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Your Social Media and SEO Game Plan for 2012

This guest post is by Herman Dias of SEOsoeasy.com.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about the Google Panda update and what it did to many low-quality websites last year. It was more like a Google sniper attack on all the spam and rubbish sites. Honestly, this does not seem to be the end of the Panda: there is more to come, and we need to watch out.

The whole reason Google made these changes was to give Google users a good experience when they use Google search, and why not? When I look for something on Google the last thing I would want to see is rubbish information.

That is why, as SEO marketers, we need to take a different approach to ranking on Google and driving free organic traffic to our sites. If you have done any kind of SEO, you know what the key principles of ranking on Google are.

  • choosing the right keywords
  • building a well optimized site with good content
  • building quality backlinks.

These are the core principles of SEO, and they may get you on page one of Google, but you won’t stay there for very long. You have to do more and more of what the big G wants.

Google has started giving social media a lot of importance. It rewards sites that incorporate the core SEO principles and social media strategies by ranking them on page one and keeping them there. In fact, I think last year was the start of the cleanup process by Google. So if you think you got away without incorporating social media to rank on Google, you’d better make the change now or you may be surprised.

Incorporating social media into SEO

In the near future, you won’t be able to just pick keywords, optimize your site, and build links, and expect to rank on page one and stay there. Your site probably will rank on page one, but it won’t be there very long.

You really have to incorporate social media into your SEO efforts to rank and stay on page one. Here’s how you need do it.

  1. Select keywords with good commercial intent and good search volume, and build your main site and sub-pages around these keywords.
  2. Have the best content on your site, and optimize your site as per Google’s requirements.
  3. Make sure your subpages are interlinked with one another to create a strong internal linking structure.
  4. Create a Google Plus page and give your visitors something free to subscribe to your page. Make sure this page has a link to your main site.
  5. Create a Facebook page and give your visitors something free to become a fan of your page. Make sure this page has a link to your site.
  6. Create a Twitter page and link it to your site as well.
  7. Create Youtube channel with a link to your site.
  8. Bookmark your main site, and sub-pages at social bookmarking sites.
  9. Choose between three and five blogs in your niche to write good articles and submit a guest post to them, these posts will have a link to your blog and sub page.
  10. Get links from authority sites like .edu and .gov sites, news sites, or high-PR sites.
  11. Submit press releases to top press release distribution sites. Make sure your releases include links to your main site and relevant sub-pages.
  12. Submit articles to at least five article directories. Make sure these articles include links to your main site and relevant sub-pages.
  13. Share your content through sites like Tumblr, Livejournal, Weebly, Squidoo, and so on. Make sure the content contains links to your main site and relevant sub-pages.
  14. Tweet interesting, relevant links your main home page and sub-pages on Twitter.
  15. Share your blog entries on your Facebook wall and Google Plus page.
  16. Prepare videos and post them to your YouTube channel.

These steps will not only help your rank on the search engines fast—and get traffic from them—but they’ll also help you attract traffic from social media sites. These visitors will then have the option of liking your page on Facebook, tweeting your post, giving your page a +1 on Google, subscribing to your YouTube channel, and commenting on your blog post.

This process plays a very important role in ranking on the first page of Google, fast. It will not only create extra traffic and user-generated content, but it will also create backlinks naturally, as well as a community of people who will visit your site often.

This is exactly what Google is looking for. It wants to see activity on your sites; it wants interaction between people; it wants to see fresh, good-quality content; it wants to see quality sites backlinking to your site; it wants to see how long people spend on your site.

Your three-month plan

For this entire process to work successfully you need to create a three-month plan and execute it carefully.

  1. You need to have a three-month (90-day) content strategy. For example, you need to have about 45 good quality blog post ready and set up in WordPress to be posted every other day.
  2. You need to have content ready to submit to article directories, press release sites, those social sharing sites, and as guest posts. You should do these tasks at least twice a month if not more often.
  3. You need to prepare at least one video every week for 90 days and post it on your YouTube channel. If you haven’t tried this tactic before, you’ll be surprised to see the traffic you get from YouTube.
  4. You need to publish each blog post to your Google Plus page, Facebook page, and Twitter page, over a period of time. Slowly will start to get links and visitors from each of these sources.
  5. You need to bookmark all the pages on your site at a steady pace over a period of time using social bookmarking sites.
  6. You need to follow steps 8 to 16 consistently for at least three months. Then you can lower the pace—or increase it—depending on the results you see.

Please note there are many more backlinking sources you can use to build backlinks—consider directory links, blog contextual links, blog comments, and video directory links, for example. You don’t need to stick to the ones I’ve mentioned above.

But make sure whatever method of backlinking you choose, you use it consistently. That’s why I prefer picking a few sources that have worked for me and using them for about three months. Then I introduce the other back-link sources.

Now’s the time to integrate social media into your SEO plans. If you follow this process, you will see some good ranking in Google and other search engines—as well as decent traffic from Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and YouTube.

Here is a live free case study were Herman Dias shares the exact same method of How to Rank on Page One of Google in 15 days . He also likes writing on topics related to SEO Tips, blogging, list building, traffic strategies and other Internet Marketing Topics.

Feeling Lost? Let a Blogging Roadmap Lead You to Success

This guest post is by John Davenport of Phogropathy.com.

It’s been said countless times in the blogging world that in order to be successful we need a plan. But how do we create this plan in a way that will help us reach our goals?

Do we scratch it onto a piece of loose paper?

Do we grab a crayon and write it on a napkin?

Do we create a text doc on a PC and save it in some folder filled with hundreds files?

No. We create a roadmap.

When I first started blogging I had one goal in mind: to grow my audience. I was a nobody (and still I pretty much am a nobody) in this busy world of blogging, but I want to be a somebody, someday. So I created a roadmap to get there. You should too!

Recognizing the problem most new bloggers face

What’s the problem we all face when we start out blogging?

Too many great ideas at once.

We’ve all been there, right? That first idea pops into your head, and then another, and then, oh my, you’re already thinking of redesigning the layout of our blog, but you also have that ebook you want to start, and you’re supposed to have a newsletter out at the end of the month! Your to-do list keeps growing and growing and there’s no end in sight.

Every new blogger who does any amount of research on how to gain blogging knowledge has certainly found themselves here at ProBlogger; the problem is that it’s too good a resource!

Every day there’s a new post telling us to do something with our blog. Maybe what to do if your niche blog fails to make money, or that you should have built a newsletter opt-in box before you published your first post.

Regardless of what we’re learning, these posts always will generate new ideas for us to apply in our own blogs—I mean, that’s what they’re there for, right?

When it comes to planning your blog’s future, we need to put all this information in an organized spreadsheet that we can glance at. This way, we’ll and know exactly what we need to get done in January and what will be done by October.

Creating a roadmap

Organization is probably the most vital skill in the blogging world. You might not have to have all your papers in line and all your photographs in perfectly named folders, but your plans should be organized.

This is precisely where a blogging roadmap will come in handy. You might ask, “John why do I need a roadmap? Won’t a simple to-do list do the same thing?” Here’s my answer.

A roadmap gives you:

  1. an organized layout
  2. a clear-cut timetable
  3. accountability (optional).

Let’s break this down a bit further shall we?

A list is a great way to start your roadmap, but ultimately you’ll want a plan that’s visual. When we have multiple projects spread across many months, if not years, a simple list can become an overwhelming thing to look at. At that scale, it’s definitely not informative.

So, sure, a list can be a great starting point, but at some point it’s necessary to break that list into chunks—I broke mine up by yearly quarters—that reflect the things we want to accomplish in a given timetable. To give you an idea, here’s a screen shot of my 2011 – 2013 roadmap for Phogropathy.com.

What you want to make sure you do when you create your roadmap is to spread things out. You don’t want to have a roadmap that ends next month: you’re building your blog for the future. So let’s make sure we plan things accordingly.

Once your to-do list is in roadmap form, you’ll have a few years of targets planned. Now you’ll be able to visually see how all your blogging efforts fit together and ultimately, that will help lead you to successful growth.

How? The clear-cut timetable gives you the ability to predict when you need to buckle down and get your work done on a specific project. For example, if you want an ebook ready to be published by Q3 of this year, you’d better start the final draft by the end of Q2, and the pre-marketing campaign sometime in early Q3.

I made accountability an optional advantage in the list at the start of this discussion, and that’s mainly because some people like to be more secretive about their overall plans. But if you do choose to publish your roadmap, your readers will know exactly what you’re planning and when these things will take place. This means that you’ll be more likely to meet your deadlines, so that you keep your readers happy. But regardless of whether you share the information or not, with a roadmap, you’re always accountable to yourself.

Planning ahead is key when you’re the only one driving your blog. You don’t want to get lost and you certainly don’t want to drive off a cliff. So make sure you create a blogging roadmap, and never leave home without it.

Do you already work off a blogging roadmap? What’s your major goal for 2012?

John Davenport is an avid amateur photographer and blogger. He shares daily photographs on his blog Phogropathy.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Survival for Bloggers: a Peek from the Inside

This guest post is by David Leonhardt of Zoomit Canada.

Zombie accounts at Reddit are increasingly frustrating content creators on the internet. A “zombie” account is an account that appears to be active to the user, but to nobody else, usually as a punishment for that user submitting his or her own content.

The user submits, and he sees his or her submission. S/he comments, and sees the comment. S/he thinks s/he has an active account, and can go on for months thinking s/he does. But nobody else reads that person’s submissions or comments, and his or her up-votes are generally nullified by automated system down-votes.

No social bookmarking is so cruel as Reddit. I mean, this is downright mean. And no site is so easy to cross, because self-promotion (submitting your own blog post) is frowned upon in almost every way. I’ll bet that the zombie accounts at Reddit outnumber the real accounts by a gazillion to one. Okay, perhaps that’s just a bit of an exaggeration…

So what is a blogger, video maker, infographics publisher or other content creator to do if we wish to legitimately spread the word about a blog post? How are we to know where we can submit our own content and where it will just get us banned? Let this post be your guide.

The following sites frown on any form of self-promotion.

  • Reddit: No self-promotion allowed.
  • Newsvine: No self-promotion allowed.
  • Stumbleupon: Self-promotion is frowned upon, but if you don’t overdo it, you should be fine.
  • Mixxingbowl: Self-promotion is frowned upon, but if you have a non-commercial site with news or blog posts, not too many people will despise you.

The following sites welcome self-promotion on any topic.

  • Digg: Well, not officially, but it has been a long time since they seem to care, mostly because you just won’t be very successful if you are too self-promotional. It’s in the algorithm.
  • Olddogg: Submit anything.
  • Delicious: Submit anything.
  • Dropjack: Submit anything.
  • Snagly: Submit anything.
  • Cloudytags: Submit anything.

The following sites welcome self-promotion, but you’d better be on-topic.

  • Bizsugar: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about small business.
  • Tipd: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about finance.
  • Fwisp: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about finance.
  • Pfbuzz: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about finance.
  • Zoomit Canada: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about Canada or a Canadian site.
  • healthbuzzing: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit about health and fitness.
  • Newsmeback: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit newsy, informational items.
  • Blokube: Self-promotion’s okay, assuming you submit on topics related to blogging and making money from home.
  • Politicollision: Although the site is very new, they seem to welcome any political news, including your own content.
  • Serpd: Self-promotion’s okay, as long as you submit about online marketing.

The following sites are harder to classify—see the notes for each to get an idea of what you can and can’t submit.

  • Buzfeed: It is more the quality of the content than the source that they seem to be interested in. (Yeah, I know. All the sites say that.)
  • Blogengage: Any submission is welcome, as long as it is a blog post. Any topic. Any quality. But they will be brutal if you actually promote your post.
  • chime.in: Too new to tell.
  • Pinterest: Too new to tell.

This listing reflects just one user’s observations. There are actually official terms of service at each site, and other users who might have different observations. The thing about “social” sites is that so much depends on people and their judgments, not just the terms of service. Hopefully this guide will help you decide where you feel like being self-promotional, and where you would prefer to keep your hands in your pockets.

Ultimately it is up to you to get a good feel for the site and for what is generally accepted before you submit your first item. And as a newbie, it’s worth erring on the side of caution; your account will likely be held to stricter standards than those of people who have already proven to be community builders.

If you’ve had any difficulties sharing your content on any of these—or other—social sites, let us know in the comments.

David Leonhardt is a social bookmarking addict and also an SEO professional, who—not surprisingly—runs his own social bookmarking website at Zoomit Canada.

13 Steps to Being the Worst Blogger on the Planet

This guest post is by Karol K of ThemeFuse.

Being the best blogger on the planet is just so mainstream. Why would you even aim for that?!

Why not aim for something much easier to achieve, and be the worst blogger the world has ever seen?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, people follow different steps in reaching this goal, but I think these 13 will do the job well enough. So here we go, how to be the worst blogger in the world in just 13 easy steps.

Disclaimer: this is pure entertainment, don’t take it seriously. These steps are exactly the opposite of those you should put into practice.

1. Do no research whatsoever before writing a post

Who needs research? Research is overrated. It just takes time. Chances are no one will be able to notice that your posts are written with no information backing them up anyway.

Simply starting to write whatever comes to mind is a much more effective approach for the worst blogger in the world.

2. Don’t spend more than 30 seconds working on your headline

Headlines are just an evil internet marketer’s way of convincing people to do nasty things! Don’t be a part of the practice.

Make sure you’re on the light side of the force. Don’t use pitchy language that might just be able to arouse some interest in your readers. Be honest and make it clear from the get go that there’s nothing interesting in your posts.

3. Write drunk

What’s your usual behavior when you’re drunk? Talking about strange, unrelated things, maybe? And acting like you’re the biggest expert in the world?

This is exactly the way you should be writing your posts. Remember, the more ideas you touch upon in a single post, the better. Posts about just a single idea are simply lame. The more unrelated information you give, the better.

By the way, did I tell you about my great Chili Con Carne recipe? You take one large onion, some hot peppers, slice it up and put everything in a pan. After about ten minutes you take 0.5 kg of ground beef and put it in the pan too. You season it with some salt, hot pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and basil. After about ten minutes you put in some fresh sliced tomatoes, and one can of chopped tomatoes. Then wait another half an hour and put in some red kidney beans. Ten minutes later your meal is ready.

Anyway, what was I..? Oh yes: blogging.

4. Use long paragraphs

If your paragraphs are too short, people will start to think you have nothing to tell them, that you have no knowledge and that you’re not really a good writer. A good writer can manage to write long paragraphs with no sense to them whatsoever.

Here’s how you write a long paragraph. First, you take a thought and basically run wild with it. You start by introducing the thought with a single sentence. Then you create at least ten more sentences explaining the thought even though everyone, and I mean everyone, was able to grasp that idea after reading just the initial sentence. Hold on, I’m not done yet. Then you take a second thought and start talking about it mid-paragraph. Finally, you break the thought in half and continue talking about it in another ridiculously long paragraph.

5. Write as if you were writing to yourself

Whether someone else will read your post or not is irrelevant. It’s not your concern. You only need to make sure that the post is understandable to you.

Come on, it’s your blog, so you should put yourself in the center. You, the author, are the most important person here, not the readers.

Remember, you have a basic understanding of the thing you’re writing about, so you don’t need to explain some of the more basic stuff that’s quite obvious to you. Focus on the interesting, difficult stuff only.

6. Use complex language

Like Shakespeare-complex:

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

Or academic-degree-complex:

This paper argues that all evaluation has significant rhetorical dimensions, which are often overlooked. This is particularly dangerous where there are high stakes for evaluation and assessment, as in educational assessment and workplace evaluations.

The possibilities are truly endless. Remember that the more complex words and expressions you use, the more likely you’ll be seen as an expert.

7. Don’t edit

Editing is simply a waste of time. Just like researching.

The initial draft of your post is always good enough. Not once in the history of blogging has anyone ever found that any changes need to be made to the original, first draft of an article.

Your first version is always perfect because you are perfect.

As a matter of fact, take this even further and…

8. Don’t even profreed

Typos or grammatical errors are not really that important. Your text is perfectly understandable even if it contains some typos. Chances are people won’t even notice, and if they do … well, you shouldn’t even care anyway, you’re writing for yourself (see point #5).

9. Post as irregularly as possible

One day, publish two posts one after another; then wait a full two weeks before publishing another post.

Then wait one more month and write a post in which you explain why you’ve been gone, thinking that anyone even noticed. And don’t forget to promise that you’ll be posting more often now.

Then forget about it, and write another post three weeks later like nothing ever happened. Then repeat the whole process by publishing two posts in a day.

10. Don’t respond to comments

Remember: your blog, your rules. No one else matters. Responding to comments is a sign of weakness.

Most importantly, never ever respond to comments where someone asks you a question. The best approach is to never approve such comments in the first place.

11. Don’t ever respond to emails

This is even more important than not responding to comments. If someone asks you something via email, well… tough luck.

You are a highly busy blogger and don’t have time for email. Even if it’s not the case, you still need to act as if it was. Busy important people don’t have time to talk to small and unimportant people. That’s the rule.

12. Don’t tell anyone about your blog

Well, you are writing it for yourself anyway. Besides, people will find their way to your blog on their own, since it’s so great.

You are viral from day one. Expect to have massive success with no promotion. Remember, content is always king, and nothing else matters.

13. Complain when you get no traffic

No traffic? Not your fault. It’s because the space is already crowded, and the people who have been around for a while have it much easier.

Your content, even though so great, has managed to remain unnoticed due to an A-list bloggers’ conspiracy.

14. Get the count of your list posts wrong

Remember, you don’t care about the readers. No one will notice anyway, since you have no actual traffic.

That’s it: a complete guide to being the worst blogger in the world in 13 (or 14, whatever) steps. Feel free NOT to comment cause I don’t even care. And don’t send me any emails, for goodness’ sake!

…actually, please do comment. I’m curious about your opinion on this “reverse” tutorial!

Karol K. is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a writer at ThemeFuse.com, where he shares various WordPress advice. Contrary to what you might think, he doesn’t want to be the worst blogger on the planet. Don’t forget to visit ThemeFuse to get your hands on some original WordPress themes (warning: no boring stuff like everyone else offers).

12 Blogging Lessons I Learned From Maxim Magazine

This guest post is by Tom Treanor of Right Mix Marketing.

Maxim magazine. It’s banned in my house (unless it’s used for research purposes).

With its revealing covers, dependence on taboo topics, and issues jam-packed with girls, booze, and cars, you’d think researching Maxim magazine would lead to a wasteland for any type of valuable lessons.

I decided to find out what makes Maxim tick and to understand why its target audience is such a dedicated bunch. If you’ve seen one issue of bikini-clad models, you’ve seen ‘em all. Right? How does Maxim keep the faithful coming back every month for more?

Turns out you can learn a lot of lessons that can be applied directly to blogging.

Here are the 12 most valuable lessons I took away from Maxim. (Hey, someone has to do the heavy lifting!)

1. Know your target audience, focus on their interests, and deliver the content they want

Maxim‘s audience is 78% male. 90% of its readers are between 18 and 49 (see the demographics here). The audience cares about women, drinking, cars, gadgets, sports, fitness and entertainment. Maxim includes an assortment of content related to these topics in each issue.

Key questions: Who is your blog’s target audience? What are their interests and are you delivering the valuable content that they are looking for?

2. If you’re about making money, focus on topics that sell

If you’re a non-profit, you may have a different goal. But if you’re blogging for a business or if you’re trying to use blogging as a business, you need to focus on topics that people are willing to pay money for. These topics include things like health, sports, gadgets, dating, sex and entertainment. Maxim focuses on a selection of very profitable niches.

Key questions: Are you fighting an uphill battle writing about a topic that no one cares about? Are you focusing on areas that no one will ever be willing to pay money for?

3. You need to take a creative approach, even for “no brainer” topics

Look, I know you think that a magazine like Maxim has it easy. Just put pictures and articles about sex, booze, and sports and you’re done. The reality is that they need to keep the audience interested. They have to come up with unique angles for topics that have been covered a million times already. Remember, they have to get people to pay their hard-earned money for this. If they don’t give them a reason to keep coming back, they won’t!

Examples:

  • “Leave The Puck, Take the Cannoli: How’d the Stanley Cups champs blow our $848″: Don’t just write about the NHL Stanley Cup winners. Why not give them an odd amount of money and tell the story of how they spend it?
  • “Playing Dungeons and Dragons with Porn Stars”: Maxim includes a twist on a tired topic.

Key questions: How are you breathing life into a tired topic? What new twists are you including in your blog to keep your readers coming back for more? Are you suffering blogger’s block?

4) Pictures, pictures, pictures

Maxim uses pictures to its advantage. On the cover and within the magazine. Enough said.

Key question: People love pictures. If you’re sharing your post via social media, it often includes a picture or thumbnail. Are you giving pictures the attention that they deserve on your blog?

5. Lists are still king!

Humans are naturally wired to read articles that include lists. Magazines have known this for a long time and Maxim is no exception. On the cover of the January 2012 issue, in bold lettering: “37 Ways To Rule Winter—The Best Snowboards, Snowball Makers & Snow Bunny Hangouts”.

Key question: Are you using lists to your (and your readers’) advantage on your blog? Ignore lists at your peril.

6. Compelling headlines (and pictures) drive sales and readership

Headlines are constantly streaming throughout the internet on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Digg, Delicious and all of the rest of the social media, social bookmarking and social news sites.

Is this any different than the traditional magazine rack where pictures and headlines scream out for attention? We’ve covered pictures earlier but don’t ignore the headlines. If you have ten minutes before a trans-Pacific flight and you’re picking a magazine or two for the trip, how do the headlines factor into your decision-making process?

Example Maxim headlines:

  • “Instant Threesomes! (OK, they’re cocktail recipes)”
  • “Bite Club – Inside the Sinister, Salty World of Snack Food”

Key question: Do your headlines pass the airport magazine rack test?

7. It’s not a one-way “conversation”

It may be a surprise to think about it this way, but a magazine is not just a one-way communication vehicle. For example, Maxim runs contests and includes reader input in a portion of their articles. Not to mention the interaction that can happen on a magazine’s blog, website and social media outposts.

Key questions: How are you fostering reader engagement? Are you treating your blog like a monologue or a dialogue?

8. How-Tos are a staple

Like lists, how-tos are another staple of magazines. Just look at the magazine rack next time you leave the grocery store. Two “important” how-tos from Maxim include the following:

  • “How Can I Open A Beer Bottle With My Teeth?”
  • “Reboot Your Life—reform your life for 2012″ (including multiple how-to articles on money, health, sex, tech, betting, food)

Key question: Are you teaching your audience how to do things that are important to them?

9. Include celebrity

Maxim doesn’t live on sex, booze, and sports alone. It also benefits from the glow that celebrities can lend to a magazine, book, movie, or TV show. Included in the January issue are JWoww from the Jersey Shore TV show (celebrity is relative), the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and his vehicles, and Snowboarder Shaun White on music, movies and gold medals.

Key question: Are you including information about or content from influencers or “celebrities” in your industry?

10. Utilize third-party research and spot industry patterns

Maxim included summaries of studies in an “Analyze This” section, including highlights of studies done on pick-ups, movies, happiness and money. It also included a “Sexy in stitches” article featuring recently injured actresses Halle Berry (broken foot), Reese Witherspoon (gash on forehead), and Bar Rafaeli (broken arm).

Key question: Are you including your own take on industry research and are you actively “connecting the dots” for your readers?

11. Storytelling is not dead

Even Maxim magazine would suffer if there was no drama. No human stories. No narrative. The January issue included a multiple page article about a “prolific art forger” who has never been arrested, entitled, “The Most Famous Painting In The World … And It’s A Fake.”

Key questions: Are you bringing stories into your writing? Do you include any drama, mystery or surprises in your blog?

12. Respond to audience feedback

Most magazines includes a reader letters section. Maxim is no different. In their “Ranting and Raving” section they respond to the good and the bad from their readers.

Key questions: Are you afraid to respond to your readers? Do you ignore the bad and only focus on the good? Are you responding to feedback?

It was tough duty but these are the 12 blogging lessons that I took away from the January 2012 issue of Maxim magazine. I suggest you go back over the key questions and see where you might have gaps in your blogging strategy.

Okay, your turn. What other blogging lessons can we learn from magazines?

Tom Treanor is the founder of Right Mix Marketing, which helps businesses of all sizes with Content Marketing Strategy. Sign up for his free e-Course on Creative Blogging.

AdSense Release Toolbar for Chrome Users: Ideal for Stats Junkies

If you’re an AdSense publisher you’re probably used to the AdSense stats shuffle. You know it – constant logging into your AdSense reports to check how earnings are going.

Today AdSense released a little toolbar for Chrome users that makes checking your latest figures a breeze. Install it and with a click you get a snapshot view of your latest stats including todays figures, yesterdays, this month, last month, some channel data and lifetime revenue.

It’s not giving a heap of drilled down info but for a snapshot glance its not bad.

Here’s how it looks:

201201200906.jpg

I actually don’t check into my AdSense stats as much as I used to – but this little tool will make doing so all the easier.

Pageviews are Good. Pagereads are Better.

This guest post is by Paula Pant of Afford-Anything and Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Have you noticed how so many blogs are just … terrible?

There’s no polite way to say it. The writing is garbage, the design inelegant, the content inane. A bird pecking at a worm-scented keyboard could craft more interesting thoughts.

We always thought the people responsible for these blogs are idiots. But lately we’ve wondered if we have it backwards, and they’re the shrewd ones.

Pick a business model. Optimize it.

We—Paula and Greg—run different blogs, but with a similar business model. We each work toward building a following of true fans who respect us as authorities within our niche, personal finance. We want our readers to buy our books, listen to our lectures, attend our workshops and tune into our radio shows. We want editors of respected publications to tap us for freelance assignments.

So we put our full names and our faces on our work. We obsess over wording, paragraph spacing, and dangling participles. We’re each building a platform that, if you’ll excuse the cliché, is the foundation of our “brand.”

Writing quality content is a pain. From our experience, it can take up to four hours to write a worthwhile post. The return on time expended, at least in the beginning, is almost negligible.

It’s a long-term strategy, but a risky one. It might lead to recognition and fortune, or it might never amount to anything.

Strategically mindless content

Some bloggers have a different business model. They want to sell text links. Period. They know companies are willing to shell out a few hundred dollars per link to get some SEO juice, and these bloggers are hungry to sell.

Quality content is unimportant under such a model. Having a base of loyal readers is meaningless. The only important measure is PageRank, so these bloggers concentrate on building backlinks. Higher PageRank leads to more money.

If you’re blogging for people, rather than for backlinks … well, having an ardent fan base can help your PageRank, if indirectly. Devoted readers might consciously link to a site they love. But if PageRank is all you care about, waiting for your readers to promote your blog (while you spend hundreds of hours writing quality posts) is an inefficient use of your time. The more direct way to improve PageRank is to spend a few minutes pumping out garbage, then devote the rest of your time to activities that directly build rank—such as commenting on do-follow blogs.

Yet another class of bloggers uses a business model that centers on advertising impressions. These entrepreneurs optimize their blogs around any activity that maximizes pageviews. The people behind these blogs don’t care about bounce rate; they just need a five-second click.

Neither compare nor despair

If you have a passion for conveying your findings to your readers in a compelling way, you can get frustrated if you measure yourself against bloggers who only care about eyeballs (irrespective of any brains they might be connected to.)

It’s almost misleading to refer to both the mercenaries and those who go to the trouble of crafting quality posts as “bloggers”. They’re selling different commodities to different clients. Ian Bostridge, Lil Wayne, and a guy who makes his living recording commercial jingles are all technically “singers”, but they have nothing else in common. Forget apples to oranges; we’re comparing apples to cats to unicorns.

If you take time to create worthwhile content and delight your readers, reasoning that the financial rewards will come later, do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourself to bloggers who would sell their mothers for an inbound link. It’ll drive you crazy. Sooner or later, preferably sooner, you have to ask yourself: Am I blogging to share my unique perspective and contributions with the world, or am I only after revenue? It’s not a rhetorical question.

It’s easy to forget that blogging is a nascent industry. Its rules are still being written, and most of them haven’t been finalized yet. PageRank will remain meaningful only as long as it continues to be considered the gold standard of link analysis algorithms. That doesn’t necessarily mean forever. The same goes for cost-per-impression vs. other pricing models: advertisers will eventually discover a surefire method of targeting 30,000 qualified prospects, as opposed to 100,000 drones who’ll never buy.

But until the day the robots achieve sentience, there will always be an audience for innovative content spawned from inquisitive human minds. And unlike link analysis or pageview counts, worthwhile content is impossible to engineer artificially.

That doesn’t mean readers will flock to a well-written but underpublicized site. The successful paint-by-numbers bloggers know this all too well, which is why they choose to value backlinks over content.

We’re betting against that strategy. In the long term, the bloggers who downplay content do so at their own peril, as they forgo the opportunity to build long-term connections with readers. These bloggers will never sell ancillary products nor other brand extensions. Their blogs resonate no more loudly than supermarket flyers do.

Any moron can go through the mechanical steps of commenting on do-follow blogs and submitting to link exchange directories. But if you’re willing to develop a voice that readers will instantly recognize as yours, you’ll set yourself apart from the bloggers with neither the aptitude nor the desire to do so.

Paula Pant has traveled to 27 countries, purchased a 99-year-old Victorian home near central Atlanta’s most beautiful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Anything, is based on one radical idea: money can fuel your wildest dreams.

 

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

 

What’s the Secret to Monetizing Social Media?

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

Have you been able to make money from social media? Has your effort and time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and your own blog paid off?

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably realize it’s not so easy. However, no matter how difficult it seems, it’s not impossible.

Just like Darren Rowse of Problogger, there are people and companies out there who are turning a profit with social media. Let me introduce them to you and show you how they do it.

Step 1: Build brand awareness and traffic

I love what Gary Vaynerchuk says in this interview when asked, “How do you monetize social media?” His answer: the same way you monetize any other media.

Vaynerchuk says that from newspapers to magazines, to blogs and commercials, advertising has been the backbone of social media monetization. However, he points out that you shouldn’t even be thinking about monetization until you’ve built up traffic and brand awareness.

Fortunately, when it comes to traffic and sales, the news is good for you. In a study done earlier this year by HubSpot, they discovered that blogs with at least 51 posts see 53% more traffic than blogs with fewer than 50, but more than 20 posts.

Furthermore, you’ll see three times the traffic if your blog has over 100 posts. Two hundred or more posts? You’ll see almost 4.5 times the result.

So, your first step to monetizing your blog is to drive adequate traffic to it, which as the HubSpot report showed comes down to consistently producing good content, whether it is interviews, podcasts or useful copy on a daily basis.

Step 2: Build audience engagement

Social media is all about conversation. Companies who think that the conversation is one-sided and do nothing but pump out sales promotions tend to look at social media as a necessary evil. In addition, they don’t tend to be as profitable, which just re-enforces their bad attitudes about social media.

But running an effective social media campaign is all about creating engagement with your audience. If you don’t have that engagement, then trying to monetize it will not work.

One company who is doing social media right is PETCO. They have a really strong presence on the social web with their Facebook page and YouTube Channel. Both these channels generate a lot of comments and discussions.

PETCO is generating all of this engagement by asking their audience specific questions about their pets, their pets’ diets and other concerns pet owners might have. Why are they going through all this effort to engage their audience?

Well, as you get to know your audience, you can start to give them more of the content they care about. As you give them the content they want they become more engaged. And it’s a whole lot easier to promote a product to an audience that is engaged.

Step 3: Monetize with online advertising

Once you’ve built consistent traffic to social media sites and built up your brand and credibility through meaningful conversations, you can start thinking about making money with advertising.

The most basic form of advertising is simply to put ads on your website. According to the 2011 Technorati State of the Blogosphere, of the bloggers who put advertising on their blogs, 60% use self-serve tools, while 50% have affiliate advertising links on their site.

Want an example of what this looks like? This is the Problogger sidebar:

If you don’t like the idea of displaying an ad across your website or blog, you could offer an advertiser a page devoted to their product or service.

Still another way you could make money is to charge for a membership into a teaching series, club or software, like SEOMoz and Copyblogger do.

Or do it like Darren Rowse does and create information products that people buy, like his popular 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Of course these options only work if you have highly engaged, consistent traffic coming to your site, so don’t jump the gun. Get the traffic first, the trust second, and then sell your audience something.

Step 4: Monetize with applications

Another monetization, traffic-building trick is to offer apps.

Some people generate income through their social sites by building software apps to sell. But if you think about, providing free apps is a great way to drive traffic to your blog or Facebook page.

The best apps are those that have a purpose or solve a need. For example, ROI calculators and keyword research tools are popular apps that solve meaningful problems. People will come to your site to use them.

A lot of well-known companies use apps to interact with their loyal customers. For instance, through Gucci Connect loyal customers used their smart phones and tablets to see a Milan fashion show from the comfort of their homes. They could watch runway footage live and behind-the-scenes videos. Live chats were included through Facebook and Twitter. Throughout these experiences Gucci exposed its audience to offers, making money off of all that traffic.

Wordstream uses its AdWords Performance Grader application to drive traffic to their site and capture leads. This app promises a week’s worth of analysis in less than 60 seconds. The goal is to get you to come to their site, use the free tool and then consider buying their PPC management software.

You can also give away basic plans for applications to drive traffic and capture leads, like Survey Monkey and KISSinsights do. These limited plans drive traffic to their sites through social media, leading to future sales as they send promotions to these users.

So whether you give away the app to build traffic that can lead to sales from other products or sell the app itself, software applications offer you the opportunity to monetize your social media. Let’s look at another example.

Step 5: Offer special promotions

Some companies monetize social media traffic by tweeting deals to their audience. An operator of luxury hotels in California called Joie De Vivre  tweets exclusive deals every week to their Twitter. These followers only have a few hours to act on these deals. How well does Joie De Vivre do with this strategy? They typically books about 1,000 rooms that might remain vacant.

Even large companies like Virgin use social media effectively. For example, the fourth-highest sales day for Virgin America came when they tweeted, “$5 donated to KIPP Schools for every flight booked today.”

Offering special discounts is really easy to do. Here are some ideas:

  • Post on Twitter and Facebook that you’ve dropped the price on your ebook to 99 cents for the weekend.
  • Go on a guest posting spree teaching people how to use web analytics … offering half your consultations fee in your byline.
  • Build an email newsletter list that promises special discounts on the products that you sell to subscribers.

Can you think of any other ways to share special promotions via social media?

Step 6: Retain customers through social media

Finally, while social media is really easy to monetize once you’ve got the engaged audience, don’t forget that you should also use social media as a customer service tool. Just because you’ve closed the deal doesn’t mean your job selling is done.

See, it’s also about keeping all those people who are buying your products happy after the purchase. It’s about keeping them loyal … and you do that by retaining and increasing mind share of your brand through good customer service.

In fact, notice the top three interactions users want from social media are incentives, solutions to their product problems and to give their feedback on your business:

In other words, people expect you to use social media to answer customer service questions.  In fact, according to Debbie Hemley and Heidi Cohen, you can actually enhance your customer service through social media in 12 ways:

  1. give business a human face
  2. listen to what customers are saying
  3. proactively engage with prospects and customers
  4. provide additional product-related content
  5. answer product-related questions
  6. supply alternative contact channel
  7. give customers a channel to talk to each other
  8. share customer feedback
  9. celebrate your customers
  10. show customers behind the scenes
  11. make special offers
  12. create new purchase options

When you provide an excellent customer service experience through social media, you will continue to build traffic to those sites as people go from being prospects to customers to rabid fans. Monetizing your social media will only get easier.

Conclusion

In the end, you can make money from social media when you have an integrated strategy that includes building traffic to your site, developing your brand, choosing the right products and advertising channels, offering promotions and enhancing your customer service.

What methods and tools are you using to make money with social media?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

3 Lessons On Blogging from My Son… the Artist

Our kitchen table is in a perpetual state of creativity.  L1001438.jpg

Marker pens, sketch books, glue sticks, and paint sets are make their permanent home there because my five-year-old son (X) is a self-declared Artist.

While there are some challenges with living with an Artist… (last night I almost broke my ankle tripping on a glue stick) there are a lot of good things about it too. Not only is there a constant stream of art work to hang on the fridge, I’ve also seen a lot of parallels between the ways he’s developing artistically and how I think bloggers could develop their own craft.

The more you do it, the better you get

Young X is prolific. There’s no other word to describe him.

When I get up at 7am he’s usually hard at work on a project he’s been dreaming up in bed the night before (he literally gets up and draws his dreams).

When I go down to the kitchen for a cup of tea mid morning, he’ll be there drawing or crafting up some new “sculpture” (out of an egg carton, some blue tack, a chocolate box, and his Mum’s earrings).

When I collect him from kindergarten in the afternoon, he’ll leave the room with any number of paintings, pastings, and works of art, while other kids walk out with one at most.

The fruit of his constant practice of his artistry is a remarkable improvement in what he’s producing. While it’s all still very childlike (he is five) we genuinely marvel at his creations—they’re really great! Last week I even found him sitting down with a book about Picasso and trying to emulate one of his famous paintings.

The same is true for blogging (or any form of writing)—the more you practice, the better your writing gets. In fact it’s pretty much the only way to learn. You can study writing techniques all you want, but unless you actually experiment with putting them into practice and work on developing your own style, you’ll never really improve.

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Experiment with new media

X is constantly trying new ways of constructing, drawing, painting, and creating. While drawing with pencils used to be his thing, he’s moved through a variety of “phases” in his artistic development as he’s explored different media.

I still remember the time earlier this year that I suggested he use his pencils only to be told that “I used pencils when I was 4 but I have been maturing. I prefer paint!”

He’s also gone through different phases when it comes to subject matter. Faces were and early phase. Then houses. Then robots. Then Toy Story characters. Then fire. Then rainbows….

Interestingly, his latest phase is something of a fusion (or mashup) of different media and subjects. It’s almost as if he’s tested and tried a variety of techniques and has now got his own little style, taking things he’s learned along the way and putting them together into his own little way.

The same is true for bloggers. I strongly advise bloggers to experiment:

  • Experiment with writing in different styles and voices.
  • Experiment with writing posts of different lengths.
  • Experiment with writing informal and formal posts.
  • Experiment with writing in a more personal and engaging tone, and writing a more academic-style essay post.
  • Experiment with different media—video, audio, written.
  • Experiment with different formats—list posts, interviews, how-to posts, stories.
  • Experiment with different topics.

The list could go on. As you experiment, you’ll find yourself drawn to repeat some and leave others. You’ll also find your readers resonating with some experiments and ignoring (or even reacting against) others. In time, your voice develops.

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Train your mind to think like a blogger

When X is not making art, he’s thinking about his next creation. Quite often we’ll be driving in the car or out for a walk and he’ll have a contemplative look on his face, or he’ll be examining something with real intent. I’ll ask him what he’s thinking about. More often than not, he’ll say something like:

  • “I’m thinking about how to draw that traffic light.”
  • “I’m imagining what that man riding the bike will look like being attacked by a dinosaur so I can paint it.”
  • “I’m working out what color to draw our house in when I get home.”

X is always on the lookout for inspiration for his art work. He’s painting his next painting before he’s even sitting down to do it. He’s looking at life though the eyes of a five-year-old artist—working out how to translate what he sees and experiences into his creations.

Again, there is a lesson to be learned here for bloggers. While I don’t advise letting your whole life be taken over by thinking about blogging, over time you begin to see life through blog-colored glasses. As you experience life, there will be some things that jump out at you that could impact your blogging (or even be written about).

This post is an example of that. As I watched X draw today and began to ponder how he was developing, I began to see the parallels and analogies emerge—but they only came because I guess I’ve got into the habit of looking at life this way.