Mar 082012
 

Part 7 – More Traffic Sources

Getting links from other websites is not the only way to attract visitors to visit your blog. This time, we are going to explore alternative methods to attract high quality traffic with both free and paid methods.

The first thing you can do to generate traffic is to recycle all the content you have written on your blog. What I really mean is to turn your blog posts into little “manuals” or articles that help people solve their problems or offer valuable information and submit them to article directories. These article directories are like aggregators that collect articles of similar themes together in one place, so they receive thousands and thousands of qualified visitors every day.

When you submit your articles to these directories, you are exposing your name to the thousands of pairs of eyes visiting them for free! On most article directories, you are also permitted to include a “resource box” where you can include your contact details, a simple biography and so on. This is where you can truly leverage the traffic of the said article directories.

Some good article directories to get you started:

www.eZineArticles.com

www.ultimatearticledirectory.com

www.submityourarticle.com

Another excellent way to gain traffic is to join internet forums that is based on your niche. To find these kind of forums, just go to any search engine and enter “<your niche> +forum”, without the quotes. You would want the most focused forum with a substantial number of active members, and preferably always bustling with activity. Just check the dates of the threads posted on the forum.

When you join active forums that focus on your field of discussion and post very useful and valuable posts, your peers will start noticing you and paying attention to what you have to say. In most forums, you are also allowed to append a link to your site in the signature line, which is under every post you make on the forums. People will click and visit your blog if they find your posts helpful and informative. This way, your credibility is built even before they land on your blog, so traffic from the forums would be easier to turn into profits if your blog is selling your own products or recommending others’ as an affilliate since they are already convinced you’re an “expert” in the field.

The strategy we’ll discuss is word of mouth. Let’s say you already have a daily visitor count of 100. What if you compiled a small report or gift and posted it on your blog, saying that if a certain visitor can refer three of his/her friends to visit your blog the gift will be his/hers for free? If your small report or gift is lucrative enough, it will generate a small buzz among your blog readers and they will surely refer their friends to this blog that they frequent!

You can also utilize the “blog and ping” technique that everyone’s talking about. Basically, when you update your blog, you can let blog portals such as www.technorati.com know by pinging them. You can ping a lot of portals at once by using the free www.pingomatic.com.

Besides the techniques described here, there are also paid methods like buying links from high-ranking pages or buying banner advertisement space. A thing to keep in mind when buying paid traffic is to always weigh your profits generated from the paid ads. If your profits do no offset the expense, you will end up losing money, so choose wisely.

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
Mar 082012
 

Part 6 – Offpage Search Engine Optimization II

In the last article, we talked about how getting high quality links from authoritative websites in your field can boost your search engine rankings. This time, we’re going to explore further into linking strategies, and how to determine and obtain “high quality” links. We’re also going to talk briefly about Google’s PageRank.

First, let’s examine a regular link. It’s a piece of text (or image, but we’re going for text) that links to your blog, and some of the factors that matter are

1)     The address which it links to

2)     The text of the link

3)     The PageRank of the page on which the link resides

Let’s analyze this information one by one. First, you’d naturally want the link to link to your blog, but to which page of your blog? To an individual post or to your blog’s home page? Since your blog is a constantly updated website, it is always wise to accumulate all the links to point to your main page instead if individual posts because they tend to be very time-sensitive.

The text of the link also affects your rankings for a certain keyword. Let’s say your blog is about technological gadgets and another site has a link that says “Barbie dolls” and links to your blog. Doesn’t make much sense, right? If a lot of links that link to your site contain the terms “technological” or “gadget”, it will greatly boost your rankings for those keywords. Hence, it’s essential to put some thoughts when requesting links from other webmasters as you want them to link to your blog with appropriate keywords.

Now, about Google’s PageRank. It’s basically a scale set by Google to measure the popularity of websites. You can read more about it on http://www.google.com/technology/. What is interesting is that the higher the PageRank of a certain website, the more frequent Google’s robots will visit the website to index it. Of course, the PageRank of a page will also help it to rank higher in Google’s search engine results. In short, having a high PageRank will bring you many benefits SEO-wise.

Your blog will start with no PageRank (which is different to PageRank 0) because Google has not yet indexed your blog. Once Google’s robots find your blog through links on other sites, your blog will show a PageRank of 0 and depending on the PageRank of the referring page, your blog’s PageRank will also rise eventually.

Getting high-quality links to your blog will help direct targetted visitors who are interested in your niche to your blog, enable search engines to find and index your blog and ultimately rank higher in search engine results.

 Posted by at 6:28 pm
Mar 072012
 

Part 5 – Offpage Search Engine Optimization

We’ve already optimized our blog to rank well for search results of certain keywords that we’re targetting, but here comes the sad news – it affects your ranking in only very minor ways. However, don’t skip this step as every little bit helps when you’re competing for search engine rankings!

Now, we’re moving on to offpage search engine optimization. That is, factors that are not on your blog but affect your search engine rankings very greatly. There are a lot of offpage factors, but we shall study them one by one. The first and most obvious one is the number of links to your blog.

As a general rule of thumb, the more links to your blog, the more the search engines think you are an authority in that particular niche and hence the higher they rank you. However, take care to observe the quality of the links. For example, a thousand links from totally irrelevant sites like online dating sites would not help at all because your blog is a technological product blog. In contrast, a single link from a highly authoritative site about technological gadgets will get the search engines crawling about your blog like the Feds storming a crack den…

Anyway, the most cost effective way of getting high quality links from authoritative sites is simply to ask for it. If your blog contains high quality content that is original and will provide valuable information to the site’s readers, chances are the webmaster(s) will link to your blog or even write about you!

Let’s talk about how we should ask these webmasters of authority to link to your blog. We’re discussing this based on the presumption that your blog is really content rich and offer high quality information to anyone in your niche or topic of discussion. The most viable option would be to send an email directly to the webmaster.

First, let’s look for the top sites in your niche. Simply search the major search engines for the term that you’re targetting. In this case, let’s search for “technological gadgets”. The first few results, www.t3.co.uk and www.acarplace.com/brands/gm/gadgets.html are commercial sites, so don’t bother asking. We’re looking for community-based sites and other blogs that are more accessible to a complete newcomer like you. Seems like www.gizmodo.com would be a good option!

So, compose an email to the webmaster of www.gizmodo.com (whose email address you shall find on the site). They even have their AIM contact there, so it’s also a good choice if you use AOL Instant Messenger. Start by stating how you came across their site (i.e. “looking for gadget information”, NOT “looking for link partners!”) and how you think their site provides valuable info. Basically, try to say something really good about their site honestly.

Then, suggest that so-and-so content on your own blog will be a nice complement to their site’s content and vice versa. Put a link on your blog to their site and ask subtly if they might be able to do the same to weld a mutually beneficial relationship between the site and your blog.

Along the way, you might find people who won’t even respond to your email, so forget about them and move on. Remove the links from your blog to their site if they have not responded to your email within two weeks, which is a pretty long wait.

Keep doing this for the first 30 search results that pop up, and before long you should have quite a few good sites all linking to you. In the next article, we shall explore further the more advanced offpage factors, and ways to improve them!

 Posted by at 9:14 pm
Mar 062012
 

Part 4 – On Page Search Engine Optimization

Now, you should have a blog full with content you have passionately written. It should be a very interesting grapevine for the community of your chosen niche, as opposed to a lifeless factsheet.

However, no matter how delicious your content is, if there is nobody to read it you can’t generate profit from it. Traffic is the lifeblood of your blog. In order to attract people, you must offer attractive information. Simple enough.

However, to get traffic onto your site, you have to think backwards. Where do people look when they need information? Yes, they search using search engines like www.google.com, www.yahoo.com and www.msn.com, to name a few more popular ones. So, to get these people on your blog, your blog needs to rank high on search result pages of these search engines. When these people search for information through the search engines and see your site among the top results, they will naturally click through to your blog!

The art of getting your blog or website onto high rankings on search result pages is called search engine optimization. It is a very complex and hard subject to master, but that doesn’t stop us from learning simple yet effective techniques to conquer the search results for certain keywords. The more complex techniques are usually needed to fight for very competitive and general keywords such as “fat loss”, but I’ll teach you how to overcome that later.

For now, let’s determine the keywords that you want to optimize your site for. For example, your blog talks about tech gadgets. Now, you’d want to check in Google whether it is a very competetive keyword. At this time of writing, there are 29, 000 ,000 search results. Think you can beat 29, 000, 000 sites at your first attempt? I don’t think so.

Now, let’s try to narrow down our scope. Let’s look for “technological gadgets” instead. At this time of writing, Google lists 792, 000 results. That’s more manageable, but you’d like to search for more focused keywords. However, let’s optimize your blog for “technological gadget” just for the sake of learning.

First, you have to pay attention to the title of your blog. Since you’re optimizing for technological gadgets, you need to have that exact phrase in your blog title. For example, a line like “Your Best Technological Gadget Blog!” would work great. You can change the title of your blog in the Blogger control panel or the WordPress blog when you’re creating it. If you’re proficient with HTML, you can even do that on other blog engines like Moveable Type. Bottom line? Learn a little HTML!

Other than that, your page heading should also contain the term you’re optimizing for. The page heading is the bit of text in your code that is enclosed within the <h1> and </h1> tags. This is important as it tells the search engines what your page is about (in this case, “technological gadgets”). Since we’re posting a blog, the <h1> </h1> tags are usually the post titles, so remember to include the term there whenever relevant.

One last bit, you should also sprinkle the words “technological gadgets” in your posts whenever possible. The frequent occurrence of that phrase in your blog will hint the search engines that your blog is really relevant to that topic.

However, this is the most important bit of all. Always keep in mind that you’re writing for real life people who read your blog to obtain information, so it is very stupid to spam your blog with keywords! In fact, if you do that, the search engines will end up thinking you’re spamming and drop your ranking further down into oblivion… So keep in mind! Write for humans, not search engines!

 Posted by at 6:57 pm
Mar 052012
 

Part 3 – Blog Content Brainstorming

Face the fact – your blog needs to be regularly updated to maintain its readership! Hence, you must always find fresh topics to write about, and we’re going to discuss how to do just that in this article.

We have discussed how to write attractively, so now we are going to discuss what we are going to write on. The very first option that I think a blogger should write on is a topic that he or she feels passionate and interested in. You’ve chosen to make blogging your career because you want to escape a mundane job – forcing yourself to write about something that you’re not interested in is as torturous as as your mundane job!

The other reason I ask you to write about something you’re passionate about is because your feelings and emotion shows through your writings! If you feel indifferent to a certain subject but still write about it just for the sake of it, your readers will notice it. Remember the advice about writing with a personality? Forcing yourself to write will not establish a welcoming style at all.

Once you have chosen your main theme, start posting to your blog about it and make it a habit to post at least once every day, even if it’s only a comment on the newspaper article you read today. Think of yourself as a gigantic train. It takes a lot of effort to get you moving. First, you might just budge an inch, and later trudge slowly on until you finally reach your full speed. Then, it’ll take a lot of effort to stop you instead!

However, no matter how well you know your topic, your brain is bound to get exhausted over some time, so here are methods to brainstorm for content for your blog.

1)      The very best way to brainstorm is to see what other bloggers have to say about stuff happening in your field of discussion. And the very best way to find related blogs is to use http://blogsearch.google.com/ or www.technorati.com. There are other decent search tools too, you just have to look around. From other blogs, you can gather more knowledge on your subject and you can also comment on what
others have to say on your own blog!

2)     Once you’ve established contacts with other bloggers in your field, you’ll have quite an unexhaustible “conversation” ongoing, so you’ll not need to actively search for content to write about. However, if you’re still stuck, search for news articles related to your niche in the local newspaper or online through sites like http://news.google.com and http://news.yahoo.com.

3)     You can also have conversations with people with the same interest as you in the particular niche you choose, so you will eventually build up a bank of questions and answers and interesting discussions to write about in your blog. To do this, join forums related to your niche, but don’t join every forum there is out there. Stick with one or two with the biggest number of members or the one which is most focused on your niche. This will also come in handy much later in gaining traffic and generating profits.

Remember to keep up your momentum of posting at least once per day (or more if you have a lot of content to write about) so that the major search engines will know that your blog has fresh content everyday. This will attract the search engines to spider your page on a more frequent basis, hence gaining you extra traffic.

Don’t worry about the paragraph above about generating traffic and search engines, because we’re going to talk about that in more detail later. For now, remember to keep a consistent effort everyday and build up momentum like that of a locomotive!

 Posted by at 7:22 pm