Saturday, August 15, 2009
Stumble Upon is a social media website that allows you to tag your personal and professional interests so you can filter the web for sites based on your particular interests when you surf for content. Rather than searching for specific terms like you would on Google, on Stumble Upon you can surf through sites that are more broadly related to your areas of interest. You can then tag the websites you find with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”
Stumble Upon also works like a social bookmarking site because you can tag the websites you like and share them with other users. To get started with Stumble Upon, add your own website along with a short description and keyword tags so it can be “stumbled” when other users find it.
Stumble Upon provides a powerful way for you to drive massive amounts of traffic to your website. You can get your website viewed by people all over the world if it gets “stumbled.” Stumble Upon can dramatically improve your online presence because it builds backlinks created by users, helps you to establish a reader base for your content, and gives your site exposure very quickly. Here are 10 tips that will help you bring a substantial amount of traffic to your site.
1. Websites that tend to get the most traffic from Stumble Upon are Web 2.0 websites, video websites, and humor websites. Try to include humor and videos into your website content if you want to have a greater chance of success in driving traffic and retaining readers from Stumble Upon.
2. Good site design will make you or break you. Visitors tend to only stay for a short time and look around so if your site design is less than attractive, you won’t see many return visitors or visitors who stay for very long. Visual appeal is essential.
3. Make sure it’s obvious and easy for site visitors to subscribe to your blog via RSS feed or sign up for your newsletter. This will allow you to get new readers who in turn become potential customers and repeat visitors.
4. Brand image is essential to your success on Stumble Upon. If you want people to continually return to your site and have it be imprinted in their minds, you need to make sure your URL is easy to remember and that your brand image is crisp and memorable.
5. Offer tools and materials on your site that cannot be accessed elsewhere to attract return visits.
6. Make sure that your website provides plenty of compelling content. The more the better because then visitors have a reason to return and read the materials that they could not finish the first time around.
7. If you have a blog, make sure people can subscribe via email because not everyone reads blogs through a reader. That way you can cater to different types of site visitors.
8. After one of your articles or blog posts has been stumbled, make sure to have plenty of great content ready to provide to your site visitors because they are going to have high expectations. You will probably have the most success if you use articles that are similar to the one that got a lot of stumbles.
9. Everyone loves to win free stuff so make sure to hold a contest or giveaway after a spike in traffic. This will help you attract regular readers.
10. You are only allowed five tags on your articles in Stumble Upon so try to make them as general as possible. This will in turn mean you get more eyeballs on your content.
Keep these tips in mind when using Stumble Upon to increase traffic to your site. Stumble Upon is used by a broad demographic of people and is a very effective way to get your content seen and read. By following these tips, you will be able to attract visitors to your site who will in turn become regulars.
Labels: link_building, social_media
Friday, August 14, 2009
Today everyone wants to have better search engine result pages ranks. However only one can have the rank 1. Therefore you need to optimize constantly your websites and to have an edge over others you need to do something different and unique. Following are 10 rare tips/secrets which can help you get high search engine ranks.
First, many people still use directories and search engines give preference to websites listed in directories. There are many free and paid directories available today. The free directories usually ask for link exchange, however you should remember that if you have many links on your web page, search engines can reduce your page ranks or rank on search engine result. If you are paying for link submission in a directory, make sure that the page rank of the directory is high and it has good traffic.
Secondly, many search engines also provide sponsored links. Therefore you can pay to get listing at the top of the result page. However, you have to pay for every visitor sent to your website. This way you can get traffic very quickly.
Thirdly, submit articles to article submission websites. Write quality articles related to your websites and products and you can submit those articles to famous articles submission websites. You can also have links in the articles. Therefore you can get backlinks and traffic from an article submission website.
Fourth, get as many links as possible. You can buy backlinks and many websites display links for free also such as classifieds’ web page.
Fifth, join as many forums and online communities which are related to your websites and products. Talk about your products there and you can also provide links to your website. This way you can traffic as well as backlinks.
Sixth, advertise your website in media such as Television ads, newspapers, magazines etc.
Seventh, have proper content. Optimize the content on your web page. The content should meet the expectations and needs of your visitors. Further, the content should be keyword optimized.
Eight, you can have many email campaigns where you send mails to thousands of people with clickable links. This way you can get good traffic.
Nine, always have a sitemap for your website. This help the visitors to explore the website more freely and conveniently.
Tenth, you must burn feeds for your websites. This way person get informed when there is some new content on your websites.
Getting To The Top Of Google’s Rankings
Keywords are the cornerstones of ranking success, relevant and appropriate and tied to unique content on your site through products, articles and blogs. If your site lacks this it might be viewed as possible spam or irrelevant content. Your keywords also have to be the sort of words or title your visitors would type in a search and are popular, for a minimal fee the Google Wordtracker tool can be used for a day in order for you to find the best keywords in your sector or you can download free software for the same purpose. Get it anchor linked to your site and a good link campaign should get top results.
Search Engine Failings Are Only Human
Search engines are extremely important tools for conducting business on the web. Despite the speed at which they function they are dependent upon the information typed into them to find the best-matched results for the browser. A computer search engine cannot read minds; it must have explicit instructions in order to operate effectively. Alternate spelling; hyphens, plurals, singularity, mistakes, funky phonic or graphic spelling can affect the results returned and this can cause disparity between the typed input and the returned results so close proximity is essential in keywords.
Links Outbound Are Essential
While website owners are trying to get as much traffic as possible to visit their sites, as opposed to a competitor’s and welcome links that point to themselves, it is a point of business that a reciprocal arrangement can be beneficial to your site traffic if you have outbound links also. In the searches that crawlers or spiders conduct, the information they return to the database can be powerful if they connect you to with relevancy to high-ranking sites with similar content, resulting in higher ranking in SERPs and therefore the chance of increased traffic with possible sales to your own site.
Improving Web Page Titles
Each page of a site is individually ranked therefore it is essential that each page title reflect the content effectively in order to attract readers to your page. A good title should be something your reader might type in themselves for a search. Ideally you should use keywords appropriate to your content/business and incorporate them into a 4-6 word title where possible. More than 58 characters in a title means it becomes ‘cut off’ and your reader is unable to view the whole phrase in the SERPs page. The longer a title, the less weight given to each individual word, which can affect results too.
Article or Blog
As both articles and blogs contain unique content that is relevant to the site on which it appears, the search engines do not differentiate between them and do not merit one over another. Articles and blogs are informative pieces of writing though their styles differ and it is the perception of the reader that will determine their influence upon sales made/orders placed as a result of reading them. Articles tend to be perceived as more authoritative and unbiased and more suited to promotional activity and blogs as more fresh, frequent and personal with inside information being transmitted.
Post sponsored by nokia5: Nokia cell phones
Search Engines Only
Following the ‘Florida Update’ when Google’s new algorithm to combat Googlebombing and the company’s effort to influence SERPs more to relevancy linkage rather than content providing leverage, Craig Nevill-Manning, Google’s Senior Research Scientist, commented: “I apologize for the roller-coaster. We’re aware that changes in the algorithm affect people’s livelihoods. We don’t make changes lightly.” Can a web business being managed without search engines? Yes. Are casualties of filters making change? Yes. Keep your marketing eye on more than one method of attracting customers.
Post sponsored by samsungmobile5: Samsung mobile phones
The Imminent Demise Of SEO
SEO, the foremost concern of site owners directing traffic and converting clicks had those responsible for SEO work emphasising its importance but since Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia and in particular, Flash technology, PDFs can now potentially contain the entire content of a website. Not only is text available through PDF but dynamic content too with visual appeal and compressed videos, in a portable platform that is cross-compatible over the web. Such capability is web friendly and content can be delivered to any device able to read PDF and can be included in a cell phone, DVD or a CD.
Other Ways To Make Your Web Site Famous
Besides concentrating on gaining top rankings in the search engines you should equally spend your time pursuing partnerships with other Internet sectors mentioned below. Press Releases are a wonderful way to make people to visit your site when they are searching information relating to your product. It’s also a splendid way to form your brand name. Directory Listings is the simplest way to obtain your web site indexed by search engines. Articles are a very valuable asset to your site. Newlsetters is where you can promote new products and services to interested users without risking any intrusiveness factors. The search engines will always be around, but neglecting the other resources could be an expensive business error.
Getting Your Site Top Rated
Everybody is aware that it takes more time to get a top ranking in Google than in Yahoo. Yahoo tends to permit newer web sites top rankings within weeks, while Google will make a new site wait. This is done to stop spammers from seizing up the top rankings by means of huge link campaigns. You should submit to directories for months, write and post articles every two weeks and post to your blog at least 5 times a week. It takes months of focused effort to put phrase to the top place. You should always look for similar key phrases that can help get you ranked.
Why Search Engines Fail
Most of us while typing something into a search engine think that the search engine knows what we look for. A computer could just do what we ask it to do, so that’s why we may not obtain the results that we are looking for. You should provide with as much details as you can during your search. The main objective of the search engine is to find relevant and accurate results to the person looking for the information. You will get more accurate effect by adding extra relevant phrases. Even writing a word in a singular or plural form will distort the search results. Some words are even more complicated. Adding extra spaces and symbols will also influence the results of the search.
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Monday, August 3, 2009
The following will build a successful site in 1 years time via Google alone. It can be done faster if you are a real go getter, or everyones favorite: a self starter.
A) Prep Work:
Prep work and begin building content. Yep, long before the domain name is settled on, start putting together notes to build at least a 100 page site. That's just for openers. That's 100 pages of "real content", as opposed to link pages, resource pages, about/copyright/tos...etc fluff pages.
B) Domain name:
Easily brandable. You want "google.com" and not "mykeyword.com". Keyword domains are out - branding and name recognition are in - big time in. The value of keywords in a domain name have never been less to se's. Learn the lesson of "goto.com" becomes "Overture.com" and why they did it. It's one of the powerful gut check calls I've ever seen on the internet. That took resolve and nerve to blow away several years of branding. (that's a whole 'nuther article, but learn the lesson as it applies to all of us).
[via search engine world]
C) Site Design:
The simpler the better. Rule of thumb: text content should out weight the html content. The pages should validate and be usable in everything from Lynx to leading edge browsers. eg: keep it close to html 3.2 if you can. Spiders are not to the point they really like eating html 4.0 and the mess that it can bring. Stay away from heavy: flash, dom, java, java script. Go external with scripting languages if you must have them - there is little reason to have them that I can see - they will rarely help a site and stand to hurt it greatly due to many factors most people don't appreciate (search engines distaste for js is just one of them).
Arrange the site in a logical manner with directory names hitting the top keywords you wish to hit.
You can also go the other route and just throw everything in root (this is rather controversial, but it's been producing good long term results across many engines).
Don't clutter and don't spam your site with frivolous links like "best viewed" or other counter like junk. Keep it clean and professional to the best of your ability.
Learn the lesson of Google itself - simple is retro cool - simple is what surfers want.
Speed isn't everything, it's almost the only thing. Your site should respond almost instantly to a request. If you get into even 3-4 seconds delay until "something happens" in the browser, you are in long term trouble. That 3-4 seconds response time may vary for site destined to live in other countries than your native one. The site should respond locally within 3-4 seconds (max) to any request. Longer than that, and you'll lose 10% of your audience for every second. That 10% could be the difference between success and not.
D) Page Size:
The smaller the better. Keep it under 15k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 12k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 10k if you can - I trust you are getting the idea here. Over 5k and under 10k. Ya - that bites - it's tough to do, but it works. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.
Build one page of content and put online per day at 200-500 words. If you aren't sure what you need for content, start with the Overture keyword suggestor and find the core set of keywords for your topic area. Those are your subject starters.
F) Density, position, yada, yada, yada...
Simple, old fashioned, seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se's are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can't spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).
G) Outbound Links:
From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).
H) Cross links:
<1>(cross links are links WITHIN the same site)
Link to on topic quality content across your site. If a page is about food, then make sure it links it to the apples and veggies page. Specifically with Google, on topic cross linking is very important for sharing your pr value across your site. You do NOT want an "all star" page that out performs the rest of your site. You want 50 pages that produce 1 referral each a day and do NOT want 1 page that produces 50 referrals a day. If you do find one page that drastically out produces the rest of the site with Google, you need to off load some of that pr value to other pages by cross linking heavily. It's the old share the wealth thing.
I) Put it Online:
Don't go with virtual hosting - go with a stand alone ip.
Make sure the site is "crawlable" by a spider. All pages should be linked to more than one other page on your site, and not more than 2 levels deep from root. Link the topic vertically as much as possible back to root. A menu that is present on every page should link to your sites main "topic index" pages (the doorways and logical navigation system down into real content).
Don't put it online before you have a quality site to put online. It's worse to put a "nothing" site online, than no site at all. You want it flushed out from the start.
Go for a listing in the ODP. If you have the budget, then submit to Looksmart and Yahoo. If you don't have the budget, then try for a freebie on Yahoo (don't hold your breath).
Submit the root to: Google, Fast, Altavista, WiseNut, (write Teoma), DirectHit, and Hotbot. Now comes the hard part - forget about submissions for the next six months. That's right - submit and forget.
K) Logging and Tracking:
Get a quality logger/tracker that can do justice to inbound referrals based on log files (don't use a lame graphic counter - you need the real deal). If your host doesn't support referrers, then back up and get a new host. You can't run a modern site without full referrals available 24x7x365 in real time.
Watch for spiders from se's. Make sure those that are crawling the full site, can do so easily. If not, double check your linking system (use standard hrefs) to make sure the spider found it's way throughout the site. Don't fret if it takes two spiderings to get your whole site done by Google or Fast. Other se's are pot luck and doubtful that you will be added at all if not within 6 months.
M) Topic directories:
Almost every keyword sector has an authority hub on it's topic. Go submit within the guidelines.
Look around your keyword sector in Googles version of the ODP. (this is best done AFTER getting an odp listing - or two). Find sites that have links pages or freely exchange links. Simply request a swap. Put a page of on topic, in context links up your self as a collection spot.
Don't freak if you can't get people to swap links - move on. Try to swap links with one fresh site a day. A simple personal email is enough. Stay low key about it and don't worry if site Z won't link with you - they will - eventually they will.
One page of quality content per day. Timely, topical articles are always the best. Try to stay away from to much "bloggin" type personal stuff and look more for "article" topics that a general audience will like. Hone your writing skills and read up on the right style of "web speak" that tends to work with the fast and furious web crowd.
Lots of text breaks - short sentences - lots of dashes - something that reads quickly.
Most web users don't actually read, they scan. This is why it is so important to keep low key pages today. People see a huge overblown page by random, and a portion of them will hit the back button before trying to decipher it. They've got better things to do that waste 15 seconds (a stretch) at understanding your whiz bang flash menu system. Because some big support site can run flashed out motorhead pages, that is no indication that you can. You don't have the pull factor they do.
Use headers, and bold standout text liberally on your pages as logical separators. I call them scanner stoppers where the eye will logically come to rest on the page.
Stay far away from any "fades of the day" or anything that appears spammy, unethical, or tricky. Plant yourself firmly on the high ground in the middle of the road.
Q) Link backs:
When YOU receive requests for links, check the site out before linking back with them. Check them through Google and their pr value. Look for directory listings. Don't link back to junk just because they asked. Make sure it is a site similar to yours and on topic.
R) Rounding out the offerings:
Use options such as Email-a-friend, forums, and mailing lists to round out your sites offerings. Hit the top forums in your market and read, read, read until your eyes hurt you read so much.
Stay away from "affiliate fades" that insert content on to your site.
S) Beware of Flyer and Brochure Syndrome:
If you have an ecom site or online version of bricks and mortar, be careful not to turn your site into a brochure. These don't work at all. Think about what people want. They aren't coming to your site to view "your content", they are coming to your site looking for "their content". Talk as little about your products and yourself as possible in articles (raise eyebrows...yes, I know).
T) Build one page of content per day:
Head back to the Overture suggestion tool to get ideas for fresh pages.
U) Study those logs:
After 30-60 days you will start to see a few referrals from places you've gotten listed. Look for the keywords people are using. See any bizarre combinations? Why are people using those to find your site? If there is something you have over looked, then build a page around that topic. Retro engineer your site to feed the search engine what it wants.
If your site is about "oranges", but your referrals are all about "orange citrus fruit", then you can get busy building articles around "citrus" and "fruit" instead of the generic "oranges".
The search engines will tell you exactly what they want to be fed - listen closely, there is gold in referral logs, it's just a matter of panning for it.
V) Timely Topics:
Nothing breeds success like success. Stay abreast of developments in your keyword sector. If big site "Z" is coming out with product "A" at the end of the year, then build a page and have it ready in October so that search engines get it by December. eg: go look at all the Xbox and XP sites in Google right now - those are sites that were on the ball last summer.
W) Friends and Family:
Networking is critical to the success of a site. This is where all that time you spend in forums will pay off. pssst: Here's the catch-22 about forums: lurking is almost useless. The value of a forum is in the interaction with your fellow colleagues and cohorts. You learn long term by the interaction - not by just reading.
Networking will pay off in link backs, tips, email exchanges, and in general put you "in the loop" of your keyword sector.
Take Giacomos first post in the other thread mentioned above - he could have lurked, read, made his judgements, learned, and went off to write up his thesis. However, the step forward and the interaction has probably taught him far more about what he is concerned with than if you would have read the forums front to back. In the process he met some people that may in turn be useful resources in the future.
X) Notes, Notes, Notes:
If you build one page per day, you will find that brain storm like inspiration will hit you in the head at some magic point. Whether it is in the shower (dry off first), driving down the road (please pull over), or just parked at your desk, write it down! 10 minutes of work later, you will have forgotten all about that great idea you just had. Write it down, and get detailed about what you are thinking. When the inspirational juices are no longer flowing, come back to those content ideas. It sounds simple, but it's a life saver when the ideas stop coming.
Y) Submission check at six months:
Walk back through your submissions and see if you got listed in all the search engines you submitted to after six months. If not, then resubmit and forget again. Try those freebie directories again too.
Z) Build one page of quality content per day:
Starting to see a theme here? Google loves content, lots of quality content. Broad based over a wide range of keywords. At the end of a years time, you should have around 400 pages of content. That will get you good placement under a wide range of keywords, generate recip links, and overall position your site to stand on it's own two feet.
Do those 26 things, and I guarantee you that in ones years time you will call your site a success. It will be drawing between 500 and 2000 referrals a day from search engines. If you build a good site with an average of 4 to 5 pages per user, you should be in the 10-15k page views per day range in one years time. What you do with that traffic is up to you, but that is more than enough to "do something" with.
The point of the questions was not to engage in a navel gazing exercise but to look back with the objective of identifying how a blog has been performing in order to improve it moving forward. Today I want to suggest a process for thinking about the future of your blog. I’m not sure that this process appears exactly like this in any strategic thinking books or teaching but it is the process that I use when I periodically look at how my blogs and business is going. Here’s a quick visual with some questions to explain each step in the process:
Hopefully the diagram speaks largely for itself but let me extrapolate slightly on each step.
Step 1 - Define your Mission
This is fairly big picture stuff and for me actually goes wider than just why I blog and more fits with my overall life mission. I guess it’s about looking at your overall purpose and direction - what you want to achieve etc. Having this firm in your mind then enables you to work out how blogging fits into that overall purpose.
Step 2 - Paint a Picture of Your Vision
This is still pretty long term and looks beyond the coming year to where you want to eventually take your blog. It’s a picture of a reasonably distant future. Dare to dream a little and think big in this stage.
Step 3 - Make Goals
Now we’re drilling down into the year ahead. Where do you want to be at the end of 2009? Hopefully it’ll be somewhere towards your ‘Vision’ and have helped you to accomplish some of your ‘mission’ - but what will your blog look like, be doing and have achieved this time next year? Dare to think big but keep in mind that it needs to be achievable. You don’t need to have done everything in your vision in 12 months - these goals are stepping stones to the eventual goals.
Step 4 - Devise a Strategy
What are you going to need to DO to get to your goals? Usually this means some kind of ‘change’ in your approach. Do you need to blog more, start a new blog, change your topic slightly, hire a writer, network with other bloggers more, start using a new method for promoting your blog, follow what others are writing more, build community engagement, redesign your blog etc? Think about strategies across the different activities of blogging that will take you closer to your goals.
Step 5 - Set out an Action Plan
Most people set ‘resolutions’ in their lives (and for their blogs) that are quite ‘general’ and wishy washy in nature. ‘I’m going to lose weight’, or ‘I’m going to find a girlfriend’. While these resolutions are great they are often not achieved simply because while a decision is made to do something - the person making the decision puts no actual plan in place for ‘how’ they’ll do it. The same is true for thinking strategically about your blog. ‘I’m going to get more traffic in 2009′ is a great goal - but what are you doing to specifically focus on DOING to get that traffic. Your action plan should be made up of very concrete tasks that you’ll do in the coming months. I will write 5 posts a week - I will email 7 readers each week - I will leave 1 comment per day on another blog in my niche - I will write a guest post for another blogger each month - I will run a competition on my blog in June.
The above 5 steps are the way I approach planning on my blogs (in fact it is how I do it in other areas of my life also). I actually do this for each of my blogs. The mission generally is much the same for each one and at times there are similarities in other steps.
This process will not be for everyone but I think can make a useful starting point for thinking about your blog in 2009. Some personality types will find it easier than others to think this way - actually for me it is not a natural way of thinking - I’m quite impulsive and this is a real effort to do. You might find some steps in the process more natural and quicker to complete than others but thinking things through from the big picture right down to specific tasks will hopefully help you to not only plan but make the changes you need to make in order to achieve your dreams.
My youngest boy will take his first steps any day now. He’s been watching his older brother (and his mum and dad) run around the house for 12 months now and you can just see in his eyes the desire to be up and doing it too. This week he’s started pushing around the block trolley (right) and is practicing his standing up without the aide of anything to pull him up.
It’s not been a fast process and by no means do I expect to see him running around the house soon but he’s almost ready for his first steps.
Many bloggers start blogs these days with the dream of millions of readers and making large amounts of money.
While it is possible to build blogs that are widely read and profitable and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big - the reality is that it takes time and a lot of work to build these kinds of blogs.
New bloggers would do well to spend more time thinking about their ‘first steps’ than just the big picture dreams and goals that they have..
Yesterday while chatting with a brand new bloggers who had some very lofty goals for this blogging I reflected back to him that I felt that in addition to the big dreams he had that I wondered if he might also benefit from having some realistic goals for the short term.
Here’s a list of 9 first step type goals that I suggested to him that might be a good place to start:
1. Publish 10 Posts
2. Getting your first comment from someone you don’t know
3. Get your first link from another blog
4. Build your readership up to more than 20 readers a day
5. Hit a level of 20 RSS subscribers
6. Getting your blog indexed in Google
7. Get your blog earning $1 a week (update: only if making money from your blog is one of your goals - it’s not for everyone
8. First guest post on another blog
9. Having someone (not you or your mum) tweet about your blog
Note: Others goals might include goals more to do with setting up your blog including those related to design, platforms, setting up metrics/stats etc.
To someone who has been blogging for a while these kinds of goals might seem rather small and insignificant - but for a new blogger they’d be where I would start.
For new bloggers these goals might also seem a little insignificant also (in fact the blogger I was talking to told me I was thinking too small and dismissed my idea) - however I’d argue that to get to your big dreams there is a lot of steps in between - many of which might not be glamorous or as fun to think about. However sometimes it’s helpful to visualize the very next steps that you need to take in order to move towards your goals.
Tangent: I once had opportunity to meet a guy who had travelled the world climbing some of the highest mountains. When I said to him that it must be an exciting thing to do he told me that there are moments of exhilaration and excitement but that the reality is that much of what he does when climbing a mountain is pretty boring. It’s one foot in front of another type activity through foothills, carrying a heavy pack and not feeling like you’re making much progress. Of course once you make it to the top or conquer challenges along the path you have moments of excitement but it all starts with setting out from base camp and with the goal of getting to a point where the climb starts in earnest.
Once you’ve achieved these first goals start to increase them. You might want to double the numbers for the next step (although for different bloggers the numbers will no doubt be different) - then double them again and so forth.
What other ‘first step’ goals would you suggest to a new blogger just starting out? If you’re a new blogger what are your first goals?
1. Content is King
The quality of the posts you write is the single most important factor when it comes to Search Optimization on a Blog. I suspect others will argue differently but as I look at my own blogs success in the search engines I’d say that this has been the number one factor.
Quality content that helps people will quite often draw a reader to want to share what they’ve written - of course they do this by passing on the link to your post and often they’ll do it in a way that helps your search rankings (on their own blog for example).
2. Anticipate What People Will be Searching For
Every time you write a post you should be automatically be considering what words people might be putting into search engines to find that type of information. Once you know what kinds of words they’re using you’re in a great position to position yourself for that search.
3. Titles Titles Titles
There are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to titles. Google pays particular attention to titles - so make sure you get them right:
* first make sure that the way you set your blog up puts the title of your post in the ‘title tags’ on the back end of your blog. This is really important.
* if you’re just looking from an SEO perspective don’t include your blog name in the title tags of single posts. This dilutes your keywords. Of course if you’re looking more at branding including your blog’s name in the title tags might be worth doing.
* next - include the keywords that you identified in point #2 in your post title
* also, keep in mind that the words you use at the start of a title tend to carry more weight than words you use later in your title
4. Keywords in other parts of your post
Use the keywords you identified in point #2 within your post also. If you want Google to rank you for a term or phrase you need to use that term or phrase. Use it in sub headings in your post (use h tags where you can), use it in the content itself, use the words in the alt tags of images etc. Don’t go over the topic but do use the words where you can naturally in the post.
5. Link to Your Own Posts
Don’t over do this one but while links from other sites are a great way to increase your blog’s rankings so are links from your blog. Interlink your posts to share where readers can find more information on your topic (where relevant) but also consider linking to key posts on your blog from other places on the blog (sidebar, front page etc).
6. Links from Outside Your Blog
Links from other sites to yours are key in SEO but they can be hard to get. Start to linking to your blog from other sites that you have or are active on. Some (like on Twitter) won’t count for anything much as they have no-follow tags but they are all potential ways for people to access your site and some will help with SEO.
Don’t become obsessed with getting links - rather become obsessed about writing great content and the links will generally come in time. However if you’ve written a great post that you think will be relevant to another blog don’t be afraid to let that blogger or website owner know about it - they could just link up.
Also - take note of the type of posts that you write that do well at getting other sites to link to you. You can learn a lot about generating linkable content by doing so and might just develop a technique that will work again and again.
I don’t tend to do much to the back end of my blog to alter things like meta tags - but there are some good plugins around if you’re using WordPress that can help with some of this and that may give you a small edge. Check out 9 SEO plugins that every WordPress Blog Should have for some suggestions on this.
8. Readers Begat Readers
This isn’t an SEO technique as such but it plays a part. The more readers you have the more likely your blog is to be found by other readers. There’s a certain ’snowballing’ thing that happens on a site over time - as you get readers quite often momentum grows as those readers pass on your site to others in their network. They link to you, they bookmark you, they tweet about you, they email friends about you, they blog about you, they suggest your site in recommendation engines….
Not all of this counts with SEO but some does and the accumulation of it over time all certainly helps to grow both organic and search traffic. I guess what I’m saying is to get readers any way you can - don’t just focus upon ‘SEO’ as such. It all counts.
My Hunch with SEO
Before I share my hunch…. let me say that I’m not an SEO and this could be completely wrong…. but it’s a hunch that I’ve had for a while now.
I’ve been doing this blogging thing for almost 7 years now and from what I can see the tweaks that many bloggers do on their blogs to optimize it seem to be having less and less impact on the rankings of blogs. Don’t get me wrong - I stand by the above tips completely and would do them as a common sense bare minimum - but from where I sit Google seem to be in the business of finding the best information that they can for their users. They don’t always get it right but I think they do a pretty good job.
As a blogger your job should be to provide the best information that you can.
It strikes me that Google have an ever increasing way of working out if your information is good. It’s not just about what keywords you have or how many links that you get - but these days they own Feedburner (know how many people subscribe to your blog and what links people are clicking on), they own Google Reader (again giving them all kinds of great data), they own Gmail, Google Analytics, YouTube etc…..
Now they may or may not use all the data in their ranking of sites but they certainly could know a lot about your blog and the posts you write. There’s also been increasing talk over the last 6 months or so about how easy it’d be for search engines to start generating data on what content is being shared in social networks and bookmarking sites.
My hunch is that many traditional SEO methods are less important (NOT irrelevant though) and that other factors are increasingly going to come into play. I’m sure that some will work out ways to manipulate this (SEO 2.0?) but increasingly the way to get ranked high in Google will be that you just need to keep producing great content and making sure that it’s sneezed out to your network.
StevePavlina.com was launched on Oct 1st, 2004. By April 2005 it was averaging $4.12/day in income. Now it brings in over $200/day $1000/day (updated as of 10/29/06). I didn’t spend a dime on marketing or promotion. In fact, I started this site with just $9 to register the domain name, and everything was bootstrapped from there. Would you like to know how I did it?
This article is seriously long (over 7300 words), but you’re sure to get your money’s worth (hehehe). I’ll even share some specifics. If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later.
Do you actually want to monetize your blog
Some people have strong personal feelings with respect to making money from their blogs. If you think commercializing your blog is evil, immoral, unethical, uncool, lame, greedy, obnoxious, or anything along those lines, then don’t commercialize it.
If you have mixed feelings about monetizing your blog, then sort out those feelings first. If you think monetizing your site is wonderful, fine. If you think it’s evil, fine. But make up your mind before you seriously consider starting down this path. If you want to succeed, you must be congruent. Generating income from your blog is challenging enough — you don’t want to be dealing with self-sabotage at the same time. It should feel genuinely good to earn income from your blog — you should be driven by a healthy ambition to succeed. If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to earn income from it. If, however, you find yourself full of doubts over whether this is the right path for you, you might find this article helpful: How Selfish Are You? It’s about balancing your needs with the needs of others.
If you do decide to generate income from your blog, then don’t be shy about it. If you’re going to put up ads, then really put up ads. Don’t just stick a puny little ad square in a remote corner somewhere. If you’re going to request donations, then really request donations. Don’t put up a barely visible “Donate” link and pray for the best. If you’re going to sell products, then really sell them. Create or acquire the best quality products you can, and give your visitors compelling reasons to buy. If you’re going to do this, then fully commit to it. Don’t take a half-assed approach. Either be full-assed or no-assed.
You can reasonably expect that when you begin commercializing a free site, some people will complain, depending on how you do it. I launched this site in October 2004, and I began putting Google Adsense ads on the site in February 2005. There were some complaints, but I expected that — it was really no big deal. Less than 1 in 5,000 visitors actually sent me negative feedback. Most people who sent feedback were surprisingly supportive. Most of the complaints died off within a few weeks, and the site began generating income almost immediately, although it was pretty low — a whopping $53 the first month. If you’d like to see some month-by-month specifics, I posted my 2005 Adsense revenue figures earlier this year. Adsense is still my single best source of revenue for this site, although it’s certainly not my only source. More on that later.
Can you make a decent income online
Yes, absolutely. At the very least, a high five-figure annual income is certainly an attainable goal for an individual working full-time from home. I’m making a healthy income from StevePavlina.com, and the site is only 19 months old… barely a toddler. If you have a day job, it will take longer to generate a livable income, but it can still be done part-time if you’re willing to devote a lot of your spare time to it. I’ve always done it full-time.
Can most people do it
No, they can’t. I hope it doesn’t shock you to see a personal development web site use the dreaded C-word. But I happen to agree with those who say that 99% of people who try to generate serious income from their blogs will fail. The tagline for this site is “Personal Development for Smart People.” And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), smart people are a minority on this planet. So while most people can’t make a living this way, I would say that most smart people can. How do you know whether or not you qualify as smart? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you have to ask the question, you aren’t.
If that last paragraph doesn’t flood my inbox with flames, I don’t know what will. OK, actually I do.
This kind of 99-1 ratio isn’t unique to blogging though. You’ll see it in any field with relatively low barriers to entry. What percentage of wannabe actors, musicians, or athletes ever make enough money from their passions to support themselves? It doesn’t take much effort to start a blog these days — almost anyone can do it. Talent counts for something, and the talent that matters in blogging is intelligence. But that just gets you in the door. You need to specifically apply your intelligence to one particular talent. And the best words I can think of to describe that particular talent are: web savvy.
If you are very web savvy, or if you can learn to become very web savvy, then you have an excellent shot of making enough money from your blog to cover all your living expenses… and then some. But if becoming truly web savvy is more than your gray matter can handle, then I’ll offer this advice: Don’t quit your day job.
What do I mean by web savvy? You don’t need to be a programmer, but you need a decent functional understanding of a variety of web technologies. What technologies are “key” will depend on the nature of your blog and your means of monetization. But generally speaking I’d list these elements as significant:
* blog publishing software
* blog comments (and comment spam)
* feed aggregators
* full vs. partial feeds
* blog carnivals (for kick-starting your blog’s traffic)
* search engines
* search engine optimization (SEO)
* page rank
* social bookmarking
* contextual advertising
* affiliate programs
* traffic statistics
Optional: podcasting, instant messaging, PHP or other web scripting languages.
I’m sure I missed a few due to familiarity blindness. If scanning such a list makes your head spin, I wouldn’t recommend trying to make a full-time living from blogging just yet. Certainly you can still blog, but you’ll be at a serious disadvantage compared to someone who’s more web savvy, so don’t expect to achieve stellar results until you expand your knowledge base.
If you want to sell downloadable products such as ebooks, then you can add e-commerce, SSL, digital delivery, fraud prevention, and online databases to the list. Again, you don’t need to be a programmer; you just need a basic understanding of these technologies. Even if you hire someone else to handle the low-level implementation, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. You need to be able to trust your strategic decisions, and you won’t be able to do that if you’re a General who doesn’t know what a gun is.
A lack of understanding is a major cause of failure in the realm of online income generation. For example, if you’re clueless about search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll probably cripple your search engine rankings compared to someone who understands SEO well. But you can’t consider each technology in isolation. You need to understand the connections and trade-offs between them. Monetizing a blog is a balancing act. You may need to balance the needs of yourself, your visitors, search engines, those who link to you, social bookmarking sites, advertisers, affiliate programs, and others. Seemingly minor decisions like what to title a web page are significant. In coming up with the title of this article, I have to take all of these potential viewers into consideration. I want a title that is attractive to human visitors, drives reasonable search engine traffic, yields relevant contextual ads, fits the theme of the site, and encourages linking and social bookmarking. And most importantly I want each article to provide genuine value to my visitors. I do my best to create titles for my articles that balance these various needs. Often that means abandoning cutesy or clever titles in favor of direct and comprehensible ones. It’s little skills like these that help drive sustainable traffic growth month after month. Missing out on just this one skill is enough to cripple your traffic. And there are dozens of these types of skills that require web savvy to understand, respect, and apply.
This sort of knowledge is what separates the 1% from the 99%. Both groups may work just as hard, but the 1% is getting much better results for their efforts. It normally doesn’t take me more than 60 seconds to title an article, but a lot of experience goes into those 60 seconds. You really just have to learn these ideas once; after that you can apply them routinely.
Whenever you come across a significant web technology you don’t understand, look it up on Google or Wikipedia, and dive into it long enough to acquire a basic understanding of it. To make money from blogging it’s important to be something of a jack of all trades. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” That may be true, but you don’t need to master any of these technologies — you just have to be good enough to use them. It’s the difference between being able to drive a car vs. becoming an auto mechanic. Strive to achieve functional knowledge, and then move on to something else. Even though I’m an experienced programmer, I don’t know how many web technologies actually work. I don’t really care. I can still use them to generate results. In the time it would take me to fully understand one new technology, I can achieve sufficient functional knowledge to apply several of them.
Thriving on change
Your greatest risk isn’t that you’ll make mistakes that will cost you. Your greatest risk is that you’ll miss opportunities. You need an entrepreneurial mindset, not an employee mindset. Don’t be too concerned with the risk of loss — be more concerned with the risk of missed gains. It’s what you don’t know and what you don’t do that will hurt you the worst. Blogging is cheap. Your expenses and financial risk should be minimal. Your real concern should be missing opportunities that would have made you money very easily. You need to develop antennae that can listen out for new opportunities. I highly recommend subscribing to Darren Rowse’s Problogger blog — Darren is great at uncovering new income-generating opportunities for bloggers.
The blogosphere changes rapidly, and change creates opportunity. It takes some brains to decipher these opportunities and to take advantage of them before they disappear. If you hesitate to capitalize on something new and exciting, you may simply miss out. Many opportunities are temporary. And every day you don’t implement them, you’re losing money you could have earned. And you’re also missing opportunities to build traffic, grow your audience, and benefit more people.
I used to get annoyed by the rapid rate of change of web technologies. It’s even more rapid than what I saw when I worked in the computer gaming industry. And the rate of change is accelerating. Almost every week now I learn about some fascinating new web service or idea that could potentially lead to big changes down the road. Making sense of them is a full-time job in itself. But I learned to love this insane pace. If I’m confused then everyone else is probably confused too. And people who only do this part-time will be very confused. If they aren’t confused, then they aren’t keeping up. So if I can be just a little bit faster and understand these technologies just a little bit sooner, then I can capitalize on some serious opportunities before the barriers to entry become too high. Even though confusion is uncomfortable, it’s really a good thing for a web entrepreneur. This is what creates the space for a college student to earn $1,000,000 online in just a few months with a clever idea. Remember this isn’t a zero-sum game. Don’t let someone else’s success make you feel diminished or jealous.Let it inspire you instead.
What’s your overall income-generation strategy
I don’t want to insult anyone, but most people are utterly clueless when it comes to generating income from their blogs. They slap things together haphazardly with no rhyme or reason and hope to generate lots of money. While I’m a strong advocate of the ready-fire-aim approach, that strategy does require that you eventually aim. Ready-fire-fire-fire-fire will just create a mess.
Take a moment to articulate a basic income-generating strategy for your site. If you aren’t good at strategy, then just come up with a general philosophy for how you’re going to generate income. You don’t need a full business plan, just a description of how you plan to get from $0 per month to whatever your income goal is. An initial target goal I used when I first started this site was $3000 per month. It’s a somewhat arbitrary figure, but I knew if I could reach $3000 per month, I could certainly push it higher, and $3000 is enough income that it’s going to make a meaningful difference in my finances. I reached that level 15 months after launching the site (in December 2005). And since then it’s continued to increase nicely. Blogging income is actually quite easy to maintain. It’s a lot more secure than a regular job. No one can fire me, and if one source of income dries up, I can always add new ones. We’ll address multiple streams of income soon…
Are you going to generate income from advertising, affiliate commissions, product sales, donations, or something else? Maybe you want a combination of these things. However you decide to generate income, put your basic strategy down in writing. I took 15 minutes to create a half-page summary of my monetization strategy. I only update it about once a year and review it once a month. This isn’t difficult, but it helps me stay focused on where I’m headed. It also allows me to say no to opportunities that are inconsistent with my plan.
Refer to your monetization strategy (or philosophy) when you need to make design decisions for your web site. Although you may have multiple streams of income, decide which type of income will be your primary source, and design your site around that. Do you need to funnel people towards an order form, or will you place ads all over the site? Different monetization strategies suggest different design approaches. Think about what specific action you want your visitors to eventually take that will generate income for you, and design your site accordingly.
When devising your income strategy, feel free to cheat. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Copy someone else’s strategy that you’re convinced would work for you too. Do NOT copy anyone’s content or site layout (that’s copyright infringement), but take note of how they’re making money. I decided to monetize this site with advertising and affiliate income after researching how various successful bloggers generated income. Later I added donations as well. This is an effective combo.
Traffic, traffic, traffic
Assuming you feel qualified to take on the challenge of generating income from blogging (and I haven’t scared you away yet), the three most important things you need to monetize your blog are traffic, traffic, and traffic.
Just to throw out some figures, last month (April 2006), this site received over 1.1 million visitors and over 2.4 million page views. That’s almost triple what it was just six months ago.
Why is traffic so important? Because for most methods of online income generation, your income is a function of traffic. If you double your traffic, you’ll probably double your income (assuming your visitor demographics remain fairly consistent). You can screw almost everything else up, but if you can generate serious traffic, it’s really hard to fail. With sufficient traffic the realistic worst case is that you’ll eventually be able to monetize your web site via trial and error (as long as you keep those visitors coming).
When I first launched this blog, I knew that traffic building was going to be my biggest challenge. All of my plans hinged on my ability to build traffic. If I couldn’t build traffic, it was going to be very difficult to succeed. So I didn’t even try to monetize my site for the first several months. I just focused on traffic building. Even after 19 months, traffic building is still the most important part of my monetization plan. For my current traffic levels, I know I’m undermonetizing my site, but that’s OK. Right now it’s more important to me to keep growing the site, and I’m optimizing the income generation as I go along.
Traffic is the primary fuel of online income generation. More visitors means more ad clicks, more product sales, more affiliate sales, more donations, more consulting leads, and more of whatever else that generates income for you. And it also means you’re helping more and more people.
With respect to traffic, you should know that in many respects, the rich do get richer. High traffic leads to even more traffic-building opportunities that just aren’t accessible for low-traffic sites. On average at least 20 bloggers add new links to my site every day, my articles can easily surge to the top of social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, and I’m getting more frequent requests for radio interviews. Earlier this year I was featured in USA Today and in Self Magazine, which collectively have millions of readers.Journalists are finding me by doing Google searches on topics I’ve written about.These opportunities were not available to me when I was first starting out.Popular sites have a serious advantage.The more traffic you have, the more you can attract.
If you’re intelligent and web savvy, you should also be able to eventually build a high-traffic web site. And you’ll be able to leverage that traffic to build even more traffic.
How to build traffic
Now if traffic is so crucial, how do you build it up to significant levels if you’re starting from rock bottom?
I’ve already written a lengthy article on this topic, so I’ll refer you there: How to Build a High Traffic Web Site (or Blog). If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later. That article covers my general philosophy of traffic-building, which centers on creating content that provides genuine value to your visitors. No games or gimmicks.
There is one other important traffic-building tip I’ll provide here though.
Blog Carnivals. Take full advantage of blog carnivals when you’re just starting out (click the previous link and read the FAQ there to learn what carnivals are if you don’t already know). Periodically submit your best blog posts to the appropriate carnivals for your niche. Carnivals are easy ways to get links and traffic, and best of all, they’re free. Submitting only takes minutes if you use a multi-carnvival submission form. Do NOT spam the carnivals with irrelevant material — only submit to the carnivals that are a match for your content.
In my early traffic-building days, I’d do carnivals submissions once a week, and it helped a great deal in going from nothing to about 50,000 visitors per month. You still have to produce great content, but carnivals give you a free shot at marketing your unknown blog. Free marketing is precisely the kind of opportunity you don’t want to miss. Carnivals are like an open-mic night at a comedy club — they give amateurs a chance to show off their stuff. I still submit to certain carnivals every once in a while, but now my traffic is so high that relatively speaking, they don’t make much difference anymore. Just to increase my traffic by 1% in a month, I need 11,000 new visitors, and even the best carnivals don’t push that much traffic. But you can pick up dozens or even hundreds of new subscribers from each round of carnival submissions, so it’s a great place to start. Plus it’s very easy.
If your traffic isn’t growing month after month, does it mean you’re doing something wrong? Most likely you aren’t doing enough things right. Again, making mistakes is not the issue. Missing opportunities is.
Will putting ads on your site hurt your traffic
Here’s a common fear I hear from people who are considering monetizing their web sites:
Putting ads on my site will cripple my traffic. The ads will drive people away, and they’ll never come back.
Well, in my experience this is absolutely, positively, and otherwise completely and totally… FALSE. It’s just not true. Guess what happened to my traffic when I put ads on my site. Nothing. Guess what happened to my traffic when I put up more ads and donation links. Nothing. I could detect no net effect on my traffic whatsoever. Traffic continued increasing at the same rate it did before there were ads on my site. In fact, it might have even helped me a little, since some bloggers actually linked to my site just to point out that they didn’t like my ad layout. I’ll leave it up to you to form your own theories about this. It’s probably because there’s so much advertising online already that even though some people will complain when a free site puts up ads, if they value the content, they’ll still come back, regardless of what they say publicly.
Most mature people understand it’s reasonable for a blogger to earn income from his/her work. I think I’m lucky in that my audience tends to be very mature — immature people generally aren’t interested in personal development. To create an article like this takes serious effort, not to mention the hard-earned experience that’s required to write it. This article alone took me over 15 hours of writing and editing. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to earn an income from such work. If you get no value from it, you don’t pay anything. What could be more fair than that? The more income this blog generates, the more I can put into it. For example, I used some of the income to buy podcasting equipment and added a podcast to the site. I’ve recorded 13 episodes so far. The podcasts are all ad-free. I’m also planning to add some additional services to this site in the years ahead. More income = better service.
At the time of this writing, my site is very ad-heavy. Some people point this out to me as if I’m not aware of it: “You know, Steve. Your web site seems to contain an awful lot of ads.” Of course I’m aware of it. I’m the one who put the ads there. There’s a reason I have this configuration of ads. They’re effective! People keep clicking on them. If they weren’t effective, I’d remove them right away and try something else.
I do avoid putting up ads that I personally find annoying when I see them on other sites, including pop-ups and interstitials (stuff that flies across your screen). Even though they’d make me more money, in my opinion they degrade the visitor experience too much.
I also provide two ad-free outlets, so if you really don’t like ads, you can actually read my content without ads. First, I provide a full-text RSS feed, and at least for now it’s ad-free. I do, however, include a donation request in the bottom of my feeds.
If you want to see some actual traffic data, take a look at the 2005 traffic growth chart. I first put ads on the site in February 2005, and although the chart doesn’t cover pre-February traffic growth, the growth rate was very similar before then. For an independent source, you can also look at my traffic chart on Alexa. You can select different Range options to go further back in time.
Multiple streams of income
You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket. Think multiple streams of income. On this site I actually have six different streams of income. Can you count them all? Here’s a list:
1. Google Adsense ads (pay per click and pay per impression advertising)
2. Donations (via PayPal or snail mail — yes, some people do mail a check)
3. Text Link Ads (sold for a fixed amount per month)
4. Chitika eMiniMalls ads (pay per click)
5. Affiliate programs like Amazon and LinkShare (commission on products sold, mostly books)
6. Advertising sold to individual advertisers (three-month campaigns or longer)
Note: If you’re reading this article a while after its original publication date, then this list is likely to change. I frequently experiment with different streams.
Adsense is my biggest single source of income, but some of the others do pretty well too. Every stream generates more than $100/month.
My second biggest income stream is actually donations. My average donation is about $10, and I’ve received a number of $100 donations too. It only took me about an hour to set this up via PayPal. So even if your content is free like mine, give your visitors a means to voluntarily contribute if they wish. It’s win-win. I’m very grateful for the visitor support. It’s a nice form of feedback too, since I notice that certain articles produced a surge in donations — this tells me I’m hitting the mark and giving people genuine value.
These aren’t my only streams of income though. I’ve been earning income online since 1995. With my computer games business, I have direct sales, royalty income, some advertising income, affiliate income, and donations (from the free articles). And if you throw in my wife’s streams of income, it gets really ridiculous: advertising, direct book sales, book sales through distributors, web consulting, affiliate income, more Adsense income, and probably a few sources I forgot. Suffice it to say we receive a lot of paychecks. Some of them are small, but they add up. It’s also extremely low risk — if one source of income dries up, we just expand existing sources or create new ones. I encourage you to think of your blog as a potential outlet for multiple streams of income too.
With the exception of #6, all of these income sources are fully automated. I don’t have to do anything to maintain them except deposit checks, and in most cases I don’t even have to do that because the money is automatically deposited to my bank account.
I love automated income. With this blog I currently have no sales, no employees, no products, no inventory, no credit card processing, no fraud, and no customers. And yet I’m still able to generate a reasonable (and growing) income.
Why get a regular job and trade your time for money when you can let technology do all that work for you? Imagine how it would feel to wake up each morning, go to your computer, and check how much money you made while you were sleeping. It’s a really nice situation to be in.
Blogging Software and Hardware
I use WordPress for this blog, and I highly recommend it. Wordpress has lots of features and a solid interface. And you can’t beat its price — free.
The rest of this site is custom-coded HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL. I’m a programmer, so I coded it all myself. I could have just as easily used an existing template, but I wanted a simple straightforward design for this site, and I wanted the look of the blog to match the rest of the site. Plus I use PHP and MySQL to do some creative things outside the blog, like the Million Dollar Experiment.
I don’t recommend using a hosted service like Blogger if you want to seriously monetize your blog. You don’t get enough control. If you don’t have your own URL, you’re tying yourself to a service you don’t own and building up someone else’s asset. You want to build page rank and links for your own URL, not someone else’s. Plus you want sufficient control over the layout and design of your site, so you can jump on any opportunities that require low-level changes. If you use a hosted blog, you’re at the mercy of the hosting service, and that puts the future of any income streams you create with them at risk. It’s a bit more work up front to self-host, but it’s less risky in the long run.
Web hosting is cheap, and there are plenty of good hosts to choose from. I recommend Pair.com for a starter hosting account. They aren’t the cheapest, but they’re very reliable and have decent support. I know many online businesses that host with them, and my wife refers most of her clients there.
As your traffic grows you may need to upgrade to a dedicated server or a virtual private server (VPS). This web site is hosted by ServInt. I’ve hosted this site with them since day one, and they’ve been a truly awesome host. What I like most about them is that they have a smooth upgrade path as my traffic keeps growing. I’ve gone through several upgrades with them already, and all have been seamless. The nice thing about having your own server is that you can put as many sites on it as the server can handle. I have several sites running on my server, and it doesn’t cost me any additional hosting fees to add another site.
Comments or no comments
When I began this blog, I started out with comments enabled. As traffic grew, so did the level of commenting. Some days there were more than 100 comments. I noticed I was spending more and more time managing comments, and I began to question whether it was worth the effort. It became clear that with continued traffic growth, I was going to have to change my approach or die in comment hell. The personal development topics I write about can easily generate lots of questions and discussion. Just imagine how many follow-up questions an article like this could generate. With tens of thousands of readers, it would be insane. Also, nuking comment spam was chewing up more and more of my time as well.
But after looking through my stats, I soon realized that only a tiny fraction of visitors ever look at comments at all, and an even smaller fraction ever post a comment (well below 1% of total visitors). That made my decision a lot easier, and in October 2005, I turned blog comments off. In retrospect that was one of my best decisions. I wish I had done it sooner.
If you’d like to read the full details of how I came to this decision, I’ve written about it previously: Blog Comments and More on Blog Comments.
Do you need comments to build traffic? Obviously not. Just like when I put up ads, I saw no decline in traffic when I turned off comments. In fact, I think it actually helped me. Although I turned off comments, I kept trackbacks enabled, so I started getting more trackbacks. If people wanted to publicly comment on something I’d written, they had to do so on their own blogs and post a link. So turning off comments didn’t kill the discussion — it just took it off site. The volume of trackbacks is far more reasonable, and I can easily keep up with it. I even pop onto other people’s sites and post comments now and then, but I don’t feel obligated to participate because the discussion isn’t on my own site.
I realize people have very strong feelings about blog comments and community building. Many people hold the opinion that a blog without comments just isn’t a blog. Personally I think that’s utter nonsense — the data just doesn’t support it. The vast majority of blog readers neither read nor post comments. Only a very tiny and very vocal group even care about comments. Some bloggers say that having comments helps build traffic, but I saw no evidence of that. In fact, I think it’s just the opposite. Managing comments detracts from writing new posts, and it’s far better to get a trackback and a link from someone else’s blog vs. a comment on your own blog. As long-term readers of my blog know, when faced with ambiguity, my preference is to try both alternatives and compare real results with real results. After doing that my conclusion is this: No comment. :)
Now if you want to support comments for non-traffic-building reasons like socializing or making new contacts, I say go for it. Just don’t assume that comments are necessary or even helpful in building traffic unless you directly test this assumption yourself.
Build a complete web site, not just a blog
Don’t limit your web site to just a blog. Feel free to build it out. Although most of my traffic goes straight to this blog, there’s a whole site built around it. For example, the home page of this site presents an overview of all the sections of the site, including the blog, article section, audio content, etc. A lot of people still don’t know what a blog is, so if your whole site is your blog, those people may be a little confused.
Testing and optimization
In the beginning you won’t know which potential streams of income will work best for you. So try everything that’s reasonable for you. If you learn about a new potential income stream, test it for a month or two, and measure the results for yourself. Feel free to cut streams that just aren’t working for you, and put more effort into optimizing those streams that show real promise.
A few months ago, I signed up for an account with Text Link Ads. It took about 20 minutes. They sell small text ads on my site, split the revenue with me 50-50, and deposit my earnings directly into my PayPal account. This month I’ll make around $600 from them, possibly more if they sell some new ads during the month. And it’s totally passive. If I never tried this, I’d miss out on this easy extra income.
For many months I’ve been tweaking the Adsense ads on this site. I tried different colors, sizes, layouts, etc. I continue to experiment now and then, but I have a hard time beating the current layout. It works very well for me. Adsense doesn’t allow publishers to reveal specific CPM and CTR data, but mine are definitely above par. They started out in the gutter though. You can easily double or triple your Adsense revenue by converting a poor layout into a better one. This is the main reason why during my first year of income, my traffic grew at 20% per month, but my income grew at 50% per month. Frequent testing and optimization had a major positive impact. Many of my tests failed, and some even made my income go down, but I’m glad I did all that testing. If I didn’t then my Adsense income would only be a fraction of what it is now.
It’s cheap to experiment. Every new advertising or affiliate service I’ve tried so far has been free to sign up. Often I can add a new income stream in less than an hour and then wait a month to see how it does. If it flops then at least I learned something. If it does well, wonderful. As a blogger who wants to generate income, you should always be experimenting with new income streams. If you haven’t tried anything new in six months, you’re almost certainly missing some golden opportunities. Every blog is different, so you need to test things for yourself to see what works for you. Failure is impossible here — you either succeed, or you learn something.
Pick your niche, but make sure it isn’t too small
Pick a niche for your blog where you have some significant expertise, but make sure it’s a big enough niche that you can build significant traffic. My wife runs a popular vegan web site. She does pretty well within her niche, but it’s just not a very big niche. On the other hand, my topic of personal development has much broader appeal. Potentially anyone can be interested in improving themselves, and I have the flexibility to write about topics like productivity, self-discipline, relationships, spirituality, health, and more. It’s all relevant to personal development.
Pick a niche that you’re passionate about. I’ve written 400+ articles so far, and I still feel like I’m just getting started. I’m not feeling burnt out at all. I chose to build a personal development site because I’m very knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate about this subject. I couldn’t imagine a better topic for me to write about.
Don’t pick a niche just because you think it will make you money. I see many bloggers try to do that, and it’s almost invariably a recipe for failure. Think about what you love most, and then find a way to make your topic appealing to a massive global audience. Consider what will provide genuine value to your visitors. It’s all about what you can give.
A broad enough topic creates more potential advertising partners. If I keep writing on the same subtopic over and over, I may exhaust the supply of advertisers and hit an income ceiling. But by writing on many different topics under the same umbrella, I widen the field of potential advertisers. And I expand the appeal of my site at the same time.
Make it clear to your visitors what your blog/site is about. Often I visit a blog with a clever title and tagline that reveals nothing about the site’s contents. In that case I generally assume it’s just a personal journal and move on. I love to be clever too, but I’ve found that clarity yields better results than cleverness.
Posting frequency and length
Bloggers have different opinions about the right posting length and frequency. Some bloggers say it’s best to write short (250-750 word) entries and post 20x per week or more. I’ve seen that strategy work for some, but I decided to do pretty much the opposite. I usually aim for about 3-5 posts per week, but my posts are much longer (typically 1000-2000 words, sometimes longer than 5000 words, including the monster you’re reading right now). That’s because rather than throwing out lots of short tips, I prefer to write more exhaustive, in-depth articles. I find that deeper articles are better at generating links and referrals and building traffic. It’s true that fewer people will take the time to read them, but those that do will enjoy some serious take-away value. I don’t believe in creating disposable content just to increase page views and ad impressions. If I’m not truly helping my visitors, I’m wasting their time.
Blogging is dirt cheap.
I don’t spend money on advertising or promotion, so my marketing expenses are nil. Essentially my content is my marketing. If you like this article, you’ll probably find many more gems in the archives.
My only real expenses for this site are the hosting (I currently pay $149/month for the web server and bandwidth) and the domain name renewal ($9/year). Nearly all of the income this site generates is profit. This trickles down to my personal income, so of course it’s subject to income tax. But the actual business expenses are minimal.
The reason I pay so much for hosting is simply due to my traffic. If my traffic were much lower, I could run this site on a cheap shared hosting account. A database-driven blog can be a real resource hog at high traffic levels. The same goes for online forums. As traffic continues to increase, my hosting bill will go up too, but it will still be a tiny fraction of total income.
Depending on the nature of your blog, you may be able to enjoy some nice perks as your traffic grows. Almost every week I get free personal development books in the mail (for potential review on this site). Sometimes the author will send it directly; other times the publisher will ship me a batch of books. I also receive CDs, DVDs, and other personal development products. It’s hard to keep up sometimes (I have a queue of about two dozen books right now), but I am a voracious consumer of such products, so I do plow through them as fast as I can. When something strikes me as worthy of mention, I do indeed write up a review to share it with my visitors. I have very high standards though, so I review less than 10% of what I receive. I’ve read over 700 books in this field and listened to dozens of audio programs, so I’m pretty good at filtering out the fluff. As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a great deal of self-help fluff out there.
My criteria for reviewing a product on this site is that it has to be original, compelling, and profound. If it doesn’t meet these criteria, I don’t review it, even if there’s a generous affiliate program. I’m not going to risk abusing my relationship with my visitors just to make a quick buck. Making money is not my main motivation for running this site. My main motivation is to grow and to help others grow, so that always comes first.
Your blog can also gain you access to certain events. A high-traffic blog becomes a potential media outlet, so you can actually think of yourself as a member of the press, which indeed you are. In a few days, my wife and I will be attending a three-day seminar via a free press pass. The regular price for these tickets is $500 per person. I’ll be posting a full review of the seminar next week. I’ve been to this particular seminar in 2004, so I already have high expectations for it. Dr. Wayne Dyer will be the keynote speaker.
I’m also using the popularity of this blog to set up interviews with people I’ve always wanted to learn more about. This is beautifully win-win because it creates value for me, my audience, and the person being interviewed. Recently I posted an exclusive interview with multi-millionaire Marc Allen as well as a review of his latest book, and I’m lining up other interviews as well. It isn’t hard to convince someone to do an interview in exchange for so much free exposure.
I don’t think you’ll get very far if money is your #1 motivation for blogging. You have to be driven by something much deeper. Money is just frosting. It’s the cake underneath that matters. My cake is that I absolutely love personal development – not the phony “fast and easy” junk you see on infomercials, but real growth that makes us better human beings. That’s my passion. Pouring money on top of it just adds more fuel to the fire, but the fire is still there with or without the money.
What’s your passion? What would you blog about if you were already set for life?
Perhaps the best part of generating income from blogging is the freedom it brings. I work from home and set my own hours. I write whenever I’m inspired to write (which for me is quite often). Plus I get to spend my time doing what I love most — working on personal growth and helping others do the same. There’s nothing I’d rather do than this.
Perhaps it’s true that 99 out of 100 people can’t make a decent living from blogging yet. But maybe you’re among the 1 in 100 who can.
On the other hand, I can offer you a good alternative to recommend if you don’t have the technical skills to build a high-traffic, income-generating blog. Check out Build Your Own Successful Online Business for details.
8 Best SEO Tips to Boost your Home Business Ideas| Make Money NowAuthor: Peter Lee
What is SEO?
SEO refers to the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via natural or organic search results. Whether your website gets very little or massive amount of traffic depends a great deal on how much effort you have put in to optimize your website for SEO. In this article, I will describe some SEO on-page optimization factors in which you can very quickly make on your site to improve your search engine ranking. This will give you a boost to your home business ideas you promote in your website and start to make money now.
Keywords Meta Tag
It would do you good if you keep your keywords and phrases not exceedingly long, perhaps not more than a dozen. A mistake some marketers make is putting popular keywords here but why would people want to do that. Would you put a popular keyword like diet if you are promoting home business ideas? The tip here is to use keywords that are actually found in your website content. In reality, a lot of search engines ignore keywords meta tag and some marketers remove this tag completely and focus just on the content page. But there is really no harm putting them, as there are many search engines which still index this tag. You also do not know when search engines change their strategies.
Write Unique Content
You’ve heard of the saying “Content is King”. If you consistently write good content and update it regularly, chances are, you will have more people visiting your site and looking at your interesting home business ideas. If you own a blog, always write not only unique content but update it regularly too. It is no different from the brick and mortar world. If you have a small store in which you do not have many things to sell, people are not going to patronize it, let alone buy from you. Just remember if you were the one looking at a website. If you’ve found one with good content, with keywords evenly spread out, a catchy title, you would probably be interested to read further. If you think about it, and apply this easy concept, making money now is really not quite as hard as you think.
Using Keywords In The Headline
Document title is what users see at the top of the browser. It is very important to put most of your main keywords in here. It would also help to remove any prepositions like “and” and substitute them with a “|” key. I would also go as far as to say, besides the content of the document such as your article, the title is the second most important factor which determines your SEO ranking.
Using Keyword Phrases
Don’t focus on single keyword but rather keyword phrases. There are five million pages on the web that contain the word “cat”, so a search for just that term produces meaningless results. If your page is actually about cat care, then that’s the keyword phrase you want to have on your home business ideas page. Similarly, make money and make money now produce very different results too.
Make Use of alt image tags
Include an image tag on every image or graphic and put your relevant keywords there. An example would be “weight loss picture graphic” or “safe weight loss image” using both words of graphic or image so that search engines do not view them as spam.
Add header tags (h1 and h2)
Add one header tag (h1) and place our most important keyword there. The header tag should be as far towards the top of your home business ideas homepage. When Google reads a webpage, it views the text from the top left hand side of the page to the bottom right hand side of the page. So, it's best to place your (h1) header tag on the top left hand or top/middle portion of your page. You can think of an (h1) header tag as a title for whatever content you have on your page. Similarly put your secondary keywords in h2 header.
Page Optimization Is A Skill
When a user enters terms into a search engine, the engine starts to scan the web looking for those words. If the engine finds the words on a page, it will count how many times the words appear and also determine whether the words appear in conjunction or on their own. If the words are grouped together, it’s more likely that the page is a good result. So, how can you associate your page with certain keywords? It’s simple really. Put them on your page. Put the keywords in the title element, the headings, the file name, and the text of the home business ideas homepage.
Keywords In Domain Name
A website with keywords in the domain name often ranked higher. So if you have not chosen your domain name, you have a great opportunity now to take advantage of this well known secret.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website as to obtain a high rank in search engine results pages. Search engine positioning and increased traffic essentially comes down to 3 basic elements. Keyword and keyword phrase selection, search engine friendly SEO, and good off-page SEO which includes your backlink management and strategy. Additionally, writing and posting articles, press releases and even videos can substantially help SEO placement and ultimately making money now for your home business ideas