I have long been someone who’s believed that the more one writes on their blog, the more traffic they’ll get, the higher their blogs will rank, and the better opportunity they’ll have to be more popular across the board. That certainly used to be true; back in the days where I was writing more than 300 posts a year on this blog it was very highly ranked. Once I slowed down, my ranking dropped, which has happened to all my long time blogging friends who have reduced how much they put out.
On the 5th of this month I put out this question: should you have a website. If you’re going to have a website, there are some things you want to consider when having one designed for you. These things not only have to do with how your site will work on the internet, but have to do with how you want yourself being represented for your business.
The first is a sense of symmetry. For your main page, you want things to be aligned in certain ways so that the site isn’t visually offensive to your visitors.
Having pictures scattered all over the site instead of placed in strategic places looks junky.
Having text show up in different areas on the page looks amateurish.
Having multiple fonts throughout your text, without a specific reason why, destroys ones credibility.
Having your content centered in some fashion is a must, whether you decide to have your page left justified or not. Your customers are going to question your judgment and competence because your site won’t look like it represents a professional, whether a professional created it or not.
Symmetry goes beyond the first page, though. If you have multiple pages on your site, trying to maintain some semblance of similarity for each page is preferable to having each page look totally different. Moving your menus around is a terrible idea, and not having each menu item work on each page is a mistake I’ve seen over and over.
There can be changes here and there, as long as the basic structure has been kept. For instance, on one of my client’s sites, there are two pictures of the client on the first page that slightly throw off one of the menus as far as alignment goes, but the menu is in the same spot on each subsequent page so that the visitor knows to expect that menu in that place.
Color is a part of symmetry, and changing colors and fonts for each page could be risky. If you have a specific reason for it, then that’s fine. For instance, for one of my client’s sites, the individual articles off the articles page have a totally different layout and color than the rest of the site, because the articles open up in a different window, as kind of a stand alone site. However, the rest of the pages, which are linked, have the same look and feel on each page.
The second thing to consider is making sure you have keywords and keyword phrases scattered throughout the pages that you actually expect people to search for on search engines, if you’re hoping to be found.
Anyone who’s used a search engine knows that if people go looking for shoes you’re going to end up with millions and millions of pages. So they start refining their search terms. Something like “shoe” will get millions of pages. “Blue shoes” will start to reduce the number a bit more. “Leather blue shoes” will reduce the number even further. “Handmade leather blue shoes” reduces the number even more.
Now that you’ve got one search term, you think of another that someone might put into a search engine to find your items. The trick is to find search terms that someone might legitimately put into a search engine that will help separate you from the pack; with the above example, even the last term I chose ends up being too broad. That’s why it’s best to find multiple search terms, even in businesses that don’t have as much competition as the word “shoes” might.
The final thing to consider is the amount of content you want to have on your site. For instance, going back to “shoes”, if you wanted to try to have one single page for all the shoes you sold, you’d be doing yourself a disservice and you’d make very few sales. That’s because there are many different varieties of shoes.
You probably want to think about dividing up your site into the different types of shoes you might market: sneakers, books, loafers, heels, etc. Each one of these types of shoes would have its own page, which now gives you more chances to optimize your site even further with keyword phrases. All of these pages help your site to be found by search engines, and it makes going through your site easier for your customers in general because they can go to the pages they want to specifically visit.
This works the same with a business website as opposed to a sales website. You always want to say more about your business than what you might mention on your main page, and if you have other pages to talk more about your services, your bio, your customers, whatever, it all helps in the overall optimization of your site. That, plus the more pages you have, the more your potential clients may see how valuable your services are. It may only be perception, but any benefit your site can give you in a positive.
Think about these things before you get too deep into creating your website; they could save you a lot of time and grief in the long run. It may not hurt to talk to an internet marketing consultant to help you sort these things out.
That looks like an antagonistic title, doesn’t it? In a way it is, but in a way it’s not. This is one of those posts where I’m going to use my own expertise to dispute something someone else wrote where, in my opinion, they’re totally wrong. I’m also going to link to the post because one, it allows you the visitor to go see the entire post, and two, linking to someone you’re talking about, good or bad, is just being courteous.
Before I move on I just want to add that this is the type of thing that can help to make a business blog work well. It’s not bad when you agree with what someone else says and want to enhance it, but it’s also not bad when you don’t just follow along with what someone else says when you don’t agree.
Anyway, on a blog called Hongkiat, the writer wrote a post titled Popular Blogging Advice That Don’t Work (and What Does). Forgiving the grammar since English isn’t his first language, he listed 5 points that he believed don’t work, or aren’t true about blogging. I disagree with 3 of his points, and I brought those points up on his blog in the comments. But I wanted to say a bit more, hence this post.
Here’s the points and my commentary on them; I’m paraphrasing them since he wrote the points differently:
1. Blogging every day doesn’t do your blog any good.
His point was that no one could write every day because they’d run out of things to say and that the content wouldn’t be very good. I want to negate that statement; it’s not impossible but it’s not easy. On one of my blogs I was an almost every day blogger. I averaged just over 300 posts a year my first three years with that blog. In one stretch, I wrote 37 days in a row, 5 of those days 2 posts a day. Were there some duds? Yes, but I felt that all the rest were pretty good.
Here’s the truth. The more you write, the more traffic you’ll get. That’s been proven over and over. The other truth is that, for a blog, if there are too many articles in a day or in a week, visitors might get confused by what they need to read. Sure, I had a great output, and my traffic showed it, and thus my rankings went up; that was good. But I didn’t get tons of comments, and some posts didn’t get any comments at all.
Still, it built up my web presence, and I was willing to write that much to help that blog gain prominence, which it has. After 3 years I decided to slow down some, not commit to writing every day, but to commit to having a new post at least every 3 days or so. That I have stuck with, and I now get way more comments. But writing a lot established the blog, so it does work.
2. It’s impossible to write great content if you blog every day.
As I mentioned above, this is a fallacy, but let me take it a step further. In a post I wrote back in 2011 titled What Is High Quality Content, I stated that it’s a recommendation I see people making all the time but no one has ever tried defining it. So I did, and came up with these four points:
* If you’re writing about something that’s supposed to teach someone something new, did you explain it well enough?
* If you’re trying to tell a story and you don’t skip on details, such that people are left wondering “what the heck was that about”, then you’re creating high quality content.
* Are you writing something about a particular belief or thought? Have you taken the time to explain why believe as you do, or are you just saying something and moving on?
* Are you being true to yourself?
People from my generation remember B-sides of 45’s, and sometimes those songs were just as good as the songs being pushed by the studios. Not every post you write will be a home run, but if you tried to get it right in some fashion, were on point, and even if it was short it’s an honest post, it’s great content. You’re telling me that you can’t do that every time out, even if you wrote something every day? Sure you can; never sell yourself short.
3. Commenting frequently on other blogs doesn’t do anything for your blog.
In 2011 I did something as an experiment. I was interviewed on a very prominent blog by a young man who’s an up and comer in the online social media world. I also wrote a guest post for a very high ranking blog, something I don’t do all that often. During the same period, I decided to complete the test by making sure I wrote comments on 5 blogs every day for at least a week; I do comment on a lot of blogs but often I do a bunch in one day.
The results were staggering. Out of all the traffic numbers 85% of my visits came from blog commenting out of those 3 things. The guest post I wrote had around 200 comments, which is pretty phenomenal since I’ve never reached that on any of my blogs, but it only accounted for 9% of visits. The interview I gave accounted for the other 6%. I tracked these numbers via Google Analytics. Indeed, blog commenting does work, especially if you make sure your comments are good.
Since that time I’ve tested this one a few times, and blog commenting always works. They can’t be garbage, throwaway comments; you have to offer something based on the topic, even if it’s minor criticism or faint praise. If your comments are pretty good, people other than the owner tend to read them.
There you go. Myths dispelled with some home testing and proof. Now, does it take a lot of work? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. But if you have it, and can apply these 3 things, your blog will take off and you’ll be a very happy person.
Time for another Mitchell rant, and this time it’s on the topic of “quality backlinks”.
Here’s the deal. I understand that many people are looking to find ways to get backlinks, which to me means getting something for nothing. Yeah, that’s not quite fair, but I say that because I keep seeing post after post with titles like “5 Ways To Get Quality Backlinks” and every single one of them says almost the same thing.
You know, Google has messed up again because they tell people that the thing they look at in ranking websites and blogs is backlinks to other sites of quality. To this I say “blah”. What they’ve done is once again set people up in doing all sorts of stupid stuff, just so in two or three years they can come out with the Wolverine update and slam all of those sites for once again doing what they told them to do, saying “you idiots, we didn’t mean for you to do it that way.” And they’ll be laughing at you when it happens.
I say “you” instead of me because if you’re doing all this stuff to get backlinks and that’s your only goal, you deserve to be laughed at. And I say that while having one blog that I actually allow people to write guest posts for, which gives them a backlink to their site. But really, who’s benefiting more from that, them or me?
What are these genius recommendations I keep seeing, that you’re also seeing over and over? Here they are:
1. Write guest posts
2. Comment on other blogs
3. Write in forums
4. Post links on social networks
5. Ask others to trade links with you
Oh yeah, the sidebar 6th is to make sure you do all of this on both similarly themed websites and high ranking websites. And I saw one that talked about making sure you have quality content; didn’t I address that topic once before?
Are there problems with these recommendations? Well, some of them anyway. Guest posts are great for gaining some publicity but just how many guest posts can you write, or have someone else write for you, that’s actually going to do you any good? How many comments can you or will you actually make in a forum that’s going to help you? And don’t you hate when someone you know asks you to trade links with you and that they’ll make sure your link will be on a PR2, 3 or 4 ranked site?
The other two?
Blog commenting is more about joining the community of bloggers and having people learn who you are rather than creating backlinks, although it’s probably a benefit if you comment often and are on dofollow blogs. But if that’s all you’re looking for you’re kind of shallow.
Posting your links to social media sites is smart, but not necessarily for backlinks. Once again, the idea is getting your link out to others who might be interested in what you have to say and share and be willing to come back to your site to read your content, and they might even stick around to read other content or even buy something.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that backlinks won’t do you any good. What I will say is that the ways everyone else is telling you to do it makes no sense. Who has that kind of time? And is your motivation legitimate?
Of course, some of you now want to pin me down on this question; what would I recommend in getting backlinks if I’m saying it’s not a bad thing to have them? My recommendation; write well, and write something compelling.
I’m not using the term “high quality content” because who can really define that? Instead, I’m saying to write something that others will look at, read, possibly comment, and then might be intrigued enough to want to link to you in their content. Wow, what a novel idea!
How do you do that? It’s a combination of 3 things:
1. Write things that are entertaining and challenging that makes people think and gets them to want to share your stuff without you asking them to
2. Try linking back to someone else’s blog post or article every once in awhile to show how it’s done. People not only like returning the compliment but commenting on what someone else had to say shows you read the post, were touched by the post, and that maybe your own stuff is worth looking at. You don’t always have to agree by the way; if you’re a consistent reader of this blog you’ll see that I’m always pulling a link from someone else’s blog and commenting on it.
3. Go get people to come to your blog by commenting on their blogs (good comments, not drive by’s) and by sharing your links on social media. This is a combined effort, but you have to be diligent with it. I’ve made this recommendation before and I’ll make it again. If you don’t have lots of time, find 5 blogs that you like and only concentrate on those 5 for awhile. But put your links out everywhere you can think of, that you like, at least once.
That’s it. Do that stuff, keep doing that stuff, and you’ll build up more juice for your blog or website than you can imagine. You’ll get quality people coming to your blog and the search engines won’t penalize you; who can ask for anything better than that?
Well, maybe one more thing. In this video myself and the rest of the Hot Blog Tips Hangout group talked about finding motivation in blogging, and we broached the subject of this post as well; enjoy:
As y’all know, I’ve been talking a lot about marketing lately. I’ve also been talking about the myth, of sorts, of making money by blogging. Well, I’m here to add some things to previous conversations.
via PATV Channel via Flickr
First, I’ve always believed that if one has a highly ranked blog that they should be making pretty good money, enough so that they won’t have to work for anyone else ever again. That doesn’t turn out to be true at all, but not for the reasons you might believe.
There are two reasons a person won’t make a lot of money if their blog is highly ranked.
One is because their audience isn’t quite niched properly. By that I mean like my blog. I talk a lot about social media and technology stuff but at a moment’s notice I’ll change up and talk about marketing, diabetes, whatever. I have a nice group of people that subscribe to this blog and some other folks that stop by on a regular basis, but overall I’ve never niched this blog so that it continually attracts a specific group of people that might be interested in buying any of the stuff I have on the left or right sidebars of this blog.
Two, the other is that some of those people aren’t trying to make money blogging, even if the rest of us think they are. One of my friends who stops by here often pretty much told me that’s not her focus right now; it’s on content, plain and simple, and one day she might give it a real try. I’m not going to mention her name, but I am going to mention someone else’s name, and by extension mention a host of other folks.
I once talked about Steve Pavlina, who has stopped taking comments on his blog, and how much he writes. Truth be told, I have way more posts than he has, but he writes these really long posts, sometimes as much as 7,500 words. He puts a lot of time into researching his posts, sometimes experimenting before writing the posts, and I have to say that until he went on one 30 day challenge for himself that frankly freaked me out a bit, I used to stop in and read his blog a lot.
Now, here’s two things. One, he’s not making any money blogging. He’s got a highly ranked website, and he talks about writing lots of content that’s timeless and valuable to everyone that stops by. Two, he doesn’t have to try to make money from blogging because he’s already got money. The guy makes money in a totally different way that has nothing to do with blogging or writing. In other words, he’s got the money to do whatever he wants, including writing long blog posts, going on vacations whenever he likes, etc. How do I know? Because a few nights ago I read one of his books titled How to Build a High-Traffic Web Site (or Blog) where he talked about it.
It reminded me that there are many other bloggers with high volume websites that either do or don’t make a lot of money actually blogging because they already make money in other ways. Some that do were making money or already had money when they started, and thus really can’t relate to the rest of us.
The only one I can think of that’s somewhat like us is Darren Rowse, and you know how he did it? By having a niche blog as well as his regular blog, and the niche blog generated the big bucks. He also started off writing 9 or 10 posts a day, which fits the criteria about content. A lot of content will drive visitors and traffic, even if it’s not one long article. As a matter of fact, the highest ranked sites have multiple bloggers or use a lot of guest posts to help populate things. Copyblogger is an example, along with Huffington Post, of blog sites with lots of posts per day.
So, we come back to the two ways; niche blog and lots of content. For the record, a 7,500 word post works out to 10 – 15 posts for most people, and Pavlina does that 2 or 3 times a week. How many of you think you could do that? If I didn’t have 5 blogs I think I could do it, if I knew that’s what was going to make me money. But that’s still the issue isn’t it? You drive traffic but who’s to say that you’d have the right niche topic that brought buyers as well as readers?
I don’t really believe that any of the blogs I have right now would bring buyers, even if I was writing that much content daily. That means I’d have to figure out a way to modify things somewhere so that one blog could be within a broad niche so I could have enough to write about, but also make it a niche where there are buyers. It’s certainly not going to be leadership, it’s not going to be a local blog, and it’s not going to be a blog on SEO. I’m not sure a blog on social media would get it done.
But a blog on technology; yeah, that might get it done. A blog on working out might get it done. A cooking blog, absolutely. Man, too bad that’s stuff I can’t write enough on. If I were in my 20’s I could probably tackle technology but that’s it. I actually do have a friend that was making pretty good money writing on horses and horse equipment, but she found it hard to sustain at a certain level after awhile and turned it into a magazine, where she has a main sponsor that helps her out some. That proves that with the right niche you can do it, but also proves that it takes content, continuous and lots of it, to get it done.
Do you have what it takes inside of you to get it done? Are you at least thinking about things in a different way? Let me know.