Friday, 15 June 2012

How to Get Organic Traffic from Google

This is a question that I’ve been asked by bloggers, writers, internet marketers, entreprenuers and webmaster many-a-times: “How long does it take for a website to start getting some organic traffic? Especially if it’s a website that is updated with unique content regularly, and has also been submitted to all search engines, such as Google and Bing.”

This is a valid concern for many bloggers, especially those who have just started off. However before we get to the answer to this problem, it is important to first understand what organic traffic is, and why it is important in the first place.

What is Organic Traffic?

Organic traffic refers to free traffic that comes in from search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! Search and Bing. It is the traffic that you get when pages from your blog or website appear in the search results. It is referred to as ‘organic traffic’ because it comes freely and naturally from search engines, for instance if someone searches for a particular keyword (or a phrase), and is redirected to a page on your blog/website from the search, you’re getting free ‘organic’ traffic to your website.

Benefits of Organic Traffic

As you would understand, the ability to get organic traffic from search engines is extremely essential, as traffic from search engines is one of the biggest sources of traffic (and revenue) for any blog out there.

First off, organic traffic is free, and understandably, it is highly-targeted traffic. Visitors who come on your blog from Google were searching for a specific keyword/phrase which was related to the content on your website. For instance if you run a blog on the NBA, and someone looks up ‘Jeremy Lin stats’ in Google, and is referred to your blog from there, you are getting extremely targeted traffic from people who are within your website’s niche.

This is why all bloggers do whatever they can to get organic traffic – search engines get you targeted traffic for free, as opposed to PPC and other per-click, per-impression or paid advertisement campaigns.

How to Get Organic Traffic to Your Blog

Now that we’ve defined what organic traffic really is, as well as how beneficial it is, we come to the matter at hand: what can blogs and websites do in order to get organic traffic? The following is a set of points which will help you to achieve this feat:

1. Unique Content: The most important thing to be able to get organic traffic is unique content. If you don’t have unique content on your blog, Google will not even consider indexing your site for popular search engine keywords and queries. Furthermore, if you blog contains a lot of copied, plagiarized and spun content, and Google gets a whiff of it, you will in all probability end up getting de-indexed and/or permanently banned from Google.

Google has become particularly strict with its indexing criteria and policies, especially after the Panda update. Websites with plagiarized content (among other things) have all been penalized. This means that these website have stopped getting traffic from Google.

If your blog is updated with unique, well-written, well-researched content on a regular basis, Google will list your website for keywords, and visitors will be referred to your blog when they search for those keywords.

2. Provide Value, Engage your Audience: It is also important to remember that your blog exists solely for one purpose: to provide the people with solutions/information. Provide people with valuable material, valuable information, present them with solutions, and discover innovative ways to engage and entertain people with your blog so that spend the maximum amount of time on your blog reading your posts, putting up comments, and being a part of the community.

When people are engaged, they actually spend some time on your blog and your bounce rate is low, Google immediately ranks your better for your keywords.

To provide value, you need to have passion for whatever you are writing about.  Pat Flynn wrote an awesome post titled Do You Need Passion to Profit Online? which really summarizes this.

3. Backlinks: If you are updating your websites with unique content on a regular basis, but you don’t have a lot of relevant backlinks, your content might be of interest to some people, but Google probably still won’t list it in the search results.

Without relevant backlinks, and particularly those from authority sources, Google has no way to know how credible your information really is.

Even if you’re getting traffic from social mediums and other forms, having backlinks and link juice is extremely essential, especially from relevant, authority and high-PR websites. Each backlinks counts as one vote in your favor in the eyes of Google, the more ‘votes’ you have, the better. When Google discovers that your blog is getting traffic from authority sources, it will try to list you as high up as possible for your keywords.

And unless you start getting some link juice from these sources, you’ll never receive a large amount of organic traffic, even if you’re putting up fresh content on your blog regularly.

To see how you're doing with your efforts, spend some time every month checking your backlinks using services like Google Webmaster Tools or Majestic SEO.  That way you can see if what you are doing is working or not.

Concluding Words

Basically, what you’re aiming for is for Google and other search engines to take notice. Once they do, they will start ranking you better for your keywords and traffic from these search engines will start flowing in.

It is unrealistic, however, to expect any miracles immediately. But if you’re updating your blogs with fresh content, and establishing a network of quality backlinks, organic visitors will soon start flowing in. It might not be a very large amount of visitors in the beginning, but at least you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction.

Lastly, the purpose of all this is to be ranked on the first page of the SERP, or as close to it. It is a well-established fact that visitors rarely go beyond the first page when the look something up in a search engine (according to a statistic, 80% of search engine visitors never go beyond the first page!), therefore it is important to be able to rank as high up the SERP as possible for your keywords. Aim for that first page!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

10 Kickass Blog Ideas

In the past 10 years or so, blogging has come a long, long way. From being a little known word, to becoming the hottest buzzword out there, what started off as a platform for keeping an online account of the happenings and events in one’s life (aka. personal blogging) has now expanded to corporations using blogs to connect with their clientele, individuals and companies using blogs to market and sell, people running businesses, as well as blogs which provide assistance, aid, advice and breaking news from all over the world, to name just a few!

Yes indeed, blogging has evolved and taken off big time in the last decade or so. And now, the possibilities are endless! All you need is your laptop, a little bit of commitment, passion and desire!

As for blogging ideas, there is a ton of stuff that you can do. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Personal Blog – Yup, the good old ‘traditional’ form of blogging. A personal blog is like your online journal or a diary, published and maintained on the internet for everyone to see and read. You can use it to simply detail stuff happening in your life, or post pictures and videos of your travels, post reviews about your favorite TV shows, movies or sporting events, share ideas or dreams, post celebrity news, and do a lot more!

2. A Business/Corporate Blog – The thing about blogging is that it is extremely simple, easy and straightforward - thanks to publishing platforms like Wordpress and Blogger. Other web-publishing platforms might be difficult for most to use or come to grips with, making it difficult to maintain websites on these. However platforms such as Wordpress have made it easy to run full-blown corporate websites, and this is why a lot of corporations have started doing precisely this. Just about anyone with even the most basic knowledge can now build and maintain professional-looking business websites, thanks to Wordpress!

3. Question-and-Answer/Advice Website – Quite a few bloggers and websites want their readers to be able to ask question and get advice and asnwers, in a way which is similar to Yahoo Answers and Quora. This is pretty doable on Wordpress, especially if you pair your blog with a theme such as the AskIt from Elegant Themes. Once done, you can start posting advice, tips and tricks, DIYs, manuals, take questions and provide all sort of help to your readers. Remember to use this blog with your corporate website or spread the word if you don’t have another website – you need to get the word out so you can start taking reader questions or interact with people. It also helps if you’re already an authority blogger in your niche and have a strong group of followers.

4. A Classifieds Ad Blog – Using Wordpress and the plugin ‘Another Wordpress Classifieds Plugin’, you can easily create a blog that rivals Craigslist, or you could simply choose to complete with local classified advertisement websites. There are tons of ecommerce plugins out there, which not only let you run your very own buying-and-selling business easily, but manage each and every aspect of it – from orders, to payments, to shipping and delivery, to after-sales support! A lot of corporate and home-based businesses have set up online stores in order to sell their wares. If you plan on doing so, it would be a good idea to check out the WooCommerce plugin for Wordpress.

5. Online News Website (Newspaper or Magazine) – Oh yes, extremely easy and simple to set up your very own online news website, such as an online publication in the form of a newspaper or a e-magazine, or just about any other news website like a sports news website, celebrity news, etc. If you’re into journalism or the media, having such a website might be a good addition to your resume and get you a ton of exposure (not to mention , potential job offers). However before you do so, it is important to set up your blog, especially in terms of the look. I recommend going for Wordpress, and once again, pairing your blog with a mag-style theme for Elegant Themes, or Theme Junkie – both of which have a nice collection of news-styled themes.

6. Affiliate Marketing Business – Affiliate marketing is another popular form of blogging. To put it simply, affiliate marketing requires people (affiliates) to market and sell a merchant’s products. It does not involve any direct selling, all the affiliate has to do is market the products and/or services on the merchant’s behalf, and in return the affiliate gets a cut of each sale made as a result of the affiliate’s marketing efforts. It’s an extremely effective form of earning online, and one that is extremely straightforward since the affiliate is not responsible for actually making the sale or anything else involved in the process of selling (such as shipping), apart from the marketing.

7. Review Website – This could also be used in conjunction with your affiliate marketing efforts. Starting a review site could see you review products and services from different manufacturers and vendors. Often times, many businesses which sell stuff are looking for people to test their stuff out for them, to check and see how their products perform under real-life usage and real-world conditions. This ‘beta testing’ is often done before the product ever sees the light of day. You could become a beta tester for a game studio such as Activision or Electronic Arts, or a software manufacturer such as Microsoft. Not only doing such reviews gives you access to some cool gadgets and products way before anyone else, your reviews can also help you establish yourself as an authority in your niche. You might even have some gadgets and hardware sent right to you, for free!

8. Online Resume/Portfolio – On Wordpress, themes such as the ‘MyResume’ theme from Elegant Themes allow you to create an attractive-looking, single-page online resume. These online resumes are usually one-page websites, however you can add additional pages to create a brilliant-looking online portfolio for yourself and your work – particularly useful if you’re a freelance web designer, photographer or a journalist. Or even if you are simply looking for a place on the internet to showcase your work!

9. Property Listing Website – This is another great business idea. A lot of property dealers and real estate agents are getting onboard blogs and social media in order to reach out to potential customers and clientele. A well-designed website on Wordpress (using a theme like the real estate WP theme by Domestica) would enable you to get your listing under one roof, including locations  of the properties very easily (and of course, the ability to woo your clients by posting images of the property!). This is sure to leave a lasting impression on your customers. For inspiration, be sure to check out the website.

10. Bookings and Reservation Website – And finally, if you’re the owner of a hotel, restaurant, B&B, spa, or even an airline, you could set up a blog and have a fully-functional booking-and-reservations system in place for the easy and convenience of your customers. Most internet-based booking systems are expensive to set up, and probably unfeasible for a lot of small and medium businesses. However with Wordpress, all it takes is purchasing a good theme and a booking-system plugin (both one-time expenses), and you’ll have your fully-functional booking and reservation system live in no time! Check out the awesome Hotel Booking theme for Templatic, and use it in conjunction with a plugin like the WP-Reservation plugin.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

5 Things To Do Immediately After Your Blog-Post Goes Live

No matter how good a blogger you might be, or how long you might’ve been in the business, it’s downright frustrating when there’s no traffic. You spend hours creating and crafting the perfect post, doing your research, adding images and spending hours on it, only to find that you’re the only one reading it!

And even after a good amount of time has passed, you wake up in the morning and are able to count the number of visitors on one hand. 

If you want people to read your blog, it is important to let them know that it exists! It is important to spread the word, and while this might be glaringly obvious, a lot of bloggers forget to do it, or lazy in doing so or simply choose to ignore it. 

Writing a good blog post is only half the job, the remaining half is about telling people about it – something which is as important (or arguably, even more) than writing the blog itself.

If you have a checklist of things to do after your blog post goes up, you’ll not only have an idea of the things that you should be doing immediately after posting, it will also allow you to get massive amounts of traffic and readers very easily.

1. Send out an update on all your social networks: this includes Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest and any other social networks you might be a part of. If you’re not on one or any of the social mediums, you’re missing out on probably what is the largest source of traffic after Google!
Post an update on Facebook, Tweet about it, share the link on your G+... the whole shebang.
Use a plugin for the purpose if you want, something like Cliqset which automatically send out an update to all your social media profiles on auto-pilot. In addition, use the popular Wordpress plugin by the name of WP Socializer that put share buttons on your blog, allowing your visitors to share your content easily as well.

2. Submit your post on content sharing websites: I’m talking sites like Digg, Propeller, Mizz, StumbleUpon, Newsvine and ShoutWire. These content-sharing websites exist for the sole purpose of content sharing, sharing blog posts with the world. And the number of bloggers who don’t use these is surprising!
When doing your submission, write catchy titles, try relating your content to a popular buzzword, a popular trend or something happening in the media, or you could even try being controversial. It will increase your chances of a front-page appearance. If your story is good enough, your content gets enough votes and makes it to the mainpage of these sites, your visits and traffic are pretty much guaranteed to go through the roof!

3. Hit those forums: Posting on forums in your niche can be a good idea, especially if you put a link to your blog in your signature. This is as effective a method as commenting and could get you some excellent high-PR backlinks very easily.
The internet’s filled with a ton of active forums where people come together and speak about certain topics with other like-minded folks. Be a part of the community. Share and add some value to these forums. If you do, with the passage of time you will establish yourself as an authority figure on the topic and people will start looking at you as one. This will make it more likely for them to click on that link in your signature, in order to find out what you have to say.
If you’re unaware of any such ‘big’ forums in your niche, try to Google it up, with the query “<your topic> forum” and you’ll probably find a whole bunch of good forums to start posting!

4. Comments: Like forum posts, comments too are a great way to build up some valuable backlinks. Post comments on other blogs in your niche and leave a link to your post or your blog when you do so.
In order to find blogs similar to yours, just do a Google search on the topic, click show options and under that, click blogs. You’ll probably stumble upon a goldmine of blogs that are blogging on exactly what you’ve been blogging on as well.
Read the posts there, leave a comment or two, and above all leave comments that are valuable and add something to the post. AVOID SPAMMING AT ALL COSTS! Not only will spam comments ensure that your posts are never approved, they will almost always guarantee you getting banned from the blog. And don’t forget to link back to your blog by leaving the URL in the ‘website’ field.
Similarly, Youtube offers an excellent ‘related videos’ feature, which lets video bloggers leave the link to their videos on someone else’s video. Imagine having the opportunity to post your link on a video seen by thousands, such as a viral video or someone who has a large number of subscribers!

5. Article Marketing: In addition to all of the above, it is also a good idea to submit your blog post on article sites, especially high-PR sites such as EzineArticles and AssociatedContent. This allows for your content to be published by other in their own blogs, websites or publications (newsletters for instance).
If someone reproduces your content on their own blog/website/publication/anywhere else, he or she is required to accredit the original source, which means link back to you.
If you’ve written a post that is good enough, it could potentially be picked up by blog owners, or newsletter publishers that have thousands of subscribers or visitors, and might even get put up on their front page (as a featured post, for instance). This would give you a LOT of exposure, and a nice traffic spike as well.
In addition, it will also get you that all-important backlink to your website, and Google seems to love backlinks from high-PR sources! Once those backlinks start racking up, it would almost guarantee a healthy ranking for you.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Great Tips for Building a Profitable Blog

Let’s all be honest with ourselves and admit it, most of us (if not all) will certainly have making money on our list of priorities when it comes to blogging. Yes, there is a significant chunk of folks out there who are not in it for the money, especially the aid and charity blogs, and a few personal blogs as well. However there is no shame in admitting that making money is an important aspect of blogging, among other things.

This is particularly true for businesses which exist for the sole purpose of profiting from their blogs. Especially those businesses which are selling products and services online, or intend to do so in the future.

Reaping profits and making money from your blog(s) can only be a good thing. If you’re not doing so, it means that you are doing things the wrong way.

At this point, it is important to note that profiting does not simply refer to making extra money. Profiting refers to building a sustainable business that not only covers its own expenses but earns you money after doing so.

Here are 3 powerful ways of ensuring that you build a profitable blog from the ground-up:

1. Targeted Traffic

The Problem:

The ability to be able to drive targeted traffic is an invaluable asset for any firm, business or organization. Above all it is detrimental to the profitability of said business. Driving 1000 visitors to your blog who don’t care about your products/services is a waste of time and resources.

Most bloggers who fail in their blogging efforts and especially the ability to turn in a profit from their blogs fail because they choose to ignore this glaringly obvious principle.

The ability to drive in massive (or even reasonable) amounts of traffic is a good thing, but only on paper. People have certain interests, and everyone on the internet might not be interested in what you have on offer – it is simply no use to them.

But there are people out there who are interested in your services. If you’re the owner of an Internet Marketing blog, you would want internet marketers, SEOs and entrepreneurs to visit it. If you run a blog on Formula One racing, you would want F1 enthusiasts and fans on your blog. It all comes down to knowing what your niche is, and then the ability to attract people in your niche.

The Solution:
Focus your efforts on knowing who your audience is, and try bringing in traffic from that niche: make sure the ‘right’ people visit, share your posts and comment on them, buy stuff, subscribe to your list, tweet your posts and the like.

For more ideas, check out this informative post by Ana Hoffman titled: The Ultimate Blueprint to More Profitable Website Traffic.

2. List Building

The Problem:

Most bloggers fail to understand and appreciate the importance of building lists. It is one of the most invaluable and important tools for a blog that ultimately starts making some dough.

Right from the beginning, put an opt-in box either on your blog header or the sidebar. Alternatively, try getting one of those pop-up subscription widgets which welcomes your visitors and presents them with the option of signing up for your mailing list. The latter could be intrusive and annoying, but it is generally known to be an effective way to capture leads.  

If you're using Wordpress then you can use one of the many list building plugins out there.  Popular ones include Popup Domination, Opt-in Skin, WP Subscribers, and Hybrid Connect.  I've played around with each of them and the winner is definitely Hybrid Connect.  It has a very easy to use form builder, it's super flexible in terms of where you can place your forms and it keeps track of your stats for you.

There's a lot of Hybrid Connect reviews out there so I won't rehash one here.  But my favorite review that I've looked at so far is this one published here on

The cold, hard truth is that no one will really keep visiting your blog on a regular basis, however with the use of optins and subscriptions, you have at your disposal a way which lets you remind people about the existence of your blog, new posts, new products and/or services, promotions, deals, announcements and other things which could be of benefit to them.

Without such a list, you will, in all probability, fail to build up a consistent source of traffic to your blog, especially targeted, responsive traffic that is in your niche and interested in what you have to offer.

The Solution:
Do not underestimate the importance of list building and the ability to be able to get targeted traffic in the long run. Remember, that targeted traffic is the most profitable traffic. People who have chosen to be subscribed to your blog by giving you their email address obviously rate it high-enough, and have given you their approval/permission to get in touch with them. This list is a goldmine for you from a business perspective. And without such list, you’ll be missing out on an invaluable opportunity to make some real money.

3. Call-to-Action

The problem:
Even if you’ve done everything right – which includes having a good-looking blog, setting it up correctly, and the whole deal, if you don’t have a clear, strong call-to-action, you will never be able to earn a lot of money, let alone make a profit.

A strong, clear precise, well-defined and a prominent CTA is essential, for obvious reasons. A good CTA works like a good road-sign and provides a visitor with direction and lets him or her know what the purpose of your website is. This is particularly important if you’re selling something on your blog, such as a widget, plugin, a service, a tool or anything else.

The Solution:
A CTA with the aforementioned attributes will instantly call upon a visitor to easily take the required action. Your CTA should be authoritative, presenting the visitor with the same confidence that you have in your products. It should specifically tell your visitor what you want them to do (what action needs to be taken). It should never be over-exaggerated or over-hyped. There should be focus on a single CTA rather than having multiple ones. And above all, it should be the most prominent and instantly-noticeable object on your blog!

The text that accompanies your CTA tells your product’s features to your customers (why your product is worth your visitor’s time and money).

If your CTA is good enough, it will encourage people to make the purchase. The more the purchases, the better it is for you and your blog’s profitability.

As a concluding note, this is a great 7-pointer on how to build a profitable blog, by the good folks over at ProBlogger.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Conducting a Backlink Audit

After Google’s latest update to its search engine algorithm (titled the ‘Penguin), a lot of websites and blog started getting the now-infamous ‘unnatural links’ warning message. This has forced everyone in the industry to conduct a review of their backlinks. For some, it has been an eye-opener, especially those which have been in the industry for a large period of time.

Many in the industry were of the opinion that other websites linking to yours couldn’t possibly be harmful in any way. Penguin, however, has changed this notion forever. Now, websites that have built an unnatural looking backlink profile have received Google’s spam alert. 

This has forced everyone in the industry to run a complete and thorough review of their backlinks – even those who haven’t been affected by Penguin (yet!). 

Regardless of which of the two groups of people you might belong to, it is extremely important to do a backlink audit. Whether you have someone do it for you (outsource it), or do it yourself. Whether you’re one of the unfortunate ones who has been adversely affected by Penguin or even if you haven’t (always better to be safe than sorry!), a good ol’ backlink audit will let you know exactly which places link to you. Chances are that there are a lot of links that you probably have no idea that you have! Some might be good quality, which are accepted by Google, while others might be of the poor quality, termed as unnatural, suspicious and/or negative SEO – and these are the ones you need to get rid of. 

The first step, however, is actually knowing what sort of links you might have. Once you have that knowledge, you can easily go about getting rid of the ones deemed unnatural by Google. A word of warning: it won’t be easy!

In order to evaluate your backlinks, I recommend using either the SEOMoz Open Site Explorer, the Ahrefs Sit Explorer or the Majestic Site Explorer. All three would provide you with detailed and comprehensive reports on your backlinks, the sources you’re getting your traffic from and even anchor text distribution. 

Here are the 4 most common type of backlinks that you might have, which might also fall into the unnatural category:

1.                   Article Directory Links: Article marketing is used by a lot of internet marketers for exposure as well as SEO. And generally-speaking, it’s a fail-safe method, especially if the submissions are handled manually. If you’ve made submissions in a semi-automatic manner, there is a high chance that your links might have ended up on low-quality directories. Unfortunately, there’s only one way of removing such links, apart from doing it one-by-one and manually from each directory.  

2.                   Forum Profile Links: You might also have unannounced links show up on forums. This could include profile created by you, or someone else entirely. For the former, you can easily log into the forums and remove the links (manually, once again), however for the latter, it gets a bit tricky since the profile is someone else’s and there’s no way you can remove the links yourself. In this case, send out a message to the forum administrator or the owner, asking to remove the profile, or at the very least, the links.

3.                   Authority and High-PR Links: If you keep an eye out on your traffic and the analytics, you’ll find out whenever a high-profile source links to you (what a feeling it is!). You’ll also notice a spike in traffic in a relatively short amount of time. However for websites which are already getting a high amount of traffic from many different sources and/or you don’t watch your traffic sources too carefully, such high-profile links might go unnoticed. Upon running a backlink audit, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover these authority backlinks. Some you might know, others you might not have heard of. Regardless, it is a good feeling to know that you are creating quality content that is being picked up off social media and is also being shared on social mediums.

4.                   Spam Blog Comments: This tends to be a big problem for some people – blog comments, mostly spam, that link back to you. Most of these are done through automated programs, with generic text in the comment which means that the person who commented never read the post, but in all probability put one comment in a program and blasted it over the internet. Spam comments might even go into hundreds and could mean negative SEO for your website. Unfortunately, there is no real way of removing these, other than getting in touch with the administrator (also asking him to install Captcha or an alternative on the comments section). On the bright side, if a site has too many of these, Google will probably ban and de-index it the next time its bots crawl the page, rendering all spammy comments useless.

5.                   Listings: There are numerous website out there which build and maintain a catalogue of all the other websites on the internet. These website usually use bots to create a page for your website (including description, stats, other data and of course your URL), and create such directory pages linking to other websites. These are natural links, since you had nothing to do with creating them. The more actively you promote your website, the more likely it is that these website will find your site and catalogue it. You’ll find plenty of such links when doing the audit.

6.                   Hidden Links: Even if you’ve been extra careful with your link-building practices, exercising the utmost caution, never paying for links, been involved in any link exchange problems or used any such grey- or black-hat methods, you might still have some hidden links. These links – could be trackbacks, hidden header or comments, etc – stem from your activity and promotional activities on social media, the blogging world, forums, and various other sources that you might’ve used to promote your blog. 

If you outsourced your backlinking at any point of time, it would also be a good idea to get in touch with the firm or individual it was outsourced to and speaking with them about the problem. If you’re thinking of outsourcing it, use one of the tools mentioned above to keep a check on where exactly your links are going.

Lastly, perform a link audit regularly. It would be a mistake to slack off on this, especially after the Penguin!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Things to Consider before Evaluating Guest Post Prospects

Guest posting is a great way to build backlinks, getting some link juice from authority sources, and networking with bloggers in your niche. Personally, I am a big proponent of guest posting because:

a. It is win-win for both the guest poster and the host – the guest poster gets exposure and valuable backlinks to his blog, and the host gets fresh content on his blog in return.
b. It is completely white-hat and a safe method, especially in the eye of Google.
c. It opens a whole new world for you and your blog, in terms of exposure, being able to engage with new audiences.
d. It allows you access to untapped sources of traffic.
e. It allows you to be seen as a leader and as authority in your niche. 

So in essence, it is a great practice – an invaluable link-building tactic as well – which above all, is win-win for all parties involved. However it is very easy to get wrong, because just like any other link-building tactic out there, the execution is important or you might end up doing more harm than good. Furthermore, guest blogging might be picking up right now, but what if Google introduces another update to its search engine somewhere down the road, that filters out low-quality guest posts, which in all probability will be widespread by then. This will result in blogs, who thought were building legit links, get banned, penalized, and/or de-indexed permanently.

This is pretty much what happened after the Penguin update, where a lot of blogs were penalized for ‘having unnatural backlinks’, even though they were not doing a lot wrong (seemingly), or were not involved in any blackhat or illegal link-building practices.

But coming back to the matter at hand, even if the purpose of your guest posts isn’t to build links, it is important that one considers some of its do’s and don’ts before starting off. It will aid you in making your decision easier, get you maximum return on investment (time, in this case), help you against any future Google updates, and it will also help you evaluate whether it is a high-value guest posting prospect or not.

1. For starters, check the levels of reader engagement on the blog you’re guest posting on. For this purpose, look at the traffic levels the website is getting, as well as other metrics such as the number of comments their posts get on average. A low number of comments or none at all, will in all probability point to it being a weak and/or inactive community, which will make it unlikely for your links to be seen by a large number of people or help promote your content. Similarly, stay away from a blog with too much spam in the comments section. 

2. Secondly, check the blog’s social metrics, such as the number of times the blog and each of its posts have been shared on social mediums such as Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook. 

A large number of social shares would point towards it being an active community where readers are not only engaged, they are also helping promote its content through the sharing buttons. Look at the number of people who have ‘liked’, ‘+1’ed’ or ‘RT’d’ the last 10 posts.

3. In addition to looking at the traffic and the social metrics, it is also advisable to look at the number of people subscribed to the blog. A high number of email and/or RSS subscribers is a great way to determine if the blog has been producing quality content on a consistent basis. 

Use Google Reader for this purpose, or check the website itself. However it would be a better idea to ask the blog owner to provide you with a number of total subscribers (email + RSS). If it’s a good number, he will be more than happy to oblige.

4. One of the most important things to do before you guest post is check the backlink profile of the blog. For this purpose, check the following factors: how many people are linking to the homepage, and how many to the individual posts? A high number of inbound links means that the blog is being linked by a lot of source – a clear indicator that it is a reliable and quality source of information, and precisely the kind of blog you would want to write on. 

Furthermore, it would be particularly encouraging if the blog gets a lot of inbound traffic from high-PR and authority backlinks!

On the other hand, stay away from a blog having a lot of suspicious and/or spammy backlinks, or one whose backlink profile seems suspicious in any way. Trust me, you do not want your link up on such a blog!

We spoke of how to go about conducting a backlink audit in a previous post on this blog. To check a blog’s backlink information use any one of the available tools out there. I personally recommend the open site explorer by the good folks over at SEOmoz. The free version comes with certain limitations, and purchasing the pro license is recommended!

5. Lastly, it might also be a good idea to check the content of the blog, and judge its quality your own self. Look at the posts – do the posts have clear and compelling headlines? Is the content interesting, high-value, good-quality and interesting? Is it free of spelling and grammatical mistakes? Does it incorporate images and multimedia to boost reader engagement? Is it broken down into paragraphs properly in order to make it more clear and reader-friendly? Does the website have a clear call-to-action? Does it integrate social media, and link to other sources properly, as and where required?

All these aspects are essential to the quality of a post.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Why Attending a Blogging Conference Might be the Best Thing You Do!

Reasons to Attend Blogging Conventions and Conferences

Believe it or not, attending blogging conference can be fun, and an absolutely terrific way of making some new blogging friends, contact, and let’s not forget, the opportunity to network and connect with fellow bloggers (think guest blogging opportunities)!

For starters, such conference allows you to interact with a lot of like-minded people and learn from their experiences, as well as share some of your own. It might even put you face-to-face with some of the biggest names in the blogging industry, and just like any other conference which puts such people in one room, you are bound to pick something up out of the experience.

Remember that such conferences are bound to have all sorts of bloggers – niche bloggers, marketers, SEOs and SEMs, affiliate marketers, strategic partners, consultants, and maybe even bloggers belonging to your own niche. This means that people with diverse experiences will be present.

Chances are that you will pick something up from at least 9 out of the 10 sessions – even those boring ones which might not seem very useful.

In addition, it is good for exposure. By meeting people, speaking with them and interacting with them, you are spreading the word about your own blogs and/or the work that you do. This could potentially be a great, previously-untapped resource of traffic and subscribers, and the ability to get more visitors as well as fortify your existence in the blogosphere are two excellent aspects for being a part of such an event.

It might even hook you up with people ‘in the know’, such as industry-leaders and established, authority bloggers and pave a way for you to be able to connect with them professionally in a direct manner. This might also allow you to follow the footsteps of these leaders, and do what they have done with the need to do all the legwork that they had to do to establish themselves when they started off. As a bonus, you might even get to meet some of your favorite blogger in real life!

I personally recommend that whenever you attend such a blogging conference, get out there and converse with people. Have your blog URLs printed out on cards and hand them over to whoever you speak with. If you’re an SEO, SEM, IM or belong to the industry, ask if you can speak at the conference and tell people what you do.

If you do decide to speak at the conference, do so with confidence and authority. It could do you a world of good in establishing yourself as an authority on the subject you’re speaking on (a topic in your niche).

If you already are an authority figure, blogging conferences could help you meet and connect with young leaders and entrepreneurs. Speaking with such people could give birth to new ideas, inspiration and allow you to look at things from a fresh perspective.

Conferences such as these promote innovation and sharing of ideas. Mostly because there is a large pot of expertise and experiences, all in one, single place. Attending such a conference may give you ideas that you never would’ve gotten otherwise.

Such conferences allow you to give something back to the community. When you speak with the attendees, you share your own experiences with them and give something back, because when you do, you will grow as a person and a professional.

And let’s not forget that almost all such conference have at least one session exclusively on making money through blogging or monetizing your blog in a better manner.  It could be an superb way of discovering new methods for earning some money.

Lastly, blogging might very well be what you do fulltime, it might be the sole source of your income and your blog could be your business. In which case you probably need to be able to constantly find work, attending a conference might just do that for you!


Conferences such as BlogHer in New York are great for all the reasons mentioned above. Also look for other blogger conventions or conference in your area that you could attend. If you’re really serious and passionate about your blogging, I strongly recommend attending one of these conferences, especially if there’s one in or near your area.

If you know a group of bloggers in your own area, you could even arrange one of your own! Decide upon a venue/location, time and start sending out invites. Make a Facebook page, advertise it on your blog (and ask all of the attendees to do so as well) and get the word out. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Enhancing Your Local Search Visibility and Rankings

In today’s world, it is simply imperative for all brick-and-mortar businesses and organizations to be visible online. An essential part of that is to show up in the local search results.

What exactly are local search results? This can perhaps be best explained through an example: hit Google right now, and search for ‘pizza in new york’ (replace with the city you’re currently in). The search results will show the locations of all pizza places in said city on a Google Maps map, along with their business address/location, website,  and the link to the business’s Google Places page.

This allows your business to stake a claim on the internet, have your presence put on the world wide web, and be found on Google and on the map easily.

It can be greatly beneficial for numerous reasons – it is good for visibility, exposure, sales and revenues, especially in a world that now lives and breathes on the internet! It helps you get found and makes your business more accessible. And for me, a business that has an online presence leaves a good reputation on its potential and existing customers as well.

I am a firm believer on the fact that if you and your business can be found on Google, you’re already a winner and head-and-shoulder above your competition. It is still quite surprising when I learn businesses do absolutely nothing about improving their local search rankings. For newer establishments it is understandable (although not excusable) if they’re not spending a lot of resources on local search, but it is absolutely inexcusable for larger, more established firms.

Local search marketing has started to pick up, and if my predictions are correct, it will blow off pretty soon, thanks to Google Panda (updates to Google’s search engine, which now places more emphasis on local search results).

Here’s what you can do to stake your claim on Google Places, and establish a good online presence to enhance your local search visibility and ranking:

1. List your business on Google Places: If you’re the owner of an established business, the first thing that you need to do is have yourself listed on Google’s business directory, aka. Google Places (if you aren’t already listed). It is as simple as going on Google Places, signing up and filling it out with your business information. Do the same with Bing and Yahoo! search.

2. Put complete contact and location information on your website: This includes a proper address phone number, and any other details essential to determining your business’s location. This makes your listing more trustworthy as well as improves usability. Above all, it helps Google ‘find’ you and helps displays those results so that others can find you as well, improving local search rankings. Personally, I would urge business owners to make separate ‘contact/contact us’ pages for their businesses, add it to the menu/navigation-bar so that it is easily accessible and add all contact information there.

3. Make sure that you enter the same information everywhere: consistency with the information that you put in is essential, regardless of where it goes on the internet. The same principle applies when a piece of information (such as phone no., address, etc.) of your business changes – you need to update the information on all places that it was listed on. In order to be consistent, create a business listing file for your organization – which includes complete business information – and store it somewhere centrally for easy access.
4. Make multiple pages if your business has multiple branches/stores/locations: Pretty self-explanatory. If your business has branches, stores or exists in more than one place, city or country, make separate pages for each location, in order to enhance your chances of showing up in the Google results.

5. Home Page Header Tag: Very important to use your business’s location as one of the keywords in the home page meta information. For instance if you’re running a paper company, the title of your website’s homepage should read: Dunder Mifflin | Best Paper in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

6. Look beyond Google Place: in order to be found online and have a strong presence on the internet, it is also important to look at other places where you can have your business listed. Yelp, for instance, is a popular service that provides online local search capabilities, including the name of places the user might be seeking, along with the business location, address, contact numbers, office hours, as well as a 5-star based rating and reviews. FourSquare is another popular location-based social networking service, which has a lot of users (mostly used by people on their smartphones), and lets people ‘check-in’ to place, sending an update of where they are to everyone in the friend list, and leave recommendations, tips about businesses and the like. Extremely essential for your business to be listed on these services.

7. Reviews: Online reviews provide a trustworthy, reliable source of information about a business, particularly if a business has a large number of positive reviews. Reviews are also detrimental to your local search rankings, if you have reviews, Google will definitely rank your website, and if it has a large number of them, expect your website to be ranked quite high on the local rankings. Ask for reviews from your customers. Check which of them have Gmail accounts and ask them to leave reviews about their experience. Ask people that walk in to your store or purchase a product for review. You could even try giving them an incentive to do so.

8. Online Directories: Get yourself listed in online directories: there are tons of them out there. Getting as many listings (aka. citation) as possible is better. Try the Internet Yellow Pages, and for starters. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Looking at Your Website from Google’s Perspective

Ever since the Panda first saw the light of day, Google has been hard at work, releasing algorithm updates to its search engine after every couple of months, at times even weeks. For instance in 2012, Google announced 40 updates in February, while another 50 were announced in March!

The purpose of these updates, as most of you would know, is to find and de-index low quality websites that don’t provide people with high-quality content, and ranking the websites that do provide better content and rank them as high as possible. At least that is what Google claims is the purpose of these updates.

There has been suspicion and secrecy about what exactly is Google’s criteria when it comes to evaluating websites and the methods used by Google to rank certain pages lower or higher than others.

Luckily, there are quite a few tools out there – free and paid – that enable you to look at your website from Google’s perspective – the way Google and its bots look at your website. These tools are extremely essential, in the sense that they let you look at certain elements of your website and your SEO that Google considers to be important, especially in terms of your organic search.

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these products in any way. The following is quite simple an honest review of the products that I’ve personally used)

1. Google Webmaster Tools

A lot of SEOs and webmasters don’t use this, but in order to understand how Google works, why not go to Google. Webmaster Tools is a free service, which is beginner-friendly and explains the basics of how Google Search functions well.

What it does is that it lets you see how Google views webpages and what criteria it deems important, which of these things are high-up Google’s assessment list, and the parameters that are used by Google search algorithms.

After you sign up at Webmaster Tools, you can see which keywords Google looks at when it crawls your website. This makes it extremely simple to see and assess if your keyword strategy really is up to par or not, and also if you need to be ranking for keywords that you’re targeting.

Furthermore, Webmaster Tools also lets you see the number of search queries and the CTR for each keyword.  

Another rather excellent aspect of Webmaster Tools is its diagnostics section – it lets you check for potential malware and crawl errors. The former can get your site blocked and de-indexed pretty quickly, the latter stop search engine crawlers from indexing your site completely, which could mean that parts of your website are never indexed. 

2. SEOmoz PRO

Another gem of a tool for SEOs, SEOmoz scans your blog/website and conducts a comprehensive and complete evaluation of all of its SEO-critical aspects. Be warned however that it takes time to prepare the report (sometimes even up to a week!).

The tool provides you with information on how your pages rank, how Google crawls your website, as well as individual aspects of your SEO such as URL, title, meta information, links and common yet critical SEO errors that are found on your website. Furthermore, it then presents its own recommendations on what you can do to help Google find your website.

One of the best features of this tool is its ability to let you see the SEO of as many as three of your competitors. It does this in a side-by-side manner and lets you see the strengths and weaknesses of your SEO at a glance, and how your efforts fare against your competition. This is brilliant if you want to know how or what exactly your competitors are doing and where potential opportunities are present.

The SEOmoz PRO Tool costs $99 a month to use, however it comes with a 30-day refund option, and you can cancel your subscription at any time within these 30 days if you think the service is not worth it (I highly doubt that you’ll think that!).

3. SEO Spider (by Screaming Frog)

A brilliant tool for SEMs and IMs, and designed especially for SEO’s SEO Spider crawls websites, examines the URLs for SEO issues and returns with recommendations to make optimization easier – all automatically. Doing this manually, especially with large website, is a near-impossible task, and probably something that would take ages to do. It allows for data to be exported to Excel (.CSV format), if you want to run it through further analysis.

SEO Spider assesses your on-page SEO, such as meta information for all posts and pages, images for ALT information, titles and headlines, to name a few. The lite version is free to use, but comes with limited features.

4. Broken Link Checker (by CheckMyLinks)

One of the worst things that could happen to your SEO is broken links. Having broken links (internal or external) simply destroys your SEO efforts, however that is where Broken Links Checker comes in. It comprehensively scans your website from A to Z, in particular the links. Or if you choose, it can also simply scan a single webpage instead. One of the best aspects of this tool is that it takes just a few seconds to do so (although it does depend on the size of your website).

The program then highlights the legit, working links in green, and the broken ones in red, on the page itself. This makes it easy for you to simply spot the ones that are no longer working, and helps you to replace those links. You can also do this before the page goes live, which lets you make the required corrections before the page ever sees the light of day and well before it is indexed.

The tool even gives you the total number of broken and good links on the page in a separate box.

And the best part? The tool is totally free to use! 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

5 Brilliant Ways of Building Backlinks

Building backlinks can be a tedious and a cumbersome job for any and all SEOs and SEMs, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yes, you’ll probably be resigned on spending a large chunk of your time on this practice, which is basically why a lot of marketers, SEO specialists, blog owners and webmasters  avoid doing it or simply choose to ignore it – a damn shame if you ask me, because backlinking and building backlinks is the backbone of good SEO.

The fact of the matter is that if you choose to ignore the power of backlinks, you’re not only missing out on a large chunk of traffic, you’re also missing out on revenue and maybe even some serious money!

It is downright foolish to ignore SEO, especially backlinking and the importance of inbound links to your content. In my opinion, the reason most bloggers choose to do so is lack of information and not know how to get links to their content.

Here are 5 great ways of getting excellent, powerful backlinks to your content that actually send you traffic back to your blog:

1.  Competitor’s Backlinks

This for me easily has to be one of the best ways of getting good backlinks to your blog – checking what your competition is doing. There are tons of tools that let you do precisely this (a quick Google search on ‘how to check competitor backlinks will bring up quite a few results). One of the good ones out there is Open Site Explorer, worth checking out. The free version of the aforementioned software provides you with information on where the links are coming from, however it would be a far better choice to invest in the premium version which offers you with quite more insight.
Use these tools to find where you competitors are getting that link juice from – a blog, resource page(s), publication, or other websites in your niche perhaps. Get in touch with the authors of those blogs directly, offering them an article that you did, which could be put on their blogs. Don’t ask or beg for links, offer them an incentive or at the very least something in return (in this case, you’re giving them valuable content for their blogs).

2. Be Visitor-Oriented, Instead of being Google-Oriented

This especially holds true after Google’s recent updates to how its search engine functions and indexes pages. Google and its bots are progressively getting smarter, and especially after the ‘Penguin’ update, Google now places special emphasis and focus on quality, valuable content, and has started penalizing ‘over-optimized’ websites.
As a result, Google has now started to rank blogs and websites that provide such valuable and quality content much higher than others, and determine its worth based on how well it serves the people, rather than if it is just built for Google – something that could now get you in some serious hot water, and cost you all of your traffic and revenue.
Yes, links will always be important. However it is also equally important to focus on creating a site filled with content useful, and is valuable to people. Following such a model will always be beneficial to you, especially in the long run, as such websites will almost always be able to withstand any changes that Google may make to its search engine. Also, ‘good’ websites will provide the reader with excellent content, automatically boosting enegagement, traffic, the time someone spends on your website, and above all, useful content will automatically be shared by people.

3. Guest Posting

Guest posting on good on  many levels: it gets you more traffic (obvious), it is good for exposure and recognition, and allow you to build free links. If you guest blog somewhere regularly, you can easily build links consistently, even to your old articles.
Guest blogging on more than one blog, especially high-PR, authority blogs, get you invaluable link-juice. Inbound links from these authority blogs will most certainly make Google sit up and take notice. Do this on a consistent basis and you’ll soon build up an invaluable network of backlinks on these blog, linking to your new as well as old content.

4. Roundups

A roundup is an all-inclusive and exhaustive collection of articles, resources, products and services that covers one topic extensively. It could be a 101, a guide or anything else – it has to be really extensive. Add links to these roundups, which would mean that you are linking out to hundreds of people – most of whom are likely to link back to you as well (or at the very least, share your post on social mediums), giving you many valuable backlinks easily!
Furthermore, these sorts of posts will also get a lot of visits, as they tend to provide a lot people with solutions to their problems, all in one single place. People will also share, and maybe even bookmark these posts for later referral.

5. Creating a Blog that Looks Good

Ask yourself this: what are your own chances of staying on a blog for a long time if it looks beautiful (and maybe sharing the content), rather than staying on a blog which doesn’t looks good at all?
While it may not be the most important factor when it comes to building backlinks, having an attractive-looking blog, which looks good, certainly does play an important role here. It is good for conversions, it increases the chances that people will respond to your CTA, it will help reduce your bounce rate, and above all, it encourages people to read the content of your blog.
What’s the use of all the backlinks and traffic in the world, of people aren’t staying on your blog for a very long period of time? Because even if you are getting a lot of inbound traffic, a high-bounce rate would do your blog no good. You want people to stick around and read your stuff.
In addition, it has also been proven by research that people tend to trust well-designed blogs more than poorly-designed ones. Trust worthy blogs will automatically generate more links, and more people will share them within their social circles.
As far as actual backlinking is concerned, many websites on the internet let you submit well-designed websites (or their logos), and get backlinks for it. Plus, an attractive blog might even have someone do an article on it and use your blog as a case-study!