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5 Basics to Having Your Post go Viral

5 basics to having your post go viral - the foundations of shareable content on ProBlogger.net

The longer I blog, the more I hear of bloggers trying to go viral.

I’m sure on top of posting consistently, using social media strategically, and generally providing interesting, useful, and inspiring content on the internet, it would be a little help if that content was seen by as many people as possible. Even better if those people hang around and provide ongoing traffic. Going viral wouldn’t hurt, right?

While it won’t happen to everyone, and it’s almost impossible to force, there’s no doubt going viral can be useful when you can get it. Viral posts usually have similar threads in common, so you’re bound to give your post a little push if you can ensure it contains this combination of essentials:

1. Reach out and touch somebody

The one aspect that always appears in viral content is its ability to invoke an emotion in the reader.

No emotion? No sharing!

In addition to that, the most shared content is said to be content that evokes a strong positive emotional response. So yeah anger and indignation will get people sharing (outrage is also good!), apparently what works best is the warm and fuzzies. A 2010 study of the New York Times “most emailed” list found the articles that were shared often tended to fall into one of four categories: awe-inspiring, emotional, positive, or surprising.

Recently, two professors studying the motivations of virality came to the conclusion that while content is shared for ultimately many reasons, it’s emotional reactions that tend to drive the most shares. In addition to that, content that makes your heart race is more likely to go viral. Written anything that powerful yet?!

In the article, they say “Content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all.”

Have a think about how you can get your message across. Is there a personal story you can share? Is there a humanist spin you can put on it? How can you really create your post with “resonating with the reader” in mind?

Viral content is compelling, interesting, funny, moving, and if you’ve really hit the jackpot – the next item on our list!

2. Be useful

Everybody loves a life hack. I’ve been eating apples wrong all this time? Chinese Takeout? Slicing grapes? Mind blown, must share.

When you think about creating content that people can’t help but share, thing about how you can be useful. How you can add value, find their pain points and solve them. Have they got questions? Answer them? Be inspiring, be emotive, heck, maybe even be a little controversial. But useful content is king – you’re starting off on the right foot if you’ve got that down pat.

3. It’s all about the reader

Apparently people will share content when it says something about who they are. It might make them seem intelligent, it might show how much they care for the less fortunate, or it might just show they’ve an excellent sense of humour. They’ll share reflections of their personalities, and you’re going to give them the content to do just that. The article says sharable content is “often a statement about what you believe in, what causes or values you align yourself with, and what, in particular, you love and identify with”, so make sure your content fills one of those needs.

Aaaaaaand I googled the term “extreme selfies” after reading that article. Buzzfeed, you’ve done it again!

4. Get a Head Start

If you want your content out there, being seen by the max amount of eyeballs possible, then begin by putting it there. Don’t just publish and hold your breath. We all know Facebook is making it difficult to be seen in newsfeeds, and evidence is showing Twitter doesn’t drive traffic like it once did – so think outside the box. I’m sure you’ve got an RSS or email post mailout sorted, but you can also upload to Slideshare, LinkedIn, YouTube, have something in your email signatures, forum signatures, you can submit to Digg and Reddit if you can, even StumbleUpon if you think that might help.

Don’t discount Google+, there’s still a few going strong over there! Some blog commenting systems (particularly WordPress style ones) have the option to link to a post – choose that one when you’re commenting. Post it to Pinterest – several times. Does it have a Pinterest-worthy image? Get on that!

Have you sorted the SEO? Is it keyword-rich (but natural, because nobody’s gonna read a robot)? Have you provided keywords for images, and in the alt-text? Have you checked the metadata?

You can ask people to share, if you think it will help. Email influential people (if relevant) and ask them to share if they feel it will benefit their readers. Ask people to retweet. Invite them to share at the bottom of your posts. Mention sharing in your Facebook update. Ask your friends and family to share if they can/want to. Sometimes all it takes is a little prompt.

It also doesn’t hurt to jump on a news story or trend when it’s reaching its peak. Does it have an angle you can cover on your blog? What is capturing the internet’s attention that you can build on, or provide an alternative opinion to? Do you have further information, something themed that will resonate, or have you covered this issue before? Ride that wave!

5. Make it easy

You really can’t expect people to share if you haven’t made it easy for them to begin with [tweet that!]. Have clear social sharing icons displayed prominently (wherever works for you – a scrolling set on the side, at the bottom of your post, at the top, etc), and ensure you’ve configured them to show the top five or six platforms you think will be most useful or that people are likely to share on.

Provide tweetable quotes, like I have above. Two clicks and they’re done! Have a Facebook-sized image somewhere in your post that people can use. Lead that horse as close as you can to the water, and they just might drink!

Have you ever had a post go viral? Did it fit the criteria here? Do you remember the viral posts that have caught your attention? What was it about them that compelled you to share? I’d love to chat!

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

Hey Bloggers! Is it Time to Focus a little Less on Your Blog and A Little More on YOU?

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Blogging has been very good to me over the last twelve and a half years, but it’s come at a personal cost that I’m sure many can relate to.

Gradually over that time I’ve allowed myself to become more and more inactive. Gradually over time I became less and less fit and gained more and more weight.

Along with the weight gain and loss of fitness came a loss of energy and mental alertness. If I’m honest it also began to impact my mental health which in turn impacted numerous other areas of my life from relationships to my personal confidence and even through into my blogging.

Four months ago I had a bit of a wake up call after my annual doctors checkup, when I was presented with a list of areas I needed to do some work on. None of the things on the list were super-urgent or life-threatening but the fact that it was a list was enough to grab my attention and sparked a few changes in my life.

I recently wrote about my ‘slow decline’ and the changes I made in a post over on LinkedIn titled My New Project: Project Me.

In short I began to walk each day and made some significant changes to my diet (you can read the specifics in the post). The impact was pretty immediate.

  • Most importantly I’m feeling so much better within myself.
  • I have more energy than I remember having for a decade.
  • I’m thinking clearer and have more mental alertness and stamina.
  • My confidence has improved so much!
  • I’ve lost 13 kilograms (almost 29 pounds) and am in desperate need to go shopping to buy some smaller clothes!
  • My blood pressure is down!
  • I’m no longer out of breath when I play with my kids.
  • I’m getting more productive and the quality of my work is improving.
  • My mood and outlook has improved and I’m finding myself smiling a whole heap more

It’s Infectious

One of the other impacts that I had not expected of this journey is that as I’ve shared my story (with the above post) and in conversation I’ve noticed that it’s sparked others around me to make changes.

I was at a conference last week when three people told me that they’d started their own ‘Project Me’ campaigns. Each was doing it their own way and focusing upon a different areas of their life but each was sick of the ‘gradual slides’ that had happened in their lives and was doing something about it.

Join Us?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few weeks and have been wondering if there’s some way we could support each other more as a community in this area.

I’ll declare up front that I’m no expert in any of this. I’m four months into this journey and have been learning a lot but still have a long way to go. But I do know that I’m much more likely to have success if I’m doing this in community and have a little accountability from those around me.

As a result yesterday on the spur of the moment and without any planning or forethought, I decided to start a little group on Facebook for those who want to work on improving their health.

I’ve set the group up under the name of Feelgooder (the name of an old blog I used to have that I’ve never done much with) with the goal of it being alive for three months. On 19 August we’ll reassess whether the group is being of use to people and I’ll decide if we continue it or not.

The group is a closed group but you’re very very welcome to join it.

The objective is not to prescribe, teach or share any one way to get healthy. Rather it’s a place for support, share, be vulnerable and have a little accountability.

So far we’ve got 230+ people who’ve joined. People seem to be at all stages of the journey with their fitness, diet and other areas of well being. There’s also people from all parts of the world and different age groups.

So far the group is largely made up of bloggers or online entrepreneurs. There’s no rule on this but it’s who seems to be joining so I thought I’d open the invitation up to the wider ProBlogger community.

Whether this evolves beyond the group or ends up just being a temporary community I don’t know but I’m loving the first couple of days and hope that those of you who feel moved to do so might consider joining us.

Is it Time to Focus a little Less on Your Blog and A Little More on YOU?

I’d love to see you over on the Feelgooder Group on Facebook.

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

This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.

Ever get mad at yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a sample of what you get:

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

You get the drift.

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

Ebook Covers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Providers to consider:

  1. Pro_ebookcovers
  2. Ravsingh

Video Marketing

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

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

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

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

Providers to consider:

  1. Ydrawing
  2. Studio 4

Transcription

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

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

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

Providers to consider:

  1. Transexpert
  2. Adnanjilani90

Mobile Apps and Websites

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

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

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

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

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

Providers to consider:

  1. Iphone_ipad
  2. It_service
  3. Seoparam

Create Something Different

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

Yeah right, but how?

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

Pretty interesting, right?

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

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

How to Get the Most Out of Fiverr

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

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

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

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

7 Ways To Build Your Brand In The Blogosphere

This is a guest contribution from Jeff Foster.

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

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

1. Use Introduction Sites

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

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Image source

2. Give Bloggers Your Product

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

3. Ask For Feedback

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

4. Give Bloggers Exposure

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

5. Meet In Person

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

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

6. Create A Blogger Network

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

7. Show Your Appreciation

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

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

How Design Impacts Blog Readership

How Design Impacts Blog Readership / problogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Damion Wasylow.

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

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

First Impressions are Everything

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

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

Get Real Feedback

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

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

Testers answer three questions:

1) What is your first impression of this site?

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

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

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

Design Changes to Consider

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

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

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

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

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

Highlight Your Call-to-Action

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

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

Make it Mobile-Friendly

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

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

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

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

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

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

The Human Perspective

Ease

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

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

Readability

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

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

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

The Brand Perspective

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

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

Domain Extensions

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

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

Uniqueness

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

The SEO Perspective

Relevance

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

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

Keywords

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

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

The Legal Perspective

Copyright and Trademark

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 11.05.44 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create Longer and More In-Depth Blog Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Intelligently Promote and Amplify Existing Blog Content

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

There are several ways you can do that.

  • Promote Archive Content on Social Media

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

  • Optimize Conversion Routes

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

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

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  • Link Back to Your Older Content Using Natural Anchors

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

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

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

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

Five Essential Steps to Removing a Google Manual Penalty

This is a guest contribution from Nick Chowdrey.

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

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

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

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

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

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

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

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

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

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

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

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

1. Link discovery

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

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

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

2. Link classification

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

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

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

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

3. Manual link amendment

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

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

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

4. Submitting a disavow request

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

domain:<domainurl>

domain:<domainurl>

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

<pagelink>

<pagelink>

5. Submit a reconsideration request

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

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

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

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

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

Easy Ways for Bloggers to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transform those content buckets into keyword lists

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

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

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

Get a good mix of short tail and long tail keywords

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

Use tools to get a great keyword spread

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

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

Keywords: always relevant

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

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

3 Places Your Best Ideas Are Hiding In Your First Drafts

Many bloggers write drafts and then ‘edit’ their writing – but ‘revising’ is a little different and is definitely a good exercise.

Today I came across a great short video by Beth Dunn from Hubspot that was recorded earlier in the year at the Inbound conference.

In the video Beth talks about ‘fixing your writing’ by learning to ‘revise’ your work.

There’s lots of take home points in this video but what resonated with me most were the three points Beth makes about the places in your first drafts that your best ideas often hide (at around the 9.30 mark).

These best ideas (or the ‘screws’ or the ‘points’ as Beth calls them) are often the things that you need to pay particular attention to and that you should make the centre pieces of your revised drafts.

These points regularly can be found:

The Change

The place in our writing where we hit a fork in the road and it changes course in some way. Some writers call this the pivot.

For me in my writing I find myself regularly feeling tempted to take a tangent in my writing halfway through a post and have trained myself to take note while I writing of these moments because they are often golden moments that can trigger me to completely change what I’m writing or that lead to followup posts.

The Laugh

The moment while you’re writing when while you’re writing something just ‘lurches out onto the page’ and you laugh out loud and wonder where it came from.

This reminds me of a post I wrote back in 2011 about ‘Listening to Your Inner Crazy Voice‘ where I identified that I’ve noticed that many times my best ideas have made me either laugh or gasp when I’ve had them.

As I wrote back then:

In each case, the reaction I had straight after having the idea was to either laugh or gasp. In most cases, the reaction was the same when I told those around me. I’m learning that the laugh and gasp reactions are good. They tell you that you’ve thought of something a little out of the box—something that will, at the very least, get noticed.

The End

The vast majority of your great ideas will be found at the end of your first draft.

This resonated with me very strongly. I regularly find that after banging out a post that the crux of what I say is in my conclusion.

This is logical in many ways – we spend a lot of time exploring an idea in our writing and after all that grappling with the topic we refine our idea to the point where they’re a lot better when we’ve finished than when we started.

In some ways the first draft becomes the opportunity for us to think out loud to help us get to ‘the point’ or the idea.

The mistake at this point is simply to publish what we’ve written. Rather – treat your first draft as the raw material for what comes next. Take that idea that you’ve refined and make it the centrepiece of your writing.