Thursday, May 10, 2018 by Casey Kelly-Barton
Monday, May 7, 2018 by Kevin Wood
WordPress Gutenberg as a Site Builder: Is It the Right Choice for Your Site?The WordPress Gutenberg update will change how pages and posts are created within WordPress. Gutenberg will add page-builder functionality to the backend of every WordPress site. The overarching goal is to simplify and improve the content creation experience. The current rollout has been slow, and Gutenberg currently exists in plugin form, but one thing is for sure: The release of Gutenberg will change how we build sites and create content within WordPress. Below we look at the role that Gutenberg will play in building out your website, so you can decide if going with WP Gutenberg is going to be the right choice for your new project.
What is Gutenberg?The purpose of the Gutenberg rollout is to make adding rich content to WordPress a simple and enjoyable process. Think of it as a way to quickly build page layouts and media-rich pages, instead of just creating your standard blog post. Instead of using custom HTML within the visual editor you’ll be using content blocks to create more advanced layouts. Overall, the Gutenberg editor makes writing much simpler and distraction free (which is a huge plus). You can then rearrange and add various content blocks to either change the style and layout of the page or include embeds like YouTube videos or songs from Soundcloud. Essentially, with Gutenberg, you’ll get access to more features and a more powerful editor that’ll give you more control over the end result of your content.
How Will Gutenberg Help Me Build My Site?The current process for building out a WordPress site is installing the core WordPress CMS, and then customizing that setup with themes, plugins, and custom HTML. There’s a lot of talk that the Gutenberg update will make certain themes, plugins, and integrated WordPress page builders obsolete. After all, a lot of the problems these tools solve will now be incorporated directly into the WordPress core. Gutenberg will allow you to customize your posts and pages with a dark and drop editor. You’ll be using content blocks to build media-rich pages, instead of just writing a wall of text and customizing your pages with shortcodes and HTML. The overarching goal is to make rich content creation fun and easy. As it currently stands, existing themes and plugins will need to adapt and integrate with the new WP Gutenberg setup. It’s a bit too early to tell just how much the Gutenberg release will affect themes and plugins, but they will need to evolve or become obsolete. Overall, this release will make creating, publishing, and building your site much easier. Think along the lines of creating a site with a drag-and-drop builder, or seamlessly creating rich content on Medium.
Is WordPress With Gutenberg the Right Choice for My Site?Instead of asking if Gutenberg will act as a solid site builder for my site, you should be asking: is WordPress going to be the right platform for building my site? The Gutenberg release marks a shift in how WordPress will change into the future. Instead of the standard core updates, the WordPress team will now focus on adding additional features to the WordPress core. This will make customizing your site and creating content a much more seamless process overall. If you’re looking to build a content heavy website then it’s hard to find a better solution than WordPress. This will especially be true with the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, which will make the publishing experience similar to Medium (which is stellar). If you’re just trying to build a very simple website with a handful of pages, then you can probably get away with using a simple site builder that doesn’t place such a heavy focus on content creation. WordPress still continues to power 30% of the web, so it’s not going anywhere soon. WordPress still remains a flexible and powerful CMS that allows you to create a content-rich site with ease. The Gutenberg release will make content publishing easier, especially once the kinks have been worked out. While WordPress will continue to remain a great CMS that’s continually focused on creating a backend CMS that makes site building and content creation easier.
Monday, May 7, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
Link Building Ideas for BloggersWhether your blog is a marketing tool for your brand or a personal blog you started to share your passion, you want people to see it. For all the work you put into writing and editing regular posts and finding just the right images to put alongside them to pay off, you need people to find those posts. And the main way people go looking for content like yours online is by searching Google or other search engines. For most blogs, showing up in the search results requires doing some link building. Link building is one of the most important and hardest parts of SEO. Google sees links back to your blog as an indication that people like and respect your work. Each external link from a quality website is a signal to the search engines that your website is quality too. It’s largely because link building is the hardest part of SEO to do well that it’s so important. Everyone can do the easy stuff; building high-quality links is how you become more competitive. Here are ten link-building strategies you can use to help boost your blog’s authority and make headway in the search engines.
1. Do a Quote Roundup Post.You’ve seen posts like this. They’re the ones that include quotes from a bunch of different experts on the same general subject. They’re popular for end-of-year posts (The Top <Insert Industry> Trends of 2018) or just any post that’s trying to pack a lot of different tips and insights into one place. We've even done a few of these here at HostGator. Influencers in your industry are often willing to contribute to these because they get a link back to their site and a chance to show their expertise on the subject in question. That benefits you because they’re that much more likely to share the post with their networks and/or link back to it in future posts on their own website. Quote roundup posts won’t guarantee you new links, but they’re a good way to get other influencers to help promote a post on your blog, thus bringing your content to a new audience. Those extra eyes on your blog may translate to more followers and new relationships, both of which are things that tend to correlate with more links.
2. Write Guest Posts.A guest post is a blog post you write for someone else’s blog that’s valuable to their audience. As long as the other blog covers topics that are relevant to your blog and target audience, it’s a good opportunity to reach new people and include a link or two back to your blog. Guest posting takes a lot of work – you have to identify the right blogs to pitch, convince them to publish your work, and write a really good post that appeals to their followers – and do all this for free. But if your post is good and the other blog is a good fit for the people you’re trying to reach, you could gain new followers and more traffic in addition to the links you build back to your blog. One thing that's really important to remember here is to be careful how much you self-promote or link back to your blog in a guest post. A lot of blogs won’t bother publishing your post if it’s seems promotional or spammy. Stick with one or two relevant links tops, and only mention your brand if or when it makes natural sense to do so.
3. Accept Guest Posts.Hear me out - I know it sounds like this is the best way to let other people build links on your site, but each of those people is likely to then promote your blog. As with quote roundup posts, this may not immediately earn you a bunch of new links, but it will help you build relationships with people who are more likely to promote your blog and link back to your posts over time.
4. Look for Resource Pages.A lot of blogs and businesses will put together pages or posts that collect helpful resources their readers might appreciate. Any pages that do this for websites that are like yours could be an opportunity for a link. To identify pages like this, think of the main keywords that describe what your website does and get to searching. If your blog is full of healthy vegan recipes, search for terms like vegan blog resources, vegan blog links and other variations on those terms. For every relevant resource page you find, see if you can find contact information for the site webmaster and craft a pitch for why your website deserves to be added. You should expect for a lot of your emails to be ignored. You’re essentially reaching out to a stranger and asking them to do work as a favor to you. But if you send out 100 emails and get two new links on high authority websites, the effort will be worth it.
5. Find Broken Links.Broken links are annoying for website visitors and owners alike. Every time someone clicks on one on your website, it’s a bad experience for them that reflects badly on you (unless you follow these tips to make your 404 experience a positive one). Broken link building is based on the idea that by alerting a website owner to a broken link on their website and suggesting a good replacement, you’re helping them out. Where most link building strategies amount to asking other website owners to do you a favor, in this case the favor’s more reciprocal. Finding examples of relevant broken links around the web can be difficult, but there are a number of broken link tools that help you find any broken links on a particular website, as well as SEO tools that deliver reports of broken links based on keywords or topic areas. For each relevant broken link you find, you can either contact the webmaster to recommend a piece of content you already have that makes a good replacement, or create a new piece of content if you don’t already have one.
6. Create a Statistics Roundup.Writers love statistics. They’re a good, solid way to back up any point they make in an article or blog post. As such, original research and data are some of the best types of content for earning new links. If you have the resources to create original research, definitely do that. But it does require a lot of work and the right tools and some bloggers aren’t up to the task. In that case, the next best thing is to try to collect existing statistics your audience is likely to be looking for all in one place. By bringing a large number of statistics together into one place in an easily accessible format, you’re providing value to the people (including writers) out there looking for that information. If writers find the stat they’re looking for on your website – even if you’re not the one that originated it – you may be the one to earn that link. Note: a lot of writers will follow the link you include back to the original source to check its authenticity and will prefer to use that link instead in their post. But don’t let that keep you from including that link back to the source - a stat that doesn’t point back to its source is less trustworthy (and less likely to attract links). In some cases though, that stat will be behind a form or shared in a format that’s less user-friendly than your post, which will make linking back to your blog post the better choice for their readers. This is especially true if you find a way to add value, such as with the helpful graphics HelpScout included in their statistics roundup.
7. Create and Give Out Awards.You know what happens when a person or company receives notice that they’ve won an award? In most cases at least, they want to publicize it. They may write about it on their blog, send out a press release, or promote their win on all their social media channels – in short, send a bunch of links and promotion back to the source. To be clear, well known brands or awards are more likely to get that response, but even little known brands or blogs that create awards can get a similar reaction, simply because people like getting awards. It gives them something to brag about and point to as evidence that they’re doing well. Why not create your own award? Give it a snazzy name (possibly one that sounds something like your blog) and start looking for other blogs, influencers, companies, or people in your niche that you think should be winners. Create a logo (or hire a graphic designer to do so) and encourage them to post it on their websites. It’ll earn you both links and general goodwill in the community.
8. Write Reviews or Product Comparisons.Whatever topic you cover on your blog, there are probably some products that your readers consider relevant. And product reviews and comparisons are very useful to readers who want to make sure they’re making the right choice when deciding which product to buy. They can always see what the brands behind the products have to say on their own website, but that’s worth less to them than unbiased information from a third party. Somebody with a photography blog will have readers interested in information to help them buy the right camera. Pointing them toward a specific camera you’ve used and know is great, and explaining everything about it that works well and all the little (or not so little) things about it that don’t work well is exactly what they need to hear before buying. Even better, if you’ve tried out three similar cameras and can explain how they’re different and their relative strengths and weaknesses, you’re providing triple the information to help people make a decision. Not only will your reviews or product comparison posts provide value to people in your target audience, but they’ll be likely to attract links as well. The brands selling those products have an interest in linking to any positive reviews of their products. And any writer working on content where they know that information will be valuable to their readers, such as say, a blog post on how to get started as a photographer, will have good reason to link back to your detailed post.
9. Use the Skyscraper Technique.The search rankings are a competition and some keywords are much more competitive than others. If you can identify keywords that are relevant to your topic, but currently only have lackluster or mildly good content in those top spots, that’s a keyword you can easily compete with. The skyscraper technique is about finding those top ranking blog posts that aren’t as good as your content, then creating a truly awesome blog post that’s obviously better. Once you’ve got your awesome blog post done and published, you can reach out to the websites that linked to the mediocre content that's currently ranking and recommend that they consider replacing that link with your more thorough and helpful content. If the original post has obvious errors or is outdated, make sure to include that in your case.
10. Connect with Other Bloggers.You’ll notice that a couple of the earlier recommendations on this list prioritize building relationships. That’s because relationships are a huge part of link building. People are less likely to link to a stranger from a blog they’ve never heard of than they are to someone they’ve interacted with and know is legit. If you re-tweet other bloggers in your space, share their content, leave comments on their blog, or find ways to collaborate with them – then you’ll get on their radar. Once they know you, they’ll be more likely to pay attention to your content and share it or link to it anytime they’re impressed by what you wrote or know the link will add something valuable to their post. This is a long game. You can’t introduce yourself to a blogger in your space today and expect a link tomorrow, but starting to build relationships now and become a part of the larger community will pay off over time.
ConclusionNone of these strategies are particularly easy. All of them will require a time commitment and some significant work. But if you want your potential readers to find your awesome blog posts, this type of work is the difference between only being found by those who already know you, and showing up in the search engines for the topics you cover.
Monday, May 7, 2018 by Syed Balkhi
How to Use Facebook Insights to Improve Your BlogOne of the most important steps to building a successful blog is creating content that your audience is truly interested in. Typically, this includes blog posts that solve problems and provide valuable information. According to HubSpot, 47% consumers view 3 to 5 blog posts before getting started in the buying process. As you can imagine, creating blog posts for your target audience that spark interest is the key to generating more conversions and sales. So, how do you come up with such blog topic ideas? You can start by doing market research to properly analyze your target audience and understand their current interests and what kind of content they’re consuming the most. There’s no better place than Facebook to begin that research. Here's why.
What is Facebook Audience Insights?Hands down, Facebook is the best platform to perform market research. With over 1.4 billion daily active users, it’s guaranteed you can find your target customers on this massive social networking platform. Not only that, but you can also learn a lot about your target audience through Facebook, thanks to Facebook Audience Insights, a tool that provides businesses with information related to their audience to create more targeted content. Audience Insights allows you to explore the entire user base of Facebook to filter and carefully identify your target audience based on their interests, likes, age, education, job, location, income, and much more.
Step 1: Identify Your Target AudienceTo create more targeted blog posts, first you need to identify your target audience. You can start that process by creating a buyer persona, a detailed profile of the ideal customer you want to target through your content. Then, using your buyer persona, you can narrow your search in Audience Insights using the right filters. For example, if your ideal customer is a woman who’s planning a wedding, then you can use the Relationship Status filter in Audience Insights to find that target audience based on the period of time a person has been married. Of course, it’s not the best way to find the right information about your audience since you’ll still be guessing your customer interests and demographics through that process. That's why you need to first grow an email marketing list to collect leads, or you can install a Facebook Pixel on your website. We’ll get into that in the next step.
Step 2: Create a Custom AudienceFacebook recommends that you use your email list to create a custom audience. That way, you can analyze an audience who has already shown interest in your business. Simply download your email list as a CSV file and upload it to Facebook Audience Insights. Once you upload your email list, Facebook will compare the emails with its user base to find the Facebook profiles of your leads to create a custom audience. You can also create a custom audience using a Facebook Pixel. This is a conversion tracking tool that you can integrate on your website to track your visitors. Then you can create a custom audience using the data gathered from your website visitors. As you can imagine, using a Facebook Pixel takes a while to gather data. Using your email list is the easiest and the most effective way to create a custom audience.
Step 3: Gather InsightsOnce you’ve created a custom audience, you can begin analyzing the audience through Audience Insights. Go to Audience Insights and select your new custom audience from the Custom Audience tab on the left-hand side panel. Now, Facebook will show you all the information related to your custom audience. Narrow the results using the various advanced filters. For example, you can narrow your audience based on interests like people who are interested in dating or weddings. Then you can further enhance the search based on job titles and lifestyles as well. Let’s imagine that you’re a business promoting wedding catering services and you’re targeting women at the age of 25 who became recently engaged and are interested in weddings. Once you’ve applied all the necessary filters, head over to the Page Likes tab to see what kind of pages your target audience most recently liked. As you can see, in this example, your audience seems to be big fans of the Betty Crocker website, which specializes in food and recipes. We now know that your target audience is interested in learning about food recipes, so that would be a good topic category for your blog posts.
Step 4: Find the Right TopicsThe next step is to craft a blog post title using the topic you’ve discovered through Facebook Insights. You can do this using Quora, a platform filled with questions posted by many different types of people. On Quora, search for your topic. Following the same example, let’s search for “food recipes.” As you can see in the results, people are interested in healthy food recipes for babies and vegetarian food recipes. You can use these questions to craft an effective blog post title like “5 Healthy Vegetarian Food Recipes for Babies.”
Step 5: Test Your TitlesOptimizing your blog post title is an important part that helps determine how much traffic you can attract to your blog. People will use your blog post title to decide whether or not to visit your blog. Use CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to test and analyze your blog post titles for effectiveness and SEO. You can try changing the words of your title and using power words to improve its effectiveness. The tool will also show you how your title will appear in the Google search results as well.
ConclusionThere you go: all the reasons to add Facebook Insights to your blogging toolkit. Now you can start creating effective blog posts that your target audience will definitely be interested in. One last tip: Once you identify the right topics to create targeted posts, remember to research for the right keywords to use in your blog posts and titles. Hop on to Google AdWords Keyword Planner and find keywords with low competition and enough search volume to further optimize your post title and subheads.
Monday, April 30, 2018 by Kevin Wood
Can Your Web Hosting Plan Affect SEO?When it comes to SEO, the details matter a lot. One of those details that’s commonly neglected is your choice of web host. Usually, it’s the last thing that people think about. However, the type of hosting you’re using can have a big impact on your rankings. The extent of the impact will depend on the size of your site and its overall traffic levels, but your host is either supporting or damaging your rankings. Obviously, you want a host that does the former. Below you’ll learn how your host affects your search engine rankings, and how to choose a hosting environment that will actually support your rankings.
5 Ways Your Web Host Affects Your RankingsThe type of web hosting you choose can either help or hurt your rankings. Below we cover five different ways your choice of host can affect your SEO.
1. Site Speed Is a Ranking FactorThe faster your site loads the better your site will rank in the search engines. Now, just having a fast loading site isn’t enough to push your site to page one. But, if you already have solid onsite and offsite SEO and you boost your site speed you will start to see your rankings climb. Having a slow loading host will lead to a poor user experience since they’ll be sitting and staring at a blank screen. Poor user experience leads to poor metrics, like a high bounce rate, and a very low time on site, both of which will push your rankings down.
2. Data Loss = Rankings LossNo one likes to think about it, but there is a chance that your site will face a disaster. Whether it’s getting your site hacked, a catastrophe at your host’s datacenter, or unintended site data loss, it can happen. To protect your site and your rankings from data loss you need to have some kind of backup system. A high-quality host will have a backup system in place that will help you quickly recover from any of the above scenarios. HostGator customers, learn more about protecting your site with CodeGuard.
3. SSL Certificate Improves RankingsTrust is huge online. If your site doesn’t seem trustworthy, then Google won’t trust you and you’ll have a hard time ranking. The same goes for your visitors. If your visitors don’t trust you, then they probably won’t purchase anything from you, or stay with your brand over the long-term. One easy way to improve your trust is to install an SSL certificate on your site. An SSL certificate will encrypt the connection between your server and your user’s web browser. This will allow for the secure exchange of personal information. But beyond making your visitors feel safe an SSL certificate will also help your site improve its rankings. Since 2014 Google has acknowledged that SSL certificates are a ranking factor.
4. Uptime MattersNo host can guarantee 100% uptime, but the better your host, the higher uptime your site will have. If you’ve been experiencing high levels of downtime, then it’s probably time to think about switching your hosting environment. Learn more about HostGator's 99.9% uptime guarantee! Having your site down shouldn’t affect rankings too much, but it can have a negative impact on your user experience. If a person tries to visit your site time and time again and your site is offline, they simply won’t come back. This can have a negative impact on your bounce rate and your CTR from the search engines.
5. Server Location and PerformanceAnother factor that influences the performance of your site is the location of your physical server. Now this will depend on what kind of hosting you’re actually using. For example, if you’re using cloud hosting it won’t be a factor. But, if you’re using shared, VPS, or a dedicated server, then the farther your visitors are from the physical location of your server the slower your site will load. However, if you have a high-quality host this will be offset through an integrated CDN and a high performing server environment.
How to Choose an SEO Friendly HostAn SEO-friendly host will look different depending on the kind of site you run and how much traffic you receive. There is no perfect hosting choice for every style of website. For example, if you have a small site that doesn’t receive a lot of traffic, then a solid shared host will be enough to support your site. But, if you receive hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, then using a shared host will probably have a negative impact on your site’s performance and rankings. In that case upgrading to a VPS, cloud, or dedicated host would be the best course of action. In order to find the best SEO-friendly host, evaluate your hosting choices with the factors below:
- Does the host have a high benchmark of performance? If you’re unsure, spend some time checking out user reviews online.
- Does your host include an automated backup system or use a third-party plugin?
- Do you have the ability to install or purchase an SSL certificate for your site?
- Does your host guarantee a high site uptime? Is there data, or a guarantee to back it up?
- Can you choose your datacenter location? Or, does you hosting include an integrated or third-party CDN?