Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

Content And Usability Before Blog Promotion

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I occasionally come across new bloggers who are eager to generate traffic to their blog.  They become focused on blog promotion and SEO before their blog is ready. I applaud their efforts, but I think it’s a mistake to promote your blog to prematurely.

Photo by Kelly Asmodee via Flickr

A good web site should serves a purpose.  For instance, a commercial site’s purpose might be selling some sort of products.  Without a well designed site, catalog of products, easy-to-use navigation, and secure eCommerce system, there’s no point in promoting the site because all the effort will be for naught.  Likewise, your blog serves a purpose — may be you want it to tell your story, share your interest or your expertise.  The commonality is that all blogs need some kind of content; as such, you should have at least a few good posts on your blog before you even attempt to promote it. And don’t even worry about SEO until you have sizable number of posts.

In addition to content, you should also design the blog for usability.  In general, blogs are well designed out of the box, but there are a few things you could do to improve it further:

  • Choose a professional looking theme
  • Navigation is clear and consistent
  • Feed subscription button is clearly visible, preferably above the fold
  • Search box is available and easy to find
  • Archive is easily accessible (I prefer a simple link in the navigation bar that links to a full archive page)
  • There is no unfinished posts
  • All links are working

By focusing on your content and usability first, you are giving your visitors good reasons to become readers, and hopefully, they’ll come back in the future.

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Get More Search Traffic With Keywords Optimization

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

If you have been blogging for a while, chances are you’ve been getting some traffic from search engines. For example, based on Google Analytics my personal finance blog received 12,707 total visits via 8,513 keywords in the past 30 days — of which, the top 50 keywords produced 4,876 visits (or 38%).

Traffic
Photo by Spiritokko via Flickr

What can we derive from this information?

  1. It’s a mistake to focus on a few keywords. I often see new webmasters trying to rank for a handful of specific keywords that describe their sites. For example, I could’ve tried to rank Moolanomy for “personal finance blog” or “investing blog”, but that’s not where traffic will be coming from.
  2. Long tail keywords and search traffic are powerful. There are limitless numbers of search terms and you’ll not be able to anticipate them. So one of the best search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is to write as much high quality content as you can. Think of content as fishing net, and more content is like having a bigger net that allows you to capture more search engines traffic.
  3. Top 50 keywords give you the most return for your effort. It’s likely that a major portion of your search engines visitors found your blog through one of the top 50 keywords, so there’s a good opportunity for keywords optimization in this area.

How To Choose Which Keywords To Optimize

If you have to choose just 10 keywords to optimize, how would you do it? Personally, I don’t have unlimited resources so I try to focus on efforts that provide the best return on investment. In this example, I will show you how I identify the top 10 keywords that I feel will provide me with the most search engines traffic.

1. Identify your top 50 keywords and the amount of traffic for each

This is an easy exercise if you use Google Analytics. Just a few clicks and you’ll have access to this list. You can simply copy and paste the result into a spreadsheet. Here’s a small sample of my top 50 keywords.

Keywords Hits
passive income ideas 204
frugal ideas 179
extra income 103
larry swedroe 99
dave ramsey 93
frugal tips 92

When you are doing this, you’ll be doing it for all 50 keywords in order to get the final 10.

2. Identify current search engines ranking for your top 50 keywords

Next, I am going to add the search engines ranking for each keyword into the spreadsheet. For this exercise, I usually stick to Google search result since it’s my biggest source of search engines traffic. Moreover, to simplify the task, I recommend Digital Point Search Engine Keyword Tracker & Keyword Ranking Tool.

Updated 4/19/2009: You may no longer be able to get Google API needed for this application to work. If that’s the case, you’ll have to track it manually. You top keywords tend to be in the top 20 SERP positions so this is just a bit of extra work.

This is what my spreadsheet looks like after I add search engines rankings:

Keywords Hits Rank
passive income ideas 204 1
frugal ideas 179 3
extra income 103 10
larry swedroe 99 1
dave ramsey 93 18
frugal tips 92 16

If you run into keywords that you cannot identify the rank — i.e., not in top 100 — you can simply enter 999 for the purpose of this exercise.

3. Calculate the Keyword ROI Score

To calculate the keyword ROI score, you just multiple the number of hits by rank. The logic behind this is to focus on keywords with highest traffic hits, but lowest ranks.

Keywords Hits Rank ROI
passive income ideas 204 1 204
frugal ideas 179 3 537
extra income 103 10 1030
larry swedroe 99 1 99
dave ramsey 93 18 1674
frugal tips 92 16 1472

Note: With 50 keywords, the easiest thing to do is sort the list by ROI and look at the top 10 rows. You should skip any row with rank of “999” to find the top 10 with the best chance of improving.

Based on the example above, I should work on keywords like “dave ramsey”, “frugal tips”, and “extra income” instead of “frugal ideas”, “passive income ideas”, and “larry swedroe”.

How To Optimize Keywords For Better Search Engines Ranking

Now that you know the top 10 keywords you’d like to work with, there are a few things that you could do to improve your search engines ranking. For example, since I know that my article Extra Income Guide rank #10 in Google for “extra income”, I could do a few things to optimize it for better search ranking. Here are a few things that you could do to improve your blog article:

  1. Install All in One SEO plugin to optimize the title. Also it will add META keywords and META description to your post.
  2. Change the title of the page to include the word “extra income”
  3. Add headings — i.e., H2 and H3 — to include the word “extra income”
  4. Write custom META description for the post. Note, All in One SEO will use the first few sentences of your post, but this is not always the best META description.
  5. Add and/or modify tags in your post. Note, All in One SEO uses your tags as META keywords
  6. Search for the word “extra income” within the blog and link to your targeted article
  7. Ask your friends to link to the article using the keyword as anchor text

So there it is…a basic strategy on how to get more search traffic with keyword optimization.

Writing Guest Posts to Increase Traffic: Choosing An Audience

Monday, February 25th, 2008

One of the key ways to grow a new blog is to get noticed by the right people. A simple way to get this recognition is to write guest posts for other blogs related to yours. There are only so many avenues for people to find your blog, and links to your blog on other blogs is one of those ways. Especially when your blog is relatively new, you will most likely not have a lot of visitors via search engine traffic, so finding ways to get your name and blog out there in the eyes of those who might be interested in what you have to say is key.

Color Pencils

Photo by Drops of Ruby via Flickr

Not all guest posts are created equal however. And sometimes, it isn’t as easy to determine what blog would be most beneficial to yours to have a guest post appear on. Knowing your own niche, and your relevance to it, is key when choosing a blog to offer a guest post to. Here are three key points to consider when thinking about guest posting on another blog:

How is their target audience relevant to mine? How much potential overlap exists?

The most successful guest posts, by far, are going to be on blogs where you have a significant overlap in topic and interest with the host blog. Think about who their audience is – if it is composed of people who are generally interested in the same things you write about, you are more likely to capture their interest and garner visits to your own blog through theirs. This is another place where being a good reader makes you a good blogger — if you are reading the relevant blogs in your niche on a daily basis, it should be rather simple to identify at least three or four blogs where their target audience is your untapped potential.

How much reach does the blog have? Am I likely to find significant numbers of new potential readers there?

Guest posting on a blog that is just starting out, when you are the same, will not generally garner you the level of interest and attention the effort of writing a guest post is worth in terms of numbers and visitors. This is not to say that I discourage writing guest posts for smaller blogs than you are — in fact, I have written numerous guest posts for blogs much larger and much smaller than my own. Writing guest posts also builds relationships between bloggers, and I feel that this is an important aspect that can’t be overlooked. But in terms of increasing your own audience, thinking about the audience you are reaching through your guest post is important. Don’t write a guest post for a blog with 5 subscribers and then expect 1,000 visits from that blog and a 500 point jump in your own numbers. Be realistic in your expectations.

How does my focus and insight compliment theirs? Do I have a viewpoint to add that is complementary to their own?

This is another area where doing your homework is key. What posts of theirs have been the most successful? Can I relate my guest post to points they’ve already hit upon and expand those points with my own insight? The more value the readers of the host blog find in your post, the more likely they are to actually want to read more from your site.

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With a little thought and consideration as to audience, topic, and reach, a guest post on another blog can be a really rewarding experience, both in terms of growth of your own blog, and building name recognition for your particular “brand”. Look for opportunities, be bold and create a few opportunities by asking (and don’t feel bad if you get turned down, just try again somewhere else!) and generally, enjoy yourself and spreading the love of your chosen topic. Stay tuned in the future for tips on writing that killer guest post that will drive hoards of readers to your site.

12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Aside from the standard accounts for your blog — i.e., domain name, web hosting, and WordPress — there are several companion accounts that I think are very useful. Below are 12 essential companion accounts, plus two that are worth mentioning.

For Money and Monetization

  • PayPal – This is an online payment web site that allows you to accept money and credit card for products or services that you sell. I have used PayPal to accept payments, pay other online service providers, and even accept donation for my free products.
  • Google AdSense – This is service allows you to display advertisement on your blog and you will get paid for both impression paid and click through. You can see Google AdSense ads everywhere, including the ones on this blog. This is perhaps one of the best monetization tools available for blogger today.
  • Amazon Associates – This program allows you to sell Amazon.com products and earn up to 10% commission. This hasn’t been a big money maker for me, but I heard some people have done really well with it.
  • Commission Junction – This program allows you to pick products and services from hundreds of advertisers. Each advertiser offers different referral plan, so you will have to read each one. Like Amazon Associates, it hasn’t been a big money maker for me, but it’s a decent option.

For Subscribers Count and Management

  • FeedBurner – Their service basically put your RSS feed on steroid. With its companion FeedBurner FeedSmith plug-in for WordPress, it allows you to accurately measure the number of subscribers. I use it to consolidate my subscribers count, accept subscribers via email, monetize my RSS feed, and show off the number of subscribers. However, there are a lot of great capabilities and I haven’t fully explored them all yet.

For Traffic and Networking

  • Stumble Upon – This is probably the best social site at the moment. I enjoy stumbling to find new and interesting sites (note: I choose the topics, so I only look at a blogging and finance sites). To get a network going, gives thumb ups to sites that you like, leave a comment, and add other people who gave thumb up to the same sites as your friend. If you have a group of friends, you can submit each other sites to stumble upon for some traffic — however, don’t over do it and only submit your best work.
  • Technorati – This is a blog search engine and tag search service. When you use tags on your blog (note: tagging is a native feature in WP 2.3.x) and ping Technorati with updates, people who uses Technorati can perform searches and easily find you blog. I occasional use Technorati to find other “on topic” blog articles to link to.

For Search Engines Optimization

  • Google Sitemap – This is part of Google Webmaster Toolkit. The program allows you to check many important aspects about how well search engine spiders (specifically Googlebot) can go through your blog and index it for searches. There are also many interesting tools within this site — e.g., report that track top search queries and top search positions for your blog.

For Statistics and Traffic Analysis

  • Google Analytics – This is a statistic tracking tool that shows many useful information such as the number of visitors from various sources, page views, search terms, most viewed page on your blog, etc. This is a good way to find out which articles your readers like, where your traffic is coming from, etc.
  • Site Meter – Another good and simple statistic and analysis package. I use this concurrently with Google Analytics. I like the hour-by-hour reporting. It’s quite addictive.
  • Crazy Egg – This tool allows you to visualize clicks on any web page on your site. It’s a great tool to help you understand users’ behavior. I use this tool to help me determine how I can move elements on my blog around to maximize usability and revenue potential.

For Spam Protection

  • WordPress.com – You will need to set up an account with them in order to get the WordPress API key needed from plug-ins like Akismet and WordPress.com Stats. And you don’t want to run your blog without Akismet, so the account is essential.

Other

  • MyBlogLog – This is a community that allows you to connect with your readers. If you install their widget on your blog (I don’t do this due to clutter), you can see people with MyBlogLog account that visited your blog recently. A good use of MyBlogLog is to make sure you are logged in so that your avatar shows up when you visit other blogs. You can get small amount of traffic this way.
  • BlogCatalog – This site also provides similar services to MyBlogLog, but with very robust discussion forums where you can meet and network with other bloggers.

If you have other companion accounts that you use to help improve your blog performance, please share it here.