Friday, 31 August 2012

How to Use Blog Commenting as a Tool to Generate Traffic

Traffic is, without a shadow of a doubt, the single-most important thing for your blog. The more, the merrier.

I like to think of traffic as being ‘blogging currency’ – the more you have of it, the better!

The purpose of all SEO campaigns is generating as much traffic and brining as many people on your blog as possible. One of the ways of going about doing that, is blog commenting.

Blog Commenting

Blog commenting is the process of going on other blogs on the internet that might be similar to yours, and posting a constructive, non-spam comment on the articles there, with the purpose of (a) sharing your knowledge and expertise with other, like-minded people in your niche, (b) generate a backlink to your blog, and (c) drive traffic to your blog from a source which probably gets many visitors every day.

Blog Commenting Strategy and Advantages

If you intend on making commenting a part of your SEO, and use it to generate traffic to your blog, it is important to create a list of blogs that would (a) give you a high-PR backlink, and (b) are more likely to allow you to drive traffic to your blog.

For this purpose, choose a high-PR (short for Page Rank) blog to comment on. These are usually ‘authority’ blogs that get a lot of targeted traffic on a daily basis, and also receive a lot of comments and feedback on each of the published posts – which means that any link that you leave would probably have a chance of being seen by a lot of people, from your own niche.

Couple that with the fact that a high-PR backlink would have a very good effect on the Page Rank of your own blog, means that blog commenting could end up becoming a highly successful and profitable SEO strategy for you.

In addition, check the activity and visitor levels of a blog. The most simplest and straightforward way of doing so is checking the amount of comments that each post on the said blog receives. The higher, the better. A high number of comments means that the blog in all likelihood receives a great deal of visitors, meaning more exposure.

Commenting on blogs and the ability to drive in traffic this way provides exposure to your blog and its content. Exposure is essential; after all what good is your blog if nobody is reading it?

Lastly, look for blogs that offer a ‘do-follow’ backlink, such as blogs using the CommentLuv plugin for instance. CommentLuv-enabled blogs reward every commenter with a do-follow backlink that is index-able by search engines as well.

Things to be Careful of When Posting a Comment

First and foremost, it is important to post comments that make sense, are constructive, non-spam, thought-provoking and/or take the conversation ahead. Personally, I’m not a very big fan of one or two-word comments such as ‘Great post!’ or ‘Thanks!’, which don’t end up adding anything to the post.

Contribute something, with your words, write something constructive and valuable which would benefit everyone involved in the conversation. If you want to say thanks to the author for the post, use the thanks or the ‘like’ button – they’re there for a purpose!

By leaving a comment that adds to the conversation, you don’t only come across as an intelligent person, you also establish yourself as an authority on the matter – someone who knows what he’s talking about – allowing you to get the respect of your peers. Think about it: if you come across as an authority on the matter, people will be automatically more inclined to hear what you have to say about certain matters, and hence more likely to click on your links.

So in a way, posting well-written comments is a great way of marketing your blog!

In addition, always make an effort to use correct grammar and punctuation.

And finally, make sure that you post your comments on a blog that is relevant to yours, so that you get a relevant backlink to your blog.

Do’s and Don’ts in the World of Blog Commenting

- DO make relevant comments – that are on-topic and relevant to the content of the post.
- DON’T leave a comment just for the sake of it; only comment when you have something to say!
- DO post an informative and useful comment.
- DON’T copy other people’s comments, post your own thoughts and provide your own insight on the subject matter.
- DO comment on a high-PR blog, that also receives a lot of traffic.
- DON’T ever spam; spam comments are likely to get you banned from the blog, and will do your blog harm instead of any good.
- DO leave short comments, which are to-the-point and easy to read.
- DON’T be offensive or attack someone personal (including their beliefs) in the comments section. Avoid being a troll. You can be controversial if you want, you can have a differing opinion, but it is always important to know where to draw the line.
- DON’T excessively promote your content (such as by leaving too many links in your comments). Simply put the URL of your blog where it asks for it, and post a genuine comment in the comments section. Just like what you do with your content, write for the people, and avoid excessive promotion that will only put people off.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Writing and Creating Great Content for Your Blog

While there might be many different aspects when it comes to creating a successful blog (and becoming a successful blogger), content remains one of the most important.

Content is central to your blog success; it is the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful blog. Good content can propel your blog towards unprecedented success, but a blog which fails to produce quality content will not only lose its traffic, it will not be able to attract any new loyal followers and will ultimately end up falling flat on its face.

So then, the question really is, how can you (or what can you do to) produce, create, craft and market great content for your blog on a consistent basis – that provides value to, and engages a large group of visitors, successfully building a large, loyal traffic base?

Here’s how:

1. Know Your Audience

Every good marketing campaign begins with identifying your target audience, and determining your niche. As someone who will be marketing his content on a regular basis, you should know who exactly it is to whom you’ll be marketing it to.

Knowing your target audience is essential, especially in the beginning. Doing this will allow you to know who exactly you’re writing for, letting you tailor your content accordingly.

The ability to tailor your content for your potential and existing readers will be crucial when it comes to attracting targeted traffic to your blog!

2. Quality over Quantity, Always!

When it comes to writing, remember that quality always takes precedence over quantity. How much (or how little) you write is irrelevant, but what really counts is how well you write. A well-written 500 word article will always be better than an badly-written 2000 word piece. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t write long articles, however the amount of words in an article should never be a priority.

Write quality, write well and get your point across without worrying about writing long or short posts.

3. Provide Readers with Value

Using your writing to provide your readers with value is one of the best things you can do with your blog to ensure that you end up creating the best possible content for it. For instance think how you can write content that is valuable to the readers in your niche or industry. What can you do that no one else is doing, how can you be different, how can stand out from the crowd?

Maybe you can give advice, provide statistics, provide your readers with breaking news and be the first one to do so, or something else.

Remember that the purpose of your blogging effort is to make the lives of people easier on some way or the other. How you go about doing that depends on you!

4. Use Words and Terms that People Can Relate To

Your writing should reflect that you know about, and are aware of the trends, buzz-words and jargon that is commonly used in the industry. Use words, phrases and terms that people who will be most interested in reading your content can actually relate to. Speak their language!

Doing so will allow you to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition, sound fresh and of course, compete for less-competitive keywords/phrases or maybe even newer keywords that no one else in industry might be using.

5. Be Consistent

Consistent in terms of (a) the theme of your content, and (b) the frequency at which you churn out content. Lets look at both individually:

The general theme of your posts needs to be consistent. If you write on politics, avoid writing on sports or technology – it is irrelevant to the theme of your blog, your posts and will probably be useless information for readers.

Secondly, be consistent in actually how frequently you write your posts. I know that it is easier said than done, and most people (especially those who single-handedly manage their own blogs) might not be able to produce content on a daily basis due to certain constraints. However the good news is that you don’t need to. Do your blogging on the weekends, or try putting up a new post twice a week by working on it a little bit every day before going to sleep. However make sure that you write well and produce the best that you possibly can.

6.  Write Compelling Titles

Your post title or headline should be so compelling, it should draw people in to read what you have to say. Be creative when coming up with a title. For instance you could quantify your post (e.g. 10 Ideas for Interesting Post Titles) or try using adjectives to hype it up (15 Outstanding Strategies to Create Mind-Blowingly Good Content for your Blog).

Don’t forget to back it up with actually delivering what your promised through your content.

7. Stay on Top of Industry News

Creating great content involves a lot of know-how, information and knowledge about whatever it is that you’re writing. Keeping on top of industry trends, news and the happenings is essential; without this knowledge you’ll essentially have nothing to write about.

By keeping yourself updated and on top of what happens in your niche, you get material to work with, stuff to write about, and create some truly great articles.

Subscribe to the RSS and email alerts of any and all of the best websites in your niche. Follow and subscribe to the industry leaders. Watch trending hashtags. Use Google Alerts to subscribe for alerts for keywords relevant to your niche.

8. Do Interviews

People want access to industry leaders. They want to know their opinions, thoughts and what they might have to say about things happening within the industry. You can use your blog to do precisely this.

Try getting access to someone who’s seen as an authority in your niche. Send out a well-written email, with the objective of setting up time for an appointment, and requesting him or her for an interview. Come up with a list of questions you’d want to ask during the interview (ask your Facebook/Twitter/blog followers if they would want to ask something too!) and record your session on camera.

Remember that if you cannot physically meet up with the said person, you don’t need to. You can go for a Skype-based interview, over the phone, text-chat or simply send in your list of questions via email.

Alternatively, you can also ask people in your niche to use your product (or service) and ask for their opinion on what they think of your product and your brand. An endorsement for someone who’s an established, authority player in the field would do your sales wonders!

9. Use Images and Videos

Pretty self-explanatory. Long walls of text without any images are boring. Add images (relevant images) to spice things up.

Avoid adding excessive amounts of pictures or images though; it’ll only take attention off your write-up and make your post look like an untidy mess. Use images moderately, and only where needed. A picture speaks a thousand words, as they say!

In a similar way, embed Youtube videos to your posts where required. For instance if you’re doing a tutorial post, add videos off Youtube where required.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

2012’s List of the Best iPhone Apps for Bloggers

I’ll start off with a question: when on-the-go, what’s the one thing that’s better than managing your blog on your laptop?

The ability to do just that on the phone!

And why wouldn’t you, given the plethora of impressive apps available on the iOS platform for this purpose. Here is a list of the best 7 iPhone (and iPad) apps for bloggers that make managing each and every aspect of your blog, on the go, a really simple and easy process. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, and while there are quite literally an unlimited number of blogging apps on the iOS platform, these 7 are ‘must-haves’ for any blogger out there!

Best iPhone Apps for Bloggers

1. Wordpress (official iPhone app):

An absolute must-have, especially if you manage one or more of your blogs on the Wordpress platform!

The official Wordpress app makes managing each element of your Wordpress blog(s) simple. Wordpress successfully manages to bring a lot of the features of the web-based interface to the table with this app.

For starters, you can add multiple blogs to the app – as many as you want. Once done, each blog can be managed independently. You can create new posts, edit the posts, add images or videos, and publish it right from your phone, without the need to log into Wordpress from a desktop or a laptop. You can even view basic traffic stats for a blog right from the app.

The app comes in pretty handy when you’re travelling to cover an event, for instance, or if inspiration strikes at the worst of times. Simply fire the app up and write away!

If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend that you keep this app on the phone at all times. It can be downloaded free of cost from the App Store.

2. HootSuite

HootSuite remains my social media management app-of-choice. The service lets you add and manage multiple social media profiles – including Facebook, Google Plus, My Space, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare, to name a few. Once you have the service set up, you can manage all your social media profiles from a single window – send out (and schedule!) tweets and updates, track trends, check your mentions, and of course, get statistics on your social media profiles through the built-in analytics.

HootSuite can also be integrated with your Wordpress blog, and can then be used to send updates and generate traffic for your blog from all your social profiles.

The HootSuite iPhone app lets you do all this, right from your phone. Instead of opening each app individually (Facebook app, Twitter app, etc) and signing-into different account to send out an update, use HootSuite instead to share and send any and all updates straight from your blog to all your social profiles in a single go. Saves you a ton of time and hassle, and makes the process of getting traffic off social mediums all the more simpler!

HootSuite is a free download on the App Store.

3. Pocket

Pocket, formerly known as ‘Read it Later’, is another great free app. The app should be an essential part of your blogging-on-the-go arsenal, especially if you do a lot (or even a fraction) of your internet browsing and surfing on your phone.

The concept is pretty simple. Let’s say that you were browsing on the internet and stumbled upon something funny or interesting. Perhaps even something that could immensely help you with that piece you’re thinking of doing on the weekend for one of your blogs.

Or maybe you’re busy doing research for one of your blog posts, and find an article that you find interesting and might want to go over in detail later.

Pocket lets you save that webpage or the article, and easily view it later. The best aspect about this service is that it seamlessly synchronizes the saved article, webpage, video or just about anything on the internet across all your devices (in Dropbox-like manner) – including your phone, tablet, desktop or laptop so that you can view it no matter where you might be. Once an article has been ‘pocketed’ you won’t even require an internet connection to view it!

The Pocket for iOS app integrates with your phone, allowing you to ‘Pocket’ or save from Safari, Opera or about 300 different apps and browsers on the platform! It comes with great search functionality as well.

Once again, it is a free download on the App Store.

4. Blogger

If Blogger (or Blogspot, as it is sometimes referred to) is your blogging-platform/CMS-of-choice, the Blogger for iOS should be an essential part of your phone.

The app itself is similar in functionality to its Wordpress counterpart – you can create new posts, edit and update new and existing posts, add multimedia and of course publish them on your Blogger blog… the whole deal. You can also edit labels and location information. If you have multiple Blogger blogs, you can add them all up to the app, and switch between and manage them from the app.

The app has a great inrerface, is quick, powerful and is a free download on the App Store. For Blogger fans, it doesn’t get any  better than this.

5. Evernote

Evernote is a brilliant service – with Evernote, you can capture, record or save just about anything – online or offiline. I’m talking about stuff like ideas, images, webpages, sounds, to-do lists, interesting statuses or tweets, scanned images, documents, maps and a whole lot of other stuff!

The service then syncs everything you saved ‘on the cloud’ (Dropbox/Pocket-style) and makes it accessible from anywhere where there’s internet access.

This alone makes the app totally worth it, however it also comes with a set of other features. Apart from the fact that you can use it to remember things, save stuff off the internet, and then access your files from anywhere, you can also use Evernote when researching for an assignment or a blog post, and use it to collaborate with colleagues, friends or of course, your blog co-authors and publishers. The possibilities with this app are quite literally, endless!

I strongly suggest keeping Evernote in your phone at all times, and actually using it to organize your thoughts, and of course crafting that next best blog post for your blog.

6. WhatTheFont

How many times have we come across a fantastic-looking font on a webpage, in an article, or somewhere else, only to find that there’s just no way of knowing which font it is, or what its called.

Until now!

Now, there is a way of knowing the exact name of any great font you might come across, and it comes in the form of an iPhone app called WhatTheFont.

The app will assist you in recognizing any font that you come across by taking a photo of a word or a sentence, and running it through the service’s database. And voila! It will recognize the font and give you a name.

With this app, you now have the freedom of using just about any font that you might come across on your blog. Font remains one of the most important and essential aspects of any blog, and you can now easily improve the appearance of readability of your blog by simply copying a great-looking font off another source!

The app is a free download on the iTunes App Store.

7. Analytics App

Analytics for iPhone is like having a fully-functional Google Analytics dashboard on your iPhone. Setting it up is pretty easy and straightforward, and once done, you get full access to your Google Analytics suite right on your phone.

Also available on the iPhone, Analytics provides instant access to all data and statistics that are available to you on the web service – no matter where you might be – such as the main dashboard, visitors and traffic information, content overview, and the like. Each main category opens up further sub categories, just like the browser version. You can therefore access 55 different reports on your phone using the app!

Needless to say, an excellent app, and an essential one to have on your phone, for every website owner, blog owner, webmaster and of course internet marketer!

Personally, I think the app is so good, I rarely log into my browser-based dashboard now! Even when on the desk, firing away the Analytics app on the iPhone is much more convenient. And the app provides you with one-touch access to a plethora of different reports.

The Analytics app is a $6.99 purchase from the iTunes App Store.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Advantages of Blogging

I’ve been a blogger for a few months now, and I have got to say, the decision to start that very first blog was one of the best decisions I ever made!

The fact that a significant number of people have taken up blogging professionally, and are doing it 9 to 5 was pretty surprising to say the least. However I can totally see why – it’s a very rewarding experience on many different levels!

Setting up and starting your own blog is as easy as anything. And while I won’t be getting into the specifics of how to go about doing that, here is a list of things on why anyone who can even string together a few sentences in English should give blogging a go:

1.  A blog will allow you to get the word out about yourself. If you’re an expert in your field, having a blog will provide you with a lot of exposure, and will allow you to build a personal brand for yourself. This can lead to some truly excellent career opportunities as well; potential employers could find you through your blog, and even if they don’t, saying that you have a blog during your interview will only enhance your reputation!

2. A blog will allow you to be seen as an authority figure in your niche. As stated in the point above, a blog will help you get the word out about yourself. If you’re an expert in your field, and are knowledgeable in what you do, you can be seen as an authority figure in your niche – online as well as offline, globally. A blog will enable you to become one!

3. A blog will help you control your reputation. Blogging is one of the best ways of communicating and interfacing directly with your audience. Plus almost all potential employers will look you up on Google before hiring you. If you have a blog, the control over your online reputation will be in your own hands. For instance celebrities often use Twitter (a micro-blogging platform) to clear up misconceptions or false news about published about them in tabloids, and this way, people get the chance to hear ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’.

4. A blog can be a great source of income! This is common knowledge now, in fact, a large chunk of people are now earning their bread solely and exclusively through their blogs! However it is totally unrealistic to expect to have to money flow in overnight; building a blog that becomes your primary source of income takes hardwork, dedication, effort and a long time – usually years. However bloggers such as Darren Rowse have been successfully able to do it, and are now making a good amount of money through their blogging efforts. AdSense, affiliate marketing, eBooks, ads… there are plenty of sources that you can look into for making a buck or two online.

5. A blow will allow you to network and connect with other people in your niche or industry. Once you establish yourself as an authority and actually start getting some traffic and exposure, people from your own niche will hear about you, get in touch with you through the comments section on your blog. This might even allow you to meet and speak with some of the biggest names in the industry, from all over the world – the chance to connect and network with industry leaders is quite enticing and who know, you might even be able to be part of gatherings, attend conference or seminars or the like. You may even make some good friends along the way.

6. A blog will allow you to pick-up new skills and allow you to learn. You’ll pick new things up related to your industry/niche, as well as many other skills related to social media, analytics, computers and technology, etc. Plus when you start to write, you’ll research first, you’ll learn a lot during this process. When someone posts a constructive comment on your blog, you might pick up a thing or two from the conversation. And of course, you’ll also get the chance to considerably improving your writing, research, public relations and time-management skills constantly!

7. A blog will provide you with a lot of professional opportunities. Once you start getting ranked on Google and get some exposure, people will be able to find you easily. This might even land you freelance gigs, writing opportunities, getting hired for various gigs, conduct trainings, speak at seminars, do a show on TV, speak for a radio talk-show or something else. You could even start offering your service for a fee, and people looking for such services and expertise will be able to contact and get in touch with you easily.

8. A blog will allow you to speak your mind. – put your thoughts on paper, question things, highlight issues of the utmost importance, vent your frustrations… basically have your say on the internet. Think of it as a way to share some valuable advice or knowledge with the world!

9. A blog is a good way to stay busy. It’s become a hobby for many people who don’t have any other hobbies, or are leading a retired life. It allows them to stay busy, and keeps them occupied.