Building Your Blogging Brand

Currently, there are approximately over 150 Million blogs worldwide with a large majority of them talking about the same things, in same boring way. Millions of them look the same, many bloggers express themselves the same way and even more are blogging without passion, authority, concrete goals and without having a respectable brand. Many of us fail to realize that while we blog expecting to achieve success, we are also responsible for our personal brand.

Successful professional blogging is no longer for the average Joe with average goals. It is for the prudent who will approach their audience seriously and strive to build their company, and more so, personal brand.

Here is a massive guide that will get you started on the road to developing your blogging brand for success.

Set Goals, Huge Goals!

build-your-brand

Before you register that domain or go crazy thinking about the right name for your blog, write down clearly defined goals for your site. Get a pen and paper, or however you write notes, and start jotting down everything you may require and what you NEED to be successful with your blog. Spend a week or two to decide your direction and focus on it. Your goals may not be set in stone for the entire lifetime of your blog since you will definitely grow, mature and learn so your goals should grow with you but remain in a general direction.

Aim for the sky! If your blogger friends want to achieve or are achieving $1,000 per month, shoot for $2,000 per month. Never limit your goals to match your peers or environment.

Know Your Target Audience & Competition

Spend the time to read and study other bloggers in the blogosphere. However, not just the smaller newbie bloggers who may be on the same level as you but try to learn from the “big guns.” Never size up your competition by analyzing the weakest opponents. Ignore them, they will compromise your judgment and cause you to aim lower.

Your blog should be serving a purpose, whether its to provide financial guidance, video tutorials, news, etc. Find out if those are the things readers want or need or may not even know it yet. Get on the grind and think of a unique way to fill a need or provide a unique service through blogging. Your audience will thank you and you will stand out as a pro blogger.

Use A Killer Site Design & Domain Name

If you’re not a skilled designer/developer, hire one here who can give you the entire package: Awesome logo, killer user-friendly site design, robust theme, the works. If you want to build a brand your design needs to be unique and stands out from the everyday regulars.

Choose a domain name that somewhat describes what you do. It will stick in the minds of your readers much easier. If the .com top level domain (TLD) is not available and is in use by someone else, never ever use the same name with .org, .net or any other TLD. You will be placing yourself in unnecessary competition with the owner of the .com since readers will remember this much easier. If you wish to have your name as a domain name, this has its pros too since you will be building a more personal brand with your name ringing all over the net in the forefront, whereas describing what you do in your domain name will help with SEO and thus better search results.

coming soon image

Use A Coming Soon Page Before Its Launch

If it will take you more than a couple months to execute your plan to build your blog, you definitely need a coming soon page that provides a little teaser of what is to come. This builds anticipation in the minds of those who have encountered your site. Have options for readers to subscribe to your newsletter that will in the meantime provide e-mail updates. Ensure it also has links to your social profiles like twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.

Start promoting your blog and begin commenting on other sites with your URL of your coming soon page. Use that URL in everything online. In a couple of months when you’re ready to launch, your domain would have already been crawled by search engines and could have gained a couple google page ranks which builds your search engine authority even before your launch.

Consistency That Makes Your Brand Stick

Be consistent with your topics, names and all other forms of branding and design. Create a tagline that sticks and use it all around the web. Similarly, brands like McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Nike use their logos consistently in everything they do and captures the consumers’ attention by providing consistent quality regardless of recessions, lawsuits or any other challenge.

Use a consistent name with your tagline when commenting on other sites. For example, “Robyn Samuda – Social Media Expert” along with the domain name in the comment form.

Guest Post On Popular Blogs

Guest posting is a surefire way to get your brand and your name out there in the blogosphere. Always guest post on sites with superb quality and reputation. Unfortunately, most of us judge others based on association and it applies to blogging as well. In addition, guest posting allows a couple link backs to your site which will improve rankings in search engine result pages (SERP) and can easily drive unique visitors to your blog. Try to guest post on at least 2 sites per week and within a couple of months your massive increase in traffic will surprise you.

Quality Content Can Make You Famous

Time and again we may seek inspiration from news stories, events and other bloggers. However, never copy and post the same information. Nobody wants to read old news, especially old news that is copied and pasted. Don’t get me wrong though, you can write about current happenings even if it has been reported already but always find a way to provide deeper insight, provide graphs and other research material that is not readily available elsewhere. This will make you stand out as the pro in your niche.

There we have it. Building your brand is easier than you may immediately realize. The key is to always be consistent with your targets, your image and evolve as you master the blogosphere and strive towards being exceptional.

Discussion: What do you think you could achieve with a personal brand that stands shoulder to shoulder with the biggest blogging names you can think of? Massive dream and yet it is possible. How have you been able to build your brand and stand out? Please let us know.

[bloggingpro]

Sitemaster Guest Post Guidelines

I get a few emails from people who want to know if I accept guest posts on Sitemaster, and if that is the case, what are the guidelines. I figured that it would be easier to write the guidelines in a post and just refer every one here.

So the answer to the first question is: Yes, I do accept guest posts.

Below you will find all the details about the process.

What kind of content do we accept?

Anything that is useful for our readers is good content for a guest post here. It can be related to blogging, Internet marketing in general, and it can also be derived from your own personal experiences. There is no minimum length for your post, but usually the guest posts have over 500 words +.

Guidelines

  • Your post must be original and must have never been published before on the Internet
  • You agree to not publish the post anywhere else (i.e., in your own blog or as a guest post in other blogs)
  • You can include up to two links in the byline, which will be displayed at the bottom of the post
  • You can’t use SEOd anchor text for your links

How do I submit my guest post?

If you have a post that meets the guidelines above, you can send it to me on the email supportATsitemaster.com.au. Usually within 48 hours I will reply stating if we will accept the guest post or not. If I reject your post, you are obviously free to use it in your own blog or to propose it as a guest post to some other website.



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Email and Blogging the Perfect Match

Posted by Brian Graham – If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here

Email is not going anywhere.  I read an article today from eMarketer that was suggesting that email may be replaced by social media or texting.  Their findings were email was the preferred way for people to communicate with friends and family.

Email is not going away but as a marketer you need to find ways to make is more effective or find new ways to integrate it into other marketing efforts.  Being able use your email marketing efforts for acquisition would be a great example of this.

How would I do that you may ask?  If you have an enterprise level blogging software it would be a snap.  You could leverage user generated content on keyword focused blogs to drive organic search that would generate leads.

You could solicit for content through email and contests or offers.  Now you have another effective way to generate content that will increase acquisition.  Compendium can most certainly help with this solutions and lower your search engine optimization cost.  Give us a call to learn more.

[compendiumblog]

5 Reasons Why Your Company Needs a Blog

Post written by Robyn-Dale Samuda
If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here

How can I increase traffic to my company’s website? How can I win more loyal customers? When will I ever hit the number one mark in Google search results? Surely these are questions asked by many business owners who have decided to expand their boundaries online. It all seems like a daunting task to establish and maintain a successful online corporate presence especially when it comes to driving traffic; but the decision to launch and maintain a company blog can be one of the most rewarding choices you could make for your business online.

Here are 5 solid reasons your company will flourish through maintaining a blog.


1. Search Engines Love Dynamic Content

Maintaining a blog gives you the distinct advantage of easily creating new content on the fly with very little hassle. Search engines, especially Google, place higher priority on sites that constantly produces fresh, valuable content that is useful for the web at large. Static, unchanging websites can give the impression that your company is not moving forward and not creative.

Take the opportunity to blog about about new products, new experiences, useful tips and guides for your customers and publish company news through this medium. The search engines will reward you with targeted traffic.

2. Connect With Your Customers & Prospects

Blogging opens up the lines of communication unlike traditional marketing. You will now have an excellent opportunity to find out who your customers really are and gain deep insight into their preferences and dislikes. Knowing your customers better will help you to find and keep more just like them.

Take the time to interact with your customers and prospects and gain valuable feedback while expressing your company’s vision and goals.

3. WordPress – Advanced & Easy to Use Platform

Of course, the blogging platform of choice is WordPress, which can be downloaded fromWordPress.org or if you prefer, VIP hosting and support is available at Vip.WordPress.com for large-scale deployments. Lots of big names are using WordPress such as CNN, Time and BBC; and we all know how successful they are online.

WordPress makes publishing content as easy as saving a Microsoft Word document while offering a professional platform that can help drive any business to online success.

4. Easy SEO Integration – Increase Targeted Traffic

Blogs are excellent for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and with WordPress, SEO integration is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Plugins such as All in One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps makes mastering SEO and pleasing the search engines a cinch.

WordPress offers the ability to manage SEO while you write and create content targeted at customers and prospects within your niche. While there are many professional SEO’s out there who charge an arm and a leg for their services, you will be well on your way to being a pro yourself or simply keep these tasks in-house.

5. Commanding Influence & Authority

Having a blog to complement your present marketing efforts gives the opportunity to build credibility and authority. Your regular marketing messages are good but can be like a resounding cliche in the minds of your prospects and customers. Blog posting allows for the excellent opportunity for your visitors to get to truly know your work and solutions, request help and advice. There’s no better person to answer those product questions but you. Use this medium to build your authority and influence your customers to purchase.

Most importantly, take that first step and make your mark in the blogosphere. Your customers and prospects are spending much of their time online so its time to grab their attention, build relationships you’ve never had before and reap the rewards of increased traffic and sales.

[bloggingpro]

Don’t Do Your To-Do List

Post written by Leo Babauta
If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here

Most people reading this will have a to-do program, or a paper list or text file, listing not only projects and tasks but separate lists for home and work and possibly half a dozen different contexts.

Those who don’t have a to-do list probably feel they should, because they’re swamped and feeling overwhelmed.

I’m here to suggest: kill your to-do list.

It sucks up your time, and drains your motivation. Those who have to-do lists usually manage them constantly, or if they don’t they fall into disuse and get dusty and become worthless, while the person who’s fallen behind in maintaining the list feels constantly guilty. For those who keep up with the lists, they spend a lot of time on the lists they could be spending … doing something important.

And what of these lists? They’re long, you never get to the end of them, and half the time the tasks on the list never get done. While it feels good to check items off the list, it feels horrible having items that never get checked off. This is all useless spending of mental energy, because none of it gets you anywhere.

The only thing that matters is the actual doing.

So what’s a better system?

The One Thing System

Here’s what I do, and highly recommend to anyone willing to break free of the to-do list:

  1. I wake up in the morning, and decide what One Thing I’m excited about.
  2. Then I focus on doing that, pushing everything else aside, clearing distractions, and allowing myself to get caught up in the moment.

I don’t worry what else is on my list, because there’s only One Thing on my list. I don’t have to check anything off, because I don’t actually have a list. I don’t have to worry about things not getting done, because I do the only thing I want to do — if I didn’t want to do it, it wouldn’t be my One Thing.

If I happen to finish my One Thing early, I can slack off for the rest of the day (my favorite strategy), or I can pick my next One Thing.

But … but …

What about the other things you need to do? What if you forget them?

Make a list of possible things to do, if you like, or routine tasks that need to get done for one reason or another. I would consider eliminating as many things as possible on the routine list, as they tend to just be friction that stops you from doing what you really want to do. If you do make a list, don’t consider it a to-do list, of things you need to check off. Just keep it as a reminder, and don’t spend any time other than adding things to it and possibly checking it once a day.

Even this list isn’t necessary, but I only suggest it here for those who don’t feel safe without it. If you really don’t want to forget something, you can put a reminder on your calendar. I suggest avoiding this when possible, but if I need to send out payments once a month, I’ll put a reminder on my calendar. It’s not that complicated.

For the important things, you tend to know what you really want to get done. If you’re a writer, you know what you want to write, usually. If you’re a designer, you already have an idea of what you’re excited about working on. You don’t need a list. You just need to forget about the list, and get working.

Kill your to-do list, and forget about all the things you need to do … except the One Thing you’re passionate about, right now.

[Zenhabits]

How Anyone Can Make YouTube Videos (even without a camera) & Why Every Marketer Should Be

By Josh Eyestone

I was at Podcamp San Antonio 3.0, an un-conference, this past Saturday. It was great to meet many other people in the Social Media space here in San Antonio. With the open format, people who had ideas about what to talk about were able to propose an idea. I led a session about online videos, and how anyone can make videos, even people without a video camera. I also addressed the why part of online videos and YouTube, as in “why would I want to make YouTube videos.” The simple part of that answer is to gain more visibility and targeted traffic.

I’ll outline the main points here for those of you who were not at the conference, and list some links & other resources at the end for those who want to put this idea into action!

Why You Should Use Online Videos As Part of Your Internet Marketing?

You will extend your reach to more prospects by using online videos. A good strategy for content producers is to deploy their content in many formats. Similar to the local media empire (newspaper, television, & radio station), even small content producers should leverage their content across many formats like print (as a blog post, article on directory sites, online press releases), video (online video), and an audio only production (like a podcast, or embedded audio file in a web page). The main reason for doing this is that with your content deployed in just one place your prospects have just one piece of content to find. If the same (or similar) content is deployed to 5 places in a variety of formats, the prospects would now know have 5 ways to find the content, and get your message. Increase ways for people to find your content, and you will increase your targeted visitors.

Video SEO (search engine optimization) is a new area where marketers have discovered ways to get their videos indexed and ranked in the organic search results of Google and Yahoo. Videos that effectively use keywords in titles, descriptions, and file names, can rank high in organic search results on both the video tab, and even the web tab. Google and Yahoo both are taking some videos and showing them as web results, in some cases nearly instantly after posting the video up on sites like YouTube. Video SEO represents an easier way for many firms to get first page organic results in competitive keywords than if they were to try and get their company website those high organic results. For non competitive keywords its super easy to get first page results with videos. All of this means that you can gain more visibility online, and get more targeted visitors, with some good video SEO techniques employed.

Pillar Content vs Feeder (or teaser) Content

For purposes of categorizing content, lets just consider content in just these two categories. Pillar content is the deep, detailed-rich content that your prospects are looking for. Examples could be good blog posts, a how-to or tutorial, a white paper or case study available for download, or a review of a popular product or service. You could make pillar content videos, but they are more complicated to make because they are going to be longer, and more involved than Feeder (or teaser) Content would be. Feeder content can be used to promote your pillar content, and feeder content is much smaller and easier to produce than pillar content. So instead of having to make a long video that repackages your pillar content to video, you can just make a short and sweet 30 second video that will promote your pillar content. This video can be promoted with a headline in the same way a pillar content would be, and the feeder content video will attract your prospects similarly to how pillar content would. Either video, long and complicated, or short and sweet, can equally attract visitors. The point of discussing Pillar vs. Feeder Content in the context of online videos is that videos do not have to be long and complicated, you can get several benefits from short & simple videos that are easy to make.

Videos Are Another Way To Promote Your Website

Any type of content can be repackaged to a video! Consider something as basic as marketing a Dentist office online. The Dentist may have a print ad, brochures, or even videos from vendors available to re-purpose into other types of content to be used online.

How-to videos, product or service reviews, and teaser (feeder) content to promote other content on your website or blog are all very popular formats for online videos. Of course some people will use video as their core way to deliver their pillar content, like a celebrity news video blog or online TV show. In that case just flip around what content feeds the other. They would use blogs, article marketing and other content formats as feeder content to deliver to their videos. Most businesses will use online videos as feeder content to promote their pillar content on their website, blog, or podcast.

How Anyone Can Make YouTube Videos Without A Camera

There are a few popular ways to make video files without a video camera, or editing experience. Two main formats are available to make pretty professional videos without using a camera. One way is to use screen capture software to record a video file of your computer’s screen, with audio narration added these make great how-to or training videos. The next type of videos you can make without a camera are the slide-show like videos which also usually have audio narration added to them.

You can build a slide-show or powerpoint like video using Windows Movie Maker (which comes with XP & Vista), iMovie (which is on most Macs), or by using VideoMach. You simply thread together a series of still images (that you can make in photoshop or another graphics program) that will each display for a few seconds each (you set the time for each image). Next, add an audio track to your slide-show which includes narration, then finally output your work as a video file.

I recommend you use Audacity (a free audio editing software) to record and clean up narration tracks, and to use opening & closing bumps with music to make your videos sound even more professional. Many times I write a script, and get the audio done first, then I build the slide-show to sync along with the audio file, that way your transitions from one image to the next flow along with your narration.

For screen capture software there are a few options, several of which are based on camstudio.org which is a free open source video screen capture software you can download. Camtasia Studio is a full featured screen capture editing suite that runs about $299, Jing and Animoto are new screen capture services that are relatively turn key but not as fully customizable as others, and ScreenFlickworks on Macs.

After you have made your first video, be sure to consider the SEO benefits and be careful naming the video with good keywords that will help you attract the maximum amount of targeted visitors. If you have any questions about which video sites, in addition to YouTube, you should be submitting to, and if you have any questions about how to optimize your videos for SEO benefits, get in touch with me through the comments below or shoot me an @ message on Twitter.

[fulltiltblogging]

Building Backlinks

It is out of question that quality backlinks are crucial to SEO success. More, the question is how to get them. While with on-page content optimization it seems easier because everything is up to you to do and decide, with backlinks it looks like you have to rely on others to work for your success. Well, this is partially true because while backlinks are links that start on another site and point to yours, you can discuss with the Web master of the other site details like the anchor text, for example. Yes, it is not the same as administering your own sites – i.e. you do not have total control over backlinks – but still there are many aspects that can be negotiated.

Getting Backlinks the Natural Way

The idea behind including backlinks as part of the page rank algorithm is that if a page is good, people will start linking to it. And the more backlinks a page has, the better. But in practice it is not exactly like this. Or at least you cannot always rely on the fact that your contents is good and people will link to you. Yes, if your content is good and relevant you can get a lot of quality backlinks, including from sites with similar topic as yours (and these are the most valuable kind of backlinks, especially if the anchor text contains your keywords) but what you get without efforts could be less than what you need to successfully promote your site. So, you will have to resort to other ways of acquiring quality backlinks as described next.

Ways to Build Backlinks

Even if plenty of backlinks come to your site the natural way, additional quality backlinks are always welcome and the time you spend building them is not wasted. Among the acceptable ways of building quality backlinks are getting listed in directories, posting in forums, blogs and article directories. The unacceptable ways include inter-linking (linking from one site to another site, which is owned by the same owner or exists mainly for the purpose to be a link farm), linking to spam sites or sites that host any kind of illegal content, purchasing links in bulk, linking to link farms, etc.

The first step in building backlinks is to find the places from which you can get quality backlinks. A valuable assistant in this process is the Backlink Builder tool. When you enter the keywords of your choice, the Backlink Builder tool gives you a list of sites where you can post an article, message, posting, or simply a backlink to your site. After you have the list of potential backlink partners, it is up to you to visit each of the sites and post your content with the backlink to your site in it.

You might wonder why sites as those, listed by the Backlink Builder tool provide such a precious asset as backlinks for free. The answer is simple – they need content for their site. When you post an article, or submit a link to your site, you do not get paid for this. You provide them for free with something they need – content – and in return they also provide you for free with something you need – quality backlinks. It is a free trade, as long as the sites you post your content or links are respected and you don’t post fake links or content.

Getting Listed in Directories

If you are serious about your Web presence, getting listed in directories like DMOZ and Yahoo is a must – not only because this is a way to get some quality backlinks for free, but also because this way you are easily noticed by both search engines and potential visitors. Generally inclusion in search directories is free but the drawback is that sometimes you have to wait a couple of months before you get listed in the categories of your choice.

Forums and Article Directories

Generally search engines index forums so posting in forums and blogs is also a way to get quality backlinks with the anchor text you want. If the forum or blog is a respected one, a backlink is valuable. However, in some cases the forum or blog administrator can edit your post, or even delete it if it does not fit into the forum or blog policy. Also, sometimes administrators do not allow links in posts, unless they are relevant ones. In some rare cases (which are more an exception than a rule) the owner of a forum or a blog would have banned search engines from indexing it and in this case posting backlinks there is pointless.

While forum postings can be short and do not require much effort, submitting articles to directories can be more time-consuming because generally articles are longer than posts and need careful thinking while writing them. But it is also worth and it is not so difficult to do.

Content Exchange and Affiliate Programs

Content exchange and affiliate programs are similar to the previous method of getting quality backlinks. For instance, you can offer to interested sites RSS feeds for free. When the other site publishes your RSS feed, you will get a backlink to your site and potentially a lot of visitors, who will come to your site for more details about the headline and the abstract they read on the other site.

Affiliate programs are also good for getting more visitors (and buyers) and for building quality backlinks but they tend to be an expensive way because generally the affiliate commission is in the range of 10 to 30 %. But if you have an affiliate program anyway, why not use it to get some more quality backlinks?

News Announcements and Press Releases

Although this is hardly an everyday way to build backlinks, it is an approach that gives good results, if handled properly. There are many sites (for instance, here is a list of some of them) that publish for free or for a fee news announcements and press releases. A professionally written press release about an important event can bring you many, many visitors and the backlink from a respected site to yours is a good boost to your SEO efforts. The tricky part is that you cannot release press releases if there is nothing newsworthy. That is why we say that news announcements and press releases are not a commodity way to build backlinks.

Backlink Building Practices to Avoid

One of the practices that is to be avoided is link exchange. There are many programs, which offer to barter links. The principle is simple – you put a link to a site, they put a backlink to your site. There are a couple of important things to consider with link exchange programs. First, take care about the ratio between outbound and inbound links. If your outbound links are times your inbound, this is bad. Second (and more important) is the risk that your link exchange partners are link farms. If this is the case, you could even be banned from search engines, so it is too risky to indulge in link exchange programs.

Linking to suspicious places is something else that you must avoid. While it is true that search engines do not punish you if you have backlinks from such places because it is supposed that you have no control over what bad guys link to, if you enter a link exchange program with the so called bad neighbors and you link to them, this can be disastrous to your SEO efforts. For more details about bad neighbors, check the Bad Neighborhood article. Also, beware of getting tons of links in a short period of time because this still looks artificial and suspicious.

[webconfs]

Moving People From Facebook To Your Blog

Commanding Influence: Build A Strong Online Presence

It’s no secret that people love Facebook. Some are practically addicted to the thing. So how do you convince a stubborn audience to focus on your content instead of Farmville?

If you guessed, “Maintain a Facebook fan page”, you’re wrong. Here’s why. You may have noticed that the fans on your fan page are either friends and family, random people who don’t interact, or those crazy, obsessed fans that already follow you on every social media source available.

Why is this the Case?

Facebook is its own world. Those who choose to leave Facebook and venture out onto the Internet, to either educate or entertain themselves, don’t want to mix the two worlds. The last thing your readers want is their friends finding out they’re fans of “Personality Development Blog” or “Daily Menopause Tips.”

Before I dissect this issue, there are four questions you need to answer before making a plan to market to this new audience:

  • Does this audience know they need my help?
  • Does this audience want help?
  • What are the biggest problems this audience encounters that I can help them with?
  • Has this audience evolved with the economy and/or technology?

Once you have a good idea of what this new audience wants, all you have to do is tailor your marketing platform to their interests without letting them know you’re actually marketing to them. I’ll explain how near the end.

College Students: The Classic Example

About a year ago I decided to start a blog for college students. Being a senior in college, I thought this would be easy. I decided to go after a niche market of students interested in using new technology to aid them in their studies – but there was a problem.

The college students of today have grown up on Facebook since its inception just over 6 years ago, and to many, it’s their home online. It’s how they keep up with all the facets of their social life, which we all know besides going to class, studying and taking exams, takes top priority.

You’d be surprised how many students keep Facebook as their browser homepage; so naturally, my target audience was stuck on the world’s largest social networking site leaving me with an arduous task.

Do Your Research

Since college students spend the majority of their free time on Facebook, you have to work extra hard to market to them. When they do venture off Facebook they don’t go very far. They tend to go to sites such as YouTube or CollegeHumor, but they don’t particularly use Google to search for things they need.

Instead, this generation is much more likely to search for things they want. For example, students are much more interested in college parties than “college help,” “college websites” or “college blogs.”

Knowing Your Audience

The college student example can be applied to any audience that:

  1. Grew up with technology.
  2. Is desensitized to advertising.
  3. Shows more focus on wants than needs.

If you don’t know your target audience well, their bandwidth for dealing with marketing is extremely narrow. Once they feel they are being marketed to, they unequivocally tend to shut down. So how do you market to this difficult segment?

Relevancy. In order to reach this audience, you have to be as targeted as possible with your message. Since your audience is busy commenting on photos, looking for new games and just busy having fun, it will take time and effort in order to get noticed.

Tips and Strategies

  1. Understand how your site is better and different than other sites. Can you think of specific problems that you solve well and better than others? Finding a niche may help gain some initial traffic. I’m sure you recognize that word travels fast once you generate some initial success.
  2. Turn your audiences wants into needs. When I started CampusByte, I knew my audience was largely made up of iPhone users. I wrote several articles targeting students with iPhones. It was only a matter of time until Google picked one up. I now rank on the first page for “Must Have iPhone Apps.” Your audience will take the bait and stick around for the other content because you were able to satisfy their initial search.
  3. Encourage interaction. Facebook allows users to fully interact with their friends by commenting, “liking”, sharing and subscribing. If your site allows for similar actions, your new reader is much more likely to stick around. Encourage new readers to sign up for updates and make it clear that you want them commenting on your blog.
  4. Don’t let online tools be the only means of gaining customers. Get published – magazine, newspaper, newsletter, whatever. Let people know who you are and more importantly, listen to them! Put up posters. Sponsor an event. Beg. You should be working now to be part of your new readers lives – all of these are great opportunities to reach out.

(Sitesketch 101)

Maximize Your Content’s Reach on the Social Web

We have all heard that “content is king” — Sumner Redstone deemed it so, then Rupert Murdoch upped the ante, calling it “emperor.” But how do we make sure content is delivered to the right places, at the right times? How can we measure the effectiveness of this content and its distribution?

The model for publishers is changing due to today’s social media growth and the reliance on “stream consumption.” Audience attention is increasingly fragmented and traditional ways to reach them with content and advertising are becoming less effective. Brands must transcend many different platforms to remain relevant. Some numbers on this:

  1. Time spent with social networking has surpassed time spent with e-mail (Nielsen).
  2. Time spent on social networks and blogging sites is growing at over three times that of the overall Internet (Nielsen).
  3. 7 out of 10 Americans consume content via the “stream” or news-feed style communications (Pew Internet).

These indicators point to the future of a “siteless” web — a consumer-centric online economy where audiences decide when and where they will receive content, with less emphasis on single destinations. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website, but rather that content needs to be distributed across many websites, platforms, social networks, new devices, and so on.

Today, content producers have a lot more to keep up with if they want to stay relevant. There are social media purists who believe automating the delivery of content to social networks is taboo. But if you manually post a headline and link to your content on each of your social networks, is it really that different from automating the process?

We’re all short on time, and there is nothing wrong with creating some efficiencies. But you do need to be smart about it, and make sure you’re adding value. Here are a few tips that can help you do it.


Measure


line graph image

This is the most important thing you can do to make sure you are reaching your audience. You cannot improve what you do not measure. The goal is to know and understand when your users are the most engaged with your content.

  1. Learn what content they like on each social destination. Track the engagement around the same piece of content on each social destination. What works on Twitter won’t necessarily work on LinkedIn. One approach is to think about your social audience as a focus group. Their level of engagement with each headline will help you determine what they like. Learn from that, use that data to create more of the same, and tailor your website and other streams.
  2. Study what the right flow of content is. What is too much, what is not enough? This is likely very different on each social network.
  3. Track your reach. How many followers, friends and contacts do you have? How do they grow or shrink when you tailor your content and its flow? Your audience will dissipate if you are not adding value or you are drowning them.

Find Your Digital Center


What is the one tool that you are comfortable using to create content on a constant basis? This could be Flickr for pictures, Twitter for status updates, or a blog. Whatever it is, make it your central command. You shouldn’t feel overwhelmed about creating totally different content on each social network. Pick one and focus on that.


Distribute


Once you have identified your digital center, connect it to all your other social networks. Think of your digital center as the hub and the other networks as the spokes of a wheel. The idea is to create the content once. In today’s world of the siteless web, your customers are choosing their own digital centers, and chances are, they’re not the same as yours. You need spokes to make sure you’re reaching everyone you need to and, more importantly, everyone who wants information from you. And, since we’re all short on time, making this process automated and intelligent is key. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Filter: The expectations on each social network are different. Understand your audiences on each and tailor your content accordingly. Twitter has a different vocabulary (hashtags, RT) than Facebook Your readers on Facebook may find it odd to see a hashtag in their stream.
  2. Control the flow: If you are creating multiple pieces of content per day, it is important to not send it out all at once. The half-life of a piece of content in social media is measured in hours. Things are flowing through your audience’s stream all day long. To keep their attention and increase the opportunity for them to see your content, regulate the flow, just like a dam. Hold some things back. Track the time of day you are seeing the most engagement and adjust your flow accordingly.
  3. Customize: With the amount of content your audience is seeing in a day, yours may go unnoticed as they scan their stream. The headline is now more than ever, the most important sentence you write. Add in some branding elements –- it doesn’t need to be over the top. Just let your audience know where it is coming from, especially if you are cross-posting.
    • Use Hashtags: If you are posting to Twitter, add a hashtag to improve your SEO value.
    • Strong Headlines: Spend extra time writing great headlines. Pack them full of topical words that search engines will find (but don’t overdo it).
    • Recycle: With the amount of content flowing in the stream, something is bound to go unnoticed. Send out your most popular content again. Add a label to it, like “Most Popular Today…” It may attract someone new.
    • Paid Distribution: If your budget permits, take your most popular content and syndicate it outside your personal networks through paid promotion.
    • Widgets: Widgets are an easy way to display popular content across different sites and remind your audience which social networks you participate in.
    • E-mail: Don’t forget about e-mail. Some people still prefer to get messages that way.
    • Use Hashtags: If you are posting to Twitter, add a hashtag to improve your SEO value.
    • Strong Headlines: Spend extra time writing great headlines. Pack them full of topical words that search engines will find (but don’t overdo it).
    • Recycle: With the amount of content flowing in the stream, something is bound to go unnoticed. Send out your most popular content again. Add a label to it, like “Most Popular Today…” It may attract someone new.
    • Paid Distribution: If your budget permits, take your most popular content and syndicate it outside your personal networks through paid promotion.
    • Widgets: Widgets are an easy way to display popular content across different sites and remind your audience which social networks you participate in.
    • E-mail: Don’t forget about e-mail. Some people still prefer to get messages that way.

  • Grow


Here are some tips on how to grow your audience:

  1. Use Hashtags: If you are posting to Twitter, add a hashtag to improve your SEO value.
  2. Strong Headlines: Spend extra time writing great headlines. Pack them full of topical words that search engines will find (but don’t overdo it).
  3. Recycle: With the amount of content flowing in the stream, something is bound to go unnoticed. Send out your most popular content again. Add a label to it, like “Most Popular Today…” It may attract someone new.
  4. Paid Distribution: If your budget permits, take your most popular content and syndicate it outside your personal networks through paid promotion.
  5. Widgets: Widgets are an easy way to display popular content across different sites and remind your audience which social networks you participate in.
  6. E-mail: Don’t forget about e-mail. Some people still prefer to get messages that way.

    Conclusion


    Why is it so crucial to find services that enable and support this siteless strategy? For publishers and bloggers it’s simple: The fastest wins. In a world where the half-life of a story is 50 minutes, real-time updates enable you to start that clock as fast as possible after publishing your story. If you and your competitor hit the publish button at the exact same time, and your feed is push-enabled and theirs isn’t, your readers see the story first. You’ve just won by getting traffic to your site where you can monetize those visitors.

    For brands, consumers tend to be more responsive to content marketing than other forms of online marketing. With content flowing freely on the siteless web, your fans will be more likely to share it. Good content reaching the right people in the right way builds loyal customers.

    [mashable]

SEO Guide to Page Speed

Matt Cutts mentioned page speed during his Pubcon keynote this year and it felt like people went a little nuts. “Page speed is going to be a ranking factor?! We need to stop everything and make our pages load in Pi on a 56k connection!”

Here’s the deal, page speed is important, but it’s ALWAYS been important. How quickly your site loads is about usability and Google really likes it when you do things for users. Shaun Anderson did a great job summarizing the importance of page load speed recently:


If your server is dog*&^% and your website takes minutes to load it’s a bad user experience (why SEO have always advised don’t use crap free hosting) and your site probably doesn’t deserve to get high Google rankings even as it stands.

Exactly. Don’t host on a crap server. And taking that a step further, don’t host crap on your crap server. We already know Google doesn’t like broken links, incorrect HTML, duplicate content, too many links on a page and technical restrictions that make it difficult to crawl your site. We know because Google’s Webmaster Guidelines tells us that. Page speed is no different. To what extent page speed has been a ranking factor isn’t known, but Google wants the Web to be faster. That means sites need to load faster.

I can’t help but think that this has something to do with the Caffeine update. If Google is speeding up the search results, they need us to meet them halfway. It’s basic math. They want the Web sped up and they need to be able to crawl sites faster in order to do so more efficiently. This isn’t new:

This is a small step in our larger effort to make the web faster. Studies have repeatedly shown that speeding up your site leads to increased user retention and activity, higher revenue and lower costs. Towards the goal of making every webpage load as fast as flipping the pages of a magazine, we have provided articles on best practices, active discussion forums and many tools to diagnose and fix speed issues.

I don’t know about the rest of the SEOs out there, but moving large chunks of code to external files has been a personal recommendation for years now. In my mind, developers should always make page speed a top priority along with validation. That’s just good usability and smart development. If the search engines want to make this a higher ranking factor, we don’t need to run for the hills, just assess where you stand relative to the competition, figure out if you’re performing at your very best and start working improvements into your dev cycle.

Matt Cutts recommended a couple tools during his keynote, which included Page Speed and WebPagetest:

Google Code

If you haven’t already, go install Page Speed for Mozilla. You’ll need Firebug installed to make it work. Once you’ve got both set up, you can open Firebug and run the Page Speed analyzer which spits out a nifty performance summary that links to detailed information about each recommendation. You can export the results, get resource details (path, file size, transfer size, status code, domain) and run page speed activity report (this part gets beyond me, but it looks like pretty DNA when you run it):


Matt also suggested WebPagetest, which I haven’t personally used. It’s a bit heavy for my brain, but if you’re more technical, it’s worth a look. This did run much slower than every other page speed tool I’m familiar with. Isn’t it ironic?

YSlow

Matt didn’t recommend this one. 😉 YSlow was released before Page Speed and has had more time to mature, making it arguably the better add-on. Yahoo’s YSlow for Mozilla works in exactly the same way as Page Speed and is used in conjunction with Firebug. Want to know how YSlow compares to Page Speed? Check out Rarst.net who already did the job for us back in June. Consensus seems to be that YSlow is the more developed of the two, but with the recent site speed announcements and developments from Google, I’m sure they’ll be giving theirs much more love in the coming months.

Web Page Analyzer

While I really like the functionality of Page Speed and YSlow, they may be a bit much for the average site owner. If you’re looking for a simpler tool, check out Web Page Analyzer from Website Optimization. I don’t remember the first time I encountered this tool, but it’s been bookmarked for years now. The design has barely changed, but who cares? It still works great. Just enter your URL, prove you’re human, wait a couple of seconds and voila. You get download times, object sizes, external objects, page-specific objects and prioritized analysis with recommendations at the bottom:

Web Page Analyzer

Site Performance

Want to know how your site is performing relative to others? Google Webmaster Central Blog made an announcement yesterday that you can now find a Site Performance feature in GWC designed to help you:

…find how fast your pages load, how they’ve fared over time, how your site’s load time compares to that of other sites, examples of specific pages and their actual page load times, and Page Speed suggestions that can help reduce user-perceived latency.

You can get to this in GWC once you’ve clicked into a domain by going to Labs > Site Performance. It looks like:

Google Site Performance

But you want it to look like:

Google Site Performance

UPDATE – Check out SEOmofo’s page speed graph (he wins! anyone got better?):

Google Site Performance

I’m not seeing example pages or page speed suggestions for certain sites (most do have it) and performance doesn’t seem to correlate with the data showing. It offers a really nice snapshot of site speed, though. Use this with a page speed analysis tool to assess potential problems and competitive advantages or disadvantages.

Want some more page speed suggestions? HoboSEO had several more in his post and a quick search for [site speed] returns lots of tools, however, they don’t come with the Outspoken stamp of approval.

When it comes to site speed, the bottom line is, don’t panic! Develop fast, validated and user-friendly sites. You already should be. If you’re really worried about the competition, take a quick look at your top terms to see how fast the top ten sites are loading relative to yours. If you’re twice as slow and you don’t rank in the top ten, you should fix that. If you’re faster than everyone and you don’t rank in the top ten, you’ve got a different set of problems. Keep building those links, building your brand and improving user experience. Puppies and kittens will eventually rain down from the clouds.

[OutspokenMedia]

How to Optimise Blog Post Titles

How many times have you visited one of the many “professional” blog advice sites, and left with little more advice than the ubiquitous (and unhelpful) “build great content?”

If building a great blog was as simple as writing quality posts, we’d all be tied for number one on the Technorati Top 100 blog list. I’m not about to start my own ProBloggingPilgrim.com web site, but I did want to start sharing tips that I’ve personally found valuable when building the traffic to Sitemaster.

It’s possible that these tips have been shared before–perhaps they were lost among all of the “great content” on the web–but I’m pretty sure these will be fresh ideas. I initially thought I could fit half a dozen tips in a single blog post, but as I started writing, I realized that each tip easily fills a single post. So instead, I’ll start with Tip #1 and see what you think. Leave a comment if you’d like to see more tips in the future.

Tip 1: Your Blog Post Titles Have Two Audiences

You’ve no doubt read that you need to make your blog post titles “search engine friendly,” but doing so often kills the creativity and initial appeal of your writing. Instead of trying to appeal to your loyal readers and Google at the outset, approach the two difference audiences in separate stages.

Stage One – Your initial blog readers

Your initial audience is likely going to be those that have already subscribed to your blog’s RSS feed–or happen to check your blog every day. They want to be thrilled, excited, and given a reason to not only read your post, but also share and link to it.

When you first publish your blog post, follow this advice:

  • Make your post title interesting – it could be that you ask a question, share a scoop, or offer a cryptic title that peeks your reader’s curiosity. I’ll often use a blog title that sounds like a scandal/scoop, but is really just a question. For example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” I ran that headline last year–before Microsoft made its bid. It generated a lot of traffic then and even more so now.
  • Keep it short and sweet – if you make your initial post title too long, you run the risk that you’ll either confuse a reader or give them so much information, tthere’s no need to read the post itself. Back to my example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” leaves a lot of unanswered questions that just beg the reader to click through to view the entire post. If I had used “Rumors that Microsoft May Buy Yahoo, but No Confirmation Yet,” how many of you would have clicked through to read the entire post? Not many.
  • Appeal to keyword scanners – When you read posts in your RSS reader, do you sometimes scan the titles looking for keywords that you know will interest you? Apple, Google, Wii, and Blue-Ray are all examples of keywords that might appeal to your specific audience. This is not the same as keywords for SEO–that comes later–at this stage, you’re simply looking to include words that will make your post stand out to your readers. Use popular keywords in your post titles and your post will have a greater chance of standing out among all of the other posts in your reader’s RSS aggregator.

In stage one, your goal is to appeal to the initial readers that will likely view the post on the day that you publish it. But what happens after your post is relegated to the archives? It’s unlikely someone will spend hours just wondering through your archived posts. Instead, they’ll likely discover your “great content” via one of the search engines. OK, only one search engine: Google.

With this in mind, you need to massage your post’s title so that it can go to work for you in Google’s search results.

Stage Two – Your Google readers

That cryptic, enticing post title you used to attract your initial readers isn’t going to cut-it when it comes to attracting Google search engine users. Sure, you want your post title to entice a click from the SERP (search engine results page) but if your post is sitting on page 10–and not page 1–it doesn’t matter how engaging your post title. In stage two, you need to give your post title the Google-juice it needs to make the first SERP.

  • Add keywords to your title – you should have already included a relevant keyword that appeals to the human “keyword scanners.” Now that it’s Googleblot scanning your post title, it’s time to pump-up your keyword count. Now, don’t go overboard and add half a dozen keywords to your post titles–you want the title to remain targeted and enticing–but you should look for opportunities to include additional keywords. Compare this before, and after post title. Before: “Ten Ways to Avoid a Google Reputation Management Nightmare.” After: “Ten Ways to Fix Your Google Reputation & Remove Negative Results.” Both are engaging, both convey the same meaning. Yet, the revised title removes keywords that are not likely to be Googled such as “avoid” and “nightmare,” while adding keywords that are searched often, such as “fix” and “remove negative results.”
  • Change the word order – I always try to take into consideration my potential Google ranking, when writing my post titles. However, there are many times when I see my post sitting at #11 on Google, because the word order I used–while appealing to my initial audience–isn’t doing me any favors in the SERPs. So, like a good optimizer, I go back and change the word order so that the beneficial keywords are closer to the beginning of the title (which is where Google prefers to see them). Here’s a before: “26 Free Tools for Buzz Monitoring.” And after: “Buzz Monitoring: 26 Free Buzz Tracking Tools.” (Notice I also added the keyword “buzz tracking” to the title).
  • Optimize your TITLE – When you first publish your blog posts, you’ll likely want your TITLE (aka title tag) to match your actual post title. Once you start focusing on your Google audience, it might make sense to tweak your page TITLE so that it’s even more optimized than your post title (side note: most blog software will simply match your page TITLE to your post title). If you’re using WordPress, consider installing the SEO Title Tag plugin to do just that! I don’t use it on Marketing Pilgrim, but on other blogs, I’ve found it a great way to further optimize my TITLE–which is what is displayed in Google’s SERP.
  • Don’t play with slugs – I’ll write more on the topic of page “slugs” (aka permalinks) but I’d be negligent if I didn’t warn here that, while you should change your post title, changing the actual page slug is to be avoided.

I hope you’ll find the above tactics to be fruitful in your quest to increase both initial, and Google-referred, visitors to your blog. I’ve got plenty more tips I can share, so let me know what you think and if you’d like to read more blog promotion tips.

[marketingpilgrim]

New Advertising Platform for Twitter

We’ve all wondered, since its inception, how and when Twitter would make money.  The answer comes tomorrow.  Twitter will be releasing its new advertising platform, consisting of promoted tweets.

TechCrunch started the rumor mill, which has since been confirmed as true.  Look for promoted tweets to start appearing in Twitter search results on Tuesday, with a slowly-but-surely rollout style into your main feed soon after.

Advertising Age is reporting some more depth on the story, and gives us a look into the thought processes behind the sponsored tweets as well.

Users will be able to re-tweet the advertisement, which will be found at the top of the search results page.  In case you’re wondering, yes, the ads will be very akin to Google AdWords.  Ads will appear based upon search keywords, but the interactive model should prove interesting, as an even more immediate feedback model is available with Twitter.

Starbucks, Bravo and Virgin America will start the sponsored tweets campaign.  These companies are a perfect fit, according to Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo.  When you take a company that is already active in conversation over Twitter, the sponsored tweets idea is a logical step.

Twitter is claiming to be taking its time with the new model.  There is no profit goal set for the first year, but rather the focus is on the user experience.  Ads will be sold on a CPM basis, but the company is already looking at a performance-based pricing strategy as well.

It will be interesting to see whether Twitter is able to keep the user experience the same, while still promoting a rollout of a product this large.  Our bet is on some pushback from the Twittersphere, but the end result looks promising.

What are your thoughts?  How likely are  you to jump into conversation about or the retweeting of an advertisement?

[Techcrunch}