Beat Your Blogging Blues

Do you have a case of the “Mondays”? Well, you don’t have to… at least when it comes to blogging. If you’re feeling bored, frustrated or uninspired, there are plenty of ways to get that excitement going and brain stimulation going on. But that takes work… so we’ve done it for you! Check out 5 tips you can use right now to beat your blogging blues.

1) Think in hashtags: Everyone on Twitter, Instagram and Google + is doing it. So, why aren’t you? Using words or phrases you would hashtag may help you think of something funny, insightful or interesting you can relate back to your topic. You can always search said hashtags and get ideas. As annoying as they can be, hashtags can get your creative juices flowing again. Besides, #YOLO.

2) Think of an abstract connection and make it happen: Want to connect a certain topic to lessons learned from your favorite movie or lyrics to your favorite song? Just do it! Sometimes, you just need an ending and you can fill in the cracks a long the way. If you need more catchy title ideas, check out our previous post on Cracked.com

3) Freewrite and brainstorm: Give yourself 10 minutes to write whatever comes to mind on a certain topic. You might have words, whole phrases, ramblings or even doodles written down. The purpose of these exercises is to think without restrictions and gather your thoughts up so that you can convey them in a meaningful fashion later.

4) Keep a journal: Everyday objects, tasks and people watching can give you ideas for writing. Sometimes, a good idea will come to me and I might forget it in passing. The best way to keep these points of inspiration is to write them down, whether it’s in a journal, on your phone, or even on your hand! It’s like waking up from a strange dream, it’s hard to remember unless you actually put it down on paper!

5) Keyword research: As boring as it sounds, Google’s Keyword Tool is a safe but sure way to gather ideas for writing. When you input a word or phrase, it will generate different phrases that you can specify to your needs. This will also give you synonyms and related phrases to use so that you aren’t repeating the same thing over and over again.

Have other tips you think we should know about? Let us know what you like to do when you’ve hit a writing slump.

Marketing Lessons from Cracked.com

You might have heard of a little site called Cracked.com. Or perhaps, you’ve spent countless hours being roped into reading article after article. Perhaps these articles can be considered a “waste of time” but some argue that the content is actually useful and educational. Regardless, you have to admit that it’s catchy. So, here are some marketing takeaways you can learn from Cracked.

Eye-catching headlines are click-worthy: Where else would you find articles like this? “6 Real People With Mind-Blowing Mutant Superpowers”, “6 Insane (But Convincing) Fan Theories About Kids’ Cartoons”, “6 Horrifying Implications of the Harry Potter Universe”. How could you not want to click these articles? Posts on the Huffington Post and celebrity tabloid magazines are also a good example of getting people to want to read.

Deliver what is actually promised: Sometimes, over-exaggerated headlines can seem like a scam because they don’t really deliver. This is especially true with spammy ads for weight loss or anti-aging solutions. However, Cracked gives readers exactly what they expect and be specific as possible. For example, with an article like “6 Lies About the Human Body You Learned in Kindergarten”, there shouldn’t be a surprise to what you expect.

Know what your readers want and offer them more: The best/worst part about Cracked are the recommended articles at the bottom. Even if you just came to the site to read 1 article, chances are that you’ll stay even longer when you get a glimpse of these other articles.
You can also do this by posting related videos are responses to each other on YouTube or listing related recommendations like Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”. In other words, give them a good reason to stay longer.

Be mobile friendly: By just looking at the desktop version of the site, you can tell that Cracked is mobile device friendly. There are well-organized categories and catchy pictures to go with every article. They have an iPad app that makes it easy to browse for articles. Some articles are actually optimized for mobile while others lead you directly to the main site.
This is something you can do with your mobile website. Make sure to read out related blog post: Mobile Web Design Tips for 2013.

So, check out Cracked and have some fun. But don’t forget to notice the details that keep readers coming back for more so that you can implement the ideas into your own site.

Website Audit: 7 Factors to Look Out For in 2013

Tomorrow marks the first day of December but it’s not too early to audit your website for the new year. It’s been a tumultuous year for search but all aspects of online marketing have been affected. As cliche as it is to talk about the changing world of the interwebs, 2012 really showed SEOs how much the landscape can change and that we need to be quick on our feet in order to survive.

Although there are many, many more, here are 7 things to look out for when analyzing your website’s effectiveness. Be sure to share your ideas with us too!

seo-2013

1) Keyword Usage: In most cases, the best advice is to cut back on using keyword rich anchor text, diversify phrases and use more branded terms.

Long gone are the days where you need a exact match domain in order to rank well for a certain term. Not only do the incredibly long, hyphenated URLs look spammy but Google has removed the benefit that they have long received in order to level the playing field for everyone.

Cutting back on linking exact match anchor text isn’t enough, as it’s important to also check pages for high keyword density. Even if you’re selling something specific like red tube socks, it isn’t necessary to see that phrase (or very similar) 100 times on one page. This also means cutting back on aggressive keyword use in meta elements, alternative text and image titles.

2) Number of Links: The less number of links you have on a page, the better. Around 100 is the goal but even less will be even better. When we talk about number of links on a page, we don’t just mean links in the content. Think about the links in your side navigation, drop down menus and links in the footer. It’s unnecessary for most of these to be on EVERY page of your site and will only slow it down. This is where utilizing an SEO-friendly content management system is helpful because you can control the links from one location and initiate site wide changes.

3) Navigation: Help users find what they’re looking for. But this doesn’t mean showing them all the content on your site at once! Make sure your pages are using appropriate breadcrumbs and even add jump-to links that will show up in search snippets.

4) Social Media Integration: Google, Facebook, Twitter are a must. But are they really? If no one is Tweeting, why not use LinkedIn shares? If no one is Liking, what about Google +? More buttons = more load time = more frustrated visitors, so choose the ones that are relevant to your business. It’s amazing to see that some sites are riddled with every social media share button possible including ones that might not be extremely mainstream/important such as Digg and Reddit.

5) Mobile Website: Have you thought about how failing to optimize for mobile phones and tablets could drive users away from your business? Check out our previous post: Elements of Effective Mobile Website Design. Keep things simple and take the rule of thumb literally: people don’t want to swipe multiple times to find what they’re looking for!

6) Utilization of Local: Local businesses need to make their contact information easy to find. Many contact pages still don’t have maps to their location or just have a toll-free number. This isn’t just crucial to the user experience, but Google+ Local relies on the contact info on your site and citations from other relevant local sites to make the connection to your physical location.

When it comes to mobile devices, use local strategies to your advantage by offering coupons, click to call options and supplying user-generated content like reviews. These will all help with conversion and bring customers into your business.

7) User Experience: Including all the things we’ve already talked about, it’s crucial to address basic things like having no pop-ups (or very few if necessary). Some sites also utilize user crushing experiences such as too many ads above the fold, auto-play videos/music or even making it hard to find your business’ contact information.