5 Reasons to Be Thankful for Blogs This Holiday Season

Blogs are more than just fleeting posts that get published and are forgotten. Posts allow writers to share their passion and readers to spread the word about things that they’re truly interested in. Although it’s easy to overlook blogs during the busy holiday season, they do a lot for us on the SEO world. Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can better appreciate blog posts in 2014:

christmas-tree

1) Series of Posts

If you get the urge to write non-stop on a particular topic, breaking it up into a series of posts will help bring variety to your blog. Having several different related blog posts will  help fill our your writing schedule, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck or have run out of things to write about.

Having a part 2, B or deux will help bring readers back for more. Particularly if you have a great topic, such as: top SEO errors, effective social media campaigns of 2013, top CMS design templates etc. Bringing in more clicks and building up anticipation is a one of the best strategies for your blog.

2) Long Form Content

On the other hand, sometimes you just need to have all important questions and answers all in one place. This is where a long form blog post comes in handy.

Integrating long blog posts in a mix of short posts, is an important part of giving readers variety, as well as search engines variety in the length of content to crawl. It looks more natural to have different types of blog posts, rather than have all posts scheduled systematically to be around exactly the same length.

Long blog posts work best in the form of: case studies, how-tos, tutorials, and even interviews.

3) Repurpose Content

Repurposing and reusing similar content on your website is a great way to capture long tail keywords. The more intricate a search query is, the more you’re likely to find it off your website. Meaning, if you’ve looked at general phrases or questions in your search queries and find that your website is ranking, it could actually be your on-site blog instead of a content page on your website.

If you have a video or infographic on your website, you can leverage your blog by writing a short post and linking back to it. Related and repurposed content do well when they’re linked back to each other in a way that makes sense.

4) Encourage Faster Indexing

The social nature of blogs paired with social share buttons will skyrocket your post to being indexed way more quickly than a page on your website… especially if it’s buried deep within folders. Blog posts are indexed as an individual page and more frequent posts will bring crawlers to your site more often and have them remain on your site for longer. The goal is to have bots regularly crawl, index and rank your content. What better way than to do it with time-sensitive, interesting and helpful blog posts?

5) Cross Promote with Other Properties

With blog posts, you have the endless opportunity of sharing things on your other social media profiles or website properties. Whether it’s click bait, Facebook campaigns, funny photos, community events or contests, you can link these all on your blog. Blogs and Instagram might not be so effective on their own, but using the 2 to cross promote will amplify the reach of your active audience and make your campaign stronger. Social media activity is very time sensitive and there are increasing barriers to what your Fans will and will not see. Why not strengthen that by cross promoting on your blog?

Blog content can be evergreen so it’s not surprising to see a business’ contest from 2 or 3 years ago pop up when you do a search. It brings a sense of authority and permanence to an otherwise run of the mill social media activity.

Happy blogging and have a great holiday season. Visit our Facebook Page and give us a shout out!

Halloween Topics for Blog Traffic

Halloween, or any other holiday for that matter, is a great time for you to brainstorm and think about topics that will expand your blog audience outreach. No matter what your industry is, holiday-friendly topics are a great way to cover different material and get readers who wouldn’t normally stop by your blog. Here are a few more reasons you should think about blogging about Halloween:

halloween-blogging

Blog Exposure

Since your blog posts should be shared on your different social networking accounts, Halloween topics will give your blog a greater and more broad exposure than what you normally write about alone. You can write about Halloween outside of your regular topics. But you can also bring it in and actually tie a Halloween theme to your normal post. This will help enhance your blog posts by adding a unique spin on an otherwise mundane topic.

Clickworthy Content Brings Social Shares

During this time of year, people are bound to search for creative costumes, scary stories, origin stories and all things related to Halloween. Blogging about these topics will help bring more readers to your site/blog during the holidays. Check out Jezebel, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Cracked for examples of clickworthy headlines and content.

Get Local Recognition

Halloween is a great time of year to write about safety tips for children and trick-or-treating. Local blogs and newspapers (and parents!) pick up on these types of stories all the time during October. But you can also take advantage of the local aspect of your neighborhood to write about something new and fun. Being in Los Angeles, we have a lot of opportunities to write about events for Halloween, best trick-or-treating neighborhoods, and real haunted spots. Blogging about local events, landmarks and history will show that you’re a resident with community pride.

Have Fun

Blog posts shouldn’t just be cranked out on an automated manner. This can be boring for readers and won’t give them a reason to care why you’re writing. Blogs written without a sense of personality or the human touch aren’t getting the clicks that you want them to get. Being in a certain industry or niche, you might feel compelled to stick to the same old things. Blogging about holidays like Halloween will bring something different to the table and is actually fun for the writer and the reader! Remember, you don’t have to go so outside the box that the post doesn’t match the rest of your blog. But you can weave in a piece of the holiday spirit that will give your posts an extra boost.

Take a look at our past Halloween related blog topics below for some ideas of your own!

How Closely is Social Tied to Blogging?

Blogging can no longer be seen as a standalone tactic for online marketing. In today’s changing internet landscape, blogs (on their own) have become less powerful than they have been in the past.

social related blogging

So, why is it still necessary for businesses to blog? The nature of blogs has been geared towards social for many years now. Recent studies have shown just how powerful social networking is in spreading the word about your website content.

Here are a few ways blogging has become more closely tied to social media marketing:

1) Social shares – Social sharing is like a vote of confidence about the quality and authority of your blog post or webpage. All these years, the mantra for blogging has been to write for the reader, not search engines. The momentum of +1s, Shares and Likes is becoming increasingly correlated to well-ranking sites. Not only can we now take this piece of advice to heart, but there are concrete numbers and statistics that show just how effective that blog exposure is.

2) Interesting Topics – At this point, it’s VERY difficult to blog about a topic that hasn’t been discussed before. The key here is to write about your own take on something that hasn’t been dragged out to death. If you saw this topic on your News Feed, would you Like it? If you saw this in an email blast, would you click through? The key is to be creative as possible but at the same time realistic. You want to choose interesting topics with your unique point of view and bring something relatively new or different to the table.

3) User Engagement – Getting users to engage is easily seen through social shares. But what about the silent votes of confidence? Getting readers to stay on the page for longer and visit more pages before leaving, is a good sign that your content is grabbing their attention. Blogs have a notorious high bounce rate because they often target general, vague topics. It’s no wonder that readers leave right after landing. This is why it’s good to add variety, blog about local events, introduce your team members and write about your specific special interests. Think micro as well as macro.

4) Link Earning – Instead of buying, soliciting or generating links, social blogging has solidified the idea of link earning – that is, the idea that you have to work hard to earn your links. The same idea of link building applies, only it’s magnified and adjusted to today’s world of SEO. You want to create high quality content that others want to link to. You have to work hard to put in the effort to make your blog posts stand out and give people a reason to come, read, comment and share.

Blogging is evolving and social media is becoming a significant part of that change. In order to do both successful, don’t think that one can succeed without the other!

How Has Your Blogging Changed This Year?

So far, 2013 has been a year of many changes for SEO. Effective optimization and natural linking were just some things bloggers need to keep in mind on top of writing unique, quality content. Content marketing has become a more broad term to encompass SEO content, website pages as well as blogging. No one’s arguing that there hasn’t been many changes to blog strategies this year!

blogging-changes

Over-Optimization: Google’s Panda update (and rolling Panda updates) have struck fear into the hearts of bloggers everywhere. Whereas keyword rich links, titles, posts and pages used to be effective, we are going back in some aspect to clean all that optimization up. Need a better visual? Check out Moz’ guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization.

Guest Posting Blogs and Massive Interlinking:
Besides blatantly spamming search results, Google pretty much hates any unnatural link that is built in order to manipulate Page Rank. And this means guest posting rings and complex link schemes. Webmasters who used to purely rely on large-scale blog exchanges for link juice will be severely disappointed and even penalized. Remember, you want to play it safe by diversifying text and link sources as well as building a natural velocity of links.

Microformat: Implementing Google Authorship and other markup has helped bloggers increase click through rates for blog posts in competitive industries. These rich snippets have helped authoritative figures own their content and encourage activity on Google+ (wink, wink). The theory here is that publicly claiming your content is helpful readers and will encourage bloggers to write more quality content.

In-Depth Articles: On the topic of rich snippets, Google has announced their soon to come highlights of in-depth articles in search results. Although shorter, informal and micro blog posts are great to vary the type of content on your site/blog, Google has chosen to showcase long-form informative articles. You can markup this content with an author, pictures, alternative titles, number of social shares and more.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in blogs so far this year?

Would You Read Your Blog Posts?

Although blogs are seen as more time sensitive with less staying power than “regular” content, it’s useful to check off a few important things before you actually hit “Publish”. When you keep these things in mind, it will help grow your blog as well as help you become a better blogger. Think of it and ask yourself, would you read your own blog posts and find them interesting?

to-do-list-blog

Don’t overwhelm yourself and stay on topic. Here are some things to ask and remind yourself of:

Is this blog post reputable? Blog posts should not be blatantly spammy and full of links to your site, that’s so 2000. Don’t forget about how Google views advertorials – not in a good thing! And lastly, if you post any product/service reviews, make sure to have a full disclosure and to be transparent about whether you’re receiving any form of compensation.

Is this post social media friendly? – It helps to add relevant social media share buttons to your blog but that’s not enough to be social nowadays. Think about how you can share an accompanying picture on Pinterest, make a short on Vine or if the post topic would make an interesting status conversation.

Do you find the topic interesting? – Blogging about something you would actually read is an important part of creating unique content with your authentic point of view. This is becoming increasingly important as Google Authorship is greatly influencing clicks in search results. Remember, being real is important to readers as they want tips and thoughts on someone who is credible in the field.

Is the blog post long enough? – You don’t have to be so nitpicky as to count every single word but the optimal blog post length is around 250 – 500 words. It can also be just short of 1000 words, depending who you ask. Long form blog posts can also rank well, as do short posts that are straight to the point. The point of thinking about blog length is that it’s ok to vary the length and mix things up so readers have something different to look forward to!

How can I make it better? – Waiting to post a masterpiece of a blog can pretty much be impossible if you can’t get over yourself. There are also different SEO tips and optimization best practices that can also help your content be more search engine friendly. The main point of blogging is to do it well (well, well enough) and consistently so that your site gets crawled regularly. There is always room for improvement so don’t forget to read and write any chance you get!

It’s a Blog Eat Blog World

In the competitive world of blogging, writing strategies have to adapt to make sure that they’re up to par with the current state of SEO. If you’ve been writing the same way for years while ignoring the state of search marketing and blogging best practices, it’s time to STOP!

An important aspect of content creation that has drastically improved is linking and keyword density. Instead of focusing on hitting a certain keyword ration or word limit, an emphasis is placed on the quality of the content you create. Whereas these types of blogs used to bring in the link juice that your site needed, the power of guest blogging and article spinning has decreased over the years.

The argument is that those types of links can be easily bought or manipulated. While quality sites practicing white hat techniques should be rewarded for working harder to earn those good links. Quality over quantity is the mantra to aim for.

Another aspect of blogging that has changed for the better is integration with social media. Nowadays, you can’t just write a post, expect it to stay dormant on your domain and bring in the linking power. Sharing posts on social media sites is an important part of bringing in more readers and showing search engines that your blog is relevant through social shares.

Lastly, content freshness through blogging has become a convenient and easy to way to keep your website active. On-site blogs that accumulate social shares will bring a wider audience to your website. This will help establish your voice as an authority in an industry and also get search engines to consistently crawl your site for new content.

Off-site blogs have also become a useful tool for businesses to use for branding, reputation and relevant co-citations. Although these don’t necessarily need to be tied directly to your website, it’s a great alternative to building authority.

5 Ways to Make Your Blog Better

Blogging and other forms of content creation doesn’t always come easily. It’s hard enough when writer’s block attacks and your posts feel a dry spell. Besides consistently and actively trying to create quality content, there are some other technical aspects of blogging that you should also keep in mind:

1) Optimize for Mobile Devices: Mobile is the future, we get that. But do you really understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly blog? 87% of American adults own a cell phone and 29% of Americans say their phone is the first and last thing they look at every day. (Check out more stats here.)

Using WordPress, Tumblr or a custom CMS, makes it easy for mobile users to land on the mobile version of your blog. Where necessary, it’s also helpful if you let visitors go to the desktop version of your site if they need to.

2) Interlink On and Off-site: Linking naturally within related blog posts is a great way to keep readers on site. Linking to other relevant, authoritative sites shows that you’re providing helpful information. Often times, people are afraid to “link out” but this is a natural part of writing and sharing quality content. The only problem comes when you go overboard on the amount of links and anchor text used. Nobody likes to read keyword-stuffed content, it’s 2013!

3) Integrate Social Media: This doesn’t mean just auto-posting to Twitter and Facebook. The next “wave” of social networking sites are Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and others. The benefits to using these social networking sites is their ease of use and casual it can be just to be active. The content is fast, easy and fun to digest.

Even if you’re sticking with the basic sites like Twitter, there are new features that you can use such as embedding Tweets and even conversations.

4) Optimize Images: Learn from those who do it best. Sites like Gawker, Jezebel and other celebrity gossip sites thrive on bringing the “best” celebrity pics and candids. But these things don’t just happen out of nowhere. Their success comes from proper optimization, labeling and use within content… not to mention saving and compressing the right files so that load times aren’t driving visitors away.

5) Don’t be Afraid of Tools: When used correctly, the right tools can help you in the pre and post stages of writing your content. Keeping a writing calendar can help you stay on track and not fall behind on updating your blog. Tools like Evernote are extremely helpful in keeping notes so that you can capture the moment when inspiration or an idea pops into your head.

If you’re feeling especially lazy or uncreative, Zemanta can help suggest relevant content and pictures. And for getting read to publish, WordPress tools like Yoast’s SEO plugin helps you be more efficient in optimizing your posts. Ta da, just like magic!

Start a Business Blog with Purpose

You know the feeling of excitement when starting to write on a fresh pad of paper or notebook? Business blogging can be the same way. It’s never too late to start thinking of consistently blogging about your business, no matter what size it is!

Before You Even Start
First off, it’s important to determine what type of blog is most suited for your business. Read our blog post on: The Pros and Cons of On-Site and Off-Site Blogs to find out which would work best for you. Again, you want to think of SEO benefits as well as branding.

Who are You and Who are You Writing for?
Next, think of the tone, style and voice you would like to convey to your audience. Although blogs are most interesting when readers can relate to the writer, having a ghost blogger, guest writers or taking on the voice of the company as a whole is also acceptable. Which leads to the next important ingredient – passion and purpose.

Blogging Goals
Starting a blog solely for ad space or affiliate clicks isn’t what blogging is about. You’ll come across blogs that don’t actually have content and repost news articles that exist solely for this purpose. And guess what? In the eyes of search engines and readers, they won’t survive in the long run.

The objective of your blog should be aligned with your business goals. It can be as formal or informal if you want and updated as frequently as you like. The key is to be consistent with your choices. Not convinced? A popular study showed that there are 2 main factors that are essential to sales success: 1) to be perceived as an expert in your field 2) to be likeable. Guess what, blogging for your business can help you in both these areas!

Time for Inspiration
Check out some of these business blogs for inspiration. Also, feel free to share your blogging tips with us on Facebook:
Cure Thrift Shop
Nuts About Southwest
Blackberry
Whole Foods
Ice Cream Journal

Beat Your Blogging Blues

Do you have a case of the “Mondays”? Well, you don’t have to… at least when it comes to blogging. If you’re feeling bored, frustrated or uninspired, there are plenty of ways to get that excitement going and brain stimulation going on. But that takes work… so we’ve done it for you! Check out 5 tips you can use right now to beat your blogging blues.

1) Think in hashtags: Everyone on Twitter, Instagram and Google + is doing it. So, why aren’t you? Using words or phrases you would hashtag may help you think of something funny, insightful or interesting you can relate back to your topic. You can always search said hashtags and get ideas. As annoying as they can be, hashtags can get your creative juices flowing again. Besides, #YOLO.

2) Think of an abstract connection and make it happen: Want to connect a certain topic to lessons learned from your favorite movie or lyrics to your favorite song? Just do it! Sometimes, you just need an ending and you can fill in the cracks a long the way. If you need more catchy title ideas, check out our previous post on Cracked.com

3) Freewrite and brainstorm: Give yourself 10 minutes to write whatever comes to mind on a certain topic. You might have words, whole phrases, ramblings or even doodles written down. The purpose of these exercises is to think without restrictions and gather your thoughts up so that you can convey them in a meaningful fashion later.

4) Keep a journal: Everyday objects, tasks and people watching can give you ideas for writing. Sometimes, a good idea will come to me and I might forget it in passing. The best way to keep these points of inspiration is to write them down, whether it’s in a journal, on your phone, or even on your hand! It’s like waking up from a strange dream, it’s hard to remember unless you actually put it down on paper!

5) Keyword research: As boring as it sounds, Google’s Keyword Tool is a safe but sure way to gather ideas for writing. When you input a word or phrase, it will generate different phrases that you can specify to your needs. This will also give you synonyms and related phrases to use so that you aren’t repeating the same thing over and over again.

Have other tips you think we should know about? Let us know what you like to do when you’ve hit a writing slump.