Tuesday, July 10, 2018 by Amanda Sparks
12 Link Building Strategies for eCommerce SitesLink building is hard. That statement is simple, but the truth behind it is complicated. You know you need to get links from other websites – high-authority, relevant websites, no less – for your website to do well enough in the search engines for your customers to find you. But how do you convince the strangers running other sites that your website is worth linking to? It’s not their job to help you out. Asking someone else to give you a link is asking for a favor – which is awkward and very likely to get met with a “no” if you don’t have some kind of prior relationship with the person you’re asking. The best strategies for link building are about finding ways to make the relationship more reciprocal. You want other websites to want to link to you because there’s something in it for them or their readers. Here are a few things you can try in order to do that.
1. Guest Post on Relevant sites.This is a tried and true tactic, if you do it well. When you write a really good guest post for a website, you’re providing them something of value. Most websites that accept guest posts therefore expect and are okay with letting you include a relevant link or two back to your website in the posts you submit (but don’t overdo it, just stick with one or two). In addition to earning you links, this tactic gives you a chance to reach a new audience that may not be familiar with your website or brand yet, potentially bringing you new traffic and followers. For guest posting to work, you have to be strategic about it and do some real work. You should be careful to find blogs that are targeting the same audience that you want to reach and that are relevant to your industry or products. A guest post on a completely unrelated blog isn’t worth your time. Also look for blogs that have readers and authority. A guest post on a blog that no one visits that doesn’t have any real SEO authority isn’t worth your time either. Once you’ve identified blogs that are worthwhile targets for guest posts, take some time to research the topics they cover, the style they write in, and who’s reading them. Any topic you pitch needs to be valuable to their audience for them to accept it. And while it does require a lot of work, make sure the post you write for them is top-notch content. At worst, lazy content won’t get published and you won’t earn links after all. But even if it does get published, it won’t convince anyone in their audience to come check you out.
2. Create Content Partnerships with Relevant Sites.There are brands out there that provide something similar or complementary to what you sell, without being direct competitors. These are good brands to consider for content partnerships. You can work out a deal to create content for them (with some links back your website), while they make content for you (with links back to theirs). On both sides, you have to make sure that the content created makes sense for the other brand’s audience and is relevant and fits in with their overall content strategy. Or you can think of ways to create content together, like joint webinars or working together on a research study. By working together, you can tap into the talent and resources that you both have to offer and expand your audiences by reaching all of the people both of you have attracted. And you’ll both get some new external links in the process.
3. Partner with Local Businesses.When you’re an eCommerce business, “local” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as it does when you have a business with a storefront. Even so, your business is based somewhere. There’s a local community you can get involved with to create new connections and opportunities. Get out to local networking events and get to know some of the businesses in the area. The connections you make in your own business community can turn into partnerships that benefit both of you, including in the form of more links to your website. If you join local professional or industry organizations, you can get links in their directories or by participating in their events or marketing. A local business owner selling complementary or related products to yours can become a promotion partner. If you sell dog collars, the local business owner that sells homemade dog treats could promote your collars in a blog post, while you promote her treats in a giveaway that raises her profile while benefiting your customers as well. Turning local relationships into partnerships that benefit you both (and earn you links) can require some creativity, but it can be a useful way to increase awareness of your brand and earn some valuable links at the same time.
4. Look for Sponsorship Opportunities.There are definitely events and organizations in your industry that seek sponsorships. Becoming a sponsor will cost you money, but the money pays off both in good will from the community that appreciates those events or organizations, along with links back your website and mentions of your brand in any materials associated with the event or put out by the organization in relation to your sponsorship. This is a good way to earn karma and good PR along with links.
5. Offer Free Products for Review.Look for websites that do product reviews for items similar to what you sell and reach out with an offer to provide them with a free product in exchange for a review. Obviously, this idea only works if you’re confident in your products (which you should be!). You can’t demand good reviews, you can merely hope for them. But if you make the offer specifically to website owners you’re confident are a good fit for your product, getting reviews raises (hopefully positive) awareness of your product and will usually earn you a link back your website as well.
6. Host PR-worthy Events.Branded events can take a lot of different forms. You could host an awards dinner for your industry, put on a concert, or create a workshop. Whatever event you come up with, if it’s interesting, exciting, or helpful, then it’s PR-worthy. You can promote it to relevant publications and writers to drum up interest and get coverage of it around the web. With that coverage will inevitably come links. Be aware that putting on an event is costly. It will probably be more worth the cost if you have goals for it that go beyond earning links – such as larger media attention, new customers, or some other benefit to be a part of your overall goal. But it’s definitely a good way to earn links as well.
7. Start Charity Projects.There are a lot of websites that are happy to amplify any charitable projects. It’s an easy way for them to feel like they’re helping out. If you set up a charity drive through your business, start a scholarship, or choose a week to donate a percentage of all your profits to a notable cause – those are all things that other websites are likely to cover or promote to their own readers. Again, this is a strategy that will have a cost for you and is best to do for reasons other than just getting links (like in this case, helping other people), butit can be a good way to earn links as well.
8. Do Original Research.Buzzsumo’s research into the what types of content most consistently earn links found that original research is one of the most reliable ways to build links to your website. If you wonder why that might be, just look back at the beginning of this paragraph. Whenever someone cites a statistic or finding that comes from your research, they’ll link back to you. Creating original research isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s very effective and can be worth the resources you put into it. Consider questions that your readers and other businesses in your industry have that you could help answer with a survey or analysis. If you see an opportunity for statistics or research that hasn’t been done (or that you can do better), take it!
9. Look for Brand Mentions Around the Web.Anytime someone mentions your brand around the web, it’s an opportunity for a link back your website. First you want to find websites that have mentioned your brand. You can use Google for this, but can probably find more websites faster with a paid tool like Fresh Web Explorer. You should also set up a Google Alert for your brand name so you’ll get an email every time a website mentions your website anew moving forward. Then, try to identify information on who’s running that website so you can contact them to ask them to add a link to your website where they mention your brand. For this tactic, you take time to visit the webpage before you contact anybody to make sure that:
- The website is actually mentioning your brand and didn’t just happen to use a phrase that included your brand name (this is especially important if you have a brand name that includes words people regularly use); and
- The mention of your brand name is positive. Chances are, a website owner that doesn’t like your brand or product isn’t going to help you out with a link.
10. Look for Relevant Broken Links Around the Web.Broken link building has become a pretty big subset of link building in recent years. The idea is that if you can find examples on another website of a link that no longer works that previously went to content similar to something you’ve created, you can contact the website owner to recommend they change the link to your resource. You’re doing something helpful for them by finding a broken link they don’t know is there yet and suggesting an easy replacement, which means they’re that much more likely to take your suggestion and add your link to their website. Finding relevant broken links can be time consuming, but there are SEO tools that can help make it a little easier and faster. You can start with this tactic by looking for examples of broken links likely to match content you already have, but you can also expand this strategy to begin creating high-value content that can would make a good replacement for broken links you find.
11. Feature Influencers.People tend to link to websites they know, and they’re that much more likely to link to a website that mentions them in a positive light. Identify some of the most important influencers in your industry and consider if there are some good ways to collaborate with them. You could ask them to provide a quote for a blog post you’re working on or if they’ll be the featured guest in a webinar you’re setting up. If you can offer them something that serves to help them promote their brand, they’ll be more likely to participate and to promote the content you’ve featured them in. This can be tricky to do well because the more well known an influencer is, the more often they’ll be getting requests like this from other people. You don’t want to be one more annoyance in their inbox, but you do want to start a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Make sure you really think about what you can offer them here and consider reaching out to people and brands that aren’t super well known just yet. That person in your industry with 1,000 followers is going to be quicker to help you out then the guy with 1 million, but still provides an opportunity to expand your reach.
12. Feature Customer Stories.This is good marketing advice in general. When your potential customers can see positive stories from your current customers, it makes them more likely to convert. But it can also be helpful for link building. A good customer story can serve as a case study to demonstrate principles someone might point to evidence of in a blog post. For example, that writer claiming that a good pair of running shoes really does make a difference would link to your customer story about someone who increased their running time after buying your shoes. If you’re able to capture a particularly moving story, it could inspire people to share it due to the emotion it evokes. The couple that found each other through their shared love of your products and got married in spite of great odds could leave people feeling inspired and wanting to share the tale. People relate to people, so creating content that features the people your brand exists for and because of can give other people something to connect with. It’s those connections that often lead to shares and links.
The Best Blogs for Business Social Media HelpSocial media can be both a productivity killer and an important business tool – it all depends on how you use it. At this point, your customers expect you to be on social media. But using social media to represent a business brand effectively is an ongoing challenge, and finding and connecting with your audience on social media platforms can often feel like an uphill battle. There’s always more to learn. And luckily, there are a lot of resources out there to help you learn the ropes and get more out of social media over time. These are some of the blogs out there providing advice and best practices for social media marketing.
2. BufferBuffer both provides a product for scheduling social media posts and has an active social media presence as a brand, which provides them with a lot of data on what works. They’re known for good long-form blog posts that provide detailed, actionable advice based on data and case studies. The blog publishes posts on all the different social media platforms businesses are likely to use.
10. Peg FitzpatrickPeg Fitzpatrick is another social media influencer who shares her knowledge with regular blog posts on how to reach and connect with your audience on social media. While her blog touches on all the major social media platforms, she especially gives attention to Instagram and Pinterest– channels that often get less attention on some of the other blogs on the list.
12. Jenn’s TrendsJenn’s Trends is one of the best blogs out there about Instagram marketing. While she’ll occasionally touch on other social networks or digital marketing tips as well, the primary focus on the blog is how to get followers on Instagram and interact with them effectively. If your brand’s on Instagram, this is a good blog to keep on your radar.
13. TailwindThe Tailwind blog is another one with a narrow focus on just a couple of main networks: Instagram and Pinterest. It tackles questions like how to get more followers, when to post, and the types of content you should create to do well on both platforms. For anyone using the more visual social media platforms, it can be a useful resource.
15. Mari SmithWith all these blogs covering specific networks, you may have wondered when we’d get to one focused on the biggest social network of them all. Mari Smith’s got you covered with a blog all about Facebook marketing. She goes into how to use the various features Facebook offers, important news about the platform, and tips for using Facebook for marketing effectively.
ConclusionAs you can see, there’s no shortage of good resources you can turn to when learning how to use social media for your business. It can be daunting when you’re just starting or still struggling to make headway, but learning from those who already have a good amount of experience and knowledge can be a big help to moving your own social media efforts forward. Spend some time reading about what works and craft your strategy around the tips and research shared by the experts.
Thursday, July 5, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
10 Tips for Creating Great Blog TitlesYou probably spend a lot of time creating the content you publish on your blog. Obviously, creating great content is important if you’re going to get the most out of having a business blog, but people won’t bother reading the content you create unless you also nail the title. Blog titles are the first part of your blog post that your readers will see and the part that’s responsible for getting them to click through and read the rest. They’re frequently what people use when they share your blog post, meaning that any time a reader likes your content enough to share it with their social network, it’s the part of the blog their followers will see. In other words, the success of your post absolutely depends on coming up with a good blog title. To strengthen your title-writing game, here are a few tips that will help you create great blog titles.
1. Learn the Popular Headline Formulas.Over the years, a lot of bloggers and marketers have done research to see how different types of headlines perform in comparison to others and they’ve found some clear trends in what people choose to click on. You can benefit from the work others have done by studying up on the formulas that are proven to work. A few types of headlines that routinely perform well include:
- Number headlines – Any headline that starts with a number, introducing a list post (like this one does – and it worked in this case if you’re reading this post).
- How to headlines – This is a simple option, but a good one. If someone’s trying to figure out how to do something, a headline that lets them know the blog post will deliver on that need gets the most important point across (but your post better deliver on the headline’s promise).
- Famous comparison – These headlines borrow on the popularity of a person or piece of entertainment to get people to click. Depending on the famous thing or person you choose, they can add an element of fun to your blog, e.g. # Business Lessons I Learned from Watching Beyoncé.
- Scarcity headline – This headline promises that the reader will be getting something few people have. Headlines that start with “The Secret of…” or “Little Known Tips for…” are playing on this principle.
- Big promises headline – These headlines are assuring the reader that they’ll be getting a lot of information if they click, this category includes headlines that start with “The Ultimate Guide to…” or list posts that have a particularly high number at the beginning.
2. Pay Attention to Headlines You Like.Every day you encounter titles – not just blog titles, but also the titles of newspaper and magazine articles, the titles of YouTube videos, the titles of emails you receive, etc. You always have a response to those titles, even when your response is to ignore one and keep scrolling. In the same way that starting to read more can make you a better writer, starting to more actively pay attention to the titles you encounter in your life and the way you respond to them will get you thinking regularly throughout the day about what works and why. And that thinking will lead to you getting better at crafting good headlines. So as you scroll through a blog, flip through your favorite magazine, or wade through the links people share on social media, start analyzing your response to every headline you see. Think about which ones made you click, which ones annoyed or offended you, and which ones just didn’t make much of an impression. When possible, jot down notes on how you responded and why. While you’re only a sample set of one, even just by starting with your own responses, you’ll begin to gain some insights into what makes headlines work.
3. Practice Writing Blog Titles.Ah yes, the familiar tip that goes on most lists of how to do anything well: practice. The more you do it, the easier it will be to do it well, so give yourself the assignment of writing blog titles regularly. Not only for the blog posts you write, but just for the practice of writing titles (although you may come up with some good blog post ideas this way). Justin Blackman challenged himself to write over 10,000 headlines over 100 days and found that there was a tangible difference in the quality of his headlines and how quickly he could produce good headlines by the end of his project – which should surprise no one, of course that’s what happens when you commit to practicing something at that level. Luckily, you don’t have to go that far to get better at writing blog titles. You could commit to doing it for 30 minutes each week or 10 minutes a day and still see a difference. Figure out what level of practice you can fit into your life and start doing it.
4. Use Your Keyword Research.If you have a blog, you’re probably already doing keyword research to help you figure out what your audience is thinking about, looking for, and the terminology they use when doing so. Put that information to work in your blog titles. You want to be using the language your customers use. It’s good both for the SEO of your blog posts (which help people find them) and for getting them to click on the post once they see it. You do want to be careful that you don’t try to force a target keyword into a blog title awkwardly, but if your blog post is on the subject you’re targeting, you should be able to include the keyword naturally.
5. Write Multiple Blog Titles for Every Post.I get it. You just did all that hard work of writing the post. You’re ready to be done and get it out there! But as we’ve already mentioned, all that hard work is worth a lot less if people don’t click to read your post. That means your title has a disproportionate amount of power versus the rest of your post and you’ve got to get it right. Some experts recommend spending as much time working on blog titles as you do on the blog post itself. If you do that, you may well find the difference in results is worth the extra time. At the very least though, commit to writing several blog titles for every post you publish (in addition to the headline writing practice you’ve committed to). Share your headlines with friends or co-workers to get feedback. This will accomplish two things at once:
- You’ll have an easier time selecting the best blog title of the list for each post.
- You’ll get more information on which titles people respond to. In other words, you’ll be expanding your sample set of one to however many people you can get to review your title options and weigh in for each post.
6. Don’t Oversell.If you’ve heard anyone use the term click bait, you know it tends to get said in a tone of derision or at least annoyance. People hate clicking on a link based on the promise of an appealing headline, only to be disappointed in the content that’s actually there. For websites that have a business model where they make money based on the number of clicks they get, these types of titles may make a certain amount of sense to use. But if you have a business you want people to trust, they’re a terrible idea. Make sure the blog title you use matches the content of the post. Don’t say your content is going to “blow your mind” when it probably won’t (how would someone measure that anyways?). Don’t say your blog post is the “definitive guide to” what you’re writing about if it’s a short post only covering the basics of the topic. If you decide to make a big sell in your headline, then do the work to make a blog post that delivers, or figure out another headline.
7. Appeal to Emotions.Whether or not we recognize why we click and share blog posts in the moment we do so, researchers have found that it’s often an emotional decision. Blog titles that appeal to the reader’s emotions are therefore powerful, especially for inspiring shares. CoSchedule analyzed the number of shares different posts got based on their Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Score and found that those with the highest scores got considerably more shares than those with low scores. Where possible, use terms that evoke emotions in your readers, like surprising, exclusive, or delighted. Think about what you want your readers to feel when they click and work on providing that in the post and describe what they can expect in the blog title.
8. Be Specific.People want to know what they’re clicking on. You may feel like being a little vague could make people more interested or give the blog title broader appeal, but more often it will just make it easier for people to scroll past your title without interest. A specific blog title tells them what questions you’re answering and information you’re providing. The reader will recognize if that’s information they want or need and can make an informed decision on whether or not that click is worth their time. HubSpot’s data backs this up. In testing over 3 million headlines, they noticed that titles that give people more information about the type of content format they’re getting (e.g. putting [Interview] or [Template] in the title) performed 38% better than those that didn’t include that information.
9. Do A/B Testing.You can do a lot of headline research into what generally works well (and that’s valuable to know!), but ultimately, you need to figure out what works for your target audience. For that, you need to do A/B testing. While every blog post you publish gives you some data on what headlines work, you can figure out more detailed information by putting two headlines against each other. Whenever your title brainstorming leads to two strong contenders, set up an A/B test and see what happens. You can make some conjectures about what makes the winning blog title work better in each test, but where you’ll really gain insights is by looking at the trends over time. Maybe your audience responds better to blog titles with negative wording in them than positive, or maybe they consistently go for how-to headlines. The more data you collect in your testing, the more you’ll know about how to get those clicks in the future blog titles you write.
10. Write Blog Titles for YOUR Audience.You don’t need everyone on the internet to like your blog titles, but you do need the people in your target audience to like them. General knowledge on best practices for writing blog titles is good to have when getting started, but the longer you publish on your blog and analyze what works for your audience, the more your blog title strategies should be based on your own data. You’re not writing these blog titles for you or to sound clever to other marketers or even your boss. For you to do your job, the only people that need to respond to your blog titles are the ones you want reading your blog. Always keep that in mind when deciding which titles you go with.
ConclusionWhen you have a business blog, it may seem like every day you learn about more work you’re supposed to be doing to get results. It’s frustrating to have to add spending more time on blog titles to your to-do list, but while it seems like a small part of the overall whole of a blog post, it really is the part that each post’s overall success hinges on. If you want the other work you’re doing to pay off, then this is an important step to take.
Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Kevin Wood
Best WordPress Calendar PluginsCalendar plugins can be a very useful addition to your WordPress site. You can help to showcase your live events, manage bookings, and a lot more. Some plugins are better suited for managing your events, while others offer complex booking and scheduling options. Luckily, running WordPress means you have a ton of options at your disposal, both free and paid. But, since calendar plugins are so popular, it can be difficult to find the right plugin for your needs. Below we highlight five of the most popular WordPress calendar plugins, so you can easily find and use the right plugin for your needs. The Events Calendar is a very popular free plugin. It’s clean, simple, intuitive, and easy to use, and is one of the most downloaded WordPress calendar plugins. With this plugin, you can easily add events to your site, along with different venues and organizers. You can even integrate Google Maps to make it easy for your viewers to find your event. There’s also a premium version of the plugin which adds support through WooCommerce, and gives you additional features like selling tickets through your site, creating recurring events, and a lot more. The premium version currently costs $65. My Calendar is a free and feature-rich event management plugin. It offers you a ton of different options, so you can decide exactly how you want your events to display. You can integrate multiple calendars, create calendars for specific categories, add locations, create events groups, and a lot more. With the short code generator, you can display your events wherever you’d like, in your posts, sidebars, or even on its own page. When creating an event you’ll be able to adjust options like the event description, add images, set the event host, add the time, and more. Finally, you’ll also have the ability to customize the look of your events and your event calendar from within the plugin’s settings. If you’re looking for more, there are various premium extensions, which will allow you to easily sell tickets for your events. Events Manager is another very popular WordPress events plugin. It offers a ton of different features like the ability to integrate with Google Maps and Google Calendar, multiple display options, and a lot more. This plugins also lets your users register for events, and you can easily create recurring events as well. If you want to add a social element to your events you can integrate the plugin with BuddyPress to add discussion feeds, user feeds, and a lot more. There’s also a premium version of the plugin available if you require even more feature and functionality. When you upgrade the plugin you’ll get access to additional features that allow you to accept payments, offer coupons, and create custom booking forms. Simple Calendar is another plugin that integrates with Google Calendar. This plugin is similar to the Google Calendar plugin above, except it offers even more customization options. With this plugin installed all you need is your Google Calendar feed URL. Then you can import your upcoming events and start customizing. With this plugin, you have a shortcode that you can use to display anywhere across your site. If you know any CSS, you can customize the look of your events calendar with custom stylesheets. The plugin is even fully responsive, so your events will look good no matter the screen size they’re viewed upon. There are also premium add-ons available, which unlock additional features like color-coding events, adding more events details, and getting more attendance and registration options. All in One Events Calendar packs a ton of useful features into an easy to use interface. Right out of the box you have three different themes to display your calendars. Some of the features include adding events, adding category sorting, adding theme venues via Google Maps, adding event descriptions and a lot more. Plus, you can sync your events with any app that supports iCal format, like the Google Calendar. There are a variety of add-ons available that will give you access to additional features like a front-end submission form, being able to embed your calendars into other platforms like Facebook, and the ability to sell tickets from your site. Hopefully, you find one of the plugins above useful in integrating an awesome calendar with your WordPress site.