WordPress does not help SEO

WordPress does not help SEO. With all the talk about SEO plugins you might think you’re at a disadvantage without WordPress. And without the SEO plugins you might think you’re at a disadvantage compared to those who have them.

But you’d be wrong.

WordPress and SEO just aren’t related in any way.

wordpress-does-not-help-seoSEO is the process by which you prove to the search engines that you are relevant for a given topic. Wordpress itself is just a content management system. WordPress is a program like Microsoft Word, but instead of being designed to create text documents it is designed to create web content. That’s all it is. WordPress is a program that makes it easy for you to put content online.

My Readers Don’t Want a Newsletter

In my recent article Don’t Write an E-book, there were some questions about the purpose of building a list. I believe a couple people actually said “my readers don’t want a newsletter, they already get my feed”.

In reading those I both understand the sentiment and where you might find success creating one.

List building is a critical element of an online business. Without the ability to contact your audience “at will” do you really have an audience? Or are you the kid with the lemonade stand on the side of the highway, just interacting with the traffic when it slows and rolls down the window?

I totally agree with the idea that there is no place or time for a “general newsletter” anymore. Especially for an active audience engaging with the feed and Facebook. Sure your grandma will read your newsletter, but most people will open it 45% of the time for the first two months then only open the seasonal ones.

Suppose you were to write a couple gluten free recipes and you get quite a few nice comments from that. That would be telling that you have an audience appreciative of gluten free recipes. Perhaps you could type those up and offer them as a “kitchen printable”. If you had them “opt-in” with their email to get this printable, you’d start to develop a “gluten free specific” list.

This would be a group that has a certain affinity to which you could learn more about. You could learn the phases of being Gluten Free. You could echo what sucks about being Gluten Free and what’s great. You could put together a pretty good email program, specific to that part of your audience, with recipes, books, blog posts, ideas, images, and more to serve them. Your entire audience might not be interested in that, but your Gluten Free fans would.

Let’s do a quick test, which of these do you open?

SUBJECT: January Newsletter

SUBJECT: 40% Off the Khaki Jeans you like

Parsing your list into affinity groups means every message is relevant. Every “newsletter” has meaning. Your open rates go up, your click through rates go up, your income goes up. If you want to learn more about List Building, Phil Hollows of Feedblitz wrote a great book on the topic. You can read more about that here: List Building for Bloggers.

Is it more work? It can be, but there are lots of ways to automate list building, parsing lists and email marketing to make it both easier for you and a better experience for your audience. If you would like to learn about the automation part, let me know in the comments and we’ll tackle that next.

Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Don’t Write an e-Book

No matter what I told you, or you heard from John Saddington at Savvy, or you read online somewhere. . . take “write an e-book” for your email optin off your list of things to do.

The truth is no one has e-book on their Christmas List. No one.

Are you sure?

But don’t think that means you shouldn’t be list building. Driving traffic to a list you own is very important. Imagine the few months before Facebook became big. . . there were people who had amassed quite a following on MySpace. Thousands of friends who commented on their posts and followed their advice. And then –poof– they were all gone.

When MySpace effectively died, a lot of people learned a lesson. If you don’t move your fans to your list, they’ll one day disappear.

Now Facebook’s value is starting to falter and fewer are using Twitter as a resource. With the advent of TheFancy.com and CraftGawker, even Pinterest is facing competition. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are great except they’re not yours. That community belongs to someone else.

So you need to move them to a property you own, and the most effective way yet it so move them to an email list.

Then how do you get them on your email list?

That was your next question I bet. People don’t just randomly sign up for an email lists They need a reason and it’s not a reason to just get on the list. No one has “email subscription” on their Christmas Wishlist either.

People like getting something of value. They’re willing to opt-in to an email list if it has value to them. And most of the time people want immediate value. That’s why people say “write an e-book”. But that’s just wrong.

The e-book is not the answer

If you march into this task trying to write an e-book, you start with “you” in mind and not your customer. And that’s just bass ackwards.

Instead, think through what your audience wants and needs. If they want and need a coupon calculator, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t try to turn a coupon calculator into an e-book. If you think your audience would love some inspirational quotes to hang on their wall, make a printable .pdf poster and have them opt-in to get that. Don’t force them to read the quotes in an e-book.

If your audience wants a saving money checklist, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t make it a 13 chapter read if they just want the checklist.

BUT if you think they could use 7 concrete reasons why they shouldn’t do x, y or z . . . then by all means create an e-book. But don’t make the e-book the goal, just be happy if that’s the solution.

Just to get you thinking, here’s a bunch of things you could create for your customers (other than an e-book):

  • create an ecourse. . .
  • use Kunaki to send an audio cd. . .
  • host a teleseminar. . .
  • write a manual. . .
  • offer a downloadable mp3. . .
  • design a nice pdf. . .
  • create a printable. . .
  • do a giveaway. . .
  • jot down some eNotes. . .
  • offer 1 on 1 consulting. . .
  • provide a homestudy course. . .
  • proctor a membership site. . .
  • invite personal mentoring. . .
  • pack and send a thumbdrive. . .
  • design a poster . . .
  • mail them a dvd. . .
  • show them it’s easy with a mini guide. . .
  • compile technical information in a special report . . .
  • update them with a bulletin. . .
  • tease with an informational pamphlet . . .
  • help them organize with a checklist or comparison chart. . .
  • wow them with a handy excel calculator. . . .

That’s not your job

It’s not your job to cram a square peg into a round hole. It’s your job to find the shape of your customers’ void and fill that with the perfect solution.

Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Choosing a Monetization Model

Big companies have entire departments dedicated to their monetization model and regularly discuss pricing strategies, cost cutting measures, and increasing the number of income opportunities. How much time have you spent on your monetization model? Have you ever pushed the computer away, sat down with 5 friends you trust and really talked through the different ways to drive income?

One of the most important parts about choosing a monetization model is understanding your role in the world. What purpose do you serve to your followers, to your customers? Then in what ways can you be a better steward to them and can you monetize that value?

For instance, have you considered a membership site?

I am a customer of Rick Radditz. He’s always created great tools to make me a more efficient business owner. From him I learn business strategies and appreciate getting his opinion on my business decisions. Well a couple years ago he thought another way to serve his audience would be to provide recommendations on business books.

But instead of just writing business book reviews, he wanted to add value – add his own thoughts on the book and provide insights in how to apply the books’ main points to your business. So he created a membership site called BizBookInsights.com where he does just that. For me it is a logical progression working with Rick and for him a new monetization model and opportunity.

A friend of mine in Houston, Texas maintains a Youth Ministry membership website that provides sermons and Sunday School ideas to its 30,000 members on a weekly basis. Because it is a $3.99 monthly micro-continuity plan, it is easily affordable to many. From a monetization standpoint micro-continuity requires big numbers but has the benefit of a very low cancel rate.

BizBookInsights.com is a one-time fee membership, different than the monthly subscription in the other. Sometimes membership sites are free to join but have paid higher benefits. And others are fixed-term membership sites like 90-day weightloss challenges and 6-month book clubs. There are lots of different ways to configure a membership plan. In the end that depends on how you want to meet your audiences goals.

What are some other monetization models?

Advertisements are typically the first on everyone’s mind, but there are many different kinds of advertising you can do. Here are some of the examples we’ve explained recently:

  • Earn money by selling space for Private Ads on your site.
  • Monetizing with in-line, in-text ads
  • Becoming a part of an visual display network
  • Google Adsense is a great way to monetize traffic. It doesn’t typically make your audience smarter but a certain percentage click on ads for revenue.

For the most part 3rd party ads are based on the content of your page and try to be relevant to your audience – but not typically directed by you. You do have the option of providing ads specific to your audience in an effort to serve their needs. Some of those include:

  • Writing book reviews and recommending products is a great way to use affiliate marketingas a monetization tool.
  • Similar to affiliate marketing, ads like Coupons.com are often the reason your customers come to your site.

Finally, some companies actually pay for content to be placed on your blog. Some want you to include it at no charge and thus writing sponsor posts means you have to make a decision. Should I charge or do it free?. That’s up to you.

In coming months we’ll talk more about different monetization models to help you expand your opportunities and give you new ways to serve your community. What monetization models would you like us to explore deeper?

Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Analyzing your bounce rate? Mistakes are common

What do I mean by bounce rate mistakes? The bounce rate is typically what analysts note as the percent of people that come to your website and then almost immediately hit the back button.  When they “bounce” off they’re considered part of the bounce rate.

But most people look at the term incorrectly and start talking about bounce rate mistakes if your bounce rate is too high. Some even think Google cares about the bounce rate. 

Consumer Buying Process: Messaging Makes all the Difference

I always enjoy “analyzing” the consumer buying process in different industries. For instance it doesn’t take much effort to sell a candy bar at the grocery store checkout. But it takes a heck of a lot of work to get a country to buy a Boeing 747.

This past week I met with both an insurance guy and a financial services guy (sales calls basically). I don’t need either, and imagine a great number of their appointments are with people who don’t want to change insurance or need a new money manager. But they make sales – so how does that work? And can we translate that to the web?

According to the financial services guy, there’s no way to makes sales in the financial services sector without first establishing a personal relationship with the clients, basically over coffee to start. In his mind even when people are shopping for what you have, unless you have a relationship with them they’re not doing business with you. The insurance guy felt the same way.

Your Website Conversion Rate is Meaningless. Period.

People often ask me what my website conversion rate is, which I think is an absolutely ridiculous question. But before we continue, let’s assume you don’t know what a conversion rate is OR let’s define it so the rest of this post is based on a mutual understanding of conversion rate.

Here it is: Number of Visitors ÷ Number of people who perform the task you want them to perform = Conversion rate (as a percentage).
Example: 100 people visit the site, 10 people buy. Conversion rate is 10%

Easy enough, right?

Let’s start with a real life example, let’s use www.antioxidantexample.com, which is the masked url of an antioxidant nutritional supplement that advertises heavily on TV and Radio – but no advertising on the internet.

95% of their web traffic is derived from folks who heard the 30 minute radio infomercial or saw the 30 minute TV infomercial then went to the website to buy the product. What do you think their conversion rate is? Well, it just so happens that the conversion rate is 30%. That means 3 out of every 10 visitors buys the product.

Website Conversion Rates are Meaningless

For a while the company advertised using Google’s AdWords, which means they bid on ad space on the Google Search Results pages. When they did that they drove thousands of people to the site who were searching for “antioxidants” and “antioxidant nutritional supplements”. But the conversion rate of these ads were only .7%, which totally didn’t match the conversion rate of the customers who came to the site from the TV show.

Same website. No changes.

The only thing that did change was the quality of the person that arrived at the site. From infomercials the prospect had 30 minutes of explanation and product examples, before they searched to buy the product, But with Google Adwords they only saw a banner ad. That means most of the people were just curious. The conversion rate of the website dropped substantially.

So the website conversion rate is bunk. In fact, if anyone asks how well your site converts, just tell them that question makes no sense.

Rephrase the question for them. Let them know that they really asked the wrong question. What is important to know is the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from the TV show. It’s good to know the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from banner ads. 95% of the time that conversion rate will differ among sources.

Your website conversion rate is meaningless. The conversion rate of your source’s web traffic, on the other hand, is like spun gold. Knowing what converts well and what doesn’t is the first step in testing, revising and optimization. And hopefully it isn’t the last.

Can you start a new site outside your niche?

Prior to going to BlogWorldExpo I’ve maintained the position that trying to build an audience in a new, unrelated niche wasn’t the best idea. The whole point of list building and empire creation is culling together an audience of similar interests to which you can create a community.

Starting a second site in a related niche means you have the power of your community behind you. Emailing your loyal fishing enthusiasts about your new rainbow trout site makes a ton of sense. You get instant engagement and typically great testimonials from the old people. And doesn’t it make more sense than inviting all your fishing enthusiasts to your new quilting website?

Becoming a Power Pinner (on Pinterest)

I’ve been working on becoming a power pinner on Pinterest for a few months (in our industry, who isn’t eh?). I define a power pinner as someone who’s efforts have resulted in a vast number of followers. Fortunately, I did find a formula that seems to be working. To illustrate that I thought we would talk about two of Pinterest’s most prolific power pinners and how they achieved it. You’ll be surprised at their completely different paths and the one thing that makes them similar. Let’s start with:

Sherry Petersik

There is no way Sherry thought about becoming a power pinner on Pinterest when she started her blog YoungHouseLove.com. In fact, there’s a good chance she didn’t plan on making the blog as big a success as it is. But what her and her husband have built is nothing less than an internet Juggernaut.

Sherry and her husband started YoungHouseLove on October 5, 2009 on a part-time basis. Through unbelievable content and dedication to their craft they grew the blog into a full-time gig now receiving more than 70,000 visitors per day. Today’s blog post, for instance, has 332 comments already, yesterday’s 7,102 and 2 days ago 236. You don’t get that kind of love without working for it for sure.

They’ve built their Pinterest following by leveraging their web traffic. In the last couple years they’ve featured their own “Pinterest Project Challenge” on their blog asking readers to undertake a new “Pinterest-worthy” challenge, blog about it, pin it and then upload that pin to their site. I looked at one of the challenges and 688 readers had shared their project. What are you going to bet they followed Sherry’s Pinterest account as well? They merely had to share their love of Pinterest with their community to grow in on Pinterest as well.

And they didn’t have to pin 10,000 things to get to the top. Nope. As of today, they’ve only pinned 574.

Some would call that the iceberg syndrome. What’s visible above the surface doesn’t come close to describing the work that went into it behind the scenes. As bloggers yourselves, I’m sure you can relate to the amount of work they put into their site. That community is the bottom half of the iceberg.

Erin Dollar

Erin took a different route to becoming a power pinner on Pinterest, though it’s not apparent from the surface whether she fully intended to do so. Erin is an artist who sells her wares on Etsy.com and last year finished making fake silly beards on IMadeYouABeard.com.

Unlike Sherry, Erin hasn’t amassed an enormous 70,000/day following – in fact she just has a respectable 500 or so followers on Twitter. But like the rest of us, she’s started to build a “raving fan base” on etsy and her site, she just hadn’t hit super stardom prior to Pinterest.

An early adopter of Pinterest Erin started paving the way for Pinners yet to come. Because her boards were edgy, purposeful and smart, they often got noticed. In fact on August 26th, 2010 (2010? Hmmm. . . she’s been at this a while, eh?) Erin was interviewed by Pinterest on the Pinterest Blog. She didn’t get that honor by knowing the “higher-ups” at Pinterest. Nope. Someone liked her board and recommended to Pinterest that they interview her about it.

That same attention to great boards is what made her the winner of the Pantone Color of the Year Contest held on ChronicleBooks.com, a site that gets 50,000 visitors per day by itself. Similar to the Pinterest interview, she won that not by knowing someone who knew someone, but by creating a quality and engaging board called Tangerine Tango.

Constantly sharing her love of Pinterest with others (back before it was big) landed her interviews or mentions on sites like mademoisellecrankypants.com, juliacantor.com and PinterestPower’s “most followed pinners” board. And all of those interviews centered on her love of Pinterest.

The bottom line is Erin rose to the top because of her taste and dedication to creating engaging and quality pin boards. These mentions, interviews and contests got her in front of thousands of people she didn’t have access to alone. But there is a similarity between Erin and Sherry as both have about 500,000 Pinterest followers and both were early adopters.

For them becoming a power pinner on Pinterest meant not giving up, creating great quality pin boards, and having faith that their readership would grow over time.

Which brings me back to my goal of becoming a power pinner on Pinterest.  I’m still interested in the viral approach that I wrote about in my recent article “How to make your photos go viral on Pinterest”. But I think quality, patience and hard work, exhibited by Erin and Sherry, are a much stronger community building strategy to get there than viral is for anyone.

Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Common Marketing Mistake: Leveraging Assets

One common marketing mistake small businesses seem to make is not leveraging operations activities for marketing purposes. As I highlighted in my “Dog the Bounty Hunter” story, the average, ordinary things that you do can be used as marketing.

I recently took a trip to Costa Rica, a fabulous country, and had opportunity to zipline with the Titi Canopy Tour group in La Foresta (outside of Manual Antonio National Park). The ziplining was fantastic. It wasn’t the scenery as much as the ride that really makes ziplining cool. And the crew at Titi Canopy Tours make everyone comfortable and safe each and every time. They are a class act.

But, they’re not making as much money as they could be. . .

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