Monthly Archives: February 2015

5 Ways To Make Your Blog Posts More Attractive

1165443_56434119#1 – Use Bullet Points

Which one of the following is easier to read?

Some of the top free sources of backlinks include press releases, social media networking sites, video sharing sites and guest blog posting.

Some of the top fee sources of backlinks include:

  • Press releases
  • Social media networking sites
  • Video sharing sites
  • Guest blog posting

As you can see, using bullet points makes content easier to read. By having the appropriate content in a list format, visitors are more likely to read your post.

#2 – Include Images

Of course, your blog posts should also contain images to help break up the content. Studies have shown that visitors are more likely to stay on a page if it contains an image. You can use this to your advantage by tossing up a relevant image in your posts. Play around with various alignments (left, right and centered) to see what works best for your posts. Remember, you want to create a visually attractive post in the eyes of visitors, not search engines.

#3 – Embed a Video

Embedding a video is another simple yet highly effective technique for creating a more visual blog post. YouTube makes it incredibly easy to add videos to your blog posts or webpages. As long as the video creator/uploader enabled sharing, you can embed the video within your blog posts. On the video page, click on the “Share” button followed by “Embed.” Next, choose a size that fits with your blog post and add the HTML code. Voila, you now have a YouTube video embedded into your post!

#4 – Subheadings

Notice how this blog post uses subheadings? This allows visitors such as yourself to scan through the content more easily rather than trying to read it all at once. Not all blog posts call for the use of subheadings, but I recommend using them in the majority of your posts. Tossing in some keyword-related subheadings will also help to boost your site’s search engine rankings, which is another reason why you should use them.

#5 – Add Links

Some bloggers avoid using links in their post, fearing it will send visitors away from their site. Granted, there’s always a risk that a visitor may click an outbound link without returning to your blog, but links add real value. Be sure to sprinkle in both internal and external links throughout your blog posts.

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

How To Monetize a Blog

file5731241837385Blogging requires a great deal of time, energy and work, so why aren’t you getting paid for it? Assuming your blog has a strong following, you can generate some extra cash on the side by utilizing one of the following methods. It probably won’t be enough for you to quit your day job, bit if you continue to build and establish your blog as a leading figure in your niche, it can certainly put some cash in your pocket.

Adsense

Arguably, one of the easiest ways to monetize a blog is by participating in Google’s ad revenue-sharing program Adsense. This program allows webmasters to display Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) ads in exchange for part of the revenue (e.g. you’ll receive a percentage of the amount paid by the advertiser). Best of all, you’ll get earn money each time someone clicks on the Adsense ad, eliminating the need to pre-sell your visitors. Just pop the Adsense code into your blog and start earning!

Sell a Product

Let me first start off by saying that it doesn’t have to be a physical product. You can monetize your blog by selling premium memberships, ebooks, digital downloads, or other non-tangible products. If the product is marketed well enough, people will buy it. One of the perks of selling a digital product is that you keep 100% of the sales commission, making this an enticing way to monetize a blog.

Amazon and eBay

Both Amazon and eBay have affiliate programs which allow bloggers and advertisers to earn a commission based on any product sold through their affiliate link. Once you are approved as an affiliate, you’ll receive a special link with your unique affiliate ID. Using this link, you can create product listings to display on your blog. And if someone purchases one of these products, you’ll receive a small percentage of the sale as a commission. Earning money through Amazon or eBay is slightly more difficult since you actually have to generate sales (not just clicks), but the earning potential is huge when done correctly.

Direct Ad Sales

Of course, another way to monetize your blog is to sell ad space directly to companies and advertisers. If your blog receives a significant amount of traffic, chances are other companies would pay to advertise on it. In fact, you may even receive proposal emails from business owners inquiring about purchasing ad space.

How do you monetize your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

Can Duplicate Content Hurt Your Blog’s Rankings?

Photoxpress_10205037This is a question many bloggers ask. Search engines typically reward websites that publish unique, fresh content with higher rankings, so conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that duplicate content will have the opposite effect. If you rely on organic search engine traffic, you should read the following post about duplicate content.

How Duplicate Content Occurs on Blogs

Even if you don’t manually create two or more pages with the same content, it may still show up in several locations. WordPress, for instance, is the world’s leading content management system (CMS), powering millions of blogs and websites. While its arguably the best all-around blogging CMS, it comes with a dark side: the potential for duplicate content. By default, WordPress publishes content to the actual page or post URL, archives page, author page and tag page. So while you may assume your content is being published in a single location, it’s actually showing up in four locations.

Of course, there’s an easy solution to dealing with duplicate content on WordPress blogs: use an SEO plugin. Yoast SEO plugin allows WordPress users to specify which locations (e.g. archives, tag, author, etc.) they want to noindex. The content will still be published to these locations, but neither Google nor any other search engine will be able to index it.

Video: Matt Cutts Takes on Duplicate Content

Watch the video above for a closer look at duplicate content. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, published this Q&A video back in December 2013. While it’s over a year old now, it offers some invaluable insight into duplicate content.

As Cutts points out in the video, nearly a third (25-30%) of the Internet is comprised of duplicate content. With such a massive chunk of the WWW featuring the same content, it’s virtually impossible for Google to penalize each and every site on which it is published. But there’s a fine line you must not cross when publishing duplicate content. According to Cutts, things like excerpts, terms and conditions, privacy policies, and other boilerplate content shouldn’t trigger any filters within Google’s ranking algorithm — meaning it won’t bring down your website’s search ranking. However, building the bulk of your blog’s content around content that’s published elsewhere may result in lower search rankings, or in severe cases, your blog being deindexed.

How To Manage Duplicate Content on Your Blog:

  • If your blog runs WordPress, download and install an SEO plugin such as Yoast’s SEO plugin.
  • Consolidate posts and pages with similar content together.
  • Adding the rel=canonical tag will guide search engines to the original source of duplicate content.
  • Create backlinks to your blog using a single domain format (e.g yoursite.com or www.yoursite.com).

How do you manage duplicate content on your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

How To Find Photos For Your Blog

photos1As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, holds true in the realm of blogging. You can spend countless hours crafting the perfect blog post, but without images it won’t have any lasting impact on readers. In fact, a recent study found that 93% of the most engaging posts published on Facebook were images. Whether you use Facebook or not, this study attests to the power of web images.

But you can’t simply copy an image from another website and upload it to your blog (usually), due to copyright rights. This is both unethical and illegal, as the owner must give his or her permission for you to use it. So, how are you supposed to find photos to use on your blog?

One excellent source of photos is Flickr’s Creative Commons, which contains well over 300 million photos licensed under Creative Commons. Basically, you are allowed to use the photos if you follow the respective category’s requirements. For instance, the Attribution category states: “You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit,” whereas the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs category states: “You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.” Crediting is typically done by placing a link to the owner’s Flickr account. Note: the second category of images can only be used on personal blogs and websites, not commercial ones.

Wikimedia Commons is another valuable tool for locating free-to-use images. Much like Flickr Creative Commons, however, you must adhere to the license attached to the image.

Of course, you can always purchase rights to use a photo from various stock photo websites like iStockPhoto.com. Depending on the size and type of photo, prices can range anywhere from $1 to $50 per photo. On the plus side, stock photos are often higher quality than photos found on Creative Commons sources, making them an attractive option for serious bloggers.

If you have a camera on your smartphone, you can always take the photos yourself. Most smartphones today pack some pretty decent cameras, such as the Galaxy S5’s 16-megapixel camera. And with a little touch-up work in Photoshop, you can make them look just as good as stock photos.

Where do you obtain photos for your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

How To Speed Up Your Blog’s Load Times

587664_32800922How long does it take the average visitor to load your blog? If it’s longer than six seconds, you’re probably losing a significant number of visitors. Studies have shown that Internet users today have become increasingly impatient, often choosing to click the back button in their web browser instead of waiting for pages to load. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to speed up your blog’s load times.

Resize Images Before Uploading

WordPress has a nifty little image editing tool which allows bloggers to resize their images on the fly. The problem with this tool, however, is that it still requires visitors to load the original image first. If your blog contains dozens of high-resolution images, visitors may experience longer-than-usual load times. Instead of using the built-in image editor, resize your images manually before uploading them to your blog.

Enable Browser Caching

Browser caching allows visitors to store parts of your blog locally, within their web browser. And when a visitor has fewer files to download, they’ll be able to access your blog in less time. To enable browser caching, add the following code to your blog’s .htaccess file:

# BEGIN Expire headers
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 2592000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 2592000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 2592000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 604800 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 604800 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 604800 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 2592000 seconds”
# END Expire headers

Limit Your Plugins

Another important tip for reducing your blog’s load times is to limit your plugins. There’s nothing wrong with installing half a dozen or so plugins, but keep in mind that it will have an adverse effect on your load times. The more plugins your blog contains, the longer it will take to load. Also, plugins with interactive features, such as Facebook-like widgets, tend to have a greater impact on load times.

Web Hosting

Don’t underestimate the importance of a high-quality web host, as it can greatly reduce your blog’s load times. There are generally three types of hosting services: shared, which places your blog on a server alongside hundreds or thousands of other websites, virtual private server (VPS), which dedicates a finite amount server resources for your blog, and dedicated, which gives your blog its own dedicated server. Dedicated servers are the most expensive, but they also load faster than the aforementioned options.

What steps do you take to reduce your blog’s load times? Let us know in the comments section below!

5 Key Elements of a Successful Blog

googledomains-01#1) Well-Defined Niche

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make is trying to blog about every topic under the sun. A generalized blog might work for established, well-known brands like the Huffington Post, but it’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster for everyone else. Try targeting a narrow niche instead. Your blog will appeal to fewer people, but it will have a stronger connection with your target audience.

#2) Content Management System

While you can technically create a blog using nothing more than Notepad or Microsoft Word, an easier and more effective solution is to use a content management system (CMS). Doing so will streamline the process of adding, editing and managing your blog’s content (hence the name), allowing you to spend more time on building your brand and less time micromanaging the technical aspects of blogging. Some of the leading blogging CMS include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Blogger and Tumblr. Feel free to experiment with several different CMS to see which one works best for your particular needs.

#3) Visitor Engagement

You can’t expect to have a successful blog without strong visitor engagement. If you browse through some of the Internet’s most popular blogs, you would probably notice they all have one thing in common: visitors actively comment and engage on them. This is typically done through the blog’s commenting feature, which is found at the bottom of a post or article. However, some blogs may also have built-in forums, message boards, and internal social media networking features.

#4) Superior Content

Arguably, the single most important element of a successful blog is superior content. To encourage visitors to return, you must give them a reason, which is where content comes into play. You can drive traffic to your blog through social media, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and media buys. However, it’s superior content that will keep them coming back. Don’t just toss up generic posts that contain the same rehashed content found on a dozen other blogs and websites, but instead deliver exceptional, unique content that provides real value to your visitors.

#5) Unique Brand

Last but not least, you’ll need to create a unique brand image if you want your blog to succeed. A strong brand should be relevant, unique and meaningful. Doing so will help visitors remember your blog and what it’s about, which subsequently results in more traffic and more sales/conversions.

Did we miss any other elements of a successful blog? Let us know in the comments section below!