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The Future of Pro Blogging: Will You Make the Cut?

This guest post is by Sunil of the Extra Money Blog.

Saturation, Panda, Penguin, Zebra and Donkey have changed the blogosphere completely from what it was. With a new blog going up every 90 seconds, what will it take to succeed as a blogger in the future?

Blogs started as personal web logs or diaries, and readers flocked to specific blogs to follow their favorite writers and topics. But with the increasing number of blogs on the same subject matter, what will differentiate your blog from another?

A blog is now very seldom used as a personal web log. Facebook and other social hubs provide an outlet for people interested in personal raving and ranting. Blogs, at least the more popular ones with mass followership, are now platforms where readers go to obtain thought leadership on a specific subject matter expertise. At least that’s how I see it from my perspective influenced by my observations online.

With all of us lacking the common element of time, readers need a compelling reason to follow you as a blogger. You need to carefully think about your value proposition if you want to grow in this space beyond just having a few hundred friends and family riding on your bandwagon.

Ask any successful blogger today whether they can succeed the same amount in the same time frame as they did earlier. In most cases the answer will be no. There is no doubt a blog like Problogger.net can be successful if started today, but it will certainly take a lot more work and a lot more time to reach the same level of success. With more saturation comes an exponentially more difficult success curve. I am sure Darren will tell you the same.

The pretenders

The pretenders are people I classify as those who are not necessarily subject matter experts in the topics they blog about, but are at least somewhat interested in those topics, either because of potential profits involved or as hobbyists or aspiring students of the subject.

And while many pretenders can be dedicated students of the topics they blog about, often they lack personal, practical, first-hand experience.

Until recently, many pretenders did just fine, leveraging search engine optimization and other internet marketing strategies like aggressive link building and social media initiatives. However, recent changes in search engine algorithms such as the Google Panda and Penguin (see below) updates have changed the game significantly to favor true subject matter experts.

With the recent changes taking place, several non-SEO attributes, such as the time spent by a reader on a website, carry a lot more weight than before. Your content cohesiveness and relevancy matters more than ever before. Google has also gotten much better at identifying unnatural link building initiatives, which are more often engaged in by the pretenders (experts automatically attract links).

Several pretenders have been hurt as a result of this evolution. For example, Shamelle from Better Blogging Ways had her site completely wiped out due to “over optimization”, which is a key component of the Google Penguin update. In a much broader study of over 1,000 respondents to a poll, 65% of SEOs where hurt by the Google Penguin update.

Where in the past, internet marketers were able to manage a portfolio of niche web properties that were “thin” in nature with “quality” and useful—but not expert—content, we’ve seen a big shift in the direction in which search engines are headed, whether deliberately or not. Search engines favor the true experts.

The experts

True expertise stands out loud and clear, because not only does it carry with it deep, engaging, and high-quality content, but also volume, value, and real social proof. Blog readers are a lot more sophisticated today, and are easily able to sift through the minutiae and find the blogs authored by true experts. Your readers can definitely see through the tone and voice of your writing.

It is no surprise that search engines are favoring bigger sites with thicker content when they display a search engine results page (SERP). These sites are often ones that are authored by people that have first-hand, expert experience in the subject matter; for example, the author’s profession, skill, expertise, often accompanied by factual data, numbers, graphs, and charts of sorts. Now that is sexy—it’s exactly what readers want.

Take it from someone who both has a portfolio of several thin niche sites, and more recently a handful of expert authority sites: I have seen online ranking and revenues decrease for some of my thinner niche sites, while I have seen revenues from my bigger, deeper, expert-authority niche sites climb. Not long ago, I wrote about my biggest Google Adsense earnings check, worth $5,963.41. These earnings were generated by significantly larger, authority niche sites.

In another case study, I have seen my expert authority site on requirements to become a CPA pick up organic traffic a lot faster and more naturally than any other site I have established in the past.

Why? Because I am a CPA (Certified Public Accountant. I know the accounting industry inside-out, and can write straight from my knowledge base, first-hand experience, and years of expertise. The content is genuine, solid and I know that I can produce the best content on this particular topic.

Having said that, establishing such web properties takes exponentially more time and effort relative to, say, a niche site that was built and let alone for the sole purpose of generating ad revenue from Adsense.

But this is exactly what Google seems to want. It is well apparent that Google is pushing authors in the direction of establishing expert authority websites, and naturally—because of what it takes to do so—one can now effectively only manage a smaller number of web properties (as opposed to a large portfolio of thinner sites they could run in the past).

The future of professional blogging

There are still thin, niche websites that do well, but that will last only while there is little to no competition. It is my contention that a new site with even the most mediocre content on the same subject can likely knock a thin site out of the ranks if it carries more content or has a slightly better command over the subject matter.

So while there are those remote possibilities, the message is loud and clear.

If you want to be a successful blogger going forward, read the writing on the wall and focus on topics that you are a true expert in. This is clearly the direction Google is trying to push us into, and it’s obviously what today’s sophisticated readers want.

With each search engine update comes an additional push in a forced direction, compelling internet marketers to adapt, which in the grand scheme of things enhances the web with bigger and better sites of higher quality, truly expert content.

And with that comes a very interesting question: can one website, blog or online business actually become the most comprehensive resource of its kind on its subject? If another player was to challenge Google with a different approach that also supported quality, but in a different way, what could that mean for the web?

Are we going to experience free market capitalism on the democratic web space soon? Let freedom ring—and let the white dove sing. Share your thoughts and opinions with me in the comments.

Sunil is the author of the Extra Money Blog, a platform that discusses expedited wealth building through multiple streams of active and passive income where you can download his free report on How to Establish a $1,000 a Month Passive Income Stream in Your Spare Time in Less Than 180 Days. He was a CPA in his previous life and has also authored the CPA Requirements portal which guides CPA candidates in passing the CPA exam and expediting their career success.

Link-building Tips and Tools for Bloggers in a Post-Panda and Penguin World

This guest post is by Corey Northcutt of Northcutt.

There have been several great link building posts so far this year on ProBlogger, including 10 No-Nonsense Ways to Build Links, How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links, and A New Linking Strategy. And of course, Darren wrote earlier today advocating a more level-headed approach to backlinks.

So you might be asking what more can be written about link building for bloggers? The answer is, a lot. Bloggers have an advantage that static and retail websites don’t. There are tons of great link-building strategies that can be utilized to increase backlinks.

Link building post-Panda and Penguin

Before we get started, I just thought I would mention a few Google algorithm changes that you should know about when thinking about link building in 2012.

Google’s Panda update

In February of 2011, Google released the Panda update that took rankings away from websites with low-quality content and sites with more advertising than content.

This affected anyone who used article marketing as a way to build links and drive traffic to their websites, since article networks were hit the hardest, though some—like HubPages—regained their rankings in subsequent updates.

Later, social networks like Digg, Last.fm, and others were affected as well.

Digg's search engine rankings

Not sure if your favorite website, link source, or network was hit by Panda? Check by going to the following URL, and replace domain.com with the website’s domain.

http://www.semrush.com/info/history/index.html?domains[]=domain.com

You will then see a graph showing the website’s estimated number of keywords in search. If you see the graph going up, that means they are gaining more visibility in search. If it’s going down, then they are losing visibility.

You can even use the Google Algorithm Change History chart to match a spike in search rankings with a specific Google update.

Google’s Penguin update

If that wasn’t enough, along came Penguin. Penguin, announced in April 2012, decreased search visibility of websites that participated in black-hat SEO, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes, duplicate content, and other activities that violated Google Webmaster Guidelines. This affected anyone who built links through link exchanges, reciprocal linking, paid links, spammy links, and any links that Google interpreted as “intended to manipulate PageRank.”

Hence, if you want to avoid being penalized, avoid the following:

  • over-use of keyword-based anchor text (aka, hundreds or thousands of links built to the same keyword phrases)
  • lots of sitewide sidebar and footer links
  • paid links (with the exception of those from directories)
  • always linking to your homepage (as a blog, you should have lots of links built to your blog posts too).

The goal to any and all link building is to make your link profile look natural. Links from a variety of different types of websites with an extremely varied usage of anchor text make for a great, natural profile.

Link-building strategies for bloggers

Now that you know some things to avoid, here are some things you can actually do to build links to your blog. You have probably heard of some of these strategies before, but hopefully those will at least include an extra tip or two that you might not have tried yet.

Remember that link building should not just be solely for increasing search engine rankings or building up PageRank. The point to building links, in the eyes of Google, is to increase your traffic and build useful relationships.  This should be your immediate goal as well. Links can do this regardless of whether or not they contain the “nofollow” attribute, contain redirects, come from a site with a high PageRank, and so on.

With this in mind, it’s a mistake to focus on any one type of link as if it were the most valuable trick in the bunch—the web does not work this way.

1. Submit your blog to blog directories

One advantage blogs have over other websites is the ability to submit to tons of various blog and RSS aggregators. These directories will either list just your blog, or your blog’s latest posts, or both. Although it has been several months since the list has been updated, there is a huge compilation of blog and RSS directories listed at TopRank.

Don’t have time to submit to them all? Then you will want to at least submit to quality ones like Alltop (free), Best of the Web Blogs (fee required), and Technorati (free).

2. Complete your social network and forum profiles

If you participate on any social media network, social bookmarking site, community, or forum, you will want to make sure that you have a link to your blog on that website in your profile.

If you are an active member of the community and contribute valuable information, chances are people will want to get to know you better by visiting your blog. Don’t leave them without a link to click on! And when it comes to forums, if the forum allows a link in your signature for each post you submit, be sure to include one as those will get more clicks than the ones in your profile.

links on social profiles

3. Become a guest author

Guest blogging is really the best way bloggers can build links to their website that will not only count for search rankings (99% of the time) but will also lead to increased traffic generation. So how do you find blogs to submit guest posts to? There are a few good ways.

  • Search Google using queries with the keyword of your niche plus “submit guest post,” “guest post guidelines,” “guest author guidelines,” “guest post by,” and so on.
  • Check out lists like the 202+ High Quality Internet Marketing PR3 – PR8 Blogs That Accept Guest Posts.
  • Join communities like My Blog Guest.
  • Use Google Authorship. If you know a blogger who writes a lot of guest posts, search for their name and Google+ on Google. For me, you would search Corey Northcutt Google Plus. Then, under the link to my Google+ profile is a link to More by Corey Northcutt. Click on that link to see what blogs I and other prolific guest bloggers have contributed content to.

Of course, finding opportunities to guest post is only a quarter of the battle. If you want have a high rate of guest post acceptance, you will likely need to meet these criteria:

  • Be a recognized name to the blog owner by commenting on the blog (with valuable comments) as often as possible.
  • Follow the blog for a little while to get a feel for the topics, length of posts, writing style, and formatting. If the blog has guest post guidelines, be sure to follow those in your submission.
  • Research the topic you are about to propose to see if someone else has already covered. The easiest way is to use the search box on the blog itself or go to Google and search site:domain.com topic keywords and change domain.com to the domain of the blog.
  • Submit only original content. No one wants a post that you’ve already published elsewhere.
  • Make sure your post content includes links to the blog’s other posts. See the first paragraph of this post as an example.
  • Format your author bio similarly to other guest authors. For example, if they generally have no more than two sentences, a link to their blog, and a link to their Twitter, then yours should not be five sentences with three links to different websites.

4. Contribute unique content to quality article networks

Article directories get a lot of legitimate scrutiny by professional SEOs, but I’m going to mention this anyway.  I’m not talking about hiring someone in India to write you a $2 article.  I’m referring to legitimate, high-quality editorial contributions to only the sites with the highest standards.

While guest blogging has many more benefits than article networks, some bloggers may find it difficult to score guest posting opportunities if they are new which makes article networks the next best thing. When I say unique content, I mean content that hasn’t been “spun” or published elsewhere. And when I say quality article networks, I mean ones that:

  • have some sort of moderation: they shouldn’t just let anyone post anything they want
  • fit your niche, like Self Growth for the self-improvement and personal development niche
  • have a built-in community that actually wants to read articles, like HubPages and Squidoo (You can typically tell this from the number of followers authors have and quality comments their articles receive. Note that the comments also need to be recent.)
  • feature authors on their homepage, newsletters, etc.
  • don’t have too many ads on article content or the site as a whole. This is because A) Google tends to penalize sites that do (see Google Panda update information above) and B) the more ads on your content, the less likelihood that anyone will click on your link.
  • allow you to add more than just text to your content—include images and video.

5. Get your content on weekly roundups

A trend in the blogging world is to create a weekly or monthly roundup of the latest posts on particular topics. For example…

These are only a few examples, and mostly in the online marketing niche, but chances are there are others in other niches. Your goal, if you want to be included in these roundups, is to get on the radar of the people who create them. Ways to do this include interacting with them on Twitter (I included their Twitter handles for this purpose) and commenting on their blog (especially recap posts) with your blog link.

6. Comment on blogs

Blog commenting is powerful for a variety of reasons beyond just link building.  Again, this is not to be abused for anchor text links and generic comments, but if you leave valuable engagement, you will likely get the attention of the blog owner and authors of the blog plus other members of the blog’s commenting community. This will inevitably drive traffic back to your website.

The key is to comment on active blogs. In days of yore, link builders would search only for dofollow blogs (blogs that removed the nofollow attribute from comment author’s links) and seek out posts that were months or even years old simply because those posts have gained some PageRank over time. Doing this is pretty much worthless in terms of getting attention from people in your niche or driving traffic to your website. Instead, aim for new blog posts, and aim to be the first comment on the post.

When it comes to leaving links, leave behind our blog’s URL in the website field. And use your real name—preferably first and last name because John Johansen will stick more in someone’s mind that simply John.

To get an extra link to your blog in your comment, look for blogs using the CommentLuv plugin (do a Google search for your niche keywords + CommentLuv enabled to find them). They allow you to add a link to your latest blog post to your comment.

commentluv-enabled blogs

Also, if you use the Livefyre comment system on your blog, look for other blogs using Livefyre. Some have a feature called My Latest Conversations enabled which will automatically link to your latest blog post at the end of your comment. These links back to your latest post are even more powerful than the link to your main blog since people can easily see your latest and greatest headline and click through to it.

7. Use your blog’s design

Looks can get you far when it comes to building links. If you have a unique design, there are galleries that exist purely to showcase blog designs. If you use WordPress, there are galleries that are all for WordPress designs (like We Love WordPress) or at least have a category for them (like Best CSS Gallery and CMS Designs). Some theme designers even have a showcase of blogs using their designs, like Organic Themes, WooThemes, DIYthemes, Templatic, and StudioPress (to name a few).

So search for galleries for your blog’s platform and theme, then see if your design has what it takes to get listed in their showcase.

Link-building tools

Of course, a link building guide wouldn’t be complete without some helpful tools. Here are some inexpensive (and even free) tools you can use to research link opportunities, keep track of your links, and measure the fruits of your link-building labor.

  • Spreadsheets: If you need a place to organize your top links, spreadsheets can be an inexpensive (if your use Microsoft Office) or free solution (if you use Open Office or Google Docs). Be sure to enter the URL your link will be placed upon, the URL of your website that you are submitting, the anchor text you use, and whether the link is live or pending. Marking pending links will help you be able to go back and follow up on them later.
  • Webmaster Tools: If you want to take inventory of the links you already have, you can find them by visiting either (or both) Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Both are free to set up and can give you lots of valuable information about your website.
  • Open Site Explorer: Open Site Explorer is part of the SEOmoz toolset. You can use it to get limited information about any website’s backlinks by signing up for a free account, or get full information by signing up for a Pro account. It’s pricey at $99 per month, but if you are planning on doing lots of link building, it’s a useful tool set to have access to. If you just need it for a short amount of time, you can get full access to all of the pro tools for 30 days with a free trial.
  • Authority Labs: Authority Labs allows you to see your website’s rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing for keywords you specify. Once you have completed the free trial, you will be asked to either enter your billing information of stay on with a  free account that will monitor the rankings of ten keywords for one domain. Additional keywords and domains start at $9 per month.
  • Google Alerts: This counts as a tool and a strategy. Chances are, there will be people who mention your name or your blog on their website but don’t actually link out to you. Set up a Google Alert for your name or blog name, and Google will email you any mentions it finds. Then all you have to do check out the mentions (which is good for reputation management anyway) and kindly ask that someone who mentions you links to you too!

There are lots of other link building tools out there (almost too many to mention), so shop around.  Often, the best tools are simple hacks that are almost too obvious to cross your mind. You can learn about more of these little tricks and reviews of the larger titles in these posts by Point Blank SEO, Search Engine Journal, and SEOmoz.

I hope that the information, strategies, tips, and tools help you in your quest to attaining more links to your blog to help increase your visibility in search and overall traffic. Any questions? Let me know in the comments!

This is a guest post by Corey Northcutt , CEO of Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency.

Traffic Technique 6: Backlinks

Backlinks have become a topic of much discussion since Google’s Penguin update set back the ranks of websites whose backlink profiles seemed “unnatural.”

Links in a chain

Image courtesy stock.xchng user jingvillar

But before we get into that, let’s stop and take a step back to look at the backlink “bigger picture.”

Links are the glue that holds the web together. Without links between sites, the web would be a lot less of a “web”—it would probably be a strange collection of isolated pages. That wouldn’t be much help, because we’d have no way of moving between those pages—either on our sites, or between sites.

So links are an integral part of the web. They’re a bit like the roadways that web traffic drives on. Search engines link to the sites they list, advertising links to sales pages, and other tools that aren’t part of the web, but are still online—like RSS and email—help us generate traffic through links.

Links and search

The search engines have always given attention to links between sites, as those links are seen as an indication of the authority or value of the linked sites. Originally they gave value to links, the link text, and the metadata associated with links, such as link titles and follow attributes.

But things have changed. The idea that links between sites were bad news originated with the idea that PageRank could be reduced if you “shared” it among too many external links form a page. And now the Penguin update has people scrambling to remove their backlinks from sites that link to them. What a turnaround!

Organic search is, for most of us, a major traffic generator. But by trying to shape their backlinks—and their “backlink profiles,” the aggregate of all the backlinks to their sites—many bloggers worked to construct links that best suited the search algorithms.

As we’ve seen, that’s a risky thing to do, because as soon as the algorithm changes (as with Penguin), your site loses rank.

The far better option is to construct all links—the ones you include on your site, the ones you publish in off-site content and promotions, and so on—for users, the same as you do (I hope!) your content.

Links for readers

It makes perfect sense that the links that generate the greatest traffic will be those that make the most sense to users, and are the most attractive to them.

What that means is that link context, and link text, are really important. They’re important in attracting readers’ attention and encouraging them to click. But context and text are also critical in qualifying the readers who do click.

To put that another way, there’s no point misleading readers with the text of your link, and the place where you include it, because they’ll only be disappointed when they get to the linked page. Oh, and the search engines will penalise those sites, too.

Of course that reality can also work for us: we can use honest, reader-focused linking to ensure that the people we want to reach the content we’ve prepared specifically for them, do! Not only will the readers love us, but the search engines like it, too.

A good link

So, what makes a good link?

The text that’s used in links to your site should describe the content that’s being linked to.

That means that the links to your blog won’t all read the same way, they won’t all talk about the same product or promotion you’re running, and they won’t all be crammed with keywords.

They won’t all link to the homepage, either—over time it’s only to be expected that different people will link to different pages on your blog, in discussions about those different topics and posts.

This is natural linking at its best—and it’s how users make sense of the information that’s available on the web.

Don’t forget, either, the menu, sitemap, and footer links on your blog. Does it really help users on your fishing blog to include the keyword “fishing” into each main menu item, page title, or footer link? Hopefully they’ll be able to tell from the context provided by your blog’s design and content that the various sections are about fishing.

Ultimately, I feel that good links are like good SEO—if you do it as a matter of course, and a matter of providing great content to your readers, the backlink issues will all take care of themselves. What do you think?

Protect Your Content from Being Copied in 3 Steps

This guest post is by Abhishek of Budding Geek.

Content scraping still haunts the entire blogosphere. No matter how hard you try to defend your creation, content thieves will always find a way to steal it!

It really feels terrible to find exact copies of your original work distributed all over the internet, often without any credit or link back to your blog as the source. The most frustrating part is when you find the copied content outranking your own blog in the search engines.

How can someone copy content from your blog?

Copycats can steal your content in a number of ways, but there are two key techniques:

  1. by directly copying text and images from your published post and re-publishing the content on the spammer’s blog (or splog!)
  2. by scraping your RSS feed. The truth is, this form of plagiarism is the most difficult to tackle.

Since plagiarism is impossible to obliterate, we need to safeguard our blogs from these vulnerabilities in such a way that it becomes at least extremely difficult for the content thief to plagiarize our content.

Protect your blog content

There are a few different ways you can protect your blog content.

1. Disable text selection on your blog

This is the first and most essential step to discourage direct copying of your content.

Users of the Blogger platform can disable text selection from their blogs by manually installing some JavaScript code before the closing <head> tag in the HTML of their blog.

WordPress users can add this feature by installing the wpcopyprotect plugin.

2. Watermark your images

It’s important to watermark all the original images you’ve created for use on your blog. A watermark proves that you are the owner of the copyright to all those images. Moreover, watermarks discourage others from using your photos and illustrations on their blog, since they’d have your blog’s name all over theirs!

Although there are many watermarking utilities available on the internet, I generally prefer to use Windows Live Writer’s inbuilt watermark plugin. Note that if you’re using photos from any other outside source on the web (like Flickr or Picasa), it’s up to you to take a notice of their licenses before reusing them—otherwise you might find yourself guilty of ripping someone else’s content!

3. Manage your RSS feeds

A few months ago, I encountered a terrible content scraper who, I think, was using content scraping software and publishing my posts under several different permalinks. Sounds scary, right? This software basically scans your main content and republishes your posts with the main keywords replaced by synonyms. Isn’t that irritating?

These auto-publishing sploggers target the RSS feed of your blog, where they scrape your creation in just a matter of seconds! In order to stop such exploitation you should either allow partial/short RSS feeds (so that the scraping software doesn’t take all of your content) or add a custom feed signature with a copyright notice in the feed footer section of your blog, like this:

© 2012, All Rights Reserved ¦ yourblog.com

Note that, like a waternark on an image, this note won’t prevent your content from being taken—but when it’s reproduced on another site, readers will see that the content is being used illegally.

Users of the Blogger platform can add a custom feed signature by navigating to Other settings for your blog, then in the Site Feed section, add the following feed signature in the post feed footer:

<p> © copyright 2012 – All rights reserved </p>
<a href=”
http://www.yourblogaddress.com“>Your Blog</a>

For the WordPress platform, I stumbled upon this excellent free plugin that adds a custom signature in the feed footer.

These tips can definitely help you to reduce plagiarism of your content. But what other techniques have you tried? Share them with us in the comments.

Abhishek is a part time blogger from Delhi who loves to write unique and interesting tech tips on a variety of topics like blogging, making money online, SEO, internet marketing and gadgets. Apart from that he is a die heart android fan and so don’t be surprised if you find loads of android tips on his budding blog!

Streamline Your SEO Efforts With Expired Domains

This guest post is by Matt Green of Evergreen Internet Marketers.

Have you ever thought or heard about buying aged domains to boost your SEO efforts? Well the results can be staggering. A lot of the top marketers in the industry have been doing this for years and have been dominating their markets! In fact, a recent post here on Problogger.net explained how this technique was used to reposition a business.

Not sure what an aged domain name is? Well it’s an expired domain name that typically has authority, age, page rank, back links, and various other components that make expired domain names very powerful. You should be purchasing expired domain names because most of the work is already done for you.

Instead of working hard building backlinks and doing a ton of off-page SEO, you can find great expired domain names for which these tedious tasks are already done. The advantage of buying expired domains is that these domains can help you boost your rankings in the markets you are already in to drive more leads and subscribers to your blog.

The benefits of expired domains

Buying expired domains has numerous benefits, but these are the main advantages.

Benefit #1. Drive traffic through sub-niches

You can find exact-match domain names so you can target sub-niches that are relevant to the market you’re currently targeting, to help you drive more targeted traffic to your websites. The huge opportunity in finding these domain names is that they’re usually not very competitive and you can take over the sub-niches in as little as a couple weeks. The potential traffic you could be reaching can vary, but this can be a very profitable way to grow your business.

Benefit #2. Cut your workload in half with established backlinks

The second benefit to buying aged domain names is that they already have authority and backlinks. This can really help you out tremendously. It’s very time-consuming to create high quality, relevant back links—exactly what Google and the rest of the search engines require.

Backlinks are a necessity to online success. With expired domain names, someone else has put in all the hard work—and you can pick up right where that person left off. Once you get the domain, you can build more backlinks to rank in the search engines much faster than if you were to buy a brand-new domain where you have to start from scratch.

Benefit #3. Get instant page rank

Another huge benefit to buying expired domain names is that you can find domains that have page rank. This is a huge added benefit because, again, it takes time to establish a domain name and build up its page rank. When you’re buying an aged domain name you can literally buy domains with page rank overnight. This really streamlines the process, so you can build authority and traffic extremely fast!

Benefit #4. Expired domains for the masses

With 100,000 domain names expiring every single day, there is a huge opportunity for you. It’s physically impossible to look at all these domains every day, so the competition isn’t particularly fierce. Typically, you can find a great domain name and buy it for as little as $12. Who else besides me would love to buy an established domain name with lots of backlinks and page rank for just $12? This brings a huge opportunity to website owners.

Benefit #5. Directory listings done for you

Have you ever wanted to get into DMOZ, Yahoo, but thought it’d take ages? Well another huge benefit to buying expired domain names is that you can find domains that are already listed in these directories. This way, you don’t have to spend days and weeks trying to get your website submitted into powerful directories that have a lot of influence for your domain name.

The DMOZ directory can be very hard to get into. You submit your website and wait weeks to have someone review it to see if it is of high enough quality to be included in their index. But you can forget about this task if the expired domain name you buy is already listed in the DMOZ directory.

The Yahoo directory needs to approve your website and on top of that you have to pay Yahoo $299 to join. Why spend the money when you can buy an expired domain name that’s already in the directory for $12?

Expired domain pitfalls

Of course, there are some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid if you’re looking to buy expired domains. Let’s look at them now.

Pitfall #1. Buying domains that lack value

Beginners tend to buy domain names that have no value. You need to do your due diligence and make sure you’re picking the right expired domain names that will enable you to drive consistent, reliable traffic to your website over time.

Pitfall #2. Bidding too soon

When they find a great domain name, sometimes people will bid on it when there’s still more than a day left until the domain auction ends. This can really hurt you, because you’re sure to draw attention to the auction, which can inflate the domain’s price. The best time to bid on a domain auction is within the auction’s last ten minutes.

So many people make this mistake. If they’d just waited for the last ten minutes to place their bid, they’d have won the auction at cost! Bidding too early can drive competitors to the auction listing, which can cause you to pay more than you need to for your target domains.

Pitfall #3. Keep away from the competition

Another pitfall to watch out for is to assess the competition the domain name has. If you pick a domain name that has a keyword that’s very competitive you may want to move on and find a different domain. You want to be picking domains up to rank fast, so you don’t want to find out later that you can’t rank for the keyword because it’s too competitive.

You need to make sure you do some research on the domain name to make sure that the keyword that the domain will be ranking for doesn’t have too much competition. If the domain name has too much competition, it could take you a long time to reach a decent rank with that domain.

Seeking expired domains

Keen to dip your toes in the expired domain waters? The main sources of expired domains are places like GoDaddy, NameJet, Sedo, Snapnames, and Flippa. There are over 100,000 domain names expiring every day so I would recommend using an expired domain name service to help you sift through them all.

There is a ton of potential and opportunity for you to grow your business right away with these expired domains. Have you ever bought an expired domain? Let me know how it went in the comments.

This guest post is by Matt Green of Evergreen Internet Marketers.

How Inspiring Your Readers Drives them to Search for Information (and Interact)

One of my mantras that I’ve shared many times when speaking, and here in posts on ProBlogger, is to build blogs that:

Interaction

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Eastop

  1. inspire
  2. inform
  3. interact.

My experience is that a blog can really come alive when you not only provide readers with information, but also give them inspiration and a place to interact with one another.

One of the first times I discovered the secret of inspirational content was on Digital Photography School (my main blog) when I started posting image collections of great images that I’d found on Flickr.

Up until this time, most of the posts on dPS would have fitted into the “informational” category of posts—they were largely tutorials and how-to type content.

These new inspirational image collection posts were simply collections of images on a theme, with little written content.

For example, here’s one of the early ones—7 Clone Shots. At the time, thise was widely linked to around the web and rose to the front pages of social bookmarking sites like Digg.

These inspirational image posts really resonated with readers, and were the kind of content people wanted to share. They drove large amounts of traffic, so I built them into dPS’s regular posting schedule.

Inspiration leads people to search for information

After a while, I discovered that besides the traffic that they drove to the site these inspiration posts had another impact: they drove people to our “information” posts.

I noticed this one day after posting an image collection of 15 Long Exposure Images. Not only did the post attract a lot of traffic, but I noticed another post on our site was also getting quite a bit of traffic that day—a post I’d written a year earlier called How to Shoot Light Trails.

This second post was not linked to from the image collection post. What I discovered was that people arriving on that post were so inspired by the images in the image collection that they were using our search tool t find information on shooting long exposures—that’s how they were finding the earlier post.

What was happening here was something I’ve seen repeated many times since—people’s inspiration was driving them to seek information.

I also realised that there were other relevant tutorials in our archives that readers inspired by that image collection might find useful, so I updated the image collection post with further relevant reading (as you can see in the screen shot below).

inspiration-information.png

I tracked the flow on to these information posts over the coming days and saw a significant clickthrough rate to these articles.

I also noticed quite a few extra subscribers to the site that week—I guess the combination of inspiration and information hit the mark.

These days I still use this same technique (in fact we’ve done these image collections many times (here are just a few more examples). Just last week I published 27 Great Panning Images [and How to Take Them].

panning-collection.png

You’ll notice in the screen shot above that I started the post with an image and then introduced the topic and included links to two previous panning tutorials. I then have a section at the bottom of the post which mentions the further reading tutorials again.

Once again, this week I can see a heightened level of activity on those older tutorials as a result of those links.

Here’s a chart showing the traffic to the Mastering Panning article mentioned in the image collection:

panning.png

That post (which was published back in 2009) usually gets 150-200 visitors a day, but this week, after I linked to it from our image collection, more than 7000 visitors viewed it in one day. The other post mentioned in the image collection saw a similar spike in traffic.

Inspiration and information leads people to interaction

The last part of this journey of discovery has been to complete the “inspire, inform, and interact” mantra. In the past few months I’d started to follow up each of these inspiration image collections with a post a few days later that invites readers to interact around that topic by doing some homework.

We run these “challenge” posts every weekend to get our readers interacting with us, but I hadn’t not previously made the collections tie in with these interactive posts.

Here’s an example of how I recently tied them together.information-inspiration-interaction.png

  1. First I led off with an image collection—25 Dreamy Images Shot Wide Open (featuring some beautiful images shot with wide open apertures).
  2. This image collection linked to information posts on the topic of Aperture, as well as other relevant tutorials.
  3. A few days later, I ran a ‘Wide Open’ Photography Challenge. This challenge linked back to the image collection as well as the tutorials (and also included a few more inspirational images as examples).

The take-up of our photography challenge that weekend was up on normal figures and it drove a heap of traffic backwards and forth around the site to the image collection and tutorials.

It also seemed to create momentum as the topic built over the week. I had a number of readers indicate that by seeing the inspirational images, reading the tutorials, and then being given an assignment to go away and do, they found themselves really driven to take what they were learning and implement it.

How could something like this work on your blog? Do you inspire, inform, and interact with your readers? I’m intrigued to hear if you use a similar strategy.

5 Fast Tips for Going Multilingual on Twitter

This guest post is by Christian Arno of Lingo24.

With just 140 characters you can reach a global audience. Hardly a newsflash, I know, but think about it. Followers around the world can give your blog the kind of exposure you could only have dreamed about in the past, everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires. People eagerly await your posts on every continent. Tell me that doesn’t sound good!

Of course, going global on Twitter means embracing other languages. The English language only stretches so far. But building a multilingual presence on Twitter doesn’t have to be difficult.

When it comes down to it, whether you are representing a company or going solo, Twitter is a great way to attract a global audience to your blog. Get it right by following a few guidelines.

Target, aim, tweet

Like most things in life, it helps to have a strategy. Don’t be misled by how easy it is to fire off tweets. Sure, you could machine-translate your next message into umpteen languages and hit the Tweet button. If you want to destroy your reputation, that is.

Instead, think back to your overall marketing plan and where the non-English speaking countries fit your blogging strategy. Which markets are key for you? Your stats for other online content can be revealing here. Where do you need to build a presence, and where should you be improving your reach?

After all, why waste time tweeting in Russian if you are aiming to build your blog readership in South America? When you stop aiming for the whole world, it becomes a whole lot easier to be relevant to the people who matter.

Do your Twitter research

Not all countries and languages are represented equally on Twitter. The impact of your multilingual tweets will in part depend on how actively each language is used. For example, Arabic is the fastest-growing Twitter language, according to a Semiocast study. The same statistics show the rapid rise of Spanish and Dutch. When it comes to the most used languages, Japanese and Portuguese lead the pack. Malay and Korean speakers are also sending their share of the millions of tweets sent each day.

Reach out to these markets and your exposure can skyrocket.

Take care with translations

Unless you are tweeting about what you ate for lunch, resist the lure of instant translation tools. Producing accurate foreign language content can be tricky. You need to strike the right tone (not too stuffy, but avoiding offending anyone) as well as choosing just the right words. Add in the restriction of 140 characters (which gives you even less to play with in some languages than in English) and it becomes an art. Native speaker input is invaluable here.

Follow the right people

Your focus shouldn’t only be on who your followers are, but on who you are following. Stay tuned to the tweets of the big influencers in your overseas markets. These can range from celebrities to the leaders and popular bloggers in your own particular field. Re-tweeting the right people can build your own reputation for having your finger on the pulse.

Stay relevant

Finally, keep your tweets relevant. That means different accounts for each language, so that your followers don’t have to sift through unfamiliar languages. (They will probably just unfollow you instead.) And stay culturally aware. Some topics will offend in particular countries, others will simply be of no interest.

What you stand to gain

Fact: Twitter is a big player on the global social media scene. For over a year now, 70% of Twitter traffic has come from outside the US. If you can tap into the non-English speaking sectors of this international traffic, your exposure will increase dramatically.

Those fast-growing languages mentioned earlier give you a chance to get in early on up and coming markets. On the other hand, countries such as Japan lead the field in terms of posting activity, with more accounts actively posting messages than either the US or the UK.

Actively involved users mean a better chance of re-tweets. If you write something people want to share, you can end up with them doing local marketing for you. For free. It doesn’t get much better than that.

You also have a chance to tap into multiple consumer pools around the globe without leaving your seat. Being part of their conversations lets you monitor what they are saying: about your blog as a whole or your latest post, about other bloggers, about wants, desires and frustrations. Think how valuable that can be.

Twitter brings that information and that potential army of followers to you. But you can’t close the deal without being willing to send those 140 character tweets in other languages. Make the effort, and you’ll probably wonder what took you so long.

Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a top translation service in the USA. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 170 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.

10 Vital Stats for Blog Health—and How to Track Them

This article is by Dan Norris of Web Control Room.

As an active blogger, I’m always looking at various stats to help me understand how well I’m doing. I’m not particularly fond of the idea of blogging for years without knowing whether things are going in the right direction. I’d rather know as I go whether my posts are having an impact and whether things are travelling in the right direction.

Luckily, one of the best things about being a blogger is that pretty much every stat you want to look at is available online and not stuck in outdated offline software programs. And better still, most of the tools are free!

The challenge is that, with all of the information out there, it’s difficult to know what stats to keep your eye on. In this article we’ll look at the top ten ways bloggers can measure their efforts.

1. Revenue and profit

While writing is fun, I’ll assume you are trying to earn some money at the same time. One of the best ways to have easy access to your financial data is to use an online accounting program like Xero, Saasu, or Wave Accounting—I use Xero, and it rocks.

These programs make it very easy to capture all of your financial data in the one place.

In addition to that you can look at the various ways you monetize your blog by reviewing the information available from these sources (PayPal, Adsense, Clickbank, etc.). The best part of having a central system for the accounts is that you can aggregate all of the revenue streams in the once place, to give you a whole picture.

2. RSS subscribers

Hopefully you’re using Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds—if so, you’ll have a clear idea of how many people are subscribing to your blog via RSS.

I like to keep an eye on these stats particularly after I release a post, publish a guest post on another blog, or have a guest poster on my blog. Often, their sharing of the post and the content reaching a new audience will cause a bump in subscribers. Showing the number of RSS subscribers on your blog can also be great social proof of your blogging chops.

3. What are others talking about?

One of the most important strategies for bloggers is engaging with other people (bloggers and others) online. This is a measure of performance, because if you are doing the right things then people will be talking about you. There are four ways I do this.

  1. Comments: An excellent way to see if you are having an impact is to look at the comments on your site. Are they genuine? How many comments are posts getting? This gives you a good idea of what is hitting the mark and what isn’t.
  2. Trackbacks: If these are turned on in WordPress, any time someone links to one of your blog posts (i.e. not to your homepage) you will see the link in your comments list—and then go back to their sites and engage with them.
  3. Google Alerts: With Alerts, Google will email you every time someone mentions your brand, product, website, and so on. I like to get them via RSS instead of email, so I check them in Google reader each morning.
  4. Twilert: This service does the same thing as Google Alerts but for Twitter. You get a daily email that lists every time someone mentions your site or brand or your Twitter handle you’ll get an email.

All of these are great ways to engage with your audience, but also to measure the impact you’re having, and which posts are having more impact than others.

4. Traffic

It’s a good idea to monitor both your monthly rolling traffic (last 30 days) against the previous month, as well as traffic peaks around the release dates of your posts. The former figure will give you a good idea of overall recent trends, and the latter will give you immediate feedback on specific posts.

For this I, like most others, use Google Analytics. If you do notice changes that you didn’t expect, it’s time to delve further into the tool to see what has caused those changes—it may be something related to search rankings or referring sites (which we’ll look at separately in a moment).

5. Google ranking for keywords

Most of the time, bloggers get a significant amount of traffic from Google. You can either sit back and hope for the best or you can actively try to rank for different keywords.

Unfortunately, visiting Google and searching for your keywords doesn’t work! Google knows which websites you have visited and puts them higher up the list just for you, so this won’t give you an accurate rank for your keywords. This is a mistake made by almost everyone with a website at one time or another (including me).

Particularly if you are trying to rank for certain keywords, it’s a great idea to use a tool to monitor where you are ranking on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Using the new incognito window in Chrome will also provide a more accurate ranking, but rank-tracking tools will show you rack-tracking from different countries, for instance, and many keywords at once.

6. Other referring sites

In Google Analytics, you can also check out your top referring sites. This can give you great information about a number of things. For example, if you are active in social media or a particular forum you can see if these efforts are resulting in extra traffic to the site.

Similarly, guest posts on other sites would be expected to bring some traffic, so you can monitor whether these sites make it into your top referring sites list.

Pretty much every marketing push you make online should show up in your top sites list, so it’s a good place to look particularly for things you aren’t specifically tracking as campaigns in Analytics.

7. Keywords

There are two types of keywords to look at in Analytics. You can look at your top keywords—these would generally be big-ticket keywords that you are trying actively to rank for. If they are ranking in Google and your keyword research was sound, then it will be validated with traffic.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how many keywords are bringing you traffic. This is a simple measure of how effectively you are targeting the long tail. The more you write, particularly if you deliberately target long tail keywords in your posts, the more keywords will bring you traffic. Looking at the number of keywords is a quick way to get some sort of idea of how well it’s working.

8. Email newsletter info

Getting an email opt-in is still one of the main ways bloggers engage with their audience. Tools like Mail Chimp and AWeber will give you some great information on things like how effective your site is being in converting visitors to opt-ins, how big your audience is and how engaged they are with your newsletters (unsubscribe rates, opens, clicks etc).

It’s also a good idea to measure opt-ins as goals in Analytics so you can look at more information about the origins of those opting into your list.

9. Server uptime

Having your server go down is kind of like having a power outage at a traditional business. You can’t do business without your website, and all of the effort you have put in to generating traffic is wasted every time there is an outage. For this reason, make sure you are notified whenever there is an outage and you monitor it each month to ensure uptime is reasonable.

Unfortunately hosting companies often don’t provide this service, however Pingdom.com does, and it’s free. Once you sign up, the site will notify you of any outages, and provide reports on monthly uptime percentages and so on.

10. Social media measures

For bloggers more so than any business, social media is critical. A lot of relationships with readers and other bloggers, guest blogging opportunities, JVs etc come through relationships facilitated by social media. A few things I like to keep an eye on are:

  • Klout.com, which gives you an overall idea of how you are influencing others via Twitter, Facebook, and so on. You can also use Klout to give you an overall summary of figures from the major social networks (Likes, shares, +1′s etc).
  • If you are active on Twitter, you can keep an eye on your number of followers, your ratio of followers to people that you follow and the number of interactions.
  • For Facebook pages, Facebook insights are there to provide useful information on likes, reach, who’s talking about the page and more.

So how are you progressing—and how do you know? I’d be interested in knowing what you like to keep an eye on to track how you’re going. Let me know in the comments.

Dan Norris is the founder of Web Control Room a free tool that enables bloggers to understand their data and make better decisions. By talking to the sources you love (MailChimp, Xero, Analytics, PayPal etc) it provides a scannable 1 page chart showing what is going well and what isn’t so you can understand your performance in seconds.

Get More Clicks Using These 3 Emotional Hot Buttons

This guest post is by Glen Andrews of GlenAndrews.com.

Here’s what the top internet marketers know that most people don’t…

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get traffic from social media sites, article directories, or through Google’s organic search. The three most effective ways to get someone to click on your links is to invoke one of these three emotional hot-buttons:

  1. pain
  2. pleasure
  3. curiosity.

Let’s take a look at each of these three emotions and how they can get you more traffic and more clicks.

1. Pain

MayhemMost people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. Marketing firms all around the world have know this for decades. Advertisers have placed fear statements into ads in order to get us to take action. And guess what? It works! Advertising firms have made trillions of dollars using fear as a motivator to get us to take action.

The “mayhem” Allstate commercials on US TV are all fear-based. Most political campaigns are fear-based. Heck, the next time you watch TV, pay attention to the commercials and see which of the three emotional hot buttons they’re using to motivate their audiences.

So how can you use fear (pain) to get more traffic?

Most of what we do online is driven by headlines. Our tweets are short headlines. Our blog posts and pages are effectively links with headlines. Our videos, Facebook pages, and articles are all propelled by headlines. We all decide which links to click based on the text, and our own personal desires.

Examples of fear- and pain-based headlines

  1. The Top 3 Reasons Most Entrepreneurs Fail Online
  2. 6 Things To Avoid if You’re Going To Be Successful
  3. Here’s Why Most Blogs Fail Within 24 months

If you can target your headlines (that is, links) so that they’ll speak to the emotions (pain, pleasure, curiosity) of your audience, you’ll not only attract better prospects, but you’ll quadruple your clickthrough rate.

2. Pleasure

Everyone wants to know “What’s in it for me? Why should I pay attention to you?” So you’ll get more clicks and traffic if you can tell your readers what benefits they’ll get by clicking your links. Let your readers visualize the pleasure they’ll receive from taking action.

Examples of pleasure- and benefit-based headlines

  1. Top 3 Ways To Boost Productivity and Profits
  2. Double Your Subscribers Within 14 Days
  3. Earn a 6 Figure Income Part Time

3. Curiosity

This is by far my favorite. We are all born with a sense of curiosity. From infants to old age, we all have an incredible appetite for the unknown.

You’ve seen or heard TV and radio personalities use curiosity to keep us from changing the channel. Just before a commercial break, the radio or TV personality will spit out a headline that piques our curiosity, so we’ll stay tuned in for the answer.

HooksThey’ll say something like, “When we return, we’ll reveal how you can save hundreds on your property taxes.” or “When we come back, you’ll hear why President Obama doesn’t want you to see his birth certificate.”

These curiosity-provoking statements are also called “hooks.”

Some examples of curiosity headlines

  1. Shrink Your Fat Zones
  2. 8 Lies About Sunscreen
  3. The NO-Pill Pain Remedy
  4. 3 Things To A More Effective Blog
  5. The 1 Thing All Bloggers Must Do To Make Money

Target your headlines

Again, your headlines should be targeted towards your readership. The more they speak directly to your audience, using these three emotions, the more clicks and traffic you’ll receive.

Note that it’s important to make sure your content is worthy of the headline. Nothing will turn people off more than a great headline, that “gets the click” but doesn’t deliver on the promise.

Everything we do on the internet revolves around headlines and links. If you get good at writing clickable headlines using these three emotions, you’ll easily get more traffic.

Glen Andrews has created niche sites, ebooks, and info products that produce a steady reliable income. Glen is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs create and market a business online that makes them money.