Close
Close

Amazon Associates Program Add ‘Site Stripe’ – Make Affiliate Links from Any Page on Amazon

I just logged into Amazon Associates just now and found that they’ve done a redesign of their Associates area and have added a very handy new feature for Amazon Associates publishers.

It’s called ‘Site Stripe’ and essentially it allows you to create affiliate links as you surf Amazon. It’s a little grey stripe that appears at the top of any Amazon.com page that allows you to link to that page, add a product to an aStore, see your Earnings Summary, See ‘what’s New’, go to a discussion board or see ‘settings’.

Here’s how it looks (click to enlarge):

Amazon-Site-Stripe

Click links and you are taken to an Associates area relevant to the selection that you make.

This is going to be really handy for Amazon affiliates that link to a lot of products on Amazon – it’ll save flipping between Amazon pages and Associates back end pages and should speed up the process and remove a few steps in the process.

When you log into the back end of Amazon Associates you can set up the settings for this feature by clicking the ‘Links and Banners’ tab and then clicking the ‘Learn More’ button in the ‘Site Stripe’ section. Here you can turn Site Stripe on and off as well as selecting which features you want in the stripe.

Types of Blogs – Can we Categorize Them?

I just received the following question about categorizing blogs from Ann Handley (from MarketingProfs) that I thought would make a good discussion starter.

“A few weeks ago, Chris Brogan (writing on Shannon Paul’s blog) talked about the importance of being consistent on your blog.

Some blogs, like my personal blog Annarchy are “craft blogs,” Chris wrote. While others, like Brian Solis’s — and this one at ProBlogger — require regular and consistent updating, a constant “pulse” of information.

Which made me wonder, what are the types of blogs?

Can we categorize blogs by type of content they consistently produce — for example, news (like Drudge or Huffington), commentary and opinion, essay or “craft,” and the like? What say you?”

Over to you!

13 Tips to Recession Proof Your Blog

How can I prepare my blog for a recession or economic downturn?

Recession-Proof-BlogImage by Rednuht

Yesterday I asked my Twitter followers what they wanted me to write a post about on ProBlogger and this question (and variations of it) was asked repeatedly.

So today I want to suggest a number of ways that bloggers, particularly bloggers making a living from their blogs, can prepare themselves to ride out the economic downturn that we are having.

I’ve also asked my Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends for their tips on the topic and have included some of their responses (there were too many to use in the end so I’ve used about a third of them).

How to Recession Proof Your Blog

1. Focus Upon Content

Don’t become distracted from building quality content. While it is shaky times in some of the Web 2.0 industries and technologies people continue to go online more and more to find information that will enhance their lives. Your primary activity as a blogger needs to be on creating useful content that will solve problems, enhance lives and fulfil needs. This needs to be your core activity – recession or no recession – don’t become distracted from it.

The last thing I’ll say about content is that I suspect ‘how to’ or ‘advice’ content is particularly important in times like these. There is a general sense of uncertainty in the air at the moment and while people are always searching for ‘tips’ and ‘how to’ type content I suspect in economic downturn that searching for this type of content will only increase.

  • @nathanrice suggests – ‘keep writing. great content doesn’t take a lot of money to produce. It just takes time and patience.’
  • @dcrblogs suggested – ‘Make sure the blog adds value to people’s lives in some way.’
  • @HollyJahangiri suggests ‘offer timeless content for free’ – I think this is a wise move. Don’t just write for the hear and now but write the type of content that people will still be searching for in years to come. This type of content can drive traffic (and build income) for years to come.

2. Build Networks

‘It isn’t what you know but who you know’ – I have a feeling that this mantra will only become more important in times of economic downturn. I think a wise use of time in coming months would be to invest into your existing networks and to work on expanding them. Both online social networking and real life networks can open up great opportunities and provide you with support in tough times.

Perhaps working with another blogger (or a group of bloggers) to support each other and to promote one another’s work could be one way forward through this tough time. Together we know and can achieve so much more than we can individually.

  • @lucio_ribeiro suggests – ‘Cooperation works on recession. Team up with another blogs for promotion of mutual content ‘

3. Don’t Panic

I met a few bloggers at Blog World Expo who within 30 seconds of meeting them had almost worked themselves into a lather of worry, stress and panic as they talked about their blogging future.

I’m not saying the times we live in are not reason to be concerned – but panicking is not going to do you (or those around you) any favours. Do what you can to have a level head and to look logically at the situation – if you can’t, find others who can and give them permission to slap you in the face next time you go into panic mode.

Related to this – don’t panic publicly on your blog. There are plenty of bloggers around whipping their readers into a frenzy about the economic downturn – why not do something different and provide a positive place?

  • @JonSymons suggests – ‘Write posts that focus on feeling good, and are proactive, not negative.’
  • @jonathanmead suggested – ‘Market to people re-gaining power of their lives. Make them feel in control when they powerless.’

On a related note – blog with a little sensitivity and knowing that your readers might be doing it tough.

  • @CraneFactory suggested – ‘humility and sensitivity. in a recession when ppl are doing it tough reading about John Chows $500 dinners might put ppl off.’
  • @juliemarg suggests – ‘Don’t Be Snarky (my tip) remember that sarcastic/cynical personal commentary could alienate potential collaborators’
  • Nicole Ouellette wrote – ‘Be positive in your blogging. People are tired of reading the negative in this economy. Bonus if you can teach them something with your post. Empowerment is an empowering thing!’

4. Build Your Own Products/Services

Finding it harder to find advertisers for your blog? Why not advertise yourself? Bloggers that use their blogs to sell themselves, or a product or service that they sell add another monetization stream to their blog.

5. Build Authority

One of the most powerful things that you can do at any time as a blogger is to work hard on building up your profile and perceived expertise and authority in an industry. This is especially powerful in times of uncertainty where people are looking for leadership, advice and stability. Build relationships and be the most useful person that you can in these times and you’ll position yourself as a leader in your field.

6. Backup

It strikes me that over the coming months we might start seeing companies that we rely upon for services as bloggers go out of business. For example what if your hosting company was to go under – or the company you use to store your video or podcasts online? Might be time to backup – just in case.

  • @adamtaylor suggested – ‘be even more rigorous with backups incase someone goes bust!’

7. Diversify Your Income

If your family’s income and livelihood relies upon your blogging it might be a wise move to think about how you can build multiple income streams rather than just relying upon one. This could happen in a number of ways ranging from not just relying upon Advertising income but using affiliate marketing, having multiple blogs, doing some freelance writing and even getting a 2nd part time job (offline).

  • @EcoAussie suggested – ‘maybe u need another blog or niche to diversify.’
  • @lizzy7577 suggests – ‘Make sure you have a variety of blog income sources to depend on.’
  • @WayneHurlbert suggests – ‘Make sure you have a variety of blog income sources to depend on.’
  • @jonathanfields suggests – ‘Assess whether your readers’ information/entertainment needs have shifted. If so, adapt your content to stay insanely relevant’
  • @deniseoberry suggested – ‘Diversify around your core topic. Watch the 80/20 ratio of interest. As the 20% evolves, your writing should focus on that area.’

8. Look for Opportunities in the Negative

I was given this advice by an older family friend recently. He said – ‘In Recessions some industries boom – position yourself in them’. While many industries shrink in times of economic downturn others grow. I was at a search engine conference recently and one of the presenters said that there had been a sharp increase in search traffic around topics related to financial advice, budgeting, employment advice etc. Starting blogs in these types of topics could be a wise move at this time.

  • @ncheapskate suggested – ‘Write about fugal living. That’s working for me.’
  • @cyberpunkdreams suggests – ‘aiming the blog at freelancers perhaps? Freelancer numbers are expected to go way up.’

9. Find ways to Expand and Improve your Blog

I’m no economist, but from my limited study of economics and entrepreneurship it seems to me that while most companies take defensive positions in times of recession – certain companies and individuals see these sorts of times as opportunities to expand and position themselves for the future so that when the economy expands that they are ahead of their competitors.

I think expansion in times like these needs to be done smartly and responsibly (don’t spend your life savings if your family depends upon them) but I personally am planning on expanding my blogs in the coming months by adding new features, improving design etc.

  • @collegegourmet suggests – ‘Spend some money on ads and PR. Most people blow budget during good econ. but when times are bad is when u need it most.’

10. Track Track Track

I’ve been on a bit of a ‘metrics’ binge lately – examining the statistics that Google Reader (and other stats programs) are giving me on how my blogs are performing. While there is a danger in becoming obsessed by stats (at the expense of other important elements of writing a blog) it is amazing what you can learn about improving your blog by analysing how people are already using it.

Look at what people are searching for to find your blog, what they are searching for while on your blog (a tool like Lijit can give this information), what posts are most popular, what pages are leaking most readers, where people are clicking on your page (a tool like CrazyEgg helps with this) etc – all of this tells you how your blog is being used but can reveal ways that it can be improved.

11. Work Hard and Work Smart

There is no escaping it – building successful blogs takes a lot of work. I’m yet to meet a successful blogger who doesn’t put significant hours into their blogs development. Having said that – many bloggers also waste a lot of time. Identify core activities that you need to do to keep your blog on track and stick to them ruthlessly. Learn how to manage your time, eliminate distractions, identify goals and objectives (both short term and long term) and keep focused.

While doing all of this – take a long term view of your blogging. Blog rarely hit it big overnight – you’ll need to still be building your blog up in 2-3 years if you want it to reach its potential – so have a long term view and settle yourself in for the journey!

  • @GrantGriffiths suggested – ‘recession proof by focusing, focusing, and focusing. Dont try to be everything to everybody. Concentrate on your niche.’

12. Cut Costs

When times get tough another way to get through them is to cut down on unnecessary spending. Go through your expenses (credit card statements and paypal history) and look at what you’re paying for. Often as bloggers we sign up for small recurring services that don’t cost much but which we hardly use – perhaps it is time to eliminate some of these costs that are not important and/or to find ways to cut back.

  • @jonathanfields suggests – ‘analyze recent server loads and see if you might be able to scale down to a more modest hosting plan.’
  • Frerickus Willliford suggests – ‘Use wp-cache to save on bandwidth by reducing server load every bit counts.’

13. Experiment with Income Streams

One of the things I’ve noticed recently is that different income streams are really behaving quite differently on different blogs.

For example I was chatting with a group of bloggers recently who told me that their AdSense earnings had drastically dropped. As we were chatting another blogger came into the conversation and told us that his AdSense eCPM had almost doubled in the last 2 months.

In some industries CPC advertising is on the decline, in others it is on the rise. For some affiliate marketing is just not converting any more (as people have less disposable income) yet on some topics it is doing better than ever.

The key is to experiment and test different income streams, even old ones that you’ve previously written off might now be performing.

  • @degeeked suggests – ‘Up usage of click-based revenue streams (i.e. not affiliate programs) like AdSense. People still click during a recession.’
  • @ncheapskate suggests – ‘Use affiliates that offer freebies. Logical Media is one that does it all the time. It’s win-win for you and your reader.’
  • Dave Konig responded – ‘Don’t rely on one type of affiliate program, diversify not only your programs but your link types.’

What Would You Add?

You’ve heard a lot of opinions in this post about how to recession proof your blog – but what would you add to the opinions and ideas expressed above?

A Guide to Corporate Blogging

Today Reem Abeidoh looks at Corporate blogging and shares 13 Steps Fortune 500 companies take to Create a Blog.

Corporate-BloggingImage by iDream_in_Infrared

In order to maintain a competitive edge, corporations are increasingly looking for opportunities to make them stand out. Although traditional media serves as a solid medium that disperses company messaging to the world, the trends of information consumption are evolving. After some initial hesitancy, corporations are slowly starting to realize that it is important to jump on the virtual bandwagon of blogging. This medium represents the missing ingredient that traditional media lacks: the ability to directly connect a company to its customers.

As of February 2008, 54 companies listed on the Fortune 500 have corporate blogs (source). I had the great honor of interviewing the social media gurus behind three of the top companies with blogs: Michael Brito, Social Media Strategist at Intel, LaSandra Brill, Manager, Web & Social Media Marketing at Cisco, and Tac Anderson, Web 2.0 Strategic Lead at Hewlett Packard (HP).

Below is the information Intel, Cicso and HP have provided me regarding how their companies utilize blogging to connect with their customers.

Why is Blogging Crucial to Corporations?

What is the first image your mind conjures up when a brand is mentioned? Is it the logo, the jingle on the advertisement or the experience you previously had with the brand? Blogging allows current and potential consumers to associate the brand with a face and a personality. It bridges the distant gap that has existed between the “inaccessible” company and the “average” consumer. Brito said, “It’s a way for us to appear less corporate and put a human face when we interact online. We believe people relate more effectively to other people instead of a logo or corporate brand.”

Additionally, the blog is a representation of the company’s values, beliefs, philosophy and direction. If they are involved in a medium that encourages a two-way conversation, it shows their consumers that they care about their opinions. Brill noted, “Blogging lets us communicate with our customers in a more personal and direct way. But more importantly, blogging gives us a much needed way for customers to communicate with us. Customers are able to interact with comments and potentially provide valuable feedback or insight that can be brought back into the business.”

Although direct interaction with customers is an incredible incentive, there are many other benefits to blogging. It has the power to position employees as thought-leaders in their industry, to assist in reputation management during crises; to build brand awareness and loyalty; and to increase brand visibility, traffic and links.

Steps Fortune 500 companies take to Create a Blog

1. Determine if blogging is a good fit for your company

There are many corporations that are seduced by the concept of blogging. It is important to examine the target audience and if a blog is a good way to reach them. Research the socialsphere to learn what your audience generally does online.

2. Determine if your company is willing to invest in a blog

Although blogs can be built on free platforms, it is important that the company is willing to invest money into customizing the design of the blog, hiring experts for training, allocating manpower hours for blogging, and so on. Jeremy Wright, CEO of b5media, noted, “A bad blog is worse than no blog. A dead blog is worse than no blog. But an engaging blog is one of the best things in the world that you can do for your business.”

3. Create a strategy

After collecting all the essential data and having the approval necessary to proceed, it is important to write a strategy that defines the direction of the blog and its purpose. Brill said, “The strategy answered the basic questions of why we were entering the blogosphere, what our goals were and how we were going to measure the results.”

4. Ensure that everyone is on the same page

It is important for all the key players to be aware that the company is launching a blog that represents a specific component of the company. Providing them with the strategy document or an executive summary will increase their willingness to contribute to the blog. Brito said, “In the corporate environment, it is important to get everyone aligned internally (i.e. legal, privacy &security, marketing, product teams, customer support). They need to be aware of the blog not only because they may want to support it, but also for approvals.”

5. Determine the Involvement of PR

Many blogs have failed because they were used as a forum to share news releases, commercial information, and white papers. However, if the PR department is knowledgeable about blogging best practices, this should not be a problem. There are many different perspectives on this specific topic. When asked if a company’s PR department should manage the blog, Brito said that their involvement in blogging depends on their knowledge of the blogosphere. A PR department that has extensive writing experience that would be helpful in crafting interesting posts.

On the other hand, some companies regard the PR team a corporate policy enforcer and as an “in-case-of-emergency” liaison during challenging situations. Brill shared, “PR department should manage the blog policy and should be involved if a legal issue were to come up.”

However, the PR team should never be kept out of the blogging team altogether. The company needs to decide which role they will play depending on their goals and strategy. Anderson said, “PR should be involved and part of the team but not doing the blogging.”

6. Select Bloggers

Before identifying the bloggers, it is important to decide if this blog will have a single voice or will have multiple authors. Cisco, HP, and Intel have multi-authored blogs. If the company has many products and services in its portfolio, then having many subject matter experts blog is a good idea. Brill said, “We chose a heterogeneous team of experts to make sure we had coverage in all of the areas our customers might be interested in.”

However, it is important to note that mutli-authored blogs aren’t the only direction corporations should take. Companies can select a specific employee as the sole blogger who communicates product-related updates, company news and industry views. Also, this is a good time to determine if the company wants the CEO to blog. Brito encourages top executives of smaller-sized companies to be the voice of the blog. Anderson added, “It depends on the goal of the blog.”

7. Train the Bloggers

It is true that anyone can blog, only a few can blog well. It is important to train the selected authors on blogging best practices, writing tips, and promotion. This is also an excellent time to share the corporate blog policies in place to avoid any problems in the future.

8. Writing Posts

There are some companies that work with their team to create an editorial calendar that makes it easier for bloggers to author a post without having to work on digging up an idea. Additionally, it establishes blogging frequency, which is crucial for reader retention. Other companies like Intel list out all upcoming events, product launches and post ideas. It is important to avoid including press releases and white papers on the blog. Brito says, “We are talking to real people with real personalities, wants, desires and passions; and it’s important that we treat them that way by paying attention to them. We show them the love and in hopes that they will love us back; and tell people about it too.”

9. Realize that the Blog doesn’t need a tone

When you have a variety of bloggers, the uniqueness of each voice will make the blog more interesting. Brito notes, “Everyone is different and one of our goals for the blog is to be real and personal: real people, real personalities and different points of view. Besides who would want to go to a party where everyone is the same (same tone, same conversation?)”

10. Editing

The company needs to determine if they will implement an editing process. Cisco and Intel do not require their bloggers to send their posts for editing before publishing. They are available if a blogger needs it reviewed or has questions. At HP, Anderson helps with editing, optimizing and formatting the posts. Depending on the sensitivity of the subject, try to avoid an editing process that is convoluted and time-consuming.

Possible Editing Processes:
Blogger > Editor > Blogger > Editor > Publish
Blogger > Editor > Publish
Blogger > Publish

11. Establish a Comment Policy

Blogs aren’t supposed to serve as company megaphones that push corporate messages out to the consumers. The purpose of blogs is to serve as a two-way conversation between the company and the customer. It is important to allow the readers to share their opinion on the blog. Circumventing that will lose readers. Additionally, bloggers and employees should be encouraged to post and respond to comments. This will keep the dialogue going.

At the same time, companies may have a strict policy against foul language and spam. The community typically understands when such comments are deleted. Cisco, Intel and HP allow positive and negative comments. In dealing with negative comments, Brill shares, “Most comments are published within a couple hours including negative comments. Negative comments are handled on a case by case basis- sometimes it is best to sit back and let the others in the community chime in and sometimes clarification maybe needed to set the facts straight. In other cases we engage the commenter directly to understand the negativity.”

12. Develop a Promotion Strategy

The blog might have incredible content, but it will not gain traction unless it is promoted. The target audience needs to know that the blog exists for them to visit it. Brito said, “It’s about equipping and training the bloggers to participate in the conversations that are happening of the corporate domain. Are they on Twitter, Friendfeed, MyBlogLog, and Facebook? Are they spending considerable amount of time building community within these channels and responding to relevant comments? And, are these tools talking to each other and pulling in feeds?” During the pre-launch phase, bloggers can begin establishing profiles, developing a presence, and building a network.

13. Establish a Measurement program

In order to show the success of the blog, the blogging team should establish key metrics that are important to the company. This may include views, comments, backlinks, RSS subscriptions, etc. Brito cautions, “Its common knowledge that 1:1 ration of posts to comments is a good benchmark for corporate blogs. While this may seem a bit low, it may be a good start.”

An additional step to consider is creating a monthly report that shows the level of success the blog is experiencing. The numbers can show key insights into what content worked well, the keywords used to find the blog, and the promotional efforts that drew in the most people. These learnings can be turned into monthly recommendations to the extended blogging team.

Reem Abeidoh writes on Social Media, Current Affairs, Marketing and More. Subscribe to her blog here.

Reflections on Poverty – Blog Action Day 2008

Today is Blog Action Day – a day where thousands of bloggers around the world commit to write on the one topic in the hope of creating awareness around that issue. The topic this year is Poverty. For a lot of great resources on the topic of Poverty check out Learn About Poverty. I’ve included a few of their videos scattered through this post (they don’t relate directly to the stories I’m sharing but hopefully will add to our thinking on the topic today.

This post contains a few reflections on Poverty from my own experience (I’ve also posted a more photographic exploration of the topic of poverty here). It has little to do with blogging – please forgive the diversion – but it is an issue close to my heart and one that I’d like to reflect upon.

As I ponder the topic of Poverty my mind is drawn back to numerous times where I’ve been confronted by it.

Thailand 1990

As an 18 year old (half a lifetime ago now) I was fortunate to spend two weeks in Thailand. I was traveling with a small group of young adults from our church to visit a number of aid projects there. We spent the 14 days traveling around Bangkok, visiting Slums, Prisons, Rural Villages, Schools, Aids Hospices and more. We largely observed the work but at times were able to lend a hand where we could. This was the first time in my life that I’d seen poverty first hand – it was confronting, depressing, confusing and yet somehow inspiring.

Thailand 1992

I was so impacted by what I’d seen and experiences that I decided to return two years later to spend 6 weeks living in one of the Bangkok slums that we’d briefly visited on the first trip. This second trip changed my life as I lived in a small community house that at night housed 8 men with Aids and provided child care for 40-50 children during the days. The centre was built of discarded building materials and stood on stilts over raw sewage that was inhabited by snakes, rats and who knows what else.

While there I was confronted by things I’d never have imagined in my previous middle class existence. Children wandering the streets while their parents worked on rubbish dumps scrounging for food and things that they could sell, women forced into prostitution, drug addiction, watching a woman learn that she had Aids, taking a child to visit his drug addicted father in a Thai jail, seeing the impact of a flood on a place built over sewerage….

Yet while there I was also confronted by things I’d not expected to find including JOYFUL people who appreciated and focused more upon what they did have than what they didn’t, HUMOR (I’ve never seen people laugh as much as the night that community tricked me into eating Bulls testicles), GENEROSITY (I was fed like a king in that place and lavished with gifts before leaving), COMMUNITY (these people came together in ways that were inspiring and make the petty fights that we sometimes have as bloggers look embarrassing), HOPE, FAITH, LIFE and much more.

I returned home from that trip and changed the course of my life in many ways. I received much much more in those 6 weeks than I was able to give.

Philippines 2001

A few years later and ironically just before I got married (a day that I probably spent more money on myself than any other) I helped lead another team of young Australians on a short trip to the Philippines – this time to visit an organization called International Needs who operate out of Manilla but who work in rural areas also. We spent time on that trip again observing and working in a number of aid projects.

A number of images continue to haunt me from that trip.

One was spending a day at a city rubbish dump where thousands of families lived and worked on massive piles of rubbish. They built their little shanty homes on rubbish that periodically would collapse and swallow people. Children worked and played in the filth – it was one of the saddest things I’ve seen.

On another day we traveled for 5-6 hours in the back of a van to a small fishing village where a pastor had started a feeding program for the village’s many children. The children were malnourished – their hair had even begun to change color from the lack of nutrition.

The desperation I saw that day was quite heart breaking. We had brought bread to the village that day to give to the pastor to distribute through his program. Unfortunately someone in the back of the van let the bread be seen by one of the children outside – the word got out that we had food and the van quickly became surrounded by a desperate crowd of people hoping to get just a small share of the bread.

Once again – the memories from this trip are a mix of heart breaking ones an those that give me hope.

One such hopeful memory was seeing a project where money was loaned to families to start their own businesses. A family would by a ‘pedicab’ (a three wheel bike with seats on the back, like a rickshaw/bike taxi) with the loaned money and then over time would pay back the loan while also earning a living for their family. Once the loan was repaid the family would have an ongoing income source and the money would be loaned to another family with the process continuing. This micro-business is all about breaking the cycle of poverty. I actually did a 24 hour blogathon to raise money to be able to seed some of these loans back in 2004.

Today

Today as I ponder the topic of Poverty a lot of these memories continue to cycle through my mind (in fact they do so on almost a daily basis – even years later).

My constant reminder to myself is to not just let these experiences be ‘memories’ have or ‘stories’ that I tell – but to let them be motivation to live a life that makes a difference.

I’m not in the business of sharing how V (my wife) and I ‘give’ to projects like some that I’ve mentioned above but one way that I think many of us making money online can make a difference is by being generous with our earnings. Just this week V and I have been able to find a way to reconnect again with the feeding program in the Fishing Village that I mentioned above and we’re looking at ways that we can use some of what we’ve been given to share into that community. I don’t share this to big note myself – I could give a lot more than I do and am feeling somewhat challenged to do so today – but wanted to mention it in the hope that others might be challenged to examine how they might make a difference also.

Blogging is built on principles of sharing, generosity, creativity and community – my hope is that we continue to explore how it might be used as a medium to not only benefit ourselves (something it does) but those less fortunate than ourselves.

How to Get Search Engine Traffic to Your Blog

“What is the best way to get Search Engine Traffic to Your Blog?”

Last week I spoke at a Search Engine Marketing conference in Sydney about my experience of blogging. As part of the presentation I was asked to talk about my tips on getting traffic from search engines. I thought I’d share a few of the points I made here:

1. Search Traffic has been an important part of my blogging

The amount of traffic that the blogs I’ve worked on get from Search Engines varies considerably from blog to blog but on my two current blogs I get 25-35% of my traffic from Search Engines (largely Google).

Here’s a chart showing how Search Traffic fits into the mix of my photography blog traffic (from a couple of months back):

search-engine-traffic.png

You can see that Search Engine Traffic is not the biggest source of traffic (social media takes that award) but it is significant considering the site gets over a million visits a month.

2. Search Traffic isn’t Everything

Looking at the above chart you see that if I was to only ever focus upon Search Engine Traffic that I could potentially be loosing up to 67% of my blog’s traffic.

One of the main points I made yesterday is that people shouldn’t become obsessed by Search. While it has amazing potential – I find that sites grow best when they have a variety of sources of traffic (including from Search Engines).

Here is another chart from the presentation which shows the four main areas that I put effort into when thinking about driving traffic – Search, Social Media, Community and Content.

balance-in-search-engine-traffic.png

Search Engine Optimization, participating in social media, building community and producing content are four important elements of building a site that gets (and keeps) high levels of traffic. When a blogger becomes obsessed by any one of them (to the detriment of others) the site can suffer (or at least not realize its potential). When the four elements come together a blog can grow quite rapidly.

3. SEO is Important

Learning the basics of Search Engine Optimization is important as a blogger. While most blog platforms these days come fairly well optimized for Google there are always tweaks that can be made. For example on WordPress the title tags that are served up by default can be tweaked to not show your blog’s name on each post on your blog (or at least to put it after the post name).

There are also a lot of easy ways to optimize a post for search engine traffic while writing posts. For example formatting images well with SEO in mind and using good keywords in titles.

SEO really does make a difference and bloggers who learn the basics can see significant increases in traffic. It is well worth investing time into learning it.

Learn more SEO techniques in previous posts on ProBlogger:

Highly Recommended – Also check out Aaron Wall’s SEObook for some excellent training on SEO. Consider it an investment in learning how to drive traffic to your blog.

4. Great Content is More Important than SEO

I felt strange saying this at a conference where SEO companies were pitching for clients and talking about the importance of building links to a site – but in my experience the most important thing you can do to build your blog’s search engine traffic is to write the most amazing, useful, authoritative and inspiring content possible.

Here’s the question you need to be asking while writing each post:

How can I make this the type of post that people will want to share with others?

Search Engine authority has a habit of coming to those blogs who consistently produce content that enhances peoples lives, meets needs and solves problems. If you create something that does some of these things it is quite likely that the all important links that your blog needs to build search engine authority will come as people link up on their blogs, share the link on social messaging and bookmarking sites, email their friends etc

While great content doesn’t automatically equal lots of traffic – if you produce it consistently over time and actively participate in social media and within your blog’s niche it has a habit of building your traffic and search engine authority.

I’m not anti using link building strategies (ie asking people for links) but I’ve never really done it (I may have once or twice in the early days of my blogging). I know some bloggers who spend many hours each month ‘building links’ but wonder what would happen if instead they concentrated on using that time to build linkable content?

Perhaps I’m a little naive – but Google is in the business of ranking the best sites highest. They want to rank great content in the #1 position – so, my aim as a blogger is to write that kind of content.

Further Reading on Writing Great Blog Posts – How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause

How do you Get Search Engine Traffic To Your Blog?

There you have it my philosophy and approach to getting search engine traffic on blogs. What would you add?

Do you do much Search Engine Optimization? Is it something you put much time into or just let look after itself? What SEO techniques have been most effective for you?

Keys to Success – Jerry Seinfeld Style

On a recent 15 hour flight from the US to Melbourne I was surfing through the in flight entertainment and came across an interview with Jerry Seinfeld.

The interviewer asked Jerry for his keys to being successful and Jerry answered with three points (I’m sure I’ve heard him talk about these before in other contexts also). The three points are simple – yet challenging and as I listened to him talk about them it struck me that they were three great tips for bloggers wanting to be successful.

Here they are (paraphrased):

  1. bust your ass – whatever you do, work at it with everything you have. He talked about doing things that you enjoy and are passionate about but then working your ass off.
  2. pay attention - be attentive and learn from everything around you. Ask lots of questions in every situation you find yourself in.
  3. fall in love – if you find something good in life, stop and enjoy the moment. Learn to see the good around you and celebrate it!

Three great lessons for life and for blogging.

If you have a spare 55 minutes and 33 seconds this weekend….

Produced by Dr. Micael Wesch and his team at Kansas State University – via David.

Should Blogs Have Comments?

Should blogs have comments?

It is a question that comes up fairly regularly in blogging circles and one that different bloggers take different approaches to.

  • Most bloggers have them – they’re on by default when they set their blog up and they never switch them off. They see the comments as adding a lot to the blog – making it a place of shared learning, interactivity and dynamic conversation.
  • Other bloggers decide not to have them. Their reasons vary from not having time to moderate them to being frustrated by comment spam.

Between these views other bloggers take a variety of other approaches ranging from:

  • having comments on some posts but not others
  • switching comments off over a certain amount of time (to protect from comment spam)
  • to not having comments in the early days of a blog and switching them on later once there is a big enough audience to justify them (this is what I did on DPS).
  • to requiring membership for comments (thereby effectively switching them off to the general public and reserving the privilege to comment for those willing to sign up).

There are many options – but I thought it’d be interesting to open it up for some discussion.

  • Do you have comments on your blog? Why or Why Not?
  • Do you think a blog is a blog without comments?
  • What are the advantages of having or not having them?

Interested to see where this discussion leads us.

Further Reading on Comments on Blogs: