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X-Ray Vision for Guest Bloggers: Author Stats

This guest post is by Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media.

Analytics are great for seeing your site’s performance, but we can’t usually peek into other people’s web stats.

However, there is a tool that gives you a view you may not have seen before. It’s called Google Author Stats.

Embrace your new blogging super power

I think of guest blogging as modern-day PR. It has social media and search marketing benefits, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a key part of blogger collaboration.

The X-ray vision we’re talking about is useful for guest bloggers, but it works for any blogger.

To make it work, you need to do two things:

  1. Use Google Authorship to add a “digital signature” to your posts.
  2. Apply some SEO basics to your writing: a bit of keyphrase research and usage.

If you’ve been doing this all along, get ready to see through walls! Here’s how: log into Google Webmaster Tools using your Google+ login info.

This might seem strange because this account isn’t necessarily tied to a website. But keep going.

Now, click “Labs > Author Stats”. Here’s what you’ll see…

The stats

You’re looking at the SEO performance of every post you’ve written and tagged for Authorship. Let’s step through the information that’s included here.

  • Page: the address
  • Impressions: the number of times it has appeared in search results
  • Clicks: the number of visits to the page
  • CTR/Clickthrough Rate: the percentage of searchers who clicked on it
  • Avg. Position: how high the page ranks on average for all its keyphrases

It’s a thrill the first time you put on your Author Stats X-ray specs. You’re seeing the SEO performance (an important part of Analytics) for your site, but also other people’s websites. It’s enough to make a man blush!

Use your powers for good, not evil

Now that you can see through walls, what are you going to do with your new powers? Here’s a tip: use them for good. Use them as a reason to reach out and collaborate. Here are a few ways a guest author can continue to work with a host blog based on Authors Stats.

Your guest post has…

  • Avg. Position of 11-15: You’re ranking on page two, but not far from page one. The host blog should look for a few opportunities to link to the post from older posts, improving the link popularity. Or you can write another post on a similar topic with new link to the original post.
  • Avg. Position of 1-5, but CTR below 5%: You’re on page one, but not many people are clicking. There may be a mismatch between the title and meta description and the meaning of the keyphrase. Tweak the title to make sure the keyphrase and the topic are aligned semantically.
  • Clicks of 500 or more per month: You’re driving some traffic! The combination of your content and the host’s domain authority are powering significant visits from search. You should work together more often!

Now take of the X-ray glasses, email the blog editor, and continue to collaborate. Help the blog, help yourself, and help future readers find your content.

Peek at a few final tips

There are loads of competitive analysis tools that can give you a peek into the stats of other sites, but there’s still a lot we can’t see.

Ever used X-ray vision? Need help troubleshooting it? Got a favorite super power of your own? Leave a comment or question below…

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

Is Your Content ROI Really Untrackable?

This guest post is by Johnny.

We have all heard about the traditional advertising campaign that cost thousands and makes almost no impact on sales or turnover. But when was the last time you heard that about a content marketing strategy?

I’ll give you a clue: you haven’t. An effective content strategy can cost as little as the time it takes to create.

However, as more and more blue chip companies are beginning to catch on, questions are being asked about whether this strategy is the right one. Convincing people that it is will almost always require you to show the returns on your investment.

Here we take a look at some tips for content measurement and examine if tracking ROI is actually possible.

Always start from the end

Imagine I am a lost man trying to find my way to the first page of Google. I have no idea where I am and I don’t have any directions to get to the search engine, but I know I want to be there. What should I do first?

Knowing where you want to be should be the first step in your journey with content marketing.

Make the goal achievable and set some bench marks. Do you currently have 100 likes on Facebook, but would prefer 1000? What kind of content could achieve this?

Once you have your achievable goal in mind, set a time scale. Even if the goal is ongoing, having a monthly strategy and aiming to hit benchmarks along the way is essential.

One of the biggest indicators of return on investment relies on monitoring whether you’re hitting your monthly objectives or not.

Analyse and track

The majority of businesses undertaking content marketing will be focussing on one thing: sales. This is where a lot of people become confused and assume that you cannot measure sales from content marketing or social media.

This is completely untrue. It is simple to monitor key performance indicators in Google Analytics.

If you are providing content in order to boost brand awareness, monitor organic brand searches on Google. If this is increasing month on month, the work you are doing is obviously having an effect.

If you are trying to generate leads, monitor new visitors to your website. Use Google visitor path to see where your new visitors are coming from, and how long they are spending on the site. Systems like ResponseTap offer a call tracking solution which allows you to monitor how many people are picking up the phone after visiting your website.

Adding a monetary value to each of your goals is imperative to monitoring return on investment. For example, in your first month, you may be focussed on building a community. Monitor how many more visitors visit your website after the content is published.

If on average $100 is spent for every 500 visitors, and your content attracts an extra 100 visitors, then you can put a value on the content ($20). This is a basic arbitrary measure, but I think it’s important in showing how much top-level, real value you are adding, even ignoring the secondary benefits.

Nurture your leads

People who visit your website may be in different places in the buying cycle. Someone may find your content accidentally and become interested in the products you sell, but don’t know how they could use them. Do you have another piece of content or landing page equipped to show them how to get value from using your products? You should!

Another visitor may be looking to buy a product like yours at that very moment, so it’s essential to make your pricelist easily accessible. To attract more interested buyers, ensure you have white papers or videos showing why your products are the best on the market, and explaining your competitive edge.

Lead nurturing is the new lead generation. Your customers aren’t stupid. They want to come to their own logical buying decisions, so the more you offer them, the more value they will attach to your brand. The real value in content marketing is in building community, so attaching a value to your community is important.

So … is content marketing ROI trackable?

In a word, yes. Monitoring leads and sales value is possible using the various analytical programmes on the market. ResponseTap and similar companies are starting to bridge the gap between offline conversions and online activity, and I see this as the next step in linking content marketing with return on investment.

However at the minute, the secondary benefits of social marketing are not clear to monitor. Comparing new and repeat visitors to your website is a great metric for seeing how well your content is doing at bringing fresh customers to your site, but how advantageous is this in the long run? It is yet to be seen.

Do you have any of your own insights on content marketing and measuring returns? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

Written by Jonny who is interested in how social media and content marketing are helping small and medium sized businesses increase brand awareness online.

7 Old Post Revival Techniques You Won’t Believe You’re Overlooking

This guest post is by Ahmed Safwan of To Start Blogging.

Do you have hundreds of posts in your archive?

Most of them receiving a big zero in traffic?

You aren’t the only one who has this problem. Most of the bloggers, even pro ones, have this problem. That’s why this post was created.

Your old posts can generate additional visitors for you. Let’s see how.

1. Create internal links

You’ve heard me talk about internal linking before. This is because it’s very important.

When you link to your old posts, you are giving more value to your readers and also to Google itself.

You will be able to get traffic to your old posts, decrease bounce rates, increase average time on site per visitor, and increase your rankings. All this from just linking to your old posts!

So, whenever you write a new post, remember that your old posts can also give value, and link to them in your new post.

2. Update your old post and republish it

Do you notice how CopyBlogger republishes some of its old articles from time to time?

Doing this will let you catch a break, and also get a raft of traffic to your old content while making sure that content remains current over time.

3. Spread it on social media

Social media can also send more traffic to your old posts. Tweet more than one post each day, to get the best results.

As well as scheduling tweets for the upcoming week, see if you can’t theme your old post tweets around events that are happening in your niche, or the world in general. Depending on your topic, a post you wrote six month or a year ago may provide an interesting coutnerpoint or reminder for readers.

4. Create a follow-up post

Maybe you have an old post, but something has changed around that topic. Great: create a follow-up post that shows what’s changed since you wrote that old post, link back to it, and you will get traffic to it as well.

This can be especially effective if there are valuable comments on the old post, and you can pick up on those in the new one. Tactics like this, which weave the posts together, give readers a solid reason to look back at the past post.

5. Use a “related posts” widget

When your readers reach the end of a post, they want to know what to do next. Show them related posts from your archives. This revives your old posts and provides more context and information to your readers.

Remember, they can be your loyal readers forever, so always try to provide them with the content they need. Your archives should be chock-a-block with it!

6. Use cornerstone content

Do you have a number of posts on a similar topic? Create a single post that contains all of these posts, as a one-stop resource for your readers.

This way, you’ll get more traffic from search engines, and show your authority on this topic—which can only help build loyalty among the visitors you help.

7. Link to your old posts in an email series

Last week, I received an email from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. It’s an email that’s sent to all new subscribers after a given time, and in the email, he was promoting an old post. What a great idea.

Create autoresponders to send weekly to your new subscribers. In these emails, you can include links to your old posts and relevant tips. This is a great way to create a richer relationship with your new subscribers.

Do you have any other ideas?

These are the common ways to promote your old posts. If you have another idea, share it in the comments!

In addition to being a successful blogger and a talented freelance writer, Ahmed Safwan is on a mission to help bloggers who want to succeed build the blog that can help them to do so. If youíre one of them, check out his blog for more Blogging Tips that Help you make money.

How to Use Multivariate Testing to Build the Ultimate Opt-in Form

This guest post is by Adam Connell of Bloggingwizard.com.

There’s a testing technique out there that’s not being used to its full potential—or even used at all by most website owners.

Today I want to show you how you can use it to create the ultimate high-converting opt-in form.

So what is multivariate testing? It’s essentially very similar to split testing. The difference is that it takes into account a lot more variables.

Many site owners avoid multivariate testing as it seems overly complex, and most of the services on the market that provide multivariate testing are paid services, which leaves bloggers unsure of the potential ROI.

In this post you will learn how you can use Google Analytics content experiments to conduct multivariate testing on your own opt-in forms in an easy and controlled way that will allow you to maximise your conversions.

Why multivariate testing?

In early 2012 Econsultancy.com and Redeye conducted a survey http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report that yielded some interesting results.

Multivariate testing came out as the most valuable testing method for improving conversions, despite only 17% of companies stating that they used it.

According to the same report, taking the leap from A/B split testing to multivariate testing can help you improve conversions by an extra 15%.

This shows a huge opportunity for those site owners and businesses that come on board and start using this testing method.

So let’s see how it’s done.

Step 1. Break down your opt-in form

In order to conduct any worthwhile experiment you need a plan and identify all of the different variables; but in order to come up with a complete list of variables you need to break your opt-in form into its various elements.

Here is a combination of the typical elements you may find in an opt-in form:

  • headline
  • subheadline
  • additional text
  • image/video
  • name capture field
  • email capture field
  • buttons
  • background.

Step 2. Define your variables

Now that we have all of the elements of your opt-in form mapped out, we need to break each element down further and plan out how we might want to vary each one.

Please note, the list below is not exhaustive, nor do you have to vary all of these when you come to experiment. The point is to show you all of the possibilities.

You may think some of these are minor changes, and they are. But the impact of some of these changes can be enormous.

For example, some marketers have tested opt-ins with name capture and email fields against forms with just an email capture field, and have managed to increase conversions by 20%. So it all makes a difference!

  • Headline: font, text size, text colour, capitalisation, alignment
  • Sub-headline: font, text size, text colour, capitalisation, alignment
  • Additional text: yes/no, font, text size, text colour, capitalisation, alignment, bullet points
  • Image/video: yes/no, image size, image content, video size, video content, video audio, video type
  • Name capture: yes/no, text in field, icon to the left
  • Email capture: icon to the left, text in field
  • Button: size, shape, text colour, text font, text size, background colour, rounded edges
  • Background: border, image, drop shadow, border.

Step 3. Plan the test

This is where it starts to get a little bit more complex: you need to come up with the original control version of the form for your test, and as large a number of variations as possible.

The downside to Google Analytics content experiments is that you’re limited to nine variations plus the original (or control) version.

You also need to be able to keep track of the variations and changes that you’re making; you can’t just throw something in and hope for the best.

To make this easy for you, we’ve put together a Google docs spreadsheet that will allow you to keep track of all your elements and variations.

Click here to access the spreadsheet

Please note: you must make a copy of this spreadsheet before altering it, otherwise everyone who visits will be able to see your testing plan!

testing-tracker

Due to the number of variations that may be needed in the future we’ve broken the document down into controlled groups.

Now just add the variations, which may look something like this:

testing-tracker-filled-in

At this stage it’s important that you only fill in the variations for group A as you need to use the results of each group’s test to inform the variations you select for the next group.

Step 4. Gear up to test group A

Now that you have planned out your variations for group A, you’re ready to get the test underway.

The test

The setup process here is fairly straightforward:

    1. Set up a new page for each variation.
    2. Add the pages to Google analytics content experiments. Log in to your account, then navigate to standard reporting > content > experiments.
    3. Set your goals. Note: the easiest way to do this is to ensure your opt-in form directs users to a thank you page, then find the URL and add this as the goal URL.
    4. Add the content experiments code to your pages.
    5. Let the experiment run.

It’s important to let your experiments run for as long as possible, so you can get data from the largest possible amount of traffic.

The more traffic you run this experiment on, the better, but if your blog doesn’t have as much traffic, then you will need to run it for even longer.

You are just looking for conversion rate here so, strictly speaking, you can run each test on different numbers of traffic. You need a statistically significant result for each test; you don’t need every test to involve the same amount of traffic.

Step 5. Review results and prepare to test group B

By now you will have had the results from group A, which means you can start thinking about the group B tests.

The first thing to do is to take the best performing variation from group A and add it as the original for group B (don’t forget to update your main page on your website at this point).

Now it’s just a case of rinsing and repeating the process above, tweaking and coming up with new variations to test each time.

A potential 15% conversion boost

Using this guide you will be able to create additional experiments for other parts of your sites, not just opt-in forms. You can easily tweak this method to use on sales pages, product reviews, squeeze pages, ad layouts or anything else you can think of.

The important thing is laying out your variations and keeping track of them. Then, just rinse and repeat.

Are you using any form of testing at the moment? We would love to hear about which methods you’re using and how much you’ve managed to increase your conversions in the comments.

Adam Connell is an internet marketing and SEO nut from the UK. He can be found blogging over at Bloggingwizard.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamjayc.

Blog Design For ROI Rule #7: Blend Ads With Content & Encourage Comments

This guest post is by Gab Goldenberg, author of The Advanced SEO Book.

What happens when someone comes to the end of your post? Their eyes keep reading downwards, so it’s wise to optimize the area with advertorials and an encouraging comment area.

Advertorials

What do I mean by advertorials? And why should they be present at the end of a post specifically?

In the news-media world, there’s traditionally been a distinction between “editorial content” and ads.

An advertorial is an ad designed to look like regular, non-sponsored content. Advertorial design aims to increase readership by avoiding traditional ad blindness.

As you can imagine, advertorials’ appearance varies according to the media they appear in, to better look like the content they’re designed after. Traditionally advertorials looked like news articles.

Today, Facebook offers “sponsored stories” in the News Feed, which are essentially advertorials:

Advertorial

Likewise Twitter offers “promoted account” suggestions and sponsored tweets, that are a modern variant of advertorials:

Twitter advertorial

What’s the key takeaway?

As Fred Wilson writes on AVC:

“In both examples, the ad unit is the same atomic unit of content as the users create in the service.”

The takeaway for bloggers is that advertorials for blogs need to look like blog posts, or at least inhouse content.

And what better place on a blog for an advertorial than where people are most likely to read it—after another post?

In other words, place the advertorial either after a few posts on a category page (where it looks like another post in the category page’s list) or after a blog post on its own page. In both cases your placement contributes to the impression that the advertorial is regular, non-paid content.

Some of the top marketing blogs use this area for advertorial promotions, be it for inhouse marketing (most commonly), or also for other people’s products.

Social Media Examiner uses their branded cartoon-jungle-explorer style for their newsletter promotion:

SM Examiner

And MediaBistro make their promo’s background the same as the background behind links to related content:

Media Bistro

And of course Problogger does this as well, featuring affiliate marketing for the Genesis WordPress framework. The advertorial uses the Problogger-brand-orange in the advertorial title and the light-blue of the related content box above the advertorial, having it blend in easily with the rest of Problogger content.

Problogger

Summary On Below-The-Post Ads

Style the ad like your content by featuring elements of your branding. These can include design styles like a border – visible in SocialMediaExaminer’s worn jungle map style and on Chris Brogan’s jagged-border advertorials – or your brand colours, or the background color used for some of your content blocks, like MediaBistro’s previous-link and next-link blocks.

Another approach that I struggled to find an example of but that can be even more impactful is adopting the exact styles of your post for the advertorial.

If you have graphics indicating the start of a post (following Blog Design For ROI Rule #4: Make Posts Easy To Read), you can repeat these at the end of your post to start your advertorial. This maximizes the impression that there’s more editorial content following the post … exactly as intended with the whole idea behind advertorials.

(NB: You need to indicate that the content is an ad, if promoting a third-party. However, leave the notice to the end, as Facebook and Twitter do, because if you immediately tell people that what follows is an ad, you may as well say “the following content is useless, so skip it.” The goal in using the advertorial approach is to overcome this obstacle. You then disclose that the content was sponsored at the end, so that people can decide for themselves what to think of the ad.)

Persuasive, easy-to-use comment design

As business bloggers, we want the most comments possible, of the best quality possible, so as to generate a vibrant community that helps build their repeat visitor traffic. Yet comment design rarely does anything to encourage this behaviour, being seen as a merely functional element rather than a serious opportunity.

Tell people Why they should comment

Tell them about incentives

It’s true that many people don’t comment for lack of time or for lack of anything to say.

Yet I know from giving away links to people who left thoughtful comments on my SEO ROI blog, that incentives can get some of these otherwise-passive readers to comment. And I know that SEOmoz, which has probably the richest, most thoughtful comments on the web, owes their success in part to rewarding participation with points, recognition (e.g. speaking engagements at events they run), and free memberships.

So offer a reward, and write a brief blurb near the comments saying so. For example, a while ago I saw a blog offering a monthly cash prize for its most prolific and best commenters.

Tell people about author engagement

If you’re able to, commit to responding to every single comment left on your blog. While it’s common knowledge that responding to blog comments encourages others to comment, that’s only for people who bother to read the comment section.

What if the first thing you see is that there lots of comments, though? Chances are you don’t expect the author to respond to each comment, in which case there’s less incentive to comment. No one likes talking to a brick wall.

So to answer people’s concern, you can explicitly state that you respond to all comments (say, except for “I agrees”).

For blogs that take contributions from multiple authors, you can either ask authors to commit to responding to all comments or even show what percentage of comments got a response from the post’s author.

An upper limit might also be appropriate in such a case, such as “I Gab Goldenberg commit to responding to the first 50 comments that state something beyond ‘I agree’. (Early thanks goes to those who comment just to show appreciation.)”

Tell them about rewards

If you run contests or offer prizes for reaching fixed participation levels, don’t hide the information elsewhere. State it explicitly above the comments area!

Auto-complete commenter names

The 80-20 rule applies to comments. 80% of comments come from 20% of the audience. Why not save time for repeat commenters by asking, once they’ve submitted their comment, if they’d like their names to be stored for future-auto-completion? Similarly you can get them to register at the same time, and use this for community rankings as described in “Shower Love On Your Blog Community.”

Display people’s profile thumbnails

It may seem obvious, yet most blogs still don’t show a thumbnail photo of their commenters. Probably this is partly because of non-registration, since most people don’t want to register separately for a blog (it’s yet another thing to register for…).

You can get around this by using Facebook for comments, since most people are registered on Facebook, and Facebook comments include thumbnails. This also gets you auto-completion of people’s names if they’re logged in to Facebook while browsing your site and it also has the advantage of…

Threaded comments

While it’s ironically not possible in regular status-update discussions within Facebook.com, Facebook-powered comments on third party sites use threaded comments. Threaded comments mean that you can respond to the first comment on a post without the comment appearing beneath all the intervening comments, which enables discussion that would otherwise be fragmented and unwieldy.Threaded comments

In addition to threading comments, Facebook-powered comments have the advantage of auto-filling in commenters’ names if the commenter is logged in to Facebook at the same time (e.g. in another browser tab).

So should you just switch to Facebook comments?

As of this writing, there seems to be a bit of technical savvy required, and the WordPress plugins I found for this have mixed reviews. If you have a suggestion in this regard, then please do. In any case, if you can implement it technically, then Facebook comments offer the above advantages as well as some others. And if you use FBXML, you can ensure the comments are indexed by Google, for optimal SEO.

In conclusion

At the end of your post, don’t just abandon the reader with nothing to read or do – show them an advertorial.

Ideally, have it adopt the appearance of your post, complete with header font and colors, category links etc. This will help maximize the percentage of people who read your message, as opposed to skipping it as just another ad.

If you’re advertising a third party’s wares, you should disclose this – at the end of the advertisement.

With regards to your comments, add an area above the comments section where you tell people the incentives to comment. Let them know that all comments are read and responded to.

And as to providing an optimal user experience, you’d be well advised to integrate Facebook comments, as they auto-complete the user’s name and profile picture, while threading discussions.

Gab Goldenberg and Internet Marketing Ninjas are developing a book based on this series – get your free copy at http://seoroi.com/blog-design-for-roi/ . You can also get a free chapter of Goldenberg’s The Advanced SEO Book.

5 Ways to Harness Your Online Reputation For Blogging Success

This guest post is by Valerie Wilson.

Quick: Picture that bad choice for a prom or bridesmaid’s dress years ago. Or the haircut that your mom made you get—the one that looked like a Tupperware bowl had been placed on your head. The one that didn’t go over very well at school.

Some memories do last forever, don’t they? This is true. But, hey, they are just memories. All good. No real damage, right?

Quicker: Remember one rumor that floated around your high school years ago. Who was doing what with whom>?! Remember how it spread like wild fire? And how old are you now? How long has that rumor stuck with you? Those were rumors. No proof!

But your Facebook political blurt-out a few years ago—or last week? A scathing reaction you made or to which you responded? Or—the biggie—a “little comment” about a previous account or client or employer with whom you worked?

Brace yourself. That “just having a bad day” comment can have a long-lasting effect. That’s the stuff that can be cut and pasted and repeated and posted—everywhere. Don’t let that happen to you.

The good news is that there are some strong strategies you may employ to improve your online reputation:

  1. Always tell the truth. Remember those rules you learned as a kid? This was one of the most important ones. To increase your readership, don’t embellish. Your blog will succeed if you establish this intention. For example, Intentional Growth does a great job of establishing credibility.
  2. Build positive relationships. When you blog, you’re building relationships with people and organizations. Be aware of building as many of these positive relationships as possible. Follow other blogs; they’ll reply in kind. Appreciate them by directly commenting to them and about them, and keep the language fun and enjoyable. Upbeat blogs such as RapidBuyr’s exemplify this technique really well!
  3. Keep calm and carry on. If you do get that occasional negative poster, be sure to keep calm and carry on, just like the t-shirt says. The goal is to make it right. Do it quickly, or the number of your blog followers could dramatically decrease. Your reaction can and will be around for a long time. Act accordingly. One particular blog, Socialnomics, shares even more insight about how to handle negative feedback on your blog. Damage control can be painless if you pay attention to just a few key strategies.
  4. Go viral, go viral, and then … go viral. The more viral your blog goes, the stronger your reputation and following will be. Bigger is better. Get that blog up on every social media site you’re connected to, and consider providing incentives for folks who “share” your blog through their own social media. An angel investor, Haig Kayserian, shares the story of how his blog went viral, and it’s filled with great insights about how to get yours to do the same. “Word of mouth,” move over. There’s a new kid in town!
  5. Spread good karma! We all know that it just takes 30 seconds with the news, a newspaper, or a headline on your phone or tablet to remind you that life can present some pretty ugly stuff. Let people take a break from that by logging on and spending some time with your fun, upbeat, charismatic, and charming blog. When they like you, they’ll follow you. Just ask Oprah. Or Jimmy Fallon. They got the goods!  A personal favorite for spreading good vibes is the Etsy blog.

These five strategies can help you to attain and maintain a favorable reputation, and the great news is that there are now easy and efficient websites that you can use that will keep an eye on that reputation.

Sites like Reputation.com are fantastic for addressing the challenge of tracking your online reputation. They can monitor and guide you through reputation management for your businesses and your blog, and they have figured out how to make it easy for you! That’s a good day at the office right there!

Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics including creating strong workplace communications and spreading some good karma.

7 Reasons Your New Blog Visitors Bounce, and How to Stop Them

This guest post is by Christian Schappel of Progressive Business Publications.

The last thing you want is for people to land on your website or blog only to immediately hit the Back button.

The vast majority of the time, it’s an avoidable scenario. Something on the page turned the visitor off to make him or her move on to another site.

To find out how likely your site or blog is to drive visitors away, consult this list of the top eight blunders that spark abandons and see if your blog guilty of any.

Your blog requires browser plugins (from the start)

Making visitors install new software just to access your site is the biggest turnoff of them all. From the time a person lands on your site, you’ve got about four seconds to connect with them, or they’re gone. Four seconds! That’s never going to happen if they have to install a plugin.

If you have to require a plugin to show off a product—or to satisfy a web designer’s lust to show off his or her creativity—don’t require it on a landing page.

Make sure your content gets visitors interested before you start making demands.

It asks for a browser upgrade

Unless someone’s using a browser from 2004, they should be able to view your content without any major problems.

It’s great that you’re on the cutting edge, but requiring a browser upgrade not only keeps you from connecting with visitors in four seconds or less, it sends the message that you’re not compatible with them. It also tells them they’ve done something wrong.

Test to make sure your site renders well on most semi-modern web browsers.

It auto-plays multimedia

Ever landed on a site that automatically started to play music and not reached for the volume controls to turn it down?

Music, sound effects and video that play automatically trigger people’s instincts to hit the Back button—even if just to spare those around them from the noise.

If these elements are vital to your introduction, add a button that says, Click to listen, rather than just assuming visitors want to hear them.

It presents long-winded introductory copy

Of course you have to explain what you do, but at a certain point your introductory copy begins to have a negative effect.

That point is at about 100 words.

Large blocks of gray text look daunting, and people would rather move on to the next site or blog than read a novel about what it is you do.

Even at 100 words, you’ve got to break copy up into bite-sized chunks.

Then make sure you use bullet points to make the rest of your website and blog copy scannable and easy to digest.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use short, one-sentence paragraphs.

It doesn’t provide full contact details

Three things that need to be on your site/blog, without question:

  • a phone number
  • your email address
  • a full postal address.

If the first page visitors land on is missing one of these, it gives them the impression that you’re hiding something. They begin to think, “Why don’t they want me to call or email?”

Bonus: Search engines love to see each of these elements on websites and blogs. They’ll improve your organic search ranking—especially for local searches.

It displays old dates

Your site or blog may have been built pre-Y2K, but it shouldn’t look like it.

Check the bottom of your pages. Do any say copyright 2011? If so, it’s time to update.

The only places dates 2011 or older are acceptable are buried deep in your blog or news feed.

Keeping an old copyright date tells visitors you’re asleep at the wheel.

It’s full of dead ends

Horizontal rules and separators, changes in background color, and even too much white space reduce scannability.

Remove anything that disrupts the flow of your blog. You don’t want anything to disrupt a visitor’s train of thought.

You’ll also want to check that each page of your site or blog links back to the homepage and contains navigation buttons of some kind. Pages that lead to a dead end and fail to include navigation options result in abandons.

Is your blog guilty of any of these issues? Do you have high bounce rates? Tell us in the comments.

Christian Schappel is the Editor-in-Chief of The Internet & Marketing Report newsletter, which is published by Progressive Business Publications (PBP) to provide marketers with news, research and ideas to help them increase revenue. Connect with PBP on LinkedIn.

Must-have Joomla Blog Extensions

This guest post is by Gere Jordan of Holony Media.

At first glance, Joomla isn’t the best platform for blogging. Actually, it’s probably not even in your top five. But that doesn’t negate all the strengths Joomla brings to the table as a content management system.

In fact, with the help of a few free extensions, it can rival some of the best blog platforms out there.

Why even give Joomla a chance?

I know what you’re thinking: why on earth would you even consider blogging with Joomla? It lacks core functionality that comes standard with WordPress, so why not use WP in the first place?

Well, without turning this post into a debate over the merits of Joomla versus WordPress, or any platform for that matter, let me just say this: Joomla is a powerful, mature content management system utilized by millions of websites worldwide. Millions of sites that would otherwise lack the ability to effectively run a blog.

Knowing the revenue and marketing potential of blogging, I think we can at least agree that Joomla users deserve the chance to make a go of it using their platform of choice. And that’s what this post is all about.

Not everything is missing

When you first set about creating a blog in Joomla, it takes a moment before you realize you’re in trouble. Adding posts (called “articles” in Joomla), organizing them by category, setting up multiple users, adding a blog area, sharing your RSS feed—all of this stuff is easy.

Once your first post is up, however, you start to notice things. Where’s the comment form? Why isn’t your profile information attached to your posts? How do users share your content?

A few Google searches later and you realize the truth: Joomla lacks some very important blog functionality.

Extensions to the rescue

Thankfully, like WordPress, Joomla has a vibrant community of developers creating plugins to expand upon its standard capabilities. These plugins are collectively known as extensions, and they’re easily accessible through the Joomla Extension Directory (JED).

Let’s dive into the JED and find the extensions we need to power our blog.

Comments

The most obvious blogging feature that Joomla lacks is the ability for visitors to comment on your posts. At present, several dozen comment extensions are available, spread across two categories in the extension directory.

Two of the top-rated comment extensions that you can get for free are JComments and Komento. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and have received the illustrious “community choice” designation given by the Joomla Magazine team.

Author information

Another standard blog function that Joomla lacks is the ability to display author information within articles. All that you can show by default is the author’s name. This capability is built into WordPress, but whether it shows or not is dependent on your theme.

To add this capability in Joomla, check out the Author Info Box plugin. It’s free and compatible with Joomla 2.5. With this plugin, you can display a name, email address, image, and description for each author.

Social sharing

A final piece that’s important for a successful blog is social sharing, which allows readers to easily share your articles via social media. This is something that a standard WordPress install lacks as well.

As of this writing, two of the highest rated social sharing extensions in the JED are AddThis for Joomla and Facebook-Twitter-Google+1. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and bring in the ability to share your articles via the most popular social channels.

Joomla all-in-one blogging extensions

If you’re looking to turn Joomla into a blog without installing multiple extensions, there are a few products that will do the job. You can find most of them in the blog category in the Joomla Extensions Directory, but the best ones will cost you some cash.

The best free all-in-one extension for blogging with Joomla is K2, which is an extremely powerful content construction component that gives you absolute control over your Joomla content. Not only does it do everything discussed in this post, it adds even more functionality like tags, item images, image galleries, user pages, and more.

The only downside to K2 is that there’s slightly more work involved to configure everything (nothing too difficult, just more time-intensive). However, if you’re looking to do a lot of publishing on your site and need more flexibility with your content, K2 is definitely worth the extra effort.

In conclusion

Just like WordPress and other platforms, a lot of Joomla’s power is derived from third-party extensions. By utilizing these extensions to add missing functionality, it’s relatively easy to turn Joomla into a blogging powerhouse.

Are there any noteworthy extensions that I am missing? Functionality that I left out? Please share in the comments!

Gere Jordan is a web designer, SEO, and internet marketing professional at Holony Media, a digital consulting company he founded in 2006.

3 Lessons for Bloggers, Gangnam Style

This guest post is by Ali Zia Khan of http://zedblogger.com.

The PSY Gangnam Style video: you watched it … but missed some key points about blogging.

That’s right, blogging. As bloggers, we can learn extremely useful lessons from things that are unrelated to our topic.

Yesterday, I listened to the song. Replayed it, and replayed it again. I kept listening to the song for around half an hour.

Why did I keep listening to the song? Was there a marketing trick hidden in it?

I did some research and discovered three aspects of Gangnam Style which can be applied to your blog.

1. Innovate

Innovation was a major reason for my addiction to the song.

I’d never seen anyone getting inspiration from horse-back riders, and turn it into a dance move. That move is completely new, and people love new.

Look at your blog. Look at your competition. Is there a difference between you? When you are the same as others, how can you stand out of the crowd?

Innovation takes effort, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Focus on doing something extra that can be loved by your readers. Yes, you will have to think hard, but if your mind is caught by the right idea, you will be on fire like Gangnam style…

2. Never take anything as insignificant, even if it’s small

Another big cause of Gangnam Style’s popularity is Gangnam itself. Gangnam is a city in Korea which is not big. People never proclaim that they are from there. But now, everybody wants to be from Gangnam, and to have Gangnam Style. It’s a case of the small thing gone big.

Most of the bloggers follow the big trends that are mostly created by the top blogs in their niche. Yes, those topics might be trending, but there is problem: everyone is writing about the same topic, so it’s difficult to get attention by writing on it.

If you start writing about something else that is given little importance, you have the chance to create a new trend in your industry. This also leads back to innovation. The more innovative your idea is, the better your chances are that it will go viral.

3. Inspire the influencers

PSY was not a big pop star before. The thing that took him to that position was the fact that he inspired the influencers in the music world, who spread it all over social media.

You made an innovation. You’ve spent time thinking about it and developing it, but now you’re wasting that effort by keeping it limited to your blog only. Step outside your blog! Tell the big names in your niche. They might like it and tell their audience, too.

In a nutshell: you can learn a lot of things from the famous song Gangnam Style including the importance of innovation, never under-estimating the power of small things, and the potential to inspire the influencers in your niche.

Tell me now. Have you learned anything from Gangnam Style?

This guest post is by Ali Zia Khan who gives blogging tips on his blog. Recently, he also started a guide about starting a blog and his eBook is launching on 20th February.