217: 4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name

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4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name for Your Blog

This episode is perfect for anyone who’s preparing and planning their first blog, as well as those thinking about starting a second blog.

Today I’m talking about what to consider when naming your blog and choosing a domain name for it. I’ll share four things to consider when choosing a domain name. You want one that:

helps you achieve your goals will have a memorable impact on your visitors helps you to build your brand sends the right message to Google and the search engine bots. (Domain names have an impact on SEO.)

I’ll also talk about legal implications of choosing a domain name, because it’s important to stay within the law.

Links and Resources on 4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name for Your Blog: 4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name How to Choose a Domain Name Knowem Nameboy GoDaddy Facebook group Legal Links: Copyright.gov Uspto.gov Bloglovin.com Aussies: Asic.gov.au ipaustralia.gov.au Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there. My name is Darren Rowse. Welcome to Episode 217 of the Problogger Podcast. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com – a blog, a podcast that you’re listening to, event, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to create great content to grow your audience, and to build some income from that blog. You can learn more about what we do at Problogger over at problogger.com.

Today’s episode is for those of you who are just starting out. It’s perfect for those of you who are considering starting a blog in the preparing, planning stage, or for those of you who want to start a second blog or even a second business of some kind, because we’re gonna talk about things to consider when you are naming your blog, or finding a domain name for your blog to be more specific. I said both of those things because they really are tied together. Ideally you want a domain name that is the same as the name of your blog, or at least tied to it.

In today’s episode, I wanna share with you four things to consider to find something that is going to suit your needs in terms of a domain. Something that’s gonna help you to achieve your goals in blogging, whatever those goals are. Something that’s gonna impact the people who come to your blog and be memorable, but also something that is gonna help to build your brand, to communicate something, a meaning, to those people.

Also, something that’s going to communicate something to Google and the bots, the machines, the little robots that come to your site as well and help to determine how your site will be ranked, because your domain name has an impact on SEO. Lastly, something that is gonna help you to stay within the law because there are some legal things that you need to know about choosing a domain as well.

If that is of interest to you, listen on. I’ve got today’s show notes with some further reading for you. This is actually based upon an article that we published on Problogger a year or so ago, I’ve updated it slightly but you can find the original article on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/217. I almost forgot the podcast bit there, you would think after 200 episodes, I would’ve got it. It’s problogger.com/podcast/217 where you can find that further reading and a full transcript of what I’ve got for you today.

I wanna say right upfront, there’s a lot of different opinions on this. The main thing that I really wanna say is whilst I’m going to talk about some ideal scenarios today, I’ve made every mistake in the book. Everything I’m gonna teach you today, I’ve done the opposite at one point or another. I still had success with my blogs, I want you to keep that in the back of your mind. Choosing the right domain is going to help you with your blogging, it’s going to help you with your Search Engine Optimization and your branding and all of that type of stuff.

You can make mistakes in this and fix them, or you can make mistakes and still have success. I’m gonna tell you about some of the mistakes I’ve made towards the end of today’s podcast. I wanna put that right up front, particularly for those of you who are gonna listen to this and go, “He said the exact opposite of what I’ve already done.” I just wanna hammer that home, I have had wrong domains and I still have a blog that isn’t ideal in terms of its domain, but I still had some success with it. Choose the right domain and it is going to help you in your blogging.

I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if I had chosen the right domain on some of my blogs from the start. Right from the beginning. Let’s just go back to basics for those of you who are a bit fuzzy on what is a domain and why you would want your own. Your domain name is, for Problogger it’s problogger.com. It’s that little bit that you type into Google’s Chrome browser or Safari, it’s where your blog can be found, it’s the address for your blog.

Having your own domain name is really desirable for bloggers for many reasons. This is something that a lot of bloggers when they first start out, they will start on a site like blogger or wordpress.com and they will use the domain name that is provided for them by those services because those services host your blog on their own service and they usually have some wordpress.com/yourblogsname. It’s on their domain name. That’s okay when you’re just starting out.

It’s desirable to get your own domain name at some point because it’s gonna help to build some credibility with your audience. When someone sees that you are on blogger.com/yourblogname, there’s a confusion that happens there because you are on blogger’s brand name and your blogger’s brand name or WordPress brand name is in your domain name as well as your own. That impacts your brand, it impacts the sense of professionalism around your blog that people get from you.

It also is more complicated to communicate if you have to tell everyone it’s blogger.com/yourname, that’s a lot to remember for people. It’s longer, it’s more complicated and it confuses the brand. Ideally, you want to have your own domain name. It also gives you some other added bonuses, it can help you with search engine optimization to have it on your own. It also helps in terms of having your own email address so you can have an email address darren@problogger.com, that’s my email address, if you wanna ever contact me.

That communicates a little bit more professionalism rather than having to rely upon a Gmail address which again can confuse your brand a little and it comes across with some people if you got a Gmail address rather than your domain address. That can come across maybe a little bit like it’s a bit of a hobby for you. There’s some added bonus in there in terms of having your own domain. They are some of the reasons that you would want your own domain if you’re wondering why you would want it.

Let’s move on to some of the factors to consider when choosing that domain. I’ve got four main things that I wanna talk about. I guess what I wanna say is there are billions of websites, I don’t exactly know how many domains are out there but there’s more than a billion websites I’m told out there. You want yours to stand out, and a big part of what you want to do in choosing a domain name is choose something that’s going to stand out, something that’s gonna be easily remembered.

That’s harder to do today than it was when I started out because a lot of the good domain names, a lot of the most common words that we would think of in domains are taken. But it’s still important to try and choose something that’s gonna be easy to remember and something that’s gonna accurately describe what it is that you do and that’s gonna help you to rank in Google. There are four main things that I wanna work through here. Some of these come down to personal taste, but try and keep these four things in mind as you are considering it.

The other thing I’d say, just before I get into these is don’t rush this process. Don’t rush the process. The mistakes I’ve made have largely come as a result of me rushing through it and not involving too many other people in the discussion. One of the things I would recommend that you do is to do this with other people. I actually find that I’ve made better decisions about domains and names of my blog when I bounce my ideas off other people.

Find someone who is not gonna shut down all of your ideas right at the front. They’re gonna be good at brainstorming with you, but also someone that does have a bit of a critical eye on this, and maybe two different people – one to brainstorm with them, one to be the judge or the critic with. Because bringing a bit of a critical eye is going to point out some of the mistakes that I’ve made basically.

Let’s get into these four things.

The first perspective that you wanna consider is the human perspective. I’m gonna talk about bots and robots and SEO and that type of thing. That’s important. But I think it’s much more important to consider the other person who’s gonna be on the other side of your content and the other side of your blog. This is the case for me with everything that I talk about with ProBlogger. It comes down to the content, the way you build community, the way you build readers. You always need to be considering the other person, the person on the other side of your content.

It’s not just about making money. It’s not just about getting lots of traffic. It’s about serving people because in my experience, if you serve people and if you’re considering the person on the other side of your content, all the other stuff tends to flow easier, more easily. The human perspective is the first thing that we wanna consider. Particularly what we wanna focus upon is making it easy for the other person. The person is gonna come and read your blog. You wanna make it as easy as possible. You don’t want barriers in the way of them coming to your blog.

When you’re thinking about your domain, you want something that is simple to read. Something that’s simple to say. Something that is simple to remember. If it’s hard for them to remember what it is because it’s complicated, it’s got lots of words or it’s cryptic in some way, that’s gonna be a barrier for them to coming back. They may come the first time because they find you being shared on Twitter but they’re never gonna come back again because they’re not gonna be able to remember that name.

It’s gotta be easy to remember. It’s gotta be easy to say because you want people to be able to spread it by word of mouth, and you wanna be able to say it simply as well. It’s gotta be something that’s simple to read. The words in your domain, if you’ve got more than one word, they need to be pretty obvious what those words are. You don’t want them to run into each other and have different interpretations of what those letters could mean. Often I’ve seen domain names and I thought, Does is say this or does it say that? because there are multiple ways of reading that in the content.

Make it easy.

One of the core values of marketing is to be memorable and to be simple. Simple is good. Short is good if you can. It’s getting harder to have short domains. I know all the four-letter domain names are gone now. You can probably buy them at a premium cost now, but they’ve all been taken as far as I know. It’s hard to find a four-letter one. There are probably some five- and six-letter ones around, but it’s gonna be hard to find one that has actual words in it. They’ll be a random jumble of our letter. Short is good, it’s not always easy to find something that’s super short.

If you are going to create something with a number of words, maybe two or three words at the most. Digital Photography School I think is a long domain and I’ve got hyphens in there as well which is a mistake that I’ll talk about later. Digital Photography School is relatively easy to remember, it’s a bit of a jumble to type in though, it’s quite long. One of the things I do wish with Digital Photography School, it’s bit of a jumble for me to even say it now, is that maybe it was a bit shorter. I think it’s good on the memorability front.

You’re never gonna find something that’s got all of the things that I’m talking about. You’re always gonna be compromising on some level. But short is good. No phonetic bits to confuse people’s ears, no unusual spelling ideally. If you can do that, I think you’re well on the way to creating a good domain. Short.

A note about hyphens. I have already talked about hyphens… may make your preferred domain easier to register because less people will be putting hyphens in. But it is tricky for people to remember, and it’s tricky for people to communicate and for you to communicate.

I know for a fact every time I say I’ve got a blog about blogging, it’s called Digital Photography School, I usually just say “Google it” because we do rank in Google for Digital Photography School. If someone wants the domain, it’s digital-photography-school.com. It’s quite long and it’s more complicated for me to say. I do hear people all the time saying “It’s digitalphotographyschool.com”, and I’ve seen people link to it in that way. I don’t own that domain. I couldn’t get it. People wanna charge me a fortune for it. It’s hard to communicate.

I particularly would say avoid hyphens if you can. It’s gonna make it hard to communicate and hard to remember.

Numbers are another one. I know a lot of people add a number to their ideal word. That could be one way to get your word in there, but it does bring confusion again. If I had problogger9.com for instance, is ‘nine’ the number nine, the numeral, or is it spelled out nine? That can cause confusion as well when you got numbers in there. Ideally what you would probably wanna do if you do wanna use a number is to register both.

If I had to do that, and I would never do it, problogger9.com and I would also register probloggernine.com and forward both to the one that I’m using. That would be the way to get around that, but again numbers can bring a little bit of confusion to that. Although if you can get both, maybe it would work. Making it easy for your reader is really important.

Making it readable is so important as well. Have a look at how your words run together. Are there any surprises in there that perhaps you haven’t thought of?

Sometimes people choose a domain and then someone else looks at it and says, “There’s another word in there that you probably don’t want in there.” For example if you had any probloggersexcited. Probloggersexcited, that might be a good domain name because you wanna talk to excited probloggers but if you think about it, there’s an ‘s’ and then the first two letters of excited are ‘ex’. You’ve got an s-e-x in there, that may not be ideal for you brand. People will look at that and they’ll only see one thing, and that’s bit of a recipe for disaster in terms of your brand. Be thinking about how those words might join together. Are there any other little hidden surprises in there?

Another thing I would say is you might wanna steer clear of slang, or any jargon or corporate speak. Different countries also have different vernacular. You wanna maybe run your domain name by someone from a different culture if you’re using a slang word, something that you understand but does everyone else understand what that means because you might end up with a domain that people are really confused by because you are using a word that means something different in a different part of the world.

The example that Aussies always use, we call flip-flops that you put on your feet, my American friends call them flip-flops, we call them thongs. That can cause a lot of confusion in America when you are talking about wearing thongs to the beach and I wear thongs every summer to the beach, that confuses people. I know that just brought a whole lot of imagery in some of your minds that you don’t want there. You wanna be thinking about Does this word mean the same thing in different parts of the world?, particularly if you wanna have a global brand.

The last thing with readability is make it pronounceable. You want people to be able to say it clearly. I had a domain twitip – t-w-i-t-i-p. It was gonna be Twitter tips. People just couldn’t pronounce that at all. I had all kinds of weird pronunciations, ‘twee tip’ and all kinds of things. It didn’t really communicate what it was about even though it was clever and it had a bit of Twitter and a bit of a tip in it, people just couldn’t pronounce it right. Even ProBlogger, people sometimes struggle with that and because it’s an unfamiliar word, it’s not a real word. I made that one up although that was good for a branding perspective. That’s what I wanna talk about next.

First perspective to consider is the humans on the other side of your domain. The second perspective is the brand. The first impression of your domain really counts. Your domain name is an incredible opportunity. You have an incredible opportunity to communicate something about what it is that you are doing. People want to know what is going on on your website in the shortest amount of time possible. Your domain name is one of the signals to them as to what you do.

If you have a domain name that communicates, “This is what this blog is about”, that’s gonna help to speed up that first impression. Digital Photography School I think immediately communicates to people that this place teaches photography. Sometimes it does communicate some other things as well. It communicate some things that we don’t do and that is one of the weaknesses of it. We get emails from people saying, “Where is your School? What kind of classrooms do you use?” They imagine a real school. That’s I guess another example of something that’s communicated by the domain that isn’t true. We have to work against that in our About page.

ProBlogger I think, even though it’s a made-up word, most people understand what that is. It’s gonna be something that’s gonna teach people to blog professionally or to be professional in their blogging. Your domain name is a real opportunity. Think about your domain name and how you can communicate what it is that you do.

Again, this is another thing to test with someone. Tell a friend who doesn’t know what you’re considering doing, what that domain name is. Ask them what they think a site with that domain name would do. It will be really fascinating to hear whether they get it or not. Do they come up with something that aligns with what it is that you want to do on that domain? Or do they come up with something completely different? Because that will be a signal that maybe your domain name isn’t as clear as you want it to be.

Another thing to consider for a brand perspective, but also again comes into the human element that I’ve already talked about, is the extension that you choose for your domain. An extension is the categories of internet domain, the most common one is .com, problogger.com. It represents the word commercial, that’s where the .com comes from, it’s the most common one that is used. Most businesses would prefer the .com domain because it’s highly recognizable as a symbol for having a business presence on the internet.

It’s also the most easy one to remember. What else I would recommend that you do choose a .com particularly if you’re going to have a global brand, if you are trying to reach people from around the world, there are other options there as well. There are some newer ones like .biz or .info or .me or .shop and the list could go on and on. You might wanna choose one of those if it does really relate to what you’re trying to do and if the .com is already gone and if you’re not gonna get yourself into legal trouble as well.

The other option is .com.au which is the local domain for Australia, it’s the local one. If you are trying to reach a local audience, that can be another way to go because again it will be familiar and memorable for people from that local audience. It’s also, from my experience, gonna help you to rank a little better in google.com.au, the local Google, from an SEO perspective. You might wanna consider some of those localized domains as well.

This is another mistake that I made, if you wanna put it that way. When I started, problogger.com was taken. Someone was squatting on problogger.com. They had the idea to set up, I think it was gonna be a hosting company and they never actually went with it. Once I approached them initially to buy it, they were interested in selling it that time. Because they weren’t using it, I thought legally I was able to use that word so I registered problogger.net. Once that worked, .net is relatively familiar to people, it was relatively easy for people to remember.

I did see a lot of people linking to that other domain. It wasn’t until years later that I bought problogger.com then things got so much easier in terms of that memorability and the building of the brand as well. I don’t know if people see .com a little bit more credible source as well, that impacts your brand.

The other thing that you wanna consider from a brand perspective and also from a legal perspective which we’ll talk about a little later is that you want uniqueness with your brand. You don’t want to have a brand name that is a copy of someone else’s, that will definitely get you into legal trouble if they registered it and you can run into some issues there. You also don’t want something too similar to someone else as well because it’s going to be confusing for your readers. If you choose something that’s already an established brand and you do something very similar to that, people could accuse you of copying them as well. Do some research on Google to see what different blogs and other businesses are already out there on similar domains to you.

Just because you can get the domain doesn’t mean it’s a good idea if you are choosing something that’s too similar. Google it, look on sites like bloglovin.com to find out who’s blogging under what names. Sometimes people actually have a blog called something on a different domain. They may not have registered the domain but they actually call their blog the exact same thing for some reason. Which is partly their fault – they should’ve registered the domain. Again, it could get you into trouble there, it could end up being a bit of a bun fight. Just make sure you’re not doing something too similar.

The other thing in terms of uniqueness is making sure your domain name is available on other social media sites as well. You want to check on Twitter and Facebook just to see who else is using that name and to register that as well. There’s a shortcut for this, I think it’s a site called KnowEm which is a good domain name in some ways – it’s k-n-o-w-e-m dot com, but it’s a bit of a cryptic domain name as well. Maybe an example of one that is cool on some levels, KnowEm, but it’s also hard to remember. As far as I know, that site will also help you to check whether different brands are available on social networking sites.

The human perspective was number one. The brand perspective is number two. The third perspective you wanna think about is SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Just about everyone is looking to rank really well on Google, and to help you to rank well in Google you can choose a domain name that is gonna help you to do that. Some people don’t really consider SEO at all and they end up with a clever, funny, cryptic domain name, and perhaps KnowEm is a good example of that. It’s a domain that is being chosen, I suspect more, for the uniqueness and for the branding side of things. It’s not gonna help that company to rank in Google from a keyword perspective. This is a choice that you need to make if you want to rank in Google. If you want your domain to help you to rank in Google, you want to be choosing a domain that does have some keywords in it that you want to rank for. The words in your domain can help with that.

Again, you don’t wanna put SEO first. You don’t wanna put it at the expense of the human and the brand because you could have a domain that’s got all your keywords in it but it might be really long and really hard to remember, really confusing for people. That’s probably not ideal unless you just want search traffic. You wanna get the balance right in this. But it is important to think about SEO, and what impact the words in your domain can have upon that SEO.

Digital Photography School was what I wanted to rank for as I began to think about what I wanted to rank for. I wanted Digital Photography in there, particularly I wanted to communicate there were a teaching site. Google is smart enough to know that school means teaching. It helped us with that. I also did a little bit of keyword research and found that the people were searching for the words photography school. I knew there were some search traffic to be gained from having that as well.

Think about the words that you wanna be found for. If you can incorporate them in, that can really help as well. Another SEO thing that you might wanna think about is just check whether the domain that you’re about to buy has previously been registered. Sometimes spammers buy out domain names or people who are doing dodgy things on the internet and then they abandon them later once they’ve used them up. That abandoned domain name may have been looked down upon by Google. they may have been banned by Google. They may have been penalized by Google and that may be still hanging onto that domain name.

You don’t wanna get a domain name that has been previously used in a bad way because Google is gonna look at that and go, “They’re back again.” Some of that may have an ongoing impact with you. You can buy domains that have been previously used. There may even be some benefits of doing that because they may have been used in a good way and there may be links coming in from other sites to that site. But if it’s been used in a bad way, that can have a bit of a negative thing.

Thinking about keywords, a good exercise to do is really just to get a piece of paper and to brainstorm the words that people might be typing into Google to find the site that you’re looking at. You want to be particularly paying attention on choosing for your domain name, the broadest, biggest keywords of your site. You don’t wanna get too nichey with the words. If you are going to write about digital photography, you ideally want digital photography in the words. If you’re talking about blogging, you want ‘blogging’ or ‘blogger’ or ‘blogs’ or that type of word in there.

You don’t wanna get too nichey, you don’t want to be bringing in all the keywords that you might ever possibly use because when you write a blog post, those words will start to appear in the extension that’s added to your domain name. If I write on Problogger a post about SEO, problogger.com/tips-seo will naturally come in there if I want it to. Those nichey words will be added to your domain name as you write blog post. You wanna think about the broad words that you wanna be found for. Don’t get too nichey there.

You certainly don’t want a domain name like Digital Photography School Portraits, Fashion and Travel. That’s just too long, it breaks all those other rules we’ve got. Google is also gonna think that you’re keyword stuffing as well. Think about the broad words if you can. Is your site about recipes? You probably want the word ‘recipe’ in there. Is the site about fashion? Words like ‘style’ or ‘fashion’ and some of those bigger words will work. You don’t wanna get too nichey with them.

The other thing I’d say is don’t get too caught up about the keywords, Google isn’t as fooled as much as it used to be from what I can see. There are factors that Google certainly looks at the words, but it’s not the be all and end all. It is harder and harder to get those keywords into domains these days because there are so many out there. If you can do it, that would be great. I think it’s probably more important to have brandability and thinking about human. You can always get those words into your URLs by writing about those topics in your blog posts.

The last perspective to think about is the legal perspective. I wanna state up front, I’m not a lawyer, this is not a legal advice, putting that right out there. You do wanna think about copyright and trademark and particularly be looking at what other people are using already and copying it as I’ve already talked about. It’s gonna cost you a lot of time and money and heartache if you’re sued for infringement later because you started trading as a company with the same name or too similar a name to someone else. Copyright is really important to think about.

Check and recheck other blogs, other sites, other company names before you register your domain. Don’t just rush and buy a domain and start blogging under that name. You wanna really be thinking about it. You can also check trademark business names in your local area. If you’re in the US, you can check out who owns what in terms of copyright at copyright.gov or uspto.gov. Patent trademark office might even be worth looking at if you’re in Australia. I’ve got some links for you in the show notes today as well. Just simply doing some Googling and looking on Bloglovin and Facebook and Twitter will give a sense for is there anyone using that very similar names to you. That will really help a lot.

Include that last one in thinking about the domain name, because I hate for you to register something that’s great for humans and branding and SEO only to find out that someone’s already done that and you’re gonna be sued. You don’t wanna do that.

One more thing that I’ll mention are a few tools that you might wanna check out to help you with the domain name registration process. One I mentioned earlier was KnowEm, which is a great little tool that you just pop in the name of your blogs, you put in ProGlogger, you hit the check it button and it will check with 500 social networks. Other places like the USPTO trademark database to check your brand, and to work out whether other people are using it already.

It would check sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress. It checks Flickr, Delicious. It’s gonna check a lot of different social networks including the main ones like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Medium as well, that’s one tool. The link to that is in today’s show notes.

Another one that I have used, and I’ve used this for years now, is Nameboy. It is a domain name generator. You put in the primary word that you wanna rank for, so you might put in ‘blogging’ if you are doing a blog about blogging and then a secondary word, so ‘pro’ or ‘professional’.

It basically spits out lots of different options and you can have a couple of different things, you can do ‘allow hyphens’ which we’ve talked about. No, that’s not been the best thing to do, or you can allow rhyming words as well. It will then spit out some words and it will tell you most importantly, this is really important if you are doing a lot of potential things. It will tell you which ones are available. It will give you some options for buying them as well. You pop in your words and it will come out with all the different variations.

I just typed in ProBlogger and I can see that problogger is taken, problogger.com is taken, problogger.net is taken, problogger.org is taken, problogger.info is taken, all the probloggers are taken but it comes out with other words, pro@home.info is available or bloggepro is available, which probably you wouldn’t want because it’s not that memorable. But it gives you some different options. It looks at different words that you might want to do, so pro something is available if you wanted that.

Have a play with that, it is hard to find them these days but it’ll give you some options there. It also gives you the ones that are up for auction as well. It will give you an idea of what price you might need to pay for some of those. That was Nameboy and KnowEm.

The other one I would just say in terms of where to register, there are plenty of places you can register domains today. I’ve always done it through GoDaddy, I know some people love GoDaddy, some people don’t. It’s just where I do it and I keep all of mine, I’ve got a lot of domains that I bought over the years that I haven’t actually used, probably need to do a bit of a cleanse there. I like to just have them under one place, I don’t want to be buying domains in lots of different places. There are other options out there. You can find those links in today’s show notes.

The last thing I’ll say is what I’ve said is not hard and fast, apart from that [00:33:43], I think that’s hard and fast. I’ve made some bad decisions in this, I have digital-photography- I can’t even say it because I’ve got hyphens in it. I’ve made a mistake but that site gets 4 million people a month to it, it’s done okay because the content is good and because I’ve worked harder building community and I’ve worked harder building the brand. Whilst it’s not a perfect domain, I’ve worked harder on other things.

It’s the other things that are really gonna be the key to your success, it’s not your domain name. It’s not going to be the single key, it’s one of the things that’s gonna help you. You may have made a mistake already, that’s okay as long as it’s not an illegal mistake. Do pay attention to it if can.

The other thing I’ll say is all the things I’ve talked about, you’re never gonna get something that’s perfect on all fronts. You do need to make some compromises there, occasionally you might find something that’s great for humans, branding, SEO and legal. Most cases, you’re probably gonna find something that’s better for branding and not so great for SEO or maybe it’s great for SEO but it’s not so good for the human. You gotta make some compromises around that. Personally if I was making choices today, I’d be thinking about the human and branding more so than SEO. I think SEO is great to think about if you can but it can be worked on in terms of the blog post that you do and choosing keywords in your blog titles, that type of thing.

There’s more to your blog’s success than the domain names but make a wise choice as you do. Hopefully some of what I’ve talked about today is gonna help you in that regard. Today’s show notes are over at problogger.com/podcast/217. You can find the links there for some of those legal things, those legal checks that you might wanna do. You’ll also find the original article that Stacey Roberts wrote that I based today’s podcast on.

Also, the thing I would say is if you are starting a blog or you’re thinking about starting a blog, we’ve got a resource coming out for you in the coming month. It’ll probably come out late December, early January actually. It’s gonna walk you through how to start a blog and it’s gonna be more than anything we’ve ever done before. It’s actually gonna walk you through in great detail. What I’ve talked about today is actually gonna be part of that little course we’re putting together.

If you are thinking of starting a blog early next year for 2018, hit to out show notes today and subscribe to our newsletter. We will notify you when that resource is ready late this year, early next year. I really look forward to launching that because it’s gonna be a resource, it’s gonna help a lot of people. If you think you’re starting a blog, head over to the problogger.com/podcast/217 and subscribe. There’ll be an option there for you to subscribe to the newsletter and we will let you know as soon as that course is ready to go, it’s free, free course, completely free.

I look forward to launching that, that’s bit of a teaser of what’s coming on Problogger. Hopefully this helps you. I’d love to hear any other things that you would add to the advice if you’ve already started a blog, you can head to the show notes and add a comment, give your own advice there or you can do it over in the Problogger Community Facebook Group. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week in Episode 218 of the Problogger podcast. Have a great week.

The post 217: 4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How Google AdWords (PPC) Does and Doesn’t Affect Organic Results – Whiteboard Friday

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/TdWysm_hiWU/how-google-adwords-ppc-affects-organic-results

Posted by randfish

It’s common industry knowledge that PPC can have an effect on our organic results. But what effect is that, exactly, and how does it work? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the ways paid ads influence organic results — and one very important way it doesn’t.

How Google AdWords does and doesn't affect Organic Results

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about AdWords and how PPC, paid search results can potentially impact organic results.
Now let’s be really clear. As a rule…

Paid DOES NOT DIRECTLY affect organic rankings

So many of you have probably seen the conspiracy theories out there of, “Oh, we started spending a lot on Goolge AdWords, and then our organic results went up.” Or, “Hey, we’re spending a lot with Google, but our competitor is spending even more. That must be why they’re ranking better in the organic results.” None of that is true. So there’s a bunch of protections in place. They have a real wall at Google between the paid side and the organic side. The organic folks, the engineers, the product managers, the program managers, all of the people who work on those organic ranking results on the Search Quality team, they absolutely will not let paid directly impact how they rank or whether they rank a site or page in the organic results.

However:But there are a lot of indirect things that Google doesn’t control entirely that cause paid and organic to have an intersection, and that’s what I want to talk about today and make clear.

A. Searchers who see an ad may be more likely to click and organic listing.

Searchers who see an ad — and we’ve seen studies on this, including a notable one from Google years ago — may be more likely to click on an organic listing, or they may be more likely if they see a high ranking organic listing for the same ad to click that ad. For example, let’s say I’m running Seattle Whale Tours, and I search for whale watching while I’m in town. I see an ad for Seattle Whale Tours, and then I see an organic result. It could be the case, let’s say that my normal click-through rate, if there was only the ad, was one, and my normal click-through rate if I only saw the organic listing was one. Let’s imagine this equation: 1 plus 1 is actually going to equal something like 2.2. It’s going to be a little bit higher, because seeing these two together biases you, biases searchers to generally be more likely to click these than they otherwise would independent of one another. This is why many people will bid on their brand ads.

Now, you might say, “Gosh, that’s a really expensive way to go for 0.2 or even lower in some cases.” I agree with you. I don’t always endorse, and I know many SEOs and paid search folks who don’t always endorse bidding on branded terms, but it can work.

B. Searchers who’ve been previously exposed to a site/brand via ads may be more likely to click>engage>convert.

Searchers who have been previously exposed to a particular brand through paid search may be more likely in the future to click and engage on the organic content. Remember, a higher click-through rate, a higher engagement rate can lead to a higher ranking. So if you see that many people have searched in the past, they’ve clicked on a paid ad, and then later in the organic results they see that same brand ranking, they might be more likely and more inclined to click it, more inclined to engage with it, more inclined actually to convert on that page, to click that Buy button generally because the brand association is stronger. If it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of a new brand, a new company, a new website, you are less likely to click, less likely to engage, less likely to buy, which is why some paid exposure prior to organic exposure can be good, even for the organic exposure.

C. Paid results do strongly impact organic click-through rate, especially in certain queries.

Across the board, what we’ve seen is that paid searches on average, in all of Google, gets between 2% and 3% of all clicks, of all searches result in a paid click. Organic, it’s something between about 47% and 57% of all searches result in an organic click. But remember there are many searches where there are no paid clicks, and there are many searches where paid gets a ton of traffic. If you haven’t seen it yet, there was a blog post from Moz last week, from the folks at Wayfair, and they talked about how incredibly their SERP click-through rates have changed because of the appearance of ads.

So, for example, I search for dining room table lighting, and you can see on your mobile or on desktop how Google has these rich image ads, and you can sort of select different ones. I want to see all lighting. I want to see black lighting. I want to see chrome lighting. Then there are ads below that, the normal paid text ads, and then way, way down here, there are the organic results.

So this is probably taking up between 25% and 50% of all the clicks to this page are going to the paid search results, biasing the click-through rate massively, which means if you bid in certain cases, you may find that you will actually change the click-through rate curve for the entire SERP and change that click-through rate opportunity for the keyword.

D. Paid ad clicks may lead to increased links, mentions, coverage, sharing, etc. that can boost organic rankings.

So paid ad clicks may lead to other things. If someone clicks on a paid ad, they might get to that site, and then they might decide to link to it, to mention that brand somewhere else, to provide media coverage or social media coverage, to do sharing of some kind. All of those things can — some of them directly, some of them indirectly — boost rankings. So it is often the case that when you grow the engagement, the traffic of a website overall, especially if that website is providing a compelling experience that someone might want to write about, share, cover, or amplify in some way, that can boost the rankings, and we do see this sometimes, especially for queries that have a strong overlap in terms of their content, value, and usefulness, and they’re not just purely commercial in intent.

E. Bidding on search queries can affect the boarder market around those searches by shifting searcher demand, incentivizing (or de-incentivizing) content creation, etc.

Last one, and this is a little subtler and more difficult to understand, but basically by bidding on paid search results, you sort of change the market. You affect the market for how people think about content creation there, for how they think about monetization, for how they think about the value of those queries.

A few years ago, there was no one bidding on and no one interested in the market around insurance discounts as they relate to fitness levels. Then a bunch of companies, insurance companies and fitness tracking companies and all these other folks started getting into this world, and then they started bidding on it, and they created sort of a value chain and a monetization method. Then you saw more competition. You saw more brands entering this space. You saw more affiliates entering. So the organic SERPs themselves became more competitive with the entry of paid, and this happens very often in markets that were under or unmonetized and then become more monetized through paid advertising, through products, through offerings.

So be careful. Sometimes when you start bidding in a space that previously no one was bidding in, no was buying paid ads in, you can invite a lot of new and interesting competition into the search results that can change the whole dynamic of how the search query space works in your sector.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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How to Build the Right Content Marketing Strategy for SEO Growth

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/-FrEUvaVBcY/build-content-marketing-strategy

Posted by AlliBerry3

Delivering content that best serves the needs of users is certainly top-of-mind for many SEOs since the Hummingbird algorithm update and subsequent buzz around RankBrain. It sounds easy enough in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? Many SEOs believe that they’re already doing this by driving their content strategy by virtue of keyword research alone.

The problem with solely using keywords to drive your content strategy is that not all of your audience’s content needs are captured in search. Ask your nearest customer service representative what questions they answer every day; I can guarantee that you won’t find all of those questions with search volume in a keyword research tool.

Keyword research can also tempt you to develop content that your brand really shouldn’t be creating because you don’t have anything unique to say about it. Sure, you could end up increasing organic traffic, but are those going to be converting customers?

Moving away from a keyword-first-driven content strategy and into an audience-centric one will put you in a better place for creating SEO content that converts. Don’t get me wrong — there’s still an important place for keyword research. But it belongs later in the process, after you’ve performed a deep dive into your audience and your own brand expertise.

This is an approach that the best content marketers excel at. And it’s something that SEOs can utilize, too, as they strive to provide more relevant and higher-quality content for your target audiences.

How is an audience-focused content strategy different from a keyword-focused content strategy?

A content marketing strategy starts with the target audience and dives deeper into understanding your brand’s expertise and unique value proposition. Keyword research is great at uncovering how people talk about topics relevant to your brand, but it is limiting when it comes to audience understanding.

Think about one of your prospective customer’s journey to conversion. Is search the only channel they utilize to get information? If you are collecting lead information or serving up remarketing ads, hopefully not. So, why should your audience understanding be limited to keyword research?

A content strategy is a holistic plan that tackles questions like:

Who is my audience? What are their pain points and needs? What types of content do these people want to consume? Where are they currently having conversations (online or offline) What unique expertise does our brand offer? How can we match our expertise to our audience’s needs? Finding your unique content angle

The key to connecting with your audience is to develop your unique content angle that finds intersections between what your brand’s expertise is in and your audience’s pain points. The Content Marketing Institute refers to this as a “content tilt” because it involves taking a larger topic and tilting it in your own way. Defining your brand’s expertise can be more difficult than it appears on the surface.

It isn’t uncommon for brands to say their product is what makes them unique, but if there is a competitor out there with the same general product, it’s not unique. What makes your organization different from competitors?

Here’s an example

When I worked for Kaplan Financial Education, a professional licensing and exam prep provider brand under Kaplan Professional, finding our tilt was a real challenge. Kaplan Financial Education has a lot of product lines all within financial services, but the audience for each is different. We needed a tilt that worked for the entire Career Corner content hub we were creating. What we realized is that our core audience all has a big pain point in common: entering the financial services industry either through insurance or securities (selling stocks and bonds) has low barriers to entry and high turnover. Everyone entering that job market needs to know how to not only pass their licensing exam(s), but also be successful as professionals too, both in the early years and also in the years to come.

Kaplan Financial Education’s biggest content competitors create very factual content — they’re websites like Investopedia, Wikipedia, and governing bodies like FINRA and state government departments. But Kaplan Financial Education has something going for it that its competitors do not: a huge network of students. There are other licensing exam prep providers that compete with Kaplan Financial Education, but none that cover the same breadth of exams and continuing education. It’s the only brand in that industry that provides licensing education as individuals progress through their financial careers. “From hire to retire,” as the marketers say.

We made our content tone more conversational and solicited input from our huge student and instructor network to help new professionals be more successful. We also used their quotes and insights to drive content creation and make it more relatable and personalized. All of our content tied back to helping financial professionals be successful — either as they’re getting licensed or beyond — and rather than simply telling people what to do, we leveraged content to allow our current students and instructors to teach our prospective students.

You may be thinking… so I can only write content that fits in this tilt? Isn’t that limiting?

As SEOs, it can be really hard to let go of some keyword opportunities that exist if they don’t fit the content strategy. And it’s true that there are probably some keywords out there you could create content for and increase your organic traffic. But if they don’t fit with your target audience’s needs and your brand’s expertise, will it be the kind of traffic that’s going to convert? Likely not. Certainly not enough to spend resources on content creation and to distract yourself from your larger strategy objective.

How to build your content strategy1. Set your goals.

Start at the end. What is you are ultimately trying to accomplish? Do you want to increase leads by a certain percentage? Do you want to drive a certain number increase in sales? Are you trying to drive subscribers to a newsletter? Document these goals first. This will help you figure out what type of content you want to create and what the calls-to-action should be.

If you’re a business like Kaplan and leads are your ultimate goal, a proven strategy is to create ungated content that provides good insights, but leaves room for a deeper dive. Have your calls-to-action point to a gated piece of content requiring some form of contact information that goes into more depth.

A business like a car dealership is going to have a primary goal of getting people into their dealership to buy a car. Their content doesn’t necessarily need to be gated, but it should have a local spin and speak to common questions people have about the car buying process, as well as show the human elements that make the dealership unique to establish trust and show how customers will be treated. Trust is especially important in that industry because they have to combat the used car salesman stereotype.

2. Identify your primary audience and their pain points.

The next step is to identify who you’re targeting with your content. There are a lot of people at your disposal to help you with this part of the process. Within your organization, consider talking to these teams:

Customer Service Sales Technical Support Product Management Product Marketing Social Media Marketing

These are often the people who interact the most with customers. Find out what your audience is struggling with and what content could be created to help answer their questions. You can also do some of this research on your own by searching forums and social media. Subreddits within Reddit related to your topic can be a goldmine. Other times there are active, related groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. If you’ve ever been to the MozCon Facebook group, you know how much content could be created answering common questions people have related to SEO.

3. Determine your brand’s unique expertise.

Again, dig deeper and figure out what makes your brand truly unique. It likely isn’t the product itself. Think about who your subject matter experts are and how they contribute to the organization. Think about how your products are developed.

Even expertise that may seem boring on the surface can be extremely valuable. I’ve seen Marcus Sheridan speak a couple of times and he has one of the most compelling success stories I’ve ever heard about not being afraid to get too niche with expertise. He had a struggling swimming pool installation business until he started blogging. He knew his expertise was in pools — buying fiberglass pools, specifically. He answered every question he could think of related to that buying process and became the world thought leader on fiberglass pools. Is it a glamorous topic? No. But, it’s helpful to the exact audience he wanted to reach. There aren’t hundreds of thousands of people searching for fiberglass pool information online, but the ones that are searching are the ones he wanted to capture. And he did.

4. Figure out your content tilt.

Now put your answers for #2 and #3 together and figure out what your unique content angle will look like.

5. Develop a list of potential content topics based on your content tilt.

It’s time to brainstorm topics. Now that you know your content tilt, it’s a lot easier to come up with topics your brand should be creating content about. Plus, they’re topics you know your audience cares about! This is a good step to get other people involved from around your organization, from departments like sales, product management, and customer service. Just make sure your content tilt is clear to them prior to the brainstorm to ensure you don’t get off-course.

6. Conduct keyword research.

Now that you’ve got a list of good content topics, it’s time to really dive into long-tail keyword research and figure out the best keyword targets around the topics.

There are plenty of good tools out there to help you with this. Here are a few of my go-tos:

Moz Keyword Explorer (freemium): If you have it, it’s a great tool for uncovering keywords as questions, looking at the keyword competitive landscape, and finding other related keywords to your topic. Keywordtool.io (free): One of the only keyword discovery tools out there that will give you keyword research by search engine. If you are looking for YouTube or App Store keywords, for instance, this is a great idea generation tool. Ubersuggest.io (free): Type in one keyword and Ubersuggest will give you a plethora of other ideas organized in a list alphabetically or in a word cloud. 7. Create an editorial calendar.

Based on your keyword research findings, develop an editorial calendar for your content. Make sure to include what your keyword target(s) are so if you have someone else developing the content, they know what is important to include in it.

Here are a couple resources to check out for getting started:

HubSpot’s free editorial calendar templates (Google Sheet or Excel) Content Marketing Institute’s free editorial calendar template (Google Sheet) 8. Determine how to measure success.

Once you know what content you’re going to create, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll measure success. Continuing on with the Kaplan example, lead generation was our focus. So, we focused our efforts on measuring leads to our gated content and conversions of those leads to sales over a certain time period. We also measured organic entrances to our ungated content. If our organic entrances were growing (or not growing) disproportionate to our leads, then we’d take deeper dives into what individual pieces of content were converting well and what pieces were not, then make tweaks accordingly.

9. Create content!

Now that all the pieces are there, it’s time to do the creation work. This is the fun part! With your content tilt in mind and your keyword research completed, gather the information or research you need and outline what you want the content to look like.

Take this straightforward article called How to Get Your Series 7 License as an example. To become a registered representative (stockbroker), you have to pass this exam. The primary keyword target here is: Series 7 license. It’s an incredibly competitive keyword with between 2.9K–4.3K monthly searches, according to the Keyword Explorer tool. Other important semantically related keywords include: how to get the Series 7 license, Series 7 license requirements, Series 7 Exam, General Securities Registered Representative license, and Series 7 license pass rate.

Based on our content tilt and competitive landscape for the primary keyword, it made the most sense to make this into a how-to article explaining the process in non-jargon terms to someone just starting in the industry. We perfectly exact-match each keyword target, but the topics are covered well enough for us to rank on the front page for all but one of them. Plus, we won the Google Answer Box for “how to get your Series 7 license.” We also positioned ourselves well for anticipated future searches around a new licensing component called the SIE exam and how it’ll change the licensing process.

Once you’ve created your content and launched it, like with any SEO work, you will have a lag before you see any results. Be sure to build a report or dashboard based on your content goals so you can keep track of the performance of your content on a regular basis. If you find that the growth isn’t there after several months, it is a good idea to go back through the content strategy and assess whether you’ve got your tilt right. Borrowing from Joe Pulizzi, ask yourself: “What if our content disappeared? Would it leave a gap in the marketplace?” If the answer is no, then it’s definitely time to revisit your tilt. It’s the toughest piece to get right, but once you do, the results will follow.

If you’re interested in more discussion on content marketing and SEO, check out the newest MozPod podcast. Episode 8, SEO & Content Strategy:

Listen to the podcast


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What is Banner Blindness?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/P6B-OUmZ-Ho/

what is banner blindness

A term used in online advertising to describe the ineffectiveness of banner advertisements due to their oversaturation and lack of intent-based messaging. Some say the term “banner blindness” is outdated. As if there was a point in internet history when banner advertisements started to disappear. Yeah, right.. If anything, banner ads and online advertisements are more prevalent than ever. We have more internet users than ever, and more forms of online advertising than ever. How many of you have skipped a YouTube video ad? How many of you use ad blocking software? How many of you have clicked “X” on…

The post What is Banner Blindness? appeared first on The Daily Egg.


Countdown to Launch: How to Come Up with Great Testing Ideas

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/g-lOrEV6KtE/how-to-come-up-with-great-testing-ideas

Posted by ChrisDayley

Whether you are working on a landing page or the homepage of your website, you may be asking yourself, “Why aren’t people converting? What elements are helping or hurting my my user experience?”

Those are good questions.

When it comes to website or landing page design, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of potential elements to test. And that’s before you start testing how different combinations of elements affect performance.

Launching a test

The good news is, after running thousands of tests for websites in almost every industry you can imagine, we’ve created a simple way to quickly identify the most important areas of opportunity on your site or landing page.

We call this approach the “launch analysis”.

Why? Well, getting someone to convert is a lot like trying to launch a rocket into outer space. To succeed in either situation, you need to generate enough momentum to overcome any resistance.

To get a rocket into orbit, the propulsion and guidance systems have to overcome gravity and air friction. To get a potential customer to convert, your CTA, content and value proposition have to overcome any diversions, anxiety or responsiveness issues on your site.

So, if you really want your conversion rate to “take off” (see what I did there?), you need to take a hard look at each of these six factors.

Prepping for launch

Before we dive into the launch analysis and start testing, it’s important to take a moment to review 3 important testing factors. After all, no matter how good your analysis is, if your test is fundamentally broken, you’ll never make any progress.

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you dive into the launch analysis:

What is my business question?

Every good website or landing page test should answer some sort of important business question. These are usually open-ended questions like “how much content should be on the page to maximize conversions?” or “what does the best-converting above-the-fold experience look like?”

If your test is designed to answer a fundamental business question, every test is a success. Even if your new design doesn’t outperform the original, your test still helps get you get some data around what really matters to your audience.

What is my hypothesis?

Where your business question may be relatively broad, your testing hypothesis should be very specific. A good hypothesis should be an if/then statement that answers the business question (if we do X, Y will happen).

So, if your business question is “how much content should be on the page?”, your hypothesis might be: “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, mobile conversions will increase.” (If you’re interested, this is actually something we studied at Disruptive Advertising.)

What am I measuring?

We hinted at this in the last section, but every good test needs a defined, measurable success metric. For example, “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, people will like our content more” is a perfectly valid hypothesis, but it would be incredibly difficult to define or measure, which would make our test useless.

When it comes to online advertising, there are tons of well-defined, actually measurable metrics you can use (link clicks, time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, cart abandonment rate, etc.) to determine success or failure. Pick one that makes sense and use it to measure the results of your test.

The launch analysis and countdown

Now that we have the testing basics out of the way, we can dive into the launch analysis. When performing a launch analysis on a page of your site, it is critical that you try to look at your page objectively, and identify potential opportunities instead of immediately jumping into things you need to change. Testing is about discovering what your audience wants, not about making assumptions.

With that being said, let’s countdown to launch!

6. Value proposition

To put it simply, your value proposition is what motivates potential customers to buy.

Have you ever wanted something really badly? Badly enough that you spent days, weeks, or even months figuring out how to get it for an affordable price? If you want something badly enough (or, in other words, if the value proposition is good enough), you’ll conquer any obstacle to get it.

This same principle applies to your website. If you can really sell people on your value proposition, they’ll be motivated enough to overcome a lot of potential obstacles (giving their personal information, dealing with poor navigation, etc.).

For example, a while back, we were helping a college optimize the following page on their site:

It wasn’t a bad page to begin with, but we believed there was opportunity to test some stronger value propositions. “Get Started on the Right Path: Prepare yourself for a better future by earning your degree from Pioneer Pacific College” doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?

There’s a reason for that.

In business terms, your value proposition can be described as “motivation = perceived benefits – perceived costs.” Pioneer Pacific’s value proposition made it sound like going to all the work to get a degree from their college was just the beginning of a long, hard process. Not only that, but it wasn’t really hitting on any of the potential pain points an aspiring student might have.

In this particular case, the value proposition minimized the perceived benefits while maximizing the perceived costs. That’s not a great way to get someone to sign up.

With that in mind, we decided to try something different. We hypothesized that focusing on the monetary benefits of earning a degree (increased income) would increase the perceived benefits and talking about paying for a degree as an investment would decrease the perceived cost.

So, we rewrote the copy in the box to reflect our revised value proposition and tested it:

As you can see above, simply tweaking the value proposition increased form fills by 49.5%! The form didn’t change, but because our users were more motivated by the value proposition, they were more willing to give out their information.

Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with this essential step.

Some websites lack a clear value proposition. Others have a value proposition, but it makes potential customers think more about the costs than the benefits. Some have a good cost-benefit ratio, but the proposition is poorly communicated, and users struggle to connect with it.

So, if you’re running the launch analysis on your own site or landing page, start by taking a look at your value proposition. Is it easy to find and understand? Does it address the benefits and costs that your audience actually cares about? Could you potentially focus on different aspects of your value propositions to discover what your audience really cares about?

If you think there’s room for improvement, you’ve just identified a great testing opportunity!

5. Call to action

If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of a good call to action (CTA), so it should come as no surprise that the CTA is a key part of the launch analysis.

In terms of our rocket analogy, your CTA is a lot like a navigation system for your potential customers. All the rocket fuel in the world won’t get you to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going.

In that regard, it’s important to remember that your CTA typically needs to be very explicit (tell them what to do and/or what to expect). After all, your potential customers are depending on your CTA to navigate them to their destination.

For example, another one of our clients was trying to increase eBook downloads. Their original CTA read “Download Now”, but we hypothesized that changing the CTA to emphasize speed might improve their conversion rate.

So, we rephrased the CTA to read “Instant Download” instead. As it turned out, this simple change to the CTA increased downloads by 12.6%!

The download was just as instantaneous in both cases; but, simply by making it clear that users would get immediate access to this content, we were able to drive a lot more conversions.

Of course, there is such a thing as being too explicit. While people want to know what to do next, they also like to feel like they are in the driver’s seat, so sometimes soft CTAs like “Get More Information” can deliver better results than a more direct CTA like “Request a Free Demo Today!”

As you start to play around with CTA testing ideas, it’s important to remember the 2-second rule: If a user can’t figure out what they are supposed to do within two seconds, something needs to change.

To see if your CTA follows this rule, ask a friend or a coworker who has never seen your page or site before to look at it for two seconds and then ask them what they think they are supposed to do next. If they don’t have a ready answer, you just discovered another testing opportunity.

Case in point: On the page below, a client of ours was trying to drive phone calls with the CTA on the right. From a design perspective, the CTA fit the color scheme of the page nicely, but it didn’t really draw much attention.

Since driving calls was a big deal for the client, we decided to revamp the CTA. We made the CTA a contrasting red color and expanded on the value proposition.

The result? Our new, eye-catching CTA increased calls by a whopping 83.8%.

So, if your CTA is hard to find, consider changing the size, location and/or color. If your CTA is vague, try being more explicit (or vice versa). If your CTA doesn’t have a clear value proposition, find a way to make the benefits of converting more obvious. The possibilities are endless.

4. Content

Like your value proposition, your content is a big motivating factor for your users. In fact, great content is how you sell people on your value proposition, so content can make or break your site.

The only problem is, as marketers and business owners, we have a tendency towards egocentrism. There are so many things that we love about our business and that make it special that we often overwhelm users with content that they frankly don’t care about.

Or, alternatively, we fail to include content that will help potential customers along in the conversion process because it isn’t a high priority to us.

To really get the most out of your content, you have to lay your ego and personal preference aside and ask yourself questions like:

How much content do my users want?What format do they want the content in?Do mobile and desktop users want different amounts of content?

As a quick example of this, we were working with a healthcare client (an industry that is notoriously long-winded) to maximize eBook downloads on the following page:

As you can see above, the original page included a table of contents-style description of what readers would get when they downloaded the guide.

We hypothesized that this sort of approach, with its wordy chapter titles and and formal feel, did not make the eBook seem like a user-friendly guide. There was so much content that it was hard to get a quick feel for what the eBook was actually about.

To address this, we tried boiling the copy down to a quick, easy-to-read summary of the eBook content:

Incredibly, paring the content down to a very simplified summary increased eBook downloads by 57.82%!

However, when it comes to content, less is not always more.

While working on a pop-up for Social Media Examiner, we tested a couple different variants of the following copy in an effort to increase eBook downloads and subscriptions:

Just like the preceding example, this copy was a bit wordy and hard to read. So, we tried turning the copy into bullet points…

…and even tried boiling it down to the bare essentials:

However, when the test results came in, both of these variants had a lower conversion rate than the original, word-dense content!

These results fly in the face of the whole “less is more” dogma marketers love to preach, which just goes to show how important it is to test your content.

So, when it comes to content, don’t be afraid to try cutting things down. But, you might also try bulking things up in some places — provided that your content is focused on what your potential customers want and need, not just your favorite talking points. Our suggestion: challenge whatever you have on your site. Try less, more, and different variations of the same. It should ultimately be up to your audience!

3. Diversions

Unfortunately, having a great value proposition, CTA and content doesn’t guarantee you a great conversion rate. To get a rocket to its destination, the launch team has to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Same goes for the launch analysis.

Now that we’ve talked about how to maximize motivation, it’s time to talk about ways to reduce obstacles and friction points on your site or page that may be keeping people from converting, starting with diversions.

When it comes to site testing, diversions could be anything that has the potential to distract your user from reaching their destination. Contrasting buttons, images, other offers, menus, links, content, pop ups…like cloud cover on launch day, if it leads people off course, it’s a diversion.

For example, take a look at the page below. There are 5 major elements on the page competing for your attention – none of which are a CTA to view the product – and that’s just above the fold!

What did this client really want people to do? Watch a video? Read a review? Look at the picture? Read the Q&A? Visit their cart?

As it turns out, the answer is “none of the above”.

What the client really wanted was for people to come to their site, look at their products and make a purchase. But, with all the diversions on their site, people were getting lost before they even had a chance to see the client’s products.

To put the focus where it belonged—on the products—we tried eliminating all of the diversions by redesigning the site experience to focus on product call to actions. That way, when people came to the page, they immediately saw Cobra’s products and a simple CTA that said “Shop Our Products”.

The new page design increased revenue (not just conversions) by 69.2%!

We’ve seen similar results with many of our eCommerce clients. For example, we often test to see how removing different elements and offers from a client’s homepage affects their conversion rates (this is called “existence testing”).

Existence testing is one of the easiest, fastest ways to discover what is distracting from conversions and what is helping conversions. If you remove something from your page and conversion rates go down, that item is helpful to the conversion process. If you remove something and conversion rates go up – Bingo! You found a distraction.

The GIF below shows you how this works. Essentially, you just remove a page element and then see which version of the page performs better. Easy enough, right?

For this particular client, we tested to see how removing 8 different elements from their home page would affect their revenue. As it turned out, 6 of the 8 elements were actually decreasing their revenue!

By eliminating those elements during our test, their revenue-per-visit (RPV) increased by 59%.

Why? Well, once again, we discovered things that were diversions to the user experience (as it turns out, the diversions were other products!).

If you’re curious to see how different page or site elements affect your conversion rate, existence testing can be a great way to go. Simply create a page variant without the element in question and see what happens!

2. Anxiety

Ever have that moment when you’re driving a car and you suddenly get hit by a huge gust of wind? What happens to your heart rate?

Now imagine you’re piloting a multi-billion dollar rocket…

Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or an office chair, anxiety is never a good thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to your site, people are already in a state of high alert. Anything that adds to their stress level (clicking on something that isn’t clickable, feeling confused or swindled) may lead to you losing a customer.

Of course, anxiety-inducing elements on a website are typically more subtle than hurricane-force winds on launch day. It might be as simple as an unintuitive user interface, an overly long form or a page element that doesn’t do what the user expects.

As a quick example, one of our eCommerce clients had a mobile page that forced users to scroll all the the way back up to the top of the page to make a purchase.

So, we decided to try a floating “Buy Now” button that people could use to quickly buy the item once they’d read all about it:

Yes, scrolling to the top of the page seems like a relatively small inconvenience, but eliminating this source of anxiety improved the conversion rate by 6.7%.

Even more importantly, it increased the RPV by $1.54.

Given the client’s traffic volume, this was a huge win!

As you can probably imagine, the less confusion, alarm, frustration and work your site creates for users, the more likely they are to convert.

When you get right down to it, conversion should be a seamless, almost brainless process. If a potential customer ever stops to think, “Wait, what?” on their journey to conversion, you’ve got a real problem.

To identify potential anxiety-inducing elements on your site or page, try going through the whole conversion process on your site (better yet, have someone else do it and describe their experience to you). Watch for situations or content that force you to think. Odds are, you’ve just discovered a testing opportunity.

1. Responsiveness

Finally, the last element of the launch analysis is responsiveness—specifically mobile responsiveness.

To be honest, mobile responsiveness is not the same thing as having a mobile responsive site, just like launching a rocket on a rainy day is not the same thing as launching a rocket on a clear day.

The days of making your site “mobile responsive” and calling it good are over. With well over half of internet searches taking place on mobile devices, the question you need to ask yourself isn’t “Is my site mobile responsive?” What you should be asking yourself is, “Is my site customized for mobile?”

For example, here is what one of our clients’ “mobile responsive” pages looks like:

While this page passed Google’s “mobile friendly” test, it wasn’t exactly a “user friendly” experience.

To fix that problem, we decided to test a couple of custom mobile pages:

The results were truly impressive. Both variants clearly outperformed the original “mobile responsive” design and the winning variant increased calls by 84% and booked appointments by 41%!

So, if you haven’t taken the time yet to create a custom mobile experience, you’re probably missing out on a huge opportunity. It might take a few tests to nail down the right design for your mobile users, but most sites can expect big results from a little mobile experience testing.

As you brainstorm ways to test your mobile experience, remember, your mobile users aren’t usually looking for the same things as your desktop users. Most mobile users have very specific goals in mind and they want it to be as easy as possible to achieve those goals.

Launch!

Well, that’s it! You’re ready for launch!

Go through your site or page and take a look at how what you can do to strengthen your value proposition, CTA and content. Then, identify things that may potentially be diversions, anxiety-inducing elements or responsiveness issues that are preventing people from converting.

By the time you finish your launch analysis, you should have tons of testing ideas to try. Put together a plan that focuses on your biggest opportunities or problems first and then refine from there. Happy testing!


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214: 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need to Talk About

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/_MQwliV_Dqo/

4 Difficult Realities All Bloggers Face

During a conference last year I was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers who had all been blogging for 5-10 years and were now doing it full-time.

It was a fun dinner, and we covered a lot of ground in terms of conversation. But during dessert the conversation got a little deeper as one of them began to share how they were struggling with their blog.

On their surface, their blogging was going okay. They had a great readership, and the content they were putting out was going well. But on the inside they felt disillusioned.

And as they continued their story, I looked around the table and saw a lot of nodding going on. Their story was resonating with us all.

I related to it a lot. Blogging can be hard sometimes, and it’s to become disillusioned.

As a blogger I’ve heard people rave about my, blog with comments like:

“You’re so prolific!” “How do you stay so productive?” “How did you write that way?”

But on the inside I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle blogging can be.

This podcast is largely positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog. But after reflecting on this conversation from last year it struck me that while I often talk up blogging, and share the benefits of doing it and the tactics of building profit, it may be worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff we face as content creators.

So in today’s episode I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us bloggers don’t always share.

Part of why I’m doing it is to give you a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. But I also think it’s important for us bloggers to realise that we’re not alone in facing some of these things. Being a little vulnerable with each other during that conversation last year seemed to lift our spirits a little. And out of the conversation came encouragement to keep at it.

So today I present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is it a definitive list – I could probably come up with a lot more for a part two – but I hope it’s helpful.

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Further Listening on 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need To Talk About 167: My Million Dollar Blog Post (and How Procrastination Almost Stopped me Writing It)

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view Hey there, and welcome to Episode 214 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and series of ebooks all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I wanna do something a little bit different. Last year, I was at a conference and was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers. They were bloggers who had all been blogging for 5 to 10 years, they were all full time at what they do. Relatively successful bloggers. It was a fun dinner; we laughed, we joked around, it was fairly lighthearted for the main. We covered a lot of ground in terms of our conversation.

Somewhere around the time that dessert was served, the conversation got a little bit deeper as one of our dinner party began to share that they were struggling with their blog. On the surface, this particular blogger’s blog was going okay; they had a great readership, they were producing lots of content, they had built a team, they had a beautiful design. It was all going well on the outside, but on the inside the blogger was feeling disillusioned.

As the blogger shared, I looked around the table and I saw that we were all nodding at the story. The story that the blog was telling was resonating with us all. I personally related a lot. There are times in blogging where it’s hard. There are times where it’s easy to get disillusioned. There are times as a blogger that I’ve heard people rave about my blog with comments like, “You’re so prolific” , “You’re so productive”, “How do you write like that?” But on the inside, I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle it can sometimes be.

This podcast is largely pretty positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog, but it struck me this week as I reflected upon that conversation that whilst I talk about blogging a lot, sometimes I don’t talk about the negative sides as well. Perhaps, it’s worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff that we as content creators face. In today’s episode, I want to go there. I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us as bloggers don’t always share. We like to present the positives and that’s great, but perhaps sometimes it’s worth going into these slightly darker and more personal, vulnerable places. I hope you allow me to do that today.

I want to do so partly to give a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. It’s not all bells and whistles. I also want to share it today because sometimes I think as bloggers, we think that we’re the only ones facing this kind of stuff. It struck me during that conversation with my blogging friends last year that simply by us each sharing about the tough stuff that we went away from that dinner with our spirits lifted a little bit more, slightly more energized and encouraged by one another’s stories.

Today, I want to present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is this a definitive list. I can probably come up with 40 of these things, and perhaps there will be a part two at some point. I hope in sharing these four things that whatever you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, you’ll be a little bit encouraged that you’re not alone and perhaps come away with some ideas about how to combat these four things.

Let’s get into the first tough things about blogging that we don’t often share.

The first thing that I want to talk about is that it’s hard to be creative every day. Content creation, when you’re doing it on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or even weekly, it’s hard sometimes. There are times where it just flows. There are times where you sit at the computer and ten blog posts just come out of you, or three podcasts, or you get so many ideas and you get into the flow. But there are also many times in the life of most bloggers where you sit at that screen and you wonder what it is that you should be writing about, or you feel like you and everyone else has already written on every topic that there is to write about in your niche, or you doubt whether you are the right person to be writing on that topic, whether you have the skills, or experience, or authority to really go there. Or where you struggle to get into the flow of writing, you’re just getting to that flow. Or where you’re fighting distractions or even boredom with the task at hand.

The reality is that it is sometimes hard. There are days where it does flow and there are many days where it doesn’t. I just want to acknowledge that as the first thing today. My tip for you, if that’s what you’re facing, there’s many other podcasts we’ve written, I’ve put together, on this particular topic but my main thing that I want to say to you today if that’s the place you’re in is to push through the pain. You need to know that hurting is an essential part of growing your creative muscles.

I’m sitting here at my desk today, I’m standing here actually, and my muscles are sore. My triceps are sore. I went to PT, my personal trainer, yesterday, and he worked my triceps and they hurt. It hurt at the time and it hurts today but I know that the result of that hurt is that I will have stronger triceps. I don’t think they’re ever going to be massive but I’m experiencing growth as a result of some of that pain.

The same thing is true of your creative muscles. Good things happen when you exercise that creative part of yourself. You need to push through that, you need to persist with that.

Get into the flow by creating something, anything. Sometimes, the hard bit is just starting out. But once you get going, once you push through that initial resistance, that’s where the energy comes, that’s where the ideas come, that’s where the creativity comes. Make creating a regular thing, schedule it into your day, into your week, and push through that regularity and repetition of creating something, anything, even if you don’t publish it. It’s part of getting into that flow.

Number two thing that I want to talk about is that first drafts are almost always bad. My favorite bloggers, they just seem to have this innate ability to put words together in such an amazing way that seems, as a reader, effortless. It looks almost like some sort of superpower. There’s a couple of bloggers that come to mind. Every time I read one of their articles, I just feel alive as a reader. It’s amazing, they have this incredible gift.

The reality is that behind the scenes, the article that you’re wowing over usually starts out nothing like its finished, public version. The article probably started out as a hastily scribbled bullet point list on the back of a napkin, or them jotting something down into a notes app on their iPhone. It was probably then turned into a first draft that was full of mistakes and awkwardly formed ideas. In time, it was probably refined and re-worked. It was probably revisited time and time again. It was probably added to and then subtracted from. Its headline, its opening lines, its conclusions were probably agonized over, it was probably critiqued and edited numerous times and then polished and eventually it was published. It was probably published by someone who then continued to proofread it and edit it after it was published, in the days after.

Creating content takes time. It rarely, if ever, comes out of the author ready for publishing in its first draft. I’ve never, ever written a blogpost that didn’t get an edit, didn’t get reworked.

The tip I have for you, if you are looking at that piece of content that you’ve written and it’s awkward and it’s not flowing and it doesn’t look very good is to keep putting effort into editing, into finishing your work. You need to put as much time into the editing and the polishing and the finishing of your work as you do into that first draft, if not much more.

The second thing, your first drafts are usually almost always pretty bad.

The third thing I wanna talk about is that—this is speaking from my experience—you never really finish anything. Nothing is ever perfect. In 15 years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever hit publish on anything on my blog or my podcast that I’m 100% happy with. There is almost always, as I hit publish, a tension within me, mixed feelings. Excitement on one hand, pride, satisfaction. But also on the other side, there’s almost always some uneasy feeling that maybe I could have done a little bit more, or maybe I could’ve added more detail, or maybe I could’ve polished it further, or maybe I could’ve got an extra quote, or maybe I could make it look better.

On one hand, these feelings of “I could do more” can be a good thing. I just spoke in the last point about how you should let those feelings drive you to improve those first drafts. On one hand, those feelings are great, but on the other hand some of us as content creators allow these feelings of “I could do more” to stop us publishing or releasing anything at all. I think, really, one of the skills as a blogger is to find a place between those two extremes. Perfectionism can be both a superpower and a curse. Allow it to drive you to improve what you do, but also learn that you sometimes just need to set free, you need to put what you’ve done out there, you need to set free what you create.

You can always tweak later, but you will never build anything of value unless you hit publish on it. Leave with that tension. Acknowledge that perfectionism within you. Work with it, but also resist it so that you do publish something.

The fourth thing kind of relates to this idea of perfectionism. The fourth thing that I want to acknowledge is that procrastination impacts us all. It happens to us all. We all know what it is to procrastinate.

Here’s a little secret for you. I outlined this very podcast in March of 2016. It was the day after the conversation that I had with my friends. Now, as I sit in front of this podcast, my microphone, recording this podcast is now the 4th of October, 2017. It’s taken a year and a half for me to get this podcast done. Even the most productive people have the temptation to put things off. In many cases, it’s the things that we procrastinate about that ultimately have the power to hold us back most.

For me, procrastination is often tied to fear. It’s the things that scare me that actually are the things that have the biggest potential to bring good things into our life as well. You need to learn to see procrastination as a signal that it’s something you need to really pay attention to. If you’re a procrastinator, after this episode finishes, go and listen to Episode 167 for my ultimate procrastination story and tips.

I hope somewhere in the midst of these four things, there’s some encouragement for you. I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, I don’t want it to be a negative podcast, but I want to acknowledge that sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to be creative every day. It’s hard when you look at those first drafts and you think it’s awkward and it’s not working. It’s hard when you put off things. It’s hard to get things finished. These are four things that I’ve struggled with over the years and I want to let you know that it’s okay to have those struggles too but I encourage you to push through them.

I would love to hear what struggles it is that you wish more bloggers would talk about. You can do so in a couple of ways. You can do it over on our podcast notes, show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/214 or over in our ProBlogger community Facebook group. Love to connect with you there and I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 215.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to, go and listen to Episode 167, the one I mentioned in that particular episode. It’s about procrastination. It was me telling a story of my ultimate procrastination, something that cost me a lot of money when I procrastinated on but it gives you some practical tips about how to get things done too. Go over and join the Facebook group. problogger.com/group.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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215: Simplify Your Business and Make More Money Blogging

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/JndOJNGM6vQ/

Ways You Can Simplify Your Business and Increase Your Blogging Profitability

Today, I want to share two big lessons I learned this year at our Australian ProBlogger events. They were lessons I think apply to many aspects of blogging and online business.

It’s all about simplifying what you do while making more profit.

I’m heading to Dallas for our Success Incubator event and to speak at FinCon in a few days time.  So I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off the podcast to travel and focus on the event attendees as much as possible.

In the meantime, dig into the archives. There are now 215 to choose from.

Recommended Further Listening for the Next Couple of Weeks: Episode 137 – 7 Days to Finding Your Blogging Groove Join our Facebook group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there. My name is Darren Rowse. Welcome to Episode 215 of the ProBlogger Podcast. ProBlogger is a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Now in today’s lesson, I want to share two big things that I learned at our Australian ProBlogger events this year. They were lessons that really apply to business as a whole, but I think they’re particularly applied to many aspects of blogging and online business. I guess really the theme of today’s show is to think about simplifying what you do whilst also increasing your profit because both of the lessons that I’m going to talk about today do exactly that; simplifying what you do, taking some of the complexity out of what you do, but also increasing profit.

Now before I get into the lessons today, I just want to share I’m heading off to Dallas later this week for two events, the Success Incubator event, the ProBlogger event that we’re running in Dallas, and also to speak at FinCon. I’m doing the keynote there. I’ll be taking off to Dallas in a couple of weeks time. I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at those events. There still are a few tickets left for the Success Incubator event, it’s a one and a half day event with people like Pat Flynn and Kim Garst and Rachel Miller who many of you will be familiar with from previous episodes of this podcast.

You can go to problogger.com/success to get any last tickets that may still be available. There’s also a virtual pass there which is pretty affordable. You get plenty of teaching with that.

I’m heading off to that event in a few days time and while I’m away, I am going to be pressing pause on this podcast. Just wanted to let you know that for the next couple of weeks, there won’t be episodes, highly unlikely that there will be episodes. I may chime in and suggest some previous ones to listen to, but there’s plenty in the archives to dig back into. I will suggest a few episodes at the end of today’s show that you might find useful, particularly practical episodes that we’ve done in the past. Dig around in the archives and I look forward to getting back with you late in October, probably early November.

You can get all of the details of our events and I will link to all the podcasts that I recommend you dig back into over on our show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/215.

Okay, so let’s get into today’s show. The lessons I learned this year were from our event. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that these are lessons that I’ve been learning over the year in other areas as well, and I’ll touch on some of those towards the end. But just to give you a little bit of the backstory, the ProBlogger event, for those of you who haven’t been, we’ve been running it since about 2010. This makes it our seventh year of running the event. Since we ran the first event back in 2010, the event has evolved a lot. And I’ve told the story of that evolution in previous episodes. Back in that first event, it was a very simple event. It was one day, one stream, so we were all in the room all day. I think it was 120 or so people there. We had five or six speakers and really it was very simple. We didn’t add in extra parties, it was just hastily organized and as a result very simple.

Over the years, it evolved from something very simple into something that got quite complicated. We were getting, in our biggest year, I think up towards 700 attendees and speakers at the event, so it was getting quite large. But it also had lots of moving parts. We added in sponsors, we did two days instead of one day, then we added in an extra half a day before it, and some extra stuff at the end. We had five tracks, five different rooms of sessions running multiple at that same time. We had 40 or so speakers one year. It was very complicated.

It was great on many levels. Every year, our attendees told us that they loved it and it was the best event that we’d ever run. As a result of that, we felt driven, or I felt driven, to keep adding more and more to it. I’m a people pleaser. I just wanted to keep making it the best event ever, I wanted to make it more impressive, more valuable to people. So we added more sessions, we added parties, we added workshops, we added more speakers. we added teepees one year, which we had our party in. I drove in on a Segway one year. It got more and more complicated. We had more and more bells and whistles, more and more sparkle.

But all of this extra stuff came at an expense. It was beginning to take over my life, it was beginning to take over my business. The amount of time and energy that we were putting into this event was enormous, it was taking 12 months to plan. In fact, some years we were thinking about the next year’s event before we had even done this year’s event, so it was taking longer than a year.

The other factor was that whilst it was making some profit, the amount of time that we were putting in versus the profit that was coming out, it really didn’t compare. It was profitable on paper but in terms of the amount of effort we were putting in, it wasn’t particularly profitable. And this was partly because we weren’t… well I felt we weren’t able to charge as much as some other conferences. Many of our attendees were new to blogging, or they were mums and dads doing their blogs on the side while they’re looking after kids. And with travel to get to the event, it was a big ask. And so I felt really like I wanted to keep it as affordable as possible.

And so the model for the event, in terms of the business model, was that we actually charged less for the tickets than it cost us to put the event on. And we subsidized the tickets and took our profit out of getting sponsors into the event. Now this worked really well some years where we were able to land some big sponsors and we got some great sponsors who added a lot of value and paid us to access our audience. But other years, it was harder to get those sponsors. And so it was a bit of an up and down rollercoaster ride. And it was a lot of work working with sponsors at that kind of level. That was an area where we’re putting in enormous amounts of work and it was quite stressful as well.

The event was dominating our time, it wasn’t really the most profitable thing that we do, and we realized also that it was only really serving a small segment of our audience being an event for Australians whilst our audience is very global. And we realized that there was so many of you listening to this podcast, it just wasn’t feasible for you to get to our event, even though a few did fly in from overseas. And so after 2016’s event, I did a lot of soul searching, my team did a lot of soul searching, and we really considered carefully how we moved forward with the event. I realized that we just couldn’t keep going in the direction that we were going by adding more and more value in.

To be honest, I very nearly pulled the plug on the events. I almost stopped doing events altogether. But at the same time I had this little nagging feeling that events were also one of the best things that I did. I enjoyed it incredibly and I could see that it was having a big impact upon the people who were coming. So rather than giving up on doing the ProBlogger event, I decided we needed to evolve what we do as an event. And to do that, we really needed to simplify what we were doing and get back to the basics. I guess return to what we did at that very first event.

We began to dream of a simpler event. The simpler event that we came up with, we sat as a team and really wrestled with this, but we came up with let’s go back to a single day event, let’s go back to a single stream event, everyone in the one room. Let’s strip back those 40 or 50 sessions that we had available to attendees, let’s just strip it back to five or six core sessions on the core things that ProBlogger stands for. In those 40 or so sessions that we were running, we were doing really interesting stuff but it wasn’t our core teaching.

Let’s strip back having sponsors, and add in some extra profitability through other means – through decreasing our expenses but also building in a little bit more in terms of what we were charging as well to people. So that’s what we did. We designed this event. It was significantly less expensive to run because we only had six speakers instead of 40. We weren’t flying in 40 or so speakers and putting them up in hotel rooms. We had a smaller venue because we only needed one room rather than a hotel with lots of different rooms. Really, it cut down our cost in terms of things like audio and video and all of that type of thing. No more teepees, no more Segway.

We really pulled back in many regards. We simplified things and we did it for our own benefit, really, in terms of organizing the event. But it had some unexpected benefits which I’ll talk about in a moment.

This new format of event felt right. But it also felt risky. I lost a lot of sleep in the lead-up to putting the tickets on sale and running the event. My worry was that our past attendees might feel like they were missing out on some of what we previously offered because we were pulling things out. I was pretty stressed about doing that. But at the same time I felt it was going to allow us to spend more time on other projects, it was going to be a more sustainable model, and it was something I needed to do.

There were two other things that we tried as part of what we were doing as well, which I’ll briefly touch on. Firstly, we wondered when we saw this simple event whether we’d designed something that could be run and reproduced in different places. We often talk on ProBlogger about repurposing your content, and I began to wonder what can we do with this event. Could we repurpose this event? It was a simple event where we had almost built a product, a formula for an event. ‘Could we do the event more than once?’ was an idea that I came up with.

We began to think about could we do it one on one weekend, one on another weekend in different cities to make it more accessible to our attendees, to reduce some of their expense, which might get more people there. We decided to run it over two consecutive weekends, we did it in Brisbane and in Melbourne here in Australia, and really had the idea that maybe we could even reproduce the event in more places as well, maybe even in other countries in future years.

The last big change that we did this year was to offer masterminds – an extra day for those who wanted to have a more intimate, higher-level, more personal, more interactive experience. A smaller group, we knew that it wouldn’t appeal to the large percentage of our audience, but could we offer this higher-value event on top of a premium experience for our attendees. This is something we’d actually been asked for for years, ever since the first year I ran the event. It was always something that I was used to because I knew I’d have to significantly raise the price and charge a lot more to be able to run that type of event. It would take quite a bit more expense of having speakers who are there to really do that one on-one-stuff.

I decided, ‘Okay, I’ve been asked for this, the demand’s there, maybe we need to give it a go’. And we decided to add the mastermind day into both of the cities. So day one was everyone all in together, that cheaper event, single stream, larger event, less personal but still valuable. Then, the mastermind event for day two, more intimate. This all felt really risky to me. I worried a lot. I lost some sleep in the lead-up to it all. But the results were fantastic, and I really am grateful that I took that leap and that my team went with me with this as well.

The events were a few months ago now. But it was one of the best things that we’ve done over the last year. The planning of the events were so much simpler – we designed the content very quickly, we locked in our speakers very quickly, we booked venues very quickly, we released the tickets and got it all out there very quickly. Not having the sponsors cut down a massive amount of work. Preparing for the event was a lot less work, and it enabled us to then move onto other things within the business.

Running the event was so much simpler. We came away from the first event nowhere near as tired. Also, having felt like we were able to really pay a lot more attention to our attendees. It took a much smaller team to run the event and we were more present with that audience.

The only tough part of the event really was on a more personal note. Unfortunately my father-in-law passed away the day before that first event which was a tough time for the family. And it was I guess a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me personally. I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through the event if it had been a bigger, previous event. Having that event, a simpler event, certainly took a less toll upon me. Despite that setback and that tough part of the event, on a personal level, the event was much more of a pleasure to run if I can say that in the midst of a tough time. Attendees’ feedback was really positive.

We did get some of our previous attendees who mentioned in their feedback that they definitely missed some of the sparkle of previous years, but over half of our attendees were actually first timers. They had nothing to compare it to, I guess. I was worried that by stripping back the amount of choice of our sessions, going from 40 or so sessions to six, I was worried that maybe there would be complaints about that.

Interestingly, even amongst our previous attendees, the overwhelming feedback was that people actually liked having to make fewer choices. This was a massive lesson for me. We actually simplified the event for our benefit as a business but it actually benefitted our attendees. What we realized is that in previous events, we’d actually created an event that for some of our audience was quite stressful to attend, it was quite overwhelming and they really enjoyed the stripped back, simplified event. I think this is a big lesson and this is something I’ll talk about in a moment or two as well. I lost count of the amount of people who told me they enjoyed the simple event. Whilst it certainly didn’t suit everyone, it worked very well.

I guess the big lesson for me was for years I felt like I needed to add more and more and more into the event, but in this case I actually learned that less is more. Whilst we made the event simpler for our own benefit, it really benefitted that audience. They were less stressed out.

On reflection, I think maybe we stripped things back a little bit too much and we would probably add a little bit more in, a little bit of that sparkle back in over in the coming years if we continue to go forward with this event. But I think we are on the right track.

The other two changes that I mentioned went really well as well. Creating an event format that could be reproduced or repurposed in different cities worked well. I’m not sure whether we’ll continue to do that or not in future years, but it certainly taught me that an event can be repurposed. Creating a simple structure that can be repurposed is something that we could do again.

Lastly, the masterminds. They went off. Wow, they were my highlight personally. They sold out and so there was demand there even at that significantly higher price. Secondly, they ran really well. The overwhelming feedback from mastermind attendees was really positive. We saw people taking action at the event that paid for what they paid to attend the event. There were people at the event who were creating courses and products. That week later, they had already made more than what they paid to attend the event. People took action, and that was probably the best thing for me. But they loved their intimacy, access to speakers, the networking, and we’ll definitely be doing more masterminds in future. And I personally loved having that more intimate experience with attendees as well. Again, we’ll evolve masterminds, but it was a big lesson for me.

The two big lessons, and these are two lessons that if you’re running events will apply, but I think these also really apply to blogging. I’ll really tie them back to blogging in each case. The first lesson, simple is good, less is more. Sometimes, as product creators, as bloggers, we feel compelled to add and add and add when it comes to value. And ‘value’ I put in italics, I guess. We feel like we want to add in more value, we want to add in more features, we want to add in more bonuses in the products we create and what we do as bloggers. And we do it because we genuinely want to provide as much value as possible. We think it will benefit our readers to add in more. We think it will also make our products more attractive people if there’s more features, if there’s more bells and whistles. Maybe people will be more attracted to what we do.

But in doing that, sometimes by adding in extra, we create complexity. Our products can end up feeling overwhelming. They can also end up feeling unfocused, and this is one of the things I realized about our event. Our first event was about how to make money blogging. But we’d actually built an event that was more about how to take photos, how to do social media, and some of these extraneous things which are important as bloggers, but really we’d lost some of that focus by adding in and adding in and adding in. By adding in the extra, we’d actually created something that was stressing out some of our attendees as well.

Sometimes, we end up putting out more and more and more and we overwhelm, we create complicated products, and we create complicated blogs. But also, we are putting in more time and expense as well, that really isn’t needed. The big question I came out of this event with was, ‘What else can I strip out of what I do? What other areas in my business have become complicated?’ It’s very easy for a business to evolve and become complicated in many different areas. I’ll talk about some of those in a moment.

What can you strip out, I guess is the big challenge, from what you do? We’ve actually been experimenting in a number of ways. I think simplification can relate to blogging in many different ways. Let me just touch on a couple.

Firstly, content. The content this year on ProBlogger, we’ve really simplified it. I know some of you have noticed this. A year ago, we were producing upwards of seven, sometimes up to ten pieces of content every week. I was getting emails from readers saying ‘That’s too much, I can’t read it all, I can’t consume it all. I’m feeling stressed by the amount of content that you’re producing.’ So we really stripped it back. Instead of ten pieces of content every week, we now do a podcast, two blog posts, a live video, and an email. that’s five pieces of content every week. The email is really a summary of the other four. It’s really four main pieces of content every week.

Simpler, it’s simpler to consume I hope for you, but it’s also simpler to produce. In doing that, we’ve reduced our expenses and the amount of time we’ve put into that and we’ve been able to increase the quality of what we do as well, which is always a good thing. It really has led to no dip in traffic, but it’s increased the engagement that we’ve had around each piece of content. Content scenario you can simplify.

Community. This year, again on ProBlogger, we simplified our approach to community. We really focused in our efforts on one area, our Facebook group. Rather than trying to provide community in lots of places, we’re encouraging anyone who’s a part of the ProBlogger audience to join our ProBlogger community Facebook group and to interact in the one place. In that group, we’ve tried to simplify things as well. Those of you who joined that group in the early days knew that it was a pretty noisy place and we’ve simplified it. We’ve pulled it back and we’ve asked you only to share tips and ask questions, not do anything else. We’ve built a rhythm for the week as well, we do different things on different days. Simplifying what is happening within that community has helped as well.

Simplify content, simplify community, simplify monetization, simplifying if you’ve got products, you probably can already see some things in what I’ve said before. Obviously, we did this this year with our event, we pulled things out of this product of the event. But you can do the same thing as well with other types of products that you offer as well.

I think back to a product we used to offer at ProBlogger, which was our membership site a few years ago. In that membership site, we had weekly calls, I had weekly teaching, we had a forum, we had deals of the week, we offered plugins, we offered a lot of bits and pieces within that community. Again, I wanted to add in as much as possible. I wanted to make it as valuable as possible, I wanted to add in extra features. But in doing so, it created so much work for my team but it also became quite overwhelming. As a result, you as the audience who are part of that weren’t engaging in that community as you could’ve been. I really realized that I created this beast that was hard to continue, it was hard to sustain from my end but it also wasn’t being utilized from others.

My friends who have really successful, the most successful membership sites that I’ve come across, really in most cases offer something that is very stripped back. They don’t offer loads of new content every week, they don’t offer forums with hundreds of threads, they offer very simplified things. They offer a little bit of content, high-quality content. They have very focused areas of community, they offer a little bit of coaching and personal access, they keep things minimal, they keep things focused. Again, you can simplify either the products that you create, the monetization that you do as well, and then the systems that you have as well.

It’s very easy as bloggers to evolve your systems and what you do to become quite complicated. For example, I know bloggers that have very complicated social media sharing systems. They share 20 times an hour on Twitter. In fact I’ve got one friend who’s a podcast friend who recently I was looking at what he did on Twitter. He tweets every two minutes. It’s not him, of course, it’s automation. It’s evolved to the point where he’s just being very noisy and maybe it’s a little out of control. I think it could be more in that particular case because I, for one, have muted his tweets. I’m not actually engaging at all with him anymore because there’s just too much going on. Less can be more, and it could be ‘less can be more’ in many different areas of your business. ‘What can you simplify?’ I guess is the question that I have for you there from that first lesson, less can be more.

The second lesson that I want to talk about that I learned at this event that I think really does apply in many ways to business in general, but also to blogging particularly, online business, is that a certain percentage of your audience is going to be willing to pay a higher premium for more. I’ve always, as I mentioned before, kept our prices for our events very low, the low cost, below what it actually cost us to put it on and we make our profit from sponsors. This was to make our event more accessible. On that front, I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I know that there are people who attend our events because they are so much cheaper. Every year, we get to hear from people saying, “This event is four times cheaper than other events I go to in industry events.”

I’m proud of that on some levels, but it also has been an increasingly risky move to do for my business, and it’s not really sustainable. I know that it’s risky. If my business goes under because of it, then that’s a disservice to our attendees to charge them less. Keeping our prices lower is a risky move, it’s something that wasn’t sustainable, but it also actually doesn’t allow us to fully serve our audience as well. Our audience have been asking for more, they want more personal, they want more interactional experiences. We’ve not been able to afford to offer that because we’re not charging as much.

This year, we didn’t actually put our prices up. But because we reduced our expenses and reduced the length of the event, that first day as well, we’re able to increase our profit margin and our tickets as well. In essence, we gave our attendees less but charged them the same, In effect, I guess putting our prices up a little. Also by adding in that premium level product, we offered a product that was significantly higher, I don’t exactly remember how much higher, I think it was four or five times what they might’ve paid in previous years to attend that mastermind. Our margin grew in that regards. As I said before, I was really nervous in doing that, by having that premium level product at that higher price point. But I guess what I learned is that it was well worth doing.

One of our speakers this year was James Schramko. He’s got a business called SuperFastBusiness. He did a video recently on his Facebook page that said that, “Ten percent of your audience will pay ten times more for what you offer.” Ten percent of your audience are going to pay ten times more, they’d be willing to pay ten times more for what you offer. I’m not suggesting that we all just increase our prices tenfold, but it’s kind of food for thought, isn’t it? If there’s ten percent of your audience who are willing to pay ten times more, that means you’re leaving some money on the table, I’m leaving some money on the table. I was really worried about offering that premium type product, but what I realized is that there was a significant proportion of our audience who wanted more and they were willing to pay for it.

Over ten percent of our attendees this year ended up coming to the mastermind, in fact it was closer to 20% of our attendees ended up coming to our mastermind. By significantly increasing the price for the masterminds, I learned that a significant proportion of our attendees could afford a higher price and were willing to afford that higher price if I could offer something extra value.

Really, this for me is the key. What can you add to what you offer? What can you add to your products to make it a premium level product? Not everyone is going to take that offer, that’s totally fine. They will continue to buy your low-priced products. But there are a proportion of your audience who would be willing to take the extra step if it’s valuable. Really, that’s the key. It’s got to be valuable. I think our masterminds proved this year that that was the case. As I said before, we saw people taking action at the masterminds who were making money at a higher rate and it paid for them to really attend those masterminds.

I know masterminds are going to be a part of what we offer going forward. In fact, if anything, I think we’ll expand them from one-day events to longer ones as something that our attendees actually want more of, they want a longer, more intense, more immersive experience as well.

How does this particular lesson apply to blogging? I think it can apply in a few different ways. If you are monetizing with a product, an ebook or a course or something else, what could you add to make it a premium level product? I’m not suggesting just put your prices up, although that may be the case, maybe you could do that. But what could you add to make it into a premium level offering?

If you’re selling an ebook, what could you add? Could you add some bonus videos? Could you add some printables? Could you add some access to you personally in a coaching package? Could you add access to a private Facebook group? You might already have the thing that you could add, or you might need to create it. In most cases, something could be added to make it an upsell I guess, to make it a premium level offering.

If you don’t have products, you could also take this same principle and apply it in other areas as well. For example, if you’re doing affiliate promotions, maybe you should be considering throwing into the mix of the things that you promote the occasional higher price point product. We’ve done this on Digital Photography School. We typically promote ebooks or courses that may be $20 to $50 as a price point. That’s a sweet spot for our audience. They like to buy products around the $20 mark up to $50.

But occasionally, what we’ve done over the last couple of years is promoted very comprehensive courses that have sold for over $200, up to ten times the price of the $20 product. Whilst a small percentage of our audience buy those products, you don’t have to sell too many at that kind of price point to make a pretty decent product. Maybe mixing it up, the types of product that you promote and promoting different price points as well.

Alternatively, if you’re promoting physical products on Amazon or some other store, maybe when you promote a product that’s a budget product, maybe putting alongside a premium product as well. On Digital Photography School we quite often review lenses. We might review a budget lens for a camera, might be a $200 lens, very affordable. But we know there are other lenses out there that are more professional grade lenses, maybe during the review, in the middle of the review, we might mention if you’ve got a higher budget, here’s a professional grade lens and here are some of the benefits you’ll get from upgrading. Maybe putting products alongside each other in that way may be worthwhile as well.

These are the two big lessons that I learned this year about events, but I think they really do apply across to blogging. Less is more, simplify what you do. You may be adding too much complexity into your content, into your community, into your monetization, into some of the systems that you have. What fat can you cut out of what you’re doing to simplify and reduce the expenses, and also to remove some of the stress and overwhelm amongst your audience as well.

Secondly, there are a percentage of your audience who are willing to pay more for what you do than you’re already charging. So what can you add? What extra can you add in to give a premium level product and service to what you do as well? I think it does apply to not just products but also services as well. If you’re a freelancer and you offer your services as a writer, what premium-level package could you add in as well? What could you add in on top of the writing for the clients that you have? You can add in premium level stuff on that regard as well.

I would love to hear your feedback on today’s show around these things. How are you going to simplify what you do? What premium-level products could you create? You can let us know over on the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/215 or you can find us on Facebook if you just search for the ProBlogger Community on Facebook, you’ll find our little community, or you can just go to problogger.com/group and you’ll be forwarded into that group as well. Let us know what you think of today’s episode.

As I said before, I’m heading away to Dallas in a few days’ time so I will not be doing new podcasts over the next couple of weeks. But there’s plenty of episodes to dig into. One that I really do recommend that you go back and listen to, in fact it’s just the first of a series that we did a year or so ago now, was Episode 137. I really think that if you want to give your blog an injection of goodness and greatness, if you wanna get your blogging groove back, I would really recommend that you go back and listen to Episode 137. It was the start of a series that I did over a week. It was called Seven Days To Getting Your Blogging Groove Back. Actually goes from Episode 137 through to Episode 143, I guess.

It gives you, every day for seven days, a different type of blog post to create. Every day I teach you how to do a different type of blog post. Then, I challenge you to create that blog post. We went through this little challenge as a community over seven days a couple of years ago now. It was amazing to see the feedback as a result of that.

You may choose to do this over seven days, you might want to do it over the next week, or you can spread it out a little. I’m away for two and a half weeks from this podcast, so over the next couple of weeks, you might want to choose one every couple of days and create those posts as a result of that. You can let us know how you go with those over in the Facebook group as well. If you go to problogger.com/podcast/137, you’ll find links to all of those shows. It’s Episode 137. Alternatively, you can find them over in iTunes, or in Stitcher, or in any of the other podcast apps that you use as well. Episode 137, Seven Days To Getting Your Blogging Groove Back.

Hope you enjoy that little series. I look forward to chatting with you in the next episode of the ProBlogger podcast in a few weeks time. Thanks for listening.

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The post 215: Simplify Your Business and Make More Money Blogging appeared first on ProBlogger.

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What Science Can Teach Us About How to Create Viral Content

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/3tSIA0S_9xg/

Think about the last thing you shared on the internet. Maybe it was an insightful video on the political turmoil in a far away country, or maybe it was a funny picture of a cat wearing a bow tie. Either way – you saw it, had an emotional reaction to it and decided to share it with others. But in the process of sharing the latest video, picture or article to your social media feeds – did you ever stop to think about why you shared it? What was your emotional response to the content? What about that response made…

The post What Science Can Teach Us About How to Create Viral Content appeared first on The Daily Egg.