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Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

Sam SurnameIt’s a war most of us as bloggers find ourselves in with Facebook fairly often: our desire to have our posts seen by our likers, versus Facebook’s desire to not overwhelm its users with thousands of updates every single time they log on.

With so many users on the world’s biggest social media site (Darren said this week it’s been logged as 1.317 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of this year), the potential for reader overload is astronomical. Facebook advertising executive Brian Boland explained a few months ago that Facebook now handles more pieces of information than ever before, mostly due to how easy smartphones make it for people to share. He says that there is “far more content being made than there is time to absorb it”, and for people with lots of friends and page likes, there is potential for up to 15,000 stories to be available every time they visit the site.

So what does that mean for Page owners? Well, it means that the Facebook News Feed Algorithm is designed to show your readers what is most relevant to them, not every single thing uploaded. What you need to do now is be relevant. And how do you know what is most relevant to your audience? You get familiar with your Insights.

What does your audience want?

For all the general advice we can give, it doesn’t beat your own personal experience, and the needs of your readers.

In your Insights tab, you can click on “Posts” and then “When Your Fans are Online”.

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As you can see, the Likers of my Veggie Mama Facebook page are online pretty much all day – but 8pm sees the biggest spike. If I want to catch the most of my readers, that would be the time to do it.

So now you know when your readers are online – the next step is to see what types of posts on your page they interact with the most. Click “Post Types” and get an overview of successful post types (including their typical reach and typical engagement rate). For me it’s video, followed by status, link, and then photo last.

Where to from there?

Make a plan to increase the types of posts your readers like, while still trying to stay useful, interesting, and entertaining. Facebook themselves say the most engaging posts you can create on Facebook are “short, original, benefit the person viewing the content, and connect to your objectives and identity”. But at the end of the day, you want real interactions with your readers, so being authentic regardless of post type should be your main aim.

Facebook also recommends video and images for the best interaction, especially those that depict humans and their relationships with others.

Video

Facebook’s recommendation to use video, and my insights listing video as the most popular post type, is consistent with the conclusions we came to yesterday about what worked on popular pages. For four out of the five pages we studied, video was their first or second most successful post type.

You can see here that a recent video shared on singer Beyoncé’s page has had incredible success. 222,000 shares (almost double the highest share rate from yesterday’s posts), 42,000 comments, and almost half a million likes.

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So what makes it work?

  • it’s original – only Beyoncè has this particular video
  • it’s current – The 50 Shades of Grey book was a phenomenal success, and excitement for the new movie is ramping up
  • it features a never-before-heard Beyoncé track that fans would be interested to hear
  • both Beyoncé and 50 Shades of Grey are highly popular among their target audience
  • It also doesn’t hurt that mobile Facebook video autoplay would make this run automatically in people’s feeds, making it look like they’re interested in it (regardless of whether they actually want to watch it or not)

Images

It has long been said that images were consistently achieving the best results for people looking to increase their reach. Beautiful images, relatable images, funny images – as visual creatures, it appears that appealing to that sense is usually a winner.

There is little doubt that Humans of New York has nailed the use of images on Facebook. Primarily to showcase his photography work, Brandon’s Facebook page has become a legend. Every day, millions of people see and interact with the images and small snippets of conversations he provides.

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So what makes it work?

  • It’s heartwarming
  • It’s relatable – whether you are someone like that, or know someone like that. It might make you think of your parents or grandparents
  • Love is a language that transcends all barriers
  • It’s a beautiful picture in a beautiful park
  • The people are smiling – they’re obviously happy, and that can be contagious
  • Readers might think this will brighten others’ days as it has theirs, so they share
  • It’s also a bit cheeky and people love a bit of a joke.
  • It’s a little bit unexpected – often the elderly have assumptions made about them and their usefulness due to their age. To see them cheeky and joking around is pleasantly surprising.

While usually focused on people (hence the “Humans”), sometimes the unexpected on the HONY page works even better.

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Text Status

For a while there, it was popular to try and provide useful or engaging text statuses, as they seemed to be the least penalised by Facebook (at least, less penalised than links, which could be seen as too promotional or salesy, and less penalised than overtly meme-y or spammy images). It gave rise to the question, or the fill-in-the-blanks. For some, it works really well. For others, it really can be seen as a blatant engagement grab, and quite off-putting.

So what makes a great text status?

Let’s look at Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. With more than two million fans, and a regularly-updated Facebook page, Ree connects with her readers in a variety of ways (mostly with images of her delicious cooking). But Ree has a quirky sense of humour her readers love, and often gets the text status exactly right.

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Always self-deprecating, Ree likes to poke fun at herself and how she looks on her Food Network cooking show. Her penchant for overexaggerating also usually sparks a giggle.

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Ree has a brother with special needs, and he is quite the character on her blog. Many of her readers can relate, and think he’s sweet.

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Again, her quirky humour and casual, friendly demeanor really makes an impact. Thanking your readers for something is usually something they appreciate.

Consistency

People want to know there’s a human person behind the Facebook page, and that the person is interested in them. If the reader comments or otherwise engages with the content on the page, they want that engagement to be a two-way street. If you are a blogger, then make an effort to be around. Don’t just post and run – post and chat. Post regularly (but not so much that your posts get hidden as people get sick to death of seeing you) and be approachable. Facebook keeps track of the pages that each person interacts with, and boosts the visibility of the last 50 pages in the newsfeed. It’s ideal to be one of those last 50 interactions (which include engagement and profile/image views).

Authenticity

Not only will Facebook limit the reach of meme content in favour of more relevant (i.e. current news or shared interests) pieces of content, but fans will see through desperate grabs for likes or comments. It also pays to be thoughtful and aware of giving your readers what they want without appearing overly strategic. At the end of the day, you still can’t beat being useful, inspiring, visual, and interactive. And nobody will tell you what works on your Facebook better than your readers will, so get to know your Insights.

As Jon Loomer says:

Meh. Just share interesting content. Monitor your results to figure out what works.

(Jon will be back tomorrow with some super-useful tips from the other side of the coin – advertising and marketing on Facebook – it’s not to be missed!)

Do you think as a whole, bloggers are over-thinking Facebook organic reach strategy? Have you found reaching your fans frustrating? Or have you hit a stride that works?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages (and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement)

There has been much discussion in blogging circles of late about Facebook and the effects their algorithms have on reaching all your “likers” with each of your posts. While Darren mentioned yesterday in his brief overview of organic vs paid reach that both have positives and negatives, the fact remains that many bloggers are still doing their best to increase their engagement organically. Today we are going to look at five popular Facebook pages and see what has been most successful for them when interacting with their audience.

Facebook

The most popular page on Facebook is actually the “Facebook for Every Phone” App, with more than 480 million fans. They haven’t updated their page since December 2013, but still rank the most overall. The second most popular page is Facebook itself (which defaults to whichever country you are in unless you opt to see a different one), but their engagement differs wildly with each post.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.33.11 pm What works for Facebook

Posts per day: One (but not every day).

What types of posts do they do? Videos, images, and links with images. They share motivational images and Facebook user information.

Most popular recent post: A motivational quote image. It garnered almost 140,000 shares, which was way over and above anything else on the page. It had just over two million likes, and more than 22,000 comments. This type of engagement doesn’t appear to be common, with the next-highest sharing rate being 64,000.

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Least popular post: A shared link from the American Cancer Society, asking people for donations. It had 13,000 likes, and less than 1000 shares.

What gets the most engagement overall? Videos, by far.

Most popular topics: Motivational stories, Facebook user information.

Shakira

Shakira is a musician from Colombia, and is the most-liked person on Facebook. She was the first person to reach over 100 million likes, and ranks third in the most popular Facebook pages (just under an App for Facebook, and Facebook themselves). She has a super-engaged page, with fans interacting constantly.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.38.57 pm

Posts per day: One (but not every day).

What kind of posts do they do? Images, video, images with links.

Most popular recent post: A grid of images of Shakira performing at the World Cup Closing Ceremony, and a message from Shakira herself. 2.5 million people liked the image, almost 85,000 shared it, and it was commented on more than 42,000 times.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.38.47 pm

10556436_10152673650169560_2488786109078107775_nLeast popular post: A shared link from the World Food Programme asking people to donate to the Mwamba Primary School in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It received 75,000 likes and only 87 shares.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Videos of Shakira performing, or addressing her fans.

Most popular topics: Behind-the-scenes peeks into Shakira’s life.

Real Madrid CF

With almost 70 million likes, Real Madrid CF is one of the biggest pages of Facebook.

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Posts per day: Between 3 and 9 posts a day

 

What kind of posts do they do? Mostly images and video.

 

Most popular recent post: A photo album of their star player Cristiano Ronaldo practising for an upcoming match. It had more than 300,000 likes, 5000 shares, and 3000 comments.

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Least popular post: A link (with image) to their online store. It had 37,000 likes, 764 comments, and 169 shares.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Photo albums of their players training.

Most popular topics: Players training.

I F*cking Love Science

IFLS is a site bringing science to the masses. Elise Andrew shares images, cartoons, science news and interesting tidbits that are designed to be accessible by everyone, not just scientists. IFLS might be trailing these pages in likes (although 17.5 million on a page updated by only one person is quite the achievement), but they are knocking them out of the park with engagement. Just about every single post has high engagement, and each type of post seems to do well.

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Posts per day: Between 8 and 19, at a rate of about one update an hour.

What kind of posts do they do? Mostly images, followed by images with links.

Most popular recent post: An image quote about the use of the planet’s resources. More than 96,000 shares, 350,000 likes, and 3708 comments were generated. With the exception of the unusually high Facebook post share above, it is a higher share rate than any of the other pages mentioned.

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It appears that unusual or interesting images work really well for them – this post about fluorite got 22,000 shares, 240,000 likes, and almost 6000 comments in 16 hours.

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Another thing IFLS fans seem to enjoy are geeky science puns. As you can see, this link to purchase a shirt got 37,000 shares in just 7 hours. With shares being the highest-ranked Facebook engagement (they appear to be more beneficial to your chances of higher organic reach than likes or comments), it’s clear that IFLS has a knack for creating viral content. It also goes to show content doesn’t need to be viral in a global sense, just viral to your readership.Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.27.14 pm

Least popular post: A straight link to an article about planets with companions having a better chance of harbouring life. Compared to the IFLS average, 8000 likes, 673 shares and 163 comments is ultra-low.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Images, by far. Especially if they’re punny.

Most popular topics: Health stories, animal information, and religion seems to get the readers fired up.

 

Humans of New York

Ask anyone what their favourite Facebook page is, and plenty of them will say Humans of New York. A page by photographer Brandon Stanton, it showcases the everyday person on the street, usually with a quote from the conversation Brandon has with them. It has quite the cult following, with 8.5 million likers and plenty of interaction.
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Posts per day: 5

What kind of posts do they do? Images.

Most popular recent post: An image and snippet of an interview with an older lady reminding people to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives. It sparked 37,000 shares, almost 350,000 likes, and 6000 comments.

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Least popular post: A link to buy Brandon’s latest book. 1000 shares and comments, and 73,000 likes.

What type of post gets the most engagement overall? Images with emotive or inspirational quotes from the people themselves. Half a million likes for this guy’s story.

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Most popular topics: People doing and saying things you don’t expect just by looking at them.

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, it depends on your readership. But the common thread between all of these pages’ successful posts is the human element. What are people doing behind the scenes? Who are they when they are relaxed? What’s going on in their real life? It appears that people like that glimpse into humanity, and they also enjoy a good joke.

Most of these pages saw real success with images on their own, without links. Links appeared to be less useful, especially if they were selling something, or asking for people’s money. The IFLS page still saw success when they posted image credit links in the statuses, but that might be because they’d been enjoying such high sharing interaction, driving up their organic reach in general.

I think it pays to look at your recent Insights to see what kinds of posts are resonating with your readers. Are you showing them enough of the human you? Are you being just that little bit different? Can they relate to your content? Are you being useful?

What kind of posts have you seen success with? Tomorrow we’ll be doing a case study on the types of things you can do for better organic reach. See you then!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Facebook Theme Week: Organic or Paid?

At a recent team meeting at ProBlogger HQ to plan the theme for our next ‘theme week’ here on the ProBlogger blog I nervously suggested that we should create a week long series of posts on the topic of Facebook.

As the word came out of my mouth I found myself almost involuntarily shuddering because I know that there’s a lot of mixed feelings among bloggers about the network right now and I half expect that we’ll get our fair share of ‘I’ve given up on Facebook’ comments on these posts.

However… while I know many bloggers and businesses owners are feeling the pain of changes of Facebook over the last six months I still think it’s a topic we could do well to explore in more depth.

Facebook remains the biggest social media network on the planet and continues to grow its active user numbers at a steady rate. According to Statista it had 1.317 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of this year and it’s still adding tens of millions more every quarter.

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While I would never argue that every blogger must be actively engaging on Facebook (each to their own) to ignore it as a source of traffic, brand building and community engagement would be almost as risky as to ignore Google (Alexa ranks Facebook as the #2 ranked site on the web behind Google).

So – as Stacey mentioned yesterday – this week we’re looking at Facebook here on ProBlogger.

Much of what we’ll be doing is ‘case study’ based by looking at the organic and paid approach of bloggers on their Facebook pages but before we do I thought I’d write a few thoughts to keep in mind as we tackle this polarising topic.

Organic, Paid or Both

Facebook have certainly been making changes of late to push page owners towards paying for reach and results on their pages.

This change in approach has caused many of us pain and left many bloggers disillusioned.

Interestingly I’ve seen bloggers respond to this challenge in a variety of ways.

  1. For some it has meant an abandonment of Facebook
  2. Others have persisted with their previous strategies to get organic reach but have adjusted (downwards) their expectations for what can be achieved
  3. Others still have taken Facebook’s changes almost as a challenge to work harder than ever on their organic strategies
  4. And lastly some bloggers have decided to not fight Facebook and begin to pay for reach

I totally understand each of the responses and over the last 12 or so months have at least considered each option.

As longer term ProBlogger readers would know the decision I made was to go with option #3 – to work even harder on growing our organic reach on Facebook.

Our Approach to Organic Reach on Facebook

Just under a year ago here on ProBlogger I shared some of the strategies I was using to increase the Digital Photography School Facebook Page reach and engagement organically.

While things have changed a little since then I’ve continued to experiment prolifically with that Facebook page and continue to see decent organic results.

If I had to summarise my approach on the dPS Facebook page 11 months later it would be:

1. Be useful – provide those who follow your page with content that is going to enhance their lives in some way. For us this is about providing helpful ‘how to’ content as 90% of what we do.

2. Be visual – I spend a lot of time thinking about the images that we use in our status updates. This is partly because we’re a photography site but mainly because Facebook is a very visual place. A great image will lift any status update a lot!

3. Be interactive – We recently had a week long period on our page where our page slumped both in terms of how much traffic it was sending to our site, how much reach we were getting and how much engagement there were in posts. I realised that I’d not been focusing as much on ‘interaction’ and follower engagement and resolved to add a few more ‘discussion’ oriented posts into our schedule. This definitely saw us lift but up our of our slump – to some extent.

4. Be Inspirational – While the majority of our updates are ‘how to’ or ‘informational’ in nature I find that throwing in the occasional purely ‘inspirational’ or ‘aspirational’ posts works. This might be adding in a quote that is meaningful, sharing a great photo, telling a great story. These posts may drive no traffic at all to your site – but they get people engaging – which has flow on effects.

5. Experiment – I treat each status update that I do as an opportunity to learn something about what works and doesn’t work with our readership. Try different types of updates (images, text based, link posts etc). Watch what happens when you do.

Overall the organic reach of the dPS page is decent, although I’ve definitely noticed the last month has been less consistent.

We Now ‘Pay to Play’: To Some Extent

The change to our Facebook strategy that we’ve not talked much about here on ProBlogger yet is that alongside our organic strategy, we’ve begun to experiment
with small paid campaigns.

Shayne will be sharing with you some specifics of the type of campaigns that we’ve been running on our page later this week but I will say now that we’ve had some success with the paid campaigns that we’ve run.

I know not every blogger will be in a position to pay much (if anything) for a Facebook ad campaign but if it is any encouragement to you the amount of money we’ve put into Facebook advertising to this point is not exorbitant (it has been in the $200 to $500 per month range).

Our campaigns have ranged from promoting our eBooks, to campaigns to grow our ‘likes’. Some of our campaigns have worked brilliantly – others have not – but the beauty of Facebook advertising is that you can set up limits on how much you spend on each campaign and can start small and then ramp up what is working and kill of what isn’t.

The ‘return’ on our investment has well exceeded what we’ve spent. The 2-3 experiments with selling our eBooks with ads have generated over five times what we’ve spent and we’ve also benefited in other ways (more traffic to our site, more ‘likes’ on our page and a flow on improvement in our organic reach and engagement).

I’m still cautious about investing too much into advertising but it is certainly showing some great results for us so far – more on this topic later in the week.

Never Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Before we get into some case studies for the rest of the week let me finish with a simple reminder to not put all your eggs in the one basket when it comes with driving traffic to your blog.

I fell into this mistake in the early days of my own blogging by relying too much upon SEO to drive traffic from Google and have seen many instances where bloggers have obsessed about a single source of traffic (either from search, social or referral) only to find that source of traffic dried up and left them with nothing.

Facebook could well be an amazing opportunity for your blogging but the opportunity is unlikely to be an indefinite one.

Experiment, leverage what you can, ride the wave as long as it’ll last but keep your options open and always use it to build the things you have ultimate control over.

Keep in mind the ‘home base’ and ‘outpost’ model that I’ve been writing about here on ProBlogger since 2008. Don’t abandon your blog for Facebook – rather use Facebook to help you to build your blog (and email list).

Ultimately Facebook will do what is in their best interests and will change the rules of engagement there to suit them. This will at times present you with opportunity but at other times will mean you need to adapt your approach.

So this week as we talk about Facebook I encourage you to read along with an open mind – but also resisting the temptation to obsess. Doing so in this balanced fashion will hopefully lead to some great opportunities!

Theme Week: Your Guide to All Things Facebook

Sam Surname

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

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

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

Your Guide to Facebook

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

See other theme weeks here

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

10 Steps To Help Turn Your Blog Into A Number 1 Bestselling Book

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Image via Flickr user triedandtruetutoring

This is a guest contribution from entrepreneur and author Niall Harbison.

Although not everybody wants to make money from their blog, it is undoubtedly the goal for many. To make a living from writing at home often features high on the list of dream jobs! I’m lucky enough to have just published a book which got to number one in the charts, sold a business, as well as running a couple of businesses today, and most of the success can be put down to blogging. I wanted to share some of the tips that helped me first of all get the book published, and secondly, how blogging helped it to the top of the book charts. The book is called Get Shit Done and if you start using these tips that is exactly what you will be able to do. Hopefully you too can turn your blog into a bestselling book…

10 Steps To Help Turn Your Blog Into A Number 1 Bestselling Book

Find your niche

The really good blogs focus on one thing and they do it well. It doesn’t matter if you are a pig farmer in Russia, or a fashion student in New York, because whatever you do you will have an audience. The biggest mistake that most people make is they try and be to generalist and start straying away from their topics in order to get more traffic. Even though things won’t explode in terms of visitors at the very start, if you keep on doing what you are doing and writing in your niche with authority, you will eventually see the results and the audience grow.

Let Your Personality Shine Through

Think about all the big blogs that you read and the chances are there will be a strong personality or character shining through in the writing or through the content. Readers have millions of pages online to choose from so in order to keep them coming back and engaging with what you do there needs to be a part of you that stands out. It doesn’t mean you need to share your deepest darkest secrets like I did, but do try and be personable in your writing and give your readers something to latch onto.

Invest In Professional Design

The one thing that I think sets the truly great blogs and the average ones apart is great design. In my own early days of blogging I made the mistake many make trying to design the blog myself and using templates. If you are to be taken seriously and to get a book deal or start driving some serious revenue then invest $500-1000 on getting somebody to design your blog professionally. A badly designed messy blog will put people off straight away and make people think you are small-time.

Connect With Other Bloggers

This was the best advice I got in the early days and it has paid off over and over again. Some of you might think that people within your own niche should be seen as competition but the reality is that there is room for everybody. Like-minded bloggers within your niche will help you grow your audience, refer business to you, add value to your content, and share what is working for them. Most people ignore this tip but the community of bloggers is so strong and you’ll be surprised at just how welcoming most are.

Help People

There is no more effective tool in the world than helping other people. It could be advice. An Intro. A Retweet. A link in a post. For the first five years that I was blogging and on social media, all I did was help other people and give out favours to others. What that does is create a huge base of people who are willing to help you in return when you need it. As soon as I launched my book, I was able to nicely ask all the people I’ve been helping over the years to share my link, review the book, or even just buy it. Helping others is the best way to help yourself in the long run.

Network At Offline Events

You probably think that because you have a blog you can do all your networking online and that you never have to shake another hand in your life. The reality is very different. Some of the best connections and your biggest fans will come from the real world. I got a publishing deal by meeting people in the flesh. I met commercial partners in real life. You have to get out from behind the laptop sometimes and put yourself out there and meet people who are going to help you achieve your dreams.

Use Traditional Media And PR

Although the likes of print media are certainly dying, there is still huge leverage to be had by appearing in traditional media. I often write newspaper columns for free (newspapers love filling space for cheap these days) and I’ve found PR to be one of the most effective tools in terms of building brand. Your blog might be the best thing since sliced bread but people still put a lot of weight on seeing a photo or a name in a byline in a newspaper. Use traditional media to take your own brand to the next level.

Think International

Another big problem that most bloggers have is that from day one they pigeonhole themselves within a certain country. We live in a connected world where the internet knows no boundaries, so don’t limit the size of your potential audience by nailing your colours to the mast in your own country. Think big and talk in an international tones and you’ll be surprised at just how big your blog can get all over the world.

Speak At Conferences

I’ve found nothing more powerful in all my years of blogging than speaking at conferences on the subject that you are blogging about. If anybody is willing to give you a microphone stand up in a room even if there are only 10 people there. If you’ve never done it before you will be nervous the first time but get over that because speaking at public events is the quickest way to build your own credibility and take you to the next level. If you don’t have any conferences to speak at simply ask organisers. They are always stuck for speakers and you’ll be surprised just how many people say yes!

The 70/30 Social Rule

It used to be seriously hard to grow an audience for a blog. Now we have social media. The quickest way to grow an audience is not by constantly pushing out links to your own content but instead by interacting with people on social. Answering their questions. Sharing links. Showing your expertise. The way I think about it if you want to build a really big audience you should be spending 70% of your time creating content and interacting on social media compared to 30% creating content on the blog. It really is that important. Do that and people will slowly start coming back to your longer pieces over time and your audience will be huge after a while.

These are some of the tips that I used for the last 6 years and repeated over and over again. The end result was selling a business for a couple of million and publishing this book which has all the tips and which just got to number one. Enjoy.

Niall is an entrepreneur who has sold a business for millions and author of Get Sh*t Done published by Penguin. 

Increase Your SEO By Appearing on Google News

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This is a guest contribution from business/tech writer Nick Chowdrey.

Getting on Google News

Everybody knows that the world of SEO is changing. As Google’s algorithms get ever more efficient at filtering out good content from bad, more and more companies are turning to content marketing and guest posting to increase their Google page rank and appear higher up searches.

In the world of content marketing, creating high quality posts is just part of the story. You could write the most fascinating and informative article, but with so many other companies now employing writers to do the same, it’s still hard to to get the attention you need.

The goal is to become a trusted and respected commentator in your niche, but this can often take a huge investment in both time and resources. As such, one content marketing strategy that has surfaced recently is to try and get ones site featured on Google News.

What is Google News and why is it important?

Google launched its full news service, Google News, in January 2006. Aggregating content from over 25,000 publishers worldwide, the service uses Google’s algorithms to search for and promote the top news stories of the moment. Users can customise what topics and publications they’d prefer to see and can order stories using various filters.

Getting listed on Google News is not easy. They have extremely strict standards and a publication can only register for consideration once every six weeks. Google then uses its web crawlers to scan your site and determine the journalistic integrity, authority, accountability and readability of your content.

The rewards for getting listed, though, are substantial. Not only will a listed site benefit from the huge amount of traffic that goes through Google News, the added authority that a site gets from being listed means that more sites will start linking to your articles, which bumps you up the Google search rankings.

Being featured on Google News will not only boost the domain authority of your page but, as other businesses and professionals begin to rely on your site for news that’s relevant to them, your actual authority as a commentator in your niche will also increase. This should increase the amount of shares and trackbacks to your articles and, ultimately, your visibility on Google.

So, how can you get featured on Google News?

Quality of content

Google states in its Google News guidelines that its main aim for the project is “to organise all the world’s news and make it accessible to its users, while providing the best possible experience for those seeking useful and timely news information.” In order to achieve this, they maintain strict quality controls, which were briefly mentioned above.

Google are very strict on what constitutes news and what doesn’t. Google state that they don’t include how-to articles, advice columns, job postings or strictly informational content such as weather forecasts and stock data.

They also only accept genuine, original news stories with high journalistic values. The best way to make sure that you fulfil these criteria is to write about what you know. Find stories that are relevant to your industry and, specifically, your niche in that industry. Not only will this improve the originality of your content, it will also mean your news stories are more relevant to your target audience.

Accountability is also a must. Google wants to know that you’re a reputable site, so they require a degree of transparency on your part. Your office address should be easily viewable and all of your editorial team should have profile pages with images and email addresses included.

Finally, the quality of the writing itself matters greatly. Here are some tips on how to write news content to an excellent standard.

Quality of writing

You’ll need to make sure that you and your team, if you have one, have excellent news writing skills. News writing may seem straightforward – especially if you’re already writing a blog – but it’s actually hard to do it right. the quality of your news writing is one aspect that Google will assess when considering you for Google News, so it’s important to learn to do it properly. Just republishing press releases isn’t going to get you anywhere.

A few quick tips on how to write a decent news piece: First, in terms of structure, you should always write your news with the most important facts at the top and the least important at the bottom. This is called the “inverted pyramid of news” and is designed for the way news is read, making it easy to skim lots of pieces and get a general jist of a story as efficiently as possible.

Deciding on what’s important is very much a judgement call on your part, but you should choose the content that’s most likely to get readers interested in the rest of the piece at the top. This will usually be some kind of statistic or statement, such as “X% of young people suffer from headaches, according to X professional body.”

Headlines are very important because they not only influence the searchability of your articles, but also the readership. The BBC are strongly credited with writing the most searchable headlines in the business. Here are some tips from their SEO guru, Martin Asser:

  • Use words that people would use in search in order to find the information being provided
  • Avoid words that people would never use in search to find that content
  • Put the most searchable elements at the front
  • Proper names are often used in search, so – following rules 1 and 3 – names should be included in the headline and if appropriate at the front

Finally, it’s also important to include first-hand information, correctly sourced and referenced, in the form of quotations. One of the best places to obtain these is from press releases, which you can find in the press sections of most big organisations. If you lift a quote from another news site, be sure to reference them, otherwise you’re just stealing other people’s work, which Google definitely won’t like.

Technical requirements

Your articles will need to meet certain technical requirements in order for Google’s web crawlers to be able to tell which of your site’s pages are news articles. If these requirements aren’t met, Google will not be able to automatically aggregate your stories, which is a requirement of being accepted onto the News site.

Technical requirements are as follows: Article URLs must be unique, permanent and contain at least three digits. This is so that Google can tell when an article is new. Links to the articles on your site must be in HTML with anchor texts that include at least a few words. Google is unable to crawl JavaScript, graphic links or links found in frames.Articles themselves must also be formatted in HTML, because Google is unable to crawl articles in other formats, such as PDF.

It’s generally accepted that articles made using popular content management systems like WordPress will be crawlable by Google without you having to make any manual changes.

A full list of technical requirements can be found in Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Other considerations

You then need to make sure that you’re covering as many news pieces from your niche a day as possible. Perhaps dedicate the first hour of every day to source, write and publish relevant news pieces that you think your audience would be interested in. Google don’t only assess quality of news, but quantity also.

You need to start building your position as a news provider. Make sure you diligently share all your news stories across all social media platforms. The amount of views your news site is getting will also influence Google in their decision on whether or not you’ll be featured.

Once you think you’re ready, go ahead and apply! But make sure you really have done as much as you can, otherwise there’s a six week wait to apply again.

Improving your rankings

Although the mere fact that you’ve been accepted onto Google News will most likely do wonders for your organic traffic, you can still take positive steps to climb up the rankings.

Firstly, it stands to reason that the more stories you write, the better chance you’ll have to get them read. At least three articles a day is recommended. Google also look to filter out duplicate content, so making the titles of your news articles unique will help to get it ranked. A unique title is also more likely to be clicked on by readers.

Finally, be diligent and get your news published quickly. As was mentioned above, if you make a routine of writing news pieces in the mornings, this will improve your chances of being the first. Start making a habit of keeping up with all relevant current affairs in your niche. Keep checking influential commentators and trade bodies regularly for press releases. You might also want to watch live broadcasts of political debates, such as Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK.

Nick Chowdrey is a staff and freelance writer specialising in business and technology. He is currently Technical Writer at Crunch Accounting. Follow Nick on Twitter @nickchef88.

ProBlogger in Perth: 10 Things Darren Wishes He Knew About Blogging

Jenish Pandya and Darren Rowse ProBloggerThis is a guest contribution from blogger Jenish Pandya.

What happens when ProBlogger legend Darren Rowse comes to your city for the first time ever?

You and everyone around you go crazy and act like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert and start taking heaps of photos every time he makes a move.

Then what do you do with all the photos you have taken? Well, you write a blog post.

Darren came down to Perth for the first ever mini PBevent and in his presentation gave us a taste of what happens at the main event happening this year on Gold Coast from 29-30 August.

Darren Rowse’s 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren’s presentation was titled “10 things I wish I’d know about Blogging (+7 Quick tips)” in which he shared about the blogging lessons he would have wanted to know when he started out 12 years ago.

The lessons he shared were really simple and easy to implement, they were meant to take your blogging to the next level.

Darren Rowse's 10 Blogging Lessons

Darren The ProBlogger

Overnight Success only happens after years and years of work, it couldn’t be much right than in Darren’s case.

Darren started of the presentation with his introduction (as if he needed one :) ) and followed on with his story about how ProBlogger (PB) and Digital Photography School (DPS) started out. If it hadn’t been for his wife Vanessa, all this would probably not have happened as it did.

Darren’s journey started out with four simple words “Check out this blog” and without much credentials behind him he started out blogging and after 12 years of hard/smart work, ProBlogger and Digital School Photography have become what they are now. If you want to know about Darren’s awesome story check out the About ProBlogger page.

My Takeaway:

You have to be dedicated to your blog and business. There is nothing such as overnight or quick and easy Success. You have to work hard and smart to achieve your goals and sometimes you will achieve something more greater than what you ever imagined.

Darren's Credentials

Blogging Lesson #1: If you want your Blog to be a Business, Treat it as one

Glass half full, or glass half empty, the way we perceive and look at things changes how they appear to us.

The first lesson that Darren shared was something he had seen a number of bloggers go wrong with, including himself. Most of the bloggers started blogging as a creative outlet to share about their passion or as a hobby and monetizing the blog came as an afterthought.

The way you act when you think of your blog as a hobby will be completely different to when you think of it as a real business. When it becomes a business, you will pay more attention to it, be more professional about it and also dedicate as much time as possible.

So if you are really serious about monetizing your blog and trying to generate income from it, then your first step is to treat it like a business.

My Takeaway:

I started a couple of blogs before my current one and was treating them as hobbies and I can totally see the difference in how I go about treating my current blog by me being consistent, showing respect and putting time and effort in providing value.

Blogging Lesson #2: Identify WHO you want to read your blog

You need to know your audience before you start doing anything.

Darren shared four key reasons on how knowing WHO you want to read your blogs informs you the blogger on;

  • Content Strategy
  • Promotional Strategy
  • Community Strategy
  • Monetization Strategy

The first step in identifying your reader is to create two-three reader profiles or avatars which describes the reader’s;

  • Demographics
  • Need/Challenges
  • How they Use the Web
  • Motivations for Reading
  • Experience Level
  • Dreams
  • Financial Situation

Darren introduced Grace, who describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. Grace is one of the few fictitious reader of Digital Photography School that Darren invented. Here are the other reader profiles.

The second step to getting to know WHO your readers are is asking your current readers to fill out surveys and polls, so you get hard facts and numbers about them.

My Takeaway:

This was something I knew I had to do but never got around doing it. It is something I have struggled with as I have always tried to write for everyone and never picked out specifically my exact niche. After hearing Darren I have started working on it and I am close to writing up a couple of reader profiles for my blog.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3: Email is Powerful!

With all the hype around the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other cool social media sites, sometimes the good old email doesn’t get paid the attention it really deserves.

Darren emphasized on the use of email as a powerful blog marketing tool as;

  • It Drives Traffic
  • It Drives Profit
  • It Builds Community
  • It Builds the Brand

He told us about how it was his father who got him started on to setting up email subscriptions because his father wasn’t sure of how to set up in reading an RSS feed and still wanted to read Darren’s blog.

My Takeaway:

I love email marketing especially because it is personal and gives you that feeling of one 2 one communication with your reader and the coolest thing is that it can be automated.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #3A: Don’t Write Off PopUps

PopUps are still a bit controversial, some people hate it and some don’t mind it.

Darren used to hate popups and he never used them till he got challenged to try it out for one day and see what happened to his optin rates on DPS. So being adventurous, he gave it a shot.

The result of that one day was quite the opposite of what he had expected, his subscriber rates increased by almost five times than normal. The crazy thing was that there was little to no impact in traffic, meaning that people didn’t mind the pop-up.

He also mentioned that the readers on DPS didn’t mind the popup whereas those on PB did. This was due to the fact that they were both complete different types of readers. So Darren runs popups on DPS which only appear once for a visitor to the site and he doesn’t run any on PB. Read the full story how he drastically increased his subscribers.

My Takeaway:

I am still on the fence about whether to use popups or not but I guess the best way is to actually test it and let the results speak for themselves.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #4: There are MANY ways to Make Money Blogging

But it’s not quick or easy

There is always more than one way to skin a cat.

The one thing to learn from this is to diversify your income sources and not be dependent on any single one of them as Darren once was. He primarily used to make money from Google Adsense and one day when the search engine algorithms got changed, his income stopped for a while and then it lead him to diversify PB’s income sources.

Some of the ways to make money blogging are;

  • Services
  • Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Selling/Flipping Blogs
  • Continuity Programs
  • Products

Have a read of the 12 Blogging Income Streams and Darren’s 10 year overnight success to get a further insight into monetizing your blog.

My Takeaway:

This hit me home, I am a big fan of diversification and building different funnels to grow your income so that you are never dependent on any one particular source.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #5: Create something to SELL

People love to buy but they hate to be sold.

Following on from diversifying your blogging income source Darren moved to talking about creating something of your own to sell as it will keep your readers on your website and also increase your authority amongst the readers. Not forgetting the obvious reason, it increases your income.

Darren showed some stats of how almost 40% of his current earnings were from ebook sales. The wonderful thing was that he could sell the ebooks as singles or by bundles in different categories, topics, authors. He could also add other ebooks as bonuses to provide more value to the buyer.

So one of the biggest focus in creating an income from your blog should actually be creating something to sell.

My Takeaway:

I love Information products and how they can be easily leveraged to not only create an income but also to provide massive value. I have been putting off writing one for a while now but after hearing Darren’s advice, that project is about to take a new life.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #6: Successful Blogs – Inform, Inspire, Interact

If you were looking for the silver bullet for successful blogs, this is it!

This is the formula that Darren has used over and over again to make PB and DPS as successful as they are at this moment.

The first part of the formula is to create blog posts that Inform your readers. For example the how to posts, the review posts, the new thing and more in the similar criteria.

The second one is to Inspire with posts of different examples or case studies

The third being blog post that help you Interact with your readers, some of them could be challenge posts.

My Takeaway:

I never thought successful blogging could ever be put in such a simple formula. I have normally focused on the information posts but little on the inspirational and interaction creating, looks like they will be added to my blogging arsenal.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #7: Look for SPARKS

This is the reason that explains how Darren does all the things in his business and life.

“You should be doing what gives you Energy” – Darren Rowse. He mentioned about how the 31 days to a build a better blog came about. There was an idea he had in his mind and was keeping him awake at night so he decided to ask the readers whether they would like him to post a 31 day blog post series and it was the post that had got the most comments and people were giving him back the energy and asking him what was the first day.

So whatever you are doing, either be blogging or other activities you should identify what gives you energy (sparks) and follow that spark to accomplish it to the best of your abilities. Also try to figure out what gives your readers’ energy and what creates sparks for them, as that is where you should be focusing on.

Become a prolific problem solver by becoming hyper aware of problems around you, as it will not only give you heaps and heaps of ideas on what to blog about but also will give you different ideas on creating products as well.

My Takeaway:

I always used to wonder how do all the awesome people like Darren manage to achieve all that they have and still have time and energy left to do more, I thought they were following their passion but there was still some doubt left till I heard Darren.

Sometimes you don’t know what your passion is but if you follow the sparks then you are sure to find what gives you energy and leading to a better blog.

 

Blogging Lesson #8: Be ACTIVE

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers

Darren told us about one question that we should be asking ourselves everyday and that is “What Action Will I take Today that Will Grow My Blog?” It’s about lots and lots of small, consistent actions over a long time that have the Big Impact. When trying to answer the question you could be thinking about

  • Content Creation
  • Community Management
  • Promotional Activities

And to monetize your blog take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge – Spend 15 minutes per day doing something to take you a step towards your blogging goals. This is how Darren was able to create the first ever ebook for DPS, he spent 15 minutes everyday for three months.

My Takeaway:

I loved the tip of the 15 minute a day challenge and have started working on a project that I long avoided and that is of creating a membership site. I invite you to take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge and see what difference it makes.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #9: Do Good

At the end of the day it is about helping out others and doing Good.

Darren went to Tanzania in 2011 part of a Blog Project for a non for profit CBM Australia – part of the world’s largest organisation working with people with disabilities – with a particular focus upon the poor. He spent around a week in a disability hospital.

I hardly can put the stories he shared in words, so have a look at the video of Darren talking about his final reflections of the trip.

My Takeaway:

I believe that every single one of us was born to help each other out and Do Good. I was moved and inspired by Darren’s story about his Tanzania trip to do as much Good as I can.

Blogging Lesson

Blogging Lesson #10: Aim to have a BIG impact upon the readers you already have

It takes the same time and effort to think small when compared to Think BIG.

The last lesson Darren talked about was to provide more value and have a BIG impact upon your current readers as it is by doing such you will be able to grow and build you blog faster and create a healthy income. There is no point in chasing your future readers when your current ones are not even being taken care of.

Simply put, Love your current readers and you will able to achieve your blogging goals.

My Takeaway:

For me this was the magic silver bullet everyone keeps chasing, the more I take care and love my current readers the more my blog is going to grow.

Blogging Lesson

After going through the 10 Blogging Lessons, he quickly went about sharing 7 Quick Blogging Tips. After going through the tips you will realize that he doesn’t know how to count, hehe.

Jenish Pandya is a blogger who likes to help people earn a recurring income online, with business strategies and techniques.

Three Ways to Outperform Your Online Competition

Untitled design

This is a guest contribution from Emma Henry of True Target Marketing.

There’s no denying that plenty of us are trying to make a living on the internet. The good news is that it’s still early days when it comes to building a successful online business. In reality, very few businesses know how to effectively execute strategic online marketing campaigns. Now is the perfect time for you to take advantage of this gap in the market and outperform your online competition. With some sound advice, a strategic approach, and a solid implementation plan, your online business performance can go from strength to strength. 

First Things First

The first thing is to prepare a custom strategy for your online business. To do this, you need to conduct a detailed review of your current online situation. What is currently working well? What are the main issues and the biggest frustrations with your website? What is the goal for your online business 12 months and beyond? Who are your current customers and are they your ideal, highest-value customers?  How can you encourage repeat purchases to increase the life time value of your ideal customers? 

There are a number of useful analytics tools such as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Keyword Research software that can help you to review your current online business and devise the best strategy for your business going forward. Consider engaging in the services of a website marketing expert to assist you with the process of analysing your online business. A professional will have the skills and knowledge to prepare a bespoke, tailored strategy that can reap you huge results. 

Then What?

The second step is to implement the necessary changes to your website to help you achieve your online business goals. The aim is to attract more high value customer prospects to your website, encourage them to stay on your site (rather than go to a competitor site), and to persuade them to take some form of action on your site (i.e. make a purchase, call for an appointment, request a quote etc.).

Some specific changes you might need to make to improve the performance of your website include: 

  • Simplify the site navigation for a seamless, end-user experience.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter.
  • Include a concise summary of your offerings on your home page linking back to the more detailed products/services pages.
  • Include a “Testimonials” and “FAQ” page.
  • Align the content of every page with the most relevant, industry specific keyword.
  • Develop and improve existing content.
  • Optimise your website for the search engines.
  • Incorporate multiple, relevant and clear calls to action on your site (for a free quote call xxx, click to buy here, enter your email to receive xxx)

And Finally…

The third and final step to outperform your online competition is to secure your place as the absolute authority in your industry niche. To do this, you need to ensure the content on your website is high quality, unique, and relevant to your specific market, and is better than the content of your online competitors. Create regular, fresh new content around common queries in your industry. Go beyond an FAQ sheet and include a dedicated page with detailed information on typical customer queries. Doing this will ensure that when prospective customers search for those queries in Google, your website page will show up in the search results over and above your competitor pages because your site will be the one with the most informative and relevant information. In time, you will become the “go to” website authority for your industry niche as your customer prospects begin to know, like and trust your brand and your information. Not only will you be perceived as the expert in your field by providing your audience with valuable information, but you will be rewarded by Google as they boost your search engine rankings ahead of your competitors. 

In summary, take the time to review your current online operations, implement a strategy to attract more of your ideal customer prospects by improving and optimising your website structure and building up relevant content on your site. Consider engaging the services of a professional, online marketing expert to help you execute this proven and effective three-step strategy.  The investment will be well worthwhile when you consider the value you will get from securing highly-targeted new business. Now is the time to start securing a greater share of customers in your marketplace by outperforming your competitors online.

Emma Henry is an Online Marketing Specialist and the owner of True Target Marketing. Emma tailors bespoke online marketing strategies for her clients. She specialises in lead generation, customer conversions, increased website traffic and improved website responsiveness. 

Create the Best Pay-Per-Click Landing Page in 7 Easy Steps

Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

Image via Flickr user Andrew Pescod

This is a guest contribution from Poulami Ghosh of PPC Ads Management.

If conversion rates really matter to you, you should be aware that every marketing campaign has to have a dedicated landing page. This is particularly true with regard to PPC where you have to pay for every single click. Ask any PPC company and it will tell you the same thing. However, it is not enough to know that you should use a landing page. You also have to know how to craft one, so that your marketing efforts rise above the average and become exceptional.

There are seven steps to creating an effective landing page. In order to explain them better, let me create a fictitious organization first. Let’s name it SaaSProject. It is an online solution for project management, specifically created for SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses. The message they want to convey is that their platform has been specifically designed for the online software industry and comprises features closely associated with how SaaS businesses function. 

Setting Your Campaign Goal or Objective

The main aim of this campaign will be to accumulate leads, by offering informative content about handling SaaS projects. 

Majority of the marketing done by SaaSProject is content marketing. Thus, a PDF guide on the subject will be written so that it can be given away in exchange of data gathered from people. 

Another objective is to get the maximum number of leads possible for opting in to watch a demo of the product. This goal can be achieved in two ways, both of which will be explained by me when I come to the page design. 

Explain the Pain of the Customer As Well As Its Relief

Penning down a pain statement enables you to concentrate on the needs of your customer, and also express better how that pain is addressed by your solution. Let us try to understand it better with our example.

The Pain

Software for project management is either very complex so that no team member wants to use it, or too simplistic so that it is not configurable enough to do what it is required to. 

The Pain Relief

SaaSProject was particularly designed, keeping in mind a SaaS business model. Its functionality is role-specific so that it directly speaks to designers, developers and advertisers. There are comprehensive to-do lists for developers with complete Github integration. A PSD can be uploaded by designers, which changes into a sequence of layer previews intended for stakeholders. Again, writers have versioning, copy commenting as well as approval modes. What is more, there is a 10,000 feet-view mode for the project manager for easily managing the project with one view.

You are really enthusiastic about starting this organization with me now, right?

A balanced approach is given by these two accounts for narrating your story. Your prospects have to be addressed in a way that is understood by them, based on consideration of their most important concerns. 

Write an Engaging Campaign Story

Next, you have to create a compelling campaign story that weaves the pain as well as the pain relief descriptions together into a narrative which you can use as a parameter first for the ebook and then for your landing page. 

How to Write an Effective Campaign Story?

Make use of a story skeleton to simplify the writing process. The Freytag Pyramid defines a common plot structure, which involves breaking a narrative down into five stages, namely: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion. This structure can be used to craft your base story, after which it has to be translated into the functional parts of a landing page. 

Create Your Form

A form is not just a collection of data requests. An entire landing page can be created only with a form. Any PPC company will vouch for that.

Since we have the story with us now, we have to begin the process of its translation to a landing page. In this case, it is always advisable to use the inside-out approach instead of the more traditional top-down one.

Your form comprises the following components:

  • A headline for introducing the purpose of the form.
  • A description involving bullets for highlighting the advantage and contents of what is being given away by you upon completion.
  • A call-to-action.
  • The form with vivid form fields (attention can be captured by original questions and label names).
  • Trust links or statements.
  • A context-enhancement or closing urgency statement.

I mentioned in Step one that there were two ways in which people could be asked to register for the demo. They are:

Reward

Offer the demo in return for something. For instance, a check-box could be added to the form, where people are asked if they would like to see a demo, before the submission of the form.

Reciprocity

It works on the philosophy that people will be keener to do something for you only after you do something for them. For instance, in our case, you have just given a guide free of cost to the visitor, and so you can politely ask whether they would like to engage in something else. 

Make The Page Design Around Your Form

The campaign story has to be broken down into the structural elements of your landing page. The main components that will feature on your landing page are as follows:

  • Headline
  • Subheading
  • Intro – pain
  • Pain relief or benefits offered by the solution
  • A hero shot showing your offer
  • Social proof
  • Your form as crafted from the previous part
  • A concluding statement that rounds off the story and takes them back to the form for conversion

Perform The Test of Congruence

Congruence refers to the principle of bringing every component on your page into line, with the intention of conveying one combined message. The presence of something incongruent means it is fighting against the goal or objective of your page. 

Go Through The CCD (Conversion Centered Design) Checklist Thoroughly

Once your landing page is ready, assess it once from the point of view of a Conversion Centered Designer. The main idea here is to be realistic and understand that some work is still left to be done. A set of design guidelines and principles has to be applied to your page to ensure it appears the best when your PPC traffic is unleashed on it. 

In this era of branding, storytelling is a crucial part of effective and successful marketing. Any PPC company will second that. So, apply the steps outlined by me and success could be yours. 

Poulami Ghosh loves to share knowledge about effective PPC practices and online marketing.

How Social Media Can Affect Your Search Engine Rankings

How-Social-Signals-Affect-Your-Search-Engine-RankingsThis is a guest contribution from digital media project manager Sandeep Sharma.

Now more than ever, marketing experts are improving their marketing strategy with fewer resources, and they are shifting marketing budgets from traditional to digital tactics like search engine optimization and social media. Companies, too often, omit their social media marketing strategy from their SEO strategy, which is a grave mistake. A study  conducted by Ascend2 indicates that companies with the strongest SEO via social media strategies now produce the best results, and vice-versa. Companies that consider themselves “very successful” at search engine optimization are integrating social media into their strategy, whereas, companies that are “not successful” at search engine optimization are not integrating social media into their strategy.

See the graph below:

SEOSocialIntegration

In the above graph, companies with successful SEO are in blue while those companies with an inferior SEO strategy are in amber. You can see 38% of those doing very well with search engine optimization were also extensively integrating social media. A full 50% of those doing poorly at search engine optimization were not integrating social media at all in their strategy. This graph signifies that companies that are succeeding in search engine optimization today are including social in their strategy.

SEO is much more than just high ranking in Google. It is a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to website optimization that ensures potential customers, who come to your website, will have an excellent experience, easily find what they are looking for, and have an easy time sharing your optimum-quality content. The combination of SEO and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be overwhelming for big as well as small business marketers. Until recently, search engine optimization and social media marketing were thought of as two very different things, but actually these are two sides of the same coin. Consider the below mentioned social network growth statistics:

  • YouTube hosts nearly 14 billion videos. Source: comScore
  • Google sites handle about 100 billion searches each month. Source: SEL
  • Facebook is now over 1 billion users. Source: Mark Zuckerberg
  • Twitter has over 550 million accounts. Source: Statistics Brain
  • Google+ has over 500 million users. Source: Google
  • LinkedIn is at 225 million users. Source: LinkedIn
  • Pinterest grew 4,377% in 2012 and continues to expand with 25 million users. Source: TechCrunch
  • Following statistics shows how social media is quite helpful in effective search engine optimization:
  • 94% increase in CTR (Click-Thru-Rate) when search and social media are used together. Source: eMarketer
  • 50% of consumers use a combination of search and social media to make purchase decisions. Source: Inc
  • Consumers who use social media (vs. people who don’t) are 50% more likely to use search. Source: srcibd
  • Websites with a Google+ business page yield a 15% rise in search rank. Source: Open Forum

With these statistics, we can say that social media can be a primary engine for promoting new content and can take your website from zero visibility to a strong performing position almost overnight. For enhancing SEO through social media platform two factors plays a vital role, which are social signals and natural link building. I have explained these two factors in an elaborative manner:

What’s Your Social Signal?

Social Signals are signals to various search engines that your content or information is valuable. Every time someone likes, shares, tweets or +1′s content about your brand, especially a link, they are sending a social signal and the more social signals means you have better chances to rank high on search engine result pages. Many researchers have found that social shares are quite valuable when it comes to building your website authority. Here is the latest research from Searchmetrics, highlighting which social signals correlate to rankings on Google:

socialsignals2

Note that 7 out of the top 9 factors are social signals. Now, it’s clear that social signals can have a huge impact on your search rankings, especially social signals from Google+. If you do not have time to leverage all of the social networking sites, then make sure that Google+ is one of the few you do use because it will play the biggest part in increasing your rankings on search engines. Top social signals that Google is tracking on your website are mentioned below:

Google+

Google+ is a fledgling community when it is compared to social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, but its social signals have the most impact on search ranking results. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of +1s- You need to start distinguishing +1 to your website in general and +1 to each pieces of your content. You should increase +1s to your brand/your authorship profile. This also applies to +1s on Local+ pages.

Authority of +1s- If your profile or brand gets more +1, then you will get to rank higher and easier for the future content you produce.

Growth rate of +1s- You should strategize a plan that will increase your +1 steadily over an extended period of time.

Amount of Adds and Shares- How many people are following and sharing your content tells about how authoritative you are.

Authority of Adds and Shares- Who is following you is also important. A network with people with great profiles helps you to establish a voice.

Facebook

The king of social networking sites, Facebook has an active community of over 900 million. Millions of active users make it a perfect platform for generating social signals. Various researches have shown that Facebook influences more search rankings as compare to Google+ or Twitter. Some factors that you should look at are:

Amount of Shares and Likes- You should remember that “shares” carry more weight than “likes”.

Amount of Comments- The collective amount of likes, shares and comments correlate the closest with search ranking.

Twitter

Twitter is second only to Facebook and boasts 500 million users that are constantly “tweeting”, status updates and events in real time. Twitter users, known as “tweeps”, puts more premium on a tweet’s authority rather than sheer amount; though the overall social signals generated by it lags just a little behind Facebook. On twitter you should look at some factors like:

  • Authority of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Number of followers, mentions and retweets
  • Speed and intensity of tweets and RT over time

Other social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare

The big three, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, play quite important role when it comes to social ranking factors, but you should not ignore the potential of other user-driven social websites like Pinterest, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FourSquare. On these social networking sites you should look at following factors:

  • Amount of Pins and re-pins on Pinterest
  • Comments on Pinterest
  • Growth rate of Pins and Re-pins
  • Check-ins on Foursquare
  • Spread rate of check-ins at FourSquare
  • Upvotes on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Comments on Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon

Link Development through Social Media

The traditional way of link building like en-masse link directories, spammy comments, forum-posts for the sake of links, and anchor text sculpting are over now. In the modern era, the powerful way to build link is effective content marketing strategy. People love informative and quality content, and they love sharing content. Social media sites are one of the best platforms for content marketing, in this way these are quite important for natural link development.

How to build natural and quality links through Social Media Platforms

There are two tactics that will help you immensely in earning quality and natural links through Social Medial Platforms are:

Link-building through interaction and community engagement

If you’re link-building but never building relationships or never interacting with people, you’re not really link building: you are spamming. If you interact with people who might care about your brand, you can gain a cutting edge over other competitors. Meaningful interactions with audience in your niche prove your credibility and will lead to more authority links. 

You can also get links through interaction from a popular site or a popular brand, when they post to their Facebook page, make a Google+ post, launch a new blog post, or put up a new video on YouTube. In this case, I also recommend you to interact early and often. Early because a lot of times, being in the first five or ten comments, interactions, or engagements really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. When you do such interaction, make sure you are adding value, by doing this you make yourself stand out in the comments. You can add value by doing a little bit of detailed research and by making the conversation more interesting. By posting great comments, you will create interest in target customers and they often click your profile that will latently earn you some links. In addition to this, you can also offer help to other people and you can help people without being asked. This is a great way to drive links back to your own site and you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Google+ posts, Facebook pages, and YouTube comments.

Link building through quality content

In addition to gaining links from popular sites, you can also earn links by posting qualitative and linkable content on social media platforms. If you create content that people find valuable and informative, they are more likely to want to share it. What people find valuable can vary, but optimum quality blog posts and infographics that provide well-researched information, statistics, and new angles on a subject are all good starting points. A good and informative video that attracts viewers’ attention is eminently shareable, which is one reason nearly 87% of agency and brand marketers now creating video for content marketing. When someone reads your quality and informative content on social media sites and finds it of valuable, it is more likely that they will want to link to it.

Article-Effective-Content

In order to give your informative content the best chance of reaching a wide audience, you should identify the key influencers or target audience in your field. In this way, you will be able to target your efforts effectively. Facebook and Twitter are the two go-to social media platforms for most people but you should also seek out targets on other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr. In addition to this, if you are marketing within specific regions, you might want to channel your efforts to the most popular websites in each market. For example, VK is the preferred social media website in Russia, while Orkut can help extend your reach within Brazil and India.

You can also use various tools and services that can help you find the best targets. For example Followerwonk offers a Twitter analytics service and it can help you to compare and sort followers by looking at data such as social authority scores and the percentage with URLs. Furthermore, you can also gauge reactions to your own tweets by monitoring your activity alongside current follower numbers. Apart from this, Fresh Web Explorer is a handy tool, as it searches for mentions of your brand, company or other keyword and automatically matches this with ‘feed authority’. In this way, you can sort key influencers from those with less perceived authority that will allow you to target your efforts more effectively.

Now, it is clear that social media is an essential part of search engine optimization. Following diagram explains you a blueprint of how social media supports SEO: 

seo-social-media

Quality Content gets published- One of the best ways to increase quality traffic to your website is to publish sharable, useful and relevant content on social media sites.

Content gets Shares, Links, & Likes- As you start publishing your company’s blog posts or research work on a regular basis and spreading it across the social networking sites, your content will start generating shares, links, and “likes”.

Sites Gain Subscriptions while Social Profiles get Fans & Followers- As a result, your site’s blog will gain more subscribers and your social media channels will gain more followers, fans, and connections.

Thriving Community Supporting the Website & Social Networks Grows- A thriving community of people who are interested in your user-focused content develops and starts to thrive.

Reputation Reinforced through Social Media & SEO as Authoritative Brand for the Niche- Signals are sent to various search engines about your activity on social media platforms and your keyword-rich and informative content. Your website starts being viewed as reputable, relevant, and authoritative.

Sites Gain Authority in Search Engines- As a result, your website and its informative and quality content starts appearing higher and more frequently in the top rankings and listings of search engines for your keyword phrases and targeted keywords.

Sustainable Stream of Users Discover the Site organically- A consistently growing stream of users will begin discovering the website via the social media sites, search engines, and your email marketing efforts.

I have explained how aligning SEO and social media efforts can really enhance your SEO performance. In order to execute this task effectively, you might even like to hire experienced SEO experts. You should make sure that your social media and SEO teams are working together in order to create a unified digital marketing strategy.

Sandeep Sharma is a Project Manager with a prominent digital media marketing company TIS India and has been for the last 10 years. He loves to create aesthetically appealing websites & eye-popping user interfaces for international clients. You can follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.