How to Build Blog Authority

By: John M.

building blog authority

building blog authority

Wanna know how to build blog authority? Easy… DON’T REGURGITATE HALF DIGESTED CRAP IN A HALF INFORMED WAY.

But that’s obvious!

Well it seems pretty obvious, but apparently, judging by the amount of crap circulating the web, the blogs, heck even the supposedly “legitimate” news sources, apparently it’s not nearly as obvious as one would think.

But what does that mean?

What does that mean? What it really means is… when you come across some fact, some news, some discovery that is relevant to your niche, and you just can’t WAIT to share it… do yourself and all of your readers a favor… and wait. Not for long, mind you. You don’t want to be the last one to post about it. But if you value your authority, you have to protect your authority. How? By taking the time to check the facts. By taking the time to think where is this information coming from and what do they want to achieve by having you repeat it.

Why? Because it was probably free to you. And nothing of value in this world is ever really free. So what’s the real cost? The real cost is the siphoning off of your authority in exchange for a little free content.

You can’t be the guru of your niche and still pass along whatever free (or cheap) content you can get your hands on.

So Let’s Compromise

OK, here’s a compromise: Don’t wait to publish the hot scoop of the week… go ahead and run the scoop. But clearly indicate “This Just In”… and promise your readers to dig deeper and give a complete report when you know more.

You know, “Pictures at Eleven”.

Except, unlike the local news that just wants the spectacle for the easy ratings… actually follow through and do the thorough investigation and reaport back to your readers with all the facts.

Not only do you protect your authority by actually earning it with diligent reporting and thoughtful consideration of the material, but you get the benefit of the classic cliff-hanger too.

The Cult of the Amateur and The Long Tail – Two MUST READ books for Bloggers

By: John M.

These are two must read books for bloggers that are not directly about blogging, but that have everything to do with producing your own content.

must read blogging books

Two must read blogging books

These two books offer opposing (yet counterbalancing) views of the world of user generated and self published content such as YouTube videos, and blogs.

Chris Anderson, in “The Long Tail”, is the champion spokesman for user generated content everywhere. He points out the many advantages realized by a society through increased selection when the items available for purchase and consumption are not limited to those commercially viable for the existing distribution avenues.

In “The Cult of the Amateur”, Andrew Keen points out many of the disadvantages that surface when you remove the editorial process and economic incentive from the distribution (or publication) channel. Without an editor and without any notion of economic viability, there is no longer any reasonable standard of quality to which anything is held.

These two authors present diametrically opposed points of view. In fact, I think if you put them in the same room together, you may get one of those matter-antimatter explosions that end civilization as we know it.

Yet, ironically, it appears they’re both right it least part of the time. The beauty of reading both at the same time is that it gives you a balanced point of view, and it lets you decide at what point on the continuum you feel most comfortable.

But as a blogger, i.e. someone who is contributing to the online universe which is a self published, unedited information base, I find it important to consider both points of view most of the time.

So if you’re seriously interested in the health and vitality of our online world, do yourself a favor pick up a copy of each and give them a quick read.

(Yes, these are affiliate links… but if you find our FREE blog to be informative and helpful, and it costs you no more to do so, why not buy them with our sponsored link?)

PS.  We are working on a free special report, “The Plain English Guide to WordPress SEO for Non-Geeks”  It will be available for FREE, but ONLY TO OUR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS.   So sign up now so you don’t miss out on your free copy.

Three Essential WordPress SEO Tips

By: guestposts

(I came across this one on Ezine Articles, and thought it was useful as is. Enjoy.)

If you want to know about WordPress SEO, then this is the article for you.

The internet today is incredibly accessible. Facebook, MySpace, and eye-friendly/user-friendly layouts of nearly every website makes the internet browsing experience an overall enjoyable experience. However, the internet wasn’t always like this.

With today’s internet, anyone can create a blog. Decide on a topic, do a little writing, make a few clicks with your mouse, and BAM. You’ve got a blog.

However, the internet wasn’t always like this. Back in the day, creating a blog or a website was a serious endeavor. Every aspect of your blog had to be painstakingly designed one character at a time. No Visual Fox pro or Dreamweaver back then!

Because creating a blog or a website is now so simple, people can create a website without understanding the intricacies and vital elements required.

One of these intricacies is SEO. Specifically, WordPress SEO.

Though you might not think it at first, WordPress SEO is incredibly important if you want to get large amounts of traffic to your website. Why? Because you will have a rough time getting your website to the top of Google without proper on-page SEO.

Before you do ANYTHING, you’re going to want to do proper keyword research. Chances are, you already know which keywords you want to optimize for in your WordPress SEO endeavors, but double and triple check your competition to ensure that you can take that number one spot in Google.

After you pinpoint your main keyword phrase, target a few secondary keyword phrases. These keyword phrases should be related to your primary keyword phrase, but shouldn’t not have too much competition.

After you’ve decided on the primary and secondary keyword phrases that you’d like to take over, you’ll want to make sure that your basic WordPress SEO setting are correct.

Go through your blog and make sure that your headings, subheadings and titles relate to your primary and secondary keyword phrases.

Now that you’ve taken care of your primary and secondary keyword phrases, it’s time to take the next WordPress SEO step. Content.

This is going to be an ongoing effort. Throughout your blogs posts, try to sprinkle your primary keyword and secondary keyword phrases throughout your blog posts.

WordPress SEO isn’t something you want to ignore. It seems like a small thing on paper, but it’s these small things that are going to put you ahead of your competition.

If you liked this article, you may enjoy more tips on WordPress SEO with specific tips on how to optimise your website. Chad Mulhern wrote this article on behalf of ViperChill.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Chad_Mulhern

Don’t be Annoying | annoying blog

By: Aalia S.

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Do you come across as annoying to your readers? While you may not be able to appeal to every reader’s idea of an ideal writer / speaker, you can at least minimize the things that most people consider to be annoying. Here are a couple things that seem annoying to most people.

Sidetracking

Forget blogging for a moment; sidetracking (or going off on a wild tangent and getting lost in detail that is secondary to your main point) is annoying in any social situation.  While it maybe slightly tolerable when speaking in person, since you at least can gauge the interest in your listeners eyes, it’s almost unbearable in writing. Your readers already have a big list of blogs to read so when you sidetrack on your blog, you really test your reader’s patience.

Explaining things that don’t need explaining

Sometimes bloggers go into great details to explain things that just about everyone already know. Try not to talk down to your readers or get too preachy. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes because there’s a good chance they are much like you. Give some credit to their intelligence and respect their opinions too.  If you feel something might merit an explanation, find a reference, insert a link to it, and keep moving.  This is really what hypertext http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_intro.asp is all about.

Not explaining things that need explaining

While it’s not a good idea to explain things that are already known to your readers, you might want to explain things that they might not know. Don’t be too quick to assume that everybody knows the names of all the places you visit or hang out at. You don’t want to make your readers feel like outcasts since they don’t know what you are raving about so zealously.  Generally speaking you should explain things as a separate post, and link them together.  This is the best way to manage tangential information.  There is nothing wrong with releasing 3 to 5 short related posts at once, instead of one long monolithic dissertation, particularly when communicating technical or how to type information.

Sharing too much personal information

You babble on about your shoe size, your favorite Backstreet Boy, and how your dog’s won’t eat dog food and only gets kosher beef franks for dinner… and guess what?  Nobody cares! Even though it might seem like an odd thing to say about writing a blog, be a good listener. Listen to what your target really wants to know, and then deliver. Sharing too much irrelevant personal information is a big turn off for readers.

No response to comments

You’ve had your share of talking now hear what your readers have to say about it. While you may not be able to respond to everyone’s comments and at all times, try your best to keep up with the comments. And be a gracious host.  These are your guests.  Treat them like you want them to come back next time.

Using too many emoticons

You may be a very happy person or a very sad person. You may be addicted to sticking your tongue out when you talk. But you don’t need to express these emotions in every sentence of your post! There’s nothing annoying about an occasional emoticon, its overuse is what annoys. Rely more on words to express your emotion and readers will understand your mood from your tone.

So put yourself in the place of your reader and think about what would annoy you the most. The last thing you would want is an annoyed reader heading for the unsubscribe button!

Short Catchy Titles: How to Write Crisp Titles

By: Aalia S.

Short <i>Catchy Titles</i>

Short Catchy Titles

Ever come across a blog post title so long it just trails off with ellipses on your feed reader?  It’s not a very catchy title when you can’t even see the whole thing.

How motivated are you to read it? You need to take an extra effort to click on it to just see what the blog post is about. It’s a good idea to keep your blog post titles short and crisp. Not only does this get the point of the post across faster and more easily, but also gets your reader hooked and eager to read more. These tips will help you shorten your long blog post titles and always have the most catchy titles.

For Short Catchy Titles, Title it Like you Tweet it

Put a character restriction on your titles before you even create them. You might feel a little restricted with this idea, but think of how you do it all the time on twitter. You want to make your title as engaging as a good tweet and probably even shorter.  Plus, a character restriction will get you thinking of analogies, cultural references, and other catchy title gimmicks to hook the reader.

Use Active voice

As a general rule in blogging, try to use as much active voice as possible. Not only is it more conversational and appealing but it also helps you create shorter and tighter sentences. Active voice pushes the subject right to the front of the sentence and makes the title crisp.

Use Simple English

If your readers don’t get the title, they won’t read your post. Use simple English and smaller words to describe your blog post’s content. You might also want to avoid using synonyms for a word within the title. For instance, this blog post could be called “techniques to help you write small and crisp titles.” You could easily substitute the word technique with ways and do away with either crisp or small, since they essentially describe similar ideas. Just doing that helps you cut down your characters and makes the title a lot easier to understand.

Don’t state the obvious

You might want to check your titles for any redundant information. Take the same example again, “techniques to help you write small and crisp titles.” Apart from using simple English, you could get rid of the “help you” in the title as well since it’s stating the obvious. If you apply both the ideas you get, “ways to write crisp titles.” Ah, that’s so much better.

Avoid using too many articles

You want to avoid using too many articles in your blog posts. As a general rule, articles are not used in titles.  Since we’ve already created multiple versions of this post’s title let’s do one more, “A list of easy ways to shorten the titles of your blog’s posts.” If you get rid of the unwanted articles you get, “list of easy ways to shorten titles.”  Mo betta! Mo betta!

And of course whether a post is a discussion, a list or an essay is more or less extraneous to the subject matter, so we could make it “easy ways to shorten titles.”

And if it really is a list, we can imply the list by adding a count: “5 easy ways to shorten titles”

Not bad ha?  Apart from engaging readers, shorter blog post titles also help with search engine optimization by putting the keywords closer together and more in the form they will be searched for. So the next time you write a title you might want to check if it’s short enough. Unlike candy bars (king size) or Big Mac meals (supersized) when referring to blog titles, the smaller the better.

Don’t forget your SEO keywords

While a catchy title is going to draw in a visitor, your keywords are how the search engines find you.  So make sure you still keep your SEO keywords for your post in the title.  You can work them into the phrase, or you can do what we did here -  Keywords: Subtext.

Now get going!

You may want to go back through your archives and practice making catchy titles for all your old posts. Good practice now, and a great excuse to ping ‘em all again and stir up some new traffic.

HOT TOPICS: Blog it while it’s hot!

By: Aalia S.

<i>Hot Topics</i>

Think of the current hot topics as free ideas to help write what people really want to read.

What’s all the hub-bub, bub?

What are the hot topics? What’s the buzz?  What’s new? What’s everyone talking about? You can easily barge into even personal conversations with these questions.

And guess what? Figuring out the internet’s hot topics can get you into noticed online too! Think of the current hot topics as free ideas to help generate content that people really want to read.

Hot topics! What exactly are they?

Google hot topics are like twitter’s trending topics. These topics are buzzing around on the internet, on twitter or via site feeds etc. And they’re updated hourly!

Take a look at the Hot Topics on Google Trends and pick one you want to say something about, and that fits with your blog’s overall theme. Hate or love it, blog your ideas while they are still hot.

Hot Topics! Click. Click. Click.

This doesn’t end here… If you’ve already got Google Trends open on another tab on your browser right now, take a look at the panel on the right.

Hot Searches! What are they?

But how can you use this to your advantage? Think about it as a way to tag/entitle your posts. The more of those keywords you use, the more visibility you get over the internet.

Click. Click. Hot Topics! Click.

OK this doesn’t end here still… Take a look at the search bar. Type in any keyword and see the trends for that. What’s even better is that you can compare two keywords check the about section for more information.

So what’s the difference between the two?

Hot Topics = Topics that people have been talking about lately.

Hot Searches = Topics that people have been searching for lately.

You’re still here reading this?  GO!  Subscribe to our feed or mailing list, then head over to Google Trends and get writing about the hot topics in your niche.

List titles carefully for an effective blog layout

By: John M.

<i>list titles</i> to increase traffic

list titles to increase traffic

When laying out your blog, you want to list titles carefully not only so your visitors can read the current post, but so they can also easily find your other posts.

While an archive can be handy, your readers have to click around by date. Since most blog posts have little to do with the date, this means you readers are really clicking around blindly if they are trying to find something in your archive.

There are several alternative techniques available for presenting title lists to your users. Depending on the focus of your blog, one of the following is sure to provide an excellent way to list titles in a convenient format for your readers.

List titles in a sidebar on your layout

Most blogging platforms have a feature that will list recent blog posts in an area on the sidebar of every page. This is a great way to make your recent posts visible to your visitors and to encourage them to read more of your blog. By organizing your recent post list as titles rather than dates, you are increasing the odds that your readers will find something they find interesting. Be honest, you are probably more likely to be interested in “sizzling hot images for your blog” than you are in “February 2010”.

List titles near the top of your layout

When you have a title list to put in your sidebar, try to keep it near the top of your layout. This way, the reader sees the list of titles when they first get to your blog. The only thing more important than a list of post titles would be your RSS and signup form, and maybe a little advertising space.

List titles by recent posts

One way to present a list of titles is by age, showing a list of your most recent 5 to 20 posts. This has the benefit of changing frequently, with new posts being added at the top and older ones scrolling of the bottom. The more often your content is updated, the more likely your visitors are to come back again and again. And as we all know, the best traffic is repeat traffic.

List titles by top posts

Another way to present a list of titles is by popularity, showing your most popular 5 to 20 posts in a list. This has the benefit of showing the content that is the most likely to be interesting to your visitors, further increasing the chance they will click more and read more. The more relevant and more popular the links on your main page, the more relevant your blog will be to your readers.

Tag clouds don’t list titles…

But they sure do list the keywords your readers are looking for! Make sure you tag your posts and use the tag cloud to as another way for your readers to find what they’re looking for.

The big idea for listing titles

So far, all of these methods have been template / layout based, where you out the right widgets in the sidebar and then they appear on every page. There are hundreds of plug-ins available, each with different widgets and features. Pick your favorite and use it. Since they are plug-ins, you can always try a different one later.

And now we’re going to get to the big idea to list titles.

List titles of top posts on a separate page

In your template sidebar, put both your 5 top posts list, and then also put your 5 most recent posts list.

Then create two separate pages in your blog, one for Top Posts and one for Most Recent Posts.

On the Top Posts page, display the most popular posts from your most popular posts plug-in, as a list of abstracts w/ titles, abstracts, and possibly thumbnails.

On the Most Recent posts page, put in the built in recent posts that WordPress supports in the same format. This is probably currently your main page template.

This now gives you TWO new top level menu entries: Top Posts and Recent Posts. It also frees up your main blog home page… and why would you want your main blog home page freed up? So you can produce a killer landing page that is SEO optimized for the keywords and niche that you want to focus on! And also to make it a static page so the search engines can rank it and you can work to improve its ranking using focused keyword marketing campaigns.

All of this will require some fiddling around in WordPress, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know how to do this work, you can Google and find tutorials, and we will have future posts on how to set up your blog and templates.

So what are you waiting for? There are so many ways to list titles that there’s really no reason not to ad a title list to your template layout today.

Blog Images 101: When, Where, How to Use Images for your Blog

By: Aalia S.

blog imagesRemember when you were young how you would want to see the illustrations before reading the story? OK who are you kidding? You still do that! We all do. Blog images support content and create a better understanding of your message. It’s best to include plenty of images in your blog posts but when, where, and how?

Blog Images When?

As a general rule, try to use at least one introductory image to set the tone of a post, then as many as necessary to illustrate your points.

But if you’ve got to stick to certain space or layout restrictions, you will need to think it about when you need to include images in your blog post. Try this technique:  read your blog post as a reader and consider where would you like to see an image? Think of the places where you feel a bit of illustration would really help create a better understanding of your content. While you may need images in certain places try to stick to just one image for each idea or concept that might need a better understanding. Images are also useful when you need to support blog content that otherwise might be dull to read.

Blog Images Where?

Apart from simply knowing when you need to use an image for your blog, you also need to know where to place it. As a rule, try to place put images closest to the text they represent. The physical placement depends on the layout of your blog. Think about how you would want your readers to view your finished post. Would you like them to see the blog image first and then the text, or do you wants them to see the text first, and then the image? You might also want to put captions in places where they are needed. But ideally, images should be self explanatory and should not need captions.

Captions do however serve a useful purpose for SEO, helping your blog images to bring traffic to your posts (hint: sometimes people search for images!)  Therefore you probably should fill in every available caption field with keywords and good descriptions for every blog image you use.

Blog Images How?

You’ll find a lot of great websites with plenty of stock photographs for a price. In the early stages of your blog you may want to use a free stock photography website. Although you may not get a very wide collection of images, you will get a fair number and at zero cost. You could use an external website such Flickr, Picassa or PhotoBucket for hosting images in case you have space constraints on your blogging platform. Don’t forget to shrink and also compress your blog images with image resizing software to get them to load faster. Another thing to consider is your inline advertising when you put images in your posts. The images shouldn’t distract a reader from the advertising and neither should it make the text look cramped up.

Most bloggers use images on their blogs. But you should give it some thought before you post. Think of every blog post as a product that needs to be sold. You want to try to be able to sell your article without actually selling it. Blog images support your content and provide the perfect packaging for your blog post.

Blog Image Sources

Here is a short list of some places where you can find images for your blog, either for free, or for a charge.
Note: Always read the license terms carefully, not just for the site, but for each individual image.

Getting Repeat Traffic is the Key to Success – HowTo Get Repeat Traffic

By: John M.

Getting <i>Repeat Traffic</i>

Getting Repeat Traffic

If traffic is key, then repeat traffic is the master key.  Regardless of how you intend to create traffic, make sure your blog will bring back repeat visitors…. it’s like the old parable of giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish. Traffic is getting a fish. Repeat traffic is learning how to fish. Or maybe it’s the fish jumping in the boat all on their own.   Ok so maybe my metaphors are a little mixed up here, but you still got the idea….

So anyhow… here are a few ways you can encourage your guests to become regulars.

Have a Newsletter or E-Zine

Provide free subscription to your newsletter. You can do this either with a newsletter distribution service, or you can do it with an opt-in mailing list and have it automatically generated with your new blog posts. Generally, your newsletter will contain one or two short articles, plus a collection of summaries that link back to your blog for the full details. Nothing brings back repeat traffic like a useful newsletter or e-zine.

Provide High Quality Original Content

Like, duh man! This may seem obvious, but many blogs suffer from unoriginal content, or a lack of quality. Make sure your posts are the best they can be. Repeat traffic only happens when your guests were completely satisfied the last time they stopped in.

Compile a Free List of Resources

You can offer it as a free bonus when subscribing to your newsletter. The list could be of e-books, other newsletters, web sites etc. If subscribers find your list to be useful then they will be more likely to visit your site frequently. A free resource list will only build repeat traffic if it’s a useful enough resource that the owner will refer back to it again and again.

Give Your Visitors a Free E-Book

An e-book may take a little time to produce, but it is best to avoid PLR and other low quality material, especially if you are putting your own name on it. However, once produced, an e-book can have a much longer useful life that an equivalent number of blog posts, for example, you can include your own ads and links in the e-book, and then encourage others to give it away for free as well. Like a resource list, a free e-book will only build repeat traffic if it’s genuinely useful.

Hold Free Online Classes or Seminars

They can be held in a private chat room, or you can give webinars. There are several companies offering webinar hosting services. The idea of “live” interaction will encourage more participation, and if you have a well defined niche for your blog, you could become known as an expert on it. Nothing brings back repeat traffic like a series of live events.

Have Contests and Drawings

Everyone and I do mean everyone loves free stuff. Find something of value to your visitors and have a contest or drawing. If you have a recurring contest of drawing, it can also encourage repeat traffic.

Give Advice and Encourage Discussion

Set up a Q and A area where you can give advice to people who visit your web site and have questions. Or you could create a forum where everyone can discuss and contribute. People who have asked questions or are involved in discussions are sure to become repeat visitors.

Traffic is the key-element for a blog, and the key to traffic over the long term is your repeat traffic. Be sure to make your blog interesting, unique, and compelling to bring back your readers again and again.

Get Ideas for Blog Posts Without Thinking Much (5 Quick Sources for Blog Topics)

By: Aalia S.

You probably won’t believe me when I say that you can come up with great post ideas without straining your brain too much. While you do need to think of creative blog post ideas, you can still get ideas without having to think too hard. Here are five ways to help you do just that.

Search it

While you always want to keep your blog posts original, there’s no harm is seeking inspiration from other websites. Google topics that you generally write about and see what kind of posts other writers come up with. You might be inspired to write on a similar topic but with completely different ideas and opinions. One interesting source of news and inspiration could be a blog aggregator like hdlns.com where you can browse recent blogs and news on almost any subject that interests you.

Comments

Comments on your own blog or others’ blogs are great sources of inspiration for post topics. Maybe someone said something thought provoking or intelligent. You could also get inspiration for an educational post from a less than informed comment.

Forums

Forums are an excellent source of inspiration for great posts. Interestingly, forums showcase expert opinions as well as opinions from laypersons. You get a balanced view from both groups which could help you write to a broader audience.

Offline social life

There’s a good chance that you might overlook the possibility of seeking ideas from beyond the internet. Think about the many conversations you have in a given day. Did someone say something wise? Or did someone bring up a debatable issue? Make a mental note of topics from beyond the internet, maybe using the notepad in your smart phone. Many bloggers forget about their identities once they go offline.

Beyond the computer

While blogs, comments and forums are great sources of inspiration, don’t forget good old fashioned books. A nice non-fiction read could give you more inspiration than you might ever imagine. Even if you don’t end up with much inspiration from a book, you can still write about the book itself and what you liked or disliked about it.

So you don’t always have to try to think of completely original ideas. You are allowed to seek inspiration from any source. Just make it original by adding your own perspective, voice, or explanation.