Archive for February 11th, 2012

Is Perfectionism Stalling Your Productivity?

We’ve all been there … You sit down to write a post. You get the opening line down, but half-way through the second sentence, you go back to tweak the first. A bit further on, you decide to chop up the paragraphs you’ve done so far and rearrange them … but on second thought, is that really the better option?

In two minds, you “finish” the post, then spend a half-hour writing and rewriting the “ideal” headline.

Finally, happy(ish!) your cursor hovers over the Publish button … but you just can’t press it. You decide to give it some time, and come back tomorrow, when you know you’ll end up rewriting the whole thing from scratch using the same “process.”

Meanwhile, your blog’s getting more dated by the minute. Your regular publishing schedule has gone out the window, and you’re miles behind on your blogging goals.

Perfectionism: the ultimate time drain?

Back in the days of print, things had to be perfect before they were published. There are certainly plenty of great reasons for making sure your content is as good as it can be before you publish it. Yet die-hard perfectionism holds many a blogger back from achieving their full potential.

I’ve seen it many times online—and discussed it with plenty of bloggers, from all walks of life and areas of the blogosphere, over the years.

In How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog, Jennifer Blanchard lists perfectionism as one of the main reasons why people procrastinate.

As someone who’s started more than 20 blogs in my time—and wound up quite a few too!—it’s safe to say I’ve got a pretty good handle on perfectionism now. Here’s how I managed to overcome it.

  • Realize that the web is flexible: The web isn’t print. You can very easily add to, update, and tweak a published post later, either based on feedback from readers or on additional information that’s come your way since you wrote the post.
  • Understand that your readers know you’re human: Your readers don’t know just know it—they respect it. Bloggers like Jon Morrow and Leo Babauta work closely with their readers, and are happy to show their human sides. And their readers are all the more loyal for it.
  • Recognize the value you can get from using reader feedback to improve your posts: Reader feedback can add depth and perspective to your posts, and boost their usability for other readers. But the process of working with readers on your posts—crowdsourcing the icing for your blog post “cake”—can also boost the sense of community, collaboration, and engagement around your blog.
  • Respect the importance of your publishing schedule: Your posting schedule isn’t just about content—it’s about meeting reader needs. Showing up—publishing great content—is square one for bloggers. That’s where blogging starts. No content, no blog. So by using your publishing schedule as a guide—and sticking to it—you respect your readers and you’re ticking the first box on the checklist for achieving your blogging goals.
  • Realize that an incomplete post will probably attract more comments: By “incomplete,” I’m not suggesting that you stop writing before you get to the end of the post and publish it as-is! But the Blog Tyrant makes the very good point that a post that exhausts its topic “leaves readers with nowhere to go.” You don’t need to cover off every aspect of the post’s topic in order for that post to be “good.” A post that doesn’t exhaust the topic may receive more comments—and shares if the conversation becomes particularly interesting or illuminating.

Of course, we all want our posts to be factually accurate and typo-free—that’s a given. But there are also considerable advantages to letting go and seeing where a less polished post might lead…

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How is it holding your blog back? And how have you overcome it (if you’ve managed to do that!)?

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Is Perfectionism Stalling Your Productivity?


6 Powerful Guest Post Tactics that No One’s Talking About

This guest post is by Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind.

Guest posting is a hot topic amongst startup bloggers. It is one of the most widely-adopted blog promotion strategies in existence, and has been made perhaps even more popular by the success of “serial” guest posters such as Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

His “blitzkrieg” strategy may come across to some as a triumph of quantity over strategy, but nothing could be further from the truth. He understands the key concepts that we will be exploring in this post, and executes them in a highly effective manner. Whilst I am by no means as prolific as Danny, I have done my fair share of guest posting (those ten posts only being selection).

guest posting secrets

Image courtesy guigo.eu, licensed under Creative Commons

If you care to read any of the numerous guest posting guides available across the blogosphere, you will typically read about advice relating to the same two topics:

  • how to find guest posting opportunities
  • how to get your post approved.

That is what beginner bloggers want to know, as they assume that a successfully published blog post is a job well done. However, attracting a visitor to your site only represents a job half done. The ultimate success of guest posting is determined by a key fundamental cherished by marketers worldwide: the conversion.

What is a conversion?

Contrary to what some people seem to think, attracting a visitor to your site via a guest post does not represent a successful conversion. When I talk of conversions, I am talking along the lines of email subscribers, social media followers, and/or  sales. A conversion (1) increases your income, (2) results in the acquisition of an asset, or (3) achieves both. Whilst a sale offers you immediate income, an email address has intrinsic value too (it is an asset to your blog).

Don’t believe me? You only have to read the news. A lawsuit was recently filed by a company seeking damages against a previous employee relating to a Twitter account. The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article:

[The company is] seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000.

Now it will be interesting to see what precedent (if any) is set by this case, but the key thing to bear in mind is the concept that a social media account has an intrinsic value. Even more specifically, a value has been placed upon each and every follower. A social media account is an asset in the right hands, as is an email list. And the investment you place in guest posting can offer you a direct return in terms of asset growth.

I don’t want to get too deep into marketing fundamentals here, but this post is written with the understanding that you know what you want from your guest posting strategy. And that is to get more conversions. So with that said, let’s take a look at the six steps that lead to conversion-heavy guest posts.

1. Relevance

People get hung up on the size of blogs that they plan to guest post on. It is not unusual to hear “I’ll only write for a blog if it has more than 3,000 subscribers,” along with similar statements, based upon arbitrary numbers. But the size of the blog is not nearly as important as its relevance.

When targeting blogs for which you can write a guest post that converts, you need to find common ground. There needs to be a point at which the majority of the combined readership intersects. This is far more of an art than a science, but there is a sliding scale when it comes to selecting the right blog to guest post on.

You could argue that it is better to write on a huge blog with less relevance than a small blog with high relevance, but I don’t think that debate can be resolved one way or the other. You may as well ask how long a piece of string is. Having said that, I am personally far more comfortable writing for a blog where the subject matter aligns closely.

There is in fact a whole other side to relevance that I have not yet covered. More on that later.

2. Quality

You may never have considered this, but the quality of the blog upon which you guest post can make all the difference. I once wrote a guest post for a particular blog that was highly relevant to my niche. I felt very confident about its ability to offer me a solid number of conversions.

Unfortunately, the blog was somewhat unloved (I’m being kind here), with a completely inconsistent posting schedule. Not in a Social Triggers, “the post will come when it will come, and it will be awesome” kind of way, but in a “I have no idea when the next post is coming, and I don’t really care” kind of way. The blog author was clearly too preoccupied to put any effort into the post, and threw it up at completely the wrong time of day with little to no active promotion whatsoever.

That guest post offered little traffic, and by extension, few conversions. Just to give you a bit of context, the blog in question has an Alexa traffic rank of around 50,000, and its Twitter account has over 10,000 followers.

The lesson is clear: only post on blogs that are well-loved. If a blogger doesn’t love their blog, its subscribers certainly won’t. And by extension, you will receive little to no traffic.

3. Engagement

This point takes me back to the typical argument that states you should only post on high-traffic blogs, and reminds me that as an absolute statement, it offers no value. A big, defining factor in how successful your guest post will be is how active the blog’s community is. Blogs with a relatively high comment count usually indicate a high level of engagement. If a blog’s community is highly engaged with the owners’ posts, they are far more likely to take interest in a guest post.

On a blog with a readership that respects its author, your post will carry a level of preordained value. The reader likes what the author does, the author likes what you do, therefore the reader should also like what you do.

I was taught this lesson in a big way with one of my more recent guest posts. I wrote a post that was highly relevant to both audiences, submitted it and waited to see the results of my labor. The results were a six-fold increase in visits over my average guest post and an elevated conversion rate. This blog was in fact of a similar size in terms of readership to the one mentioned above. The difference was in the quality, and in the engagement. Each of the author’s posts attracts numerous comments, and you can see that his readers hung off every morsel of advice handed out. That passion transferred nicely to my post.

But that post wasn’t successful solely because of high engagement levels. As I already mentioned, the quality of the blog was high, but there was another beneficial factor at play. Which was…

4. Volume

Generally speaking, a high volume of posts is beneficial to a blog. The more posts, the higher the exposure. However, that does not prove to be the case when it comes to guest posting.

If your guest post gets lost below the fold within a few hours or just a day, its exposure will be highly limited. And even a high-quality post can’t fight against a lack of exposure. Content may be king, but marketing is its overbearing queen.

There are of course clear exceptions, but the relative lack of exposure must be married with a high readership (which is of course the case with ProBlogger).

You can suffer from a lack of exposure even when volume is relatively low. If you come across a poor-quality blog, you may well find that a blogger has no problem with publishing your guest post literally hours before publishing a post of his own, almost as an afterthought (yes, this happened to me).

Part of a guest post’s success relies upon its exposure, so make sure that the post you have put a great deal of work into actually appears above the fold for a reasonable amount of time.

5. Type

Now we get into the tactics regarding the actual makeup of your post. I am not talking about the importance of spelling and grammar (although they are of course key considerations). I am talking about writing posts that stand out from the crowd.

Let’s be honest: most posts you see are a dime a dozen. But that actually works to your advantage—you just need to work that little bit longer to set yourself apart. Let’s take a look at the factor you need to consider.

Surprise with size

There is this strange misconception floating around the web that you must write short blog posts. As you might have gathered from the length of this post, I do not subscribe to that belief. If you are writing interesting and engaging content, people will find the time to read it.

Make it pretty

Since your post is going to be long, you don’t want to intimidate readers with long blocks of text. Regardless of how fascinating your insights are, you’re writing a blog post—not a book. Don’t try to fight the system!

So take some time to make your post pretty. Break your writing down into short paragraphs, and allow the reader to scan your text by highlighting important words and sentences with bold and italics (if permitted by the blog owner). Include plenty of sub-headers, and insert colorful and interesting images.

Write for engagement

There are two post styles that consistently perform well, regardless of how fed up you are with them as a writer. If you are going to guest post, you will get the most traction from stories and list posts.

We all know why list posts are so successful—they are highly scannable, great for sharing, and appeal to our natural desire for actionable elements. The exact same content presented in paragraph format would tank when compared to a list post format. People want to know what they are getting from reading your article—a list post appeals to that desire.

Stories are good for two reasons when it comes to guest posting. First of all, everyone loves a good story. When Darren Rowse spoke at Blog World Expo 2011, he remarked that story-driven posts are the ones that people seem to remember the most.

The introduction of a story to a post achieves two key things:

  1. It creates a connection. With a story, you are no longer simply words on a screen—you are a human being.
  2. They arouse our natural desire for closure. If you leave someone hanging, they are going to be far more likely to head over to your blog to find out more.

6. Byline

Now we are getting down to the nuts and bolts of what will attract visitors to your blog. The purpose of your post is to prime the reader; the purpose of the byline is to sell them on their time investment in visiting your blog. If you write a generic byline, expect a generic amount of traffic to hit your blog.

You need to appeal to what the reader wants in your byline. They don’t care that you are the writer of so-and-so blog and that you have a Facebook page. They want to know what clicking on your link is worth to them. What do you have to offer them?

This ties in closely with relevance. If the two blogs share a common topic, the byline should write itself to a extent.

Take what you’re reading right now as an example. ProBlogger “helps bloggers to add income streams to their blogs” (I’ve taken that from the About page). My blog is all about how to quit your job and work for yourself—and one of the main focuses is on professional blogging. This post is about guest posting, which ties in closely with the topic of professional blogging.

When everything aligns in such a way, the byline serves to simply make that alignment clear and leave the rest up to the reader.

7. Entry

Despite it being the last entry on the list, this is easily one of most important factors to bear in mind. You can do a great job on all the other points, but if you’re not ready for your visitor when they arrive, it could all be for naught.

When a visitors chooses to click on your link, they want more of what they have just seen. If the link leads them to your blog’s front page, where you recently posted about unrelated topics, they will quickly lose interest. You absolutely must direct the visitor to exactly what they are looking for.

So with that in mind, I am a big fan of landing pages. If you have a related product and/or mailing list, let it be the first thing they see when they arrive on your site. Remove all distractions and have them focus on the relevant piece of information, which is arguably precisely what they are looking for.

In terms of targeted visitors, you can’t do much better than guest post traffic. By virtue of the fact that they have clicked through to your site, they want to read more of the same—all you need to do is facilitate that for them.

You have two choices, depending on how hard you want to work. The first option is to direct them to the relevant part of your site. For instance, say your blog was divided up into five categories, and you wrote a guest post relating to one of those categories. Instead of sending your guest post readers to the homepage, you would direct them straight to the category page (which would of course be customized with some introductory text and a breakdown of the most popular posts).

Whilst that is an effective tactic for “hooking” the visitor, its conversion rate will not be too impressive. Such a reader may choose to bookmark you and come back at later date, or they may sign up to your RSS feed. They may even sign up to your email list. But it is all incidental—not designed.

The really high conversion rates can be found in producing a targeted landing page that incentivizes the reader to sign up to your list. Such an incentive would typically be in the form of a product—like a free guide or resource. For instance, say you wrote an article on blue widgets. Your byline would link back to a landing page offering a free guide on blue widgets in return for an email address.

Obviously, it will not be practical for you to write a new product for every guest post you write. But you can usually produce something that aligns well with multiple guest posts, and it can also be used elsewhere (say as a incentive for your standard mailing list forms).

If you follow this tactic along with the other six I have covered in this post, I am highly confident that you will see dramatically improved conversion rates from your guest posting efforts.

The key is in the testing

I have covered a lot of ground here, and have hopefully given you a lot to take away and experiment with. But remember this: there is no proven formula when it comes to guest posting. Your success will be determined by how well you implement the above advice, how often you guest post, and how quickly you learn from your experiences.

Tom Ewer is an avid blogger and internet marketer who quit his job at the end of last year to pursue his passions full-time. He recently released a free eBook: The Complete Guide To Guest Posting, which, if this post is anything to judge by, is pretty darned comprehensive. Download it now!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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6 Powerful Guest Post Tactics that No One’s Talking About


How to Succinctly Report a Blog Issue to Tech Support

This guest post is by Matthew Setter of Malt Blue.

How often do you find it happening to you? You discover an issue with your site, or one of your community members emails you to tell you about it, and soon you start to see tweets about it too.

Maybe it’s as simple as an error message that detracts from the professional appearance of your site. Perhaps the contact form doesn’t send messages to your contact email address. Or is it that the whole site just displays as a blank page, otherwise known as the white page of death?

You’re not a programmer, a software engineer or a seasoned professional systems administrator who’s responsible for the U.S. Google Data centers. You’re an accountant, an au pair, or a globe trotter who loves surfing and seeing fantastic sites around the world. Now this isn’t to diminish any of these honorable professions and ways we bloggers spend our lives; it’s just that your strong suit likely isn’t website architecture and code debugging.

What’s more, every break in your site affects your professional image and ultimately, your bottom line. So it’s important that you get the issues rectified as soon as possible, and get the show back on the road. But what do you do? What’s the best approach to take?

It’s important to report technical problems to your tech support (whether that’s one person or a dedicated support company) clearly and unambiguously, and to provide them with as much information as they need to get you up and running again, quickly.

Technical people have a bit of a reputation for being dry, blunt, impersonal, and brusque. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Like everyone else, they have their priorities and ways of approaching the work that they do, as do plumbers, dentists, lawyers, and politicians.

And, as with all people, to get the most out of them—especially when you need them—you need to talk in a way that they’re responsive to and understand. It’s a lot like writing: when you’re reporting technical issues, you need to write for your audience.

Unless your technical support person’s completely lacking in all forms of social and inter-personal skills, which is highly unlikely, here’s a set of tips to get a quick and effective solution to your problem.

Can you replicate the issue?

To be sure that the issue exists, you need to be sure that the issue is replicable, quickly and simply. Then, you need to write down the steps that you took to replicate the issue, clearly and unambiguously, so that your tech can repeat the issue themselves.

Let’s say that a page on your blog that displays a series of images about one of your products crashes when people try to view it.

Here’s how I’d report it.

  1. Open up the browser to <insert your domain name here>
  2. From the main navigation, click Products, then Books, then New York Times best-seller, then click Gallery.
  3. On that page, you will see a product image gallery with buttons to navigate through the images at the bottom-center of the page.
  4. Click through the pages, starting at one using the numbers, not the forward arrow at the end (think: Google search results navigation).
  5. When you get to page 6, the page shows nothing except what appears to be an error message, which is as follows: “Error 5000. PHP could not connect to MySQL with username <username> and password <password>.”
  6. The url of the page is: http://www.superbooks.com/products/books/nyt-best-seller/gallery/6

From this description, it’s simple for your tech support person to start at the home page of the site and, step by step, move from there to the point at which the error occurs. In addition to this, you’ve provided the URL so they can go straight to the error, as well as a copy of the error message. This provides comprehensive information to get the issue resolved.

Browser(s) and operating systems

Now whilst this information is pretty good, it’s not all that’s available. As is so common for TV salesmen to say, “but wait, there’s more!” In addition to this information, you should also provide details of the browser, browser version and the operating system that you’re using.

Whether you’re using Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera, or another of the multitude of browsers out there, put that information, along with details about your operating system, into a table similar to the one below. Include it with the information you send to tech support.

I’ve quickly prepared this one based on the technology I’m using right now.

Name

Version

Browser

Google Chrome 16.0.912.77

Operating System

Mac OS X 10.7.2, Build 11C74

Finding this information

This is all well and good you say, but how can you find this information?

Windows

To find out which windows operating system you’re using, right click on your desktop and select Properties from the menu that appears.

A dialog will display, showing your operating system under the default tab, named General.

Apple Mac

To find out the version of Mac OS X you’re running, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen, then click About This Mac.


In the window that pops up, under Mac OS X, you’ll see text that reads something like, “Version 10.7.2”. As it says, that’s the version number of the operating system. If you click on that text, it will give you a “build” number.


Browser: Google Chrome

If you’re using Google Chrome, click About (on Windows) or Chrome (on Mac) and then click About Google Chrome. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Google Chrome.

Browser: Mozilla Firefox

If you’re using Firefox, click About (on Windows) or Firefox (on Mac) and then click About Firefox. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Firefox.

Browser: Apple Safari

If you’re using Safari, click About (on Windows) or Safari (on Mac) and then click About Safari. In the window that appears you’ll see the full version number under Safari, similar to: Version 5.1.2 (7534.52.7).

Why is this important?

This information is important is because, despite appearances, not all of the modern web browsers are created equal. Though Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari all render web pages pretty closely, and more recent versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer are rapidly getting better, they each have quirks and differences between such things as their Javascript engines, and the support they provide for different aspects of web standards, such as HTML and CSS.

If you can provide this information along with the process the tech support can use to repeat the error, it really helps isolate the issue. One further thing to remember is that some specific versions of software have particular quirks or bugs that don’t exist in any others. So the operating system or browser version can be crucial in some cases.

When did it happen?

Now while all of this information is great, it’s not always enough to isolate the issue. Please don’t be despondent, though. Sometimes it’s not a browser issue as such—maybe it’s an issue relating to the web server. Maybe your site’s particularly popular and has traffic spikes which cause problems, for example.

So as well as the information you’ve already provided, let the tech know:

  • the time of day and
  • the day of the week and
  • the month when you or your readers first noticed this issue.

If the tech support is on their game and also has access to your site’s analytics, they may be able to make a correlation between the times that you report the issue occurs with the traffic loads on your site.

Maybe the error is not an error, but an indicator that you blog’s gaining in popularity, and that your audience is really starting to grow. This “error” may be an indication that you need to upgrade your hosting plan and infrastructure to cope with it.

Anything else?

What about a screenshot? Images of the issue can be very helpful for tech support.

Don’t get carried away: just capture the moments at which the error occurred and what you saw. In either Mac or Windows (and on Linux too of course) you can capture what the screen looks like in a screenshot and, using such tools as Microsoft Paint, Gimp, Paint.net, Paintshop Pro, or Adobe Photoshop, crop the image so that it’s not enormous, and to highlight the

Better support

This list isn’t everything, but it’s a good start. By providing this information as quickly as possible, you’re going to give your tech support a lot to work with, and a good head-start to help you out and resolve your issues. These details aren’t a guarantee of success, but they are much better than nothing.

So the next time you hit a problem on your site, go grab that information, put it together, and send it over to your tech support. I’m sure that they’ll appreciate you putting in such a lot of effort on their behalf. If not, I can hook you up with someone who will be!

Matthew Setter is a passionate writer, educator and software developer. He’s also the founder of Malt Blue, dedicated to helping people become better at web development.You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Google+ anytime.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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How to Succinctly Report a Blog Issue to Tech Support


Make Your Blog Load Faster than ProBlogger: Part 2

This guest post is by Devesh of WP Kube.

A few months ago, I wrote a guest post here called How to Make Your Blog Load Faster than ProBlogger. Today, I’ll go into some more detailed advice to help you speed up your site even more.

If you’re a blogger, you already know about the importance of blog loading speed, and the role it plays in search engine rank and marketing your blog. But if this is new territory for you, here are three quick reasons why you need to speed up your blog:

  1. Google includes website loading speed as an important metric in their ranking algorithm. If you want your blog to rank high in the search results, you need to make sure your blog loads faster than others.
  2. It can increase the quality of your blog’s user experience and engagement. Having a good-looking blog won’t make your readers’ experience better if it takes ages to load. You need a theme that loads fast and is well coded.
  3. It can help you decrease your bounce rate, and we all know that the lower your bounce rate, the better your chance of driving engagement and generating leads.

Before we get started, check out these five tools you can use to measure your WordPress blog’s loading speed.

1. Optimize your database

One of the very first things that a blogger needs to do is optimize your blog database and delete the post revisions. You can use phpmyadmin to clean up the database, but if you don’t want to play with phpmyadmin, you can set up WP-Optimize instead.

Make sure to remove all the unnecessary tables, old post revisions, and spam comments from your blog’s database. You can use the Better Delete Revision plugin to remove those post revisions, too.

2. Use CloudFare

CloudFlare is a (free) service that makes your blog faster, safer, and smarter. In other words, CloudFlare supercharges websites. It is a CDN service that will protect and accelerate your website, and doesn’t interfere with the WordPress Caching system (W3 Total Cache).

This plugin keeps your blog safe from the Hacking attacks, spammers, and bots by challenging them with a CAPTCHA system whenever it doubts a user’s authenticity. With this tool, you’re easily able to block the spammers’ IPs and websites with just few clicks.

3. Use the P3 plugin

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) is one of the best plugins for those wanting to see a performance report of their blog. It comes with a lot of great features, but primarily, it can show you what plugins are slowing down your blog.

It creates a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time. Often, WordPress sites load slowly because your plugins are pooly configured, or because you’re using so many of them. By using the P3 plugin, you can home in on anything that’s causing your site’s load time to slow.

Note that this plugin uses the canvas element for drawing charts and requires Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, or IE9 or later. This plugin will not work in IE8 or lower.

4. Disable hotlinking

Hotlinking is when other sites link directly to the images hosted on your blog from their blog posts or pages. This makes your server load high and decreases the loading speed of your blog.

It is very important to disable hotlinking. To do so, add the following code to your blog’s .htaccess file. Make sure to back up your .htaccess file before you begin to make any changes.

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?yourdomain.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?feeds2.feedburner.com/yourdomain [NC]
#RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ ñ [F]
#RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/stealing.gif [R,L]

Make sure to allow your feeds to display the images, however.

5. Limit front page posts

Limit the posts that are shown on your home page. Never show the full posts on the home page, because this will make your site very slow to load. Imagine you have more than eight posts on your home page, and all of them are of 600 words or more—it will likely take a significant amount of time to load the home page.

You should use the excerpts on the homepage and most other pages, instead of showing full posts. To use the excerpts, find the below code in your index.php and other pages that list posts, like archives.php, category.php, and so on.

Replace that code with this:

More resources

For more ideas on speeding up your blog, see:

These are simple tips that can help you to make your blog load faster than ProBlogger. What others can you share to increase blog speed?

Dev is a part time blogger and blogs about WordPress Marketing at WPKube. Hit him up on Twitter if you need anything, Dev will be quick in responding and helping you out.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Make Your Blog Load Faster than ProBlogger: Part 2


How I Expanded the Demographic of My Niche Blog to Include Every Person Online

This guest post is by Sonal Pandey of Tap Easy.

Some things don’t get better with time. This was going to be one such case. Here I was, sharing an awesome technique capable of changing lives, but not many were paying attention.

My niche had the perfect demographic—open-minded, receptive, and suitably educated, with interests ranging from psychology to health and fitness. And yet…

I had over 35 solid posts on the blog. I had a video up on the sidebar demonstrating exactly how to use the revolutionary technique. I also had a newsletter opt-in with a desirable giveaway.

Three months had gone by since I had started my niche blog catering to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) enthusiasts. And yet, nothing much was happening. The email opt-in rate was miserably low, even for a new blog. Sometimes there were no sign-ups for days together.

Well-meaning people told me to just hang on and things would improve with time. Somewhere inside, I knew they wouldn’t. Where was I going wrong?

I was doing everything that successful bloggers were suggesting. But all that was falling on deaf ears. The bounce rate was a staggering 83%. I knew I needed to take stats data with a pinch of salt, but there must have been some truth to them after all.

It got worse

Also around that time, my Google search impressions dropped drastically. Within a span of three days, the search impressions came down by 92%. Such drastic reduction in search impressions also meant a drastic decrease in the clicks to my blog through search results.

I submitted a reconsideration request through Google Webmaster. But they came back reporting no evidence of manual actions by their webspam team. As far as Google was concerned, I was in the clear. So the problem was inside the blog.

From a good enough daily traffic figure (even if with a high bounce rate), it came to days when traffic to the blog was zero. It was scary, and depressing.

My impulsive reaction was to think of myself as a reject. No one wanted what I was offering. But my research had shown considerable demand for such material. People are quite exploratory when it comes to self-help and healing modalities. So why weren’t there more takers?

Stats sleuthing

On a close analysis of the blog stats, it turned out that a good number of people were coming through search engines. But they were not arriving here because of EFT related keywords.

For the longest time, the #1 most popular keyword sending people to my blog was “disappointed.” The Universe was trying to rub it in! For whatever reasons I wanted my blog to shine, “disappointed” was not one of them. Yet the material on the blog frequently referenced similar words since they were an integral part of the self-help process.

These visitors were people who had no clue what EFT meant or what they were doing on my blog. So they would come and quickly bounce back.

EFT is a powerful tool to help people recover from all kinds of negative emotions, including disappointment. So Google was probably sending them to the right place. But the visitors didn’t know why they were there. That lead to a very high bounce rate.

I wondered if this very high bounce rate had brought about the downfall in my search results placement.

That was when I had an epiphany.

Aha!

I created a minute-long video trailer especially for those completely oblivious to EFT. And placed this video on the sidebar with an opt-in form below it. The video didn’t get into any EFT mumbo jumbo. It didn’t even talk about how to use EFT. It talked about why.

It simply informed the visitors that they could get relief from a host of emotional and physical problems if they used EFT. And that they could bring positive changes in their lives through this technique.

I started offering my earlier video about EFT process demonstration as a giveaway to those signing up. To encourage visitors already familiar with EFT to sign up, I added an e-book that listed my best tips on using the technique. So that giveaway package became attractive to both people new and not new to EFT.

Why it worked

Earlier the blog only catered to the initiated, people who were already using EFT. They could find their way around the blog easily. Even before things improved, such visitors would stick around for ten, 20, or 30 minutes.

The video trailer made sure that even if somebody landed on my blog by mistake, they would at least come to know how they could use it to their advantage. Now anyone who had stress or problems (that includes everyone, right?) was a prospective visitor and subscriber.

Sell them what they want, so you can give them what they need.

Apart from laying down the real-life benefits of EFT in plain English, the video was reminding people to sign up. That in turn gave them the exact tools needed to get started with EFT, and use it in the best way possible.

From using these tools, all the material on my blog became comprehensible to them. So they stayed around.

Just rewards came

Suddenly everything improved: time on site, page views, bounce rate, search impressions. Email subscriptions shot through the roof. When I say “through the roof” I mean it in the frame of my new blog and relatively small traffic. But I’m a firm believer in the theory that a good conversion rate can beat high traffic stats any day.

These results were achieved without writing a single new post during that interval. So what was needed was certainly not more content.

The moral of the story

The takeaway from this experience is to keep in mind the visitors who may be unaware of your area of expertise. It is not so much about showing a video. It is about helping a first time visitor feel at home.

I used to think of my blog as a niche blog, but now it is open to anyone who has an Internet connection and a set of problems.

And to a great extent this learning will influence what content I write next. Because it will be based on a policy of inclusion, not exclusion.

Sonal Pandey is a software engineer turned self-help blogger. Her philosophy on self-help advice is that it should be targeted, effective, and easy to incorporate quickly. Through her blog, Tap Easy, she offers Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping scripts to help people overcome stress, fear, and other negativity and bring positive changes naturally.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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How I Expanded the Demographic of My Niche Blog to Include Every Person Online


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