Monthly Archives: December 2014

How To Optimize Your Blog’s Images

Photoxpress_3016934Do you properly optimize each and every image uploaded to your blog or website? If you  answered no to this question, you aren’t alone. The fact is that most webmasters fail to acknowledge the importance of this otherwise simple task. But if you aren’t taking the time to optimize each and every image on your website, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to generate additional traffic. The fact is that Google and the other search engines won’t be able to categorize them appropriately unless they are optimized.

#1 – File Naming

How are your image files named? If they’re named generic terms like image246436.jpg, there’s really benefit in terms of SEO. A better approach is to name your image files something relevant to their content. Let’s say you have an image of a roller coaster on your website. Rather than using some generic term such as the one listed above, you should name it roller-coaster.jpg. Search engines aren’t capable of reading images, so they use other factors like the file name to rank them.

#2 – Resizing

Resizing is another important step in website image optimization. WordPress and numerous other blogging platforms have convenient image resizing tools built in, but using these isn’t recommended. If you load a large, oversized image into tool and resize it, viewers will still have to load the original image when they visit your site. Instead, resize your images manually before uploading them to your website.

#3 – Alt Text

Of course, you can’t forget about adding the alt text to your images. When you hover your cursor over an image, the alt text will pop up to describe what you’re looking at. You can add this to your images with a basic alt=description tag. Here’s an example using the image file previously mentioned: <img src=”roller-coaster.jpg” alt=”Roller Coaster” />,

#4 – Captions

Yet another step towards creating more search engine friendly images is to add a caption. As the name suggests a ‘caption’ is a short blurb at the bottom of an image. Adding them to your images is beneficial to both visitors and search engines.

#5 – Relevancy

Lastly, make sure your images are relevant. I know this is commons sense to some people, but you would be surprised to learn how many webmasters toss up irrelevant images without thinking twice. If you’re going to name an image file roller-coaster.jpg, make sure it’s a roller coaster; otherwise, you’ll send the wrong message to your visitors and the search engines.

Have any other image optimization tips you’d like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Mistakes To Avoid When Launching a WordPress Blog

wordpress-14

WordPress is the most popular and widely using blogging platform, and for good reason: it’s free, features an intuitive user-friendly interface, allows for interchangeable templates (known as themes), and it’s constantly updated to fix vulnerabilities and add new features. Howev

Using The Hosted Version

There are two different versions of WordPress, the hosted version, which is found at WordPress.com, and the self-hosted version at WordPress.org. Don’t make the mistake of using the hosted version, as it restricts your ability to create a successful long-term blog. While both versions are free to use, the self-hosted has a limited number of themes and plugins, and it’s placed as a subdomain on WordPress.com (e.g. yoursite.wordpress.com). Opting to use the self-hosted version will grant you more freedom to customize your blog according to your liking.

Leaving Default Permalinks

Another all-too-common mistake that you’ll want to avoid is leaving the default permalink intact. All new WordPress posts and pages are set to use a numeric URL structure by default, such as http://www.yoursite.com/?p=123. Why is this a problem? Well, it doesn’t provide any useful information to search engines nor visitors. To fix this problem, access Settings > Permalinks > and choose Post Name. Rather than using a numerical URL structure, all URLs created on your blog will contain the title. So if you create a new post titled “Top 5 Blogging Tips,” the URL will look like “yoursite.com/top-5-blogging-tips.”

Hello World! Post

Each time you set up a new WordPress blog, the platform automatically creates a sample post titled “Hello World!” This obviously doesn’t look very professional, so it’s recommended that you either delete it or rename it. If this is your first time launching a WordPress blog, you can access this sample post along with all of your other posts by clicking the “Posts” button on the right-hand side of the main menu.

Using a Free Theme

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great WordPress themes available for free. The problem is that most of these free themes are riddled with bugs, errors, compatibility problems, or even malicious software. If you’re serious about blogging and want to create a successful web presence, spend the extra money on a premium theme. Premium themes deliver a better layout on which to create your WordPress blog, and they are often backed with a high-level of support.

Is Your Blog Ready For The Mobile Revolution?

galaxys6

There’s a growing trend towards the use of smartphones, tablets, electronic wearables, and other mobile devices to access the Internet. In fact, a comScore report found mobile U.S. Internet traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time ever earlier this year, and experts predict this trend will continue in the years to come (source). Bloggers who fail to acknowledge the ever-growing demographic of mobile Internet users will get left in the dust by their competitors. So, how do you ensure your blog is ready for the mobile revolution?

Don’t assume that your blog will function as intended on mobile devices just because it does so on desktops. Smartphones and tablet computers have different screen sizes, display ratios, and they often lack plugins/extensions commonly found on desktop browsers. So even if your blog functions properly for desktop users, mobile visitors may experience broken elements, display errors, and other problems.

How To Create a Smartphone-Optimized Blog

Google supports three different configurations for creating smartphone-optimized websites:

  1. Separate mobile domain. This involves creating a dedicated website specifically for the mobile version of your blog.
  2. Dynamically serve different HTML based on user agent. The second configuration consists of serving different HTML to users based on their respective user agent. In other words, your blog will check the user’s browser to determine whether he or she is on a desktop or mobile device. If the latter, your blog will serve mobile-friendly HTML to the user.
  3. Responsive Web Design. The third configuration is known as a Responsive Web Design (RWD). This is the preferred choice by both Google and Bing, so it’s recommended that you use it when creating a smartphone-optimized blog or website. RWD involves the use of proportion-based grids combined with CSS3 media queries to create a universal layout that functions the same across all devices. Whether a visitor is accessing your blog on a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc., you can rest assured knowing he or she will have 100% funnctionality.

Mobile Test

Even if you believe your blog is optimized appropriately for mobile traffic, it’s recommended that you test it to ensure it functions as intended. Granted, you can do this by viewing your website on different devices, but this is a tedious, time-consuming process that really doesn’t make much sense. A smarter testing solution is to use the free online tool located at http://mobiletest.me/. Simply click on the device you wish to use, input your blog URL, and it will show how your website looks on the respective device.

SEO Practices: Then vs Now

The goal of search engine optimization is to land your website in the first page of search results for a given topic. In the past, the first question a webmaster would ask was, “How can I get my site on page one?” Today, the first question should be, “Why does my page deserve to be on page one?”

A search engine’s primary purpose is to connect users with the best response to a searcher’s inquiries. If you want to find information about boats, for example, you might go to Google and type “boat” in the search bar. Google would then look for all of the webpages that had the word “boat” in them and return them, ranked in order so that those that seemed most relevant or valuable would come up first.

In the past, the relevance of a page was determined by its keyword density. In other words, a site that had “boat” written in it frequently must be a good source of information about boats. For years, this is how search engines worked, but it was a system that could be easily abused.

In the past, building a successful website was a matter of optimizing that site for search engines. In a way, the search engine was your primary audience, and webmasters designed their pages accordingly. Today, writing for the search engine is a recipe for disaster. You must write content with the user in mind. When you write content that is useful, interesting and share-worthy, it will also be valuable from an SEO perspective.

When search engines found and ranked sites based entirely on keywords, obtaining a highly ranking site was simple. A webmaster simply needed to identify a keyword that was popular and build a site around that keyword. The word or phrase would be placed in several vital places, like page headings the opening paragraph, and the text surrounding that phrase would be largely irrelevant.

Now, thanks to updates in Google’s search technology, searches look at more than keywords. In fact, the search algorithm is designed to identify a searcher’s intent rather than the exact words typed into the search bar. The exact phrase used matters less than the general topic surrounding that phrase.

Today’s search engine optimization is based on building up a site’s authority. Authoritative websites are judged on several factors:

  • The links back to a website. If a site is linked frequently by other trusted sites, it stands to reason that it must be a reputable, authoritative source of information.
  • The sites it links to. If a website links out to high-value, authoritative sites, it’s reasonable to expect that its content will also be well-researched and of high quality.
  • The exact vocabulary used. Experts writing about a particular topic will by necessity use specific vocabulary related to that topic. The presence of these niche words is what Google uses to identify the content of a website.

While all of these issues are important, the final point is what we’ll focus on in this guide. Learning how to use niche vocabulary is an important skill for webmasters, and it’s one element of your site that you have total control over. In the next section, we’ll look at what exactly niche vocabulary is and how you can use it to lend an air of authority to your website.

Final Words

In many ways, search engine optimization has become much more complicated since Google became more sophisticated. In other ways, however, writing successful content has actually become easier. You no longer must find a way to squeeze irrelevant keywords into your articles or spam backlinks across thousands of websites in order to draw readers to the page. All you have to do is write high-quality, interesting, authoritative content that answers a reader’s questions. This is certainly not easy, but it is simple, and it will become easier with practice.

The best part of approaching SEO in this way is that it’s a method that’s unlikely to change. Although the details of search algorithms may change in the future, search engines will always want to connect users with the most relevant information. By striving to provide the information that your audience wants and needs, you can create content that will weather Google’s future updates.

Make Money Blogging With Affiliate Programs

money

Still struggling to make money blogging? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Google Adsense program is one of the easiest ways to earn money online. Anyone who owns a website that receives traffic can throw up ads and almost immediately see the revenue start coming in. Once you become an Adsense member, simply copy the Java code off from your account and paste it wherever you want your ads displayed. Don’t worry, you can choose from several different sizes of advertisements, including full-skyscrapers, half-skyscrapers, blocks and plain text ads. When visitors come to your site, Adsense will dynamically generate an ad relative to the content on your site. So, if your site is about Chicago restaurants, the ads displayed will be similar. When they click on that ad, you’ll receive a commission.

Selling affiliate products online remains as one of the best money making ideas. If you don’t know what an affiliate program is, let me explain – companies hire or use affiliates to help sell their products or services through an affiliate program. This can be extremely lucrative for the affiliates because there is no overhead, customer service, or other fees that are associated with direct selling, leaving you with more money in your pockets.

To get started, you’ll have to join up with a website that connects you to the companies looking for affiliates, known as affiliate networks. To choose one, first determine what product or services you wish to sell. If you own a website about weight loss, then you should join an affiliate network with plenty of weight loss and supplement offers, such as MarketHealth.com. If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you may get rejected from a few of the larger affiliate networks simply because of your lack of experience. To help increase your chances of being accepted, be sure to have your own domain and website already set up and ready to show.

Another great affiliate network I recommend joining is Commission Junction (CJ.com). They are one of the largest and oldest networks in the business, connecting you with hundreds of different affiliate programs in everything ranging from electronics to pet clothes.

When searching for an affiliate offer to promote, always carefully read the payout. Depending on the network and merchant, the payout could be a flat cost-per-sale or it could be a percentage of the total price. If you’ve found an offer you like, search for it on other affiliate networks and see if they have it for a higher commission.