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Heavyweight Help: The Complete Guide to Getting Started on Pinterest

Do you lie in bed at night dreaming of getting a link from some high-profile blog like ProBlogger that would send you thousands of visitors and give your blog the exposure you need to take it to the next level?

I’d rather have Pinterest.

Pins

Image by hydropeek, licensed under Creative Commons

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to have Darren share a link with his audience to one of my photography marketing posts. However, the reality is that you’ll get far more traffic, exposure, and income from Pinterest, regardless of your niche.

I believe that blogs in any niche, not just DIY crafty blogs, are missing out on huge amounts of traffic and exposure if they are ignoring Pinterest. If you want to see your blog grow in leaps and bounds in 2013, you’ve got to pay attention to Pinterest.

Pinterest has been a huge part of the reason that my 22-month old blog that shares business and marketing tips for photographers has grown large enough and profitable enough to have replaced our entire household income.

One post alone, which was intentionally optimized for Pinterest, has been shared over 11,500 times and made over five figures of income in the last 6 months alone. I’ll tell you more about it and why it was so successful in a moment, so keep reading.

Because I want to make sure that you fully understand the power of Pinterest, I’m going to start with the very basics before digging into the good stuff that will get you the blog success you’re looking for.

Honestly, if you’re short on time and don’t want to join another social network, you don’t have to have a profile and can simply read about how to make your blog more likely to be pinned. However, at least read through the basics and info about using Pinterest accounts so that you have a better understanding of what’s going on and how to apply that to your blog.

Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  • What is Pinterest?
  • Why care about Pinterest?
  • Basics of using Pinterest
  • Strategies for using your Pinterest account
  • Get your pins maximum exposure
  • Get more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
  • Pinterest tools for bloggers

So let’s dive right in.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking site with a strong sharing structure.

Anatomy of a Pin

People “pin” photos or videos with links back to their original sources onto “boards” and a “description” that shows under neat the photo or video. These pins are then shown on the main Pinterest page, from newest to oldest, to all of the followers of that person.

Pinterest's Hover options

If someone sees a pin that they think is interesting, they can hover over the image and choose to “repin” it directly to one of their boards, or they can “like” it or “comment” on it.

Embedded video on Pinterest

When videos are pinned, they can be viewed from right within Pinterest. It’s a great way to grow your YouTube presence and get more viewers.

Who uses Pinterest and what do they use it for?

Pinterest users are mostly women, who trust it more than Facebook or Twitter, although there are a growing number of men on the site.

Pinterest is a place where people dwell on the life they’ve always longed for and where they collect inspiring or useful morsels of information that make their life better. They plan their weddings, imagine their dream homes, long for their ideal wardrobe and collect snippets of inspiration that encourage them to be a better person. A person’s Pinterest boards are a collection of what they they wish they were, so it can be a very powerful place to market your business.

Why care about Pinterest?

Traffic

Pinterest can bring a lot of traffic to your blog, which you can then convert into subscribers and buyers. It drives more traffic than Google+, Linkedin, and YouTube combined, more traffic than Twitter, and Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.

The thing that seems to set Pinterest apart from Facebook or Twitter is that there’s less conversation going on to get in the way of sharing links. Yes, you can leave comments and tag people on pins, but the focus is much greater on sharing, making this the perfect platform for your posts to go viral.

Grow your business

Pinterest is a great place to strengthen your brand, and can be used for an “about me” board or if you have several staff or bloggers, you can pin a photo of each person with a description and a link to learn more about them on an About us page on your blog. Create boards that would appeal to your ideal readers and they’ll feel a stronger affinity towards your blog.

It’s easy to promote your products, do market research, and provide resources to your current community. It’s even a great place to find ideas of things to blog about, particularly if you’re in the craft, DIY, food, or fashion niches (although any niche could find ideas on Pinterest).

Basics of using Pinterest

Now that you’ve heard about all the benefits of Pinterest, let’s dive into the mechanics of how to use it.

Getting started

Business profile or personal profile?

Pinterest allows you to create either a personal account or a business account. While they work the same way, you’ll have to decide which one fits your situation best.

Pinterest Boards and Profile

Number 1 imageYou’ll start by setting up your profile. Add an image and description of yourself or your blog and link to your various sites. You can put a URL in the description, but it will display as text and not as an actual link unless you verify your website through Pinterest.

You’ll also be selecting a username that will be part of your Pinterest URL, so you may choose to use specific keywords here for better SEO if you’re setting it up for your business instead of as your name.

Number 2 imageRight under your visible profile, you’ll see a menu with your stats and where you can choose to view your boards, pins, or likes or view the information behind the stats. By clicking on “Followers” you can see the people who are following you and decide if you’d like to follow them back or not. You can also edit your profile or change the order of your boards using the middle button.

Number 3 imageThis displays your various boards. This is the default view that people see when they visit your profile, so it’s important that you put the boards you most want them to see first. As most of my readers are photographers, I put some of the boards I’ve created as resources for them first and foremost. You can also hover over the board cover and edit it to be a different pin as the large image, otherwise it defaults to the most recently pinned image for that board. You can also reposition the image if you so desire.

There’s also the option to create collaborative boards, where you can invite other people to pin on that board as well. You’ll see this option when you’re setting up individual boards.

In addition, you can create three private boards that you share with people. These boards will not show up for other people when they view your profile, and the pins will not show up in your feed. You can share this with other people who will be able to add to the board. You can change a private board to a public board, but once a board has become public it can no longer be made private. Public boards cannot be made private.

Number 4 imageThis menu is where you can manually add pins and learn more about Pinterest and the tools they offer. If you select the menu with your name, you have links to your boards, pins, and likes and you also can find and invite friends to join Pinterest. There’s also a link to goodies here that lets you install a Pin it button on your browser’s bookmark bar that lets you pin any image and YouTube videos that you see online while browsing.

The Pinterest homepage

By clicking on the Pinterest logo, you’ll be taken to the main page, which is much like the newsfeed on Facebook.

Pinterest Main Page

This is where you’ll see pins from the people you are following. Pins are shown from newest (top) to oldest (bottom), and there’s no algorithm for how pins are ranked. They simply appear based on time.

From here, you can repin the pins you see onto your boards, or you can like the pins or comment on them.

You can also use the links at the top under the Pinterest logo to show everything being pinned at the moment (or everything in a certain category), only videos, popular pins, and gifts by price.

Other useful things to know

To add a price tag to your pins, simply put the price in the description.

A gift price tag

You can tag people in your posts by adding the “@” before their name. You must be following at least one of their boards to tag them, however.

Finally, there’s much discussion online about how using the hashtag before words will help you show up better in the search rankings when people search on Pinterest. However, this is not true in most of the searches I have done.

Using the # before a word only creates a link to a search for that word or for other pins also tagged with that specific hashtag. So if you use “#food” in your description, it takes you to the search results for “food” or “#food” and doesn’t rank you better in general.

16 Strategies for using your Pinterest account

The best way to use your Pinterest account is to share lots of content that complements your own content. Yes, you can share your own stuff, but make sure there’s lots of helpful things from other people there as well. It’s one of the best ways to get loyal followers who love your pins.

So, what kinds of things should you pin? How do you make the most of your Pinterest account?

1. Pin resources for your commmunity

My audience is mainly photographers, so I have several posing boards and boards with business advice (both from my blog and from others’ blogs).

For my wedding photography clients, I pin lots of wedding inspiration ideas: decorations, venue ideas, DIY wedding projects, cakes, rings, you name it. The possibilities are endless.

A great way to find good content for your boards is to use the search from within Pinterest to find popular pins of a certain topic and simply repin them to your own boards. Super simple and fast.

2. Customize boards for individual clients

If you’re a graphic designer, create a collaborative board where both you and your client can pin inspiration. If you sell real estate, create boards with home listings for specific clients that fit what they’re looking for in a home.

3. Sell stuff

Post images of things you sell and link back to your sales page. Add the price to the description using currency symbols to have it show up in the corner.

4. Offer coupons and promotions using Pinterest

Create a coupon or sales board where you list current promotions for your audience to see.

5. Create round-up boards on a certain topic

Go through your blog archives and create pins of your favorite content within a certain category. Then promote this board on your blog. Not only will you get extra traffic, you’ll get people digging into your archives and reading some of your best content.

6. Do a Pinterest contest or scavenger hunt

Have people search your blog for specific posts and images and pin them to a board. Then, leave a link to that board somewhere in order for the pinners to be entered into a contest. Or, have them search through your own boards and repin your own pins.

7. Network with other pinners in your niche or field

Since I’m a photographer, Pinterest is a great way for me to showcase other wedding vendors and tag them in the pins so that they can see the images of the products they provide.

Promoting other vendors or bloggers in your field is a great way to get their attention and start building relationships.

8. Create a community or collaborative board

Ask your readers to volunteer to create a board on a specific topic with pins from around the web. It will build loyalty to your brand and help readers identify more strongly with your business.

9. Find inspiration for your business

Have writer’s block? Search Pinterest to see what popular things in your niche are being pinned. If you’re a designer, check out popular designs in your field. Note what other pinners in your field are doing, and see what kinds of boards get them the most followers.

10. Create a review board

Have a board of reviews of various products that your audience would find helpful. If you sell your own product, collect reviews about it on a board as well.

11. Testimonial board

Much like the review board, except that you can put an image of the product up with the testimonial in the description. Bonus points for tagging the testimonial writer in your description. This is also a great place to put client success stories.

12. Grow your email list by pinning your free resource

If you offer a free resource in exchange for signing up to your list, Pinterest can be a great way to get more exposure. People love free things and tend to repin them like crazy if they’re really great resources.

13. Behind the scenes

Create a board showing the behind-the-scenes workings of your business and give people the feeling that they’re an insider if they follow your board.

14. Cover an event “Live” via Pinterest

Pin images from a live event to encourage people to follow you and bring more exposure to your event.

15. Create supplemental material boards

If you teach workshops or do online webinars, create a board with supplemental content and resources on it for your attendees to explore.

16. Learn more about your community

Follow several of your readers to learn more about their interests and what appeals to them. It’s a great way to see what they really dream of and long for in life and business.

Get your pins maximum exposure

Now that you’ve got all these awesome ideas to implement, here’s a few extra tips to make sure that your pins get maximum exposure.

The best time to post on Pinterest

According to Pinerly, the best times to post on Pinterest are between 2pm-4pm EST and again from 8pm-1am EST.

Optimize your pins and boards

Always write good descriptions. Use words that people might search for in the search bar to make your pin or board more likely to be found.

Use calls to action in descriptions to help encourage people to do what you want them to do. Want them to repin or comment? Want them to click through to the post? Ask them to. One call to action per pin is best.

To encourage engagement on your pins and increase the chance of them becoming popular, ask questions and tag people using the @ symbol to help get more comments.

You can put links inside the descriptions, but remember that these links are no-follow links.

Unlike Facebook, people are more likely to repin than to comment on a pin. Leaving comments on pins is a great way to stick out, gain exposure, and gain followers. Thoughtful comments on other peoples’ pins can go a long way, especially if you also tag someone else in it and get them engaged as well.

Getting lots of comments, repins, and likes quickly is the best way to get a pin to show up on the Popular tab of the main page and show up higher in the Pinterest search results, so you want to do everything you can to encourage interaction with your pins.

Make sure that all your pins go back to the original source of the image and not to a Google images page or to a blog homepage that will be updated and no longer relevant once the image falls below the most recent content.

When you create your boards, give them good descriptions and categorize them for the highest chance of getting extra exposure to them.

Share your pins on Facebook and Twitter

Pinterest automatically integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so get more exposure for your pins by also sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.

Getting more traffic to your blog using Pinterest

So how do you get people to start pinning your content so that you can get a piece of this traffic that you’ve heard so much about? Here are several things you can do to encourage people to pin your stuff.

Put an image in every single post you write

Pinterest is all about images. No image = no one pins your stuff. I know that it’s annoying to have to take the extra time to add images, but if you want Pinterest traffic, you have to do it.

I have found that Dreamstime has a decent selection of free commercial-use stock images that you can use, and you can always scour Flickr and other sites for images that have a Creative Commons usage license attached to them. I’ve found that these sites take a lot longer to sort through and often throw up low-quality images.

So what kind of images work best?

Beautiful, eye-catching images that are bright and appeal to emotions tend to do better than other images. Many of the popular pins are simply cute animals, particularly puppies.

Adding text to your images can increase engagement several times over. I personally like to add the name of my blog title to my image to encourage people to click through and see what it’s about. This both increases engagement and helps you to attract people who will click through to read the content. I suggest using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Gimp (which is a free download) to put text on your images.

Simple text-only quotes also work extremely well. Short words with few syllables and simple and understandable quotes do best.

This mini-tutorial image that summarizes a longer more-detailed post about how to shoot Christmas tree lights has been pinned over 35,000 times in less than two months and incorporates images, text, and valuable content that gets shared like crazy on Pinterest. This is an example of why I believe Pinterest is more valuable than a single link share from a big blog.

How to shoot christmas tree lights

Image used with permission

Still want more ideas about how to make sharable images for Pinterest? See this three-step guide to creating Pinterest-friendly graphics for your blog.

Put Pin it links in your captions

If you’ve updated to WordPress 3.4 or higher, you can now put links in your captions. Use the Pin it button creator to get the link you need to insert a Pin it button into your captions.

There are also Pinterest plugins that will do this for you automatically. I’ll list some of them in the tools section below.

Pin your landing pages

By sending people to your landing pages, you’ll help retain some of the traffic you get from Pinterest—and you can guide them through your sales or content funnel. This tends to help retain readers more effectively than through traffic to random pages that may not convert readers to followers as easily.

Use infographics

If you’ve got statistics to share, infographics are very popular on Pinterest. Infogr.am is a great free tool for making your own infographics that look amazing.

Protect your copyrighted images and graphics

If you are a photographer or graphic designer, add a watermark to any images you post on your site. This way, people will know the source of the image even if a pinner doesn’t link directly to the place you’ve posted it on your website.

If you do not want people to pin content from your website at all, you can add the following code to the header section of your site. It prevents people from pinning images from your site:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin">

You can put this on specific pages or posts or apply it to your entire site. While this will protect your images, you’ll lose out on huge potential for traffic and exposure if you do, so I do not recommend it.

Add Pin it buttons to your posts

Adding Pin it buttons to your posts makes it easy for readers to pin your content. You can use the free Pin it button creator to make each button individually, or use one of the plugins listed below to add it automatically—and make things easier on yourself.

Make it easy for people to follow you on Pinterest

Get your own “Follow me on Pinterest” button in the Goodies section of Pinterest. Put this in your sidebar, on your about page, and anywhere else you’d like to invite people to follow you. Here’s what one of them looks like:

Follow me button

You can also grab the URLs from your boards and link to them directly so that people can follow the boards that are most relevant to them.

Pinterest tools

Here’s a list of various Pinterest tools that you may find helpful.

  • Pin Count: See the pin count for a specific page or post on your blog. Just enter your URL.
  • See recent pins from your site: Want to see what people are pinning from your site in general? Go to www.Pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ to see. For example, to see what people are pinning on ProBlogger you’d type in http://pinterest.com/source/problogger.net It doesn’t show you everything, but it will show you several recent pins if they exist.
  • Pinerly: Track your pins to see which perform the best and which of your boards and pins are most popular. The Pinerly Blog is also one of my favorite places to get information about what works best on Pinterest.
  • PinReach: This service gives you a Pinterest influence score similar to an Alexa ranking for your blog, as well as showing you most popular pins, your most influential followers, and other interesting information such as currently trending pins and users.
  • DIY Pinterest Analytics: If you’re super-geeky (like me) or want a very detailed way of tracking the ROI of your Pinterest campaigns, this three-part series will give you a great method for tracking the effectiveness of your pins. It’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to statistics! Most useful to people in corporate social media managing roles where you have to justify the usefulness of Pinterest to your business.
  • Pinterest “Pin It” Button Plugin: This is a free WordPress plugin that lets you select the default image and description to be displayed or let people select their own image. Lots of options that make this a great choice for bloggers. This is the plugin that I found works best on my marketing blog for photographers.
  • Pinterest WordPress Plugin by Tofurious: This Premium WordPress plugin automatically adds a Pin it button under every image in your posts and gives you the option to exclude specific images. It allows you to create a custom Pin it button (good for matching your current branding and creating direct calls to action) and allows you to insert a button at the top or bottom of posts as desired. It’s recommended for photographers, designers, food bloggers, DIY bloggers, and anyone with image-heavy content. Current price: $25.
  • Pretty Pinterest Pins Plugin: This one’s a free WordPress plugin that allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as large pins. Can be filtered to only show pins from a certain category, and gives you the option to add a Follow Me button as well.
  • Pinterest RSS Widget Plugin: This free WordPress plugin allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as small icons arranged in a grid. They can be filtered to show only pins from a certain category.
  • Wisestamp: Add a Follow me on Pinterest link, and links to other social media accounts at the end of your emails with this free tool.
  • Infogr.am: This service lets you create really great-looking infographics with ease, and is free.
  • Share as Image: Pin any quote as an image using this tool. There’s a simple free version, or a premium version for $6.99. It’s not necessary if you have photoshop or any other program that lets you create an image from text, but it’s handy and easy to use if you don’t have that capability.
  • Pinterest RSS Feed Direct Links: You can follow any Pinterest user using the following link: http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/feed.rss where you’d substitute jamiemswanson for the username you’d want to follow. You can also follow specific boards using the following URL (where you’d replace jamiemswanson with the username and blogging-resources for the board name you want to follow): http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/blogging-resources.rss

If you’re nerdy enough (and I say that in a loving way!) you could get creative with how you display pins on your site using the RSS feeds, but it’s easier to use one of the plugins above to do that for you if you’re not too picky.

So … does it work?

Yes. Yes it does.

Remember the post I mentioned earlier that has been pinned over 11,500 times and has made me over five figures of income alone on my young blog? Here’s exactly what happened.

The pinned post explains why I switched from delivering images to clients on DVDs to Flash Drives. That’s not super exciting, but it’s a solid post that explains my decision and addresses several hesitations that I know people have about switching over. It also contains an affiliate link to the company where I purchase my flash drives.

One of the hesitations I knew photographers would have was how to package them before sending them to their clients. So I took a few photos of my packaging to use as images in the post.

I used a few images in the post, but created a separate image that was tall, contained them all, and had the name of my post at the bottom of it. Tall images get more space in the Pinterest page, and the text told people that this was more than just images of packaging for flash drives.

I used the Pinterest “Pin It” Button plugin setting that let me select a custom default image (the tall Pinterest-optimized image I’d created) that people would pin when they clicked the Pin it button, instead of using the single images that were found in the post. While not everyone used those buttons to pin, many people did.

The image spread like wildfire on Pinterest. I got my highest day of traffic ever the day that post went live, and it came primarily from Pinterest.

Not only that, but the network continues to get me an average of over 300 pageviews per day—months later without any extra promotion from me. It’s almost entirely because of Pinterest pins. This results in constant income month after month simply from the extended exposure.

A link from a high-profile blog might get you a huge spike in traffic for a week or so, but I’ve never seen a link bring the long-term traffic that Pinterest can bring.

Have you tried Pinterest?

I want to hear your stories. Have you tried Pinterest, or are you still hesitating? If you’ve taken the plunge, which posts on your blog have received the most exposure from Pinterest? Why do you think they’ve been so successful? What hasn’t worked for you at all? Tell me about it below in the comments and let’s really dig in and share with each other.

But first, take a few seconds to pin this post and give ProBlogger a bit of a Pinterest boost. Let’s make 2013 the year of Pinterest for bloggers!

Contributing author Jamie M Swanson writes meaty posts about online marketing for photographers with easy-to-understand steps for totally rocking your business over at The Modern Tog. She is a Wisconsin Wedding Photographer who dreams of owning lots of land where her family can run and play and she can garden to her heart’s content.

Triple Your Facebook Likes in Two Weeks

This guest post is by Samuel of Internet Dreams.

Would you like some more cake after having a first slice?

Most of us wouldn’t be satisfied with just one slice of cake, so we end going back to the table and grabbing a second one. Heck, some of us would go for a third or fourth slice if we could!

For bloggers, the same goes for likes on Facebook. Facebook is like that party you want to go to—and it’s a big one since Facebook is the largest social network on the planet.

Most blog owners I know would love to get more likes on their Facebook pages.

Today, I want to share how I tripled my Facebook likes. This technique worked to help me get the Likes I wanted to see.

The right way to use Facebook ads to gain Likes

This technique is going to require some money, but it’s a small investment that’s worth every penny.

I’m a student that really doesn’t have much money at all.

But still, I can find a way to make the right investment for my blog. Just a small outlay—in my case, $5 a day—can propel your blog to new heights.

It helped me get thousands of new Likes for my Facebook page in a few weeks!

Let’s step through the best way to create an ad quickly, and use Facebook to target the people who are most likely to be interested in your blog.

4 Easy steps to tripling your Facebook Likes

Step 1. Create a new ad space in Facebook

First off, log into your Facebook account, look for the Ads option in the sidebar.

Create a new ad, and insert the URL to your Facebook page.

1. Choose the Get More Page Likes option

As you can see in the image below, there are several options you can take in order to grow your brand’s presence on Facebook.

get-more-page-likes

But for our purposes today, choose the first option. This can be one of the best ways to spend your money on Facebook!

2. Design your Facebook ad

edit-ad

This part needs to be well thought out, so take your time with it. Your ad is what all of those users will see—it needs to convince them to like your page.

Make the ad unique—something that will make users want to Like or check out your Facebook page. Consider your audience, and think about a message that will make them feel good about your brand or page.

I used the tagline “Want Your Dreams To Come True On The Internet?” It’s worked really well for me and has gotten the attention of many on Facebook.

3. Optimize your ad for the “right” people

choose-audience

What we want to do here is target the right people and get the most targeted Likes that we can.

Your topic or type of Facebook page might be different then what I chose, but take a look to see how each area is edited to best target my audience.

The arrows in the image above point out the most important areas that you need to edit.

Go over your blog and identify the most important keywords that you can use for the ad. Those keywords will be turned into topics that can be used as interest keywords.

Also, I like to target English-speaking countries since they seem the most responsive to my offers and updates.

4. Set up your money and budget for the ad

campaign-pricing

How much you spend is up to you. If you are looking to triple your likes in the shortest time possible, add as much money as you can to the campaign budget.

I personally started with a budget of $5 per day, which gave me a chance to see if the ad was performing at its best.

Also, set your pricing to Cost per Click, as this keeps it simple and ensured you’re only charged for user actions.

The $5-per-day budget has really worked for me, and let me triple my likes for Internet Dream’s Facebook page. Plus, I was able to do that very quickly and gather such an amazing amount of targeted likes.

Step 2. Network and connect

Of course, don’t forget good old networking and connecting as the most organic, and cost-effective way of encouraging others to check out your Facebook page.

Building real relationships is the deepest way to give other users a good impression of yourself. Have friendly conversations with the people you connect with on Facebook, and offer to help with your answers to their questions. Once you’ve done that, you can suggest the person Like your page

Here’s an example of a message I use on Facebook after I have connected with someone:

facebook-connection-thankyou-message

As you can see, I thank them for connecting with me, which encourages them to feel good about themselves and our connection.

I also direct them to my Facebook page and invited them to Like it, since people are more inclined to act if you ask them to.

There are many ways to connect on Facebook, and some of the situations you may face now could give you the change to gain a nice Facebook Like. Here are a few examples:

  • email conversions
  • commenting
  • Twitter conversation
  • Facebook profile status
  • Facebook friendship connection “Like the example above”
  • any form of conversation with a human being on the other side of the screen!

Step 3. Add a “Please like this blog on Facebook” CTA to your blog

If users land on your blog, they should appreciate it if it has a usable design and offers great content.

The main focal point of any blog is the article. This is your chance to rack up some free Likes.

At the beginning or end of the article, include a linked CTA to Like your Facebook page. Make it stand out, so it’s clearly visible to the eyes scanning your article.

Also placing your Like CTA in the sidebar will make it visible all of the time, no matter where the visitor is on your blog.

Internetdreams facebook like box

This makes the Like CTA persistent, even though it is not as effective as the CTA in the article. I made the mistake of placing the CTA too low in the sidebar, and just recently bumped it up, which has given me more Likes.

4. Use plugins to help you generate Likes more easily

There are several plugins that can help you get Likes for your Facebook page. Some are paid, but some are free for you to use.

One technique I use for my blog that helps me get likes is through the Thank You for Commenting page that I set up for my blog, which is shown below. This is a fine way to connect with those new users who have just commented on your blog. Asking them to like your Facebook page on your Thank You page can be a great way to get an extra Like.

Internetdreams thankyou page

As you can see, I ask users to follow or Like Internet Dreams on Twitter and Facebook.

A great plugin to use in this situation is the Comment Redirect plugin by Yoast. This free plugin will help you redirect your commenter to the right page after they comment—you’ll need to make sure to set up the Thank You for Commenting page like mine above.

Some other plugins I’ve found helpful for getting more Likes include:

Who wouldn’t like more Likes?

In this post, I have shown you some of the techniques I’ve used to rack up some new Likes.

I have found these methods to be the most rewarding, and I’ve worked really hard on each of them to fully enjoy the benefits they provide. The results are reflected in the title of this post—but only through the hard work I have put in order to receive those results.

I cannot guarantee the same results for you, since this largely depends how much work you are willing to put in. But I can promise you that with the hard work you put in through these four steps, the results will come.

What are some ways you get more Facebook Likes? Share them with us in the comments.

Want to reach higher goals with these top wordpress plugins? Maybe learn how to get more followers? I am Samuel and I own Internet Dreams. Internet Dreams is a place where you can engage and learn how to set up and succeed with your blog or site.

What Content Works Where? Smarter Traffic (and Revenue) Building Through Social Media

Every time we publish a post on social media here at ProBlogger, readers comment that social media takes so much time—how can they get smarter about it?

Girl using computer

Image courtesy pictureYouth, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I wanted to give you a quick way to get a better handle on your social media activities, in about five minutes, using nothing more than your site stats (I’m using Google Analytics).

You don’t need to get any software or be using a certain tool to share your content. This is just a short, quick technique that anyone can use—social media newbie or superstar.

Is your social media “working”?

First, let’s look at the question we’re trying to answer here. Most of us want to know that we’re getting some return on investment on social media, but we also want to improve our work within each network, so that our communications are more targeted, and our returns keep improving.

So the broad question, “Is social media really working for me?” or “Is it worth my time?” are probably better refined to:

  • How much traffic am I getting from social media?
  • What’s that doing for my bottom line?
  • How can I improve on those figures?

That first question is very easily answered; any stats package will tell you how many unique visitors and pageveiws your blog is getting through social channels. It’ll also tell you what percentage of your traffic overall comes from those sources.

You can easily extrapolate that to an actual (if approximate) ROI provided you have an idea of the value you get from, say, each ad impression on your blog. Divide that by the number of hours you spend each month or week on social media and you’ll know exactly how much money you’re making for your time right now. It’ll be harder to track the ongoing, growing value of that time expenditure in less tangible terms, like what it’s doing for authority-building within your niche. But this is a start.

Similarly, if you have a special promotion you’ve been plugging through social media, you should be able to track how much traffic it’s sending to your landing page. And if it’s a dedicated landing page for social media traffic, you’ll be able to clearly see how well that traffic’s converting.

But what about the last question: How can I improve those figures?

The answer lies in looking a little more closely at what, specifically, is pulling the traffic through from each network.

An analysis

If you’re not sure how your social networks are performing when it comes to generating traffic, you might be surprised to look at your stats. Here are the most popular URLs on ProBlogger for the last month, for Twitter:

  1. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  2. Ramit Sethi Exposed: How He Earns Millions Blogging
  3. Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts
  4. Grow Your Blog Business: The Earn Millions in Your Flip-flops Framework [Case Study]
  5. How to Make $30,000 a Year Blogging.

And here are the most popular for Facebook:

  1. 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013
  2. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  3. Are You Wasting Time Guest Posting?
  4. Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? 7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging
  5. 20 Linkbaiting Techniques.

What stands out to me here, above all else, is the potential for older content (like that last post in the Facebook list, which was from 2006!) to get traffic through reshares.

Obviously, with all your stats at your fingertips, you can go much further than the top five, but this snapshot gives a fairly clear picture of the differences between the content that appeals to the users of different networks.

Even at a glance, we might make some hypotheses based on these results:

  • Twitter users in this space prefer case studies and personal advice that comes with a sense of authority.
  • Facebook users in this space like list posts.
  • The most popular topics on Twitter seem to be about making money blogging.
  • The most popular topics on Facebook are about blog promotion techniques.

So of course, the next step is to test those hypotheses. I could go back into the stats archive to see if those statements are true over, say, the last six months. And I could test those statements using articles I have queued up for the next week or month.

There seems to be a bit of a dichotomy between headlines that work well on each network, so I could try different headlines on different types of posts and see how that goes. But it’s also important to remember that reshares aren’t just about headlines—they’re also about content.

So rather than just coming up with some great direct, list-style headlines for list posts in an effort to boost traffic from Facebook, I could see try other types of headlines on some list posts, and see how they perform on that network. In this way I can narrow down how important the headline is on each social network, as well as which types of content are likely to do well.

What next?

As I mentioned, this kind of analysis doesn’t take long—a five-minute review once a week (or, more likely for me, once a month!) will give me the information I need.

This information can help me shape my content to attract more users from each network, but it can also help me to devise information products or offers that best suit each network’s users. This can, again, help me optimize clickthroughs and conversions from those sources.

The more I get to know the data over time, the more effectively I can communicate to users of each network about things that interest them, and in ways that impact them. This can help me to build broad rapport but also to do market research, make valuable relationships, and more.

Not bad for a five-minute review! Of course, there’s a lot more you can do around social media tracking and assessment. But as I explained at the outset of this post, I wanted to show all those bloggers who think social media takes too much time that getting quantitative answers about the return on that investment isn’t hard or time-consuming.

And neither is making use of that information to make your social networking even more productive.

What sorts of social media traffic and revenue tracking do you do? Let us know in the comments.

How Embedded Social News Grew My Content, Traffic, and Engagement, and Saves Me Time [Case Study]

This guest post is by Brian Lippey of Guitar Shop TV.

Every blogger wants to offer the best content to his or her audience.

With Guitar Shop TV (GSTV), I set out to create an online community for passionate guitar fans and music lovers around the world.  My goal was to offer the best guitar-related content to my audience.

To achieve this, the GSTV team has filmed over 200 hours of original online TV content. We update our blog regularly—with everything from live performances and backstage interviews, to commentary on upcoming album releases and the latest guitar gear. We tweet. We post on Facebook. We even have an on-site guitar shop.

But audiences today have a large appetite for content! With over 100 million guitarists and countless guitar music fans in the world, it’s important that our content’s fresh, entertaining and timely. Guitar news happens fast, making it difficult to churn out blog posts on everything out there.

Our audience is also very vocal about guitar-related content, as is evident on our Facebook page.

As creator of GSTV, I was looking for a social news platform that could deliver top guitar content from across the Web directly to our blog and allow users to participate on a social level. We want to engage music enthusiasts, not talk at them.

Our research led us to new social platform, ROCKZi.

A social news platform

ROCKZi is a social news platform that helps us deliver a fun community experience and share relevant content with our users. Unlike other social platforms that draw your readers to their networks, with this one, the traffic is directed to my blog, which gave me increased opportunities to attract more music fans and expand our community.

The platform lets you customize the content so that it really speaks to your blog’s audience. It let us pick a news category that was relevant specifically to our blog. For most websites, a category probably already exists, but if not, you can create one yourself.

Easy to install

We literally embedded the platform on our News page in three easy steps.

I was relived I didn’t need a developer to completely redesign our website—we had it up and running on our blog in about five minutes. The platform allowed us to alter the appearance of the content, so it fit nicely on our news page and matched our web design.

The platform in action

Since embedding the platform in August, we have seen traffic to the site increase by 25%. The average time spent on the page has also increased by four minutes.

Our readers started to come back to our site more often to educate themselves on guitar-related news that had been shared by otehrs in our community. And when they are on our site scanning the headlines, they do more than just read.

The platform comes pre-loaded with social tools that let readers post comments on stories, vote the best stories to the top, or submit their own stories they’ve discovered on the Web about the latest musicians or guitar gear.

So you can see what I mean when I say that this tool gives our site more than just good content.

It’s adding a social experience to the site that is bringing readers back more often to engage with other readers around content our audience cares most about.

We’re getting more traffic than Sturgis in August! And readers can pin, post, Facebook or tweet stories right from the page on our site, allowing them to feel more like a part of the community.

All the interactions between your users and the content that’s shared on your site (votes, shares, comments, etc.) will generate direct links through their social networks that will point directly back to your blog.

Do you use a social news tool on your blog? Have you tried ROCKZi? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Founder Brian Lippey has a background that combines music and business. In Guitar Shop TV, Brian combines his passion for and knowledge of guitars with his strong business acumen.

The 3 Step Guide to Creating Pinterest-friendly Graphics for Your Blog

It´s well established that Pinterest can be a strong driver of traffic. We´ve been having a lot of success at our Digital Photography School account and have seen other blogs, like Hair Romance, experiencing similar success.

In my experience, most bloggers focus on curating boards to build their expertise and drive traffic back to their blogs. They regularly include their blog posts among the images they pin. This is great for attracting new visitors.

There is, however, an easier way.

You can save time and test whether your content will be shared on Pinterest by creating specific graphics for your blog posts. This simple method allows you to know if your blog and images resonate with users.

The most basic form is a title and a graphic. In this post, I´ll walk you through my three-step process for creating images that are Pinterest-bait. Also, I´ll be doing a follow-up post highlighting bloggers using Pinterest successfully, so let me know if you have any suggestions for that in the comments.

Step 1. Choose the size of your graphic

Sizing is an important issue. You want the graphic to be clear when it’s viewed as a small image. Additionally, you want the graphic to match the design of your blog. From a visual perspective, I prefer it when the graphic is the same width as the blog post. A great example is the image at the end of this post on Expert Photography.

The best shape is either a square or tall image. Dan Zarella´s research shows that taller images get repinned more often. I agree with this, but mostly because you can fit more text in a longer graphic. The size of the graphic will depend on a lot of variables such as your blog design and how much attention you want to give to branding or calls to action.

I recommend that you look at relevant images and take note of the sizes that appeal to you. Visit the original blog posts and see whether the graphics fit with the theme. Here are some example images on the original blog posts:

Tip: List posts and series do really well on Pinterest.

Step 2. Choose the design elements and fonts

The best graphics are ones that have a similar template. I can look at pins from Elizabeth Halford and instantly know when one is from her blog.

You want this kind of recognition and consistency. It means that people are more likely to trust you and repin the image without reading the associated article.

I love it when the image matches contains similar elements from the blog design. Examples include:

  • colours
  • font
  • logo
  • background

The goal is for you, or a designer, to create a template that you can use for all of your graphics. You want to be able to make minor tweaks and get a new, pinnable image in just a couple of minutes.

Additionally, you need to consider the following:

  • Do you want to use photos in your pin? This often increases the likelihood of the image getting repinned.
  • Will you incude a call to action asking for people to repin the image? This will take up extra room and can clash with your branding.
  • How long are your post titles? Will you have to change them for the Pinterest graphic?

This is the hardest part of creating Pinterest-friendly graphics.

Step 3. Add images and title

This is the easiest step, and the one that you will be repeating every time you write a new blog post. You simply have to add the title and, if necessary, an additional image in Photoshop.

If all of this sounds too complex, I recommend reading How To Create Pinterest Friendly Images. It contains a simply tutorial to create basic images.

Extra ideas

Create graphics for your Resources page

A Resources page is an easy way for many bloggers to highlight their curation skills and potentially increase their affiliate income. You can attract new readers to this page by creating a graphic specifically targeted towards Pinterest browsers.

To really excel at this, the page needs to have a title that is more catchy than Recommended or Resources. Look at what Bree, from Blog Stylist, has done. She created a graphic for her page titled A-Z of blogging resources. This title is much more likely to be shared.

Posts that have numbers in them—especially list posts—do extremely well. However, that approach may not work if you are regularly updating you Resources page.

Add pinnable graphics to older posts

This is an idea that isn´t used by many bloggers. People will create graphics for their newer posts but will rarely revisit their archives. There is a lot of potential for Pinterest traffic here. Tutorials are extremely popular.

Check out this example from BlogcastFM. It´s really simple—just a couple of nice fonts over a photo. It takes a good eye to get the elements working together like this but it is something that anybody could achieve with a bit of practice.

Do you have any pillar content sitting in your achives? Revisit it and check to see if it has already been pinned. Also check to see if people have pinned similar articles from other blogs. This will let you know whether the topic will resonate with Pinterest users.

I´d focus on creating graphics for the posts that have the most demand. This will give users the tools they need to share the post, and image, further.

Use quotes

People love pinning motivational quotes and images. This is also one of the easiest ways to find material for graphics.

Go through your previous posts—especially the more popular, thought-provoking posts. Look for feedback on the sentences and phrases that people resonated with. Some people have even identified these and highlighted them so that people can tweet them easily.

Colin Wright, from Exile, has created a page featuring images of his most popular quotes. He added an extra income stream by making these images available on T-shirts.

Create infographics based on blog posts

An infographic is a graphic, eye-catching visual representation of information, data or knowledge. Consider investing in having an infographic designed to provide information useful to your core audience—it makes for a highly “repinnable” image.—Donna Moritz via Amy Porterfield

Occasionally, you will have a post that would be perfect for an infographic. This if often a list post. It can take a bit of work to create the infographic, and for many bloggers, it may be beyond their budget or technical expertise. It does, however, give the post a chance to go incredibly viral.

Check out the post that I referred to in that quote.  The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business went viral on many networks because it was a comprehensive, well-written post. It went absolutely crazy on Pinterest: it felt like that graphic was haunting me for weeks! That´s how powerful it can be.

Over to you

Are you thinking about using any of these techniques? Do you know of any bloggers who are doing this to builds their visibility on Pinterest? Let me know in the comments.

15 Social Media Mistakes that are Strangling Your Success

While it’s not new, I’m often surprised by the way bloggers use—and mis-use—social media.

Each of us has our own blogging journey, and we use different tools in our own unique ways. Yet there are still quite a few very common errors that I continue to see bloggers making as they work with social media.

Norwegian_viper

Image by stock.xchng user

These mistakes have the potential to make your social media experience a struggle—if not put you off it completely. But if you persist with them over time, they have the potential to do significant harm to your brand and your blog.

Think about it: social media is a very public space, perhaps even more public than your blog. Although we might not be conscious of it, every time we make a status update on a social network, we have the potential to reach a huge audience of people we don’t know through others sharing our messages.

That can happen whether the messages are good or bad, for better or for worse.

Take a look at these 15 mistakes, which definitely send the wrong message. Then, let me know in the comments if you’re making any of these errors.

1. Using social media as broadcast media

We all know that social media is an engagement tool, but how many of us treat it that way?

What’s your ratio of “broadcast” updates to direct, personal updates that address other users individually? And who are those direct updates to—friends and family and people you feel “safe” with, or are you reaching out to new contacts, readers, and others in your niche?

2. Not responding to contacts

While you may not want to connect with everyone on every social network, the blogger looking to build an online presence should focus on responding to contacts from others on social media.

Avoiding one-word responses is ideal—look for ways to connect naturally and easily with every person who approaches you, and you’ll see real benefits from social media.

3. Not joining your readers on the networks they use

Where are your users congregating online? Which networks do they use? Are you on those networks, or are you holding off because you think you don’t have enough time or energy to tackle a new network?

Not long ago, I started developing the dPS presence on Pinterest, and I’ve never looked back. While there’s no perfect time for anything, leaving yourself out of a social network where your audience is active could mean you’re leaving money on the tqble—or readers out of the loop!

4. Not offering follow and share buttons on your content

On your post pages, do you offer readers the option to share the post on social networks and the opportunity to follow you on those networks?

Offering one or the other is better than nothing, but it’s important to offer both. Of course, your follow buttons might appear in a location that’s globally available throughout your blog—like in the header or sidebar. But do make sure users have both options.

5. Not following or friending your readers

If a reader contacts you on social media, do you follow them?

While following massive numbers of people can be overwhelming, if you’re just starting out on a new network, connecting with those who contact you is a great way to make the most of the medium and get a feel for what your readers are doing on that network.

6. Not following or friending industry contacts

Connecting with people from your broader niche is an excellent way to stay abreast of news and get on the radars of others you haven’t met, but whose work you admire.

Who knows? They might follow you back—and share your updates with their followers. But even if they don’t, you have the potential to get a sound perspective of the players in your niche, and their work, on social media.

7. Not presenting your brand consistently on a network

Every blogger and blog brand has a range of facets, but these need to be carefully managed—even curated—if you want to give your followers a clear idea of who you are and what you’re about.

Chop and change in the way you approach a given network or your followers, or present your brand, and you might do more harm than good.

8. Not presenting your brand consistently across different networks

Following on from the previous point, you will have readers who follow you on multiple networks, so it’s important to present yourself and behave consistently in all your dealings, whatever the network.

Your blog’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts should share brand characteristics, even if you target the information you share with each network individually.

9. Only doing the basics on each network

Social networks have come a long way since they were first launched. Even the more recent arrivals to this industry are evolving new features all the time. Yet many of us ignore these developments, and just keep posting the same stuff, day in, day out.

Are you aware of the features of each of the networks you’re using? Are you up-to-date with what each network offers your blog? If you’re not, you could be missing valuable opportunities to promote your blog, to meet potential readers, and eventually, to make sales.

10. Not tracking social media traffic

At the most basic level, it’s worth knowing what portion of your blog’s traffic comes from social media, and from which networks.

This knowledge can help you focus your efforts, prioritize your work, and manage your time to best effect. It can also help you to respond to one-off traffic events arising from particular networks.

11. Not tracking how much your content is shared

On the other side of the coin, it’s also important to keep an eye on how much your content is shared. I’ve found this particularly useful when I’ve joined a new network, as it helps me to understand what works in that space and what doesn’t.

Looking at what’s shared—in terms of blog content and my own social media updates—is an essential step in making the most of a social network.

12. Not listening to discussions about your brand and niche

Similarly, it’s important to track not just what people on a given social network are saying about your blog and brand, but also about your niche itself. Social listening is the answer.

This can give you post ideas, opportunities to connect with readers on topical issues that they care about—even ideas for updating your blog’s layout or post categorisation. Social media listening is a great way to get to know what your audience is thinking and feeling.

13. Not listening to your main competitors

The listening doesn’t stop there, though. you can also set up searches for social media discussions of your main competitors, or key players in your niche, and find out what the audience has to say about them.

This can help you find gaps in your market for information and commentary, give you prodict ideas, and a lot more.

14. Not posting at high-sharing, high-visibility times of day

This is a big one. Even if your social media followers are in your timezone, there are going to be better and worse times to share on social media.

If you’re listening to find out the way your niche works on social media, you should have an idea of when its players—organizations and audience members—are most active. By tying that information to the traffic and sharing tracking mentioned above, you should be able to piece together a picture of the best times to get traction from social media among your target readership.

15. Not realising that promotion doesn’t stop with social media

Social media has its place, but it’s only one way to reach the people you want to read your blog. It’s one piece in a big promotional puzzle, and it’s one that’s actually independent of a digital presence that you own.

That presence is on your blog itself. But if you only ever use social media to try to get people to your site, you’ll soon kill off any goodwill you’d established. This is why social media really should be used as part of a broader promotional toolkit that lets you attract some of the other kinds of readers we mentioned late last week.

Are you making any of these 15 mistakes? They could be slowly strangling your blog’s authority, brand, and ability to attract new readers! Share your thoughts—and tips for social media success—with us in the comments.

Stop Socializing! Auto-Share Social Media Updates and Get Back to Blogging

This guest post is by Fred Perrotta of Tortuga Backpacks.

As a blogger, you should be spending at least 80% of your time creating killer content.

The problem is that that leaves just 20% of your time to split between time-intensive (but important) activities like social networking, ad sales, new product creation, and marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn how to automatically share your blog posts to your social networks.

You’ll set up your system once and then never worry about manually sharing your posts again.

Now you can spend your time connecting with likeminded bloggers, responding to comments, and making money instead of copying and pasting the same update all over the web.

Your new best friend: IFTTT

Your auto-sharing system will use online connections service IFTTT (If This, Then That).

You may have heard of IFTTT from previous stories on Problogger, which showed how to use it for content curation and posting to WordPress by email.

IFTTT (pronounced like “lift” without the “l”) is a service that creates connections between your social networks, RSS feeds, and even email.

With IFTTT, you connect a “trigger” (like a new post in your RSS feed) with an “action” (like posting to Twitter) to create a “recipe”. IFTTT feed trigger

Read on to learn how to use existing IFTTT recipes to automate your social sharing.

Automatically share on Twitter

Use this RSS to Twitter recipe to automatically tweet new blog posts.

Note that you’ll need to customize this template to use your RSS feed.

You can also customize the tweet itself using plain text and “ingredients” like the post title and URL.

IFTT action tweet

Automatically share on Tumblr

IFTTT is even customizable enough to handle Tumblr’s multiple post types.

Use this feed to Tumblr link recipe to share a link to your latest blog post on Tumblr.

Sharing a link, rather than the full post, is good for your SEO and will prevent duplicate content issues.

Run an image-heavy photo blog? Use this RSS to Tumblr photo recipe to create a photo post.

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to customize the body of your Tumblr post, the source URL, and the tags. Even though you’re not posting directly from Tumblr, you can still utilize all of its functionality.

Automatically share on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sharing works much the same way as Twitter and Tumblr.

Use this RSS to LinkedIn recipe to share your next blog post on your LinkedIn profile.

Sharing on LinkedIn is highly recommended for B2B bloggers.

Why you can’t auto-share on Google+ or Pinterest (yet)

Unfortunately, neither Google+ nor Pinterest have a public write API, so IFTTT doesn’t have recipes for posting to either site.

For now, you can post updates manually or skip them altogether. Make your own decision based on the importance of these networks to your business and the relevance of their audiences to your blog.

The problem with Facebook…

Facebook is the hardest network to automate because its EdgeRank algorithm demotes posts made from third-party sites like IFTTT.

That’s right: if you’re not creating your posts on Facebook, your fans probably aren’t seeing them.

Even when you’re posting on Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post. Don’t let this number slip even lower!

For Facebook, you have two options:

  1. Use Facebook’s new WordPress plugin to create a Facebook link post from within WordPress. You can even tag people and pages from within the widget, which is shown in your sidebar when you’re writing a new post. Since this is an official Facebook plugin, you don’t have to worry about your posts being penalized.
  2. Post to Facebook manually. Yes, this seems to go against the point of this post, but you can set up the rest of your sharing so that this is the only manual post you’ll have to make.

If Facebook drives a significant amount of traffic to your blog, manual posting is worthwhile.

The other advantage is that you can post a picture (with a link in the text) rather than just a link. Pictures are prioritized over links (which the plugin above would create), so more of your fans will see a picture post than a link post.

Darren himself had 18x better results from posting a picture rather than just a link.

Problogger Facebook image post

Have you automated your social sharing yet?

Using the strategies in this post, you can free up most of the time you used to spend sharing every post you published. Even for low-volume blogs, this is huge.

Have you automated your social sharing yet? If so, how are you spending your new free time?

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a freelance marketing consultant.

How to Build a Dominant Google+ Presence

This guest post is by Ryan Howard of Complete Web Resources.

Google+ is the hottest game in town when it comes search engine placement gains—at least for the time being.

We’ve run multiple tests and so have a few other agencies we know, almost with unanimous consent that preferring Google+ for the hours you dedicate to social media offers the greatest ranking benefit.

In this post we’ll discuss the top 5 ways to make Google+ work for you.

When we talk about Google+ (Google Plus) there are a few different areas we need to address. That is to say, there are a few different ways that you can eke out some positive signals to aid in your search engine optimization promotion program, build your trust with Google, and move you up in SERPs. They are:

  1. Google+ shares
  2. Google +1 counter
  3. Google Circles ads
  4. Google+ company page
  5. Google authorship.

Google+ shares

This is the best way to get Google’s attention. At least, we’ve seen the greatest gains from this effort in particular.

A share means that someone shares your link on their Google+ profile by posting to their wall. Good quality content that you post to your Google circles or on your blog will do the trick.

One thing that we’ve been doing lately is to host funny images on our site and then share them on Google+. When people +1 the posts, or reshare them, we get credit, since the image is hosted on our site. In addition, if people navigate to the image itself, we’ll get more site visits.

Here’s a video I made to show exactly how to host images on your site to get traffic.

Google+ counter

This is the little widget that you add to your site so that visitors can +1 your content when they are there.

Adding this widget will let people vote your site up with +1s. When they do so, Google will give them the option to post their vote on their individual Google+ profiles, which gets you a link on their profile and also exposes your site to all of their followers. Plus 1 votes are also a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm.

The addition of the +1 counter widget is very simple and excellent documentation on it can be found at the Google Developers site. You can alter how the button looks, change its width and annotation, and try some advanced options as well.

Pro tip: Under the Advanced options dropdown, be sure to enter your website’s URL in the “URL to +1″ box. This will make doubly sure Google properly counts all of you +1s.

Once you have the +1 tag and script written into your code, the counter widget will display on your site wherever you decide to place it. It’ll look like this:

Google plus counter

It shouldn’t be too difficult to get your friends to help you get started with +1′s. Don’t overdo it, though. Going from 0 to 100 in a day will surely send up a red flag in the Google Search algorithm.

Google circles adds

In addition to shares and +1s, you also want your personal profile to link to your website, and having a more powerful profile gives you more clout (or Klout).

You’ll want to add excellent content to your profile to keep people engaged and interested, commenting on your posts, and so on. But you’ll also need an audience to reach. Here’s how to get started.

First, add all of your gmail contacts to your circles—hopefully they’ll follow you back. That’s a great start.

After that, we want to add more shared circles, which will cause people to add you back. Here are a few recommended searches to help you find more shared circles:

  1. +CircleCount
  2. Public Shared Circles
  3. In the Google+ search bar, type “shared a circle with you” (leave the quotes) which will bring up circle that have already been shared publicly.

Having a built-out profile with a good profile image will help you get more people to add you back. No one wants to add a profile that looks empty or spammy.

Google+ company page

As a Google+ user, you can also create and manage a company page tied to your site.

From your profile, click your small profile image at top-right. The dropdown that appears will allow you to add a page. Otherwise, you’ll see the link to “View all of my pages”. Click that to go to the Page add screen.

Here are a couple screenshots of the initial setup process:

Google plus company page

Google plus company page 2

Setting up a Google+ page is very similar to setting up a personal profile. You’ll want to be sure to include your URL so that the page links back to your site. Also, you’ll want to add an icon on your website that links back to the Google+ page.

The main difference between a page and a personal profile is that you can’t follow individuals as a page unless they follow you first. You can, however, follow other pages. This will make getting page followers a bit more difficult, but the solution is quality content and regular posts. Keep the content that you post relevant to your business. We like to add snippets from our website blog, funny internet-related images, and so on.

Google authorship

Google authorship ties all of these elements together and really connects your Google profile with your website. Search results that have an individual’s image next to their blog, post, or website are all utilizing Google authorship. Google even lets you sort results by only selecting things from that author.

The technical integration of Google authorship requires an entire post of its own, and the best and most easily followed guide we’ve found is How to Set Up Rel=author.

Are you making the most of Google+?

That concludes our survey of the ways Google+ can help your site earn additional trust signals in the eyes of Google’s search algorithm, and improve your site’s visibility. We covered the following methods for promoting your Google+ presence.

  1. Google+ shares
  2. Google +1 counter
  3. Google Circles ads
  4. Google+ company page
  5. Google authorship.

These really are the top five. You should have each of them working for your Google profile, and linked to your website where possible. Following these steps will not only increase your reach into additional markets, it will also give your website a nice boost in the SERPs.

Ryan Howard is Head of Search for Complete Web Resources a WordPress digital refinery and search strategy firm.

Why People Share … and How You Can Get Them to Share Your Work

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman of www.viralnomics.com.

It’s Friday night. You just pulled your new shirt over your head and sprayed on some cologne. One look in the mirror is enough to remind you how awesome you look. Time to roll out.

The party doesn’t disappoint. 50 of your closest friends are here and you see the object of your affection in the corner. She’s a natural beauty, brunette and curvy with a smile that lights up the room. Feeling a little sub conscious and emotionally unstable you grab the box next to you and step on top of it. Taking in a deep gulp of air you yell, “Everbody! Stop what you’re doing. Tell me how good I look. Like me and tell your friends how good I look.”

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But this is what happens every day online.

In this post, I’m going to use research to explain this phenomenon of selective self-representation. Once you understand it, I’ll show you how to take advantage and make people want to share your blog posts material as a way of boasting.

Facebook narcissism

Research from Jonah Berger at the Wharton School of Business showed that that people with low emotional stability update their Facebook statuses more. [Reference - Eva Buechel, Jonah Berger (Under Review), Facebook Therapy? Why Do People Share Self-Relevant Content Online?] As a result, they are over-represented online. The status updates act as a form of therapy and both Likes and “atta boy” comments are medicine.

If you go back to my party example above, a person’s social network online is their trust circle. The user’s perception of how their trust circle views them is immensely important to their well-being. In fact, perceived social support has been shown to be more effective than actual received social support. [Reference – Wethington, E. and Kessler, C. (1986), “Perceived Support, Received Support, and Adjustment to Stressful Life Events,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 27 (March) 78-89.]

It boils down to four things. Everybody wants to show off to their network that they are intelligent, intellectual, attractive, and funny. Communication channels online are asynchronous. This means that the user has time to think both about what they are going to say and how that will make them look.

Therefore they selectively self-represent using status updates, and choosing material that will make them look intelligent, intellectual, attractive, and funny.

So how do we use this information?

No matter what your industry is, you’re here because you want to learn how to promote yourself using social media. It’s up to you which of the four traits you want to help your users self-represent with. What’s important is to appeal to the already converted, and to avoid being profound.

People who are already having success using your product or service will want to show it off. Those who haven’t discovered you yet aren’t interested in your product or service, so there’s no point in trying to get them to share it.

Instead, appeal to those who will share it—they are the ones who want to show off that they are intelligent for having already found it.

Perhaps the biggest blogging mistake I see is people trying to be profound. Unless you’re a leading researcher what you are writing about on your blog is nothing new. It has already been said a thousand times by others online, and for free, and will be said a thousand times more.

Because of this, phrasing becomes important. You must give people that are in the know a reason to share your materials. Make them feel special that they already know the subject of the article, and they will share it as an extension of their own thoughts. They do this because your article shows to their audience that they’re intelligent or intellectual (or funny or attractive).

Don’t believe me? Look at the wording people used when they shared an article from Darren Rowse’s Facebook page called “How to Get Overwhelming Things Done”. In his brief article Darren advocates setting aside 15 minutes a day on what you want to achieve. Good advice but nothing new. So what did people preface the article with when they shared it?

“Great advice for new bloggers and freelancers”

And

“Anyone has the time to blog. Very good tips from Darren Rowse”

Within the article itself some of the comments read as follows:

“You could not have said it better, I have taken this attitude and I do get things done. Great advice.”

And

“I agree … I think the biggest accomplishments we achieve in life depend on what we focus on each and every day on the journey towards it. Great advice… “

People are rarely interested in adding to the conversation

It’s a nice idea to think that people are going to want to read your blog and interact intelligently. It’s an even nicer idea to think that people will go to your blog to learn.

I consider myself much more realistic than that.

The goal of a blog or social media is to attract an audience to buy your high-value materials. This might be information or it could be a related product. Either way, your sole purpose is to create your message in a way that it spreads. A blog post is a tool, not your end game.

The way to do that is to allow your reader to take ownership of the material. If you write it in such a way that allows for them to self-represent, they will share. Everybody wants to be perceived as intelligent, intellectual, attractive, or funny. We all have our own version of a beautiful brunette that we want to impress.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author. His second book recently reached the #1 spot on Amazon in both the marketing and web marketing categories. Aside from consulting, he is currently writing Viralnomics: How to Create Directed Viral Marketing. The sections are being published for free online as they are produced. You can get up to date at http://www.viralnomics.com.