A 15-minute Guide to Blogging, Online Marketing, and Growth

pageviews

I will get straight to the point since I have so much to share.

Long story short:

Some weird things have happened since the morning of September 12, 2014, the day 1,009,964 people viewed the story of my life.

It was my second article to get big traffic, and since then my life has become a bit intense at the crossroads of freelancing, startup-ing, and blogging.

Here is the thing I want to share with everyone in this post:

I am starting to come up with a set of tactics that have been working repeatedly for getting huge traffic and visitors, and turning them into subscribers or followers across all networks.

My findings come from online marketing, managing social media and growth for the businesses of friends and clients, and my own work.

But most of what I’ve learned comes from content marketing and writing, especially from the 21 ghostwriting pieces I’ve written for clients over the last few months and from five personal articles on my Medium blog.

Below, I also shared the stats of the Medium pieces and some translations including the first five days performance of article you are now reading.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

First, I have to admit that not every article became a hit. Among those 26 essays, only five of them got six-digit pageviews. Two of them are reaching 81K and 54K at the time of writing, while the rest currently average around 8.3K each.

However, the performance is quite pleasing since many of the big blogs I have known average around 1K-10K visitors per article.

I also managed to test a different writing style in a different industry with almost every single article.

This guide is not for you if…

…you are looking for pro writing tips. I am not a professional writer, nor can I write a mind-blowing literature piece in English.

This guide is instead for people like me, who don’t have the best writing skills or the budget to spend on clicks, but who need to grab the attention of their audiences through organic storytelling.

This is an article sharing what I’ve learned, and please note, pageviews or followers count don’t necessarily mean success or good content.

This is for people who believe that from their little desk in their little rooms from the middle of nowhere, they can generate more traffic and visitors than those companies with an army of writers.

This is to help you get read in an extremely noisy world, and turn those readers into long-term members.

I will structure these tips across four categories:

Part 1 — Before writing: Preparing for the storm & setting the right engines in place.

Part 2 — Writing: Writing style and essentials of an article that will get huge traffic.

Part 3 — Ready to publish: Things to do when you are ready to hit the publish button.

Part 4 — Post-publishing: How to get into big media outlets, how to double your blog traffic with redistribution, and some other channels no one thinks of.


Let’s start with the soft stuff before getting a bit more technical:

→ Part 1 — Preparing for the storm ←

Writing is only part of the story. What you do before publishing an article is as much important as writing. Here is why:

1. The “second chance” effect: Why pageviews mean nothing

People give you a chance by landing on your article among so many other open browser tabs that distract them.

Traffic also disappears very quickly and no one remembers your name the next morning.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

By setting the right engines in place, you get the “second chance” — the “second touch” point through which you can reconnect with those visitors and remind them it was you who wrote that article.

Here are some of the key engines:

1.1. To email or not to email

For a long time, I ignored the advice of one of my favorite marketing guys, Noah Kagan, and I decided to place an email subscription form on my website only after more than half of my traffic was gone.

I was too late and was able to collect only 32K email addresses.

After all those email campaigns, I have to confess that email is now by far the most effective marketing tool that works for me and for almost every one of my clients with no exception.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

That’s how I get the first 100 shares. It’s the people I bring in by email who give me the first boost and put my work in front of many other people, giving it a chance to spread further.

Set up an email subscription form before it’s too late.

1.2. Other engines for a stronger “second chance”

Finding the right engine depends on your goals.

What do you want your readers to do while they’re reading, or once they finish reading your story?

Follow you on Instagram? Create an account? Read another post? Watch a video? Fill out a form? Refer a friend, share, or comment?

If your goal is, let’s say, to get your “second chance” on Twitter, did you put your Twitter handle in the author byline?

Are you an e-commerce fashion brand? Did you place the links at the end of your article to remind your readers, let’s say, about your best-selling product?

Just like you can turn visitors into subscribers with email, with other engines you can turn them into social media followers, customers, watchers, or members.

It’s not that every single article I write is great — it’s because I strengthen my “second chance” engines with every new article, gaining more subscribers, more followers, more clients, etc.

2. Business brand vs. personal brand

This is probably the most important thing to decide before posting content on the web.

If I had the chance to go back, I would definitely go for a business brand and remove my personal brand.

With a personal brand, every time you need to share or say something, you start the sentence with “I,” while with a brand you would start with “We.”

After some time, you start feeling like an arrogant fool. You feel you are too much, or that your voice is too loud.

I don’t think a personal brand is a bad thing, however. You just have to make sure it’s right for you. Gary Vaynerchuk writes great stuff about it, if that helps.

Just be sure to pick the one that matches your personality and goals before the storm starts kicking in. Making an ideal combination of the two is also an option.

3. Tech infrastructure check

Anything can get huge traffic at any random time. More on that in a minute.

But first: Did you check if your hosting can handle the website traffic if your post goes viral? Did you test if your email subscription form works perfectly? Is your blog mobile responsive?

pencil How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

→ Part 2— Let’s write ←

Let’s start typing, now that we are all set with the pre-storm engines in place before a potential storm.

a. Writing style

1. Write as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Every time I wanted to impress my readers, I tried to write a sophisticated sentence pretending to be a real writer. However, I ended up over-complicating things and my editor kept inserting “What do you mean here?” comments.

Obviously no one was getting what I was trying to say, even though my sentences were getting longer and longer.

Here are two tips to keep it as simple as possible:

1.1 No more than 25 words in a sentence

Let the real writers keep blowing our minds. Meanwhile, we’ll try to get our message across as clearly as possible.

25 words is a rough number; it’s a checkpoint I use every time I am stuck on a sentence. I then just shorten or split the sentence into two separate ones. The Hemingway app also does a similar job if you need help.

1.2 No more than three sentences in a paragraph

This is something I keep doing, but I don’t really recommend it for others because I don’t think this is a proper way of writing.

With our attention spans getting shorter every day, your article is competing for the attention of readers who have 12 other open tabs in their browser, not to mention never-ending notifications on mobile phones.

In a world where people don’t even read my 140-character tweets, I try really hard not to put more than three sentences in a paragraph and keep things very to-the-point.

2. Treat your article like a startup

Each article has a unique audience and each audience has its own problems. Just like you solve the problems of your users with a startup, I apply the same logic to my articles.

For whatever industry or client, I start the article by identifying the problems of the audience of the story I am writing. This doesn’t mean you should always share intimate or personal stuff that people can relate to, though.

Are you writing about the self-publishing music industry? Before starting, just ask, what are the problems those musicians face? You can also mix in a personal tone and write as if your reader is sitting right next to you.

Seriously. Treat your writing like a startup.

3. Perfect trio: Long-form, data-backed, and learnings that do the leg work for readers

For most of my clients, I mix what I have learned from the guys at Buffer and Crew in a trio and this technique became a killer.

Writing long form (1000–1500 words) always pays off. Sharing learningsincreases the share rates up to 45 percent, and even further whenbacked with data or weird science.

P.S. Spot the article below in which I didn’t share any learnings ☺

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

b. Essentials of a blog post

Everyone has their own style and this is how I structure a blog post in my mind:

1. Perfect combo: Curious headline and eye-catching featured image

Test it yourself. Try removing the featured image for some time and you will be impressed by how the analytics will change instantly.

“How” and “Why” in a headline always works, and a “list” title never, ever disappoints (remember, it always depends on other factors, too.). You can also study some interesting headlines on the Medium Top 100 lists by viewing all the last months.

Choosing a great headline is awesome and choosing a great featured image is great. But when you bring the ideal two together, it’s just perfect.

2. Introduction

This is, for me, by far the most important section of an article.

You have a few seconds to convince the reader that you can fulfill the promise you gave in the headline. It’s in those few seconds that he/she will decide whether or not to open a new tab.

Pull her into your story step by step. Change his mind so that he forgets he had actually landed on an article. Start with a shocking scientific result, an awkward detail, or a personal story.

Try starting right in the middle of the story. What time was it? Who were you with when it happened? Look how Andrew Wilkinson made a great intro with one of his recent articles:

“That’s stupid — you’re building a lifestyle business,” spat the investor across the table, flashing me a death glare.

I finished reading his article within a few seconds.

1 X5m QwSi7c4K2tJtJ6aR4w How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

3. Body

There are two things I pay extreme attention to in the body:

3.1 Let the reader breathe

Remember, you survived the introduction and pulled the reader into the body.

However, the reader is still in the middle and she is already getting easily tired and is about to open a new tab.

Insert a visual and let the reader breathe.

3.2 Don’t use distracting links

There is a difference between giving credit to reliable resources and flooding your article with links just to prove to your reader that you wrote a high-quality piece.

Always ask, is this resource really relevant? Does your audience really care?

4. End on a high note

You are playing your final cards. The reader is really tired and has been going between so many open tabs and mobile notifications.

Ease up and slow down. Write even simpler sentences. Keep your paragraphs shorter and your message even more to-the-point when possible.

Recap all your points by showing how you fulfilled the promise, and send her home on a high note.

→ Part 3 — When ready to publish ←

Even when you finish writing your article, the real game is still to begin.

  1. The art of asking people to recommend or share

This is something I do very often at the end of my articles that not many people do: I ask the reader to recommend or share the article.

For some of my articles, this simple question has increased the number of shares by up to 32 percent.

People are not mean — if they don’t share, it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate your article. It’s just that some people simply don’t have the habit of sharing as much as you do. But often if you ask them, they are kind enough to share your work with their networks.

2. Sending out the newsletter at peak time

The best time to send out an email campaign always depends on your audience, time zones, industry, etc.

Generally, Sunday 0:00 GMT works for a global audience since people are usually looking forward to reading new things as the new week kicks in.

However, I strongly suggest you to split-test the time you send out your newsletter. Many mail companies like Mailchimp offer growth-hacking tools to test sending the same email to two different groups of your subscribers.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

For instance, above is one of the old email campaigns I conducted for a client. Look at the shocking difference in opening rates, even though the two groups didn’t have that much of a time difference.

3. Send the first bomb all together

Let’s say you have figured out the best newsletter timing for your audience to be Sunday evening at 6:45 p.m. Share the article on your social media accounts as soon as your email campaign is on its way to people’s inboxes.

Send the first shot all together consistently across all channels, instead of weakening them by separating into different times.

Always share the same post on your social media accounts a few other times over the next few days, covering different time zones.

4. Reproduce the same content on different channels and in different formats

This is something that generates significant additional traffic. Once you see that an article is successful, turn it into a new format in a new channel. Turn your articles into:

Slides and upload them on Slideshare, images on Instagram and Facebook, infographics on Pinterest, or into a video on YouTube.

One of the best reproduction forms is to turn it into a website, a software, or a tool as a side project. Here is something I turned into a website after an article that got around thousand upvotes on Product Hunt.

→ Part 4— Redistribution ←

The traffic you see on the Medium screenshots above is only a portion of the traffic you get. Redistributing on big publishers sometimes can up to double your traffic.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

What is really interesting is to see how people exaggerate big media outlets in their minds, seeing them as unreachable, unachievable channels that only the top guys get into.

The truth is, editors working for big media outlets are such nice people. They are not your enemies, and they don’t ignore you on purpose.

They usually have very intense workloads and they need only one thing: to bring the best content to their websites.

Here is how to give them what they need and enjoy huge traffic and exposure.

1. List your targets

Go on to the “contact” pages of your target publishers or tech blogs, and get the emails of editors. When there’s no email, search for them on Twitter. Make your wish list of target editors with all contact details.

2. No traction, no redistribution

Remember: all they need is traction or proof of a performing article. If you can’t see the traffic on your Google analytics, there is no way you will fool the editor into reposting it on their website.

Wait for few days to get some analytics data. Once you see something really great about your article (it doesn’t have to be only traffic, it can also be a great quality content many opinion leaders are referring to) take the screenshot or proof, and then:

3. Send emails or tweet editors with eye-catching headlines

Please don’t email them like:

“Hi, my name is bla,

I am bla bla bla,

I published an article….”

Be to the point and brief. Talk about the results. And talk only if you have results.

Here is a typical email I send and usually receive an answer to:

Title:My post has 42% share rate, screenshot attached, repost maybe?

Email:Hi, my article is performing really well, pls see analytics data attached. I want to repost it on your outlet. Please kindly get back if you are interested. Ali

4. What? You have 42 percent shares? Stop doing the tactic above ASAP

If your article is getting huge traffic or if you are seeing extreme movements in your analytics data, STOP. You don’t need to do any of the tactics above because you will be approached by those big media outlets within a few hours.

Many of them have dedicated employees searching for trending articles on the web for reposting opportunities.

With my viral story, I was approached by four top tech blogs within seven hours of publishing.

5. Beware of Exclusive Agreements

Some media outlets will require you to sign exclusive agreements that prevent you from reposting on other outlets.

It doesn’t mean exclusive agreements are bad; you just need to understand which channel has the best audience for that specific article.

I reposted a viral article on multiple channels such as Business Insider, Lifehacker, and Tech in Asia. With some other stories, I go exclusively with The Next Web.

6. Decide when to repost on media outlets

If your piece is really strong, give it some time to spread on the main channel you publish on (be it your own blog or on Medium).

Let it wear out at least for a few days; otherwise, big media outlets can easily cannibalize your main channel and split your “one bomb” into pieces.

It all depends, however. For instance, the article below got more traffic on The Next Web than the Medium traffic below.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

Some other channels

The right channel

Sometimes it takes time for your content to find the right channel. It took two weeks for this article to find the right channel: Someone uploaded it on Reddit and StumbleUpon. Eventually, from these two channels, it started going viral on Facebook.

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

One of Jeff Goins’ articles about traveling started going viral one year after he published it when a student leader from Singapore shared it on Facebook with a travel group he led on campus.

There is no right timing for an article to go viral; however, there is for sure the right channel. Instead of waiting for others, try looking for the right channel and submitting your links yourself.

2. Multilingual channel

If your article has traction and global reach, Medium translates it in many other languages for you at no cost, and you enjoy the constant stream of followers and traffic to your links coming from other countries.

Here are few of those they did for me:

 How I got 6.2 million pageviews and 144,920 followers

If you are not writing on Medium, consider testing to hire a freelance translator once (I suggest Spanish) and ask one of the top tech blogs in the Spanish community to redistribute it.

3. Fake redistributors

Unfortunately, many people will repost your article without giving you any credit. Some people will even go on LinkedIn and repost it as if they were the author of your articles.

In my case, LinkedIn didn’t even respond to any of my emails where I reported these copyright infringement cases.

If the number of copy cases is low and manageable, see what you can do about it. Otherwise, there is no point in freaking out and killing yourself over it.

→ Final thought ←

I always used to read those people saying “content is king” and I never understood the true meaning of it.

As a millennial living in an extremely noisy world, I am finding it increasingly difficult to grab people’s attention and I start feeling the urgent need to become a better storyteller.

This is not just the case with my articles. I also find it difficult to grab the attention of my three-year-old niece, or of my brother during our long-distance phone calls.

In 2015, I really believe we need to start becoming better storytellers by improving our pitches whenever we talk to people.

We need to become more to-the-point, where our voices are competing with their distracting mobile phones.

Content is truly the king. You can grab the attention of millions of people with a simple story or an article.

Never underestimate yourself or don’t use excuses, like that you don’t have a marketing budget.

'Dammit Alexa!': I feel bad when I yell at my Amazon Echo

Echo and Amanda

“We have a new pet,” I told my husband when he got home one cold night in early February. He looked around, like I might have stashed a new CNET test cat somewhere. “Her name is Alexa. Don’t worry. She’s digital.”

Alexa is the name Amazon’s Echo appliance answers to. The Echo’s a satin-black cylinder with a built-in speaker system, an LED light ring on top and a sensitive microphone array that’s always listening for you to trigger it awake with the word “Alexa.” Alexa talks back in a feminine voice and relays your commands to the cloud, playing music from the Amazon Prime library, adding items to your shopping list, tuning in to radio stations and answering questions by reading off Wikipedia entries.

Amazon Echo at home

The Echo, with its strange mixture of Siri and Amazon, was a bit of a head-scratcher when it was announced in November 2014. Shortly after that,CNET’s hands-on review concluded, “The Amazon Echo shows promise and is a bargain at its introductory price point of $99 for select Prime members — but it’s too much of a work in progress to enthusiastically recommend at its full list price.”

That’s a pretty good assessment. I got in at the $99 price level. Like many people who signed up to be early Echo adopters, I had to wait in line to get one. Now that I’ve lived with Echo on the bar in my living room for a month, I’m starting to feel like I have a little robo-roommate. We like each other, but we don’t always get along.

A misunderstanding

I still remember my first argument with Echo. It occurred after the initial honeymoon period, when we seemed to be in sync. She knew what kind of music I liked. She told me jokes that were so bad they were good (“What cheese can you lure a bear with? Camembert!”). OK, I lie. The jokes were just bad, but I laughed politely to stay on Alexa’s good side. Then, I asked for something pretty simple, a song from my music library.

“Alexa, play ‘Funky Sex Farm,'” I said, referencing a funkified remake of the silly farm-innuendo Spinal Tap classic.

“The song ‘Sex Bomb,’ right?” she answered.

“No. ‘Funky Sex Farm.'”

“Here’s a sample of ‘Sex Bomb’ album version by Tom Jones…”

“Alexa, stop.”

This went on for some time, until we finally reached an understanding and she played my requested song, but not before I had starting yelling, “No! Play ‘Funky Sex Farm’ by Spinal Tap!” in a very loud voice. It’s a good thing there was nobody around to hear me or I might have earned a reputation among my neighbors for agriculture-related kink.

Shopping with Echo

I used to keep a shopping list on a chalkboard in the kitchen. It hasn’t been touched since Echo arrived, except to erase it. Now, I just say, “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.” She dutifully does as asked and I check the list on my Moto G when I get to the store.

We’ve had a few bumps along the way. She handled “gruyere” and “five zucchini” with no problems, but added “it is me” when I asked for “edamame” and “bullion” when I requested “bouillon.” Echo can read back the shopping list, but there isn’t much flexibility within the app itself. I can’t group items into different sections or move them around. That’s not a deal breaker, just a feature I would like to see added.

There’s something about Echo’s voice and her invariable politeness that makes me treat her more like a half-human cyborg than a full-on machine. I tell her “please” and “thank you.”

When I’m in the kitchen and the dishwasher and refrigerator are running and there’s a lot of background noise, she doesn’t always hear my requests to set a timer, add onions to my shopping list or turn down the music. So I yell “Alexa! Alexa!” until she answers. And I feel bad about it, like I just shouted at a friend.

My husband cursed Echo out to see what her reaction would be. It was a very calm, “Well, thanks for the feedback.” I then apologized and she told me, “No problem.” Nothing phases her. I envy her constant calmness and ability to unapologetically say, “Sorry, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.” She’s not afraid to admit her own ignorance. I feel like there are some important life lessons hiding inside the Echo cylinder.

A future for Echo

Echo is full of potential and promise. My solo living-room dance parties (“Alexa, play the ‘Graceland’ album”) have increased by 100 percent. She gives me the weather report every morning as I stand in the kitchen, scooping out breakfast for the cats. My friends enjoy trying to talk to her. She can answer the question “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” It’s a good party trick.

Still, I want more. I want to be able to leave a voice message for my husband and have it play back when he asks for it. I want to have an alarm go off and then have Alexa remind me what it was for. I want her to connect to my Google calendar, and be able to take items off my shopping list, not just add them.

Since Echo runs through the cloud, there’s no reason these features couldn’t be implemented. Right now, Echo is primarily a very good speaker combined with a half-formed digital assistant. Some day, it could be a dream robo-companion for me, one I never have to yell at because we understand each other perfectly. I’m optimistic. I can’t help but feel this is the start of a beautiful digital friendship.

New Book: Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars

Media allows authority to be demonstrated and earned rather than claimed.

In 2005, the Internet had already begun to profoundly change the world of business, yet for many online entrepreneurs the roadmap to success was unclear.

In response, I compiled the first edition of Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, a book that celebrated the ways in which the most successful marketers on the web had blazed trails, set records, and created benchmarks to make the Internet overwhelmingly relevant to modern business practices and the business world.

Now, in 2015, the Internet has not only transformed the business world, but also the world at large.

Once a promising tool, the Internet has now redefined the way in which we learn and relate to one another as humans.

As essential as Internet technology and social media are to our businesses, they are still mysteries to many. And the proliferation of smart phones and tablets has created a new style of consumption on the web that also must be taken into account.

With this new installment of the superstar series, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, we turn the spotlight on the constantly changing online marketing landscape — and the men, women, and technologies that continue to define and redefine it.

May the insights in this book help you reach your goals and help you create the life you truly desire.

To give you a preview of how the top online marketers create their highly profitable businesses, here are excerpts from a few select chapters:

A personal media brand makes you into a likable expert, and that sets the stage for the rain to fall. That’s because media allows authority to be demonstrated and earned rather than claimed.

You must be a valuable information resource via your own media platform, with a key emphasis on providing value.

First, you have to show that you understand your potential customer’s problems and desires. And you have to begin to satisfy those problems or desires before you stick out your hand for payment. ~ Brian Clark, Chapter 1: The New Rainmaker

You are better off being massively useful in a very specific set of circumstances than being partially useful in a broader sense of circumstances.

Online marketing is now rooted in this simple truth: you are competing for attention against your own customers, and against your own friends.

To succeed in today’s competitive online marketing environment is to be truly and inherently useful. Focus your energy on creating marketing that people actually cherish, not marketing that people simply tolerate. ~ Jay Baer, Chapter 2: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype

Every business is now in the publishing business. The two most important aspects of your content strategy are educating your customer and building trust.

I think there’s a hierarchy in the world of building a total web presence for your business, and mastering things like Facebook and Pinterest fall somewhere far behind getting your content strategy, SEO, and email marketing machine oiled and ready for prime time. ~ John Jantsch, Chapter 3: The Total Online Presence

Content marketing is the strategic creation of text, imagery, audio, or video that delivers a relevant, interesting message to a customer or prospect, while at the same time paving the way for a sale.

The audience does not owe you their attention. It is your job as a content marketer to deserve their attention.

Remember that old, politically incorrect Mad Men-era advice about how long your content should be: Like a skirt, it needs to be short enough to maintain attention, and long enough to cover the subject. ~ Sonia Simone, Chapter 5: The No-Baloney Essentials of Content Marketing that Works

While lots of folks are flapping their jaws about the impressive statistics of Pinterest, other companies are quietly using this fun new tool to pin their way to better customer engagement and a visually interesting brand.

Being a Pinterest curator means you pick the best images and then organize them in an interesting way that benefits your core audience.

In other words, you cherry-pick all the best images related to your topic and pin them to your boards. ~ Beth Hayden, Chapter 14: How to Connect with Your Clients, Get More Traffic and Make More Sales Using Pinterest Marketing

[source : copyblogger.com]

The Smart Way to Use Surveys to Engage and Grow Your Audience

engaged audience at a rock concert

Last month, you may have seen Copyblogger’s 2015 Cost of Online Business Report that analyzed the results of a survey we conducted on the blog.

The report explores the cost of doing business online, so you can accurately evaluate your current strategies and tactics — and their associated costs — to help you see if there are ways you can improve your online business revenue.

Since publishing your own research creates authority in your space while providing numerous opportunities to present your findings to a wider audience, I recently decided to conduct my own informal online research survey.

And while I am no Nate Silver, I hope to show you today how easy and inexpensive it is to create and publish your own online survey.

Selecting the right survey platform

To select the best survey platform for my needs, I first reviewed the features and costs of two survey systems: Google Consumer Surveys and SurveyMonkey.

Google Consumer Surveys was less expensive and easier to use. The on-screen guide walks you through every step, from choosing an audience to setting the question format.

GoogleConsumerSurveys-PickAudience

GoogleConsumerSurveys-QuestionFormat

It also has a straightforward tool that helps you write the questions for your survey.

GoogleConsumerSurveys-WriteQuestions

And once you’ve created your survey, Google provides a very simple way to review the cost of the survey and then publish it.

GoogleConsumerSurveys-Confirm

But while Google is simple and cost-efficient, it does have its limitations.

Specifically, the ability to publish a survey to a highly targeted group of respondents is very limited.

If your needs extend beyond its limited selection criteria, then you may not have any statistically significant results to report.

SurveyMonkey, on the other hand, offers the most complete survey system I have ever experienced online, but at a steep price.

The power of SurveyMonkey is the ability to design a complex survey and deliver it to a specific, targeted audience.

SurveyMonkey-TargetedAudience

As the screenshot above shows, SurveyMonkey provides a large selection of audience criteria that allows you to focus on very specific attributes.

Not only can you fine-tune your audience demographic, you also have the ability to create sophisticated survey forms with a wide selection of question options and logic flow, allowing you to tailor the survey based on the responses you receive.

SurveyMonkey-TailorQuestions

As a general guide, using Google Consumer Surveys is a great way to capture lots of responses from a wide audience.

But when you need to focus on a specific audience, and/or have a fairly complex survey, then SurveyMonkey will serve your needs better if you are willing to pay the price.

My podcast survey experiment

For my survey, I decided to use Google, primarily because the cost of generating a quick survey was only $150 and my survey question was very simple: “How do you listen to a podcast?”

For my target audience, I selected the “General Population” option.

Granted, this was a fairly broad group. If I had needed to ask my question to a specific group of people, then SurveyMonkey would have been the better choice.

Also, given my self-imposed cost and time constraints, I thought the “General Population” audience selection would serve my purpose.

So, in less than 10 minutes, I created my survey and opted to finance 1,500 potential responses at $0.10 apiece. I paid $150, and my survey was ready to be taken.

But it wasn’t available to the public just because I completed the purchase. Both Google Consumer Surveys and SurveyMonkey stipulate that prior to publishing they must review and approve all surveys created.

Since my survey’s scope was limited, the approval process took less than a few hours, and I started to receive responses within minutes of publication by Google.

Who are these survey participants?

The audience for your survey will vary greatly based on the platform you select.

Google displays your survey to its vast network of third-party content sites and/or as a gateway question that viewers must answer prior to accessing content. As their site explains:

We show your questions across a network of premium online news, reference and entertainment sites, where it gets embedded directly into content, as well as through our mobile app. On the web, people answer questions in exchange for access to that content, an alternative to subscribing or upgrading.

SurveyMonkey recruits its respondents from people who completed a survey from one of their existing customers. This audience is screened and vetted by SurveyMonkey, and the participants are rewarded with charitable donations and sweepstakes entries.

More details on their audience screening process can be found here.

Both platforms draw on substantial groups of participants, with Google representing a much larger pool of the general online population while SurveyMonkey taps into a smaller and more targeted audience.

It’s important to note that there are also simple ways to survey your own audience. You can ask a question on your blog and collect results via email or in your blog’s comment section.

Copyblogger used the WordPress plugin Gravity Forms to conduct the surveys for both The 2015 Cost of Online Business Report and The 2014 State of Native Advertising Report.

What did the results of my podcast survey look like?

After a few days, my Google survey had obtained the requested 1,500 responses — and this is where the fun begins.

Both SurveyMonkey and Google Consumer Surveys provide an amazing toolset to analyze and dissect responses.

The primary difference is that SurveyMonkey allows you to inspect individual respondents and Google provides stronger globally predefined demographic filters.

For my simple survey, it turns out that 38.4 percent of the respondents listen to podcasts in a variety of ways.

PodcastSurvey-Results

Using the preset demographic information, I can further dissect the data by Gender, Income, or Location, to name a few.

PodcastSurvey-Results1

PodcastSurvey-Results2

One feature in Google I particularly like is the Insight tab that displays correlations based on the demographics of the respondents. For my survey, Google provided five different Insights into my data.

PodcastSurvey-Insights

For online marketers, these types of correlations can serve as a gold mine of data for your content marketing efforts.

The true power of research

While creating a survey and generating results is fairly easy, the time and effort spent promoting your results is how you can engage and grow your audience.

Besides posting the results on your site, consider a few of these options to extend the reach of your research:

  • Create a white paper or ebook that readers can download from your site’s membership area.
  • Turn the white paper into an infographic and post it on social media sites like Pinterest.
  • Conduct a webinar to showcase your results and invite your audience to listen and participate.
  • Create a slide deck and upload it to SlideShare.
  • Go one step further with your slide deck and provide a narrated version you can post on YouTube.
  • Convert the narration of the survey results into a podcast for publishing in iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.
  • Find speaking opportunities where you can publicly share your research.
  • Reach out to other websites and offer to write a guest post that discusses the research and how it impacts that site’s audience.
  • Publish a press release detailing your findings.

As you can see, there are numerous ways to reuse and repurpose the results of the survey as research.

More importantly, by finding unique ways to share your results — outside the scope of your site — you can build credibility as an authority in your market space.

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

Mark Twain explained it best in Chapters from My Autobiography:

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

While there are many ways your research can benefit your online marketing, here are five important best practices to keep in mind.

1. Don’t write leading questions
Leading questions are those that will skew the results to a particular conclusion.

When creating your questions, remain as objective as possible and use the survey to gain insights — not to prove a preconception.

2. Thoughtfully select your audience
While Google Consumer Surveys helps you access a broad segment of the online population, you may find that SurveyMonkey will help you reach a more targeted group of respondents whose opinions are more relevant to your particular topic.

And if you’re looking for ways to better serve your readers, customers, or clients, you may want to go directly to them via a survey on your website.

3. Monitor your sample size
If you utilize sites like Google Consumer Surveys and SurveyMonkey to get responses, pay attention to the number of respondents you select. Too few, and the results are meaningless. Too many, and you may be wasting money.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for 1,000–1,500 responses from the target audience you select.

4. Remember correlation does not imply causation
As Sara Silverstein points out on Business Insider, just because there is a correlation between states with shorter commutes and male-owned businesses, it does not mean that you’ll have a shorter commute to the office if you work for a male-owned business!

Avoid drawing definitive conclusions from your data. Instead, use it as a way to share additional insight into the way that responses share a relationship with each other.

5. Brutally edit your survey questions
Ask as few questions as you can to get the data you need. If you use Google Consumer Surveys or SurveyMonkey, they each have demographics details built into them, so you don’t need to ask pre-qualifying questions.

Remember, you are competing for time and attention from survey respondents and the more concise your questions, the higher the probability of getting results.

[source : copyblogger.com]

Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy

Welcome to the year of adaptive content. The choose-your-own-adventure era of content marketing. The age of the customized customer experience.

We’ve already tipped our hand by publishing two podcasts on the topic: Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015 and Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead.

And 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now is a foundational blog post that briefs you on the subject.

At this point, it’s only natural that we jump right in to the heart of adaptive content.

But after reading two dozen articles and at least one white paper, flipping through two SlideShare presentations, listening to a few podcasts, and reading four books, I realized if I want to prepare you to implement adaptive content, we have to go back to the beginning …

And start with content strategy.

Can you really trust your content strategy?

Content strategy needs to be precise. See, before you even put pen to paper, you need to know the direction you are heading.

Most of us who work online, from freelance writers to small business owners, probably have a content strategy. But there’s just one problem: it’s up in our heads.

But if you say, “My business is not that complicated, and neither is my content strategy. I know where I want to take this business. I don’t need to commit it to paper,” then this stat should make you take pause:

Only 39 percent of B2B small business marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. The rest either have a strategy that they have only talked about (47 percent), have no strategy at all (12 percent), or are unsure (1 percent).

That’s from the 2015 benchmarks, budgets, and trends study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs. So, let me explain the danger behind an undocumented content strategy.

First off, the difference between keeping that content strategy pinned to your mental wallpaper and taping it to the physical cinder blocks in your basement office is that your supposed strategy that you talk about may be no strategy at all.

Ouch.

The CMI study also found:

  • 39 percent of companies who do have a documented strategy are “more effective in nearly all aspects of content marketing than their peers who either have a verbal-only strategy or no strategy at all.”
  • 60 percent of those with a documented content marketing strategy consider their organization to be “effective” at content marketing; only 33 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.
  • 62 percent of those with a documented strategy say that their strategy closely guides their content marketing efforts; only 29 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.
  • Companies with a documented strategy are more than twice as likely to be successful at charting the ROI of their content marketing efforts than those with only a verbal strategy.

Furthermore, this lack of a documented content strategy could be a factor behind one of the most surprising results of another study, Copyblogger’s very own 2015 Cost of Online Business Report, which revealed 51 percent of online business owners are struggling to make a living online.

So, that notion you call your content strategy may be causing you to leave money on the table, publish ineffective content, and aimlessly feel your way to your destination, which might end up being the wrong destination after all.

You need a clear and focused content strategy to produce optimal results.

Answer these 13 content strategy questions

We’ve already made the case for content. But if you need a little reminder, here are some words of wisdom from Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker, Ann Handley.

She writes in Content Rules that content will “position your company not just as a seller of stuff, but as a reliable source of information.”

But it can be tricky. Especially if you target more than one audience. And CMI’s research reveals that 54 percent of small businesses say they target at least two or three audiences.

Only seven percent said they target just one audience.

Throw in the different tactics you can use, social media platforms, paid advertising methods, as well as a limited budget and resources, and it becomes clear that a defined content strategy is necessary if you want to have any hope of remaining focused.

Certainly having a content strategy is better than not having one. But a documented one is superior.

As Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach write in Content Strategy for the Web:

Your content strategy defines how an organization (or project) will use content to achieve its objectives and meet its users’ needs.

Your content strategy helps you see clearly, avoid excuses, and remove distractions. It’s there to keep you accountable.

But creating a content strategy doesn’t have to be a frighteningly massive affair. You can create your first draft in less than a day, just by answering a few questions.

So, square away an afternoon, ask yourself these questions, and document the answers in a notebook, on a whiteboard, in Evernote, or in the handy PDF we’ve created for you below. Have fun!

1. Who are your users?

Identify and specifically describe the members of your audience.

For example:

  • She is a working mother who would like to feed her family a healthy meal three times a day.
  • He is an African American who wants to become a lawyer so he can give back to his community.
  • She is retired, without any concerns for money, but simply wants to be productive and not bored.

As mentioned above, you may be speaking to more than one target audience. Define all of them. This may require you to delve pretty deeply into their heads.

2. Who are your competitors?

And I’m not just talking about your direct competitors. Who or what can take prospects away from you?

For example, a web designer is not only competing against other web designers, but also against tools that allow non-designers to design.

3. What do you bring to the table?

There is a reason I discussed your customers and competitors first. They give you an idea of the shape of the market and how you can fit into that market.

I say this all the time to people who are trying to build a business and a brand: Your mission and strategy will change over time. It will evolve as you learn about your customers and competitors.

With that research in your belt, you now can ask: How do you fit into the market? What do you bring to the table that no one else can? What makes you unique?

4. What do you hear?

Hopefully voices. But not the ones in your head.

I mean the voices from your customers and ideal target audience. What are they saying? What are the recurring themes, in regard to their dreams and challenges?

If you don’t know where to hear these voices, find the online water coolers where your prospects like to hang out. They could be on social media sites like Reddit, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Also consider LinkedIn discussion groups, forums like Quora, or membership sites like Authority.

5. What content do you already have?

You need to assess the content you already have on your website, blog, and social media platforms — and how far along you are into the content marketing game will determine how painful this will be. But it’s important it gets done.

Yes, this is a content audit.

Ultimately, you want to determine the type of content that would be the most beneficial to produce going forward.

6. What is the purpose of your content?

This is perhaps the most important question.

Is your content intended to drive sales? Generate leads? Build authority? Increase organic search traffic? Please your mother? All of the above? More than likely “all of the above” is the case, but each individual piece of content will accomplish a different task.

For instance, the purpose of an article you wrote on another blog may simply be to drive more traffic to your website. But not to just any page on your website — a landing page specifically designed for that guest article. A landing page designed to convert those visitors into email newsletter subscribers.

And that email newsletter is designed to strengthen your relationships with your readers and educate them on your products or services. For instance, one email you send may be crafted to drive those subscribers to another landing page designed to sell them your product or service.

It’s important to understand the purpose of your content. And the purpose of each piece of content can be determined during your content audit.

7. How often should you publish content?

Once a week? Daily? Answers to these questions boil down to your resources. How much time do you have? Who is going to create all of this content? Is the content converting?

Here’s some insightful research from Andy Crestodina to help you make that decision.

8. How will you distribute your content?

Content that isn’t shared is content that is ignored. No matter how great you think it is.

So, which social media platform(s) will you focus on? Where is your ideal audience? Who is going to share your content? Are you going to use scheduling tools?

9. Who is in charge of your content?

Is it you? Should it be you?

Like Michael Gerber said in his classic book, The E-Myth, a business owner should be in a position to work on his business — not in it. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to grow. You may need to hire someone to write new content and manage existing content.

10. Who will produce your content?

You may have a lot of wishes and desires. And no shortage of ambition. But allow human nature to teach you a lesson: We are all limited in what we can do.

If you want to create 12 infographics this year, who’s going to do the research? Write the content? Design it? Will these people always be available when you need them?

11. Who is going to maintain the content?

The content on your website is like a garden. It needs to be cultivated.

For every new blog post you publish, there are five rotting away with broken links, outdated facts, and topics that are now irrelevant.

Who is going to clean up this mess? Name that person, and create a schedule.

12. Who is responsible for the results?

If you’re the only content creator, easy enough. You are responsible for everything.

But if you have a small team, make each person responsible for some area of the content. As Patrick Lencioni explains in his book, 3 Signs of a Miserable Job, you will provide motivation to your team by measuring their performances.

Make sure these goals are measurable, achievable, and specific — and not ultimatums. In other words, don’t say, “You’re gone if you don’t meet this.” Allow room for mistakes, corrections, and growth.

In addition, you should be held responsible for an area of the content as well. Your people will respect that.

13. What’s your destination (core strategy)?

All the preceding questions build to this final one.

This is about stating what you need to accomplish, determining the type of content that will help you achieve this goal, and creating a plan to help you accomplish it.

Use these guidelines to create a core strategy:

  • Aspirational: Create a goal that gives you room to stretch, fail, get back up, and grow.
  • Flexible: Your core strategy should allow you to adjust as your environment changes around you, without having to make a drastic pivot.
  • Meaningful: Does your core strategy align with your values, and will you be able to sustain it and endure challenges over the long haul?

[source : copyblogger.com]

7 Ways to Build Online Authority with LinkedIn

Image of Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Flash mobs.

People are attracted to these spectacles. We drop what we’re doing and gather around to watch, but then we leave.

We go back to what we were doing before we were interrupted. No one really knows who orchestrated the performance. The entire experience is short-lived and doesn’t make any profound impact.

Now, imagine performing at an opera house, such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House pictured above — the venue for Authority Rainmaker 2015.

An attentive audience becomes fascinated by your performance and applauds you to show their appreciation. You know they’ll be back for more.

You can have that same type of interaction with your audience on LinkedIn when you properly position yourself on the platform.

LinkedIn is for content marketing professionals

While some may think of LinkedIn as only a job search or recruitment portal, it is evolving into a lead generation and publishing hub for content marketers.

Content pages on LinkedIn receive seven times more views and have six times more engagement than job-related activities.

And since Pulse and SlideShare are part of the LinkedIn ecosystem, it’s an ideal center for professional content sharing.

This is the LinkedIn Opera House, and you have an opportunity to take the content stage.

Here are seven ways to help you build authority on LinkedIn.

1. Complete your profile

Get stage-ready for your performance. Sloppiness won’t cut it.

You can’t command attention or earn trust if your LinkedIn profile is incomplete. It needs to thoroughly represent you and display a professional-quality headshot. Unless you’re participating in a masquerade ball, you won’t perform behind a mask.

Other users will check out your profile when they see your comments and posts. They’ll want to discover who you are and the solutions you offer.

Engage your audience with strong headlines and sharp copywriting.

2. Compose content for distribution

Business professionals invest time in consuming content on LinkedIn, so prepare and rehearse your work.

LinkedIn offers a media-rich platform, but you’ll still need to write the script, choreograph the movements, and perform to your audience.

Don’t worry if every topic you want to discuss has been covered already. Most fans don’t mind having different versions of the same music performed by different artists.

Different conductors interpret the pieces differently and musicians play with subtle nuances and delivery styles. Some artists add variations to the theme and change the arrangement to evoke something innovative and fresh.

Just make sure that you offer a unique angle with your own interpretation and insight. Using different media formats, such as infographics, can also inject a breath of freshness into your content.

3. Convene in relevant LinkedIn discussion groups

Join an existing performance troupe that already has an audience.

LinkedIn has 2.1 million industry and interest-specific groups. Like-minded people gather around topical discussions on LinkedIn, and you just need to search for niche groups with active discussions to locate your target audience.

Go where they gather.

And there’s room for you to shine because the LinkedIn content stage is not too crowded yet. Currently, you can join up to 50 LinkedIn groups, and there are benefits to joining multiple groups because LinkedIn searches are personalized.

For example, although you may not have a first-level connection with a certain contact, if you both are members of the same discussion groups, you become more closely connected on LinkedIn.

And people who are directly connected to you — as well as those in the same groups as you — are more likely to show up in searches performed on LinkedIn.

4. Connect with your peers

You don’t own LinkedIn’s content stage, and there are others who share the stage with you.

Band members harmonize with each other. Even soloists work closely with stage managers, crews, and other musicians.

In every group, you’ll find a few members who consistently add value to the discussions. These are your potential joint venture partners. Reach out and connect one-on-one to explore collaborative opportunities and form deeper relationships.

If you’re both members of the same group, you can send private messages to connect without using “InMails” or “introductions” — even if you don’t know them personally.

5. Communicate in a personalized way

Presenters, trainers, and coaches don’t speak to the masses; they make eye contact and speak to individuals.

Fortunately, LinkedIn offers features that allow personalized communication when you send invitations from your computer or mobile device.

Notes, reminders, and tags facilitate personalized conversations and are helpful for follow-up conversations.

LinkedIn-Personalized-Conversations

6. Continue to improve

Your work is not done at the end of the show. Performers hold review sessions after their shows and consider how they can adapt to the audience’s preferences because they want to improve and sell more tickets to the next show.

Feedback from your audience may come in the form of engagement — or lack of engagement.

On LinkedIn, monitor responses to posts and listen to comments. Also, observe influencers, subscribe to industry channels, and continuously find ways to add value. Strive to become a resource for other users.

7. Commit to your production schedule

You don’t become a superstar after one brilliant performance.

Broadway shows run for months. Performers build their reputations over time.

To build a trustworthy brand name, you’ll need to consistently produce and stage great shows so you stay at the top of the chart.

However, discussions in open groups and long-form posts published on LinkedIn are indexed, so they may surface on LinkedIn searches, as well as Google searches.

Your efforts are not wasted. Every thoughtful post and comment has been recorded and they may still bring you viewers at a later time.

Anyone who searches for a topic on Google may see a relevant LinkedIn group discussion in the search results. If they click on the discussion link, they’ll be able to see the person who initiated the post — even if they’re not logged into LinkedIn.

If they scroll through the discussion thread, they’ll also see the entire conversation, including your comments if you’ve contributed to the conversation.

It is also worth noting that participating in a LinkedIn group discussion provides you with more visibility. Distracting advertisements and sponsored posts on the homepage can push your individual posts downstream if there is little or no engagement with them.

Comments you make in LinkedIn groups, however, will appear in both the discussion groups, as well as on homepage streams. In addition, LinkedIn will send emails with your comment to members who’ve contributed to the discussion thread (unless they choose not to receive these messages).

As you enter the spotlight on LinkedIn, remember to abide by a group’s rules when posting.

Once a post has been blocked and deleted in a group, comments you make in the group, and possibly other groups as well, will be marked for moderation.

[source : copyblogger.com]

Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Broken Content

One of the first steps to creating adaptive content is becoming aware of the content you already have. This is why we encourage you to audit your site.

But before you dive into a full-blown comprehensive content audit, it might be possible to make your job a little easier by first dealing with all of the expired content.

What exactly is expired content?

It’s those old sales pages, obsolete product pages, and other outdated content. The pages you’ve forgotten about in your archives that desperately need some attention.

You’ll know where some of this content is off the top of your head. To properly attend to other pages, you may just have to walk through your archives.

Now, this might take an afternoon or longer, but as Sonia said in her article on content audits, there are a number of benefits to knowing what’s in your archives.

Why should you fix old, broken content?

There are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore old, broken, and neglected sections of your website.

Here are three benefits of attending to expired content:

  1. Keeps your site light. True, the more pages on your site, the wider your reach in search engine traffic. But search engine bots will also require more bandwidth to crawl your site. As Stephanie Chang writes, “You don’t want to risk wasting your crawl allowance having bots crawl pages that are thin in unique content and value.”
  2. Keeps your site fresh. Expired and old information communicates to search engines (and your audience) that your site is stale.
  3. Enhances the user experience. A well-groomed site enhances a user’s experience because he won’t stumble across inaccurate information or waste time reading two blog posts when one would suffice.

What exactly should you do with this content? You have four options for fixing each piece:

  1. Leave it alone. If it’s still accurate and necessary information, then you might find good reasons to leave it alone. Did it earn a lot of inbound links? Continues to drive traffic? Then it might be worth keeping. However, the big disadvantage with this option is that traffic to stale content often bounces — and bounces hard — which ruins the user experience. I would suggest you leave expired content alone if it can’t be fixed with one of the options below. But more than likely you can find a way to improve it.
  2. Redirect it (301). This is the most sophisticated option, but it has to be done right. Do not redirect to your home page. Google hates it, and it drives visitors nuts. The goal with redirects is to point the expired page to another page that is as close as possible in style, intent, and category. You want to match the original user intent as much as possible with the new page. A redirect preserves any link juice, too. This process, however, can be labor intensive.
  3. Delete it (404). This is the lazy man’s way to deal with expired content — and it’s a horrible idea. It wastes any incoming links, irritates the search engines, and upsets users (even if you do have a hip 404 page). Remember, 404 pages are appropriate for people who mistype a URL. They are not a way to deal with expired content.
  4. Improve it. This is hands down the hardest approach, but also the best. Look at a page and ask yourself, “How can I make this page better?” You might need to update a page if the information on the page is no longer accurate, or consolidate it with another page if you see an overlap in content between two pieces. Perhaps you need to update an outdated event or obsolete product page, instead of deleting them.

Now that we’ve explored why we should fix old, broken, and neglected content, and how to fix it, let’s look at what you should do with 10 specific types of content.

1. Past events

Imagine you held an event last year. It was your first live event, but you knew that you would hold the event again the following year. Instead of putting a year or date in the URL, just use the name of the event.

This: yoursite.com/live-event

Not this: yoursite.com/live-event-2014

So when it comes time for next year’s event, all you have to do is update the page.

Rework the content with a new introduction, list of speakers, and venue description. This allows the popularity of the URL to grow as the popularity of the event grows.

This also allows that one URL to grow in age and authority, never losing traffic along the way.

And don’t just delete the information from your last event. Take last year’s event information and create a new page. Then on the original URL, create an archive of past events, so people can go back and look at content from prior events.

Of course if it’s a one-time event, then you’ll want to redirect it. For example, say you promote a monthly seminar. After that event is over, evaluate the content and keywords people use to find that page, and then redirect it to a post that matches your message.

Or simply update the page with an announcement stating the event is over, and include a link to the replay.

2. Obsolete products

For one reason or another, products sometimes become obsolete. They exhaust their life cycles, better products come along and replace them, or they become part of larger products. This is equally true for discontinued services.

What should you do with these pages?

It depends.

If you have a near-identical product you can redirect traffic to — that will satisfy user intent — then you can redirect it. But in most circumstances, you’ll want to update the old page and explain what happened to the old product.

3. Product or company name changes

Sometimes companies change a product’s name. If that’s the case, update the old page like you would with an expired product. This holds true if a company changes their name, too.

The principle with expired content is to explain to people what is going on.

If they click on a link thinking they are going to a particular page and it simply redirects without explanation, then you distort and confuse their experience.

It’s better to match expectations and deliver the page they want to visit — even if they have to click on another link to get to their desired destination. Users want to be in control.

4. Sales that have ended

Every so often, we run flash sales or offer massive discounts over at StudioPress. For each sale, we create a unique page.

When the sale is over, we redirect the page to the corresponding, standard StudioPress landing page.

5. Expired job or house listings

In both cases, the best approach is simply to update the page, explain the house has been sold or the job has been filled — and then provide the option to search for similar jobs or houses.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, then redirect them to the closest category match. You want to give visitors an opportunity to continue to search on your site for different options.

6. Closed membership site registration

Some online producers, like James Chartrand and Jeff Goins, create limited-capacity training courses. They only allow a certain number of members in, and when they hit their ceiling, they close registration.

In this case, you would simply indicate on that landing page that membership is closed.

But that’s not all. You’ll also want to add a sign-up form, so people can enter their email addresses and get on a wait list to learn when registration re-opens.

courseclosed

7. Out-of-stock or seasonal products

The method above works equally well for temporarily out-of-stock physical products (think coffee mugs or books) or seasonal products, like swimsuits or thermal onesies.

And no, I don’t wear thermal onesies. Often.

8. Repetitive content

Let’s be honest: If you blog long enough, you start to repeat yourself. That’s okay, as long as you approach the topic from a new angle. This is because you will always have new readers, and even the more seasoned, sophisticated readers need to be reminded of the basics.

But over time that content may look so familiar that it provides no real value. In other words, it may not be duplicated, but it’s derivative.

Let’s say you run a blog about the horrors of tanning booths.

During your audit, you discover three articles that tackle the same topic three different ways. One of the posts is getting a heavy stream of traffic, but the other two are dried up. Can you merge those three into one article and cut the fluff?

Keep in mind, you’ll want to keep the most popular post alive and redirect the other two to it.

9. Outdated reviews

If you review a product or service, and that product or service is no longer available (or changed beyond recognition), you might want to consider keeping it and updating the content. Let me explain.

From an archive standpoint, you will probably have people down the road looking for information about the product. If you keep yours alive and well-groomed, it might turn into one of the only authoritative pieces out there — thus you might garner some links from stories by journalists on big media sites, as well as strong traffic.

And it’s always wise to update reviews on the fly.

For example, I have a review of my failed month on Medium on Copybot. Shortly after I published the post, I was contacted by one of Medium’s designers who asked for clarification so he could fix some of the problems I mentioned.

Within hours the changes were made, and I had to update my review.

Staying on top of content like this is time-consuming, but worth it. You look like you are paying attention and not lazy.

10. Old guest post landing pages

A smart practice to get in the habit of is creating a landing page devoted to the traffic you will receive from a guest post you write on another site.

For example, say I write an article for Problogger. In my byline I would not send readers to a generic landing page asking them to download a book. I would create a special landing page with them in mind — with detailed copy that says something like, “Hey Problogger readers, thanks for coming over to my site.” And so on.

Over time, though, I may have 30 of these separate landing pages. In this case, it would be wise to use the same landing page for every guest post I write for Problogger, but update it with new information each time.

Some sites you write for might shut down, so any landing pages devoted to traffic coming from these sites could probably be deleted without any damage. However, I wouldn’t take the chance; simply redirect them to other relevant landing pages.

[source : copyblogger.com]

Sexy times are back on Blogger

Porn
Google will continue to permit sexually explicit content to be publicly shared on Blogger, reversing a policy change it announced earlier this week.

Instead of making blogs with adult content private, the search giant will “step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn,” Google said Friday in a post on its product support page.

On Tuesday, Google said it was adopting a more stringent stance in how adult content was shared on its blogging platform. According to the new policy, after March 23, blogs that displayed either sexually explicit images and videos or graphic nudity would be changed to private blogs. Access to these sites would be restricted to people who received an invitation from the owners. The content, however, would not be deleted. To keep their blogs in the public realm, owners had to delete the explicit videos and images.

Several Blogger users said they received an email from Google on Monday outlining the changes, according to support forum posts.

People questioned why Google would implement a retroactive change that could have an impact on older accounts, Friday’s post said, adding that some blogs have existed for more than a decade. The policy change also drew the ire of users who express themselves by posting sexually explicit content, Google said.

Bloggers criticized Google’s decision to modify its adult content policy. The writer and webmaster of an adult content blog said preserving content wouldn’t help her site after Google killed off its user base. Sending out individual invitations would prove daunting, she said.

Bloggers with sexually explicit images and videos must still label their sites as containing adult content, placing them behind a warning page.

[source : pcworld.com]