The Fundamentals Of Creating An SEO-Optimized Blog Post (For Noob Bloggers)

The Fundamentals Of Creating An SEO-Optimized Blog Post (For Noob Bloggers)

At this point, we’re all publishers. The web fuels the need for content, and that need is growing. There are more people accessing the internet today than at any other point in our history. As internet connection speeds increase, and internet access expands to more regions, people will be consuming even more content.

Obviously, competition is steep. Millions of domains are bought every day, websites are created, and new ideas are born. More websites, more content – more noise. As the search engines work to develop ranking algorithms to award sites with the most relevant content, the need for creating content that attracts readers is more important than ever.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself how you can cut through the tape and see yourself in the top spot of Google. Granted, it’s going to take more than a few guest posts, but realistically, that’s where it starts.

That’s why you should make sure your post is optimized to appear in search.

It’s Not All About Google

Before we get into how to structure your blog post, you have to remember who you are actually writing for. You’re writing for people. A link is worth nothing if it has no chance of getting clicked on by someone with an interest. You need to shape your writing style and tone to match the people you are wanting to connect with, and the niche you are trying to target. This means two things:

  1. Know your target market. You should understand what motivates your target market. What do they want? What do they value? What questions are they asking? Knowing this allows you to deliver a message within your post that your target market will be receptive to.
  2. Understand the audience you are writing for. Choose a writing style that your audience will connect with. If you’re guest posting, take a look at the other posts to see what people responded to the most. This will help you craft a post that will get more shares and engagement.

Bots Don’t Speak Our Language

Google (and search engines in general) use bots to crawl web pages and index content. Your web page is then filed away neatly within their algorithm, to be pulled up when the right search query triggers it at a later date. To put it simply, a bot cannot read a web page like you and I. It must scan the page and look for recurring instances of keywords, site content, and other variables to determine if the page is relevant to the search performed.

If you want the Big G finding your post when it goes live, you need to follow SEO best practices. Here is what you need to keep in mind when you write your blog post:

  • Put your keyword in your title.
  • Include the keyword in the url of your post.
  • Make sure you include your keyword is included in your meta description.
  • Use your keyword in all of your title tags (h1,h2,h3,etc).
  • Put variations of your keyword throughout your article.
  • Use your keyword in image alt tags.
  • Link out to authority sites to expand your post.
  • Link back to your old posts and other parts of your website.

That about sums it up. It goes without saying that this can be expanded on – but not much. If you are putting out content that is well written, serves a purpose, and is useful, the search engines will reward you. Just keep up the good work.

Read More

Start A Forum With A Small Budget (And Still Stand Out)

Learn how to create your first forum and go live for under fifty bucks – and do it today

What if I told you it’s possible to create your own forum today? Do I have your attention?

If you want a breathtakingly modern forum, built on a responsive design, you would think that it would cost quite a bit. A vBulletin or Xenforo license usually runs a couple hundred alone – and that’s leaving out the fact that you’ll also need a domain, web hosting, and design tweaks. Costs can add up. If you want to see what it takes to run a forum without a large investment, this tutorial will tell you everything you need to know.

Fortunately, there is free forum software available. One of the most popular free forum scripts is phpBB. It is an open-source script that will allow you to get up and running quickly. Cost = $0.

What you want to do now is get a domain. If you already have one, you’re one step ahead. If you don’t, registering a domain is extremely simple. You’ll now want to get your hosting account. If you host with us, we can walk you through all of these steps. We can also install the forum software for you. Plus, with our shared hosting package, you get a free domain as well. Cost so far = $24.95.

We’ve now only spent a little over $20. We have a new domain, web hosting, and our forum script installed. Now, if you want to improve the design of your forum, there are a number of styles for phpBB, but there was one I found in particular that stood out. The Metro Theme by PixelGoose has a modern, Windows 8 look to it. Plus, it’s only $15. So, for a grand total of $39.95 you have been able to get a domain name, hosting, and a professional, responsive design for your new forum.

Start A Forum With A Small Budget (And Still Stand Out)

Now you just have to get busy building it.

Read More

Using vBulletin to Build Transparency and Community Around Your Brand

Using vBulletin to Build Transparency and Community Around Your Brand

Community is a buzzword that has become more than buzz. The businesses that “get it” are the ones focused on building a community around their brand. They understand that having evangelists and brand advocates is the trump card of real business promotion. Your customers will always be a voice that is listened to. Conversations will occur online. There will be conversations about your business. If you know these conversations are happening anyway, shouldn’t you control the dynamic?

Of course, you want to be at the center of the conversation. That goes without saying. Forums are an ideal solution for community building.  By far, the most popular solution is vBulletin. Not only are forums used to facilitate conversations around a certain topic, they can also be used for customer support, and as a knowledge base or wiki. To help outline the benefits of using vBulletin as a community building tool, we’ve outlined the key benefits of using vBulletin for your business.

1) Your website becomes the hub.

There will be conversations occurring online about your business. They can be both good and bad. You can benefit from having both occur on your website. Of course, you have to understand that creating a community means transparency. It means that, good or bad, what people post will be there for the world to see. The power in having this occur on your website versus somewhere else, is the fact that you can readily respond to negative comments. This creates transparency in the way you do business. 

2) Support issues handled online can be converted to a FAQ or Knowledge base.

If you offer a service or product, undoubtedly you will face issues that need to be resolved. Customers will have questions, people will need help. There is no point in answering the same question more than once. It wastes your time as a business owner, and the customer has to wait for a solution. You can save your time and create a valuable resource at the same time by having a support forum that allows customers to publicly post questions. Once answered, the solution is there for all to see. Plus, once you develop your community, your customers will end up helping each other with problems. You can even follow Dell’s example and create a recognition program for top contributors.

3) Having a forum comes with (SEO) benefits.

Content and engagement both play a major role in ranking. Adding a forum to your website will help you not only build a community, but you’ll also build up plenty of user-created content. This content gets indexed by the search engines the same way a blog post does. In this way, you can field the questions your customers are asking and offer solutions.

4) Crowd-sourcing at your fingertips.

Hosting your own forum also puts you at the forefront of your customers thoughts, gripes, interests, and more. If you have the ear of your customers, you can use your forum to crowd source information and find ways you can improve your product, or create something new.

 

 

 

 

Read More

7 WordPress Plugins You Need For SEO & Conversion

7 WordPress Plugins You Need For SEO & Conversion

WordPress is the ubiquitous blogging platform and CMS that has driven blogging to the mainstream and made it easy as cake to get online. Of course, if you are fresh to starting out in the blogosphere, you’ll need to pay special care that you are not only putting your best foot forward – but making it easy to find you online.

SEO is a crucial ingredient to online success. In takes a few steps to build the foundation you need to get started online, but these free WordPress plugins were designed to do just that.

 

Here are 7 WordPress plugins perfect for building a solid foundation for good WordPress SEO:

WordPress SEO by Yoast

1) WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for adding titles and meta descriptions to your posts. It’s also useful for those pesky themes that do not allow you to easily edit the title and meta description for your blog’s home page. The extra bonus for this plugin is it automatically creates XML sitemaps for you.

Google Analytics WordPress

2) Google Analytics For WordPress

Google analytics is the backbone of any SEO campaign. You want to monitor your progress and analyze the type of traffic you are receiving – this plugin will help you do just that. If your theme doesn’t have a default setting that allows you to embed Google analytics, this is the perfect solution.

W3 Total Cache

3) W3 Total Cache

Site speed is another aspect of good SEO. Google pays close attention to page loading times and a small part of the ranking algorithm relies on serving up web pages that load faster. This boils down to user experience. People hate slow sites. W3 Total Cache helps minimize loading times and increase server performance by caching your site.

ShareThis Social Sharing Plugin

4) ShareThis

Social media is just as much a part of SEO as link building in this day and age. You want to make your content as easy to share as possible. This plugin does just that. You can edit the configuration to work on posts and pages, plus select which social networks you would like to appear.

Hellobar WordPress Plugin

5) The Hello Bar

Chances are you’ve seen this handy WordPress plugin around the web already. If you want an example of it in action, simply look up. There you have it. This plugin is great for calling attention to specials or important information that you don’t want site visitors to miss.

Social Author Bio WordPress-Plugin

6) Social Author Bio

Bloggers are taking on the more of publisher more and more. Guest blogging is a very popular way to not only build links for your own blog, but it’s also a great way to get free content for your website, which in turn helps drive traffic and growth. This plugin allows you to easily add an author bio box to your posts and pulls the author’s image from gravatar. It also works with Google Authorship, which will help those posts stand out in the search results.

Magic Action Box Plugin

7) Magic Action Box

This plugin is extremely neat. There is both a free and paid version. It allows you to create a unique call-to-action on every one of your posts. If you don’t know how to code – or hate designing different forms all of the time – this allows you to easily create CTAs that will help you grab readers email addresses after they have read you post.

 

 

Read More

How Do I Get More Traffic To My Blog? (5 Easy Steps)

How Do I Get More Traffic To My Blog? (5 Easy Steps)
If you are on a mission to get more traffic to your blog, you’re in luck. You’re also on the right track. In order to be successful online, you have to focus on creating content and generating interest in your blog.

Talk about how to get more traffic to your blog and some people mistakenly think you need a degree in statistical engineering, but that just isn’t the case. There may be some mildly technical aspects to growing your blog, but essentially the number one thing to consider is value. Ask yourself: is what I am blogging valuable to the people who frequent my site?

As bloggers, we put heart and soul into the articles we write and we want people to see them. We want our readers to take away something that will make their blog, their business, and even their lives, to some degree, better.

With that in mind I’ve put together 5 Steps to Get More Blog Traffic. If a blogger will simply follow these five steps, their blog will begin to get more visitors in a short time.

Get More Blog Traffic – Step One, Attract the Giants

This first step is obvious. If you want people to come by the old homestead, you’ve got to have something to feed them. That means regular posts. Daily posting is ideal. People have to know that if they make the effort of stopping by your blog, they will be rewarded by something new and interesting to think about.

And…if you want really good traffic your posts need to be really good. That means being clear about who your visitors are, and what kind of information will make their lives better. Check out the sites that social media elites in your industry frequent. Get a sense of what they are mining. When you are clear on what people want, especially the ones with a following, and start providing it, you’ll begin to see an avalanche of visitors to your blog. The more the big bloggers visit, the more their readers will hear about you and visit in turn.

Get More Blog Traffic – Step Two, Frequent Forums

Once you are clear about what your readers want, the next step just makes sense. Go to forums where the big boys and girls are discussing your product or service. Use forum marketing to build your reputation and get people interested in your site. You don’t have to engage right away. Find out what people are concerned about, excited about, and learning about. Get a sense of their struggles. The things you learn in a forum are worth their weight in gold.

When you know where your industry is going, you’ll begin to engage in more meaningful ways and attract a larger following. What other industry experts are focusing on will enable you to hone both your business and your blog. Simply mention your blog when you do comment. Word will get out.

You may also receive invitations to guest blog for other up-and-comers. Do it and do it well. Reputation is everything. Look at it like money in the bank accruing interest.

Get More Blog Traffic – Step Three, SEO Properly

Smart keywords are a lot more successful than sheer numbers of them. In fact, experts agree that you really want no more than 1% to 2% of your overall article word count in keywords. Sprinkle them throughout the article and especially in the title and close. It’s always important to keep SEO in mind.

Keywords that are slightly unique are better. Don’t mindlessly follow the ones used by number one spot of a Google search. Some of those words can be done to death. Smart people are looking for fresher soil to dig in.

Get More Blog Traffic – Step Four, Get on the Top Social Media

Social media is a great tool but keep a tight rein on it. It can burn up your time if you are not careful. Set aside a half hour during the day for social media—no more, no less.

I get more ideas from Twitter in one day than I did in a month of plain blog hopping. Citizens of the Twitternet are focused, succinct and resourceful. If you find yourself a twitter giant, follow, follow, follow…where they lead. The time-saving is exponential.

Facebook can also be a happy hunting ground when you have liked the expert pages. Some companies use them for forums or to help neophytes learn the ropes in a network. Also, if there is an industry giant you are following, useful nuggets might appear within their pages. The key is consistency.

Like Twitter, Facebook is also a great way to reach out with your blog to a different population of readers. It is definitely a way to build a following when you publish new posts on your Facebook page.

Google+ is a great way to stay in touch with key people in your industry. If you’ve liked someone on Facebook and are following him/her on Twitter, another logical step is to add him/her on Google plus. Some really great one-on-one interaction can happen here. It is also a super way to refer people.

LinkedIn is an invaluable for letting people know who you are, and what your business is about. It is a place to shine. LinkedIn is an avenue to access industry forums and newsletters. These newsletters show interesting slants on global industry developments and publish forward-looking articles. Put your best foot forward here. It might take some time to update and upgrade, but the time spent making your profile the best will yield great returns.

Get More Blog Traffic – Step Five, Install and Check Google Analytics

Google and Bing Analytics are great tools for seeing what subjects are draw and keep people on your blog. One I was a major contributor for did a Friday article about top homes in our city. Visits ballooned on Fridays. We weren’t just seeing interest from prospective buyers but other realtors, too. Since other realtors bring prospective buyers to homes, it also grew the business. Analytics gave us a true sense of where to spend the most time.

Building your blog, like building your business, is a numbers game. The more people you attract, the more likely you are to engage someone in conversation and convert blog traffic into business.

To recap five steps on How To Get More Blog Traffic:

  • Attract the Giants—provide something wonderful to reward visitors and encourage their return
  • Jump on forums—find out where your industry is heading
  • Optimize your keywords—less is more, only 1-2% concentration, smarter is better
  • Become savvy on social media tools—to connect with a wide range of people and follow your industry
  • Use analytics—real time indicators of what is drawing your readers
  • Stay consistent and you’ll know exactly how to get more blog traffic. Your efforts will yield the results you are looking for.

Got some ideas? Add them in the comments!

Read More

12 Forum Marketing Secrets That Work

Forum Marketing Secrets

Forum marketing involves reaching out and engaging with the right audience. Of course, you want exposure, but there is a careful line to walk. You want to gain exposure and establish yourself as an authority, but you don’t want to be annoying. Forcing your brand down people’s throat simply for a link will get you no where. So, where do you start? That is the question a lot of ask when we first start out trying to build a website or blog.

It doesn’t have to be hard. If you’ve been snooping the web looking for some ways to promote your website, chances are you’ve heard about forum marketing. We’re here to blow the lid off the misconceptions and expose 12 forum marketing secrets that are tried and tested.

Read More

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

What Is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting can be an invaluable asset to bloggers and businesses. According to the numbers from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics unemployment has been hovering between 8.3 and 7.8 for the past year. That does not take into account the people who are no longer claiming benefits. They estimate that 12.3 million people are out of work. Again, they base these numbers upon reported cases. Add the unreported cases and you are closer to 20% of the population. One could argue those numbers up or down on any given month but the bottom line it this: the way that America is doing business these days is shifting.

Quite a few people have begun their own businesses. I’m not talking mid-sized corporations in buildings in the golden triangle. I am talking cottage industries. In the absence of traditional opportunities, resilient free thinkers are devising other options.

Anyone who has ever tackled a startup knows you have enough to do without managing your WordPress hosting. Keeping your product or service up to date and taking good care of valuable customers is challenge enough. Because an online presence is critical for reaching the savvy consumers in today’s market, a good hosting option is worth its weight in gold. For people with an established business or blog, managed WordPress hosting makes sense.

WordPress has become a household word these days. They have built and maintained an excellent reputation throughout the blogging and business communities. If you have ever used it, you know they have made their product simple. They even offer format-adjusting templates so your site is just as accessible on a smart phone as it is on your laptop.
In this article I’m going to focus on some of the reasons why managed WordPress hosting is a good idea.

The First Benefit of Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting offers ease of use. If you are like my friend Jane, just the sound of the words “new technology” raises the hair on the back of your neck. It isn’t that Jane is technically challenged. It’s just that she’d rather think about other things—like reaching more customers and writing her daily blog. Happily, Jane is not stuck. Managed WordPress hosting provides a solution that leaves her no worries. You can expect top-notch service without the headaches with managed WordPress hosting. Besides, doing your own updates and backups suck.

The Second Benefit to Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting offers security. When hackers are on the prowl, managed WordPress hosting providers are already on the job, filtering and scrubbing bad traffic and removing malware. That means peace of mind. You can focus on your business, and your customers can access your site without lockout problems.

The Third Benefit to Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting offers speed. A managed WordPress hosting provider understands the impact of widgets, and knows how to best configure plugins on your site for speed and performance.

The Fourth Benefit to Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting offers hassle free webpage ownership. That means that whenever software updates are needed, server maintenance or replacement become necessary, or when it is time to backup your site, specialists jump into action and you can do other things.

The Fifth Benefit to Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress Hosting offers painless startup. Whether you are looking to start a site or move your current site, managed WordPress hosting providers have clear affordable plans and simple step-by-step instructions so you can get started right away. They’ll even set up your site for you if you just don’t have the time or inclination—for free.
The idea of doing business these days without a website isn’t even a consideration. A good website gives potential clients and customers a clear picture of who you are. While managed WordPress hosting isn’t a panacea for the economic troubles in our nation, it is allowing people to get their websites running and their focus back on business.

Read More

SEO Tips for The WordPress Newbie

SEO Tips for The WordPress Newbie
WordPress is the way to go. Whether you are a blogger or business owner, WordPress is a blogging platform that will help you reel in the traffic like a fisherman. Of course, you can’t set up a blog and have the whole world wide web knocking on your door with a simple post. If it was that easy Google would come knocking with a Frankenstein creation made of penguin and panda parts (but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Today the topic is how you can actually get traffic to your WordPress blog. Search engine optimization may not be your strong point, but if your goals involve online success – get used to it. SEO has to be factored into every post and page on your website. Social media and offline marketing are great assets in your quest for blog domination, but search traffic is highly targeted, has higher conversions, and lower bounce rates.

Here are a few quick SEO tricks you should implement on your WordPress blog:

Newbie WordPress Tip #1

First things first – change your permalink structure. By default, self-hosted WordPress blogs use a permalink structure that is crap-ola for SEO. And it’s ugly.

  • Standard issue: www.domain.com/?p=123
  • Optimized: www.domain.com/my-new-blog-post

See the difference? If you are using your keyword when naming your posts (which you should) it shows up in the url structure as well. This helps search engines display results based on relevance. This brings me to my next tip:

Newbie WordPress Tip #2

Install an SEO plugin. A good WordPress SEO plugin can pay off enormously for ranking in the search results. I’m sure there are countless ones available, but in my opinion there are only two that bear mentioning.

Basically, the WordPress SEO community is divided between these two. Personally, I prefer the Yoast plugin because of it’s features and simplicity. The major benefits of using this plugin for SEO noobs is the fact that once you enter the keyword you wish to target (“Focus Keyword”) it will give you tips on how you can improve the page based on accepted SEO best practices. Get it, use it.

Newbie WordPress Tip #3

When you structure your posts you should make ample use of your chosen keyword by including it throughout your post. Make sure your keyword appears in the following:

  • Post title
  • Meta description
  • In the first paragraph
  • Within the body copy
  • Image tags

Don’t take this to mean you should cram as many keywords as you can into every post you make. Write for people first. Optimization is only one part of getting more traffic to your WordPress blog. SEO will help visitors find your site, but good content is what keeps them coming back.

Newbie WordPress Tip #4

One often overlooked SEO trick is to optimize your images. Random strings of numbers add nothing for the search engines to pick up, so stop uploading images like this: 87u21oydkj9010.jpg. What you should do when uploading images for the page or post you are working on is rename your image using your focus keyword. Don’t forget to add this keyword in your image alt and title tags as well.

Newbie WordPress Tip #5

Don’t be stingy with old posts. Link to other pages and posts within your WordPress blog. This will help search engines crawl your site deeper and it will also keep visitors on your site longer.

Read More

Forum Hosting Requirements

Forum Hosting Requirements
Hosting a message board or forum may not be prohibitively expensive, but the tasks of setting it up and appointing competent webmasters and moderators to maintain it could be moderately costly if you don’t shop around for the best deals on the types of services and features you need. There is also a need to allow sufficient time to build up a strong and loyal value-driven community for your site in order to reap the long-term benefits in the future. Every forum and message board community will also have issues with negative posters and negative feedback from time to time. When dealing with these negative elements it is important to realize that while the feedback posted by some of your existing clients may turn off some potential customers and put a damper on your sales abilities in the beginning, instead of getting discouraged, every challenge is a new opportunity to learn from your mistakes and do things better in the future.

Aside from setting up your site, appointing webmasters and selecting the appropriate web host to run it, there are certain other requirements of forum hosting too. A good message board with a strong community of like-minded users will also be a place where the rules are always enforced evenly and predictably. Without a good set of strong rules to ensure the whole operation runs smoothly and a clear set of steps and penalties to handle any violations that everyone can understand, there’s really no need to set up any rules at all.

Board moderation is another area of hosting requirements that can make or break a site. As a site owner, you’ll need to make sure that your moderators are handling their roles clearly and judiciously. All disputes need to be supervised and handled in the same manner for all users and the moderators should not exhibit partiality to any of the members.
When some members feel that they are less important than other users on a board, it can be a constant source of problems that need special handling. It is far better when everyone plays by, and is subject to, the same rules.

It is important to remember that the main point of hosting a forum or message board is to form a healthy community of genuinely interested and committed users that can all be considered as existing customers and of course, potential customers. A good forum with genuine users who are authorities and experts in their fields are the real strength of your endeavor. Other users will recognize this and come back to read and learn more when they trust and value the information provided by your most committed users. This requires maintaining even-handed discipline and
clearly understood rules. Even though a poster may appear to be helping to promote your products or services, when their real intention is posting messages only for the sake of link building or for other financially motivated intentions that are not genuine interaction, it can seriously impair and reduce both the vale and impact of your efforts. If you handle violations in a clear and even-handed manner according to rules that apply the same way to all users, the chances are quite good that you will have mastered the basic requirements of
successful forum hosting.

Read More

Premium Forum Hosting Benefits

Premium Forum Hosting Benefits
Although you can easily find open source scripted discussion boards and HTML set-ups as well as advertising supported free forum hosting services, larger forums with many users really require a paid forum hosting service. If your forum is amateur in appearance and function, it can really put a dent in the commercial viability of a project, and end up costing you both potential customers and dollars too.

A premium forum hosting service provider will take care of all of the details of setting up any type of web message board without you having to install any new software on your own. A good host will know how to address all of the set-up details and provide you with around the clock support too. As with many things in life, when you buy a premium web board hosting package from a reputable supplier, you’ll get what you paid for with more web space and completely hassle-free maintenance for all of your hosting processes, and you’ll usually get a bunch of other built-in features for free too. Just because you’re getting first rate service doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay a fortune for it either, as competition has improved the breed and there are many good board-platform hosting choices available these days. A good provider will provide the installation of any software needed at their end and handle the complete forum/board set-up process while still offering the customer the ability to make sure their new board platform matches the theme of any new or current website they want it associated with. Customization tweaks and other requests should be offered at reasonable costs too.

The more user/visitors a message board or forum has, whether actual or potential, the more it underscores the need for a paid professional hosting service that can help make the most out of it. Both the site owners and the people who rely on their favorite Internet message groups and boards as trusted community resources in the subject area of their particular choice will benefit from a fully functional and professional platform. Web forums provide the worldwide Internet community with the ability to share information and conduct commerce in ways never before possible and they can be profitable too when they are set-up and managed correctly.

A fully functional forum platform will:

  • Encourage users to develop a sense of community.
  • Allow the staff to instantly post announcements.
  • Encourage users to help each other.
  • Active content appears higher in search results.
  • Allow all users to interact in a fun forum atmosphere.

Read More