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8 Ways to Find Trending Topics and Key Words

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

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

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

Where to find trending topics and keywords for your blog

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

1. Twitter

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

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

2. Google Trends

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

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

3. Social Mention

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

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

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

4. Keyhole

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

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

5. Agorapulse

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

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

6. Buzzfeed

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

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

7. Reddit

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

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

8. Topsy

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

This is a guest contribution from Julia McCoy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Blog for SEO: 6 Takeaway Tips

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

1. Create quality content

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

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

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

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

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

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

3. Solve your readers’ problems

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

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

4. Make it evergreen

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

5. Use long tail Keywords

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

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

6. Use CTAs to collect emails

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

3 Tactics for Building Quality Links to Your Blog

For when you're stuck in the "I must publish new content on my blog every day" cycle: three things to try to build quality links back to your site using the content you already have. Click through to read the whole post on ProBlogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Alex Ivanovs.

Links remain as one of the most important assets for building a Google search presence. Many know that the Google Panda algorithm update was a tipping point for recognizing authoritative sites.

Having a page of your website at the top of the search result page can have a significant increase in CTR (Click-Trough Rate), and a recent study shows the difference between the first position (CTR: 31.2%) and second (CTR: 14%) is 17.2% — that’s twice as much organic traffic for first position than it is for second, and the only way to keep climbing to the top result is by being persistent with building quality links.

We live in a time where content marketing is being recognized as superior towards organic link building, but new bloggers can quickly become overwhelmed with the idea of having to spend countless hours building high-quality content; without the assurance that it is going to perform well. It can also take a long time to see results from organic traffic resulting from organic search results. In order to get a foothold in what is already a saturated market, it can be beneficial to work harder to rank higher in the early days, rather than relying solely on the “great content” method.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t spent nearly as much time building links as I have optimizing my content and making sure that it gets in front of the right people. The way I see it, all you need is a dozen good posts and the determination to work with these posts consistently to ensure that they’re the most evergreen, most up-to-date posts available at any given time.

Here are my top three tactics for utilizing existing content to build high-quality links.

#1: Repurpose Your Existing Content

Repurposing means recycling your existing content into new formats that can further enhance the the learning experience. The idea that we have to write fresh content 100% of the time is ludicrous – if that was the case then only a handful of writers and bloggers would be able to keep up with such a way of producing content. It’s not efficient, and nor is it totally necessary.

Anyone with a few posts on their blog already has all they need to repurpose their content. The following are some of the most notable ways of repurposing your existing content:

  • Slides — Any blog post, presentation or research paper can be repurposed into a unique PowerPoint slideshow that you can upload to SlideShare and expose to its vast audience.
  • PodcastsJeff Bullas has been repurposing his content into podcasts for years, at the end of each published post, he submits a recorded audio file (podcast) of the content he has written. You may also want to explore the option of starting your own podcast; listen to ProBlogger’s podcast for tips and inspiration!
  • Infographics — Infographics are informative, concise, visually appealing, and often more convenient to consume than text content. With a little thought and creativity, you could convert any blog post into an infographic, and you don’t need to be a designer either, tools for creating infographics on the fly are plentiful.
  • eBooks — Interviews and series posts are some of the best types of content to repurpose into an eBook, which you can then either sell, give away for free, or use to generate email subscribers.
  • Images — Quotes, insightful statements, and data presentation are some of the aspects from a blog post that can be turned into an image. It’s very often that other bloggers and media sites look for specific visual content that reflects useful data.
  • Videos — Webinars, podcasts, and even blog posts can be repurposed into video tutorials and guidance videos. Derek Halpern was able to build a huge following to his blog Social Triggers thanks to being dedicated to creating video content on YouTube.
  • Q&A Sites — James Altucher has over 3 million views on his Quora answers in the last 30 days. That’s an astonishing number, and huge potential for building new followers to himself, and his blog. Q&A sites are an incredibly potent way to repurpose your content into concise answers and tips, and Quora is known to be very forgiving towards links and self-promotion.

Now that you look at it, that’s seven different ways that we can repurpose a single piece of content into a different format, yet keep its flavor and usefulness. And we can do this for all of or blog posts, articles, guides, research papers, all of them. The more invested we are in repurposing our content, the more likely it is to come across bloggers, journalists and people who will happily give back by sharing, promoting and ultimately; linking back.

#2: Talk About Your Content

Have any of your posts in the recent few months performed above average? Have any of your posts attracted a higher number of organic visitors than usually? What about the number of comments? This is called popular and/or trending content. You have created something that answers peoples questions, and curiosity.

Sadly most bloggers leave their most popular content as it is, the idea of it performing well is satisfactory enough that they don’t consider exposing this content to more eyes in order to attract discussion and eventually links.

Updating old content with fresh ideas and perspectives has long been known as a reliable technique for attracting new readers, but one thing people look forward the most in a piece of content is the ability to be challenged into an action that can spur meaningful results.

As we update our old content, we can use the number of repurposing techniques that we have already discussed, putting emphasis on adding insightful quotes, images, and other visual data; which makes for a more appealing reading experience, and an increased chance of having your content shared on social media.

We can talk about our content by promoting it on our own blog, whether by using ‘Sticky Post’ features, or by linking to it from our sidebar, we are in charge of what we want our readers to know about.

Once you have identified a popular post, updated it with new data and imagery, it’s time to syndicate it with some of the most popular communities on the web:

  • MediumMedium is a blogging platform that syncs with your Twitter followers. Anyone who is on Medium and is also your Twitter follower will be notified by any new posts you publish with Medium. This is a great way to talk about the ideas that you are discussing in your original content and lead new readers towards it.
  • InboundInbound is an online marketing community that focuses on sharing links marketing, growth, and research. The leading online marketing experts hang out at this community, so highly valuable and insightful content is bound to be recognized and rewarded.
  • Growth HackersGrowth Hackers is a community of online marketers who focus on using creativity and data to grow their ideas. Sharing a unique technique for generating growth can potentially earn you dozens of high quality links.
  • RedditReddit is a well-known link sharing community that’s divided into thousands of unique sub-forums. Everyone must follow etiquette, which makes sharing your own content more difficult, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re sharing occasionally and sharing high-quality material.
  • BizSugarBizSugar is for small business bloggers who want to expose themselves to an audience that consists of bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. I have personally had great success with sharing content on BizSugar, and it’s a great way to connect with other dedicated bloggers.

As we continue to see an increase in the number of bloggers who wish to succeed, it’s more and more important to understand that in order to succeed with being recognized on these link submission sites, you have to take great care of your content and aim for providing value that will be hard to match by anyone else.

Personal stories, data driven research, unique ideas, and new approaches are all great post types that will without question generate comments and attraction to your content. If 9 out of 10 submissions didn’t get more than two comments, you’re definitely doing something wrong. It’s that easy to recognize.

#3: Relevant Email Outreach

More than a dozen resources have been mentioned in this insightful post, to think that I would not reach out to everyone mentioned, is to think that there’s no value in email outreach, and of course there is. Email outreach remains as one of the most direct ways of building relationships, attracting social shares, and if you’re lucky — snagging yourself some great links.

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Email marketing is also the only marketing method that can outperform social and search. Yet email outreach has been around for decades, and it’s the oldest known outreach method for job applicants, marketers, PR, business people, and the list goes on and on.

Neil Patel had this to say about building links with email marketing:

For every 100 emails you send out, at least five of them should be linking back to you. If you can’t get five of them to link back, it means you are doing one of the following things wrong:

You are emailing non-relevant sites.
You are emailing your competitors.
There is little to no substance to your website.
Your email copy isn’t compelling enough.

The most common mistake I see with email outreach these days is bloggers following a pre-built email template that has been ‘proven’ to be effective, when in fact that very template has been overused at least a thousand times, and there is only so many same emails a person can receive before he chooses to ignore them altogether.

A Good Email Outreach Template

Hi [name],

Greetings from this side of the World! A recent guest column of mine — tactics for building links — has just been published on ProBlogger, and as you might imagine I am reaching out to you because I wanted to make sure that you’re credited for helping me to make the post possible.

Your resource on [which resource to credit for] was invaluable in making the post happen. I would appreciate if you could give the post a quick overview and maybe throw in a seal of approval?

Please let me know if there’s anything you would like to add to the story.

Kind regards,
Alex

Sincerity, honesty, and straightforwardness is essential to capturing both attention and curiosity about what you want to share, and whenever we’re talking about giving someone props for the work they’ve done, the least they can do is see what you’re talking about.

A Bad Email Outreach Template

Greetings [name],

I noticed your blog today and one of your posts was really informative! I agree that [blah blah] is important. I am also blogging about [the topic he is blogging about], and we have so many similar ideas.

I was writing a blog post today and decided that one of your articles was great enough to link as a resource in my own post. You can see my post [here]. Do you think you could also link to one of my posts, or maybe send a social share?

It would help me to grow my blog, and I would be so grateful!

I know you must be busy and probably get a millions emails per day, but I hope you can help me out.

Thanks,
Alex

The tone, the writing style, the implication — it should be clear that this email is lacking professionalism, and is aimed purely at gaining personal value, almost in a ‘begging’ like mindset. The less professional we are with ourselves, the less professional we are going to be with others.

How are you going to use these tactics to build additional links for your blog? How will you repurpose your first piece of content?

Alex Ivanovs is a passionate writer who works in the field of technology, personal growth, and blogging. You can find his other work on SkillCode, and you can follow him on Twitter: @skillcode.

5 Sure-fire Ways to Avoid a Google Penguin Penalty

5 Sure-fire Ways to Avoid a Google Penguin Penalty (Which you REALLY don't want!) on ProBlogger.This is a guest contribution from Steve Ceaton.

So recently Gary Illyes from Google announced that hopefully by the end of 2015, Penguin updates will be carried out in real-time. Waiting for the next Penguin update has been the bane of many a website owners’ life, and getting hit with a penalty can cost thousands in lost revenue.

For those unaware, Google has two major algorithms that can penalize websites, and they’ve named them after two cute animals. Penguin and Panda. Far from being cute, these animals have put a countless number of websites out of business, and if you’re going to be a blogger you should acquaint yourself with them very carefully.

The Penguin algorithm is all about links pointing to your website from other websites. If the links are over optimised, from bad neighbourhoods, or just don’t ‘look’ right, then you could find yourself with a Penguin penalty. A penalty that will kill your positions on Google. To get out of a penalty you need to fix whatever’s triggered it, then wait up to 6 months or more for the next update to see if your website is now ‘Penguin free’. If not, then you have to try again and wait another 6 months, and so on and so on.

But, if Gary Illyes is true to his word, there could be hope on the horizon to recover much quicker. With real-time updates there’ll be no more waiting around for a refresh and we can see the results of fixes almost as soon as we apply them.

This is great news for website owners, but what can we do to avoid getting hit by a Penguin in the first place?

Here are some things you should do if you want to avoid a Penguin penalty.

1) Watch Your Blog Comments

We all love to be sociable, and it’s true if you want engagement on your blog you should frequently engage on other people’s blogs. This is commendable and perfectly reasonable, but if you’re a little too zealous with your commenting you could find a (not so cute) Penguin breathing down your neck.

When you submit a comment, you’re requested to add a name, email and web address. The blogging system will then turn your name into ‘anchor text’ and use it as a link back to your website.

If you add the same thing every time you post, you could find your anchor text ratio hitting dangerously high levels.

A study by MicroSiteMasters.com showed that every website hit by Penguin had over 60% of its anchor text the same. In this instance the anchor text was a ‘money’ keyword (e.g. web designer, SEO expert etc.), but you still need to err on the side of caution and ensure all your anchor texts are at least below 35%.

The highest percentage of anchor text would ideally be your brand name, or if you’re blog commenting you should use your actual name. But if you’re commenting a lot then it’s good to mix it up and use variations, so they aren’t all exactly the same.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule and you’ll find websites getting away with much higher anchor text ratios, but these type of websites usually have one thing in common: Trust.

2) Build Your Trust

If your website is trusted by Google you can get away with a multitude of sins. Rand Fishkin from Moz once famously invited spammers to hurt his Google rankings, but they failed because Moz is such a trusted website. But how do you build on trust?

Trust is an ethereal kind of thing that comes over time, but you can be proactive. Tools like Majestic SEO have their own Trust Flow indicators which are built using complicated algorithms that analyse backlinks. Generally they’re quite effective when it comes to sorting out the low from the high quality websites, and you can use these when assessing who to make ‘friends’ with.

For example if you’re going to comment on someone’s blog, give them a quick check on Majestic SEO first. If they have a low Trust Flow then you might not want them linking to your website. The more low quality links you have the less trusted you’ll be, so be selective on where you get your links. On the flip side, you can seek out websites that are high in Trust Flow and comment/engage with those. The higher your Trust Flow, the higher chance you have of becoming a trusted website, and the better chance you have of avoiding the dreaded Penguin penalty.

Worried about incurring a Google Penguin Penalty on the SEO of your blog? We've got 5 surefire ways of doing just that! On ProBlogger.net

3) Avoid ‘Active’ Link Building

John Mueller is a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, so when he speaks we should generally listen. John came out recently and said we should avoid active link building completely. Now this is a bit extreme, but actually good advice, especially for people new to SEO. It’s a known fact that your website needs links to improve its rankings on Google. So it’s all too easy to run around begging, stealing, borrowing links from anywhere and everywhere you can find. But this opens the door to low quality links and can leave you vulnerable to a Penguin update.

You should look at your content first and concentrate on building a website that’s the best, most resourceful and informative of its kind. People come first, not links, and as mentioned, trust is more important than links. So if you spend more time delivering excellent content and engaging real relationships via social media, and less time ‘actively building links’ then you should have a much better chance of success and avoiding any penalties.

4) Never, Ever Buy Links

This follows on from the last two points and should be a given, but it has to be said. Don’t buy links. If you do a little digging into the world of SEO you’ll soon find a multitude of link peddlers selling links in all shapes and sizes. They’ll come at you with testimonials and charts and tell you that these links are proven to increase rankings. For a newcomer it’s easy to get swayed by this kind of talk, but I can guarantee that the vast majority of websites hit by Penguin had paid for links at some point or other. The people that sell links aren’t bothered who they sell them to. They just want the money, and what might seem like a shortcut at the time will only shorten the life of your website when you get hit by a Penguin update.

5) Be Polite and Don’t Annoy SEOs

This may sound pedantic, but it could be the best advice you’ve ever been given. If like me you enjoy getting involved in forum discussions or groups on Facebook, it’s quite reasonable you’ll look for some SEO experts for advice. This is all well and good, until you find yourself in a flame war, arguing over some point about how links can’t hurt your website, or how link building is dead etc.

It only takes one disgruntled keyboard warrior, sat at home in his/her dressing gown to make a point by throwing a barrage of bad links at your website.

If you make enemies in the wrong places it could kill your website before it’s even started. Tread very carefully when speaking to groups of SEOs, as they all have access to links that can damage your website. If you see an argument brewing then run for the hills. Negative SEO is very real and in certain niches highly prevalent, so it’s best to fly under the radar until you have enough trust to withstand an attack.

Summary

Basically a Penguin penalty is caused by one of two things:

  • Anchor text ratio
  • Low quality links

If we stick to the points above we should have a good chance of avoiding a penalty and not losing our rankings on Google. If like Gary Illyes says, Penguin updates are to be carried out in real-time, and we do get hit by a penalty, at least we have a chance of addressing the problem quickly and hopefully recovering sooner.

Online success is a long term venture and there’s no quick fixes or shortcuts. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint and if Google has anything to say about it, you’ll never outrun a Penguin.


Steve Ceaton is a writer and blogger of SEO tips. Learn more about him here and connect with him on @SteveCeaton, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Using Google Analytics to Unlock the Secrets of your Blog’s Audience

loves-data-Benjamin-Mangold-Pro-blogger-post-v2This is a guest contribution from Benjamin Mangold of Loves Data.

Do you ever think Google Analytics is a bit overwhelming?

Do you ever get stuck on where to start?

If you’ve already logged into Google Analytics then you’ll know it provides an incredible amount of information which you can use to gain powerful insights into your blog’s audience. However, to really get the most out of your reports it’s important to understand what you’re looking at – so let’s jump in and walk though the most powerful reports and find out what things mean inside Google Analytics.

Keep It Simple

Today we’ll be jumping right into your reports, so if you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your blog I’d recommend you keep reading (so you get pumped about what you can do with the tool) and then at the end of the post you will find some resources to help you set up Google Analytics (these are useful if you already have Google Analytics but want to improve things further).

We’re also going to try and keep things simple, or in other words, I’m going to try to keep the technical jargon to a minimum. We’re going to focus on the core concepts and how to begin interpreting what you find in your reports. I’m happy to get technical in the comments, so head to the comments and say hello!

Bounce What? Bounce Rate!

Bounce Rate is a great way to understand how engaged people are on your blog (and even individual posts). It tells you the percentage of people who just view a single post (or page) when they come to your blog. For example, if only two people came to your blog and you had a bounce rate of 50%, then this would mean that one person only viewed a single post before leaving your blog, while the other person when on to view at least one more page.

It’s important to know that blogs will typically have a higher bounce rate than other types of websites (like a popular brand or a corporate website). This is because lots of people will come to read an individual post, absolutely love your content, but they get what they want and they leave your blog. So your blog might have an overall bounce rate of 60, 70, 80 or maybe even 90%. So you might be thinking – why would I want to use bounce rate then? Well, great question!

Even though your blog is likely to have a higher overall bounce rate you can still use bounce rate to identify pieces of content that are leading to higher levels of engagement. Plus you can check the bounce rate for particular posts based on if you are actually trying to get people to view another page.

Let’s say you have a post that includes a competition you are running and you are asking people to complete a form on that page which then sends people to a thank you page. In this case you will want to see a lower bounce rate within your reports for that particular page.

You will see Bounce Rate on the ‘Overview’ report within the ‘Audience’ section:

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And you will also see Bounce Rate for your individual posts (and pages) in the ‘Site Content’ reports within the ‘Behavior’ section:

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Sessions and Users

Now I said we wouldn’t get technical but understanding the difference between a session and a user is kind of critical. So let’s make this as painless as possible…

A session is reported when someone interacts with your blog. If someone reads an article on your blog, a pageview will be reported for the particular post someone reads (you will find this within the Site Content reports) and since they are interacting with your blog, a session will also be reported.

If they navigate to your homepage, then you will have another pageview, but it will continue to be included within the same session.

If that person leaves your blog and comes back tomorrow you will now have two sessions reported, and if they come back the day after you will have three sessions.

There are some other things that will increase session numbers – the most common is coming back to your blog using a different channel. For example if someone found your blog on Google, one session will be reported. If they then immediately click on a link from a Tweet to come to your blog then a second session will be reported because they’ve used another channel to find you.

Now what is a user? Well, thinking back to that person that came to your blog on three different days – you would have three sessions, however these three sessions would come from one user within your reports. So users is a more accurate way to understand the number of people reading your blog.

You might have noticed I said “more accurate” and not just “accurate”. This is because people can access your blog on their mobile, their laptop and their tablet. Google Analytics is pretty awesome, but it’s not a superhero, so each one of these devices (the mobile, laptop and tablet) will each show up as a separate user within your reports – so by default you would have three users for this scenario.

Are you with me? (#OMG I hope so! If you’ve got a question or need any of this clarified let me know in the comments!)

Here we can see Users, Sessions and Pageviews:

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When you look back at your historical data inside Google Analytics you will generally want to see your pageview, session and user numbers increasing. If they start to slide downward, then this can indicate that your blog is losing reach and it might be time to start looking at how you are attracting your audience and the types of content you’re posting.

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The example above shows that our traffic is increasing, so things are going well! For details on how to do this check out Darren’s post on the compare option within Google Analytics.

What’s The Value Of Your Content?

Within the Site Content reports you will find a column called Page Value. This is a really awesome thing to use because it shows you the dollar value of your different posts.

Now you might jump into your report and find a super boring zero – that’s okay, but let’s look at how you can start to use Page Value for great insights into your content.

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Page Value is only shown in your report if you’ve taken the time to set up at least one goal inside Google Analytics. For example, if you’re collecting email addresses on your blog then you will want to measure that as a goal within Google Analytics. By setting up the goal you will be able to easily report on the number of people signing up to receive your email updates and you will also be able to make use of Page Value.

So what is Page Value?

Let’s say you’ve set up your goal and assigned the goal a dollar value of $5 for every person that completes the goal. Now someone views your blog’s homepage, then reads an individual post and converts for that goal. The value of the goal ($5) will be taken and divided between the posts (and pages) that they viewed leading to the conversion. This means each page will be assigned a dollar value and when we head to our reports we can see the average value for each of our pages.

This means that you will be able to quickly identify your most important content based on the value that it’s creating. You can then generate more content based on the type of content that is already delivering value. Pretty cool huh!

The idea of defining a value to your goals might be a little bit confusing at first. There are few ways you can do this, the simplest way is just to assign a symbolic dollar value – just make one up! For example, if you were using goals to measure email signups and people commenting, then you might assign $5 to email signups and $2 to people commenting. You would want to assign a higher value to email signups since they are more valuable because you can send updates and other promotional messages.

Goals For Your Blog

There are lots of options for setting up goals to measure the success of your blog. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Email subscribers
  • Competitions
  • Contact forms
  • Clicks on email links
  • People commenting
  • Downloads (PDFs, eBooks, etc.)
  • Engaged audience members
  • Members login area
  • Embedded videos

Take some time and list out as many goals as possible. Once you have them, it’s time to assign each goal a value and configure your goals within Google Analytics. In most cases you should be able to configure the goal yourself, but if you have a highly customized blog, you might need help getting things up and running. (If you’re on WordPress, then take some time to explore the plugin you are using. The better plugins allow you to automatically track things like downloads and videos which will make setting up much easier!)

If you’re selling online, then you will want to use Google Analytics to track your ecommerce transactions. Ecommerce data will also be used to calculate your Page Value.

Setting Up Goals

There are three different types of goals you can configure inside Google Analytics. The most common is a destination goal – this is basically where you want to get people to a particular page on your blog. In most cases you should only use this for thank you pages – like after people sign up for your email updates, or after they complete your contact form.

In order to setup a destination goal you will need to travel through the steps on your blog and note down the URLs. You can then configure the goal within the ‘Admin’ section of Google Analytics. Here is an example of a goal configured to measure people signing up for email updates:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 5.24.53 pm

You can also configure goals based on Events that you are already measuring. Events are more advanced – they allow you to measure custom interactions like people watching videos.

The final option is to configure goals based on engagement. You can create a goal for people viewing a certain number of pages or spending a certain amount of time on your blog.

We’re not going to get into detail about Event tracking or configuring all the different types of goals today, but if you are interested there’s a quick post on setting them up.

What Do People Want?

Knowing what to write for your next post can cause a mental block (or maybe that’s just me), but next time you are stuck and need inspiration for your next post you should jump into your Google Analytics reports. You can of course make use of the Site Content reports, but if you offer a search function on your blog you can use Google Analytics to understand what people are actively looking for on your blog.

Unfortunately the Site Search reports are not automatic – you do need to configure Google Analytics to use them, but in most cases this is pretty straightforward. The best option is to perform a search on your blog and look at the URL in your browser. If you’re on WordPress then you will probably see something like myblog.com/?s=this+blog+rocks (if you searched for ‘this blog rocks’). If you’re not on WordPress or have a custom setup, then you might see something a little different to this. That’s okay, there are other ways to setup the Site Search reports.

Let’s say we saw the URL of myblog.com/?s=this+blog+rocks – in this case we can head to the ‘Admin’ area of Google Analytics, then select ‘View Settings’ under the ‘View’ column on the right and enable Site Search, so it should look like:

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Now Google Analytics works its magic and you will begin to see the search terms people are looking for on your blog within the Site Search reports (within ‘Behavior’):

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 5.26.04 pm

This is a brilliant report – think about it: people are actually taking the time to type in exactly what they are looking for on your blog! It’s amazing!

You can use the Site Search report to identify topics for your next post and also identify potential issues in your navigation. For example, if lots of people are searching for “advertise”, then maybe they are looking for details about how they can advertise on your blog. You could then think about adding a page or highlighting your contact details in your blog’s layout.

I’d love to hear how you’re using Google Analytics to improve your blog – let me know in the comments!

Benjamin Mangold co-founded Loves Data, a digital agency helping people understand how to get the most out of digital analytics and online marketing. Get his free Google Analytics course and his new book ‘Learning Google AdWords and Google Analytics’ and take your skills to the next level.

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your Blog

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your BlogThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

People are always talking about how SEO affects the quantity and quality of traffic your blog receives, but you’ll rarely hear local SEO discussed in terms of blogging. Most people feel like local SEO is reserved for physical businesses, but your blog could also benefit from some strategic tweaks and adjustments.

Understanding Local SEO

Local SEO is essentially a sub-segment of search engine optimization that focuses on enhancing local visibility within a specific geographical market. By following certain tips and including specific data and information, pages can rank higher in these markets. While you may want to hire an SEO company that’s skilled at local search engine optimization, there are some important things worth knowing if you’re considering local SEO for your blog.

  1. Domain authority. While there are a lot of different nuances to local SEO, one thing doesn’t change: the importance and significance of domain authority. The strength of your blog – in the eyes of the search engines – directly impacts local and organic rankings. Some of the factors that go into determining domain authority include the age of the website and the number/quality of links pointing to the website. Domain authority is constantly being updated to reflect changes and developments, so it’s important to keep an eye on this aspect of SEO.
  2. Accurate NAP info. The biggest issue for blogs – if they aren’t directly connected to a physical business – is the challenge of listing accurate contact information. Local SEO depends on this to verify location and geographically organize search results for users. NAP stands for “name, address, and place” and it’s an important factor for local searches. If at all possible, it’s helpful to secure a local phone number and mailing address for your blog.
  3. Local content. Google pays a lot of attention to the keywords and topics you discuss on your blog. While you should avoid keyword stuffing, it’s helpful to include valuable local content on your blog. By discussing topics that are rich in local keywords, you’ll naturally enhance your local SEO efforts.
  4. According to the 2015 Survey of Local Search Ranking Factors, the fourth most important localized organic factor is the click-through-rate of your search results. In other words, when users do click your SERPs, are they bouncing or sticking around for more? The only way to ensure users click through is to offer valuable content that answers questions and provides fresh insights.
  5. Domain wording. If you have a geographic keyword in your domain name, you have a much better chance of ranking for that location. This isn’t possible for every blog, but it is something worth considering when launching. If you can’t get the geographic keyword in the domain name itself, consider including it in as many titles and headers as you can.

While local SEO is designed for pointing users to local businesses and services in their area, bloggers should also be paying attention to these techniques. By studying some of the ranking factors and understanding what goes into local SEO, it’s possible that you can enhance your blog’s visibility.

The Inverse Relationship

On a related note, it’s pretty interesting to study the inverse relationship between blogging and local SEO. While up until this point we’ve discussed how local SEO tweaks can impact your blog, it’s important to note that blogging can also impact local SEO for physical businesses. We’re at a point where many local businesses are investing in blogging, but very few are doing it well. By mastering blogging and giving it the attention it needs to thrive, a business can really excel in this area.

The biggest thing blogging does for local SEO is attract relevant traffic. By writing timely, local content that pertains to a particular geographical market, you can encourage natural back linking and sharing. This is how you begin building organic traffic.

Looking at the Big Picture

Whichever angle you look at it from, blogging and local SEO are intertwined. Local SEO impacts a blog’s visibility and quality of traffic, and a company’s blog can directly impact local SEO efforts.

It’s a very real, tangible relationship that all bloggers and business owners need to be aware of. By looking at the big picture and understanding this connection, you can better understand the value behind what you’re doing.

Do you pay much attention to local SEO?

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

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

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

Who doesn’t like more traffic?

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

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

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

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

Use Relevant Long-tail Keywords

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

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

Things have changed.

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

But there’s a twist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create Longer and More In-Depth Blog Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Intelligently Promote and Amplify Existing Blog Content

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

There are several ways you can do that.

  • Promote Archive Content on Social Media

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

  • Optimize Conversion Routes

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

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

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  • Link Back to Your Older Content Using Natural Anchors

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

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

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

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

Five Essential Steps to Removing a Google Manual Penalty

This is a guest contribution from Nick Chowdrey.

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

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

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

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

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

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

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

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

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

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

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

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

1. Link discovery

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

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

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

2. Link classification

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

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

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

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

3. Manual link amendment

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

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

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

4. Submitting a disavow request

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

domain:<domainurl>

domain:<domainurl>

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

<pagelink>

<pagelink>

5. Submit a reconsideration request

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

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

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

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

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

3 Tips for Accelerated Blog Growth & Online Visibility

This is a guest contribution from Robert Kramers.

Discouraged with the amount of traffic your blog attracts? Maybe you’re looking for ways to engage more readers, build more business and build a loyal following?

Understanding a few effective strategies can help you attract the readers you want and get them to share your content, grow your readership and increase your overall visibility.

Here are the three super-effective blogging strategies for building your reputation online.

Find Blog Topics you Know have a Proven Record

The trick to publishing content that people share, is to base the content on something that has already worked in the past.

You can take a lot of the guesswork out of publishing content by researching what people have already enjoyed and improving on it.

Hereís a few ways you can do this:

Method #1: Examine a successful competitor

One of the best ways to work out what’s popular on a competitors website is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer.

Let’s say you are in the social media industry and you’re looking for a topic for which you want to maximize the chance of success. You could throw a competitors home page URL into OSE, and view the top pages of their website.

  • Step #1: Find competitor who ranks well in Google search:

 

 

 

 

  • Step #2: Enter their home page URL into OSE

ose-search

  • Step #3: Click the ‘top pages’ link to the left of the page (pictured)

top-pages

  • Step #4: Scan the list of top pages on the website. You will often find some of their most popular blog posts in among the top few pages.

scan-results

Top pages in OSE are based on the authority of the page, which incorporates a number of signals including links from other websites and social signals.

In about 40 seconds of searching, I managed to find: 7 Mobile Marketing Stats that Will Blow Your Mind, which has a heap of social shares, tweets and Facebook ‘likes’ to go with it… It’s popular!

You now have a topic which you know people are interested in. Can you make it better? Add additional information or images? Rinse and repeat for other competitors and you’ve got a solid strategy for creating content you know people love.

Method #2: Work out whatís HOT using Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a tool which scans the web for content which has the highest number of social shares, based on keywords you type in to the search.

  • Step #1: Search for your topic

step1-buzz

  • Step #2: Scan the results and find popular topics

search-results

Enter more keywords in the search and find a gold mine of topics which have a proven record of success. All you need to do now is make it better, and get it in front of people. Theyíll share it!

Pro Tip: Find out who currently links to your competitors content and show them your more advanced and improved version. Chances are, they’ll either share or link to your content.

Blog Post Titles Matter HUGELY

A great headline can help your content stand out among the information overload. It tells your readers why they need to read your article and why it should be read now, rather than put in the ever-growing stack.

A compelling headline convinces a potential reader that your content is valuable and that theyíll get something out of the effort they put in.

Use effective verbs, and adjectives amplify the effect of your blog post title. You can test some of the common headline structures to see what works best with your audience.

Include keywords in your blog post title to help with your search engine rankings.

Unsure about which keywords? This guide might help.

Adding keywords to your headline is not just good for helping your website show up in Google, but it is also a proven method of increasing the click through rate (CTR) of your search engine snippet.

According to this, if I searched for “social marketing tips” in Google, I would be more likely to click this result (highlighted), than those below it because it’s a closer match to what I initially searched.

Aside from that, it has the most intriguing headline also.

google-twitter

Pro Tip: Make sure to include your popular keywords in your headline, to ensure your blog post has a better chance of ranking for related searches.

Deliver Great Content that Engage the Reader

In the past, obtaining visibility in search engines for your website was achievable with a few simple “SEO techniques”.

However, times have changed.

Google is more advanced and the number of shortcuts have significantly decreased. Search engines are getting better at analysing actual social signals, including shares, re-tweets, and links to your content.

Search engines use this information to determine where your content fits on the continuum of popularity and quality.

“Create something worth sharing and people will share it”.

In order to get this “social currency”, you need to provide something that readers actually want to read and share with people they know.

Blog posts that provide answers, advice, and inspiration to readers consistently generate traffic and can become cornerstones of a successful blog. And when you solicit your readersí, create discussion and get opinions you get them involved with creating and improving your content.

Specifically, consider these types of posts to engage and increase readership:

Craft Useful Answers to Specific Questions

Readers appreciate posts that provide real answers.

Present a solution or range of solutions that have gotten results, and then ask readers for their feedback. Any responses you get back will strengthen your post and help drive traffic. You may get positive and negative responses to your original answer and hopefully some additional creative solutions that readers can try.

Pro Tip: Reverse engineering common questions is a great strategy in itself for finding new blog topics.

Objective Advice / Shared Results

If youíve had success solving a problem, starting a new venture, or meeting a particular goal, share it.

Offer advice based on where you ran into problems or made mistakes. The goal is to provide inspiration to your readers and to make their path easier.

This type of content can add to your credibility as a blogger in addition to driving traffic. It puts you in the position of being the expert and gains the trust of your readers, especially if they are able to replicate your success based on the template you provide.

What strategies do you use to resonate with your readers and drive blog traffic?

Robert Kramers is an SEO consultant at Found SEO. Want to learn more about increasing your website traffic? Sign up to his newsletter or follow him on Twitter.