Proven Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic

January 26, 2012

Thanks to Christopher S. Penn and his newsletter I read this amazing post by SEOmoz on “21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic“. It not only validates some of my personal beliefs but also gave me additional tactics to apply to my own blog as well as companies I work with.

The tactics discussed in the article are:

  1. Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share
  2. Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers
  3. Make Your Blog’s Content SEO-Friendly
  4. Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections
  5. Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results
  6. Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)
  7. Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts
  8. Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others
  9. Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon
  10. Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)
  11. Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site
  12. Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments
  13. Participate in Q+A Sites
  14. Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)
  15. Attend and Host Events
  16. Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog
  17. Survey Your Readers
  18. Add Value to a Popular Conversation
  19. Aggregate the Best of Your Niche
  20. Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog
  21. Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab ’em!)
  22. (Bonus) Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up

While I was indeed doing most of what they suggest, there were a couple of good tactics I had either neglected completely or kept postponing (yeah, I procrastinate sometimes… ask my wife!).

Your Checklist for Increasing Blog Traffic

Take the list above, make it into a checklist format, print it and place it somewhere next to you (like, on the wall right in front of you!). Then, make a point of every week to review it and plan your tactic for the coming week. It’s a lot to do but if you break it down into weekly tactics, dedicating 1 hour or so for a handful of them, you will see great improvement in your blog traffic.

You know what? Let me help you out. Here’s the list in a PDF format ready for you to print and use. It includes a few extra blank lines for you to add your own tactics based on your company’s goals and specific industry opportunities.

Oh, and don’t be like me. Download it now and start doing it today! 🙂


The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing

January 17, 2012

Note: This is a guest post by Lior Levin. See Lior’s bio at the end.

The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing is one of ProBlogger’s newest ebooks, written by the Web Marketing Ninja. ProbBlogger was started by Darren Rowse, who wrote the most popular of the ProBlogger products, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
Written specifically for bloggers, this online marketing guide features yet another set of 31 steps intended to help bloggers start making money with their blogs. Many bloggers go years and years without seeing readership increase or any revenue at all. This practical guide is intended to change all of that.For Those Who Want the Next Level

For me, one of the things that separates this guide from the (seemingly) thousands of others is that it’s advanced, while still maintaining the tried and true step-by-step style Problogger is known for. So many products, selling from a dollar to over $100, seem to focus on just one thing: starting a blog. Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re well past the point of starting a blog. Now you want to see it actually DO something for you.

My biggest takeaway is that there is so much more to blogging for profit than great content. Yep, content is King, but even kings have armies, a staff, and a whole bunch of other things in place to make sure everything works out. We spend so much time creating great content that sits and earns nothing because we do not understand basic, but still largely misunderstood business practices. Something that occurred to me was that even SEO and design seem quite small when you take a step back and really look at what you are trying to accomplish – a real money-making business.

Blogging well is a feat all on its own. But once that is mastered, there is the bigger task of turning a blog into a viable business – which it can be.

But trying to figure out exactly how to make money blogging isn’t easy, unfortunately. And there is a lot of trial and error – without some sort of navigational guide. You could end up spinning your wheels, getting burned out, and giving it up altogether. I have personally been down that road more than once with blogging.

Advertising revenue has always been a money-making vehicle, but all too often, only pennies are generated even when a blog has thousands and thousands of visitors per month.Along came the idea of products – and selling them via blogs. Monetizing a blog with products that are developed and sold by the blogger is becoming more and more popular, and one of the best ways to make money blogging. But there is still a lot of confusion around developing products that people want, selling them the right way, for the right price, and to the right group of people.

So in true ProBlogger style, The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing includes practical, step-by-step tips. Rather than just an overview of things you’ve heard before, this guide is based in theory and logic and then followed up by simple things to do to start to see the steps work.

As so many successful bloggers will admit, making money from blogging truly is like building a house, and there are foundational elements and then others that you build on top of them. It’s important to get things in order.

Features and Freebies

The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing includes 31 chapters of blog and business building insight, including chapters such as

  • Understand the competition
  • Conduct the “three second” test
  • Understand your monetization options (how you make money)
  • Organize and plan products
  • Survey your customers
  • Know when to stop marketing

The guide also includes “more than 21 documents, templates, worksheets, and examples to help you put the Ninja’s advice into practice immediately.” These include the all-important things like examples of good, effective sales pages, and email templates. They are huge time savers and also put the steps into perspective.

Read more about The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing here, including a complete list of chapters and information about the authors.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing advisor for a shipment company that offers Pre shipment inspections, and who also advises for the Tel Aviv University’s department of ma in security.


Inbound Marketing Analytics 101

December 14, 2011

HubSpot does it again, taking content that is not necessarily new or revolutionary and putting it in a nicely formatted eBook that makes reading it a pleasure.

With “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics“, you get an overview of what to measure and why. Especially useful for small companies and those who are just starting out with their marketing programs and need some help identifying key metrics, the eBook is packed with good advice.

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Analytics eBook

Inbound Marketing Analytics Overview

In the eBook you will see metrics for the following marketing tactics:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
  • Your Website & Landing Pages
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Search
  • Business Blogging

The benefits of analyzing your marketing performance according to HubSpot are:

1. Identify what’s working.
2. Identify what’s not working.
3. Identify ways to improve.
4. Implement more of the tactics that work to improve marketing performance

Agreed!

Get your free copy of the “An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics” eBook.

Introduction to Marketing Analytics eBook


WordPress Plugins for Marketers

February 22, 2011

A recent question on the Marketing Over Coffee LinkedIn group about WordPress plugins generated a really great list of tools marketing professionals should consider when running a personal or company blog. To make it easier for everyone I’ve compiled the suggestions from the group into an easy-to-read list (sorted alphabetically). An Excel file is available at the end of the post with all this info.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins for Marketers (click to zoom)

Note: Only WordPress.org (the free, host-it-yourself version of WordPress) allows for plugins.

The list is not all inclusive and depending on the focus of your blog you may have to search for that specific plugin elsewhere, but it seems there is an agreement that at minimum you need some kind of SEO and Analytics plugin, and if your blog has enough traffic, a cache plugin is justified. For corporate blogs using a backup plugin is probably a good investment as well and the editorial calendar plugin is a great help for planning content especially coordinating among different team members.

Click to download the WordPress Plugins for Marketers in Excel (XLS) format.

Is there a plugin you simply “must have” or recommend that I have not listed? Let us know!


How Success is Misunderstood

September 29, 2010

How do you define success? Number of leads generated? Amount of sales or deals closed? If you answered “it depends”, then you’re thinking smart. Success can be based on a number of different factors and it also varies based on who you talk to, after all, we all have different objectives (personal and professional).

Now let’s go one step further. If you see another company being successful (however you define success) and you try to apply the same method, can you guarantee you will also achieve success? If you said “it depends”, you just got yourself an extra point! As marketers we all know it’s not that simple. Questions about what the target market is, what industry are you talking about, and such are the first things that come to mind. A method of selling hot-dog on the street can be used to sell software, but I wouldn’t follow it by the letter.

That’s why it still amazes me that discussions about following a formula for success often get stuck in how you define “success” instead of discussing the differences between target markets. If you are a blogger and your readers are software entrepreneurs, you can’t really expect that the bag of tricks used to attract social media consultants will work the same way. A B2B company applying tactics used by B2C companies can be very successful but only after some necessary translation is done.

How do YOU define success and do you have a special formula?


Marketing Content That Sells

August 30, 2010

When talking with lead nurturing and marketing automation vendors they all make it seem very easy.

You setup a campaign, define the nurturing stages, and even add some points to different interactions to score the lead and customize the nurturing experience. Then with all the triggers in place, sit back and watch the software do the job of sending the right message to the right prospect at the right time. Wow, it’s magical!

Yes, except for one little detail. Who’s going to write all that new content? Do you have the staff to do it? Will you have to outsource? Do you even know what kind of content you need for each nurturing stage? Yup, it is more complicated when you get to the implementation phase of the program, and that’s where most companies fail.

But why the focus on content? David Meerman Scott, in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR points out that creating quality content is the new imperative:

“The tools of the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your way in are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from thinking like a journalist and a thought leader”.

You’d think that everyone would be doing it by now, but that’s not the case.

I recently finished reading Trust Agents, by @chrisbrogan and @julien, who approach this subject by saying:

“The difficulty in creating content that will get a recommendation, the one that most companies tend to get wrong, is that they don’t think creatively about how their content can be exciting to the average population”.

Ha! That reminds me of what I see when I visit most B2B companies’ websites.

We have all been there. You are researching a new product or service and Google points you to a website, one of the key vendors in that space, and you have to read the page twice to really get it what they are trying to say. How is it that your product or service will benefit me? What is that acronym you keep using? How do I get in touch with someone who can explain all of this? In the B2B marketing space this is notorious. Go to a trade show and the situation gets really bad. Trade show booths with slogans and taglines that don’t mean anything and sales brochures that are full of “features” and screenshots but lack detail of how they solve a problem.

While I still struggle to write good content, I did find some useful resources online that I hope will also help you out.

The resources above are a great start. The key ideas that seem to be present across them all are:

  • Buyer persona is key for content generation
  • Guest writers (employees, competitors, etc.) can help tremendously especially if you can’t dedicate a resource full time for the content writing job
  • Lists seem to be a favorite item on the web and a great way to get more viewers, just figure out what topic should your list cover
  • Content reuse, multiple formats for the content is a nice way of creating lots of content without having to come up with new ideas all the time (formats include webinar, recording, eBook, blog post, etc.)
  • Time the content for the right stage in the buying cycle / lead nurturing process – this is the most difficult, because it requires you to really know your customers and prospects

What has been your main challenge with content marketing?


The Ghost Blogging Debate Done Right

August 23, 2010

If there is a discussion that will never die is the Ghost Blogging debate. I recently listened to the best arguments both in favor and in opposition of ghost blogging via a Six Pixels of Separation podcast, expertly conducted by Mitch Joel who discussed the issue with Mark W. Schaefer, another excellent blogger and marketer.

Here’s the link to the podcast SPOS#214, it’s worth listening to. Then, check out Mitch’s blog Ghost Blogging And Last Rites for some additional insight and great comments by readers.


Inbound Marketing Training for Free

June 21, 2009

Last week I attended the Inbound Marketing University, a free online program put together by HubSpot featuring talented well known professionals on blogging, SEO, social media, lead nurturing, email marketing, landing pages, and viral marketing.

Free Marketing Training from IMU

Free Marketing Training from IMU

After watching the classes, my take on the University is:

Positives:

  • Online archives from each class including slides available on-demand helps a lot when you have busy schedules like mine, and also allows watching at your own pace (i.e. fast forward the boring parts)
  • Quality instructors that have proven experience and really know the subject helped validate the quality of the program
  • Quick and to the point presentations (60 mins each) allowed you to get instant factual and actionable information

Negatives:

  • In general the content was focused on the basics, which is ok for a newbie but I was expecting some more “meat” and a combination of basics with advanced tips and techniques for those that want to take their marketing to the next level (the SEO classes were the exception, having a basic and an advanced class)
  • Too broad topics delivered with too narrow a focus. While corporate blogging, for instance, is a broad topic, the presentation focused on only certain aspects of corporate blogging, leaving a lot of stuff untold.

During the next couple days I’ll post specific review about each class so you can decide which ones to take and which ones to skip based on your experience level.

Review of the first 5 classes:

Class: How to Blog Effectively for Business (GF101)
Professors: Ann Handley & Mack Collier, MarketingProfs

This was a basic introduction to blogging, so for those already familiar with what blogging is, there wasn’t much new content. From a corporate blogging perspective, I like that they brought up what I consider the two main issues in corporate blogging:

  • Do you have the time?
  • Do you have the people?

Often times we get directives from the top echelon asking us to setup a corporate blog for the CEO, a blog for every manager, and to churn content every day. Unless you have the staff available to create new content quickly, you will be stuck.

What was missing from the presentation was:

  • Rules and policies for company blog writers on disclosing company trade secrets, talking about products that are yet to be released, copyright laws, and abiding to the company’s employee handbook
  • How to blog with shareholders in mind (current and prospective)
  • Blogging about the competition (dos and don’ts)
  • Blog copywriting tips

Veredict: Unless you are new to blogging, skip the class and check out the resources below, plus do a quick Google search and you’ll find tons of more information.

For those interested in corporate blogging, tips for corporate blogs and some rules and policies, check out the following links:

Class: SEO Crash Course to Get Found (GF102)
Professor: Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Not only Lee Odden provided a quick basic overview of what SEO is and why it is important but he also went into some details on how to make the most out of Search Engine Optimization. What I liked best was the tips on tools you can use and where to find additional resources. SEO is such a complex subject that you can barely scratch the surface in one hour so knowing where to go for more information is invaluable. The links he suggested are:

Keyword Tools:

Additional SEO Resources Mr. Odden recommends:

Veredict: If you have never done any SEO in your life, his presentation is excellent. Otherwise, skip it and go straight for the Advanced SEO class (to be reviewed in my next post).

Class: Social Media and Building Community (GF201)
Professor: Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs

Chris Brogan’s presentation was more of a theoretical overview of community building than tools for doing that. This presentation was a great disappointment for me, since I have read so much great stuff from his blog and was expecting a bit more depth in his presentation.

Veredict: If you are new to social networks, community building, etc. the presentation will probably give you some good pointers so you avoid common blunders when building your own community.

For more information about getting your company to successfully build an online community, I recommend the following for further reading:

Class: Successful Business Uses for Facebook and LinkedIn (GF202)

Professor: Elyse Tager, Silicon Valley American Marketing Association

Elyse makes some great points about using social media for your business, such as:

  • It’s free, but… : although you may not have a line item in your budget on how much you need to spend on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and other social media sites (they are all free), you do have to spend time (sometimes a LOT of time) working the social media space, which does translate into costs.
  • Commitment: you will have to commit to spending time developing your social media strategy; it doesn’t work overnight and require backing from your company willing to let you spend time doing it.
  • Set goals: this is important for any social media platform that your company is trying to use. Setup what your goals are for each platform (create connections, increase brand awareness, etc.) and measure it religiously.

Veredict: If you are new to using LinkedIn and Facebook for your business, Elyse’s presentation is a great starting point. For those that already use social media sites personally and just want to take it to the next level and include their business in the social media space, the presentation is a starting point, but it only tells you some of the basics.

Class: Viral Marketing and World Wide Raves (GF301)
Professor: David Meerman Scott, author of New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Rave

David is a great speaker and has engaging stories, making his presentation one of the best of the series. He is also able to bring ideas implemented by Fortune 500 companies down to the level of small businesses, which is the best way to get actionable items that you can implement in your own business.

Some key insights from his presentation are:

  • Create buyer personas: what types of people are you trying to reach and what are their needs?
  • Earn attention: create something great and distribute it online to generate buzz
  • Nobody cares about your products: they care about solving their problems
  • Lose control: trying to control all your content will work against your attempts to get your ideas heard. Free content will get you farther.
  • New measurements: how you measure your success is now related to how your ideas are being spread (blogs, twitter, etc.)
  • Put down roots: and participate in the communities where your target audience is involved
  • Point the world to your virtual doorstep:  make sure you have an online presence that integrates with your other efforts in generating buzz

Veredict: this is a great class for those that want to learn more about viral marketing or that are trying to convince their companies to do it. For more great stuff on viral marketing, David Meerman Scott’s blog (www.webinknow) is a great starting point.

Next: Review of the final 5 classes:

Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research (GF401)

  • Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices (CV101)
  • Inbound Lead Nurturing (CV201)
  • Successful Email Marketing (CV301)
  • Analyzing Inbound Marketing (AZ401)

You can check out the presentation slides at: http://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/presentations

The online recordings for the classes are at: http://www.inboundmarketing.com


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