Tag Archives: blogging

Break the rules

6 blogging rules that no longer apply

In life, there are always rules. Rules to follow and rules to break. These are my six rules as they apply to blogging.

Break the rules

1. Post multiple times to increase traffic

Back in the day, I remember my old boss at SEO-PR provide consultation to clients who were interested in building out their blog in order to drive SEO and Web traffic. We told clients to blog consistently and more than once a day, if possible. Output and frequency were the key elements to driving traffic. My, how times have changed. Taking a page from Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame, you don’t need to blog multiple times a day. Matter of fact, if you can come up with one juicy, content-rich blog post a week, that’s all you need! If you study Ferriss’s blog, you’ll notice that Tim doesn’t post every day. He spaces out his posts by at least three days. Why do I highlight Ferriss?  Well, he’s a blog phenom of sorts and through his Four hour work week books created a huge loyal fan-base. His specialty is to come up with content that rich in “how to” and provides instructions for others to replicate the type of success he’s enjoyed, including guest posts that offer insight into how others have achieved success in their online marketing strategies.

Recommendation: Start off with a consistent schedule of blog posts. You can post once a day, every two days, three days, whatever suits your abilities as a blogger. Just make sure you make your posts rich with usable content that your readers can make use of. Use analytics to evaluate your level of success. You’ll discover which of your posts drives more traffic and views.

2. Blog comments – are they still relevant and valuable as a KPI?

I’ve always counseled my clients to value comments. After all, you might see that your content is getting shared but how do you know if any of it is actually being read? I’ve seen content get shared hundreds of times via FB, LI, Twitter, etc…That’s a good sign. But how many people who are using their feeds to share the content are actually reading it? I think it’s a small percentage. That’s why blog comments, historically, have always been a good benchmark, especially when monitored. If someone is inspired by your content they will be inclined to respond to it. Unfortunately, blog comments have also been taken advantage of by too many trolls and an insufficient number of “quality comments,” meaning comments left by people who truly have read your post and are sincere in their remarks, providing you with comments that reflect they’ve read the content. Copyblogger announced a while back that they were doing away with comments entirely. Obviously their spam system was not capable of filtering all of the comments and it became tiresome for their staff to keep monitoring the volume of comments, many of which were plain spam. Sonia Simone explained in a post that Copyblogger was putting an end to commenting and that if people wanted to continue the dialogue related to the content posted than they should follow Copyblogger’s social media channels and post their comments on those platforms.

Recommendation: I’m still partial to comments and not 100% sure you should follow Copyblogger’s strategy. By the time Copyblogger shut off comments, it was already a huge brand. It didn’t risk very much by turning off comments. For those of you starting out, why alienate your fans? If you make it relatively easy to post comments, and  you’re using a platform like WP, it’s pretty easy to monitor your comments and control the level of spam. Plenty of plugins catch the vast majority of spam. If you make it difficult for your readers to comment, they won’t comment. If you want your readers to focus more on your social media channels, like FB, then you probably don’t require a blog. You should just emphasize your presence on FB. I say don’t follow what Copyblogger did unless you truly are getting overwhelmed with spam.

3. Write a 500 word blog post

There was a time when keyword volume mattered to a blog post. I remember helping clients with their blog posts years ago, making sure they were keyword rich and were, at a minimum, 500 words. Today, it doesn’t matter nearly as much. Why? Because of rich media, in particular video, the keyword doesn’t always hold the same priority as it once did. YouTube, for example, is second largest search engine on the Web today, right behind Google. People are consuming record amounts of video content. You could post video content, (original video content) and make that the core of your blog content. Google isn’t going to penalize you for it. Short posts are still popular and long posts remain appealing as well (think of posts on Medium, for example). In the end, however, word count just doesn’t matter.

Recommendation: Whatever content you post, just make sure it’s to the point with no extra filler.

4. Stick with original content – but it’s OK to repurpose it

Remember the adage, “there’s nothing new under the sun?” In today’s 24/7 content spewing world it’s just not possible to come up with something totally original. The vast majority of content is recycled. Heck, I’m recycling and repurposing this blog post from another blog post drafted by a woman who recycled her content from another blog post as well. That doesn’t invalidate what I’m sharing with you now because you might come across my post instead of hers.

Recommendation: Learn how to repurpose and recycle content. Research and dig through the plethora of content out on the Web today and make it your own. Add appropriate links so you’re not completely plagiarizing but don’t worry if what you’re writing isn’t 100% original.

5. Are images or rich media in general required for a blog post to be effective?

A picture is worth a thousand words….and then some. With the amount of content getting put on the Web today you’re going to have a terrible time of competing for eyeballs if you don’t use imagery. And we’re not just talking about imagery for imagery’s sake. You might want something where you can add a caption as well. Think about what Twitter did. As it constantly evolves its platform, it realized it could attract more users by adding image functionality to the 140 character tweet. Studies have shown that tweets get more clicks if they have an image included.

Recommendation:  Any time you post, never fail to include imagery and/or video with your content. Google likes SEO and imagery so the SEO value alone makes it pretty much mandatory.

6. Keep all of your content in one place

There was a time when all you needed was a blog, and in part, that’s still true today. However, with the abundance of third-party publishing sites like Medium, LinkedIn, Quora, FB, and so many more, you have the ability to channel your content throughout a vast network of different platforms, helping you syndicate your content. Just make sure that which ever one you choose you get the ability to link back to either one of your social media channels or your original blog. Don’t worry about Google penalizing you for promoting duplicate content. Plenty of bloggers have been able to grow their audiences by syndicating their content on third party platforms and they are none the worse for it.

Recommendation: Promote your content on reputable third-party platforms, which will allow you to link back to your original content. In addition, make sure you get a link back to your G+ profile. It’s always good to stay friends with Google and let them know you are using its social media app. Always include links within your content that direct traffic back to your site, if possible.

 

 

Matt Mullenweg

18.9% of the web powered by WordPress but danger lies ahead

Matt Mullenweg
18.9 percent of the Web powered by WordPress says Matt Mullenweg

WordPress continues its climb as the leading free CMS on the Web today as outlined by Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg in his keynote address at this past weekend’s  WordCamp San Francisco conference. Mullenweg says that the blogging platform is now powering 18.9 percent of the Web, a 2.2 point increase from 2012. WordPress’s evolution as a CMS will continue to be influenced by the habits of its users and developers. Matt made mention of the T.A.R.I phenomenon. T.A.R.I. is a theory outlined by Nir Eyal, author, speaker, and consultant, who provided a most stimulating presentation at WordPress Camp 2012 on the subject of how to automate the habits of customers.

Matt began by referencing the Indiana University study published last year that showed 89% of the 290 undergraduates sampled experience a phantom vibration and they experienced them about once every two weeks, on average. The findings suggested “that targeting individuals’ emotional reactions to text messages might be helpful in combating the negative consequences of both text message dependency and phantom vibrations.” The studies have gone so far as to pick out two personality traits that correlate with these factors: extraversion and neuroticism. Extraverts tend to check their phones more because because staying in touch with friends is a big part of their lives. Neurotics worry  more about the status of their relationships—while they may not get as many text messages, they care a lot about what they say.

Trigger, Action, Reward, & Investment

T.A.R.I. stands for trigger, action, reward, and investment. A trigger can be external, like a phone buzzing, or receiving a text message or email notification. An internal trigger is an emotional feeling, a state of being similar to being bored, lonely, or hungry. A trigger causes an action. For example, if you’re lonely, you might hop on Facebook. The more emotional significance you attach to whatever is causing your trigger, say your phone buzzing, the more likely you are to experience it. Hence the Indiana University study showing how students can feel a trigger happening even if it hasn’t happened. When a trigger hits you, it’s akin to dopamine instantly rewarding you. But it’s the anticipation of the reward that kicks off the dopamine to begin with. When you actually receive the reward our dopamine levels drop off and we are not left as satiated. Investment is an attribute that nearly everyone aspires towards. It is about making something your own. When you work on a project you are far more attached to it. Although we tend to overvalue our own work in comparison to how the rest of the world views it. Rewards are most effective when they are intermittent.

For Mullenweg, its the habits, loops, and triggers that all WordPress users fall under, in one way or another. What are hooks for them? How can WordPress hook a user? Have an idea, that’s a trigger. You publish and then you get feedback, that’s the reward. Investment is the time you put into it. Constraints breed creativity. The reader, stats, ego feeder, notifications, these are all triggers, and as these features get better, users of WP will grow exponentially. Mullenweg says that he’s seeing the evolution of the blogging platform change from simply being about posting thoughts, but moving to being a CMS and ultimately an app platform.

B.J. Fogg discusses hot triggers

I interviewed B.J. Fogg back in 2011 about his behavior model. BJ Fogg believes that companies must put hot triggers in the path of motivated people in order to effectively compete in the consumer space. BJ studies the growth of Facebook and how the application uses triggers to influence the behavior of its users. BJ also discusses the impact of mobile on society and how it will become the dominant tool to influence human behavior.

 

 

 

Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1

Blogging 101: Insights to capture the hearts and minds of your readers

Murray Newlands moderates blogging panel
Murray Newlands moderates blogging panel: To his right are: John Rampton, SEJ, Alexey Semeney, AtContent, and Rohit Vashisht, Sverve

Reach new readership and control your content

Remember, above all else, in order to grow your blog, increase organic traffic, and expand readership, you must share, share, and share again your content! That was the overriding theme of the recent Social Media Marketing Monitoring Engagement Meetup held at the Microsoft store in downtown San Francisco.

Last week I provided a summary of Tiffany Jones Brown’s presentation on how Pinterest creates its unique voice. This time I want to recap the main themes espoused by the blogger rockstars on this particular presentation. To begin, Murray Newlands moderated the panel. Murray advises various UK and American companies on their social media marketing. John Rampton, Managing editor at Search Engine Journal (SEJ), Alexey Semeney, CEO at AtContent, a blogging platform that displays bloggers’ content on other websites, and Rohit Vashisht, CEO at Sverve rounded off the list of speakers.

Find your niche!

If you’re going to develop a blog, find your niche. Rampton made it clear that even though he writes and edits for a site that gets more than 500,000 uniques a month, it’s still in the site’s interest to engage their readership by offering guest blog posts. Rampton said SEJ allows up to 30 guest blog posts a day on its site. By featuring guest posts, the site is able to continually feature fresh content and attract new readership. Murray encouraged new bloggers to invite guest bloggers to post on their blog.

Produce less and share more!

Rahit stressed that bloggers should be producing less content and sharing more of what they’ve already created. Because of the plentiful social media channels in existence today such as Google +, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, StumbleUpon (to name but a fraction), bloggers can easily share and spread their content far and wide. In doing so, they increase their level of visibility and more easily find their niche audience.

Optimize your content

SEO and the optimization of content! Rahit made sure to include SEO and optimization as essential components in every blogger’s toolset. If you’re not using Google +, for example, you risk getting alienated by Google itself and your post won’t rank as well. If you haven’t created a google authorship profile for yourself, do so now.

Identify trends to take advantage of

When it comes to producing content, you should get good at identifying trends. Rampton said he relies primarily on his own personal network when it comes to identifying scoops like when he broke the story that Digg was delisted by Google.

Your personal networks on Twitter and/or Facebook are excellent sources for trending topics but you can still use Google Trends to help you identify what keywords people are searching for on the Web as well. Rampton made it clear, however, you can’t beat a personal network of friends and associates who share your particular interest and can tip you off at any time.

How to handle copyright violations

A person in the audience asked about copyright and how to prevent scrapers from stealing your content. Alexey said any violation of copyright is a problem of technology and his company, AtContent, is one solution (it helps to distribute content without content duplication and provides backlinks) but just as important is to always insert a link to your article within your blog. That way you at least get that backlink in the event your post is stolen and featured somewhere else.

How to overcome blog topic fatigue

But what if you make the decision to blog about a topic that’s already been blogged about by hundreds if not thousands of times already? Newlands came to the rescue by suggesting you look for arguments or differences in perspective among the blog posts already featured and bingo, you can find a new avenue or approach towards the same topic.  Newlands recommends taking screenshots of arguments or differences in opinion “in action” and use them when crafting your next blog post.

Another great suggestion from Newlands was to identify the moment that any influential blogger is about to release something important or significant, in the form of an eBook or video, for example. If you follow that influential blogger carefully, you can time it just right by asking if they would consider promoting their eBook or video on your blog.

Stalk your favorite blogger

Finally, if you’re looking for your next juicy blog post and seemed tapped out on just what exactly new and original to say next, go stalk a blogger you respect. Timothy Ferris, famous author of the Four-Hour workweek book series did this to perfection by attending numerous conferences and meeting with the bloggers he wanted to get to know. Rampton said once you’ve stalked your blogger, politely introduce yourself and establish a relationship. Once the blogger feels comfortable getting to know you, go ahead and ask if it would be possible to feature an interview with him or her, or just feature a guest post on your blog.

There you have it!  A fun-filled session for all, including for this fine young gentleman named Rakesh.

Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1
Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1

 

Rakesh works for Locationlabs and blogs at Code4reference.com and was trying out a funky gizmo by Psioplanet.com called the PSiO 1.1. This looks exactly like what more of the overworked workers of the world should be doing. Zoning out and recharging their batteries at the same time!

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