out to other sources as well if you’d like to take a more democratic approach. A note: if you haven’t written something vitally on topic, don’t link out just for the sake of it. This will look like you’re putting self-promotion above relevance.

Put in a real effort. It’s easier to have social media success with your post on a popular blog because there’s a bigger pool of readers to vote for what you write. More traffic to the post means more click-throughs to your site. In other words, it’s not actually worth it to write the minimum required just to get a link back to your blog. Writing a great guest post will drastically increase the rewards.

Participate in the comments section. One of the metrics whereby bloggers judge the success of a post (as you know) is the comment count. You can raise this and make a good impression on those who’ve commented by responding to questions and feedback on your guest post.

Call in favors. Use your connections to bump along the success of your guest post. You can contact social media users you know, link to the post from your own blog, or pitch the link to other bloggers.

Crafting your byline

The byline is where you’re credited for your writing. You can see an example at the bottom of this post. Most bloggers will give you the freedom to put whatever you like in your byline (within reason) — as long as it’s not too long. The byline is the place where people will decide whether or not to click-through to your own blog, so it’s important to get it right.

Create a byline to suit your goals. If you mainly want feed subscribers, include only a link to your feed. If you want feed subscribers and traffic, include a link to your feed and your site. If you only want traffic, drop the link to your feed. If you want to sell a product, mention it instead.

Appeal to your target audience. If you write for a certain type of people (for example: bloggers, dads, Zen Masters), include that information in your byline. It will capture the attention of the kind of people you want reading your blog.

Explain the benefits. If you want people to visit your site or subscribe to your feed, explain what they’ll get in return. Useful advice? Hints and tips? Free stuff? Give people a reason to do what you want.

Points to review

  • Take the time to research the blog you’d like to write for.
  • Write with the blog’s target audience in mind.
  • A quality post can help you just as much as it helps the blog’s owner.
  • Craft your byline to compliment what you want to get out of guest posting.

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.

Financial Blogger Abandons AdSense

There’s an interesting post over at The Simple Dollar titled – Why I’ve Decided To Abandon (Virtually All) Ads On The Simple Dollar. The post outlines Trent’s reasoning on why he’s taken AdSense off his blog – in short, the lack of control that the program gives him over who advertises on his blog.

While this problem will no doubt be helped by the recent introduction of an Ad Review center in AdSense – this only fixes part of the problem as it only gives you the opportunity to review those ads specifically targeted to your site and not those ads that AdSense just serves contextually from their non targeted pool of advertisers.

Thanks to Jeremy (no link supplied) for the heads up on this one.