Tag Archives: blogging tips

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!

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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!

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The 5 Commandments of Blogging

Publish New Content Regularly

This commandment is pretty self-explanatory. You can’t expect to run a successful blog unless you publish fresh, new content to it on a regular basis. Without content, there’s no reason for visitors or search engines to visit; thus, your blog will slip into the abyss where thousands of others remain hidden from public view. Ideally, you should create a new post or page at least once a week, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with creating two or even three posts per week — assuming you have the time and resources.

Write in First-Person Perspective

There’s a time and place for third-person perspective writing, but blogging isn’t one of them. Blogs are inherently designed to be more personal than traditional websites and online articles. As such, your style of writing should reflect this characteristic by speaking from the first person. It may take some getting used to — especially for writers who’ve always written in third-person — but it will eventually become natural through practice and dedication.

Break Up Your Content

What do I mean by “breaking up your content?” As a blogger, you want to avoid writing a large wall of text, as this discourages people from reading it, and subsequently makes it result in lower search rankings. A more effective style of blogging is to break up your content into small, easy-to-digest sections using headings, sub-headings, bold keywords, italics, and similar formatting methods. Doing so will make your blog easier to read, as visitors can scan the content rather than reading it word for word, left to right.

Keep it Short

Contrary to what some people may believe, longer blog posts aren’t always better. Readers generally aren’t interested in reading a long, essay-style article on a blog. You have to remember that many people access blogs through RSS services, displaying the content of multiple blogs at once. If you overload your blog’s readers with excessively long, drawn-out posts, it may discourage them from following your blog.

So, what’s the best length for a blog post? If you were to ask ten different bloggers, you would probably get ten different answers. However, I’ve found that 400-500 word posts tend to work well for most topics, although sprinkling in the occasional 500-900 word post may also prove beneficial.

Post Pictures

Do you include images in your blog posts? There’s a reason why all of our posts here at MyBloggerz.com have at least one image: because it improves reader response while enhancing our posts with a greater element of visual appeal. In fact, a recent study conducted by the social media marketing firm SocialBakers found images to be the single most shared content on Facebook. This same principle holds true for blogs, as well. Adding images to your blog posts will make them more appealing, increasing the chance that visitors will share it with their friends and family.

What other commandments do you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/

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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!

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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!

Essential Browser Add-Ons For Bloggers

Still using the default, “vanilla’ version of your preferred web browser? Whether it’s Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Microsoft Internet Explorer, there are hundreds of excellent add-ons that can improve its functionality. This is particularly helpful for bloggers, as the right add-ons can boost your productivity while enhancing your overall blogging experience. But with so many different add-ons available, how do you know which ones to choose?

What Font

What Font lives up to its namesake by revealing the font names, families, font sizes, HTML color code, line height and more of any web-based text. You might be wondering how this can benefit you as a blogger. Well, it’s not uncommon for bloggers to come across an article with the perfect settings, so they try to mimic it on their blog. Using What Font, you can find out exactly what type of font the article is using, at which point you can duplicate the settings on your blog. It’s a free, simple-to-use add-on that can help you find the perfect text design.

WhatFont is built to support both Typekit and Google Font API. Furthermore, the app’s developers have included a click-to-tweet function, meaning you can tweet the font information directly from your Twitter account. WhatFont is a pretty cool app that’s definitely worth checking out!

Lazarus Form Recovery

Have you ever spent an hour (or longer) crafting the perfect post for your blog, but when you click the “Save” or “Publish” button, it takes you to an error page? I think every blogger has found him or herself in this scenario before. If your Internet goes out while you are writing a blog post and you attempt to publish it, chances are it won’t be saved. It’s discouraging to say the least when you lose an hour’s worth of work, but Lazarus Form Recovery can prevent such heartache from occurring.

Lazarus Form Recovery is designed to store all blog posts, articles, social media postings, forms, and any other web-based content locally to prevent loss of data. In the event that your Internet goes out and you accidentally attempt to publish a new blog post, the content will be saved in your web browser. So when your Internet is back up and running, you can simply re-publish the post and voila, everything is still there. This makes Lazarus Form Recovery a must-have browser add-on for every blogger.

Grammarly

As the name suggests, Grammarly is a browser add-on that’s designed to help users identify spelling and grammar errors. We all make mistakes from time to time. Heck, even the most prolific blogs on the Internet have grammatical errors. But Grammarly is an otherwise simple plugin that can make a world of difference in the quality of your writing. It automatically underlines spelling and grammar errors, allowing bloggers to see and fix them before the content is published. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s completely free to download and use with no strings attached?

Which browser add-ons do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tips To Speed Up a WordPress Blog

file0001193647297Does your blog suffer from long load times? Forcing visitors to wait just a couple extra seconds may seem harmless enough, but it can have a significant impact on your blog’s functionality. Amazon recently conducted a study in which it found that every 100ms of latency resulted in a 1% decrease of sales. Considering the fact that Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, that translates into millions of dollars.

But you don’t have to be Amazon to feel the effects of long load times. When visitors are forced to wait five, six, seven seconds or longer, many will click the back button in their browser, never to return. No only does this affect your traffic, but it can also affect your blog’s search ranking, as Google will take note of the high bounce rate and other metrics attributed to long load times.

Caching Plugin

One of the easiest ways to speed up a WordPress blog is to download and install a caching plug. As the name suggests, these plugins are designed to enable caching in visitors’ web browsers. So instead of downloading the necessary files each and every time a visitor accesses a page, they will have it stored in their browser. WP Super Cache is an excellent caching plugin to use on WordPress blogs and sites.  It essentially creates static HTML files from dynamic WordPress sites — HTML files that are later cached into visitors’ web browser.

Resize Images Before Uploading

Why should you resize your images before uploading them to your blog? WordPress has a nifty resizing tool, but the problem with this tool is that it forces visitors to load the original image before the newly resized one. So if you resize a massage image to use in a blog post via this tool, visitors must still load the original, massive image first, which of course takes longer and adds latency to your server.

Choose a Reliable Host

This tip is universal and not limited strictly to WordPress. You want to choose a fast and reliable web host to service your website. Granted, you may save a couple bucks by choosing a shared hosting plan from some reseller, but it will end up costing you more in the long run. Stick with a proven and reliable web host that you can trust.

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

Ways To Attract More Followers to Your Blog

social-media-church-01The success of a blog is heavily dependent on the number of followers it has. You can spend countless hours researching and crafting the ‘perfect’ posts, but unless people actually read it, your blog will ultimately fail. When people  begin to follow your blog, however, they’ll share it with their friends, like it on Facebook, and create backlinks pointing to it, all of which boosts its authority in the eyes of search engines. So, how can you attract more readers to your blog?

Display a Prominent RSS Feed Button

Notice the orange-colored RSS button on the right-hand side of our blog? You should! Clicking this button will take you to a special XML page in which our most recent posts are revealed along with a short excerpt. But the real benefit of displaying an RSS button on your blog is the ability for readers to follow it. On the XML feed page is an option to follow the blog, which visitors can click to add the feed to their reader.

Engage With Your Blog’s Readers

Another helpful tip that’s sure to attract more followers is to engage with your blog’s readers. When a reader leaves a comment or question on a particular post, take a moment to write a response. It only takes a couple of minutes to say “thanks for the comment,” but doing so goes a long ways in creating a connection with your readers. And when you develop a strong connection with your readers, they’ll feel more inclined to follow your blog.

Comment on Other Blogs

Many bloggers overlook the value in blog commenting. No, I’m not talking about visitors commenting on your blog; I’m talking about commenting on other blogs. You can attract more readers by submitting comments on blogs related to your blog’s niche. Users will notice your blog’s URL, some of whom will visit it to learn more.

SEO

Of course, another way to get more followers is to optimize your blog for higher search engine rankings. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that high-ranking blogs receive more traffic than low-ranking blogs. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves a combination of on-site elements, such as content creation, interlinking, etc., as well as off-site elements like building backlinks and social media networking.

What’s your preferred method for attracting followers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Productivity Tips For Bloggers

typin1Do you struggle to stay focused on a single task when blogging? Whether you’re researching topic ideas, writing the rough draft of a new post, or editing existing posts, staying focused is critical to your blog’s success. Unfortunately, far too many bloggers become distracted, at which point they drift off towards other tasks. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, keep reading for some helpful tips and tricks on how to boost your blogging productivity.

MinutesPlease

It should come as no surprise that social media networking sites are one of the leading causes of distractions for bloggers. You may visit Facebook with the intention of posting a single update, but once you log in you begin to message your friends, change your profile pic, and perform other tasks. To prevent this from happening, try using the free tool at MinutesPlease.com. While there are several browser plugins and add-ons that serve a similar purpose, this is one of the only web-based tools that limits the amount of time you spend on certain websites. Once this limit has been reached, it will automatically close the browser tab.

Schedule Your Day

Another helpful tip to boost your blogging productivity is to create a schedule of your day ahead of time. You don’t have to create some elaborate, detailed list, but instead jot down each task you want to finish as well as time limits for them. When you complete a task, mark it off your schedule and move on to the next one. Following this simple formula will make a world of difference in your daily work output.

Stop Procrastinating

I know this probably sounds like common sense, but procrastinating is a sure-fire way to kill your blogging productivity. You may tell yourself, I’ll write a new blog post tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes you put it off for another day, and then another. Rather than putting it off, take action now to create new posts for your blog. You don’t have to necessarily complete the posts, but you should start them at the very least.

Content Management System

If you aren’t using a content management system (CMS) for your blog, you are essentially wasting tons of energy. CMS platforms like WordPress are designed to streamline the process of creating and managing content (hence the name). While you can technically create a blog using nothing more than Notepad, this is a tedious, time-consuming process that really doesn’t make sense given all of the excellent CMS platforms available.

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

How To Craft a Blog Post From Start To Finish

guest-posting-01Still struggling to gain any traction with your blog? There are tens of millions of blogs currently online, but unfortunately only a fraction of them ever receive any noticeable amount of traffic. Unless you want your blog to fall into the abyss where countless others remain, you should take a methodical approach to crafting relevant, meaningful posts.

Step #1) Choose a Topic

The first step in crafting a blog post is to choose a topic. This is arguably one of the most difficult steps in the process, as many bloggers experience writer’s block. They may initially have several ideas, but once those are gone they struggle to come up with new post topics. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, try using Topsy, Google Trends, or Google News to find topic ideas that are related to your blog’s niche.

Step #2) Write

The second step in crafting a blog post is to write it. After choosing a topic, pull up your preferred document editing program (e.g., Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc.) and write your post. Some bloggers write directly in their blog’s content management system (CMS), but I recommend writing in a Word document first. Doing so will reduce the risk of your work being accidentally lost, and Word’s grammar and spell check will catch things you might  miss.

When creating a new blog post, write with the end user in mind and snot the search engines. Far too many bloggers focus on things like keyword density, word count and other metrics, assuming it will improve their search rankings. But in reality, this only hurts their efforts by taking away from the reader’s experience. After creating your blog post in a Word document, copy and paste it into your blog’s CMS (note: use the Word paste function to prevent formatting from being carried over). If you want to retain the formatting, (e.g., headings, bolt, italics, bulleted lists, etc.), you can save your Word document as an HTML file, and then copy / paste it into your CMS.

Step #3) Proofread and Edit

Next, go through and proofread your blog post to check for spelling and grammar errors. Even the most experienced blogger will have a slip up from time to time. Proofreading, will allow you to catch these mishaps before your visitors see them. You can also use this time to polish your blog post, making it sound more natural and appealing. When you are finished, go ahead and publish your new post.

Step #4) Spread The Word

Last but not least, let the world know that your blog post exists by creating links on your social media accounts. At the bare minimum, you should have an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter, all of which can be used to promote your new blog posts.

What’s your preferred method for crafting new blog posts? Let us know in the comments section below!