Last week, I got all teary and vulnerable as I spilled the beans on how I miserably failed with my first blog.
Admitting defeat is the first step in the “12-Steps to Getting Over a Blogging Failure” program. Step 12 is to learn from your mistakes and start all over.
Last week we talked about failing to pick the right niche, do your keyword research, and pick the right domain.
Now let’s move on to the final three reasons I committed my first blog suicide.
4. I Failed to Make My Blog Look Professional
Yes, blog design does matter, especially when your readers have a sea of other blogs to choose from.
Most of your first-time visitors will spend but a few seconds on your blog, deciding whether they should read on or move on.
The last thing you want your blog design to do is to scream out “I am an amateur!” in the face of your audience.
When I say “professional design“, I don’t mean to make it sound like you need to spend an arm and a leg hiring a professional designer, which could run you about $1,500 to $2,000.
No, you don’t need to spend MUCH money on your blog design, but you do need to spend SOME.
Here’s what I recommend you do to take your blog design from lame to polished:
- Stop using free themes. You don’t want to look like any other blog out there, plus you don’t want to ruin any chances of getting search engine traffic because of poor coding.
- Get a premium theme. They usually cost under $100, are SEO-ready (some better than others), and are fully customizable, even if you want to do it yourself. I personally use Thesis theme on my blog for those specific reasons.
- Customize the theme. You’ll have 3 choices here: A. do it yourself – once you have a good theme to work with, it’s not that difficult to make it look custom; B. buy a semi-custom skin – theme skin customizes your out-of-the-box theme and allows you to add personal touches to it; C. Hire someone to do it for you – with premium themes like Thesis, there’s no shortage of freelancers that will be over-joyed to help you.
5. I Failed to Find my Voice
Now that you have a professional and inviting blog design and get your readers to actually scroll down to see more of what you have to offer, you REALLY have to show them what you are made of.
What’s your hook?
How are you different from thousands of other blogs out there?
With my first blog, I tried to write what I THOUGHT my readers wanted to read. I sounded sweet and fluffy and made myself nauseous and ready to throw a white flag pretty quickly.
I made a much better choice when I started Traffic Generation Cafe: I decided to use the voice I ALREADY had.
Be myself – what a novel idea!
Turned out that was exactly what made my blog successful: no fluff, no rose-colored glasses, just plain-looking bulleted posts that contained nothing but actionable advice.
If your blog is voiceless, then you need to find an angle that sets you apart from the rest of the herd NOW.
Here are some possible ideas:
1. If you have a great personality already, look no further; just be yourself.
3. Create a multi-author blog and share different views on a controversial subject.
4. Have a reader-driven blog, where readers ask questions and you answer them in blog posts. In the beginning, you might have to browse other blogs to find questions you could answer or come up with your own.
5. Create a video-log, communicating with your visitors via videos exclusively. Many readers learn much better from video, but for those who don’t, plus for SEO purposes, I’d publish video transcripts to go with each video.
6. Failing to Choose the Right Blogging Platform
This wasn’t one of my mistakes, but I think it’s important to mention it here since I see so many bloggers take the wrong turn on this one.
It doesn’t take a brainiac to do a quick research on Google and learn that a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is the way to go.
Sure free blogging platforms like Blogger.com, WordPress.com are much easier to set up and don’t cost you a penny.
HOWEVER, consider this:
1. MONEY: free platforms are definitely not huge fans of you trying to make an income off their sites, which means no AdSense, no paid ads, no affiliate links.
If they catch you do anything against their TOS, they’ll shut your blog down in a jiffy without any warning.
2. FUNCTIONALITY: most of the cool internet marketing tools like plugins, themes, and support are for self-hosted blogs only. Without having access to such tools to enhance your blog, you are giving your competitors everything they need to take over your niche.
My grandmother was right when she said “Learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Did you do it? Of course, not.
But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made. It’s up to you.
Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!
Zombies have a strange appeal to the world’s psyche. And where it seems vampires have a firm grasp on movies and television, zombies make their home on the Internet and in the Internet’s favorite past time, video games.Knowing web surfers’ insatiable hunger for brains, marketers have been using zombies in their campaigns to great success for some time. In this article we’ll take a look at the best examples of zombies in online marketing.
Mingle2 had a viral success with this fake dating website that hoped to help the undead find love. This website was purely created with marketing and SEO in-mind, but the level of detail done on the site and the subject matter made it a hit as it spread from blogger to blogger and social bookmarking site to Facebook.
This marketing effort also happened to be one of the first campaigns created by now-famous Internet success story Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.
Tea Party Zombies Must Die
In the spirit of this years Halloween festivities and political climate, advertising agency Starvingeyes released the viral game Tea Party Zombies Must Die. The game is a Doom-style first person shooter that let’s the player run around various apocalyptic arenas while trying to destroy as many politically mis-guided zombies as possible.
The game is very much a vehicle for a political agenda, but you can tell a lot of work went into this excellent marketing ploy.
Zombie Preparedness Center
National hardware chain Westlake Hardware takes a stab at the zombie spirit with a whole section on their site to give tips for when the zombies attack. In a good mix of fun versus education the tips are actually helpful for home repair whether the attack was form a zombie or a fallen tree branch.
Another well executed marketing attempt that takes advantage of the holiday spirit. Once again you can see that it is the level of dedication that earns them a mention in AdAge.
Zombie Boy Cover Up
Dermablend make-up takes the opposite approach to zombies by taking Rico Genst aka the Zombie Boy and turning him into a normal person. Genst has covered his body with tattoos in an attempt to look as close to a zombie as possible.
The video is pretty remarkable. The video has also received millions of views and been blogged about on a ton of blogs. Makes you wonder though if Rico had any regrets after seeing how well he cleaned up with the make-up on.
Hot Girl vs Zombie
Axe of course get sin on the zombie act with their video depicting a girl being chased by a zombie in her underwear. I won’t ruin the ending, but if you’ve ever seen an Axe video, you know exactly where this is going.
Guns, Guns, Guns
Although completely appropriate, it seems strange that bullet manufacture Hornady and gun magazine Guns and Ammo get into the zombie act. I guess it is all fun and games until you start talking about actual guns meant to kill zombies (zombies are as of yet not real remember).
Hornady has made a very impressive zombie video to launch their ACTUAL line of bullets claiming to work best against zombies.
Guns and Ammo simply has a link bait article with completely made up “facts” as to how best deal with zombies.
With the popularity of zombies in popular culture only increasing, we can only wait and see what marketing efforts with zombies will be created for next year.
Since this is my first guest post for Gerald’s blog (thanks for having me here, Gerald, by the way – I am honored!), I somehow find it appropriate to start this post with bragging about myself.
I run a very successful blog that primarily focuses on increasing your website traffic by all (mostly free) means possible: TrafficGenerationCafe.com.
My blog is just over a year old, yet it has achieved a lot of recognition in the internet marketing niche. If you haven’t heard about it, you must be new; let’s quickly fix it by you visiting Traffic Generation Cafe as soon as you finish reading this post.
Now that I opened this post with a good amount of blowing my own trumpet, let me tell you something that not too many people know: TGC wasn’t the first blog I started.
As a matter of fact, my first blog miserably failed. Just goes to show that the path to success is paved with failures, right?
Well, the good thing that came out of all of this is the fact that I learned from my mistakes, avoided them when I created my present blog, which turned out to be a success, and now feel qualified to tell you what I did wrong in the first place, so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes.
1. I Failed to Pick a Niche
I see it over and over again in the blogosphere – people who blog about everything under the sun.
Even they don’t know what their blog is about. Where does that leave their readers? Or better yet, Google?
Yes, Google needs to be told what your blog is about in order for it to start ranking you for your chosen keywords. Left alone, it’ll just guess what your niche is and start ranking you for some strange keywords that will never result in targeted SEO traffic.
And your readers? They need a reason to come back to your blog and the best way to do it is to provide them with information that is beneficial to their businesses. However, it’s a bit hard to do when you don’t have a niche.
Here’s another good one: “I am in the internet marketing niche.”
In my book, that falls under “everything under the sun.”
Take, for instance, Gerald’s blog.
Why do I love to come here? Because I can count on finding consistently great information on SEO link building here.
Why do my readers return to my blog again and again? Because they know that they can find everything they need to increase their blog traffic at Traffic Generation Cafe.
My first blog had no niche.
NO NICHE = POOR CONTENT = NO READERSHIP
That was the first reason why my original blog was on its way to blogging suicide the minute I started it.
2. I Failed to Do Keyword Research
This one goes hand in hand with failing to pick a niche.
Just because we THINK something might make a good niche, doesn’t mean that there will be any demand for it.
Did you know that:
- 90% of keywords will never bring you much traffic?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% will never make you any money?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% are way too competitive to consider for your niche?
I hear this a lot from bloggers giving advice on picking a niche: go with your passion. “You have to love what you do.”
This is not EHarmony; LIKING what you do and making a good income from it is good enough for me.
Picking the right niche starts with a thorough keyword research, period.
And picking the right keywords starts with exploring what your potential target market might be interested in, NOT where your passion lies.
As you can imagine, this topic goes way beyond the scope of the post, but I’ll tell you this: both Gerald and I can’t take a step without Market Samurai as our primary keyword research tool.
Picking up a copy of Market Samurai was the first thing I did when I realized that my first blog was on its last leg.
That’s what helped me to pick “traffic generation” as my niche and turned out to be one of the most profitable decisions I’ve made.
3. I Failed to Pick a Great Domain Name
I know this one will rise some eyebrows, so let me start with an example.
Let’s say you are searching for information on how to increase blog traffic.
You do a Google search and the top two results for it are as follows:
Which one would you believe provides the information you are looking for? Which one would you choose over the other?
See my point?
Sure it’s nice to have YourName.com as your domain name: it’s flattering, boosts our egos, and… well, that’s about it.
Does it make you money though?
Unless you are a household name, I strongly suggest that you let your domain name reflect the essence of your niche, your main theme.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying you shouldn’t own YourName.com. Quite the contrary, I definitely think you should purchase it.
Just don’t use it as your primary domain, that’s all.
More tips on how to pick a great domain name:
- Make it as short as possible.
- Don’t use words that are easy to misspell.
- Buy a .com domain.
- Use your main keywords in it if you can.
- Make it easy to remember – great for direct traffic.
- Stay away from hyphens and numbers.
Fun and catchy is always a plus; although this guy might’ve overdone it by a cinch – www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com. Did I mention not to use hyphens?
What to do if you already have a domain name, but don’t think it’s working for your blog?
Yes, it’s a pain in the neck.
But if you look at the long-term benefits, they usually far outweigh any short-term hassle this move might cause.
I did it when I killed my first blog.
Instead of creating a brand new blog from scratch, I created Traffic Generation Cafe using my first blog as a foundation. Since it already had some traffic and content, it only made sense.
My friend Jane Sheeba recently did it as well and wrote this great tutorial on how to do it step by step.
No, I am not short-changing you – just trying to give your attention span a break.
We’ll talk about the other three reasons I committed blogging suicide next week, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, let me leave you with this: if any of this struck a chord with you, don’t just ignore it.
Don’t just say “It’s too late to change it now.”
It’s never too late. Especially if your business is struggling. One of these changes just might be the push it needs.
Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!
PS I am excited to announce that I am starting a new giveaway for CommentLuv Premium plus a free 30-minute consultation with me. Entering is easy. Just check out my CommentLuv Premium Giveaway post for more details.
Struggling to come up with some brilliant and potentially viral content for your website or blog? Not sure how to go about generating and executing on ideas without bringing in the heavy hitters (i.e. expensive experts)? No problem.
Here are 5 amazing and cheap-ass ideas that you can use to create content that will set the Internet on fire – and if done right – give your domain a huge SEO boost. Best of all, they won’t break the bank.
Let me be clear. This is for cheap-ass entrepreneurs like me. Not for broke entrepreneurs with no money at all.
So if you’re willing to part with a few bucks on some affordable ideas, let’s get started.
1. Pizza, Beer, and the “Yes and…” Game
If you’ve exhausted your list of potential ideas, why not get some of your colleagues and friends involved. Blast off an email to 20 of your friends inviting them to a pizza and beer party with a fun twist. It’s called the “yes and…” game.
If you’ve ever seen improv comedy, you know how hilarious it can be. It also tends to take some of the most unpredictable turns. Why? Because of one rule:
No matter what twist the plot takes, you have to go with it.
It works like this. Let’s say your friend suggests an idea that is completely ridiculous, you can’t reply with a negative comment poopooing the idea. You have to reply “Yes, and….”
“Let’s close the office for a month.”
“Yes, and let’s travel the world interviewing strangers and taking photos of everything weird or strange.”
“Let’s buy 1000 pizzas and send them to Google headquarters.”
“Yes, and we’ll include 1000 brainteasers printed on the pizza boxes.”
For the mere cost of a couple cases of beer and 2 or 3 large pizzas, you should be to come up with 100 crazy ideas in less than a couple hours. If you can’t, buy another case of beer.
What kind of things would you do for $5? It turns out that a lot of people would do all sorts of weird things. If you haven’t already, check out fiverr.com.
I’ve used fiverr.com to come up with catchy titles for eBooks, funny poems, and short video scripts. These little $5 investments may not be the source of life-altering goodness, but they will certainly start the juices flowing if you’re feeling a little stumped.
Here are some of the funny and weird things people will do:
- I will make a video of my Bunny eating your message for $5
- I will dance to an entire song of your choice in a hot dog costumer for $5
- I will make you feel better about losing your job for $5
- I will give you existentialist philosophic advice for $5
- I will write you a funny poem on any topic for $5
How can you say no to some of these offers??? Give it a try. You’ll spend more money on a haircut.
3. Xtranormal Videos
Have you ever tried to create viral video content. It’s not easy and it can cost a lot of money. Good quality video production can cost thousands of dollars, especially if you outsource to a production company.
There’s a cheap-ass alternative to production companies: Xtranormal.com. Their tag line says it all:
“If you can type, you can make videos!”
From your pizza and beer night (idea #1 above) or for $5 from a script writer on fiverr.com (idea #2 above), you can bang out a pretty funny 30 to 90 second script on any topic. Take that script, plug it into Xtranormal.com, and you’ve got yourself a funny video that you can spread to the world.
You’ve probably already seen some of these videos. You just didn’t know how easy they were to create.
Here’s a funny one about SEO.
What have I missed? Add your cheap-ass content generating ideas in the comments below.
We’ve all done it. Went out for a few drinks and a few laughs, and the next thing you know—wasted. And as long as you aren’t getting behind the wheel, no harm no foul, right?
Let’s be real for a second. Who doesn’t think it’s the best idea to text/Facebook/Gchat someone after a few too many? For whatever reason, it seems like the best idea at the time. Of course, if it really was a good idea, there wouldn’t be sites like www.textsfromlastnight.com.
I’d even argue that drunk dialing is the best option if you are going to insist on communicating with people who aren’t right there with you when you’re inebriated. Why? Because there is no record of it. But when you text or anything like that, you leave a paper trail that often won’t disappear.
When Drunken Use of Technology Collides with Your Business
It’s one thing to drunk text your ex or accidentally call your mom. But imagine if you accidentally got a hold of one of your clients. Talk about a nightmare.
Well that’s exactly what happened to a friend of mine recently who runs his own SEO article writing business. The other night I was awaken by a text that said, “check your email now.” Here’s what I found. Names have been changed to protect the innocent:
“My drunk ass was trying to Gchat Jason and accidentally clicked on a client. The following is what took place:
11:46 PM me: hahaha. oh my gosh. i was trying to click on my friend’s name. he played a prank on me in my apartment, and i was going to give him a hard time.
11:49 PM Rob: who is this?
no worries man
I’ve done something like this many of times
11:50 PM honestly, pretend it never happened because I think it’s funny
done worse myself
11:51 PM happy hour beers
Rob: luckily it was a guy and not a girl
imagine IMing a girl
and trying to explain that one
me: hahahahah, literal lol’ing
thank God you’re cool about it
Rob: haha yeah man I could care less
anyone who would get mad about that sucks
and needs to loosen up”
Okay. So any part of me that was pissed for being up in the middle of a work night reading my email was long gone by now. I was literally LOLing my butt off. True story.
What We Can Learn from This
Anthony got lucky. He made a colossal mistake that could have cost him a pretty important client. In his intoxicated state he accidentally clicked on the wrong name and proceeded to cuss at a paying customer. And not only that, but let’s face it, there’s no way the guy bought the “my friend played a prank on me and I was giving him a hard time” thing. Obviously, Anthony was bombed.
Luckily, his client seemed to be a kindred drunken spirit. But it’s safe to say that not all clients would take it this well. In fact, this sort of behavior could make you appear untrustworthy, incompetent, and downright unprofessional.
So what can we do to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen? Stop drinking.
I literally LOLed again.
So that solution is out. Now what? Well, perhaps separating our business contacts from personal? Or better yet—keep a separate business email address and don’t add business contacts to your Gchat!
Of course, that won’t keep you from accidentally texting them.
Best bet? Don’t hit the technology when you’ve been drinking. Instead, go home and go to bed.
Have you ever done something similar? How’d you handle it?
If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:
“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…
We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”
To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.
The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.
But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine…
Would you recommend something like this instead?
Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?
But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?
Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.
* GASP! *
That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.
Wait... isn't that SPAM?
That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:
No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.
Which brings us to the million-dollar question…
What is the right way to hide content?
Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.
So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.
A Perfect Example of Hidden Content
If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.
Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!
- Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
- What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?
Download the Hidden Content Example
The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.
Business and Social Media – How Not to Manage Your Campaign
Up until recently, Yo Sushi was one of my favourite restaurants. Yes, I know, there’s better Sushi out there, but I live in Nottingham and as it goes, we’re pretty limited in choice when it comes to Japanese fare.
Unfortunately, as the dedicated Yo Sushi lover I am, I made the mistake of being roped in by Yo’s ‘Super Sumo Sunday’ all-you-can-eat deal.
I’ve always been a sucker for all-you-can-eat restaurants yet this time; I was well and truly suckered.
Yo Sushi charges £18.50 a head for their ‘Super Sumo Sunday’ deal. Sounds pretty reasonable at first, when you consider how quickly the cost of those little coloured plates adds up.
Yet this deal comes with rules. You have to finish everything on your plate (fair enough, I hate waste too), you have two hours in which to ‘enjoy the deal’ and most importantly – you can’t make orders.
So, you are stuck with what’s on the belt. And on this occasion; it wasn’t much.
Seriously, if I ever see edamame beans or fish stick rolls again it will be too soon.
Granted, you were allowed to make ‘requests’ for food to appear on the belt but seeing as I was made to feel like a naughty child for doing so, I instead waited patiently for something new and interesting to roll round.
And guess what – it didn’t. Those two hours can pass surprisingly quickly when you’re splitting your time between staring at the belt; just in-case you might miss something good, and checking the clock to see how long you have left to actually grab and eat something good.
And these tense two hours came in at just over £40 for two, with a drink each, for an evening meal on a Sunday.
Now – I’ll get to the point.
Following Yo Sushi boasting about the continuation of Super Sumo Sunday’s on their Facebook page, I took the opportunity to air my views.
I posted a not entirely impolite summary of my experience and waited patiently for their response.
And waited, and waited.
Yo Sushi kindly took the time to respond to another ‘fan’ who had posted excitedly about the opening of a new branch. They even addressed her by name. Yet I went ignored.
Yet shortly after, I wasn’t the only person expressing my dissatisfaction. Others had joined in too, so I posted again.
Finally, I got a response. And I must say; I wasn’t pleased.
Apparently they ‘appreciate my thoughts and feedback’; yet they don’t acknowledge me as a person and they don’t mention my complaint.
In fact, this is one of the most corporate, impersonal and simply insincere attempts at social media I’ve seen yet.
Anyone who knows anything about social media knows that when you place your company in the ‘social sphere’ you are setting yourself up for both good and bad publicity.
And thus, you have to handle this publicity properly.
Speak to the dishevelled customer as an individual. Demonstrate that you care about their complaint and want to ensure the company resolves the issue for the future.
Up until this point, I had always quite admired Yo’s social efforts. Yet this is the first time I have seen them tested. And they failed – badly.
I won’t lie – I did have a slight hope that my complaint might lead to the offer of a free meal. I had of course wasted over £40 on some of the cheapest food they have available.
Yet what I wanted most was a response that made it clear Yo Sushi genuinely took my complaint on board and would take steps to ensure their Super Sumo Sunday deals were more satisfactory in future.
But I got neither.
Instead, they have not only ensured that myself and my friends will never take Yo Sushi up on the offer of this ‘deal’ again, but they have left me with a sour taste in my mouth and an uneasy feeling towards Yo Sushi in general.
Businesses take note; Yo Sushi’s handling of this matter has lost them a regular customer.
Remember that this is the digital age, and people won’t just be talking about you down the local pub with friends.
It’s a tough world out there and when you want to succeed in business, it’s not purely about profit – it’s about pleasing your customers too.
And I’m sorry to say, but right now, Yo Sushi is not pleasing this one.
Yo Sushi –Yo clearly don’t care about yo customers.
It seems that nearly everyday I see more and more of the Twitter accounts I follow becoming basically one force-fed tweet after another. There are numerous programs available that allow users to link to various RSS feeds, schedule tweets and more recently a program to basically allow you to gather a tribe of your friends together to agree to auto-post all of their blogs to your personal twitter account in exchange for their agreement to allow you to do the same.
To see these posts come through my Twitter stream from people I respected in the social media community is to be honest, a bit disheartening. While I know that these services give users the ability to moderate posts before they go out, it’s evident that moderation is the last thing on anyone’s mind. It’s all about the automation, just spit ‘em out…1…2…3 and keep going. They have no clue as to what is going through their Twitter account, and that’s not as important to them as the knowledge that their latest blog posts is being spammed out on their friends’ accounts.
The most obvious twitter spam I have noticed from these feeds has been the act of tweeting out a summary of someone’s tweets for that day that have been reformulated into a blog post. These posts are definitely not something anyone would purposely retweet, more for the blog owner to keep a history of their daily tweets, but these type posts are getting retweeted on a daily basis due to the trust these friends have placed in each other to only post quality content within their group. And moreover due to the lack of moderated content that users allow to trickle through their twitter streams.
Basically all of these force-feeding services promise you the world. You’ll have more time for engagement, you’ll easily be present online 24 hours a day, you reap the SEO benefits of numerous tweets of each and every blog post you write, and this will solve all of your problems with finding the time to participate in numerous social media platforms with the added benefits of their cross-posting platform! Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Well maybe it is wonderful for automating content, but when I know for a fact that a trusted friend is tweeting posts that they have not even read (nor even seen the title of)…for me…well, I am less likely to care what they posted or even take the time to read their feeds.
Using automated content to fill your social media accounts day in and day out basically dehumanizes you and creates a more robotic feed. Force-feeding social media accounts with numerous automatic tweets does nothing but make you irrelevant and land you in the list of spammers that get unfollowed every day by people using services like TheTwitCleaner. Depending on your level of interaction, you’ll either land in the “Bots” category or if you’re lucky, maybe the “Nothing But Links” category; but even then, when the dreaded message shows above your carefully chosen Twitter avatar stating that you are 90% feed driven, chances are that your social media value has dropped tremendously to everyone. So any anticipated SEO benefits are greatly outweighed by your diminishing list of formerly interested followers.
So how can you turn it around? How can you get back to the non-spamming unique and interesting individual you used to be on Twitter? Get started by following these three simple steps:
Curate Quality Content
Your twitter account should be a reflection of YOU! You should never feel the need to retweet every post a friend writes. You should never tweet every article from every news site you like. You should never tweet anything that doesn’t reflect your high quality standards. Only tweet about articles you read that are interesting to you, articles that define who you are, what you like and dislike, or that inform the community about something you feel is important enough to be shared.
While it’s acceptable to schedule a few tweets occasionally, never ever allow your Twitter account to become basically an RSS feed of numerous blogs. If we want a news site’s feed, we know how to follow them. What most people want to see in your Twitter stream is the best content you read that day, and some personality…not every single article from every single news site or blog available.
Create Quality Content
Some users blog, others take photos, others post opinions or outrage about a current event…everyone can create something to add to their Twitter stream that lets people know they are real. Something that engages your followers and creates a unique user experience and not to mention a community of people that share your common interests. More importantly, you create a community of people that see you, once again….. as relevant.
PS. In the immortal words of the band Styx:
“Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
(Please thank you)
The problem’s plain to see,
Too much technology,
Machines to save our lives,
The time has come at last, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
To throw away this mask, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
Now everyone can see, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
My true identity”
This is a guest post from Sandipan Mukherjee. It is part of The 2nd annual “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Social media has become a necessary part of any kind of online marketing efforts. While there are many success stories of people using social media for personal and business reasons, there are also plenty of people who may feel their efforts are not paying off.
So are you feeling the same? Have you taken the time to create great content, but feel like you’re not getting the recognition you deserve? Here are some of the most common mistakes you must avoid when targeting social media for your traffic.
NOT ENGAGING WITH FOLLOWERS
Do you have conversations with your followers? Do you reply when they comment on your Facebook page or @reply to you on Twitter? If you don’t, then you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to build goodwill. The best professional and corporate social media users engage with their followers. They answer questions from their followers. They ask questions to their fans. Yes, it takes more time to have a two-way exchange online, but it also creates much bigger rewards. Take the time to reply to your followers and let them know you’re listening.
USING SAME STRATEGY
Facebook is not MySpace. Twitter is not LinkedIn. And they’re all different from Google+. Every social networking site is different and you need to create a different strategy for each site you decide to engage in. Trying to run a one-size-fits-all approach will limit your ability to be successful anywhere.
HAVE NO SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN
Research and planning is just as important on Social Media websites as it is in any other form of marketing and advertising. Every community is different and won’t respond in the same manner. Every successful campaign needs to have a set of goals. You should always do some research if you need to achieve these goals. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve with your social media content? Are you able to identify what type of impact you want to have?
It is inevitable that you will get negative comments as well as positive ones. Do not make the mistake of ignoring or dismissing your visitor’s criticisms. Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating to read negative feedback about your site – but criticism can also be beneficial. Obviously, not all things can be changed, or need to be changed, but try to respond politely to any criticism. There is no way to please everyone, but be diplomatic. Nothing damages your brand and website more than ignoring criticism or fighting fire with fire.
MISLEADING IMAGES, HEADLINES AND TAGS
Coming up with a great headline and intro are important for written content, but make sure your headline isn’t misleading. If your headline has no relation to your content then your visitors won’t stick around for very long. Similarly, don’t use misleading tags or images. You might get some initial clicks, but most people won’t ever come back to your site if it appears that you deliberately tried to deceive them.
TARGET ONLY ONE SOCIAL NETWORK
With so many social networks covering almost every available niche, why are you just targeting one? Most successful websites that target social media traffic will use different social networks.
One of the worse things you can do is to send out your content to completely the wrong people. Most social networks allow you to have friends and thus you can share links with them. Use the search bar to find people who have an interest in your topic. Sending every piece of your content with everyone on your friends list is a definite way to have your content voted down in the short run, and in the longer term, you’ll be labelled as a spammer. What you should do is to get to know who you have added as friends and find out what they are interested in. This way, you will be able to share relevant links and you will increase the chances of others voting your story up.
Hope this post will help you avoid the major mistakes you can make when targeting social media for your traffic. Feel free to add comments if I missed out some points.
Well, not literally but if I end up in the obituaries section of the newspaper, you know who to blame.
To give you a bit of background, I decided earlier this year to start a few new blogs. I also decided, having worked as a linkbuilder and copywriter for a number of years to allow guest blogging, thinking I was not only doing something nice for the community but maybe I could spare a few hours writing time and get some really good user-generated content instead.
iPhonebloggers.co.uk was the first of these ‘guest blogging friendly’ blogs and although it’s only been going a few months, I’ve already begun offering guest blogging on it. Although I’ve had a few good suggestions from bloggers, I’ve had a lot of complete and utter crap sent through as well.
I’m not talking about duplicated content, it’s not. It generally meets the basic guest blogging guidelines I’ve set; that’s not normally an issue. What I’m talking about is 400 word pieces of low-quality drivel with a link or two at the end. Probably put together by some freelancer who gets paid peanuts to re-write articles he or she is re-writing from some almost defunct article directory. (When I say unique content, I mean you’ve actually had a think about it and come up with a unique angle – passing copyscape is taken for granted).
I know how it works – I’ve worked as an inhouse and agency seo for a number of years. It worked fine when article directories (god bless their panda-whacked little souls) were all the rage but it won’t work with blogging as well. Sure, there are blogs out there that will take anything. Sometimes I even jump in for an easy link if it’s a slow news day. But, for the majority of blogs and bloggers, guest blogging is a way to build influence and subscribers not just backlinks.
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
I appreciate that if you have something amazing to say, you probably want to write it on your own blog. That’s a natural instinct, but perhaps you’re just not understanding how guest blogging works.
When you write for another blogger, they’re essentially introducing you to all of their followers and friends. First impressions count. If you’re going to say something interesting, if you want to catch the attention of all these people and get them to follow you, link to you, whatever – now would be a really good time!
Guest blogging is a way to stand out, so put the time and effort into saying something worth saying not just repeating what’s already out there.
Don’t be Selfish about Social
Any serious blogger wants to build a readership, first and foremost. As a guest blogger you can help me do that by posting your blog post on Twitter and Facebook, you can stumble it and you can link to it when you write guest posts on other blogs. Ann Smarty is great for this. Guest blogging on Bloggingpro she links to another post she wrote on cleverdude.com. I’m sure she’ll get invited back. By the way Ann, with that attitude, you’re welcome to write a guest post for any of my blogs.
And linkbuilders don’t forget that pushing your guest posts out socially and linking back to them really strengthens the value of that link, as well as opening it up to more click-throughs and second hand pickup. It’s also plain old-fashioned good manners.
It’s Not A ‘Hit And Run’ Job
If you’re good, I want you back! Come pitch me another guest post and we’ll chat.
Advertisers understand that you often need to be exposed to a product a few times before you begin to notice it and ultimately buy it. The same goes for guest blogging. You might prick people’s attention the first time you write a guest post for me, but if you write two awesome guest posts in the space of a few months, people will sit up and pay attention. They’ll want to know more about you/your company/your blog and they won’t want to miss another post – AKA they’ll subscribe to your blog/follow you on Twitter/become a fan on Facebook – whatever.
I know you want in content links, but what I’m really looking for is in context links. What do I mean by that?
There’s nothing more spammy-looking than seeing a post with keywords forced in. You know the kind of post I mean? You’re reading through it and it’s all fine and then you come across a sentence that reads:
So book your flights to New York and jet off to a new adventure exploring the Big Apple. Or random car insurance links in the middle of an article. Just because you’re able to get the phrase into a sentence doesn’t mean it fits!
As long as you’re not linking to anything dodgy or totally out of context I’m actually cool with you having plenty of links to pages around your site. If you’re writing a post about the ‘Best iPhone Apps for Wannabe Hitmen’ and you’ve written a review of the Gunman iPhone app, well feel free to link to it if it adds value to the piece – that makes sense. Just don’t suddenly mention iPhone insurance or worse still car insurance, unless hitmen actually need and use it. Maybe they do, but it sure as hell sticks out like a sore thumb when you throw in a phrase like ‘cheap online car insurance deals’ with a link back to your site/client.
And while we’re on it, don’t just include your links your own site, Pagerank freaks! Co-citation is equally important in my opinion (and Jim Boykin’s), not just for seo but for actually writing a normal, natural-looking article that has some purpose other than to give you some exact match anchor text (which btw, matters less and less these days – SEOmoz agrees). Plus, you might just grab the attention of the people you’re linking to which could result in a retweet, stumble or more importantly a new relationship.
Look I know you or your client needs links (I do too!) and they’re getting harder and harder to get. The life of the seo and in particular linkbuilder is a hard knock one but don’t waste your time pushing out low-quality crap to my blog (at least). The fact that Google has whacked a ton of sites made up of this level of content should be an indication that it wants your copy to do more than just pass Copyscape – and blog owners like me do too! Put the time into writing something that I’ll not only read and publish, but that I’ll promote when I’m guest blogging as well.