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Improve Bounce Rate By Optimizing 404 Pages

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Have you ever clicked on a link expecting to be taken to a blog post that contains information that you expect to be useful, only to find an ugly 404 error page, with a message that simply says “NOT FOUND”. So you leave the site and look elsewhere for the information you craved.

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, it is at the top of the list of things that annoy me on blogs. Blogs are always changing, post can get deleted and moved all the time, this means that 404 error pages are very common on blogs. Yet so few blogs actually think about the effect on the visitor, if the visitor is encountered by an ugly 404 error page they are likely to just move on and find the information they need elsewhere, even though your blog could still have information useful to them.

Once way to combat this, is to optimize your blogs 404 error page so that you can still attract the visitor into your blog, even though the initial information they were after was not available. It is actually a really simple process, yet one many blogger still choose to ignore.

Let’s look at a few examples to get a feel for what we are trying to achieve.

First off lets look at 2 bad 404 page examples that were obtained by trying to access a page that does not exist:

  • Balkhis.com – This page does not offer anything to keep the visitor on the site in any way, just a short message to acknowledge that the page does not exist then some ads to send the user to another site.
  • Skelliewag.org – While this is not the worst 404 page I have ever seen, it offers little in the way of alternative content, the search box provides the user with a chance to search for content, which could help to slightly improve the bounce rate.

Those example offered little in the way of interacting with the visitor in an attempt to keep them on the site.

So what does a good 404 page look like? Here have two more examples which offer the user some alternative content, in an attempt to keep the visitor on the site:

  • Bloggingtips.com – Right here at bloggingtips.com, the 404 page offers the visitor with some content that they might find useful, listed by page, month and category, this will help to improve the bounce rate on this blog.
  • JohnTP.com – This page is an example of a good 404 page as they ask the user to check spelling in the URL, they then offer the visitor the ability to search the site for the content they were after. There are also links to top posts and related posts. This page is optimized with the view of keeping the visitor on the site.

One of the key things to remember is – the visitor came to your blog looking for something they thought would be useful, so they may be interested in other posts on your blog.

If you are using WordPress you can usually find your 404 page by looking at your theme files in the theme editor. There might be a file called 404, or in some cases the 404 information is stored inside the other theme files such as on my blog ProTycoon.com, so I can use a different 404 for pages, posts and archives etc.

Remember that you are looking to offer your visitors alternative content, top posts, recent post and a search facility, if you can integrate these into your 404 page then it should help to improve your blogs bounce rate.

WordPress users may also find the 404 notifier plugin developed by Alex King useful as it can let you track your blogs 404 hits daily, this way you can also look at the content people are trying to access and make it more available to them.

Have you seen any success in optimizing your 404 page to retain visitors? What do you think makes a good 404 page?

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My name is Foxy, and my job is to sniff out the good guest bloggers from the ones who aren't. This post was written by a contributing author to Blogging Tips. If you would like to learn more about becoming a writer (not one-time guest blogging) for BloggingTips.com, please contact us.

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Long Term Blogging Success: Co-Creation Not Manipulation

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Every blogger who succeeds over the long haul did so through co-creation.

Two blogger met. Two people make friends. Both friends help each other out, for a co-creation, and see greater success due to the co-creation.

I have seen this happen so much in my blogging life over the past 10 years. I befriended Zac many years ago. He invited me to guest post on Blogging Tips. Years later, all the co-creating I did through 800 plus guest posts helped:

  • increase my blog traffic
  • increase my blogging profits
  • increase my DA
  • increase my brand exposure

Think about it guys; all top bloggers make friends with other bloggers, both parties help each other, and we all win. You win, I win, and our fellow bloggers win.

No Manipulation

You will never create long-term blogging success by trying to manipulate people through fear, smoke, mirrors and other silly tactics, because doing so is like building your blogging business on a house of cards. Even the smallest breeze of resistance knocks down the cards, and your blogging business with it. Bad idea.

What do I mean by manipulation? Imagine you write a blog post filled with bold promises of how to make 6 figures a year, telling bloggers you know the way. You share no specific strategies for making 6 figures. Nope. But you do make big, hyped up claims, filling the 1000 word post with some hefty, silly promises. What are you trying to do? Manipulate humans into following your blog, buying your stuff and giving you money. Your intent is to use fear, greed and desperation to GET money from people. Using fear manipulates people into doing what they do not want to do, for a temporary income boost, for you. But again, imagine a house of cards. A barely detectable breeze knocks down the house, and a seemingly tiny detail knocks down and destroys your blogging business.

When I was a new blogger a LONG time ago, one blogger who claimed to be a 6 figure earner admitted he was lying. He disappeared instantly. His blogging business died because he lied about making 6 figures, because he wanted to manipulate people into giving him money.

Co-Creating Benefits All over the Long Haul

If you guest post on other blogs, you and fellow bloggers create helpful content that promotes lasting success. Imagine building a house on a rock solid foundation, on a granite mountain. Wow! That is a serious foundation. Nothing moves that home. Even a decent earthquake barely makes the house shake. This is what it’s like to co-create content with fellow bloggers.

You both create something together – through a shared post and shared domain name – that is good, and leads to something good and beneficial. Fear and manipulation? No involvement in this process. Love and abundance and service, this is it, and this is why you become successful in building a rock solid foundation, and, in becoming a pro blogger.

How Can You Co-Create?

A few ideas:

  • guest post on your blog
  • guest post on other blogs
  • create joint videos
  • create joint podcasts
  • create joint business ventures

Ultimately, you can co-create with fellow bloggers in countless ways. Being creative is your only requirement.

Think of how the co-creating benefits all of humanity. Think of all the people you can help through your co-creation. Put people ahead of your immediate needs and also, bring other bloggers on board to see the greatest impact over the long haul.

Be generous, help people, make friends and gain exposure. Build a viable, long term, meaningful blogging business. Observe manipulative, flash in the pan bloggers come and go. I have seen thousands of these types die a quick death, like moths flying too close to the flame-temptation of quick, easy riches.

Co-create to out last virtually everybody else in your blogging niche.

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Do You Need to Make a Huge Blogging Shift?

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Sometimes, you get bogged down with your blogging routine. Routines feel comfortable, right?

But blogging is a feeling game like life is a feeling game. All flows based on your emotions. If you feel really good – first – then you take good feeling blogging actions and over time, with patience and trust, see good feeling blogging results.

Unfortunately, most humans give almost zero thought to their emotions before diving in to a blogging routine. Bloggers believe you need to do something or follow a set routine to succeed, to drive traffic, and to make money. Day after day, year after year, most bloggers follow a routine without giving zero thought to how they are feeling, if they enjoy blogging, if they have fun following the routine, and if they feel detached, patient and trusting in the process.

This is the only reason why as of about 7 years ago, 80% of bloggers never made more than $100 during their blogging careers. If 8 out of 10 humans can not make $100 through blogging over 1, 2, 5 or 10 years, 8 out of 10 bloggers clearly give zero thought to their feelings BEFORE blogging. Feel bad, and you see no money. But those 2 out of 10 bloggers who feel really good make lots of money over the long haul.

Shift

Maybe it is time to make a shift, guys.

2-3 months ago I made one shift. 1 month ago I made an even bigger shift; quite huge, for me. But what I did differently made almost zero difference. How I chose to feel marked the big shift, then, I moved into different blogging actions.

For example, I faced some deep fears, felt the fears, and instantly, after feeling pretty crappy for a short time, I felt better and better. Choosing to face fear, clear it, and feel better, helped me see things clearly. I tired of my blogging schedule, my social sharing groups, blog commenting and heavy cross promotion. In truth, I hated it. I did have some fun with each for a while but the passion long left me. Since how you feel before and while you blog means everything, my mindset-feeling shift told me I’d have so much fun guest posting. So as of about 3-4 weeks ago – maybe less – all I do is guest posting because I have fun guest posting and guest posting comes easily to me.

Making the shift involved facing deep fears of failure, loss and struggle. I had to feel the fear of letting go lifeless activities for me – at the time – to clear out the fear, and properly release these strategies, and to move forward so I could feel good, then, decide what blogging actions would feel fun and easy and enjoyable to me.

All shifts happen emotionally first, by your choice. After feeling some muck and then feeling better, you clearly and intuitively feel through the next fun-feeling, enjoyable step.

What About You?

Do you need to make any shifts with your blogging campaign? Or do you need to make one big, sweeping, all-encompassing shift?

Getting caught up in blogging routines feels comfortable, familiar and safe, sometimes. But do you feel good before you begin the routine? Do you feel good working the routine? Do you feel detached, relaxed, trusting and like you are cared for, and prospering, while following your blogging routine?

Be honest to make a necessary shift. If you love following your routine, cool. Proceed. But most humans are taught – me included – to follow some routine (no matter how you feel) to get something, specifically money, so you can avoid failure, struggle, poverty, going hungry, illness, and embarrassment. This is exactly why most humans work jobs. Follow a routine to get money even if you feel really bad or terrible following the work-routine; aka, even if you hate your job and it feels lifeless, or soul-less.

May be time for a big shift guys.

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Why Comedians Teach You a Powerful Blogging Lesson

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Last night I saw a funny comedian perform in Atlantic City.

Chris Delia charmed the audience with his silly, somewhat absurd, level of humor.

He also explained how comedians need thick skin to become successful. Humor is a very personal, subjective topic. Some people find some comedians hysterical but never laugh at other comedians. As you imagine, bombing feels terrible to most comedians. At least until they develop a thick skin.

I once read how Kevin Hart often waited until 1 AM to work an open mic. Sometimes he waited until 1 AM and the place closed down so he never got the chance to do his set. Imagine how thick-skinned you need to be to not let that bother you? Is it any wonder why he is now worth $150 million? He became immune to criticism, failure and rejection. As a matter of fact, after developing a thick skin, he likely did not see criticism, failure or rejection.

All those evenings of 1 AM sets in front of 1-2 lifeless people or all those nights of being told to go home at 1 AM after waiting for hours to do his act purged the fear of criticism, failure and rejection from his being. Void of these fears, he rose up to being one of the most famous, wealthy and powerful comedians on earth.

Bloggers Need Thick Skin

I once promoted a course to the tune of 8000 page views before I sold one copy. Did I quit promoting the course? No. I developed a thick skin during the process. I did not see 8000 rejections. I only saw meeting and helping more human beings through my blog. Even during moments when I felt like giving up I trusted in myself and believed in the blogging process. Quitting and failure were no options for me. But in the same vein, I needed to be thick skinned to see through criticism, rejection and failure.

I needed to be aware of opportunity amid the appearance of nobody reading my blog. Toss in being patient and persistent in helping folks during my most trying times and you have a pretty thick-skinned individual.

Do Not Care What People Think

Chris Delia shared how he could care less what people thought about him. He dressed down a few hecklers during the show.

Comedians succeed because they care less about what people think of their acts; being heckled, ignored or criticized had nothing to do with their belief in self and their belief in their comedic style.

As a blogger, give no thought to what people think of you. Guess what? You cannot control your reputation. No matter how long and hard you work in life to maintain a positive reputation, you can never physically control what people think of you. I am largely a nice guy 99.99% of the time yet some people genuinely hate me. I cannot control their demons. Plus I know we see the world as we see ourselves so if someone hates themselves I cannot do anything about that self-loathing.

Focus on yourself. Focus on what you think about yourself because this is the only thing that matters. Being comfortable in your own skin aligns you with loving, loyal followers who appreciate you for who you are. Let go everybody else. Critics form an energetic yoke if you care about their thoughts but dissolve into thin air when you could care less about what they think of you.

Bloggers become successful because these few folks who have thick skins shine brightly in a world of thin-skinned bloggers who fear criticism, judgment and rejection. The few who step it up do wonders because we all want a piece of free spirits who march to the beat of their own drum without caring what people think, say or do, in response or reaction to them simply being themselves.

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