Each week I spend quite a bit of time reading through other blogs trying to learn new things I can implement on my sites. I'm going to compile a list each week for my readers of what I think is the best of the bunch. Check out what I have found for the week leading up to 7/23/2011.
- 69 Tips to Make Your Blog Rock [Jeff Bullas] - tips on optimizing, writing content and promoting your blog that will help your company be found and admired by your customers and prospects.
- 5 Sites to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities [Reviewz n Tips] - do you know where to find guest blogging opportunities? Here are five websites that’ll help you out.
- 9 Ways to Write Better Pitches to Other Websites [Search Engine Watch] - tips on how to write emails to other website owners.
- 10 Reasons to Target the Long Tail [Link Assistant] - find out why targeting the long tail will help drive traffic and convsersions.
- 5 Tips for Optimizing Your eCommerce Site [Daily SEO Tip] - product reviews, testimonials, and unique descriptions will help each product become a landing page of it's own.
- Should You Buy PPC Ads for Keywords You Already Rank For [Search Engine Land] - how you can conduct tests to check the profitability of doing so.
- 5 Things You Can Do When Adwords Spend Become Too High [WordStream] - find other keywords, improve conversion rates/quality score and more.
- 6 Custom Tabs to Increase Interaction with Your Facebook Page [Search Engine Land] - do more to get your fans interacting with your Facebook page.
- 10 Simple Tricks to Optimize for Google+ [SEOptimise] - easy list of things you can do to stand out from the crowd.
- How to Get Comments on Your Facebook Page [Momentus Media] - asking for comments and questions can help.
- Everything You Wanted to Know About Facebook Clickthrough Rates [Smart Insights] - who clicks, average cost, and more.
- How to Benefit from Facebook Groups [Gevril Group] - don't be spammy, but get in touch with your prospective audience.
- 14 Google+ Icons [Web Design Fan] - add one of these to your blog and get new followers in no time.
- 3 Reasons Why You Should Email People Who Abandon Your Shopping Cart Immediately [See Why] - it boils down to more recovery and better service.
- Be Careful When Using Subject Line Personalization [Biz Report] - I prefer to personalize the body of the message.
- 38 Call to Action Buttons [Hong Kiat] - don't have a "blah" call to action button, use something from this page to spice things up.
- 10 Site Tweaks that Will Get Visitors to Buy [Shop.org] - it all boils down to making it as easy as possible.
For everyone who is starting out trying to make money online it is important to work on building a site first. Having a site should come before a Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter account or anything else. Your site should serve as the foundation for all of your best content and is the place where you work on building your following. Your site is where you will be sending all of your traffic to. Writing quality content is not easy, but if done right your site will help you make money online from the start.
Take a look at the reasons I recommend you build your site content first before worrying about posting on other sites or using social media.
1. Your articles will be read for months and years down the road. Evergreen content is the key to making passive income. Write something valuable that will stand the test of time, post it on your site, and watch the article attract traffic and links for years and years with little to no extra effort on your part.
2. You are building up an asset. As you build content on your own site over a long period of time you demonstrate yourself as an expert in the field. Plus, each article you write adds value to your site as a whole and you'll see traffic accumulate and grow with every new quality post.
3. You can build a list. You have to host your opt-in box somewhere. By driving traffic to your site you can use squeeze pages, hover boxes, footer ads, and above the fold signup forms to get visitors to sign up to your newsletter. You can also use your site to build your Twitter follower count, RSS feed readership, and get Facebook likes to your page. All are different forms of lists and a smart marketer will use them all. The key is having the site first so you can cross-promote.
4. You have control. I use article directories, guest posting, and social media to drive traffic and links to my site. However, the problem with posting on other sites is that you have no control over the content. Other sites can decrease in value, go out of business, or bury your articles deep within their site. Social media sites can go offline, lose popularity, or ban your account completely.
5. You decide on the layout. If you are posting on other sites you can't really control what surrounds the content. If you have ever written a guest post or submitted to an article directory then you have likely viewed the published article and seen ads for competitors right next to your text. If you post the content on your site you can either choose to promote competitors by using affiliate links or advertise related, but non-competitive offers.
One thing that I try to emphasize as much as possible is the need for quality content. Quality content gets readers to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed, and link to your site. If you write something useful that provides excellent value and information to your readers you are going to benefit a lot more than if you write content that is low-quality. What exactly do we mean by low-quality? Here are a few examples.
1. Duplicate Content - Some site owners out there fill up their site with articles written for the article directories. These articles can be found using the exact same wording on several different sites, so why would someone link to the content on your site over someone else's? Why should Google rank you higher than another source? What's even worse is when you copy content from other site's WITHOUT the owner's permission or an attribution link. Not only are you giving off low-quality signals about your site, but you are violating international copyright law and could face some hefty fines.
2. Writing Content For Keywords - Most sites that know about SEO create content with the search engines in mind, but taking this to the extreme can cause problems. The Panda Update hurt sites that wrote content centered around specific keywords. These sites would pay writers to post quick, low-quality articles based on a specific keyword term with the hopes of achieving a high ranking. The search engine users would click on this high-ranking article, see it's junk, and back out to find a quality source of the information they were looking for. Finally, Google responded and harmed the rankings of sites that posted this kind of shallow content.
3. Fake Reviews - This kind of garbage got to be so egregious that the FCC had to step in and require sites to post affiliate disclaimers. Do not lie to or mislead your readers. People are smart enough these days to spot fake testimonials and frown upon sites that use them. Do not post reviews on products or services that you haven't personally used or know absolutely nothing about. It's going to come off as weak.
4. Unrelated to Your Product or Service - Google News can be a great way to drive traffic to your site, but a problem I have ran into when being listed in Google News is getting irrelevant traffic. You start seeing a flood of traffic come in from a keyword that is on the fringe of what your site is about and it drives you to write content that is further and further away from your core in order to get more visitors. The problem is that these visitors are going to be very low-value. You don't get paid for visitors and pageviews. You only get paid when people take action on your site. Post relevant content with a clear call to action on what you want the reader to do next. Posting an article about Charlie Sheen might get a lot of traffic, but won't get you many leads.
Yesterday we touched a little bit on link building schemes in our article on black hat SEO techniques, but since most webmasters no longer participate in spamming their own site I thought it would be best to elaborate on some link building practices that could get you into trouble.
The reason link spam is so popular is Google requires a lot of quality inbound links to your site in order for them to list you high in the rankings for any sort of competitive keyword. However, not all links are going to give you the same boost and some will even cause you to be penalized in the rankings. Let's take a look at the practices that I recommend you avoid.
1. Reciprocal Link Pages - Having a "resources" or a "links" page probably won't hurt you in the SERPs, but it's not the best way to exchange links. Google is going to stop looking at outbound links when you get past somewhere around 100 so on a single page. If you have a huge, long list of links on your page it isn't going to encourage quality sites to exchange with you. One solution is to create a resources page with a menu to additional links pages organized by subject. The problem with doing this navigational trick is it pushes all of the outgoing links to a page deeper within your site, lowering their value. This is not something "quality" sites are going to really look for.
Remedy: try exchanging links within articles and get rid of straight links page to links page exchanges.
2. Irrelevant Sites - If sites in bad neighborhoods are linking to you, it probably won't hurt your rankings. Google doesn't want to punish you for things you can't control and they don't want to give competitors a way to trash your rankings. However, if YOU are linking to irrelevant sites that's a low-quality signal in Google's eyes.
Remedy: Eliminate links pointed to sites that no longer exist. Do not link to sites that are out of your niche. Think of your user ad ask yourself "would they find a link to that site useful?"
3. Rapid Link Building - The pace at which new links point to your site can be an indicator of quality. Sites tend to add links at a natural rate. The fact that you get a whole bunch of links to your site in a short period of time isn't necessarily going to be bad for you, but it might warrant a closer look. If those incoming links are sitewide or from low-quality sites, that's a low-quality signal. If you had an article listed on the front page of Digg, you might get a lot of quality links from inside the content of big sites. Those types of links are going to give you a huge boost.
Remedy: If you are trying to build your link profile up, do so at a constant, steady pace. Getting a huge influx of links every 3-4 months and not seeing any next incoming links in between is a bad sign for your profile.
4. Not Mixing Up Your Incoming Link Anchor Text or Landing Page - If you build links naturally to your site, you will have links with different anchor text pointing to different areas of your site. People will use your site name, the actual URL, and keyword anchor text that isn't quite what you would hope for. If you build 100 links to your site all with the same keyword rich anchor text and all pointing to the home page that looks unnatural and the search engines will discount them.
Remedy: Mix up the keywords you use for your anchor text and link deep into your site.
Other tactics are not necessarily going to hurt your rankings, but could be a giant waste of your time.
1. Mass Emailing Link Partners - If you are sending off hundreds of link exchange requests to webmasters every day you are probably not going to get a great response. It's kind of like cold calling and telemarketers, nobody wants to be hassled unexpectedly like that.
If you want more natural links then do what Google recommends, "create unique, relevant content." This will give other webmasters a reason to link back to you.
The search engines are in a constant fight against spam. Spam makes users unhappy. If users are unhappy they will stop using that search engine for their queries and the site will lose advertising dollars. That is why Google issued their webmaster guidelines to make it real clear what was considered to be "black hat" or spammy in terms of getting your site to rank high in the results.
If you use black hat SEO techniques then you taking a gamble. You might get some short term benefit by seeing your site rocket up the rankings, but once the search engines catch on to what you are doing you risk getting your site banned and losing all of your rankings as a result. So, what exactly can get you into trouble? Let's take a look.
1. Keyword Stuffing - Do not try to use your keyword over and over again inside the content of your articles. For this page I use the title "black hat SEO techniques" where it fits into the text. I don't repeat the phrase over and over again in sentences that make little to no sense. Keyword density is one of those factors that went out of the algorithms a long time ago. You want to write your pages with the user in mind, using language that is as clear and concise for them to understand as possible. Do not include a list of keywords at the bottom of your site or any of your pages. I saw this a lot around five years ago but those sites are normally no longer to be found.
2. Invisible Text - This practice is similar to stuffing because the invisible text is normally the keywords the writer wants the page to rank for. What you will see happen here is if a site has a white background, they will make add text to the bottom of the page that is white as well. This way it's invisible to the user but the spider's will still see it. The programmers at Google are smart enough to detect this kind of nonsense, so if you are using invisible text on your site then you will be caught and your rankings will suffer.
3. Linking Schemes - There are a ton of linking schemes out there and whether the tactic is classified as black hat or white hat isn't always clear cut, but is defined on more of a sliding scale. You aren't supposed to buy links, but there is a big difference between buying through a network where your site gets linked to buy hundreds of different unrelated sites and paying someone to include a mention in a relevant article. Do not build new sites full of thin content just so you can link back to your main site. Reciprocal linking is supposedly frowned upon, but only if you are including hundreds of links on one page, linking to bad neighborhoods, or exchanging with irrelevant niches. I haven't seen any problems related to reciprocal linking with sites in my own niche.
What tactics you employ to try and rank higher in the search engines is your own decision, but just remember they can and will penalize you if what you are doing appears to be spammy.
The ability to create a quality squeeze page that will convert visitors into subscribers is more of an art than a science. There is no simple formula that is going to work in every niche to get 100% of your visitors to give up their email address. However, there a few things that you can do to create a good foundation that will give you a good conversion rate right from the start. After that it's up to you to test, test, and keep on testing until you find the headline, graphics, copy, and bribe that are perfect for your target market.
The most important part of your squeeze page is the headline. This is the first thing your visitor will see upon coming to the site so you have to grab their attention immediately. You only have a few seconds before the visitor decides to keep reading or leave your page. Your headline often makes the visitor's decision for them.
So what makes a good headline? The visitor most likely found your page looking for a solution to a specific problem or need. What you want to do with your headline is address THEIR need first, not what YOU are going to do about it. If you need a list of attention grabbing headlines Traffic Witch put together a nice list of 10 different ideas that have worked in the past.
You don't want a squeeze page that is all text. Those can work in some situations but the use of graphics can increase the professionalism of your site and increase conversions. You can use graphics displaying your money back guarantee, 100% satisfaction guarantee, colorful arrows pointing your visitors to your opt-in form, icons for your bullet list, or call to action buttons that really stick out to the visitor. If you use pictures, try to visualize where the visitor wants to be, what their solution looks like.
In my testing the copy is not nearly as important as the headline, but visitors who are grabbed by your headline might need a little more of a nudge before they subscribe. Some people want to watch video and others want to read text. By having both on your page you aren't leaving anyone out and will get conversions from both types of visitors.
You can test the opening image or change up the content of the video. For the text you want to test different bullet points. People aren't going to read through everything you write. They are going to want to do a quick scan of your material and your bullet points have to pull them in.
You need to give your visitors a reason to opt-in to your list. Your bribe should solve the problem or issue that caused your visitor to come to your site in the first place. The closer you can match your bribe to what your visitors are looking for the more success you will have.
This almost goes without saying, but you need your opt-in form to be above the fold and easy for the user to find. In fact, if you have a long text copy on your page then you need to have multiple opt-in forms so you can capture the lead as soon as they are ready to give up their email address. Test different buttons and text in your opt-in form. Test having a big arrow point towards it.
Don't use some junk hosting service for your squeeze page. You want to make sure it loads as fast as possible. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load you are already losing possible leads. Why lose out on potential subscribers just to save a few dollars a year on hosting?
If you follow these tips then I guarantee you that your first squeeze page will be above average and you can test your way to a very high conversion rate.