Every minute, 571 new websites are created, 2,460,000 pieces of content shared on Facebook, and 278,000 messages tweeted (Source:). Having a sharp, professional, website with eye-catching graphics and exciting text isn’t enough these days. With so many websites and brands vying for attention on the Internet, online success demands a comprehensive strategy.
The strategy that you develop for your website should begin before your site is developed. The best-laid plans begin with knowing as much as you can about who your customers are and what they need. Only with this information can you create a website that can answer any questions customers might have before they ask, then make it easy for them to buy what you’re selling. Such a website will also help you identify and communicate your qualifications, uniqueness, and differences from your competitors. Through advanced planning, you can carefully target specific customers and tell them exactly how you’ll serve their needs and create goods, services, and shopping experiences tailored to your market.
Once your website is developed, you need to focus on generating powerful social signals that will propel your site up the ranks in Google. Using the following 12 steps, you can develop a winning strategy to build your brand, increase your presence on search engines, market effectively to your visitors, and retain and grow your customer base.
1. Define your brand. A brand can be easily recognized. It has special attributes that differentiate between similar businesses or products in a category. For a brand to exist, a market must be aware of the business, have a positive perception about it, and have a reason to associate with its products and values.
2. Build your brand. A brand’s presence and appearance must be compatible and consistent with its identity. If you sell off-road motorsport parts and accessories, your website should not use paisley with daffodils. Similarly, content developed about the brand must be believable and use language aligned with your target market’s education and cultural background. Focus on building and communicating areas of differentiation in your company culture, product offerings, service levels, and pricing that that your customers will value.
The strength behind any brand is its power to communicate with customers. The power of a strong communications strategy will differentiate your brand from its competition, give customers a reason to talk about your brand, and generate repeat customers. Strong communications skills also makes brands appear more professional, which leads to greater success.
3. Name your site strategically. The domain name of your website should be short, memorable, easy to spell, and related to what you sell. Using relevant words to make up the domain name is an important ranking indicator. If your business plans to cater to clients in a particular city, use the name of the city in your domain. Purchasing a domain name that still has some ranking power and has been previously been used can also be advantageous.
4. Design for visual impact.
Across your website, collateral and social media properties should have a consistent look and feel that can be easily recognized. Use the same fonts, colors, and layouts on your website that you use in your print literature and social media properties. Finally, invest in the creation of a professional-looking, recognizable brand logo.
As to site design itself, remember that simple is better. Use only what is needed in terms of images and graphics to improve your central message and communicate it quickly, clearly, and attractively.
Strive for clutter-free pages that offer balance, and use white space and font sizes that are easy to read. Finally, design your pages for mobile devices, and focus on Accelerated Mobile Pages. Your navigation should be consistent and intuitive.
5. Develop and fine-tune onsite content. The content you develop for your site must be unique, interesting and targeted. Your content should be created so that the most important information is “above the fold,” or near the top of each page.
In addition to providing relevant, high-quality information related to your products and services, ensure your website contains must-have pages, such as about us, contact us, maps to your offices, your blog, and a publications page. Once a page is created, optimize it for search engines with title, keyword, and description tags, in-page headers, and alternative text tags. Include text links to reference products, services, and other items that have additional content on other pages. Add clickable calls to action anywhere a visitor might be ready to act.
Use Google’s Webmaster Tools to review traffic reports and identify pages with higher than normal bounce rates. High bounce rates may signify the need to improve the content with relevant search terms.
6. Generate social signals. To place well in search engine rankings, a site must generate social proof signals, such as inbound links within a blog post, user engagement with your content, time spent watching your YouTube videos, number of quality comments, and social shares on blog posts.
Most experts agree that other social signals, such as retweets, likes, and pins offer little or no direct ranking impact. While Google+ might have some impact, it’s probably limited to a personalized search perspective, and only when individuals are logged into their own Google accounts. Therefore, site owners should focus on generating a rich mixture of links from a diversified set of highly authoritative websites.
7. Include metadata for pictures.
It’s amazing how many paid content writers fail to include metadata in the pictures they use on websites. Copyright information, source URL, keywords, descriptions, and author information can all be stored in an image file. This information, which is also read by Google, is an important part of SEO that should not be overlooked.
8. Develop mailing lists. As an online marketer, e-mail lists are one of your most powerful customer retention and generation tools. People who sign up for your opt-in e-newsletter give you permission to market to them regularly. As you develop an e-mail list, design your collection method to incorporate a “double opt-in.” A double opt-in means that instead of directly receiving a welcome e-mail, you receive a second chance to either opt-in or decline first. That means that if you go to a website and sign up your friend, your friend will receive an e-mail that basically says, “Are you sure you’re the one that opted-in, and do you still want to do this?” ESPs especially love double opt-ins because they provide a higher level of security that prevents your list from being used for sending spam.
Be sure that email list subscribers from all sites go to the same master list. Different mailing lists don’t do you much good if you have to create a separate newsletter blast for each one.
Looking for some tips on the best ways to get your site visitors to join your mailing list? Check out these real examples.
9. Create an e-mail newsletter 130.0 / 439. E-mail newsletters may sound like an old-fashioned idea. However, they offer one of the highest click-rates at one of the lowest cost-per-lead of any type of marketing. Setting up an e-mail newsletter campaign is easy. Take advantage of any number of email automation applications and services to collect e-mail addresses, develop a professional looking e-mail message, distribute your message to subscribers, and analyze results.
When developing an e-mail campaign, be sure to address the 6 pillars of communication. By including these pillars in designing your message, you will ensure that your message is communicated strategically, accurately, and purposefully.
Once you send out your e-mail newsletter, remember to post it to your blog, Twitter, and other social sites. Doing so will ensure that Google and other search engines will index it.
10. Create accounts on the “Big 4” social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube).
Because each social media site is different, make special thought and effort to develop posts. The goal should be to craft each post so that it supports your brand with useful promotional and informational details.
When setting up accounts, take the time to upload a “cover” photo or graphic. This cover should have a consistent look and feel with your website and other social media sites. It also allows you to brand your page beyond your profile picture and contribute to an attractive, appealing user experience.
At the very basic, you should develop and maintain the following:
- A Facebook page. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, you still need a presence on it if for no other reason than its easy proximity to hordes of potential new customers.
- A Twitter account. People who dismiss Twitter are not aware of how to use it for promotion. It’s extremely powerful for attracting new fans and keeping your current ones instantly informed.
- A YouTube channel. Videos are such a major part of any company’s online presence that you really need your own branded channel to exploit them successfully.
- A Google+ page
- A LinkedIn page
In addition to these sites, look at other networks. Many social networks that your audience might use are available and deserve your consideration. Two are Pinterest and MySpace.
11. Develop your social media sites. Develop your social media sites so that all of them feed viewers into your main site. The key is to make sure that any viewer on any site is aware that you have a website and knows that it’s the main repository of information about you.
Regularly update social media sites with fresh content. Maintaining them with fresh content and attracting new followers requires substantial time and investment. Eventually, you may reach a point of diminishing returns.
You can’t be everywhere at once. Even if you could, it would take so much time that you’d never have any time left to run your business. To meet this challenge, take advantage of online media broadcast applications that make posting updates more efficient. An application like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite allows site owners to streamline the process and save time.
12. Get third party help when you’re overwhelmed. At some point, social-media management gets too complex for the business owner or entrepreneur to maintain, and third-party help is needed. This is usually a good thing, since you’ve progressed to a point where your enterprise has grown so big that you can’t keep up. Furthermore, hiring a company that specializes in social-media management can keep you current with new tools and techniques that you might not be aware of. Even when outside help arrives, remember that you’re still the one that drives the bus. Be sure to take part in all strategy discussions, but leave the actual facilitation to the company you’ve hired.
Having a sound social strategy is the key to successful promotion.
The Ultimate Checklist To Grow Your Blog in 2019
Perhaps you’re here because you’ve had a blog for a long time now, but you feel like it’s just not growing as you hoped it would. The good news, however, is that you aren’t alone. Even blogs that you think are “famous” may have also gone through this same challenge. Fortunately, there are many tricks you can apply to help your blog reach its fullest potential. These are doable, and with a little help from experts, you’re sure to achieve the growth you’ve been dreaming of.
Here’s a checklist you can follow:
- Venture Into Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective strategies in digital marketing, which you can also apply on your blogs. Affiliate marketing refers to the act of partnering with companies and businesses that are looking for bloggers who are willing to try out and promote their products and services. In the beginning, you might not be able to reach more prominent brands and companies, but if you keep going, affiliate marketing can also be very effective in helping your blog grow in terms of audience reach. The more you network with affiliates, the more traffic comes to your site.To provide you more insights on digital and affiliate marketing, read through this digital marketing checklist.
- Link With Other Bloggers
In the blogging industry, success isn’t so much about competing with each other. In fact, there’s a lot you can achieve by simply linking with other bloggers as well. This means that, from time to time, you create posts that allow you to connect with others in the industry, or you create collaboration posts with other bloggers. That way, you’re both doing each other a favor by expanding each other’s blogs to the current networks that you both have, much like exchanging gifts.
Here are other ways for you to also link or engage with other bloggers:
- Comment on the posts of other bloggers
- Mention other bloggers in your posts
- Engage in the social media pages of other bloggers
- Create Detailed Content
Especially if you’re writing about solutions to common problems of your viewers, be very detailed about it. Readers want to have answers as soon as they visit your website. Without clear, actionable content, you’re not only going to lose one reader, but you’re going to lose others as well.
Some of the best strategies you can employ to ensure detailed content are the following:
- If you’re talking about technical or serious matters, include statistics and case studies
- Stay away from broad statements that are going to leave your readers guessing
- Whenever you can, include actionable and real data. (e.g. Climate change is expected to hit a _____ mark by 2020. To combat this, one of the things you can do is…)
While the optimum length of every blog post should still be around 500 to 2,000 words, this doesn’t mean that you cannot put in detail. Never write and post anything haphazardly. Be sure to do your fair share in researching beforehand.
- Enable Social Media Sharing
If you’re a blogger, you’d know it’s inevitable to also have social media accounts. If you can, go for the three major social media pages, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The more active you are on social media, the more effective you become as well. Keep in mind the following techniques in terms of social media posting:
- Keep a fixed schedule of when you usually post new content. This will make it easier for your visitors to expect new posts. Through this, you can also build anticipation among your readers.
- As you schedule your content posting, also factor in the usual available time of your target market. For instance, if your blog is about parenting, you might want to post at night, when all mommy duties have been done for the day, and they can check their social media.
- Refrain from posting every hour. Keep your posts within a healthy interval so that your followers won’t become bored or even annoyed. At least every other day is enough to keep your followers excited.
What you can do is post an update on each social media account when you also have a new blog. Link your blog post to your social media post so you can draw traffic to your website. With social media, it’s also easier for your followers to share and spread the word about your content. By simply clicking the share button, they’re able to post this on their social media sites as well.
When you strive to make your blog perform better, it shouldn’t end only with the growth per se. You also have a more significant task to fulfill, which is to apply the necessary strategies that are going to motivate your readers to keep coming back. These above-mentioned tips can help you achieve these two goals. Now you can be on your way towards running your blog to its fullest potential.
7 Reasons Nobody is Reading Your Blog
Blogging is tough work. It’s not backbreaking labor like ditch digging, but it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
It may consume hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication before you see results. Even with a solid commitment of time and creative energy, results aren’t guaranteed. It’s not just about coming out with new content, it’s more about coming out with content that is of real value, will rank in Google, and that people are actually going to read and share.
Millions of blogs are humming along on the Internet, but only a fraction could be termed successful. If you have a blog and it has no significant readership to speak of, there are a few possible explanations.
1 – You Write About Things People Don’t Care About
“It’s easy when you first start blogging to act like your blog is an online journal. While your blog should be personalized, it should be focused on your reader,” copywriter Michael Leonard explains.
“People, for the most part, only care about themselves. As a content creator, it’s your responsibility to give the reader what they want.”
If you’re only writing about yourself, people will eventually tune out. The best thing you can do is to switch your focus to topics your audience is passionate about. Not sure what that might be? Go ahead and ask your existing readers for their input on topic selection.
2 – You Lack a Consistent Voice
Consistency is a huge facet of blogging success. People need to feel they’re encountering the same voice, style, and personality one post to the next. If there’s too much variety in style and content, you’ll fail to resonate with readers and eventually they’re apt to wander elsewhere.
3 – You Have No Social Media Presence
Blogging and social media go hand in hand these days. If you don’t have a social media presence, you’re missing out on the opportunity to expand your blog readership (and vice versa).
Instead of trying to be on every social media platform that exists, spend your time focusing on one or two platforms (such as Instagram or Facebook). By pouring all your energy into building up audiences on these channels, you’ll be much more likely to see a positive impact on your blog.
4 – You’ve Never Done SEO
SEO might be a bit technical for your taste, but it’s still essential. Without an SEO strategy, you won’t be able to capitalize on organic search traffic.
This will leave you 100 percent reliant on paid and/or social traffic … and that will damage your results and lower your chance of building a flourishing audience.
5 – You’ve Never Invested in Link Building
In order to satisfy Google’s algorithm and prove you have an authoritative website that’s worth turning up in the search rankings, you have to demonstrate that you’re a trusted source for content. One of the ways to do this is by developing a link-building strategy.
Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from other authoritative websites to your own. Though you can do this manually, it’s far more efficient and cost-effective to hire a white-label link-building service like SEO.co.
This approach frees you to focus on the content side, without neglecting the optimization facet of the equation.
6 – You’re All Words and No Visuals
All words and no visuals is a recipe for supreme boredom. If you aren’t careful, it’ll destroy your audience and leave you with an echo chamber of a blog.
As tough as it may be to swallow, accept the fact that people will likely read only an average of 20 percent of the content on your page. In other words, the average person will ignore 80 percent of your blog content.
Much of this depends on the limited nature of the human attention span. The quickest way to get past this is to incorporate some visuals to provide some relief and boost engagement.
“Visual elements jump off the page,” Quick Sprout explains. “If someone is scanning through your blog post, they’ll likely stop at the images. They’ll skim the first few lines before and after the picture to digest your points of emphasis.”
You don’t have to change your entire blogging strategy, but it’s wise to give some attention to visuals. An occasional infographic or video will go a long way with your audience.
7 – You Don’t Post Enough
You don’t have to post a blog piece every day to be successful. But if you’re uploading only one every few weeks, you’re forfeiting your opportunity to engage an audience.
As a general rule, you should post at least three times a week. This means you’ll have to generate something once every two days (with an occasional lapse of an extra day or two). At that rate, you’re most apt to stay at the front of your readers’ minds without overwhelming them.
Develop Your Blogging Strategy
Publishing a random blog post here and another casual commentary there isn’t going to get you the results you desire … no matter how good the content might be. You need a defined strategy that delivers high value to a specific group of readers in a manner that’s consistent with your brand personality and objectives.
One would hope this article has opened your eyes to what that can look like moving forward.
Beware Trying to Profit Solely through these 2 Travel Blogging Income Streams
Sponsored post revenue.
Until you build a huge, loyal readership, who gobbles up your posts left and right, sponsors have little interest in advertising on your blog. Sponsors want maximum bang for their blogging buck. Advertisers want to get their business in front of as many interested, hungry eyes as possible. Imagine an advertiser paying for a television spot. Why? Businesses wish to receive massive exposure in front of hundreds of thousands to millions of interested people who will buy their product or service.
If this makes sense on television, why would you believe a sponsor would pay you money for the 10 people a day who read your new blog? Why would you believe advertisers would pay money for the 40 daily, un-targeted, non-engaged visitors to your blog? Advertisers have no interest spending money in a campaign that cannot work. Business owners do not pay bloggers to advertise their venture for 10 non targeted visitors daily. Why then do travel bloggers try to profit solely through both sponsored post and advertising channels if most get 10, 50 or maybe 100 visitors daily, to their blogs? Especially if said blogs lack engagement and targeting, you will not make a cent of ad revenue and sponsored revenue until you build a large, loyal following.
Building large, loyal followings takes time, energy and a certain generosity. Few bloggers put in the time and energy. Few bloggers generate significant sponsored post and ad revenue. But most travel bloggers see top travel bloggers raking in sponsored revenue, imitate the top pros, rely on these 2 income streams and struggle horribly to make income because sponsored post and ad revenue are only reliable, consistent income streams for bloggers with huge, targeted followings.
Try this Instead
Write and self-publish eBooks.
I wrote a travel blogger eBook to help you become a full time travel blogger. Although I do generate more and more sponsored post and advertising revenue, self-publishing eBooks allows consistent income to flow to me while I see more sponsored opportunities appear in my email inbox.
Convert the eBooks to audio books. Sell audio books to generate consistent income. Convert the eBooks to paperbacks. Sell the paperbacks to generate income. Create and sell online courses. Engage in affiliate marketing.
Most importantly, be generous and genuine. Help people freely in as many spots as possible. Be of service. Be helpful. Write and publish posts to your blog. Write and publish guest posts. Broadcast live videos on Facebook and YouTube. Publish a podcast. Being generous in many spots online boosts income because you gain the skills and exposure to become a known commodity in your blogging niche. Why do you think I guest post in so many spots daily? I love helping people and also know each post builds my skills and increases my exposure. The more folks know me, and the more folks who see I can write, income flows to me through all channels. But I never relied solely on sponsored post and ad revenue as a blogging tips and travel blogger because income does not flow through those channels until you build a large, loyal following. That takes time.
Diversify and Prosper
Diversify income streams. Be generous in helping people and in giving people options. Some of my readers prefer listening to audio books over reading eBooks. Some readers prefer reading eBooks over listening to audio books. I cater to their preferences and earn more income as my sponsored post and ad revenue grows.
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