You might have noticed there have been far fewer posts recently than in the past here. I’ve changed my posting schedule to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, rather than four times a week. Why? It comes down to choosing an appropriate posting schedule for your blog and what sort of information should inform your decision.
This week’s Build Your Blog Vlog is all about the ten things all bloggers must know (and do) to be successful. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
10 Things All Bloggers Must Know: Video Transcript
I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative. Every week I answer blogging questions sent in from the Build Your Blog Google Plus group, from readers, or sent in via email. You can join the Google Plus group or send in your questions via email to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
We have discussions in the group every week about blogging problems and ideas as well as get to know one another. This week I’ll be doing a special Google Plus HangOut presentation about Relationship Marketing so be sure to join! You don’t want to miss out on this one.
This week’s question comes from the Google Plus group:
Cathleen S. asked:
What would you say are the 10 major things for all bloggers to know? To be more specific like the basics of SEO and marketing your blog.
That’s a fantastic question, Cathleen. There are lots of articles out there about the things people wish they knew when they started blogging that are geared towards newbie bloggers but not many for all bloggers, regardless of where they are in their blogging journey. So let’s get to it!
Number 1: Take Advantage of Google!
Google is your friend. But it also can be a big enemy if you don’t treat it right! If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard about this thing called SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s this mystical world for most bloggers. SEO can get really really technical quickly but as a blogger, you need to take advantage of what Google gives you and follow the rules.
Google wants you to succeed. They want your website and the rest of the internet to be this really valuable place. So they give you the tools to do that. Sign up for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster tools is the best beginner tool to use for SEO. But, be careful about doing things that Google doesn’t like. If you decide to use what’s called black hat SEO, you’ll put your website at risk for the long time, although you might get a short term payoff.
Number 2: Numbers do matter.
People who say numbers don’t matter are liars. Let’s get real for a minute here. There’s a really good reason why bloggers like Joy of Oh Joy and Jan and Earl of Poppytalk are in Target. While we can be all bows and glitter about why numbers don’t matter, that’s not really true. Most bloggers in a mission to make money define success as how much money they’re making. Numbers play a huge part in that. If you only have 300 readers a month, you can’t sell as much as 300 readers per hour, even if that 300 per month is a super tight knit group.
Pick your metric goals for your blog and then work on improving them. Without numbers, you have no idea how your blog is performing or if you’re spending your time wisely. It might be number of page views or the number of comments or even the amount of time people spend on your website. Pick what numbers float your boat and work on them.
Number 3: Check your URLs
URLs need to be descriptive and not crazy looking. If you see a bunch of gibberish in your URLs, you’re doing it wrong. WordPress users, you’re probably doing just fine unless you did something strange to your URL parameters. If you’re on a different platform or switched platforms, check to make sure you don’t have broken links.
How can you check that? Webmaster tools! Remember what I said about Google being amazing?
Number 4: Evaluate for Value
If you could put a dollar amount on the content on your blog, what would it be? Do you think people will come back again and again if they don’t see any value in your content? Not a chance.
While this is less of a technical thing, bloggers should take some time to think about how much people might pay for their content before they hit publish. It’s a fantastic way to ensure that your blog is worthwhile for you and your readers. When that happens, you’ll create opportunities for growth.
Number 5: Promotional Links
I have no problem with bloggers making a living by affiliate marketing or sponsored posts. But if you have links that are essentially “paid” on your blog, you absolutely need to make sure they’re what’s called a no-follow link. Basically, it’s in the code behind the website that tells search engines that the link isn’t worth following to take a look at the page. Why do this? It’s best practices and search engines want you to do it. It acknowledges that the link isn’t one you’d recommend otherwise.
Do-follow and no-follow links don’t really matter as much as they used to so if you heard folks in the past getting all up in arms about these kinds of links, don’t worry too much about it now. It was technique abused by those pesky black hat SEO people and search engines have since made changes to prevent black hat folks from succeeding with link games.
Number 6: Understanding Categories Versus Tags
In many content management systems, you have the option of using Categories and Tags to organize your content. Think of it this way: Categories are the table of contents and tags are the index. Tags shouldn’t be abused so don’t do that ironic thing of creating a single tag for a post that you’ll never use again. Instead, use keywords, make them descriptive, and user friendly. You want people to be able to click on the categories and tags listed in your content and get what they’re looking for!
There are lots of different ways to organize content. I use what’s called Content Siloing on bearandbeaglecreative.com which is a really advanced SEO technique. Do what makes sense to you and your users and above all, make it functional!
Number 7: Don’t go crazy with add-ons
Plugins, widgets, sidebars, counters, tracking codes. You get the idea of what I mean by add-ons. Every single time you add something to your website’s functionality, you’re adding load time for your users and search engines. That means they have to wait longer to get to the page and get the meat of what they’re looking for. People don’t go to your website to access to plugin. They go for your content.
Add-ons can be detrimental to your website so find out what people are actually using and engaging with and pair it down if they’re not using features you’ve added. How can you know that? Google Analytics provides this handy in-page analytics tool that allows you to see exactly where people are clicking on your website. If you have a Facebook like button no one in the world is clicking, just trash it. It’s not being useful to your website and is just slowing you down.
Number 8: Optimize your images
Search engines hate when you have gobbledygook on your images and URLs. Why? Because people hate it. Img_2939f doesn’t describe what your photo is to anyone—not even yourself. Instead, name your images something descriptive, add Alt text, and if you’re really feeling SEO optimizing, add a description and a caption if it doesn’t mess up your design.
You should also make your images the proper size file—not just dimensions. If you have Photoshop or a similar Adobe tool, save your images as “Save for web” and use about 60% quality. That’s usually plenty enough for the web! If you’re creating your images in other tools, try to save them in a way that strips out any metadata and try to make your files 70kb or smaller.
Do not change the size of your image by coding or using size constraints! Browsers still have to load the larger file and then resize them. Instead, change the physical dimensions of your photos.
Number 9: Back it up!
There’s nothing worse than losing your website and everything that went with it. The more you start messing with your code and tweaking your website, the more likely you are to break it. And when that happens, everything can disappear in a flash. So back it up!
You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had bloggers ask for help to find they killed their website and didn’t have a backup.
Number 10: Write great titles
If there is one thing you can do for your blog for social media, SEO, and usability, it’s writing better titles for your posts. Titles appear in countless places across the internet, from your blog itself to social media to feed readers to subject lines to search results. Bad titles that don’t attract attention and answer needs won’t do anything to help your blog out. So take some time and craft better titles and do some research to figure out what performs well.
Phew! That’s a lot, isn’t it? The thing about being a blogger is you wear so many hats and have so many jobs to do to make your blog successful. I hope these tips help you on your blogging journey.
Do you have a blogging question? Send it my way and I’ll be happy to answer it!
Till next time, keep blogging.
Do you need a media kit for your blog? As a marketer, I always look for media kits when looking for bloggers for partnerships. They’re a huge asset and shouldn’t be overlooked by bloggers. But what should you include in one? Watch the above video for a quick overview of media kits.
Looking for the extra resources? Sign up for my email list and I’ll send it your way!
Welcome to the Build Your Blog Vlog! I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative. Every week I answer questions from discussions in the Build Your Blog Google+ group, from readers, and sent in via email. You can send in your questions to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com or by joining the Google+ group.
This week’s question comes from a discussion about working with brands.
Do you really need a PR or Media Kit for your blog?
I got my start as a hobby blogger, much like most other blogging pros. Eventually, I started working for an online marketing agency and occasionally we’d look for bloggers to partner with for projects.
What A Marketer Looks for in Bloggers
What made that job so difficult was finding bloggers who were right for the project quickly. When I’d look at a blog, I’d first look at the design and content, search around to see if the blogger had a PR or media kit, and then take a peek at their social media stats.
I always wanted to know these things:
- What kind of things the blogger wrote about
- What kind of engagement posts received
- How many followers the blogger had on different social media platforms
- If the blogger charged for partnerships or reviewed items for free
The Holy Grail for Marketers: A Media Kit
You know what I loved the most when I was a marketer? When someone gave me all that information in a pretty package called a media kit. Media kits made my job so much easier and showed that the blogger had it together. Bloggers that have media kits tend to do a better job of representing a brand because they know how to best represent themselves.
For marketers looking for brand ambassadors, that speaks volumes!
A media kit is a marketing tool for you to sell yourself to marketers, nothing more, nothing less. They don’t have to be complicated but just need to layout the necessary information in an easy and quick to consume layout.
What to Include in Your Media Kit
Marketers are looking for the most bang for their buck—but this doesn’t mean that you need to have a huge audience. They’re looking for an audience of people who are going to buy their products, not just a massive audience that won’t.
You’ll want to include facts and figures about your audience that your target brands would want to know. What makes your audience and your relationship with them valuable to a brand? Highlight that in your media kit and you’re golden. Media kits aren’t a one-size fits all solution so highlighting what makes your brand and audience special is what’s most important.
For bloggers with small but highly engaged and dedicated audiences, showcasing this rather than your numbers is to your best advantage!
Think about including:
- Your blog’s topic and niche
- A profile about your average audience member
- Your social media stats
- Audience engagement statistics
- What you charge for different services
You can fit all this information onto one page. But you might be wondering what this information is and how to get it! Be sure to subscribe to this channel and sign up for the Bear & Beagle Creative newsletter because I’ll be revealing the way to get all of this information from Google Analytics and give you a free one-page media kit template for bloggers next week!
Thanks for watching this week’s Build Your Blog Vlog! Don’t forget to join the G+ group to send in your questions or email them to me at info at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
Till next time, keep blogging!
One of the most common problems for bloggers, both new and veteran, is making sure that their blog is unique and differentiated from everyone else’s. You need to differentiate your blog comes by showing your unique style and life experiences that formed you into who you are!
In this week’s Build Your Blog Vlog, I answer this problem with some tips on how to better differentiate your blog.
Welcome to the Build Your Blog Vlog.
I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative.
Every week I answer questions about blogging, content marketing, and SEO sent in from readers or from discussions in our G+ group. You can join the G+ group to meet other bloggers and find solutions to common blogging questions together. Or you send in your questions via email to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
I recently met with a friend who is at the beginnings of her lifestyle blogging journey.
She was a party planner in LA and is struggling with transferring the experience of planning ninety-thousand dollar children’s parties to our area where people just don’t spend that kind of money.
She’s looking to blogging to build up her reputation but told me that she’s worried she won’t be able to differentiate herself from all the other party planning bloggers out there.
She’s right to be worried! There are thousands of blogs offering up party planning tips. Almost every blogger encounters this problem.
How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else?
Think of it this way—there aren’t very many party planners who worked in LA, have the same style and ideas about how to put a party together, who also have the same background as her. Her ideas of how to have a successful party, although they might be really similar, are all her own based on her life experiences.
No one has the same life experiences as she does!
Part of the differentiation problem is there is only so much knowledge out there. You can give information or tips that are unique and all your own for whatever you’re writing about but it’s only a matter of time before someone else does the same thing.
We’re creatures of habit and replication. We repeat the habits of those around us as children and develop into adults that use the same copy behavior to find success.
So what makes you different as a person if we all tend to copy everyone else? It’s how we do the same things with a slightly different twist after experimenting and finding something different. We’re curious and inspired to try new things—and that can lead us to different life experiences. When you combine together what your life has been and your unique way of doing something, you develop a unique perspective on life.
Turning your uniqueness into a blog is a really difficult task but is the secret to differentiating your blog from everyone else’s. It comes down to the combination of elements from the moment a reader enters your space on the internet.
The goal is to present a strong personal brand that’s all your own, from the design and layout of your website, to the visuals you use, to your words and way you style your writing. Show your unique perspective on your content and you’re differentiating yourself from everyone else.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What makes me unique as an individual?
- What are my strongest traits?
- What experiences have I had in life makes me different than other people?
- How can I translate that into my online work and presence?
- Which individual elements of my online presence aren’t speaking to my strong traits and unique life experiences?
Of course, this is just the beginning of what it means to build a unique brand for your blog. Take some time to really reflect on what it means to be you and how that translates into your online content.
Do you have a blogging question? Be sure to send it my way by joining the Build Your Blog G+ group or emailing it to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com. You should also subscribe so you get these weekly Build Your Blog Vlog videos or get even more blogging tips at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
Till next time, keep blogging!
Help! My blog traffic is falling! How can I recover my stats?
This week’s Build Your Blog Vlog is all about blogging traffic and how to figure out why your traffic is falling.
Don’t forget to join the Google+ group to discuss blogging and hang out with other bloggers online!
Welcome to the Build Your Blog Vlog.
I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative.
Every week I answer questions about blogging, content marketing, and SEO sent in from readers or from discussions in our G+ group. You can find a link to the G+ group below and join in the discussions. You can also always send in your questions via email to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
This week’s blogging question is all about changes in blog traffic. How can I recover my numbers?
There are a few things that can cause shifts in your blog traffic.
4. Seasonal Changes
5. Technical Errors
To get down to the root of the problem, you’ll need to analyze your traffic in a tool like Google Analytics and look for issues in Webmaster Tools from search engines.
First, make sure that you’re not suffering from the easiest although often most annoying thing to fix—technical errors.
This can include things as simple as your Google Analytics tracking code has a glitch or website downtime. Take a look at your Webmaster Tools for both Google and Bing and check for any errors they’ve noticed. If you haven’t registered your website for Webmaster tools at both of the big search engines and for Google Analytics, it’s something you need to put at the top of your blogging to do list right now.
Also be sure to make sure your tracking codes are working properly. In your browser, use a tool to look at the code and look for your Google Analytics tracking code. It should be in the header tag. If it’s not complete or in the wrong place—or just missing entirely—you’ll see traffic problems in reports. Sometimes when you make changes to your website, it can mess with existing things like code so be sure to check this especially if you’ve made any design changes or plugin changes.
If you find nothing wrong technically, you’ll need to move on to more difficult problem areas.
Seasonal changes can be hard to track if you haven’t been blogging very long or had an established audience for more than a year.
Hop into your Google Analytics and use the comparison tool in the upper right hand corner to look at your traffic year over year. Did you see a similar drop in traffic this time last year?
If your blog was smaller last year, you might not notice a big dip so thinking about your audience can help.
For example, mommy bloggers tend to see a seasonal drop in traffic. Why? Moms are spending time with kids who are out of school and less time on blogs! If your blog grew in a audience segment that has more seasonal change, that might show some traffic changes that you didn’t have before.
Crowdsourcing information can also help you find out if other people are having seasonal drops too. Send an email to your other blogger friends who are in your niche and ask them how their stats are doing. If you see a trend across the board, it’s likely just seasonal traffic.
Competition is another source of traffic drops.
To combat against this, take some time to analyze your competitors and what they’re doing differently or changed since you’ve seen a drop in traffic. Are you doing everything you can to provide the most value to your audience? What are your competitors doing for your audience that you might be missing?
If it’s been a while since you’ve done an earnest competitor assessment for your blog, it’s time if you’re seeing drops in traffic.
Referrals, whether from other websites, social media, or from search engines, are an important part of your blog traffic. Take a look at your Analytics and figure out where most of your traffic came from before the change. Then compare that to where your traffic is coming from now.
What is different?
Links from other blogs can die out over time, especially if they link to content that’s become outdated.
Take a look at your trackbacks in Analytics to see how your blog is doing. If you’re not getting as many, that might be why your traffic is down. Working to increase these might be the change you need.
Another thing to consider is algorithm changes or SEO ranking changes.
Google and other search engines often update their algorithms to target different SEO abusers. Sometimes honest bloggers get caught up in the crossfire. Check to see if there’s been a new algorithm release since your change and what SEO experts say the change targets.
You should also take a look in your Google Webmaster tools or Analytics and look for keyword searches that brought blog traffic compared to the previous period. What changed? In Webmaster tools, also take a look at your keyword rankings and see if there’s been a drop.
Content is the last stage to check but is the hardest to analyze. We’re all so attached to our writing it can be difficult to see if from the outside. Be honest with yourself.
What’s changed in your content?
Are you posting on the same schedule?
Is it still high quality content?
Is your topic still appealing?
Are you being too promotional?
Is your content giving readers a reason to come back?
What changed about your content since the drop in traffic?
If you’re having a hard time analyzing your content, hire a blog coach like me or ask a friend for their opinion.
Of course, there’s a lot of work that goes into traffic analysis but if you dig deep, you’ll probably be able to find the source of your troubles as well as get a really intimate look at how you can improve your blog overall.
Do you have a blogging question? Be sure to send it my way by joining the Build Your Blog G+ group or emailing it to info at bearandbeaglecreative.com. You can find more blogging tips at bearandbeaglecreative.com.
Till next time, keep blogging!
This week’s Build Your Blog Vlog is all about how you can stop spending so much time on social media without reducing the number of profitable and positive interactions and connections you make with your social media channels. It’s a big problem for most business owners. How do you handle social media and building your business when they both take up so much time? Well, you can’t do both so you have to get rid of one. And social media is the obvious choice.
Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial sent in this week’s question:
On this week’s Build Your Blog Vlog, Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial asks:
I love interacting with others on social media, especially Twitter and Pinterest (though I’m getting into G+ more now!). But I find myself having less and less time for social media as the business grows. I don’t want to hand it off to someone else, and I already schedule it as much as I can. How do I keep up the connections and interactions with other business owners and writers without taking time away from the day-to-day of growing the business?
Watch the video to find out and be sure to join the G+ group to ask you own questions and join in the group discussions where we help each other solve blogging problems.
Every week, I answer a question that I receive in email, blog comments, or in the Build Your Blog G+ Community. This week’s question is from Jessika of JessClassy.com and she asks:
As of recent, I struggle with putting out content that my readers like. I know hey like beauty content, but sometimes I just run out of ideas. The beauty blogging world is filled with so much … opinions and repeats. How do I make myself different?? xo – Jessika
In this week’s video, I break her question down into three parts:
- How do I put out content my readers like?
- How do I find inspiration for my blog?
- How do I make myself and my blog different?
Watch to get the full explanation and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get all the newest episodes of Build Your Blog videos!
SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is an important part of building a strong online presence for your brand. But most people have no idea what it is! In truth, defining SEO is pretty simple when you take out all the technical jargon and turn it into something fun.