Category Archives: Web Search

wordpress logo screensaver

Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Blogging Platform

WordPress has become the de-facto standard for blogging. While there are more than a dozen different blogging platform from which to choose, an overwhelming majority of bloggers prefer WordPress. In fact, some estimates suggest there to be more than 74 million WordPress blogs and sites online.

So, why do so many bloggers prefer WordPress over the likes of Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, Tumblr, and similar platforms?

WordPress Is Free

Yep, WordPress — both the hosted and self-hosted version — is free to download and use with no strings attached. This is in stark contrast to many other blogging platforms, some of which charge monthly or yearly subscription fees to use. If you’re looking for an inexpensive solution for your blogging needs, check out WordPress.

Installation Is Quick and Easy

Setting up a blogging platform on a new domain may sound like a difficult and daunting task. After all, you must create a new database and connect it to your blog. With WordPress, though, installation is quick and easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that just about anyone can set up a new WordPress site in just 5 minutes or less. Furthermore, many server control panels come with pre-installed scripts that allow users to set up new WordPress installations in just a single click. Setting up a new blog or website doesn’t get any easier than this!

WYSIWYG and Code Editor

WordPress offers both a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) and code editor. If you want to embed media into a post or page, you can do with the code editor. But if you simply want to publish an article or blog post, you can use the standard WYSIWYG editor. The ability to switch between the two editors is a huge plus that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Plugins, Plugins, Plugins!

Arguably, one of the greatest benefits of using WordPress is the vast array of plugins it offers. A plugin is essentially an optional file or group of files that is intended to add new functionality to a WordPress site or modify an existing feature. Plugins can perform a wide range of tasks, such as automatically creating an XML sitemap file, enabling browser caching, filtering spam comments, and removing duplicate content. Rather than hard-coding these features directly into your blog, just download and activate the appropriate plugin!

Easily Change Your Blog’s Design

With WordPress, you can change your blog’s design with the click of a button. WordPress supports interchangeable templates known as themes. If you want to use a new color scheme and layout, for instance, just find and activate a new theme. Within seconds, you’ll have a brand new design for your blog. Keep in mind, however, that you may have to update your navigation menus and links after switching to a new theme.

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

tools for better blog topics

Tools to Uncover New Topic Ideas for Your Blog

Can’t seem to think new topic ideas for your blog? It’s next-to-impossible to maintain a successful blog unless you are publishing fresh new content on a regular basis.

Regardless of your blog’s niche, you can uncover topics by using the tools listed below.

Google Trends

If you aren’t using Google Trends, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to uncover hot new topics for your blog. The homepage of Google Trends will reveal some of the day’s most trending Google Search keywords. This alone can prove useful in identifying trends for which you can blog about.

But if you really want to go the extra mile, try searching for a keyword associated with your blog’s niche in the search box at the top. Google Trends will display a chart of the keyword’s search popularity, as well as its projected popularity. Remember, you want to blog about topics that are currently and/or expected to be popular. If a topic is trending downwards, it’s best to avoid it.

Topsy

Another excellent tool for bloggers is Topsy. Technically, Topsy is a “Twitter, Search, Monitoring and Analytics” tool, for which it does phenomenally well. But you can also use it to find new topic ideas for your blog. Upon visiting the homepage, enter a keyword that’s associated with your blog’s niche into the search box. Topsy will then reveal tweets containing the keyword. You can narrow your selection down by adjusting the settings on the left side of the page. If you only want to search for photos, for instance, change the search option from “Everything” to “Photos.”

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

The Internet marketing website Hubspot has a nifty little Blog Topic Generator that does just that: reveals topic ideas based on your keyword selection. I searched for the keyword “Chihuahuas,” and it revealed the following five topic ideas:

  1. Think You’re Cut Out for Raising a Chihuahua?
  2. Take This Quiz: Why We Love Chihuahuas (And You Should, Too!)
  3. 10 Quick Tips About Chihuahua
  4. How to Solve the Biggest Problems With Chihuahuas
  5. 15 best blogs to follow about Chihuahuas

While they aren’t the most thoughtful topic ideas, the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator is still a fun tool that can spark some ideas of your own. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free to use.

Google News

We can’t talk about blogging tools to uncover new topic ideas without mentioning Google News. The search engine giant’s “News” platform is updated with timely current event-style web postings within minutes of them being published. Just head over the Google News, enter a relevant keyword, and Google News will reveal recent web postings containing that keyword. Keep in mind that most of these ideas will be time-sensitive, not evergreen. In other words, you’ll need to craft a new post about the topic in a timely manner; otherwise, it will become irrelevant to your target audience.

Which tools do you use to uncover new topic ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/soniabelviso/

Medium

Blogging Platform ‘Medium’ Receives $400m Valuation

Move over WordPress, there’s a new blogging platform that’s gaining momentum.

Medium, a three-year blogging platform launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, raised $57 million in a recent round of fundraising led by Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. According to unnamed sources at Recode, this places the new platform’s value at a jaw-dropping $400 million.

So, what is Medium and why are so many people eager to invest in it? The platform was designed to encourage users to write posts that are longer than the 140 characters — the maximum number of characters allowed in a tweet. Williams wanted to create a platform that was as easy to use as Twitter, but offered greater flexibility in terms of content creation and networking. Just one year after launching Medium, there were 30 full-time workers keeping the platform afloat.

Medium continues to grow larger and more widespread with each passing month. Much like WordPress and Blogger, it offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSISYG) visual editor complete with font type, font size, font color, and other formatting options. Creating blog posts is a breeze thanks to Medium’s WYSIWYG editor, as it eliminates the need for messing with complicated code.

But there’s another benefit to using Medium that shouldn’t be overlooked: it’s integration of an up-vote feature. Much like Digg and Reddit, users can up-vote their favorite posts. Posts with a high number of up-votes generally receive more traffic, simply because users assume these posts are higher quality than posts with a few-to-no up-votes. Bloggers can also share new posts with users after publishing. Once you publish a new post, simply click the “share” option to share it with your followers.

At Medium we operate in a fundamentally different way. We don’t focus on pageviews, unique visitors, or click metrics. We don’t litter the platform with ads that are low quality, high clutter. We don’t tolerate bad behavior in the community. And we don’t violate people’s privacy, wrote Medium in a recent blog post.

We aim to surface quality. Every action on Medium is shared with our network, meaning everyone is an influencer. Whether you post, highlight, recommend, or respond — Medium helps you move other people, see issues through a different lens, change minds, and inspire action. We are confident this is the best model for both creators and audiences in the long run,” they went on to say.

Is Medium the right blogging platform for you? Being that it’s free to use with no strings attached, it’s certainly worth checking out. Medium is fast, user-friendly, well-designed, and loaded with features.

Then again, Medium has some major drawbacks that restrict its effectiveness as a blogging platform.

For starters, Medium doesn’t offer the same amount of themes and plugins as WordPress. One of the reasons why WordPress is the world’s leading blogging platform is because of its vast library consisting of tens of thousands of themes and plugins, many of which were developed by third-party companies and coders. Because Medium is still relatively new, it lacks this same level of community support; therefore, bloggers won’t have access to the same number of themes and plugins as supported by WordPress.

Have you blogged with Medium? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

increase visibility

How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines

Where does your blog rank in the search engines? If it’s several pages deep for its target keywords (or not indexed at all), it’s probably time to do a little SEO work. Search ranking plays a direct role in both the quantity and quality of traffic that a blog receives. Therefore, it’s important for bloggers to optimize their blogs for higher search rankings.

Check Your Permalinks

Search engines use hundreds of different ranking signals to determine where and how to rank websites. One of these signals is the URL structure. Ideally, your blog should have permalinks that reflect the post or page’s content. This page, for instance, uses the following permalink: http://www.mybloggerz.com/how-to-get-your-blog-noticed-by-the-search-engines. As you can see, the URL is based on the post title, which is “How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines.” This is a more meaningful and relevant permalink than a generic URL like http://www.mybloggerz.com/?p=123. If your blog uses the WordPress content management system (CMS), you can adjust your permalinks by logging into your blog and accessing Settings > Permalinks.

Keep on Bloggin’

Far too many bloggers initially set up their blogs, publish a couple of posts, but then fail to take any additional action. You can’t expect people to follow your blog unless you publish high-quality content on a regular basis. Content is the driving force behind every successful website, and blogs are no exception. Try to get into the habit of publishing 1-2 posts per week, more if you have the time. Thanks to the scheduling feature found in most blogging platforms, you can set up new posts to be published at a later date.

Beware of Spam

Most experts will agree that visitor commenting is a helpful feature that should be enabled on blogs. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, it creates new, unique content for your website, boosting its overall engagement. However, the downside to visitor commenting is that it will likely attract spam — comments that are left strictly for marketing or other commercial purposes. Allowing these spam comments to flood your blog may deter search engines from ranking it high, simply because the search engines will view your blog as a source of spam. To prevent this from happening, set up visitor comments to require approval before publishing.

Build Backlinks

Search engines generally do a pretty good job at discovering new blogs and websites on their own. You can give them a little nudge, however, by building backlinks to your blog. As search engines crawl the Internet, they’ll stumble upon your link, directing them to your blog. Just remember to stick with relevant, non-paid links from authoritative sources. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for more tips and ideas on how to generate relevant backlinks.

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

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saibotregeel/

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SEO Best Practices for Blogging

SEO-tools-graphicWhere does your blog rank in the search engines for its target keywords? If it’s listed several pages deep (or not indexed at all), you won’t receive much traffic. And without traffic, you can’t expect to achieve any notable level of success with your blog. That’s why we’re going to discuss some of the best practices for optimizing a blog’s search rankings.

Title Matters

A blog post’s title is arguably the single most important element when it comes to SEO. Search engines typically display titles for their listings, so don’t overlook this critical element. Your post titles should be relevant, easy to understand and contain the keyword(s) for which you are trying to rank. Keep in mind, however, that Google usually only displays the first 50-60 characters of a title.

Interlink Your Posts Together

When you publish a new blog post, try to include some internal links pointing to other posts. Internal links are beneficial for both human visitors as well as search engines. They guide visitors to other relevant content listed on your website, thus lowering your blog’s bounce rate in the process, and they encourage search engines to crawl and index multiple pages, which should boost your rankings. Ideally, internal links should be created using anchor text, as this helps search engines understand what the linked page is about.

Don’t Forget the External Links

Some bloggers avoid using external links on their blogs, assuming it will send visitors away from their own blog. While it’s true that external links may offer an exit point for visitors, they will also add value to your own blog. Search engines view blogs and websites without external links as a one-way street, meaning visitors can enter but they cannot exit (not through a link, at least). As such, these websites often struggle achieve a desirable search ranking. You can show Google that your website is not a one-way street, however, by including external links to relevant, authoritative sources. Just be sure the links aren’t pointing to a direct competitor’s website.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

Okay, this is an SEO tip that works for all types of websites, blogs included. Rather than trying to target a broad keyword, you should go for a more specific long-tail keyword. While broad keywords typically receive more searches, the competition is too stiff for smaller blogs to rank high. Instead of targeting “shoes,” for instance, try “best shoes for travel,” or “great shoes under $50.” By narrowing your topic down to long-tail keywords such as this, you’ll have an easier time optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. If you need help choosing long-tail keywords for your blog, check out the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool.

Have any other SEO tips for blogs that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Graphic with SEO keywords

Optimizing Your Blog for Higher Search Rankings

Still struggling to achieve a top search ranking for your blog? Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that the higher your blog ranks, the more traffic it will receive. But how exactly do you increase your blog’s search ranking?

Use an SEO-Friendly Blogging Platform

The platform on which you build your blog will directly affect its search rankings. Some content management systems (CMS) contain messy code that’s difficult for search engines to properly crawl, which subsequently harms the site’s search rankings. You can avoid this problem, however, by using an SEO-friendly CMS for your blog like WordPress. Powering tens of millions of blogs and websites, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It’s cleanly coded, patched with new updates in a timely manner, and features a plethora of plugins and themes.

Beware of Duplicate Content!

When blogging, use caution to ensure that your content isn’t being published in multiple locations. It’s not uncommon for blogging platforms to place new content in two or more locations, such as the original URL, authors, tags, categories, and archives. Just because you “think” your blog post is being published in a single location doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Double-check your blog’s settings to ensure all new posts and pages are not being published in multiple locations. And if they are, use the noindex attribute to discourage search engines from crawling them.

Allow Visitor Comments

How can allowing visitor comments boost your blog’s search ranking? It’s no secret that content is a ranking factor used by Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Websites that are updated with fresh content on a regular basis will reap the benefits of higher search rankings. While you can always create new content by hand, a supplemental method of content creation is to enable visitor commenting. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, whether it’s positive or negative, creates new content for your blog. Search engines will notice this content, taking into account when determining where and how to rank your blog.

Social Sharing

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media when optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. All of the major search engines place an emphasis on social signals like Facebook likes and Twitter tweets. Assuming you are able to attract social signals like this, you can expect your blog to rise in the SERPs.

But how do you encourage readers to share your blog posts on their social media accounts? One helpful tip is to place social media buttons directly on your blog. Instead of forcing readers to leave your blog and login to their Facebook/Twitter accounts to share a post, they can do so directly from your blog. This alone can make a huge difference in your social media marketing efforts.

Have any other SEO tips for blogs that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Simple Yet Effective Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts

Can’t seem to gain any traction with your blog? Check out some of the promotional techniques listed below!

Add Images

Don’t underestimate the value of images within a blog post. Studies have shown that Internet users respond to content with images with a higher level of engagement when compared to text-only content. It will generate more comments, more Facebook “likes,” more tweets, etc.

But adding images to your blog posts has a second benefit that often goes unnoticed: the images will be indexed by Google Images and Bing Images. So the next time someone searches for a keyword related to the image in Google or Bing, they may discover your blog post. Just remember to follow the basics of image optimization, such as renaming the file name to something more relevant, using alt text, and using the appropriate file extension.

Leverage The Power of Social Media

When it comes to promoting blog posts, nothing holds more value than social media. Creating a Facebook update with a link pointing back to your new blog post can send tons of traffic to it, many of whom will share the link on their own accounts. When done correctly, this can create a viral effect in which one user shares it with another user, who then shares it with someone else — and the cycle repeats.

If you really want to take advantage of social media, add some basic sharing buttons to your blog. Granted, users can always like or share your blog post by logging into their Facebook account, but you can make it easier for them by adding these buttons to you blog. Rather than leaving your site to “like” a post, they can simply click the button. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Stay on Top of Trends

A third way to promote your blog is to publish content that’s currently trending. By definition, trends come and go, which is why it’s important to act fast when you notice a trend that’s relevant to your blog’s niche. Whether it’s a news story, current event, viral video, etc., give your perspective on the trend by writing up a short post. You can then share it on social media using the appropriate #hashtags.

There are dozens of ways to find trends, but one of my personal favorite tools is http://trends24.in/. This simple, free-to-use tool reveals trending Twitter #hashtags from the past 24 hours.

Quote Relevant People

How can quoting relevant people yield more traffic to your blog posts? It serves a few different purposes. For starters, there’s a chance the person you quote will notice your content, linking to it from their own website. Second,, search engines will notice that you are quoting an expert, possibly boosting your blog’s search ranking as a result. Third, your blog’s visitors will view your site as being a leading authority figure since it contains actual quotes.

What methods do you use to promote your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

Lemur-with-a-long-tail

Targeting Long-Tail Keywords With Your Blog

One of the most common mistakes new bloggers make is trying to target broad, generic keywords. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that such keywords will yield more traffic since they have a higher search volume. While it’s true that broad keywords usually have greater search volume than narrow keywords, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reap the benefits of increased traffic by targeting them.

What is a Long Tail Keyword?

Long-tail keywords are usually three or four keyword phrases that are more specific than a single keyword. One of the benefits of using them is users who enter more specific keyword phrases are usually closer to making a purchase since they already know exactly what product or service they are seeking.

Competition

The problem with trying to target broad keywords is the massive amount of competition they have. For instance, searching for the broad keyword “health tips” on Google will reveal a whopping 876 million results. If you narrow down your niche to a keyword such as “health care tips for middle-aged women,” however, you’ll notice there are only 49 million results. That’s a pretty substantial difference, attesting to the power of a narrow, long-tail keyword.

With fewer sites competing for the respective keyword, you’ll have an easier time achieving a top rank in Google and other search engines. Many bloggers and webmasters invest countless hours of hard work into building their websites, only to discover that it’s not ranking well in the search engines. In cases such as this, the root cause of the low rankings isn’t caused by a low-quality website or lack of content, but rather it’s caused by too much competition. You have to remember that competing sites have probably been sitting comfortably in Google’s index for quite some time, and in order to boost your site above them, you’ll have to spend a great deal of time, resources and energy on SEO.

Targeted Traffic

Another reason why you should target long-tail keywords is because it yields more targeted traffic. If you run an e-commerce website that specializes in aftermarket truck parts, for instance, you’ll have a higher conversion rate and generate more sales by targeting keywords like “aftermarket truck parts” instead of “car parts or “auto parts.” Users will see your website listed in Google after searching for “aftermarket truck parts,” at which point they’ll click it to check out your inventory. If visitors click on your listing after searching for “auto parts,” there’s a lower chance of them making a purchase since they probably weren’t shopping for aftermarket parts.

So, how can you identify profitable long-tail keywords for your blog? Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your blog and choose keywords that are relevant to your blog’s demographic. Ideally, the keywords should have a moderate amount of searches with minimal competition. But most importantly, they should flow cohesively with your blog’s content and objective.

Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner Too

I also recommend using Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner Tool. Found at https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner, this free-to-use tool will reveal a plethora of information about prospective keywords for which you are trying to rank, including average bid prices, competition, and other related keywords. Note: you’ll need an Adwords account to access the Keyword Planner Tool, but you don’t have to actually spend money. Sign up for a free account and you are good to go!

Do you target long-tail keywords with your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

WordPress vs Joomla

Whether you’re blogging for recreational or commercial purposes (or both), one of things you’ll have to consider is the content management system (CMS). While you can technically create a blog using nothing more than Notepad, the right CMS will make a world of difference, streamlining the process of creating and managing your posts. Today we’re going to take a closer look at two of the most popular and widely used blogging platforms, WordPress and Joomla, revealing which one comes out as the winner.

WordPress

Originally launched back in 2003, WordPress has become the single most popular CMS. While the exact number of WordPress sites remains unknown, some reports indicate that up to 75 million websites run this platform. Why do so many bloggers and webmasters prefer it over other content manage systems?

There are a number of benefits associated with WordPress, one of which is its simple, easy-to-use interface. It literally takes less 5 minutes to set up WordPress, at which point you can begin crafting new blog posts. From within the admin dashboard, you’ll see a column of self-explanatory options on the left-hand side, such as “Posts,” “Media,” “Links,” “Pages,” Comments,” “Appearance,” Plugins,” etc. Clicking on any of these links will take you to the respective page where you can adjust your blog’s settings.

Arguably, one the most attractive features of WordPress is its use of interchangeable plugins and themes. Rather than modifying your blog’s code to implement a new feature, you can simply download and active a plugin. A plugin is a file or set of files that’s designed to perform a one or more functions, such as displaying social media widgets, enabling browser caching, creating contact pages and more.

Joomla

On the other side of the fence if Joomla. It may lack the numbers of WordPress, but it’s still a popular CMS that’s used by millions of bloggers. Joomla was originally launched in 2003 and has since been download more than 20 million times. Much like its WordPress counterpart, Joomla also has an extensive depositories of free and paid plugins (called extensions), as well as interchangeable templates. If you want to add a new feature to your Joomla blog, you should first see if there’s an extension available for it. If there’s not, you’ll have to code the feature by hand.

Joomla also creates SEO-friendly links by default. Instead of seeing new posts and pages created with generic URLs like yoursite.com/p=?123, URLs will reflect the page’s title, such as yoursite.com/post-name.

Which Should I Choose?

In terms of usability, most bloggers will agree that WordPress is easier to use. The dashboard just looks and feels natural, making it easy for first-time bloggers to get their foot in the door. And because it’s used by so many people, WordPress offers a greater variety of themes and plugins. WordPress also has pretty strong tech support and an enormous library of help files and forums, enabling you to get answers when you get stuck.

You really can’t go wrong with either WordPress or Joomla. They are both two powerful and versatile blogging platforms, but if I had to choose one as the winner I would say it’s WordPress.

Do you prefer WordPress or Joomla? Let us know in the comments section below!

blog - rss

Should I Syndicate My Blog’s Content?

blog-rss-01This is a question many bloggers ask. Syndicating your content will almost certainly bring more visitors to your site, which subsequently results in more sales/conversions, but there are both pros AND cons associated with this technique. So before you make a hastily decision to syndicate your blog’s content, you should read the following.

What is Content Syndication?

The term “syndication” is used to describe the duplication and reuse of content on web properties other than the original source.  I know what you’re probably thinking: why would I publish my blog’s content on other websites? One of the most notable benefits of content syndication is the simple fact that you can reach a larger, broader audience, many of whom would otherwise never see, let alone read, your blog. Readers will see your syndicated content and visit your blog to learn more.

Content syndication can also be used to generate backlinks, as most syndication sites include a link pointing back to the source of the content. While there’s still some debate regarding the search engine optimization (SEO) value of such links, the general belief is that it will help, not hurt, your ranking.

What About Duplicate Content?

Of course, there are some potential disadvantages associated with content syndication, one of which is the potential for duplicate content. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that any content you syndicate will be considered duplicate in the eyes of the search engines. According to Google, however, small amounts of duplicate content won’t cause any issues. It only causes problems when content is duplicated for the purpose of manipulating Google’s search results.

However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results,” wrote Google in an article about duplicate content.

WordPress RSS Settings

If your blog is currently running the WordPress content management system (CMS), there’s a simple way to reduce duplicate content. Log into your blog’s dashboard and choose Settings > Reading > and choose “Summary” for the option labeled “For each article in a feed, show.” This prevents syndication sites from showing your full post content. Instead, they’ll show an excerpt or summary of the post, enticing readers to visit your blog to read the rest.

Keep Syndication To a Minimum

The key thing to remember when syndicating your blog’s content is to keep it to a minimum. In other words, don’t focus the bulk of your marketing and SEO efforts on content syndication. Sure, it’s an effective way to generate traffic and drive sales, but aggressive syndication techniques could be construed as an attempt to manipulate Google’s search results — and that could negate all of the benefits it offers. Syndication should be a small part in your overall marketing strategy.

What are your thoughts on content syndication? Let us know in the comments section below!