A Checklist of Things to Do Before Publishing a Post

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Bloggers, online publishers and writers tend to be a quite trigger-happy when it comes to hitting that publish button, especially after having written a long blog post. And why wouldn’t they be: when you’re done completing a kickass article, you wasn’t to hit the publish button as soon as possible, so that your awesome post can be indexed by search engines as soon as possible, and be seen and read by a large group of people.

However it is important to stop, take a step back, and perhaps take a moment or two to quickly analyze your post one more time, taking a few things into consideration before clicking that publish button.

Not only is this important from an SEO perspective, doing so – i.e. spending a few minutes to fine-tune and/or tweak some of the elements of your post could enhance its quality tenfold, and turn it from a great post into an awesome masterpiece that kicks some serious blogging ass!

Things to do before publishing your next blog post:

1. Format the text

Make sure that your copy is broken down into small, easily-digestible pieces, instead of a large wall of text that is simply unreadable, incomprehensible and/or simply illegible. Instead, use short sentences, and short paragraphs, and if need be, make sure that you split different points into bullets.

2. Add meta information

Meta tags, or specifically, the meta headline (the H1 tag) and the meta description are important tags from a SEO perspective. These tags (or more specifically, the inclusion of keywords in these tags) allow search engines to index your posts in a better manner, and it is these tags that show up in the SERP as well – making them all the more essential.

3. Check for no-follow/do-follow on links

Add external and internal links for no/do-follow, as per your linking policy. Check if your internal links are being no-followed, they should always be do-follow as they help keep link-juice within the blog. As far as external links are concerned, it all depends on your linking policy. Properly attributed links can have a positive effect on your SEO.

4. Check for properly-filled image attributes

SEO best-practices  dictate that it is essential to properly fill out all image attributes, including the title, description and most importantly, the ALT attribute for all images. ALT attributes serve the same purpose as the meta information, they help search engines ‘look’ at your images, and index them for the right keywords properly.

5. Check for any errors in your copy

Pretty self-explanatory, and perhaps one of the things that a lot of bloggers tend to overlook: checking their copy for any errors. This includes spelling mistakes, grammatical errors as well as factual errors. An error-strewn article or post will not only reflect badly on your blog as well as the bloggers, you cannot expect to get a lot of direct traffic/returning visitors if your posts are, well- poorly written, can you?

6. Call-to-action

A call-to-action, or a CTA, asks your readers to take an action, and brings attention to this particular action (hence the name call to action). This ‘action’ could be anything: subscribing to your mailing list or RSS, buying a product or a service, posting a comment on the article, giving them links to other similar/relevant articles on your blog, or something else. Whatever your CTA might be, it is important to add it to the end of the blog, as it will bring more attention to it. For instance I tend to leave a line at the end of each post, inviting people to leave their comments.

7. Write a catchy headline

I believe this deserves its own separate point. Change that generic headline you wrote the first time around, and replace it with something that is catchier, attention-grabbing, and attractive. Headlines that actually MAKE people want to click on your links. Headlines that garner a positive reaction from anyone who comes across it. So try adding some spice to that headline by completely rewriting it. Remember that standard rules apply: add keywords, and keep it short.

8. Proofread

Last step (yes, we’re almost there!), but the most important one. Proofread the article once more. It is always a good idea to be a little late in publishing the article, rather than putting up an article that is filled with errors and mistakes. If you need to add something, now would be a good time to do so. If there’s any irrelevant information in the copy, simply delete it.

Conclusion

Hit the publish button once you’re done with everything that’s been mentioned here.

What did you think about the points that have been mentioned here? Leave me a comment with your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tips and Tricks for Blogging Success

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Of course you want to be a successful blogger, who wouldn’t want to be more successful with blogging, right? Here are a few tips and tricks that will ensure that you do just that. Think of this as a blogging ‘best practices’ guide for 2013 for any and all bloggers out there!

1. Produce good content. ‘Good’ in this case refers to content that is relevant and valuable to your niche and your readers, as well as being original, well-thought-out and though-provoking, not copied and not plagiarized, and content that provides information and value to the readers in that niche. Add variety to your content by writing about different topics in your niche, breaking news, analysis, case studies, doing interviews, etc. And be sure to add multimedia, such as images and videos wherever required.

2. Stay away from blackhat ways of getting traffic. Google continues to make life more and more hard for people looking for shortcuts and easy ways of getting more traffic, especially those who choose to do it illegally, using blackhat methods of SEO, and understandably so. The question that you need to ask, before getting yourself involved in shady or illegal SEO practices is this: is it really worth the risk of getting your website/blog banned for good, and wouldn’t your time be better spent doing things the right way?

3. Develop a blogging schedule. I used to struggle with creating content and writing regularly, and one of the things that really turned it all around me – something which is so simple and often times, right in front of us – was to develop a blogging schedule. You can choose to do it digitally – as there are tons of plugins and apps available for WordPress, Windows/Mac as well as smartphones. A blogging schedule will allow you to plan your days, weeks and months well in advance and keep track of and take care of any and all activities related to your blogs, such as writing, guest posting, commenting, link-building, etc.

4. Develop relationships with your readers. Blogging is a two-way road, where you say something and expect feedback from people, which is why fostering strong networks and relationships with readers is important. One of the biggest benchmarks of measuring the success of a blog is the amount of people that it successfully engages – if your blog gets a ton of thoughtful, positive comments that add to the post/topic/conversation, it is generally considered to be a very good sign. Similarly,

5. Develop with other bloggers online, especially the ones in your niche. Like point # 4 above, this is important, as networking and connecting with other bloggers – especially other authority bloggers in your  niche – can be quite beneficial. For starters, simply speaking to these bloggers can be of immense help, as they might show you the ropes in a niche that is unfamiliar to you. It could also open the door for guest-blogging opportunities, as well as other link-exchange/building opportunities for you. Try connecting with these bloggers via Facebook, Twitter, of through email.

6. Give your blog the best possible design. Without being overly flashy or too excessive with the design, use something that is elegant and looks classy. Good design complements good content, and you cannot be successful without either; a website with good content but a horrible font and an eye-stinging background color will only force visitors to leave. I recommend using WordPress, and a good theme that is suitable for your blog’s content and its subject matter. Minimalistic is always good; less is more! Consider paying a designer to design your blog according to your specific needs and requirements.

7. Social media is and will be one of the most essential things related to blogging this year! Web 2.0 took the world over by storm and social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, to name just a few, have seen massive growth in user-base as well as traffic. Therefore, it has become vital to have a strong presence on these social mediums, particularly those which are relevant and hence the most profitable for your niche and to your blog. Build your fans and followers on these networks, share external content, share your own content – above all, share valuable content. Allow your readers to ‘like’ and share your content through your website.

8. Format and check your content. Formatting your content by breaking it up into digestible chunks, making important sentences bold, and using bullets or numbering, for instance, will make it much more easier to digest. Most people are more likely to skim through your content, rather than reading every word. So give them visual cues so that they can get to the information that is relevant to them easily. At the end, when you’re done writing one of your best posts of all time, don’t forget to check the copy for grammatical and/or factual errors.

9. Add a bio-box to all posts at the end. Or the beginning, your call. A box with your bio – which includes a picture, and a few lines about yourself, such as what you do, where you work and your interests maybe, to add a bit of personal touch. Doing so helps your readers connect with you on a personal level.

10. Encourage comments on your blog. Like I said before, successful blogging is a 2-way street: you write, and you expect feedback on it. Encourage comments and feedback on your blog, and make it as easy, simple and straightforward for anyone who wants to post a comment on your blog. WordPress already comes with a pretty great comments system, however you can enhance its functionality by using plugins such as CommentLuv, or my personal favorite, Disqus on your blog.

11. Have a mobile-friendly version of your blog/website in place. Mobile/cellular traffic and multiplied in the last couple of years or so, especially with the advent and the popularity of tablets and smartphones – iPhones, iPads, iOS-based devices, Android-devices etc. All of which means that more and more people are consuming content on portable devices rather than full-screen laptops/desktops. If you have a WordPress blog, make sure that your theme is mobile-friendly, or use something like the WPtouch plugin (free!) for this purpose.

Over to You?

Thoughts? Did I miss something out? Want to add something to this? Leave me your comment in the comments below!

Best WordPress Plugins for 2013

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2013: new year, new beginnings, new possibilities, and as far as this article goes, new WordPress plugins to look forward!

Plugins is one of the reason why WordPress has been my CMS-of-choice since a good part of the last decade or so. The beauty of the WordPress platform is that you have a vast array of powerful plugins to choose from – in fact, the WordPress.org library alone has more than 23,000 plugins now (wow!) and counting.

And that’s not all, there’s probably a library of WordPress plugins on the internet that’s twice as large as this one (as a quick Google search will reveal), and even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can easily get a developer to custom-build a WordPress plugin for you!

There’s a large variety of different plugins on WordPress – some allow you to enhance the functionality of your blog, some add certain important elements to it, others allow you to make your blog more secure, while some also allow you to change your blog’s looks and appearance.

They essentially allow you to do almost anything you want.

Here’s a list of the some of the best WordPress plugins that I think all blogs and bloggers should use with their WordPress blogs in 2013:

1. WP Login Security 2: Let’s start off with a security plugin, shall we. The WP Login Security 2 plugin adds an extra layer of security to your blog’s login process, kind of like Gmail’s 2-step verification process. The plugin keeps a track of the IP addresses used by the registered admin(s) on the blog. If an admin tries to login with an unknown IP, an email is sent to his/her registered ID, and the login process is blocked until that activation link is clicked. Pretty simple, and effective, right?

2. WordPress SEO by Yoast: For any WordPress blog – or any blog for that matter – SEO remains an essential cog in the wheel. Without SEO, you might as well stop whatever you’re doing, close down shop and hang your boots, because you simply cannot expect to get any traffic without proper search engine optimization. That’s where WordPress SEO by Yoast comes in. Even if you know nothing about SEO, and the mere thought of the word scares you, this is the WordPress you need to have on your blog! The plugin will take care of all SEO elements for your WordPress blog on autopilot, with minimal involvement on your part.

3. Scribe: As we’ve discussed plenty of times on this blog, and as you might know yourself as well, content is king. Content is universally accepted to be the single-most important thing on your blog, and that’s where Scribe SEO comes in! Scribe allows you to optimize your content for more traffic and better search engine rankings. And it does this through 3 simple steps: (a) research – through suggesting profitable topics and keywords, good semantics, and what people are talking about, (b) Optimization – where the service optimizes your content and suggest tweaks aimed at better rankings, and finally (c) Connect – which is an all-in-one place for building backlinks. Check it out, plans start from $97-a-month.

4. ViperBar: ViperBar is very similar to the uber-famous HelloBar WordPress plugin, and while the latter is the market leader in this particular category, my choice is ViperBar. What this FREE plugin does is that it adds a horizontal bar on top of your WordPress plugin, which can be used for opt-ins, or simply to display important information. It is extremely easy to set up, comes with a powerful backend/dashboard-module that has more features than HelloBar, provides (realtime) conversion analytics, split-testing, plus many other features for exactly $0! Yes, unlike the HelloBar, the ViperBar is free to use.

5. Slide: SimpleReach’s plugin called The Slide is an awesome little plugin for increasing the page views on your website. In simple terms, what it does is that it provides the readers on your website with related content while they are scrolling through it. It does so by indexing all the posts on your blog (only upon initial run), and serve a list of related posts from within your website to readers – this is done through a slide-out box, that pops-out and shows a list of related posts. This increases the engagement on your blog, and keeps your visitors on the blog, instantly improving the many stats in your Analytics. Popular blogs such as NYTimes use a similar plugin, and the fact that you get similar functionality for free is pretty great!

6. Jetpack: Jetpack is pretty awesome, and it’s awesomeness is only compounded by the fact that it comes pre-installed with all self-hosted WordPress blogs! It provides WordPress users with a bunch of features, a pretty long list actually, which includes website stats in an easy-to-read manner, a comments plugin which allows users to post comments through their social profiles, email subscription plugin, contact form, sharing option, a Deadline Proofreading service, a shortlinks service, a plethora of excellent sidebar widgets, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The best part? Everything listed under the JetPack umbrella is absolutely free! Simply, a must-have if you’re on WordPress.

7. Editorial Calendar: A Godsend if you’re running a multi-author blog on WordPress, Editorial Calendar makes it easy to stay on schedule and making sure that your team (if you have one) does so too. Basically, Editorial Calendar window allows you to manage your posts from one window, especially your scheduled posts by providing you with a complete overview of your blog and its posts. You can also move posts around from this window through drag-and-drop, and virtually manage your entire blog from this window. This makes scheduling articles an absolute breeze, and you can keep an eye on which post goes up when. If you’re like me, you probably like to sit down and write a couple of posts (or more) in one go, and put them on schedule, where this plugin will be quite useful. In addition, multi-author blogs will also find it easy to manage posts using the plugin.

Writing Content for SEO

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Content is perhaps the most essential and integral part of an SEO campaign, there’s no two ways about that! From a blogger or any website owner for that matter, content can be the difference between success and failure. Produce good, ‘quality’ content on a regular basis, and you’ll become a successful blogger with the passage of time.

But the question is, what exactly is ‘quality’ content?

There are plenty of ways to define what ‘quality’ content stands for, and one of these is ‘optimized content’. Any written words, text basically, that you put on the internet, needs to be optimized before it goes on the internet.

By producing quality content and optimizing it for SEO, you can get organic traffic to your blog, as well as improve your overall ranking and your position in the SERPs. Here are some content writing best-practices for bloggers and website owners:

1. Integrate important and relevant keywords

Keywords are essential elements of SEO-optimized content. Usage of certain relevant keywords in your copy allows search engines to properly index it, and determine its ranking in the SERP. But how do you determine which keywords are relevant to you? The answer: through a simple process called keyword research.

It is necessary to integrate keywords in your copy, as well as other parts of your page, such as headings/header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc tags), in the Title Tag, the content (aka. Body), in outbound links, as well as in image ALT attributes.

Refrain from keyword stuffing at all cost though, it is considered to be a blackhat SEO practice and will most certainly land you in trouble with Google.

2. Look at how you structure your content

The way your content and your copy is structured actually matters a lot, both for search engines as well as for human readers.

For starters, always give preference to quality rather than quantity. Word limits are irrelevant, if it takes 200 words or 2000 words to explain something, so be it.

Make your content easily digestible by (a) using short paragraphs, so that readers who might be looking for something specific and skim through it easily, and (b) using images, pictures, infographics, graphs, tables, charts and the like in your copy.

Use heading to break up the content into smaller chunks.

And finally, make sure that you always proof-read your content before hitting that publish button. Check for factual accuracy, as well as any grammatical and spelling errors. Articles with too many typos, spelling mistakes or a simply poorly-written article will surely turn off your readers.

3. Content is King!

I know, you have probably heard this phrase many times before, but the fact remains that content IS the king! Google urges bloggers and webmaster to make producing quality content their top-most priority, and for good reason.

Whenever you look something up in Google, the results served usually contain the best and the most relevant content to your search terms. After Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, the search engine giant made it a priority to push down (or completely de-index) low-quality websites, while putting websites producing the most valuable content on the top of the SERP.

Which means that if you want to rank well on Google for your keywords, you need to be putting up good content.

‘Good content’ or ‘quality content’ usually refers to content that is:

(a)    unique and uncopied/fresh

(b)   is coherent, legible and well-written

(c)    is checked for grammatical and factual errors

(d)   is relevant to the subject of the blog

Uniqueness and relevance is essential. In some niches, it might not be easy to be the first one to break news, such as industry news or events. Copying content is still strictly forbidden, however what you could do is use the same article and write it giving it your own spin. You could look for a new angle, go against what the article says, state your opinion – but no matter what you choose, it is essential to stay on topic.

4. Make your content link-worthy

One of the best ways of producing quality content is to make it link-worthy. This means producing content that is so good, people actually want to link to it, earning you natural backlinks in the process.

You can produce link-worthy content through various ways, such as by being the first in your industry to break news, putting something up that is current, putting content up that is highly informative and resourceful, presenting content that is already present in a different, more digestible form (such as graphs and infographics), putting up controversial content or content that differs from the opinion of the masses, posting funny or humorous content, and so on and so forth.

When it comes to content, having a Unique Selling Proposition or a USP is essential. If you’re giving people in your niche something unique, it gives you a higher chance of getting backlinks.

5. Headlines are important too!

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good headline.

It is the first thing your visitors see when they land on your website – and given the fact that a visitor decides whether he wants to stick around on your blog or not within a few seconds of landing on your page, your headlines actually play an essential role in convincing them to do so.

And that’s not all, the headline or the H1 tag of the page also appears in the SERPs, and helps the person using the search engine decide whether to click on the link to your website or not.

Write interesting, catchy headlines (instead of generic ones) for obvious reasons, but make sure that they are relevant to the article.

Conclusion

It’s hardly a surprise that a lot of the elements that make up good SEO content involve how and what you write. If you’ve got something to add to this, or if you think I missed something, feel free to leave me a comment in the comments section below.

Best Sources of Traffic 2013

kevryan86

First off, a Happy New Year to everyone of you reading this!

2012 was a real roller coaster of a ride, right? From the perspective of internet marketing and SEO, a lot took place, a lot changed, a lot happened, and if 2012 is anything to go by, plenty will continue to happen this year as well.

I won’t get into lengthy introductions for this; instead, let’s get straight to the point. Here are some of the best traffic sources for website owners and bloggers for 2013:

1. Blog Commenting:

Blog commenting was one of the best ways to get backlinks and generate traffic in 2012, and will remain so this year as well.

If done right – by choosing the right blog in your niche to comment on, preferably a reputable blog with a high PR and posting a valuable comment there.

Above all, look at blog commenting’s advantages beyond the obvious link-building: it provides you with exposure, and can help build you build authority if you leave good comments on blogs.

Moreover, comments can put the word out about you, as an individual, as well as your blog. One great comment could put you on the radar of an authority blogger and could open the world of guest-blogging opportunities for you as well.

Most authority blogs encourage feedback on their posts and articles; in fact, some of the best blogs out there not only encourage comments, some even offer you a do-follow backlink to your blog with each comment (look for blogs using the CommentLuv plugin).

2. Social Media

Social networking websites strengthened their grip in 2012, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter building a large user-base and in the process, providing internet marketers with a great platform to generate traffic and build backlinks.

Facebook now has over 1 billion users – or 1 in every 7 people in the world! The likes of Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and of course, Google Plus have impressive numbers as well, and continue to grow at a rapid pace, Pinterest in particular.

Safe to say, these social networking websites are now much more than just places where people, well, waste time when they’re supposed to be working or doing something else! These websites are great places to get the word out, get backlinks and generate traffic.

3. Video

Video marketing for traffic generation isn’t a new idea by any means, but it seems to have taken off recently. You might be surprised to know that Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world, after you-know-who! In addition, well-known stats also suggest that videos generate a large amount of web traffic as well. This makes the importance of video marketing abundantly clear!

I especially recommend video marketing for affiliate marketers. Text and written words are good, but why not make product videos as well.

You don’t even need expensive equipment to make videos – for starters, you could use your iPhone camera to shoot or even your laptop’s webcam, but yes, you will need to invest in decent audio and video equipment eventually in order to create professional videos. All that is then needed is a decent video editing software and some editing skills.

Videos can be a great way of traffic generation; you can put up a single video on many video sharing websites such as Youtube, Metacafe, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. Doing so gets you backlinks for all these authority sources, as well as allows you to generate traffic from every single one of these website through a single video!

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing and list-building used to be considered as one of the best ways of generating targeted traffic not-so-long-ago, but thanks to improved spam filters, it seems to have taken a backseat.

However I feel that it was, is and will remain a fantastic way of generating targeted traffic, which is why I would recommend bloggers and webmasters to concentrate their efforts into email marketing and list building in 2013.

Great email marketing campaigns can drive a ton of traffic to your blog, and yield some excellent conversion rates as well. Remember that anyone who voluntarily gives you his or her email is actually interested in what you’re offering, and hence wants to hear from you. Use this to your advantage.

Put up an email subscription box on your website, preferably in the sidebar, and give your readers an incentive to give you their email ID/sign up for your mailing list. A good, strong mailing list is one of the most powerful tools in an internet marketer’s arsenal!

5. Organic (Search Engine) Traffic

Search engines account for the largest amount of traffic that is generated on the internet, and will continue to do so in 2013. Google, in particular is the market leader in the search engine industry, driving almost around 60% of all traffic on the internet!

If your blog or website is able to rank well on Google – especially for competitive and valuable keywords, it will bring a large amount of high-quality traffic for you.

That’s where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes in! A properly optimized website and well-optimized content will allow you to rank well on the search engines. Think of a well-optimized website as well-oiled machinery; it all allows you to rank higher up the SERP, and consequently get traffic from search engines.

The Google Webmaster Tools presents website owners and bloggers with a handy list of best practices and things-to-avoid when it comes to SEO, it is essential to go through this document at least once, and keep referring to it from time to time, as Google has a habit of changing things up every now and then.

However there are a lot of things Google doesn’t tell you, as far as SEO goes. For that, I recommend extensive reading on the internet (plenty of resources out there, try ProBlogger and the SEOMoz blog), or alternatively, outsource your SEO to someone else.

Landing Page Optimization

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Landing pages are important because, well, it’s the page where visitors land on your website. It is the first part of your website that a visitor sees, and hence it is the first point of interaction a visitor has with a website. Which makes it the single-most important part of your website, to put it mildly!

A landing page usually appears when a visitor comes to your website from an external source – such as an advertisement, through the search engine results (SERP), or an external backlink on another website or blog (including social networking websites), for instance.

I spoke about conversions in my last blog post, and landing pages are closely associated with conversions and conversion rate. Generally speaking, the goal, aim and purpose of any landing page is to conversions – i.e. converting site visitors into leads. This is exactly why it is essential to optimize any webpage for maximum conversions – which is also known as LPO or Landing Page Optimization. But how exactly can you go about doing that?

Before we begin, I’d like you to have a look at some of these great landing page designs, courtesy Unbounce.com. Try going through each one of them and try to identify why each of these are on the list and what makes them tick.

Right, so here’s my version of a 101 on ‘creating successful landing pages’:

1. Minimalist is the way to go! Do not overwhelm your visitors with too much information or a snazzy, over-the-top landing page. First impressions last, and it is extremely important to get first impressions right! Use a combination of graphics, and a little bit of text on your landing page, and keep the colors light and easy-on-the-eyes. The Dropbox home page is an excellent example of this.

2. Tell visitors where they are. When visitors travel from one part of the internet ( a link in an email, a website/blog, on Facebook, or from the SERP) to another (your landing page), they should know where they are. Add a ‘Welcome to ___’ on top of your landing page or a website logo, so that your visitors know if they’ve landed on the right page or not. In addition, add breadcrumb navigation on your website, or put the same offer on top of the page that was present on the link which brought people to your page.

3. A clear CTA is essential. Once your visitors know where they are, it is only logical to tell them where to go/what to do, right? For this, have one (or multiple) crystal-clear CTAs. Your CTA should ideally be the most prominent thing on your landing page, something that immediately grabs the attention of the visitor, and prompts them into taking an action. You could try giving it a bright color that is different from the rest of the page, and make it bigger than the rest of the elements on the page. In fact, I suggest offering multiple CTAs, above-the-fold (more on this in a bit), at the end of the copy, heck, even throw one in the sidebar that is visible at all times.

4. Eliminate any and all escape routes! This is essential, as the whole purpose of a landing page is conversions. Landing pages that distract users from clicking on/responding to the CTA, or the opportunity get side-tracked defeats the whole purpose of the landing page. For this purpose…

5. The layout is important. This point is actually quite closely related to point no. 1. I suggest keeping the design of your landing page completely different from the rest of your blog, and removing navigational elements such as the navbar and the sidebar so that there are absolutely no distractions. There’s no need to keep the design of your landing page exactly the same as the rest of your website. And speaking of design, I personally love landing pages which have a clear CTA, and make use of images and graphics along with short lines of explanatory text. The SEOMoz landing page is a good example of this.

6. Keep all important information and the CTA above-the-fold. The list of features, the CTA… all the essentials should be present above the fold, so that when a visitor lands on your website, he or she shouldn’t have to scroll down the page in order to get any essential information, or to download/buy/get/click on the CTA. And speaking of essentials…

7. Provide all essential information right on the landing page, using as less words as possible, and keeping a good balance between text and graphics. Look at some of the landing pages listed in the link I posted earlier, it should give you an idea of what exactly I mean here.

8. Test multiple landing page designs. Do a bit of A/B testing with various landing page designs to see which one yields the best conversion rates. Yes, you will have to go through a bit of trouble to set up more than one landing page, however I cannot stress the importance of doing this. Even if your conversion rate is at acceptable levels, you might get a better conversion rate by simply trying different headers, moving your CTA in the center and accompanied with a video that demonstrates the product features, adding more graphics, and so on. The only way to find out what works best is to experiment.

Comments are most welcome! 

How to Improve Conversions

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Having a bunch of visitors, or a large group of readers on your blog is great, but what good is it if these visitors do nothing on you blog, or in other words, don’t take the actions that you might want them to on your blog?

And that is what conversion rate refers to. A ‘conversion’ can be defined as an action that someone – a visitor on your website or blog – takes during the time he or she remains on your website. This action is usually something other than view or read the content of the website – such as buy a product on your website by clicking on the checkout button, subscribe to your mailing list, follow you on Twitter, and/or download your eBook, WordPress theme or plugin. It depend on the kind of website or blog that you have, for instance an online retailer or an ecommerce website would take successful conversions as the number of successful sales or the number of people who clicked on the checkout or buy now button.

Conversions are measured through looking at conversion rate. Wikipedia defines this as the number of goals achieved or actions taken by visitors divided by the number of total visits on your blog, which gives you a successful conversion rate for your blog. You can read more about it on the Wikipedia page.

Conversion rate can be measured by setting it up in Google Analytics. For this purpose, go to Google Analytics, navigate to Conversions in the left-hand bar and begin by setting up goals (all the explanation has been provided by Google).

So it is clear that your website’s conversion rate is quite important, and often times, it is much easier and much more efficient to simply work towards increasing your website’s conversion rate, rather than trying to double or triple your traffic, as most IM’ers and SEO’s tend to suggest. In fact it is advisable to look into how you can increase conversion, rather than get more traffic. Because often times, even a large amount of traffic may not give you a good conversion, which means that traffic is pretty much useless to you, and nothing more than just mere numbers.

The question, then, is what you can do to improve the conversion rate of your blog? I’m glad you asked!

1. Develop a connection

One of the best ways of improving your conversion is to actually trying to establishing a genuine connection with your visitors. Try being honest and candid with your visitors, and add a personal touch to your website wherever possible, such as a picture and a little something about you – but this depends on the nature (and the niche) of your blog. If you connect with your visitors, they’ll trust you, and would be more inclined to take the action that you want them to take. Trust can be built using various trust signals, such as the ones mentioned above – providing live chat, a physical address and a telephone number, a detailed about page with pictures of the team, privacy and shipping policies, testimonials and guarantees, etc.

2. Look at the interface and the design of your website

Look at your website or blog’s interface; it might be time for a much-needed overhaul. The objective here is to make the interface or the appearance of your website as attractive as possible, while making the life of a visitor easy. A functional interface, which is accessible as well, will make it easy for people to take the action that you want to. That is essentially what makes up a ‘well-designed’ website. For instance if it’s an ecommerce website, make it as easy and simple for people to buy stuff. Add a powerful nav-bar on the top that puts different parts of your website within easy reach.

3. Offer more value to visitors

If you want people to take an action on your website, you need to give them a good reason to do so. People who usually take an action on your website – any action – do so because they like what they see and actually want to take that action. Let me illustrate this through an example: if a visitor finds the information on your website valuable, he will be inclined to subscribe to your mailing list or like your Facebook page in order to be informed about updates. Similarly, if you’re offering a 30% discount on your products, people will want to take an action. In both cases, you gave them a good reason to take an action.

4. Work on getting targeted traffic

More traffic is great, or is it? What you should work on is getting highly-targeted traffic (laser-targeted, as its widely referred to, at times) on your blog, rather than just ‘traffic’. Targeted traffic consists of visitors and readers who are highly interested in the content of your blog and what it has to offer. It is these visitors who will give you the best conversion rate, since they are – yes, you’ve guessed it right – interested in the content of your blog. For instance if you run a health and fitness blog, and you have ads to fitness products on your blog, people interested in this niche will be more inclined to click on these ads as well.

5. Don’t ask for too much information

Often times, websites end up asking for way too much information than what is actually needed. If you think about it, the only one bit of information needed when signing up somewhere is an email ID, nothing more! The rest – namely first/last names and the like can always be asked for later. Whatever a ‘conversion’ may be for your blog, refrain from making the mistake of asking your visitors to fill out long forms or simply asking for any more information than is needed. For instance, don’t ask for phone numbers for someone to download your eBook, and don’t force customers to create an account even before they make a purchase; you can ask them to do that during the payment process.

6. Make your CTA as clear as possible

A CTA is short for Call To Action – it refers to an element on your website that prompts a reader or visitor to take an action. It could be anything – from the ‘Buy Now’ button, or the ‘Download Now’ button, or the ‘Subscribe’ button. A CTA needs to be optimized for maximum conversions: it should be very visible at all times, above-the-fold, and the most prominent thing on your page, something that grabs the attention of your visitors. In addition, you could also use buzzwords that grab attention and prompt users to take a quick action, such as Last Chance, or Sale Ends in 12 Hours!, Buy Today and Save, etc.

Over to You

What suggestions do you have for improving conversions rate? If you’re a website owner or a blogger, what have you done to improve conversions on your webpage? Leave us your comments below!

Facebook EdgeRank 101

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What is EdgeRank

The website What Is EdgeRank defines it as an algorithm, developed by Facebook, which dictates or governs what content is displayed and how high it is displayed in the News Feed.

There is a lot of information available on Facebook, which is displayed using your news feed. What EdgeRank does, in simple terms, is determine which of your connections are important to you – hence determining what content appears on your feed – as well as the order in which this content appears.

The algorithm’s name is derived from ‘edge’ – which essentially refers to anything and everything that happens on Facebook. Examples of ‘edges’ on Facebook would include things like status updates, comments, shares and likes, to name just a few.

In a nutshell, any action that happens within Facebook is an ‘edge’!

So what the EdgeRank algorithm does is it ranks these actions or edges in the Facebook News Feed. The algorithm looks at all of the edges that are connected to a single user, then ranks each edge based on its importance to the user – which means that objects with the highest EdgeRank will go to the top of the user’s Feed.

From purely a user’s perspective, EdgeRank is essentially why they keep coming back on Facebook; EdgeRank makes sure that it serves content that will be of interest to them. It filters out the garbage and puts content that will actually be relevant to you.

Affinity, Weight and Time Decay

In order to understand how exactly EdgeRank functions, it is essential to know what these 3 terms – namely Affinity, Weight and Time Decay mean. All 3 of these are essential components of the algorithm, and hence have a direct bearing on it. Let’s have a look at each of these, one-by-one:

1. Affinity: Affinity could be referred to as the relationship between a user and the edge. Think of it as the relationship between a brand and one of its fans, for instance; affinity is built by repeat interactions by the fan with the brand’s edges. So if, for example, you click on, like, comment and/or share a particular brand’s posts and updates, it will influence its affinity.

2. Edge Weight: Call Weight a ‘value system’ that has been designed to increase or decrease the value of certain actions (Edges) on Facebook. Confused? Consider this example: Facebook gives more weight to a ‘comment’ than it does to a ‘like’ – which means that a comment is more valuable and hence would have a higher value (or more weight) than a like (mostly because posting/leaving a comment is more ‘involved’ than simply clicking the like button). So in a nutshell, all edges are given a value (or carry a certain weight) on Facebook, some more than others. It is generally accepted that the higher the time it takes to accomplish an Edge, the more it’s Weight.

3. Time Decay or Recency: This is fairly self-explanatory, right? Well, kind of. Time Decay measures the worth of an edge in relation to its age; it simply refers to how long a certain edge has been alive – the older it is, the less valuable it becomes. Any edge’s value can be calculated using the formula 1/(Time Since Action). With the passage of time, as any edge gets older, it become less and less valuable. This is why you see fresh content, and new updates on your timeline whenever you log into your Facebook account.

Importance of EdgeRank

By now, it is quite clear that EdgeRank is what ultimately determines what appears in the user’s news feeds, and the order of posts visible in the feed.

EdgeRank is perhaps one of the most important algorithms in the world of marketing today.

For brands, organizations, businesses and companies, EdgeRank is important because a high EdgeRank would put their content across to a large amount of people, and vice versa. A high EdgeRank would also mean that a brand promoting their posts gets a good ROI and its money’s worth.

Which begs the question, what can one do to increase their EdgeRank?

List of Things to Do to Increase EdgeRank and/or Get More Visibility on Facebook for Free

With the introduction of EdgeRank, and some of the changes Facebook made to this algorithm in 2012, brands and businesses will now only be able to get their content across to around 16% of their total fans for free, and they are now required to pay Facebook in order to reach a larger percentage of their fans and followers.

Facebook pages aren’t just about the number of fans anymore, but also about the number of fans who actually see a page’s posts.

Here are a few things you can do to increase your Facebook EdgeRank:

1. Work on increase the affinity between your brand and its followers. You can do this by posting frequently, and asking your followers for a comment and contributions on your updates. A large number of comments will increase the likelihood of that particular item appearing in their newsfeed since anyone who left a comment increased their affinity with you. Pro-tip: ASK your fans to leave a comment and put up your status updates as questions, use words such as why, would, and when, for instance, in order to pose these updates as questions.

2. Develop and plan a series of updates with the purpose of trying to increase the affinity between your profile and followers. You can use any social media management tool, or a service such as Buffer to schedule a list of Facebook updates for this purpose.

3. Use more multimedia. Stuff like photos tend to appear more in news feeds than normal status updates, and above all, photos and images also tend to be noticed more (and hence get a bigger reaction in terms of likes and comments) than text-based updates, for instance. Similarly, videos and links also have a higher edge-weight so all these different forms of multimedia should be a part of your content strategy.

4. Speaking of developing a content strategy, developing one is essential. What you’re looking for is to create updates that carry more weight, that allow you to interact with and engage a larger audience. (Pro-tip: try posting something controversial!)

5. Ask your fans to ‘get [your page’s] notifications’. There are ways that allows your fans to get all your notifications, if they want to. These options are opt-in and are available under the ‘like’ button on your Facebook page. The first one, called ‘Get Notifications’ sends your fans a notification each time you post an update, ensuring that they never miss another one of your Facebook update. The second one is called…

6. Add to Interests. Ask fans you to their interests list. What this does is that it lets your fans create interest lists and add your page to one of their lists, and they can get all your updates (and the updates from any other pages that they might have added to the same list) from the Facebook sidebar, as well as in their main News Feed.

7. Provide quality. What’s the one single rule for success on the internet? Providing quality! It is essential to put up updates that will be valuable and informative to your readers, and those that will urge them to like, share or comment on them!

Paid Ways of Getting Visibility on Facebook, Post-EdgeRank

1. Try your hand with promoted posts. You can now pay Facebook to have one of your posts stay on top of your fans’ news feeds, which gives you a much greater chance for your updates to be seen. Like I mentioned before, without promoting posts, EdgeRank shows your updates to just 16% of your fans, however with promotion, that number can go as high as around 60%-100%! It is essential to target it to the correct audience however. And of course, your post needs to be quality or it will garner little to no response from fans.

2. Buy ads. Worked well before, still works just as well. If you want to promote your page or post on Facebook and reach a larger number of people (including potential customer who may be interested in what you offer but don’t know about you), you can look into buying ads. Ads usually show up on the right sidebar on your homepage. The great thing about Facebook ads is that they can be extremely targeted, and Facebook gives you a ton of options to target your ad to the right audience.

3. Sponsored stories are essentially what Facebook calls their ads. With sponsored stories, you can create a sponsored story essentially the same way as you would create an ad, select who you want to target, create an ad image, write the ad copy, link to your content and finally set a budget for your ad. The difference between promoted post and a sponsored story is that the former appears on your timeline – i.e. within your newsfeed – while the latter only appears on the right side of the Facebook page with all the other ads, and are targeted towards people who aren’t already fans of your Facebook page. On cellular devices however, both show up in the newsfeed.

Both the paid methods of promotion listed here can yield some amazing results for you, especially in terms of the likes, shares, comments and the exposure and visibility that you get. The downside is that you’ll have to give money to Facebook in order to do something which should be free anyway: reach more of your fans.

How to Reduce Your Blog’s Bounce Rate

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Continuing our theme of web analytics, we’ll now take a look at the importance of a little something called the bounce rate, and how webmasters, marketers and bloggers can improve the bounce rate of their blogs.

‘Bounce Rate’ Defined

I’m sure most of the people reading this are well-aware of the importance of Google Analytics, its application and what it does. It is an outstanding and a vital marketing-information and web analytics tool, that provides users with a whole host of vital information about their websites and blogs.

One of these pieces of information relates to the amount or percentage of ‘single-page visits’ on your blog, or in other words, the amount of visitors which simply looked at your webpage (more specifically, the page that they landed on), and left your website without browsing through any other of your pages.

This is what bounce rate is. Wikipedia defines it as ‘an internet marketing term that represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and leave (bounce) rather than continue to viewing other pages on the site’.

Google Analytics shows bounce rate as a percentage value. For instance one of my self-hosted websites (more than 2 years old now) has a bounce rate of 26.30% at this very moment, a figure which tells me the percent of single-page visits on my blog.

Needless to say, it is perhaps one of the most important statistics related to the well-being of your website. And understandably, having a low bounce rate is quite important to the health and well-being of your website. As a rule of thumb, the lower your bounce rate, the better, because it means that a large percentage of your visitors visit more than a single page on your blog, and browse through other parts of your website than the page they landed on.

So What Exactly is a Good or Bad Bounce Rate

While there is no yardstick or a set benchmark to define what a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ bounce rate is, it is universally-accepted that anything below or around 20% is an excellent bounce rate, between 20%-40% is considered to be a okay, 50% means you should definitely consider bringing it down, and anything above 60%-70% should raise a few alarms.

A low bounce rate means that you’re getting targeted traffic on your blog, people who visit your blog find the kind of information that they’re looking for, and that you’ve done a good job of making this information easily accessible (how you can do this, we’ll soon find out).

Things You Can Do to Bring Your Bounce Rate Down

So I think by now, it would be safe to say that having a bounce rate that is anywhere around 20% would be ideal – anything less than that would be a bonus! But what can you do to bring your website’s bounce rate down and keep it there?

1. Bring targeted traffic

As a website owner, your primary aim should be to drive highly-targeted traffic to your blog. Targeted traffic consists of visitors who belong in your niche, and are highly-interested in the content of your blog, and the information you’re putting up on the internet. If you can target the right channels and bring in the right kind of visitors to your blog – visitors who will want to stay on your blog and browse through its pages – you’re doing it right!

2. More (quality) content

Let’s for instance suppose that I visit a blog called ABCXYZ today, and like one of the articles posted there, which prompts me to browse through some of the other articles posted on the blog. I bookmark this blog, and visit it again the next day in order to read more freshly-posted articles like the ones I read the other day. The problem, however, is that there are no new articles on blog, so I leave (bounce). I continue to check this blog the next day, and the next, and maybe after a couple of days in the hope that it will be updated with more fresh content, but it isn’t. What this does is (a) give the blog a high bounce rate, simply because it failed to provide its visitors with fresh content, and (b) its inability to post new content may even put off people who were looking forward for more information from the blog. If you blog, updating it with well-written content on a regular basis is an absolute must!

3. Make it easy for people to navigate around your website

This specifically refers to the navigational elements of the blog. Having a good navigation bar, for instance, allows visitors to seamlessly access other parts of your website, no matter which page they might be on, on your blog. Navigation best practices include categorizing all your posts into broad and narrow/specific categories and sub-categories, and displaying these all these categories in your navbar. For WordPress users, I recommend UberMenu.

4. Make it easy for them to access other articles

There are plenty of things which you can do with regards to this. For starters, add a list of recommended articles + top articles + most popular + most commented on articles to your blog’s sidebar (any or all of these). Put as much content as you can above the fold, without excessively stuffing too much content there. Use a Mashable-style list of posts on your front page, and a Featured Posts list on your sidebar like BBT does.

5. Provide readers with more relevant information

On WordPress (and I’m sure on other blogging platforms as well), there are plenty of widgets (and ways) that you can use to put more relevant information on your blog. For instance I use a nifty slider plugin called the nRelate Flyout, a free plugin which puts this slider/slide-out box inside your posts, at the bottom that pops out whenever a visitor scrolls to the end of the page. What this flyout does is display a list of similar posts to the one a visitor is viewing, and you can set the amount of posts you want displayed on it, set its location, which categories (if any) should the plugin fetch the posts from and so on. NYTimes uses a similar plugin as well.

6. Internal linking

Putting links within your content to other parts of your blog, such as linking to another relevant blog post on your site is not only an excellent practice from a SEO perspective, it also encourages human visitors to click on those links and explore more of your site. As a matter of fact, I encourage bloggers to add least a couple of relevant internal links to each one of their posts, as it provides a benefit from a SEO-perspective and keeps link juice within the blog, and of course reduces your blog’s bounce rate.

7. Post high-quality content

This one’s fairly obvious, right? The better your content, the better its quality, the more well-written it is, the more people will actually want to read it! Give your visitors and readers the absolute best content, and your bounce rate will remain low.

Do share your favorite tips for bringing down a blog’s bounce rate? Leave me your comments in the comments below and I’ll see you there!

5 Great Google Analytics Alternatives

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Hey, this is Kevin, and willkommen (welcome) to my SEO blog! The topic for my very first write-up on this blog will be a look at 5 of the best Google Analytics alternatives (yes, there are quite a few good ones!).

Google analytics is easily one of the best web-analytics suites out there, if not the best. In fact, it is widely regarded to be the undisputed king as far as the web analytics industry goes! And for good reason too: for starters, it is extremely powerful and provides in-depth and comprehensive set of statistics about any number of websites or blogs that you might own. Most above all, it is free!

But while it might clearly be the market leader in terms of popularity and usage – according to widely-known statistics, it is installed on more than 10 million websites on the internet! – there are some outstanding alternatives in the market that may be better suited for certain websites.

We’re going to be looking at some of these web analytics suites in this write-up.

The great thing about most of these ‘alternatives’ is that they don’t need to be that; they can easily be used in tandem with Google Analytics. So if, for instance, you have Analytics installed on your website or blog, you can use any one of these as well. So go ahead and give them a try!

1. Clicky

Clicky is one of the most feature-rich web analytics on this list, and although it is certainly not as much as Google Analytics, it does provide a great set of features – the biggest of which is real-time tracking, something which even the might Google Analytics doesn’t offer! The suite provides the standard set of website analytics for free, and a nominal amount of money can get you access to some really-powerful set of tracking and features. The best part about all this is that all set of statistics are available in real-time, which means you get information ‘as it happens’! Clicky also has a great set of plugins and widgets, and a mobile application as well. The suite is extremely simple to install and get up and running. All of this makes it one of the best Analytics alternatives out there, and like I said, you can easily use Clicky in conjunction with Analytics.

2. Mint

What you might find surprising about Mint – another outstanding web-analytics suite – is that a lot of people (webmaster, rather) actually prefer it over Google Analytics! Mint is self-hosted, which provides you with much more control, and like Clicky, it provides users with real-time statistics. It, of course, comes with the standard set of website/blog monitoring tools. For me, what really stands out about Mint is its fresh, clean and extremely user-friendly UI. The drawbacks? Well, it’s not free; Mint charges you $30 for a single-site license but on the upside, it’s a one-time cost rather than a recurring one. You can check out their live demo if you want to, before deciding whether it is worth your $30 or not.

3. Reinvigorate

Reinvigorate is so good, you can completely ditch Google Analytics and use this instead! Apart from offering the standard set of analytics that just about everyone else does, Reinvigorate goes above and beyond by providing users with much more, such as real-time tracking – which automatically updates your dashboard with live, real-time statistics, and my person favorite: the heatmaps – a feature which lets you experiment with your website’s interface and evaluate hotspots and ‘dead spots’ on it easily. Moreover, the NameTags feature lets you ‘spy’ on your registered users, when they’re online and provides you with insight into their habits and site usage. Reinvigorate web analytics suite comes with a desktop app, and its simple installation and intuitive interface means that it is a breeze to use! Costs $10-a-month, although they do offer a 14-day trial.

4. Woopra

Woopra is one of the most highly-customizable web analytics suite out there – second only to the mighty Google Analytics – which is actually its forte. With Woopra, you have three choices – you can either use it online on the web-client, download the desktop client, or using a cellphone app. Woopra is so customizable that it allows you to add filters in order to look at a specific set of data only. So if, for instance, you want to look at the amount of people who came to your website from Facebook, and responded to your CTA, you can easily create a filter. And that’s not all, Woopra also offers this nifty little feature that lets you live-chat with a visitor on your website, so for instance if a visitor is stuck on the checkout page, you can set a condition that a live-chat window automatically opens up. And to top it all off, the service also comes with a great-looking user interface! Basic plan is free, and move on to $79-a-month, 199-a-month and finally $499-a-month for their premium plan. 14-day trial also offered.

5. Chartbeat

And finally, we have Chartbeat, an extremely intuitive and user-friendly tool that gets straight to business! Offers the standard set of tools, with real-time tracking, but the thing that really stands out about this particular service is its awesome interface – Chartbeat provides you data in the form of graphs and well, using a more visual-friendly format, instead of throwing numbers and raw data in your face. The data provided includes the amount of visitors on your site, and the number of them reading through your posts or writing something (such as a comment), their geographical information, what action(s) they’re taking, and more. Although admittedly, the suite will be much more appealing to small business owners and bloggers, rather than hardcore analytics users or marketers who will require more advanced stats like conversion rates and traffic sources, for instance – and this is the reason why Chartbeat is recommended only for casual bloggers looking for basic information in an easy-to-understand manner (packaged in an extremely attractive UI!). Subscription prices range for $10-$150 per month!

Your Turn

So what are your recommendations as far as Google Analytics alternatives are concerned? Do send us your comments and feedback in the comments section below!