June 27, 2016

How To Evaluate Your Own Website

This is a guest post by Dan Morris, someone I have a lot of respect for.  Find out why at FreeWeeklyMastermind.com and LettersFromDan.com

Do It Yourself Website Review

I am so annoyed by nagging problems. Even little things like fixing the spindles on the porch railing at home. But that porch railing isn’t making me money (in fact I’m procrastinating because it costs me money to fix it). The worst nagging problems are things like website tweaks that you know would increase conversions, sales, and morale if only you had 20 minutes to focus on it.

So I say make that moment today. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to give yourself a site assessment.  I break them down into 7 sections right off the bat. I look at SEO, List Building, Monetization, Internal link structure, Voice, Funnel and Social Media integration.

Let’s start with SEO. First I got to Google and type in: site: http://yourwebsitename.com and see what pages are indexed. I then look at page names, permalink structure, and meta descriptions. What I want to know is how optimized are you. I also want to know what your page names are to see if you’re attracting newbies, buyers, experts or nobody. You can learn a lot about your own habits from this exercise.  Ideally your permalinks (url’s) are set-up so that your content “title’ appears right after the slash. For instance http://yourwebsitename.com/how-to-grow-avocados/

What you might find is that your urls are not that helpful. Sometimes I see the domain url trunk followed by /cat=69 or /2012/03/5464 or /state/county/city/public-works/contact-us  Think about this. . . in all those examples you could really boil it down to the domain and the extension. For instance http://yoursite.com/nashville-public-works-contact-information. With SEO, the overall goal is to prove relevance, so look for relevance in everything you can. (At this point, don’t change anything just start making the list of things you could be doing better).

You’d be remiss if you didn’t look at the Search Queries part of Google WebmasterTools. This is where Google tells you where every one of your keywords is ranked.  That’s where you get to celebrate and see what’s working. Here I like to scour the results looking for trends. I personally recommend you read them aloud. Reading a list of keywords 500 deep is not easy when you’re looking for trends. But reading them aloud and you’ll instantly recognize when you say the same word over and over again. When you find similar keywords popping up, you know Google is finding you somewhat relevant for those terms. And that can be a great thing!

Then take a look at your list building efforts. Where are your calls-to-action? Where is the email opt-in form? What’s the offer and does it look like that offer is being tested. Are you getting opt-ins during blog comments or not? (If they’re going to put their name and email in to leave a comment, you might as well ask if they’d like to be on the newsletter list).  Basically how does the whole thing work?

Then on to monetization. Are you using AdSense and is it optimized? Are there offers built into your site? And what part of that is visible above the fold, and what part is able to be engaged when you scroll down. Every site is different here. A law firm is likely going to monetize leads, not traffic. The question is can you tie money to site visitor entry points? Can you tie it to site activity? And if you can’t tie money to either activity, entry or contact form submission . . . why do you have a website?

Internal link structure goes back to both SEO and user experience. Are you using a related posts plugin correctly? Is your linking optimized for the search engines? Is your linking optimized for the reader who wants to get smarter in every blog post? There’s not much to say about that other than take a piece of paper and see if you can draw your site structure – not from memory but from going page to page drawing links.

Another critical area is voice. And that one is easy – does your site have any character to it? Or is it straight bland posts. Period.

It goes without saying I look at the complete sales funnel. How does it work today, tomorrow, seasonally and in tune with your audience’s changing level of sophistication.

Finally, but not least important is your social media integration. Does your audience believe you’re an influence? Do they identify you with your niche? Are you visible everywhere or just to your sphere of influence? And are you using your profile to bolster your plan? Go to Klout and see what Klout thinks you’re influential in. It’s just a computer algorithm, but it does have some relevance. If your niche isn’t in that list – you’re probably not using social media right. You can do the same thing with Twitter lists. What lists are people putting you in? Business or Football?

It’s not hard to do your own objective site review, but it does require that you step back and look with fresh eyes. Be critical. Do it 10 times and frame your questions in terms of where your audience came from. Look at all those things from the perspectives of your dad, your friend, your colleague, someone who doesn’t know you, someone who got there by accident and your loyal followers. Does your site appeal to all of them, or just a segment?

Most importantly know that EVERYTHING you do online is a sacrifice. If you choose to use Adsense you sacrifice opt-ins. If you choose to have a shopping cart you sacrifice affiliate income. If you choose to appeal to the masses, then your conversion rate will be acceptably tiny. Know what you’re sacrificing and own it because a good site makes sacrifices to serve an audience and a goal.

If you’d like to have me do a complete video site review for you, please contact me at dan@lettersfromdan.com . If you want to do it on your own, feel free to ask any follow up questions in our forum at http://FreeWeeklyMastermind.com

How to Monetize Your Blog – Ideas to Earn Money Blogging

15 Ideas to Earn Money Blogging, Part 1

Our recent Meetup group focused on blog monetization.  There are some obvious ideas and some that are a little different.  I always like to say that there are many keys to a successful website, but the two that are most important are getting traffic to the site and then converting them.  Conversion can be many things, including building awareness for a non-profit organization or cause, promoting ideas, a candidate or legislation, distributing materials via audio, video, text or photos.

How to Monetize Your Blog

Most people are looking to raise revenues, and that’s usually a goal to sell their own products or services, and that’s the first of my ideas on how to monetize your blog:

  1. Image of Shakespeare asking, "To blog or not to blog."Sell your own products and services. This can be a photographer selling wedding photos or someone who builds birdfeeders to sell online or at a local fair.  Blogs devoted to a specific product are not uncommon and are especially prevalent in the affiliate marketing space. (See below)
  2. Adsense ads.  This is one of the most common blog monetization tactics.  Google has a program where you can show ads on your site and advertisers have the ability to have their ads shown on the Google Content Network in niches that make sense.  Every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you get paid a small fee.  Usually, blogs write content about a very specific topic and try to rank high for it.  As people find the content, they see the ads, resulting in you earning money with your blog!
  3. Affiliate products. As with Adwords, highly focused blogs are used to attract an audience looking for a specific solution that can be fulfilled by products you sell that are provided by others.  Most often affiliates join networks such as Shareasale or Commission Junction, which represents products of just about every niche you can imagine, from apparel to industrial equipment to furniture to holiday stuff.  This is similar to selling your own products listed above, but one benefit is that fulfillment, such as shipping and product support are handled by the merchants.  Amazon (see below) is a huge supplier of products to affiliate marketers.
  4. Membership programs.  Setting up a free membership site is a great way to attract and retain people who might be interested in you or your products and services.  That can evolve into a paid version where you charge participants monthly or annually for regular content, which may include a regular teleseminar or webinar.  You can take that a step further by adding another level to the membership level.  An example might be to have a $27 monthly membership that includes a newsletter access to archived information.  Next you could add a monthly or weekly teleseminar/webinar for a total of $47/mo.  Kick it up another notch by adding 20 or 30 minutes of one-on-one coaching for $77 or maybe even $97/mo.  I’ve seen layered membership sites go up to $500 or even $2,000 per month!
  5. Amazon.  Amazon is one of the largest affiliate marketers, but they no longer sell products thru publishers based in sales tax nexus states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois and New York.  (That will change when a national online sales tax is created – and you know it will!)  One of the cool thing about Amazon is that you can promote a product on your blog, but also get a commission if your reader browses around and finds something else!  For those who do promote books, music movies and anything sold by Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Buy.com can often buy from themselves and get a commission for items they’d buy elsewhere.
  6. Sell eBooks.  You can write and produce an eBook using Word and turning it into a PDF, sell it on you blog using PayPal or something similar.  More eBooks are sold today than traditional books and you can get yours in the Amazon marketplace and sell it on your blog and in Amazon.  Once your buyer pays for your book, they are sent to a page where they can download it.
  7. Self-publish your book.  You can sell a self-published book on Amazon, B&N and any number of other places.  Use your blog to promote it and link to it.

People who have come to know you, like you and trust you will buy from you!

Next, we’ll have 8 more ideas on how to monetize your blog!

What ideas do you have?

What challenges have you faced trying to earn money with a blog?

What questions?


How to Get More Website Traffic, Part 1

How do I get more traffic to my website?

Kurt Scholle & Justin Brooke

It’s a frequent question and a key to website success, obviously.  More often, it’s “How do I get more website traffic for free?”

I traveled to Delray Beach, Florida looking for answers to those questions and came back with a TON of ideas, tips and tricks for you!  The Strategic Profits Traffic Strategist seminar with Justin Brooke was 2 days of training and workshops that included effective and affordable tactics that many people never use!

There’s been a lot of talk about what happened to website rankings after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.  The Panda update in 2011 targeted “low quality” content sites.  Penguin concentrated more on spammy links and other black hat SEO tactics. (If you’ve been creating quality content and getting natural links, neither of these updates should have hurt your rankings.)

Justin said there are no Penguin and Panda problems with a proper mindset.  Most of the seminar dealt with paid traffic, which should help, regardless of your dependence on or your approach to organic SEO.  I’ll address that in a future post.  Today, I’m focusing on free website traffic and the pre-requisites for both.

We’ll start with some foundational things, like determining where you are today in terms of the number of visitors you’re getting and where they come from, then a little on developing content that converts and how to determine what solutions people are searching for.  We’ll close with one of the best free website traffic sources available; blogs.

Please note that free website traffic often takes time to develop and can be subject to the whims of the search engines. (Think Panda)  But many people in the know will tell you that free website traffic from properly optimized sites can serve you well into the future.

Metrics are Key

All traffic is not equal.  Different sources and landing pages affect results differently.

Justin talked about traffic coming in trickles, not flooding in.  Use visitor analytics to track where your traffic is coming from.  Google Analytics and GetClicky are two favorites.  (I’ve wanted to experiment with GetClicky, as one feature is the ability to track visitors in real time, something GA is just beginning to offer.)

Justin also developed PixelTrakk.com, which concentrates on the highest level metrics: Clicks, Actions, Income and EPC.  You can track an individual page or ad for clicks, conversions or revenue.  It also allows you to follow from anywhere in your sales funnel, including upsells, cross-sells and front-end offers. (Neat!)  I’m going to do a full review of PixelTrakk at a later date, but for now just know that monitoring your site metrics is important!  You can’t fix what you can’t measure.  Play with the free version and then decide if the pro version is right for you.

One metric you’ll need to watch is the Bounce Rate, which is a sign of visitor satisfaction, to see which sources of traffic are most qualified.

One of your first takeaways today is that before beginning any traffic-building strategies, know how much you’re getting now and use it as a baseline to measure future results!

The Grandmother Test

You also want to make sure your content is engaging, and ultimately converts.  I like “The Grandmother Test” for any number of reasons.  Type in a phrase in Google and ask yourself if your Grandmother would enjoy the content on the #1 site?  Or think of Google as “Larry & Sergei’s refrigerator.”  They would only share the best stuff, right?  Content needs character.  Is your stuff useful? Is it entertaining?  Justin mentioned more than once that the future of SEO demands that content be useful and entertaining.  Nobody’s going to resonate to it if it isn’t useful.  Entertainment may get someone to come back to your site or share it with his or her followers.  As an example, his SiteFling site is written conversationally.

Competitive Intelligence

You can find clues as to what your market is interested in by using SEMRush or something similar to research what keywords are driving traffic to someone’s site.  Listen in on other conversations using Twitter Search,  LinkedIn Answers or Quora.  I went into more detail with the post, How To Set Up a Social Media Listening Station.  (This is one of my most popular presentations.  I’m doing it at the NAMS conference in Atlanta in August!)

Building a Customized Traffic Plan

The vast majority of search queries are people are searching for solutions.  Regardless of whether you’re using paid or natural search, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are the popular or frequently asked questions in your market?
  2. What would they type into Google?  What would the buyer questions be?
  3. What content would you create?

The trick is to find things that have a sufficient number of monthly searches, but not too many.  Rinse and repeat a couple of dozen or 100 times and you have a variety of traffic “trickles” that add up to something significant.  Use and monitor different traffic tactics, both paid and free.  (Free is not “free” as it at least takes your time)

Once you have some traffic you must get them to convert.  Take them through small tasks first! Get them to opt in to your list, then get them to buy low-cost products.

Denise Wakeman and Kurt Scholle

Better Listings On Google

Denise Wakeman sometimes asks a great question when she’s presenting at a seminar or on a webinar; “What does the work ‘blog’ mean?” (It’s short for ‘weblog’ which is a website with serialized content on it) No!, she says.  “It’s an acronym that stand for Better Listings On Google.”

Google tends to favor blog content.  It’s changing frequently and comments give the search engines some social signals.  Justin outlined some great tips on “How to Find Ideas for Blogging.”

1)   Put people, Twitter, Blog, etc into RSS Reader and keep track of what’s going on.

2)   Subscribe to bloggers socially and try to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche.

3)   Use sites like Quora + Yahoo Answers to determine what solutions people are looking for.

4)   Use an editorial calendar.  Plan your content creation and curation over time.

5)   Write sequels and trilogies to blog posts.

6)   Recruit guest bloggers.

7)   Share other people’s content.

With respect to writing serialized content, like sequels and trilogies, “pillar posts” can also attract lots of traffic.  It has to be really useful.  You’ve seen posts that list “101 Resources” or “57 Ways to…”

Recruiting guest bloggers may yield visitors from other blogs, but also think of turning that idea around and offering to write a guest blog piece in exchange for a link back to your site or article.  Great SEO opportunity!

Next: How to Get More Website Traffic Using Paid Search