We’re about to enter 2017 in just a few days – can you believe it?
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Time really does fly.
So much has happened in the SEO and content marketing world over the last 12 months that it’s safe to say that your blogging strategy needs a complete review.
And what better time to do it than the start of a new year?
You need to address certain key areas of your blogging strategy to maximize the impact of your content, further strengthen the relationship with your readers, and generate more consistent traffic that results in more sales.
Not sure what I mean? Let me simplify this for you
Here are 4 things you need to do well in the coming year to build take your blog to the next level and enjoy more success.
1. Enhance the Performance and the Security of Your Blog
Can you afford to have a slow blog with poor security these days?
In a word, no!
Research shows that readers, on average, wait for around 3 seconds for a page to load before bouncing back. If your blog’s performance is not optimized and it takes ages to load everything, you’re losing a lot of visitors.
But that’s not the only problem.
Poor security and slow load speed directly impact user experience which is one of the key Google search engine ranking factors.
The moment Google identifies any security breach or performance issues on your blog, your search rankings will take an immediate hit.
So what’s the solution to this?
First of all, know where your blog stands in terms of speed and performance by using Google’s Page Speed Test. It not only tells you how fast or slow your blog loads but also gives you tips and actionable guidelines to improve your blog’s load speed.
Secondly, make sure your blog is hosted on a reputable, secure and high-quality web hosting service. This is crucial for the security and performance of your blog.
Zac recommends A2Hosting, which is one of the top hosting companies on the web, in his guide on starting a blog. It’s a reliable service especially if you’re just starting a new blog and have budget restrictions.
If you’re already running an established blog, you may want to consider a managed WordPress Hosting service which takes care of your site updates, security, and other site management activities. It’s safer than a shared hosting service, but it’s also more expensive. So it’s not suitable for everyone.
Other than the hosting service, make sure you’re using a CDN to improve your site’s load speed and uptime.
2. Optimize Your Blog to Convert Visitors into Subscribers
Traffic is the lifeblood of any blog which is why most bloggers are always trying to find new ways to increase their site’s traffic.
But what many of them forget is that traffic alone is not enough to build a successful blog.
You need to convert your hard earned traffic into subscribers and followers if you really want to build a money making blog.
As we enter 2017, it’s becoming harder and harder to generate organic traffic to your site because the competition for search rankings is increasing every day and organic social media traffic is not as easy to generate as it once used to be.
So it’s crucial that you convert as many of your visitors into email subscribers as possible. Once you have people on your email list, you can reach out to them every time you publish new content or have a new offer.
Not sure how to optimize your blog for email conversions? I’ll make it easy for you.
Go to your Google Analytics account and look for the most popular posts on your blog. If you’re starting a new blog and don’t have content yet, look at the most popular content of your competitors.
You can also use free tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo to get an idea of the popularity of a blog post.
This will give you an idea of the 1 or 2 major pain areas of your audience.
Create an eBook or email course that comprehensively addresses one of those pain points and helps your audience take action.
Now give it away for free on your blog in exchange of your visitor’s email address.
In blogging terms, it’s called a lead magnet.
Zac’s giveaway is a great example
It addresses a single pain point and promises to deliver a tangible result.
Such giveaways attract subscribers 1000x quicker than a simple “Join Our Newsletter” box in the sidebar.
Here’s another good example from Jon Morrow’s website, GuestBlogging.com
The key to an effective lead magnet is that it addresses a single pain point of your visitors and gives them immediate value.
Use pop-up boxes, your blog’s sidebar and the space at the end of every blog post to promote your giveaway.
If you can get it right, converting traffic into subscribers won’t be a problem for you.
3. Use Visual Content to Simplify Complex Topics and Improve Readability
All of us are primarily visual learners.
Research shows that the human mind can process images almost 60,000 times faster than text content.
Since most internet users have small attention spans, creating plain text blog posts is only going to get them off your blog even faster.
This is particularly important if you’re running a blog on a technical topic that needs a lot of explaining, or a topic that is difficult to understand in general.
Using snapshots and images in your blog posts not only helps your readers understand your point better, but also allows you to keep them on your site longer.
You can use Evernote Web Clipper, a free Chrome extension, to create attractive snapshots for your posts. Or use free tools like Canva or Visme to create infographics for your posts.
Here’s a really good example of how infographics can be used to make complex or dry topics easier to understand.
Source: Fried.com – VPN Stats and Facts
You can generate even greater engagement by embedding video content in your blog posts. Several leading bloggers are already doing it and reaping the benefits.
In short, plain text blog posts are no longer effective in grabbing the attention of your readers. You need to create a mix of text and visual content to make an impact on your visitors and get your point across more effectively.
4. Boost Engagement and Build Your Influence With Facebook Live Videos
Facebook Live has literally taken over the content marketing world over the last 12 months.
Every single influencer I know is using Facebook Live to boost user engagement and strengthen their influence.
Many others are using it to drive traffic to their blog content and convert Facebook followers into email subscribers.
Studies show that users spend 3x more time watching Facebook Live videos as compared to recorded content.
Source: Bold Content Video
So if you haven’t started using this platform, you need to get on board quickly because the competition is increasing every day and the market might not be as open in a few years as it is today.
Facebook is currently giving increased organic reach to Live videos as compared to the text or link updates that you post on your Facebook Page.
So this is a great opportunity to not only build a much stronger connection with your audience by interacting with them live and responding to their queries, but also to drive additional traffic to your blog from Facebook.
Blogging has evolved over the years from a part-time activity to a practical business that is generating millions of dollars every month for people around the globe.
You need to stay one step ahead of the other bloggers in your niche and keep a close eye on the latest blogging trends and practices.
What other techniques do you think will be effective in the coming year?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
How to Generate More Leads from Your WordPress Blog
As a blogger and marketer, you need more leads except you want your business to fizzle away.
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In other words, lead generation is what everyone who cares about growing his audience base should never play with!
With effective lead generation, you’ll be able to capture those users by creating a communication channel between your website and the user.
Many successful bloggers and online marketers have confessed that their biggest mistake was not building an email list to capture leads from day one, which is also a mistake you wouldn’t want to make.
Additionally, studies have shown that “over 75% of users visiting your site from search engines will never see it again,” which is why collecting their email address (lead) from their first visit is important.
In this article, you’ll learn how to generate leads from your WordPress blog like a pro.
How to Generate More Leads: A Step-By-Step Guide
Getting Started with Lead Generation in WordPress
The first thing is to get a self-hosted WordPress.org site (if you don’t have one already).
After which you’ll register with an email marketing service provider, which are companies that specialize in sending email campaigns and broadcasts to your list. You can use Aweber or ConvertKit for this.
It’s also important to get lead generation software (marketing automation tools) such as Thrive Leads or Elementor. These services will help you create attractive sign-up forms for lead capturing.
Finally, your lead generation campaign will only be effective if you’re using the right WordPress plugin for this job.
Lead Generation Using Popups and Dynamic Optin Forms
One of the several ways of generating leads from your WordPress blog is to add a plain looking email subscription box to your sidebar. However, visitors don’t notice those forms, in most cases, and this is because they blend in.
This is where a lead generation software comes in. It lets you create and test multiple email opt-in forms for your site and determine the one that converts the most.
With a good lead generation software, your opt-ins can be personalized based on user behavior, so they can see the most targeted offer at the right time.
For instance, you can show customized email capture forms for:
- Different pages, blog categories, or sections
- Based on the user’s previous interactions with your site
- Based on their physical location
- Based on the user’s device (Mobile, Desktop, Tablet)
- Based on where the user is coming from (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.)
Lead Generation in WordPress Using Comments
According to research, comments are the simplest way to build user engagement.
However, the default WordPress commenting system is not very effective in bringing back the visitors who comment on your blog.
Now, one of the many ways you can capture leads from comment forms on your WordPress website is by adding comment redirect.
When a visitor comments on your site, they’ll see the same page again with a preview of their own comment. It’s nothing new, really.
So how about converting these users into subscribers?
This can be achieved by redirecting them to another page on your site after they leave a comment. This could be a special offer page or a thank you page like the example below:
Lead Generation Using Contact Form in WordPress
One of the most common ways of generating leads in WordPress is via your contact forms. However, most WordPress contact form plugins are either very tough to use or doesn’t integrate with your email service provider.
This is what WPForms can do for you. It’s one of the most user-friendly contact form plugins for WordPress sites.
With WPForms plugin, you can easily create stunning contact forms and effortlessly integrate them with email service providers like Getresponse, Aweber, MailChimp, etc.
Creating and Using Lead Magnets in WordPress
Lead Magnets (also known as incentives) are special offers given in exchange for the desired action.
This special offer could be anything from an eBook, a helpful resource, Amazon gift cards, discount coupon, etc.
Lead magnets work incredibly well because they are quick and easy, they offer visitors something valuable in return, and they don’t have to pay for the incentives.
Additionally, if you’re a blogger, then you can also use a “content upgrade” as your lead magnet. A content upgrade simply offers visitors extra useful content as an incentive for performing an action.
An easy way to create a content upgrade is by turning your best blog posts into an e-book.
Visitors may want to get a copy of your post so they can read it offline.
A tool that can help you do this is Designrr.
It lets you import your post and convert them into a different format (e-book, video, podcast). You can then edit and customize the presentation of the repurposed content and make it look better.
Now, for your visitors to get their hands on your e-book, they need to give away their email address in exchange.
This approach works as a lead generation strategy for a simple reason:
You scratch their backs, they scratch yours!
You get their email address and they receive the valuable e-book from you in return.
For this reason, this mutually beneficial approach to lead generation is one of the best.
Do you now know how to generate leads using WordPress?
Lead generation does not start and end with using plugins. Rather, it starts with building a comprehensive sales funnel and having a clear understanding of how all the different elements and pieces fit together.
Apart from using tools, you can equally leverage content and nurturing your current leads in order to close them into customers/clients of your blog.
Finally, here’s how to generate more leads for your business.
6 Ways Teachers and Education Bloggers Can Use Summer Break Productively
Once that final bell rings and the last scuffling footsteps of students running out the doors fades away, only teachers are left. After spending months working well over 40 hours per week, suddenly educators find their schedules considerably lighter for the next few months.
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Of course, some much-deserved rest and relaxation is on the menu—but even so, that teacher mentality doesn’t magically disappear. Chances are your brain will start whirring soon enough, reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead of the next one. This is when blogging and content creation can really come into play!
It’s only natural you want to use your summer vacation in a way that reinvigorates your mind and ensures you’ll start off strong next year. With this in mind, teachers and education focused bloggers are continually working throughout the summer to make sure they never lose a step.
Here are six ways for educators to utilize summer break productively.
Self-care is about more than pampering yourself; it’s about recharging the mental, emotional and physical “batteries” that you need in order to keep teaching well. Most educators end up putting their own needs on the back burner during the school year. So, summer is the ideal time to destress and regain some clarity. This will help you avoid burnout down the line.
Here are a few self-care tips courtesy of Edutopia:
- Spend time on hobbies: During the school year, it’s all too easy to abandon hobbies and creative pursuits. But summer is the perfect time to dust them off. Try drawing, baking, playing a musical instrument, knitting or sewing, cooking or gardening.
- Connect socially: Think about how many times you had to defer social plans during the school year. Now that your calendar’s wide open, you can reconnect meaningfully with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
- Unplug your mind: Take at least a few minutes per day to do, well, nothing. Walk without a destination, watch a new TV show, meditate, take a nap, read something light, listen to an album all the way through or try a new podcast.
- Exercise: Make time for regular exercise, be it your favorite intramural sport, yoga, running, dance, spin class, walking the dog, etc.
Continue Professional Development
Summer is also an excellent time to pursue professional development that’ll ultimately help you become a more well-rounded teacher and person. Look for local opportunities to take classes toward a degree or attend workshops for continuing education.
For teachers that enjoy writing, the option is always there to do some simple freelance writing work online, while also making some extra money in the process. Writing sites like Fiverr.com and iWriter.com make it easy to start getting paid for simple writing projects in your free time.
Go Over Feedback from Last Year
Once you’ve had an appropriate period of time in which to decompress, spend a day going over the feedback you received from last year—including any student evaluations, parent comments and employer assessments. Feedback is a great motivator to keep doing what’s working and switch up what isn’t.
If you have an active blog with real visitors, you can use the feedback form and commenting options on your site to get feedback on future lesson plans, or lessons learned from the previous year.
Plan Improvements for Next Year
Let’s be honest: Your mind is probably already thinking ahead to next year, even if summer break just started. It’s only natural. You can’t help but envision and anticipate teaching another class of students. Luckily, summer is an opportune time to plan improvements for next year.
Think in terms of teaching strategies and tech tools. What would help boost engagement and active learning in your classroom? For instance, many instructors nowadays are incorporating student response systems into their lesson planning. Plug-ins like Poll Everywhere integrate into presentation software and allow learners to answer multiple-choice polls, submit free-form questions and contribute to word clouds in real time. This has proven to be one strategy for breaking up long lecture classes and getting students involved—and it’s a straightforward addition to any teacher’s toolkit.
There are also likely some areas in which you can easily identify what you’d like to do better next year. Spend time reflecting on what fell short last year so you can improve it next time around.
Supplement Your Income
Teachers are notoriously overworked and underpaid. So, perhaps the most productive thing you can do this summer is use your skills to supplement your income. Try marketing your skills as a private tutor or writing coach for a reasonable hourly rate.
Again, if you have a blog that already has a nice following online, then why not explore your options with packing up a few creative lesson plans or education tools. There is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to sell such digital items to other teachers and schools throughout the country — as long as they are original and you have complete ownership of them.
Lead an Extracurricular
Missing school? Look for opportunities to get involved in extracurriculars. Maybe the cross-country team needs a volunteer coach. Perhaps the summer musical needs someone to help make costumes or manage props. You may even be able to start your own club! The possibilities are nearly endless here.
These are just six ways teachers can use summer break productively. Can you think of any more?
A Blogger’s Guide to Broken Link Building
The internet is broken (literally).
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Millions – if not billions – of links get broken daily due to expired hosting, incorrect site migrations, and typing errors.
That’s not good news for the respective site owners.
For link builders, however, the broken links present huge opportunities.
In this article, you will learn how to leverage these opportunities in the form of broken link building.
I will show you the exact process of scouring the web for broken links that you can turn into a backlink to your site!
Why do broken link building?
Before we begin, you need to understand why broken link building is one of the best ways to build a formidable link profile for your site.
And here’s the answer:
It’s all about reciprocation.
If you do something nice for the site owner, there’s a good chance that s/he will return the favor in kind.
In this case, if you point out broken links on a site owner’s page, s/he could be more willing to link back to one of your pages as a way of thanking you.
This principle is well above other link building tactics where people demand links from sites without giving something in return.
Let’s put it this way:
If I don’t scratch your back, will you scratch mine?
(Answer: probably not)
And that’s the thing with broken link building. Both parties benefit from this tactic.
The site owner points to pages within the content that work. You gain a backlink for your effort.
It’s a win-win!
Now that we’ve discussed the why, let’s hop onto how you can proceed with your broken link building campaign.
Below are the exact steps that you should follow to properly pull off this tactic for your blog:
Find resource pages
Have you heard of resource pages?
You know, pages with lots of outbound links related to a specific topic?
Here’s an example of one:
This page is a treasure trove for broken links!
The goal of resource pages is to provide visitors with information from third-party pages about a topic.
However, as the years go by, some of the sites no longer operate, which render their links broken.
And site owners don’t have the time to check each link on the page one by one and see if they work.
Therefore, consider this your job of helping them out.
By identifying the broken links, you can request to get one of your blog posts included in the page!
More importantly, site owners are more willing to link back to you on their resource pages. This is only assuming that the blog post you want a link from is relevant to the topic.
But first, we need to find resource pages related to your blog’s niche.
Hop on to Google and use the following search query:
[Niche] resource page
Replace [niche] with your actual niche.
From here, Google will return results of resource pages that you comb through. Click on each of the pages and keep the best ones in a spreadsheet.
Find broken links from pages
Here’s an example of a broken page.
It’s a page on a blog or site informing you that the link you visited no longer exists.
Your goal, therefore, is to find 404 pages or broken links from resource pages!
Using the Chrome extension, Check My Links, helps find broken links.
It’s what you need for quickly checking pages for broken links.
Install it and it’ll appear as a small checked icon alongside your address bar. Clicking it automatically scans links in the page.
It gets highlighted in red if there’s a broken link, together with an error report at the text’s right side.
Using the same spreadsheet, keep the pages with broken links and remove the ones without.
Find the email of the site owner
The next step is to inform site owners about the broken link.
However, you can only do this if there is a contact page or an email address available on the site.
But what if they don’t have either?
Not to worry – there’s FindThatLead to the rescue!
It’s another Chrome extension that lets you find email addresses of people who own or work on the site.
By installing and clicking on its icon, you will see the different emails of people who are part of the organization.
To help verify their emails, you must click on the check icon. It shows if it’s either GUESS or VALID. Filter out the guesses and keep the valid ones.
Inform site owner about the broken link
Once you have their emails, you need to craft a message informing them about the broken links.
Since you’ll be sending to as many site owners as possible, the process even becomes tedious and repetitive.
However, there’s a way you can automate the process to make the job easier for you.
Gmail’s Canned Response allows you to create an email template you can use for your broken link building campaign.
Therefore, instead of crafting new emails talking about the same thing, you can pull out the template and fill in the blanks for each new site owner!
In the email template, address the site owner by their first name. It’s the first step of personalizing your campaign.
Next, talk about how you came across their page. You were probably looking for resource pages to help you write a post about the topic they’re covering.
After that, point out the broken link on the page. It’s the very purpose of the email, after all.
Now, here’s the most important part:
Mention that your blog has a similar page that can replace the broken one.
In this part, don’t make it sound like you’re forcing your link to be included in the page. Just suggest your link to the site owner.
Give them the choice to either include your link or not. You have to trust them to make the best decision for their page.
Here are other tips on help you write the template:
- Make your email short and sweet. Your recipient is more likely to read the entire email. It’ll also be easier for them to understand and follow your requests.
- Be professional by maintaining the proper grammar and punctuation.
- Follow up with another email once or twice if they don’t respond. But more than that, and you end up spamming someone.
- Be polite and know that you’re just asking a favor. If they ignore your emails after multiple times of reaching out to them, move on to the next site.
Finally, review the results of the campaign with the template you’re using. If the response rate is low, maybe you need to tweak your template to generate better responses.
As you can see, broken link building is more about building relationships more than everything else.
Once you click “Send,” there’s nothing much you can do about it.
They may link to your site on their resource page. They may not.
However, as mentioned earlier, you need to trust people to do the right thing.
If you pull off your broken link building campaign flawless, they will link to your blog posts 100% of the time!
If you’re not confident in developing and implementing this campaign, you can ask agencies like SEOExplode that offers SEO services with years of experience in link building.
They will help guide you in the process of broken link building. This way, you can develop a link profile that will bolster your blog’s SEO performance.
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