Category: "Website Tips"

Where Will Your Website Be In 2014?

Where Will Your Website Be In 2014?

This year is on its way out. Let’s not kid ourselves here: time flies. Whether you are moving forward or not, time waits for no one. If you dream of having a snazzy website, lots of traffic, and online success — you have work to do.

It’s time to start thinking about your goals for next year. We’ve made the work a bit easier on you and came up with the top 6 ways you can make your website (and online presence) better.

Ready? Let’s do it.

Go mobile

Numbers don’t lie: mobile phones account for 17.4% of global web traffic and the people in the know only expect this number to grow. “You need to be where your customers are” cannot get any truer. People are using their smart phones and mobile devices to look for products and services. If you’re online make sure your website is responsive, or have a mobile version of your website setup.

Focus on content

To say content is important would be the understatement of the century. Good content is what attracts visitors, and you need visitors in order to turn them to customers. Make sure you are devoting time to producing content that is useful and informative. You should also publish regularly. Just remember to not drone on about your products with every post. It’s important to craft content that will be useful to your readers.

Original content will help you:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Showcase your expertise
  • Grow trust with your readers
  • Differentiate from the competition

Get active on social media

This is a big one. Search and social go hand in hand. If you’re after rankings and traffic, you’re much better off approaching online marketing from both angles. What’s important to remember is don’t just use social media to share your links. Be sure to actively engage with influencers and others in your industry. This will give you more visibility and help to establish you as one of the key people in your niche.

Create concrete goals

You won’t get anywhere without goals. You have to know where you are going in order to get there. Write down a list of goals and areas you want to improve, then start scratching those tasks off the list. Want to use something besides paper or Word? Wunderlist is a handy little app that will allow you to easily create lists, set due dates, and reminders and more.

Measure what you’re doing

Once you have goals in place it’s important to measure your efforts so you know if they are paying off. Use tools like Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and Facebook Insights to gather data about your brand. Try to analyze what’s working and what’s not. If you can pinpoint some of the activities you’ve been doing that are working well, look for ways you can do them better — or just do more of it. The important thing here is to find areas that may be not producing and eliminate them.

Start making deadlines

You cannot have goals without deadlines. When you don’t set an end date to a task, all it becomes is a “want”. Set your goals and pick a reasonable amount of time to accomplish them. If you have a date in mind you’ll have an easier time getting things done. You want to take small steps towards your goals everyday.

What are your plans for 2014?

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5 Best WordPress Plugins Which Encourage Social Engagement

5 Best WordPress Plugins Which Encourage Social Engagement

WordPress is one of the most versatile blogging platforms to date and it is all due to the plethora of free and convenient applications at your disposal. Add-ons and plugins make every WordPress site a truly unlimited customization platform for all web content. So here are my picks for the top 5 WordPress plugins available.

Every blog needs a Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a social media share bar that will display on the side of your page. If you have spent any amount of time reading online publications it is likely that you have already seen Digg Digg at work. The share bar stays in a fixed position on the left or right of the page as the user scrolls down the page. There are a variety of buttons you can add to your Digg Digg bar including basic share buttons for the most popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, TweetMeme, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, YahooBuzz, Tumblr, even a print button to quickly print the page.

One of the most handy features apart of this plugin is the “Buffer” share button which will automatically share the same message on the users Facebook and Twitter account simultaneously.

Encourage users to post comments with CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a friendly little plugin that will search the an author’s most recent blog posts as they type a comment to your blog. Once the user’s comment has been posted, it will then retrieve their last blog post and give the user the option of displaying it at the bottom of their comment.

The best thing about this app is that it not only encourages other authors to comment on your blog, but it also creates a tighter knit community of readers.

Cut out the middle man with Comments Evolved

This started out simply as a Google+ comment plugin for WordPress but it has expanded to Facebook, Disqus, WordPress comments, and trackbacks. This plugin is especially helpful for any blog that requires a user to register in order to comment. What it does is allow the user to instead use an existing account that they already own in order to comment, instead of having to register for a new one. After all, very few people will take the time to register for a whole new account that they may never use again to just comment on your blog. Your writing may be good, but not that good! This plugin will instead give them other options, which reduces the hoops they have to go through to comment, making everything easier.

Let your regulars introduce themselves with WordPress Author Bio Box

Author Bio Box will allow users to submit a bio in the WordPress account dashboard and display the bio at the bottom of their post. This is another tool whose goal is to encourage socialization between users. You can allow guest authors to submit a link to their own website if they want as well as information about themselves.

Invite readers to your social media pages on Social Stickers

Social stickers are thumbnail links you can include somewhere on your blog that link back to all of your social media sites. That way you can provide an easy portal for readers to follow you and further the conversation on your social media platforms. Much like Digg Digg, Social Stickers will enable you to include links to all the most popular places social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or a Blogger account as well as other website links. There is also the option to display an RSS feed which is an absolute must.

Another great feature with this plugin is the ability to create a unique theme for the stickers which will match your website. You can also customize the order of the icons as you see fit. There is also an option to display how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have on your page.

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The Real Way To Use Blogs For Traffic and SEO

The Real Way To Use Blogs For Traffic and SEO
Link building is hard work that takes time. There is no shortcut, it takes a combination of quality and quantity. While commenting on blogs will not get you the best quality links, it will still build your brand and collect organic clicks when done properly. But in order to do it properly you’ll need to formulate a strategy.

Your goal for gaining traffic from blogs should be to actually engage in a thoughtful conversation in your comments. Also, be sure to include a link to your website where it can be easily seen, either in your blog, signature, or at the end of your post depending on the blog you are posting to. Many well written blogs will inspire a continuing conversation, so be sure to leave thoughtful comments on the subject in order to get clicks on your link.

Your comments could be a new angle on the topic, additional information that the writer might have overlooked, or anything that adds to the discussion. The whole point is to say something that impresses or inspires others to join into the conversation with you. It will show that you are an expert in the niche or highly enthusiastic about the topic, which builds your brand and brings in website traffic through your link.

Find blogs in your niche

But before wasting your time posting on blogs that either do not have a lot of readers or do not pertain to your niche, put a little research into the blogs of your interests.

Alltop.com is a great resource to find tons of blogs pertaining to your niche. They gather the top blogs on several topics all in one place for you. You can create an account and easily sift through the blogs pertaining to your niche. The site even allows you to create custom lists for yourself and keep up on the latest blog posts.

Feedly essentially does the same thing, but it uses RSS feeds and e-mail updates. By using this tool all of the blog posts from your niche will be collected in one place. The conversations within the posts can be monitored and it will be easier to become apart of the conversations.

For mobile users, Flipboard is another awesome resource that can be used to do the exact same thing. It works both on android and apple devices. Users are able to subscribe to RSS feeds, blogs, online publications, and social media feeds. You can create customizable “magazines” or feeds pertaining to your niche, and easily comment through your flipboard account which can be linked to other accounts like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Posting on social media groups to build traffic

There are several social media sites that you can also treat as blogs in order to further your traffic building strategy.

Depending on your niche LinkedIn could likely be one of the most influential areas to focus on due to their many groups centered around specific industries. Try using LinkedIn’s search or their group directory to find online communities built around your niche.

Treat the groups just like a specialized forum and integrate yourself within the community. Post well thought out and insightful comments just as you would with the blogs. The results may even have a better payoff than posting to most blogs because LinkedIn groups are tighter knit communities.

Essentially the same thing can be done through Facebook and Google+ groups as well. But it can be hard to keep track of all these social media sites so that is why Hootsuite can be a very important tool for your strategy.

Hootsuite will put all these social media feeds in the same place, making them easier to manage, read through, and post. It is particularly useful in tracking Twitter lists as well, which can be used to keep track of important bloggers you are following and keep up to date on their posts.

In addition to gaining organic traffic through your link while posting on social media groups, you may even form networks that could benefit you in the future.

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Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media

Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media
Social media plays a big factor in online marketing. If you want your website to rank you need well written, engaging content. Good content is more important than an article overloaded with keywords.

Remember that.

It all boils down to two key aspects, call them your recipe for success. You need: 1) good content; and 2) social signals. In other words, people need to be reading and sharing your content.

Understand what slows a reader down

Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s there was a plethora of research on readability in the US to determine the most common reading level among the American population. The science behind these reading levels is a bit too extensive to include in this article, but the general consensus was that 8th-grade reading level was average among Americans.

In 1947 Donald Murphy conducted a study on how to make texts easier to read. He found that reducing the reading level from 9th to 6th on various articles caused a remarkable increase in people who read articles all the way through. (E.g., a 43% increase in an article about nylon and 60% increase in an article about corn).

A similar study conducted by Wilber Schramm showed that an article nine paragraphs long would lose three out of ten readers by the 5th paragraph. While a shorter story will lose only two out of ten.

To this day things have not changed much, The National Study of Adult Literacy has released  multiple studies between 1993 and 2008 which have consistently measured average literacy levels at a 7th or 8th level. One of the largest publications, Reader’s Digest (at 12 million subscribers), writes at a reading level of 9th-grade. Newspapers and online publications can range from college to 6th-grade reading levels.

How can I best engage readers?

Due to the increasing number of distractions, it is safe to assume that shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs will better hold our attention than longer ones. Overly complicated grammar and redundant sentences should be avoided as well.

Excessive punctuation is another no-no. Stick to simple commas and periods for the easiest readability. Avoid useless punctuation like semicolons. Some would argue that semicolons are useful to separate two independent clauses; I argue that the same thing can be accomplished with a period. Read that last sentence again and replace the semicolon with a period or comma. Does it read the same? Most people read semicolons the same way they would a period or comma, the only difference is that the semicolon slows them down.

There are probably about 10% of you reading this who wondered why I didn’t use a hyphen in the word semi-colon. It is one of those words that some dictionaries list with a hyphen, some without. I choose not to use the hyphen because I felt that giving it a hyphen would give the word too much unneeded attention, meaning your eyes would be drawn to it before you reached the word in the sentence. Yet another thing to be avoided in order to create better readability.

Break your reading up into easy to read chunks. As an example you can take a look at this article here. Observe how each section contains around three to four paragraphs and is clearly marked with a header.

Look at the paragraphs themselves and observe how large they are. Most are no bigger than an inch. Each paragraph break is carefully chosen depending on the flow of the subject matter. Every new idea is a new paragraph and sentence size is generally small.

This is all done for you, the reader, to reduce what’s called “fatigue in reading”, which is another factor in the science of readability. Longer paragraphs, sentences, or words you are not familiar with will increase your fatigue and cause your attention to drift. If you want readers to be engaged and share your writing, keep things short and to the point.

Encourage shares on social media with buttons and special “tricks”

You could follow every one of the tips suggested in this article to increase readability and it is likely that those that find it will read it. But if that same article has no buttons for Facebook likes, tweet mentions, and +1s – no one will share it! Your chances of someone copy and pasting your link to their feed are significantly lower than someone clicking on a like button.

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to focus on when aiming for sharable posts. But in order to capitalize on it be sure to use it correctly. Embedding thought provoking sentences in your article as a tweetable quote can really help your readability. As readers tweet the quote, traffic will be generated to the article from twitter.

In addition to these tricks there is one more super secret method that is guaranteed to get you the most social media shares.

Social Content Locker

I decided to let you slide on having to share the post to see the rest (however, if you’ve found it helpful a share would be most appreciated).

Content lockers may not be a secret and they’re certainly not guaranteed to get you more social media shares than other methods. Used properly however, they might.

In order to use content lockers most effectively it is important to begin with an interesting title and amazing introduction. Give them a few spoon fulls, enough to make them want to read the entire article, the content locker will block the last half or so of the post. Sharing the content on social media is the only way to unlock the rest.

Just be sure that you are rewarding your readers with good content when using the content locker. Don’t do anything that will make them regret their decision and “unlike” the content. Pretty sure bribing or tricking your readers into sharing like I might have done is a punishable offense, or at least is should be.

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5 Things You Should Do After Launching Your Website

5 Things You Should Do After Launching Your Website

So you have a website, now what? Let’s assume that you have already done some keyword research and optimized your website’s text to reflect those important keywords. Now it’s time to make sure Google, Bing and Yahoo know you exist. Search engines use bots to crawl and index content on the web. When users enter certain search terms, the search engine will pull up content it has determined is the most relevant. If you want visitors to your website, you have to have the perfect cocktail for success: good content, structured for the search engines.

Think of the text on your website as the hors d’oeuvres, music, and entertainment for your visitors. The following 5 steps will be your means of inviting people to the party.

Submitting to search engines

If we were to stick to the party metaphor submitting your website to search engine queries is a little like going out to the neighborhood and passing out fliers for your block party. You can have the most wonderfully optimized website in the world, but that still doesn’t mean search engines will automatically find you.

Sometimes all it takes to get noticed is to actually go to the search engines and tell them you exist. Google and Bing, as well as other search engines, all have areas on their site where website owners can submit their page so that it will come up on search results. Doing this will invite their web crawlers over to scan your text for relevant keywords.

Relevant Directories

In addition to the big search engines you will want to keep an eye out for niche engines as well. Not many know, but there are several search engines that specialize in specific things. There may be search engines specifically for forum owners for example.

Just as you submitted your page to Google, you’ll want to do the same for any search engines that pertain to your niche. This is like sending out VP passes to special guests. It’s important to do this if you want an awesome housewarming party because you know they’re going to bring a bunch of friends with them.

Sitemaps

After submitting your page to search engines to be ranked you’ll want to also provide something that will make it easier for web crawlers to navigate your site. This something is called a sitemap.

You can think of a sitemap as an itinerary for your guests (web crawlers) to follow. They inform search engines about all of the URLs on the webpage that are available for crawling. This is done through the creation of a XML file which lists URLs along with descriptions on each URL so that web crawlers will have a better understanding of what the page is about.

XML-Sitemaps is a great resource will automatically create a sitemap for you. So all you have to do is upload it to your site’s directory.

Analytics

As well as inviting web crawler’s over to your pad, you’re also going to want to keep your eye on the party. In order to understand the impact your marketing efforts are having on traffic and conversions, you want to install Google Analytics, which will allow you to track referrers, visitor flow, and clicks. This information can be immensely useful in optimizing your site for visitors.

Online Marketing

There are several ways to market your business online. You can build a brand through online marketing outlets like social media, blogging, and online newsletters. Whatever your strategy, it is essential to use social networking and link building to your advantage.

Social Networking

The next thing you will want to do is get your business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all other popular social networking sites. People often overlook the importance of social media. It is an excellent way to reach out to several people and filter in the ones that would be interested in your niche.

As well as using the popular most widely used social media sites, you will also want to consider some of the smaller ones. Just like search engines there are social media websites and blogs that focus around a specific niche. Go out of your way to seek out sites pertaining to your niche and create an account for your business there. It can help build your brand and bring in valuable customers with an interest in your business.

Linkbuilding

Don’t forget, search engines do not merely rank your page based on how relevant it is to keywords. They will also look through credibility through a number of things including backlinks. Backlinks are probably one of the most important parts to gaining organic traffic and #1 results on search engines.

Now there’s a lot more to link building than can be explained in this article, but to give you an example it is good to start with niche blogs or forums. Find communities on the internet that accept guest submissions and write about things that pertain to your niche. If you don’t have the writing ability it is always useful to hire a writer who knows your niche. The whole point is not only linking back to your website, but also providing readers with useful information that will in turn build your business’s credibility and brand.

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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.

 

 

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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!

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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.

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Hosting a Forum is No Walk in the Park: The Sequel

Marketing a Forum The Sequel
Last week we talked about the steps needed to get your new forum up and running. There we spoke about the nitty gritty of what it takes to get your forum online: web hosting requirements, deciding on a forum software, creating rules, and establishing moderators. Assuming that you followed along and now have your shiny new forum online for the world to see, I’d say it’s time to start navigating some new waters – marketing your forum.

Internet marketing strategies on the internet are a dime a dozen. The ‘latest trends’ can change by the week and you will no doubt find an abundance of information with blatant contradictions. When learning anything I highly recommend doing your own fact-checking. If you stumble upon something that seems like it makes sense, follow up by searching around and seeing if you can find more people professing this same strategy. It’s always best to be objective. Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true. I actually learned this during my time in France as a fashion model (pun intended).

Now that we have that out the way, I will give you some resources that you can explore yourself for information on search engine optimization and social media marketing. Each of these communities are notable and top ranked in their category:

I wanted to put that right out front, so you can discover the facts for yourself. Indeed, no one can give you the blueprint to success. You have to constantly search for it yourself.

Of course, I don’t mind giving ya some help. So, let’s get on with it.

Marketing Your New Forum

We’ve talked about ways you can advertise your forum in the past. Here’s the reality for 2013: no matter your industry, if you are marketing your business online, you need to be publishing content. Content is the driving force that brings visitors to your website. Whether it is in the form of discussion threads, blog posts, articles, web pages – your forum needs a healthy diet of fresh content to rise in the rankings and grow up to be a big, strong website. People are searching the internet for value. If they can’t find any on your forum you are #%&! out of luck.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Populate your forum with interesting threads. No one will post in an empty forum. Kick off the conversation and ask a lot of questions. People are more likely to respond when they can give an answer or their own opinion.
  • Leverage your own contacts. If you know someone that would be interested in your forum, by all means – ask them to join!
  • Create a sense of activity. A silent forum will go nowhere. You have to get the conversation going. If you don’t have the money to shell out on advertising like banner ads and Adsense, you should consider hiring paid posters / forum members. You can use sites like Elance or oDesk to hire people willing to post in your forum. This might be the way you’ll initially have to go in order to get the activity going.
  • Approach people in other forums. Prior to launching your own forum, you should develop a presence on other sites that are in your niche or have a topical relationship. This way you can advertise your forum link in your signature and reach out to contacts already participating on these other forums. Of course, you don’t want to break the rules. Keep it classy. Karma can be unforgiving.
  • Create a contest or giveaway. Everybody is a fan of freebies. Consider giving away a prize, creating a sweepstakes, or some other type of contest. Then, build links through guest blogging and articles to advertise the giveaway.
  • Network with social media. It’s here to stay and is just as relevant as SEO in 2013. Build a presence on the popular sites and reach out and connect with people. Of course, optimize your profiles to include information about your forum.

The Big ‘C’

And here we are again. It’s something you’ll hear time and time again in the internet marketing world – content.

Creating a content calendar and planning your posts will actually help you out in more than just the SEO department. The more content you produce, the more content you can share across social media. Essentially, you’ll have an ongoing reason why people should visit your website.

I am reading your mind right now: “Greg, I don’t have the time to write blog posts all day.”

Never fret, young Padawan. (Forgive the Star Wars reference).

The truth of the matter is that most of us, in fact, don’t. But I must challenge you with the fact that most business owners always say that, yet when they are faced with something that has to get done they typically find a way. It becomes more a matter of perspective than anything else. If you do not take it as a priority, you won’t get it done. If you want a screaming forum, you simply have to produce content.

Creating a ton of content by yourself can result in writing fatigue and mental melt down. Well, I might be overstating it, but why not get a little help? Lighten the burden by finding other people interested in contributing to your forum. Give a little – get a lot. If you allow guest authors to post their own links or have an author bio box, chances are you’ll find some regular contributors – especially if your forum matches their niche. Don’t know where to start looking? MyBlogGuest is a free community that helps connect bloggers to other blogs. Take a look, experiment, and see what you come up with.

Lastly, don’t try to be everything to everyone. Keep your niche in mind (your target market), and craft everything with them in mind.

Don’t say I never helped ya.

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6 Ways To Improve Your Website in 2013

6 Ways To Improve Your Website in 2013
As I’m sure you are noticing, we are in a competitive market right now. The stakes are high. With all of the great companies doing business these days, the way we present ourselves in the marketplace has become critical. Amidst the hordes of people doing business on the Internet, if we want to grow our businesses we’ve got to stand out. The way to win is simple—turn hits into conversions. Our websites need to exude quality. They need to tell people we are smart and we are serious. They should let people know we understand the challenges they are facing, and that we’re the ones who have got the solutions.

Now is a great time to update. It makes sense—since most of us are putting together our 2013 New Year’s resolutions anyway. Why shouldn’t we include updating our websites in our action plans this year? Making them visually more appealing, more interesting, more value driven is a surefire way to keep people coming back, and statistics show that 80% of sales are made after the twelfth contact. So what can we do to make a visit to our website a pleasure?
Here are some overall trends that the experts are predicting for 2013:

1. Responsive Design

Responsive design optimizes readability. It allows people using any format to have an equally good experience. A Smart phone, Tablet, Netbook, or Desktop each offers a different screen size. Responsive design configuration allows maximum usability in each. Ever try to jiggle around and grow a spot on a screen only to shoot off onto a different page because you accidently hit a hot spot. Ugh.

WordPress offers a huge variety of Responsive Themes. In their own words, The Responsive Theme is a flexible foundation with a fluid grid system that adapts your website to mobile devices and the desktop or any other viewing environment. This solution is easy.

2. Typography Design

There are new levels of sophisticated design being achieving these days. Some of these pages are absolutely breathtaking in their detail. People are developing a taste for excellence. Nothing says smart like a simple, balanced webpage. I liken this to wearing a nice suit for a job interview. It says something about the owner that they care enough to put their best foot forward.

I wouldn’t rush through this step. Do your homework. If you want to appear savvy, it is worth it to spend some time investigating. Upgrading the fonts on your site is simple enough. With the right fonts, you can transform humdrum site into something fabulous with little effort. Remember the first tip, though. Fonts that are too fancy might not be readable on a Smart phone.

3. Big Button Design

Simple, clear and easy to access—this is what makes the button multi-format friendly. On a Smart phone, small buttons can waste time. We want to make the customer experience memorable, but only in a good way.

4. Scrolling Design

Moving across the screen from top to bottom and from right to left is another way to simplify the user experience. If you have more than one hot area on your homepage, the Smart phone user can move around without having to jigger things into place.

5. Pared Down Language

In keeping with the multi-format idea, less text in a cleaner font will make navigation simpler. The visitor sees the feature they want to access in three words or less, and gets there in one click. Nice. Next level down, you may have more explanation but keep to the Cliff Notes version. Save the expanded narrative for your blog.

6. Social Media Integration

If you haven’t added these buttons to your blog or website yet, do. You’d be surprised the numbers of people, who like to forward information to a friend, or even to their own Facebook page. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google +1, and StumbleUpon, the list that consumers use on a daily basis is growing.

Final Words
There are certainly plenty more things you can do to will help you get your website producing leads and grabbing people’s attention, but these six: Responsive Design, Typography Design, Big Button Design, Scrolling Design, Pared Down Language, and Social Media Integration, can each make a noticeable difference in a relatively short span of time. Make your site a haven. Draw people back. This list is doable. Just break the tasks into bite-sized chunks. Ask a colleague for help. The important thing is to map out a plan. Once you have that, start.

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