Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A list of Kickass Writing Tips for Bloggers

Writing well – the ability to craft excellent posts and to write a post that oozes quality – is one of the biggest qualities of any accomplished writer out there, and perhaps the single most potent weapon in any good writer’s arsenal!

Ask any bloggers what the qualities of a good blogger is, and one of the first things that they’ll tell you (if not the first) would be the ability to write well.

In today’s world, content is undoubtedly the undisputed king! I know that the use of this particular phrase verges on excessive at times, but it doesn’t change the fact that content wins every single time, and great content makes your blog a winner.

Here are some tips, tricks and ways which all blogger can (and should) use to improve the quality of their writing and become great bloggers:

1. Understand and accept that writing is not easy. This is the first part of becoming a good writer, accepting that writing well is hard work, and not as easy as one might think. If you go into it with the right mindset and the right expectations, you may just become a good writer.

2. Set and stick to a schedule. As a writer, one of the best habits that I was able to develop and perfect over the years was developing a weekly writing schedule for myself, and making sure that I stuck to it. It is a great way to make a commitment, and keep yourself on track.

3. Use different kinds of writing styles. Incorporate a little bit of this and a little bit of that in your posts. Humor, controversy, opinions, rants… it’s all good. Variety prevents your posts from becoming monotonous, although that is not to say that adopting a certain style of writing a blog post hasn’t worked well for certain people.

4. Use a variety of different kinds of blog posts. List-based posts, reviews, tutorials, resource posts, Q&A’s, problem-solution posts, interviews, FAQs, reports, case studies, and podcasts are just some of the few post types that come to mind right now, all of which you can look into doing on your blog.

5. Write in simple words and choose simple English. As a blogger, your content will be seen by a large number of people from all across the world, some of whom might not have as good a grasp on the language as yourself. Keep the language as simple as possible Write in short sentences, and break your copy down into easily-readable paragraphs.

6. Make a point, and stick to it. Don’t ramble on unnecessarily, like most bloggers do. Make sure that every blog post makes a clear, precise point, and that you stick to the point without veering off-course or off-topic.

7. Concentrate on quality, instead of quantity. Most bloggers make the crucial mistake of writing an x amount of words, or trying to satisfy word limits. This is the completely wrong approach to take. Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to getting traffic and ranking well. If you think you can get your point across comprehensively in 200 words, that’s miles better than writing a poor 2000-word post.

8. Edit before you publish! Review your copy after you’re done writing. Shorten, add or delete wherever necessary, look for any factual or grammatical errors, rewrite stuff, and be ruthless with your editing. Press the publish button once you’re absolutely convinced that what’s about to go on the internet is a product of your best effort!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Importance of Blog Commenting

Posting comments is actually quite similar to guest posting (or guest blogging) in many respects. First and foremost, it is a great way of building safe backlinks, and it can also be a great avenue for getting exposure, and getting the word out about yourself as well as your blog.

In ways though, it can be a more profitable activity than guest posting; you need time to craft a guest post – and getting a single backlink requires researching for, and then writing a great post and that can take a significant chunk of your time. However you can get the same single backlink from a high-PR blog through a simple comment on that blog – all it takes is the time to read the post (which has its own advantages in itself), and a couple of minutes to leave your feedback.

A vast majority of blogs not only allow visitors to post comments and feedback, they actually encourage it. A visitor is required to provide the URL of their website/blog, and it is put up as a link alongside the comment itself. Some blogs, such as those using the CommentLuv plugin, automatically retrieve a post from the visitor’s blog, and put it up with the comment.

However not unlike guest posting, the benefits of blog commenting go beyond simple link-building. Here are a few reasons emphasizing the importance of blog commenting:

1. It helps establish your authority.

Always, always post quality comments that help establish your authority. Give the article a good read, and post something that is actually valuable to the post author, as well as any other person (such as a visitor, or another commenter) that comes across your comment. That should be your priority. Try taking the conversation ahead by providing your insight. It will help establish you as an authority, and allow you to build credibility for yourself, as well as your business.

2. It is a representative of the beliefs of your business.

Writing a comment is like sending your personal business message. It reflects your own beliefs as an individual, and those of your business. You can provide people with a lot of value through a few simple lines of text, and if you successfully do that, it adds to your authority.

3. It is good for exposure.

Exposure is important because more exposure equals more traffic on your blog. Posting comments is essentially a free way to get valuable exposure. It is a free way to market your blog. A single comment on a blog that gets a large amount of visitors could do wonders for your exposure and allow you to get the word out to a large group of people in your niche; tap into an 'unexplored market'.

4. Comments are essentially a ‘concise’ version of a post.

Think of a comment as a smaller version of a large post. It takes time, effort and energy to create and craft a full-length post. You can get the same benefits from a comment, while saving you the trouble that usually comes with crafting a proper post.

5. It allows you to form valuable relationships, and network with others.

In a way which is similar to guest blogging, posting comments is actually a great way of networking with other authority bloggers, and developing strong relationships with them. It allows you to get noticed by people in your niche, but most importantly, it allows you to be noticed by influential and authority bloggers. If your comment is good enough, you’ll end up getting a great response, and who knows, you might even get asked to do a guest-post to expand on what you said – safe to say, it may very well lead to new business opportunities. You may even make some friends along the way, or get people to guest-post or comment on your own blog.

6. It is a good way to build backlinks.

And then of course, there’s the added advantage – or ‘bonus’ I should say – that posting comments is a great way to build backlinks; one of the safest ways to do so in fact. As I mentioned above, almost every blog allows you to post a link to your blog, and some even retrieve a post from your blog and display it along with your comment. This can actually be quite beneficial for your website/blog’s Google PR and ranking. And it also provides you with an opportunity to get more traffic.


I strongly suggest anyone reading this to set aside a small chunk of their time every day for the purpose of blog commenting, and make it a part of their blog promotion/marketing strategy. Use Google to look up authority and high page-rank blogs in your niche, and leverage the power of the comments system on these blogs to your advantage. Remember that the blog you choose to comment on needs to be relevant to your own blog. Always make it a point to post constructive, quality and valuable comments.

Monday, 3 December 2012

How to Increase Conversions on Your Blog

Wikipedia describes ‘conversions’ as the amount of visitors on your website which take an ‘action’ on it, apart from viewing the content on your website/blog, or browsing through it.

As an example, a visitor who comes on your website and buys one of your Wordpress plugins, for instance, equals one successful conversion. Alternatively, it could also be something as simple as having visitors go to your Facebook page, in which case every visitor on your website that does go to your Facebook page equal one successful conversion.

So if, for instance, you convert 5 out of every 100 visitors on your blog, your conversion rate would come to 5%.  You can easily set up goals and monitor your conversions through Google AdSense.

Through those examples, it is obvious that conversions are important for all kinds of blogs or websites out there, not just for e-commerce websites. No matter which niche your website belongs to, there will always be something that you, as the blog owner, would want your visitors to do, an action that you’d want them to take on your blog – subscribing to your list, buying a product, ‘liking’ your Facebook page, downloading your free eBook, or something else.

By now, it must be quite obvious that the higher your conversion rate, the better – as it would mean that you are successfully able to convert more visitors into taking the action that you wanted them to take.

For this purpose, it is important to know about the different factors that influence the conversion rate, and how certain tweaks can improve the conversion on your website. Here are a few things that you can do to improve and increase your conversion rate easily (in no particular order):

CTA is short for a Call-to-Action, and is perhaps one of the most important things when speaking of conversions. A CTA is what attracts or forces a visitor on your website to take an action, which is why its importance is so closely associated to a good conversion rate. You need to optimize your CTA for maximum conversions – whether it’s a ‘Buy Now’ button, a Subscribe button, a link that leads visitors to another page on your website or an external link, or whatever it might be. While the topic of CTAs and conversions warrants its own separate post, I’ll leave you guys with this excellent link on examples of 10 great CTAs and how they impact conversions.

2. Design Matters, a lot.
This is especially applicable to e-commerce websites, where the conversion rate is of the utmost importance (think ecommerce checkout pages). However blogs in other niches can and will also benefit from a good design and layout. Keep it simple and attractive. Choose a color scheme/theme that’s easy on the eyes. Make sure that the checkout process doesn’t involve a lot of clicks, and that the ‘Buy Now’ button is the single-most prominent feature of the page. Instead of taking visitors to the checkout page, use a system that adds purchases to their shopping cart and allows them to continue browsing the website.

For non-ecommerce websites, I would suggest creating attractive, reader-friendly landing pages with an even balance of text and images. Group your content into different sections, which highlight the features of whatever it is that you’re offering. Apple’s product pages (such as the one here, and here) do a great job with this.

3. Make it as easy and simple as possible to take an action.
Make the process of taking an action on your website as simple and easy as possible. Make the action that you want your visitors to take as obvious as possible. Keep it above the fold, and make it prominent, so that it’s the first thing that they see when they land on your website. For instance if you want your visitors to buy your eBook, subscribe to your mailing list, or sign up for your Fantasy Football league, put up a banner in the sidebar, or use something like the HelloBar for the purpose.

4. Convince your visitors to take an action.
… through your product/service, by offering a compelling offer, a discount, special bonuses, bundles, extra features or something else. In order to convert the maximum number of visitors, you need to give them something that they want. Above all, you need to market it in a way that convinces them to take an action. The more people you successfully convince, the more you convert.

5. Work on increasing your traffic.
The equation is quite simple: more traffic gives you a higher chance of conversions (provided you are doing everything else right). Focus your efforts on getting targeted traffic – people from your niche, those who share similar interest, those who might be interested in what you have on offer, and those who will give you a better chance of ‘converting’.

6. Break your text/content/copy down into easily-digestible parts.
In order to maximize conversions, I recommend breaking your copy into shorter ‘easily-digestible’ chunks. While there are no set rules as to how you should go about doing this, a good practice is to split your copy into multiple paragraphs of 4-5 lines each. Doing so will increase the page’s scan-ability, allowing people to skim through it (which is what most people do!). It will also make your main message more prominent. Using bullet-lists for this purpose might also be a good idea.  (And as always, grammar and spelling need to be correct)

7. Use a good font on your website.
This is essential, and very closely related to the design and layout of your website (see pt. 1). Avoid using fancy fonts, or fancy font colors for that matter. Use a simple, easy-to-read and highly-legible font instead. Use optimum line-spacing, and a font-size that can be easily read by different people. Embolden the important parts of your copy so that they attract attention instantly. If you want to attract people to take an action, you need to convince them to do so!

8. Use a mixture of images and text.
Use a good mixture of images and text that attracts people to what you have on offer, without overusing either one of these elements. This especially applies to your landing page. Wordpress has a large selection of great landing pages to choose from (such as these).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

On-Page SEO Guide for Beginners

On-page SEO refers to the changes made – aka. optimization – of different elements of your blog or website for better search engine visibility, higher SERP, better rankings and of course, not only more traffic, but a loyal, returning visitor-base that grows with the passage of time.

Before we begin, I should tell you that most of the on-page elements in discussion here can easily be created/edited/changed in Wordpress. If Wordpress doesn’t allow you to change these, get either this plugin or this one (use one of these, which one you use is up to you), and you’ll be able to do so easily every time you make a new post or a page. Theme frameworks such as Genesis or Thesis provide this functionality by default.

Right, moving on. Here is a simple and easy-to-understand guide on different element of on-page SEO:

1. Page Titles

By far the most important aspect of on-page optimization. Page titles, also referred to as title tags or meta titles, are essential because they define the title of the document (the page), and tell search engines as well as your visitors about the page. It appears in 3 places: (i) on top of your browser, right in front of the name of a website, (ii) in the SERP, whenever you website shows up in the results, and (iii) on another/external website, whenever someone links to you (and on social media as well) as link anchor text.

From an SEO perspective, title tags need to be short (should never exceed 60 characters at max), while being as relevant and descriptive to the contents of the page as possible. In addition (and this is essential), they should also include all major keywords relevant to your blog, in a natural manner (remember: no stuffing!).

2. Meta Descriptions

Anyone who’s ever used Google will instantly know what meta description is. Let me explain: meta titles are often accompanied with a text-snippet, which is essentially a few lines of text under the title itself. That is what a meta description is. Think of meta descriptions as a summary of sorts for any page. It, like titles, tells search engines and human visitors what a page is about, but unlike titles, meta descriptions can be longer in length.

Use meta descriptions to provide a brief overview of a page (avoid exceeding 160 characters) to your visitors and of course the search-engine crawlers. Include relevant keywords (especially the main keyword), write naturally, avoid using too many irrelevant words, and leverage the power of 160 characters to craft an enticing, attractive and interesting summary of the page, so that anyone who stumbles upon it is forced to click on your page and visit your blog.

3. URLs

Links are an important aspect of on-page SEO. URLs, like titles, also describe the site, as well as a page, provide an idea about its content to search engines and visitors. A URL that says ‘’ tells me that this site is about cellphone reviews. Similarly, a URL like ‘’ tells me that this website is about search engine optimization, and the page that I’m about to view is about best practices on on-site optimization.

As with other elements of on-page SEO, there are a few important things to consider when it comes to optimizing URLs and links. For starters, URLs should be descriptive of the page that they lead to. They should always include relevant keywords (refer to the second example in the paragraph above). They should give a clear idea about site structure and hierarchy to their visitors if your website is split into different pages or categories (e.g. ‘’). And like titles, URLs need to be short (like in the second example in the paragraph above). URLs should also be relevant and/or closely related to the title of the page.

4. Images

Image optimization often gets overlooked, but the fact is that it is an essential part of on-page optimization. If your blog has images on it, any kind of images, they need to be optimized for search engines as well as human traffic.

For starters, make sure you fill out the information for all images properly – which includes the title, description, caption and above all, the ‘alt’ attribute. Use these fields to ‘describe’ the image, as it will allow Google to ‘see’ the image and rank it appropriately. Alt information in particular, is important, do your best to describe what the image is about, in as less words as possible. Doing so will allow you to get traffic from image search engines, such as Google Images.

5. Internal Linking

An essential cog in the on-page optimization machinery, internal linking refers to linking to posts within your own blog. While this can also be accomplished automatically using Wordpress plugins such as SEO Smart Links, I personally recommend linking to one or two of your blog’s relevant pages in every post, for instance.

Internal linking keeps link juice inside your blog (as opposed to external linking which transfers link juice to the external website).

6. Content

Goes without saying, but this is perhaps the most important aspect of your on-page SEO strategy. Think of it like this: if titles, meta information, URLs, alt information, etc are important aspects of on-page SEO, the content is its life and soul! Without high-quality, optimized content, your on-page SEO is as good as worthless.

Before I say anything about content, it is essential to know that Google HATES over-optimization, especially overly-optimized content. Having said that, produce well-written content that looks naturally-produced, and is aimed at solving the problems of the people in your niche; it should be appealing to them. This is essential.

Not only does good content serve a purpose, it also has the ability to be shared and spread over the internet. Social shares, Facebook ‘likes’, Twitter retweets, etc. are actually quite important. In addition, quality content will have the natural ability to be linked to from other blogs and websites, all on its own self.

As much as Google hates over-optimized content – and the recent algorithm update Panda even went as far as penalizing websites which stuffed keywords in their content – it is still essential to include important relevant keywords in your copy, as naturally as possible.  

(N/B: The words ‘website’ and ‘blog’ have been used interchangeably in this article, but they refer to the same thing wherever they have been used)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Guest Posting Best Practices

Guest posting is fantastic. The best part about it is that its benefits go far and beyond simply link-building.

Yes, one of the biggest advantages of guest posting is it’s amazing ability to easily give you safe and Google-friendly backlinks. For free! High-PR backlinks are usually a pain to get; they certainly are not easy to get, and even though Google frowns upon buying links, high-PR backlinks from authority websites will usually cost you a dime or two.

Which is one of the biggest advantages of guest blogging; you get use it to build authority backlinks for nothing! But like I said, its advantages go beyond the ability to give you a valuable backlink.

For one, guest blogging allows you to build authority, and position yourself as an authority figure in your niche. If you follow the best practices mentioned later on in this post, you could actually build a name for yourself.

Secondly, guest blogging allows you to get more exposure and drive in traffic to your blog easily. 

And then there are plenty of other advantages, such as building your influence, your portfolio and increasing your credibility, higher SERPs, the chance to improve your writing skills, the chance to network and build relationships with authority bloggers and some of the best minds out there, increase your sales, increase your subscribers, and of course, enhancing your social media profile.

Here’s a list of a few best practices to follow in order to real all the benefits guest posting has to offer, and become the best guest blogger out there:

1. Don’t fear rejection: When it comes to becoming the best guest-blogger out there, it is essential to understand that rejection or getting rejected will be a part of the process. Most guest bloggers fear rejection. It might be a good idea to start small, i.e. start off with a small blog which has a relatively-lenient criterion for submitting guest posts, and slowly build your authority by ‘climbing up the ladder’.

2. Always give it your best shot: Think of the guest post as a post on your own blog, and give it your best effort. Do not skimp out on quality, or try ‘saving the best stuff for your own website’. Remember that your post might be checked for quality before it goes up, and when it does, it will be seen and read by hundreds of people. A quality post will leave a good impression on its readers, play a part in establishing your authority on the matter, and will also be a fair reflection of the quality of your own blog.   

3. Always put up a ‘guest-bio’ for yourself: And be comprehensive, without being too long. A good bio would start off with your name, a little about where you work and what you do/your profession, including some of your responsibilities – all this is essential to establishing your authority. Also include a few lines about your hobbies or something interesting about yourself, and throw in a link to your blog, as well as your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. All this information will probably end up in the author-box on the blog – usually placed at the beginning or at the end of blogs. Here is a good example of what one of these author bio-boxes look like.

4. Devise a posting system: This includes a number of things, such as developing a schedule (e.g. one guest-post a week), developing a certain method of writing your guest posts which suits you the best. Make sure that you plan your posts in advance, and adhere to any rules that you might be asked to follow for submitting a post on the blog. As a blogger, you should already have a posting system for yourself in place, but if you don’t, developing one now might be a good idea.

5. Always respond to comments: Depending on the blog you post on, you may get anywhere between a couple of comments, to hundreds of them. It is very important to reply to all comments whenever possible, and be prompt when doing so. In most cases, the blog owner will expect you to do this, even if he/she hasn’t explicitly asked you to do it. If you’re busy, make it a point to log in at least once-a-day to respond to comments, even if it’s just a simple ‘thanks for your feedback’ reply.

6. Always thank the blog owner for the opportunity: Send in an email, thanking the publisher for the opportunity to allow you to put up a post on their blog. This is essential, as it leaves a good impression on them, allows you to stay on good terms with them, and could even lead to recommendation or a request to do more posts on their blog. Above all, you end up looking like a true professional.