There’s a huge difference between a blogging hobbyist and a professional. While some bloggers seem to have defied the odds and have stuck to WordPress.com, TypePad or Blogger, the rest of us have taken on the challenge of a self-hosted, totally controlled site. But even some beginners start that way. So how do you know when you’ve broken free of the “beginner mold” and are truly advanced?
In the first of this 3-part series, I offered up some of the more advanced knowledge activities associated with website creation, writing code and monetizing a site. In this episode, let’s discuss SEO, audience contact and content strategy.
Organic traffic is one of the best converting sources when you’re optimized for the correct keywords. No matter your niche, there are people out there looking for exactly what you’re offering. The key is to place yourself directly in their way when they’re searching for it.
The focus is choosing the right keywords. Are you using Google AdWords to test your messaging to determine which keywords convert for you best? Have you tried analyzing written survey responses to look for common phrases used by your audience? Are you using a great keyword tool to find keywords that have a good amount of search volume, but little competition? And did you know that Google’s Keyword Tool is not what you’ve been told.
SEO is different for each search engine, beyond titles and tags and placement, are you doing what’s necessary to get your videos ranked on YouTube, podcasts ranked in iTunes, and your boards ranked on Pinterest? Are you using Google’s Contextual Targeting Tool to determine which related keywords to get ranked for, bolstering your main keywords?
For keywords that are bringing you the most relevant traffic, are you optimized for more than one page in the search results? Have you dominated those keywords by getting YouTube videos, slideshare presentations and podcasts into the search results as well? Have you written guest blog posts that are optimized for your best keywords? Only when you dominate the top 10 for your best keywords are you assured great traffic.
Email and RSS
Are you giving your audience a reason to join your email list? Have you tested different opt-in forms and opt-in incentives? And once you found the perfect ebook or language that inspires your audience to sign-up, have you tested the location and color and font till you found a winner?
Are you using an autoresponder or managed RSS system to contact your community, instead of relying on RSS alone? Are you able to segment your lists by their desires and send them targeted messages? Does your system give you the option to send mass email blasts as well? Have you built in automation rules that unsubscribe members from one list as they add themselves to another?
Are you looking in the “Campaigns” section of Google Analytics for your Feedburner stats? Are you actively following your open rate to determine what kinds of subject lines your audience pays attention to? Are you following up with those that opened your first email with another one of value? And are you resending your messages with changed subject lines to those that didn’t open the first one?
Are these decisions you’ve consciously made?
Have you mapped out the steps that your audience needs to follow to attain their goals and are you leading them from step to step? Does your content also teach them the process and lead them to what you’re offering next? Does your audience know what your next blog post is going to be about before you write it? Do you know what you’re going to be talking about three months from now and are you already starting to plant the seed of that topic’s importance?
With a marketing plan in hand, are you writing the content now that you’re going to need when life gets really busy (like during the holidays)? Have you started creating the images necessary to create great Pinterest boards when the time comes? And have you determined if your audience would occasionally prefer a podcast or a video or just images?
Are you repurposing your content into ebooks, videos, downloadable printables? Are you then loading up your ebooks to Amazon, Google Reader and Kindle to reach a wider audience? Are you turning your great content into powerpoint presentations and putting it on Slideshare? How about repurposing your images for Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, Stumbleupon and Infographics?
Are you recording and transcribing interviews, podcasts and videos and turning them into blog posts, emails and other written assets? Have you turned your content into a real book that can be found on Amazon? Are you turning your blog photos into videos with Animoto?
The question is . . . is your content on purpose?
3 Part Series
I would consider all these things to be the assets of an “advanced blogging” mind, but that’s not it. There are still a few parts of a professional blogging outfit that we haven’t discussed. In our final chapter, we’ll talk about becoming the expert in your niche, how to use tracking tools effectively and driving traffic from many different sources.