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4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

Choosing a domain name - Don't choose anything until you've read these four things to consider at problogger.net

When there’s more than 284 million registered domain names online, you’re going to want yours to stand out. But you also want to be easily remembered, have a URL that accurately describes your business, and it would help if it ranks well in Google. Right?

Right.

It’s very easy to buy a domain name that you come to regret later. What was useful and fashionable years ago suddenly is unwieldy and a pain in the butt to describe now. You might take what you can get if your favoured domain is already taken, only for that to expire later on and you’re stuck with one you don’t like.

Even worse, you could pay a great deal more for it later, or even spend quite a bit of money rebranding and redirecting years after you’ve become established just because that domain you’ve always wanted has suddenly become available.

It might be tempting to buy up quick to stop other people from taking the one you’re currently considering, but it won’t hurt to take a few minutes to ensure what you’re getting is what you want, what works, and what will stand you in good stead for the long haul.

The four things you should consider when choosing your domain name are:

The Human Perspective

Ease

You want a domain that’s simple to read, simple to say, and simple to remember. It also helps if it’s easy to type.

It’s one of the core values of marketing to be memorable, and simplicity is usually best. If you can create a url that is no longer than two or three words, with no phonetic bits to confuse people’s ears (razinghomes.com and raisinghomes.com might sound exactly the same but mean the total opposite of each other – confusing, right?), and doesn’t have unusual spelling, you’re well on your way to creating a domain name that works for you.

Readability

It probably does sound a bit fun to do some teacherstalking.org, but I’m sure the people behind Teachers Talking have other ideas. In the same vein, ferrethandjobs.com still cracks me up although they soon changed to ferrethjobs.com before going offline – no ferrets getting frisky to see here.

Have a look at how your words run together. Are there any surprises there you haven’t thought of? Send your proposed URL to a friend and ask for their initial reaction. Write it down, say it out loud – how does it roll off the tongue? any word that ends in “s” only to be followed by a word that begins with “ex” is a recipe for disaster so probably best to avoid that combination!

Unless you’re super-niche and you’re expecting a super-niche audience, it’s a good idea to steer clear of slang and corporate-speak. Different countries also have different vernacular and that can actually work in a lot of cases (see skintdad.co.uk for example), but outside the UK and Australia, “skint” and other colloquial terms might be unfamiliar.

The Brand Perspective

You’re always going to want people to know what you’re about in the shortest amount of time possible. You don’t really want a URL that doesn’t accurately describe what you do, or at least isn’t easily understood fairly quickly. It’s best to do some research and some brainstorming to find out what’s popular, what works, what sums up your business and what gives the right impression.

You might consider calling your blog or website something reasonably long, but that doesn’t mean your URL has to be the exact same name. The URL is like your business card, it should be short and sharp and to the point – just giving the recipient enough info to get started. You can then expand on your site if need be, but unwieldy URLs aren’t usually going to be useful when giving prospective audiences a snapshot of what to expect on your blog.

Domain Extensions

Back in the day there were a handful of choices – .com, .net,  .org, etc, and a lot of them had extra extensions depending on what country you were in.

While it’s still sensible to stick to what works, there are also other options to consider, especially if they work particularly well with your business name or genre. Newer ones include .biz, .info, .me, .shop – all sorts of things (a larger list is here) that might describe your work more accurately. Do keep in mind though, most people’s minds revert to “.com” when trying to remember URLs, so an exotic one might mean you’re missing out on traffic.

Uniqueness

There’s no way around the need to be unique when it comes to business names. Not only do you want to be memorable and hopefully the only one – but you also don’t want to get yourself into legal trouble either. Do some Googling to see what business names and URLs already registered are similar (or the same) to yours. You can search through business directories, phone books, and blog curation sites like Bloglovin‘ to find out who is blogging under what name and make your decision from what you find.

The SEO Perspective

Relevance

Just about everyone is looking to rank well in Google to help all those people searching for exactly what your blog provides. If you’ve got a clever and funny blog name but it has no bearing on your actual content, then your URL is not going to be the first few options a searcher sees when they’re looking for what you’ve got. You don’t have to make it boring as hell just so it ranks well, you just need to be able to strike that balance between cute and useful.

For many, their URL is going to be dependent upon their blog or business name, and if your blog content isn’t easily identifiable from the name, then it’s going to be that much harder for your blog to show up in search results. Not impossible – because with consistent posting and hard work to get yourself out there and linked to, you can begin to build credibility – but just that little bit harder without the natural traffic that you could be getting.

Keywords

For the super-expansive lowdown on how to make a great URL that ranks highly in Google, you have to read Moz’s SEO Best Practices for URLs. It’s going to take you through what a URL is, how to make a great one, and what are the ways search engines prefer. In a nutshell, if you’ve got keywords in your URL that pertain to your content, the better your SEO results. Keeping in mind the content you write will populate the longer URLs directing to each blog post, which means there are more chances for your keywords to show up naturally. But if you can create an original URL for your site that contain the keywords for your content, you’re halfway there.

How do you find your keywords? Brainstorm a list of what your site is about. Is it recipes? Fashion? Travel? Write down all the words you can think of that people will be searching for, and the key words in your content pieces. You can also check sites like Google Keyword Tool, Buzzsumo, Keyword Tool, etc to find out what are the popular searchwords are for your genre.

The Legal Perspective

Copyright and Trademark

Obviously it’s going to cost you a lot of time, money, and heartache if you’re sued for infringement because you’ve started trading as a company with the same name as, or can easily be confused with another company. To a lesser extent you might just piss another blogger off who has worked hard to establish themselves, and are now losing traffic to you. Copyright is difficult to control on the World Wide Web, but there are avenues for people to take if their intellectual property – including blog names and URLs – has been compromised.

I can’t stress enough to check and re-check other blogs, sites, and company names before you embark on your URL buy. There may be people out there with the same blog name as the one you want, but they haven’t bought the official domain or their blogs are left stagnant (which actually happened to me! So I started a blog with that name and it’s been going five years without incident). It is up to you whether you want to take that opportunity and make something of it, or if you’re not entirely confident it’s available for you to use. It will be obvious what you can’t have, as someone else will be currently using it – but you need to do your homework to avoid future legal battles and one hell of a headache.

You can do this by first checking trademarked business names, and then doing an informal search for other current blogs and sites. In the US, you can check who owns what at Copyright.gov and uspto.gov –  The Patent and Trademark Office even have a Trademark Electronic Search System to make searching easier. In Australia, you can search for a registered business name at asic.gov.au, and search for registered trade marks at ipaustralia.gov.au. Doing Google, Bloglovin’, Facebook, and Twitter searches for the blog name or URL you want will turn up all the people currently blogging under that name. Who knows, you might be inspired to choose something you like better than what you had in mind, thereby bypassing legal and blog-community troubles down the road.

 

Do you have a URL tale of woe? Nailed it right off the bat? I’d love to hear!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

 

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.

3 Ways Scheduling Will Make You a Better Blogger

There's more things to do with a blog than there is hours in the day. These tips will help you schedule like a pro and get your life back.Do you feel a bit like a slave to your social media? Always thinking about your next blog post, forgetting to respond to that guy on Twitter, and never Pinning at the right time?

I know what it’s like to always feel like you’re running to catch up, instead of being in control of how and where you spend your time.

There’s nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants and only writing or hanging out on social media when inspiration strikes – if it works for you. If you’ve found that’s a little too chaotic to be sustainable long-term, then you’ll benefit from being more intentional with your time. Which frees you up to have even more of it.

Three Reasons Why Scheduling is Good

It gives you more time

If it’s one thing I hear the most, it’s that bloggers don’t have enough time in the day to do all the things they want to (or think they should) to build their blog and make it the best it can be.

Time is finite, it’s so easily wasted, and yeah, it feels like there’s just not enough of it. Many of us are working on our blogs in the cracks of time we have around other work, family, and life commitments, and there are periods where we feel as though we are succeeding at the juggle about as well as we’d succeed at performing brain surgery on a puppy.

The reality is, you have to make time. Nobody is going to walk in, grab your kids and say “we’re going to the park, you blog for a couple of hours” (are they? If they are, can you send them to me?!), or take on a big project at your day job to free up time for you to finally get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off. If you’re not scheduling in time to blog, and scheduling your posts and social media updates, then of course you’re not getting as much done as you would like.

Scheduling = more time. Time to live, time to work evenly on all your projects, time to take your own kids to the park. (Tweet that!)

It gives you more flexibility

To be honest, I don’t know of any blogger who can sit on the internet all day and respond in real time, whether that’s publishing at the most appropriate hour, or answering every email, tweet, and Facebook message received. Nobody is up at two in the morning Pinning their latest posts because that’s when their particular audience is online (hello working from the Southern Hemisphere).

There are some people who like to read my blog at five in the morning. There are hundreds who come after I’ve gone to bed at night. The last thing I want to do is hit publish before sunup, but I also don’t want to miss out on the traffic that comes at the most convenient time for them, so post scheduling works in both my favour and theirs.

I know sometimes the word “schedule” makes people shudder, and they’ll tell you they prefer “flexible” any day. Schedule sounds locked down, tight, rigid. The beauty of working online is so we can publish immediately, spontaneously, and so we don’t have to toe the line of a 9-to-5. But done right, scheduling can bring freedom – what you want is a flexible schedule, something that works just for you.

Scheduling means I can more effectively work around my young family, who I really do have to respond in real time to. When my work is scheduled and my home day goes awry, I’ve got the flexibility to be present in the moment. If home is quiet, I’ve got the flexibility to blog and maybe set a few more scheduled posts and updates for the times I can’t be online. This kind of flexibility is invaluable.

It gives you control

One of the biggest lessons I learned last year is that I don’t work well in chaos. Trying to work, live, run a family, and blog all at once however I could fit it in was benefiting no-one. Least of all me. I felt stressed, constantly undone, forever forgetting things, and I went to bed almost every day knowing I’d let at least one person down.

Feeling always behind the eight ball is not how I want to get through each day long-term. I don’t want to feel reactionary to each situation as it arises, I’d rather be a step ahead, with a clear head, and proactive.

Scheduling allows me to control my time online, instead of it controlling me. I can write when I want, I can publish when I want, I can be on social media when I want, and there’s flexibility at the end of the day to rejig it if necessary. My readers get content in the times that work for them, and I can interact in the times that work for me. Win-win!

Three Ways Scheduling will Make You a Better Blogger

You are more present

Well, OK – the beauty of scheduling means you can blog without actually physically being present. But the times when you are online, you can be fully present. This is your time to blog, to interact on social media, to chat on Twitter. You don’t also have to be cooking dinner, finding gym shoes, or emailing your boss.

You can work when you’ve got the time spare, and you can concentrate better during that time.

You are more considered

So many mistakes are made when you rush, when you’re throwing something up and running out the door. If you’re writing something that isn’t going up until next Tuesday, there’s no rush. You can write, edit, and give it a once-over between now and then, picking up issues, typos, and adding that link to the article you just couldn’t remember at the time.

When you’re fully present with your writing or your social media, you write better and are more likely to avoid problems that crop up when your concentration is divided. You look more in control and authoritative. And you’re interacting when it’s best for you.

You’re sharing what matters

I know what it’s like when you’ve just found five cool things that your readers will love, but you can’t share all five at once – and you’re likely to forget or give up if you physically post them across a reasonable period of time. Scheduling helpful or funny articles at the times your audience would most like to see them (i.e. when they’re online and they’ve actually got the time to click through) means you’re being the most useful to them you can be. And we all know Usefulness is King!

You’re also not rushing to share something, anything in order to be seen – you’re sharing what’s useful, entertaining, or inspiring because you’ve got the time to find those things, and you’re giving it to your audience at the right time.

Three Ways To Schedule your Work

Start with a plan

I always say planning is essential to be more efficient and to use your time more wisely. In 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier, I talk about planning (and scheduling + automating!) and how they can give you more freedom. In order to schedule your time and your content, you have to know what you want to do, where you want it to take you, and when you work best.

I do everything from long-term checklists and calendars to a five-minute brainstorm and rough outline of the tasks of the day and in what order I’ll do them. I can’t recommend enough that five-minute brainstorm before you get started – it saves a lot of time and heartache later. Slotting your tasks into the time you have available that day will be the best thing you can do that morning to get started on the right foot.

Then, of course, you can branch out into larger, more long-term goals and lists (and refer to those lists when writing your monthly, weekly, or daily plan).

Related: Setting Blog Goals: Why You Need Them, and How To Write Them

Do what works

Get to know the automation tools available out there for bloggers – Buffer, Hootsuite, CoSchedule, Edgar, or whichever one works for you. Get to know when your audience is online, what kinds of updates they respond to, and what kinds of content you enjoy creating. There’s no point posting to Facebook 11 times a day if it’s irrelevant, uninteresting, or clickbait.

Related: Boost Your Organic Reach on Facebook with These Tips

Use social media scheduling

Different apps work for different needs, although the ones I mentioned in the previous point usually cover several platforms. For example, I use CoSchedule to schedule my daily posts to Facebook and Twitter, and they make it easier to post way into the future. I can post several times to Twitter without leaving my WordPress dashboard. Facebook prefers its own scheduling tool, so if I can, I’ll delete the CoSchedule upload to Facebook and use the Facebook scheduler. If’I’m out that day, I leave the CoSchedule one – I do find that the Facebook schedule has better reach.

I use Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling, Buffer for tweets on Twitter or tweeting articles from other sites, and I’m interested at looking into Edgar for a couple of other things I’ve got in mind. I’d love to know which one you use though, and why? I think they’re all useful for different things.

Related: How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

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.

Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip.

Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.

Every now and then, I’m pulled aside at a family gathering or am emailed by someone who wants to know if it’s possible to make money blogging.

Some of the common questions include:

  • How do you make money online?
  • How does AdSense work?
  • Should I attend this “make money online” course?

The answer is an absolute yes. You can make money blogging.

While not in the six figures, Matthew Woodward, for example, made approximately $20,000 in December of 2014. That’s a pretty nice paycheck for blogging.

Even a simple idea like Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York, where people submit posts of things they’ve heard somewhere in New York, earns about $9,000 a month from private advertising revenue, such as banner ads placed on the site.

Personally, I have been making money online since 2004. I quit my day job as a rubber dam engineer in 2006, and never looked back.

So, again, the answer is: Yes, you can start a blog easily and make some money.

There are a lot of different online business opportunities, too.

The only question left is: Do you have the writing quality and blogging know-how to get it done? It’s not something easy, but I promise you it’s worth it.

5 ways of making money from your blog without having your own product

When you think of making money from a blog, you might think about Google ads, but there are a few different ways you can make money from your blog:

  • AdSense – People make hundreds of thousands from Google AdSense ads. AdSense makes up about one-third of Google’s revenue. Pay is good, but you will need to play by Google’s rules. There are reports where Google AdSensers get bumped out of the program without warning.
  • Affiliate marketing – This is simply a way to sell related items without the cost of developing a unique product. This is mainly how I make my living online, so this is a viable way to earn money from your blog.
  • Banner ads – Another way to make money from your blog is to sell banner ads on third party sites such as BuySellAds.com. My experience is that this is fairly low pay, but better than nothing. All the different areas of your income can pool together to make a difference in your overall blog earnings.
  • Selling ads directly on your blog – You can earn good money by selling banner ads directly on your blog. However, your blog must first have a good amount of traffic to attract the higher paying advertisers. At first, it might be better to focus on building that traffic and then you can more easily attract the big players.
  • Product reviewer – This might not pay you monetarily, other than the amount you’re earning from blogging, but it can help you try out the newest products in your niche. Merchants send you their products for trial, and you write an honest review. WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty, for example, does this and wrote some great tips on how to become a product reviewer. The key to becoming a product reviewer is that you need to be an influencer in your niche. Personally I get free hosting accounts to test at WHSR so I can write a review on it.

3 key factors: What makes my blog work and why yours doesn’t?

1. You need to be in a profitable niche!

One of the first things you want to think about is your niche and whether it is profitable. Some experts advise being a big fish in a small pond, but I think the exact opposite. You should try the big pond because that is where the money is.

While your great Aunt Mary’s unique recycled dress quilts might be amazing, not that many people are as interested in reading about them as about quilting in general. Don’t limit your topic too much.

When I first got started, I created a site selling inflatable boats online. Can you imagine how many people might buy inflatable boats online? That’s right, not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. Having that said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

So, how do you find a profitable niche? Personally, I use SpyFu to check out what advertisers are spending on a niche that I think I might like to tackle. If advertisers, or merchants, are spending big money on that industry, then it means there is money to be made.

spyfu-cpc

There must be a reason why these people can afford $8 – $17/click on these keywords.

If you do not have a SpyFu membership, you can simply do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. Are there any advertisers in the search results? If so, then there may be money in this niche.

Use Google keyword planner to guesstimate the average price of a click in your industry – with that you can predict roughly how much you can earn per Google AdSense click. The higher the pay per click, the more potential there is to earn.

Login to CJ.com and search merchants – use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

cj-adv

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

2. Are you getting sufficient targeted traffic?

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the targeted traffic possibilities for a given niche. To be able to make decent money, your blog must have sufficient targeted traffic possibilities. This is where your SEO and social media marketing (SMM) kick in.

When people search for info relevant to your niche topic, they become your target audience. The more people who search for that topic, the bigger your potential audience.

Also, if someone follows your competitors on Facebook, those people are your targeted audience. If you are thinking about jumping into a niche and you see that your closest competitor has a couple million page likes on Facebook, then that is a good sign that there is a big target audience.

More targeted traffics = more money

However, to win the attention of this target audience, you have to gain skills in both SEO and SMM. It is simple math. The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you’ll make.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are selling a web hosting service as an affiliate and the average conversion rate is 3%. On average, every 100 visitors that you refer to the web hosting provider, you’ll manage to get three sales. If you manage to refer 200 visitors, then theoretically there will be six sales down the road.

We want all tails keywords

longshorttail Image credit: Bytelaunch

You’ll want to be sure that you figure for both primary and secondary (short-tail and long-tail) keywords to get the best idea of overall traffic possibilities.

Owen Powis, the CEO of Wordtracker, advises that:

“A clear, well-organized site structure helps Google find your content and makes the navigation of your site easier for your customers.”

Being aware of the different target keywords (both primary and secondary) and the advertising basics aimed at those keywords will make your blog more successful.

3. Are you building a List?

You’ve probably heard multiple gurus saying that building an email list is of ultimate importance when driving traffic to your site. If you want to make money blogging, you’ll want to capture your site visitor’s emails and send them emails that will drive them to visit your site over and over again.

If you need help with building and making money out of your email list, here is a very handy guide written Marya Jan on Problogger.net.

Why is an email list so important? An email list is your greatest asset online because those signed up are trusted leads who have visited your blog. Your email subscribers already trust you and your authority on this topic.

If you were going to buy something online, you would probably look at products based on the recommendation of someone you trust. If you wanted to buy a guide to read, you would first look at guides written by or recommended by someone you trust.

If you were following Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) new venture WP Super Stars from the beginning, you should note of is that he started collecting email subscribers ahead of time. That’s right -You can start collecting subscribers before you even have a blog. Reach out to family, friends and acquaintances to get started.

Bottom Line – You can do this!

When it comes to making money from blogging, you have to be creative and keep an eye out for new opportunities and changes in how search engine algorithms and advertising work. However, with a bit of foresight sprinkled with hard work and consistency, you too can make a living from blogging.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)!

 This is a guest contribution from Daryl Rothman.

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The truth is out there.

At least, we hope so.

How-to lists are all the rage in the burgeoning blogging world. And many are good, but there is an absolute deluge. The list of lists is growing.

Who has it right? How do you choose? What lists you should rely on?

Simple. None.

Before you loose the slings and arrows of recrimination upon me, hear me out. I didn’t say you shouldn’t read any how-to lists. There are some great ones. Read away! I am saying you need to stop relying upon them. Here’s why.

  • We are so inundated with lists it is easy to get overwhelmed. You are busy. You have important things to do—including writing, especially writing—and you don’t have unlimited time to be navigating your way through the vast sea of offerings. Have you ever been excited about an idea and set about researching related pieces, only to find there were so many that it was impossible to know where to begin or how to prioritize? Did you feel the motivation slowly ebbing away? The ability to strategically focus—in our writing and in our research—is critical, and if you get overwhelmed it is easy to succumb to exasperation and become paralyzed into inaction.
  • “Expert” advice may not in fact be just that. Again, a caveat: questioning one’s expertise is not to suggest they are unmeriting of admiration and respect. But you must be judicious, and proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. What are this writer’s credentials? Has she presented certain things as fact which are, in fact, opinion? Are there other perspectives she’s neglected? “Expert” advice can be that shimmering mirage in the desert, but danger lurks just beneath: in our anxious quest to be enlightened, to find that quick fix, the holy grail of literary wisdom, we all too often sublimate and diminish our own power and expertise. Be wary of “gurus,” particularly self-appointed ones. Look past the accolades and glitz and learn to be persuaded by—well, persuasion.
  • Most lists are by their nature prescriptive and one-size fits all. And, inevitably, too good to be true. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles beneath the earth’s mantle, and even after they finally breach the surface only a little bit shows—we have to dig to get at the rest. So too with your best literary gems. Lists are inherently dismissive of the myriad and often subtle dynamics and variables unique to each writer. The gurus know we’re busy, and not only crave answers, but prefer them in bite-sized morsels which are easily digestible and immediately applicable. You are jolted with a surge of motivation, and it may even last for a few days, sometimes longer. But then what? Unless the list happened to be the best way lists can motivate you eternally, the magic ultimately begins to fade. And no wonder– little in life is that simple or easy—nothing meaningful or enduring, anyway. Your writing, I hope we agree, is meaningful. And we want it to endure.

So What Now?

Well, I would be negating every point I’ve just raised above if I tell you precisely what. But I do have some suggestions which have been helpful to me and which I believe —if you contemplate and tailor them within the context of your unique goals and experiences—will be useful for you too.

Determine why you may rely upon lists.

Are you short on time? Out of ideas? Struggling to get organized and get started? These are common challenges and it is normal to seek easy answers.

As I’ve said all along, there are good resources out there, including some terrific lists, but once you understand the reasons behind your reliance, you will be better able to address them in more enduring ways.

Seek information which focuses on you, which helps you find your own voice. This WTD article, while admittedly a list, does just that. It is a great example of deferring to your own wisdom, which is in the end, the best kind of advice.

Just the Facts…

Learn to find valuable, credible, reliable information which aligns with your needs and your goals. I am a writer and an early childhood advocate, and in the latter arena, the term “evidence-based practice” is bandied about quite a bit. Evidenced-based, not, “opinion-based.”

There is nothing wrong with reading and enjoying opinion pieces, but if you are reading something with an expectation of expertise and actionable information, you must be judicious. Take a moment to read the author bio and credentials, and evaluate critically that which is being presented.

Embrace your inner expert.

Learn how to build your own cadre of reliable information. Or, as I sometimes call it, “getting your nerd on”.

I do it (it’s really not a big leap for me), and it can be emboldening and fun. Rather than seeking that Holy Grail which contains all the answers for which you’ve thirsted, recognize that “truth” is not conferred upon us through the waving of that wand, and that a good deal of effort is required.

We are lifelong learners, and truth is never quite ours, but we move closest to it when we recognize it is a matter of the journey itself, which can sometimes be a bit of a grind. Writing, reading, networking, researching. But there is a fair bit of magic and community along the way. Keep notes as you go. Seek and consider a diversity of ideas and approaches. Commune with other literary spirits.

Consider the challenges for which you seek counsel and jot down how you would answer if someone else queried these things of you. I’ll bet you have some pretty good thoughts. A simple reminder that the best and most enduring ideas reside within you.

You are an expert in your own right. Embracing that, and sharing it with others, can be very rewarding.

So what do you think? Have I just committed anti-list sacrilege? Please comment and list a few thoughts. 

Daryl Rothman’s debut novel is being published by Booktrope in 2015. He has written for a variety of esteemed publications and his short story “Devil and the Blue Ghosts” won Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s prestigious New Writer’s Award Contest. Daryl is on Twitter, Linked In and Google + and he’d love you to drop in for a visit at his website. Daryl is not sure why he is speaking of himself in 3rd-person. And, like George, he likes his chicken spicy.

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal That Will Land You a Blogging Gig

This is a guest contribution from Karol K.head

Struggling to make money blogging, aren’t you?

SEO doesn’t seem to work for you.

Neither does social media.

And don’t even get me started on commenting on other blogs and online forums … it’s just noise.

Maybe you even subconsciously hate people like Darren, Jon Morrow, or Brian Clark, purely because they’ve succeeded and you haven’t (yet).

First of all, it’s okay. Don’t worry, not being satisfied and trying to look for outside reasons to justify our problems is a natural human reflex. It will pass.

Second of all, maybe you’ve been putting your efforts in the wrong place…

I don’t want to sound too much like a preacher of some kind, but there really are different ways of making money through a blog out there, and they don’t all revolve around: (1) creating content, (2) building an audience, (3) selling info products to that audience. This is just one of the possible methods. A very sound method if executed properly, but still just one among many.

For instance, a counter approach I’d like to present to you today is based around freelance blogging. In other words, it’s about offering blogging services to other website owners. Or to say it even more plainly, it’s about getting paid to blog.

So naturally, the most important question here is how do you convince anyone to hire you, and why would they even want to hire you to write for them if they have a pair of perfectly good writing hands themselves?

This is what we’re going to answer today. Namely, we’re going to discuss how to craft a proposal that will win you freelance blogging gigs.

The method I like to use is something I call the hungry carnivore tactic.

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Corny, I know. But it works. It’s a four-step process:

  1. Induce hunger.
  2. Serve the appetizer.
  3. Serve the meat.
  4. Serve the dessert.

Let’s take it from the top.

1. Induce hunger

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

It all starts when the carnivore enters a restaurant – your restaurant.

(The carnivore is just a metaphor for your client, by the way.)

The first thing you need to do when you set your eyes on that prospective client is to induce hunger in them.

You want them to feel exactly like a person feels when they enter a restaurant and see everybody eating. In such an environment, they will become hungry right away and inevitably order something.

So how do you do this to a client?

A very good starting point is identifying their problem and talking about it openly. You want to appeal to them by making things tailor-made.

For example, you don’t actually want to offer a standard blog writing service. Instead, you should identify the areas where the prospective client’s blog is lacking and point those areas out. When you do so, the client will start craving a solution.

As much as possible, try using research data when talking about problems. For instance, if you’re pointing out that the client posts irregularly, try looking up a study about standard blog ROI vs. posting frequency; just to name one possibility.

In general, the more you can help your client to understand the issues that need to be addressed, the more they will want to hire you.

2. Serve the appetizer

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is the time to start serving up your solutions.

So to grab your carnivore and make them pay attention to you, serve an appetizer that presents a good overview of what’s to come – the meat.

This is about listing goals and objectives – the main vision of what you can provide as a freelance blogger.

Focus on the following:

  • what’s the most important business goal for your client in relation to their blog,
  • what benefits you bring to the table that can make this goal achievable,
    • list specific benefits that are measurable and easy to grasp and be confident about it (in a way, you’re telling them what dish you’re going to serve them),
    • emphasize why those are the benefits the client should be looking for.

Doing all this might sound like a lot of unnecessary work. I mean, after all, why wouldn’t you just send a standard pitch and offer a simple writing service, right? Well, you can do that, but you’ll be leaving a lot of business on the table.

And it’s not just me talking. Here’s what Ruben Gamez – the founder of Bidsketch (client proposal software for freelancers) – thinks about the no.1 mistake that freelance bloggers make when building a pitch or a proposal:

Almost everyone does the minimum in their proposal. Do more than what has been asked.

They’re looking to get more traffic? Research content for their audience, show a couple of popular posts, and suggest similar topics that will do well.

Whatever their goal is, spend a little time doing research, and include your recommendations.

Ruben surely knows what he’s talking about here, considering the fact that he’s built his whole business based on his client proposal skills and years of experience in that area.

Essentially, this is what appetizers are about – getting someone more excited about the main dish that’s to come. Which brings me to:

3. Serve the meat

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is “the what” of your offer. In this part, you need to take the things you’ve talked about in the appetizer and list a specific solution that you’re going to provide.

There’s a handful of important elements you should focus on here:

  • Define the scope of the project. Talk about what you will do as part of the project. For example, writing X articles, each one Y-words long, and so on.
  • Describe your process. How you’re going to deliver the articles. How many revisions are possible. The goal here is to secure yourself from any sort of scope creep.
  • Provide the timeline. When each article is going to get delivered. Is this done in one large package or will you be delivering in batches?
  • The payments. Break down what the client is paying for and how you expect to get the money (PayPal, wire transfer, 50-50 split, etc.).

Now the tricky part.

Try offering more than one possible option. The sweet spot is three. Here’s how:

  • Tier #1 (let’s call it that). Consisting of just the minimal number of services that the client needs. Let’s say this one has the price tag of $2,000 – for the sake of this example.
  • Tier #2. The advanced package. This is Tier #1 plus some additional service that the client already mentioned and will consider useful. For example, this can be an overall WordPress blog management service if you’re into such things. This one could be $3,000.
  • Tier #3. The trickster package. This is Tier #2 plus one more additional service. Again, something valuable. Like social media management for their blog posts. The price tag: $3,000.

No typo there, by the way. Tiers #2 and #3 have the same price tag. This is the whole trick. The goal is to convince the client to always go for the most expensive option. If I’m not mistaken, I first learned about this in Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

The reasoning behind this tactic is that comparing each option is hard for the human brain, so we need to provide a common denominator. In this case, it’s the price. So when the price for both options is the same, it’s easy to tell which one is a better deal. And that is most likely what the client will end up selecting. This is the meat.

4. Serve the dessert

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Now the final part. At this stage, the carnivore should already be fairly satisfied with what they’re seeing, so we just need to give them this final nudge.

Some possibilities:

  • List an expiration date. Say that your offer is only valid through {date here}.
  • Provide an early action bonus. Say that if they act today, you will give them one extra service (but make it a simple one – something you can take care of relatively quickly).
  • Display testimonials. This is a good moment to reference some of your previous clients’ opinions. Just two quick testimonials with names and pictures will be enough here.

Finally, conclude with a good call to action.

Just tell them what to do next. You can even use a sub-headline like “Next Steps.” Tell them how to accept your proposal and make it easy. You don’t want the client to get stuck at this point.

In short, list the bare minimum of things you need from the client in order to get started with their project.

The cut-out-n’-keep template

Okay, so that’s it for the theory. But I do have one more thing for you. If you’d like a complete proposal template – built on the principles explained here – just go ahead and click this link.

Finally, what’s your take on this? Is freelance blogging something you’re planning to do in 2015 to grow your blog business in a more direct way?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, published author, founder of NewInternetOrder.com and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering some cool freelance blogging and writing tools, advice and resources just like what you’re reading now). Whenever he’s not working, Karol likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.

Why Should I Make My Webpage Interactive?

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This is a guest contribution from Ben Shwartz.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but does that extend to eBooks? How about webpages? In the current state of our globalized, media-saturated society, it’s difficult—if not outright impossible—to live by this seemingly antiquated adage. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the World Wide Web, appearance often conquers content in terms of user retention, which makes your landing page the golden ticket to your website’s success.

“If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment… would you capture it, or just let it slip?”—Eminem on landing page optimization… or a rap battle.

Generating a home page with interactive features (think layered multimedia and on-site social networking) allows the fireworks to come directly to the customer, instead of having the customer waste his or her precious time searching for what exactly it is that you have to offer. With that said, put your best foot forward and take advantage of all the…well, advantages, an interactive site can procure.

Capture the social media-unfriendly.

For better or for worse, social media often gets a bad rap. For the stubborn old-timers, social media shy, and those who are proud to have never given a virtual thumbs-up or double-tapped to “like,” having an on-site source for communication can be an easy (and potentially covert) transition to get these hesitant folks more inclined to digital networking.

If you’ve already won the first battle by getting them to your site in the first place, the immediate presence of focused content and engaging topics relevant to their interests may compel them to take part in the conversation. Easy, automatic signup options (i.e. via your email account) saves time and gets the user directly apart of the conversation. As a bonus, user profiles are limited within the site’s perimeters, ensuring an extra level of privacy that will be happily received by any reluctant recluse.

For the sake of organization.

If you’re a startup or an e-commerce retailer, chances are you have a string of social media accounts representing your business all around the web. From obvious mainstays like Facebook and Twitter to the more professional LinkedIn and less structurally restrictive Tumblr, there’s a whole pond full of big name outlets for one little fish to navigate. Streamline key topics of interest to establish your site as the primary source of discussion, so as to provide a clear, exact, and timely authority on your site’s content. Allow your social media links to direct traffic back to your site, whether they target new customers with catchy captions or retain existing customers with reminders regarding updates to the content with which they are already familiar.

On the contrary, if you’re looking to give your customers some extra context that you find may interest them (and thus further establish yourself as a thought leader), multimedia tools are available on the market to create centralized hubs of outsourced interaction. Simple, customizable icons link to related and relevant content. Should one recommendation prove beneficial to your customer, there’s a good chance you’ve converted him or her into a repeat user on your own site.

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Enjoy the benefits of live personal presence in real-time.

Social networking, especially within a particular niche, can quickly get to look a lot like a high school cafeteria. You have a few cheerleaders on the hunt for prom dresses, a gaggle of brainiacs preparing for the next Comic-Con, and devoted group of traveling Phish fans. While each individual adheres to a different class schedule, eating at the lunch table affords a precious punctual platform from which to vocalize their hopes, needs, and desires.

While these “lunch tables,” or online outlets for communication, do currently exist (and in great numbers), the current state of cyber affairs stimulates the desire for instant gratification, or feedback in real-time. While alerts and notifications on other outlets can remind you of existing conversations, having an on-site communication tool allows a more organic flow of communication. Customers can feel that they’re actually a part of a dynamic conversation, rather than uttering anonymous nothings to the wind. Users can create more substantial relationships with one another and in turn, return to the site to continue these budding interest-based friendships. Topics will be more likely to stay on course given their placement in a centralized, authoritative position, and you will be more likely to sustain P2P relationships given that your site will be the common link (literally) shared between viewers.  Just like in high school, everyone wants to be a part of a group and their conversation. Your on-site social network will give your viewer a voice and heighten the likelihood that he or she will be heard.

Educate others while educating yourself.

In terms of building a community, user retention is more likely to increase if your viewers feel at home. If they’re already engaging in a conversation, they’re more likely to resume input if they feel that they’re in a group consisting of thoughtful peers based on mutual interests and respect.

Having one (or several) of your team members as an active social presence on your site is a win-win for all parties. From a customer’s perspective, they can gain insight from interaction with a thought leader, and the informal setting in which it takes provides a more humanized and less formal or mechanical component.

Additionally, it goes without saying that a business needs to determine its customers’ desires and interests, and having an inside source on the front lines is one of the easiest ways to do just that. By learning the popular topics in your forums, you’ll have a better idea of what can be added, edited, or removed to maximize your website’s potential and propel your future business goals.

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In essence, an interactive website prioritizes and centralizes not only the products by also the discourse associated with your brand. Your landing page is your money maker, given its status as your company’s official authority. If we stay with the times and realize that consumers must be efficiently engaged to ensure conversion, then we must recognize how important it is to create a visually appealing product that provides a one-stop shop for your audience’s needs.

Finally, consumers strive for a human connection rather than a technical, formalized response to their social networking input. Combine winning visuals with interactive, informal discussions to ensure that your site is one worth reading from one day to the next.

Ben Shwartz is the VP of Marketing for Spot.IM. He loves to buy and sell websites, and immerse himself in anything and everything in the realm of online marketing.

ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be?

Over the years I’ve been asked many questions about blogging, but I find there are a few that pop up more often than others. While blogging is different for everyone, I have found that the conclusions I’ve arrived at after all this time still hold true.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting my answers to the most frequently asked questions here at ProBlogger. If you have any you’d like me to answer, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

ProBlogger FAQ How long should posts be We go into the answers.

The biggest question I get asked though, is how long should a post be?

My answer to this is usually “write enough to be useful, and then stop”.

This, of course, means that a post can be any length, and I certainly don’t follow a set formula. You can be useful in 500 words, or you can be useful in 3000 – it all depends.

There has been talk recently about longer-form content and the way Google ranks it as opposed to the bite-size content usually recommended for time-poor readers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it’s best to consider what the topic is, who your reader is, and how much you have to say about it.

Longer-form content

Search ranking

Regardless of the fact we post on a constantly-updated platform, there is still a need for in-depth analysis. Google itself came to the conclusion after a reader experiment that people are looking for both quick answers and to learn more broadly about the topics that interest them.

Long form also content keeps people on the site longer, which seems to be increasingly a factor in Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms and how they rank content. They factor that time spent on your site into their ranking strategy – how long it takes you to get back to Facebook or Google and interact. Did you flick back almost immediately after not finding what you wanted? Or did you spend a few minutes reading, therefore proving the content useful and as something you wanted to see?

CoSchedule recently conducted an experiment on longer-form content and how it was ranked in search results depending on word length. They mentioned the correlations companies like Moz and serpIQ have found between long-form content and search result placement, and also number of backlinks. Garrett at CoSchedule tested key words and found that the 500-word posts rarely ranked at all. He came to the conclusion that Google doesn’t prefer long-form content simply because it was longer, but that length was one of the indicators of quality (out of 200 ranking factors). The point was still to create great content, as Google values value over all.

Virality

In his experiment on QuickSprout, Neil Patel found that his posts that were longer than 1500 words garnered significantly more social shares than the posts that weren’t. Buzzsumo went on to analyze 100 million articles last year only to discover the same thing – the longer the content, the more shares it gets.

 Usefulness

There’s no doubt you can cover much more ground when it comes to long-form content, and the likelihood that you will be providing the answer the reader is looking for, or solving a pain point for them, is higher.

Longer, in-depth, useful articles are still some of the most popular on ProBlogger – posts like Can You Really Make Money Blogging [7 Things I Know about Making Money Blogging]How to Consistently Come Up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog, and The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program (which is a whopper at 7683 words). They provide value because they answer just about any question anyone would have.

Short Form Content

I’ve experimented with both long and short-form content on ProBlogger, and have sometimes turned what could be an in-depth post into series of shorter posts instead.

The good thing about a series of posts on the one topic is that it creates anticipation. While it’s never been as successful for me (share-wise) as long-form content, it’s still useful. The best response I’ve seen to a series of posts I’ve done is when I first published 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – where, by posting something every day, I built a community of bloggers all taking small steps in a month to create more successful blogs.

How to Decide?

As I mentioned earlier, the length of your posts depend on various factors. There doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all approach, and very much requires you take into account the topic, your blog, and it’s readers.

Benefits of long-form content:

  • Provides answers to questions
  • Is ranked higher in search results by Google
  • Get shared more
  • Asserts your authority (particularly the in-depth, heavily researched types)
  • Increases engagement
  • Increases the likelihood of quality backlinks
  • Provides value
  • Keeps readers on site
  • Easier to naturally use keywords more often
  • Convenient for readers – all answers in one go

Cons

  • It takes time and effort
  • People might not read as they don’t have the time as it comes through their newsfeed
  • People might save it to read later and then forget
  • It may overwhelm the reader

Benefits of short-form content

  • Easily digestible
  • Easily shared
  • Easily written
  • Helps you keep a consistent updating schedule

Cons

  • Might not be long enough to provide what the reader is looking for
  • Easy to read and forget
  • Could get lost in the busy internet crush
  • Doesn’t establish credibility the way a long-form post can

The idea is to weigh the pros and cons of each and come up with a formula that feels good to you.

Joe from The Write Practice breaks it down well in his post “How Long Should Your Posts Be? A Writer’s Guide” – giving common blog posts lengths and the best types of topics they’re suited to.

Neil Patel outlines the factors you need to take into account before deciding on post length in this post, but asserts that substance is the most basic consideration. “What are you trying to say? What’s the substance? If you can say it in 100 words, then you may want to do so. If it requires 2,000 words, that’s fine too,” he says.

It all comes down to content. Good, useful content that people enjoy reading. Write enough to be useful, then stop.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen short-form do well? Or are you more of a long-form writer? I’d love to hear in the comments.