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The Truth About Writing Killer Content for Mobiles

The Truth About Creating Killer Content for Mobile UsersThis is a guest contribution from Lesley Vos.

We’re being told constantly that mobile content is like a snack, long texts are dead.

People don’t read much now, and they just watch videos or scroll pictures. They’re time poor, they consume small bits frequently and move on. And as it goes on, things get more complicated: users don’t fix eyes on anything for more than seven seconds.

Well done! You’ve just read TOP myths about mobile users. And the worst thing is, many content marketers still believe these myths.

Yes, mobile users choose different content; yes, they use it in the different time and, what is more important, the different way. We all know that.

But.

What exactly does this “different way” mean? There are dozens of opinions around that, most of which are delusions.

Writing Mobile-Friendly Content

Let’s check what statistics say:The Truth about Writer Killer Mobile Content

  • The number of mobile users exceeds desktop users (comScrore)
  • Users choose smartphones for online operations, such as purchases, subscriptions, or downloads (KPCB)
  • Users spend more time on mobiles than desktops (KPCB)
  • Two billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016 (eMarketer)

The truth about writing killer content for mobile

So what does that mean for you?

  1. All users are mobile regardless their age.
  2. Most users opt for mobiles, giving up their desktop computers.
  3. If a website demonstrates a high percentage of mobile users, it’s worth looking up to them in everything. Including text posts.

That is to say, if you want more users to check your content, you should make your marketing strategy match mobile users.

Your content should be mobile, too.

What makes mobile users different [according to old-school marketers]:

  • Mobile users have smaller screens to read texts, so they don’t want to read long-form content.
  • Mobile users have dispersed attention. All they need is an answer to their questions, and they do not want to spend hours on looking for it.
  • Mobile users read content only when a phone’s in hand, and calls or messages can distract them.

So, it appears that the best content for mobiles is pictures, infographics, or video – snack size content.

What makes mobile users different [in sober fact]:

  • Users have those smaller screens at hand, which means they check mobile content 10 times more often than if they did it at computers. If you create compelling content, your readers will continue reading it even if something disturbed them.
  • A smartphone is like an anchor. We all have a reflex of checking our phones from time to time to make sure we haven’t missed any message or news.
  • As for dispersed attention, mobile users are rather focused on reading: text content takes 100% of their screens, so no ads or other blocks disturb them.
  • Big time segments exist when users are concentrated on content: their way to work and home, lunch time, queues, waiting for transport, etc. All situations of waiting are perfect for reading from mobile devices; so, if you give them compelling content to check during this time, users will read your blog again and again.
  • Plus, many users check social networks or read something from their mobiles before going to bed.

What does it mean?

If you provide people with good text, considering some specific features of mobile content, they will read more than those using computers or laptops.

They Read Long Text Posts!

To prove mobile users love for long-form content, two examples come to mind.

The first one is BuzzFeed’s article titled Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500. It’s a very long story: it has 6006 words and 35,000 symbols. It has garnered 1,684,299 views, 47% of which were from mobile devices. Moreover, desktop computers users needed 12 minutes to read it, while mobile users spent about 25 minutes on it.

The second example is the popularity of lists such as 101 Things You Should Do Before You Turn 30, or 5 Ideas of Viral Content for Your Blog among mobile users.

I bet that a 5-things text will never get more views than a 101-things text!

What I’m trying to say is a reader considers the long-form content of higher value.

Mobile users who can spend more time at smartphones and come back to their small screens over and over again will be happy to choose long reads. Moreover, your content is more likely to win if you specify the size of your text at its very beginning.

5 Formulas of Writing Content for Mobiles

1. Look-at-the-Screen Scheme

Once upon a time, someone created a so-called map of clicks (a heat map), and the world found out that users check a web page starting from its upper left corner.

And then content marketing came, making the warmest place of a web page look like an F, which meant users scanned content by an F-scheme.

The Truth About Writing Killer Content for Mobile

And now…

A user takes a smartphone, and the warmest place of a page is… the whole page. Well, okay, a center of that page is a bit warmer. It’s a center, not an upper left corner now.

Such changes are crucial for your content. Opening your post, a user will see its very center; so, plan and organize your content accordingly.

2. Length

Mobile users want to read long but neat content.

In 2013, James Bennet, The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief and author of Against ‘Long-Form Journalism’, was right saying:

“Long-form, on the Web, is in danger of meaning ‘a lot of words’.”

Looking for more words and pages, journalists stopped editing their texts for making them compelling. Length became a virtue, saving writers from a need to choose right words and making the rule of “the more, the better” work.

As a result, long-form content turned into senseless babbling.

Too many words, too little sense.

Mobile content welcomes long-form but demands rigorous editing and head to toe sense work. If a user doesn’t get any sense from each and every line (as we know, lines are very short in smartphones), he will not continue reading your content.

3. Meaning

Mobile users have inflated requirements to meaning. No one will rack their brains and scroll down the screen for something uninteresting, not useful, and of no value.

It’s like natural selection: only those with super ideas, super novelty, and major advantage will survive.

4. Format

  • Short paragraphs. Use 3-5 line paragraphs expressing clear thoughts users will understand. If they don’t get your point, they skip paragraphs one by one, deciding to close a page as a result. Don’t let them close a page!
  • Short headlines and 2-3 words are ideal for subheadings. The more words you use, the more lines they “eat”, preventing readers from seeing the text of the post itself. One more thing: don’t use large fonts for subheadings.
  • Short introductions. There is a difference between introductions for mobile and web content: while the latter needs a hook to catch readers attention, the first should answer the question “Is it what I want to read now?” 3-4 lines revealing the main idea is the best introduction for mobile content.

5. Visual elements

If you want to influence readers with your blog, avoid unnecessary visual elements because they will simply “eat” your content: a user will spend time on pictures, which could mean they skim or not read at all your post’s text.

We all know of visual elements to increase a content value, but this principle doesn’t work for long-form mobile content you want people to read. Don’t also make your images so big they take forever to load – because oftentimes your text won’t load either and your reader won’t stick around.

Infographics is a different story. If the info is hard to read from a small screen, it’s not an infographic but just a graphic. If you are lucky to make it readable at mobiles, it probably has very few elements. Ensure it’s readable from all devices.

The chances are, mobile content will have won ALL hearts by 2020. If so, we should align content marketing strategies with mobile users.

By Lesley Vos, a content strategist and blogger, contributor to publications on Internet marketing, writing, and social media.

How to Create and Use Infographics to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

Let me start this post by telling you a quick story: I once created this niche site that I thought would do really well. I wanted to flex my SEO skills, and see if I could a new site ranked rather quickly (I talk about how I perform outreach with sites like this at Lukeguy.com).

The new site would solve a problem like no other in its field – I had created this site for insect identification purposes, and it would help people with identifying bugs within hours. You would upload an image and there you got your bug identified rather quickly. So now you could find out if that bug was potentially harmful within a short amount of time.

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I thought this helpful tool would promote itself, and would climb quickly. But was I wrong! I thought by me building it, people would come. I was wrong again. Wasn’t long before I realized my cool little tool needed promotion just like anything else. That’s when the journey began.

I turned to the greatest promotional tool on the planet, the blog, to launch my tool that I had created. I have been collecting steady links ever since, and was even  featured on Lifehacker within just a few months.

How did I do this? It all started with one thing: the infographic.

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As bloggers, our goal is to increase readers and traffic. The best way to increase traffic is to put out great content, and the number two way is by increasing the promotion of that great content.

You can have the greatest content in the world, but without amazing outreach, it’s not going to be discovered. With my niche site, however, I understood that fairly early on and now find my blog climbing the ranks with Google as well. All because of this one infographic creation plan I’m about to tell you about.

Infographics and Traffic

How does an infographic drive traffic when all the info is included in the picture? Good question!

As you know, SEO traffic is the largest source of traffic that major sites get. By getting links from large sites, this will help your Domain Authority and increase your position in the search engines. The reason an infographic is great at getting this is because you can create one and have it posted on hundreds of sites. You create one graphic and get it posted everywhere without anything bad happening! You can’t do that with guest posting, and copy the same content everywhere, without Google penalties. This is a great reason to do infographic in my eyes and many others.

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My infographic was about bugs that bite people and what they looked like. That was it. However it was important to know and people were looking for something like this, and they wasn’t getting it. The infographic is landing major sites and collecting many links from sites all over. By this happening, my past post is now increasing in ranking with Google also and are being seen by more people also. Which is pretty sweet when you think it about it. The infographic has been seen by over 19,000 people and many more to come.

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The infographic is amazing stuff, but remember you may not be able to do this all the time, simply because infographics take a lot of energy and time. But they will definitely pay off if you do it with strategy. I don’t recommend one every week, or even every month. Just have a good one and promote it for months. Blogs are so much easier to write and they’re not as costly. However, the infographic gives you that extra nudge which every young blog needs in the beginning. They help the most with backlinks which is very important with SEO according to Cyrus Shepard from Moz.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 3.10.08 pm

Before you build your infographic

Let’s talk about how to create your infographic. First of all, study what you want your infographic to be about. The best infographics solve a problem by focusing on a solution. It makes someone’s life easier in less time. It’s entertaining and as well as being helpful, so by you creating an infographic that solves a problem you’re more likely to receive a timely response with traffic. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

So think of a major problem you can solve for your readers, and brainstorm how you can make it an infographic. Make it enjoyable to look at, and as eye-catching as possible.

Factors your infographic should include for best results:

  • a solution to a problem
  • great design
  • educational and entertaining
  • statistics
  • sources

How to ensure your choice of infographic topic is a successful one

A suggestion I have is to build an infographic around content that’s already successful on the web. I’m not saying plagiarise, but build upon or put your own spin on the topic. That successful content may offer a solution to a problem your readers are needing to solve, but you see some holes you can fill, room for improvement. You want to turn this up notch with more data, more images, creating your very own masterpiece. With their shares, likes and comments as an indicator that people liked what they saw, you can be assured that it will do well when turned into an infographic. So by confirming validation from another source, you can be assured through the process that this graphic has potential.

This is the method movie producers take. They watch a book and see how people react to it. If it becomes a bestseller, that book usually (almost always) turns into a film. They’re about to invest millions, and they’re not about to do it on an unread book.

Outsourcing your infographic

If you don’t have graphic design experience or software, you may wish to hire someone to complete your infographic, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 and even beyond, depending on the content and how much time you have. However if you invest money in your infographic, it can be a driving factor when pushing this into the atmosphere. It can make you push harder when you realize you’ve invested actual cash in making your infographic successful.

Creating your infographic

If you have opted to create the infographic yourself, you might find you struggle with where to find great fonts and images. I myself use daFont and they have over 28,000 fonts there (for free) to choose from. Once you find a font you like, simply download it, and install into your font file on your computer. Here are some articles that show you how to install fonts step-by-step:

  1. How do I install fonts on my Windows PC?
  2. How to install a font under Windows?
  3. How do I install fonts on my Mac?
  4. How To Install Fonts on a Mac

There are also plenty of image creation tools like Canva or Piktochart which allows you to use the icons already available. These sites have templates you can just populate with your ideas, rather than starting from scratch.

Researching your infographic

By you reading other articles, and by getting a feel of how other people view your topic, you will have an idea of the conversations around it. Reading all the articles on the subject gives you an idea of what’s missing out there. I’d consider plugging your keywords into Buzzsumo and see how many popular on social media your subject is.

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Finishing your Infographic

Once you’re done, how do you know your work is complete – it’s not like you can go and change a line here and there like you can on a blog post?

To be honest, I don’t think anyone ever feels like their graphic is “complete”, but there is a point where you must release and watch what happens. You’ll know when that time has arrived. The most important thing is that you have gone the extra mile in bringing reliable data together. If that data is incorrect, everything else falls apart.  Header design won’t help you, great fonts won’t help you, cool illustrations won’t help you. Make sure to stress data accuracy.

To see what successful infographics look like, I have compiled a list for you of featured infographics by major blogs (such as Hubspot). They either featured these from other blogs or made it themselves.

Inspiration: Successful Infographics

You might like to have a look at this list I’ve put together of infographics that have done really well to help you get an idea of what works and maybe what you can include in your offering.

  1. Nutrition 101 Recap: Top 5 Tips to Eat More Nutritiously
  2. THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NOTE TAKING IN CLASS
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Creating Visually Appealing Content
  4. Imaginary Factory
  5. Games controllers
  6. What happens in an internet minute?

Promoting Your Infographic

As for the promoting of the infographic, you really need to write an amazing blog post to go with it. It will help give your infographic context, and provide background and more information. If readers and other influencers link to your blog post when they share, all these words that you have in that blog post could trigger some search engine traffic, which increases your exposure. By you adding the infographic to your blog post, the chances of someone linking to you has now increased tremendously. People can’t copy/paste your content onto their blog and be successful with SEO, however they can use your infographic and do quite well. That means more shares and backlinks for you, and that’s a good thing.

From there, start looking for major blogs in the same niche as your infographic, and reach out to them. Email them and see if they would be willing to possibly publish your infographic once you have it up, and explain what is in it for them. It might not be the path that everyone would choose, but what I would do is aim at sending it to 100 or 200 journalists. Figure out who they are, what their contact details are, and see if they would be interested in sharing this infographic with a tailored email pitch. If only five major blogs out of 200 use your infographic, it could mean 50,000 views and many other quality backlinks to your site 

Once the ball gets rolling your infographic could land in search engines and give you steady traffic every month. – thus completing the mission for your blog.

If you’re looking for an email template in how you should present this, I’ve compiled a list of articles that explain that very well. Even though there’s only four here, they are slammed with content that can help you land your infographic on “mega-sites”.

Email Outreach Templates:

  1. The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach (template at bottom)
  2. How to Get Influencers to Promote Your Content for Free (template midways)
  3. Outreach Letters for Link Building (template at beginning)
  4. How to Email Busy People (template midways)

Where to find influencers to share your infographic

This maybe the hardest part of the process for you, I know it was for me.

The best thing I can advise is know your niche. Understand what is the focus of your niche and who is the top influencer in that category. Once you have this down, you must scout possible sites that you can reach out to. If you’ve never seen an infographic on a site, good chance they won’t publish yours. I’d also look to see if they’ve published infographics from other sites, if they have, that’s a very good sign.

With larger sites, they seem to cover every subject, and they have many authors on those sites. If you watch the subject and the tone of the journalist and you see a match with them within your niche, I’d consider reaching out. There’s a good chance they write for other major blogs also.

To find these rather quickly, I’d suggest using the Google method.

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Simply replace “keyword” with the word that matches your niche best and put “infographic” in quotations like this: keyword “infographic”.

Your search could look like more like:

  • marketing “infographic”
  • seo “infographic”
  • logo design “infographic”
  • pest control “infographic”
  • marriage counseling “infographic”
  • dating tips “infographic”

Conclusion

Understand outreach isn’t easy and can even be depressing at times, but by keeping a steady pace, you could really get some traction, resulting in traffic to your site. You will get tired, and things maybe tough during this process. You may have to take a break and come back. However, if you make outreach a daily habit, there’s no reason why you can’t completely crush your niche. It all takes time.

My ranking is doing well by the way and I’m on the verge of cracking a major keyword. That keyword come to a monthly of around 10,000 people. I’m three positions away from hitting frontpage and to think the site is only just a few months old. I’m ecstatic!

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I hope this post helps you, and that this post helps fulfill your blogging dream.

Luke Guy is THE SEO guy who isn’t your average robot who talks just about backlinks. He focuses on connections and uses this ability to rank well among search engines while using his strategies. Get his free eBook “How To Guest Post On Any Blog While Crushing SEO” to learn more.

8 Ways to Find Trending Topics and Key Words

8 Ways to find trending topics and keywords for your blog and social media.

One of the key success factors in marketing is the ability of a marketer to seize a certain moment – jumping on a trending item that will resonate with their audience, and repackaging it so it’s relevant to the reader.

We’re all individuals, and what we like could be totally different to our friends. But if people are interested in your blog, they are interested in you, and what you’re interested in. If something is trending that you know they will love, it’s easy to capitalise on that for the benefit of your followers.  Here are a few places you can keep tabs on the pulse of what’s new and interesting on the internet, so you can bring your audience the latest.

Where to find trending topics and keywords for your blog

While a decade ago it would have been difficult to find such trends in real time, internet has now made it very easy to locate the live trends and come up with smart content to cash in on the same. So, let us have a look at a few tools and methods for locating the accurate trends for you.

1. Twitter

It hardly needs introduction! While the idea has existed for a long time, Twitter brought it to public attention by directly listing current trends on their homepage and profile pages. It is still the best way to find out the present political and cultural trends as well as the mood of a nation. You can check global trends or look for country specific trends as per your needs as you search the hashtags.

If you have the budget, you can also consider using “promoted trends” in Twitter. These hashtags will show up at the top of the list in the homepage of your target region. Include your brand name in the hashtag for the right impact.

2. Google Trends

Google has many services to provide analytics. Google Trends is the best option out of them to find trending topics. You can search any topic here and check out the volume it is receiving. You can also make country-specific as well as sector-specific searches to make the results more targeted.

You can explore in depth by clicking on the country name and then the state names to get completely localized details which will help you to find extremely targeted keywords for your focus market.

3. Social Mention

It is a smart tool that analyses content in a huge number of websites. It does not only limit itself to major networks like Twitter and Facebook but also goes through more than a 100 sites including the likes of Digg, YouTube, FriendFeed and basically anything that hosts user generated content to find out trending topics.

For any query, Social Mention also gives you a list of influencers, i.e. people who regularly post on one of the social networks on that topic and are popular with high number of followers and engagements. You can find potential collaborators and endorsers from this list.

8 Ways to find trending topics and keywords for your blog and social media.

4. Keyhole

Keyhole is an interesting tool that allows you to track hashtags across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It just works like Google alerts, but for social media. So, you can set an alert for a certain topic and observe it on real time.

Use it as a defence mechanism for your brand, if necessary – If you have the resources, put one dedicated person to monitor all mentions of your brand in real time using this app and immediately respond to any issues or criticism.

5. Agorapulse

Agorapulse is mainly a tool for creating contests and other marketing campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But it also lets you create customized queries for specific keywords on Twitter and identify the buzz around the same.

Its analytics clearly tells you which your best performing Tweets and FB posts are. Go through the posts in the recent weeks to get an idea about more popular topics and fine-tune your keyword list.

6. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed grew simply by posting content on trending topics. So, you can rest assured that the people at Buzzfeed know how to find the right trends. The good thing is that they also display Buzzfeed trends for everyone to see on the right hand side of the homepage and so you can easily find out how to your trends through this site.

Buzzfeed’s trending topics are mostly in the shape of listicles. What you can draw from here is not only keyword ideas and topics but the most effective way of framing the titles. This site works simply because it can make people click on the links. You learn it too.

7. Reddit

Reddit is a hugely popular site where everyday people are having heated debates on every topic under the sun. The topics can be voted up or down on the site and so the ones with most “upvotes” only are seen on the homepage. So, in a way, one look at the Reddit homepage can give you a very good idea about what is trending right now.

The best way to exploit Reddit is to discover subreddits i.e. instead of just exploring the homepage, find subpages that are dedicated to specific topics and offer more specific insights. You can directly search for subreddits based on your topic of interest here.

8. Topsy

Topsy is another tool for smart marketers. It allows you to search for topics in a targeted manner. For instance you can even search for trends on a certain date, time or place. You can set alerts, monitor and analyse all the trends to figure out existing social sentiment towards them.

For instance, suppose you have a plan for a campaign focused on the next Christmas. So, you can just go to Topsy and look for the trends from the last few years’ Christmas to find out useful keywords. Such date specific search would have been a nightmare with most other tools.

Conclusion

All these tools discussed above have their own USPs. In order to make the most of them, you should stick to a few that give regular results relevant to you.

Born in Los Angeles, Blair Strasser is a business and marketing enthusiast that enjoys sharing his knowledge through his writing. He is also Founder and CEO of eMerchantBroker and passionate about technology. @BlairStrasser

3 Foolproof Ways to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

3 Ways to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

This is a guest contribution from Efrat Ravid.

How well is your website converting? Do you even keep track? Do you know what’s working on your site and what really isn’t?

Perhaps you have experienced a decrease in conversions, or maybe your conversion rate is not as high as you would like it to be. But why? You have done everything right, so far as you know, You’ve followed the formulas, you’ve created opt-ins, you’ve created your sales funne.. So, what could be the problem?

In an effort to resolve this issue, surely you and your designer have removed some pages, added others, implemented changes, and added new variables into the mix, and tested the lot. You have ended up spending loads of resources researching and optimizing colors, sizes, calls to action, content, and anything else to make that sale.

How much time have you wasted?

How to Ruin Your Conversion Rate

I can help you stop wasting time right now – the following three mistakes are foolproof ways to ruin your conversion rates and should be avoided:

Mistake #1: Forgetting About Mobile

The number of users accessing websites and doing in app retail browsing from smart devices is constantly growing.

Before purchasing, 90% of mobile users research and compare prices. With such an overwhelming statistic, it is shocking to see such a small number of businesses that have answered the mobile call. There are still many e-commerce sites these days that do not offer responsive sites for mobile users (even with Google’s “mobile-friendly” algorithm update from earlier last year), hampering the customer experience and effectively killing conversions dead in their tracks.

Since the majority of online users today surf the web and shop via mobile devices, it is crucial to cater to this gold mine of lead prospects.

Takeaway: Either give your current site a responsive facelift, or start over from scratch and create a responsive site for your business.

You could even create a separate app that works on various devices, from Android and iOS mobile phones, to iPads and other tablets. Ensure that mobile users have a seamless and comfortable experience, even more than they would from the desktop version.

You can do this by keeping in mind mobile UX design best practices, such as having an easily navigable menu, clear visual hierarchy, and an uncluttered interface with easy-to-read text.

Mistake #2: Thinking Personal, Not Personalized

A major trend followed by today’s marketers is personalized messaging, and rightly so. Personalized content drives six times greater transaction rates than generic campaigns. Yet, despite these encouraging numbers, a laughable small number of businesses are using this first-class ticket to successful marketing:

Only 39% of retailers will personalize product recommendations via email.

An overwhelming 70% of brands are not using personalized marketing whatsoever.

This is a major oversight on the part of upper management, and it is one that will cost businesses and blogs dearly in terms of conversion, loyalty, and ultimately, ROI. By using personalized content, such as shopping cart reminders,or special discounts on items that have been placed in the shopping cart, marketers help move the customer forward in the conversion funnel.

Many times marketers personalize content based on their preferences rather than the customer’s.

Remember, marketing campaigns and website content are all about appealing to the customer. Design elements based on their behavior, motivations, and preferences.

Takeaway: Make sure to personalise your customer’s experience.

What looks good to a designer may not speak to the customer, and, as the saying goes ‘the customer is always right.’

It is also important to personalize your content according to different user behavioral patterns that can be categorized into six online shopping personas. The “Brand-Oriented” visitor, for example, will be attracted to the latest trends, so avant-garde cues should be used to speak to this type of shopper. To address the needs and concerns of the “Maximizer”, on the other hand, you’ll need to supply plenty of information in a useful and comprehensive manner.

Online store Zappos  provides a prime example of personalized messaging to fit the customer’s behavior. When a customer searches for an item or spends any significant amount of time browsing a certain selection on the site, Zappos will make relevant product suggestions for other items that customers who enjoyed the desired product could benefit from as well. In fact, 75% of consumers prefer receiving personalized messages and recommendations.

Mistake #3: Testing, Testing, is This Thing Even On?

Businesses are well aware of the tremendous value of conversion rate optimization.

CEOs, CMOs, and business owners alike have embraced the reality that optimizing customer interactions and experiences is the key to unlocking better conversion rates, and, in turn, better revenue – you too can have these kinds of experiences with your blog. Even with 68% of B2B companies using landing pages to increase lead generation and conversions, it is still very unclear which elements will succeed in bringing more conversions and which will fail. This is where testing can be an invaluable tool, and forgetting about it can be detrimental.

Testing is the number-one method for categorically determining the value of a specific element on a website. By performing A/B testing and tracking the efficacy of that element vis-a-vis how customers are interacting with it (determined by using heatmaps, for example), marketers glean insights to understand, respond, and improve conversions.

Takeaway: Always perform proper testing when making changes on a site or landing page. Track how actual visitors interact with the optimizations, because this is the only way to know with certainty if those changes are effective. Track, test and analyze everything, no matter how much the changes seem like an improvement without doing so, and how much it seems like extra work. It will save you time and headaches in the long run.

Before hastily optimizing landing pages or websites, remember these three fundamentals – forgetting about them is a sure-fire way to ruin conversion rates.

Efrat Ravid is the Chief Marketing Officer at Clicktale. She is responsible for leading worldwide marketing initiatives targeting global fortune 500 companies, as well as creating and publishing Digital Customer Experience thought leadership content for the industry

In Brief: Are You Making the Most of the Amazon Affiliates Program?

Are You Making the Most of the Amazon Affiliates Program?

This is a guest contribution from Joy Allford.

When it comes to making money from your blogging there are main routes most blogs take: 

  • Selling a product or service
  • Monetizing with advertising such as Google AdSense
  • Affiliate marketing

Something that is often overlooked by personal bloggers that are simply blogging for a hobby, or only interested in making a small income is how effective amazon marketing can be as a secondary income. 

I am not going to be discussing how to build a complete site with Amazon (you can find the ultimate guide here), simply how to add some extra income to your blogging efforts with only a small amount of extra effort.

Related Reading: How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate

Why do I recommend Amazon Associates?

Amazon is the largest online market place; with I dare not count how many products.  Put simply, there is a product related to every blog post you write.  The downfall is they have a 24 hour cookie, meaning you only earn a commission if someone clicks your link and then makes a purchase of any item within 24 hours. Another downfall is if you live in a country where Amazon does not really ship to or have a large database of items for sale – but it depends where your readership is, and if they will make the purchases you suggest.

Social Media and Amazon

Adding amazon items to your social media schedule is a great way to boost your income.  You could choose to share items simply of interest to your fan base or related to your products or service.

Another great way is to share quirky or funny products.  These are often the types of products that will be shared or re-tweeted, meaning the life of your affiliate link can go on forever.

I tend to keep my sharing ratio low, 1 in 10 social media updates will be a product, it depends on which account I am using as to what kind of product I share.

Remember, there is nothing stopping you sharing items of interest to your friends on your personal accounts either, your friends probably shop on Amazon as well.

Your blog and Amazon

I have three websites: one is a passion niche, and one is focused on niche marketing, and the other of a viral nature. 

On my viral blog I create entire list posts featuring amazon products.  If you were in the wedding niche for example, you could create a list post once a month that is completely dedicated to Amazon products, maybe the 10 most expensive wedding rings, 15 bouquets under $100.  These types of posts get shared, and anyone that clicks on your link doesn’t have to purchase the item you recommend for you to get paid.  If they add the item to their cart, your cookie gets extended to 90 days, so if they complete checkout in the next three months you still get your commission for that item.

Related Reading: 11 Wacky Things Bought via My Amazon Affiliate Links in 2010

My niche marketing blog is where I write a review on a related Amazon product once a month.  I then share that post on social media regularly until the next review is released. 

Let’s assume you have a blog related to finances, you could review the latest budgeting book each month, often when new kindle books are released you can download them for free, you then wait until the free period is over before you release your review.

My lifestyle blog features Amazon’s custom ad banners, this allows you to add a selection of products to a banner style ad. For best results, I display this about half way through the post, with a mix of cheap and more expensive products related to the post.  A recent post was related to de-cluttering your home; I put a banner in the middle containing five books about de-cluttering. 

Regardless of what your niche is, you can make better use of the Amazon Associates program by thinking outside the box and a little careful planning.  You can read Darren’s post about how he has made more than half a million dollars from the Amazon Affiliates program here for extra ideas too.  It’s a pretty nice income just from promoting products that your readers want to look at and will find useful.

I hope you have got some great ideas, leave any questions in the comments and I will do my best to help.

Related Reading: How to Increase your Amazon Affiliate Earnings for the Holidays

Joy blogs about niche affiliate marketing here, and you can find her on Twitter.

SEO New Years Resolutions for 2016

SEO New Year's Resolutions

This is a guest contribution from Sarah Walsh.

The new year has undoubtedly brought to you resolutions or new ideas for your work.

You might be gung-ho to start out with fresh goals or you might acknowledge that a lot of resolutions are forgotten before February rolls around. Despite the pros and cons for creating resolutions, there’s no harm in setting new goals for the year to enhance your SEO skills, as long as you keep them realistic. With these simple resolutions focusing on upcoming SEO trends, you can take your know-how from average to impressive by December.

SEO New Years Resolutions for 2016

I resolve to conduct a monthly audit

The best way to start anything is to begin by taking stock of what’s going well and what could be improved. Knowing how you’re ranking and what kind of traffic you’re getting is essential to any site or client. But don’t limit your troubleshooting to just the first of the year. Take time on at least a monthly basis to see what strategies are working and where some tweaks could be useful. If you’re really pressed for time, you can even do an effective audit in five minutes with this guide from Search Engine Land.

I resolve to continue producing great content:

You’ve known for awhile that content is king, but you’ve also heard the rumors—content is dead. Or wait, was it resurrected to be more important than ever? No matter what your school of thought on the matter is, it never a bad idea to have good content readily available to your users. If the content is done well, your user will have an answer to their search and have had a positive experience with your site, increasing the likelihood of return visits. 

I resolve to try new tactics

You might have a wide array of tactics you use that get great results, but with opportunities to build links and create relationships constantly evolving, there’s at least one strategy that’s probably fallen off your radar. Instead of playing it safe, branch out to make new connections. Maybe there are a couple industry professionals that you’ve been meaning to reach out to via Twitter, but something else always seems to get in the way. Or maybe you’ve fallen back on your established contacts for clients you have an established relationship with. Much like your favorite pair of sweatpants, they might be comfortable but not have the best fit. Put a better foot forward by looking for new contacts that might be interested in linking to your content.

I resolve to read the SEO newsletters I’ve signed up for

Hopefully you have at least a couple SEO-related newsletters appearing in your inbox on the reg. If there are any quality ones missing from your subscription, make sure to sign up asap. You never know which one will have a piece of revolutionary information that will completely change your SEO game. And while signing up is all well and good, make sure to actually take the time to read said newsletters and digest the information. We’ve all been guilty of letting things we know we should read pile up in our inboxes, only to be later unceremoniously sent to trash.

I resolve to optimize my site for mobile viewing

Every year more and more searches are taking place on mobile devices. As eMarketer revealed earlier, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches in volume. Instead of spending time focusing on how to optimize your content for desktop viewing, make sure that users can easily navigate your site on their mobile device. Don’t update your site without first checking to see if mobile compatible. This way you’ll make sure that your customer’s on-the-go experience is just as effective and pleasant as if they were at their desktop.

I resolve to increase my rich answer opportunities

Being featured in a rich answer is like being named SERPs prom queen; you were selected as the best of the best. If you’re already practicing resolution #2, you should be well on your way to reaching rich answer status.  With research on longtail keywords to find out what questions are being asked in your niche and direct reference to the question you wish to ask, you’ll significantly increase your likelihood of getting featured. Make sure all of your pages are crawlable; otherwise, all of your hard work will be for nothing

By sticking to these resolutions, you’re bound to become a better SEO this year whether you’re improving your own site or a client’s.  And remember that the key to successful resolutions is consistency so keep reading those newsletters and conducting audits!

Sarah Walsh is an Online PR Specialist at Web Talent Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that delivers exceptional results to clients. 

26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

Are you making these 26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

This is a guest contribution from Iniobong Eyo.

You’re slaving at your blog. You’re working hard. Real hard.

But things are not just going your way. You’re hardly getting any traffic to your blog, let alone comments or shares on your post.

You’ve been around for a while, but you still can’t make money from blogging. Now you’re wondering: does this even work?

You try guest posting. You can’t get published on a blog worse than yours. You can’t help but think: “Are these bloggers always this wicked or is it just me?”

Wait.

You’re not doing it right. You’re wasting precious time. You’re wasting money. And you look amateur – even to your cat.

Because unknowingly you’re sabotaging your blog and your blogging career. You’re making mistakes.

I’m a content strategist, who recently started his blog. Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t from client work. Don’t feel intimidated, I still make some of these mistakes on my blog.

You know the best part?

It’s not too late to correct them.

Measure yourself against any of these mistakes below, and see how you fare. And even if you feel you’re making no mistakes, there’s always room for improvement.

Content

1. You write and wait for the audience to come

This has been around for God-knows-how-long.

Just keep posting on your blog and eventually, the world will discover you and your blog. Content is king, right?

Wrong.

It’s simply misleading. Terrific content alone will not make your blog an overnight success. To put things in perspective, tons of blog posts have gone live already today.

You’d be hard-pressed to find and read even 500 posts out of the lot.

If nobody’s reading and sharing your posts, what use is it? Spending your whole time creating content on your blog is folly.

Blogging isn’t just writing epic content. There’s got to be time for other small things too. And they add up.

But more on that later.

2. You believe you know what good content is

No you don’t. Your audience decides if your content is good or worth reading.

It’s the reason why you may spend days on a post, fully expecting it to go viral once you hit publish, but it doesn’t.

Your post hasn’t provoked emotions in your readers, provided a detailed guide to carry out a task, or given insanely useful advice.

When you have lots of eyeballs on your blog and there’s no engagement in the form of comments or social shares on your post (if you allow comments), you need to write terrific content. Your readers’ version of it that is.

Go figure.

3. You fixate on your posts’ lengths

Does it really matter how long your posts are?

It does, and it doesn’t.

You should consider the content of your post. If you can say it in 500 words, you may do so. If you can say it in 5000 words, it’s okay too. Don’t waffle on and on.

But research has shown that longer posts do better on search engines. Longer posts get shared more. Longer posts have stronger keyword potential.

So ideally, aim around 1500 words and above for your posts. In most blogging niches, with some research, you can consistently hit that mark with every post.

But that’s not possible if…

4. You believe you need to post everyday

This isn’t very popular anymore, but it deserves mention.

It takes time to create quality content. Think hours, days, or weeks.

By continually replacing the latest post, you destroy social proof. The longer a post stays on your blog as your latest post, the more exposure and interaction it gets. Few people will spend their time on yesterday’s conversation when there’s a new one today.

When you post everyday, you have less time to promote your posts, less time to plan your posts, and less time to create assets for your online business.

Spend time to plan and create your posts. Don’t post everyday. Well, except if you’re Seth Godin

5. You hold back good stuff on your blog

You feel your ideas are invaluable and you’d rather write an e-book out of them, start a coaching course, or create a flagship product. Right?

Wrong.

If you’re not offering any real value on your blog, you’ll never have the loyal readers you crave. You’ll never be taken seriously. You’ll hold on to your “invaluable” ideas forever.

So how do you give your best?

Write every post as though you’re paid at least $200 for it. When your post is so valuable, people can’t help but talk about it.

You’ll think of what to sell later.

6. You do your best writing only on your blog

It’s true that many influencers do not write guest posts anymore. But some still do.

They use it to market new products, get new readers/subscribers to their blogs, and even get new clients.

If you’re just starting out, or you don’t have enough readers/subscribers yet, posting your best content on your blog is plain silly. 

Jon Morrow calls it “speaking to an empty classroom.” It can be the best article ever written on the topic, but is it any use if nobody sees it?

“Write guest posts for someone else’s audience, impress the hell out of them, and siphon a portion of their readership to your own.”

– Jon Morrow

Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs have built their blogs and businesses through guest blogging. I could write a book about them.

They could never have done it if they reserved their best writing for their blogs.

It still works now, and you should guest post more than you write on your blog.

So maybe if I ever get to write that book, I’ll feature your story too.

7. You believe making empty promises with your headline is a headline hack

It’s sad but true. But not surprising. Generally, humans have and will always love shortcuts.

“Hack” posts are popular for a reason. And that’s the problem. Imagine seeing a post with the headline:

“How to Legally Make $10 000 in Five Minutes or Less.”

To their credit, some people will find the headline outrageous and see it for what it is – a click bait. But the allure is great. That’s why they’ll click on it still.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it’s easier to read this post in less than five minutes than it is to make $10,000 in less than five minutes. Or I have a higher chance of getting a new client here that pays an hourly rate of $5000 for my services than making $10,000 in less than five minutes.

You get the point.

Please don’t create curiosity in your headline when you can’t deliver on its promise. Don’t use such headlines unless you’re absolutely sure it’s something 95% of your readers can do in five minutes…or less. Or most will never take you seriously again.

Give them real advice they can execute in five minutes, or whatever length of time your headline says. Only then are you delivering on your promise.

8. You try too hard to be funny in your posts

You’re likely familiar with this saying:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

– William Shakespeare

The big question is: can anyone become funny? To answer the question, let me rephrase Shakespeare’s quote:

“Some are born funny, some achieve funniness, and some have funniness thrust upon them.”

I’ll go ahead and say it.

I don’t believe anyone can become funny.

Similarly, I don’t believe anyone can become a good artist, a good writer, or a good mathematician. Because nature plays a big part.

But I believe everyone can get better at whatever they do. Sounding funny may not be your strength, but you can actually get better at being funny.

Study the works (whatever that is) of funny people you admire, practice it in day to day conversation, where you’ll often get instant feedback. Over time, being witty may come more naturally to you.

It takes a great writer to express sarcasm or wit. If you try too hard, you may be viewed as insensitive, or plain rude.

No matter what, don’t forget you don’t need to be funny to inspire people, to encourage them, or to change their lives with your posts.

9. You think trying to be clever is best

There’s a wide range of actions this applies to. But let’s focus on writing.

If you’re using 20 words to convey ideas that can be conveyed in 10 words, it’s not clever.

If you’re displaying your command of English by using “gargantuan” instead of “big” or “massive”, it’s not clever.

If you’re making empty promises with your headline, its not clever.

Please, always strive for clarity. Don’t let your audience pause to think about the meaning of your words. It’s frustrating.

Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, sums it up best:

“You should use use instead of utilizing utilize.”

10. You believe you’re just a blogger

No. You’re not just a blogger. You’re an expert, a writer, an entrepreneur. Your blog is simply a platform for all that.

Almost all bloggers making good income have books, courses, software, or a writing career. That’s how they make money. Their blog is just a “giveaway” to attract clients or customers.

Darren has got books, courses, paid job listings, is a keynote speaker, etc. I am a content strategist.

What do you have? What do you do?

11. Being an expert means you’re always right or you always have the final say

So you’ve just written “201 Ways of Doing A and B” and you feel there’s no 202nd or probably a 250th way of doing A and B? You’re wrong.

You’ve just written “The Ultimate Guide to Achieving X Results.” A “lowly commenter” adds a step you missed in your guide or adds a completely different way of achieving X. Do you thank him or do you try to discredit him? 

Nobody knows it all. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we’re all humans.

On your blog, you may be the mentor, teacher or expert. Does that make you any more human than anybody else? No.

When you make mistakes, own up to them. When a reader mentions a point you missed or probably didn’t think of, acknowledge it. When you write posts, realize you may not always completely cover every aspect of a topic.

All the above don’t destroy your expert status. It only reaffirms it and bonds you with your readers.

12. You only write when you’re in a good mood

That’s what many think when they start their blog. It is wrong…on many counts.

This has been my biggest hindrance – at least for writing on my blog. But over time, I’ve realized the truth in this lyrics of the Westlife song Angel:

“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough.”

A good mood is relative. You’ll never absolutely feel good. So stop procrastinating writing with this excuse.

Because good writers write. It doesn’t matter if they have a failed relationship. It doesn’t matter if they work long hours. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick. It doesn’t matter if their day job is sucking the creativity right out of them.

Be a good writer.

Write.

13. You believe when you’re writing about a topic you love, you’ll have no writer’s block

It happens to the best of writers.

Maybe you feel it’s not the best time to write. Maybe you’re afraid of putting out your ideas to the world. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and everything must be right before you touch a pen or keyboard.

Or maybe you’re just stuck creatively. No new ideas.

There are many suggestions on overcoming writer’s block or what Darren calls “bloggers’ block” which you can apply personally. And never feel that because you’re writing about something you love, you won’t have writers block.

Keep a notebook where you can write down ideas as they come to you. Or you may use an app on your phone to record ideas. (I use Jotterpad when I don’t have my notes with me). Over time, you’ll have more ideas than you can finish in a lifetime.

Trust me. Or just ask international freelance journalist Mridu Khullar Relph. According to her, she has three notebooks with ideas she can never finish in her lifetime. So her problem isn’t writer’s block, but picking ideas from her massive collection.

If writing ideas on your phone or notebook don’t help, forget it. Just write. After all, writer’s block stops you from writing. Overcome it by writing.

No excuses or justifications. Write.

Blog Promotion

14. You believe promoting your blog is something you do when you have time

For you, once you find time to write a post, the sense of accomplishment you feel is so great you forget something else.

Post promotion.

You’ve likely heard about the 80/20 principle of blog post promotion. That is: spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting it.

Literally, it would mean if you use two hours to write a post, use eight hours to promote it. Or if you use two days to write a post, use eight days to promote it.

I’m sorry. It doesn’t always work that way. What if creating a post took you a week, would that literally mean spend 28 days promoting it?

Or what if you run a news blog and publish several posts daily?

There’s no rule set in stone. I believe that if you’re writing a post in 12 hours, you should spend at least 12 hours promoting it.

Bottom line is: If you make time to write, make time for promoting what you write.

15. You need profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn to successfully promote your blog

This is tempting.

I know you have just 24 hours in a day. Everybody does. So how do you build your following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and at the same time churn out great content consistently? It’s not possible.

Social media is important. But you can’t spend time on all of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and expect to do well on any of them. Because concentration is even more important.

Pick one, at most two to three social media networks. Concentrate on them. Don’t divide your attention between all social networks under heaven.

Or you’ll never do well on any of them.

Making Money

16. You need an avalanche of traffic to make money from your blog

False.

The truth?

You don’t need thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors to make money. With the right promotion and strategy, your very first visitor can mean your first bucks online.

I had a grand total of 122 visitors to my blog when I made my first dollar online.

Making money from a measly visitor count is possible too, except….

17. You think blog ads are the easiest way to make money online

Blog ads pay you peanuts. Earning money through ads is a painfully slow process. Without enough traffic, and I mean hundreds of thousands of visitors to your blog, the amount involved is so small it’s humiliating.

When you’re starting out, the fastest way of making money is by offering services.

Offer a coaching service. Offer consultancy. Offer to write for pay.

That’s the fastest way of making money from your blog. I offered writing services. That’s how I made my first dollar online.

When you do have enough traffic or enough subscribers, you can create and sell your own products, or do affiliate marketing.

Don’t think blog ads. At least not yet. Please.

18. You think making money from blogging is easy

Making money from blogging is everything but easy. Not trying to discourage you, but from these stats, 81% of bloggers never make $100 from blogging, let alone make enough to support themselves or a family.

Even if you’re trying to promote your blog or services on your blog through guest posting, you’ll never know how many rejections you’ll get before you get one post published on a top blog.

And even if your post is accepted and will potentially result in leads for your business, you don’t know how long it will take before it gets to your turn on the host blog’s content schedule.

If you’re using Facebook ads, you don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll spend before you start getting some traction to your blog.

I could say same or worse about every other promotion strategies out there.

Blogging is not easy. But hardly anything worthwhile is.

19. You think blogging is easier than a 9 – 5 job

It actually depends on you and what kind of person you are.

The truth is: blogging is not for everyone.

With a day job, all you’ve got to do is be nice to your boss and do your work no matter how mind-numbing it is, and you’ll get paid your expected salary.

You’ll be paid the same amount whether you put in 70% effort or 150% effort in your job.

As a blogger, you’ve got to hustle. Hustle hard. The amount of effort you put in especially in the beginning is directly proportional to your ROI.

At a 9 – 5 job, your boss likely decides what you will or will not do.

In blogging, you may consume tons of information on what to do, but it’s solely your choice to decide what you will or will not do. And you won’t always make the right decisions.

I can go on and on.

Blogging is guts and perseverance. Blogging is falling and picking yourself up. Blogging is hard work.

It’s everything but easy.

20. You treat your blog like a hobby

Is blogging something you do because you’re bored to death and can’t think of nothing else?

Blogging is a business. Blogging is a job. Blogging is a profession.

You wake by 4am or earlier to start writing a blog post.

Let’s pretend playing cards is your hobby. I don’t believe you’ll wake by 3am just to play cards.

Your hard work and sacrifices from day to day and night to night is proof that blogging isn’t just a hobby.

So the next time someone asks you:

“What’s your job?”

Hold your head high and say:

“I’m a blogger.”

That’s why you need to start making money to show for it.

21. You think you should have (insert visitor or subscriber count here) before you start selling

You need to start selling from the day you launch your blog. Yes, you saw right.

You see, the earlier you start selling, the earlier you start making money, and the earlier you can hire needed help to handle parts of the business you suck at. Because let’s face it, you can’t do everything.

Money can be a good motivation to keep going even when you’re not getting traction to your blog. It’s easier to quit and give up when you’re making no money.

You may be a very good writer, but you’re terrible at handling technical stuff. The earlier you start making money, the earlier you’ll be able to outsource so you can focus on other parts of your business. And the faster you’ll grow your blog.

Start selling. Just don’t turn your blog into a massive sales pitch. And don’t be pushy. Because if you’re offering something your audience wants and needs, they will purchase it.

22. You don’t invest in your blog and yourself

Blogging isn’t necessarily cheap. You pay for hosting, you pay for email marketing services, you pay for plugins, you pay for software, you pay for custom design. Those costs add up.

As a blogger, it’s a good idea to invest in yourself. When was the last time you bought a book on how to improve your writing or blogging skills? When was the last time you took a blogging course? When was the last time you attended a blogging webinar?

See why you need to make money now?

Miscellaneous

23. You have no blogging goals

Which blogs are you planning to guest post on?

What must you achieve this month to feel you’re making progress with your blog?

Where do you see your blog six months from now?

If you’re scratching your head right now, then you need to start setting goals for your blogging.

Write down specific goals you have for your blogging. Qualify and quantify them.

Don’t settle for your existing conditions.

24. You don’t measure the value of what you do

Facebook ads or guest posting? Twitter and Facebook or Google + and Pinterest? Writing or hiring writers?

Do you know which of the above gives you more ROI? You should.

What’s the point?

If Facebook ads brings you more subscribers or customers as compared with guest posting on other blogs, concentrate on it. It doesn’t mean guest posting is bad or produces poor ROI. Maybe you just suck at it. Hire someone to help you write guest posts then.

Same applies to the other questions above.

Don’t waste time doing stuff you’re just not good at or stuff that bring you low ROI.

It’s best to start measuring your time in this way. Not just for increase in customers or clients, but for subscriber growth and traffic.

25. You don’t measure success financially

How do you define success?

Is it getting a guest post published on ProBlogger? Is it gaining new subscribers or customers? Is it getting emails from readers who have been moved by your post?

“Success” is an ambiguous term. All three questions asked above may define “success” to you. But don’t fail to think of “financial success.”

After all, that’s the dream right? Working full-time as a blogger, and getting paid to change the world.

You can’t do that if you have no financial goals. You can’t do it if you have no money. You can’t do it if you can’t afford to invest in your blog.

So start thinking: what financial goals do you have for your blogging? How much should you earn from your blog to be successful financially?

26. You try too hard to be original

Almost all topics in every blogging niche have been done bazillion times. If you’re insisting on originality, you’ll hardly get anything published.

Find ways to approach tried and tested topics from new angles. You won’t go wrong with that.

Or are you trying to invent an original marketing technique because available ones are not working for you?

Let me tell you the truth.

If they’re not working, you’re doing it wrong. Just keep practicing until you get it right. Then maybe you can add your own “style” to it.

Conclusion

Don’t be disheartened. Making mistakes is not the end of the world. Learn from each mistake you make. I still make some of these mistakes personally.

Seek the story of any popular blogger out there, you’ll find they made mistakes too, again and again and again.

But they learned. Because life is a teacher. The more you live, the more you learn.

And more importantly, the more you practice and put yourself out there, the more you’ll realize what works and what doesn’t.

Falling by making mistakes is part of life. Getting back up is living.And you should live.

Remember those naysayers who ask you jeeringly: “Does anyone make money blogging?” Remember your friends who believe dreaming of a career online is insanity? Remember how frustrated you’ve felt at your blogging efforts that you just let the tears flow?

You’ve come a long way.

You can do it.

Don’t give up.

What blogging mistakes have you made or learnt from? Which has hit you or your blogging hardest? Let me know in the comments section below.

Iniobong Eyo is a content marketing strategist who helps businesses grow by planning, developing and managing their content. He writes at The Refinement Blog.

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

This is a guest contribution from Julia McCoy.

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling.

Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re looking to increase your SEO, blogging is the first and most important step. According to HubSpot’s 2015 blogging frequency benchmark data, companies that blog earn 97% more inbound links than companies that do not. Additionally, companies that post more than 16 blog posts each month get roughly 3.5 times more traffic than companies that publish four or fewer posts each month. (We recently gained over 300 keyword positions in a single day—and it was 100% through our content & blogging.)

Read on to learn more about the SEO importance of blogging and how you can triple your SEO efforts through regular, high-quality posts.

Blogging 101: Why it’s so Darn Important for SEO

When it comes to SEO, there is arguably nothing more important than blogging. In order for content to rank well, there has to be content in the first place and multiple industry leaders have shown that companies that blog regularly do better than companies that don’t. 

HubSpot’s aforementioned blogging frequency benchmark data shows that when small companies with 1-10 employees publish more than 11 posts each month, their sites get three times as much traffic as companies of the same size that publish only one post per month. What’s more, sites with 11 posts each month earn twice as much traffic as companies that publish between 2-5 posts each month.

For slightly larger companies, the results are comparable: companies with between 26-200 employees that publish more than 11 posts per month get twice as much traffic than companies who only publish one post each month.

It’s obvious that blogging frequency really does matter and that, in order to boost traffic and improve SEO, you need to produce relevant, useful content on a regular basis.

One of the main reasons for this is that old blog posts stick around long after they’ve been published. In fact, when HubSpot conducted a study of their own blogging traffic, they found that 90% of the leads their blog produced actually came from old posts. That said, it’s possible to generate, in equal parts, traffic from both old and new content, as long as you know how to create content that is genuinely interesting and valuable.

How to Blog for SEO: 6 Takeaway Tips

Now that you know how important blogging is for SEO, here are 6 tips to help you blog better and produce better results.

1. Create quality content

This may seem obvious, but creating content is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This is because each post you write adds a new SEO page that has the potential to be crawled and indexed by Google. Additionally, each new post can be optimized for unique long-tail keywords which allows bloggers to create pages full of new ranking opportunities. Blogs also offer the opportunity for high-quality backlinks and plenty of organic traffic to your site.

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

If you do it right, every post you write can create high-quality traffic that gets you noticed. Unfortunately, most people don’t do this right. This is because they focus only on getting content written and distributed rather than creating viral content that maintains its value. The first secret to doing the latter is to make sure that your headlines are irresistible.

Eight out of 10 people read headlines while only two out of 10 read body copy, so you can bet that people will click through to your blog if you get your headline right. Need an example? Consider Upworthy for a moment. Upworthy launched two years ago and now boasts viral posts and 88 million visitors, which makes it more popular by visitor numbers than the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed. The secret to Upworthy’s success? Attention-grabbing headlines first of all, and then minimal sharing buttons and the use of short, intriguing videos to grab users.

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

Once you’ve mastered killer headlines, you’ll want to ensure that your content is the correct length. At Express Writers, our blogs are generally between 1000-3000 words and Buzzsumo has found that its most popular posts range between 3000-10,000 words.

3. Solve your readers’ problems

No matter how quality your content is or how shocking your headlines are, it isn’t going to carry you to SEO and sales success if it doesn’t pertain directly to your readers. This means that, in order for your blogging efforts to work in favor of your SEO standing, you need to understand your audience very well. You should know what they’re interested in and which problems they’re struggling with and you should be able to synthesize new content ideas that will help make their lives easier.

To get a better handle on who your audience is and what they want, use sites like Quora to get involved in niche-specific conversations and then head to BuzzSumo for help in creating and generating new ideas for content. BuzzSumo allows users to plug in keywords and see what other related topics have gone viral on social media. Another great tool for this same purpose is Ubersuggest, which is fantastic for generating ideas for blog posts and advertises itself as “Google suggest on steroids.”   

4. Make it evergreen

It’s one thing for your posts to be attention-grabbing but it’s entirely another for them to hold their value throughout the months or years. This is where Evergreen topics come in. According to Moz, evergreen content offers “continued and sustained success.” To put it another way, evergreen content doesn’t rely upon passing trend and it doesn’t rely on the re-posting of old content. Rather, it uses foundational industry truths as topics from which to branch out. Examples in the world of blogging include “How to Blog – The Steps to a Successful Blog Start,” “Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog” and ProBlogger’s own “How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners.” These posts all take one evergreen topic (blogging) and offer helpful tips and tricks on the subject. Because of this, these posts aren’t going to come into and out of fashion. Instead, they will continue to be highly searched-for and will continue to be a major source of traffic for their home sites.

5. Use long tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are and have always been a big traffic factor for bloggers. Take Search Engine Journal, for example, who noted a huge 78% jump in traffic after optimizing their content for long-tail keywords. In order to optimize content for long tail keywords, it’s important to create extensively researched, lengthy, valuable content that utilizes your long-tail keywords in a natural way.

Since long tail keywords show you what your users are looking to do, there’s a high probability that content optimized for them will produce far better conversions than content that is not. Additionally, longtail keywords can help you understand how to better structure content in order to solve a searcher’s problems or provide value for their needs.

6. Use CTAs to collect emails

As of 2013, there were more than 3.6 billion email addresses worldwide with upwards of 247 million emails sent on a daily basis. According to many email marketing experts, for every $1.00 bloggers spend on email marketing tactics, they earn $42.00. If you need an example, you can think about QuickSprout, which created a revenue of $43k from one email blast over a single 24-hour period.

That said, it’s wise to collect emails every time someone visits your site. Do this through a special landing page or embed email popups or subscription forms throughout your blog. Accompany these with powerful CTAs and then use the gathered emails for email marketing down the road. In order to get the most emails possible, ensure that your site is structured properly and easy to use. This means that your site should be compatible for all devices and very readable (in terms of font type and actual writing). The site should also load quickly and be easy to navigate. When your site provides a positive experience for users, people are much more likely to click and subscribe than they would be for a difficult site that wasn’t intuitive.

Conclusion

While increasing SEO can be confusing, it’s obvious that blogging does in fact have a large impact on SEO. Follow these 6 tips to help you blog better, increase SEO rankings, and make more sales. Happy blogging!

Julia is a serial entrepreneur and content marketer, and the founder of Express Writers; she loves to blog and is a soon-to-be published author.

Are You Ignoring This All-Important Aspect of Your Blog?

Are You Ignoring This All-Important Aspect of Your Blog?

This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Content may be king to a successful blogger, but layout and design are also important aspects.

Unfortunately, this is a topic that doesn’t come naturally to most bloggers. In fact, it can be a point of conflict for bloggers who have no graphic design background.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. With the intuitive information and guidance found in this post, you’ll be able to take action and give your blog a simple adjustment it drastically needs. 

Study Consumption Patterns

Every blog is different, but users often consume information and interact with content in similar ways. Over the years, web designers have studied trends and determined that two design patterns stand above the rest. Let’s take a look:

F-Pattern design

Various eye-tracking studies have shown that many web surfers prefer to read the screen in an “F” pattern. In other words, they start by looking at the top of a web page and ultimately drift further and further down the left-hand side of the page. Only occasionally do they gravitate towards the right-hand portion of a page. The takeaway is that the most important elements of a website should be on the left side of the design.

Z-Pattern design

While similar to the F-Pattern, the Z-Pattern design has some slight nuances. This theory says that users follow the shape of a Z when consuming content. That is, they start in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and proceed horizontally to the upper right-hand portion before moving diagonally to the bottom left and across to the right.

The F and Z patterns are obviously generalizations, but the principles gleaned from these design techniques can be applied to any website or blog. Using a scroll heat map, you may be able to figure out just how far down your pages users are venturing before clicking through to another page. With this information, you can then increase conversion rates and reduce bounces.

By using a heat scroll map, you may also discover that certain design elements on your blog aren’t serving much of a purpose. In Darren’s recent podcast about How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean, he touched on the importance of refreshing layouts and visual elements to maximize results. Specifically, he started with two simple questions:

“What do you want people to do on your blog?

“Are you reflecting that in your design?”

Darren then discussed some simple, yet effective solutions to improving your blog layout in a practical manner. While he mentioned a number of helpful tips, we’re going to dig a little deeper into one tip in particular: decluttering your blog sidebar.

How to Declutter Your Blog Sidebar in 4 Easy Steps

Over time, your blog’s sidebar grows. You add a link here and a tool there, and before you know it your sidebar is the equivalent of that messy junk drawer in your kitchen. While you may not consciously think about your growing sidebar, now is the time to give it a little TLC. Here are some targeted tips for decluttering that sidebar so that you can speed up your site, eliminate distractions, and improve the visual layout of your blog.

1. Set Your Priorities

The first thing you have to do is set your priorities and metrics for determining what stays and what goes. The best method of prioritizing sidebar elements is by analyzing each individual one and asking two questions: Is this element serving my blog’s goals? Is this element serving my visitors’ needs?

If the answer to both of these questions is “no,” then there’s nothing else to think about. Go ahead and hit the delete button! If the answer is “yes” to both, then you can feel good about leaving well enough alone. Things get a little murky when you have one yes and one no. Weigh the pros and cons and err on the side of removing the element if you can’t definitively say that it adds value.

2. Delete These Elements

Right off the bat, there are some clunky elements that you can delete. The first is the “Tag Cloud.” These are the groupings of the most commonly used words on your blog. While they may look cool at first, the reality is that nobody uses them. They just take up space.

The next thing you should delete is that blog roll. While a good link to a relevant blog may be helpful, the fact is these links take away from your site by driving traffic to different URLs. They also take up a lot of room.

Finally, consider deleting the recent comments section from your sidebar. The reason is that nobody cares to read comments out of context. Furthermore, if spammers regularly comment on posts, your sidebar will end up being nothing more than a real-time spam feed.

3. Highlight Popular Posts

Most blogs are set up in a format that highlights the most recent posts in the sidebar. While there’s nothing wrong with this, people can get the same information by simply visiting the first page of your blog. Instead, use this space to highlight popular posts. This will increase your click through rates and provide more value in the long run.

4. Understanding What Stays

So, what stays in the sidebar? Well, you’ll definitely want an opt-in form to collect user’s email addresses, a mini bio with picture to highlight who you are, and a convenient search bar. Past this, nothing is mandatory. Remember, only keep an element in your sidebar if it serves the needs of your visitors or satisfies the goals of your blog.

Make Layout and Design a Priority

While every blog is different, the reality is that most users interact with blogs in similar ways. If you study the consumption patterns of your users, you’ll notice that your cluttered sidebar likely adds very little value to your blog. In fact, it may take away from the primary conversion goals you’ve established. Paying attention to these behavioral patterns and decluttering your sidebar may allow you to experience higher conversion rates and longer site visits.

Nobody is telling you to skimp on content. Your content is obviously the most critical component of having a successful blog. However, you can’t afford to ignore layout and design. By combining the right layout with relevant content, you can transform an average blog into a valuable, high-converting industry resource that attracts readers, advertisers, and influencers alike. And while you may have never realized it in the past, decluttering your sidebar can play a major role in this transformation process.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.