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Category Archive: AudienceBloom

  1. How to Build a Relationship With a Guest Posting Source in 5 Steps

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    Guest posting is here to stay. It’s a great overall strategy, and an integral part of multiple marketing angles, including content marketing, personal branding, social media marketing, and even SEO. If you post on a diverse range of sources with great content pointing back to your site, you’ll earn direct referral traffic, more social media followers, a better personal brand image, and an increase in your search ranks.

    The problem is that you can’t just post content wherever and whenever you feel like. The sites with the highest authority on the web got to where they are because they only allowed great content to be posted. Getting past the gatekeepers can be tricky, and establishing a great long-term relationship is even harder.

    Thankfully, there’s a relatively solid system you can use to build up a store of guest posting sources. Follow these five steps, and you should have little trouble establishing a relationship with a relevant source:

    Step One: Identify Your Prospect.

    articleimage1483 Identify Your Prospect

    Your first job is to identify a source worth establishing a relationship with. For this, you’ll need to consider three main factors:

    • The source’s level of authority. How recognizable is their name? How high do they rank in searches? The more authoritative the site the better.
    • The source’s relevance to your industry. The closer the fit, the better. Avoid any source that serves a niche outside your own, but general-purpose sources are okay provided they offer a high enough authority.
    • The source’s appropriateness to your experience level. When you’re first starting out, the highest authority and most relevant sources aren’t going to take you. You have to start small and work your way up.

    Finding possible sources is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can use a blog aggregator or simple Google searches to find relevant publishers in your industry, or follow personal brands you want to emulate and see where they post. Once you’ve identified a perfect source, your job is to find the contact information for the person in charge of publishing. You can sometimes find this on the site itself, but you might have to send a query via a contact form.

    Step Two: Reach Out With a Pitch.

    articleimage1483 Reach Out With a Pitch

    Once you have a source in mind, you have to reach out with a pitch—this is a brief outline of a post you intend to write for the source. Keep your pitch in line with other material you know the site has posted in the past; for example, you could reference a previously popular post and offer a more detailed follow-up or a rebuttal. You could also cover a topic you know has never been covered before by this particular source.

    The key here is to offer value to your source. Make a bold impression by suggesting content the editor or publisher will be excited to incorporate on site. This is easier said than done, of course, but if you can find appropriate, exciting content to pitch, you’re a shoo-in as a new guest poster.

    Step Three: Deliver Great Content.

    articleimage1483 Deliver Great Content

    If your pitch isn’t accepted, you must submit a new pitch or move on to a different source. If and when a pitch is accepted, it’s your job to deliver on your promise. That means creating great content that will actively add value to your selected source. The definition of “great” will vary from source to source, but a few things you’ll have to keep in mind:

    • Follow any and all rules specific to your source. There may be length or formatting requirements.
    • Never directly pitch your own brand or products. Your goal is to provide information.
    • Back up your claims with external sources or evidence. The more thoroughly you research your topic, the better.
    • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Don’t let a simple error compromise your future relationship with the publisher.

    In addition, make sure to use a unique, recognizable brand voice across all your platforms and publishing sources. It will help your readers grow loyal and familiar with you.

    Step Four: Follow Up With an Offer of Value.

    articleimage1483 Follow Up With an Offer of Value

    Once your post has been accepted and published on your target source, it’s your job to follow up at a later date and offer something of value. That something of value is subjective and variable—it could be another pitch for a different piece (and this is probably your best option). It could be an interview. It could be a syndication opportunity for the publisher. The key is to make yourself useful again.

    Step Five: Establish a System of Regular Exchange.

    articleimage1483 Establish a System of Regular Exchange

    Once your target source gets to know you, and learns that you’re a valuable and reliable resource, the doors are open. As long as you feel a mutual trust and respect, feel free to ask for a system of regular exchange. For example, you might offer to provide a new post every week, or every month, in exchange for being listed as a regular contributor. Start with a small ask—there’s always room to grow. The more posts you submit and the longer you work together, the more likely you’ll be to earn more opportunities in the future.

    I should also mention that step one and two are almost impossible to get past unless you have some kind of established authority on the web. For example, if you send a potential source a pitch with no onsite blog posts, no social media following, and no real offsite web presence whatsoever, you’re likely to get rejected. In contrast, as you start building more relationships with more online sources, steps one and two get easier—you might even find outside sources coming to you with a request for new content!

  2. 20 Changes You Can Try to Increase Landing Page Conversions

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    Optimizing for conversions is tough because there isn’t a mathematical formula for success. There are a handful of best practices that can almost always boost your conversion rates, but user behavior is unpredictable, and sometimes even counterintuitive changes can make a big difference in how many visitors end up making a purchase (or filling out a form).

    If you’re stuck with a landing page that just won’t convert, or if you’re looking for new ways to maximize your conversion rate, try any one (or more) of these 20 ideas for more conversions:

    1. Decrease your number of required fields.

    articleimage1474 Decrease your number of required fields

    Users generally want to do as little as possible. If you have too many fields, it will turn people off right away, so try decreasing the number of fields you require. As a simple example, you could combine “first name” and “last name” into a simple “name” field (in some situations).

    2. Add more directional features.

    articleimage1474 Add more directional features

    Directional features draw a user’s eyes to a certain place. For example, you could use drawn arrows or the eyeline of a person in your image to point to the call-to-action. Add more to see if they increase your conversion rate.

    3. Change the color scheme.

    articleimage1474 Change the color scheme

    Simple changes in color can make a substantial difference in your total conversions—experiment with different tones and contrasts.

    4. Include more benefits.

    articleimage1474 Include more benefits

    Bulleted lists of benefits are always a sure way to earn trust and show value. Try expanding the list with more benefits of your product (or the benefits of signing up).

    5. Use different headlines.

    You might only have one headline, but it’s going to attract a lot of attention. One weird word could be stopping your users from converting, so experiment with lots of different headlines to see what works best.

    6. Use different buttons.

    Seemingly innocuous, the size and shape of your “submit” or “buy” button can make a big difference. Try a circle instead of a triangle, or increase the size.

    7. Include more action words.

    Action words are strong verbs that imply some form of initiative. For example, “try it for yourself” implies action whereas “you’ll see for yourself” does not.

    8. Feature more testimonials.

    Users trust other users more than corporations or brands. Include real testimonials from people who have bought from you in the past, and use real names and faces if you can.

    9. Add a guarantee.

    Oftentimes, people fail to convert simply because they aren’t ready for the risk of not being satisfied with the order. Prevent this by adding a satisfaction guarantee.

    10. Minimize what’s on screen.

    If your landing page is too busy, it can distract users from the call-to-action. Minimize what a user sees at any given point in time by allowing more white space in your design.

    11. Try a video (or a different video).

    Today’s users want as much visual imagery as possible, and that means including videos if you want to show off your product or service. If you already have a video, experiment with a few different ones to see if you can get any better results.

    12. Eliminate buzzwords.

    It’s natural to want to include sharp-sounding buzzwords in your copy, like “ROI” or “out-of-the-box” because they sound impressive, but to most users they register as empty white noise. Scrap these buzzwords and shoot for more sincere language.

    13. Find and list common objections.

    Use surveys or past experiences to find and document common objections to your product or service, then address them directly on your landing page. It’s your chance to quell your visitors’ concerns before they prevent a conversion from happening.

    14. Tell a story (or a different story).

    Stories are a powerful mode of communication, so if you haven’t already included one in your landing page (even if it’s in a short form, like a bulleted list or a short testimonial) try one. If you’re already using one, try a different one or make small tweaks to the one you have.

    15. Try less copy.

    Copy is great for convincing users of the value of your product (and using specific words to prompt them to take action), but too much of it can get in the way of your efforts. Try eliminating some.

    16. Offer a chat option.

    Use a chat pop-up window to help indecisive users find reassuranceor information and potentially move forward.

    17. Offer various contact options.

    Users feel more secure when they see a landing page that offers contact information—preferably in multiple forms. Your company name, address, and phone number should all be visible.

    18. Try different images.

    Hopefully, you’re using at least one image on your landing page. If so, swap it out for something different. Subtle cues from a different visual could lead to very different results.

    19. Make it urgent.

    Add more language that conveys a sense of urgency, or use a timer counting down to prompt more users to convert. If they feel like they can wait, they’ll probably never buy.

    20. Eliminate the options.

    Don’t let your users do anything other than convert. Eliminate any other distractions on the page.

    Conversions are your gateway to revenue; the more conversions you get, the more money your company stands to make. Don’t stop trying to get more. Conversion optimization is a constant experiment, dependent on small tweaks and changes that iteratively make a better system. You never know what will stick until you try, so keep making alterations until you’ve got a system that works.

  3. 10 Questions to Help You Find the Perfect Brand Voice

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    Don’t underestimate the power of a brand voice. Though somewhat subjective in nature, your choice of words, tone, and direction throughout all forms of your company’s content can have a major impact on how many people read that content (as well as how they react to it). Unfortunately, you can’t choose a brand voice for your company the way you choose a flavor at an ice cream parlor. There are too many variables and options to consider, and even when you’ve crafted the ideal starting point, you’ll still likely have to make tweaks as you get comfortable with it.

    To start things off, try asking these 10 important questions. They’ll help you understand the nature and intention of your brand voice, as well as how to start writing in it effectively:

    1. Who is your target audience?

    Who is your target audience

    This question will feed into several of the others, so it’s the one you need to ask yourself first. Writing a voice for a brand that caters to teenage boys must be different than writing one for a brand that caters to retired women. Different generations, sexes, belief systems, economic and education levels all have different perspectives on life and different values, so you need to keep those in mind when you start developing the voice that will be speaking to them.

    2. How formal do you want to be?

    how formal do you want to be

    The formality of your voice can dictate a reader’s initial reaction. Do you want to speak formally, with precise, professional language and an almost stoic tone to give the impression that you’re an absolute professional with old-time values? Or do you want to speak informally, with conversational, casual language and a playful tone to connect with younger audience or seem more approachable? There’s a lot of gray area to work with here.

    3. How complex will you present your content?

    How complex will you present your content

    How familiar is your reader going to be with your industry and your topics? This should dictate what level of vocabulary you choose to use, as well as what topics you select. For example, if you run an automotive repair shop, will you speak to readers like they’re in the habit of fixing their own mechanical issues, or like they’ve never driven a car before in their lives? You could instantly turn someone off by choosing the wrong level of complexity.

    4. What emotions should your brand elicit?

    What emotions should your brand elicit

    This is a big one. When readers think about your brand, what emotions should be conjured up? Should they get a warm, cozy, home-like feeling? Do you want them to feel energized and excited? Should they feel challenged and inspired? These feelings need to come across in your voice.

    5. What is your brand’s mission?

    Why does your company exist? Most companies have a succinct mission statement already—if you do, use that as inspiration for developing your brand voice. Make that message a part of what you say at all times. If you don’t already have a mission statement, it’s time to create one. What’s the most important duty your company performs for people? What do you give them that they need?

    6. What are your competitors doing?

    Run a quick search for your competitors and see what their brand voices are like. Read a few of their blogs and see what they’re posting about on social media. What kind of tone do they use? What kind of audience are they speaking to? If they don’t seem to have a consistent voice at all, you’re already ahead of the game.

    7. How are you different from your competitors?

    Now that you have a good understanding of what your competitors are doing, you need to ask yourself how your company is different. Are you more casual and less formal? Are you more exciting and inspiring? There needs to be some differentiating factor here, or your customers won’t care who they end up buying from. Choose your factors carefully.

    8. How entertaining are you willing to be?

    Most brands do well with a careful balance of useful information and entertainment—such as jokes, informal language, and interactive images and videos within content. The question for your brand voice is how much entertainment are you willing to provide? Too much or too little could skew the image you’re striving for.

    9. What would your brand never say or do?

    Think of at least two or three different statements, topics, or content types that would be completely out of character for your brand. Sometimes, imagining what your company wouldn’t say is easier than imagining what it would say—use this exercise to help you figure out the latter.

    10. If your brand were a person, what is he/she like?

    This is the most useful question on this list, since it’s easy to answer and can help you develop a natural-sounding voice without overcomplicating things. Think of your brand as a human being. Is your brand male or female? How old? What educational background? How does he/she dress, act, think, and talk? What are his/her friends and family like? Give your brand a real, personified character and use that image to feed your streams of content to come.

    Remember, above all else, your brand voice needs to be consistent. Deviating from your brand’s standard will make your customers feel alienated, and won’t ever give them a firm grasp of “who” your brand is. Carry this voice across all your chosen platforms, including not only your blog but also your advertisements, your social media channels, your press releases, and all other forms of company communication. Make tweaks gradually and only when necessary, and eventually your customers will come to know, love, and appreciate the personality of your brand.

  4. 7 Authority Killers to Find and Eliminate on Your Site

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    In the world of SEO, domain authority is the major player. Almost every strategy you adopt—from onsite content to navigation tweaking to offsite link building and social media marketing—will in some way contribute to your overall domain authority, which will then play an imperative role in determining your rank for various searches. Obviously, the higher this authority is, the better, and most search marketers do a pretty good job of adding things that add authority to their sites.

    The problem usually comes in the form of unseen or unnoticed “authority killers” which actively bring your authority down, sabotaging your efforts. It’s hard to always catch these authority killers, due to their innocuous nature, but it’s important to look out for them and squash them as soon as you can:

    1. 404 Errors.

    articleimage1446 404 errors

    404 errors are simple in nature and relatively easy to fix, but they can slip by unnoticed by even the most watchful developers—even for weeks or months. If Google expects to find a page of yours at a certain URL, and it instead encounters a 404 error, your domain authority will take a hit. Even worse, the meta information for your page might show up in Google search results, stopping people from ever coming to your site. You can scan for 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools by looking for Crawl Errors. From there, you can either fix the page in question, update your sitemap, or establish a 301 redirect, which directs users and bots to a new appropriate page instead.

    2. Duplicate Content.

    articleimage1446 Duplicate Content

    Duplicate content can come in a few different forms. If you have an article or a paragraph on one of your pages that’s a carbon copy of some other section of content on your site, that counts as duplicate content. If you have two identical meta tags or page titles, that counts as duplicate content. If you have a http:// and http://www. version of a page (and you haven’t canonically distinguished which version Google should consider primary), that counts as duplicate content. Dupe content is always bad, though it will only crush you if it’s great in frequency and persists for a long time. Use Google Webmaster Tools to scout for instances of duplicated content and either replace them with new content or create canonical tags to distinguish between versions.

    3. Old (or Bad) Links.

    articleimage1446 old links

    Google uses networks of links to help it understand the context and level of authority of different sites. As you’re well aware, any links pointing to your site from high-authority sources can actively add to your authority. What you may not know is that Google also looks at the types of links you post. If you link to well-researched, high-profile sources, you’ll be seen as a greater authority. If you instead have a bunch of links pointing to nonsense sites with thin or irrelevant content (not that you would), it could compromise your reputation. Search your old content for outdated, broken, or irrelevant links and get rid of them.

    4. Outdated Sitemaps.

    articleimage1446 Outdated Sitemaps

    It’s important to let Google know what URL structures you’re using onsite so it can properly index and “understand” your site. If your current sitemap notes pages that no longer exist, or having missing notations where current pages exist, it could detract from your overall authority. Most developers and search marketers treat this as a once-and-done item, but it should really be updated every few months with the latest layout of your site. Almost all sites go through changes on a regular basis.

    5. Thin or Irrelevant Content.

    articleimage1446 Thin or Irrelevant Content

    The better your content is, the higher your domain authority will be, but thin or irrelevant content can actually bring your score down. You may adhere to best practices as often as possible, but in a rush or in a previous, misguided attempt to rank, a few pieces of bad content might have slipped through. Take the time to wade through the old pages of your site’s blog (and other pages where you have significant content), and update or get rid of anything that doesn’t positively add to your image.

    6. Unnecessary Pages.

    There was a time when more pages was always a good thing for SEO. More pages meant more indexable content, and more chances to rank in Google for various queries. Unfortunately, this led to a corresponding trend of business owners adding pages for the sake of adding pages. Even without the motivation, it’s easy for new pages to get added without an explicit purpose. Be sure to clean house of these empty pages, as they can take away from the authority of your entire site.

    7. Non-Mobile Friendly Features.

    Hopefully, your entire site is mobile-friendly—you can test for sure here. Still, there may be a handful of features of your site that aren’t optimized for a great mobile experience, such as improperly formatted images or buttons that are hard to click with fingers. Work to optimize every inch of your site for mobile users, as they’re now the majority population. Even if these tweaks don’t actively increase your domain authority directly, they’ll at least improve your overall user experience.

    These seven authority killers can drag down the efforts of even the best-laid SEO strategies. There’s no single “best approach” to catching them, but in my experience, it’s best to designate a single person to run a clean sweep of the website on a regular interval. For example, you could check for these outliers once a month if you have a small site or once a week if it’s larger. Doing so will keep your site healthy, and prevent your authority from tanking.

  5. 7 User Actions Your Online Marketing Campaign Can’t Survive Without

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    Online marketing can be a confusing place. Competitors come and go, strategies wax and wane in popularity, and new technologies and platforms seem to appear out of thin air. Keeping up with all the changes and turns is a full-time job in itself, and trying to map out a strategy that’s sustainable in the long-term is virtually impossible; instead, you must jump from island to island as new trends emerge and develop.

    Even so, there are certain fundamentals that have always—and probably will always remain in online marketing. They exist in the form of user actions, which remain consistent across multiple platforms and in multiple strategies. Whatever tactics you use today or in the future, be sure to prioritize these seven user actions:


    articleimage1421 clicks

    Clicks are one of the earliest actions you need to concern yourself with. SEO can help you rank for certain search queries, but that doesn’t guarantee that the search traffic will want to click through to your site. Similarly, you might have a great piece of highly detailed, well-written content on your site, but if you syndicate it with a limp headline, nobody will want to click through and read it. Acquiring clicks is a matter of capturing someone’s interest fast, using concise, powerful, and urgent language. The shorter and more accurately you can convey a message, and the more value and immediacy you ascribe to that message, the more clicks you’ll get.


    articleimage1421 share

    Shares are a user action that lead to greater click potential, but they also add more respect and recognition for your brand. Getting users to share your content isn’t simple or predictable, but it’s necessary if you want to build an online empire. First, make sure it’s easy for users to share your material by including share buttons for all major social media platforms, and actively syndicate your posts on as many platforms as possible. Then, you’ll need to ensure your content is shareable by making it more valuable, unique, surprising, funny, and informative. It takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort.

    3. Links.

    articleimage1421 links

    Links are like shares, in that they require users to find your content engaging enough to post elsewhere, but physical links serve a different purpose. First, links generate more referral traffic (similar to shares) by inviting clicks. Second, links pass authority to your site, which manifests in the form of higher search rankings. To get cited as a link, you have to offer valuable information that nobody else has. You can accomplish this by publishing original research, making a strong and original claim, or offering something of value that other people will want.

    4. Engagements.

    articleimage1421 engagement

    If your audience only clicks and shares your content, you haven’t exactly won the content game. You could just have a group of follower zombies who like to click, skim, and share for their own purposes. If you want to earn a reputation among your followers and truly connect with them, you need to produce content that drives engagements. How you define engagements is subjective—some people look to things like comments and response posts. The key is to elicit a reaction from people, preferably in the form of something beyond simple shares and links. Likes and favorites are good, but actual comments are a better sign of personal investment.

    5. Revisits.

    articleimage1421 reviset

    After clicking, people can leave. Even if they buy something from you, they might leave and never come back. In order to maximize your chances of getting a conversion (which I’ll cover in a moment), and maximize the revenue potential of each individual user, you need to increase your revisits. That means you’ll need to incentivize people to come back to your site after an initial engagement. You can do this by establishing a strong, consistent, and memorable brand presence, and offering some kind of value that changes over time—like regularly posted blogs or rotating promotions. Be sure to highlight your brand’s unique traits and value.

    6. Explorations.

    Users clicking into a blog or individual page can easily be done after skimming a bit of information. If you want to be successful, you need those users to explore, venturing to the other corners of your site to find more information and become better acquainted with your brand. To drive this, be sure to interlink your pages heavily, and offer a clean, inviting navigation at the top of your pages.

    7. Conversions.

    Conversions are the real money makers of the group, but to get to a conversion, you often have to go through attracting clicks, shares, links, engagements, revisits, and explorations. But eventually your users will get to a critical moment; they’ll have the option to submit their information, buy your product, or take some other action that leads to meaningful revenue or revenue potential. To commit that final stage of conversion, you need to demonstrate a clear value, and make the conversion opportunity visible, concise, easy, and aesthetically appealing. It will probably take several AB tests for you to figure out what works for your users and what doesn’t—it’s a delicate science.

    If you put the acquisition of these seven actions at the core of your online marketing strategy, you should have no problem retaining a positive ROI. The only hard part is getting your users to take action from the default of doing nothing. Still, with enough practice and enough tweaking, you should be able to find a system that delivers these user behaviors reliably.

  6. Why Mobile Friendly Isn’t Enough for a Great Mobile Experience

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    Mobile devices are more popular than ever, and seem to grow in popularity with each passing day. Some analysts have anticipated the complete death of traditional desktop-based online experiences, but regardless of whether that minority ever truly dies out, the necessity remains to please the masses who access the Internet almost exclusively through mobile devices.

    Google made its position clear back in April when it released the so-called “Mobilegeddon” update. Intended to make the web more “mobile friendly,” the update penalized any site that didn’t appear properly on mobile devices. Though the update was made out to be more significant than it actually was, millions of business owners breathed a sigh of relief when they realized their sites weren’t hit.

    But unfortunately, that sigh of relief has led to a degree of complacency. Because they survived the Mobilegeddon update, they believe their site to offer a great mobile user experience. However, this is a product of a misconception: that being “mobile friendly” in Google’s eyes means you’ve essentially won the battle for mobile supremacy. Unfortunately, this correlation doesn’t exist.

    How Google Defines Mobile Friendly

    People feared Mobilegeddon as some massive, unpredictable, and subjective algorithm with the potential to crush their sites. But Google was open and honest about its intentions and its standards since it announced the update nearly two months before its rollout.

    There are only a handful of standards that Google holds for mobile sites:

    • Loading and display. The page should be accessible to mobile devices, and without any technologies that aren’t compatible with mobile devices, like Flash. Horizontal scrolling is not acceptable.
    • Content availability. Words should be readable without zooming and images should load properly.
    • Touchable links. Links should be spaced so that users can tap them easily.

    And if you’re ever in doubt, Google offers a convenient testing tool you can use to determine whether any page on your site is or isn’t mobile friendly.

    All this seems relatively simple and straightforward, but it isn’t all that matters to give your users a great user experience.

    Site Speed

    articleimage1414 site speed

    Mobile Internet speeds are generally slower than connected ones, and users are as impatient as ever. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load for a mobile device, a user is far more likely to bounce and never come back. It’s possible to have an aggravating site loading speed but still pass Google’s mobile friendly test, so if you want to offer the best possible mobile experience, you need to reduce those loading times by optimizing your site and eliminating unnecessary material.

    Aesthetic Appeal

    articleimage1414 Aesthetic Appeal

    “Aesthetic appeal” is a subjective feature, but it’s also an important one. Good design features of a desktop site don’t always apply to a mobile site. For example, mobile devices tend to sport a “stacked” vertical look far better than a desktop site. Responsive sites add convenience for developers, but can also result in awkward-looking pages on a mobile display. Your main navigation can also appear strange if not designed and implemented properly. There are very few objectively “right” or “wrong” ways to design your site, so put it to the test with user experience trials to see what people actually think.

    Multimedia Content

    articleimage1414 Multimedia Content

    Removing all the images and videos on your site is not the best solution to reducing site loading times. People still love seeing visual content, and it’s going to help take your site to the next level. Being judicious about the format and placement of these pieces of content is vital to ensuring the best possible experience.

    Full Functionality

    articleimage1414 Full Functionality

    Mobile users should have the “full” experience that your desktop users have. For example, if your desktop site has an e-commerce platform and a checkout process, your mobile users should be able to access it. Adding those extra functions can be tricky if you’re hosting separate versions of your site, but it’s necessary if you want to create a seamless experience.

    Humans or Search Engines?

    Making your site mobile friendly will stop you from getting penalized or ranked harshly in Google’s search, but as I’ve demonstrated, that isn’t enough to stay competitive in the mobile arena. But is optimizing your mobile user experience going to help your rankings or is it all about making your visitors happy?

    The short answer is, improving the user experience can increase your ranks peripherally. You’ll have lower bounce rates, people will recognize your brand more, they’ll want to link to you more, and you’ll see a host of other benefits, all of which can incidentally increase your rank. As far as we know, there are no direct “bonus points” you can win from Google by having a “mobile friendlier” site as opposed to an average “mobile friendly” one.

    That being said, your users are why you exist. Making them happy should always be your primary objective. Forget for a moment that mobile usability is a ranking factor in Google at all—if you could make your users happier by making a simple tweak to your site, wouldn’t you still?

    It’s in your best interest to offer your mobile users the best possible experience you can. As new technologies like the Apple Watch and Google Glass start to herald an era of wearable technology, an adaptive mobile experience will become even more important. Figure out what your users need to be happy, and do your best to give it to them.

  7. How to Get More Sales From Any Page of Your Site

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    SEO and social media marketing can earn you a ton of traffic, but your end goal for that traffic is what actually matters. For some businesses, that end goal is a purchase. For others, it’s a conversion in the form of submitting information. Whatever the case, those end-game conversions are what bring you revenue, and what make all those traffic-generating strategies worth the cost and effort.

    Getting those conversions is the hard part. When it comes to content marketing, any moment you take to advertise your services detracts from the sincerity of your material (which is supposed to be organically helpful or informative). The other pages of your site range in opportunity from acceptable to worthless.

    Blind pitching probably won’t get you anywhere, but a handful of tweaks could be all you need to make any page of your site a revenue-generating machine. Try these steps to get more sales from anywhere on your site:

    Step One: Create an Ideal Destination

    articleimage1411 step one

    Your first job should be to create an “ideal destination” for your users. This could be a product page where your users make a purchase or a contact form where your users send you information about themselves. Whatever you choose, this is your place to be as salesy as you’d like. It’s the final area where your users can convert. Keep this advertise-y approach separate from the rest of your pages. You can link users there and host a separate page for it, but don’t let that advertising language seep too far into the rest of your site.

    Step Two: Maintain Voice and Intention

    articleimage1411 step two

    In any page you choose, focus on maintaining your brand voice and the intention of the page. For example, your About Us page should detail who you are as a company, how you got started, and what your team is like—not how inexpensive or useful your products are. Be sincere in all your pages, mentioning only what you need to, and if you do want to close with a brief pitch, send people to your “final destination” page.

    Step Three: Include Calls to Action on the Sides and Bottom of Your Page

    articleimage1411 step three

    You’ll have a dedicated page for conversions, but don’t be afraid to include other calls to action on any page of your site—as long as they aren’t obnoxious. For example, you can include a short form on the right side of your page for users to fill out in exchange for more information or a free piece of content, or you can have a small banner ad showcasing your latest products. These features don’t detract from your main page, but do offer the opportunity for conversion.

    Step Four: Include a Time-Based Pop-Up

    articleimage1411 step four

    If those side calls-to-action aren’t enough, you can include a pop-up ad that encourages your users to convert after they’ve spent a certain amount of time on your page. For example, after 30 seconds, you can bring up an ad that requests users’ information. As this ad is more intrusive than the calls-to-action off to the sides, you’ll have to be a little more tactful. For example, you can include an extra value, such as a deeper discount or something valuable in exchange for information, to incentivize users who might otherwise be annoyed.

    Step Five: Imply a Sense of Urgency in Your Writing

    This is a subtle play, but instilling your users with a slight sense of urgency can positively increase your total number of conversions. For example, writing a blog post with a phrase like “actions you need to take now” or filling your home page with worst-case scenarios and cautions can make users feel like they need to take action—which is exactly what you want.

    Step Six: Leave Plenty of Open Space

    Even though you’ll be including some advertisements and conversion forms in your individual pages, don’t underestimate or forget the importance of white, empty space. If your users feel assaulted with information—including text, images, or ad content—they’ll be more likely to leave your page than take any meaningful action. Instead, leave plenty of room for the eyes to wander and for the eyes to decompress.

    Step Seven: Show Off Your Authority

    You are an authority in your industry, so take the time to show it off! Users convert more with brands and websites they actively trust, so include your credentials on every significant page. For example, if you’ve been featured in certain publications or have earned certain credentials, include that information in the footer. That little extra boost of authority can make the difference when you’re trying to get more sales.

    Step Eight: Experiment With AB Testing

    Last but not least, remember that users are unpredictable, and slight changes can make a significant difference in their behavior. Try different designs and different layouts and compare them side by side by applying them to different pages on your site. Use this comparison to see which changes are effective and which ones are not, then apply that knowledge to the rest of your strategy.

    If you can successfully implement these eight steps in the pages of your choosing, you should start to see dramatic results within the span of a few weeks. If you don’t see a greater percentage of your visitors converting, it’s probably because you’re doing something wrong. Tinker with a few design and layout changes, and see if it makes a difference. Don’t stop changing things until you can find a measurable difference.

  8. 7 Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid in Any Marketing Campaign

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    Personal branding is a strategy with tons of potential applications; you can use it as a kind of modern resume building to help you find a new job, use it as a platform for an independent business or consulting career, or even use it as an extension of a corporate brand. But no matter how you use it, there are certain strategies you’ll need to adopt, and best practices you’ll need to follow. Making a critical mistake can compromise the effectiveness of your entire campaign, so just one oversight can set you back weeks or months of work.

    As you work to develop your personal brand, be sure to avoid these disruptive mistakes:

    1. Not Having Targets.

    articleimage1409 Not Having Targets

    Too many new personal branders go in thinking they need to target everybody and everything. They don’t have a goal, per say, but know that the more connections they have, the better. This mentality is counterproductive because it spreads your efforts too thin over too wide a range. It’s far better to have a specific goal in mind—such as finding X number of new clients—and a specific audience to target—such as marketing professionals between the ages of 20 and 30. Only then will you be able to tailor your posts, networking targets, and time in a way that leads you to favorable results.

    2. Only Focusing on Social Media.

    articleimage1409 Only Focusing on Social Media

    Personal branding has enjoyed a great revolution thanks to the ubiquity and utility of social media. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter have made it easy for almost anyone to get involved with a personal brand. However, relying only on social media can severely limit your potential audience. As a quick example, some people have sworn off social media entirely and only network at professional events. Others only use social media as a tool to engage with people who they’ve already met in real life. Going to live events and meeting people in real life is a good—and I would argue essential—compliment to your social strategy.

    3. Shelving Your Personality.

    articleimage1409 Shelving Your Personality

    Personal branding is a professional strategy meant to get you new clients or a new job. Accordingly, many networkers put on their “professional face” to engage with this audience. There’s nothing wrong with adding a layer of formality to your written posts and requests for engagement, but don’t take this to the extreme. If you start loading your social media networks with buzzwords and bureaucratic nonsense, you’ll come off looking like a robot. People want to see you for who you are, and see what makes you unique. Give it to them by showing off your true personality, whenever you can.

    4. Blacking Out.

    articleimage1409 Blacking Out

    By “blacking out,” I don’t mean literally blacking out. I’m referring to succumbing to a period of limited content and interaction. If you’re committed to your personal brand, you should be posting, engaging, and participating in your chosen community on a near-constant basis—at least once a day. Blacking out in this context refers to going several days without posting anything or checking your notifications. Doing so can cause a hiccup in your content stream, and might alienate the people who have grown used to seeing you regularly.

    5. Switching Sides.

    articleimage1409 Switching Sides

    It’s good to pick sides as a thought leader in a given industry, so don’t be afraid to make bold predictions, make strong claims, and align yourself with one side of an especially heated debate. Even though it might irritate or push away a handful of your followers, the vast majority will respect you for choosing a side. However, one of the worst things you can do in personal branding is switch sides once you’ve already chosen one or the other. If you pick a side, remain consistent with it unless significant information changes the game.

    6. Exclusively Focusing on Yourself.

    The “personal” part of personal branding implies that you are at the center of all your efforts. You’re the one making the posts, you’re the one doing the interacting, and you’re the one building the reputation. However, if you want to be successful, you need to remember that other people are involved. If you want a dedicated follower, you have to make them interested in you. If you want a strong new connection, you have to give them something valuable (even if it’s only advice). In this way, personal branding is as much about others as it is about you.

    7. Taking No Metrics.

    Building a personal brand is about more than just updating your Facebook page every once in a while. It’s a full-fledged marketing strategy, and if you want to find lasting success, you’ll have to treat it that way. That means you’ll have to take careful measurements throughout the entirety of your strategy, including inbound traffic, new connections, and engagements, and see how these measurements change as you implement new strategies and tactics. Only then will you be able to see if all your efforts are worth it.

    Fortunately, when it comes to personal branding, no mistake is truly fatal. You’ll always have a chance to readjust your strategy, overcome a temporary weakness, and forge a path to a better future. But making up for those mistakes takes time, and the less time you spend covering old ground, the better. Learn from these mistakes before you make them, and you’ll keep yourself more consistent, more productive, and more successful in the long run.

  9. 3 Things Your Users Wish They Could Tell You, But Can’t

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    Your users support your existence, and dictate the changing shape of your business with their latest needs and wants. If your users wanted your product to come in a red style, you’d make a red style. If they think your prices are too high, you’d lower them as much as you could. There are many things that users can tell you—for example, if you read your business’s online reviews or even ask consumers directly, you can probably learn things like your product having a short shelf life, or your brand not offering enough special deals.

    These are “easy problems” that can be pointed out by users and fixed by you, the entrepreneur. Unfortunately, even if you had a select segment of your user base to give feedback on your products and services, there would be some things that they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Maybe they don’t understand what’s wrong, or maybe they just can’t articulate it, but either way, it’s a problem that doesn’t explicitly reveal itself—often until it’s too late.

    Take notice of these three common problems users would love to be able to tell you, but simply aren’t able for one reason or another:

    1. “Your Content Just Isn’t Interesting.”

    articleimage1408 Your Content Just Isn’t Interesting

    Content can suffer from a lot of problems, but not being interesting is probably the most vague and most damaging problem—and of course, it’s also the hardest to identify. You can pinpoint when your content is misleading, as you’ll inspire hordes of angry commenters. You can tell when your content is drawing people in, but failing to keep them around, because you’ll have visitors but no comments at all. But what if you aren’t getting any traction at any part of the process?

    Nobody will go out of their way to tell you “your headline was well-written, but it didn’t seem relevant to me right now, so I didn’t click on it.” Most people won’t even go through this thought process—they’ll just move on, not thinking anything of it. Your headlines will sink into a bottomless pit of white noise, and you won’t be able to recover unless you can make a positive change.

    The real trouble starts when you realize that what’s “interesting” to one user may not be interesting to another. For example, different brands may characterize “interesting” as entertaining, or informative, or communicative. All you really need to do is get people clicking and reading, and the best way to do that if you don’t know the problem is by experimenting. Try all kinds of different subjects, titles, and formats to see what sticks and what doesn’t. If you run trials with sufficient depth, you should eventually find a niche that resonates with the majority of your users.

    2. “I Don’t Like the Design of Your Site.”

    articleimage1408 I Don’t Like the Design of Your Site

    Once your users are onsite, that’s not the end of the story. People can leave for a lot of reasons—they may become irritated with an ad, or your site might load too slowly, and if you conduct serious user testing, you can easily uncover these pain points. You might even experience them yourself if you run a test on your own system. But what happens if your users don’t like your site design in general, but don’t know what about it they don’t like?

    This is a major problem, and most people won’t be able to articulate their sentiments around it. You might be able to tell the problem by an exceptionally high bounce rate and low conversion rate, but there still may be residual user resentment even if these metrics are in order.

    Going about a fix can also be difficult, but as with the indifferent content problem, the solution relies on experimentation. Try implementing a handful of new design changes, one by one, and conduct A/B based user tests to see which changes perform better than the default standard. Gradually, keep the features that seem to work better aesthetically for your audience and weed out the ones that create problems.

    3. “I Wish You Had X Functionality.”

    articleimage1408 I Wish You Had X Functionality

    Generally, users are adept at identifying what they don’t like. If a store is clunky, they’ll say so. If images aren’t professional looking, they’ll say so. What users are bad at is identifying things they don’t know they’re missing. For example, if your checkout process has no shipping estimation feature, users may feel irritated without ever knowing that the lack of shipping information is what’s causing that irritation. Because they can’t identify the problem, you have no clear path to a viable solution.

    This is one of the worst problems to have, because experimentation alone can’t solve it. Instead, you have to spend extra time creatively brainstorming for potential new features that you can develop. In this scenario, a bit of competitive research can help get your juices flowing—what are similar companies doing, and how are they doing it? What are dissimilar companies with similar platforms doing that you can adopt for your industry? If you implement a function that your users have been missing, you’ll know almost immediately.

    Because your users will likely never tell you these things, it’s up to you to pay attention to them and take corrective action as soon as possible. Invisible problems can cause a visible and measurable impact, so put your detective cap on and get to work before it’s too late.

  10. What to Do When You Find a 404 Error on Your Site

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    404 errors are silent killers. You may not know that a page on your site is offline until someone reports it or you happen to go looking for it—and by that time, you may have already lost significant traffic because of it. Imagine a user searching for a term relevant to your industry, and a deep page on your site pops up in the search results. They click the link, but it appears to be broken. In this scenario, they aren’t going to go out of their way to let you know. They aren’t going to come back later to check on it. They’re going to leave and will probably never come back.

    To make matters worse, 404 errors are bad signs to Google. It indicates a previously existing, indexed page that is currently not available, which means your site is unreliable or your sitemap is inaccurate. You’ll drop out of the ranks quickly if the problem persists.

    So how can you find 404 errors before they become a problem, and what do you do when you find one?

    Finding a 404 Error

    articleimage1398 Finding a 404 Error

    The easiest and most reliable way to find 404 errors on your site is through Google Webmaster Tools. After logging in, head to the Crawl tab and click on Crawl Errors. Under this menu, you’ll find a list of any web pages on your site that Google believes should exist (either because of a sitemap or because they previously existed) that can no longer be accessed by Google’s crawlers. If a page is inaccessible but still has an indexed URL, it will produce a 404 error upon being accessed.

    There’s one caveat to using this tool, however. Because Google’s crawlers are far more technical and reaching than the average user (who will only encounter 404 errors via site navigation or search results), you may find a handful of 404 errors for pages that will never be encountered by an average visitor. For example, hidden links may be crawlable yet invisible to an average user. In these situations, it’s still a good idea to rectify the error—remember, your goal is to please both your user base and Google search crawlers.

    Fixing a Technical Issue

    articleimage1398 Fixing a Technical Issue

    Sometimes, a page may be down merely due to a technical issue. For example, if your blog is hosted separately, a server problem could easily cause a 404 error to display for your visitors. If this is the case, and the problem URL should theoretically be live and accessible, you’ll have to perform a root cause analysis to track down the source of the problem and correct it.

    However, most of the time, a 404 error is the result of changing a URL or deleting an old page.

    Creating Redirects

    articleimage1398 Creating Redirects

    If the 404 error in question is an old webpage that you’ve long since deleted, or if it’s the old URL for a page that you’ve updated, the best way to correct the error is to create a redirect. Redirects tell users and web crawlers that the URL they’re trying to access is not directly valid, but instead should lead to a different page. This happens automatically on both fronts, so you never have to worry about either party coming face to face with a 404.

    There are a few ways to do this, but the best way is with 301 redirects. Google has a helpful guide for developers trying to create their own redirects, but I’ll cover the basics here. Essentially, you’ll be reaching out to your hosting provider to create the necessary structures and traffic flows—for example, on Apache, you’ll be accessing your server’s .htaccess file.

    Prioritizing 404 Errors

    Before you start to panic after finding a 404 error, it’s important to recognize that not all 404 errors are created equally, and not all of them are absolute emergencies. For example, if you have a hidden link that’s coming up as a 404 for a web crawler, but will probably never be encountered by a rogue user, you can afford to take your time in correcting the error. You might see a slight hit in your domain authority, but most sites have occasional (and small) 404 errors, so it shouldn’t interfere with your search visibility too much.

    If your home page is appearing as a 404 error, or any other major page of your site, you need to take corrective action immediately. Such an error could instantly damage your reputation and cost you long-term customers as a result. As a general rule, the more visible the page with the 404 error is, the higher priority it is to correct the error.

    How Often Should You Check for 404 Errors?

    Users generally don’t report 404 errors, so it’s up to you to perform periodic checks and ensure your site is functioning properly. How often you check is largely dependent on the size, complexity, and visibility of your site. For example, if you have a 10-page website that doesn’t get updated very often, you can probably get away with checking for crawl errors on a monthly basis (or even less often). If you have a 100-page website with new pages getting added and removed daily, it’s in your best interest to check for crawl errors every few days. It’s a good insurance policy to keep your site in good health and prevent your customers from seeing anything that might turn them away from the brand.

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-The AudienceBloom Team