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Modern Enterprise Link Building Strategies for 2015

This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Ryan Chester. Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 11.39.34 am Everything needs to adapt with the advancement of customer needs, whether it is fashion, food or even enterprise digital marketing strategies. People should have to make changes in their principles as the time changes. Likewise, when you talk about link building and its key principles, you should have to create some distinction from their previous techniques because things are not like what they used to be in the past. Companies, who haven’t modified their strategies, or hired followers of old link building techniques, always suffer. They encounter difficulties in increasing their online presence. However, it does not mean that one cannot mend it or to become successful again. All they have to do is to change their thoughts and make themselves aware of the latest Google’s linking strategies.

Importance of links

I personally own a business, in addition to my current job. I too experienced this situation where my business was about to close – but thanks to Google’s Webmaster Tools, I gained insights about establishing credibility. I’m back to successfully running my business that is getting amazing response from all over the world. Initially, what I came to know is that creating links is an extremely important steps if you want to get quality search engine results.

Matt Cutts, head of the web-spam team in Google, cleared that Google uses sophisticated text-matching strategies to display search results and makes sure that they are both relevant and important for the users. Throughout my learning process, I found that links are not only important for maximizing your online presence, but they are even important for different SEO purposes. This is a possibility of getting traffic from many of your linked websites. Maybe, people visiting other websites are directed towards your site via external links. So, you can say that backlinks are always important for any website who wants to survive in this virtual world, no matter they have zero value. Let’s have a look at some of the most successful link building strategies.

On-Site Content Creation

The Webmaster Guidelines of Google recommend website owners create high quality and unique content that is relevant to their business, so they can naturally gain popularity and help them to develop trusted links. Your website’s traffic depends on the backlinks and links’ ability to cater attention of readers is entirely based on the quality one will be producing. If you have created impressive, flawless and high quality content, chances are higher that it will get better response compared to those that have low quality content. So, your first step in link building should be based on online content marketing with all the quality standards involved.

Tips for Creating Backlinks

Research

When I started, I didn’t know the real importance of research and didn’t have any idea where to begin. But, as soon as I explored the field, I began to realize its importance. My online content strategy was not successful until I came to terms with this. After getting all the information, I reset my techniques and focused on the research. However, I didn’t have to make much effort because I got something useful! Let me explain… since you are not alone in this industry, your competitors (who may have been in this industry for a long time) have done enough legwork that can help you in evaluating what sort of content you should create. You just have to look at their work and find out what type of content attracted most of the readers. This industry establishes credibility by revealing their secrets to gain more clients.

Content Development

After determining the best topics related to your industry, start combining them with content types that best compliment the idea. Below are some of the most famous content kinds that can definitely generate high traffic:

  • Lists

They are considered as the easiest techniques to create content because they can easily provide the desired information. Just like Heartbleed Hit List, you can cater attention of readers by showing more and more list numbers.

  • Videos

The web is making a major shift toward video content, and it’s a good time to get ahead of the curve. There is a lot of opportunity here, and you can make a big splash with YouTube in sending a lot of traffic to your website. There are some tips optimize your YouTube video or channel for better rankings too!

  • In-Depth Guide

If you have knowledge about a certain topic, you should discuss it in depth. Apart from showing how efficient and expert you are, I would recommend you to accept criticism from people because this will help you to get appreciation in the sense that you are ready to learn more- no matter how much experience you have.  It’s always a good idea to build a 101 guide or introduction guide, like we did for email marketing intro for entrepreneurs.

  • Pillar Pages

They actually refer to list of resources present on your website’s page for a certain topic. You can combine many articles on one topic on one pillar page and welcome readers to have a look at them. This will not only help you in showing the extent of your knowledge on that topic but also earn links and shares for you.

  • Industry Reports

You can gather data on your industry in the form of industry reports and allow readers to go through them whenever they want. Be sure not just to ask questions on different aspects but also throw light over demographic details to authenticate your words.

Content Promotion

Don’t think your task is over because content creation is half the battle. Its publication and promotion also need your attention because it is the actual time to attract readers so they can read it. When your goal is to create links, don’t just start sharing on social media platforms or via email marketing. You need to adopt a different approach and try to approach people through other sources. You can use Influencer Outreach, Content Amplification as well as blogging platforms to show your online presence.

More Link Building Strategies to Consider

Apart from the above mentioned tactics, you can follow any of the strategies that I am going to discuss.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is not exactly what people think of it. You approach the right people, at the right time , with right concept. In order to create quality links with guest blogging, you need to find top publications in your field, which are also getting good amount of social media shares and traffic. You can apply as a regular contributor instead of only being a guest blogger. Once you start publishing the content, connect them with your Google+ profile to create a satisfactory authorship. This will help in improving your reputation as the industry expert.

Media

You can become a credible source for reputed journalists as they are always in search of interesting finding, quotes or reports. This can help you in earning sufficient links on different online publications.

Sponsorships

Charities and sponsorship is a good idea to feature yourself in front the audience and influencing them to try out the services of your business. This will help you gain quality backlinks.

Ryan Chester is a digital marketing connoisseur. Part of the Enterprise SEO Team at AnnexCore. He has helped many multi-national companies achieve success with their digital marketing endeavors. Chat with him on Twitter here.

Did Your Blog Have a Tipping Point? Here’s How My 2 Blogs Grew

Time for another reader question from a recent member webinar on ProBlogger.com.

Did you experience a “tipping point” in readership at some point or was it just steady growth?

This is actually a question I often ask full time bloggers who I meet because I love to hear the back story about how their blog broke through to have enough readers to make a living from.

What I’ve found in asking the question is that there are many different pathways to full time blogging.

This can perhaps be illustrated by sharing how my two main blogs grew in terms of readership because they could not really be more different.

Let’s start with ProBlogger

I wish I could show you an actual traffic chart of ProBlogger’s growth but when I started it back in 2004 I didn’t have Google Analytics installed (it didn’t come along until 2006, from memory).

However if I were to recreate it’s growth the chart would have looked something like this in the first couple of years.

blog traffic ProBlogger

You can see the first few months were particularly slow but within the next two months things boomed very quickly.

This ‘tipping point’ came as a result of me mentioning (without any forethought) in an interview that I’d reached a level of being a full time blogger and earning a six figure income from my blogging.

This caused quite the stir back in 2006. While blogging had been around for a few years and the idea of making money online was not new – there were not too many bloggers experimenting with making money from blogs.

The interview in which I mentioned making a six figure income from blogging went viral and was linked to from a number of big sites (one in particular was Slashdot which sent hundreds of thousands of visitors in a day).

Some people saw making money from blogging as controversial (blogging was seen by some as ‘pure’ and not to be monetised) and it also stimulated a lot of other bloggers to become interested in making money from blogging.

ProBlogger was the only real place to talk about making money blogging so subscribers shot up almost overnight and the term ‘ProBlogger’ quickly became a term those making money from blogging began to use to describe what they did.

While I didn’t set out to cause the ‘tipping point’ with that interview my blog here at ProBlogger was never the same after doing so.

A Different Story at Digital Photography School

Digital Photography School was a very different story to ProBlogger in terms of traffic growth.

If I had to chart the first two years it’d have looked more like this (in comparison to the yellow line of ProBlogger).

blog traffic comparison

It took around 2 years to get to the point where dPS was larger than Problogger (today it is 10 times bigger than ProBlogger is) and there was no real ‘tipping point).

I didn’t have Google Analytics on dPS until 8 months after the site began but here’s how growth has looked since that point (this is monthly visitors).

traffic-blog-dps

You can see that there were certainly some months were traffic spiked a little but the growth was fairly steady with no real breakout month that would classify as a tipping point.

The spikes in traffic were usually the result of being featured on other large blogs (usually the result of me networking and pitching other bloggers with links that their readers might find useful) or getting lucky with getting to the front page of sites like Digg or Reddit.

However it is worth saying that while spikes in traffic like these are fun… they rarely convert to long term traffic and are quite fleeting.

As I’ve written about in the past – this gradual but steady growth really came about as a result of a number of different factors:

    • Regular useful content: Daily “how to” posts that solved problems, showed people how to achieve their goals and improve their photography. This has been the main focus of the site since day 1 (I’d estimate over 90% of the content I’ve published fits into this category).
    • Shareable content: Content that I knew was more likely to be shared (inspirational posts, breaking news, humor, controversy (I didn’t really focus on this), grand list posts, and so on. This type of content has never been my main focus but I have mixed it into the publishing schedule at probably around 5% of what we publish.
    • Community: The other 5% of posts was more focused upon community activities like reader discussions, giving readers a chance to show off their photos, debates, polls, etc. We started a forum in time, too, to build this community further.
    • Email newsletter: If there’s one thing that grew the site more than any other, it was that we started collecting people’s email addresses early and began sending them weekly updates/newsletters. Email now sends a bit spike of traffic every Thursday night when we send our newsletter. Read more on how I use email to drive traffic and profit here.
    • Promotion: I defined who I wanted to read my blog and did the exercise of asking where they gathered. This lead me to sites like Flickr, other blogs, and some social networking sites where I developed presence, was useful and in time shared our content. Facebook is the #1 source of social traffic to the blog as a result of some of the strategies I’ve previously written about here and here.

SEO – I’ve never put a massive effort into search engine optimisation but one of the flow on effects of producing daily helpful content, regular shareable content, building community, and actively promoting dPS has been that the content we produce ranks well in Google. This doesn’t happen overnight but naturally grows as you add more content to your site and as your site becomes an authority in the eyes of Google. Knowing some basics of SEO helps but most of it for dPS has come about very naturally simply by trying to create the kind of site that people want to read (which is what Google tries to rank highest).

Further Reading On Content that Drives Traffic: I’ve talked a fair bit about content above – here is a post I wrote on ProBlogger last year that analyses 5 posts I published in the first year that generated a heap of traffic since that time which will illustrate the kind of content that has generated great traffic on dPS since the beginning.

How Did Your Blog Grow?

As you can see – my two blogs have had quite different journeys. Most full time bloggers I meet tend to have growth more similar to dPS than ProBlogger but no two are the same.

What has your blog’s growth been like?

How To Promote Your Blog With Content That Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

This is a contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.

Starting a blog is easy. Step-by-step tutorials to creating a blog and one-click CMS installations have ballooned the number of online blogs to over 200 million. But creating a blog isn’t the part you should worry about.

Unique and creative content can be hard to develop, especially when you are writing for a wide demographic. Am I producing something interesting, practical, actionable, valuable, and shareable? Would another blogger actually choose to link to it in the sea of other content available online?

Concerns like these are not uncommon when learning how to create a blog. All amateur and professional bloggers should evaluate their business strategies on a regular basis. It’s what drives us to constantly improve.

Fortunately, if you analyze some of the most successful bloggers online, it’s not that they are employing tactics or strategies that me or you can’t. There is no secret recipe or special club that builds traffic.

It’s the little things. Successful bloggers consistently execute on the little things that make their content relatable, shareable, and linkable.

Below, you will find a checklist of writing tips to help you create great content, increase your traffic and promote your blog. Don’t expect overnight results, but in the long-run, you and your readers will notice the difference. And to be more targeted, we’ve divided up the list between general writing advice, B2C, and B2B best practices.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

Best General Writing Tips

  1. Start with a good headline. A good headline makes people want to click and read your content. Impart a sense of urgency, be dramatic, promise better results, or use a big number like “101 Ways…” Readers will be enticed out of curiosity.
  2. Write a good introduction. Your headline can get readers to click, but your intro needs to hook them to continue reading. Make an outrageous statement. Ask a difficult or relatable question. Tell them how the article is going to improve some aspect of their life.
  3. Have a conversation. Do you talk to your friends using 15-letter words or long, complex sentences? Readers don’t want to reference an online dictionary every other sentence, nor do they want a subject matter so complicated, they don’t understand what they are reading. Make reading easy by using simple words and sentences, which also makes for more shareable content.
  4. Talk directly to the reader. This is similar to the above point. Don’t alienate yourself. Use words like “you” and “I” freely. Write as if the reader were in front of you.
  5. Don’t BS. Don’t ramble to meet a word-count. Delete the fluff and unnecessary discussions. The sooner you make your points, the longer you will have them engaged.
  6. Write short paragraphs. No offense, but readers have short attention spans. I probably lost half the readers of this blog by now. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally, 5 to 7-sentence paragraphs are easier to comprehend.
  7. Break up your content with subheadings. Subheadings help organize content, making it easier on a reader’s eyes to scan the page.
  8. Use images. Start your post with an interesting, relevant image. Research shows that images increase click-through rates, shares and links. In fact, images (charts, graphs, spreadsheets, graphics, etc.) can often facilitate the transfer of information better than text.
  9. Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Don’t just present facts and figures. Share how the topic of discussion has changed or influenced your life or someone you know.
  10. Connect with your readers. You’re a human being with character, personality, and experiences. Allow your readers to relate to you and build a stronger connection.
  11. Write a good closing. Don’t leave your readers hanging. Just as a good intro hooks them, a good closing makes them feel that they didn’t waste their time.
  12. Proofread and fact-check. The facts and statistics you use to support your opinion/argument need to be accurate if you want to be seen as credible. Similarly, one or two typos is acceptable, but an article littered with poor grammar and incorrect spelling won’t get shared.
  13. Make social sharing buttons visible. It’s hard to expect social shares when you make the act of sharing difficult and tedious. If you are a B2B blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are your top platforms. If you are a visual B2C brand, such fashion or foodie blogs, you will want to leverage Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Research your target demographic and be active on the social mediums they utilize.

Tips For Business To Consumer (B2C) Blogs

  1. Be timely. Timing is crucial to earning exposure. Write news when it breaks, not days after.
  2. Be consistent. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have undoubtedly developed a loyal following. Don’t let your readers down by posting randomly. If you don’t post on a daily basis, make sure your readers are aware of your editorial calendar. Furthermore, there is an SEO benefit to posting fresh content regularly.
  3. Keep up with pop culture. Consumers keep tabs on pop culture, and if you want to get their attention, you have to keep yourself up-to-date. Read, listen, and watch so you can write about current trends and make your content relevant and relatable. This is especially important if your target demographic is Millennials.
  4. Rotate between evergreen and trending content. Trending content can last a few weeks or months, but evergreen is timeless. Intersperse your content with both. It’s the equivalent of diversifying your investment portfolio between equities and bonds – one can offer huge upside, while the other is more consistent and stable. Combined, they offer balanced growth.
  5. Use videos and images freely. A creative or beautiful image at the start of a blog post can really draw in a reader, especially if it organizes information more effectively and clearly than a textual description. This is especially true with B2C writing because consumers often don’t like to read long, in-depth articles.
  6. Experiment with different types of content. Text may be the backbone of your blog, but if Upworthy and ViralBuzz have taught us anything, don’t underestimate the power of well-curated videos and images.
  7. Tap into emotions, but don’t exploit them. Consumers are prone to emotional stimuli, the most popular of which are humor, wonder, and empathy. But don’t exploit it and purposefully tug at the heart strings of your readerships. You will build a bad reputation of being overly emotional.
  8. Respect your readers. Be honest, open, and treat your audience like you would family. Even if your blog is instructional in nature, don’t talk down to them. Present concepts thoroughly, but assume a certain basic level of intellectual sophistication.

Tips For Business To Business (B2B) Blogs

Writing for business requires you to make slight adjustments. One positive is that B2B audiences are more focused and willing to spend money if your product or service genuinely solves a problem and furthers their professional interests.

  1. Use credible headlines with statistics. Headlines still need to be catchy in B2B writing, but business people are more likely to want data-driven analysis and results. For example, “How I Grew My Email List By 329% In A Week” explains the benefit of reading the article. However, don’t be full of it and use outrageous claims – they will hurt your brand and reputation. No one wants to feel duped.
  2. Narrow down your topics. Ever heard of “inch wide, mile deep”? This concept suggests you limit the scope of each article, but thoroughly and comprehensively cover every aspect of the subject matter. Businesses don’t need general information. Instead, B2B readers want very specific, actionable content that addresses an issue or problem they are dealing with.
  3. Write more evergreen content. Evergreen content is timeless and will always be relevant. For instance, “How To Start A Business” gets 40,500 monthly searches in the United States alone. A focus on this type of content will bring you consistent traffic for years.
  4. Provide credible supporting evidence. Use white papers, government figures, research studies, and professional publications to prove your point. Business people don’t want unsubstantiated opinions, but arguments molded by reputable sources.
  5. Offer step-by-step solutions to problems. To build a reputation as an authority in your niche, you must demonstrate that you understand the factors, issues and obstacles facing the industry. Delivering reliable solutions via free content builds trust and confidence so when you eventually want to sell a product/service, your readership sees the value in working with you.
  6. Show personality and liven things up. Veer away from the stereotypical dry, boring B2B content. Crack a joke now and then. Share an anecdote. Business people are human, too, and are not immune to humor.
  7. Highlight your achievements. Credibility is paramount in B2B writing. Use an author profile somewhere on the page, and craft a story that showcases what you have achieved. It’s not bragging. It’s telling the audience that you know what you’re talking about.
  8. Always over-deliver. It’s a matter of developing goodwill. Instead of selling a guide or eBook and earning a quick thousand dollars, give it away for free. In the long-run, the loyalty and brand value you build is worth far more.Don’t ever forget that blogging is your business. When running a business blog, remember that you not only represent yourself, but your company’s brand. As such, maintain some level of professionalism and always emphasize great customer service, support, and satisfaction.

Final Word

Content creation doesn’t need to be a difficult process. Many successful bloggers don’t even consider themselves great writers. The key is to focus on finding your place and unique value-add to the internet, and you’ll develop your own niche and loyal community. Incorporate these writing tips and you’ll already be ahead of the curve.

What other ways have you leveraged to produce great content?

Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on building and growing a blog.

5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Google is a b*tch

Like so many things on the web, the world of Google is constantly evolving – and while that flex can lead to good things, it also creates a volatile environment for bloggers and websites that rely on their search rankings – which, is pretty much all of them.

The short of it is that, while 90 percent of internet experiences begin with search – but of those, only a small fraction will move beyond the first two pages of results. Needless to say, there’s a reason so many people have invested in SEO to boost their ranking – but that volatility we were talking about makes that a huge risk as all of that work and investment could go out the window overnight should the algorithm changed. Which has happened many a time.

Google Penguin threw the SEO world into frenzy… and you’d think we’d have learned. But they did it to us again in September with the Panda 4.1 update – so much so that some sites are seeing more than a 70 percent loss in search visibility. As ever, we don’t know exactly what the algorithm changes were – only that they work to better hone in on quality content.

You need Google-less approach to build blog traffics

All of this having been said, Google’s algorithms are constantly changing – so it’s important to build your blog’s success in other ways. You know that saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” Apply that here.

Relying solely on Google’s organic search to drive traffic to your blog is simply not a good business model – you need to diversify. In this article, I am going to share a few strategies that work well for me – these are the mainly how I quadruple my site traffics ever since it got hit by Penguin in April 2012.

Strategy #1: Blog Commenting

First off, commenting on blogs is quite possibly the most overlooked method for building blog traffic – mostly because people suck at making quality, meaningful conversation with strangers (myself included). However, blog commenting is a quality method for building traffic that also happens to be free – can’t argue with that!

Blog commenting, NOT spamming

Let’s back up for a moment – I’m not talking about dropping a link out of the blue or spamming the blog owner with a “nice post – thank you” comment… those aren’t relevant, nor will they get you anywhere.

I’m talking about leaving a quality, helpful comment that intrigues the blog owner and their readers, making them want to learn more about you – which means you need to give other readers a reason (in your comment) to learn more about you.

Effective blog comment marketing

There are two golden rules to blog commenting:

(1) Always write a quality comment – meaning, if you don’t have something meaningful to add to the discussion, don’t leave a comment (Read: Do not leave “Thank you – great post” comments… they’re useless); and

(2) Only drop a link where appropriate – don’t spam, no matter how tempting it may be; it will backfire on you. While not a golden rule, perhaps, it is important – if you leave a link, don’t just give your blog’s URL – instead, link to a relevant post of your own that contributes to the original post and discussion… that relevancy is key.

Real life scenario: Blog commenting done right

Here’s a great example of someone who has done it right:

problogger_comment

For starters, Mr. Miller goes into some detail, offering unique perspective relevant to the original post while also letting readers know about him and his relevancy to the topic. By sharing his own experience, he displays his own expertise in the search field, earning my attention and drawing me to learn more about him… so much so that I clicked on his Moz profile and now follow him on Twitter.

This is how it works… and did I mention that it’s free?

Strategy #2: Freebies marketing

This one is fairly straightforward – after all, who doesn’t like getting something for free?

You, the blogger, will provide readers with an incentive – something free in exchange for joining your email list, subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a giveaway entry… you get the idea.

However, not all freebies are good on their own – you need to think outside the box when you promote them so that you provide the public and other bloggers a reason to talk about your freebie and link back to your blog… the whole point is to get traffic, after all. Beyond that reason, you need to think like your audience – where does your target audience hang around? Where can you best reach them? Venue is just as important as getting your freebie out there in the first place.

Use freebies as a reason to reach out

Also, when you launch your freebie, don’t just sit on your laurels and wait for the visitors to come – you need to stay active, reaching out to influencers to let them know about your giveaway; otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to chance and missing opportunities.

As for your actual freebie – it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg; what it does need to do is hold relevancy and value to your target audience.

For example, if you are selling your cooking ebook no your blog, you’ll likely want to stay active on mommy blogs or other cooking blogs where your target audience is likely to reside – giving away free recipes on those blogs is a great way reach that audience and intrigue them to learn more about you (and your own blog).

Real life scenario: Free icons at Web Hosting Secret Revealed

Another example – my core business at Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) is promoting hosting services.

Rather than squeezing into the crowded Google SERP, I’ve found better odds targeting web designers who likely have use for my hosting advice… to land a seat with that audience, I’ve created loads of freebies. Those loads of free icons? Yep – freebies targeted to my primary audience. The free icons actually earned substantial attention from the blogosphere, bringing in new visitors and social followers. If you’re interested, these are just a few of the blogs that featured our free icons:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Strategy #3: Crowd Sourcing Post

Crowd sourcing is a way of playing in the sandbox with the other kids.

You’ll leverage the reach of other bloggers, customers, business owners, etc., getting a seat in front of their audience for your blog.

The best way to get this moving is to invite others who could benefit from the cross promotion (or simply want their link on your website) to publish their opinions or tips on your blog. The get for them is that they get their own backlink while also getting to establish themselves with your audience – and, since they’re likely to want to share their being featured as an expert outside of their own site, they’re likely to share your post with their own audiences.

Real life scenario: How I did it?

For example, to create this crowd-sourcing post, I reached out to roughly 30 bloggers, asking for their past blogging mistakes. The response was overwhelming and led to tons of new traffic, social media shares, and blog mentions… for free!

Like I said – playing nicely in the sandbox with others.

Strategy #4: (Creative) Social Media Marketing

Social media is a no-brainer – it’s free and a great way to find and grow your audience.

That said, sometimes making that social media endeavor a winner is a bit of a puzzle.

Remember that quality content is key to social media marketing success.

Key to success: Quality content, timing, headlines, creativity, connection with influencers

Before you can drive traffic to your blog, you need to give readers a reason to follow you; the best way is to provide quality content. Take a stand and don’t be afraid to speak your mind – then, write a quality post about it. Here’s a great example from Sean Davis about his frustration creating web forms with Aweber. It’s relevant to a specific audience, it has a voice, and it’s identifiable – net, net; there’s a benefit.

Secondly, timing is everything. Your audience is bound to have peak times and low times that they use social media – time your posts accordingly by applying intel learned from Simply Measured free tools.

problogger_ajkohnWhile a book can’t be judged by its cover, that cover certainly catches eyes – so make a point to write interesting headlines. UpWorthy has a rule that, for each post, you should write 25 headlines – the idea is that your thinking will evolve and you will better hone your message as you let your ideas filter and play on one another. Whether 25 is your magic number, I don’t know – but I do like and stand behind the idea.

Next, don’t forget the value of images. Use as many as possible – not just to add color to your page or because “you’re supposed to,” but to actually add value and make your content more digestible and appealing. Ditch the clipart and instead look to infographics, flow charts, memes, and scenery – they’re evergreen and a great way to attract a social media following. Also, in my own experience, I’ve found that using tall graphics and writing meaty content improved my Google+ engagement rate by 8,400% in one of my recent posts… yes, that’s right; 8400%.

Finally, be fun and creative. Take the lead from AJ Kohn’s Google+profile… okay, yes – people follow him anyway for sound SEO advice, but I bet there are also many followers who were attracted by his beautiful scenery photos.

 

Strategy #5: Q&A Platforms

Forums are another great place to get a seat in front of your relevant, interested audience. The trick is to monitor ongoing conversations in your niche so that you can chime in when you have something helpful to say (and no, not every post is going to be an opportunity – but some will). You’ll need a good feed reader, such as Feedly, to make this work.

Not finding an exact fit or enough on-the-dot opportunities?

Create some custom content relevant to a particularly hot conversation. For example, if someone asks how to do something with .htaccess code, you could write a tutorial and post it to your blog – then, in the Q&A section of the site, respond to the requester with a teaser, linking them to your blog to get the full codes and demos. Odds are that if one person asked the question, others have that same question – and your forum answer and link will live on to advise them as well when the time comes.

Real life scenario: Where to start?

In terms of which Q&A platforms to use, I recommend Quora, Klout, and Yahoo! Answers – these are three of the best general Q&A platforms out there. If you are a publisher selling programming books, StackOverflow is right up your alley – at a minimum, ask your writers to stay active on the site. For travel bloggers, I highly advise staying active on Trip Advisor.

Bonus: Sponsor, speak at, or organize an event

Here’s something that lots of people overlook: you can market your blog offline. Events are a great opportunity to establish yourself as a leader in your space and to promote your blog in the process.

Real life scenario: ProBlogger Event

Take for example Darren who created Pro Blogger to fill a void. Initially created as a roundtable concept for bloggers, the event grew substantially in just two years – so much so that more than 30 speakers had access to an audience 550+ strong. Can you imagine getting to speak to a relevant audience of that size – and directing those attendees to your blog? That’s potentially 550 new hits in just one day.

15067474775_1d79f98176_o.jpg

Some events will invite speakers, whereas others take submissions. Do some searching and see what you can find – odds are there’s a relevant opportunity for you, but in the off chance there’s not, take a page from Darren’s book and launch your own. And when you do get that opportunity, don’t be shy – shamelessly shill for your blog, Pinterest boards, Twitter handle – you name it. Be a real resource and offer attendees a way to continue getting value from your experience.

What’s next?

One thing often overlooked: getting that traffic is only a part of the game – you still need to know what to do with it.

Remember that you’ll need to focus on maintaining that traffic – so focus on creating an ongoing conversation and way to continue the dialogue. Landing pages are key here, providing you a quick way to get information from and to your reader.

When your visitor lands on your landing page, make it clear what you want them to do – that could be signing up for your newsletter, following you on Twitter, commenting on your blog – the list goes on. The point is, be clear and direct – this is not the time to be coy. Also, take the opportunity to include a sign-up form that collects their email address; this is a seamless way to grow your brand and create remarketing opportunities.

There are plenty of ways to grow your blog’s traffic – without relying on Google. Better yet? Most of them are free!

Have a method I missed or questions about one I included? Please share your thoughts below.

 

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Get his best blogging and growth hacking advice here.

Why Web Push is the Next Big Thing for Bloggers

This is a guest contribution from Tim Varner of GoRoost.com.

Raise your hand if you’re a blogger who’d like to turn your one-time visitors into repeat visitors — and eventually, engaged community members.

If you’re not raising your hand, I’m sorry — but we can’t help you. Go watch a cat video or something.

If you are raising your hand, get stoked.

Because coming soon to a browser near you is a new technology called web push.And it’s quickly becoming every blogger’s go-to traffic driver.

Intrigued? We thought so. Read on to learn what exactly web push is, and why it’s the next big thing for bloggers.

So Wait… What’s Web Push?

If you use Facebook or YouTube (or any number of other apps) on your phone, you’re likely already familiar with push notifications — you just might not know it. They’re the messages that pop up on your phone — regardless of whether you’re using the app at that moment — to tell you there’s an update on a stream or channel you’re subscribed to.

Though mobile notifications have been around for a while, web push is brand new. It’s different because it sends notifications through web browsers — not apps.

This innovative technology is already available in Apple’s Safari browser, but this fall it will become an option in browsers Chrome and Firefox, which are used by far more of the population — in other words, more of your readers.

And, yes, this is a solution that will support desktop and mobile web browsers.

Translation: web push is about to become HUGE.

Here’s how it works:

  • While surfing on her laptop, Lucy lands on your blog…. and a window pops up asking if she’d like to subscribe to push notifications.
  • To accept, all she has to do is click “Allow.” (She doesn’t even have to give her name or email address.)
  • The next time you publish a new post, a small notification will appear in Lucy’s web browser. If she likes the headline, she can click on it. If she’s not interested, it will disappear after a few seconds.

This is what the process looks like in Safari:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.09.08 am

And here’s how notifications show up (Gigwise box in top right corner).

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.10.17 am

Now that you understand how it works, it’s time to learn what sets this traffic-driver apart from social media and email.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Web Push

We know you have lots of options for driving traffic to your blog. So why should you shift your strategy to include web push?

One very important reason: Web push is an incredibly effective way to turn one-time visitors into loyal readers.

Here’s how:

It encourages opt-ins

Web push notifications have a 15 percent opt-in rate, which is about 10 times higher than email newsletters. People have grown wary (not to mention tired) of giving out their email address all the time, and web push solves this with just one click of the mouse.

That’s awesome news for anyone trying to build an online community — because once a reader opts in, it’s easy to bring them back to your site again and again. One-time visitors will then turn into loyal, repeat readers, which is exactly what you want as a blogger, right?

It has a broad reach

One of the problems with sharing your message on social media? Your reader has to be a member of that specific network and using that network when you send an update.

With web push, your reader only has to use a browser — which applies to pretty much everyone who uses the internet. Rather than hope your reader will be on a specific social network at the exact time you’re posting, you can catch your readers where they’re already hanging out: on the web.

We all know nobody has a long attention span anymore. That’s why web push notifications were designed to be brief.

When you publish a new blog post, your subscribers receives a headline, rather than the full article — similar to a 140-character tweet. Yetunlike Twitter, the message isn’t lost in an overwhelming clutter of other posts. Instead, it shows up where the subscriber is already working or playing: right in the browser.

It makes audience segmentation easy

You may have always wanted to segment your email list — but didn’t have either the know-how or the time.

Web push makes segmentation easy. It allows you to send specific content to specific subscribers, which means you won’t waste time sending content to people who aren’t interested, and your subscribers won’t feel spammed by constant updates.

Here’s an example: If you write blog posts on pizza, pasta and hamburgers, but your subscriber is only interested in pizza-related content, they can choose to only be notified when you’ve written an article on pizzas. This ensures that both you and your reader get the most out of the experience. (Not to mention it gives you an inside peek at your audience’s true preferences).

Bottom line: Web push works.

It opens a world of opportunities for content creators, helping bloggers and publishers see incredible results for opt-ins and engagement. So when are YOU going to turn your visitors into a loyal community?

Tim Varner is co-founder of Roost, which makes it easy for content producers to use web push notifications to grow their audience. Sign up for free at GoRoost.com.

5 Unique Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic

5 unique ways to increase your blog

This is a guest contribution from SEO expert Zach Radford.

Today, you don’t gain blog traffic by paying for backlinks or by swapping them like the old days. Instead, you need to focus on creating quality content that is beneficial to your visitors.

We know that. But how do you do it? And do it consistently?

The content should solve main problems faced by your reader. It should be actionable, specific and relevant to the audience. If you do this, your audience will come to trust your site, and visit it regularly looking for new content. They will also engage with you, which helps you to improve your blog.

To that end, here are five new ways of looking at increasing your blog traffic.

Create quality content and mention other bloggers

Your blog is the main avenue for communication with your audience. While your main purpose for the blog may be to promote your business, yourself, or some other product or service, you need to focus on providing quality content to the reader. Just focus on providing information that readers will find interesting to read, without trying to be overly strategic about it. Look for trending topics in different areas and create amazing content on those topics. Your audience will not only keep coming back for more if they find your posts interesting, they will also share your posts with their friends. You also need to mention other bloggers that you follow in your posts. You can quote them if you feel the information is interesting to the reader or just mention their names in the post. This will create good relationships with the bloggers and they might return the favour. Lifting each other up has the added benefit of leading to increased traffic.

Share your blogs on social networks

This is a no-brainer, but cannot be ignored. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin are where your readers are. Give them your posts. After creating your post, you can share a link of the post through Facebook or Twitter and then ask your friends or followers to comment. This will expose your blogs to thousands of social media users and eventually lead to increase in blog traffic.

Syndicate your posts

Syndicating your blog posts will expose them to more readers. You can use RSS feed or syndicate the blog to applicable high-traffic sites. RSS feeds allow your audience to keep track of your blogs without having to bookmark it. The readers only need to open their RSS reader and all your posts will be displayed there. Syndicating your blog to high traffic sites will also popularize it. This will also give your post more credibility, which could lead to high traffic.

Involve your readers

After posting to your blog, you need to ask your readers to leave a comment after reading the blog. Research shows that people will do (mostly) what you ask of them, and will comment where they might not have before. Read the comments that are left and try to reply all of them. Readers feel more valued if they are treated well and respected by the bloggers they engage with. They will keep on visiting your site to look for more content and to engage you as well. This will also build trust with your readers.

Use Pinterest Individual or Group Board

Pinterest allows bloggers to post on individual board and collaborate by posting on contributor boards. The main benefit of pinning your blog on contributor boards is that your blog is exposed to other contributors. Those contributors also have followers who will also see your post, leading to increased traffic.

The bottom line

Your blog will attract more readers if it is of good quality. Above all, this has to be the main aim. Therefore, it is important that you focus on quality more than selling your products or promoting your business through the blog. You also need to network with other bloggers and create good relationships with them. This will help you gain new ideas of increasing traffic to your blog.

Zach Radford is an SEO content expert, working as an SEO consultant and Sales manager for the past 10 years. He strives for success in everything he sets out to do. He believes that high-quality keyword-rich content is the key to running a successful online business. Currently starting his own venture: an SEO Content Company, aiming to provide quality SEO content to the masses.

5 Tips From a Bestselling Author (and Former Luddite) on Overcoming Blog Phobia

drop me in the water

This is a guest contribution from author Eileen Goudge.

There’s no such term as “blog phobia” as far as I know, but the condition is very real, I assure you. I know authors who quake at the mention of blogging, as I once did before I got a handle on it. My professional writing career began in an era when authors were expected to do only one thing: write a kickass book. And maybe go on tour if there was a marketing budget for said book. My first novel, Garden of Lies, was a New York Times bestseller and my publisher sent me on a cross-country tour that was a blur of TV appearances, print and radio interviews, and book signings.  

All of which seems like a dream, looking back. 

Flash forward to present day. In traditional publishing, marketing and publicity budgets for all but a handful of top tier authors are practically nonexistent. For indie authors it’s DIY all the way. This puts enormous pressure on the author to produce more than just the requisite book a year. We not only have to write the books, we have to spread the word in a crowded market when we have something to offer. Mainly this is done through blogging and social media, which go hand in hand. Back when I was a Luddite and proud of it, I would reason that I didn’t have time for all that nonsense. Also, it goes against our nature. We writers tend to be loners. Who else would spend most of his or her waking hours holed up alone, toiling away? Finally I wised up and got with the program. I realized if you don’t make the time, you might as well not bother writing the book in the first place. Few people will read it because they won’t know it’s there.

“To blog or not to blog,” is no longer the question. It’s a matter of how often and how best to target your audience. A blog is an essential tool in every author’s tool kit.  It’s the best way I know to introduce new readers to your unique voice and engage with existing fans so they don’t forget about you or think you died. So you find the time, even if you have to pull it out of thin air.

The challenge then becomes getting those all-important views and click-throughs. 

Not long ago, I read a blog post by an author who compared her site when she first started out to a “dusty billboard on a back-roads highway.” Traffic was so thin, why bother? she bemoaned.  Her posts became more and more infrequent and traffic to her site dwindled further, a vicious cycle that had her feeling utterly defeated.  I know the feeling! I used to think it was enough just to throw a blog post into the Vast Unknown and simply hope for the best. Search Engine Optimization? I didn’t know what it meant much less what it could do for me. I still wonder sometimes if the time and effort I put into blogging is worth it, given that I don’t have millions of subscribers and I’m competing with a gazillion other author-bloggers. Then I tell myself, “One step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.” 

My own page stats were downright embarrassing when I first started blogging. So I read up on what other, more successful bloggers had to say on the subject. I consulted with marketing experts. I learned some tricks that helped increase traffic to my site and learned a little about creating keyword-rich content, inbound and outbound links and search engines. My blog still isn’t where I’d like it to be, but at least it’s no longer a “dusty billboard on a back-roads highway.” 

Here are my top 5 tips to developing a successful author blog: 

Direct traffic to your site by making it a fun destination

As the author with the “dusty billboard on a back-roads highway” learned, you can’t expect to see much traffic to your site if a) people don’t know it’s there or b) it’s a snooze-fest. She solved her dilemma on both counts by making it fun for herself. She’s a history buff and she wrote historical novels, so she started doing blog posts about cool historical stuff along the lines of “Did you know…?” She built a following by reaching out to other history geeks and playing to her audience. And her specialized or themed posts also helped people more easily discover her site when searching for related keywords in Google.

For me the ticket was to write about my life experiences, which are the stuff of my novels. I come from a big, contentious Irish Catholic family in which addiction runs rampant. I was a single mom, on welfare at one point. I’ve been divorced a few times. I found my “Prince  Charming,” and present husband, Sandy Kenyon, while on book tour, fittingly enough, when he interviewed me on the radio talk show he hosted at the time. My son, Michael, is schizoaffective. The list goes on and on. If I had to sum up my life in a sentence it would be, “Never a dull moment.” From the comments I’ve gotten on my blog confidentials, it would seem viewers respond to candor, even when it portrays you in a less than flattering light or reveals a skeleton in the closet. The more approachable you seem, the more followers you’ll attract, which leads to more clicks of those all-important “buy” buttons. 

Come up with provocative blog headings

You have all of a nanosecond to grab someone’s interest. Use it wisely. Ann R. Allen, in her successful blog, named by Writer’s Digest as one of the top 101 most influential blogs, uses “Is Your Office Cubicle Haunted?” as one example of a provocative blog heading that poses a question. Providing answers is another way to go. “Spend Ten Minutes Doing This Every Day And You Could Transform Your Blogging” is the title of a recent post on this site. That is definitely one I want to read!

The heading of my most recent blog post is “The Nitty Gritty on Beach Reads, in which I tell of the life-altering, real-life stories behind my women’s fiction novels that are often billed as “beach reads.” I got close to a thousand Facebook views and a flurry of retweets on that one. I think the title had something to do with it. 

Choose headings with social media in mind. I was recently hooked by the heading of a post written by bestselling author Claire Cook for the popular Jane Friedman site.Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now),” not only sparked my interest, it generated over a hundred comments and a gazillion retweets as well as posts on Google Plus and Facebook. 

Don’t neglect to add links

I used to think—naively—that since any information relevant to my books was easily obtainable on my website, two or three clicks away, why bother adding links to my blog posts? Well, guess what? Two clicks is one too many for the majority of people reading your blog. In today’s digital-driven world I’m amazed by the number of authors whose blog posts contain not one single link, much less a buy button or clickable book cover image! Why bother if you don’t make it easy—as in a single mouse click—for a potential customer to sample your wares? Be sure to include the link to your website, and whenever you mention a particular title, link to that title’s book page on your site or, better yet, directly to a retailer page. I also recommend incorporating outbound links and linking to the sites of other authors mentioned in your blog post. The same goes for major products, places, or attractions related to your subject matter. I find that this is helpful for my readers and easily provides them with a richer experience when reading my story. 

Keep it fast-paced

Studies show the average blog viewer tends to skim rather than read every word. A snappy hook, short sentences, short paragraphs, bullets, and images are your best defense against short attention spans. Luckily I learned this early on in my career when I wrote for tabloids (anything for a buck!). If I didn’t keep it short and punchy, I didn’t make the sale. This doesn’t mean you can’t write a lengthy post. As long as it’s engaging and easy to understand (as in not wordy or too many big words) it will hold the reader’s interest.

Comment on other blogs and offer to do guest blog posts

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a mere piker compared to veteran bloggers like Anne R. Allen, Jane Friedman, and my friend and fellow author, Julie Valerie. They have huge subscriber lists that dwarf my own. And rightfully so—they offer good content, and I always learn something from reading their posts. I make a habit of always commenting on the blogs I follow. Oftentimes this sparks a dialogue. The blogger remembers and appreciates your participation, and some of his or her fans may trickle over to your site. Once I get to know a blogger, I offer to do a guest blog post. Usually they take me up on it. Content is king, and when the burden is on the blogger to keep up a steady supply, it’s nice to take a break once in a while.

These are just a few basic guidelines. If you’re smart you won’t make the same mistake I did, which was to blunder through initially without doing my homework. Better to learn from other people’s mistakes. (Lucky for you there’s a ton of information on the Internet on how to do it right.) Pay attention. Revisit the resources here on Problogger, such as this useful round-up of tips and tutorials for beginners 7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog. Bone up on the use of SEO keywords and the like. Be smart. Don’t be a dusty billboard on a back-roads highway. Be the neon sign that beckons from the four-lane freeway.   

New York Times bestselling novelist Eileen Goudge wrote her first mystery, Secret of the Mossy Cave, at he age of eleven, and went on to pen the perennially popular Garden of Lies, which was published in 22 languages around the world, and numerous other women’s fiction tiles. Bones and Roses is the first book in her Cypress Bay Mysteries series. She lives in New York City with her husband, television film critic and entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon. Keep connected with Eileen at her website, www.eileengoudge.com

Theme Week: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising, a Webinar with Jon Loomer

Sam Surname

Jon Loomer, the King of advanced Facebook marketing, recently stopped by ProBlogger.com to share his insight and specialist tips on all things Facebook advertising. Not just for business with big budgets, targeted Facebook ads and a little forethought can be useful for any kind of blogger wanting to reach out to readers. The full webinar is available for ProBlogger.com members (you can sign up here).

So what are the benefits of Facebook advertising for bloggers?

Jon says it’s really for anyone looking to drive traffic to a website. When you build an audience on Facebook, you’re sharing that website with people who have shown an interest in wanting to read it. As a bonus, many people who pay for advertising on Facebook also report an increase in organic reach.

Why should you pay for advertising when you can use Facebook for free?

  • It breaks through traffic plateau – go beyond the reach you’re getting now
  • If you have been working hard and not getting far, then it might be worth a try to see if you can catch a break
  • With regular sharing, you’re limited with the amount of people who will engage with your post – paying will reach people who still want to read your work – people who have been to your blog but don’t currently like your Facebook page, perhaps. It also assists in finding people with similar interests who might like your blog, but just haven’t heard of you yet
  • Helps to speed up the growth of your page
  • You’re being proactive rather than crossing your fingers and hoping to go viral

Boost Post versus Power Editor – Is one really more useful than the other?

  • The nuggets of gold in Facebook advertising and targeting are mainly found within Power Editor. but it doesn’t guarantee you success. You could still be targeting badly
  • The issue with Boost Post it is an easy button, often for real success you need to think a bit beyond doing that
  • At the end of the day, you want sales and subscribers, not just be seen in the newsfeed, so you need to use Boost Post a little bit more strategically. This is where you can use Power Editor to select a pre-chosen group to boost your post to
  • You can create and save target group lookalikes and custom audiences in Power Editor, which can then be used across Facebook advertising in all its guises
  • Learn Power Editor first, and it makes everything else easier

What about more sophisticated campaigns?

Website custom audiences are Jon’s favourite feature – it’s not just a matter of targeting anyone who visits your website, but also narrowing it down to specific pages they’ve seen, or articles they’ve read on your site.

So how does Facebook know what your readers are looking at?

Facebook provides conversion pixels, which uses cookie information from your blog. When they return to Facebook after your site, they will then see a targeted ad. Only one code is needed, but you can create many different rules that depend on visitor information. Even better, when you promote your new blog post, you can tell Facebook to exclude the readers who have already read it – effectively saving you money.

To take advantage of this, create a Website Custom Audience for every sales line you have, every landing page, every success page, every important blog post. Think about the categories of content you have that would appeal to different people, and tailor your ads to suit.

What makes a good ad?

  • Imagery, things that stand out, or that people can relate to. Faces, people their own age, professional images, proper image dimensions
  • Copy – what do you want from your ad? If you’re not selling, then you’re still being casual, useful, and wanting to get people to click on your link. Think of providing a call to action
  • Keep it short. You want to keep under character limits so Facebook doesn’t truncate your post, forcing users to click over to read the whole thing.
  • Ensuring the targeting is as relevant as possible

What else is on the webinar?

  • Jon goes into how to create a great Facebook advertising campaign and gives you steps to narrow down your needs so you can better strategise and target your audience.
  • Building a highly-relevant audience, and gaining their trust so you can market your products or services to them successfully
  • Targeting people depending on what page they’ve landed on your blog
  • Specific tips for Power Editor: how to create custom audiences, using tracking pixels
  • Links to articles that explain the complexities of Power Editor and how to harness it for your particular needs
  • How much to budget for Facebook campaigns
  • The difference between an ad set and a campaign
  • The lowdown on ad reports and how to track efficacy
  • Understanding lookalike audiences and how to target them effectively
  • Targeting fans, email lists, and anybody who has visited your website – highly-relevant people who already know who you are, but might not be following you on Facebook.
  • A discussion about the appearance of ads on Facebook in the first place. If they’re not going to go away, how best to work with them so you’re delivering useful advertising to its users, rather than irrelevant information
  • More detail on what makes a great ad.

Tune in tomorrow for our marketing ninja Shayne Tilley, who will take you through a list of Digital Photography School Facebook advertising that has seen real returns – and also the ones that didn’t do so well.

Have you tried Facebook marketing? Has it been useful for you?

Theme Week: Your Guide to All Things Facebook

Sam Surname

Facebook – whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that huge numbers of your readers are on it. And although it can be confusing, frustrating, and increasingly a “pay for results” platform; with a bit of knowledge up your sleeve, you can really make it work for you and your blog.

This week we are delving into all things Facebook – from organic to paid reach, we will cover what you need to know to get the edge and be successful on the world’s biggest social media hub. We will be looking at case studies of successful Pages, breakdowns of what kinds of interaction garners the most engagement, the lowdown on Facebook advertising (Advanced Facebook Marketing guru Jon Loomer stops by with a packed-to-the-brim webinar), and what Darren and the team have been doing over on the Digital Photography School Facebook page that have seen real results in ad campaigns.

It promises to be a doozy, and you will leave with plenty of advice to make the most of Facebook. Check back each day for the next installment. We will add them here as they go live.

Your Guide to Facebook

Organic Vs Paid
Case Studies of Popular Pages and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement
Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips
Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising: a Webinar with Jon Loomer
Facebook: The Lowdown on Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well
Facebook Week: Putting it all Together

See other theme weeks here

Content Week: How to Consistently Come Up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog
Beginner Blogger Week: Everything You Need to Know When You’re a Newbie
Finding Readers, Building Community, Creating Engagement
Creating Products: How To Create and Sell Products on Your Blog
Five Things to do with Your Blog Posts After You’ve Hit “Publish”
Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering With Brands