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  • 5 Ways To Promote Your Blog On Pinterest That Actually Work

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by
    how to post your blog on pinterest Do you want more blog traffic? Of course, you do! Social media is continuing to be a hub for people to connect with others around the world. Moreover, Pinterest is paving the way for bloggers to drive referral traffic and increase audience engagement. Research shows that “the half-life of a pin is 1,680 times longer than a Facebook post.” This means more people are interacting with your content months after you post it. “Interaction is so easy on Pinterest that other networks have a reason to envy it. The recipe of a successful interaction is a smooth delivery of information across the board... All you need to do is create new boards, add new pins, invite others and like and re-pin other’s pins,” writes Mike Dane, a digital marketing professional. It's time to send Pinterest users to your blog. Here are five ways to get you started. Create Your Blog  

    1. Create Multiple Boards

    On Pinterest, visibility is vital to attracting new individuals to your account. Even with a targeted audience, there are several interests that your pinners will possess. So, make sure you’re catering to those needs by developing multiple boards to gain their attention. For instance, if your blog is dedicated to all things cooking, create a board for slow cooker meals, one for dishes made under 30 minutes, and maybe another for desserts. This segmentation gives someone an opportunity to pick what they want and find it quickly. For example, HostGator has several boards devoted to website inspiration, ranging from blogging tips to design ideas for an arts & craft blog. Create multiple Pinterest boards   Another pro tip? Don’t limit yourself to posting your articles in only one board. More than 80% of pins are re-pins. Thus, sharing the same pins in several boards can help more people find your blog via Pinterest’s search function and category algorithms. “It’s okay to pin your blog articles to more than one Pinterest board, but spread them out over time and pin other content in between so your Pinterest feed isn’t just you pinning five pins of your blog post to different boards,” says Peg Fitzpatrick, co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Want to give your fans a chance to find your blog posts? Drive traffic with multiple boards. [bctt tweet="80% of Pinterest pins are re-pins. Pro tip: reshare pins on multiple boards to increase visibility." username="hostgator"]  

    2. Post Creative Images

    Photos make up 92% of all Pinterest posts. So, you should really focus your energy on producing creative images for your followers. Start by formatting images properly. The ideal aspect ratio for Pinterest images is 2:3 with a minimum width of 600 pixels. Add a story-filled background to your images. For example, a recipe blogger might post a bowl of fruit on a checkered tablecloth in front of flowers. You want to set the mood for the person looking at the image, to entice them to want to read the blog post. Take photos up close, suggests blogger Ali at Gimme Some Oven. People should feel like they can actually experience the object on your Pinterest board. Pinterest image tips   Tie your images to seasonal or holiday events. Pinners are two times more likely to celebrate events and holidays. Plan your marketing strategy around pinning images that connect to special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or Halloween. Experiment with your pin images and track which photos resonate with your fans. Then create more of those. [bctt tweet="#Pinterest Photo Tips: Add a story line, take photos up close, and tie in seasonal events." username="hostgator"]  

    3. Write Descriptive Copy

    Pinterest isn’t all about photos. There’s space to write text to make people take a second glance at your work. For instance, article pins include a headline, the author’s name, and story description. These rich pins let you shape how people perceive your board. The headline should stick out to the reader. Use catchy, bold language that appeals to your audience. What would they like to read? If you have to shorten the original article title, do it! Use the same brand name on your blog on your Pinterest account. So, if everyone knows you as Betty the Gardener, keep the consistency. You don’t want to confuse followers. Lastly, write a description that’s interesting to the individual. You want people to feel compelled to click to learn more. Check out this example from the New York Times: Article Rich Pin   Freelance writer Elna Cain offers some additional tips to boost traffic:
    • Make it easy for pinners to find your pin with a spot-on description.
    • Give enough information to entice a pinner to click through to your blog.
    • Draw on the emotions of the pinner by using sensory-related words and positive sentiments.
    • Add a call-to-action in your description, like, “check out…” or “click to find out more.”
    Words matter, too. Take advantage by using descriptive copy.  

    4. Focus on Timing

    Research revealed that to optimize audience reach on Pinterest pinners should post 10 to 15 times per day. As your fan base grows, deliberately timing pins becomes important to providing a consistent brand message to your platform. You’ll soon learn that pinning at any time isn’t a good strategy. Bloggers can waste lots of effort posting pins whenever they think is the best. Instead, take a pragmatic approach. Examine your website traffic to uncover when are the best days and times to post your pins. [bctt tweet="When's the best time to post on #Pinterest? Look to your blog traffic for the answer." username="hostgator"] “The smart strategy is to look at your traffic stats for your own blog to see when you consistently get the most traffic, and then plan to pin during those times, because that’s when your audience is surfing the web and most likely to spread the word,” states Beth Hayden, a social media expert. And remember, every sector is different. The time that works well for retail bloggers might not work best for financial bloggers. In the chart below, experts found that the best time for the food and beverage industry pinners is between 11am and Noon Eastern time. Best time to post on Pinterest   Gain more traffic by optimizing when you post your pins. It will help your followers and your blog.  

    5. Engage With Your Community

    Similar to most social media networks, engagement is always critical to influencing people to visit your site. The interaction shows people you’re interested in their opinions. Use the comment section of your pins to answer questions and thank your followers. And encourage people to like and save pins and follow you. By doing so, you’ll gather information on what they enjoy most and how to better cater to those desires. The average user stays on Pinterest for close to 15 minutes at a time. That’s remarkable since most people get bored on social media after a couple of minutes. For your active fans, ask them to curate your board with you. It’s an effective way to collaborate with people and lets their followers discover your blog. Here’s a group board focused on blogging. It has more than 50+ people adding their voices to the Pinterest conversation. Group Pinterest Board   Involve your community in the creation of your boards. It helps with engagement and brings new fans to your blog.  

    Start Growing Your Blog Traffic

    Bring attention to your blog today with the help of social media. Use Pinterest to attract people to your posts. Create multiple boards based on your readers’ interests. Post eye-catching photos that will make people take a second look. And engage with your community to lure people to your site. Grow your blog now. Update your Pinterest account (and while you're at it, follow HostGator!)
  • Creating A LinkedIn Company Page? Follow These Best Practices

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by
    Create LinkedIn Company Page As a working person at any stage of your career (recent grad, business owner, professional), it’s a good idea to have a personal LinkedIn page. You can use it as an online resume to strut your skills, make professional connections with former and present colleagues, and search for jobs. Good news: a LinkedIn Company page is another free piece of online real estate to tell the world about your business, services, and products. You just need a company email address to verify that your business is legit and that you’re the official representative. Need help? Watch this walkthrough video from LinkedIn to help you get started:
    As of mid-2016, there are over 450 million users on LinkedIn, so it’s definitely worth getting your piece of the action. And since it’s free, there are plenty of opportunities for small shop owners to compete with the big boys. Here’s how to make the most of your investment:  

    1. Be pretty.

    Get your company profile pic and cover photo setup stat! Logos work great here because they’re a consistent reminder of your brand. Here’s ours -- obviously we’ve got Snappy front and center. HostGator LinkedIn   And here’s a beauty of a page recommended by Hubspot. Notice here that the Nature Conservancy (like HostGator) includes their company logo in both their profile and cover pics. Nature Conservancy LinkedIn   Use images that grab people’s attention and paint a picture about what your business represents.  

    2. Use your words.

    LinkedIn gives everyone an opportunity to write up a little ditty about their business. Win by keeping it simple, succinct, and authoritative. If you have some proven keywords you know work, pepper them in where you can. Every little bit helps on the SEO battleground.  

    3. Remember the details.

    LinkedIn encourages Company Page owners to present details like company size, website, year founded, and company specialties. Don’t keep this info a secret! Let people know what your company is all about.  

    4. Get followers!

    Start by getting colleagues, employees, consultants and anyone you work with on board. Encourage friends and family to support your business by following you on LinkedIn. For added views and follows, consider embedding your LinkedIn Company Page into your email signature. LinkedIn in Email Signature  

    5. Know your audience.

    LinkedIn gives Company Page users access to a nifty analytics tool where a demographic breakdown of the people who are following your page can be seen. This not only helps you discover more about your audience, but gives you insight into what type of content they might be interested in reading and engaging with. Here’s a LinkedIn Company Page analytics example: LinkedIn Company Page Analytics This shows us that this company’s followers are primarily senior-level professionals, but then there are also a good number of entry-level folks as well. In this case a mix of articles or blog posts about leadership, hiring, and productivity hacks might be a good place to start. Use this demographic info to make intelligent guesses and see what works.  

    6. Post great content.

    LinkedIn functions as another social media outlet where you can publish company blog posts, thought-leadership, case studies, and more. Once you get a firm handle on who your audience is, cater your content to them while staying true to your company’s messaging. On LinkedIn, you may want to skew your content toward hiring and employee success, particularly as your first followers will likely be your own employees or people you know who can help introduce you to the right people. For more ideas, take a look at our post How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn.
  • How To Create Superior Landing Pages That Convert Cold Traffic

    Friday, February 10, 2017 by
    Create landing pages that convert Converting cold traffic into warm leads and eventual customers can be quite the difficult process. After all, cold visitors don’t know what your website is about, and aren’t familiar with anything you’re doing. One of the best methods to transform this traffic into new subscribers is through utilizing the power of a landing page. However, not just any landing page will do. You need a landing page that’s properly optimized to address the concerns of your audience in such a way they literally can’t wait to hand over their email address. Below we cover a few central elements that every high converting landing page needs to have to be effective. Ready? Let’s dive in.  

    You Truly Need a Compelling Offer

    Today’s web users are more inundated with information than ever before. They’re also bombarded with popups and dozens of requests to enter their email information. Because of this people have become more defensive over exactly who they allow into their inboxes. One of the most effective ways around this is to create a downloadable opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse. Your opt-in offer should speak to a deep need, or underlying problem they haven’t been able to solve. However, make sure the problem you’re addressing isn’t so large, that you can’t deliver on the promise inside your downloadable PDF.  

    5 Must-Have Landing Page Elements

    Once you’ve solidified your offer your visitors can’t wait to get their hands on you’re going to build a page around that offer. Below we highlight some of the must-have elements you’ll want to feature on your page.  

    1. A Benefits-Oriented Headline

    One of the most important elements of your page is your headline. This is the first thing people are going to read, and it needs to grab their attention immediately. Your headline needs to be clear and speak to the exact need you’re going to be solving for them.  

    2. A Relatable Video

    Recent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. Is it an absolute necessity? No. But, think about it this way. When a visitor lands on your website for the first time they have no idea who you are, so a video will allow them to connect in a deeper way. A video can even help to convince the reader to enter their email address, as it can be a lead in to the full solution you’re presenting in your downloadable offer.  

    3. “Less Salesy” Page Elements

    Sometimes, a landing page can feel a bit too much like a sales page, which can put pressure on your reader. To create a more relaxed environment you could consider adding the little sidebar share buttons to your page. This will make it seem more like a blog post, and could also lead to some social shares and more traffic for you.  

    4. Easy to See Signup Boxes

    Your signup box needs to clearly stand out from the rest of your page. If your page does include a video, then include the box directly below the video, with a reference to the location of the signup box in the video. If you don’t have video, or you have a longer landing page, then consider adding the signup box to multiple locations throughout the page.  

    5. A Clear and Compelling CTA

    Your call-to-action is equally as important as the headline. It’s what’s going to make the visitor input their email into the signup box. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it should be very clear. Think of it as explicit instructions telling your visitor what to do next. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Vague call-to-actions will only leave your reader feeling confused, unsure of what to do next.  

    Conclusion

    Turning cold traffic into email subscribers is time well spent, especially if you receive large amounts of new traffic to your site on a regular basis. By implementing the tips above you’ll be on your way to building a high converting landing page that your visitors love.
  • 5 Effective Ways To Increase Your Blog Readership

    Monday, February 6, 2017 by
    Increase your blog readership Today, readers have several options to choose from when it comes to blogs. And with so many choices, it’s up to bloggers to separate themselves from the competition. The goal is to build a readership that believes in your values, shares your content, and engages with your community. “If you want to build a better blog, you need a thriving audience based around your blogging community. And you can only build a great community around your blogs when you have active readership,” states Harsh Agrawal, founder and CEO of ShoutDreams, Inc. Increasing your blog readership is possible. Here are five ways to get started. Create Your Blog  

    1. Create Quality Content

    Creating remarkable content is one of the top priorities for bloggers. Without it, your blog will lag in comparison to others in your industry space. But what is quality content? And how do you produce it? The best content speaks directly to your audience. It will address their interests and provide solutions to their problems. When writing blog posts, make sure you avoid jargon and convoluted details. Stick to telling stories that will earn and maintain the person’s attention. “Quality content is easy to read and understand, and matches the preferences of the audience for which it’s intended. Using a tool like the Readability-Score will help you ensure your content matches the reading level, expectations and preferences of your audience,” writes Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers. Research shows that “40% of people will respond better to visual information than to plain text.” So, experiment with adding photos, infographics, and even GIFs to your posts. [bctt tweet="40% of people respond better to visuals than text, so add photos, infographics, GIFs to your blog." username="hostgator"] Joy the Baker blog is very effective at including mouthwatering pictures along with its recipes. Readers not only receive step-by-step directions on how to prepare meals, but also see enticing images to encourage them as they cook. Food blog image content To grow your audience, first focus on producing quality content. Give people a reason to scroll through your posts.  

    2. Ask Readers to Subscribe

    One of the reasons why your blog readership isn’t increasing is simple. You’re not asking readers to subscribe. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking people will do something without a distinct call-to-action. Offer readers the option to subscribe to your RSS feed or to sign up for your email announcements. [bctt tweet="One reason why your blog readership isn’t increasing? You’re not asking readers to subscribe." username="hostgator"] There are several ways to persuade your casual visitors to become devout readers. You can insert a subscription call-to-action within the post. This tactic makes it unavoidable for the individual to forget to sign up. You also can include a static sign-up form on your sidebar, so no matter what page the reader lands on he or she can take the necessary steps to subscribe. In the example below, Ramit Sethi of the I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog takes a different approach, he uses pop-up boxes that offer readers a small gift to convince them to take action. Email subscribe popup How can you lure more people to become active readers? Try giving away a free ebook, a quick checklist, or access to an exclusive event. If you want more readers, then start asking. And give your subscribers something in return for their loyalty.  

    3. Host Creative Contests

    You get a prize! You get a prize! And you get a prize! Contests are the hallmark of active community participation. People love competing in competitions with the chance to earn cool rewards. Think about the last time you entered a contest. The anticipation drives you crazy. And if you’ve ever won a contest, you probably were ecstatic and told all your friends. [bctt tweet="Contests are the hallmark of active community participation. Use them to draw people to your blog." username="hostgator"] When hosting a contest, create rules that are simple for everyone to understand. Tell readers what they need to do to participate and how prizes will be determined. It’s also wise to post deadlines in bold, red font. Rewards should appeal to the readers’ interests. If you’re a food blogger, a cookbook or a private cooking lesson would be perfect. If you’re a sports blogger, try a team jersey or an autographed cap. Protect your blog from any legal action. To ensure you’re adhering to local laws, contact your legal team or hire an attorney to discuss online contests. Use competitions as a tool to draw people to your blog. It’s an added perk to building relationships with readers. Contests really work to increase readership. When we hosted our HostGator Holiday Weekend Giveaway during Black Friday, we saw 4 times as many blog signups than we typically do in a similar timeframe.  

    4. Build a Social Media Community

    Your blog isn’t just a conversation between you and the reader. It’s also an opportunity for readers to meet and talk with one another. As you build your brand, invest time in creating a social media community for your audience to share and discuss topics together. This engagement will bring camaraderie and expand your blog’s reach. [bctt tweet="Your blog isn’t just a convo between you & the reader. It’s also for readers to talk w/each other." username="hostgator"] Select one to two social networks that your readers love. Then, observe how they use the platforms in their everyday lives. As you gather this information, focus on how your blog can add to the conversation. For instance, if you’re a fashion blogger, you might post weekly polls about what’s hot and what’s not. And don't feel like every social media interaction needs to be about your brand. It’s actually better to focus on the reader’s interests. “Build a personal communications plan that will enable you to stay engaged with your community. You don't need to be the center of the conversation, but your community members need to know you are there and that you CARE. Ongoing, reliable communication is vital in helping you build and maintain long-term relationships,” says Ravi Shukle, the community king at Post Planner. Aimee Song, a Los Angeles-based interior designer, engages with her readers on Instagram. With more than 4 million followers, she posts inspirational images around her apparel and jewelry lines. Instagram Community Building Take advantage of social media to jumpstart your readership. Community building leads to an active audience.  

    5. Partner with Brands

    You can’t accomplish your goals alone. Therefore, it might be time to enlist the help of others. Partner with brands that already engage with your targeted reader. From clothing retailers to local bookstores, your audience can be found interacting with various brands. Find out where people shop, play, and eat. Then, contact those businesses to learn about or propose partnership deals. But before you take the plunge, make sure the brand fits your values and represents a positive perception. You don't want to be attached to a partner that devalues your readers’ goals and lifestyles. “Taking ‘vanity projects’ that aren’t actually a good fit for your readers doesn’t help anyone. Look for opportunities to find a brand that’s an ideal fit for your readers, regardless of the name recognition the company already has,” states Jeni Elliott, founder of The Blog Maven. Also, decide how you will collaborate with brands. You can focus on advertising space on websites. Or you may want to host a Facebook Live event together. It’s essential to discuss the stipulations of the agreement. Your blog and your partner should both benefit from the relationship. Take your blog to the next level. Team up with a brand to increase your blog subscribers.  

    Boost Your Readership

    It’s time to get more people interested in your content. So, adopt a plan to grow your audience. Create quality content that connects to the reader. Ask people to subscribe with easy to find sign-up forms. And host contests that engage people to visit your blog regularly. Build your blog community to increase your readership.
  • Is Your Small Business Making the Most of Online Reviews?

    Thursday, February 2, 2017 by
    Small Business Online Reviews Are you intimidated by the prospect of customers reviewing your business online? A string of positive reviews of your business from satisfied customers can help you win new customers. Even the occasional bad review isn’t necessarily bad news if you know how to handle it right. Here’s a rundown of online review site do’s and don’ts for small business owners.   HostGator Website Builder  

    3 Online Review Do's for Small Business Owners

     

    1. Do thank reviewers for their feedback

    Your customers’ time is valuable, and feedback is information you can use to improve your business or keep it on the right track. Whether your reviewers leave a positive, negative, or middling review, take a moment to thank them for sharing their experience. This shows each one that you value their input. Try to leave a slightly different response on each review, though, to show that you’re responding personally and not just copy-pasting boilerplate replies. Thank-yous also show prospective shoppers that you’re paying attention to the customer experience. This can increase the likelihood that they’ll buy from you, because they know that if there’s an issue, they can trust you to work to resolve it. HostGator Google+ Reviews  

    2. Do invite customers to contact you directly with concerns

    The simplest way to keep customers from leaving negative reviews is to keep their experiences with your business as positive as possible. Customers leave bad reviews when they’re frustrated and feel disrespected, so do your best to avoid slighting your shoppers. Provide great service, follow up with customer satisfaction surveys to spot problems before they spill over onto review sites, and treat each problem as an opportunity to show your customers how much you care about their experience. That said, listening to upset customers isn’t easy. It can be hard to hear criticism of your business without jumping immediately to your own defense, but it’s something every successful business owner must learn to do. Effective listening is a business skill that you can master with practice, and it’s the best way to resolve customer concerns before they turn into an angry online review. [bctt tweet="The best defense against negative reviews is providing outstanding experiences for customers." username="hostgator"]  

    3. Do carefully encourage your customers to leave reviews

    There are different schools of thought about asking customers to leave online reviews. Yelp officially discourages businesses from explicitly requesting customer reviews. Instead, Yelp recommends that businesses link to their Yelp profile on their site and in their email signature line. “Find Us on Yelp” signs can steer customers toward your reviews without making a direct ask. Other marketing experts, though, advise asking for reviews in a variety of ways, such as inviting fans to upload video reviews to your YouTube channel and offering incentives for leaving any type of – whether it’s good or bad. Ask for online reviewsIf you decide to ask your customers directly for reviews, tread carefully. Most consumers are bombarded with review and feedback requests from every business they interact with and can feel annoyed by multiple requests. They may take their business elsewhere if your review requests or incentive programs make them uncomfortable or call your ethics into question. One effective strategy that got me to leave a review for a cleaning service was the knowledge that my cleaners would get a performance bonus if I left a review that described their work and mentioned them by first name. I was happy to do so, because
    • The cleaners were different at each service call, so if I didn’t leave a review, I wouldn’t have to face disappointed workers during the next housecleaning.
    • The incentive encouraged the cleaners to do great work, while I didn’t get any compensation beyond a clean house, which I was already paying for.
    • There was no request for a positive review, only a review that described my experience and mentioned them by first name.
    • This company already had a track record of following up with me after each service call for feedback as part of their continuous-improvement program.
    Because I felt the review request came from the business owner’s motivation to make her business better, rather than to coerce me into saying something positive, I was glad to leave a review. Knowing that the cleaners would get a bonus for their work made me feel good, too. Those are the do’s. What about the don’ts?  

    3 Online Review Do's for Small Business Owners

     

    1. Don’t respond right away to negative reviews

    Most of us don’t enjoy hearing criticism, especially if it’s public and/or harsh. As tempting as it may be to dash off an immediate response to defend your business, wait until you’ve had some time to cool off and think through the best way to respond. Read over this list of ways to respond to negative business reviews, and respond appropriately when you’re ready. A sincere apology, an offer to make the situation right, and private communication with the reviewer can help defuse the situation, show review readers that you care about your customers, and possibly even lead the negative reviewer to come back with a more positive review later on.   [bctt tweet="Take a breath before responding to negative #onlinereviews to avoid reacting emotionally." username="hostgator"]  

    2. Don’t disclose private or personal customer information

    Even when you’re responding to glowing reviews, don’t include private or personal information about the customer or their purchase, even if you know them in real life. You may end up tipping off a surprise gift recipient about what they’re getting from Aunt Edna, or you may embarrass a power reviewer who doesn’t want his followers to know what he buys to treat his chronic elbow rash. Discretion in review responses is especially important for healthcare providers, due to HIPAA regulations. The Washington Post has reported on the fines, lawsuits, and other bad outcomes doctors have faced for revealing protected patient information when responding to reviews. If your business falls under HIPAA’s scope, respond to reviews with the utmost care, to avoid violating HIPAA and to show potential patients that you respect their privacy.  

    3. Don’t fake reviews or “pay for play”

    Writing online reviewsEven experienced businesspeople can be tempted to impersonate positive reviews to talk up their business. (Remember the media uproar over Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s embarrassing alter-identify as WFM stock enthusiast ‘Rahodeb”?) Don’t do it, because you’d likely be unmasked at some point, and then your customers’ trust in you will be gone. Along the same lines, don’t tarnish your ethics by offering customers incentives to leave positive reviews. It’s perfectly acceptable to encourage your customers to check out your business profiles and reviews on Yelp, Google, and other platforms. However, your customers’ choice to review--and what they say in their review--should be entirely up to them, uninfluenced by offers from you. If you have a good customer service program in place and are good at responding to customer concerns, those reviews will almost certainly be positive. Want to know how to embed your review site profiles on your website? HostGator Support has the answer for you.   What are your tips for managing online reviews? Please share in the comments!