wuwei

/Carl

About Carl

Carl is the owner and founder of Carl Potts designs his interests include web design, MMO gaming, history, typography, old school dance music (especially acid house) he is currently trying to learn Russian

How to create absolutely awesome blog post titles

delicious

Your post titles need to be so compelling that people are tempted to read the rest
Image credit:Mr. Austin Frothingslosh (Flickr.com)

They are generally described as the most important element of a blog post. Yet they are one of the hardest parts to get right. Blog post titles are the element where first impressions, last. You have literally seconds to grab someone’s attention and persuade him or her to visit your blog. That’s why post titles are so important. It’s blog post titles I will be examining with this weeks post.

Magnetic Blog post titles

The most commonly used adjective when describing effective post titles is magnetic. This is because great titles grab people’s attention and tempt them to read your blog. That’s why post titles are really important. Using the Restaurant menu metaphor employed elsewhere in her book Henneke Duistermaat suggests you need to create headlines ‘so delicious that readers crave to read your posts’. The example Henneke uses perfectly illustrates this, in a restaurant what would you rather order? That’s the difference of a well crafted title brings. See the use that Duistermaat has made of sensory words such as crisp and juicy, they certainly bring the garnish to life! Making it sound a lot more appetising. When discussing non-edible items such as blog post titles we should make use of emotive terms to add the wow factor.

1)A Ham Sandwich or
2)Home cooked Wiltshire ham on a freshly baked granary sandwich with crisp lettuce leaves and juicy tomato slices
(Duistermaat 2014)

Post Titles best practises

Now we’ll examine what’s considered best practise when developing effective blog titles

Blog titles should tempt potential readers
This means titles should contain a ‘hook’ to grab readers, a promise or answers they seek, they should use emotive terms to grab interest
Post titles should be less than 55 characters long
The character limitation is a SEO consideration; short snappy titles are easier for people to scan
blog post titles should contain a keyword
Blog post titles should feature keywords at the beginning of the title, one keyword will be sufficient, avoid keyword stuffing

Parting thoughts

This is one area of my blogging I’ve needed to improve for a long time. My titles need to have a lot more flare in order to attract readers. I don’t like to overpromise and under deliver. This is a scruple which appears to be fairly rare online, the opposite being a lot more common.

Common problems

One factor I find irritating and which lead to a negative opinion of a blog are post titles, which promise the earth but deliver little. A lot of titles are drenched in hyperbole; it’s a characteristic I’ve built a resistance to, and I’m fairly good at spotting and avoiding now. On a similar note generic or corny blog post titles are another off-putting characteristic. These generic titles date very quickly. She learned to manage email like a boss. Sorry, it’s an old meme, which has been done to death. A year or two ago I tried using titles inspired by sites such as Buzzfeed and other entertainment sites I rapidly dropped the idea as it sounded cheap not quite ‘I gained 1000s of new readers using this weird old trick’ but heading in that direction. One I’d rather avoid …

By | August 26th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:The Benefits of Blog Scheduling

schedule

A Schedule will help you to organise your blogging
Image credit:Steve Jurvetson (Flickr.com)

Why organise your blogging?

Do you want your blog to be lastminute.com or well organised? A blogging schedule helps to bring a degree of organisation to your blogging. Essential if you wish to co-ordinate social media alongside it.
The way I’ve phrased the initial question reflects my beliefs with regards to blogging schedules. I believe a degree of planning is necessary if you want your blog to really shine. In many ways a blogging schedule is a core element of your content calendar. The two Schedules share many features, with a different focus. This week I will be examining blogging schedules and the benefits they bring to your blogging

What’s the Correct Schedule?

There is no correct schedule—Simply choose what works best for you and stick with it. Many bloggers schedule a lot more posts than the one post per week. I maintain. My output is not yet great enough to post more times per week. If you plan on a more frequent blogging frequency then trying to maintain it without a schedule is a recipe for disaster. I personally would prefer to focus on long form content (1500 word posts). I tried wouldn’t be able to post more than once a week without quality taking a nosedive. I personally don’t believe its possible to maintain great quality and post daily, especially for smaller companies. I agree with Marcus Sheridan aka the Sales Lion when he argues:

there is NO perfect blogging schedule. Actually, better stated, there is—the one that allows you to accomplish your goals and love every minute of this wonderful act we call blogging.

What benefits does a Schedule Bring?

I find the main benefit of a schedule is reduced downtime. This means I can smoothly move from one blog post to the next. It also allows me to plan a theme for a period of time I guess I’m in “blogging season” at the moment. A Schedule enables you to be proactive with regards to keyword and preparatory research, leading to better more in-depth articles. This means you hit the ground running when it’s actually time to write. In addition to this, a schedule enables coordination between content production, Social media, and promotion.

Better Teamwork

If a team maintains the blog, a schedule will be necessary to ensure that everyone is working in sync. I’d argue it would be a serious oversight not to have one.

Proactive vs. Reactive blogging

Having a number of Blog posts written in advance is the most effective way to maintain a blog. A schedule is the most effective way to ensure you post at optimum times. And given a truly effective promotion on social media, this avoids the problem of the hurriedly written ‘catch-up’ post where you’ve needed to rush it. I will make the switch to pre-prepared blog posts as soon as possible.

Parting thoughts

Now that I have got used to the benefits of having a schedule there is no way I’d go back to life without one. I confess using a schedule is a recent development for me, although I have made content calendars in the past. I love being able to hit the ground running every Monday morning. During the writing of this blog post, there are a number of possibilities for automation and the like that have appealed to me. I’ll endeavour to move to a proactive blogging & social media schedule as soon as possible. I’ve made a number of changes to my blogging workflow recently. I’d like to perfect my content delivery and promotion; a blogging schedule would enable me to do that.

Further Reading & Bibliography

  1. 5 Ingredients Required to Create a Blog Schedule That Worksjohn.do
  2. How to Create and Keep a Consistent Blogging Schedule by @adamsconsulting sheownsit.com
  3. Best Blog Posting Schedule: Finally, Proof & Real Numbersthesaleslion.com
  4. 3 Benefits of Writing Blog Posts in Advance (and Resources to Schedule Your Posts) | Daniel Deckerdanieldrecker.net
  5. 5 Benefits of Scheduling Social Media (and our Buffer strategy)blog.linkbird.com
  6. Business Blog Schedule: Best Time to Blog? writtent.com
  7. How To Plan A Blog Schedule That Will Crush Your Goals coschedule.com

By | August 18th, 2016|Content|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:Finding Blog Post Inspiration

inspiration

Finding Inspiration doesn’t need to be a struggle
Image credit:Karen Murphy(Flickr.com)
I’ll be honest here; choosing topics to blog about was THE biggest hurdle I encountered for my first few years of blogging. It slowed the entire process down to a snails pace. In this weeks blog post I’ll examine what I call the blogging mindset, which is how I overcame the problem. I hope it will be of use to you.

What is the blogging mindset?

My personal blogging mindset is to be constantly searching for inspiration. whether I am reading, browsing or talking I am constantly searching for new content ideas. New topics will often develop into another 2 or 3 topics. Customers and forums are a great source of ideas. If an aspect of digital puzzles one & websites you can bet others are as well. Some concerns are fairly common if not universal such as ‘how do I get higher in Google?’ My answer to this is invariably ‘develop good quality content’ this quite naturally leads to more questions such as What are Google’s ranking factors ‘what’s content’, what’s good quality content? Answering these questions is what I mean by the blogging mindset or ‘Oh! There’s a blog post there’.

One of the advantages of Digital Marketing as a niche is that as a sector it is constantly changing. Especially search & social media. Although some people might view this as a pain, personally I see it as a source of potential blog posts. Although the technology is constantly changing, the underlying concepts remain fairly constant.

I could just nick a list of blog post ideas from elsewhere. Rather than do this I’d prefer to identify the most fruitful categories. I’ll examine these categories in greater detail.

• Industry news (including competitors)
• Customers
• Information & advice
• Repurposing old content ideas

Repurposing old content

I often feel that blog posts could be improved at later dates especially if I had extra time to research and write on a given subject. Rather than just rehashing old blog posts here I mean identifying the weak points, eliminating them then rereleasing perhaps as another format such as video, podcast or slideshow

Industry news

Industry news is well worth keeping abreast of where possible. Identify the most important industry news from your customer’s perspective. Then summarize this news in layman’s language (a process I call de-geeking) this could include news of latest products in your niche, especially hot releases which are causing a splash. Reviewing new releases in a readily accessible manner would be helpful for your customers especially pros & cons. With a lot of review and comparison sites I’m dubious about how truly independent they actually are, especially when it comes to software such as anti-virus suites.

Customers

I covered this in last weeks post basically it means fostering an awareness of what really troubles your customers. This can be done via social media, conversation or by visiting online forums. I often hear comments, which make me think ‘that’s not quite right’. This is where a customer, reader or subscriber has misunderstood a concept and this has thrown their reasoning out of kilter. Myth busting is a potentially lucrative source of blog post ideas; therefore listening is an important facet of the ‘blogging mindset’.

Parting thoughts

Choosing topics to blog about is one of the hardest elements of blogging but it doesn’t have to be, as with all things practise makes perfect ands it DOES get easier. I’ve provided some ideas for generating inspiration this is the blogging equivalent of give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime which is probably more effective in the long term than a simple list of blogging ideas, which I often find to be very formulaic and cliched.

By | August 12th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging: Discover your voice!

voices

Voice is what makes your blog unique
Image credit:Karen Murphy(Flickr.com)

Imagine an hour-long conversation with someone who talks in a droning monotone? Unpleasant isn’t it. You’d be bored to tears, and looking for any excuse to escape, I know I would be. For Bloggers an equivalent concept is that of voice, voice is what allows you to inject some character into your writing. This can work both ways. I’ve just finished a book where the author was cracking loads of jokes; the problem was I didn’t find most of them funny. So by the end of the book I was quite irritated, not the impression the author wished to make. It is the Concept of voice, which I will be examining in this week’s blog post

Why is voice important?

Henneke Duistermaat argues that with 1000s of other blogs covering similar topics it’s vital to ensure your blog stands out from the crowd. Having a unique voice is one way to achieve this. It’s also great for building a rapport with your readers. What sort of impression do you want your blog to give? Do you wish to appear Casual or formal? Some of the blogs I visit can be pretty acerbic at times; this is fine on Political blogs but I feel it would be inappropriate for my company blog and would alienate readers, although occasionally a bit of sarcasm does creep into my blog, not too much mind. Authenticity is a factor here. I would be unable to write in a ‘mumsy’ tone that might be perfectly fine for some blogs and if I did it would appear cloying and insincere. Which I can assure you is not the impression I wish to give. In some ways voice is like humour, Jokes, which are fine with my friends, would be inappropriate in front of my parents. Voice is the same. You need to choose an appropriate voice (or jokes) for the occasion.

So what is voice?

Voice is the tone of your writing and much more. Humour or lack off, the Language used. Voice consists of all of the elements, which make your writing uniquely yours. Does your writing motivate people? Is it bursting with positivity? Voice is adding a dash of personality to your writing. Finding your voice, will take time.

An Unfolding process

Marilyn Martin describes an unfolding process as writers are prepared to take greater risks as their skills and confidence grow, that certainly describes how I’ve found my voice. Confidence developing over time is a fairly common theme. The first posts on this blog were halting uneasy affairs, where I was terrified of offending people. Now I’m quite happy to share my opinion on things, if I cannot on my own blog where can I? Although I feel journey metaphors are completely overused (there I go, adding my opinion again!)You do gradually stop self-censoring your work although I always bear in mind who I’m writing for, and where the posts will appear, which means I never swear on this blog. The friendly & approachable tone I like to maintain, on this blog gives me plenty of leeway.
What sort of impression do you wish to give?
Returning to swearing, I feel it has no place on a professional blog and it runs counter to the impression I hope this blog will make on visitors. So there is some similarity between voice and branding. Branding is possibly a more definitive choice how your brand wishes to appear where voice is almost ‘does it feel right’ decisions about what you write and how you go about it.

Finding your voice

Finding Inspiration from other bloggers appears to be a popular way of developing one’s own voice. Not every voice is going to appeal to you. That’s fine. Choose your own style of blogging and go for it! I would advise choosing a style & voice you are comfortable with. Shoehorning yourself into a crazy writing persona is not going to come across in an authentic manner. If someone is self-consciously trying to appear zany or controversial it makes a negative impression with me. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone or you’ll get nowhere and your writing could be viewed as bland. Please don’t get hung up over this, just be yourself when writing and add a bit of personality to the mix. Over time you will find the balance, which is right for you. Personally, authenticity and quality trump all other factors for me. Voice fades into the background if I encounter a really great content i.e. a blog post, which is interesting and answers any questions I have.

Parting thoughts

Voice adds character and zest to your writing. Voice is what makes writing uniquely yours. Lauren Pope (gathercontent.com) suggests that voice comprises 3 main elements Personality, Rhythm & Vocabulary. She also recommends considering voice & tone separately. Developing a voice guide for your brand will lead to a consistent and recognisable brand voice so its worth spending time developing. Stephanie Schwab’s four-part formula is primarily for social media but is equally applicable to your blog voice. Schwab’s formula makes it fairly easy to develop a voice for your blog; She regards tone as a subset of voice rather than as a separate factor. However voice is broken down I agree with bufferapp when they argue “Essentially, there is one voice for your brand and many tones that refine that voice.” You need to choose a voice and tone, which matches the impression you want your brand to make.
Defining my voice
I want my blog to be friendly and inspiring. a place people can rely on to find good quality guidance. Enabling SME owners to make informed decisions about their digital marketing and website .I make a conscious effort not to use technical jargon where possible.

By | August 5th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:For whom the blog scrolls

Customers

Modelling your customers leads to more targetted content and blog posts
Image credit:Vinqui(Flickr.com)

Take the time to discover more about your prospective customers

Hopefully last weeks post convinced you that Blogging is nothing to be worried about. If you are going to spend time and resources maintaining a blog you need to be sure it’s covering what your customers are interested in. In his book Youtility Jay Baer argues that:

For your marketing to be so useful that people want it and would gladly pay for it you have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions.

This is just as applicable to blogging in addition to content marketing and is the theme I will examine in this weeks blog post.

The Sales funnel influences the questions your prospective customers are asking. Your blog content should reflect this and ensure that the complete funnel is covered. Failure to do this will mean your customers go elsewhere for answers. Bryony Thomas argues that your message needs to appeal to both the emotional and logical needs of your customers, now we’ll focus on the sales funnel and examine the different types of content, which are appropriate at different stages of the funnel.

Top of the Funnel Content

Blogs are associated with this stage of the sales funnel; the prospective customer has not made their mind up and is looking for information. This will enable them to make informed choices, and your blog content needs to reflect that. Your blog content needs to be informative.Moz.com suggest the following types of content for this stage

• Blog Posts
• Long form Content
• Comprehensive guides

If in this stage of the buyer’s journey you can become a trusted source of information, you have an excellent chance of securing a sale. Searchenginepeople.com argue that your content should fulfil the following criteria
• Honest opinions, your experiences, tips and tricks – the kind of stuff that made them sign up in the first place.
• Give your expertise freely. Focus on helping the lead with resourceful content.
• Create personalized content where possible. Certainly do address them by their first names.
• Encourage them to follow you on social.(source:searchenginepeople.com)

The chances are at this stage that the prospective customer is using a search engine to look for answers. This means that keywords are a factor. Your content should entertain, educate or inspire (digitalmarketer.com).
At this stage of the journey your blog content should give prospective customers the foundations they need to pass on to the middle of the funnel. The customers become more informed the further they go through the sales process.

How can I discover what sort of content people are after?
For more established blogs there is no need to guess what sort of content your readers what. Make use of search data or create a survey to discover what sort of content they find most interesting. If your blog is just starting out the Keyword research or tools such as Google trends will show the sort of content people are searching for. Literally.
How can I identify my most popular posts?
There are two main ways to identify the most popular blog posts, these are:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics will enable you to examine the post traffic on your website. Showing the posts, which have attracted the most readers.

Analyse Social Engagement

This examines the impact of your blog posts on social media. How many comments, shares and likes the posts attract.

Once you have found your most successful content, then continue to pursue this theme. From the Data you have analysed you’ll know what sort of questions your readers’ want answered.
Forums and sites such as reddit.com and quora.com are an excellent source of information about the problems, which face your potential customers. Use this knowledge to answer their problems you will have a popular and respected blog that generates a lot of traffic.

Why is this important?

Content takes time and resources to develop. You need to be sure any content you develop will appeal to your prospective customers. This is where customer profiling and personas come in handy. These enable you to develop a detailed picture of your different types of customer. Then you can develop blog posts and content, which will really help them to overcome any problems. Lee Odden argues

‘Content Marketing often starts with doing a better job of connecting with customers in more relevant ways. But how can you connect with customers if you don’t know who they are or what they care about?’

Odden calls for¬ a more sophisticated customer profiling that just using keywords making the point ‘Keywords don’t buy products and services–Customers do.

I agree with Odden’s emphasis on the need to go beyond keyword research, by gaining a real understanding of your customer’s needs. You can go on to achieve real blogging success. This is where personas come into the picture.

What are Personas?

Personas are brief character sketches of your prospective customers. Personas provide the following: demographics, technology used, what the customer has have problems with and how they attempt to look for answers to their problems. An example persona would be:

Terri, Female, 42,Artist.
Terri uses an iPad for most of her web browsing and she’s a keen user of social media. Terri struggles to use search engines effectively and is interested in Shopping cart technologies for her small online artwork business, especially connectivity to the PayPal network.

Armed with this data I can create blog posts specifically to address Terri’s concern, that’s the advantage of creating personas.

Parting thoughts

Good content is useful and informative. It answers the problems of your readership. To develop good content you need to know exactly what problems your potential clients face. Keyword research and other keyword tools such as Google Trends are only the start of this process. You need to go beyond this and develop a selection of fully fleshed out personas. Then you can be confident your blog posts will hit the client’s sweet spot. This is more effective than taking risks and hoping your blog posts and content will answer their questions. Personas are a popular and effective way to visualise your prospective customers. This means it’s well worth taking the time to develop a selection of personas. Ensure that all of your prospective customer types are captured.

Further Reading & Bibliography

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype(2014)
Jay Baer
Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing(2012)
Lee Odden
  1. How to Find and Engage Your Target Audienceaddthis.com
  2. How to Identify Your Online Target Audience and Sell More conversionxl.com
  3. The Importance of Knowing Who You’re Targeting coalmarch.com
  4. How To Create Better Content For Your Customersneilpatel.com
  5. 50 Blogging Benefits that Will Change Your Business Forever/thesaleslion.com
By | July 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:strategise for success

writing
In the world of Online Marketing, Strategy is a word thrown around with abandon. This is a shame as it devalues the term. if one aims to create a successful blog, a blogging strategy is essential. Strategy is a fancy label for something, which is more or less common sense. Enabling you to blog confidently. See what I mean about the term strategy being chucked about a lot?

What is a blogging strategy?

In essence blogging strategy is a short series of questions, once these are answered you have developed a blogging strategy. So its not as confusing /esoteric as it first appears.

• What is the purpose of the blog?
• What are your objectives?
• How do I measure the success of my blog?
• Who is the blog for?
• How often should I blog?
• How long should my blog posts be?
• How should I promote my blog content?

Why have a blogging strategy?

Answering these questions will provide your blog with a clear purpose, making it more coherent and focused. This removes the problem of blog posts which jar against other posts, leaving the reader with the question ‘why did they blog about this?’. I’ve seen larger companies and agencies fall into this trap. Clear goals will ensure your blog serves a useful purpose so you are not just ‘blogging for blogging’s sake’ by drawing up an appropriate set of metrics, you can monitor if you are achieving these goals. If your blog content interests your target audience then it will lead to a more engaged audience and they in turn are more likely to share the content on social media. Having a blogging strategy improves your chances of creating content your customers and followers want.

What are your objectives?

Convince and Convert offers 3 reasons for having a company blog. Each of the different reasons has a slightly different emphasis and different metrics. Having a clear reason for maintaining a company blog would appear obvious, however I suspect a lot of companies would be unable to provide a clear reason why. Don’t be one of them.

The three reasons convinceandconvert.com offers are as follows:

Blogging for Content
This is where there is a definite emphasis on search engine optimisation. The blog being used to drive traffic and attract backlinks.
Blogging for Commerce
This has similarities with blogging for content Here the emphasis is more on sales with conversions being the name of the game.
Blogging for Community
These blogs try to create a consistent readership around a certain theme or interest. There will be quite a lot of interaction with the readership. This type of blogging is generally for non-commercial reasons, once the community is flourishing. A commercial aspect may surface such as T-shirt sales or .mp3 downloads.

I’ll add a fourth category, which follows on from this
Blogging for Branding
This is where the blogger is attempting to raise his or her profile and to develop their brand. The blog posts are designed, for sharing widely on social media in the hope that some of the content will ‘go viral’.
Please note these aims are not exclusive. It’s fine to focus mainly on one of the goals, whilst including elements of another category. Chasing too many overall goals will lead to a blog that lacks focus. A clear focus and effective targeting are the ingredients of a really great blog. A blog, which answers your target audience’s questions, in an accessible way. Will be regarded as sticky, absorbing and useful. This will attract readers and subscribers, which, surely is the goal of any blog.

How do I measure the success of my blog?

Depending on the objectives you have chosen. You need to choose a suitable set of metrics. Analytics expert Avinash Kaushik has developed a great set of metrics that are easily to implement. They will allow you to monitor the impact of your blog with confidence. We’ll examine a few now I don’t want to crib all of his hard work so I will include a link to his quite blog in the further reading section.

1.Raw Author Contribution

a) Number of Posts / Number of Months Blogging

b) Number of Words In Post / Number of Posts
2.Conversion rate.
this will give you a good indication of the engagement you have with your visitors.
Conversation Rate = Number of Visitor Comments / Number of Posts

Know exactly whom you are writing for

Personas are a vital part of any good blogging strategy. Personas are character sketches of your customers, ideally backed up with data. If you can relate to your readers, this will help you to target your blog posts. Good quality content answers readers’ queries and is more likely to be shared. Having a good understanding of your reader’s requirements will enable you to help them.

How often should I blog?

Blogging frequency is another element of a blogging strategy. There is no definite answer to how often should a blog be updated. my answer would be as often as your resources will allow, without the quality suffering . I feel that daily blogging is not a long term option. Quality will decline in the long run. Regular blogging has a number of benefits such as:
Indexing rate
This is how often the search engines index (or read) your website to see if there have been updates. A regularly updated blog will be indexed more often.
Search Engine Ranking
Regular updates boost the search engine ranking of ones website. Failing to update a blog often will result in a rankings drop. I can confirm this from personal experience.
Establish Authority Status
A regularly updated blog looks great, and will help to establish your authority. Over time this could increase the brand loyalty of your readers. Especially if you offer good quality content.
Shareable content for social media
A regular conduit of good quality content will provide plenty to share on social media. Raising your brand’s profile even further.
More subscribers
Once you have established yourself as a source of regular good quality information, it will be easier to attract blog and newsletter subscribers.
Attract a loyal readership
A regular good quality blog that answers people’s questions will attract readers. However, your content promotion efforts will need to be up to scratch.

Promoting Content

Promoting content is just as important as creating it. However, it’s an aspect of blogging, which is often neglected. How much time should be spent promoting content is a personal choice. I think it is prudent to spend nearly as much time promoting blog posts as creating them. This means making an active effort to network with other bloggers. Rather than relying on Google’s good graces. How your content should be promoted is another aspect of your blogging strategy to consider. Effectively promoting blog content requires a lot more than simply sharing a blog post on social media. Blogger outreach or building ties with other bloggers is a major aspect of blog content promotion. Many bloggers are influencers one definition of which is:

Influencers are a person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others.

Search engines want to reward good quality content with high search rankings. How do they know if content is good quality? If other people are sharing it is a good sign, especially if they are authorities in a niche. Blogger outreach needs to be an on-going process. You cannot approach other bloggers ‘Hey! I’ve got a great blog post. Help me to promote it NOW!’

Guest blogging is a great way to increase the size of your network and to build your reputation. Guest blogging involves writing posts for other people’s blogs in return for a service or backlink

The easiest way to find guest blogging opportunities in your niche is simply to search for them. a search query such as niche-keyword + “submit a guest post” should find plenty of guest blogging opportunities. Kissmetrics rather helpfully provide a list of potential search queries. Simply add a keyword for your niche where appropriate.

• keyword “submit a guest post”
• keyword “guest post”
• keyword “guest post by”
• keyword “accepting guest posts”
• keyword “guest post guidelines”

Parting thoughts

This article has explained what a blogging strategy is and I hope convinced you of the benefits .As you can see it’s not complex, merely a set of common sense questions which need to be addressed before one commits to having a blog. Let’s be honest having a blog is a commitment, a pleasant one, once you get used to it. You cannot expect to just blog for two of three posts. It is a long-term effort, a marathon not a sprint. Having a blogging strategy ensures you are running in the right direction.

Further Reading & Bibliography

  • Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    1. Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    2. 31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas businessesgrow.com
    3. How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas contentmarketinginstitute.com
    4. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guidehubspot.com
    5. Planning Your Blog Strategy For 2015 Starts Today, Why Wait Until January?magnet4blogging.net
    6. How Do You Create An Effective Blogging Strategy? pushingsocial.com
    7. 1210 Reasons to Develop a B2B Blogging Strategykomarketingassociates.com
    8. 7 Successful Blogging Strategies from Great Bloggersfalconerwebmarketing.com

    By | July 22nd, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    To blog or not to blog? The case for SME blogging

    writing

    Image credit: Bruce Guenter(Flickr.com)

    This series of blog posts will elaborate on the fantastic framework developed by Simply Business.co.uk I’ll examine every stage in the framework in detail and make sure you have all the information and tools necessary to succeed at business blogging, in this article I will examine the case for blogging, what the advantages are and why I believe every business should maintain a blog if they have a company website. In the series of blog posts coming up I will try to make sure you have all the information required to run a successful and interesting company blog.

    In my experience, most small companies in the UK do not maintain a regular blogging schedule. I’m not sure why this is the case, I suspect a dislike of writing lies at the heart of it, that and trouble figuring what to blog about

    Benefits of Blogging

    I know that the advantages of blogging in business are widely understood and quite possibly it’s a topic which has been done to death elsewhere. I include them here for the sake of completeness; I’ll be honest and say that SEO Benefits are my primary reason for maintaining my company blog; there are plenty of other benefits, which we’ll examine now

    Increase your authority

    Blogging is a widely accepted way of developing your reputation in a particular niche; many bloggers are now regarded as experts in their fields after creating popular and successful blogs. People such as Neil Patel (quicksprout.com), Jon Morrow, Jon Bloomer, Seth Godin et al all started out as bloggers.

    Domain Authority

    This is not the same as domain authority; a SEO metric developed by moz.com, which measures the authority of a web domain. Page authority measures the authority of individual pages within a domain. The authority to which I refer here is the reputation and stature of a blogger. Higher authority sites will rank more highly in the search engines, which brings us neatly to …

    The SEO Benefits of blogging

    There are a number of SEO Benefits to blogging such as

    • Fresh Content
    • Target specific Keywords
    • Backlinks

    I’ll now examine these in greater detail.

    Fresh Content

    Search Engines like fresh content, neglect your blog for a week or two and its likely your website will drop a few places in the SERPs

    Target specific Keywords

    Blogging provides an easy way to target specific keywords. Simply blog about the topics that, you wish to rank for. This can include LSI Keywords in addition to Search Keywords.

    Backlinks

    Backlinks remain an important part of the SEO Equation. Blogs provide one of the easiest ways of attracting backlinks if your content is of good quality. They also provide a ready source of shareable content although this is more a social media consideration.

    Linkable assets

    Linkable assets are simply awesome pages on your site that you can leverage for links over and over (and over) again. quicksprout.com

    Backlink expert Eric Ward suggests that linkable assets are a vital factor when developing content for a website, really good quality blog posts are linkable assets and if they are not I’d suggest the quality needs to improve

    Parting thoughts

    This weeks post has highlighted some of blogging’s many benefits, if you’ve not written for a number of years some reticence is understandable. I’d argue that the benefits of search engine rankings alone make the effort more than worthwhile. Thesaleslion.com argue that

    Blogging, when done the right way, will change your business. It will change your life. It will change everything.thesaleslion.com

    The aim of this series of blog posts will be to ensure that you have all the information at hand to develop a great quality blog for your business and are able to blog the right way, so I hope to see you in a couple of weeks time when I examine setting worthwhile goals for your blog.

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Blog to win business:How to enchant readers and woo customers
    Henneke Duistermaat
    1. The SEO Benefits of Blogginggot2web.com
    2. Top Five SEO Benefits of Blogging localvisibilitysystem.com
    3. Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links searchenginewatch.com
    4. SEO Benefits from Blogstoprankblog.com
    5. Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketingblog.hubspot.com
    6. The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website forbes.com
    7. The 20 Biggest Benefits of Blogging incomediary.com
    8. 5 Benefits of Blogging for Your Small Businessopenvine.com
    9. 50 Blogging Benefits that Will Change Your Business Forever/thesaleslion.com
    By | July 8th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    local search’s growing importance

    Local Business

    Image credit: James Ian L.A.(Flickr.com)

    This article will cover Local Search one of my favourite topics. I’ll explore questions such as what exactly is local search? And why is local SEO for small businesses so important?

    What exactly is local search?

    Local Search covers a specific area, such as a town or city. A map containing pinned locations indicates local search results.
    local search results

    What + where?

    what + where searches are a handy way to visualise local search, for example. What are you looking for? and where are you looking for it? Takeaway Pizza Morecambe would be an example of a what + where search, as would Taxi Kendal. Queries of this nature will result in local search results being displayed.

    Why is local search so important?

    After examining the data, local search’s importance is obvious

    • 61% of local searches result in a purchase (Searchenginewatch.com).
    • 74 % of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey group).

    The growth of mobile computing underlines the importance of local search. As mobile searches have now overtaken searches from a traditional computer, the importance of local SEO is underlinined

    • 53% of mobile searches have local intent (Mediative.com).
    • Local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day.
    • 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

    Search Engines help the public to search for reputable good quality local businesses. This influences the data that the search engines collect.

    Google My Business

    Over the last few years Google’s handling of local SEO has been pretty haphazard. A number of competing platforms such as Google plus local, Google maps and Google places for Business complicated the issue. Fortunately, things have now stabilised and the Google my Business Dashboard has consolidated the various platforms in an easy to use dashboard, now we’ll examine what you need to do to ensure your business is correctly listed.
    Google offer the following description of Google my Business

    Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

    Local Ranking factors

    1.Citations

    Citations are mentions of your business on other websites, typically business directories. A full citation requires the following information:

    • Business Name.
    • Business Address.
    • Business Phone number.

    This is usually abbreviated to NAP (Name, Address, Phone). Note: a citation doesn’t necessarily require a link back to your companies’ website. Citations help Google to confirm if your business is legitimate, with regards to the authenticity the next point consistency is vital.

    Consistency

    Consistency across the web is vital, Ensure that NAP data is identical for every website where your company is listed.

    Reviews

    Reviews are another important factor affecting local search results, the three major search engines handle this differently. Google’s handling of reviews has improved dramatically. A year ago it was difficult for customers to leave reviews in the Google network, now it’s a straightforward process. Bing local lacks review functionality, however they have a partnership with the yelp! reviews network with data being shared between the two companies.

    Parting thoughts

    Local search offers a productive way for smaller businesses to actively market themselves to their local community. building up a number of citations and ensuring NAP consistency is essential. if they can achieve a snack pack listing which would be effective for both desktop and mobile searches. I’m convinced its the best way for small local businesses to make an impact on the SERPs (Search engine Results Pages)

    Glossary

    Local Search
    Search which covers a specific locale, and results in a map with pinned locations.
    Local Pack
    A prominent window which, in Google contains 3 results.
    NAP
    Name adress and Phone number, the main elements of a citation.
    Citation
    Where your business is referenced on another website.

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    1. Why is Local Search So Important?ducttapemarketing.com
    2. The Definitive List of Local Search Citations localvisibilitysystem.com
    3. 6 Local SEO Stats Every Online Marketer Needs To Know searchengineland.com
    4. Local Content Silos: The Secret To Local Search Successsearchengineland.com
    5. Local SEO: How To Rank Your Local Businesssearchengineland.com
    6. Top 5 Issues Wrecking Local SEO For Multi-Location Businesses searchengineland.com
    7. The New Google Local Search Display searchengineland.com
    8. How Not To Do Local SEO In A Post-Pigeon Erasearchengineland.com
    9. The 16 Secrets Of Guerrilla Local SEOsearchengineland.com

    By | June 15th, 2016|SEO, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

    On Guard! How you can prevent WordPress spam

    Guardsmen on duty

    Image credit: NH53(Flickr.com)

    I love WordPress don’t get me wrong but one of the major banes of WordPress is spam, spam registrations, and comments, I know for a fact it bothers/irritates some of my customers, it certainly bothers me. This is not the fault of WordPress it’s an unwanted side effect of WordPress’ continued popularity, one Estimate claims that 59.4% of the web consists of WordPress websites (ManageWP.com) this is based on research by w3techs.com, this makes it far and away the most popular Content Management System and so a more tempting target for would-be hackers. One estimate claims there are over 74 million WordPress websites although this includes the WordPress.com hosted blog system that is slightly different to the self-hosted WordPress websites.

    What do I mean by spam?

    By spam here I mean unwanted or irrelevant comments left behind on your blog, unwanted user registrations are also part of the problem albeit a less visible part, it’s very easy to set up WordPress so only registered users can post comments so in a way unwanted registrations are a slight breach of your blog’s defences, so its better to completely prevent unwanted registrations, that in essence is what the solution I’m proposing does it prevents spam bots from registering and thus prevents them from posting, thus hopefully leading to a spam free blog & website.

    Effective but Unobtrusive

    Confession time my eyesight is not what it once was and some of the old fashioned reCaptchas are a real hurdle for me to read, I’m sure others sometimes suffer from this problem, so as I’m not a bot I do struggle with some reCAPTCHAs and why I’m such a fan of the new Google checkbox system which is easy on the eye and tough for bots to break through with simple questions like are you human? providing the obstacle to registration,I can happily live with that if it leads to a spam free web.This is what I mean by Unobstrusive validation no real difficulty to humans but a major problem for spam bots.

    Yeah, but doesn’t Akismet prevent spam?

    In my experience Akismet does stop spam but its less effective when it comes to preventing unwanted registrations having just cleared out 6,000 spam registrations I can testify to this, Akismet is free for personal sites/blogs but its $5 per month for business websites so I don’t generally use it for clients, I want my anti-spam solution to be free.

    Tightening things up

    new Captcha animation
    Although I’m generally dubious about Corporations and the benefits they bring in this case, Google has done the world a favour improving reCaptchas into what Google call the No CAPTCHA reCaptchas, the description of which follows.

    reCAPTCHA is a free service that protects your site from spam and abuse. It uses advanced risk analysis techniques to tell humans and bots apart. With the new API, a significant number of your valid human users will pass the reCAPTCHA challenge without having to solve a CAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA comes in the form of a widget that you can easily add to your blog, forum, registration form, etc
    In order to in order to take advantage of it you’ll need to register on the ReCaptcha website (pictured below)

    Once you’ve registered on the Google reCaptcha site you’ll be presented with a public and private key for your website, these need to be integrated with your WordPress website and I’ve been using the WP-reCAPTCHA plugin in order to integrate the two.

    The Spammers make use of automated spam bots in order to plaster links back to their websites on every available place such as forums, comments forms or unprotected website, if the spam bots visit 10,000 sites and only place backlinks on 1%, that’s 1000 backlinks, even Newspaper comments boards sometimes fall victim to these spam bots. Your job as site owner is to make it impossible for spambots to register and to do that we play the numbers game from the other side of the board, we make our sites unique from a security perspective so it’s NOT worth the time of the spambot operators spending lots of time trying how to figure out the defences in place to limit their effectiveness, I’ll be developing a WordPress plugin to add even more protection to the registration process

    A spambot is a computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam. Spambots usually create accounts and send spam messages with them.[1] Web hosts and website operators have responded by banning spammers, leading to an ongoing struggle between them and spammers in which spammers find new ways to evade the bans and anti-spam programs, and hosts counteract these methods

    Parting thoughts

    I used to be an administrator for a popular forum, one with over 100,000 posts most administrators and users of forums will be well aware of the problem posed by comment and registration spam it can ruin the forums. As admin, I tried every trick I could think of to eliminate the problems but by far the most effective approach was inserting a fairly simple question (what is the capital of England?)into the registration process this killed the problem stone dead, that’s why I aim to develop a WordPress plugin which will go a long way towards preventing spambot registration I personally recommend a multi-layered approach to spam prevention. With spam prevention is far better than cure and preventing spambots from registering on your website foils any attempts to post comments if your WordPress is correctly set up.

    By | May 26th, 2016|SME Online Marketing, Web Design|0 Comments

    Beginners guide to SEO

    searching

    Image credit: Strevo(Flickr.com)

    I hear so much completely inaccurate information regarding SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) I decided to create this SEO Guide for Small Businesses, this cannot cover every aspect of SEO it will, however, cover the basics in a plain English that the layperson can understand I’ll keep any technical jargon down to a bare minimum so the general public can easily understand it (there’s a Glossary at the end) and this can serve as an SEO starter guide for the typical small business owner it focuses on organic SEO rather than Pay Per Click (PPC), as with the other content on my site this guide is mainly for small business owners who wish to keep costs down, so I’ll not examine tools which are priced for agencies and larger firm instead, preferring to focus on cheap/free tools.

    The crux of the matter

    The typical Small Business owner is unconcerned with debates such as ‘is SEO an art?’ or is ‘SEO a science?’ instead, their focus is on whereabouts their website shows up in the search results as this has a huge impact on the number of visitors their website attracts, SEO is the process which should result in your website ranking more highly for the words your customers actually use when searching for your company. The aim of SEO is to make your website more easily found by your customers which in itself is a laudable aim, in a nutshell, Keyword research is finding the keywords your target market and customers actually use

    Keywords, Keywords …Keywords

    Keywords are one of the areas of SEO I found confusing initially
    perhaps keyword phrases would be a more accurate description. ‘Widget Shop’ is an example of a keyword despite the fact it consists of two words, ‘Widget Shop Manchester’ is another example of a keyword, Keywords are important because they can be researched (using a variety of tools including Google’s keyword planner) to see what phrases your target audience are using when searching, these can and should be researched so there is no guesswork involved when selecting keywords, additionally its possible to see how much competition there is for particular keywords, the screenshot below illustrates Google’s Keyword planner in action, personally I don’t like the Google Keyword tool so I’ve suggested a couple of alternative tools in the list below

    Free Keyword tools

    1. Google Keyword Planner
    2. Majestic SEO
    3. Übersuggest
    4. Semrush
    5. Bing Webmaster Tools
    6. So what are Long Tail Keywords?

      Long tail keywords contain more words and are generally associated with the later stages of the purchase funnel as the searcher drills down for more specific answers, returning to the widget shop example ‘Acme AC456 Widget stockist, Manchester’ would be an example of a long tail keyword search as you can see it’s a lot more specific than ‘widget shop Manchester’ here the searcher is looking for a particular Make and Model of Widget

    Onpage and Offpage SEO

    SEO generally falls into two categories, On page SEO and Off page SEO, Onpage SEO is concerned with the contents of YOUR website such as the text and images, Offpage is more concerned with other websites which link to your site (the backlinks people are always talking about) The model which is usually mentioned here is that Google view a backlink as a vote for your website, a site which lots of people are linking to must be good …(well not always see Gaming the System) this is the concept which lies at the heart of Pagerank a concept drawn up by Larry Page who along with Sergei Brin founded Google, Google offer the following definition of Pagerank

    PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websiteswww.Wikipedia.com

    So what on earth is Link Juice?

    A model that the search engine industry uses to visualise the impact of backlinks is that of linkjuice, backlinks to your website provide ‘linkjuice’ the more ‘linkjuice’ your website accumulates the higher its authority in the eyes of Google, not all websites provide the same amount of link juice, high authority websites such as Wikipedia and the BBC provide

    A short Aside: Google’s perspective

    The World of search is extremely competitive. So how do Google stay ahead of their competitors such as Bing & Yahoo? The short answer is by providing better results and answers to users queries, this thinking lies at the heart of semantic search where the search engine is described as an answer engine. By attempting to understand Google’s perspective suddenly the changes they implement make much more sense. Google’s Mission statement is as follows

    Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.Google.co.uk

    Gaming the System?

    As soon as the importance of Search in Online Marketing became evident there arose people willing to use underhand techniques in order to boost their search engine ranking and businesses only to happy to take any shortcuts available, its fair to say that Google are engaged in a constant battle to negate these shortcuts and cheats, these explains Algorithm changes such as Panda and Penguin, the aim of Panda was to prevent sites with poor quality content enjoying high search engine rankings, Penguin penalised sites which make use of black hat SEO techniques and used poor quality backlinks which were freely being traded at one point.

    White hat, Black hat and grey hat

    This terminology comes from definitions of hackers in the field of Computer Security and I think originally from Cowboy movies, i.e. the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wear black hats. This has been adopted to describe the techniques used by search engine optimisers (SEOs). White hat SEOS only use techniques Google approve of. Conversely Black Hat SEOs use techniques that Google don’t approve of such as Link farms and Keyword stuffing, grey hats use a mixture of white hat and black hat techniques in order to boost search engine rankings hence the grey hat moniker that implies a mix of black and white

    On Page SEO: Ranking factors

    Although search Engine Algorithms are a closely guarded secret, the following on page factors are widely regarded as being important (items listed in order of importance)

    1. Page Title tags
    2. Meta Description
    3. Headings H1 especially
    4. Website/Data Structure
    5. SEO Friendly URL Structure

    Parting thoughts

    Despite one or two persistent misconceptions about Keyword stuffed Rubbish, Search Engine Optimisation has come along in leaps and bounds over the last ten to fifteen years, Google has publicly stated that their three main ranking signals are, Links, Content, and RankBrain. Contemporary SEO is all about Content, if you can provide a website full of great quality content or linkable assets being the term link builders use you’ll have nothing to worry about search engine wise. In my experience this is where the vast majority of Small Businesses fall short failing to provide any useful or interesting content on their websites

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Beginners Guide to SEO
    SEO Moz
    The Art of SEO (Theory in Practice)
    Eric Enge,Stephan Spencer, Jessie Jessie Stricchiola, Rand Fishkin
    The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors
    Search Engineland.com
    1. How to write meta title tags for SEO (with good and bad examples)searchenginewatch.com
    2. What is off page SEO? www.reliablesoft.net
    3. On-Page SEO Factors: Which Ones Have the Most Impact on Rankings? www.searchenginejournal.com
    4. On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Pagewww.backlinko.com
    5. What is link juice?www.goup.co.uk
    6. Topics Over Keywords: An SEO-Driven Approach To Content Marketing www.anumhussain.com
    7. 12 Free Keyword Tools To Replace Google’s Keyword Tool www.internetmarketingninjas.com
    8. How to Find Content Topics That Score Big Using Keyword Researchwww.copyblogger.com

    By | May 20th, 2016|SEO, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments