A lot of people in the mainstream view blogging as a really easy activity. The reason is because of the stereotype of a blogger as someone who rolls out of bed at noon and sits in front of their computer with pajamas on.
In reality, blogging is actually very hard to do well. Whether you’re blogging to promote a business or as a primary source of income, it takes quite a bit of discipline to do well. Because developing an audience requires you to deliver content on an ongoing basis, you have to consistently come up with good ideas. If you’re having trouble writing, the pressure is still on for you to deliver.
Regularly delivering quality content will help you build an audience who’s excited to see what you’re going to publish next. However, if you’re publishing 2, 3 or 4 posts a week, this adds up to between 100 and 200 a year. Since your audience is always looking forward to your next post, what happens to all that old content?
Some people argue that because blogs only feature the latest posts that have been published, they’re actually a waste of content and very inefficient. While it is true that the standard blogging format does have this weakness, that doesn’t mean that your posts have to be irrelevant after a few weeks.
If you want to get the most mileage out of every post you publish, there’s just one thing you need to do to make this happen:
Create Resource Pages
After you’ve been blogging for a few months, you will have likely covered some topics throughout multiple posts. While your first post on a topic may have just been an introduction to it, there’s a good chance you’ll dive deeper into it with subsequent posts.
Once you’ve written 3 to 5 posts on a topic, you’re going to have a very nice guide to it. The only problem is all the information is spread out among multiple posts. Luckily, there is a very easy way to solve this issue.
While you’ve probably noticed this trend on quite a few blogs, Derek from Social Triggers has explained his strategy in detail. As you can see from his Building an Email List 101 page, all Derek did was pull together three links to posts where he had covered the basics of building an email list.
He then wrote a few paragraphs of introductory copy, and put all of this on a nicely formatted WordPress page. When you visit the page, you’ll notice that it looks quite a bit like a landing page. If you’ve read any of his posts, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that this wasn’t an accident.
After he pulled together this simple but valuable page, he sent it out to his email list. From there, his subscribers tweeted it out to others. Then when new visitors discovered this page, they are presented with a signup box for his email newsletter. Because of the quality of the page, Derek has stated that he’s seen great results from it converting new visitors into subscribers.
Have you tried adding one or more resource pages to your blog?
Whether you’re a designer, writer, coder or any other type of freelancer, your website can be a prime source for leads. If you’re ranking well for terms that are related to the types of services you offer, those visitors are going to be very interested in what you can do for them.
While your website can play an integral role in building and expanding your freelance business, there are many common mistakes that limit the effectiveness of people’s freelance websites. Fortunately, most of these mistakes are quite easy to fix.
If you want to convert more visitors into actual leads, here are some easy ways to improve your freelance website:
Add a Photo: When someone is hiring a freelancer, they want to hire a real person. Many freelance websites make the mistake of trying to act “bigger” or “more corporate” than they actually are. Instead of trying to be dry and formal, embrace the fact that you’re one person with a valuable service to offer.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by adding a nice picture of yourself to your website. Depending on the design of your website, it’s usually best to put your picture in either your site’s header or the top of its right sidebar. By adding a picture of you smiling, potential clients will feel a connection with you as soon as they pull up your website.
Put Your Contact Information Above the Fold: The purpose of your website is to get visitors to contact you. Getting in touch with you is the only way they’re going to become clients.
While this seems simple enough, countless freelance websites bury their contact information or don’t even put it on their homepage. There are also plenty that have an overwhelming contact form with eight or more fields.
Because you want to eliminate any reasons for visitors not to contact you, prominently display your contact information. If you do business over the phone, make sure to include your number. While you can simply display your email address with a mailto: link, if you do want to use a contact form, keep it to as few fields as possible.
Get Rid of Clutter: Although it’s usually not a problem for designers or coders, other types of freelancers may not be used to building a website. As a result, it’s common to see designs that feature way too many elements. From sliding headers to tons of social media buttons, all of these elements are actually just clutter that take away from the primary purpose of your website.
When you pull up your website, look at each element that’s on it. Ask yourself if that element plays a central role in getting visitors to contact you. If the answer is no, you should remove that element.
If you’re a freelancer, has your website played an important role in bringing you new clients?
When someone takes the time to subscribe to your blog, it’s a pretty clear indication that they’re interested in what you have to say. What’s great about having people who are interested in what you’re writing is not only are they ideal future leads, but they can also do marketing for you.
If you look at some of the biggest blogs across multiple niches, you’ll discover that many were able to reach the top because of their passionate audiences. While there’s only so much one blogger can do, a blogger with an audience of readers who are constantly telling other people to go to that blog has a much bigger reach.
Although just about every blogger wants this type of situation, many believe that it’s never going to be possible for them. Since they don’t even have a few dozen subscribers, they can’t imagine having tens of thousands. If this is how you feel, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to make this huge jump overnight. Instead, the success of most blogs comes from gradual momentum that builds over time. As a blog’s audience slowly gets larger, it eventually grows to that ideal point where the audience starts acting as marketers for the blog.
Since it doesn’t take tons of subscribers to see a noticeable improvement, your goal should be to maximize the number of new visitors you convert into subscribers. Here are some of the keys to accomplishing this goal:
It’s Not Just RSS: A big reason why many bloggers are unhappy with the number of subscribers they have is because the only subscription option they have on their blog is an orange RSS button. While this is fine for people who use RSS readers, if you’re in a niche that’s outside of technology, most of your audience probably doesn’t use RSS. Even if they have a vague understanding of what that term means, it doesn’t mean they have an active RSS reader.
Instead, they use email. As a result, you want to make sure that you set up an email subscription for your blog. Once you do, that’s the option you will want to promote throughout your blog.
Consider a Free Giveaway: Many bloggers have found that they can significantly increase signups by offering visitors a free piece of content. Whether it’s a report or an interview, the key is coming up with something that’s going to provide value to visitors. *Read Derek Blandford’s reply in the comments below for a great suggestion about how to come with the ideal type of content to give away.
If you decide that you do want to give away a piece of content, you can put it together and then create a nice signup box that makes it easy for visitors to claim what you’re giving away.
Where to Put Your Signup Box: Don’t limit your signup box to the sidebar. Two areas where bloggers have reported increases in signups is below their posts and on their resource pages. For example, if you have a great About page, you can capture interested visitors by putting a signup box near the bottom of it. You can see an example of this on the About page of Social Triggers:
What makes you want to subscribe to a blog?
2011 has been a challenging year for many website owners. As Panda has continued to make clear, Google is serious about delivering quality content to its searchers. While it’s easy to spend a lot of time debating what is and isn’t quality content, there are some clear indications of what Google generally prefers.
Length is one factor that seems to be quite significant. In August, serpIQ ran an analysis of their database of 20,000+ keywords and front page results. As you can see from the screenshot below, the average content length for a Top 10 result is at least 2,000 words.
Although this is obviously a cause of correlation and not causation, it does bring up an interesting question:
Why would Google favor longer content?
In general, longer content is going to be more comprehensive. If one website has 1,000 words about a topic and another website has 2,000 words about the topic, the latter is going to be able to cover more information than the former.
So, if your homepage is short on content, does this mean you just need to start writing whatever comes to your mind? Of course not! There’s a big difference between beefing up your content and filling it with fluff. Adding a bunch of nonsense to take up space isn’t going to help any visitors who are actually reading it.
While beefing up your content may seem like a really difficult task, there’s another reason you should be motivated to do it. Most conversion tests show that long copy converts better than short copy. This has been true since the glory days of direct mail, and it continues to be the case.
Since beefing up your content can help your rankings and your conversions, here are some tips for doing it the right way:
Start Answering Questions: Open a blank document and start typing out all the questions a visitor might have when they come to a specific page of your website. Although it may take a bit to get warmed up, once you get rolling, you’ll find that you can generate a lot of good questions.
Once you have your list of questions, answer them. You can then add this useful information to the page you’re expanding.
Display New Posts: Just because your homepage is a landing page doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your latest posts. If you look at Copyblogger, you’ll see that the top of their site is devoted to their products. Then when you scroll down the page, they have a section for their posts.
If you’re using WordPress, this is very easy to do by creating a Sticky Post on your main page.
Address Multiple Point of Views: If you’re expanding an informational page, consider getting opinions and insights from multiple experts instead of just one.
If you’re working on a product page, talk about your competitors. Although some companies are afraid to even mention their competitors, if you can show visitors why you’re better than your competitors, you will be able to convert more of them into your customers.
Has the impact of Panda changed your content strategy?
Are you still struggling to regain your pre-Panda traffic levels? Then following these five steps may be just what you need to get back on track:
Understand That The Panda is a Different Kind of Animal
Many of Google’s big algorithmic changes are related to off-page elements. When a site is impacted by one of these changes, they can commonly fix it by attracting more quality links. From holding a blog contest to putting real effort into guest blogging, there are plenty of ways to tackle this challenge.
But the Panda update does not fit into this mold. This change is about the content and structure of your website. It’s also different because any changes you make may not have an immediate impact on your rankings. Although Google has rolled out at least 5 versions of Panda, it can take some time for any changes you make to be registered.
The good news is while you may have to wait for any changes you implement to sway Google’s opinion of your site, the improvements themselves don’t have to take a long time to make.
Find Where People are Leaving
Although there are shortcomings to using bounce rate as a metric, it can provide valuable insight into areas of your site that are falling short.
You should pull up your analytics data and sort your content by bounce rate. For your pages with the highest bounce rate, you need to ask yourself whether or not people should be leaving that page.
For example, a landing page that sends visitors to a third-party payment processor probably won’t have a low bounce rate. However, if it’s an article or blog post, you want people to engage with it and then continue exploring your site.
Bring in Visitors with the Right Headline
A strong headline is an extremely powerful tool. In addition to including your keyword phrase so Google knows what a page is about, you want to grab searchers’ attention when they see your listing on a SERP.
In addition to not being dull, you also want to ensure your page delivers what the headline promises. If you have a killer headline but lackluster content, people are going to hit the back button, which is not something Google wants to see.
By sharpening the headlines of your worst performers and adding any needed polish to the content of those pages, you can provide users with a top notch experience.
Add Related Links
Have you ever gone to Wikipedia to look up a single fact, only to then glance at your clock and realize you’ve been on the site for over half an hour?
The reason it’s so easy to get sucked into Wikipedia is the site does an excellent job of interlinking. You should do the same with your own content. One reason people may be quickly leaving your blog posts or articles is because you don’t give them anywhere interesting to go.
Look at your pages that are performing the worst and make them more interesting by adding relevant links in their body or at the end. If you’re using WordPress, the Related Posts plugin can help make this change extremely easy to implement.
Add Relevant Videos
There’s no value into pulling a bunch of random videos onto your site. However, a video that relates to the topic of a post or article can make that content much more engaging.
By browsing around YouTube for just a few minutes, you should be able to find at least a couple of videos that will increase visitors’ engagement with your content.
If you or your clients were impacted by Panda but have since recovered, let us know what change(s) were most effective!
On Friday, Search Engine Land confirmed that Google is testing frames for search options and results. If this becomes a permanent change, it will give searchers even more control over finding exactly what they want.
Because of Google’s push towards giving users even more control over searches and the fact that SERP CTR can influence your rankings, it’s more important than ever to ensure your SERP listings are as appealing as possible.
To accomplish this important goal, here are effective options you can implement today:
Have a page that includes reviews? What about dates? Since Google supports 5 different microformats, you should be able to incorporate this option on quite a few of your pages.
Because microformats can add rich details like stars or dates directly to your SERP listings, they can make your listings stand out from others and attract clicks from interested searchers.
SEO Effect did a study in June to determine the impact of the Google +1 button. In addition to their other findings, the study determined that “the Google +1 button saw a 20% increase in rankings which led to a corresponding lift in Clickthrough rate (CTR).”
Even though the exact measurements of this study are likely far from perfect, the bottom line is it’s well worth taking the time to install this Google feature on your blog or site.
Include a Price
While this won’t apply to every page of your website, it is relevant for listings tied to products or services. If a page is showcasing something that a visitor can purchase, include the price in your title or description tag.
Although including a price in your title tag can provide the biggest boost, there is a potential downside. According to RedFly Marketing, “if you’re not the cheapest, your CTR will suffer.” To minimize the potential for this problem, you probably want to stick with including the price in the description.
Entice Searchers to Click
Your title tag isn’t only for including a relevant keyword phrase. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to entice searchers to click.
You should put the same amount of effort into writing a title for each page of your website as you would for writing a blog post or newspaper article title.
If you don’t have much experience writing persuasive titles, Copyblogger has a great crash course that will show you how to craft juicy ones for your SERP listings.
Recently, a friend asked me to take a quick look at his site. My friend wanted to know if there was any way he could speed up his site.
Before logging into his WordPress Dashboard to browse around, I used Who.is to look up what company is hosting his site. Although I discovered it’s a hosting company with a reputation for being slow, I knew he didn’t want to deal with moving to a new host.
I used WebSitePulse to run an initial speed test. After verifying his site’s response time was on the slower end of the spectrum, I logged into his WP Dashboard.
I decided to see how many plugins he was running. I was shocked to discover he had over 40 active plugins!
At first, I couldn’t even imagine how he had taken the time to install and activate this many plugins. However, a quick email to him revealed that his website had been built by a “professional WP development company.”
In reality, this company justified jacking up its price by doing a mass installation and activation of a bunch of unnecessary plugins.
Since I was helping my friend as a quick favor, it didn’t make sense for me to manually review each and every plugin. Instead, I decided to go for the low hanging fruit.
How to Use Firebug to Identify Slow WordPress Plugins
To identify the main culprits, I fired up Firebug in Firefox. I proceeded to:
- Click the Net tab
- Load his website
- Because no data showed up, I reloaded his website
Reloading the website gave me a visual breakdown of how long each element of his site took to load.
As I expected, there were several elements that took a significant amount of time to load. Specifically, I was able to match each of the three slowest elements to a plugin.
After deactivating those plugins, I ran a second speed test. The result? My friend’s site loaded twice as fast.
If you’re wondering which plugins were responsible, they were:
If you think one or more plugins are bogging down your site, you can use this method to test and resolve your issue in less than ten minutes.