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Created by tallbloke on Nov 29, 2010
Last updated: 11/29/10 at 05:16 PM
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Entrepreneurial ADD. That’s what I call it. Yep, you know how it goes – You sign up for one “Make Money Online” program, read the ebook, watch the videos, download the MP3s, get pumped up about all the money you can make from applying the things you learned.Then you go and sign up to a bunch of internet Marketers’ lists, because you know that you can get a ton of value from these guys. I mean, come on… they are making a ton of money and if you could just learn everything they are doing, you’ll be making a bunch of money too.In the middle of the first program you joined, you find out about another one based on the recommendation of a marketer you follow. Evidently, if you want to be an online success, there are some tips and tricks that this new person can teach you that you “need” to know too.Am I talking about you, or is it just me? Yes, this is how I used to approach my “Make Money Online” pursuits. The secret was out there, and I was going to place myself everywhere and anywhere until I found the magic bullet and struck it rich.This leads to a very significant problem (at least it did for me). That problem is Information Overload!The Information CrisisBack in the good ‘ol days, a very common way of learning about a particular topic was to take a trip down to the library to do some research. You’d look through a bunch of books on that particular topic and finally choose a handful to check out, take home and read. This tedious process was a very common one, and is the way most scholars used to do it, and yes, many still do it today.Today, libraries aren’t as popular anymore. Yes, they are still around, especially in academic venues like colleges. Yes, they are still very valuable. However, with the dawn of the Internet, there’s almost an infinite amount of information at your fingertips. Need to know the answer to a question? No need to get in your car and take a trip. All you need to do is go to Google and do a quick search, and you will find the answer.Not only is it extremely easy to find useful information, it’s also EXTREMELY easy to find useless information that can grab a hold of your attention for hours on end, with the end result of you learning nothing valuable.With everything at your fingertips, it’s super easy to become overwhelmed. As an internet marketer, I think this presents a crisis because there is so much great information out there that you almost don’t know what to pay attention to.Why Have A Single FocusIn a previous post, I spoke about How to Narrow Your Focus To Get More Done. I also spoke about why it’s important to narrow your focus. In this article, I want to take it a little further – beyond identifying a few key tasks all the way to choosing a SINGLE main focus. Given the fact that every one of us has a very limited amount of time available, it is very important that we do the tasks that help us to accomplish our goal. However, it is also important for us to choose wisely.For example, I’m a blogger. My entire business is based around my blog at TheFreebieGuy.net. When I finally decided to get into blogging, I realized that there were a ton of courses out there that teach how to blog. However, I also know that the principles of blogging as a business are essentially the same from course to course, with some subtle nuances.I also knew that although the principles might be the same, some people are better teachers than others. I can testify to that based on the classes I took in High School and College with sucky teachers. Although the content was the same, the teacher was a strong determining factor in how much I applied myself in those classes.So, to start off my blogging career, I chose Blog Mastermind to help me grow my blogging business. While I was in that course, I didn’t pay attention to any other blogging courses, because I didn’t want to get distracted. Week after week, I went through the lessons, and tried to implement as much of what it said as I could, and by doing that, I was able to grow my business consistently.Having that single focus helps you to reach your goal faster because all of your energies are directed to helping you accomplish what you are trying to accomplish.The Importance Of CoachingI don’t care who you are, there’s stuff out there that you can learn to help you grow your business, whether you are a beginner, or more advanced. If you are trying to reach a particular goal, there are others out there who have done it already. If you are trying to be a successful blogger, connect with other successful bloggers. If you are trying to be a top chef, connect with top chefs. These people can help you avoid wasting time by helping you eliminate all the unnecessary stuff and focus on what is really important.Having a coach is also important because it allows you to get feedback on what you are currently doing. Constructive criticism is invaluable when it comes to growing your business. Lets put it this way – if all you are receiving from your audience is positive feedback, you will not be stretched. You need to have people in your life to tell you when you are going wrong. If you are never going wrong, then you are speaking to the wrong people all the time. Finding a good coach is a great way of helping you stretch your boundaries, and it’s a part of being successful.So, if you are like me (somewhat easily distracted), and you are trying to grow your business, stop jumping from place to place, program to program, idea to idea. Narrow down on one program, find one coach, implement everything you learn and you will be on your way to reaching your goal.via entrepreneurs-journey.com
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Meta tags are the beginning of most SEO training, for better and worse. I contemplated on how to introduce this topic because we always hear the bad part of meta tags, namely the keywords meta tag. One of the first things dissected in any site review is the misuse of meta tags, mainly because they are at the top of every page in the header, therefore the first thing seen. But we don't want to get too negative, meta tags are some of the best tools in a search marketer's repertoire. There are more meta tags than just description and keywords, though those two are picked on the most. I've broken down the most used (in my experience) by the good, the bad and the indifferent. You'll notice that the list gets longer as we get to the bad ones. I didn't get to cover all of the meta tags possible to add, but there is a great Meta Tag resource you should check out if you're interested in what is out there. My main piece of advice is to stick to the core minimum, don't add meta tags you don't need as they just take up code space. The less code you have the better. Think about it like this, your page code is like a set of step by step directions to get somewhere, but for a browser. Extraneous meta tags are the annoying 200 feet line items in directions that tell you to stay on the same road you were on! The Good Meta Tags These are the meta tags that should be on every page, no matter what. Notice that this is a small list, these are the only two that are required, so if you can work with just these two, please do. Meta Content Type - This tag is necessary to declare your character set for the page and should be present on every page. Leaving this out could impact how your page renders in the browser. A few options are listed below, but your web designer should know what is best for your site.
Meta Description - The infamous meta description tag is used for one major purpose, to describe the page to searchers as they read through SERPs. This tag does not influence ranking, but is very important regardless. It is your ad copy that will determine if the user clicks on your result. Keep it within 160 characters, and write it to get the user's attention. Sell the page, get them to click on the result. Rand wrote a great article in 2007 on meta descriptions that goes more in detail. The Indifferent Different sites will need to use these in specific circumstances, but if you can go without, please do. Robots - One of the largest misconceptions is that you have to have a robots meta tag. Let's make this clear: In terms of indexing and link following, if you don't specify a meta robots tag, they read that as index,follow. It is only if you want to change one of those two commands that you need to add meta robots. Therefore, if you want to noindex but follow the links on the page, you would add the following tag with only the noindex, as the follow is implied. Only change what you want different than the norm.
Specific Bots (Googlebot) - These tags are used to give a specific bot instructions like noodp (forcing them not to use your DMOZ listing information) and noydir (same, instead the Yahoo Directory listing information). Generally the search engines are really good at this kind of thing, but if you think you need it, feel free. There have been some cases I've seen where it's necessary, but if you must consider using the overall robots tag listed above. Language - The only reason to use this tag is if you are moving internationally and need to declare the main language used on the page. Check out this meta languages resource for a full list of languages you can declare. Geo - These meta tags, last I heard, are supported by Bing, but not Google (you can target to country inside Webmaster Tools). There are three kinds: placename, position (latitude and longitude) and region.
Source - The new kid on the block, this is a tag (really two tags) that Google is testing out (thanks to the tip from my coworker Justin Briggs). It's mainly for news providers so that they can help the search engines understand who the original news source is and which ones are syndicates. The news world and search world are trying so very hard to get along, glad to see this one pop up. Keywords - Yes, I put this on the indifferent because while no good SEO is going to recommend spending time on this tag, there is the small possibility it could help you somewhere. So please leave it out if you're building a site, but if it's automated there is no reason to take it out. Refresh - This is the poor man's redirect and really should not be used if at all possible. You should always use a server side 301 redirect. But I know that sometimes things need to happen now. But Google is NOT a fan. Site Verification - Your site is verified with Google and Bing right? Who has the verification meta tags on their homepage? These are sometimes necessary because you can't get the other forms of site verification loaded, but if at all possible try to verify another way. Google allows you to verify by DNS, external file, or by linking your Google Analytics account. Bing still only allows by XML file or meta tag, so go with the file if you can. The Bad Meta Tags There is nothing that will happen to your site if you use these, let me just make that clear. They are a waste of space though, even Google says so (and that was 5-6 years ago!). If you're ready and willing, it might be time for some spring cleaning of your area. Author/Web Author - This tag is used to name the author of the page. It's just not necessary on the page. Revisit After - This meta tag is a command to the robots to return to a page after a specific period of time. It's not followed by any major search engine. Rating - This tag is used to denote the maturity rating of content. I wrote a post about how to tag a page with adult images using a very confusing system that has since been updated (See the comments). It seems as if the best way to note bad images is to place them on a separate directory from other images on your site and alert Google. Expiration/Date - Expiration is used to note when the page expires, and date is the date the page was made. Are any of your pages going to expire? Just remove them if they are (but please don't, keep updating content, even contests, make it an annual contest!). And for date, make an XML sitemap and keep it up to date, that is so much more useful! Copyright - That Google article debates with me here, but look at the footer of your site. I would guess it says "Copyright 20xx" in some form. Why say it twice? Abstract - This tag is sometimes used to place an abstract of the content and used mainly by educational pursuits. Distribution - The distribution value is supposedly used to control who can access the document, typically set to global. It's inherent that if the page is open (not password protected like on an intranet) that it is for the world. Go with it, and leave the tag off the page. Generator - This is used to note what program created the page. Like author, useless. Cache Control - This tag is set in hopes of controlling when and how often a page is cached in the browser. It's best to do this in the HTTP Header. Resource Type - This is used to name the type of resource the page is, like "document." Save yourself time, as the DTD declaration does it for you. via seomoz.org
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As you probably noticed, last week Google did a pretty big makeover of its local search results page, incorporating the local results directly within the organic results. In some cases it appeared that the old “7-Pack” was just given larger real estate on the SERP. In others, it just looked like the websites were just given links to their Places page. And sometimes, it just looked like an entirely new SERP, different than both the original organic rankings and the lettered, local results. But what was the real effect this change had on local search results? How I Got My Data Visually, the new local search results page includes information from the both website and the business's Places page. The title and description are taken from the website but select information from the Places page is also included as well as a direct link to the Places page in Maps. Here we see an example of a search for "tanning salon seattle wa" and how the combined results are displayed. To find out the effects of combining the results, I grabbed the rankings of 50 somewhat random websites we’ve been tracking. As an initial criteria, I tried to use sites we’d been tracking for at least 2 months. I also eliminated sites with substantial fluctuations in their rankings within the prior few weeks since there would be no way to attribute those changes to any particular factor. Lastly, though I originally intended to use a completely random sampling, I eventually skipped over several sites that had no change since several of these were in non-competitive areas where they pretty much dominated all other websites for their searches. After I had my sample, I did some quick research, comparing the organic rankings of several websites prior to the change to their rankings after the change. I then performed the same search in Google Maps in order to determine how their Places pages were ranking individually. With a few exceptions, the top 7 ranked results in Maps are what were displayed in the old 7-pack for the same search. These listings were ranked independently of the organic results beneath them. By comparing their former organic ranking to their current organic ranking, I was able to see if a change could be correlated to their Places page's ranking in Maps. So, Was There Any Change? Of the 50 websites examined, 30 of them had an improvement in the new, “combined” results while 6 of them dropped. In most cases, this shift in their ranking could definitely be attributed to the performance of their local listings. The Good First, let’s look at the ones that improved. I did eliminate 4 outliers but, for the most part, you can see a direct correlation between the sites’ improved ranking and their local ranking in Maps. Obviously, I can’t publish any actual websites or keyword searches, but the searches all used a typical local query consisting of “business/service city st”. Generally, it can be said that sites performing well in both organic and local perform even better in the new consolidated SERP. In several cases you can directly see how a well-performing Google Places listing now pulls up your organic ranking. In some instances, the combined performance of a business with both a decently ranking website and Places page was enough to push it up a rank or two in the new results. In others, it appears that a well-optimized Places page was able to significantly improve a decently performing website and increase its ranking by several spots. Basically, your local listing’s performance appears to be a significant ranking factor in the new organic results. The Bad Since a business’s local listing has the ability to positively affect its website’s performance organic results, let’s look at the ones that dropped in ranking to determine if there is a negative factor associated with the new SERP. First, the fact that the sample size I was able to obtain was so small already implies that a poorly performing business listing doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on a website’s performance. Looking at the original rankings, you can also see that 3 of these sites weren’t doing that great to begin with. In fact, it would probably be fair to assume that their drop was due to an already negative trend. But what about the websites that were doing well but dropped after the update? Digging deeper into these, I soon discovered that this wasn’t really a direct result of the poorly performing business listings dragging the websites down, but rather that, due to the local results being buried so deep in Maps, Google didn’t associate a business’s Places page with their website. As a result, other websites that did have strong Places pages were ranking higher. So, while having a poorly ranked local listing didn’t penalize the website, it was a whole category of optimization that the website was lacking. Almost like having a great inbound linking strategy but no content structure. Other Observations While going through dozens of various local searches, there were a few things that stood out: Directory listings appear to be showing up more frequently in local results, in some cases taking up the top 3 spots in results. The 7-Pack, or rather one-line business listings similar to the old 7-Pack, aren’t gone entirely. Lettered results still tend to show up when Google isn’t entirely sure you’re trying to do a local search. Typically, this happens in searches for smaller cities or regions. When using rank-checking tools, the one-lined, lettered listings won’t be counted - just like before. The larger results being discussed here, however, are treated just as normal organic results prior to the change, completely disregarding the letter and local information assigned to it. Lastly, while I encountered plenty of websites on the first page without a Places page, I encountered very few Places page ranking on the first page without a website. Prior to the change, it was not uncommon to regularly see local listings with no associated website ranking in the 7-pack. Now it appears that, without a website, it is nearly impossible to be in the first page of Google’s general SERP for most searches. What Does This Mean? So what can we learn from all this? Basically, it’s just what Google said all along - everything is important. Your best bet is to have both a terrifically optimized website and an optimized, claimed Places page to associate with it. Not only does Google seem to use a Places page as an organic ranking factor, but having one also gives you nearly twice the real estate devoted to your business in the results. Instead of just having a few words in your title tag and meta description to sell your business, you now have your address, phone number, reviews, lists of other websites that mention you, and even a picture to draw attention to your website. Bottom line: all those old debates about whether it was better to have the top-ranking website in organic or have your business at the top of the 7-pack are over. Even if this isn’t the final layout, it’s clear that Google intends to make both count.via seomoz.org
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Blogging, engaging, listening to customers on Facebook or Twitter are all a necessary component of being online. But doing these things won’t help you actually make sales using social media. The idea of following customers into social spaces is incomplete because the customer is there to be social, not to necessarily shop. Without a reliable means to capture their attention you cannot profit. This week, I’m providing quick tips on getting the job done.
Here’s my advice on making each social media marketing budget dollar go further in 2011.
Ignore conventional “wisdom”
You cannot control your customers anymore. Enter “the conversation” with them — or risk becoming irrelevant. And when you start “engaging” you must be transparent and “humanize yourself”. It’s imperative to assess the sentiment of your fans and detractors on the Web –- constantly take the pulse of your brand image. It’s time to map customers’ “social graphs” and architect “personas” to keep them engaged.
Rather than look at these typical Web 2.0 statements as valid let’s temporarily invalidate them. No, you haven’t lost control of your customers. No, “the conversation” they’re having about you isn’t new, it’s just amplified and expedited by the Web. Your brand is “human” and you are honest with customers.
My point is to demonstrate how popular statements made by social media gurus don’t just sound ridiculous. They are. They signal a disconnect with your core business objectives. They’re not in sync with your version of reality.
My colleague Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group, pokes fun at “gurus” with his Seven Annoying Habits of Social Media Gurus:
1. Preach. If you can’t use the word “must” (or its substitute “have to”) in every other sentence you speak or write, you’ll never make it as a social media guru.
2. Bloviate. This is not the same as preaching. Bloviating is getting up on one’s soapbox, lecturing, haranguing. You’ll need examples of firms’ bad customer service so you can bloviate about how social media made the situation 10 times worse for the good-for-nothing firm that dared to screw up.
4. Misattribute results. This requires some work, and really separates the amateur gurus from the really good ones. If a firm with a social media effort produces good results — anywhere in their business — you have to find a way to attribute that success to their social media effort.
5. Ignore scale. A 1000% ROI is better than a 23% ROI, right? Of course it is! As a social media guru, you don’t have to worry about the fact that most CEOs would rather invest $100 million and get a 23% ROI, than invest $10k and get a 1000% ROI.
6. Overstate. Declare everything about social media to be a “new breakthrough.” To be a really good social media guru, you have to know exactly when to drop the “fundamental shift” clause or use the “new paradigm” label.
7. Create lists. Really now, is there anything more annoying than the endless lists of what to do to succeed in social media?
Funny stuff for sure. But in each habit Ron makes fun of he’s making a very serious point.
Question your consultants
Overzealous “digital rock star gurus” say The Social Web has revolutionized everything. And getting attention is the answer. We’re told to listen first. Then “engage” customers. But what about selling to them? As David Ogilvy reminds us, “we sell or else!”
And one of the most effective ways to sell is using direct response marketing concepts — the stuff we already know works on the Web. And the stuff we already have reliable measurement tools for. We don’t need to measure “engagement” or other relatively meaningless concepts in quantitative terms. Friend and follower count? Pffft!
We simply need to use existing direct response metrics like cost-per-order and use tactics like calls-to-action when uploading a video to YouTube or updating your Facebook Fan page. We sell or else.
Asking the Experts the Difficult Questions
So I ask you… what if “the experts” are wrong? What if they’re actually not supporting your ability to generate more leads and sales with social media marketing? What if they’re actually blocking you? It’s time to ask difficult questions of our employees and consultants.
For instance, ever find yourself in a meeting asking, “I need to sell more products – how can social media help?” Good question.
But all too often, the digital consultant across the table answers. But with a question, “Okay, are you engaging customers on Facebook?” or “Sure, sure… we’ll talk about that in a minute. What’s your follower count on Twitter? Let’s examine how we can get it higher. Then we have something to work with… and can talk about the other details.”
Somehow your consultant’s questions and burning issues become more relevant and urgent. Hmm. Are you out of touch? Your sense of reality is challenged. The subject definitely has changed.
Many of us, understandably, adopt these questions (this alternate reality) as our own. Suddenly we’re playing catch-up. You may believe your brand isn’t “in control.” You may even rush into the digital jungle with new-found guides at your side –- buzzing, posting and tweeting.
But eventually you wonder why your objectives aren’t met. The buzz, posts, tweets are great but what about sales and leads?
Action item: Question your consultants and improve
Press your consultants and agency reps to answer business questions first and without using words like traffic, engagement or buzz. Make them squirm! Then turn the guns on yourself.
Ask yourself: “Are we hiring employees and vendors based on tactical skills rather than ability to create strategic results (think and act critically)? Do they ask the right questions or avoid ours? Might we already have many of the answers we’re seeking in the so-called experts”
The answers may surprise you and prompt bold actions.
As an example, in a staff/vendor meeting make a point to understand if you’re using the Social Web to interact with customers intimately –- or if you’re “blasting” and tweeting into the ether.
If you’re interacting is it organized? Or do tactics work apart from (or compete with) each other? What actionable information does each interaction produce and where does that information go? What’s done with it (or not)? Do interactions even produce actionable information?
Finally, ask yourself if there’s room for each social strategy to cooperatively push customers down the sales funnel… like a musical symphony… using the collected information? Task your team to organize around logical customer behaviors and prompts.via revenews.com
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The popularity of article marketing has waned a little in recent years as most businesses have been swept up in the social media craze. Rather than write an article about a product or industry, it’s been easier and cooler to tweet, like, or blog. Although this has devalued article marketing in the eyes of many, it is still a very useful skill to have in your online marketing toolbox and one that will allow you to reach an audience outside of Facebook and Twitter.
Article marketing can be done in two ways. The first is to submit one article to as many different article marketing sites as possible. Simply going to Google and typing in article directory will bring up thousands of sites happy to accept your content. Although time consuming, creating accounts with each site and then copying and pasting the article will result in a number of links proportionate to the number of submissions made. This gives links with targeted anchor text at a very low cost.
The second option is to be more selective and post your article to just one or two sites. With both options, you’ll also want to publish your article on your own website as a means of adding fresh new content and providing more data for search engine indexing purposes.
One of the two options is likely to be unsuitable for your site and determining which path you should go down is the first step to successful article marketing. If you have a new website or a site that, while older, has not had any SEO work or link building carried out, option two is the most appropriate course of action. It is tempting to zoom off on route one, but while you’re gathering links you’ll also be creating your own duplicate content issue when you publish the article on your site. With little search engine history, Google is more likely to see the article directory as the authority site, meaning you won’t enjoy the on-page benefits of your own content. For new sites, writing two versions of the article – one for article marketing and one for the website itself – is often the best solution.
Bulk acquisition of links via widespread article submission is more suited to older sites which already have a large haul of quality inbound links back to the domain. In that situation, article marketing is a fantastic way to shore up the link count while also increasing website profile.
Part 2 of this post will appear tomorrow, talking about tips concerning “The Article” and “The Bio.”via searchmarketingstandard.com
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Chances are you’re totally unprepared for the holiday season. It’s probably not your fault—the business just de-prioritized things all year, and here you are, too late to make up for lost time. Your rankings aren’t what you hoped for. Your landing pages are weak and unfocused. Your cart process is cumbersome and drops customers like hot potatoes. You tried to get the company to pay attention and make things better all year, and you’re worried now that the suits are going to blame you for their bad decisions.
Get ahead of them. It’s time to get your “coffee is for closers” mug out and get ready to sell those execs on what you’ve been trying to drill home all year.
It’s probably too late to fix SEO. It’s too risky to run major tests on your landing pages and cart when the shopping season is peaking. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do.
What the business needs to understand is what they left on the table. And it needs to come from you. If it doesn’t, they are going to find out from someone else, and they’ll start looking for people to blame. But if you’re the one who marches in there and tells them that by de-prioritizing your initiatives this year, they left $12 million on the table, you’re in charge of the conversation, and you can show them the hard cost of their errors.
Show them the search volume they had no exposure to, but have a perfect product or service offering to satisfy. Show them the lift your competitors saw in traffic and sales. Show them the bounce rates on your key landing pages. Show them the low average items per cart that should have been increased through effective cross-selling. Walk them through each funnel position in the cart process and outline why people exited the process. Show them all of the things you would have done to correct these issues, and when you tried to start.
You wanted executive buy-in? You got it.via searchengineland.com
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News and current events are an increasingly useful means of attracting traffic to a website or blog. Provided their power is harvested correctly, it is possible to piggy back off the popularity of top news stories or current event coverage. This existing human interest can be converted into a tangible spike in traffic numbers and website page counts.
Those tasked with writing new content on a regular basis for a blog or site will know that it isn’t always easy to find topics to expand upon. Often, there is a real dearth of original ideas, leading to content simply for the sake of adding a new page to the site for SEO purposes. This can be off putting to the reader and have a detrimental impact on traffic, losing the interest of readers and driving them elsewhere. Too much poor quality content reflects badly on a web site and can give the impression of a sub-standard organization, even if exactly the opposite is true.
Tapping into existing interest in the form of news and current events is therefore an ideal solution but, there are a few considerations to take into account and a few tricks of the trade to master before taking the plunge…
1. Finding a usable source
There are lots of online news outlets, with all the major national newspapers and even most town or regional publications having a web version. There are also news pages from each of the major search engines, with Google and Yahoo! being the most notable. TV news stations such as CNN also have their own online versions, giving plenty of choice and easy access to the day’s breaking news. Finding a source that you can work with and effectively utilize for content and traffic purposes is harder.
A large site such as CNBC or CNN can be invaluable for topics requiring a lot of research but, may well prove to be a distraction on a day to day basis when there is so much news to churn through. The abundance of content on sites like this can lead to a needle in a haystack situation, where it takes forever to sift through an expansive library of stories before finding an event that can be repackaged for your own site purposes. Hours spent reading headlines and being drawn into longer reports is counterproductive and will leave little time for the news piece to actually be shaped into usable website content.
If you don’t routinely read the news or have a favorite news website that you are already familiar with, finding a usable source to act as a starting point for content ideas will be an exercise in trial and error. It’s worth spending a few days returning to one source before then switching and trying another to see what sits best with your own research style. If your industry is extremely niche, it’s worth developing familiarly with at least two separate outlets in order to give a deep enough pool of inspiration from which you can source story ideas.
2. Developing a nose for news and a taste for trends
Determining what stories are the most popular takes time to learn but developing an understanding of what the most popular stories are is a real asset as this will allow you to cherry pick the most popular of the day or week’s topics. This serves as your starting point for writing a related news story or blog post to access some of that traffic for your own site or blog. Picking stories with no real interest level will restrict the potential traffic to your site as there won’t be enough sustained interest to make a difference to your visitor numbers.
The point of using news items and current affairs as an inspiration for content is to draw traffic and visitors as well as easing the creative process for those who have to write website copy every day. However, this process will fail to satisfy on all counts if relevancy is not injected into the resulted material.
Most news stories at the top of the Google News pile or breaking news on CNN won’t seem at all relevant to your company or product lines at first. The key is to look at them with objective eyes and identify ways in which you could make them relevant for your site. Using a breaking news topic as a kick off point for the newest piece of site content is a fabulous way of showing how ahead of the game your company is – this only works if you can make the news story tie in to your particular industry. Being able to see the opportunity a particular news story presents for you is a case of practice makes perfect but, over time will start to become second nature.
Some examples – A Panda is born at Atlanta Zoo, the only one this year in the USA. This could be a starting point for a keyword-rich article about pet insurance or pet accessories, or used as a hook for a news item on a bar, hotel or restaurant website for any business in the Atlanta area.
Google has settled a privacy lawsuit related to its Buzz product for $8.5 million – This could be a starting point for any internet firm or law firm or even companies providing privacy-related services such as security.
The more specialist your services or specific your keywords, the harder it will be to work them into your news story rewrite – finding the relevancy and focusing in on it will make this task easier and help to avoid undermining the quality of your site or blog by forcing keywords into text that is off topic.via searchmarketingstandard.com
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Demystifying better social media marketing often starts with doing a better job of connecting with customers. But how can you connect with customers if you don’t know who they are?
Do you know who your customers are? Do you know what they search for and talk about on social networks? What influences them to buy or to recommend things to others?
While I’m pretty sure an entire book or two could be written about the details behind the art and science of developing personas and profiles, here are a few quick tips you can implement right now to get started.
I first heard of personas from Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester at a MIMA Summit in 2005. She discussed methodology for persona development and it seemed a very smart way to better segment and personalize marketing communications to be more relevant and effective. At the time, there weren’t a lot of resources for small businesses to implement.
To start, here are some considerations:
What are your customers content preferences?
How do they discover, consume & share content?
What are they looking for on search engines and discussing on the social web?
The answers to questions like these can help marketers make important decisions about content marketing strategy, social media channels of focus and measurement via social monitoring and web analytics.
Developing a profile involves collecting data, aggregating and analyzing it into profiles and maintaining the personas based on ongoing measurement and analysis.
Starting point: Getting data to develop personas. Here are a few ideas on where to get the information from which you can aggregate profiles representing customer segments you’re trying to engage:
Survey existing customers aka “Ask them”
Web analytics & conversion data
Social media listening tools
Demographic info from Quantcast, Compete
Keyword info SEMRush, Google
Engagement info from PostRank
Aggregate social network information from Flowtown, Rapleaf (assuming you have an email list)
The data you collect can be compiled and analyzed to reveal common characteristics for persona development. Then that persona can guide everything from the kind of content planned on landing pages, blogs and social media. It can also guide engagement via social channels.
I’ll follow this post up with another giving a few examples of how persona’s can be put into action. I
If you’ve tested or implemented personas with social media marketing, please share your experiences. What worked? What didn’t? What questions do you have?via toprankblog.com
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Most businesses either already have a Social Media Strategy, or know they need one. But what makes a good strategy? And how can you set – and measure – success in terms of bottom line business benefit (i.e. good old-fashioned, profit to the business)?
If you’ve asked yourself this question, congratulations! You’ve already put more thought into your strategy than most newcomers to social media.
So how do we answer it? Interestingly, the answer for social goals gives us a better foundation for tracking success in all online activities, as we shall see…
Defining Goals For Your Social Media Strategy
Social strategies generally fall into one of two camps currently:
Brand raising exercises
SEO Backlink generation
Both of which are valid goals – and need not be exclusive – but a good strategy should also aim to generate direct sales or leads for your website; and that makes all the goals much more measurable within a more meaningful context of business success.
So let’s set ourselves some basic goals:
Primary Goal: Generate Direct Sales/Leads
Secondary Goal: Broaden Backlink Profile for SEO
Tertiary Goal: Raise Brand Mentions in Social Channels
Now we can establish how to track success. First up, we establish a baseline for each goal, and identify the tools and criteria we’ll use to track changes over time.
Generating Direct Sales/Leads
Our baseline here is defining our current sales/lead gen numbers, segmented by source as best we can; the more detail, the more meaningful & action-driving our reports will be.
Ideally, we’d also be comparing like with like, so while we can consider month on month improvement to gain context, we should really be comparing progress with the same period a year previously: this rule applies to all our metrics.
Most markets have some kind of seasonality which can have a big impact on service demand or product sales. Looking at the same week or month in the previous year negates this fluctuation, assuming you have the data to compare to. Luckily, this is usually pretty easy to obtain in all but the most extreme of cases.
So, let us see where that data would be for each of our targets.
If you’re working with an SME, this is available from the monthly P&L and should be segmented out into new sales vs. recurring. You’ll also have an idea of your average time to close leads to sale, giving you metrics for both sales generated and leads.
For larger businesses, you’ll need to look at web-only stats from the P&L, and your head of marketing or digital will have access to the top line numbers you’ll need. Often, these will use normalized sales values, which is fine, as long as the same normalization is applied consistently ongoing.
The Power Of Missed Sales Opportunities
However, raw sales numbers don’t tell the whole story, as they discount all those site visitors who didn’t turn into a sale. Ideally, we’d capture a baseline of that traffic too, allowing us to measure the throughput generated by our social strategy and measure the value of the channel against other online marketing activities.
So, we’ll need to generate a filtered analytics profile for our baseline performance.
We’ll also need to segment out any direct spend sources that have had budget changes over the 12 months – a PPC, Display, or Affiliates campaign that has had its budget doubled is going to create an unseasonal spike in traffic and (presumably) sales to account for.
Similarly, email campaigns from the period should have their traffic segmented out across the year.
Depending on which analytics package you’re working with, you’ll now have a set of filters or custom reports applied to historical data you can use to robustly measure Social Engagement over the coming campaign, with archival data spanning back at least 12 months.
I also like to try to get a promotion timeline for the past 12 month period, with notes on when offline promotional activity took place for the brand. Segmenting out brand traffic from our baseline will also show spikes in those periods, and you might consider keeping this segmentation in place throughout the campaign.
Finally, you should ‘kick the tires’ of the website’s e-commerce tracking and and ensure lead gen goals are robustly set up to capture inquiries. Any gaps in the analytics path from source to sale should be tested.
Get On The Phone
If you’re not running phone contact tracking into your analytics, you should certainly look to get it implemented to correctly capture your website’s business benefit. E-commerce managers in particular should ensure this is in place, as otherwise a lot of the value they generate may not be properly attributed.
At QueryClick, we’ve partnered with telecoms providers to deliver dynamic phone number generation tied to search keyphrases that we can run within the PPC creative or organic meta descriptions, as well as dynamically replace onsite, and that feeds into Google Analytics allowing us to keep this information in the same place as our baseline for future reporting segmentation.
If you can achieve something similar, it will allow you to capture the full impact of your work on response rates.
Now the hard segmentation work is done, the same custom reports can be used to measure progress.
Used in tandem with unique landing pages (on query-string parametered URLs using Canonical tags to avoid SEO impact) we can also measure and improve the performance of individual components of the campaign via Website Optimiser within a single analytics interface.
Measuring Your Backlink Profile
You’ll be glad to hear that the remaining two metrics are much simpler to baseline & track than direct sales!
Google’s Webmaster Tools will give you exportable backlink profiles to work with. We also don’t need to work with year on year comparisons here, as we’re simply looking for month on month improvement in two areas:
Increased number of backlinks attributable to social activity
Increased range of domains backlinking to site
Using unique landing pages in all social activity allows us to track this very transparently. And segmenting the backlinks listed by domain gives you a raw number to compare diversity against.
You might consider doubling up on Google’s numbers with another backlink tool, but temper this with the thought that given Google’s marketshare of search, you should really be measuring your performance against what Google thinks are valid backlinks.
That said, Google has a habit of changing the quantity of backlinks reported, so a backup metric to normalize against is advisable. Either Majestic or SEOMoz’s excellent options work well here.
Brand Visibility Metrics
There are a plethora of social network tools out there that profess to report on brand mentions within the various networks. Many of these are excellent at what they do and free to use, so choose your favourite (or simply run an RSS feed off a brand search from search.twitter.com).
Tailoring a suite of these tools to cover all the networks in which you operate (for example, discovering your brand popularity in Twitter is trivial, but the same metric in Stumbleupon is less observable) is worth taking the time to do.
However, you should rely more on effective brand visibility when tracking success here (consider how successful BP’s social campaign would have seemed in April 2010), and roughly speaking, that can be seen as a measure of the number of referrals from each network generated that engages with the site, combined with increases in brand search terms using our filtered analytics profile.
Agile ReportingTo Drive Success
The best social strategy is a fail fast, fail frequently, and improve approach.
Consider the thousands of social moments engaged with daily in each network: no-one expects a polished, seamless experience. They want fresh, interesting, and direct engagement, because that’s the social way.
In much the same way as in email marketing then, doubling up on your landing page usage to track clickthough activity (which of course allows you to track right through to conversion) gets you quick feedback on link popularity to immediately fine-tune your message.
Click data from bit.ly data allows you to immediately get a feel for which approaches get the most traction for your brand’s audience and, used in tandem with more in-depth monthly reporting on overall strategy performance, the value to business of each network.
Also, your improved brand visibility metric gives you a dynamic, action-driving platform to build your strategy on, guaranteeing a clear, measurable, and successful social strategy for your bottom line.via searchengineland.com
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Rest in peace, Google SERPs. Though we had our share of ups and downs, I knew you like the back of my hand. We had a good run, but alas, it’s a new era. Love it or hate it, it’s time to pick up the pieces and move on.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the Google SERPs as we know it are gone. Upon first glance, it still has a familiar feel, but everything is different. Very different. One of the many changes that rolled out recently is Google Instant Previews, a visual preview pop-up of a website on the SERP before you click through.
And it looks as though Previews is improving click-through rates directly from the SERP. In fact, recent testing by Google shows Previews makes searchers 5 percent more likely to be satisfied with the results they click.
Five percent improvement is significant enough to expect more changes to come. There is a strong possibility that query results will begin to be served in large part from the outcome of the selections made from Google Instant Previews. Serving intent-targeted results could become a defining factor for search engine rankings.
Here is an example of how Google could serve results influenced by Previews from within the SERP: The preview of the website would be shown in the SERP and then the mouse hovering over the page could be timed in relation to the click-through ratio. This could be serving results based more on the user’s evaluations of the website image and content from the SERP. The users see what they like and they click through. These types of results could be tied to U.S. Patent 7756887 (notice the illustrations on pages four, five and six of the document).
No Meta Information Required Now?
Google Instant Previews doesn’t need Meta information to determine the content that is relevant to the queried word or words. Let’s look at an example. The search query for the word “coffee” shows a preview pane with text results for the keyword magnified and bolded in the SERP to give viewers a better idea about the site’s relevance for the queried word.
This is visual evidence that Google is reading the text within a site to evaluate its relevancy for the queried search. The question that has to be addressed: What value will Meta information have if previews will be able to provide Google the necessary information to serve the most relevant information? (Click on the image to enlarge.)
As Google Instant Previews continues to increase click-through rates and drive conversion, we will see a push to serve more results based on previews. If that is the case, there will be new criteria to take into consideration for SEO as conversion/user experience may become driving factors in directly influencing the SERP. Below is Google’s instructions on how to optimize for Instant Previews.
Keep your pages clearly laid out and structured, with a minimum of distractions or extraneous content. This is always good advice, since it improves the experience for visitors, and the simplicity and clarity of your site will be apparent via Instant Previews.
Try to avoid interstitial pages, ad pop-ups, or other elements that interfere with your content. In some cases, these distracting elements may be picked up in the preview of your page, making the screenshots less attractive.
What advantage would Google have by placing higher value on previews?
More accurate search results: By allowing the user to decide the relevancy of a Web page before click-through, the results served will be more accurate by default.
More money: By serving the most accurate results faster and easier, people will use the Internet more, which will in turn drive revenue.
Reduce spam: The accuracy of the results will likely make it more difficult for spammers to artificially influence search results.
More conversions: By improving conversions on the Internet across the board, Google will increase revenue by default.
Convert from the SERP
Now it’s necessary to create your site with Google Instant Previews in mind, utilizing larger font, compelling graphics and offering special incentives to entice the click through. We may see sites optimized by utilizing “billboard” style ads as people navigate through the SERP, quickly passing over sites that don’t compel click through. One possible solution to creating a more viewable SERP preview is the light box below, created by BCI analyst, Shiel Love.
Remember, Google’s main concern is to capitalize on the services that drive revenue. Google’s biggest potential money makers are Google’s local search and PPC.
Local = Cash
Local, Google local in particular, has been called the phonebook killer. Google continues to set itself up to capitalize on local business. How? Through Google Places and Google Tags. Google Tags is going to be the PPC for local search.
Google Tags is a paid service that attaches a coupon to your site in the SERP. Although Google’s official word is that using this service does not influence your position in the local listing, but additional benefits of this service include:
Easily and inexpensively highlight your listing on Google from Google Places.
Potential customers in your local area will see what you think is most important or unique about your business.
Track the effectiveness of your tag with your Google Places dashboard.
You will be charged a low $25 flat monthly fee, with no bids and no keywords required.
There is no additional work or ongoing management is needed.
National = Cash
If you are not looking for localized results, then your eyes are forced to the right. Why? Because PPC can often be nationally targeted and it’s commerce driven. Google has two ways to benefit from this financially: 1) Per click and 2) Google Checkout.
Just as recent Google algorithm changes have begun pushing search engine traffic toward paid and local results, Google began offering exclusive incentives to Google Checkout users [Hmmm, let's ponder how this will all tie into Google’s Boutiques.com and Google Shopper for Android. – Jessica].
Google’s efforts to make PPC ads more appealing has given way to coupons only available through Google Checkout. The ranking system is also an alluring feature designed to capture the trust of Internet users and drive more revenue dollars to PPC from both the consumer and the merchant side.
The trust components of Google Checkout will also improve the advertisers’ click-through ratios and then in turn, compel more advertisers to switch to Google Checkout for online merchant processing. This is a win-win situation.
All Eyes on the Prize
When trying to understand the reasons behind these dramatic changes to the search engines, it’s important to remember why any company does what they do. The bottom line: To improve the products and make more money.
Although the jury is out over whether or not the new changes are improving the experience of the user [We've been hearing mixed reviews from our social media communities. --Jessica], you can be sure that Google is constantly testing its product and pushing the delicate balance between making more money and making a better user experience.
Google is a shrewd veteran that does not likely make changes that aren’t related to bettering its financial situation; thinking anything else would be a bit naïve.
As SEO analysts, much like detectives in a crime scene, we are challenged to uncover the mysteries of an occurrence and then provide solid evidence to build a case. And recent changes to the Google SERPs make this a big case. Like detectives in a murder investigation trying to establish a motive, we have to keep our eyes on the prize and follow the money trail.via bruceclay.com
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I’ve discussed what to do when you have products that expire. But what do you do when you have services or information that expires? Is there a way to retain and even monetize that traffic?
Let’s say your company used to offer a service like computer security scanning or a real world service like car washes in your parking garage. For whatever reason these services weren’t profitable, and you stopped offering them. If your web pages rank and drive traffic, there’s no reason to give that up. Instead, try putting up a page explaining you no longer offer the service and why. If there’s someone else offering the service, you can be helpful by providing a link or two. If you’re looking to monetize the page, you can try adding some affiliate links or tasteful adsense integration.
If you’re looking for an example of this in practice, here’s a page from the Hayden Planetarium in New York about the laser shows they no longer offer. When they redid the planetarium a few years ago, the new ceiling removed the need for a laser projector.
Page from Hayden Planetarium about laser shows no longer offered
In most cases I would recommend leaving the original URL unless you have a really good reason to move it. If you do move it be sure to issue the proper 301 response code.
So what are the takeaways from this post:
Look for opportunities to keep traffic for keywords and phrases for services you no longer offer
Change the content to let then users know that you no longer offer the service or that the information has expired
Look for ways to upsell to a new service on your site, or link to someone who can
Look for ways to monetize with affiliate links or adsense
Try to keep the URL consistent; if not, issue a 301 redirectvia wolf-howl.com
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The amount of information we share daily on Twitter is enormous: nowadays we rely on Twitter for sharing our most important updates, streaming our events and conferences, for collecting testimonials, creating group chats, etc.
We rely on Twitter daily for sharing our most important updates and news.
But do you know how unreliable it really is?
First, Twitter search doesn’t actually keep your shares in its index for a long period of time. Twitter used to officially state that they only search through tweets until they get older than about 10 days (I wasn’t able to find this information in the updated documentation. Now they only state that the archive should not be “too old” to be searchable).
Apart from that wicked search indexing limitation, Twitter also has limits as to your personal Tweets. They currently only allow you to see the 3200 of your recent tweets.
Now, imagine you spent a great deal of time and effort promoting your conference hashtag to then go back in time and find that all those valuable tweets are now gone and there’s no way to write a report or collect some valuable testimonials for your upcoming event. In fact, all those tweets are most likely to still exist but there’s no way to find them!
I personally had to deal with such a problem when we ran a Twitter contest a while ago where to participate one needed to Tweet something using the unique hashtag. In a bit over than a week, none of those Tweets was to be found in Twitter search and I had to use Google to select the winner (don’t judge, I was stupid, I know that now).
That being said, this post will show you how to archive Tweets based on various criteria for you to:
Be able to refer to them later (even in a year or two);
Enjoy more search options to search through your archives;
Republish your archives later easily.
1. Google Reader
Any Twitter Search generates an atom feed link that can be used to subscribe to it via your preferred RSS reader. Why Google Reader is preferred in this case?
It’s because Google Reader will archive all the read and unread items starting from the day you subscribed. This makes your archive of Tweets searchable and pretty much ageless (if you don’t expect Google to be destroyed in the nearest future).
So, step 1: Search Twitter:
Step 2: Use the atom link to subscribe to it in Google Reader:
Step 3: Search the Archive any time!
I have already mentioned this tool in my post on how event organizers should take advantage of Twitter to help participants connect and keep everyone updated (even those people who couldn’t make it to the event). The tool turned really useful and we even used it internally and were very much impressed by the options (despite the pretty much simplistic interface).
TwapperKeeper is a handy tool that allows to create the permanent archive of all Tweets around any hashtag. With help of this tool, you can create a one-reference source of knowledge exchange around any event.
To create an event, first login with your Twitter account (using Twitter authentication) and then simply provide the hashtag, description and tags:
The best thing about the tool is its great filtering options. Any archive can be sorted by date, filtered by user or a keyword and set to exclude all the Retweets. No matter which sorting and filtering options you choose, you will be able to get the direct URL of the new archive to link to.
Moreover, you can also export your archive to save it locally as an Excel file (which means even more filters and formatting options!). I suggest you do it after your event is over by the way because storing them externally is still risky.
Another great tool that saves any Twitter hashtag archive locally is The Archivist
3. Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
There are a few options to export and archive all your tweets to WordPress (to either share them further with the world or just keep your archive to yourself). The benefits of doing so are obvious:
You have the full control of what you share: you don’t have to rely on any third-party service in hosting your updates;
You get the up-to-date searchable archive of your Tweets (backed-up regularly which most hosting services do by default).
You get the power to save and search your Tweets without any limits.
One of the newest and best options is Ozh’ Tweet Archiver WordPress plugin that enables you to create a cool, branded archive of your Tweets on a separate blog. It only takes you a few seconds to install and run and the output is really impressive:
Set the update interval;
(Un)link usernames and hashtags
Create tags out of your hashtags to better organize and visualize your Tweets:
Have I inspired you to create a Twitter archive?via blueglass.com
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Here is a list of WordPress plugins that all WordPress blogs should have, no matter what the topic of discussion is:
1. All In One SEO Pack: There are two parts to search engine optimization: on-site and off-site optimization. This plugin helps with your site’s on-site optimization by easily allowing you to edit both the title, description and keywords for your website, as well as each of your individual blog posts, among other things.
2. Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin helps search engines easily crawl through your site and quickly index your content. For the beginners out there, don’t worry about all of the settings and extra options that come along with it – as long as you install (and activate) it, your blog should be good to go.
4. Askimet: So far, Askimet (or as I like to call it – the most underrated plugin ever) has helped intercept 91,656 spam comments from landing on this blog. Ridiculous! It comes pre-installed when you setup WordPress, but you’ll need a WordPress.com API in order to enable it. I won’t go over what that means here, but there are instructions on what to do after you activate the plugin.
5. Broken Link Checker: This plugin is a gem. It crawls through your entire blog and reports any existing broken links. A broken link may be a link that doesn’t work because you typed the URL incorrectly, or it could also be because the page that it links to is no longer available. After you activate this plugin, it does take a day or two to get through your whole site, but it definitely cleans up the junk!
Other Plugins That I Use
Here is a list of some of the other plugins that I use, although I don’t use all of them for each website that I own. It depends on what kind of site it is, so read through the short description to see if it’s something you’d find useful for yours:
6. Robots Meta: This is a more advanced plugin that was created by Joost de Valk from Yoast.com (who I am still working with to find a date for the SPI SEO Report Webinar! Thanks for your patience with that!), which again helps with what the search engines see and what they don’t. The most important part of this plugin is that you have the ability to tell the search engines not to index or crawl through certain pages of your site, and also you have the ability to set whether or not to include the follow or nofollow tag to certain things. If this kind of talk is over your head, don’t worry about it, but if you’d like to learn more you should watch the Robots Meta video over at Yoast.com.
7. RSS Footer: When people read your content in an RSS reader like Google reader, what do they do after they’re done reading the post? If you don’t have a call to action, then probably nothing. This is why I love this plugin because it gives me the ability to say a little something extra to those who are reading my content not on my website. You can ask them to visit the website to leave a comment, you can give them a little thank you message for being a subscriber, or you can even ask them to become a fan on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. One time, I even held a contest on my blog that was just for my RSS subscribers using this plugin. Of course, when I announced that the rules and the winner were only going to be announced on the RSS feed, I saw a whole bunch of new subscribers that day. Good times.
8. TubePress: This is the plugin that easily creates this video gallery on my blog. If you have a YouTube or a Vimeo account and a few videos to go along with them, you can put up a gallery just like mine in a post, page or even in the sidebar of your blog.
9. ShareBar: I installed this plugin about a month ago after being impressed seeing it implemented on a number of other blogs. It basically creates a bar that includes social media buttons that stay on the screen as a reader scrolls down the page and it can be customized to include any number of buttons that you wish. It comes with the standard options like Twitter and Facebook (although it’s the share button, not the like button, at the moment), Digg, Reddit, etc. – but you can include your own custom buttons too.
10. Aweber Web Form Plugin: This is a brand new plugin, hot off the press, by the kind folk over at Aweber. This was created to make it extremely easy to drag and drop web forms that you’ve created in your Aweber account onto your blog without ever having to log-in to Aweber and copy and paste any script or code. Very cool.
11. Page Link Manager: Okay, maybe I’m being stupid here, but is there not an easy way to easily reorder the pages in our navigation menu? I know I’m not the only one with this problem because several people have asked me for help about this too. Well, unless anyone can enlighten me (you would think there would be an easy way to do this in WordPress), if you want to reorder the page links in your navigation menu, just use this plugin.
12. WordPress Database Backup: I use this tool to automatically send me an email that contains a backup file of my WordPress blog every single day. You’ll never know when something may happen to your blog, so backup now and backup often!
13. WordPress Stats: There are hundreds of different plugins that help you keep track of traffic statistics for your blog, but this one is one of my favorites. It does require a WordPress.com API (like the Askimet plugin), but it’s worth the little trouble to install because it gives me real time traffic results. In real time, I can see exactly how many pageviews my blog receives, exactly where they are coming from, as well as what they are clicking on. Also, it gives me a short list of the top keywords that referred people to my site as well. Good stuff
14. Audio Player: This is the most common type of audio player that you’ll see on most websites that include a podcast or some other type of audio media. You can easily configure it to match the look of your site, just like I have for The Smart Passive Income Blog:
15. Subscribers Magnet: All of the plugins listed above are FREE. This one, however, is a premium plugin that I wasn’t going to include here on the list, but I’ve gotten so many questions about one particular feature and I wanted to make sure it was addressed. I’ve written a review on this plugin before which lists many of the several ways that it can help increase the opt-in rate for your email list, however feature everyone is emailing me about is the button within the comment form that automatically subscribes people to my email list if it’s checked. This is the plugin that does that for me, which is pretty cool and has helped to increase my subscription rate a noticable amount. Not a significant amount, but a noticable one.
16. W3 Total Cache: This caching plugin will speed up the loadtime of your website, and combined with Amazon S3 and Cloudfront you can really get some lighting fast results. As mentioned before, my blog isn’t the friendliest when it comes to load time. Before installing this plugin, my load times were insane – between 12 to 15 seconds per page (which is totally inexcusable, especially now that Google takes into account load time for search engine results rankings), but aftering installing W3 Total Cache and integrating Amazon S3 and Cloudfont for storage, my load times are much much less – between 2 to 6 seconds per page.
17. WP-Wishlist: This is an incredible plugin which can turn your WordPress blog into a membership website. I’m currently experimenting with it, and so far the results are amazing (I don’t have my own membership website yet, but I’m currently learning the ins and outs of this plugin and comparing it with my other options for membership website setup too). It integrates seamlessly with your WordPress blog so you can create different membership levels with different access capabilities, integrate it with shopping carts like Paypal and Clickbank, and you can set it up for sequential content delivery. I can’t fully recommend it yet because I’m still weighing my options, but from what other people have told me, it works extremely well. Of course, this is a paid plugin.
18. KB-Linker: This is a pretty nifty plugin that I just recently discovered which will link phrases you specify to sites you specify. So for example, you could make it so that everytime the phrase “Niche Site Duel” appears in a post, it will automatically include a link to nichesiteduel.com, or whatever link you specify. I haven’t used this on this blog yet, but I am using it on some of my niche sites and it works great, especially for affiliate links.
19. I know this post said 19 plugins, and that’s where you come in. I know you have 1 plugin (just one!) that you’d like to share with the rest of the SPI community that wasn’t on this list. Just leave your recommendation in the comment section of this post. Even if someone else mentioned the one you were thinking of already, that’s okay – mention it again because it probably means it’s something worth taking a second look at.
Thanks everyone, and have a wonderful week. Cheers!via smartpassiveincome.com
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Traffic is a topic that bloggers will never overlook any day or any time! And to get that much coveted traffic bloggers turn to various sources, one of which is blog directories. But unfortunately, many bloggers easily overlook one essential element when it comes to generating traffic from blog directories. This essential element is tagging. But why so? Is it because many bloggers do not truly understand the use or significance of tagging? Is that why their value is not readily appreciated?
If that is the case then it is unfortunate as tags can significantly increase blog traffic generated from blog directories. In this article I want to highlight a few ideas on how you can use tags to garner favour with blog directories.
First, What Really Are Tags?
A tag is simply the keyword that better describes the information on your blog. It is easily used in labeling the specific information found on your blog. It’s main function is for classification or identification of the specific articles posted on your blog. Tags are also used by search engines that support tagging to “file” your content. Once this is done the posibility of your blog being found whenever a search is done is then increased.
It is this small piece of identification on your blog that tells the search engine spiders what your blog content is all about and how it should be indexed. It therefore stands to reason that if you’d use the right combination of tags for your blog, you’ll be able to determine the type and quality of traffic that comes to your blog from blog directories.
How To Use Tags To Drive More Traffic
There are specific tactics that will maximize the traffic you generate from blog directories using tags. Here are a few things that will yeild good results:
1. Mind Your Use of Words!
If you’re using an automatic tagging plugin to tag your posts, as I do, then you’ll want to carefully pick the right words when writing your content. Besides, these words which we have come to understand as keywords needs to be in the right places. These are the title, the description and the body content keywords. Ensure that the most essential keywords which are relevant to your content are placed in your blog title. The content body should also be strategically sprinkled with these essential words. Done right this can help in optimizing your blog content making it easier to be found and indexed by the search engines.
Using the right words is therefore important as it will determine what category your blog will be filed under. Unless it is filed under the right tag the chances of visitors finding you in the directory could be slim. And this will ultimately affect the amount of traffic you generate knowing fully well that there are a million and one other blogs out there vying for attention.
2. Never Over Use Tags
Considering the benefits of tagging you may want to go over-board in using tags for your blog. Unfortunately, that can be counter productive! Trying to get your blog to appear in more listings by overusing tags will only water down the relevance of your blog in those listings. This means much of the traffic that will be coming to your blog will not be targeted. The way out therefore is to be careful in the choice of tags. Only use targeted tags which your blog truly needs as they will be much more effective than the generic ones.
3. The Heart Of The Matter, Your Content Do Matter!
One traffic stats that every blogger is concerned about is “bounce rate“. Too much of it is definitely a sign of something that is not right. And most times that something is your content! As the saying goes, content is King. It’s never truer than that.
If you were able to gain some interest in your blog through the correct use of tags but your content is below par, you’ll be doing more harm than good as this will shoot up your blog’s “bounce rate” – a warning sign that your blog is not able to deliver on its promise. So once you’ve stroked the traffic fire with your tags, you should ensure that the content associated with your tags is well worth your visitor’s click. A baited title without the backing of the right or useful content will amount to a cheap trick and won’t earn you a lot of respect – or traffic. You must be ready to deliver on the promise you readily gave in your links. Not doing this with your content will only end in losing a loyal readership or following.
Well I’m sure there is something I have left out or don’t you think so? Let’s get your reactions to these tips. Will be glad to hear from you!via famousbloggers.net
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The Google Webmaster Central Blog announced they are now allowing up to four listings from a single domain in the first page of their search results. Add site links, a more results search box and a map and one site can really dominate the first page of Google results.
"Today we're expanding the feature so that, when appropriate, more queries show additional results from a domain. As a webmaster, you'll appreciate the fact that these results may bring targeted visitors directly to the pages they're interested in," the site posted."As before, we still provide links to results from a variety of domains to ensure people find a diverse set of sources relevant to their searches. However, when our algorithms predict pages from a particular site are likely to be most relevant, it makes sense to provide additional direct links in our search results."via blog.searchenginewatch.com
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Google Places added a new social element - Hotpot. This FourSquare-like program allows you to make recommendations that then get shared with your friends.Smartly, Hotpot pushes Places, getting business owners to claim their free listings to help Google build their efforts in the online Yellow Pages space, while using social networking to build reviews for their products.
You can add reviews on your smart phone by using Google Maps for Mobile, so they have the mobile thing included as well. And Hotpot also has its own Twitter account to friend people - it should not be long before there is a tie in for users to Tweet their reviews."More than 20 percent of Google searches now have a local intent, and it's clear that finding information about what's immediately around you is important.... With Google Hotpot, we're excited to take local search to the next level by making it more personal with recommendations powered by you and your friends," the Hotpot blog stated.When I signed up they took me through my Gmail contacts and allowed me to pick the friends from there I wanted included in my Hotpot account. Will have to wait to see if they are emailed about it thus getting more people to join up.Lisa Barone over at Outspoken Media shares some of the hesitancy others have voiced online:"What Google (Hot Pocket) Google Hotpot really is, is another layer. It's another layer to Google's growing onion of social-local that already includes the likes of Google Places (now representing 50 million businesses), Google Latitude (no, really, give me your exact coordinates), Google Social Search (Peer Pressure:2010) and others. The problem is, sometimes layers don't feel like layers. When piled one on top of another, they feel like concrete walls. And then people begin to feel a little claustrophobic."How popular this Google effort in social media becomes has yet to be determined.via blog.searchenginewatch.com
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Yahoo! Clues is a new beta service that gives you insight into popular trends across Yahoo! search each day. Discover and compare trending information for search terms of interest or explore popular trending search terms on Yahoo!
A new interesting feature called Search Flow offers a unique look at people’s search patterns and the next most probable search term people try after searching for a query.
Know more about Yahoo! Clues in this video.
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Google AdSense has rolled out a major interface change that they have been testing for a good month or so, which has the new ability to bring in more of a ad manager type interface style in the AdSense dashboard. With further integration of video ads and retargeting as part of the AdSense makeup, Google AdSense is becoming much more of the full package, rolling out ad targeting and formats that were once part of the DoubleClick acquisition years ago.
What does this mean? It means that small publishers now have the ability to further monetize beyond PPC contextual targeting alone – and that ultimately AdSense can become that one stop shop for all web publishing companies.
From the Google Blog
To continue helping our publishers, today we’re excited to be rolling out a completely new AdSense interface to all of our AdSense publishers, globally, in more than 30 languages and in each of the 200+ countries where AdSense is available. The AdSense interface is how publishers set up, manage, optimize and see reports on the ads on their sites.
With this new interface, AdSense is even easier to use, and we’re also providing publishers with all the tools they need to manage and increase their advertising revenue. We used lots of direct feedback from our publishers to make this overhaul. If you’re an online publisher, it helps you in three main ways:
More insights. We’ve built in simple, graphical reporting and more options for you to easily slice and dice your data, so you can see at a glance what ads are working and which are not, and adjust your strategies accordingly.
More control. We’ve made our ad controls richer and simpler to use, so you can better control which ads and advertisers you want to appear on your sites.
More efficiency. It’s now much easier to quickly see earnings and payment information, to run reports, to find relevant features and help, and to make account changes. Our engineers have spent countless hours making sure that the interface is stable and blazing fast. We’ve also spent many hours in our usability labs with publishers, focused on making the interface easy to learn and use for all types of publishers.via searchenginejournal.com
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There’s no better (and more efficient!) way to increase the return on your online marketing spend than by improving your landing pages. With that in mind, here are 7 sure-fire ways to give your landing pages an instant conversion boost.
1. Have a Clear Call to Action
Make sure your call to action is obvious as soon as visitors arrive to your landing page. Don’t bury it under long copy or hide it beneath an image. Say it loud and clear: “Subscribe,” “Sign Up,” “Download,” or “Purchase.”
2. Use Benefit-Driven Copy, not Product-Focused Copy
When you click on an ad, do you want to hear all about a product’s features, or all about how a product can help YOU? Make sure your headline, body copy, and bullet points focus on your visitors—not on your product or service.
3. Match the Message of Your Ad With the Message of Your Landing Page
This may sound simple, but you must fulfill the promise of the ad with the message of your landing page. If your ad promises a “50% reduction in costs,” your landing page must echo that message. Think about it: If the message is powerful enough to elicit a user to click, you must expand upon that message if you want them to convert.
4. Use Trust Elements
5. Keep It Simple
Keep your landing pages simple and streamlined. This includes forms, body copy, headlines, and design. After all, your visitors want to get to their goal (whether a download, purchase, or sign-up) in the shortest amount of time possible. All the fluff will just take your visitors off their intended path. Give the gorilla the banana as fast as you can.
6. Remove Navigation
Navigation is a bad way to get visitors to a landing page to convert. If you include the elements of your corporate website, such as navigation and links, on your landing pages, you’ll significantly dilute the direct response you want your visitors to take.
The great thing about landing pages is that they allow you to test the performance of your campaigns in real time. You can learn what works—and what doesn’t. With a landing page testing solution, you can usually get statistically significant results within hours, days, or weeks. A/B testing helps you find out what design performs best, and multivariate testing is a great way to refine the elements (headline, subhead, hero shot) within that champion design.via mpdailyfix.com
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Add this into the mix as you continue to think about the impact of Google’s new local search results display: A heatmap study shows how some searchers interact with local SERPs, and suggests that the map itself doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
The maps below are from a local search marketing company in Austin, TX, called ionadas local. With help from a marketing research company called Sentient Services, they studied the behavior of 19 searchers who were asked to conduct a handful of different local searches — “Austin Bars,” “Austin Eye Doctors,” and so forth. Here’s what ionadas notes in their report:
“…eye-tracking analysis revealed that the map did not draw significant attention or a “first click” response from users. The map had a better chance of receiving users’ attention if it had more businesses listed to the right of it, creating a larger map area with more potentially interesting links. Higher page placement also drew more attention to the maps by preventing a portion of the map from falling “below the fold,” out of the user’s visual range.”
Here are a couple of the heatmaps; red shows the area that received the most user attention and green shows the least.
Even though the local SERPs display is different now, it makes you wonder how much less attention is being given to the map with it showing up on the far right of the search results page. Probably a lot less.
You can read more about the heatmap study and download bigger images along with the company’s report. And cross your fingers that maybe ionadas (or someone else) will do a new study that uses the new Google display.via smallbusinesssem.com
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