November 28, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Why Blogger Is No Good For Business Blogging

Posted by: of BizGrowthNews on 10/12/08

I was recently running a workshop about Word of Mouse Marketing using social media from blogging to microblogging, podcasting to video casting and it was heartening to see that about 8 per cent of the 140 attendees were blogging about their business.

However I then became disheartened as most of those blogs had been developed on a platform such as Blogger or WordPress.com.

If anyone tells you that business blogging is not a significant investment of your time, they clearly are not a business blogger developing online content and implementing a link building strategy to bring traffic to their business blog.

Don’t get me wrong, blogging is a terrific online marketing strategy if executed effectively. I could think of no other way that I would have attracted as many leads to my business so cost effectively without a business blog.

However if you are going to invest in business blogging, be good to yourself… don’t have all those wonderful incoming links to your great content go to a blog that is not hosted by you.

You might think this is something that only happens for small businesses – it’s not!

From well established businesses using WordPress.com to Marketing Directors of major companies who should know more about branding than most, using a blog that is detracting from their personal brand online as they are using Blogger, many companies are using free hosted and poorly branded business blogs.

Online personal branding coaches look to encourage people to use Typepad.com as a blog platform – whilst it’s a great blogging platform that I use and recommend and it’s especially helpful if you want a low tech solution for a personal career portfolio, if you also have a website, a Typepad blog is not going to help you with your link building and search engine optimisation strategy for your main website which is becoming even more critical as few people now move beyond page 1 of Google when searching and researching online. What do they do if they can not find what they are looking for online on the first page of their search? They change the words they are using to search with of course.

Investing a little and money in implementing a business blog that is hosted on your website not only makes you look like you take business blogging seriously as part of your online marketing strategy, it also means that every link to your great content is a link to your website.

That way you will be sure to benefit even more from your online content strategy buildng links to your business blog.

UPDATE 29 DECEMBER 2008

Thanks everyone for the contribution to the discussion.

I recently had a discussion with a PR expert who advised me about a WordPress.com site they had set up for their client who wanted to try blogging but was unsure about whether it was something that they would continue in the medium to long term. The plan was then to import the content into a blog hosted on their website if they determined that blogging was for them.

If this is a way to encourage companies to blog (alternative approaches could include hosting a blog internally, having a project related blog or password protecting your business blog in the early days as you get into your stride) then it’s certainly worth considering – but make sure that you define the trial period on the hosted platform.

Hosting your own content for the reasons outlined in the comments and ensuring that your blog reflects your brand and corporate identiy and tone of voice is important.

And remember if you are still not convinced by the debate in the comments to this article about the benefits of hosting your own blog and you decide to continue to use one of the hosted free platforms or low cost platforms available, take the time to map your own domain name to the blog (as an example here is the guidance form Typepad on domain mapping).

Your business blog is an extension of your online identity and brand. So don’t let your business blog be bland!

Five More Reasons You Need to Start Blogging Today

Posted by: of BSETC on 05/10/08

Back in December of 2007, I decided that I wanted to try something new and fresh with my website. I was also getting tired of the standard websites with their uniform look and I didn’t really feel like I was getting any benefit from it. So, I did a bit of research and decided that I wanted to try a blogging platform and after a bit more research, I chose WordPress.

Before I fully converted to the blog, I was receiving approximately 900 unique visitors each month.

  • By January, one month after I converted, I was receiving 1300 unique visitors.
  • By February it had grown to 2500 unique visitors
  • In March, it had grown to 4000 unique visitors in the month.

That is four times the traffic I started with!

So, let’s look at the top five reasons why you need a blog (in my biased opinion, WordPress is the way to go so I will reference WP throughout this post but you could use any blogging platform to achieve these same benefits…):

1. Blogs are User-Friendly and Very Easy to Use

The upside to having blog software as opposed to a website is that it is very user-friendly. The blog uses a GUI, or a graphic-user interface, which means that that everything that you may need to do is laid out in simple to understand graphics. The blogging software also conforms to the standards of most other software programs. For example, the graphic icons you see in Microsoft Office programs are very similar to the graphics you’ll see inside of your blog.

The reason that this is so important is that YOU can update your OWN website and you don’t need to pay high prices in web design fees to do so! There is no messing around with HTML code, you can avoid having a dull, lifeless site that people only visit occasionally and instead, you can update it yourself and give people a reason to return again and again and again.

The other upside to this is that when you want something changed quickly, you can do so. You no longer have to wait on a web designer or a virtual assistant, you can just pop in to the dashboard and update the page you need to make changes to and click save and boom – you’re done!

Making regular posts is also easy to do. In a few, short clicks and then some keystrokes for the body of your post, you can have fresh, new content on your blog immediately. If you’re feeling particularly creative one day, you can write a series of posts and save them all to post on future dates. For me, I will write eight or nine blog entries at a time and save them to post one or two days apart. This is also useful if you are going on vacation. In February, my husband and I went to the Dominican for a vacation and before I left, I wrote blog entries to cover the week I was gone and just posted them in advance. On the days that I specified, my blog entries showed up on the blog!

2. Blogs Are Easy to Navigate

All blogs follow a fairly standard style of formatting and navigation. Although each template may look different, they all contain the same standard elements. When I visit a blog, I always know where to go to see Recent Posts. I also know that on the majority of blogs, I will be able to find a place to subscribe to the blogs feed. A feed is simply a syndication of your blog entries. That syndicated text is then sent out to your blog visitors feed readers and is sent out to the search engines, etc. This is part of the reason that blogging is so powerful in getting people to your site.

Have you ever visited a website where every menu has been different and each sidebar contained different text depending on where you were on the website? Those types of websites are confusing and they don’t lead the website visitor where they should be going. With blogging software, it remains standard and is always updating itself. When you make a change on one sidebar, it automatically updates on every other sidebar which eliminates any sort of confusion for your website visitors.

A great book I want to recommend is Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.� Even if you don’t design websites, you want to read this book. A lot of the reasons that I love blogs are outlined in his usability section. He references making websites more functional by following his principles but what is so great is that a blog already conforms to many of his standards.

3. People Can Subscribe to Your Blog and Stay Current

Now, I want to explain what RSS is first. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. What it is is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts. People who are into blogging will use your RSS feed to do a few things:

  • They may subscribe to receive a daily digest of new content. Think of how powerful this is in terms of keeping you in touch with your target market. If someone receives constant, updated messages from you, you are always in their line of sight and they will see what you are up to, new products or services you are launching and how much knowledge you have on your chosen subject.
  • They may also add you to their feed reader. I have a program that I use called Feed Demon and this software program tracks all of the blogs I am interested in by capturing and updating the feed that comes from the blog. Each day I can open up this software program and have an instant summary of every blog I have subscribed to and I can review what it is people are talking about. This allows me to stay current without having a thousand bookmarks in my internet browser or trying to remember which blogs I liked to read. The same is true for your visitors. They want a quick, easy way to be reminded that you exist and that you are posting things that they want to know about.

Normal sites don’t do this for you unless you are putting out a monthly ezine that contains all of your business updates. By having the blog, you can nearly cut out the monthly ezine and just let the blog do the work for you!

4. Search Engines Love Them and They Are Content Managers

In fact, it’s so easy to build content on your blog that I have actually created info-products based on content I had blogged about over the past year. Info-products become simple to do because you aren’t creating fresh, new content each and every time. What you blog about could become an article which could turn into an e-book. Blogging gets you into the habit of writing and creating which then allows you to easily and effortlessly create info-products.

Your visitors will also love this because when they show up on your site looking for assistance in your chosen profession, they can find a whole archive of great content. Most of my blogging clients will archive their past newsletters or e-zines on their blogs so that their clients can read past issues without having to download PDFs or visit thirteen or fourteen different web pages.

Search engines love blogs for a number of reasons. Number one, they love the fact that fresh, new content is being posted all of the time. Even if you are only updating it once a week, you will still see the benefits from it. Each and every time you post something to your blog, the search engines are automatically pinged and if you have pinging software installed, which is free and simple to use, it’ll automatically ping the different services that should be pinged.

Number two, search engines love hyperlinks and trackbacks. Hyperlinks are links to other people’s websites, blog entries, audio files, etc. and track backs are special links from someone else’s blog entry that let the other person know you’ve blogged about him or her. It also posts YOUR entry on their site for other people to read. This is how blogging also becomes so viral.

5. They Become an Active Networking Source for Your Business

For me, I have met a number of brand new people through my blog. Some of these people became clients, others were just frequent readers that became friends and others asked me to collaborate with them on special projects. By having a blog, you can become a place where people visit to learn about what it is you are writing about but also so that they can meet you, get to know you and someday work with you. You can build a community and allow other people to meet through you which then allows people to talk about you and get your name out there.

If you think of standard networking, you think of people showing up to an event for about an hour, rushing through the crowds trying to get business cards and then leaving the event and never really having a true feeling of connection. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Blogging gives your interested parties a place to come to learn about you. They can start to see how you both would benefit from knowing each other and they will be more apt to approach you over time. This is a much more effective way to network and you don’t need to worry about your business card being thrown in the trash.

Another way that it becomes a networking tool is when you reach out to other people’s blogs. Once you start blogging, you will quickly realize that the whole world is blogging and there are many great things to be read. By visiting other people’s blogs and leaving comments on their posts, you will do two things: one, you will introduce yourself in a non-threatening or non-imposing way to someone you may not have wanted to just e-mail in the past and two, by showing that you have interest in that subject on their blog, you’ll gain interested visitors who share similar interests.

Erin Blaskie is the owner of Business Services ETC, The VA Coach and VA Matchmaker.  She services internet marketers, coaches, speakers and solopreneurs with their everyday operational needs which frees up their time to focus on the big picture.  She can be found at www.erinblaskie.com.

Shorten Your Blog Post URLs So You Don’t Look Spammy to Google

One of the great things about using WordPress is that it automatically creates keyword-rich, spider-friendly URLs for your posts (as long as your Permalink settings in the Options tab of the WordPress admin are configured properly). Many times, though, these URLs are TOO keyword-rich. In other words, the URL has too many words in it. That happens if you create a long title to your post, because every word in the title is worked into the URL automatically by WordPress.

But how long is “too long” for a URL? For the answer to this question, I went to the source: Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. In my interview with Matt Cutts, I asked:

“What is excessive in the length of a keyword-rich URL? We have seen clients use keyword URLs that have 10 to 15 words strung together with hyphens; or blogs – we have seen them even longer there. A typical WordPress blog will use the title of the post as the post slug, unless you defined something different and you can just go on and on and on. Can you give any guidelines or recommendations in that regard?”

Matt answered:

“Certainly. If you can make your title four- or five-words long – and it is pretty natural. If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.

The thing to be aware of is, ask yourself: “How does this look to a regular user?â€? – because if, at any time, somebody comes to your page or, maybe, a competitor does a search and finds 15 words all strung together like variants of the same word, then that does look like spam, and they often will send a spam report. Then somebody will go and check that out.

So, I would not make it a big habit of having tons and tons of words stuffed in there, because there are plenty of places on a page, where you can have relevant words and have them be helpful to users – and not have it come across as keyword stuffing.”

Based on this new information from Matt, you can see that even your blog post slugs have the potential to appear spammy and “keyword stuffed,” which doesn’t look great for your readers and may end up getting flagged as “spam.” So how can you prevent your blog from appearing spammy?

I’d strongly recommend that you curb the length of your URLs. There are a couple of different approaches to this in WordPress:

  1. Hand-craft your own “Post Slug” when you are writing the post. To do so, simply type in your desired post slug into the “Post Slug” field found on the right-hand side of the “Write Post” page in the WordPress admin (you probably will have to hit the + sign to see the field). You can mirror your post’s title but drop throwaway words like “the” and “and”. You can take the first four words or so of the title as your slug. Heck, you could even write something totally different that doesn’t resemble your post title.
  2. Use a WordPress plugin that will trim your post slugs down to a more manageable size, i.e. to five or six words. There are two plugins to choose from that will accomplish this: the WordPress Slug Trimmer plugin or the Automated SEO Friendly URL plugin.

For more great tips from Matt Cutts, I invite you to listen to my audio interview in MP3 format or read the full transcript. The interview is a little over 30 minutes long, and it has some invaluable advice.

Enjoy, and happy search engine optimized blogging!!!

 

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