Tag Archive | how to blog effectively

How To Win With The Web

We have both mentioned the benefits of blogging in the past which include improved SEO, increase brand awareness and as a method to gain free press coverage.

I also find that things seem to happen in threes and I’ve recently been interviewed for three different publications – partly as a result of my blog for my other business at Garrendenny Lane.  On Monday, a journalist from the Irish Times phoned me asking if I would take part in an article on ‘mumpreneurs’ / mums working from home. She had heard of me from someone who said I was the first person came to her mind! Hopefully that will be out next Monday or the following week.  I was also contacted regarding an article in a similar theme for a business banking publication.  Some time ago, I was contacted for an interview for the Digital Hub website and am delighted to say that it was just been published and I’m the first in their ‘Winning with Web’ series.  In the interview, I explain the benefits of blogging as I have experienced them.

The Digital Hub are looking for other businesses to take part in this series so if your business is registered in Ireland and has survived, grown, expanded and/or transformed because of your use of the web, then do get in contact with them.

We see blogging as being the core of any social media presence and one of the services we offer is we can take care of your blog, from writing  your posts and spreading your wisdom across other social media channels to creating a social media strategy for you to work towards.  Running a business is time-consuming and many people feel that adding social media to their to-do list is just one thing to many. Outsourcing your social media leaves you time to get on with running your business.  Blogging will get your business noticed, it’s not going to happen overnight necessarily, it does take time but a quality blog will reap rewards, attention and sales.  Do contact us if you feel the time is right to outsource your social media.

Why Your Blog Links Should Open in a New Window

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you click a link on a website or within a blog that the original source (e.g the blog) sometimes disappears and you are then faced with a decision to either return to the source or to read the new link, perhaps click a link in that, become distracted and never return to the original blog as it disappears, lost, into cyber space?

Do you prefer when you click a link in a blog post and it opens in a new tab /window? I do. It means that the original post stays open in one window, the new link is also open and if I do become distracted, both of them will stay open for me to return to later. (Yes, I have to admit that I can have up to 20 tabs open on my browser by 5pm any day!)

If you find that you’re like me and end up with multiple articles to read during a spare hour, do try out Pocket which is a handy little bookmarker – you can read all about it on the Spiderworking blog.

How to add a hyperlink that opens in a new window:

Click on the text that you wish to incorporate into the link and highlight it. Just as I have done above with ‘spiderworking blog’, and then click the hyperlink button above (as shown in the image below)

How to create a hyperlink within a blog post

A box opens and you paste in the url of the new link, add a descriptor:

How to ensure links open in a new window

And this is the important bit – tick the box which says ‘open in a new window/tab‘ and then click ‘add link’.

You’re done.

Ensure you do this and you’ll never lose a reader again.

Any questions? Do ask in the comment box below.

How to get your Blog & Website on the First Page of Google

Do you want your website to be referenced on the first page of google? Do you want people to be able to find your online presence easily and quickly?

Why blog? Why spend time writing blog posts? How will a blog benefit my business?  To what extent will a blog help my business?

SEOIf you have a website, you want people to be able to find it easily and ideally, you’d like it to be on the first page of google.  However, unless you are prepared to pay  for google advertisements, your website will not necessarily feature on the first page throughout good website optimisation alone.  An effective blog is invaluable in improving your  SEO to the extent of achieving the top of page one.

When I started blogging in early 2008, there were two blogs that I became aware of very quickly.  Why? Because everyone (in related fields) was talking about their success, they were Irish success stories in blogging, they were featured in the traditional media of magazines and newspapers and because they were written by  people with lovely personalities that shone through their blogs.  They were also on the first page of google for related searches. One was Homebug, an interior design based blog who listed my blog in her ‘favourite blog’ section, sending me traffic (usually about 10-20 visits per day and valuable SEO juice. (Homebug ended about two years ago hence I can’t link to it).

The other is Murphy’s Icecream, the blog was started in 2006 and blog posts include their pride in Kerry, what’s going on in their shops in Kerry and Dublin, icecream recipes, videos and all things Irish-related.  Apart from strengthening their brand and reinforcing their quality product, their blog means that when I think of Dingle, I think of Murphy’s icecream and I know I’m not the only person who wants to taste their icecream because of their blog.

If you search for ‘icecream’ in google.ie, their blog at Icecream Ireland is at the top of the page and their website at Murphy’s Icecream is number 4.  Kieran Murphy is an enthusiastic blogger with a passion for his product and it shows.  As a result, his business ranks extremely highly for a popular keyword.

If your business focuses on different varieties of a single product, e.g. T-shirts, wallpaper, vacuum cleaners, mortgage advice – whatever it may be, the challenge is there to try to get to the first page of google but it is a challenge that can be achieved.

How will your blog achieve a position on the first page of google?

Google likes regularly updated content and it likes seeing 2 or 3 main keywords being used throughout a blog post, especially in the first and last paragraphs, in the tags and in the category headings. (Yes, Google has become personified!)

Read our post on how to use the google keyword research tool to ensure you know you are using the right keywords and how to use them appropriately.

Getting to the first page of google will, of course, depend on the competition for the keywords you want to use.  You can find out what the competition is by going to google search and typing in the keyword you want to use in quotation marks and then you will see how many other posts or websites are using that keyword.

Measuring Your Competition online

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, “buy wallpaper online” is a keyphrase that I have used to optimise my Garrendenny Lane blog and website and as you can see above, it appears in 511,000 searches.  Hence, I’m pleased that it usually turns up around the middle of the first page for that search term. Your success will depend on the competition but it is still possible to reach that top spot on google organically (through search rather than having to pay for it) via your blog.

Hence, you really need to establish your main keywords, ensure your website is optimised for those keywords and use them properly in your blog posts.

The Value of Backlinks

Another advantage of blogging is that people will link to good blog posts from their website or blog and if they do so using the keyword within the backlink / hyperlink, all the better.

Coincidentally, that happened to this blog yesterday.  I am an advocate of using twitter at conferences for a number of reasons and have devoted some posts to the subject.   I wrote another post on the topic the other day and referenced my inspiration as @TeecycleTim , author of an article in a Toastmasters magazine that came through my door a few days ago. Having tweeted him to acknowledge my source (and including it in the blog post), he retweeted it, and one of his followers, Herbert Lowe, saw it and devoted a whole post to my various blog posts on tweeting at conferences, using valuable keywords in each backlink.  What the results will be remains to be seen but it all adds to valuable SEO juice.

Having a website that is not updated frequently is almost like a rowing boat without oars, it will float around without reaching any destination and may not be found by its target audience.  Having an effective blog will pay dividends and remember, you can monitor the results too (more on monitoring your social media usage coming up soon).

If you would like help to create and maintain an effective blog for your website, do get in touch with Marie or I.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Find It Friday – Ten Tips for Effective Blogging

I was recently asked for blogging tips by a photographer who had set up a wordpress.com blog separate to his website.  Although his photographs are incredible, his blogging could be much more effective to generate more traffic and increase conversions. As the tips could be used for almost any blogger, I thought I’d share them here with you.

Blogging Tips for Effective Blogging

Aims of Photography Blog

I started by asking why he was blogging, what was he trying to sell and what did he want to achieve, particularly as the blog wasn’t integrated into the website.

  1. To sell limited edition photograph prints
  2. To sell workshops and photography tour places
  3. To show his expertise – both as a photographer and as a teacher

Blogging Tips for Effective Blogging

  1. To use the Google keyword research tool to ensure the blog is well optimised.
  2. To use chosen keywords occasionally throughout the blog post but particularly in the first and last paragraphs.
  3. To use appropriate tags and categories.
  4. To name the photograph with a keyword (rather than it being named IMG87609y40.jpg
  5. To include a title, alt title and description in the upload process of the photograph
  6. To include a call to action to the relevant page on the website in order to increase traffic to the website and increase conversions. This is particularly important when the blog isn’t integrated into the website – readers need to know you have a website so they can visit it.
  7. Include at least one image on every blog post – to provide variety, visual interest and hook the reader.
  8. Don’t forget to change the standard phrasing in the top right of the free wordpress.com blogs, the standard text is usually something like ‘just another wordpress blog’.  Change it to a description of your blog and include at least one keyword. You can change it in the settings area of your dashboard.
  9. Create a popular topic that you can post about weekly – this means that some readers will check it out regularly (such as this Find It Friday post) and include tips that show your expertise. In the case of the photography blog, it could be ‘Tuesday’s Photography Tips’ and the topic could be an explanation on how to edit in Photoshop, use Instagram or tips on how to take particular photographs – remembering to include a call to action to a photography class or workshop. Foto Friday tends to be a popular slot on photography blogs.
  10. Don’t forget to create an ‘About Me’ page and include a photograph – this helps readers to engage with you when they can see your appearance.

Do get in touch if you would like us to analyse your blog and suggest improvements for more effective blogging, we can do that by meeting up with you or we can do so online.

Tale of Two Blogs & A Comparison Of Their Statistics

Last September, I set up two new blogs partly because I wanted to show new bloggers the traffic they could expect to a new blog. I’d already been blogging for four years and it was impossible for me to tell new bloggers what to expect.

Irish Farmerette Blog

Irish farmeretteOne blog Irish Farmerette is a personal blog, friends will read it and more and more farming bloggers are finding it. I’m not using the keyword analysis tool to try to drive more traffic to it but I have noticed that food based blog posts tend to be very popular as there are many searches for ‘brown bread’ and ‘clotted cream’ – 2 of the perhaps 4 recipes that I have posted. Irish Farmerette gets comments on most of the blog posts because I am part of a community of friends and farmers with this blog.

Wallpaper Review Blog

Wallpaper Review BlogThe other blog Wallpaper Review was an experiment. I am not publicising it anywhere nor commenting on other blogs using it as the link. I am simply using the keyword analysis tool to find popular search terms that include wallpaper (but of course, exclude wallpaper as in for a computer screen). Wallpaper Review gets very very few comments because it is not part of a community simply because I don’t have time to post on other blogs.

I recounted my findings in January, both of them being live for over 3 months.

Both are 7 months old now and noticing the other day that I had 65 blog posts on each, I thought it was an opportune time to do a comparison again.  In the early days of Wallpaper Review, I was posting 4 or 5 times a week. To be honest, if I post once a week now, I’m doing well. I’m breaking all the rules re consistency by ensuring that I even post on the same day each week. The only ‘rule’ I’m following is to continue using the keyword analysis tool.  I generally post on Irish Farmerette once or twice a week. I would write a post 4 or 5 times a week if I had the time as I thoroughly enjoy it.

What are the results?

Blog Traffic Statistics for Irish Farmerette

Blog Traffic Statistics for Irish Farmerette

As you’ll notice with the statistics for the personal blog, Irish Farmerette, above, the traffic to date is 6,351 views with the average being about 50. That tends to be about 100 on the day I post, and then recedes to about 30 per day on other days. That 30 per day would mostly come from search engine traffic.  If I posted more regularly, the average would increase as I get more traffic on the days I post. The ‘busiest day’ spike of 230 relates to a recording on the Countrywide radio show on a Saturday morning when I was interviewed by Suzanne Campbell.

Blog Traffic Statistics for Wallpaper Review

Blog Statistics for Wallpaper Review

What is interesting about this comparison now too is that I’ve been posting on both blogs about once a week recently. As you can see, the total traffic to date on Wallpaper Review (as seen above) is double that of Irish Farmerette with 12,465 in total. The busiest day was the end of January with 124 although other days have come close to it. The average here is 80 per day.  There is a slight spike on the days I post but it is limited, hence the organic traffic from Google tends to be fairly constant.

Tips For Improving The Traffic To Your Blog

What does this suggest that you should do in order to maximise the traffic and the engagement on your blog?

  • Use the Keyword Analysis Tool to ensure your blog is optimised.
  • Comment on other blogs and become part of a community.
  • Write interesting content that is focused.
  • Use good images to engage readers.
  • Create links to your blog (crosslinks and backlinks including links from facebook and twitter)
  • Mention your blog in your email signature
  • Have compelling headlines and first paragraphs
  • Use effective subheadings
  • Use the All In One SEO tool (not available  on wordpress.com blogs which is what both of these are).
  • Use bullets points/numbering at times to make information more succinct and easier to absorb

I’m not saying that the traffic on either of these blogs is anything to write home about and I do feel that if Wallpaper Review was an actual business blog and I was publicising it more through commenting on other blogs, linking from twitter and facebook, including it in an email signature and mentioning it in any press coverage, that the blog traffic would be much higher but as an experiment, it is interesting.

By the way, regarding sales from Wallpaper Review. It isn’t a business blog as such but I do write about wallpaper that I stock in my online shop and will provide a link to the relevant page. Sales so far have been in the region of €1000. It is hard to track some sales as people may order samples from coming through from the Wallpaper Review blog but come straight to the GL shop to buy their wallpaper. I notice a lot of my traffic comes from the States and of course, this is because it is a wordpress hosted blog, which is then hosted in the States.  It’s not necessarily negative as I’ve got some sales from the States as a result.

If you are looking at your own statistics today and you’re disappointed with them, I hope you find this post and others useful in terms of helping you to write down a strategy for your blog. If you would like some help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We teach courses on blogging and social media, we offer one to one mentoring and we will also teach people in small groups too. What is working well is that 3 or 4 friends decide they want to learn more about social media and they are all about the same level in terms of their knowledge and they come for a half day teaching session that is tailored for their learning objectives.

Blogging for Success: Interview 2 – Margaret of Oldfarm

Blogging For Success Series – Interview 2

This week, as part of our ‘Blogging for Success’ series, we are interviewing Margaret from Oldfarm, a small family business that is selling their pork very successfully through their social media platforms. I recently visited Margaret and her husband Alfie  and we ‘swopped’ some pork for goat meat and I really can vouch for their pork – I had never tasted rashers that were so delicious.

Oldfarm  free range Pork Rashers

How long have you been selling pork for?

We started in a small way in 2008 just killing a couple of pigs and selling on to family and friends, but when we were both let go from our jobs in mid-2009, it was time to look at the business in a more serious way.

 What social media tools are you using to increase brand awareness?

LinkedIn:  I participate in various forums there. Not necessarily about pork, but about social media and low cost marketing.

Twitter:  This has become our best medium this year for spreading brand awareness!  Last year it was approx. 60% Facebook and the rest taken up by Twitter/word of mouth but this year the switch has gone completely the opposite way!  I operate the Oldefarm twitter account, and Alfie, my partner, has a separate account (@pigoftheday).  He feels he can be unPC and can take a more controversial stance being somewhat removed from the business account.

Facebook: I was a reluctant convert to Facebook (the whole privacy thing, but I only post what I am happy to be public with), but have found it a very useful tool for our business.  We have followers on Facebook and an almost completely different set of followers on Twitter, so you have to keep them both going!

Pinterest:  I am still playing about with this… yes, we have some followers but I need to start spending more time on it.

YouTube:  We have a YouTube channel set up, but Alfie needs to start practising using the video!

Oldfarm Pigs

As your blog topics tend to be very varied which is, of course, part of its delight, do you have any examples where your blog posts resulted in increased sales or free press coverage?

 I don’t think any of my blog posts have resulted in direct sales.  However, there are a few that come to mind that definitely increased awareness of us.

One post was on social media and how we use it to promote the business … this post was obviously very popular with Social Media companies who used it as a case study for their clients … and we did have an increase of Twitter followers from that.

Similarly, when I wrote the post about our nasty abattoir experience there was a huge response on the blog itself and an upsurge of ‘likes’ on the Facebook page and followers on the blog and on Twitter.

Whether this will lead to sales?  I would like to think that it will probably do so.  I have found that people can be a fan/follower for months before they finally decide to order.  One man was a fan and regular commenter on our Facebook page for 18 months before he placed his first order!  It is a game of wait and see!

We have been extremely lucky with free media coverage.  It was through one of our fans on Facebook that I got to appear on TV AM and promote the business.  And we have also had a lot of newspaper coverage and magazine articles through contacts we have made via  both Twitter accounts.  We are both avid ‘networkers’ at all times and this has helped enormously with the media coverage.

OldFarm Blog - A Year in Redwood 

What tends to be the most popular topic for your blog posts?

 Gosh!  I write about so many different things that happen here, that anger or annoy me.  And then I post recipes too!

However, prompted by your question I’ve looked back at the statistics and the most popular are the ‘home’ posts.  The posts about what’s going on, or not going on, in our lives.

I should check those statistics more often!

Your blog isn’t integrated into your website, do you think this has an effect (either way) on brand awareness/ sales?

 Interesting, Lorna, that you should ask this question right now!  I am at the moment getting quotes to integrate the two!

The blog originally started as more of a ‘personal’ diary of our life here, but it has become more and more part of the business [well our life is the business now in an holistic sort of way], so I think the time has come to integrate the blog into the website.

It is very confusing at a network meeting, or any forum, introducing yourself as being from Oldfarm  and then saying but my blog is A Year in Redwood.   I reckon it makes it harder for people to remember either name.

So combining the two is a work in progress at the moment hopefully a short one!

OldFarm Pigs

As a successful small business that is using social media to spread the word, do you have any tips to share with any SMEs thinking of investing time in social media?

 Don’t become obsessive about the numbers!  You can look at other brands and their facebook and twitter fanbase is huge …… BUT….. are they getting orders for their efforts?  I would safely say that approximately 10% of our Twitter and Facebook followers have actually ordered from us.  That is 120 people that we would not have met otherwise.  If we can make them regular customers then we are better off.  Remember that “Social media” should be just that Social, sales come from knowing and trusting people.

Be patient!  People will watch, comment, chat…. and finally, something will trigger them to order.  You cannot rush it.

Be Yourself!   I was once told that I was ‘off message’ by a Marketing Consultant because I was posting about stuff other than the pork (he felt I shouldn’t even be posting photos of the pigs!).  However, I have found that people want to see other things.  They want to know about our ‘lives’.  I have had American followers tell me they live their ideal life through us!  I know they are in America and we don’t export pork to America (yet!) but perhaps they have friends or cousins in Ireland who are watching!

I’d like to thank Margaret for partaking in our ‘Blogging for Success’ series and sharing her experiences with us. What becomes apparent is that it is not only important to show your expertise via your social media channels but also your personality and your passion as they will often become your most popular posts. Your blog can act as the core to your other social media platforms and Margaret has recognised that Oldfarm has, in some instances, different followers on twitter to facebook but the goal is to increase brand awareness and if people want to find out more, they can do on her website, blog or even the old-fashioned way, of picking up the telephone.

If you have been blogging successfully for your business and have tips to share with our readers, we’d love if you could get in touch with Marie or I.

Top Tips – Getting Free PR From Your Blog

How can your blog work more effectively to generate more credibility, more brand awareness and more sales for your business? Yes, we all know blogging delivers in terms of improving your website’s search engine optimisation and thereby, improving the ranking for your website. However, blogging can also improve your brand awareness by providing you with free press coverage in various magazines and newspapers.

I’ll start off by providing you with a couple of examples of how blogging  helped me to achieve considerable PR with my online business and how your blogs can have a synergy between them which means that one blog can improve the recognition and scope of another blog.

My Garrendenny Lane blog was less than a month old back in early 2008 when I received a telephone call from a journalist writing for a national weekly newspaper supplement (Irish Country Living of Irish Farmers Journal).  Initially she was wondering if I could provide her with some of my photographs but during the course of our conversation, she realised that I was married to a dairy farmer and within 3 weeks, she had visited to interview me and the photographer had called and I was featured in a full page spread.  That call came because an influential interiors blog at the time had placed me on her ‘Favourite Blogs’ list and the journalist followed the link.  It was my first piece of free press coverage.

Sending out a press release giving news of a new exclusive wallpaper supplier resulted in press coverage in a number of Interiors magazines but perhaps more importantly, it meant that I could now build a relationship with these journalists, sending them information of new products that I was stocking, products that were not available elsewhere in Ireland and as a result, many of my products were featured in various Interiors magazines and weekend newspaper supplements.

Journalists are constantly looking for news angles for stories hence, try to phrase your blog topics or blog pages in such a way that they will find the answers to the questions they are asking.  I recently delivered a talk on my use of social media to a business group in Wexford and during the course of my presentation, I mentioned my three blogs.  Last week, I received a phone call from a journalist at the event, she had visited my Irish Farmerette blog and read my page ‘Why Farmers Should Blog’ and felt it fitted into an article she is writing for the international edition of the New York Times and rang me for a telephone interview.  That page could have been written for any business type but I had moulded it to suit my personal blog and it spelt out something I felt strongly about which happened to suit the angle for this journalist’s article.

10 Tips – How To Get Free PR Via Your Blog

  1. Write about newsworthy topics.
  2. Think ahead – what events will be covered in the news in the coming weeks? Do you have a story that can be manipulated to tie in with a newsworthy story or event – write about it in your blog.
  3. Report on important events so that you become the go-to blogger for that particular event. This will strengthen your credibility as an expert in that area and you will be contacted for your opinion.
  4. Posit interesting angles on topics.
  5. Be slightly controversial.
  6. Write about a product that you are stocking that is exclusive or not readily available within your area.
  7. Promote your blog post on other social media channels – you never know which journalists might be following you.
  8. Identify questions that customers and journalists may ask and answer them within your blog posts.
  9. Use good images, particularly if your product/service is visual.
  10. Ensure your contact information is easy to find.

5 Tips For More Press Coverage

  1. Remember to thank them. Just as everyone does, journalists appreciate being thanked and they will be more likely to remember you and use you again.
  2. By sharing links to the press coverage, the journalist will know you are also working to ensure their piece is read by a large audience and is successful.
  3. Maintaining a good relationship with even one or two journalists will mean that they will refer you to others.
  4. Following journalists on twitter and engaging in conversation with them will get you noticed. However, ensure your replies or comments are meaningful and never overdo it.
  5. Be helpful.  Journalists are often working to a tight deadline and need everything within a short space of time so by providing them with high resolution images or quotations quickly usually transfers into a higher likelihood of being included in their feature.

Has a journalist contacted you after finding your blog? I’d love to hear more stories of how blogs generated free press coverage.

Image: Free Digital Photos

If you are struggling to think of newsworthy topics for your blog, why not book a ‘blog consultation‘ with Marie or I where we can help you come up with a blogging strategy for the coming months.

8 Tips – How To Vary Your Blog Content, Format and Structure

Do you sometimes become stuck for ideas for your blog? Not just bloggers block in terms of content but also in terms of structure, layout and approach?  Blogs can become a little boring if the format is always the same – for the readers and for the writer.  Changing your format occasionally can breathe new life into your blog and renew interest in it.

During last week’s KLCK bloggers network meeting, Frank Bradley was presenting and gave us some ideas to which I’ve added a few:

1. Summarise some of the best posts from other blogs on a particular topic – a round-up blog post. Amanda at Spiderworking does a great  Social Media Seven post every Thursday and Marie does a round-up blog post on her Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer blog each Friday. They can be time-consuming but people will look forward to them as a valuable source of summarised information.

2. Link of the Week – You could find a blog post that you have found to be particularly good and add your own thoughts to it. The same could apply to a youtube video.

3. Link to your own posts by concentrating on your ‘5 Best’ old posts on a particular topic or revisit a post from exactly a year ago to see how things have  altered/remained constant. This will also build on your cross-links within your site.

4. Polls – ask for your readers’ feedback on a topic that would be of interest to them.

5. Interviews – Interview someone interesting in your field, for example, the editor or a leading journalist in a related publication to your blog’s subject matter.

6. Regular Slots – have a slot on a particular topic for one day of the week – e.g. Thursday’s Twitter Tips and you will find that ideas for that blog post will pop into your mind on any day of the week. You can always write these posts and schedule them.

7. Involve the readers by asking them questions, sometimes the more jokey and humourous the better. Mark of A Year of Festivals recently asked readers to come up for some ideas for festivals in Irish towns and he received some great ideas such as the ‘Donkey Derby in Bray’ or a ‘Battle re-enactment in Swords’.

8. Guest Bloggers – Last year I ran a series of guest blogger posts on Thursdays for about six months on my Garrendenny Lane blog. It worked really well in that it gave my blog a varied content as while the content was all interior-design related, the subject matter and writing styles were varied.  It also helped to increase my back links to this blog as the guest bloggers linked theirs to mine too.

I hope these tips will help you to breathe new life into your blog if you feel it has become a little tired. Sometimes we need to rejig things to revitalize ourselves and our writing.

Do you have any other ideas for breathing a new approach into a business or personal blog? Do share below if you do.

I will be teaching a course about using Social Media effectively for your business with the Carlow Enterprise Board next Wednesday evening. Do contact Carlow CEB if you would like to come along.