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Blog Tips from ProBlogger Guest Contributors

Four Blogging Tools to Make your Content Go Further

This is a guest contribution from Chris Crawfurd of sovrn.

You put in countless hours to create the highest quality content possible week after week. Maybe you even spend money on hiring a graphic designer to make your work look even better. But what good is a solid piece of content if it’s not being put in front of the right audience?

These four blogger tools are must-haves for any publisher looking to increase the reach of their online content:

1. Use Visual.ly to increase your content distribution

Visual.ly is the world’s marketplace for visual content. Whether it’s an infographic, video, interactive, or presentation, their streamlined process makes it easy to distribute your content and get it in front of the right audience. Visual.ly is sort-of like a social network for infographic and visualization sharing (talk about niche markets). You can explore, share and, in the near future, even create your own. When you open up the home page, you are greeted by a continuous scrolling of some of the best infographics currently on the website, and signing up takes a minute via the link on the top-right of the page (sign-up is free).

Let’s say we are searching for a particular infographic about, say, Digital Advertising. All you have to do is type Digital Advertising into the search box, hit Enter, and Visual.ly will bring up a list of visualizations tagged with the keyword Digital Advertising. While searching for visualizations, you can organize your results in a number of different ways, for example, by visualizations that are currently trending or by most commented or most viewed visualizations. You can also change the layout of your search results – the most useful view shows a description of the graphic so you can find exactly what you are looking for.

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Next Steps:

  1. Register for a free account onVisual.ly
  2. Upload your content
  3. Enjoy the sudden flux of digital eyeballs and link love

2. Use BuzzSumo to gain insights into what your competition is blogging about

BuzzSumo provides insights into the most popular online content and the influencers behind it. The next time you’re brainstorming blog topics for your upcoming content cycle, try researching the topic you’re interested in via the BuzzSumo platform to see what other bloggers and content influencers have to say about it. It might help steer you in the right direction.

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Here’s a breakdown of what BuzzSumo actually does:

  • Allows you to search for content that has been widely shared within social media sites
  • Gather metrics around content and segment it by content format
  • Quickly find guest posts, contests, videos, interviews and infographics
  • Find out who the influential content curators/aggregators are within any niche
  • Gather statistics on industry influencers and their associated websites
  • Export all of the intelligence into Excel spreadsheets

The real meat of BuzzSumo is in its “Pro” version. Through BuzzSumo Pro you can access its Content Analysis Reports. Think of these as regular BuzzSumo reports on steroids.

For data nerds (and I know there’s a few of you out there), this level of reporting will keep you up at night.

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From this dashboard, you can see just about everything there is to know about a specific topic. In this example, “AdWords” is the content area of interest. In addition to tons of other cool graphs, you can also see, at a glance, which domains are just killing it in your industry. 

3. Use Hootsuite to manage and distribute your social media

Manage social networks, schedule messages, engage your audiences, and measure ROI right from the Hootsuite dashboard. Hootsuite is a third-party tool or application that is designed to collate all of your social media account streams into one handy dashboard. You can write, send, schedule and track posts from its simple interface across multiple networks and multiple accounts. It is therefore a good option for those people or businesses that have either multiple accounts on one social media network or accounts across multiple networks – for example Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Hootsuite is web-based and does not require any software download. You can also add team members (and implement work-flow) as well as monitor analytics and performance.

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The primary use of Hootsuite is a social media dashboard (or social media management system) that provides a view of all your social media activity across all your accounts and allows you to post to all of them from one place. It gives you access to up to five of your top social media streams for free – including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, WordPress, Mixi, Instagram, Google+ among others, which can be much easier than trying to manage all of these accounts directly from a browser. Not only can you track your posts, but you can also reply directly within Hootsuite as well as post updates on every network from the one place.

What do you get with Hootsuite?

  • Manage multiple Twitter, Facebook (profiles, events, groups and pages), LinkedIn (Profiles, Pages and Groups), WordPress, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace (does this even still exist?), Vimeo, Instagram, ping.fm and more accounts from one place
  • Schedule your social media updates
  • Collaborate as a team – including ability to assign replies, mark as done, track messages etc.
  • Manage it all through mobile applications
  • Customized analytics, included automated scheduled reports (though this can be costly)
  • RSS integration
  • Customer support

4. Use meridian to harness the value of your data and grow your influence 

meridian is a new publisher platform built and designed by sovrn Holdings. meridian acts as a conduit between publishers and advertisers by providing publishers with unique data insights that allow publishers to create better, more targeted and lucrative content. Through meridian, publishers can: manage their ad tags; view unique revenue metrics paired with targeted audience segments; see how their site compares to other sites within their vertical; gain access to an expanding library of publisher tools and third-party integrations.

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meridian features detailed, individual advertising performance metrics on a site-by-site, and zone-by-zone basis along with clear trending information. Inside the platform publishers will see detailed audience segmentation detailing the advertiser-driven values and characteristics of readers visiting their sites. In addition to advertising management and optimization, sovrn’s meridian boasts easy to understand reporting and user-friendly data visualization. Publishers see their earnings in real-time. Payments to publishers happen faster than any other system, in virtually every currency, and in every major payment mechanism.

Here are more specifics on what exactly you’ll see in meridian:

  • Fresh, user-friendly interface with real-time data visualizations
  • Improved ad management tools and performance metrics
  • Vertical comparisons for benchmarking performance
  • Audience demographics and reader insights
  • Integrated content from sovrn’s Publisher Resource Center
  • Personalized support from the sovrn Publisher Advocate Team

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Pretty cool, right? Here’s what you need to do to gain access to meridian:

  1. Sign up for a sovrn account on meridian
  2. Create ad tags, install the audience analytics beacon and search widget
  3. Sit back and reap the rewards of your hard-earned data.

Well, what did you think? Were these tools helpful? If you have any other tools you’ve found useful in your blogging/content creating endeavors, contact me a [email protected] or leave us a comment below!

 

5 Unmissable Fiverr Gigs that Will Make Your Life Easy as a Busy Blogger

This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.

Ever get mad at yourself?

Because your blog is not going the way you’d like it to?

You come to your desk, stare at the computer and realize there’s so much to be done. You’re tired before you’ve begun your day.

But blogging is supposed to be fun. At least that’s what you were told, right?

Thankfully, you can prevent that feeling of dread and overwhelm from the bulk of everyday tasks in business.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Fiverr. It’s a marketplace where users sell and buy various services starting at five bucks.

You heard it right – be it a prank call, drawing a caricature or a song dedicated to your significant other – you can get it all on Fiverr.

Some of these gigs are practical, super-creative and even bizarre things you may never dare but these providers will.

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On a serious note, I assume you’re reading this because you’re a blogger and like to get a lot of things done during a day.

If that’s you, there are tons of time-saving gigs on Fiverr.

Here’s a sample of what you get:

  • I will write an EXPERT Press Release for $5
  • I will fix you WordPress problems for $5
  • I will design a killer Landing Page for $5
  • I will do a 15 second commercial for $5

You get the drift.

Business comes with a lot of work and you may not always have the right skill set, inclination or time to accomplish everything. So without further ado, here are 5 unmissable Fiverr gigs proven to be super-helpful for serious bloggers:

Ebook Covers

If you’re ever to write a Kindle book or an ebook (and you should), you can safely forget the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”.

Because buyers are going to judge it that way. A catchy cover can make all the difference between your ebook turning out to be a best-seller or a dud.

Most of the times, you can’t just use a print cover as its ebook counterpart. You need to consider if the typography reads well in the thumbnail version (60 x 90 pixels on Amazon) and how well the design uses available real-estate, among other things. This is where a professional designer can make your life easier.

Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur.com recommends that when looking for an ebook cover designer, you go after the one who is just starting out on Fiverr. “You want the one who has a good portfolio, but is new enough that your positive review is life or death to their Fiverr business. You’ll get a lot more out of them this way than just going after the others.”

But regardless, there are plenty of Fiverr fish in the sea and new ones sprout up every day.

There are many good designers on Fiverr who use their own image library to create stellar, unique results. To make your job easy, I’ve listed two of the top providers below.

Providers to consider:

  1. Pro_ebookcovers
  2. Ravsingh

Video Marketing

Since a majority of people in the world are visual learners (40—65%), what better way to introduce your brand than using a video?

An intro video, or a logo intro as they call it, is a great way to engage your reader’s visual senses. It’s best to keep it super-short, like a teaser of about 30 seconds.

But if you want a longer video of about a few minutes, you can get it for a few extra $5 gigs.

Or, if you want to explain a concept, try one of Fiverr’s “whiteboard drawing videos” which feature a hand drawing little figures on a whiteboard animation.

Providers to consider:

  1. Ydrawing
  2. Studio 4

Transcription

If you do a lot of interviews and publish case-studies on your blog, you’ll need to transcribe your audios and videos.

Your readers might prefer readable PDFs to listening to an audio file. Transcripts come handy to create blog posts, feature stories and content for your website, or when you want to throw in a freebie with a video course.

Thankfully, Fiverr offers gigs for grammatically accurate and well-formatted deliveries that you might as well use with little or no editing.

Providers to consider:

  1. Transexpert
  2. Adnanjilani90

Mobile Apps and Websites

Recently, Google announced they will be using information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for users who have the app installed and logged into it.

What does that mean? Search engine page results will take into consideration indexed apps more prominently.

As an estimate, there will be 4 billion Android and iOS users by the end of 2015. The human population is about 7 billion at the moment, so it’s obvious that a majority will be using these devices.

If you offer a product, creating a mobile app sounds only logical. Fiverr lists some cool app creation gigs. However, remember a complete app will cost you more than $5. So it’s always better to contact a provider before buying a gig.

That said, sometimes you just need a mobile-friendly website, not an app. Apps are applications that you can download on your handheld device, versus being rendered in a browser. If you’re offering something specific like a game, an app is your best bet. But if you want to share your blog posts over a wider range of audiences, start with a mobile website.

Providers to consider:

  1. Iphone_ipad
  2. It_service
  3. Seoparam

Create Something Different

How many times have you been told that? If you want to succeed at your marketing, be different.

Yeah right, but how?

A gig I found on Fiverr can help you through that block. This guy will go underwater and hold his breath to deliver your message.

Pretty interesting, right?

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Or, take this lady who will write a short message on the froth of a cappuccino.

More such gigs are waiting if you really like to experiment and zig when others zag!

How to Get the Most Out of Fiverr

Before you start using Fiverr for business, here are some tips to remember:

  1. Make sure you check the “Positive Rating” of the provider you’re considering. I like to shortlist providers by pressing the “Favorite” button at the top of each profile so I can compare a few in one go.
  2. Look at the number and type of reviews at the top of the profile.
  3. Check how many orders are in queue. Usually, a lot of awaiting orders should point to good quality results.
  4. Look at the average response time. If I need something fairly quick, and the response time of a provider is in days, I would look elsewhere.
  5. Always contact the provider before buying a gig. Most sellers encourage this. Tell them exactly what you need, how much it will cost (sometimes you will have to buy an “upgrade” or extra gigs) and what’s the turnaround. Make sure they are the right person for your job.

How do you use Fiverr for your business? Share your expriences in the comments below!

Pooja Lohana is a freelance writer, ghost writer and online marketing mentor featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. If you’re an aspiring writer and want to become self-employed, create wealth and live a better life by launching your online writing biz, steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.

7 Ways To Build Your Brand In The Blogosphere

This is a guest contribution from Jeff Foster.

Blogger outreach is one of the most effective ways to build your brand. It’s a great way to connect with potential customers – the blogosphere gives you a ready-made audience who are already interested in your type of product or service. But if you’re going to succeed, you need to build strong relationships with bloggers who want to be your brand ambassadors. This takes work – don’t expect to shoot off a few emails and have bloggers lining up at your door.

The good news is that there are proven ways to make your blogger outreach a success. If you’re wondering how to turbocharge your brand in the blogosphere, here are seven ways to get you started.

1. Use Introduction Sites

Online blogger introduction sites are a very effective way of finding bloggers to talk about your brand. Sites such as Tomoson, Brand Meets Blog, Nuffnang, and Blogger Connect attract high-quality bloggers who want to connect with businesses like yours. You can browse through bloggers by interest area – for example, food enthusiasts – to find the right bloggers for your brand. These sites also have tools you can use to measure blogger influence, which helps you narrow down the list even further. The other advantage of introduction sites is that the bloggers on them are already actively interested, so you’re going to get a better response than if you just send out cold-calling emails to bloggers directly.

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Image source

2. Give Bloggers Your Product

Product giveaways are a great tool for getting bloggers on board – in fact, this is one of the most frequent outreach techniques. Bloggers love to get their hands on products they can use and review. They’ll write better reviews if they can see and feel what you have to offer. Of course, blindly giving away hundreds of samples isn’t advisable, particularly if your product isn’t cheap. But if you target key bloggers with your giveaways, you’ll keep the cost down and get better results. A word of caution, however. Don’t try to control what a blogger says about your product. Bloggers value their independence, so this will just annoy them.

3. Ask For Feedback

There’s no better way to get bloggers on your side than to make them part of the process. By asking for feedback on your products or services, you show them that you value their opinions. A blogger is much more likely to become a brand ambassador if they feel that you are listening to them, and that they have influence over what you are doing and saying. You’ll benefit from this as well – bloggers know your target customers and what they want. Not only that, they’ve already proven that they know how to talk to your audience – that’s how they built a following in the first place. By following their lead, you’ll get insights on how to build an authentic relationship with your market.

4. Give Bloggers Exposure

Successful bloggers are always looking for new ways to expand their audience. They’re passionate about their subject and want to engage with as many people as possible – which would also increase their income potential. By promoting bloggers to your existing social media channels, you give them the exposure they’re trying to build. This can be as simple as retweeting their tweets and sharing their blog posts. To take this to the next level, ask trusted bloggers to write guest posts for your corporate blog, but remember not to try to control what they say. Also, be prepared to pay bloggers to write for you – after all, writing is how bloggers make a living.

5. Meet In Person

You can build a great online relationship with a blogger, but there’s no substitute for seeing them face to face. If you travel regularly as part of your business, make a point of letting bloggers know that you’re in their neighborhood and would love to catch up if it suits them. Offer to meet them for a drink or a meal – and make it a social occasion, not a hard sell.

Blogger conventions and conferences are also excellent occasions for meeting with bloggers. They are an opportunity to get together with your existing brand champions, and also with new bloggers who might be interested in talking about your products or services. You may even find conferences that focus on topics that you want to target – for example, the DBC Conference is for bloggers interested in interior design. If you have enough budget, why not sponsor a blogger conference or even host one yourself?

6. Create A Blogger Network

If you bring new products to market regularly, it’s tempting to find exactly the right bloggers for each one. But this means starting over again every time, which is time-consuming and expensive. It’s much more effective to build a “go-to” pool of bloggers who are genuinely enthusiastic about your brand. By getting them to mention your brand on a regular basis, their readers are more likely to trust what they say. You’re likely to get much better reviews as well – when you build a long-term relationship with a blogger, they’re already well disposed towards you.

7. Show Your Appreciation

Bloggers absolutely hate being used. If you only get in contact when you want them to write a post, you’re going to turn them off very quickly. Every time a blogger mentions your brand, show your appreciation by sending them a sincere thank you note. Make sure you keep them in the loop on what’s happening with your brand – a monthly insider newsletter is one great way of doing this. Send them exclusive content they can share – for example, high-quality images, fact sheets, amusing stories and anything else that will appeal to their readers. Finally, don’t forget to send them product samples from time to time – it’s a perfect way of reminding them that you genuinely care.

Jeff Foster is co-founder and CEO at Tomoson, the influencer marketplace. The platform allows bloggers and social media influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content, and lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences.

How Design Impacts Blog Readership

How Design Impacts Blog Readership / problogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Damion Wasylow.

You have things to say, ideas to spread and concepts to share. That’s why you’re a blogger.

But, if you’re like most bloggers, you’re much better with words than visuals. As a result, many bloggers’ sites are poorly designed or rely on simple templates. Your content may bring people to your blog, but poor design and usability can seriously limit your readership.

First Impressions are Everything

Studies show that new visitors develop an opinion of your website within 50 milliseconds. That’s 0.05 seconds. In that time, they make judgments about credibility, professionalism and quality of information – all without ever reading a single word you wrote. If the first impression isn’t positive, they’ll almost certainly bounce away, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever return.

It’s human nature. Picture a restaurant with a rusty door, broken sign and trash in the parking lot. The food could be incredible, but you’ll likely never venture inside to see the menu.

Get Real Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to honestly review your own site’s design. You’re biased, and so are your friends and family. After all, they don’t want to hurt your feelings and your dad probably isn’t your target audience. So, turn to a third party.

UserTesting.com is an excellent resource for gauging user experience. I often use UserTesting.com’s Peek Tests to gather initial feedback. Peek allows you to watch and listen to five-minute videos of real people encountering your site for the first time.

Testers answer three questions:

1) What is your first impression of this site?

2) What is the first thing you want to do on this site?

3) What stood out to you and what frustrated you about this site?

While this feedback isn’t comprehensive, it should at least offer some insight into whether your site’s design is on the right track or completely off-target.

Design Changes to Consider

You don’t have to be the world’s most talented web designer to create a visually impressive site that retains users. You simply have to understand the core elements of design and how they work together.

Color – Your color palette should be simple, consistent and reflect the overall tone of your content. Too many colors can be overwhelming, and the wrong colors can confuse your audience. Use standard color theory to select a palette that matches your blog’s personality.

Images – Users embrace photos and illustrations as a way to quickly get the gist of a story without investing too much effort. Effective images therefore leverage white space, contrast, color, interruption and other techniques to intrigue and draw the reader in. Images may not be worth 1000 words, but a recent study by Blog Pros showed that the 100 highest-ranking blogs on the Internet use at least 1 image for every 350 words.

Shapes – Chunky, square design elements evoke dramatically different feelings than free-flowing organic shapes. Circles are soft and inclusive, while angles can help carry a reader down the page. Partitioning content within shapes is a valuable way to help users segment information into digestible sections.

Typography – Typeface, font size, leading, kerning and placement all play significant roles in affecting user experience. Great typography conveys emotion, while also allowing users to focus on your message instead of struggling to interpret the structure of the letters before them. Note: never use Comic Sans or Papyrus.

Highlight Your Call-to-Action

You created your blog for a purpose, presumably beyond simply having individual visitors read your articles. Perhaps you want them to share your writings with others, purchase your product or service or download your e-book. Whatever the goal, design your site to highlight that call-to-action (CTA).

Use color, contrast, whitespace and size to make your CTA standout from the rest of the page. But keep it classy. Nothing undermines credibility faster than a flashing rainbow starburst. Here are some great examples of web pages with effective CTA designs.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

Mobile traffic accounts for nearly 60% of all web traffic, so you’re missing out on a lot of readers if your site isn’t designed to accommodate mobile visitors. And, really, even more if you count on social or email sources. When a mobile user lands on a site that offers a standard desktop design, they are far more likely to bounce away.

Ideally, your blog should be responsive, meaning that elements restack to match mobile screen dimensions when the site identifies a visitor on a mobile device. This makes your content easier to read and navigate on mobile screens.

Google recently announced that mobile-friendliness will be an increasingly important ranking factor. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, there’s a good chance it will dramatically drop in search engine results.

The importance of blog design cannot be overstated. Take the time now to improve your site’s aesthetics and usability. You’ll attract more visitors, keep them engaged and drive them to actions that match your goals.

Damion Wasylow writes for University of Florida’s Web Design and Online Communication master’s degree program. He has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design for publications, agencies and non-profits.

3 Content Tweaks to Increase Your Blog Traffic without Spending a Penny

Simple content tweaks to drive traffic to your blog (and they don't cost a thing!) / problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Jawad Khan.

Who doesn’t like more traffic?

Not matter how many monthly blog visitors you have, you still want more. Because more traffic means more opportunities to build relationships, generate leads, close deals and make money.

However, the problem with most of the conventional traffic generation advice is that it’s either too expensive or it’s just simply outdated, ineffective and useless.

Writing high quality content, guest blogging and blogger outreach are all great tips for a long-term traffic strategy. But what if you need something to create an immediate impact?

In this post, I’ll share three changes you can make to your existing and future blog content, without spending tons of money, to immediately start getting more traffic from search engines and social media websites.

Use Relevant Long-tail Keywords

You must’ve seen bloggers who aggressively advocate the concept of “writing for humans” not search engines. I’m all for it, but so is Google.

Over the last few years Google has been making regular changes to its algorithms all aimed at making its search results more natural and user friendly. SEO is not what it once used to be. You can’t stuff your articles and blog posts with keywords, create unnatural backlinks and expect to rank higher in search results.

Things have changed.

So, in a way, writing for humans and writing for search engines are similar concepts now (if not the same). To rank higher in search results you need to write for humans.

But there’s a twist.

You still need to use smart tactics, which are in line with Google’s recommendations, to beat the competition for the first page.

So when you write your next bog post, focus as much on long-tail keywords as the high competition head keywords. To make this work effectively, go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and select Search Queries (under Search Traffic).

Note: You first need to configure Google Analytics for your blog, and integrate it with Google Webmaster Tools.

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You’ll find the list of keywords that are sending you traffic, along with your average ranking for each keyword. Copy a keyword from this list, from example “freelance blogging”, and search for it on Google.

When I did this for my own blog, I was nowhere near the first page of Google on this keyword since it’s so competitive. It has a lot of traffic and competition. But if you scroll down to the related search area, you’ll see several long-tail keywords.

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These are the long-tail keywords that Google finds relevant to the keyword “freelance blogging”. And here’s your opportunity, since these keywords are not as competitive as the main keyword, but are closely related to it.

Copy these long-tail keywords and use them, in a natural way, throughout the body content of your post. Try using different variations of these keywords as well. This will improve your rankings not only on the long-tail keywords but also on the main keyword, since Google considers all of them closely linked with each other.

Neil Patel shared his case study where he was able to increase his monthly search engine traffic by 50,000 using this technique.

You can apply this on your archive content as well. Just pick up your main keyword, and use the related long-tail keywords throughout your content in a natural way.

Create Longer and More In-Depth Blog Content

Another way to attract much more traffic to your blog content, and generate more social shares, is to write longer, in-depth and epic content. I know these have become buzzwords, but let me quantify this for you so that it’s easier to understand.

Research after research confirms that search engines love longer content. Kevan Lee discussed the ideal content length in this truly epic post on the Buffer blog. Neil Patel has also discussed the ideal length of blog posts in detail on his blog.

There’s clear consensus that posts longer than 2000 words rank much higher than say 1200-1500 word posts. And this study by SerpIQ provides further proof of this fact.

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Longer posts also tend to get much more social shares which suggests that readers also prefer more in-depth blog posts.

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All this means that you need to make your blog posts more in-depth and valuable. So the next time you’re writing a 1000-1200 word blog post, try expanding it by using more examples, stats, references and studies. Make it as comprehensive and as detailed as possible.

But don’t add words just for the sake of it. Make sure every word in your post provides value to the readers. I personally use forums and platforms like Quora and MyBlogU when I need more in-depth knowledge on a topic. MyBlogU is particularly useful since it’s a dedicated platform for bloggers and content marketers where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas, seek advice and even hire freelancers to help with content creation.

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Intelligently Promote and Amplify Existing Blog Content

It’s easy to focus too much on creating new blog posts for traffic generation, while completely ignoring the existing content on your blog. Every piece of content on your blog, no matter how old, is an asset and can be used to bring more traffic and boost conversions.

There are several ways you can do that.

  • Promote Archive Content on Social Media

You need to aggressively promote your older content on social media to attract regular traffic. You can use social media management tools like Oktopost to schedule weekly or monthly social updates. I particularly like the Evergreen Post Tweeter plugin that automatically Tweets your archive content on a set criteria.

  • Optimize Conversion Routes

Visitors come to your website from numerous different routes. But certain routes have higher conversion rates as compared to others. You can use TrenDemon to identify the most profitable and high conversion routes to your website. After identifying these high conversion routes, TrenDemon brings more of your traffic onto these routes using personalized content recommendations and calls to action.

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This not only boosts conversions on your website, but also helps you identify the top performing content, the ideal length and the best platforms where you can promote your content for more traffic.

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  • Link Back to Your Older Content Using Natural Anchors

To leverage your older content, you need to regularly link back to it in your new blog posts. With the new Google algorithm changes, however, you need to be careful while choosing the anchor text on your internal and external backlinks. Don’t use keyword based anchors. Instead, go for natural anchor text like, Click Here, Read This, Read More. You can also use longer phrases for linking back to your content.

Every blog needs regular and high converting traffic to survive and grow. But you don’t always need to create something new or spend extra money to get traffic. You can boost your traffic numbers, and conversion rates, by making the right changes to your SEO, back linking and content promotion strategies.

I’ve discussed three techniques that I’ve personally found very effective. But I’d love to hear how you attract more traffic to your blog. See you in the comments.

Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blogWriting My Destiny, Twitter, and Google+.

Five Essential Steps to Removing a Google Manual Penalty

This is a guest contribution from Nick Chowdrey.

Google takes webspam very seriously. The search giant currently sends over 400,000 messages a month to webmasters, warning them that their site performance could be at risk due to a manual Google penalty.

But what exactly are these manual penalties, and what can you do should you receive one of these notifications?

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

Number of manual penalties issued per month. Via Google.com.

Google’s webspam team is split into two divisions: algorithmic and manual. The algorithmic team focus on improving Google’s automatic algorithm modifiers, such as Panda, which deals with spammy content and Penguin, which deals with artificial backlinks.

The manual team consists of Google analysts over multiple countries who sift through domains looking for blackhat SEO practices – specifically, buying links that pass PageRank and participating in link building schemes, including excessive link exchanges between sites, and the use of automatic link building software.

If the team finds that your domain is in breach of Google’s webmaster guidelines, you may receive one of two penalties – either a partial manual penalty that affects the ranking of only certain pages on your site, or a full manual penalty, that affects the rank of your entire site.

You might be notified of a manual penalty through your Google webmaster tools. The message will look something like this:

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

Be careful, because this process is manual, you won’t necessarily get a notification. Thankfully, there are some free tools that you can use to check your SEO visibility, which can help you work it out for yourself.

So, what can you do should you receive this notification?

Here’s a five step guide to removing a manual penalty.

1. Link discovery

The first step in legitimising your links is to get a full picture of all the links that currently point to your domain. From this you can determine which links are good and bad, and take steps to removing the bad ones.

Google want to see that you’ve put in as much effort as possible to legitimize your link profile. If you don’t identify as many bad links as possible then everything you subsequently do to remove the penalty will be jeopardised.

There are many tools to choose from for discovering links. You can use Google’s own Webmaster tools, or third party tools like Majestic SEO or Cognitive SEO. It’s important to use more than one tool, as no single service is able to provide a complete backlink profile at this time.

2. Link classification

This is the process of assessing links to see if they’re either natural, suspicious or unnatural. All natural links can be kept, unnatural ones deleted and suspicious ones changed to no-follow links, so that they don’t pass PageRank.

This process must be done manually, but you can use link classification tools to automatically grade your links. This being said, Google will expect you to do a thorough job, so assessing each link manually is recommended.

You should keep the following in mind when classifying your links:

  • Links from spammy directories are almost always unnatural
  • Links from article farms that exist for link building purposes are usually unnatural
  • Consider removing links from sites that are irrelevant to your business sector
  • Links created in blog-rolls or footers are suspicious and should assessed
  • Exact-match links – e.g. where the link text is your company name – are also suspicious
  • Ensure any links acquired through paid means are ‘no-follow’

3. Manual link amendment

The next step is to get those bad links removed and your suspicious links changed to ‘no-follow’. The only way to do this is through a process of manual outreach – that means getting in touch with all the webmasters where you have unnatural or suspicious links and getting them to change or remove them for you.

It’s important to keep a record of every site that you’ve contacted, including which part of the outreach process you’ve reached. This is because webmasters from certain sites that have been known for hosting bad links may be overwhelmed with demands, so you may need to contact them several times.

Also make sure that any changes you’ve requested actually take place – don’t just take the webmaster’s word for it.

4. Submitting a disavow request

You might not be able to change or remove some links, for various reasons. Perhaps because you can’t get in touch with the webmaster in question, or perhaps because the site is now defunct.

Luckily, you can use Google’s disavow tool, which lets you mark links that you’d like Google to ignore when assessing all your site’s backlinks. Simply add all the links you want disavowed to a .txt file and upload it via your webmaster tools.

You might want to consider including the whole domain rather than individual pages for sites that you know have engaged in very black hat link building tactics, as this will disavow all links from that domain.

Here’s how your text file should be laid out:

#The following sites have been classed as spammy or low quality links, web directory links and article directory links.

#Links List Can be Found At the following addresss: https://drive.google.com/file/example

#Some domains have not been contacted, as there was no obvious way to reach the webmaster.

domain:<domainurl>

domain:<domainurl>

# website links that need to be disavowed due to websites not being indexed (sign of penalty) or are of low quality.

<pagelink>

<pagelink>

5. Submit a reconsideration request

This is the part where you suck up to Google and beg them to reconsider their penalty. It’s your opportunity to provide extra notes for when your case is reviewed.

You should include what you’ve done to clean up your act, highlighting the fact that you’ve stopped further black hat link building, and also providing any helpful supportive data to demonstrate your point.

See this video by Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, on how to submit a successful request.

You can submit your request via your Webmaster tools. Don’t expect an immediate response – the Webspam team will have to manually check your site, which can take between 3-6 weeks. You may not be successful first time, so if at first you don’t succeed, go back to step one and try again!

Nick Chowdrey is a staff and freelance writer specialising in marketing and technology. He currently works in content marketing at Jellyfish, a UK digital marketing agency. Follow Nick on Twitter @nickchef88.

Easy Ways for Bloggers to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic

Confused about keywords? We break it down to help you get started. Easy Ways for Bloggers to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic / Problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Nick Rojas.

The world of web promotion and search engine optimization has never been a consistent one.

Constantly changing Google results algorithms compete with tricky marketers in what is essentially an arms race, with each side trying to gain a lasting advantage against the other. However, though the tools change constantly, the battleground stays the same.

We’re talking about keyword research. Every time a Google update levels the playing field again, it comes back to this: if you create high quality content that people read, you will gain prominence in Google results. And the best way to do this is with keyword research. We’ve got some great tips to help you make sure your blog has its keyword game in top form. Read on!

Make a list of the most important topics that you cover on your blog

One good way to conceptualize the idea of a keyword is to think backwards. What kind of people are you trying to attract? What is your ideal reader looking for?

Go back through your blog entries and mentally sort them into vague lists. If you use tags or categories, this can help a lot as well. Basically, you want to create large “content buckets” that you can fit most of your posts into.

Transform those content buckets into keyword lists

Once you’ve assembled some buckets that most of your posts fit into, you can identify keywords to fill those out. These are phrases that you’d like to rank highly on the search engine results page.

An example might be a blog about maternity fashion that provides some affiliate referral links to clothing stores where readers can buy the recommended clothes. This hypothetical maternity wear blog would want to rank highly on searches like “clothes to wear during pregnancy”, “maternity fashion”, and other searches like this.

This isn’t a be all, end all list of the keywords you’ll be using, but rather just to clear your mind of all the obvious ones.

Get a good mix of short tail and long tail keywords

Some keywords are easier (and cheaper) to rank on than others. The cheap, easy ones are long tail, and are associated with much less traffic than the short tail keywords, which are particularly popular and frequently searched. The web has tons of tools for all kinds of things, from business name generators to tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which is great for this sort of thing.

Use tools to get a great keyword spread

Other great tools for this are Topsy and Buzzsumo. Topsy helps you uncover the confusing and convoluted work of social media keywords. Topsy is essentially the Google Trends of social media, allowing you to page through the recent history of keywords on social media to identify trends in that medium.

Buzzsumo helps you make sure that your keyword list is as comprehensive as that of your competitors. It helps you analyze their sites directly, helping you to spot when a new trend in your industry or field is coming up and letting you stay on top of it.

Keywords: always relevant

No matter how many Google updates happen, it seems likely that keywords will remain just as relevant as they have always been. It’s how people actually think and actually search for things, so barring any major sea changes in how people interact with their computers, keywords are likely to be an extremely important way to organize search and rankings. It pays to stay on top of your keywords!

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at [email protected].

7 Digital Marketing Skills Every Professional Needs

Digital Marketing Skills 1

 

This is a guest contribution from Brian Burt.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

That popular bit of wisdom has a timeless ring of truth to it, but we may want to update it for the internet age.

“Whatever you are, be a digital marketer” might be more apt in this era, when nearly everything that matters happens online.

The new reality is that in order to be marketable in any field, you need to sharpen your digital marketing chops. Whether you’re an administrative assistant or a CEO, you can be a better version if you have a basic foundation in web marketing.

7 Digital Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed

1. The Online Hustle

If there’s one thing that internet marketers are masterful at, it’s the online hustle. And by that I mean, the ability to jump online, identify key influencers or companies, figure out how to contact them and then be persistent as hell about getting what you want. This skillset is critical in everything from finding a job to getting guest blogs to nabbing new clients.

Every professional today needs to be a digital ninja, adept at tracking down opportunities online and coming up with creative ways to turn those opportunities into reality. Maybe that means Tweeting at the hiring manager of your dream job or doing some light online stalking of a new business partner you want to impress. Regardless of your goal, you’d do well to learn how to become an expert at leveraging the web to get what you want. 

2. E-Relationships

In the digital age, your first point of contact with anyone new is almost always done online. So it’s absolutely crucial that you hone your interpersonal e-mailing skills. You might be thinking, “Uh, I’m pretty sure I know how to e-mail,” but just because you can type and press send doesn’t mean you’re doing a bang-up job at using e-communication to your advantage.

When it comes to forming and maintaining excellent professional relationships online, it’s all about finesse. Digital marketers are pros at becoming BFFs with people they’ve never even met in person. Sometimes that means making a cheesy joke about the weather or asking an authentic question about the recipient’s life, but the point is to go the extra step to turn your faceless e-mail address into a real, living, breathing human with whom people want to work.

3. Social Media Savvy 

The only person who can acceptably say things like, “Oh, I just don’t get social media” is your grandmother…and even she’s probably posting funny pictures on Facebook. Social media know-how may have once been a bonus, but it decidedly necessary by now.

Regardless of the field you’re in, you should have a polished LinkedIn profile at a minimum, but you should also have a decent working knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. Anything less makes you come across as a bit of a dinosaur in the professional world. This is especially true if, like many, you’re working in the start-up world, where every employee is a jack of many trades and should be ready to take the helm of the company’s Twitter account or Pinterest boards if asked to do so.

4. Finger on the Pulse 

In the digital marketing field, it’s essential to keep up with trending topics, modifications to the Google search algorithm and new social media policies, just to mention a few things. As the game is always changing, it’s stay current or perish. And while things might not move at such a breakneck pace in other industries, keeping abreast of news and trends in your niche is pretty much always a surefire way to get ahead.

5. Data Matters

Internet marketers are not just about crafting cool messages and viral social media posts. Hard data is actually where the rubber hits the road, because no amount of hard work or clever words matter unless they’re having an impact on the goal of increasing exposure and opportunity. All professionals would do well to become more data-oriented if they want to be more successful. After all, the work only works if it has your intended result.

6. SEO 101

It’s not really necessary for all of us to be SEO experts. But as internet users and professionals, we should all have a basic grasp on how websites earn a high ranking position in Google searches. Here are a few key understandings:

  • How to spot an ad versus an organic result in search results.
  • The fact that websites that are in the top organic results of Google searches are there because they’ve established themselves as a legitimate and reliable, over time.
  • Google punishes websites that use cheap shortcuts to try to rank quickly.
  • The more reputable websites that link to a website, the higher its ranking.
  • The more people share links to a site on social media, the better it does in rankings.
  • New businesses need to work hard to establish themselves online – no one will find your new website if you don’t put in serious work to build a presence.
  • For content to boost SEO, it needs to use popular search key terms naturally.
  • One easy and reliable way to climb the rankings is to consistently add original content to your site in the form of blog posts. 

7. In Your Audience’s Shoes 

The digital marketer’s perennial question is: Who is my audience? In this world, that may be the customer or the potential client. Even if that’s not true for your field, you have an audience. When you tweak your resume or put together a presentation for colleagues or just write a new blog, you’ll improve your work in a serious way if you make every move with your audience in mind. Marketers know that their opinion is sort of irrelevant in the sense that they can be over the moon about a new idea, but if it won’t resonate with the audience, it’s worthless.

As the internet becomes an increasingly dominant part of business, all professionals have a duty to become proficient in basic digital marketing skills.

And when you add this skillset to your already impressive qualifications in your field, you become a double threat and infinitely more valuable to current and future employers.

Brian Burt is a digital marketing pro who’s been in the field for more than a decade. As the founder of WebRev Marketing & Design in Chicago, he’s constantly learning about and experimenting with new strategies that help businesses improve their online presence. In his rare spare time, Brian also enjoys fixing up vintage cars and guest blogging on a variety of business and marketing sites. Check out www.webRevmarketing.com for more.

6 Steps to Make Your Nonprofit’s Blog a Must-Read Web Destination

1-Nonprofit_Blog_org_imageThis is a guest contribution from Eric Rardin.

Managing a nonprofit is already more than a full-time job. Often, when operating on shoestring budgets to make a dent in large-scale, intractable problems like poverty or human rights, writing up a few hundred words for a blog post can seem like the least important of the myriad to-dos.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! For your supporters, your organization’s blog is a window into your world. It showcases what matters to you, how you’re achieving your mission, and provides insight into the type of organization you are or want to be. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a critical marketing tool to spread knowledge of your work and the issues you prioritize to millions of potential supporters.

Yet, too often, nonprofit blogs look like an afterthought, with infrequent posts, poor editing and lack of a unified voice. Rather than give up and let your blog collect digital dust, try a few of these strategies to make sure your blog reaches its full potential:

Define your objective up front

The first step is to determine what you want your blog to do. Is it a place to showcase your research, field projects, and other activities? Are you hoping to use it as a platform to raise the profile of your issues and experts more broadly in the media world? Both? Answering these questions can help you figure out exactly what your blog looks like.

Organizations that rely on gifts may want to show donors what their money has bought, or encourage passive supporters to become active funders. In that case, readers may be your existing audience and the tone may be convivial and community-oriented. The Alameda County Food Bank in California uses its blog to highlight community action and features volunteers and recipients, nurturing both the community of volunteers and the organization’s place within the community.

Groups working on under-the-radar issues or developing large coalitions may strike a more journalistic tone aimed at non-supporters and the general public. The UN Foundation’s blog educates readers about their programs and features on-the-ground stories that connect readers with people benefitting from their work.

Harness your staff’s creativity

Think for a second about Buzzfeed. While quizzes like What Flightless Bird Are You? and listicles like 17 More Smells ’90s Girls Will Never Forget may not seem that important to your work, there’s actually a lot you can learn from them. Buzzfeed is the most notorious purveyor of a new style of online content geared toward catching people’s attention and providing information in easily digestible snippets. The lesson here is about creativity: while a painstakingly edited executive summary may be the right way to start a report, long paragraphs and lots of jargon may not be the best way to reach a blog audience.

Think about how you can best tell your story. It may be that a short video clip, a photo slideshow, or listicle conveys the information better than a traditional article. The most successful blogs—both for-profit and non-profit—have a personality and aren’t afraid to try something new.

Write something you’d like to read. Not every post will work, but they all provide a chance to learn about what works for your audience, your brand, and your mission.

Incorporate blogging into people’s jobs

Your staff, from assistants and temps to program managers and executives, is doing a lot of great work to further your mission. But part of making their work as meaningful as possible is sharing their success stories, issue briefs, and opinions. While the communications team may manage the blog day to day, relying on just a few people to provide content can be limiting. Having multiple voices sharing their real expertise adds excitement to your blog.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s staff blog Switchboard does a great job of integrating the organization’s diverse work portfolio by letting employees tell their own stories about their challenges and successes. There may be some push back at first, but developing a smooth editorial process and providing guidance about writing subjects and style can actually make blogging fun for employees.

Recruit guest bloggers (and their guest audiences)

Blogs are a critical part of outreach and a great tool for connecting with other organizations and reaching out to new people. Guest bloggers can offer a fresh perspective on issues that your organization covers. It’s easy to see how publications benefit from high-profile writers that bring an audience with their name. But even featuring local folks (perhaps the beneficiaries of your work) and relaying their experience in their own voice can add depth and engage your supporters. You can also use these relationships to cultivate dialogues among practitioners and develop on- and offline relationships.

Develop a promotional strategy

The worst-case scenario for a nonprofit is to devote time and energy to a blog post that no one reads. The internet is a big and complex place, so you can’t just rely on Google Search to direct folks to your page. Integrating your blog into your other points of outreach can drive readership. Your blog is a trove of great content for your official social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees to tap into their own networks. Blog authors should want to share their work on their personal accounts, especially your employees who’ve created a strong online presence around their professional work.

Beyond social media, you have a lot of other ways to push your content out. Make sure to feature your blog on your own website and link heavily within it. That means not only links to the blog as a whole from around your site, but also connecting posts together to give readers a chance to delve deeper within an issue and learn more. New posts are also ripe for inclusion in your newsletters to engage your existing supporters. And don’t forget to practice good SEO, so that when people are searching key terms, your post has a better chance of showing up in the results.

Don’t forget fundraising

Behind every successful and influential organization is a team of people finding the money to fund great work. While your blog shouldn’t only be a vehicle to support the development team (after all, who wants to read 5 posts in a row asking for money?), every post is a good opportunity to turn a casual observer or activist into a donor. Consider building a donation button into your blog’s layout to take advantage of reader’s excitement about your organization and desire to contribute to the change you’re making every day.

Eric Rardin is the Vice President of Business Development at Care2 and the ThePetitionSite, where he advises on donor lead acquisition and multichannel conversion strategies. He has helped nonprofits in over 100 countries, including here in the U.S..Eric has an MBA from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University, an MA in government and international studies from the University of South Carolina and a BS in political science from the University of Wyoming.