Friday

Social Media - Should Facebook be Worried About the NEW Kid on the Block, Ello?

As someone who’s not a huge Facebook (FB) fan, it will be interesting to see if this new social media platform gives Facebook a run for its money.

According to an article at Forbes, “The platform, which is still in public beta (meaning invite-only), has caused quite a stir; dubbed by some as the ‘hipster social network’, Ello offers a forever ad-free experience and promises to never sell its users’ information to third parties.”

The landing page for Ello says, “Simple, beautiful, and, ad free.

So, there is one element that it will have over FB.

Another element of their campaign, according to Forbes, is they will actually respect your privacy.

Imagine that!

No, unwanted ads, no privacy invasion, no disrespect and unethical practices.

If Ello does take off and they indeed make good on their promises, FB better watch out.

A side note: What I find super-interesting is Ello isn’t even open for business yet and their Alexa rankings are 1,819 (I think from India) and 1,255 U.S. Apparently, the buzz is working.

Should Facebook be Worried?

Statistics are in FB’s favor.

According to PewResearch Internet Project, last year 71% of online adult users were members of Facebook. This is compared to 22% on LinkedIn and 21% on Pinterest.

According to OurSocialTimes, “over 80% of ‘other’ social network users also use Facebook.”

That’s pretty impressive. Even if someone uses Twitter or Pinterest or GooglePlus, they are very likely to be using FB also.

Summing It Up

Okay, Facebook seems to be pretty solid. They seem like a very strong pillar - one that will be difficult to knock down. But, I do believe people are becoming more and more annoyed at the lack of privacy and intrusive ads, as well as FB’s unethical shenanigans. So, you just never know.

What are your thoughts?

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Wednesday

Have More Than One CTA Link in Your Emails (to make sure it’s seen)

This power-packed marketing strategy involves sprinkling links throughout your emails.

The idea is to make sure your CTA link is not just at the end of your email. You need one or two earlier on, for those readers who don’t read to the end of the content. It’s important to give them the opportunity to see your links by having another one or two within the email.

A lot of readers are ‘skim readers,’ or get distracted, or realize they don’t have time to read on. They may save the email to read later, but that never happens. So, your CTA never gets a chance – that email didn’t have a chance at conversion.

To remedy this scenario, have one link within the second paragraph of the content and maybe another one in the fourth paragraph. This of course will depend on the length of the email.

The reader will have amble opportunity to see the link and if your content is motivating, opportunity to click on the link.

Using this email marketing strategy will definitely give your click-through-rate a boost.

Check out email from ‘heavy hitters’ to see how it’s done. Or, you can subscribe to my list and see how I do it. The opt-in is at the bottom of this post.

Get started today!

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Monday

The Google Panda Algorithm, Your Website, and Duplicate Content

Although Google’s newest algorithm update had to do with Penguin (website links), Panda is something you should also be paying attention to.

Panda was developed to make sure sites produce high-quality content aimed to benefit the reader with new or fresh information. ‘Poor’ (fluff or no-value) quality content will cause a drop in search ranking for the site.

This ‘poor’ quality content includes duplicate content – using reprints (even permission-based reprints) and even if it’s ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ to your audience.

If I hadn’t been hit with dropping search ranking because of the Penguin update, I wouldn’t have paid so much attention and I wouldn’t have researched more about all the Google algorithms.

As little as last year, it was okay (at least I thought so according to a video by Google’s Matt Cutts) to use reprints as long as you included the “original article source link.” Meaning, as long as you linked to the source, you were ‘good to go.’

Being a rule follower and ethical marketer, I took care to do what was needed. I used permission-based reprints to help lighten my work load and save time. I may have used them once a week or less.

BUT, it was always information relevant to my site and information my readers would find valuable. It worked.

THE HUGE PROBLEM

Unfortunately, Google considers this blogging practice “scraping.” And, per the Google Quality Guidelines, scraping should be avoided.

This “scraping” practice pertains to a wide variety of content:

  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Web copy
  • And, so on

If you copy and republish content from other websites without adding any original and substantial content or value of your own, you could (most likely will) be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.

This holds true for all content on your website. If you have duplicate content on your webpages, aside from blog post reprints, you could be penalized.

Not Looking at the Whole Picture

I do get that Google wants to ensure a valuable experience for their searchers. They want to provide them with the best possible results to their questions. But, the company is not looking at the whole picture.

I mentioned I would use relevant permission-based reprints that were helpful and informative and FRESH to my audience.

I do lots of research – most of my readers don’t do the same type of research. So, I’d share some of that information to give my audience a broader reading experience and bring in new and different perspectives. It worked. My audience appreciated my efforts.

While duplicate content is “duplicated content” to Google, IT’S NOT TO MY AUDIENCE.

The other element in the mix is that many bloggers like having their content reprinted because it broadens their visibility to new audiences. It’s just good marketing.

It really is a win-win situation.

But, none of this matters to Google.

My Dilemma

It’s obvious I, along with every other blogger out there, need to be in Google’s good graces, so I have to decide what to do.

Do I rewrite the blog post reprints I have on my site or do I just start from this point forward with NO permission-based reprints?

Not sure what I’ll do yet.

Update: I've decided not to rewrite or delete the reprints I have on my site. I've seen some 'high quality,' high-ranking sites that have reprints with NO additional content. This makes me think it's not that big a deal as long as the bulk of your content is original.


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Friday

The Shotgun Social Media Strategy

Convince and Convert (Digital Marketing Advisors) had an interesting article by Jay Baer on how to create a more effective social media strategy.

Most marketers know that the majority of social media channels don’t send (share) your posts to everyone on your list or to your connections. So, if you post something to Facebook, the majority of your FB connections won’t see your post. We’re talking about at least 98% of your connections will never see that post. Pretty dismal, right?

And, the same holds true for most of the other channels, including Twitter.

This obviously affects your marketing reach.

Baer explains that there’s something called ‘reliable reach’ and social media doesn’t make the cut.

“Reliable reach is the ability to send a message to a person who has asked to hear from you, and for that message to actually reach that person. Email has reliable reach. So does direct mail. And the telephone. And even fax. Social media does not have reliable reach, which is what makes it so challenging for marketers.”

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort on working the social media channels. And, you’ve established connections on each channel who want to hear about your posts. BUT, the majority of those connections aren’t getting the opportunity to receive what you’re posting.

So, say you have 5,000 Twitter followers. This now becomes your “theoretical reach.” Your reliable reach is only 2% or less of that number which is about 100 followers.

The reason given for this lack of fulfilling the ‘promise’ social media channels give to their members of offering great marketing reach, is because of too much noise . . . too much information being posted and processed.

Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?

Well, if you want to cut through that noise, all you have to do is pay. If you pay Facebook, your posts will reach a lot more of your connections. Hmmmm.

But, what if you don’t want to pay or don’t have it in your marketing budget?

How do you compensate for this highly unreliable reach?

Baer recommends putting down your marketing ‘rifle’ for a marketing ‘shotgun.’

Let’s break it down:

The rifle approach according to Baer is based on producing great content, have a specific plan for each channel, and strive for a large following on the channels your working.

But, for the rifle approach to work, you need reliable reach. But, that’s not happening. So, your efforts won’t be fruitful.

The shotgun approach according to Baer is based on using a large target.

The theory is if you send more posts in more places, you’ll reach more connections. It’s more important to actually reach your realistic number than your theoretical number.

Summing it Up

The shotgun approach makes sense to me, as long as it’s not used abusively. People don’t want to be bombarded with your content, or sales pitch for that matter. You’ll need to fine the “magic point” for the number of postings that enable you to reach more of your followers, but not so much that you put anyone off.

As with everything in life, moderation is best.

References:

Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy
Theoretical Reach - On Anti-Social Social

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Wednesday

Content Marketing - Are Long Sentences in Your Blog Posts Good or Bad for Your Rankings?

I’ve been getting more involved in my website analytics lately. Due to this, I found an interesting ranking element I didn’t know about – sentence length.

I know about sentence length in regard to writing for children, but had no idea it was a ranking element for your website.

Apparently, long sentences reduce content clarity.

This has me thinking and editing as I’m writing – adding more time to my schedule.

As an example, I wrote the following sentence in a recent blog post:

“If you copy and republish content from other websites without adding any original and substantial content or value of your own, you could (most likely will) be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.”

Hmmmm. Thirty-five words. Oops.

According to Clarity Grader, a free website analytics tool, your sentence length shouldn’t be longer than 20 words. You should aim for less than 5% in this area. I’m at 14.9 percent.

Again, OOPS.

Rewriting for Clarity

Going back to the long sentence example above, how would I rewrite it to create shorter sentences and boost clarity?

If you copy and republish content from other websites, you must include original and substantial value to your reader. If you don’t, you’ll be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.

There you go - two sentences both under 20 words.

Here’s another way to reduce the sentence length:

Republishing content from other websites without adding original value of your own will get your rankings penalized.

But, having to worry about sentence length with clarity in mind, along with every other ranking element, certainly puts a damper on creativity and writing time.

It really feels like bloggers have to jump through hoops just to keep their heads above the marketing waters.

Summing It Up

It’s a good idea to think shorter sentences. If you think you have a run-on sentence, check the word count. If you’re over, rewrite it into two or more sentences.

On a brighter note, my readability score is 63 percent. Anything 50% and over is pretty good.

NOTE

Another caveat is the length of your blog post. I just read it should be at least 400 words.

This post was under that count at 384 words, so what should I do, rant on and on, even though I’ve made my point and given my readers valuable information?

This will be the topic of another post. Keep an eye out for it.

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Monday

3 Power-Packed Elements to SEO Ready Content

There is much to know about SEO ready content. The most important thing is to create content that search engines will find valuable enough to use as the results of a search query.

Below are three power-packed elements needed to create this type of content.

1. Create ‘shareable’ and keyword optimized content.

The ‘old’ SEO involved optimizing keywords that search engines would find, categorize, and index in order to place that content as results based on search queries.

Today, it’s all about providing quality content that readers will find valuable enough to share. You want readers to share that post with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, and other social networks.

While you also need to provide keywords for the search engines to find and categorize your content, the key to blogging is now to provide quality content that’s shareable.

SEO is now kind of like a popularity contest. The more people who like and share your content the greater value your site has with Google and other search engines.

2. Use original content as much as possible.

A while back, it was okay to use reprints (duplicate content) on your website. You might get reprints from other bloggers who want to share their content or from article directories. You simply add the content to a post, add the attribution (the author’s byline), optimize the post, and you’d be good to go.

NOW, Google wants fresh content. It wants high-quality and original content. So, it’s advisable to keep the reprints to a minimum, if using them at all.

I usually have original content on my site here, but I’ll be striving to make it at least a 98-99% reprint free site.

NOTE: Duplicate content also include content you have duplicated on webpages. 

3. Fill in all the blanks.

Just about all websites provide tags, categories, and description features for your blog posts. It’s critical to fill these sections in. The more information you provide for the reader and search engines to find and categorize your post, the better.

Tags are an effective way to group related content. It tells readers and search engines what the post is ‘specifically’ about (e.g., dog allergies, dog dander).

Categories are a bit broader than tags. Using the tag examples above, the categories may be: allergies, pet allergies.

Descriptions are a brief synopsis (one to three sentences) of what the post is about. This snippet helps the search engines and is usually what they use if you’re post is used as a search result.

There you have it, three power-packed elements to SEO ready content that will get your posts doing what they should be doing: getting read, being shared, bringing traffic to your site, building your authority, and boosting conversion.

Definitions:

Conversion - the process of a visitor moving to the next level by taking an action you want. It could be opting in to your email list or buying your product.

Search query – when a person uses Google (or other search engine) to find what he’s looking for. He inputs a ‘keyword’ into the search box and Google will provide those posts that it thinks is the best results in response.

As an example, I input “article marketing” into Google’s search box on November 15, 2014. Google provided answers to that post. The first SERP included my post:


SERP is an acronym for ‘search engine results page.’ It’s the pages google provides for a search query. Have your post as the results on the first SERP is what you should be striving for.

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Friday

Social Media Marketing and Time Management

There’s a great quote at BufferSocial, “Social media shouldn’t be a time waster. It should be a money maker.”

I absolutely love this quote.

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort keeping up with your social media channels. Post to Twitter. Post to GooglePlus. Post to Facebook. Post to StumbleUpon. Post to Pinterest. Post to LinkedIn. Post to . . .

Then analyze what’s working and tweak when and where needed. Then wash, rinse, repeat.

And, along with posting to these social biggies, you need to keep track of which posts and strategies are bringing in traffic – which posts are converting.

It’s a lot of work.

Along with the work, there's the time element. According to Business Insider, “Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.”

More than email? Wow. That’s a lot of time.

To get an idea of just how much time we’re talking about, a PDF Industry Report from Social Media Examiner demonstrates that 36% of marketers spend 1 to 5 hours per week on social media marketing. Twenty-six percent spend 6 to 10 hours. Eleven percent spends 11 to 15 hours per week.

I probably fall into the 26% of marketers, but want to get those hours cut down.

3 Tips on Streamlining Your Social Media Marketing

1. Get automated.

It’s essential to have your posts go out automatically. I use SocialOomph.com, but not regularly enough.

When not using automation, I share each of my posts manually to my accounts. I use: Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon. Yes, there are lots of other ones, but it’s impossible for me to include more. And, these are the ones I’ve found to work best (for me).

I also go to each network and find posts of others that I think my ‘followers’ will like and share those.

Automation streamlines this process for you.

2. Limit the time you spend looking for content.

Aside from using your own content to post, BufferSocial recommends you limit yourself to 30 minutes of scoring the internet for content.

So far, I’ve never had to scour the internet to find content. It comes right to me in my email. Subscribing to lots of business and marketing sites, I get fresh content every day.

It is important to limit your time on this strategy also because you can end up going from link to link to link, reading more and more and more.

I also find content by going directly to my networks, as mentioned in number one, above. I skim for titles I think are valuable - click on the link to make sure the content's worth sharing, then share it.

3. Analyze your efforts.

This is another of those must-do elements. If you’re spending X amount of time engaging in social media marketing, you should make sure it’s working. And, you need to know which of those efforts is actually creating a worthwhile ROI (return on investment).

The BufferSocial article on time-saving strategies goes into more details on these strategies and more.

I hope this helps you get a better handle on the time you spend ‘socializing.’

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Wednesday

Blogging with External Links - More Value to the Reader and More Ranking Power

There are so many tips, tricks, and strategies to blogging ‘effectively.’

Anyone can blog. It’s simple - you just type away, publish the post, and share it.

But, to blog effectively, you need to pay attention to lots and lots of blogging strategies to make the post more valuable to the reader and make it search engine friendly.

One technique to add a power-punch to your blog posts is to use external links (outbound links).

According to Moz.com, “External Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) any domain other than the domain the link exists on (source).”

In simpler terms, an external link is one on your website that links to another website (domain).

Why Use External Links?

1. Added value to your reader.

External links can provide your reader with another viewpoint on the topic of the post. The linked site can also enhance your content, bringing more value to the reader.

2. It provides proof.


These links can also be used as ‘proof’ that what you’re saying has validity. Having a heavy-hitter site agree with your viewpoint or information gives your post more authority . . . more weight.

3. It creates a connection.

Using external links makes the site you’re linking to aware of you. This established a connection, even if a tiny one.

4. They’re good for search engine categorizing and ranking.

MOZ explains that “the target and source pages and domains cited in a link also provide valuable relevancy metrics for search engines.”

Normally, external links point to content that’s relevant to the source post (your post). Linking to content that’s similar helps the “search engines establish knowledge hubs on the Internet that they can then use to validate the importance of a given web document.”

Being the Target of an External Link

On the flipside, if you’re linked to by a ‘reliable’ site, it’s like a vote of confidence or popularity in the search engine ranking contest.

The more ‘reliable’ sites linking in to your site, the more value search engines will think your site has. This will make them (the ‘search engine gods’) smile on you with better rankings.

So, start using external links in your blog posts. And, if your content is valuable, hopefully, ‘good ranking’ sites will link to your content.

TIP: Make sure the external links you use are relevant to your post’s topic and include them naturally within the content. Or, you can include them at the end of your post as a reference or further reading. In this case, use the title of the post you’re linking to and make it clickable (anchor text).

For an example of these links in practice, look at the link I have in the 5th paragraph.

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Monday

Email Marketing and The Evergreen System (it has to do with autoresponders)

How do you create a marketing system that converts, and one that keeps working without any effort after the initial setup?

It’s called the ‘evergreen system’ or the ‘autopilot system.’ And, it involves email marketing and autoresponders.

I’m in the process of creating this type of system. I’m hoping to have it up and running in the new year. Interestingly, each pro marketer has their own version of this system. The one I lean toward is the six-week mini e-course.

The Evergreen System Ingredients

1. A Website is the very first ingredient or element. You must have a website and one that’s SEO effective.

No matter who you are or what you’re selling, you must have a website that works. It needs to generate traffic, engage readers, boost your authority, be shareable, be SEO effective, and convert.

2. Landing pages are the second element. It’s the landing pages that you’ll bring your inbound traffic to. These pages must have copy that converts. It needs to let the visitor know that by saying YES to the CTA (call-to-action) he’ll get something of value. Your landing page should address the visitor’s problem.

3. The opt-in is one of the most important conversion ingredients in this marketing mix. The opt-in needs to be attractive, engaging, and quickly convey the benefit of clicking through. It needs great copy.

Tip: Your opt-in can cause reader anxiety, so be careful of the wording. Avoid “Sign Up” and “Free Trial.” Both can be subconsciously perceived as costing monetarily or ‘effort wise’ down the line

4. The free gift may very well be ‘the’ most important ingredient. It’s the gift that will motivate the visitor to click on the opt-in box. But, it MUST be perceived by the visitor as being valuable enough to give her email address.

5. The follow-up or autoresponder series is what will create this evergreen, converting system powerful.

I’ve written about the autoresponder series before – you can check it out at: Powerful Email Messages That Actually Convert. But, this series is different.

In this newer version of the autoresponder series, it’s all about giving doable information through the weekly ‘lessons’ series.

How it Works

Once you get the new subscriber with your free ‘information’ gift that’s absolutely worth his email address, you follow-up with a six part autoresponder through your email marketing service.

Since everyone is busy, keep the lessons short and sweet and if at all possible, make them a video. Research shows that video converts better than other forms of content.

According to Tim Paige of LeadPages, the videos should be no more than 4 minutes each. The first 3 minutes should be valuable information and the 4th minute should be your CTA. Let the subscribers know that if they want even more in depth information that will help them get more traffic, or boost their authority, or lose weight, or have whiter teeth, they should get what you’re offering.

Pretty simple, right? Give it a try!

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Wednesday

Have You Had Your Content Stolen? Protection Strategies You Need to Know

I write a lot. I have probably close to, or over, 1500 articles and blog posts floating in cyber space. In fact, there may be 2000 or more. Some have my byline, others I've ghostwritten.

When you have that much content out there, you have to expect some of it will get hijacked, even though it's not ethical.

An article at Problogger, delves into this topic and gives 3 tips you can use to protect your content.

1. Stop 'em cold in their tracks.

This first tip I haven't taken advantage of, but will so soon. It involves disabling 'text selection' from your blog. The Problogger articles explains more about this. In essence it makes it so your content can't be copied off your screen.

You can use this strategy with both Blogger and WordPress.

2. Next up is watermarking your images.

You wouldn't think this is necessary, but from experience it is. I create just about all of the images I use on my blogs and websites. I put a "Copyright 201X Karen Cioffi" on them. One though, on book marketing, I uploaded before adding my copyright note. I happened upon that image on a writer's website. It was being used as their logo.

Now, using a copyright note isn't the same as using watermarks, but it's a step in the right direction.

3. The RSS feed is third on the list.

This is about protecting your RSS feed. You can "either allow partial/short RSS feeds (so that the scraping software doesn’t take all of your content) or add a custom feed signature with a copyright notice in the feed footer section of your blog"

I have a copyright notice at the bottom of all my websites.

Keep in mind there is NO absolute strategy to keep your content from being hijacked, but every precaution helps.

To read the Problogger article on protecting your content from being copied, just click the link!

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Monday

Be SUPER Careful of the Content Marketing Strategies You Use – A Tip on Penguin 3.0 (Linking)

I was 'kind of' hit by Google’s Penguin 3.0.

I didn't receive a formal notification, but my Global and U.S. Alexa rankings are rising. The lower these numbers the better.

As an ethical writer and marketer, I work hard to maintain my online presence and build a strong and reliable platform – a platform that helps others through high quality information.

Well, what worked yesterday, doesn’t work today. In fact, what worked yesterday and doesn’t work today will get you knocked upside the head and thrown to the wayside.

Okay, I was a bit peeved and very disappointed.

Google’s new Penguin algorithm update deals with the links on your website. I hadn't done any link maintenance on my site and it finally caught up to me. My search ranking had dropped because of it.

LINKING

There are two types of linking to be concerned about with Penguin:

1. Internal links

These are links you use to bring the reader further into your webpages. You can link to a webpage or a blog post.  The idea is to keep the reader on your site longer and motivate that reader to move onto other pages on your site.

This is an excellent marketing strategy as long as ALL the links you created function properly.

Check for broken links.

2. External links

These are links from your website to other websites.

There are two noteworthy mentions here:

A. Make sure you're not linking to a 'spammy site.'

This one takes a lot of care. You absolutely need to 'check out the sites you're linking to. And, if you accept a guest blog, you need to 'check out' the link the author will include in the post.

Then there are blog comments. Some unscrupulous people or bots will make a generic comment just to stick a 'spam' link in it. Again, you need to check the external links on your site. If the comment link is suspicious, delete the comment.

B. Make sure none of the links are broken.

If you've been blogging for a while (years and years), the sites you linked to 5 or 10 years ago may not exist any longer. This is one type of broken link.

You have to periodically check for broken links.

Blogger vs. WordPress

My two blogs are on Blogger. BIG MISTAKE. (I am in the process of moving this blog to Article Writing Doctor - a paid-hosting site that I'm using WP on)

As far as I can tell, Blogger doesn't offer any 'broken link' tools. So, I had to go through every single one of the 'around 1000' blog posts on my site, starting with the oldest.

The process was REALLY time consuming and I found lots of broken links.


WordPress on the other hand has 'broken link' tools (plugins) that are very convenient.


One major reason for switching my blog to WP is although I checked each post now for 'bad' links, I'll need to do this periodically, as sites come and go. It's just too much work.

And, there's another SUPER-HUGE reason that has to do with Sharing capability. That'll be another post though.

P.S. This has been revised from the original post.

PPSS There are three types of website links: internal (deep linking), external (linking out to other sites), and inbound (links coming in from other sites). You really don't have control over who links to you, so I didn't include it in this post.

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