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  • When You’re 7 Years Old and Your World Dies Around You

    In the early summer of 1976, my life was as any 7-year-old kid’s life should be – fun, making new adventures, and looking forward to a long, glorious school holiday. Then, in the space of nine weeks, that world came tumbling down. I lost both my grandfathers and my step-dad – one grandfather and my […]

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  • Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

    Did you know that almost 16 million of Americans participate in education and training programs? It means that if you decide to start an education blog, your audience will be huge.  Educational blogging is a good way to share your experience with people who need it and to become more popular in your industry. Moreover, there […]

    The post Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd appeared first on BlogPress.


    Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd was first posted on March 23, 2017 at 10:51 am.

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When You’re 7 Years Old and Your World Dies Around You

Child

In the early summer of 1976, my life was as any 7-year-old kid’s life should be – fun, making new adventures, and looking forward to a long, glorious school holiday.

Then, in the space of nine weeks, that world came tumbling down.

I lost both my grandfathers and my step-dad – one grandfather and my step-dad to cancer, my other grandfather to natural causes.

While that was undoubtedly traumatic, it was the loss of my schoolfriend, Corinne, that hit me the hardest.

She died of an asthma attack during the summer holidays. One minute she was outside playing with her friends, the next she was gone. When I found out, it broke me.

I’d later compartmentalize that her death hit me hardest because I knew my grandad and step-dad were dying, and my other grandad died simply of old age, so I was “expecting” their deaths.

Corinne, though, was the same age as me – a child, enjoying the summer holiday. Kids don’t die (or, at least I didn’t think they did).

The summer of ’76 was a cruel awakening for me on that front.

The Loss of Innocence and the Recognition of Mortality

I was reminded of that summer by recent conversations with my son, Ewan, who turns seven in May.

Both he and his 5-year-old sister, Salem, are beginning to see little pieces of “the death puzzle”, either through shows or movies we watch, or characters in video games we play together (Brothers being a prime example).

One evening, a couple of weeks ago, Ewan and I were sitting at the table colouring, and he came straight out and asked,

Daddy, what’s going to happen to me and Salem when you and mommy die?

This caught me completely off-guard, and for a moment I really didn’t know what to say. Then, I put my pencil down and looked at Ewan, and we started talking.

I asked him if he thought we were going to die soon, to which he replied he didn’t think so.

I then asked him why he thought both mommy and I would die at the same time, leaving him and his sister all alone. He replied he didn’t think we would, but we might.

After a few more questions, during which he thought I’d die first because I’m older, I kind of had an idea on what to say and replied with this.

We know people die. We know some die before others, while some live longer than others. But I promise you, while I’m alive I’ll do my best to stay alive a long time, so that when I do die, you’ll have your own children to keep you company and happy.

This seemed to placate him, and we went back to colouring, and the death question hasn’t come up since.

As we coloured together, I was happy that we seemed to have passed that particular question okay, but I was also sad.

Ewan’s growing acknowledgment of death was, to me, a sign of his innocent outlook on the world beginning to change, and that he knew that the life he has now won’t always be the same life ahead.

Accepting the Future, Living the Now

However, as much as the conversation left me somewhat sad, it also made me recommit to leading a deliberate life where every moment counts.

Today, I feel healthy (if not quite the fighting weight of my younger days) and I feel good about life and where we’re at in it. I have a home full of love and a circle of friends for whom I truly care.

But that wasn’t always the case, and it could slip away at any moment.

Hearing my son worry about his mother and father dying, and leaving him and his sister all alone was a jarring experience. But it’s one that can’t – and shouldn’t – be brushed aside as something away in the future.

My promise to Ewan, about living for as long as I can, is one I intend to keep. If I do, wonderful – if I don’t… well, hopefully, I get the chance to prepare Ewan and Salem for that inevitability, and remove some of the fear and unknown.

While I am here, though, the goal is simple and can be summed up in three words – love, life, live.

  • Show those around you how much they mean to you, and love without conditions,
  • Appreciate life is a borrowed time, and spend that time well,
  • Live intentionally, and live it with those that make it count.

If those three words can be experienced as much as possible, then hopefully that will make for a lifetime of memories that more than outlive the passing of the physical when it arrives.

Which, at the end of the day, is all any of us can ever ask for.

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

Did you know that almost 16 million of Americans participate in education and training programs? It means that if you decide to start an education blog, your audience will be huge.  Educational blogging is a good way to share your experience with people who need it and to become more popular in your industry. Moreover, there is a great opportunity to earn some money and to travel around the world, as you will be able to work online.

Teachers, students, and parents need time and effort to adapt to the changes. They need to get instructions and fresh information. That’s what educational blogging is all about.

Education blogs are usually maintained by teachers, tutors, or even parents. They cover anything from new teaching methods to homeschooling plans. Some bloggers provide full online courses, as well as technology tips and news about the current state of education. They are making huge contributions towards the growth of the industry.

The majority of educational bloggers use their blogs for class blogs, student blogs, and class blogs with individual student blogs. However, personal blogs are also very popular in the education niche.

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

What Are Education Blogs And Why Do We Need Them?

  • Every blog makes important contributions to the online base of knowledge. Whenever we have questions or problems, we find solutions in high-quality blog posts.
  • They are great for communication between teachers. An educator can use the blog to share their experience with other teachers and ask for their feedback.             
  • Teachers can also use the blog to share news, assignments, reminders, and tips with students and their parents.   
  • Thanks to blogging, teachers, students, and parents can encourage debates on important issues related to education.
  • The students can share their studying methods, as well as the progress they make on different projects. Blogging is a nice way for them to share thoughts and opinions.
  • When a student starts blogging from an early age, they are developing valuable writing skills. Consider it this way: you’re training the next generation of successful bloggers, who will make the Internet better.

It’s clear: any teacher or student can benefit from a blog. There is a huge challenge to overcome, though: there are thousands of blogs that already cover topics similar to the ones you have in mind. Uniqueness and value are the most important principles of blogging. How do you make your project different?

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

Educational Blogging Tips: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

How do you define the concept uniqueness in blogging? It’s not about thinking of a topic that has never been covered in the history of blogging. Get real: can you think of such topic? Maybe you have an idea, but you can’t maintain a blog based on that premise. Uniqueness is all about tackling trending and evergreen topics in a different way. It’s about finding your voice and conveying it through captivating posts that the audience loves reading. We’ll share some tips that will help you get there.

1. If You’re Tackling Politics, Make Strong Arguments

Every educator and parent have their point of view regarding education. Every blogger, in general, has opinions about society. Whether we like it or not, that point is often related to politics. Criticism is highly necessary for this niche since that’s what drives the education system forward.

However, you have to keep in mind that people don’t like reading blogs exclusively focused on politics and pedagogy. If you really want to bring light to some issues, you need to do it occasionally. Most of all, you have to expose unique arguments and support them with facts. Keep in mind that you’re just another blogger in this niche. You’ll come across different points of view and you’ll have to handle criticism if you cover these topics.

Share Unique Experiences

Storytelling is an effective method for writing blog posts. People are not after strict guidelines and lecturing attitude when they read blogs. They want tips and opinions supported by actual experience.

If you’re an educator, tutor, or homeschooling parent, you should personalize the process of teaching according to the needs of your students. Each student has unique interests and a different capacity to process information. You experiment with different methods so you can share them with the online audience. Think out of the box and provide something valuable for your readers. For example, Julie Petersen, an educational blogger, provides scholarships at her essay writing companies review blog, to help students take the most of their studies.

2. Listen to Your Readers

You already wrote about the ed-tech products you use, you shared your teaching methods, and you covered some personal experiences. Now what? When you’re on a consistent blogging schedule, you’ll inevitably come to a point when you’re blocked. Every blogger faces such blockade. All topics will seem boring. That’s when you need your readers more than ever.

Ask your readers for their opinions at the end of each post you write. They will use that opportunity to give you credit for the good ideas and criticize you for something they don’t agree with. However, they will also ask questions that reveal new topics for you to work on. When you’re listening to your audience, you write more relevant posts.

3. Make Case Studies

HubSpot is one of the most successful marketing blogs on the Internet. Do you know why? First of all, it’s a high-quality blog with huge value for marketers. Many of the articles are supported with case studies, which make the readers aware of the way theory works in practice.

Let’s say you started using a new note-taking app in the classroom. You invited your students to use their tablets instead of the usual notebooks for taking notes. How did that work? How did their productivity, engagement, and efficiency change after this? You can measure their speed in taking notes and note if they are listening more when they don’t have to write in a notebook. Notice what results they will have on the test at the end of the lecture and turn that experience into a case study.

You can turn various classroom experiences into unique case studies.

There is no magic formula that leads you to successful blogging. Focus, persistence, and uniqueness – that’s the clear recipe for success. You’ll discover your own ways to attract the audience, and that’s what makes you a unique blogger.

The post Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd appeared first on BlogPress.


Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd was first posted on March 23, 2017 at 10:51 am.

Discover The One Detail that Boosts Your Blogging and Marketing Engagement – Every Time

one detail effective blogging

It’s funny the things you pick up as you spend more time in an industry. Little ideas, strategies, and patterns that are usually completely lost on you in the beginning stages but that the “experts” all seem to know.

The blogging industry is no different. There are so many details that, once discovered, make a huge difference to how you operate on a day-to-day level.

In today’s post I’m going to talk about one idea that I have always kind of known but never really appreciated fully. It makes an enormous difference to how many emails get opened, ads get clicked, etc.

I hope this helps someone out there do things a little quicker.

So what is this one detail we should all know?

When you work in a crowded space like blogging it’s important to try and get every little advantage that you can.

And while this detail might not sound that exciting when you first hear it, I guarantee it will impact the way you do things tomorrow.

So what is it? Here we go:

The time and place that your intended audience interacts with your newsletter, blog, or advert is of paramount importance. Click To Tweet

Make sure to differentiate this from the time that you send out your newsletters or publish a blog post as those are different things. Here we are talking about the time that they actually see and interact with it.

Let’s have a look at how this works and how it applies to all the things we are trying to do online.

The importance of timing on the web

I have been thinking about this topic for a while but was reminded of it today when I was listening to the latest episode of This American Life where the editor of the Dallas Morning News replied to a critical email from a newspaper reader in less than 20 minutes.

It occurred to me that (other than it being a really cool thing for the editor to do!) the email must have come at a time when the editor was receptive to such a criticism, had time to open and reply to the email, and was in the mood to actually do so.

That’s a lot of factors.

And I wonder how many of us know, on average, what time of the day/week we are most likely to hit that sweet spot with our readers and subscribers in our niche and on our lists specifically?

Taking it to the next level, I wonder how many of us know the same information for platforms like Facebook and Twitter when we are promoting our new articles or interacting with people about them?

This is really important stuff to figure out because a few hours could mean the difference between a post going viral by hitting a certain number of social shares, a sales target being reached, a post getting indexed well on Google because it got a huge amount of traction, etc.

So how do we do ensure that we’re publishing, emailing and setting adverts to go out a time when people are most likely to action them?

How to get the timing right for your blog

Here are some thoughts based on experiments that I’ve done on my own blog. As always, if you think I’ve missed anything exciting please head to the end of the post and leave me a comment.

1. Know your audience and their daily schedule

How much do you know about your readers and their daily schedule? What about the readers you want to reach but haven’t quite done so yet?

Let’s say that you have a blog about teaching. While general email marketing wisdom might suggest emailing your list at, say, 9am on a Wednesday, this has obvious problems for teachers who would be in the middle of a class!

Of course, we’re only talking about averages here, but every industry will be different and so it’s important to have at least a vague idea of your blog’s demographics, time that they are online, their habits, and so on. This is a very important starting point.

2. Send out a survey and get feedback

One way you address this in a direct way is to send out a survey to your readers and ask them directly when they would like to see your newsletters in their inbox. This is a really interesting tactic because it then sets up an expectation in the mind of the reader – they will be looking out for your content and feel like the have participated in the process of having it created.

Giving your readers a sense of ownership in your blog is a very powerful marketing tool. When someone feels like they have a stake in something they are more likely to share content, leave comments, and generally evangelize your brand more.

blog survey

You can do this by simply publishing a blog post and asking people to respond in the comments with their preference. However, I prefer to send out an email survey with a service like Survey Monkey as then the results are private and you’re more likely to get detailed responses as people are responding straight out of their inbox.

Be careful about how you structure your questions. For example, just because someone says they would like something on a Wednesday doesn’t mean that Wednesday is the day that they will read it. Researching about how to craft your survey questions is really a worthwhile exercise.

3. Research industry standards and then compare

Around this time you’ll also want to take a look at your industry standards. This is important because you might actually be getting good numbers without knowing it. For example, I have had people ask me why their open rate of 20% is so low when actually it’s a full 5% to 10% higher than average!

best times
Image source: MailChimp

There is some absolutely excellent research by Mail Chimp on some of this stuff and it’s a really good starting point. This is obviously very heavily catered towards email marketing but, seeing as that is a big part of what we bloggers do, it is a really good way to get an overall picture.

4. Get anecdotal advice from people in your industry

If you can’t find any solid research that comes from massive amounts of data then the next step is to look to those in your industry who may have run their own experiments.

forums

Places like Warrior Forum and Inbound.org have a lot of really smart people who are extraordinarily generous about giving away the things that work for them. I am often pleasantly surprised at how much detail people are willing to share about their own “trade secrets”.

I’d highly recommend joining one of these and also looking for some niche-specific forums or communities where you can drill down in to the stuff that works for your particular topics. This is also a really good way to make contacts for collaborations, guest posts, etc.

5. Run split tests and compare

Of course you knew I was going to mention split testing! To be fair, this is really the only way to solidify the ideas that you have into actual real and practical information.

If this is new to you, split testing is essentially where you have two identical versions of an email or landing page and where you change one element and send it out to segments of your audience to see which performs best.

The element that you change might be a color, title, image or, as we’re doing here, the time that you are sending out the newsletter to your audience.

A/B testing can turn into a maddening and endless pursuit of the perfect result, and it often distracts you from things like creating really good content for your blog. For that reason, I’d recommend starting with a few basic email split tests and then move on to some slightly more complicated advertising tests like running the same advert at different times of the day. This can be easily done with Facebook advertising and most other platforms.

6. Train your readers to expect certain times

One thing that you will see a lot of bloggers do is send out their newsletters at the same time every week. This is an interesting tactic because, while it might not be the ideal time of the day, it trains people to expect the notification and thus might make it more likely to be opened.

dps weekly newsletter

One example of this is Digital Photography School which is a real powerhouse of content. Instead of sending out notifications of every article they encourage readers to sign up to a weekly summary which goes out via email and is also occasionally used for promotions.

Again, if you go down this road you’ll want to make sure you inform readers at the time of sign up so that they know what is going on. And, as always, you’ll need to test it for a period of time and then compare it to something else to see if it’s getting the desired results.

7. Stalk people on Twitter

This tip relates specifically to emails that you send out to other bloggers in your niche when you are trying to organize a collaboration, guest post, etc. as part of your ongoing blogging strategy. Of course I don’t mean actually stalk them, but using Twitter and social media to find out about the times they’re online and their preferences can be very useful.

For example, have a look at this Tweet and subsequent video by majestic SEO dragon, Rand Fishkin. This is a prime example of how a little bit of research can save everyone time because it is clear, in this example, that Rand ain’t gonna do roundup posts. In my opinion, it could damage your chances at getting future responses from Rand if you send him a mass email asking for a reply (P.S. I’ve done that!).

A final word on timing

You might have got to the end of this post and decided that you still don’t think it is that important of a factor to spend all this time thinking about and that is okay.

But if that is you I’d encourage you to think of all the hours that go into your blog posts, newsletters, etc. and then think about how much of a waste it is to miss out on a few hundred/thousand views just because you’re sending it at a time when people can’t take an action. It’s especially sad if it’s a really helpful product or service that you’ve worked for months on.

You don’t have to get this stuff perfect, but a few little experiments or questions could give you dramatically different results, and those results might make your blogging, email marketing, and adverts a lot more effective.

Have you experimented with this?

I’d love to know whether any of you gals and guys have done any experiments with this. Do you find any particular day of the week effective? And how do you know that it is the best option for your blog? Please leave a comment below and let me know.

How to Recover Your Facebook Shares after Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

Google is pushing for a shift from http to https, there is no secret in this. This strategy would probably be effective anyway, but with Google behind, the shift starts to resemble a done deal. The question is no longer whether sites will follow, but when. After all, who in their right minds would give up geolocation, encrypted media extensions or application cache?

 

But aside from the technical complications of this move, there are other considerations as well. One such unforeseen side effect is that switching from http to https would cause the loss of the social share counts on Facebook and Google+ pages. To be fair, this disadvantage is not specifically linked to the https switch, but to any URL change in general (which might be why Google has not put forward an official fix for this, so far).

 

How_to_Recover_Your_Facebook_Shares_after_Moving_from_HTTP_to_HTTPS

 

We ourselves faced share counts loss when we migrated our site from http to https. It was a punch in the stomach for us; yet, we had no other chance than finding an efficient method to recover the social shares after moving from http to https. Finding the right solution of getting the Facebook shares back wasn’t an easy ride. But a solution was needed and we are really happy that we found it. As we are your number one fans, we couldn’t keep the fix of getting your shares back for ourselves. Below you will find the exact steps that you need to take if you experience a similar problem and you want your hard-worked social shares displayed on your web pages.  

 

With the cognitive’s reunited superpowers we came across a solution to recover the social shares after moving from HTTP to HTTPS.

 

Tested Steps to Maintain Your Social Shares after a Site Migration from HTTP to HTTPS

 

The truth is that moving from HTTP to HTTPS doesn’t come up easily. It can be a real pain, not to mention that if you’re not 100% vigilant, you can suddenly lose your ranks. We’ve written a blog post not long ago on how not to lose your ranks when doing a website redesign. Moving from HTTP to HTTPS is not a walk in the park. Maintaining your shares while doing so can be even harder.  And we know that from our own experience.

 

Long story short, when moving from HTTP to HTTPS you lose all your hard worked social share counts from Facebook and Google+. It is not a pleasant situation at all, especially when you’ve worked so hard for each and every social share. It’s a vanity metric some may say, and that’s true. Yet, it’s a highly important social proof that can give you tons of insight about your overall social media strategy. 

 

For Facebook and Google+ there are two different methods to get your social share counts back when moving from http to https. Along with those, there are a couple of generic changes you need to perform. Below, I am going to list you the generic updates which are common for recovering the social shares for both Facebook and Google + and afterwards some specific actions that you need to take for each social network separately. 

 

cognitiveSEO example facebook shares after moving to https

 

Generic Changes to Get Your Social Share Counts Back

 

1. Create a 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS

 

This is probably the first and the most important step you need to make when migrating your site. What the 301 permanent redirects do is to redirect any visitor, including search engines, to your new version of the site, the one with https. Along with the direct traffic, the age, authority and reputation of your old website in search engines is transferred to the new web address. If you don’t implement 301 redirects correctly, not only will your social shares be forever lost, but also your ranks and traffic. 

 

You can find more details on how to perform 301 redirects on Google’s support page. Also, the world of internet is pretty generous when it comes to giving pieces of advice on how to move your site to https.  Putting it simply, with only a few lines of code you can transfer all the organic search traffic from one domain to another.

 

2. Add  <link rel=”canonical”> to the new HTTPs page

 

The rel=canonical is an HTML element that helps you prevent duplicate content issues. Basically, what it does is to tell the search engines which one is the preferred version of your web page. When you switch to https, what will happen is that you will have two websites with identical content: your http and your https version. In order to avoid duplicate content and all the related problems, you need to let search engines know which version they should show up in their results. 

 

To make sure that your current URL  (the one with https) shows up in search results,  you need to add <link rel=”canonical”> on your new HTTPS version of your site.  As through exemplification is the easiest way of understanding things, let me show you how this works by using a URL of our own. As I want this blog post , the https version,  to be the one that will show up when people will be looking for ways of repurposing content, this is how the URL should look like: 

 

<link rel="canonical" href="https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/11813/ways-of-repurposing-content/" />

 

3. Change <meta property=”og:url”> 

 

To begin with, you need to know that the purpose of “og:url” is to set the preferred URL for the page you are sharing. If you are thinking for a second that this isn’t so important, let me know tell you that through “og:url” you define the page that all your shares will go to.  Therefore it’s highly – decidedly – deeply – eminently to set the <meta property=”og:url”> to point to your newly HTTPS version.  Therefore, here is how a URL should look like:

 

<meta property="og:url" content="https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/11813/ways-of-repurposing-content" />

 

 

How to Get Your Social Shares Back on Facebook after Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

 

We all create a lot of content. We try to make it the best, the most documented; that kind of content that goes straight to your inbox and makes you read it. Content is king; but what is a king without followers? Along with being a social proof instrument,  the social medium is a fantastic traffic driver and it can even influence your ranks (we’ve previously written a blog post on this).  Therefore, losing your Facebook social  shares is a tremendous problem. And, unfortunately, it happens when you switch to https. We encountered the same situation ourselves when we migrated our site and after long researches we figured out a way on how to move to https without losing Facebook shares.  Below we are going to show you a workaround, tested and implemented by ourselves. 

 

It’s important to know that these changes should be done only for pages that already existed on your site when you made the switch. For newer pages these modifications should not be applied.

 

1. Find out how many Facebook shares you have for a URL

 

To see how many social shares Facebook has for a URL, you need to use Facebook’s developer debug interface. You need to get to a page similar with the one from the screenshot below. You have the possibility of entering any URL to see how many shares it has. You will add here the http pages you are interested in getting your shares back for. Of course, you can use this interface for other issues as well, yet, from the present purpose you need to use the Sharing Debugger category.

 

Facebook Debug Interface

 

2. Set both your HTTP and HTTPs social shares to zero

 

After adding the URLs you are interested in Facebook’s debug interface, you will have the possibility to “Scrape Again” (you will have a button with this exact message). Once you do this, all your Facebook shares will be zero, for both HTTP and HTTPS. Don’t panic, as the next step will fix this situation. 

 

3. Update rel=”canonical”

 

The previous step left you with all your shares to zero. By now you might be thinking how these steps are really helping you in getting your shares back. Bear with me as you are closer and closer to getting your social shares count. 

 

The next step in solving the social share loss situation is to alter the content you are showing to Facebook’s crawler. What you need to do, for Facebook only, is to make sure that the rel= canonical tag is placed, but not the way you would think of. It’s exactly the other way around: you need to make the http version the preferred one, just like in the example below: 

 

<link rel="canonical" href="https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/11813/ways-of-repurposing-content/" />

 

has to be

 

<link rel="canonical" href="http://cognitiveseo.com/blog/11813/ways-of-repurposing-content/" />

 

4. Identify Facebook’s Crawler

 

If you think that the problem is already solved and your share counts are already updated, I must ask you to have a little more patience, as you are just one step closer already. 

 

We’ve previously told you that you need to alter your content’s page for Facebook’s crawlers. Yes, this is very similar to cloaking, an old school search engine optimization technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser. However, this situation is different than the one in which you want to grossly manipulate Google’s ranks. Using this will not impact your ranks and will not affect your site negatively. What you are going to do is not altering the exact content of the page, but only the protocol and with the sole purpose of keeping or getting back the social shares. 

 

An important step is correctly identifying Facebook’s crawler. You can do this identification by user agent or IP.

 

The Facebook’ guys are straightforward when it comes to this matter and they explain you how to identify their crawler

 

In the screenshot below you can see how things should look like in the Facebook debug interface after altering the content for the crawler. As you can see, the fetched URL is the one with https while the canonical URL is with http. Remember that this should be apply for the old pages that you had on http. 

 

sharing debugger cognitiveseo example http

 

For the new pages, the one that you’ve created on https already, things should look like in the screenshot below. HTTPS for both fetched and canonical URL.  In the screenshot below there is a blog post that we’ve created after the https migration. As mentioned before, for newer pages the modifications presented in this chapter should not be applied.

 

sharing debugger cognitiveseo example new https

 

You can get inspired from the code examples below, for three different instances, for PHP, forNginx and for Apache. 

 

PHP Code Example for Identifying Facebook’s Crawler

 

if(preg_match('/facebookexternalhit/i',$_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])) { echo '<link rel="canonical" href="http://______YOUR_URL_WITH _HTTP__">';
} else { echo '<link rel="canonical" href="https://______YOUR_URL_WITH _HTTPS__">';
}

 

Nginx Code Example for Identifying Facebook’s Crawler

 

if ($HTTP_USER_AGENT ~ "^((?!facebookexternalhit).)*$") { return 301 https://cognitiveseo.com$request_uri;
}

 

Apache Code for Identifying Facebook’s Crawler

 

For Apache, you can create a code similar to the one above, depending on the web Apache server syntax. 

 

Bonus: How to Get Your Social Shares Back on Google+ after Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

 

As in the previous case, you need to know that the following changes need to be done only for pages that already existed on your site when you made the switch to https. For newer pages these modifications should not be applied.

 

Wen it comes to getting your social shares back from Google Plus, things are a bit easier than in the case of Facebook. No crawler identification or content alteration is needed. The only thing you need to modify are the Google+ sharing buttons so that you will share the URL on http and not on https.  To do so, for your old pages you can get inspired from the code example below: 

 

<!-- Place this tag in your head or just before your close body tag. -->
<script src="https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js" async defer></script>
<!-- Place this tag where you want the +1 button to render. -->
<div class="g-plusone" data-size="tall" data-href="http://______YOUR_OLD_URL______"></div>

 

You need to keep in mind that, for the new pages, the code will contain the https version, just like in the code below: 

 

<!-- Place this tag in your head or just before your close body tag. -->
<script src="https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js" async defer></script>
<!-- Place this tag where you want the +1 button to render. -->
<div class="g-plusone" data-size="tall" data-href="https://______YOUR_NEW_PAGE______"></div>

 

As you can see, when it comes to Google Plus only the social share button suffers changes; no content fixer or https URL alterations. You can switch to SSL and still keep your shares just with a workaround on the sharing button.  

 

The Struggle of Getting Your Facebook Shares Back 

 

Facebook likes are linked to the URL, meaning that even a single character change (like the extra “s” that gets added when you switch from “http” to “https”) will cause you to lose your likes.

 

As Facebook itself explains on the social plugins part of their FAQs, “you can’t move the likes, shares or comments directly to the new URL but you can use the old URL as the canonical source for the number of likes or shares at the new URL”. 

 

However, the feedback on the effectiveness of this solution and others is mixed, at best, with some users suggesting that even fixes like those proposed by Facebook are incomplete or ineffective.

 

Other solutions suggest to manually put the old share count into the custom fields of a plugin but those share counts will not increase until the new share count for that link equals the share count you pasted into the custom field. Therefore, not quite a solution if you really need your old shares back; not to mention that if you have lots of pages with different share counts it’s very unlikely that you know those numbers by heart. 

 

It’s true that the social media networks might suffer from manipulation if they blindly moved social signals across redirects.

 

You could, for instance, buy an old domain and transfer all the social signals to another landing page that interests you. But what webmasters usually want is to get their shares back, the social shares that they already have with no other deceiving intent. 

 

You don’t want your site to be considered as having insecure content but you also want your http and https urls to have their social count recoveries as fast as possible. The problem comes when Google considers that the SSL certificate is a must but not Facebook likes not so much. Any webmaster would probably think different, that both are important and both are a part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Along with the changes required in Google Analytics when you make the switch from https to https, you should consider the workarounds presented above in order to maintain your Facebook likes safe and sound. 

The post How to Recover Your Facebook Shares after Moving from HTTP to HTTPS appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Forget Being More Human, Just Be People

UNFUCD people

We’ve just come out of the mass production age. For a couple of centuries, we’ve been sold the idea of mass. Of normal.

Of process.

Not surprisingly it spilled over from factories into every part of our lives.

We were told to produce lots of “a thing”, then aggressively sell it, rather than make what people want.

Told to set strict parameters around tasks, jobs, and even careers – you can do this (tick), arrive at 8, leave at 5, with money docked for being a minute late.

We were seen as imperfect cogs in a machine. To be thrown out and replaced if we didn’t fit.

See the mindset. See where it came from?

Now we’re in a different world.

One where things are made up, like ourselves, of lots of little building blocks which can be rearranged.

One where things scale, just as humans grow.

One where sharing and connecting is encouraged – no more “eyes front, listen to the teacher”.

We’re beginning to learn how to be people again. Lose the hierarchy, the regime, the rules.

But many of us are stuck. We fitted that square hole. We knew where we stood.

We could fit in and outcompete the people with different ideas.

Now the playing field has been tilted, the original thinkers will win.

The people people, not the machine people.

Bring it on.

12 Unique Content Amplification Techniques That Earn 327% More Links

We all had that moment when we gave our soul into a post and made it so shiny, with thorough research, relevant visuals but nobody read it. And then you start wondering what went wrong. What in the name of God happened? Or why did it happen to you? And the questions could go on. But there is something that you missed. And that “something” could be content amplification. 

 

Content amplification is a powerful method to reach a wider audience and multiply your links by hundreds.  Or so it should be, if used effectively. Amplifying your content should be mandatory if you want people to know about it and increase your website traffic. You can look at the amplification process as a way of strengthening the signals of your post.

 

Content Amplification to Win Links cognitiveSEO

The journey shouldn’t stop when the article goes live. On the contrary, you should carry on with the process of boosting your content. You need to understand that content amplification isn’t a single technique or a one-time thing. It incorporates an umbrella of multiple unique techniques you need to follow in order to amplify content and get better results. And since it is a long process that needs a lot of attention and passion, we’ve built a highly documented list with 12 unique content amplification techniques that will help you earn links.  

 

  1. Work Out the Art of Link Giving to Generate Authoritative Backlinks
  2. Reach New Audiences Through Native Advertising
  3. Get More Likes, Shares and Follows with Smart Social Buttons
  4. Give Shoutouts to Amplify Your Content
  5. Outperform Your Content Through Paid Social Amplification
  6. Use Storytelling to Receive a Social Boost
  7. Try Email Outreach to Build a Solid Community Within Your Brand
  8. Use Content Syndication on Medium to Build Your Blog Audience
  9. Collaborate with Influencers to Earn Links
  10. Post on StumbleUpon and Absorb Targeted Traffic
  11. Develop Advocates Through GaggleAMP
  12. Integrate Promotion Messages or Buttons in Your Website
 

1. Work Out the Art of Link Giving to Generate Authoritative Backlinks

Link giving is the next big thing! Described as a way of requesting a link from authority websites in return for a more powerful link to their website, link giving is a smart way of amplifying your content and building links without violating Google’s guidelines. Let’s see how it works. Imagine you would like to write about bad habits that kill your creativity. You should apply as a contributor on an authority website such as Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, Boomerang or something similar and you have the possibility to write your article and link to a blog you’d like to collaborate with. After you attain authority on that website, you can reach out to them for a quote to let them know that their names appear on a website with thousands of visitors. Your post must be a linkable asset. The next step you should do is to ask for a citation of another piece of content (for example your blog) where they are cited. That’s basically how the link giving technique works.

 

It is a long process, but if it is planned carefully, you have a higher chance of success. You need to be a remarkable writer to become a valuable member of the contributors’ community and give to the visitors that “AHA” moment when they read your content.

 

Another solution would be to start working for a contributor as a ghost writer. It means to write in other people’s name. If you decide to do that, you’ll skip the phase when you have to make a name for yourself as a contributor.

 

 

2. Reach New Audiences Through Native Advertising

Native advertising is a unique technique to amplify your content and get featured on a network of publishers. The nice part about this type of advertising is that it is not so easily ignored compared to a banner ad. The native ad takes form into an interesting blog post or infographic.

Native ad vs banner ad

Source: sharethrough.com

The advantage of native advertising is that it can absorb new audiences and gain a higher number of impressions than a banner ad. Outbrain, Taboola, Zemanta, are just a few examples that can help you create native advertising.

 

IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough conducted a study on 4,770 participants to study behaviors and perceptions towards native ads using both eye tracking technology and surveys and saw that consumers looked at native ads 52% more frequently than banner ads. 

Native advertisements saw an average of 10% higher purchase intent and brand affinity than traditional display ads.

 

3. Get More Likes, Shares and Follows with Smart Social Buttons

Having social buttons on your website shows how many likes, shares on each social media channel you have for a post. It’s a social proof. It’s a vanity metric, offering validation that your piece of content is valuable. We are not talking about paid tweets or facebook ads but about the real time owned media. The effects of social buttons show an increase of the credibility for your brand. These buttons will help the visitors amplify your content.

 

Yotpo conducted a study showing that sharing a review for a brand will boost traffic, engagement, and conversions.

Social share numbers

Source: www.yotpo.com

 

Having smart social buttons isn’t the recipe for success. If your content is vapid and doesn’t express any feeling, it’s unlikely someone will share it even though you have the most interesting social buttons. To have shareable content means much more than that. You need to have engaging content to be spread like fire in the online media and bring those “tasty” links.

 

4. Give Shoutouts to Amplify Your Content

When you’re writing an article, and you’re citing well-known experts in the industry, would you like them to know? That’s why shoutouts exist. You need to append “featuring @nickname” before launching your article on the social media platforms to amplify your post. It is a good chance to hook a few to read it. And although the influencer outreach is not new under the sky,  shoutouts are a good way to connect your brand with relevant and important names.

 

On top of that, it is an easy and useful way to thank people for their brainpower and even build a relationship. You can use it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This is just an example:

Twitter shoutouts

 

5. Outperform Your Content Through Paid Social Amplification

Amplify your content with paid social amplification. Easy to say, hard to do, you might say. Well, not really. Paid social amplification could be an easy way to promote your post on multiple channels. Almost all social media platforms have paid content amplification options. The traditional paid social amplification methods include Twitter ads, Google + post ads, Facebook ads. To change the traditional course a little bit, you can import your email list into Facebook’s Audience to market people who are interested in your brand, install the remarketing pixel, create dynamic display ads on Adwords.

Using paid social amplification is like building a social media megaphone.

Adam Root, a founding partner at Tricent Capital, says that the social platforms should be used based on the purpose.

“Use Twitter to gain new users, Facebook to build a community and LinkedIn to generate leads for the sales team” – Adam Root.

He argues that Twitter is a good social media platform to determine your audience to take action, Facebook is social networking website where you can engage your readers and create relationships on the long-term and Linkedin is a business network that connects high-profile agencies and professionals you’d want as clients.  

 

In every situation, you should have the message associated with the visual. Creating a synergy is important. Humor has worked wonder since forever. Along the years a lot of studies have been conducted to see the results of an ad that uses humorous messages. Advertising books say that humor is more likely to capture and hold audience attention. Take for example the next display ad:

Funny-display-ad

Source: www.wordstream.com

It sticks to your mind, doesn’t it?

 

6. Use Storytelling to Receive a Social Boost

Stories sell. That’s a demonstrated fact. Not all of us grew up listening to stories but I don’t think there is a single person in this world who didn’t tell a story. We tell stories around the campfire, in the class, at a beach party, at our job, we take photographs, we tweet and so on.  But there is a difference between a good story and a great one. You need to put a personal touch in everything you write to connect with your readers.

 

The people from Pixar movies say that every story should connect to people on an emotional level. 

 

 

Using storytelling to receive social boost is a beneficial amplification strategy. Storify lets you create timeless stories using various forms of multimedia that you can share online afterward. It is a unique combination of writing, video, audio and visual content put in a timeline order to engage the readers and let them see a chronological progress about a topic. If used properly, the story can go viral.

 

The Denver Post’s Storify page won a Pulitzer Award in 2013 for its coverage of the Aurora theater shooting from Colorado. The Storify page became viral, and the site received more links than usual. We cannot put our money on it, but we think the Storify page is one of the reasons why this happened. You can see a screenshot below with the growth of the site’s link profile:  

 

Growth of a site's link profile

www.denverpost.com

 

A great feature of this tool is the notify area where you can select this option and send a notification on Twitter to the people mentioned in the story.

 

7. Try Email Outreach to Build a Solid Community Within Your Brand

Email outreach is a white hat search engine optimization technique you should master. Besides its many beneficial purposes, one of the most valuable is increasing content amplification.

 

A successful experience using email outreach to amplify content comes from a case study by Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko. The subject of this case study is Emil Shour, content manager at SnackNation. He used the skyscraper technique for email outreach to generate 41,992 pageviews.

Google-analytics-pageviews

Source: backlinko.com

The strategy started with finding an excellent keyword after a thorough research, then looking at the competition for that keyword. That meant taking a look at the content Google shows on the results page, the type of content found there, understanding the trends, seeing the lack of information and taking advantage of that. Make a list/structure with the facts you want to debate in your post. Don’t leave out any savory details! Enrich your content with spicy pictures. Now is when the idea of email outreach comes in. You can ask experts to contribute with ideas to rank number one and overflow of links and traffic.

 

Before you publish your piece, you can email influencers to get the word out and ask them whether they would be interested to read (without asking for a link) a piece of paper relevant to their niche. Emil Shour sent a pre-outreach email looking something like this:

pre-outreach-email

Source: backlinko.com

Then, after he received an answer from them, he sent an email with the link to the published article. In the end, the outcome was very good, receiving contextual links, traffic, revenue. Proceeding this way, you have a better rate of success.

 

8. Use Content Syndication on Medium to Build Your Blog Audience

An excellent way to maximize the effectiveness of your content amplification is through content syndication. It is important to include this strategy in your content marketing plan. 

 

It can help you reach other niches and promote your content on different media and websites. Basically, it means pushing your content on third party websites to a full article, snippet, link, or thumbnail. There is not a one-size-fits-all way for content syndication, but rather multiple approaches. Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch are a good example to get featured among experts and offer news and trends.

Content syndication

 

Medium is another way to promote your content and provide audience. On the site, you can publish the whole post or just a snippet. You can create an account for free and then import your article. After you finish, you’ll see the next message at the end of your story:

 

Content syndication on medium

 

 

9. Collaborate with Influencers to Earn Links

Your influencer marketing campaign should focus on building advocacy around your brand and amplifying your content to earn links, not shares and mentions. Tweets and shares get lost amongst other tweets and shares, but links enrich your backlink profile and help you rank higher.   

 

A benefit from collaborating with influencers is the fact that they send relevancy signals to the content, showing it offers valuable information.

 

Influencers are picky, and they choose to work with you if they see it is relevant, content worthy and they have a benefit from it.

 

Make sure you’ve thought of everything before you launch your collaboration project.  

 

You can ask influencers to answer some of your questions to get them featured on your blog, or you could ask them to get your brand featured on their blog. For example, we asked 13 link building experts a few questions about the Penguin update and the results followed. Social or content amplification is the process where you need to go that extra mile. Yet, it’s all worth it. 

 

Link building experts interview

 

10. Post on StumbleUpon and Absorb Targeted Traffic

StumbleUpon is really an interesting platform to use to spread your site on the web. It is easy to see how the platform works. You need to create an account if you don’t have one yet and wait 24 hours before you submit your first page. To submit your link, you need to fill in a form similar with the one below:

Stumbleupon add link

It is important to set the interest for the link to get featured in the right category and target the right users.  

 

There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration. You can’t submit commercial webpage on StumbleUpon, only a few links from the same domain are accepted, and if your account is used for promotional activity, you’ll risk getting your account suspended or terminated.  

 

To get the full experience you could use StumbleUpon and Paid discovery feature together. For example, Kim Roach from Buzzblogger got 201,126 visitors using those two. She wrote an article about Top 30 inspirational picture quotes to rock your day; to make her content visible she started with an investment of $100, which brought her 1,000 visitors. Then she let her piece of content become viral, and that’s how she received almost 200,000 organic visitors.

 

11. Develop Advocates Through GaggleAMP

GaggleAMP is a tool that helps you reach amplification and social media engagement. It has the power to strengthen the distribution of your content through different networks, to align your employees in the digital engagement strategy, build actionable reports to show trends and measure performance. The platform has the power to create, implement content driven marketing campaigns by tapping into employee, partner and customer advocates.

 

Gaggle refers to employees, potential customers or current customers, and partners or other stakeholders who receive a notification when a new piece of content is published and they are encouraged to share it. The people included in the gaggle group can choose which content to share.

 

Start with a smaller group of people who are active on social media and already share your content.

 

Then you will adapt to the way before you grow it. Begin by engaging your advocates, talk with them, acknowledge their effort by sharing information about your brand and content. Keep them up-to-date with the changes from every social media platform. Encourage them by offering them support. You can think of a reward and recognition campaign for sharing the message.

 

It is an effective platform to create advocates and amplify content.

 

12 . Integrate Promotion Messages or Buttons in Your Website

A free pass for link earning through amplifying your content is having a promotion message or button on your site. So make sure you’ve integrated it into your website. A promotion message can take the form of a website pop-up showing a clear incentive with a strong CTA, a slider for a juicy offer or a headline bar with clever headline matching your content. A promotion message can increase the traffic and amplify your content by choosing the proper type. AddThis offers different tools for its users by implementing simple ways to share and promote their content. No matter what you decide to do, it is highly important to have social buttons. So make sure you include them on your site regardless of any digital marketing strategy you choose to implement.

 

If you your pop-up message is creative enough, you could be mentioned on other sites and therefore earn a link. For example, Justuno wrote a post on their blog about 10 Inspiring Examples of Email Pop Up Designs and Why They Work, and a few brands got mentioned. Below you can see a screenshot from their blog:

Earn link from creative pop up message

The Wee Squeak received a link mention due to a smart pop-up message.

 

There are a few things you need to remember in order to nail your pop up message:

  • have a strong CTA;
  • show personality;
  • use qualitative images that match your message;
  • offer a valuable benefit to the user to make him take action;
  • fit the design of the pop up with your brand colors and website style;
  • don’t be intrusive
 

Conclusion

Getting more and more people to read your piece of content remains a high priority for many marketers. It is still a long debated subject. Marketers love media monitoring. We all know it. We are always asking after publishing a blog post “how many people saw it?”. Are there any conversion rates generated? And if yes, how many out of paid media and how many out of organic traffic? On top of the social media marketing strategy come links. You need to think of the long term. If your content is an outstanding piece, people will link to it, but you need to give it a push just to get it rolling on the ground. There are many content amplification services and tools out there that can help you out with this. But no matter what content amplifier you are using, your content needs to be exceptional.

 

There is no content amplification definition or formula, be it lead generation or sponsored content, that will make you automatically win links. It is effective content, content distribution, media monitoring, content strategy and earned media that will take you there.  No matter what you do, keep in mind your main purpose, target and aim: the user. 

 

Get the help of content amplification tools mentioned above, but most importantly follow the previous 12 techniques to amplify your content, earn links and improve your online marketing. There are inbound marketers and niche communities who say that quality content is enough. And indeed, if you put great content in front of your marketing strategy, it can be driving traffic and users. Yet, it might not be enough.  Content writing is great but you need to amplify it in order for it to be effective.  You can start earning links using the actionable content amplification strategies listed above in the article. 

 

As mentioned earlier, there is no guaranteed content marketing strategy that will take you on the edge of success. But the previous 12 unique techniques for content amplification are a damn good starting point. 

The post 12 Unique Content Amplification Techniques That Earn 327% More Links appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write Effective Post Titles

Ever wondered how to consistently write effective blog post titles? It’s one of the most important skills to have in the online world. Let’s look at a graphic summary and then jump into some big details below:

blog post titles

An introduction to blog post titles and headlines

An entertaining and eye-catching headline can help a blog post (that might otherwise have gone unnoticed) get thousands of social shares, hundreds of comments, and a boost in Google rankings.

Write a boring title, however, and even the best blog post will get skipped.

Now, I’m not saying that I always write effective titles for my blog posts – I still have so much to learn and there are countless websites that do them a whole lot better than me. But, I’ve been asked about my methodology a few times now and thought it might be something a few of you might like to read.

So here we go!

A question about titles from Frank

In a post about mailing lists I got a question in the comments section from Frank which got me thinking about this topic some more:

question

Now, Frank’s question is primarily about email subject lines and crafting them so that people open up your emails. But seeing as there is a lot of similarity and crossover between email subject lines and blog post titles and so I am going to talk about it all in one post.

What makes for an effective post title?

Let’s start this post by talking about what makes a title effective.

To my mind there are a few things we can talk about here – each one slightly more challenging than the last:

  1. It should catch their eye
    The very first thing a title needs to do is catch someone’s eye whether they see it in an email, Facebook feed, Tweet or whatever. Cutting through noise is hard.
  2. It should get a click
    The next thing you need to do is get them to click through to read it. This is much more difficult than it sounds – some formats only have 0.5 to 1% click through rates.
  3. It should cause an engagement or action
    Some people will share or like an article simple based on whether they think their friends will like the article’s title. More likely, however, is that your title encourages someone to read your excellent content.
  4. It should assist your longterm Google rankings
    A good title not only gets people interested in the article but also helps you to rank well on Google. More about this later.

You might write a title that you really love and think is clever as hell but unless it is leading to these types of responses you will be wasting your time.

How to write effective post titles

Okay so writing a good title is not easy.

We all know that.

It takes a lot of practice and it also requires a lot of testing to see what works and what sort of tiny variations you can make to elicit a big change in performance.

But there are some things you can do every time, sort of like a routine, to ensure that you get the best possible chance of success.

Today’s post is not going to be a formula that you can follow – mostly because I don’t follow one myself. Rather, what I want to do is just give you a few different things that you can think about and do each time you sit down to write.

Hopefully that helps you get results.

1. Always consider your target audience first

Before you write a title for a blog post you need to think about your target audience.

Who are they? What do they do? How old are they? These are all important questions that can have a big impact on how your titles form.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is the question: what problems do they have?

If your title can tap into that anxiety (and perhaps solve it!) you’ll find yourself getting a much better engagement rate.

Always know who you are writing for and what issues they are having. Successful websites that are aimed at professional corporates “feel” completely different to music sites for teenagers. That’s important.

2. Think about where they are reading the title

This point relates heavily to Frank’s question about email subject lines because when your title is designed to be read in an inbox you need to factor in things like mobile screen sizes.

phone screen

Here’s a screen shot of two emails that I sent to myself using some pretty lazy examples of my own headings. You can see how on my iPhone the subject gets quite cropped and the text underneath plays a really big role. If you have a large percentage of people reading your emails on their mobile you’ll need to pay careful attention to how much fits.

3. Know exactly what short and long-tail keywords you’re targeting

Keywords are a vital part of blogging success.

You need to know exactly what keywords your blog as a whole is targeting, and you need to know what keywords each individual post is targeting and how that helps to create a big blog-wide picture. To do this well you need to know a little bit about short and long-tail key phrases and how they all work together.

Here’s an example if you aren’t sure:

Short-tail: grow a blog

Long-tail: how to grow a blog in 2017

As you can imagine, short-tail keywords are extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. What most people now do is try to rank for a series of longer-tail alternatives where you add an extra bit of information on the end to target a smaller group of people.

I’ve written a bit about keyword research for blogging before so I won’t go over it again in too much detail. At a minimum, you want to spend 20 minutes to an hour researching and making sure you can compete and are targeting the right things.

4. Pick a post title strategy and work your keywords into it

So now we are up to the bit where you actually start to draft some titles.

This is where it gets lengthy!

It’s at the point where we have to communicate our ideas to our readers, show them what we want to achieve, generate some curiosity, and also add in the key phrase for the benefits of Google SEO.

Each thing that you leave out makes for a less effective title.

So how do you do that?

Well, the best bet is to use some kind of title strategy that gives you a little method or guideline to follow.

Here are some examples:

  • Shock value
    Two titles that have worked really well for me personally are Why I Hate Copyblogger which was published on Copyblogger itself and an email I sent with the subject Goodbye Old Friend about switching to my new responsive theme. Both caused a big stir, but had the downside of a bit of negative feedback for scaring people! Note that these don’t address all of our criteria.
  • Scarcity
    Human beings are hardwired to minimise loss and as such using a title that indicates that readers are already losing something, or that there is a limited amount of something available to them can be incredibly effective. My most effective example of this is probably Why Blogging is a Waste of Time because so many of the readers were already heavily involved in blogging.
  • Time sensitivity
    Time sensitivity is closely related to scarcity – if there is a limited amount of time available people will be more likely to act. My favorite example of this is from Glen who actually uses that phrase in the title Time Sensitive: How to Reach 100,000,000 Unique Visitors in Just 6 Months. If you don’t feel compelled to click this link you might actually need to see a doctor. Another big example from this week is the article Google Search is About to Make a Major Change.
  • Exclusivity
    Sticking to our biological needs, humans really love being part of something exclusive. We can see this awful ego in action all over the place with premium memberships; the clubs and groups you join when you buy a Porsche, for example. Even just hinting at something exclusive can be very powerful as I was happy to see in my post REVEALED: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog which has been a big post for me.
  • Fear and anxiety
    Marketing is normally about solving a need that someone has (although we could argue that these days marketers create artificial needs to sell us crap…). If you can incorporate a fear or anxiety into your title you’ll generate immediate interest. The title How a Single Guest Post May Have Gotten an Entire Site Penalized by Google does that extremely well because we’ve all done guest posts and we’re all kind of scared of that penalty. Note: Please only do this is you feel the fear is necessary and your post has some answers. Don’t just aim to scare people.
  • Extraordinary value
    Titles that communicate an extraordinary amount of value often do really well, especially if the article itself actually follow through with the promise. I tried to do this with a post called My 9,381-Word Guide on How to Start a Blog and Dominate Your Niche. It took a long time to write but the results have been pretty good. In my opinion Glen is the king of these types of titles with examples like How 3 Guys Made Over $10,000,000 Last Year Without a Single Backlink.

These are just some very basic examples. I’ll try to give you a few more tactics towards the end of the post in case you want to go deeper on how to work these motivations into your title and headline writing.

5. Keep your title in view and constantly tighten it

When I was in university someone told me to read the essay question every few minutes to stop myself going off track.

It was very good advice.

I like to keep my title in view and read it again and again as I type each paragraph. This helps me stay on track, but it also forces me to review the headline and tighten it up as the post evolves – which it always does.

On average I would say that my titles get re-written at least 20 to 40 times before I publish.

Sometimes the title will change because you realize that there is a better topic/angle for your overall blogging strategy, other times you just figure out better and better ways to say what you want.

The main iterations of this post’s title went:

How to Write A Blog Post Title
Why My Blog Post Titles Take Hours to Write
My Method of Writing Effective Blog Post Titles
How I Write Effective Blog Post Titles
Why Writing Blog Post Titles Can Take Hours
Why My Effective Titles Take Hours
How I Write Effective Post Titles (and Why it Can Take Hours)
How I Write Effective Titles (and Why it Takes Hours)
Etc.

(Dear Google, I am not keyword-stuffing here. 😉 )

Each one of these variations also probably had two or three versions that I toyed with. Sometimes I will sit there and do this until I feel solid about it, other times I will revise the title as I write the article itself in order to get the whole entity flowing together.

6. Publish your post and tweak for different versions

Okay so this is where the “art” of title-writing starts to turn more into the “science” of title-writing.

Once you’ve finished writing the perfect blog post you hit publish and then start to take care of all the other versions of your post title that need to be addressed.

For example, the way your title appears on Google, Facebook, your blog itself, and your mail out can all be completely different if you so choose.

I touched on the mail out above with the iPhone sizing so let’s talk more about the appearance in the search engine rankings here.

With a plugin like All in One SEO Pack or Yoast’s WordPress SEO you can actually change the title of your posts so that they appear different in Google.

For example, here’s a result from Blog Tyrant:

search result

As you can see, the blog post title is too long and gets cut off. The tricky thing about this, however, is that the title length that Google shows will be longer depending on the key phrase that was searched. In the old days it was around 70 characters and so we could easily cater for that. Not anymore.

So it’s important to think carefully about the main key words you want to rank for an ensure you have a good appearance for that main target.

ctr

You can track all of this in Webmaster Tools and a bit with Clicky.

Here you can see a post where I’m getting a 46% click through rate from Google for the displays where I rank in the first position. This could be better but depends on lots of things like the type of search people are doing (how-to’s vs general info), the number of ads around it, etc.

One thing that’s good to note here is that you don’t want to change your title too much on Google (or anywhere else…) such that people get mislead when they arrive on your post and see the actual title. That will cause a big increase in your bounce rate.

If you want to test the effectiveness of your subject lines for mail outs it’s a good idea to segment your list and split test different versions and see whether you can get any meaningful results that you can learn from and replicate next time.

Some more tips for writing effective post titles

Now that I’ve kind of gone over my own process for writing effective titles, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a few miscellaneous tips and resources that I have found useful over the years.

In other words, here are some things that I couldn’t figure out how to fit into the main content:

  • Jon Morrow’s free eBook on writing headlines is probably the best resource on the internet for headline development. I regularly refer to it to “borrow” ideas. You’ll need to submit your email to get it.
  • Write a lot. There’s a story here that Brian Clark made Jon Morrow write 35,000 headlines in one year in order to help him become the best at it.
  • Copyblogger has an absolute boatload of headline material that you can get all in one place. Man I really hate these guys.
  • Find people to learn from. I regularly look at ViperChill and ViralNova to see whether they have any super-successful post titles that I can adapt to my own blogging formula.
  • Study your real results. Learn to look at your data and see what is getting the actual results that count. That could mean subscribers, sales or some other metric important to your blog. Once you know, copy those posts.
  • Be scientific. Tools like AWeber, VWO, etc. can help you use different testing methods to see what is working most effectively.

In the end, writing effective titles is just like any other skill that you want to develop – it takes study, practice and a lot of testing to get it right.

What is your most effective title?

I’m really kind of curious to see what kind of post titles the Tyrant Troops have come up with. If you know what your most effective title has been please write it out below in the comments. We might all learn a thing or two from your success!

Is the New Google “Fred” Update Rolling Out Now? Massive Ranking Fluctuations

Google has, time and time again avoided – or even flat out refused – to give any indication of when it rolled out an update. Their way of doing this has been always to assert that they make updates to their algorithms on a continuous basis, rather than having distinct launch dates for particular releases. It’s not difficult to see why that’s probably a good idea. It keeps everyone guessing and acting on a desire to actually improve their SEO techniques rather than a temptation to eschew the latest changes. It’s the equivalent of saying that Santa Claus exists and watches you all the time and any time you’re naughty you might get the stick instead of the high rating. Except you don’t know when Christmas is and it might happen every other day or so.

 

Assumptions on a fresh Google update were immediate. And, like it previously happened, the alleged new algorithm has already a name and a face. Google Fred seems to be the name and, preserving the tradition where cute animal figures represent Google’s updates, this time a fish seems to have won the mascot contest. Much uproar stirred up lately with lots of webmasters and SEO pros noticing massive ranking drops. And as “coincidence” doesn’t seem plausible at all when we are looking at Google algorithm changes, the Google Fred Update seems to be responsible for the dropped ranks and organic traffic.  

 

Google Fred Update cognitiveSEO

 

 

Once Is Happenstance. Twice Is Coincidence. Three Times Is Google Fred Update?

 

Whenever someone thinks they’ve discovered a new algorithm update, it always feels a bit like you’re in an X-Files episode. You’ve stumbled upon something that really doesn’t seem right, but If you suggest it’s the hand of the “powers that be,” people might look at you funny. All the while Google slyly smiles and reaffirms its uneventful day-to-day existence. But as the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you. And so it turns out that there may (or may not) be a new update and if there is, its name is Fred. In fact, all future updates might be called Fred from now on if we were to look after Gary Illlyes’ affirmation. So we might need to say goodbye to the Pandas and the Penguins of the world because algorithm updates have gotten even just a little bit less cute (no offense to the Freds of this world).

It’s a cat and mouse game where both Google and its paying customers are trying to get ahead of each other.

 

Gary Illyes Google Fred Update

 

How do you identify a potentially significant algorithm update?

 

There’s no single metric that will tell you it happened, but if you gather enough significant indicators, you might just be onto something (if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… it might be a Fred).

 

Barry Schwartz, of Search Engine Roundtable, may have just stumbled on some quacks. While his interaction with Google’s Gary Illyes (and john Mueller) on social media has yielded business as usual in terms of confirming suspicions (with a traditional “Yes, we make changes almost every day”), his data analysis seems to suggest there could be something significant at work. The most significant signals come from different measurements of search engine ranking position (SERP) fluctuations.

 

As we took a look at some specialized tools, we can see some fluctuations in the last days, variations that can or not be correlated with a new Google update. 

 

algoroo tool

Screenshot taken from algoroo.com

accuranker tool

Screenshot taken from accuranker.com

 

Although none of the measurements are significant on their own, when taken together they make a worthwhile argument that a new Fred is on the loose. 

 

WebmasterWorld and Black Hat World were among the ones who noticed some weird activity in the last week or so as well. And although Google is always dancing around, it seems that dramatic shifting has happened in the past couple of days. Or at least this is what people from forums and on Twitter keep on debating. 

 

Possible Google Fred Update “Victims”

 

It becomes easy to forget that looking up something on Google is not just a search, but a search performed on a particular type of search engine, according to particular algorithms and with particular implications in terms of customer experience and data privacy. And because Google as a search engine is ultimately a product which interacts with other products, other companies try to continuously adapt to Google’s way of working so that they profit from its popularity. In order for Google to retain that popularity, it must ensure that other companies don’t profit too much of its product, so that it remains trustworthy to its consumers (and a popular synonym for “search online” in the same time).

 

As hopefully, you have already noticed, we, at cognitiveSEO like to research a lot. And this is because at the end of the day research is creating new knowledge. Cutting-edge is our main core, and we want to stick to it. In the last hours, we’ve overworked our databases and the coffee machine in the quest of investigating the possible newest Google Fred Update.

 

As much as we’ve searched, we didn’t find a direct correlation between the dropped ranks and a possible algorithm change.

 

The SERP’s volatility is, as you know, as high as it gets and it would be tough and unrealistic to put our finger on a Google Update. We’ve found some examples of ranking drops which we are going to paste it below. Keep in mind that, for the moment, we cannot make a strong correlation between a possible Google Fred and the current situation of the ranks.

 

possible google fred update drop

 

As we take a look at the image above, it seems that a major drop has occurred on dankstop.com lately. The site is an online head shop based in the US that has a quite big number of links reported to the total of referring domain. Not to mention that most of their links are low or no authority.

 

Screenshot taken for: dankstop.com

Screenshot taken for: dankstop.com

 

 They seem to have gathered a lot of new links in the period 26 February – 5th of March. You can check out its analysis here.  Even taking all of these into consideration, we cannot yet correlate this drop with a possible Google algorithm update. 

 

possible google fred update drop example

 

futuresofpalmbeach.com, is an addiction treatment center from Florida which seems to have experienced a major drop as well lately. Except a bit of unusual Link Velocity, it seems that the site has nothing unusual in their link profile. 

 

Is It Really a New Google Update? 

 

When a product or a service becomes really popular, the company usually sets the sight for market leadership, a magical place of self-fulfilling (and self-replenishing) power. But there is an even more mythical place beyond that, where the product’s name becomes so ubiquitous and easily-identifiable with the product class itself, that a name for a product replaces the name for the product category. In many countries, for instance, the word “xerox” has become a verb which stands for the process of photocopying a document. In some countries “adidas” is the same as sport shoes, while in others “kleenex” is the same as tissue. But perhaps the most ubiquitous nowadays is the use of the word “google” as a verb, to mean “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web.” That’s the Merriam-Webster definition, but in everyday use, there’s an even simpler definition: to google means, quite simply, to search online. 

 

Therefore, with Google becoming more than a search engine, it’s almost natural that a lot of ranking updates to appear on a regulate basis. We are already familiar with Google Updates, call it the Panda, Penguin or Fred update, and we tend to associate these algorithm changes with link quality or content’s value.

 

For the moment we cannot be sure that Google Fred Update even exists, let alone to correlate it to a link or content issue.

 

Ups and downs happen on a daily basis on Google’s SERP. Sometimes they are related to an algorithm change and sometimes they just happen as a part of Google’s volatility. As mentioned before, using our tracking tools we’ve made a serious, in-depth research in the past 24 hours, trying to find out any correlation between an alleged Google update and rankings’drop. We found some irregularities, yet, nothing out of the ordinary or nothing that can be correlated directly to a new update or algorithm change.

The post Is the New Google “Fred” Update Rolling Out Now? Massive Ranking Fluctuations appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

The Evolution of a Blog and the Evolution of You

If you use the app Timehop, you’ll know that one of its cool strengths is how it reminds you of something you’d completely forgotten about from years gone by.

This could be an embarrassing haircut, a sweet moment with a child, or a recollection of a friend long since gone.

Inadvertently, it can also show you how you’ve evolved as a blogger, as I found out with a memory it shared with me today from six years ago.

Danny Brown blog 2011

This was my blog design from 2011. I think the reason Timehop shared it as a memory was that I’d just gone through a redesign, and shared a picture of it on Facebook.

When I saw this memory, it made me smile as I thought of how busy it looked compared to today’s iteration.

Ch…Ch…Ch…Changes

Back then, I was all about content around the topics of social media and marketing, and all the things that represented – personal branding, heavy on the social proof numbers, and multiple calls to action.

I guess that suited my goals at the time, but as I look back at it now, I cringe a little when I see how much focus I put on the social proof side of things (how many followers, subscribers, and shares I got).

It wasn’t long after that time that I started to lose interest in blogging about social media in particular, and trying to compete with the content mill approach where everyone was going for the eyeballs with easy content and snappy soundbites.

This led to a big change in direction and publishing a post in 2014 that advised long-time readers they may want to unsubscribe. Which, as every blogging/content marketing guru will tell you, is the worst thing you can do. Yeah, right… 😉

Indeed, when I wrote that post, the feedback I got from it, both in the comments after the post and emails from non-commenters, showed that perhaps readers were getting sick of that kind of lazy content too.

Since then, the content here has continued to try and focus on more meaningful and personal stuff, and that’s often meant my well-known itchy finger syndrome coming to the fore when it comes to the design to present the content from.

So, from the impetus of that Timehop memory, I decided to take a trip down memory lane using the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. And, man, have there been some changes… 🙂

DB 2012
Early 2012
DB October 2012
October 2012
DB Jan 2013
January 2013
DB 2013
Mid-to-late 2013
Mar 2014
March 2014
DB 2015
Mid 2015

December 2015
DB Feb 2016
February 2016
DB March 2016
March 2016
Today
2017

The thing I notice the most is that since writing that post about taking a different direction, the design has complemented that goal.

Whereas before it was all about selling expertise, knowledge, books, etc, now it was all about content, you, the world, and making time for the important things in life.

The Evolution of You

When I shared the Timehop memory on a post over on Facebook, a few of my friends shared their take on how they’ve evolved, or are trying to.

From how they’ve gone a similar route of reflection and rethinking, to wondering whether to restart their blogging after a long hiatus.

And that’s the beauty of blogging. Much like in the decisions we make that change how we live our lives, blogging is a constant state of flux that grows as we do.

What we started out as many years before is now completely different from where we are today.

Things like our voice, our passion, even the things that make us tick – they all change as we do. It’s all part of the same evolution – the natural growth and change of perspective that we all experience.

The important thing is to recognize the need to change, and know that it’s okay.

You don’t need to toe the line, or compete with blogger X or podcaster Y. You don’t need to chase an audience that isn’t there, and never will be.

Instead, be passionate about what you create, be decisive in how that comes to the fore, and be open to the knowledge that what you create today may look very different to what you create tomorrow.

That’s how we keep our creativity alive – regardless of how many incarnations it takes to get there… 😉

Is English the Best Language for Your Blog?

blog in english

English is usually considered the default language of the web. But is it really the best choice for your blog?Click To Tweet

One of the most common questions I get from new bloggers is whether they should blog in their own language or try to do it in English, even though they don’t feel that confident.

And as blogging and high-speed Internet spreads from the usual places like the USA, UK and Australia to newer markets like China, India and many African countries, the issue of language becomes even more important and complicated.

In this post we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of English and how to determine what’s best for your blog.

Should I blog in English?

Just yesterday I received this question in my email from a new blogger called Ahmed. He phrased it really well so I’ve included it here with his permission. Have a quick read:

blog in english

Ahmed’s concerns are all legitimate, and it’s great that he is thinking about them early on in his career. Let’s take a look at how we can try and figure this out.

When is English is good for blogging? It’s not clear.

I wanted to start this article by looking at the pros and cons of using English on a blog but, after doing research beyond my own experiences, I found that it was really difficult to isolate each aspect in that way.

For example, the statistics are all very different and it’s unsure what is relevant. This graph by W3 Techs says that about 50% of websites are in English, but then we can see here that only 26% of people online use English. While that is still the highest portion, it still hundreds of millions of other language speakers on the table.

In the end I came to the conclusion that it is all really about your goals. That is something we have talked about a few times on Blog Tyrant, and it is really important to think about before you start a blog and get too far down the road because it will influence many choices like this one.

For example, if your goal is to promote a local business and that business is in China then there is not much point doing a content marketing campaign in English. You want local people to notice the business and the vast majority of them are speaking and reading a Chinese dialect.

It gets a little bit more complicated, however, when your goal might be to sell a physical product that has worldwide appeal. While you might be based in a non-English speaking country like China, you might still have huge markets in the USA. Furthermore, you main marketing channels might be sites like Etsy or Pinterest which have a huge English-speaking bias.

Lastly, what if you have no product at all and are looking to either make money through other means, or not make money at all and just try to raise awareness for a cause or build up an email subscriber list for some future reason? Is there a good answer then?

How do I decide on my blog’s main language?

With all that in mind, how do we then go about deciding on what language to blog in? As with most decisions, it is all about weighing up the opportunity cost.

This means that you have to consider what benefit you are foregoing by choosing one course of action over another while trying to decide which option is better. Here’s an example scenario:

***
You live in Germany and want to start a vegetarian food blog that is not location specific. German is your first language, but you also can write and read in (not great) English. You decide to write you blog in English in order to tap in to a larger traffic base in America and around the world. You have some successes with content on social media and Google, but no one engages with your blog or subscribes because the slightly broken English makes the otherwise quality blog seem amateurish.
***

If this blogger had chosen to blog in German the traffic might have been slightly lower, but that traffic may have been more engaged and lead to opportunities in a local market like a book deal, speaking presentations, coaching, etc. In this scenario the opportunity for more traffic had an increased cost.

Keeping opportunity cost in mind, I would look at things like:

  • What are your goals?
    Think carefully about what direction you want your blog to go in and how it will be used in the future. If you want to try and make some money then think about whether it will be affiliate programs or something more location-specific.
  • What is your best language?
    Generally I think starting a blog in your best language is a good idea because it can give you more confidence to move forward. There is so much competition these days and something it can be a bit depressing when you struggle to get traction. A broken-English set back is not what you need at the beginning.
  • Could you benefit from a multi-language site?
    Would it be possible to make one site with multiple translations? You can do this yourself or hire a translator to help you create various versions. Neil Patel is someone who has started doing this recently.
  • Are two blogs necessary?
    Is it beneficial or perhaps even necessary to create two separate blogs in different languages and with slightly different goals and maybe slightly different content? This is something I’d only look at after having some success with one blog first.
  • What is your competition doing?
    As always, a little bit of competition analysis can be a very valuable thing and is something that we bloggers should try and do more often if we can. Look at a few different segments of your niche and see what those blogs are doing and how effective it has been.
  • Ask people who might know
    The last point that I wanted to mention is that it is a good idea to to what Ahmed did at the start of this post and shoot an email to people who might know, especially if they are in your own niche. Most of the time they will be happy to help a new blogger in their area and it can save a lot of guess work.

All of these factors and options can play a role in how you decide to proceed when it comes to the language of your blog. As much as I’d love to give a hard and fast answer about the best option, it really depends too much on your own skills, goals, location and so on.

A final word on languages and translations

Of course I know absolutely nothing about other languages, but I have been lucky enough to spend a good deal of time in non-English speaking countries and around people who specialize in translations.

One thing that has taught me is that language is a very important thing to a culture. I am very skeptical of translation bots and websites because, as soon as you use them, you notice that they miss a lot of the nuances and hidden meanings of the words.

If you do decide to translate your blog I recommend hiring someone to help you at least edit the work. And try to remember that translating your content might really help someone out there who might never have encountered you. That’s even better than finding a new source of traffic!

Have you thought about this before?

I’d love to know if anyone out there has thought about this for their own blog and how they came to decide. Did it work out as well as you’d hoped? Or perhaps you’ve found a good middle ground? Please leave a comment below and let us know. It might really help someone.