Assume Others Are Good Until You Know Otherwise
Looking around us, whether it’s on the news or our various social networks, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only things happening in the world are bad ones. The rise of radicalized terrorism, whether home-grown or otherwise. Racial tensions. Increases in hate crimes. These, and more like them, would suggest civilization is on an irreversible […]Learn More
This Checklist Ensures You Send Successful Email Newsletters, Every Time
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to grow a blog, website, or online business. In fact, if you focus on getting more email subscribers your website will be insulated against Google algorithm changes and fussy social media trends that put you at risk. But having a big list isn’t enough. There’s…Learn More
Always remember that your first dollar online is always the hardest. So we are here to help you earn your first dollar, up to your first million online.
L A T E S T P O S T S
Assume Others Are Good Until You Know Otherwise
This Checklist Ensures You Send Successful Email Newsletters, Every Time
Without Context, Any Old Shit Can Be Viewed as True
Keywords 101: What Are Keywords And Why Do They Matter?
Competitive Analysis for Entrepreneurs
Prediction: The 5 Biggest Threats to Your Online Career
Do Social Signals Influence SEO? A 2016 Study on 23 Million Shares
8 Common Blogging Mistakes That Almost All New Bloggers Make…
If We Encouraged Everyone to Be Leaders In Their Own Right
101 Blogging Tips to Keep You Moving Forward
Looking around us, whether it’s on the news or our various social networks, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only things happening in the world are bad ones.
The rise of radicalized terrorism, whether home-grown or otherwise. Racial tensions. Increases in hate crimes.
These, and more like them, would suggest civilization is on an irreversible downward spiral from which there is no return.
But that thinking would be missing the bigger picture.
Yes, times are hard. Yes, people are broken. Yes, humanity seems to be fragmenting not just in one or two countries, but many.
For every bad act or person, there is a good equivalent. For every evil intent, there are many more good ones.
As my friend, Ike Pigott stated so well over on Facebook recently, bad things have always happened. They just seem more prevalent now due to the ability to live stream every moment of our lives, good and bad.
So. The next time you feel the world is beyond repair, consider Ike’s words below and take the time to think about all the good that remains.
Because that far outweighs the bad – we just need to reinforce that message.
There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. ~ William James.
When you want to believe something is true, often you look for the validation of numbers to make the case for your argument.
After all, the more someone says something, and the more people add their voice to the chorus of that belief, eventually it has to be true, right?
No smoke without fire, and all that.
The problem is, if we subscribe to that line of thinking, then pretty much anything can be true, absurd or not.
You only have to look at the popularity of Donald Trump in the U.S. Presidental race to see how that logic bears out and is lapped up by those eager to replace research with revisionism.
And that’s a dangerous place to be.
Sweeping Statements as Pieces of Fact
Over on Facebook, I got involved in a discussion following the posting of the meme below.
One of the commenter’s on the meme came back with this counter-argument:
Second highest rape rate in the world now thanks to Syrian refugees, which might be a lot less if guns were in citizens hands.
Now, this isn’t the first time this argument has been used. The growing right-wing parties in Europe are using such language of fear as their rallying cry to stop refugees coming into their country.
Add that to the recent terror attacks on France and Germany, and you can maybe see why there’s such fear of non-European immigrants/refugees.
But that would be to miss a very important fact, especially when it comes to the meme in question, and the commenter’s statement that Sweden is suffering from a rape epidemic engendered by Syrian refugees.
It’s true – Sweden has one of the highest reported rape incidences in the world and bears the unenviable title of rape capital of Europe.
Sweden has also been one of the leading European countries when it comes to receiving refugees, with 153,000 in 2015 alone.
So, for anyone looking to connect dots and blame refugees for the Swedish rape crisis, the correlation is right there.
Except it’s not.
The reason for Sweden having the highest reported rape incidence can be traced back to 2005 when Sweden’s Social Democratic government introduced a new sex-crime law that defined rape with the most expansive definition in the world.
For example, if a work colleague rubbed against you in an unwanted way every week for a year, this would potentially be a case of sexual assault in Canada. In Germany, it would be zero cases.
In Sweden, it would be tallied as 52 separate cases of rape.
If you enjoyed six sex acts with your spouse, then later you felt you had not given consent, that would be seen as separate six cases of rape.
While the law was (rightly) changed to protect women and encourage them to come forward and report rape more, as opposed to being fearful of how they were treated, it’s led to a skewed ratio being used as statistical data.
Following the change in the law, reports of rape doubled through to 2009.
However, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported no indications of an increase in the actual number of people who fell victims to sexual crimes between 2005-2008.
Instead, what wasn’t classed as rape before 2005 – and now was – was being reported.
Now, it’s clear that Sweden has an issue with sexual crime. But to say it’s all down to “the Syrian refugees”…. not so much.
The Ignorance of Groupthink
The problem with generalizations is that it often – arguably, always – misses the bigger picture, one that tells a far different story.
Take the crime of kidnapping, for example. If I were to ask you which countries had the highest rates of kidnap, you may reply with somewhere from South America.
Given the drug wars in that part of the world, you might think it’s a safe bet to suggest Mexico or Colombia.
But what if I told you the highest rates of kidnap were in Canada and Australia? Yes, Canada – the country that defines friendliness.
However, much like the reason behind Sweden’s rape stats, the reasons for Canada and Australia’s “kidnapping crisis” comes down to the definition.
If a separated/divorced parent takes a child for the weekend, and the other parent objects then calls the police, that’s classified as a kidnapping.
That’s right – a parent can change their mind on weekend access, and the child’s other parent is now classified the same as a drug cartel warlord.
And people use these “damning statistics” to further their argument and promote their own agenda – and we let them!
Thanks to social media, and the ease in which we can find a statistic that supports our point of view, we no longer feel the need to validate that point of view with actual facts.
Instead, we beat down the other point of view with increasing hostility and even more questionable facts until the lines have been so blurred, the truth no longer matters.
When generalization and popular opinion trumps (no pun intended) context and singular research, we fall just a little closer to history becoming a blinkered version of the truth.
Something only a certain section of humanity could ever celebrate.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. ~ Joseph Goebbels.
What Do I Care About Keywords?
Keywords are how the search engines know what you’re all about and who they
The post Keywords 101: What Are Keywords And Why Do They Matter? appeared first on BlogPress.
Keywords 101: What Are Keywords And Why Do They Matter? was first posted on September 15, 2016 at 12:57 pm.
What Is “Competitive Analysis”?
Competitive analysis is the process of analyzing your competitors, which are the people you’re trying to run against in specific markets. If you’re somebody that is interested in providing a website that sells shoes and such, you’ll be going head-to-head with all of the other consignment stores and such around the world. As a result, it’s always a good idea to analyze the competition and see what’s trending (in regards to some of the better brands on the market).
If a company is incredibly successful, odds are you’re going to be analyzing their ways quite thoroughly. There are many different aspects of competitive analysis that need to take place, which is what we’ll be covering here today. Google SEO keyword analysis isn’t the only thing you’ll need to ponder, as there are plenty of other things that could help propel a company into popularity.
In order to put together a successful business, you need to be taking initiative when it comes to marketing. To make the most out of your marketing campaigns, you’ll have to understand what makes your target demographic tick – as well as look at what as been successful before you. This article is going to cover how you can go about handling the competitive analysis process, as well as cover terms and phrases that might pop up throughout the entire ordeal. Without the right information under your belt, competitive analysis is going to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done for your business.
How Important is the Property Marketing Plan?
If you’re asking this question, it’s quite obvious that you don’t know how much weight a marketing plan can bear upon your success. Marketing plans are essentially in order to make sure that your business is in good hands, especially when you’re jumping into a relatively competitive industry. If you aren’t ready to effectively market your products or services, then you really aren’t going to get anywhere major.
There’s a reason why some of the largest corporations that the world has ever known sport an abundance of commercials. We all know their brand name and logo because they keep it all in front of us, consistently running advertisements on television and the internet (among other things). The right marketing plan could grace you with things such as:
More Customers – When you have a high-quality marketing plan set in place, you’re going to notice an increase in the amount of sales/business you’ve been seeing. More customers are going to translate into more money, which is critical (and essentially what you’re striving for, these days).
More Experience – Once you’ve put together a single marketing plan, it’s going to get easier and easier. As time progresses, you’ll understand how certain industries tick, and you’ll be able to navigate them (on a marketing level) with complete ease.
More Freedom – The better the marketing plan you put together, the more popular your business is going to be. When you’re a household name, people are automatically going to be drawn towards your services/products. This allows for more freedom when it comes to marketing, as well as many other traits.
In order to curate the right marketing plan, you’ll have to have the right people on your payroll, as well as an abundance of information on the industry at hand. If you’re an expert in your respective marketing industry, you already have an upper-hand. Use that to your advantage and appeal towards the competitors.
Identifying the Competition
This is the portion where you’ve got to identify the competition at hand. If you plan on entering the sports equipment market, you don’t need to be analyzing a technological company; it’s all about maintaining relevancy. If you notice any successful sport equipment business around your local area, try and add them to the target list. From there, you can expand out and look at some of the largest brand you can find within the industry.
When you’ve got a few targets you want to look at, try and see everything from the customer’s point of view. What products are they offering that many other places don’t? What’s the building like? Are the staff friendly? You could ask about 100 different questions right off of the bat, all of which should be taken into account.
You should also probably be worried about looking at it from a business point of view, as that’s how you’re going to be perceiving it most of the time. Is it a difficult industry to navigate? Are there enough potential clients to keep your business in good standing? Look at some of the assets they withhold, and try and plan out how you can compete against them in the marketplace. In order to make the most of your SEO competitor analysis process, you need to figure out their weaknesses. This will allow you to thoroughly plan out (and execute) the right steps needed to succeed.
Going Through a “PEST” Analysis
One thing that I would seriously recommend, is going through a PEST analysis. PEST is an acronym which stands for ‘Political, Economic, Social and Technological’ – it’s a test that looks at the 4 different traits and fields that could be associated with your competitors. You go through a PEST analysis to make sure that you’re well-aware of your competitors’ pro’s and con’s, and when they plan on making a drastic change. When you mix this with the use of the right SEO competitor analysis tool online, you’ll have a lot of important information to work with.
This is pretty much the practice of knowing whenever your competitors make a change, or anything PEST-related changes. If they release a new advertisement campaign, you’ll know about it; and if they release a new product, you’ll know about that as well. Not only that, but you might even be able to build upon a marketing strategy of your own (through the use of inspiration from competitors). The PEST process should keep you in tip-top shape, and always updated when it comes to competitor-related releases. It’s important that you’re not only on top of the target demographic, but the people you plan on going up against as well.
Political – If your competition has a political influence of any sort, local mayor candidacies and such might have an effect of how well they do with marketing.
Economic – Money is always going to be something that is taken into account, regardless of what you’re doing with your life. It makes the world go around, and it definitely has a drastic impact on marketing campaigns. If there are economic problems within a business, odds are there are going to be changes.
Social – Look at their social media presence and see if they’re consistently growing. If so, how are they doing it? When are they posting? What are they posting? There are a lot of questions to ask here, especially since social media is so popular these days.
Technological – Changes in the technology being used (in regards to a business) may have an impact on the way they approach the industry. Look out for changes, and jump on top of anything that might drastically benefit your brand.
Questions to Ask Yourself
There are a few questions that I would suggest you ask yourself before diving into a marketing battle, especially if you’re in one of the industries that has a lot of potential competition to take into account. Keyword research SEO services can give you the right keywords, but they won’t allow you to naturally beat out your competition – that’s what analysis is for. The questions I would suggest you ponder to yourself would be:
Who are the competitors you’re going up against? – You need to know who you’re ultimately going to be challenging. As a result, it’s important to identify the proper competitors.
What kind of products or services are they offering up to people? – Figure out what they have to offer, as well as look at some of their most popular options. This will help solidify the amount of popularity that these things sport within your market.
What types of past strategies have they worked with? – By looking at the past strategies that they’ve made use of, you might be able to determine exactly how they’ve maintained their success over the years.
What does their market share look like? – If they hold a hefty amount of the market share, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to be a pretty tough competition.
Are they incredibly aggressive/well-funded when it comes to advertisements? – The more money they have to blow, the harder it’s going to be when you’re looking to “overthrow the top brands”.
Are they very competitive? – If they’re ready to compete, you can know that it’s going to be a battle before you even get into the meat of things. It’s nice information to have, and can prove relatively useful in the future.
Do their strategies directly affect your business as a whole? – If they’re going things that are going to have a direct impact on your sales or advertising techniques, it needs to be taken into account. It doesn’t mean you should avoid the market altogether, as opposed to just take a much more secure stance.
Do you share strengths and weaknesses? – If you share strengths and weaknesses with a successful company, odds are you can follow exactly in their footsteps.
Are they a large threat? – If they serve as a large threat within the marketplace, it’s going to be a relatively large hurdle to overcome.
These are a few questions that should give you a better insight on your competitors, which will allow you to make the most of SEO competitor analysis process. It can very well be the difference between turning a bit of a profit, and really raking in the cash; as a business owner, you always want to turn as much of a profit as possible. Money is the name of the game, and when there is money to be made, there is going to be competition. That’s the way of the world!
PPC – How Are They Doing It?
A lot of businesses rely on PPC (pay-per click) advertisements to keep them in the popularity realm these days, which is going to make things much tougher. For example, some industries are going to call for a much higher rate when it comes to a PPC campaign. Not only will PPC ads help you drive traffic towards your projects, but it’s also much easier than trying to constantly outrank your competitors. The only thing is that you need a reasonable budget to work with. Analyze the PPC process that your competitors are taking part in, and try to work with it for your own gain. Google AdWords is the most optimal tool out there for PPC purposes, and the ‘Analyze Competition’ tool (which is strictly used for Google AdWords purposes) will make things even easier. It allows you to monitor your competition and compare your PPC campaigns to theirs. Even if your competitors are still constantly beating you out, you’ll at least be able to learn from them.
Use the keyword research SEO process to determine which terms you could be targeting for your PPC campaigns, and then see if your competitors are applying them as well. If they are, you’ll know that you are on the right track!
Comparing the link profile that you sport alongside your competitors is necessary, as it allows you to see how many backlinks they’ve built (as well as where these backlinks are pointing to). In order to make the most out of your SEO practice, comparing competitor link profiles to your own is a process that you should keep consistent. Constantly update it and figure out whether they’re making a major push or not, because it could be the difference between maintaining your current spot, or getting pushed off the block. If you can potentially spot any major link building activity, you could combat it with some of your own. In order to keep your brand renowned and popular, you’re constantly going to struggle with the competition; this is just another aspect to aid you. Link profiles shouldn’t be looked at as the only way to go about optimizing your SEO process, but comparing one another is always good.
On-Page Optimization (and Why They Take Such a Long Time to Handle It!)
On-page optimization is something that you should be taking a look at as well. Notice that a certain webpage was built with keywords in a specific location? Maybe they have a section where the most popular product is currently present? There are plenty of ways to go about optimizing the on-page SEO of your websites, and it’s one of those things that is quite easily forgotten. On-page optimization could follow things like:
How long is the content that they are using (word-wise)?
What types of keywords are they focusing on for individual pages?
What does the layout look like?
What colour scheme are they using?
How many pages are present?
On-page optimization has the ability to go above and beyond those few questions, but it’s up to you to understand what the competition is doing to get ahead. If you see fit, you can draw inspiration from your competitors to better your own page. Make sure that you don’t copy them step for step, meaning that you don’t use the same colour schemes in the same sense (among other things). You should always strive to make changes, as opposed to just blatantly copying the next person up; ideas that are just regurgitated in a brand new from might not always provide a splendid return. Innovate and create as you please, especially when it comes to using the competition as a reference.
Where Else Can I Gather Information?
The internet is a vast place, and will offer up a lot of information about your potential competitors. If you want to get serious about gathering and researching, it’s a good idea to broaden your mental horizon. There are a lot of different information sources out there, and plenty of them are going to offer up some pretty intricate insights. Some of them are going to be relatively obvious, whereas others are going to leave you scratching your head a little bit. Check out some of the most optimal information sources on the planet:
Advertisements – We touched on this a little bit already, but your competitors’ advertisements can give away a lot of information. You can get a feel for the type of budget they’re working with, as well as the customers that they are looking to target. It will tell you the price point they’re offering up, as well as the different products and services available as well.
Sales Pamphlets/Brochures – Have your competitors ever handed out a pamphlet or a brochure of sorts? Well, they’re the perfect place to fish out information in regards to your competitors. They’re trying to make a sale with these things, so it’s going to show; price, product and service, location, and even give you a feel for the type of advertisements that your competitor will be putting out.
Databases (Reference Books) – Census organizations are always going to offer up a plethora of information, such as; the Quarterly Financial Report for Manufacturing, Mining and Trade Corporations, or even just Economic Censuses.
Magazine/Newspaper Articles – Is there an article talking about your competitors unveiling a new service? Maybe they’re just letting people know about their brand new pricing change, which gives customers more bang for their buck. It could also tip you off in regards to any future implementations that may occur, or even just reveal some negative information about them. In most instances, ethics are going to be thrown out the window when it comes to competition; especially for those business owners that seemingly lack morals! In any case, it’s still good information to know of. Visit your local public library and look up some stuff on your competitors; odds are you’ll hit a gold mine of sorts.
Annual Reports – Annual reports are conducted on a yearly basis, meaning, you’ll have an entire years-worth of information to skim through. This should allow you to identify the financial information behind your competitors, like how much product they were able to sell that year. It’s also going to show you how much of a profit they’ve turned! If you’re competing against a privately-owned corporation, you may be able to get annual reports from a friend who owns stock in said company.
Observe – Head out to the local retailer and observe some things for yourself. Don’t try and put on a character or person of sorts, as that’s downright deception (something that competitors don’t take kindly to). If you have a product being distributed out to retailers, you can check the shops to see what the inventory is looking like. Compare how many products of your brand are on there, versus the products of your competitors.
Competition Analysis in a Nutshell!
There are a lot deeper things to cover when it comes to competitive analysis, but that’s all stuff you’re going to handle when the time rolls around. For now, you can understand just how important it is – as well as how to actually go through the process yourself. There are a lot of potential entrepreneurs out there that just want to stay ahead of the game, and this is something that can help them achieve that. In order to compete with the big corporations and competition, you’ll have to think like them. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which is definitely the case here; you want to be just as successful (and respected) as the competition you’re going up against. Never back down from a challenge, but be reasonable with your expectations! The analysis is so that you can make calculated risks, in a sense – something that could seriously benefit just about anybody.
There’s no doubt about it – things change fast on the Internet.
A decade ago, everyone was talking about how the web would create millions of new and unheard-of careers that took people out of traditional offices and into a new, online workplace.
It did that (and then some!).
While it’s still true that the Internet is creating a boatload of new jobs, there are also more threats to this type of career than ever before. And, as someone who runs a web company and has been in this space since college, I find myself thinking about it a lot.
Most readers of this site are either currently running a web-based business (blog, store, company, etc.) or are actively trying to do so and, while I’m no authority on this topic, I thought it might be something useful to chat about.
Don’t worry, there’s a bit of a silver lining at the end of each section.
1. The explosion of the Internet in the developing world
In the past five years the Internet has exploded in the third world. And while a lot of people still don’t have access, the numbers of those that do is truly staggering.
While China doesn’t reach quite as high as the USA, we have to remember the population sizes and how many people this equates to. In China alone that blue line represents about 650 million people.
This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It has helped to pull so many people out of poverty and has spread information, knowledge, and funny cat videos to all corners of the globe.
But the days of us in the relatively privileged West coasting along are pretty much over. The competition is now much bigger than it was even a few years ago – and that means it could become harder to create new things or find a distinctive place in a market that is already flooded.
The positive side of this (other than the whole “millions of people out of poverty” thing) is that there is a bigger audience than ever before. Whatever online business you are involved in now has the potential to reach people that it never could before.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is here and it’s getting smarter a lot faster than predicted.
In fact, one blogger recently predicted that Artificial Intelligence will render the idea of “working for money” as totally obsolete in the very near future.
It’s tempting to get frightened by advances in AI – it happens so fast that a lot of us (me included) struggle to wrap our heads around the potential consequences.
But it’s important that we adapt.
It’s nothing new: historically a lot of businesses have been left behind as technology changed.
The 1800’s saw Western Union make possibly the worst decision in business history by rejecting a patent for a little thing called the telephone.
More recently, a lot of small businesses struggled as the Internet grew and things became digital (think CDs and record labels, phone books, etc.).
We don’t know where AI is going to take us, but a lot of the experts in those articles above seem to focus on the idea that if your job involves little cognitive creativity, or is very repetitive, then it’s likely that a computer will step in very soon, as is happening with call centers already.
Try to think about opportunities that require social interaction, a deeper understanding of human relationships and culture, and also ways in which your existing business might benefit from a mix of both AI and human-based work.
Another spin is that it’s likely that AI will lead to new types of jobs that we haven’t even thought of yet. We just need to figure them out and adapt as early as possible.
3. Security issues
If you work in the online space you are probably already very familiar with the myriad of issues relating to cyber security.
As time goes by, the volume and type of threats that website owners have to deal with only gets worse. Some of them are politically motivated, others are done purely for financial gain.
My solution? Try not to lose sleep over it.
In the past I used to get really stressed out until I realized that that wasn’t helping me solve the problem at all.
Now I follow some strict security procedures like using a VPN, avoiding public WiFi, keeping very complicated passwords and two-factor authentication enabled, keeping software up to date, and making regular backups of my sites, IP blocking, etc.
The truth is that if someone really wanted to hurt our online businesses there wouldn’t be much we could do about it. I do my best to try and educate readers of this site about how to be as safe as possible, but beyond that all I can do is hope that we’re not targets.
4. Rapid platform change (including government intervention)
One of the characteristics of the Internet has always been rapid change.
For example, if you look at how quickly MySpace rose to fame and then fell away to obscurity, you’ll recognize a potential threat to any business that puts all of its eggs in to one basket.
But it’s not just about a prioritized website failing, it’s also about the introduction of so many new platforms that you get confused or suckered into wasting time on all of them.
For example, in the social networking world we have seen Snapchat, Vine, Instagram and Periscope all introduce some sort of viral video recording feature in short succession.
And they all did pretty well.
Another (perhaps more serious) aspect to the idea of rapid change is laws and regulations that are passed by governments that could have horrible, unintended consequences that the lawmakers simply didn’t perceive.
If you look at something like Net Neutrality you’ll see how quickly a poorly crafted law could affect every (small) business on the net. Here’s President Obama talking about it:
It’s a good idea to try and stay informed about what your local government is planning to do in regards to these types of issues and, if you are so inclined, write letters if you believe something is about to go wrong.
One advantage of some of these rapid platform changes is that, if you’re early and unique, you have an opportunity to tap into a big audience and maintain that lead while late adopters struggle to get traction. Figure out what platforms are useful to you and make sure you keep testing.
5. Human error
The last thing that I wanted to talk about is something that we all face every day – our own screw ups.
When you run a business you are inevitably faced with a lot of opportunity costs. For example, if you work for yourself that means that you have given up on the possibility of a full time career in some other (perhaps more stable) job.
Similarly, when you devote time to one project or income stream and it turns out to be a bad one you can wind up in some financial trouble.
Diversification is often hailed as the solution to this (have 10 income streams at once), but that presents another opportunity cost in that you can’t devote your resources to one product or stream that might really take off and instead need to focus on lots of small bits and pieces.
Risk is an inevitable part of a successful business on the Internet as much as it is anywhere else. Just like in stock market trading, some web entrepreneurs will embrace an aggressive (perhaps grey-hat) style that only lasts a few months but nets millions. Others prefer a more stable, long-term approach that is less stressful and possibly more beneficial to the community at large.
The major take away for me is to try and learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat them. But, if they do happen, don’t be discouraged and just remember that every successful person (in business and in charity, politics, etc.) goes through some rough patches.
What do you think?
I hope I haven’t scared anyone too much with this article. My intention was just to introduce some ideas in the hope that it helps us be better prepared for any changes that may happen. I’d really love to know whether you agree or disagree with any of these points, and whether or not I’ve perhaps missed something important.
Please leave a comment below and let me know.
Top image © Stevanovicigor at Dreamstime.com.
There is a lot of buzz and fuzz regarding the influence of shares, comments, likes, etc. on SEO in general. Yet, the question that is on everyone’s lips is actually: “Are social signals a ranking factor?” There have been lots of discussions around this topic, both pros and cons; even some studies were conducted on it. Yet, no clear light has been shed on the matter.
And, as we think that research is one of the most exciting and, most of all, rewarding of occupations, we’ve conducted an in-depth investigation in order to find out exactly this. What we wanted to see was whether there is any good reason to believe social networking sites have any relation to page ranking beyond anecdotal evidence. In order to study this relation, we needed quite a bit of data, therefore I warn you that you might need to arm yourself with a lot of time and coffee before reading our study.
TL;DR – This is quite a large study. If you don’t have time to read it all now, you can browse through the main take-aways.
- The Methodological Approach – How the Research Was Done
- Strong Presence on Social Networks Is Correlated with Better Rankings
- Higher Rankings are Correlated with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn & Pinterest High Shares Altogether
- Top 4 Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity
- The Average Google+ Shares for the 1st Rank is Significantly Higher
- No Direct Correlation Can Be Made Between LinkedIn Activity and Ranks
- Pinterest High Shares Don’t Correlate at All with High Rankings
- Sharing Activity Correlated With Rankings and the Content’s Length
- Content Between 1 – 50 Words Is Correlated with High Facebook Activity and 1st Ranks
- There Is No Correlation Between FB Activity and Ranks when We Look at Long Content
- Micro Content that Ranks 1st Is Correlated with High G+ Shares
- Slightly Linearity Between G+ Shares and Ranks for Long Content
- LinkedIn High Shares Correlate with Micro Content Ranking 1st
- Pinterest Shares Do Not Correlate With Ranks When Looking at Micro Content
- Linear Correlation Between Pinterest shares and Ranks When Looking at Long Content
- Some More Methodological Clarification
- Other Relevant Studies & Google’s Position
The Methodological Approach- How the Research Was Done
We wouldn’t want to bore you with a lot of technicalities related to the research, however, allow us to present you the study’s main points:
- The current study is based on social signals coming from Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. We couldn’t include Twitter into this analysis due to their decision of deactivating share counts.
- We took into consideration all social signals from approximately 300k pieces of content, coming from ~34k randomly chosen keywords that rank on Google on positions 1 to 10. All the research data were gathered over the months of May and June 2016.
- The current study shows a correlation between social signals and the search engine Google. Yet, correlation does not mean causation.
One methodological clarification we’d like to mention is that the mean values were calculated for all entries which had at least one like, share or comment (therefore greater than 0), but less than 100.000. The upper limit was set for both theoretical considerations (social signals presence above that level tends to be rarely organic) as well as pragmatic ones (given the scale, even a small number of values over that threshold can influence a rank’s score and make it unrepresentative).
Strong Presence on Social Networks Is Correlated with Better Rankings
On average, presence on social networking sites (which includes likes, shares and comments on Facebook, plus shares on Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest) is negatively associated with site rank, and the relationship is close to linear (and perfectly linear for the first 5 ranks). This means that, in general, the smaller the rank number is (so, the higher up the website), the higher the chances are that the average presence on social network is larger.
Higher Rankings are Correlated with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn & Pinterest High Shares Altogether
This holds true for almost all of the individual social networks as well, though the linearity of the relationship varies. Facebook (overall activity, including likes, shares and comments) and Google+ are the closest to a perfectly linear relationship, each with 2 “deviations” from the expected values. LinkedIn’s relation to site rank is decidedly less linear, although the overall trend still holds true. The one site that stands out is Pinterest, because there is no linearity whatsoever, and also because it is the only social platform where the highest number of shares is not associated with the first rank.
Top 4 Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity
Even with Facebook, things are slightly more complicated. For Likes, the linearity is broken from the second rank, but except for that it holds true for the first 5 ranks and the top 3 all have significantly higher numbers than the rest.
More Shares are associated with higher ranks (so, then, lower rank numbers) in a clear fashion for the first 7 ranks and, again, the first 3 ranks are significantly higher than the rest (with the first being significantly higher than the next two).
Comments maintain the linearity for the first 6 ranks and the first rank has significantly higher numbers than all that follow. Overall, while no causality can be inferred, more presence on Facebook is clearly associated with a higher rank on the search list.
The Average Google+ Shares for the 1st Rank is Significantly Higher
With Google+, the linearity is still there, overall, but more so in brackets. There is a clear streak from the 1st to the 4th rank, than another from the 5th to the 8th. Furthermore, the mean for the first rank is significantly higher than the other values, as is the difference between the mean values for the first two ranks, compared to differences between any other two ranks.
No Direct Correlation Can Be Made Between LinkedIn Activity and Ranks
For LinkedIn there isn’t much of a linearity, save for, maybe, the one that can be seen for ranks 6 through 8 (but to draw any conclusion about all ten ranks would be a stretch). What can still be said with certainty is that the mean for the first rank is higher than for any other rank. Still, it’s difficult to claim anything about associations beyond that, since the second highest mean value corresponds to the 10th rank, while the lowest mean corresponds to the 8th rank.
Pinterest High Shares Don’t Correlate at All with High Rankings
Pinterest is the one social network that stands out for two reasons. The first is that there is clearly no linearity whatsoever (at least not in the direction of the same relation that we’ve seen for Facebook and Google+). The second reason is that this time, the highest mean value of shares isn’t even associated with the first rank. The two highest values are associated with ranks 8 and 7, respectively. In fact, the mean for the 1st rank turns out to be the 9th highest (and ironically, the only mean that’s smaller is the one for the 9th rank). This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to be getting as many shares on Pinterest as possible, but rather that they will most likely not be a good indicator of overall search results ranking prowess.
There is a strong correlation between ranks and social activity in general, yet, each social network needs to be analyzed in particular in order to draw the right conclusions.
Sharing Activity Correlated With Rankings and the Content’s Length
In an earlier study conducted in the cognitive labs we figured out that shorter articles are usually correlated with higher rankings. But is it a connection within a post’s length, its number of shares and rankings? (consider rephrasing) With this precious data at our disposal, we’ve decided to see whether there is a connection between the content’s length, the number of shares and rankings.
We’ve classified all >300k posts into categories that went from 1 to 10k words. We are going to stress on two categories that we found more relevant.
- Content between 1 – 50 words. We’re basically looking at micro-content here. We chose to take this category into discussion as, usually, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about social media is short content.
- Content between 1001-5000 words. We chose this category as this length of content is the “winner” in terms of rankings, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Content Between 1 – 50 Words Is Correlated with High Facebook Activity and 1st Ranks
As predicted, when it comes to micro-content, we can see a huge difference between the first position and all the others. Even if we sum up all the other nine positions’ number of shares and we still don’t get the high number of likes, shares & comments that the first rank holds.
There Is No Correlation Between Facebook Activity and Ranks when We Look at Long Content
When it comes to posts that are usually successful judging by the number of words, we cannot say that the same success replicates when it comes to the number of Facebook activities for the first ranks. We are talking here about the number of Facebook likes, shares and comments altogether. Yet, a direct correlation between Facebook activity and ranks for content that has between 1001 and 5000 words cannot be made.
Micro Content that Ranks 1st is Correlated with High G+ Shares
As in the case of Facebook, micro-content seems to make a real breakthrough. Yet, although we can see a high correlation between the first position and the number of Google+ shares, same linearity does not apply for the rest of the positions. For instance, there are almost the same number of shares for the second position as there are for the 7th. However, a strong correlation can be made between micro content, high Google + shares and first ranking position.
Slightly Linearity between G+ Shares and Ranks for Long Content
When it comes to content between 1001-5000 words we can see a sort of a linearity which, although not a consistent one, is still better than in the case of Facebook. Except the third position, all first six positions seem to be following a sort of consistency when talking about the relation between G+ shares and ranks.
LinkedIn High Shares Correlate with Micro Content Ranking 1st
If we couldn’t determine a strong correlation between ranks and LinkedIn activity when it comes to the total sample, when looking at content with 1-50 words it looks like we can definitely say that there is a correlation between LinkedIn shares, micro-content and ranking first. Then again, just like in the previous cases, there is no direct correlation when it comes to the other ranking positions; yet, the relation with the first position is so strong that it might raise some interest.
For 1001 – 5000 words content, LinkedIn seems to correlate with ranks just like it usually does…or, better said, doesn’t. Just by taking a look at the chart below we can figure out that there is not a strong correlation between Linkedin Shares, medium length content and ranks.
Pinterest Shares Do Not Correlate With Ranks When Looking at Micro Content
Pinterest continues to have the same peculiar behavior no matter of the sample of content and ranks we are looking at. Indeed, micro content ranking first has by far the most Pinterest share, yet, we cannot talk of any sort of linearity as all the other positions don’t seem to express that. Just by taking a look at the chart below we realize that “correlation” or “linearity” are not the most suitable words to be used in this context.
Linear Correlation Between Pinterest Shares and Ranks when Looking at Long Content
As mentioned earlier, Pinterest seem to be special when it comes to posts with 1001 – 5000 words, only that this time, in the sense that it’s the social network that has, probably, the most clear linearity between the number of shares and ranks when it comes to medium content.
Some More Methodological Clarification
Please indulge us while explaining why we chose to look only at the social signals coming from top 10 results. In search engine pages, this usually means that we only looked at the first page of a web search. We chose to do so because, to be honest, if you’re not in the top 10 there are really small chances for a user to find your page by performing a search. There are several studies on this and results may vary, but there’s a world of difference between being on the first and being on the second page. As you can see below, even by the most conservative of estimates, the difference between being on the first page and being on the second is quite staggering.
Chitika study: https://chitika.com/google-positioning-value
In terms of pages, the Optify study claims the first page of results rakes in about 89.69% of the results, while the Chitika one puts the number at 91.5%. The Moz study, by comparison, puts that number at 52.40%, a much lower figure. It’s also the more recent study, so there’s a possibility it is slightly more accurate.
Other Relevant Studies & Google’s Position
As we were mentioning before, a lot of discussions and even studies were conducted on the importance (or lack thereof) of social signals in rankings.
While some of them, like the Moz study, claim that there is strong reason to believe Google doesn’t use social share counts directly in its algorithm, there are other positions on this, like Neil Patels’, that highlight the fact that there might be a strong connection between the two (just like we can see in the screenshot below taken from the Quick Sprout’s gifographic).
Of course, even Google, through Matt Cutts (currently on an extended hiatus from his job as head of Google’s web spam team) had something to say about this. Long story short, what the search engine communicated in 2014 was that Google treats Facebook & Twitter posts like any other web pages for search, but NOT as a ranking factor. And why would they do so? Because, as Google says, they won’t use a signal to influence its search rankings unless they have high confidence in the meaning of that signal.
According to Cutts, one should be active on social networks for many good reasons, yet, ranking high wouldn’t be one of those. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google also insisted that that there is no direct ranking signal in Google’s ranking algorithm.
We cannot agree more that one should be present on social media not for rankings but for building up their brand and driving qualified traffic. Yet, the present study made us wonder if indeed Google is doing what it’s preaching and whether Google’s engineers don’t “monetize” social signals.
It’s the shares that lead to a better position, or sites with a higher position naturally get more shares?
Now that all the numbers are in, it’s important to set one thing straight. It’s the old scientific motto that correlation does not imply causation. To be fair, we’ve never claimed we have been trying to prove (or disprove) that a higher presence on social networking sites will lead to a higher place in search engine rankings. We’re merely observing that there is some relation between the two, though the exact nature is probably more complicated than that and might not even be the same for all the social networks.
Even the tests that we did on the data aim merely at establishing the strength of a correlation, not the directionality of a causal link. So we know there is some relation between shares and position in the rankings list, we’re just not sure whether it’s the shares that lead to a better position, or sites with a higher position naturally get more shares.
That being said, it’s probably also worth mentioning another recent adage, coming from the creator of the XKCD web comic, which states that “correlation does not imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.’“ Which is to say that just because we cannot definitely state that more shares on a social network will lead to a higher position in the rankings list, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We just have to take other things into account as well.
Who did this research
- Razvan Gavrilas
Researched & Audited the Analysis
- Cornelia Cozmiuc
Researched & Wrote the Paper
- Ionut Astratiei
Performed the Crawlings
and Data Validations
When you are very new to blogging it is easy to pick up on bad habits and listen to misleading advice which can prevent you from gaining the traffic you deserve and lead to no one reading the content you have spent valuable creativity and time writing. The blogging community has only become more and more competitive in recent years, so it is essential you not only love the content you write but that the content you write is good in order to compete and be seen!
1. Not Being Original
With the likes of Zoella and In The Frow becoming such huge names in the blogging world, it can be tempting to follow suit and copy what the popular bloggers are doing in order to achieve success. Writing and running a blog should be about creativity and enjoyment first, money and reward second. Blogging is a journey and you should stay true to yourself and the content you love to write. Everyone has a different path to success, you should follow the tips in this article to start your journey down your own path of success.
2. Irregular Uploading Intervals
Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to post a blog post every single day to stay relevant – however going 2-3 weeks without a blog post comes across as lazy and that you have a lack of interest in your blog, even more so as a new blogger. If it appears that you aren’t interested, why should your audience be? Of course there will be times when you are unable to upload which is understandable, but frequent irregular uploading is a big no-no when it comes to running and maintaining a blog.
3. No Content Schedule
You should aim to be posting to your blog at least 2-3 times a week, so you are going to need to be planning your blog posts in advance. You should set yourself a content schedule so you can be publishing content on your blog on the same days every week, not only does this ensure consistency but over time you readers will know to come back and check out your blog and will also look forward to receiving that email from you about your latest post! If your usual days of posting are Monday, Wednesday and Saturday then you can’t sit down the night before and be thinking of a topic to write. Content creation takes dedication and passion. You should plan your blog posts at least a month in advance so you have time to edit, proofread and amend (unless it is a timely topic that needs to be covered straight away).
4. Lack of Organization
To keep yourself organized you should have a planner to plan what you are writing, when you are writing it and when you are uploading. Depending on your personal preference, you should add all this information to an online or physical planner so that you can visually see what needs to be done. Whilst it can be good to note down topic ideas in the notes on your phone whilst on the go, this will not be good for your content development strategy in the long run. Get a wall planner, chalkboard, app or organizer to encourage you to stick to a productive routine.
5. Uploading First Drafts
When you get a great topic idea, you often want to run with it and click ‘publish’ however this can lead to a below par blog post. Write your first draft and then leave it a while before you look back at what you have written, you may notice errors that you didn’t notice before and you may look at the topic with a new perspective and have even more detail to add which will make for a great blog post!
6. Poor or Misleading Headlines
If your headline is misleading or unappealing to your audience, it doesn’t matter how great your content is. The headline is the first thing your readers see and the first thing you can do to convince them to click-through, it is the thing standing between your content being read and being ignored. Avoid click-bait content as this will result in a very high bounce rate and frustrated readers. Think of your headline as the question and your content as the answer, are you giving your readership the answer they’re looking for? If the answer is no then you need to rework your headline or do further research into the topic so that the readers question is answered.
7. Not Getting Second Opinions
You love all the content you write, that’s why you write it, but it’s important that you get a second opinion from a friend, family member or colleague before hitting that Publish button. Something that makes sense to you might not make sense to your readers and little things like punctuation and grammar are easy to miss if you’ve re-read the blog post multiple times already. Self-critic can be difficult but over time you will discover your writing strengths and feel more confident in publishing high quality content you know your readers are going to love, for the meantime it’s worth having a second pair of eyes!
8. You Aren’t Optimising For SEO
The general rule for blogging is to write for users first and search engines second. Even with your social media efforts, especially as a new blogger and don’t have a large social following, it can be difficult to get your content seen. Every blog post should be researched (i.e. trending topics, highly search keywords) and optimised for SEO in order to appear in the search results for relevant searches.
Here’s a great article from In Front Digital on how to write great post for SEO AND for your readers: “How to Write Great Content for SEO & User Experience.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from Lauren Squire. Lauren Squire is an SEO expert at In Front Digital, a Birmingham digital marketing agency in the UK specialising in SEO, PPC and content development. The In Front team helps a variety of local and international clients to increase their online visibility, traffic and leads.
The post 8 Common Blogging Mistakes That Almost All New Bloggers Make… appeared first on BlogPress.
8 Common Blogging Mistakes That Almost All New Bloggers Make… was first posted on September 13, 2016 at 11:17 am.
Take a moment to ask yourself these two questions:
- How are we encouraging hope in those around us?
- How are we helping to grow the leaders of tomorrow?
Like it or not, we’re all acting in a role of leadership with every action we do.
Our reactions to situations and people around us shape the mindset of today’s kids – tomorrow’s leaders.
We swear; they swear. We smoke; they smoke. We do drugs; they do drugs. If we’re not setting the example, how can we expect our kids to?
How we work with colleagues dictates how we lead our workforce.
Even if we’re not managers, we’re part of a decision-making process that defines that company’s culture and success.
Even if we’re not managers, we’re part of a decision-making process that defines that company’s culture and success.
Work smart, work intelligently, work respectfully.
Our voices define our outlook. Disagree with something or someone by all means, but respect their view to differ.
Religion, simple points of view, movie tastes, etc. – wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?
Make your point, but allow more than yours.
Speak for the voiceless when words aren’t enough. Actions speak louder than words – know someone who’s right but afraid to say so?
Say it for them – don’t be a passerby when the slightest encouragement can offer so much hope.
None of us are born leaders – that takes time to cultivate. Even then, leadership is born from respect of our peers, employers, friends, and colleagues.
People earn leadership – bought leadership is just politics.
Leaders make changes that others wish for but never act on.
Imagine if we encouraged everyone around us to be leaders in their own right?
When you first start a blog it all seems simple. The deeper you go, however, the more complicated it becomes. Bloggers have to know about design, content creation, SEO, servers, security and so much more.
Sometimes it can all feel pretty overwhelming.
Today’s post is an enormous list of actionable tips that you can bookmark and refer back to when you’re having one of those days where you’re just not sure what to do next.
I’ve tried to break them up into rough categories but there will be some overlap so make sure you have a read of the sections that you think might not interest you.
Producing helpful content is the backbone of any successful blog or website. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of everything that you produce.
- Generate your idea
You need a blogging strategy before you write anything. First think about reader feedback, a problem your industry is having or something your audience is interested in. Conduct research to see what else is being said on that topic. What’s on Google’s front page? How can you do it better? Will it help people?
- Write at least 2,000 words
Long form is in, for the long run. Studies have shown that it performs better on Google and with social shares, and it allows you to cover a topic in enough detail that really helps people get an understanding.
- Always include a photo
Don’t skimp on the image. There’s nothing worse than a stock image that adds no value to the article. It needs to fit in with your brand. Here’s a guide to finding photos for your blog that might come in handy.
- Quiz your readers
You’ve probably seen BuzzFeed do it – I did one too. Quizzes are shareable and it’s great for back links.
- Reach is important, not loyalty
Focus on getting in front of more people, instead of making your existing readers more loyal. Your content should be constructed for new readers. Ironically that leads to more loyalty. Read more about this idea here.
- Create headlines that promote themselves
I’m not talking clickbait here, but something that tells the reader want to expect. A headline that entertains, educates and engages. Play around with ‘how to…’, ‘5 ways…’, and ‘the insider’s guide to…’
- Diversify your content
Experiment with different types of content formats. Try infographics, videos, webinars, worksheets, checklists, podcasts, and interviews.
- Make your content actionable
Give your readers lessons and actions to take. Tell them how to best use the material you give them. Try and include a deliberate call to action somewhere in the post.
- Publish at the best time
Where is the majority of your audience located? Hit publish at the peak time, for maximum exposure and results. Generally you want people to be at their desks, but not swamped by emails.
- Use a caring and informal voice
It’s a good idea to try and write as if you’re talking to your best mate. You want to communicate but not in the way that a professor might talk to some first year students. Keep it easy.
- Focus on beginners
The majority of the traffic to your website will be beginners – otherwise why would they be searching for solutions? Try to keep the perfect blog post focused on beginner issues in order to tap into more and more traffic.
- Keep it evergreen
Evergreen content is content that stays relevant forever. Think “how to get into the Olympics” as opposed to “how to go to Rio in 2016”. You want your articles to rank on Google for the long term.
- Include references
A good blog post is just like a good college essay in that it should contain quality references. Linking to other bloggers or research makes your article more credible, gives your readers new information to study, and also gets you in front of those websites.
- Get help producing it
There is no need to do all the writing/image creation/video editing/etc. yourself. Get some help from experts on sites like Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com or 99Designs.com and become more prolific.
- Own your content
I recommend starting a blog on your own host because then you fully own it. Medium and other free blogging platforms are great, but, like MySpace, there is no guarantee they will be around tomorrow. Don’t lose all your efforts.
- Read, read, read
Find some blogs, books, and websites that you really love and spend some time reading them before you write. It will really get you into the right mindset and help to adjust your voice. I really love storytellers like George Saunders and other New Yorker contributors.
Advertising and Promotion
Creating content is not enough – we need to promote it to people. In fact, this might be one of the most important parts of blogging.
- Give away as much as possible
Free is okay. Don’t be afraid to give things away, especially when you’re starting out. You’ll really boost your reach by giving away valuable content, and it opens you up for sales opportunities in the future.
- Create a mailing list & landing page
Start with your end goal, for example, to sell a book you’ve written. Now, work your way backwards by setting up a mailing list with an email series. Build their trust then drive them to a landing page that sells your book. A blog is a great way to promote your mailing list, and your mailing list can promote other things in turn.
- Buy some ads
Your blog is a business. And just like everyone else, you need to promote it. Decide on a figure to spend each month and play around with it each month. Try Facebook ads or promote an affiliate product.
- Create an eBook PDF
Find pre-loyal subscribers, add a revenue stream and increase your fans with an eBook. People love downloads.
- Add dozens of links & resources
Linking to other blogs and influencers gets your blog on the map. These big names will hopefully share your stuff, link to you and it starts a new relationship – one which you can leverage on in the future. Once your article starts to get some traction you can tweet or email them to let them know they’re included. Don’t be pushy though!
- Guest blog on websites
Get on blogs that are more popular than yours. It’s getting harder by the day, but the rewards are just as big as they ever were. It takes time to develop the relationships, but it’s worthwhile.
- Cross-promote with other bloggers
Team up with other people in your niche so you can tap into their audience. Just make sure you genuinely love their work and that you can add something useful and meaningful.
- Focus on the places that get the results
Check out Google Analytics and see which posts are performing well and which ones need work. Monitor keywords. See what’s trending. And, go!
- Comment on other blogs
The right comment on a highly authoritative blog can help promote your blog. Identify the top blogs in your niche and get communicating.
- Include social sharing in every post
Prompt your readers to share your content with their followers. Make sure you’ve got social sharing icons in your posts. Mashshare is a good one. But, yes, it’s okay to ask for a share now and then.
Goals and Planning
Blogging should be more than just writing a few posts and seeing what sticks. It can be a very good idea to spend a little bit more time on that strategy.
- Have a vague idea of the steps you need to take
Before you do anything it’s good to have some idea about what the steps are in the process. Here is a checklist for starting a blog that you can follow as a rough guide.
- Choose the right niche
Your niche has to feel right for you. You really want to be able to add something different as well as having a good level of experience. Don’t worry too much about competition, but make sure you’re different.
- Do your research
Cool, so you’ve got your niche. Now, who else is in it? Check out your competition. What are they doing well? Can you do it better?
- Know your keywords
Your blog should focus on a specific set of keywords, and each post should enhance that. Know the short and long tail keywords you’re after and use tools like Majestic to look at your competition.
- Start at the end
Even if you’ve just started out, you need an end goal. Write out how you envision making money from your blog and work your way backwards.
- Have realistic benchmarks
Aim for steady, growing traffic levels, 500-1000 email subscribers, 3-4 guest posts and long-form content on a range of platforms. Don’t be too hard on yourself in your first year but make sure you have some numbers to hit.
- Develop simple actions
Simplify your menu, sidebar and headers. Give people one action to take, such as subscribing to your email list.
- Give it time
Don’t give up just when it’s starting to get good. Blogging results take time. Nothing worth having ever comes easily. Give it at least a year, of consistent hard work. Have short term and long term goals to keep you accountable.
- Show your personality
Make your blog human and approachable. I kept my personality hidden for ages, but once I showed myself to my audience, everything changed, for the better.
- Install this plugin
The WordPress editorial calendar plugin can be useful for bloggers who like to plan things ahead. It comes recommended by Melyssa Griffin who is absolutely killing it these days.
- Ask someone for help
Before you set up any business or blog it’s a great idea to get a second (and third!) set of eyes on it. Ask for honest feedback, and feel free to reach out to experts you trust to see if they have any tips. They won’t always answer, but it can be very useful.
Your blog is just like any other business. The logo, colors, content, look and feel, etc. all need to communicate certain things to your readers. Let’s take a look.
- Know about branding
A brand is more than just your logo. David Ogilvy says it is “…the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.”
- Choose wisely with your domain
Get an awesome domain. It’s an important promotional tool for your blog. It should be distinctive, short, and hopefully the .com version.
- Set up an email address using your domain
It’s a good idea to have a personally branded email address. Once you buy a hosting package for your website you can set them up for free.
- Get a logo developed
Think carefully about what you want to communicate, and how you want your site to look and feel, and then go on a freelancing site and have a logo developed. It’s not essential for a blog, but it can help differentiate you. Make sure your designer is legit, however, and isn’t copying it from somewhere else.
- Become an authority by solving problems in your niche
You want to be the go-to blog for your niche. Do this by providing real content jam-packed with value. This doesn’t mean being an all-knowing expert, but someone who explores and tries to solve problems.
- Communicate with people
Some bloggers find direct communication a good way to build trust, and other businesses use social networking sites to generate more sales. Experiment and see if it works for you.
- Create a consistent set of graphics & visual cues
Take my little cartoons, for example. This audience now associates those graphics as part of Blog Tyrant – which can help with promotion and marketing.
- Hone your unique voice
How do you want to sound to your reader? Your tone is important. The posts should sound like you. Let your personality out.
- Consistency is key
Your fonts, colors, layouts, photos, header, post graphics, and post template should be consistent. Creating consistency develops trust.
- Spend time on your About page
Tell your personal story but also talk about your readers. Let your readers connect with you. Use this page as an opportunity to get more subscribers too, it’s a really good place to convert.
- Team up with the right people
You want to be known and mentioned by similar bloggers. Don’t look at them as competitors, but rather teammates. Try mentioning them in posts, helping them out, and then hopefully a useful relationship can form.
- Don’t follow the crowd
If you do what everyone else does, you’ll never stand out. Try and see past the horizon, instead of getting caught up with the crowd. You need to try to be different in some way that people will remember.
Traffic and SEO
Organic traffic from Google is still one of the best forms of traffic. It’s competitive but the payoff is generally worth the wait.
- Figure out which traffic works
The best traffic source is different for everyone. Are you getting good conversions? If not, find more effective places to get visitors.
- Google traffic is great, but don’t depend on it
Google traffic is still my main source of traffic but you want to make sure you have some diversity in case you get hit with an algorithm change. This is important.
- Choose a topic, keywords and target market
Keywords still matter, after all this time. Research your keywords and go hard for the ones you want. Long tail keywords are wonderful. Use the Google Adwords suite of tools.
- Install the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin
Yoast is a great SEO plugin. It’s the most popular SEO plugin and has many features that both help SEO and educate you as you use it.
- Build back links naturally
Back links still matter in the world of SEO. You want authoritative sites to link to you, but you only want them to do it because the article you wrote is quality. Never pay for links.
- Constantly tweak, according to your stats
Make sure your blog looks great for both Google and your readers. Be wary of Google updates and check their mobile testing tool.
- Long content is still working best
Go long! I’m talking 2,000+ words. The longer the better with content. Give your audience posts that are packed with so much value they can’t not share. Don’t ramble, but find new ways to go deeper.
- Update your titles and descriptions
Your titles and descriptions still matter. Add a fresh new spin to that awesome old post you wrote by re-writing your titles for Google. Remember, it’s like a little advert in Google’s listings.
- Make your anchor text natural
In the old days you’d build links using anchor text that was the keyword or phrase that you were trying to rank for. For example, if you wanted to rank for the term “marketing blog” then you’d build lots of links that look like marketing blog. Google knows this trick now, so make anchor text natural and useful when linking back to your blog in guest posts, forums, etc.
- Broadcast it on your social channels
So, you’ve got your channels now. Promote each post but do it in a way that encourages engagement and doesn’t just look like self promotion. Social shares are a big rankings factor for Google too, as far as I’m concerned.
- Link out to other sites
A lot of bloggers are afraid of linking out to other websites for fear of diluting their page rank. Actually, the opposite is true. You should link to other blogs regularly as a way to provide further reading and get on their radar.
- Check your page speed
The last thing you want is to frustrate your audience with slow page loads. Use Pingdom Tools to see what areas are slowing your site down and then try to make it faster. This is important for SEO.
- Find different ways to be valuable
Google is trying to show its customers helpful content. If you can solve problems in different ways (other than just blog posts) then you’re more likely to attract shares, links and so on. This helps with your rankings.
- Do an SEO audit
Some sites like Neil Patel’s have an SEO audit tool. This can be a good way to check if you’re making any huge errors and give you stuff to work on.
- Use forums
Forums used to be big for getting traffic and then it became un-cool. But they still work. Join forums in your niche and engage in a meaningful way. You’ll find you profile grows and more people start to link to you and talk about your content.
- Keep guest posting
Guest posting is not dead, it’s just different. Instead of obviously linking back to your articles you can use it as a way to get a new audience interested in your brand. Really go above and beyond and impress those who see your posts so that when they visit your site they become a fan and start sharing.
- Stay up to date with SEO news
SEO changes regularly and it’s the kind of thing that you want to be ahead of. A lot of businesses got burned, for example, with the Panda update, and you need to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
- Consider paying for help
I don’t recommend paying for SEO services that build links, but it can be a good idea to get advice and training from someone like ViperChill when it comes up. The strategies that those guys share can be hugely valuable. Even if you only learn one thing, it can make an enormous difference.
- Build mini-sites
Glen recently talked about the power of mini-sites for driving back links. It’s a bit outdated now but still works – you make a small site on a sub-topic related to your main blog. Blog Tyrant will have another site launching soon that will be an example of this.
- Don’t forget print media
I’ve seen some bloggers get covered in old-school newspapers or local magazines and get a huge hit of traffic and reader loyalty. It’s a great trust factor. Reach out to journalists as a lot of them are desperate for content.
- Find your best social media battleground
Some niches do extraordinarily well on Snapchat, while others completely fail. Instagram is big for food, travel and fitness bloggers, but might not be so good for technical stuff. Figure out what social platform works for you and focus on that and less on others.
Design and conversions
A lot of bloggers and online business people “poo poo” design as not being important. The truth, however, is that even some very small design issues can really wreck your conversions. Here’s some important tips.
- Go narrow with your content width
People don’t like to read long lines of text as it seems it is more difficult and our brain likes to jump around a lot. Be careful with how wide your content is laid out.
- Make sure your theme is mobile responsive
A large portion of readers now access blogs on mobile devices. Furthermore, Google is also penalizing websites that don’t have a responsive design as it doesn’t provide a great experience.
- Split test design elements
A red button might look great but does it convert as well as a green one? Use a testing tool like VWO in order to test different areas of your page and see what helps conversions.
- Think about your colors
Some colors can have a negative impact on your readers. For example, the Australian Government found that certain greens really put people off. Make sure your colors are contributing in a good way.
- Make the area above the fold valuable
Above the fold is the area of your site that readers see before they have to scroll. This should be an area that is eye-catching and engaging. If it’s not, you often find that your bounce rate increases.
- Make your whole website a funnel
Think about your blog as being a funnel that directs readers towards one or two specific outcomes. We should use design, links and content to create specific outcomes.
- Develop specific landing pages for your mailing list
Your mailing list deserves more attention than a small box in your sidebar. Develop a nice landing page that promotes your mailing list’s offer and benefits. Mine converts at over 60%.
- Use a scroll-triggered box plugin
Plugins like this one allow you to make a little box that slides out when a reader scrolls a certain distance. It’s less obtrusive than a popup and can help increase traffic to certain areas, promotions, or your mailing list.
- Read websites like Smashing Magazine
Site like Smashing Magazine are a great way to learn about trends and design tweaks that can help your blogging efforts.
- De-clutter everything
Part of the reason I removed my sidebar was because I wanted to keep the focus on my content and mailing list offer. It’s been working well. Remove all the extra stuff and decide what your blog’s main goal is.
- Use a larger font
Large fonts have many benefits that you might not realize. Google Fonts is a good place to get them.
Security and Performance
When you own a physical business you need to know about rent, stock, alarm systems, etc. The same is true for a blog. Here are some tips to keep your website performing and secure from threats.
- Use a complicated username and password
Don’t use “admin” as you username and make sure you have a complicated password that is individual to each site. Don’t repeat them anywhere. Consider using LastPass to help you remember.
- Don’t use public WiFi
Public WiFi in airports and cafes is a good way to have your computer compromized because connections aren’t always secure. Avoid it and just tether your phone.
- Use a VPN
If you need to use that public WiFi in hotels or cafes for traveling make sure you have a VPN on your computer. This helps to encrypt your data when you log in to websites and so on.
- Keep your computers, software, plugins and browsers up to date
Almost every time you see an update for your phone or WordPress installation it contains a security patch. It’s very important that you keep things up to date all the time because threats are updated as well.
- Don’t click links in emails you don’t know
If you get an email from your bank or the tax office telling you to click this link because you’ve done something wrong, it’s most likely a scam. Don’t click links in emails unless you’re 100% you know who it is from. If in doubt, close the email and type the website into Google.
- Consider two-factor authentication
Most important services like your bank, email, server, etc. will allow you to setup two-factor authentication as an extra security step. This is a good thing to do.
- Use a security plugin for WordPress
Security plugins like Bulletproof Security can go a long way to helping you keep your site secure. They take a bit of learning but it’s worth it.
- Ask your host for security advice
Open a support ticket with your support staff and ask them to help you harden your website. They’ll make recommendations about changing permissions and blocking IPs. It’s very valuable.
- Install a caching plugin
Caching plugins like W3 Total Cache can be a little bit tricky to learn but will help speed up your site. You can also do this from your server end.
- Reduce image sizes
A lot of blog slow down seems to be caused by huge images. Reduce their size before saving them or use a compression service that strips away non-essential information embedded with the image.
- Go easy on the plugins
I know bloggers who have 40-60 plugins installed on their WordPress site. Not only is this a security risk (they all have to be maintained), it also slows down load time. Try to reduce the amount you need, and have a developer code any features you really need into the site.
- Use Pingdom Tools
This cool online tool can test your website to see how fast it is loading and what elements are causing the slowdown. This can provide great insights into things that are inefficient.
- Make sure your server is suitable
Shared servers are great because they save you money as well as using less energy to power, but after a while you can outgrow them. Check the throttling section of your cPanel and see whether it might be time for your to upgrade to a VPS or similar. If you’re hitting a few thousand visitors a day it might be time.
- Consider a CDN
A Content Delivery Network is a bunch of servers located around the world that help to deliver your content more efficiently. It can be a really good way to shave of load time if your website needs a boost – especially for delivering heavy content like image and videos.
- Remove advertising networks
Often when you visit a website and it lags and lags it’s because of some horrible ads network that is trying to display dozens of pop ups and other rubbish. There are better ways to make money from a blog and I recommend trying to move away from them.
Lifestyle and Health
Working on a blog or an Internet business can be a big adjustment if it’s new to you. It can also take a big toll on your physical and mental well being. Here are a few tips that have helped me.
- Don’t sit still
Sitting still for long periods of time has been shown to be as harmful as smoking. The bad news? Exercising at the end of the day doesn’t seem to undo the damage. We need to get up every 20 minutes or so and move around.
- Get outside often
The vitamin D production associated with regular exposure to sunshine is important for immune health and mental health. We tend to stay indoors much more than most people. Try to get outside every day for a run or even a walk in the park.
- Watch out for screen apnoea
Ever heard your overweight father sleeping and “missing” a breath every now and then? That’s possibly a sign of sleep apnoea. Turns out people on computers do it too and it is extremely bad for your brain.
- Don’t bend your head forward
Looking at a smartphone or laptop screen at an angle as small as 15 degrees can put up to 30lbs of pressure on your spine. This damage is very hard to undo.
- Be careful of your stress levels
Stress can creep up on you, especially if you work long hours alone. Humans need good relationships to be happy and things like sport, meditation, and regular socializing can really help combat stress before it becomes a long term issue.
So, what’s next?
I really hope there was at least a few interesting tips for you in there!
If I’ve missed something that has been really affecting your blog or online business lately please leave me a comment below and I might be able to address it in a future article.
Lastly, if you enjoyed this post please consider giving it a share using the buttons below – it’d really help me out.