Wednesday , September 28 2016

The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It)

The One Reason Your Amazing Blog Post Hasn’t Gone Viral (and 8 Things You Can Do About It)

This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger Expert Kelly Exeter. So you’ve written an AMAZING blog post; one you know contains everything it needs to go viral: Irresistibly magnetic headline Compelling hook Content that addresses a genuine pain point for your readers Powerful storytelling You put it out into the ...more

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What Social Media Marketers Need to Know About Facebook Live

What Social Media Marketers Need to Know About Facebook Live

In the age of Netflix and DVRs, it’s weirdly ironic to watch the growing popularity of live video for social media marketing. Sure, most of it is recorded so you can access it later, but it has far more in common with the nightly news than with modern on-demand, personalized content. It turns out, there’s [...]

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How to Use Twitter Cards for Business

How to Use Twitter Cards for Business

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Are you maximizing your Twitter marketing exposure? Have you heard of Twitter cards? Twitter cards help you attract more attention in the news feed, mine valuable analytics, and get better results from your ads. In this article, you’ll discover how to use Twitter cards to enhance your exposure. #1: Twitter Cards for Your Website First, [...]

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- Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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4 Pinterest Tips to Reach a Local Audience

4 Pinterest Tips to Reach a Local Audience

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Are you a local business on Pinterest? Looking for ways to connect with customers in your area? There are some simple tactics you can use to reach locals via Pinterest without using promoted pins. In this article, you’ll discover four ways to connect with local customers using Pinterest. #1: Target a Locale With ShortStack’s Pinterest [...]

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- Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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5 Chrome Apps I Can’t Live Without

5 Chrome Apps I Can’t Live Without

As a blogger and social media strategist, there are a few things I absolutely would not be caught dead without. I have to keep on top of a ton of tasks in all my roles, and the faster and more efficiently I can get these done, the better! Having important ...more

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5 Awesome Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report

5 Awesome Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report

Today’s consumers are much more self-directed in their buying habits, leveraging the internet and mobile technologies to research, review, interact and buy the products and services they need or want. As a result, many brands and marketers are shifting their marketing tactics to join consumers on their buying journey, rather than interrupting their day with [...]

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6 Tips to Optimize Your Facebook Page

6 Tips to Optimize Your Facebook Page

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When was the last time you updated your Facebook page? Interested in creating a more professional and engaging experience on your page? There’s a number of tactics you can use to create a more comprehensive Facebook presence for your business. In this article, you’ll discover six tips to optimize your Facebook page. #1: Provide Complete [...]

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How to Customize Your Videos for Popular Social Networks

How to Customize Your Videos for Popular Social Networks

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Is video a part of your marketing? Wondering how to best tailor your videos for the top social networks? When you play to each social network’s audience’s expectations, your video will get more views and engagement. In this article, you’ll discover how to optimize your video for better performance on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. [...]

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PB154: How to Grow Your Blogging Income

PB154: How to Grow Your Blogging Income

Grow Your Blogging Income

Today, I am going to continue on from episode 153 where I outlined a timeline of how I added different income streams over time. 

I felt like there was a little more I could say about diversifying your income in that way and growing your income.

A photo by Gustavo Quepón. unsplash.com/photos/pF_2lrjWiJE

I think there are some principles that you can pull out of the story. I hope that you find these observations and words of encouragement helpful.

Further Resources on How to Grow Your Blogging Income

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 154 of the ProBlogger Podcast where today I want to continue on from the last episode, 153, where I outlined the timeline of how I added different income streams over time. I felt like there was a little bit more I could say about diversifying your income in that way and growing your income because I think whilst hearing a story, I think there are some principles that we can pull out of this story. I hope that you find these observations and words of encouragement helpful for you.

Let me get into a few thoughts on that story I have told you. Let’s start off by talking about three ways that you can grow your blogging income. You will have heard in that story three things that I’ve done over time to grow my income. The first one, probably the most obvious one in that particular story, was that I diversified my income streams. I did this right from the start, I had AdSense and Amazon Affiliate Program. One earned me a dollar a day, one earned me a few cents a day. It wasn’t really that spectacular a story, I have to admit.

Along the way, you heard me tell how I added a second ad network. That was a really important moment for me where I added Chitika on top of my AdSense earnings. That almost doubled my income over night. That was a really important moment, it was an exciting day. The same thing happened when I moved from just having advertising and affiliate promotions as the bulk of my income and then started to create ebooks. Within a couple of months, I again doubled my income streams. That was a little bit more spectacular than just going from a few cents a day to a dollar a day.

Diversifying your income streams is something that I think a lot of bloggers who have been blogging for a while, most of them are really focusing in on one or two income streams. Maybe there is a way that you can exponentially grow your income in a relatively short time because you’ve done a lot of that hard work already of building your audience up. If you’ve got an audience, if you’ve got engagement, that is perhaps a bit of a shortcut. It’s still going to take you a lot of work but it’s definitely something to consider.

A couple other things that you can do to grow your income in addition to diversifying your income streams. Firstly, and these aren’t rocket science but these are things that you need to be working on all the time. Grow your traffic, you heard me talk about that first year where I didn’t have any income streams, that was a year where I put time into growing my archives of content, building traffic, and deepening engagement with my readers.

Growing traffic is something that’s really important. I realized very early on, literally within a day or two, that I could double my AdSense income by doubling my traffic. You can’t always double your traffic and that doesn’t always translate over because different types of traffic convert for different types of income streams at different rates. The principle applies through all the income streams that I outlined in the last podcast, all of them will grow up if you are able to increase the amount of traffic that you have and also the quality of traffic that you have as well. By quality, I’m talking there about getting the right type of readers to your blog and getting engaged readers to your blog. Work on growing traffic to your blog.

This is something that generally for most bloggers takes time, it’s usually a gradual thing but it’s something you should be always focusing your attention on. That’s why I do so many podcasts on the topic of growing traffic to your blog. Traffic alone is not the only way to increase your income, the other thing that I found really does help a lot is increasing the conversions. The conversions mean different things for the different income streams but converting that traffic into the income, there are things that you can do to optimize that along the way. It’s different for the different income streams. I thought it might be worthwhile to just briefly touch on each of the different income streams that I’ve mentioned or some of them at least.

Advertising networks, that was my first one. Google AdSense, Chitika. I realized very early on that more ads would lead to an increased amount of income. You don’t want to go overboard with that, I think AdSense has a limit, three or four ads per page. Different ad networks have different limits on how many ads you can have. If you have too many ads on a page, Google also penalizes you from a search engine optimization point of view as well. Don’t have too many ads, you don’t want to overwhelm your readers with ads. But certainly rather than just having one ad, try a second ad. You will increase your income that way.

Also, different positions of ads work differently. AdSense for example, if you have your ads above the fold in the top half of your site, if you try putting an ad that floats in your sidebar and follows your reader down the page so they’re always seeing it, that can have an impact as well. Different positions of ads definitely will convert at different rates. Different sized ads, some ads, there are more advertisers targeting those sites. 300×250 pixel sized ad is one of the most popular ones. We find our 728×90, the ones across the top of our blogs, the header type blogs, they work quite well for us as well. Experiment with different sizes of ads.

There’s all kinds of different technologies, even within AdSense. They now have traditional banner ads but they also have ads for mobile, responsive ads. Whatever ad network you’re using, if you’re using one, optimize it, learn about the different options that they have. Keep abreast of the new things that are happening and the new techniques that can be used because this is one way that you can significantly increase your income over time.

Again, you have to have the traffic there for AdSense to work. If you’ve got the traffic, if you’ve got high volumes of traffic, you can actually see quite remarkable leaps in income from optimizing the way you do your advertising.

Affiliate marketing, again there’s ways that you can optimize your affiliate marketing. One of the most simple ways is to think about where you’re promoting your affiliate links. In the early days of my own blogging, I had my affiliate links in the sidebar and they converted every now and then. But certainly when I began to write reviews of books and I put the affiliate links inside my content, I saw significant increases in the commissions that I was earning.

Later on when I developed an email list, sending out emails that were promoting affiliate products, particularly ebooks and courses where it was a high commission, that again is a way that you can optimize your earnings there. Different calls to action, you over time learn how your readers work and what type of products work for them as well. Always be thinking about how can I increase the conversions.

If you’re selling products, there’s lots of different ways that you can optimize that whole process. Changing and testing out landing pages or sales pages. We recently ran a test to different versions of the same sales page for one of our products. We had a Lightroom course that we did, a course that we’re selling on Digital Photography School. We ran one version of the sales page which we sent 50% of our traffic to, and then we ran alongside it the other half of our traffic from our email to a different sales page. They both had exactly the same copy on it but they were designed different; one was a lot cleaner, one had different positioning of the buttons, and some different calls to action on it.

It turns out that there was a 30.4% difference between those two sales pages. This is another way that you can be optimizing the conversions of your site there. The same can be said for when you’re selling services on your site as well.

There’s three different ways that you can increase your income, these are three different areas that I would be encouraging you to think about as you look to grow your income on your blog. Firstly, traffic, it should always be your goal to be increasing traffic to your blog. Don’t become obsessed with it. You don’t need millions of readers, but grow your traffic and grow the quality of your traffic, find the right reader and work on getting them engaged and getting them hooked into your site. Work on the conversions, work on optimizing your income streams or whatever they may be, and then also think about diversifying your income. There’s three things that come out of that story that I told you a couple episodes ago.

A couple other things that I want to mention, firstly you will have heard me in that episode talk about that first year where I had no income streams and the reason I had no income streams was that I didn’t know you could have an income stream and that’s certainly the story of some bloggers. If you do know there’s some income streams, I really want to encourage you to resist the temptation to monetize too early or to put too much time into monetizing early. Really work a lot in those first few years of your blog on the other things that I talked about; learning how to blog better, creating great content, building traffic, and building community.

When I started Digital Photography School back in 2006 it was, I spent the first two years really not monetizing that site very much. Yep, I had some AdSense ads on there, yep I occasionally linked to Amazon, but I did very little active monetization of that site. I kind of had those things there but I was more focused on the other things I just mentioned, creating great content, driving traffic, because I knew that if I really spent that time investing into those foundational things that I’d be so much more effective at growing an income later.

Another thing that I want to say out of that story I shared was that most of the income streams I talked about there started as really small, uncertain experiments. All of them started small in some way or another. Yes, some of them had more spectacular starts like the first ebook I had which I mentioned sold $70,000, but that was still a very small nervous experient. It was repurposed content, it was me not quite knowing how it was going to go, so only spending a little bit on design. It was me signing up for shopping cart that cost $5 a month, E-Junkie.

I could’ve put a lot more time, a lot more energy, a lot more effort into that income stream but I am a bit risk averse and decided to bootstrap it and to see what would happen. I’m so glad I did because I could’ve spent years developing that product and then find it didn’t work. I’d rather spend a few months developing that product, get it out there, learn a lot and then see what happens. Small experiments are totally okay. You’re much more likely to take action on a small step than a big perfect product which will never actually happen, you can’t develop a perfect product, it’s just impossible. Small experiments.

In each case, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I want to be clear on that. A lot of times, you hear full time bloggers talking as if they know all the answers. I had no idea, those first ebooks I didn’t know whether they would work, I didn’t know whether anyone would buy them, I didn’t even know whether my readers would get angry, some of them buying something that was already on the site. That’s why I undersold it and I over-explained it in my first product. I had no idea whether they would work, I didn’t really understand the whole process but I did it anyway. That’s the important thing, taking action on these things.

Another thing I really want to point out from the story is that everything I did, almost one thing led to another. It’s very easy to say monetize your blog with courses but I only did courses because I did ebooks. I only did ebooks because I did affiliate marketing of other people’s ebooks. I only did affiliate marketing of other people’s ebooks because I started doing affiliate marketing on Amazon. You can kind of see, yes I ended up here, but I only ended up doing what I’m doing today because I started with some of these other things. Treat this as an evolutionary process.

The same could be said for selling ads directly to advertisers. I’ve done some big campaigns with advertisers over the years but they only came about because I rang a camera store a few years ago and organized a $20 on my site. I only did that because I stuck some AdSense ads on my site. I hope you can see here that there’s a progression. You don’t have to just jump straight to the end result. Learn by doing little things. As well as those little things bringing you income, you’re going to learn a lot. It’s the learning that’s as much the gold of all this as the actual income that you bring in as well.

The last thing I want to touch on is I really want to talk to those of you who are wondering which income stream to try. This may be those of you who are just starting out and you want to add your first income stream, or maybe it’s those of you who have had some income streams on your site but hasn’t really worked and you want to find one that’s better suited for your blog.

One of the things I would encourage you to do if that’s you and you’re trying to work out which income stream, I want you to really try and put yourself in the shoes of your readers and try and get in touch with their intent and ask yourself the question why are your readers on your site? Why are they there? Try and get in touch with their intent, what are they doing there? Are they there looking for information, are they there looking to learn something, are they there because they want community? Are they there because they’re researching something and are in the process of buying something? Are they there because they want to be entertained?

The reason I really think it’s important to dig into the intent of your reader is that different reader intents lend themselves to different types of monetization. I learned this the hard way. My first digital photography blog, which doesn’t exist today, was a digital camera review blog. It was one where I reviewed cameras, I talked about new cameras that were being released, and I aggregated reviews that other people were writing around the web. You could come and find a particular model and then go and easily be able to find out what other people are saying about it.

The reader intent of that first blog was that my readers were on my site to research a purchase of a digital camera. They were there trying to work out whether they should buy the Canon or the Sony. They were there trying to work out whether they should buy the A70 or the A90 camera. They were there basically in a research mode. What worked really well on that site was affiliate marketing where I’d link to camera stores or Amazon where they could then buy the product. They’re researching it, we give them a recommendation one way or the other, we tell them which camera is right for what type of person, and then they are like okay, I’m going to buy that camera. There’s a link to where I can buy it. A high percentage of them bought those cameras. Affiliate marketing worked really well.

Advertising also worked well, both ad networks but also working directly with advertisers because advertisers who sold digital cameras wanted to have their brands and wanted to have their stores in front of our readers at the time they’re buying a product. The reader intent really worked well for affiliate and for advertising, particularly around gear and cameras.

What didn’t work well on that first photography blog was us promoting products like ebooks on how to use cameras. Even though they were still about photography, people were not there looking for that type of information. They were there making a decision about buying a product. Ebooks did not work at all on that particular blog. I tried quite a few them out, let me tell you.

Later on, I started Digital Photography School. Digital Photography School how to use cameras and the intent of our readers on Digital Photography School to this day is they want to learn how to use cameras. Any kind of information product, our own or an affiliate’s, works well. So does software or some sort of prop that’s going to help them improve the end result of their photos, that’s what our readers are there looking for. Some of them have a secondary intent as well, some of them are actually looking to improve their photos by upgrading their camera gear as well.

Affiliate links and advertisers looking to sell gear kind of work on our side with some of our readers. Your blog might have major intent, they’re there looking to learn but then they might have a secondary kind of intent as well. Other income streams may work as secondary income streams as well. Get in touch with the intent of your readers and that may give you a hint as to what income stream might be useful to your readers.

The last thing I’ll say particularly if you’re in the early days and you’re trying to work out what income stream might work for you, one of the quickest things you can do is to look at other blogs in your niche and particularly other blogs that have similar reader intents to you. Look around, see what other blogs are using, what ad networks are they using. You can often tell if an ad is from an ad network, there’s often a tiny little icon in the corner of the banner ad which will tell you which ad network it is.

Check out what ad networks they’re using, what sponsors are they directly working with. These might be people that you can directly reach out to as well. What affiliate products are they promoting, what products of their own do they have? You could become an affiliate for those products or you could develop something similar as well. Look at what they’re doing, what services are they offering as well would be another one. Check out what others in your niche are doing, it’s just an easy way to work out what income streams might be worth investigating as well.

I hope you found that useful. I look forward to chatting with you in the next couple of days, I hope you’re doing well. Let me know in the comments on the show notes if you’ve got any questions. If you wouldn’t mind popping over to iTunes and leaving a review, that would be greatly appreciated as well. Chat with you soon, bye!

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Penguin 4.0 Update

Penguin 4

On Friday Google's Gary Illyes announced Penguin 4.0 was now live.

Key points highlighted in their post are:

  • Penguin is a part of their core ranking algorithm
  • Penguin is now real-time, rather than something which periodically refreshes
  • Penguin has shifted from being a sitewide negative ranking factor to a more granular factor

Things not mentioned in the post

  • if it has been tested extensively over the past month
  • if the algorithm is just now rolling out or if it is already done rolling out
  • if the launch of a new version of Penguin rolled into the core ranking algorithm means old sites hit by the older versions of Penguin have recovered or will recover anytime soon

Since the update was announced, the search results have become more stable.

They still may be testing out fine tuning the filters a bit...

...but what exists now is likely to be what sticks for an extended period of time.

Penguin Algorithm Update History

  • Penguin 1: April 24, 2012
  • Penguin 2: May 26, 2012
  • Penguin 3: October 5, 2012
  • Penguin 4: May 22, 2013 (AKA: Penguin 2.0)
  • Penguin 5: October 4, 2013 (AKA Penguin 2.1)
  • Penguin 6: rolling update which began on October 17, 2014 (AKA Penguin 3.0)
  • Penguin 7: September 23, 2016 (AKA Penguin 4.0)

Now that Penguin is baked into Google's core ranking algorithms, no more Penguin updates will be announced. Panda updates stopped being announced last year. Instead we now get unnamed "quality" updates.

Volatility Over the Long Holiday Weekend

Earlier in the month many SEOs saw significant volatility in the search results, beginning ahead of Labor Day weekend with a local search update. The algorithm update observations were dismissed as normal fluctuations in spite of the search results being more volatile than they have been in over 4 years.

There are many reasons for search engineers to want to roll out algorithm updates (or at least test new algorithms) before a long holiday weekend:

  • no media coverage: few journalists on the job & a lack of expectation that the PR team will answer any questions. no official word beyond rumors from self-promotional marketers = no story
  • many SEOs outside of work: few are watching as the algorithms tip their cards.
  • declining search volumes: long holiday weekends generally have less search volume associated with them. Thus anyone who is aggressively investing in SEO may wonder if their site was hit, even if it wasn't.
    The communications conflicts this causes between in-house SEOs and their bosses, as well as between SEO companies and their clients both makes the job of the SEO more miserable and makes the client more likely to pull back on investment, while ensuring the SEO has family issues back home as work ruins their vacation.
  • fresh users: as people travel their search usage changes, thus they have fresh sets of eyes & are doing somewhat different types of searches. This in turn makes their search usage data more dynamic and useful as a feedback mechanism on any changes made to the underlying search relevancy algorithm or search result interface.

Algo Flux Testing Tools

Just about any of the algorithm volatility tools showed far more significant shift earlier in this month than over the past few days.

Take your pick: Mozcast, RankRanger, SERPmetrics, Algaroo, Ayima Pulse, AWR, Accuranker, SERP Watch & the results came out something like this graph from Rank Ranger:

One issue with looking at any of the indexes is the rank shifts tend to be far more dramatic as you move away from the top 3 or 4 search results, so the algorithm volatility scores are much higher than the actual shifts in search traffic (the least volatile rankings are also the ones with the most usage data & ranking signals associated with them, so the top results for those terms tend to be quite stable outside of verticals like news).

You can use AWR's flux tracker to see how volatility is higher across the top 20 or top 50 results than it is across the top 10 results.

Example Ranking Shifts

I shut down our membership site in April & spend most of my time reading books & news to figure out what's next after search, but a couple legacy clients I am winding down working with still have me tracking a few keywords & one of the terms saw a lot of smaller sites (in terms of brand awareness) repeatedly slide and recover over the past month.

Notice how a number of sites would spike down on the same day & then back up. And then the pattern would repeat.

As a comparison, here is that chart over the past 3 months.

Notice the big ranking moves which became common over the past month were not common the 2 months prior.

Negative SEO Was Real

There is a weird sect of alleged SEOs which believes Google is omniscient, algorithmic false positives are largely a myth, AND negative SEO was never a real thing.

As it turns out, negative SEO was real, which likely played a part in Google taking years to rolll out this Penguin update AND changing how they process Penguin from a sitewide negative factor to something more granular.

Update != Penalty Recovery

Part of the reason many people think there was no Penguin update or responded to the update with "that's it?" is because few sites which were hit in the past recovered relative to the number of sites which ranked well until recently just got clipped by this algorithm update.

When Google updates algorithms or refreshes data it does not mean sites which were previously penalized will immediately rank again.

Some penalties (absent direct Google investment or nasty public relations blowback for Google) require a set amount of time to pass before recovery is even possible.

Google has no incentive to allow a broad-based set of penalty recoveries on the same day they announce a new "better than ever" spam fighting algorithm.

They'll let some time base before the penalized sites can recover.

Further, many of the sites which were hit years ago & remain penalized have been so defunded for so long that they've accumulated other penalties due to things like tightening anchor text filters, poor user experience metrics, ad heavy layouts, link rot & neglect.

What to do?

So here are some of the obvious algorithmic holes left by the new Penguin approach...

  • only kidding
  • not sure that would even be a valid mindset in the current market
  • hell, the whole ecosystem is built on quicksand

The trite advice is to make quality content, focus on the user, and build a strong brand.

But you can do all of those well enough that you change the political landscape yet still lose money.

Google & Facebook are in a cold war, competing to see who can kill the open web faster, using each other as justification for their own predation.

Even some of the top brands in big money verticals which were known as the canonical examples of SEO success stories are seeing revenue hits and getting squeezed out of the search ecosystem.

And that is without getting hit by a penalty.

It is getting harder to win in search period.

And it is getting almost impossible to win in search by focusing on search as an isolated channel.

Efforts and investments in chasing the algorithms in isolation are getting less viable by the day.

Anyone operating at scale chasing SEO with automation is likely to step into a trap.

When it happens, that player better have some serious savings or some non-Google revenues, because even with "instant" algorithm updates you can go months or years on reduced revenues waiting for an update.

And if the bulk of your marketing spend while penalized is spent on undoing past marketing spend (rather than building awareness in other channels outside of search) you can almost guarantee that business is dead.

"If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is break their spirits." - Matt Cutts

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