The Above-the-Fold Power Spots and What Should Stay There
Do you notice how magazine covers are laid out? There are headlines and taglines that are bigger and more colorful than most, and there’s a very good reason for this. They realize that people view a page a certain way, and that’s from top to bottom. Blog advertising is not much different. You can control what your readers see first. The first things that they see without scrolling downwards should reflect your priorities on your blog. When you place advertisements on top, it tells of your blog’s purpose. Those who are focused on getting readers place their subscribe buttons or banners at the top spot, and around this is the link box pointing to their recent posts, most popular posts and categories.
The term “above the fold” is usually associated with newspaper, and this refers to the main headline, main photos and main issues that aim to make the reader pick up the paper and buy it. This is the most important spot on a news page, and your blog functions the same way. What you write about is news to others and so what you deem will catch their attention and continue reading will have to be placed above the fold. You will notice that popular sites place self serving ads above the fold, or widgets that get them the most traffic.
Some other sources delineate the most important spot on a page according to the way a reader browses. We are trained to read from left to right, and so the most valuable place above the fold seems to be the left hand corner. Web 2.0 themes are designed to show the content first (left side) and then the ad banners or the subscribe button.
What to put on your power spots?
1. A tasteful header image which tells people exactly what your blog is about. Something that doesn’t cover the whole screen, maybe 100 px or so in height.
2. A link to the homepage, so that readers who might have arrived on more obscure pages on your blog have a means of getting to your front page with minimum hassle.
3. If you don’t mind placing a photo of yourself on your blog, you can place this inside your About Me box at the top spot, adjacent to your latest post.
4. Links to your best posts (using the Most Popular WordPress plugin)
5. Top commentors plugin widget. This is for those who believe that rewarding their blog’s most avid commenters will encourage participation in others.
6. Your community banner. I have seen blogs with Twitter, Stumbleupon, MyBlogLog, Blog Catalog widgets above the fold and have always asked: what’s the logic behind the placement. Now, I realize that getting people to join their communities in these blog directories and social networks so that they can have a long term traffic source.
Using Squidoo Lens to Increase Traffic and Earnings
Squidoo.com has become very valuable to webmasters, in terms of building traffic to their blogs. A squidoo page or a lens can be a place to aggregate a webmaster’s many interests all over the web. These lenses are user-generated, and you get to decide what to put there. Think of it as one page that asks you a single question: What are you about?
You can place RSS feeds from your blog, which could be a good way to build traffic. You can also enhance your credibility by showing a side of you other than that they see on your blog. Think of it as your about page away from your blog, or another place over the web where you can self-promote. This can be your personal announcement page, where you tell your fans and squidoo community that you are connected with a particular blog, your accomplishments so far and why you do they things you do. This could also be your poll place, if you don’t have much space for a poll on your blog. Other stuffs you can place here include youtube videos and photos. A squidoo lens is particularly useful if you have an offline business and you just want a page on the net to inform your customers about your travels, favorite food, and recent activities.
How does one monetize a Squidoo lens? Here are several ways:
Keep your topic relevant and get extra adsense earnings from the traffic your lens attracts. Remember that lenses can be about anything, such as ideas, people or places, hobbies and sports, pets or products, philosophy, and politics. Squidoo splits the adsense earnings with their lensmasters, and donates a portion of your earnings to charity. The earning scheme is co-op style and 5% goes straight to charity first; 50% goes to the lensmasters (you) and 45% goes to Squidoo.
This isn’t a content place, and people do not expect to see articles. Just an introduction about you or a topic; and other things related to you that you want to announce. In this sense, it is ok to recommend products from ebay auctions, amazon and other companies that you are partnered with The second earning option is relevant to us because we can have an additional free place on the web to place links to sales pages or ebook downloads.
Of course, build your lens with your visitor in mind. Do not build a lens that contains ONLY links to affiliate or sales pages. The best way to do this is to alternate your links and lens parts. Your affiliate links may go in between videos, RSS feeds and photos. This way, you dictate how a reader browses your page. First he sees something interesting like a travel photo, then he sees a recommendation from you to try a new camera, then he sees summaries of your blog posts (as RSS) or links to your other blogs. Use your lens to tell a story about what you do online and offline, by pointing your viewers to relevant sites.
Why a New or Established Blogger Should Join Technorati
Several sources all over the internet say that technorati has becomes a mandatory thing when building a new blog or increasing a blog’s community. Simply put, it is a blog directory that helps a blog gain exposure. Apparently, when a blog becomes added to someone else’s favorites and tags, its traffic increases because those who are friends with the other blogger will be able to access your post feeds too. I am impressed by technorati’s authority in the blogosphere and looking around the system alerted me to more opportunities to interact with other bloggers. It is basically a popular search engine for blogs, and if you are an avid bloghopper, the technorati free service is for you .
It’s more than a feed aggregator, It’s a vote of confidence. Having your feed in another person’s technorati page means they are telling their own circle to visit you and also add you to their favorites. Web 2.0 is all about interaction and building communities and technorati makes introduction to a wider audience possible.
Tehnorati tags and why you should take Tagging Seriously
A Technorati tag is a keyword or category name that you associate with a blog post, an article or a whole blog. When you add someone else’s blog as a favorite on technorati, you can assign an appropriate tag that represents the blog. There is an option on a technorati member’s page to “search their favorites”, and this is where the role of tags come into play. Anyone searching for “culture” will find the posts or the blogs of those you assigned to this tag. The algorithm for this is not clear to me but as far as looking for posts about a certain topic is concerned, efficient tagging is useful. There are technorati widgets available to allow your site visitors to explore your site according to the technorati tags you assigned. Joining Technorati is easy. You just have to sign up, claim your blog (through 2 simple processes) and categorize your blogs by putting in keywords that you want your blog to be associated with.
What is technorati authority? This authority is the number of blogs linking to your blog during the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority you have. It simply means that your blog is being talked about in other places. Every time someone mentions you in a post, or puts your link on the blogroll, you gain technorati rank. Aptly given the term “blog reactions”, this ranking system simply tells you how popular you are in the blogosphere. These system is one of the reasons why other bloggers post linkbait content, which are simply blog posts that contain strong opinions, funny stories, astounding facts and even fallacies. Sensationalism is a good way to increase your technorati authority, as more and more bloggers mention you as the source of the news.
How to make your Traffic Stick Around and Do More
Don’t you just wish people would stay on a page on your blog longer? May be click a few more links to your best posts and subscribe? One thing I learned is that when you want something, ask for it. As long as it’s within reason and in good taste, why not ask? Requesting subscription is common, it’s the way the blogger asks that differs. Some use a plugin called “What Would Seth Godin Do”, a wordpress plugin that shows a small box to a visitor who arrived on your blog for the first time. The box contains a request to subscribe as well as links to your subscription links. I like the idea, actually, but I would rather have a nice image attached to my request. It really depends on what the blogger’s style is. Yes, it’s perfectly ok to flatter the reader a bit, and post an attractive photo (maybe of yourself) near the subscribe box or link.
Encourage your readers or visitors to comment by adding a text after your post. There may be some internet users who do not know that they can participate in the discussion and could communicate their opinions to you through comments. It doesn’t hurt to ask a leading question after a post, and it will get your readers’ mental gears turning. Having said that, it is of equal importance to answer each comment promptly and thank the commenters accordingly. Doing this will make them feel welcome and will encourage them to comment again.
If you are running a blog contest soon, it’s just proper that you put a prominent link to a pre-launch blog post describing what the contest will be about, who can join and when it will be launched. This could make people subscribe because they have something to look forward to on your blog. You can also do this for particular blog posts or series of posts on a specific topic that you will publish in the future.
Give away a free item. A good ebook or a short report tackling the main topic of your blog could attract anyone. Remember to reiterate to your readers that the ebook is free. Having people own a piece of your blog in their hard drives will remind them to visit your website again. This free giveaway is also for those who would like to read more articles on a specific topic without having to wait for the next ones to get published.
If you’re tackling a sensitive subject, be ready to put out flames and remember to not say anything that could fan the flame that’s already burning among your readers. The attention that a comment fight attracts could be heady, but bear in mind that bad words, even when said by someone else, will be a bad thing for blog owners. On the other hand, do not be too strict with comments and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If someone directly flames you for the post and your opinions, the best option is to stay quiet and filter the bad words on the comments.
Domain Name Selection and Keywords Selection
The most exciting part of building a self-hosted blog for me is choosing the perfect domain name for it. It is, after all, the face that you will present to people. Your blog’s domain name will be the digital imprint or signature that you will leave on other people’s blogs when you comment. Some people won’t even remember what your real name is, but they will remember which blog you are associated with. As you continue blogging, you will realize that you answer to your blog’s domain name in the same manner as you answer to your given name. The domain name will become a part of you so choose well.
Choosing Domains With Your Niche in Mind
You can begin your search by first identifying the keywords associated with your blog.
Note most “real words” are already taken and so you will have to make do with a domain with several real words in it. Alternatively, you can invent a word that “sounds” like it could be good for your niche.
Your domain name must be short, with very few syllables. However, there is another technique related with domain ownership that teaches us about using long tailed keywords as domain names. These keywords are the exact ones that people type in the search bar to look for something online (e.g. whatisablog). The likelihood that you could grab their attention faster is high if your domain name reflects the things they went online for.
When I encounter quite a few domain names that are similar in quality and worth, the thing to consider would have to be the brandability of the name. Will it look good on a business card? Is it sticky (will it stay with the passers by?).
Aim for the dot com
It’s extremely difficult to compete with a site bearing the dot com version of your dot net domain name because a lot of direct browser searches will go to the dot com version by default. When searching for available domain names for your blog, always check the dot com extensions first, but also be on the lookout for worthy dot net names. If you find a short ‘real word’ domain name but it is only available as a dot net, it is advisable to get it. Investing on a very good dot com domain name could also mean buying it directly from the current owner. You should do this only when you are completely sure your investment will pay off.
Lists of Expiring Domains
There are hundreds of thousands of domain names that expire daily. When you find one you like on a list, the first step you should take is to research the history of the domain name. Was the previous owner careful with it (i.e. did he use it ethically)? The domain names in the expiring or expired lists may have an existing traffic source and even google page rank. Use the search engines to find out what types of articles were previously published on the domain, as these articles could still be included in the cache.
When you start your blog, you know that there are certain people who you think can appreciate your topic. Some of these can be your friends, co-workers and relatives who, of course, will read anything you are going to put out. However, one cannot earn from a blog by having just a handful of readers. You need a big crowd of fans, or at the very least, interested people who will hang out for a while and listen to what you have to say about a certain product or service. For you to earn decently through your blog, you need visitors who are already interested in your site’s topic, will likely be interested in your topic and those who will most likely benefit from your tips or endorsements.
Where do you find these interested and highly excitable people?
Forums – Online communities have been around for a long time, and some have evolved out of one particular interest that thousands of people share. Joining a forum that directly attracts posters who are more than a bit interested in what you have to say about a certain subject area is powerful. These forums may provide signature space where you can place a link to your blog, or may even allow you to include your blog link or banner in your forum profile. Discussion of your interest in the forum will lead to curiosity. The people who will develop a keen interest in your opinions will probably visit your blog to know more about you and to read more about your thoughts. Developing a good relationship with some of these forum posters will increase your credibility, and subsequently, the amount of traffic going to your blog.
Your Competition – Using the search box at Google (particularly google blog search) and Yahoo will reveal several sites that already talk about your exact blog topic. Visit the most relevant ones and observe the interaction of the webmaster with his readers, check out how he has developed his topic and learn about the trend of his posts. When you have deemed this blog as a “kindred spirit” (someone who has the same level of authority in your field), you may opt to contact him to ask to advertise on his blog. If you are the shy type and wouldn’t approach another easily, you may opt to simply observe what advertising systems the blogger uses on his blog and find ways to place your banner there. Having an advertisement on another blogger’s site will increase your chances of attracting a part of his traffic. Most webmasters will appreciate your business because you represent a related site, which their readers will enjoy. There are some others, however, who will not allow you to advertise on their site because they don’t want the competition.
Remember that finding readers for your blog is easy if you work with the concept of relevance. Also, there are several offline ways of increasing traffic to your blog. One of these is by creating business cards with your blog logo and a short description of what you talk about. You can distribute these in related events that you yourself attend.
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