Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Right Questions to Ask When Hiring A SEO Company

Being a full time blogger can be very time consuming, which is why I like to outsource my SEO. This is not always the case, only when I have a full schedule ahead. Over the years, I have learned a lot about outsourcing, and what to look for when choosing the right company to take care of your organic work. These days, with so many updates, Google now targets poor quality links, content, and private blog networks, ultimately banning sites that don’t meet the quality threshold. In short, you have to be very careful when selecting SEO companies in the future, making sure they do a solid job on your blog.

Today, I’d like to go over a few things to look for when hiring an SEO company. I’ll also explore how asking the right questions can help you select a reputable company. I believe with content marketers getting so busy writing in-depth content, it’s hard to find time to build natural links for organic SEO. Please provide your feedback, and input so we can start a debate on this topic.

Let’s jump right in…

  1. What They Provide

Whenever I’m going to hire a company, I skim through their website, looking for special services in what they provide. For example, SEO is more than just building links so it’s important to me to find a company that provides a complete package. What does this mean? For those of you who have never hired an SEO company, it’s important they provide:

Content writing –

Building links has to come from other content so it’s important that they write quality posts to be added to other websites. They must be high quality and relevant because this is important to Google.

Social Media Optimization –

Social media is very important so I want the SEO company to have experience on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This means being able to use the right #hashtags, post during popular times, have a huge following themselves, etc.

On-Page SEO –

It’s all about relevance so I ensure they know how to tweak my pages to fit specific keywords. The company should skim through, looking for areas for improvement on my website. If they can’t, then they definitely won’t perform off-page…right?

Off-Page SEO –

I would like a breakdown of how their company will build links and at what ratio. Its important links are relevant, but are a variety like URK, EXACT, Phrase, etc.

I can go on about this section, however, let me clarify my point….

Before hiring the SEO company, it’s important that you have a complete breakdown of what they offer in their package.

  1. How Will They Improve Rankings?

I like to get a clear cut explanation about the improvement I can expect to see. It’s important they tell me how they’ll improve my SEO and search rankings. For example,

  • Will I improve page rank?
  • Will I improve domain authority?
  • How long will I see an increase?
  • How long before an increase?

Having answers to these questions is very important because this way, you’ll understand what you’re paying for long-term. It’s very important to ask about links and how the ones they’ve built will improve your rankings over time.

  1. Tracking Results

A solid SEO campaign is nothing without an accurate way to track results. I ask the SEO company upfront how they’ll keep me informed of the changes. I want a clear and accurate way to find changes in SERP rank, content rankings, and domain and page authority. I also want to see how many new links I have pointing to my website, and from what location they are coming from. Next, I’d like to see the work they have performed throughout the month, usually in spreadsheet format.

Two things to keep in mind:

First, never let them track changes internally because they can have a system that is inaccurate. It also gives them control to manipulate the results if they don’t provide what they told you they would. Secondly, it’s important to have control for yourself because if the company you’ve hired doesn’t complete the work, then you’re NOT left hanging, completely lost. In the worst case scenario, you’ll have a complete breakdown, and can continue working if you choose to at a later time. You’ll also have a breakdown to hand over to another company if you’ve hired one instead of continuing on your own.

  1. Look Over Their Portfolio

A reputable SEO company will have a list of clients they’ve worked with in the past, and you can learn a lot the company by viewing their results. You should ask the company if you can contact some of them to find out about the quality of their work. A solid company usually will give you authority to do so because they have nothing to hide except awesome results. For example,

Just like asking an attorney about the cases they’ve won and closed in the past, it’s important to get a good idea of the quality of work performed by the SEO company. As mentioned, I’ve dealt with 4 different companies with all of them being more than happy to share past client information.

  1. Following Google’s Quality Control

Every year, you hear about changes being made to search engines and the algorithm. This means you have to be extra careful when doing organic SEO because what once used to be acceptable may NOT be going forward. If you’re doing the SEO yourself, then you can make tweaks right after researching what changes have been made. However, hiring an SEO company requires a different approach.

First, it’s important to ask them if they follow Google best practices, and how they know what changes have been made. Secondly, it’s important to get a breakdown of the changes so you know they keep up-to-date with the search algorithm. Third, it’s important they have a clear-cut way to ensure the best practices are followed by the entire team. The manager might know about the changes, but they might NOT have a clear way to implement them into their system. I always ask the company how they ensure the right practices are taken throughout their SEO process, and what guarantee they give me if they don’t follow them.

  1. Tool Implementation

These days, it’s NOT uncommon to have SEO companies use tools in their strategy but it’s very important to me that they use the right ones. For example, I don’t want them using tools that automate back-linking or even the content writing because this is NOT following Google’s quality control. To protect myself going forward, I like to get a complete breakdown of the tools they use, and for what. This will allow me to do two things:

First, I can do research on my own understanding of how important the tools are in SEO. It will also give me a chance to determine if the tool should be used or if it’s causing more damage than benefit. Secondly, when I decide to continue the SEO on my own, I’ll know EXACTLY what tools I can rely on going forward to ensure the campaign stays right on track.

Always ask the company for a breakdown of the tools and they should be fully compliant in giving them to you.

  1. The Payment Structure

I’m a true believer that the COST should not be an issue as long as you’re getting quality work done. It’s hard to find good help if you’re NOT willing to pay for it but it’s important that you do understand the payment structure. For example, ask the SEO company the following questions:

  • What do you charge?
  • Is it per month or year?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • What is your refund policy?
  • How long does it take to process a refund request?

These are simple, but fundamental questions that should be asked before hiring the company to begin work. It’s hard to determine what a fair price is, however, this comes down to the quality of work and level of package. If, after reviewing previous work, you’re happy with their reputation, then paying more than usual is NOT a bad idea.

From my experience, you can expect to pay on average $1,500-$2,000 for a high quality job.

  1. Contact and Communication

This is something I need to know and the communication MUST be clear and concise from the beginning. Especially when paying for work to be done, it’s important that they are available during the times they tell me. In most cases, communication will be conducted through email, however, local companies will work an on-call basis.

It’s also a good idea to suggest some other communication methods if you feel more comfortable proceeding that way.

  1. Niche Specific Experience

The one thing with SEO is that it can be tailored to all types of niches but it’s still important to find out how much experience they have in your industry. This will help you determine how well they know your industry, and if they know where to focus while progressing.

An easy way to find out about their experience within your niche is to ask about previous clientele or even general questions about your niche. Anyone with experience in every niche should be able to answer questions related to your industry. Even though this doesn’t mean they can’t get the work done, it’s still good to know how much experience they have working within your industry.

  1. Why Should We Hire You?

I left this as the last thing to ask or think about because it’s truly optional but I’ve always asked this question. You’re hiring the company so they should prove to you why they are worth getting your business. This is their time to shine, and tell you about the past and present accomplishments. I like to give the company a chance to go over what they can do for my business that others won’t be able to. This is a good time to see what they can come up with, and pay close attention to red flag answers like:

  • We are cheaper
  • We don’t know
  • Or lengthy delays in answering

It’s a good way to catch them off guard and slip up, which, in the end, gives you a sense of trustworthiness. I guarantee, the way they answer this question will determine if you hire them or NOT.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a few things to keep in mind, I’d like to close with these thoughts…

Even though I’m a true believer that SEO work should be done by you, it’s also a good idea to hire someone if you don’t have the time. Doing it yourself is important because it’s the best way to learn and understand the fundamentals as it applies to organic SEO. However, sometimes, getting others to do the work can be awesome to pick up a few hidden secrets. For example, it was through hiring a company I learned…

  • Do correct on-page SEO
  • Write relevant content
  • Find article websites
  • Build relationships
  • Do strategic social marketing
  • And much more

Keep in mind, you also have the option to do both – work yourself and hire someone to help out. Using this approach will help you get a better grasp when it comes to organic search rankings and optimization. I know hiring someone can be expensive so pay close attention to the price and what you get in your package. The high cost MUST out-weigh the negatives, and you should truly know you’re getting your money’s worth.

In the end, your entire experience should account to results in search engine rankings, authority, profits, and influence.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

5 Best WordPress Survey Plugins for your Blog

When running a website, it’s important to know what your audience thinks. But how can you do this in a way that’s engaging and interactive?

For WordPress users, the perfect solution is a survey plugin.

Unlike a poll, a survey allows you to answer questions in different formats, such as images and star ratings. It’s a personal way to interact with your audience.

What Are the Benefits of a Survey Plugin?

Surveys are the perfect way to find out what interests your audience. You can use the data from surveys to create content tailored to their specific needs.

A quality survey plugin will be easy to use, provide readily accessible results, and allow you to share and export those results in different formats.

If you’re looking to engage further with your audience, here are the 5 best WordPress survey plugins you can use.

1. WPForms


With an already engaging, popular contact form plugin, WPForms now has a survey and poll add-on provided when you purchase their Pro plan.

It features an easy to use drag and drop form builder, interactive survey reports, and exportable results. Need to print your report to share in person? No problem. The add-on comes with many customizable print styles to choose from so that your reports are pretty to look at while you analyze.

You can answer survey questions using text, images, star ratings, and more. You can also embed your survey anywhere you want in WordPress: post, page, or sidebar widget.

One of its most intriguing features is that you can turn any existing form into a survey at the click of a button, adding to its simplicity.

2. Survey Monkey


Survey Monkey is user-friendly survey plugin with features that include customizable branding, pre-written questions, and 24/7 online or offline accessibility.

The plugin’s dashboard has a friendly user interface and is easy to navigate.

You can ask questions based on categories like demographics, customer feedback, and market research. It also provides survey templates with different questions to choose from.

SurveyMonkey’s paid upgrade allows you to export results in CSV, HTML, and PDF formats. You can also display them as bar graphs, pie charts, and tables, which are all customizable. Share your survey with others via an embed code, direct link, social media, and more.

3. Polldaddy


With the Polldaddy survey plugin, simplicity is key. You get features like a drag and drop question editor, 15 theme options, and 3 pop-up styles.

You can close the survey after a certain date or when a quote is met. Integrate password protection, Captcha protection, or IP restriction to prevent multiple or automated responses.

If you’d like to follow up with survey participants, you can ask them to provide contact information like a name or email. Results can be monitored in real time and responses can be collected through email, social media, or via WordPress.
Polldaddy allows you to export your data in different formats such as PDF or XML and through Google Docs and Excel.

4. Quiz and Survey Master


Simple and easy to use, the free version of Quiz and Survey Master features unlimited surveys and responses, a customizable thank you page, and the ability to email users once the survey is complete.

Answer options include multiple choice, true and false, and number rankings. Results can be sent straight to your email or viewed directly through your WordPress dashboard.

The upgraded version is worth the price if you want to include reporting and analytics, data exportation, and user-friendly survey templates.

5. Surveys by OpinionStage


Created by OpinionStage, this plugin requires you to create an OpinionStage account on their website, which is where you build your survey. If you’re looking for something straight to the point, the free version provides all the basic features you’ll need.

Some features include various survey designs, a WordPress editor button, and an easy-to-use interface. You can display your survey anywhere on your WordPress site.

Customization includes many different color schemes and fonts. You can view your data by the amount of time a visitor has been on the survey, the number of views and leads, and the number of engagements.

Although you need to upgrade to a paid plan to access features such as adding your own logo and advanced customization, the free plan is simple and easy to navigate.

Wrapping Up

Depending on your needs, one of these plugins is guaranteed to aid you in gathering the analytical data and results you’re looking for.

Asking your audience to take part in a survey is a personal, fun, and engaging way of getting to know them better. This will help you in your blogging journey as you tailor the type of content visitors are looking for.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Be Creative and Profit From What You Have

Years and years and years ago, far before I had any glimmer of an idea about the possibility of making money online, my dad shared a story with me. I don’t think I was much older than maybe 6 or 7 at the time and I’m not even 100 percent certain the story is even true, but the underlying lesson is something that I’ve really taken to heart… even if it’s not directly applicable to my everyday life now.

The Making of a Businessman

One of the most famous entrepreneurs and “business magnates” that Vancouver has ever produced is Jim Pattison. He was born in Saskatchewan, but he grew up in East Vancouver, just like me and John (though we grew up in different neighborhoods and at different times).

If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, you may have noticed his name plastered all over the city as the owner of the Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second largest privately held company. It’s got billboards, TV and radio stations, car dealerships, grocery store chains, real estate development, and more. These days, Jim Pattison has an estimated net worth of nearly $7 billion. That’s “billion” with a “B,” making him Canada’s fourth richest person.

He bought his first GM dealership way back in 1961 and has since amassed over 200 companies with diversified investments across multiple countries. “Jimmy” Pattison and his family have done very well for themselves.

A Humble Little Story

For whatever reason, this was one of my dad’s favorite stories. Maybe it’s partly what eventually led him down the path of being a small business owner himself and, by extension, what led me to my freelance writing career today.

So, the story goes that Jimmy Pattison came from a family of rather modest means, so he took it upon himself to make some extra money. As a kid, he’d do things like head out to the local fields and farms to pick berries and fruit during summer, for example. He also took on a newspaper delivery route, among several other gigs and jobs along the way. But he also set out with his own humble small business as a teenager too.

He made the astute observation that buying things in bulk is usually cheaper on a per-unit basis than it is buying smaller amounts. We see this is relatively obvious these days, but not many people actually take entrepreneurial action based on this knowledge. Pattison did. He would buy giant bulk bags of flower seeds and the like, dividing them into much smaller bags that he would then sell door-to-door.

I don’t have the actual numbers, of course, but let’s use today’s dollars to illustrate this using a hypothetical example. Let’s say a massive bag of seed costs $20. From that massive bag, you can make 200 individual portions that you can then sell for $1 each. And let’s say that you can bulk buy 200 little bags for $5. Given this, it means that for a total cost of $25 (the big bag of seed plus the cost of the small bags), you can bring in $200 in revenue, resulting in $175 in net profit. That’s a 700 percent return on investment!

The Real Take Home Lesson

I can never be completely certain why my dad enjoys telling that story so much. Maybe it’s because it’s so inspirational and it shows how a humble kid from East Vancouver can grow up to be a billionaire. Perhaps it’s because Jim Pattison demonstrates that your dreams can become reality if you’re savvy and willing to put in the work.

For me, the biggest lesson here is that you just need to come up with creative ways to work with what you have. As a teenager, there’s no way that Pattison could buy a car dealership. It would be impossible for him to open up any sort of real traditional business, but he saw an opportunity and he was able to capitalize on it. Splitting a big bag of seeds into several smaller bags is hardly a novel idea, but it proved to be profitable and it helped to sow a prosperous path for him to follow.

Oh, I can’t make it big on YouTube. I can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on equipment or hire professionals to produce, direct and edit the videos. But you can start vlogging for $200 or less. So, start there. Just like starting a blog, getting into Internet marketing, publishing an ebook, or whatever other ambitions you may have, use what you have, put your unique spin on it, and go out there to sell some seeds.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Writing Emails People Want to Open and Read

Email marketing is huge and you can double or even triple your growth with a solid follow-up campaign. Over the years, I have learned every top blogger encourages other bloggers to have a solid opt-in sequence that will increase user engagement. However, I’m surprised at the number of people who still don’t choose to implement email marketing on their blog. I think everyone should have a solid email marketing plan, especially because they are very cheap and easy to set up. For example, I’ve been using Aweber.com and had them set up on my blog within a few minutes. They offer free templates, a drag & drop interface, and autoresponders that can be sent out within minutes. With so much to be done easily, it’s important you start looking at how you can benefit with email marketing on your blog. After,

It’s time to test and tweak your email campaigns because it is truly about generating opens that convert into profit. They say each subscriber is worth $150-$200 to your company, but only if you are able to get them to open your messages. This is where things get tough, but you are NOT alone in this battle because case studies are around to help guide your open rate. For example, when I first got started, I located awesome case studies that helped generate an awesome open rate. Today, I’d like to discuss some of them so you can get started with creating a solid follow-up sequence.

Let’s jump right in and look writing emails people want to open and read.

  1. Enticing Subject Line

This is the first thing your readers will see so it’s important you have a subject line that stands out compared to all other messages within their inbox. It’s no secret people get bombarded with emails, but with the right subject lines, you can definitely stand out compared to the rest. Here are a few ways to get converting:

Build Curiosity –

Whenever people have to question what’s inside the email, then you have a better chance of them opening. It’s like a box wrapped in beautiful paper because this can be very tempting…right? To build curiosity, use things like:

  • This worked so well
  • How we generated $354.00 in one day
  • Why this won’t work in your business.

All of these questions or statements will build a heightened level of curiosity that will help increase open rates.

Use Numbers –

There is a simple reason numbers work so well and that’s because they tend to stand out from basic text script. As humans, we tend to scan things quickly because we are short for time, and numbers help catch the eye quickly.

Short and Right to the Point –

As mentioned above, people are skimming through their inbox because they get bombarded with emails. In this case, it’s important to always keep things short and to the point. It’ll help get the message across, increasing the likelihood of them clicking on your message. Remember, it’s NOT just about keeping it short because you’ll learn next that it’s about testing until you find a high CTR.

Always Test Your Subscribers –

It’s important to keep testing until you find something that works. This is the only way you’ll find out what resonates with your readers. Keep the subject line short as mentioned above, but try a combination of subject lines and track results. Email marketing is so easy that you can test with the click of a button, so implement the strategies above while tracking the results.

  1. Always Provide Value

Just like writing content that provides value, it’s important to do the same when sending email messages, too. This is especially important when subscribers will open an email at least once, and if they don’t find value, might unsubscribe going forward. This is why I’m a true believer in NOT sending out too many follow-ups until you have something of value that you know your subscribers will love to read. If my subscribers open a message and are redirected to valuable content, then I’ve increased the chances of them doing the same again going forward. What is value?

First, understand why they joined your newsletter in the first place which MOST likely is they found value on your blog. Next, understand exactly where most of them opted because this will help guide your writing in the future. For example, you can create the same type of content going forward, and then send them a follow-up message with the link embedded within. Third, keep the message short, which you’ll learn later on as you continue to read this content.

Here are some quick content value tips:

  • Answer a common problem
  • Make it in-depth
  • Make sure it’s structured correctly
  • Include an introduction
  • Include sub-headings that will help structure content correctly
  • Include conclusion
  • Always answer question and add value
  • Skim through competitors and include elements they are missing like images, videos, infographics, etc.
  1. Keeping It Personal

There’s a reason people spend time on your blog, and a major reason is because you have established your own voice. This means going forward, it’s important you continue to write content that builds your identity. Even though you will probably follow this philosophy as it applies to content writing, it’s important you do the same when sending out newsletters to your subscribers. They will want to feel the same passion in your follow-up messages that they did when reading your content.

The best way to personalize your voice is to keep it real from the beginning. The cool thing about blogging is you’re representing yourself, which can be very strong when done the right way. Start with writing content, and keep that personal tone going throughout your messages. You’ll see that people will resonate much better with your messages, knowing you’ve kept it real from the very start.

  1. Keep an Eye on Length

I had mentioned previously how I’d explore this a bit more going forward. As mentioned, people are bombarded with emails daily, and they quickly skim through them. They will organize them and quickly SPAM the ones that seem to be poor quality. However, sometimes, the subscriber isn’t sure about an email, and will open to skim through, which is why you have very little time to get your point across. In short,

It’s very important to make sure your email follow-ups are concise and right to the point. However, don’t forget the fundamentals that I have discussed above, like:

  • Subject lines
  • Personal voice
  • Using numbers
  • Adding value

You need to ensure you catch the subscriber’s attention quickly, and in very little time. You have to know what they expect to read and give it to them in a way where they can engage right away.

  1. Build Your Reputation

I have many blogging colleagues who have built a huge email following and are doing very well growing their blogs. However, there are some who have gone stagnant over the years, which tempted me to ask them what happen over the years. One of the main complaints they said was their inability to keep a solid follow-up sequence going, which caused many subscribers to forget they opted in to receive newsletters. Before continuing, let me summarize my main point…

If you want to keep subscribers engaged, it’s important you build your reputation through a solid follow-up sequence. What does this all mean?

First, it’s important you send messages consistently so you stay relevant when they check emails. I know many times, I’ve unsubscribed from email messages even though I actively subscribed month back. The reason was very simple, it’s because over time, I had forget about the blog because of slow correspondence over time.

Secondly, it’s even more important during the consistent follow-ups you continue to provide value, which I’ve already discussed above. Third, always test when sending email messages because you’ll notice throughout the day that certain time slots work better than others. However, you should also pay close attention to the days you message because open rates will fluctuate throughout the week. Here’s what I’ve learned over time about email timing and inbox:

  • Monday is very slow because people start the work week and are quick to skim through. They only pay attention to very important email messages like work-related.
  • Tuesday-Thursday tend to be the highest open rates because people have settled into the work week. They also have an organized email folder so they pay closer attention to other recreational messages.
  • Friday begins to slow down because people are leaving office and want to avoid email messages. They decrease looking at their inbox because they don’t want to catch work-related messages.
  • Weekends are great for shopping messages because people are off and searching for deals.

It’s also very important you pay close attention to timing when you send messages. You want to catch the subscriber at the right time, which will help increase open rates. Here’s what I learned about timing:

  • 8AM – 4PM are the best times to send the first round of emails during the days mentioned above. People arrive at work and start by checking emails.
  • Same weekdays but evenings around 6PM – 9PM is when you see another increase in open rates simply because people are at home, and having their downtime.
  • Weekends are flexible simply because people skim through messages, depending on their objective. However, ultimately, open rates are MUCH slower on weekends for obvious reasons.

Final Thoughts

In the end, writing emails can definitely help increase engagement on your website, but it’s very important that you apply different strategies along the way. It’s is a complete waste of subscribers and efforts if you can’t re-engage your visitors after they have subscribed to your newsletter. Once they have, it’s time to really build that lasting loyalty, which can transform your business 10 fold. Going forward, it’s important you start implementing the strategies that have been discussed above to get a better understanding of how email marketing works. After you have utilized the strategies discussed above, you’ll begin to see improvements in your engagement. Once this happens, it will transform your entire blog, increasing traffic, loyalty, and engagement.

There are many examples I can give you on how people have managed to use email marketing to increase overall growth. For example, Neil Patel from QuickSprout.com has stated numerous times that it’s very difficult to get 100,000 visitors a month without having a huge list of subscribers. However, he has also mentioned that having the list is NOT the only thing that matters because you have to know how to get them to open emails and click on the engagement links.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Are You Solving Problems or Just Avoiding Them?

Over the years, I’ve written for a number of different websites and publications. Some have been more formal or more specific about how they want their content formatted. They may have very specific instructions about the size and dimensions of images, for instance, or about how they want sources to be cited. This is all in addition to the more academic style writing I did during my university days, which is decidedly quite different from the more casual web content I largely write today.

Even though I’ve been doing this professionally for over a decade, it may surprise some of you to learn that I don’t really have much in terms of formal training. I never went to journalism school, I haven’t taken any creative writing courses (though I’d like to take a couple at some point), and I don’t have a diploma in marketing and communications. It’s all just stuff I’ve picked up along the way and my “writing voice” has evolved accordingly.

Why Do I Bring This Up?

A lot of people have this ill-conceived notion that “good writing” is defined as writing with perfect spelling, grammar and syntax. They believe that you must have these components absolutely correct and you should stick strictly to the guidelines outlined by the powers-that-be. But you’ll also find that much of the best writing breaks a lot of rules. Like how the preceding sentence is really just a sentence fragment, much like this one too. Is that bad?

If you’ve been following me and my blog for some time, particularly the Grammar 101 series, then you might also believe that I am a stickler for proper spelling and grammar. Many years ago, I wrote that poor grammar and spelling mistakes are like a chipped coffee mug at a restaurant. The chipped mug doesn’t matter too much; it’s more about what else it represents. If the cafe doesn’t care about the condition of its cups, where else are they throwing caution to the wind? Where else do you they let things slide?

To some extent, it’s true. I think spelling and grammar matter. On another level, I’m not really an authority in this space either, as I’ve never really been formally trained on the matter anyhow. There are many instances where I’m not entirely sure what is the “right” way to write something, so I usually just end up reworking the sentence to avoid the issue.

Pablo Picasso once said that you should “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” The Dalai Lama echoes this sentiment, saying that you should “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” And there is definitely some weight to those statements… but what if you don’t know the rules or you’re unsure about them?

Just Fix It in Post

Sometimes, avoiding your problems is the simplest solution available. I could spend hours or even days pouring over how to format a sentence such that it adheres perfectly to the rules outlined in the Associated Press Stylebook, but even those rules can be ambiguous or incomplete. This could lead me down an incredibly deep and potentially bottomless rabbit hole, all to determine whether I should be calling it a six-quart pot or a 6-quart pot or a 6qt pot or a…. you get the idea.

Unless sticking perfectly to AP style is of critical importance for the publication and you don’t have a resident expert who can help you, wasting too much time on such a minuscule concern is indeed wasteful.

But, as you might have been able to guess from the title of this blog post, avoiding problems is oftentimes not the best approach to take. If you have a problem with debt, simply throwing your bills in the trash is not going to make that problem go away; it’s only going to make it worse. If you have relationship problems, avoiding your partner altogether is not going to make that problem go away; you need to talk about it to resolve it, one way or the other.

Sometimes, you might think that you are solving a problem in your life when all you’re really doing is trying to sweep it under the rug and make it go away for a little while. Just don’t be surprised when that little problem develops into a much larger and more pressing problem down the road. Solve it. Fix it. And then you can move on to the next thing.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Is Content the Only Thing Needed to Increase Traffic?

A common question asked by many bloggers and many will have their own opinion. However, I currently have close to 4 blogs, and am in the process of starting my 5th so I wanted to shed some light on what I learned over the years. We often think writing great content is the only element needed to grow our blog and generate traffic, however, you’ll be surprised to know that this is rarely the case. For example, social media, smart back-linking, and optimizing all play an important role once you publish content.

Today, I’ll be exploring this important question: Does Content Equal an Increase Traffic? And is this all that’s required to build a successful blog. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years and will like to share some of it right now. Let’s get started and your feedback will be greatly appreciated. Please leave your comments in the box below.

I write out my content, exploring some of the lessons I learned along the way.

Lesson 1: List Building is Important

You’ve heard this before and I’ll express the importance again that list building is very important to increase user retention. It’s one thing when you have a visitor to your blog but something completely different when they keep coming back. Whenever a client asks me what is the MOST important thing they should do when starting a blog, I encourage them to create a few opt-in forms that they can implement within their content. List building has been proven numerous times to increase engagement and allows for continued growth for a few important reasons.

First, it allows you to push new content in front of your readers that then helps build engagement going forward. For example, with each person visiting my blog, I’ve increased the likelihood of them sharing my content on social media platforms. Right away, I’ve increased traffic to my blog and increased the chances of having new people opt-in to my newsletter.

Secondly, it’s a great way to market my services, increasing the likelihood of profits. As a business, we have to understand what our bottom line is, which, in MOST cases, is “profit”. Some do it for passion butt I believe this ultimately leads to profits.

Third, people who have NOT been to your blog in a few weeks might forget about your blog or content. Having an email list and frequent follow-ups is a great way to keep readers in the loop, building your brand.

Lesson 2: Content Timing Matters

When referring to timing, I’m referring to “time-based” content. An example would be: How to Start a Blog in 2016. This works because people are always aiming to get the MOST up-to-date content, and adding a date to your title helps. Not to mention, people have shifted the way they search for content so use highly targeted search phrases. This led to the growth of LSI and long tail keywords because they catered to the user search pattern. Next,

Google recognized this change and has altered their search engines to equip for the change. You’ve noticed they reward content with long-tail keywords more compared to years back…right? Even though “targeted” searches are NOT obsolete, it’s important to add LSI and long-tail keywords to your content. With that said,

If you just started to write content, it’s important to focus on time-based content because psychologically, people are looking for fresh content.

Lesson 3: Great Content Doesn’t Equal Traffic

Even though in-depth content is important for blog growth, it’s NOT enough to get the ball rolling. Google does give preference to content that provides depth, but personally, I don’t think this is enough to really build momentum with your audience. This is why content isn’t enough to build your brand, and you’ll have to find creative ways to target your audience. The good news is research has shown what does work if you want to create a buzz quickly. For example,

Social media is an awesome platform to get your brand known. Facebook, Twitter, and others have changed the way people interact with content. I encourage all of you to join these networks and start marketing using the different channels you have available. Invest some money in Facebook ads or even purchase some Sponsored Tweets because this can go a very long way.

Before starting, it’s important you pay close attention to the following:

  • Understand what social networks are the MOST popular.
  • Set up a complete profile so people can read about your brand
  • Make use of social media tools (marketing, #hashtags, groups, etc.)
  • Follow others in the same niche and get followed in return.

Lesson 4: Diversity Matters

There are so many different types of content you can create to engage your readers. Here are just a few popular ones:

  • Video content
  • Infographics
  • Text
  • Images

With so much content available online, it’s important you tap into the reader’s mind quickly so they can extract the value out of it. This is why I’ve encouraged many of my clients to focus on different types of content every time they write. Keep in mind, social media platforms have all changed the way they display content, and no matter if it’s an image, infographic, or video, you’ll still get your point across. If you have been writing text content then maybe add some images, if you have included images then upgrade to video. If you have to create infographics, then this will be a great way to engage your readers and provide value at the same time. Whenever I write content, I think about my audience and how fast I can get the point across. Here’s another example,

If you’re creating how-to content, then why NOT create a video showing them the steps to complete the job? A video will be better than simple text content…right? Video content is more popular, can be displayed on social media, and is very easy to follow.

Before you can start to put your content format together, you have to answer a few very important questions:

Who is your audience? – This will help you understand what type of content they’ll enjoy reading. Your audience might be located in a place where English is NOT their first language so video or images will be better at getting your point across.

Where are they located? – For the obvious reason listed upon, but you can also create content targeting that region going forward.

What social platform do they use? – Knowing what social media platform they use will help you tweak the display and size of your content for better engagement.

How can you test what works? – Even though it’s a good idea to mix content up for optimal results, I encourage you to keep testing because this is the only way you’ll improve your CTR. The higher your click-through, the better chance you’ll have at converting your visitors.

Now that I have discussed content and how other elements play a crucial role in increasing exposure, I’d like to go over some website changes that you should keep an eye on. Here’s what I’ve learned about web design and layout:

Lesson 1: Menu and Navigation

You’d be surprised by how your site’s navigation influences browsing. I believe that for your content to get noticed, and shared, it’s important that it can be found with very little effort. This is why I encourage all of you to pay close attention to your navigation, making sure it’s organized into the right categories. For example, if you write about “making money online”, then it’s a good idea to have menu items representing the different sections you cover.

For example,

  • Interviews
  • Social media
  • YouTube
  • Content
  • And others

This will ensure that when someone arrives on your website, they’ll be able to find exactly what they are looking for, which also increases the likelihood of them sharing content with others. With each share comes the potential of new visitors arriving on your site, which goes a long way to build brand recognition.

Next,

You have to know where to place your navigation for maximum exposure. Throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed menus on the left, top, and right of the layout. However, statistically, some have been proven to work better than others. For example, having the navigation towards the top works the best because it’s completely visible when the visitor first arrives on the site. It’s been proven to keep the MOST important elements of your website above the fold, which is why a navigational menu towards the top is so effective.

If you’re using WordPress, then you can add a plugin that keeps the menu at the top of the page as you scroll. However, with the recent upgrades in themes, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new theme you purchase comes with the pre-configured plugins to allow for this functionality.

Lesson 2: The Clutter

Here’s another quick tip for you to pay close attention to when writing content. Always make sure you have the right:

Spacing – This will help divide the content so it’s NOT cluttered and very easy to read. You want to make sure each paragraph has no more than 4-5 sentences.

Font size- Make sure the size is adequate enough so it’s easy to read. The harder the text is to read, the less time people will spend on your page.

Use Bold – Make sure you bold the important text or “target” keywords because this reiterates to the reader what your content is about. It’s a great way to ensure these readers know they will find the solution on your page.

Add images – Mix things up by adding images, especially if you have very lengthy content. Images will help illustrate your point more effectively.

In-depth – Make sure when writing content, you focusing on making it in-depth. There is a lot of content available online and you should be the all-in-one solution. This is what will help you stand out compared to your competition. Stay focused and take your time writing because it’s NOT about quantity, but quality.

Final Thoughts

Many people are under the assumption that content is the ONLY thing you need to grow your blog. Even though it is very important, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Social media is a great way to build momentum quickly because everyone else is promoting your content for you. One single “share” can lead to massive traction, which will help drive traffic and build your brand. Timing is important because people are online at different times so put some tests together, looking for a pattern of when sharing is the highest. Going forward, you should focus on the same time slots for maximum exposure. Next,

Don’t forget the importance of building an email list. This is a great way to build momentum, loyalty, and keep people coming back to your blog. Imagine having 10,000 people on your list and promoting a product through a follow-up sequence. This can generate enormous money for you, helping you meet your bottom line.

In the end, it’s about testing what works and what doesn’t. I believe everything has to do with testing so make sure you have the right tools available to test the different elements of your marketing. When you find what works, you can then keep building on it until you optimize your CTR.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Best Tools for Connecting Businesses and Team Members in 2018

The typical workplace today doesn’t exist solely in a single physical space. You’ve got staff, consultants, freelancers, collaborators, and remote workers taking care of business on every corner of the globe, across a variety of different devices. It is neither effective or efficient to have everything housed in one physical location, requiring workers to access information and interact with one another in that one space.

As the old adage goes, it’s not about working harder; it’s about working smarter. And if you want your team members to get the most out of their hours and be as productive as possible, you need to arm them with the best tools for the job. And this means getting everyone on the same page at any given moment. You need that alignment and a number of online solutions can aid in achieving that goal.

Webinars and Video Sharing

We all know how important online video is to businesses and brands from a marketing perspective around the world, but few people realize the value of business connections, team building, and in-office communications.

While the concepts of webinars are quite clear, there are some solutions that are catering to multiple areas of the spectrum through online video, webinar, and team engagement. ClickMeeting, for example, has a wide range of features and benefits built right into their existing webinar platform.

With most webinar platforms, users are given the ability to host a webinar and have attendees view the presentation or slides you are talking to. With ClickMeeting, it’s a whole new ballgame.

As you can see through the screenshot above, ClickMeeting offers nearly all of the features you could ask for in a webinar solution, but also provides screen-sharing, webinar rooms (for conversations before a webinar starts), a whiteboard drawing area, in-webinar polls and surveys, and much more.

When you hear of webinars, you typically think of marketers and gurus selling their products, but businesses and brands of all sizes are actually using ClickMeeting to accomplish much more, while also increasing team building and engagement as well.

For Sharing Files and Documents

Team members need to be able to access and collaborate on various files and documents on an ongoing and real-time basis. One of the most frustrating things that can happen in an office is to have multiple versions of the same document flying around with various revisions that don’t align with one another. No one wants to get caught in an infinite email string where it’s unclear which is the “current” or “final” version of a document or file.

That’s why when you are looking for a solution that enables you to share files and documents among team members, you need to look at a solution that is well managed with easy access. A great advantage of a solution like ContractZen is that it offers a metadata-driven service. What this means is that rather than utilize a more traditional hierarchical folder system, the documents can be saved in such a way that you can simply search and organize them via metadata.

Need to gather up all the documents of a particular type? You can do that. Need all the files associated with a certain client? You can do that too. No matter how robust a traditional file folder system can be, it can never be as flexible as one that’s based on metadata. The metadata-driven virtual data rooms from ContractZen tap directly into such a configuration, offering advanced rights management, smart tagging, audit logging, and high-level encryption for much-needed security too.

For Effective Communication

Sharing files and documents effectively is of critical importance to any organization, regardless of size. We live in a digital age where those digital assets are just as valuable, if not even more so, than any physical incarnation. Those vital contracts, for instance, and well worth their weight in gold. But it’s also important that team members are able to communicate with one another in a timely and efficient way too.

Email will always have its place. It’s the most suitable location for more long-form communication and for company-wide announcements. However, for more of the day-to-day chat that is necessary for collaborators to get the job done, a much better option is something like Slack. In their own words, Slack is “the collaboration hub that moves work forward.”

While getting caught up in the bottomless pit of “reply all” emails is a certifiable waste of time, team members can set up various “channels” in Slack based on whatever organization method they’d like. This is in addition to regular one-on-one discussions too. Slack “channels” can be based around departments, projects, teams and more, including the ability to invite outside workers to specific discussions. It’s all searchable and allows for a much more flexible arrangement.

Slack also integrates with a broad range of tools you may already be using in your business. These integrations come by way of the Slack App Directory, and notable items here range from Google Calendar and Salesforce to Github, Twitter, and Simple Poll.

For times when a mostly text-based chat isn’t enough and you need some face-to-face time, Bluejeans is one of the better options for online video conferencing. Video conferences are far more cost-effective than flying in everyone from all around the world, and you can just as easily invite outside analysts and consultants too. These video meetings allow for easy screen sharing and you get crystal clear Dolby Voice audio as well.

For Project Management

When it comes to project management, you’ve likely got a lot of balls in the air. You’ve got to deal with all the different components of the actual project itself, as well as all the team members who are working on each of these elements. Keeping track of deadlines and progress and sub-tasks can be overwhelming, and that’s why it’s so important to ensure everyone is on the same page, all the time.

A great option in this space is Asana. The projects can be set up using lists, boards, calendar and timeline, empowering team members to share the important details and delegate tasks in as quick and efficient a manner as possible. Asana follows the same fundamental principles as Kanban boards, where each column represents a “stage” in the project and the goal is to move everything over to the “complete” column on the far right.

This provides for a great visualization of the project from a bird’s eye view, including color-coding and clear task assignment among team members. You can then dive into the pertinent details for any given task. The timeline lets you plan projects from the beginning and identify the gaps and overlaps early. This allows for optimal efficiency.

You’ll find several similar features with a tool like Trello too, which also utilizes the same Kanban board mentality. Instead of getting caught up in back-and-forth emails to confirm the status of a project (or the various components within it), team members can simply reference what’s going on in the Trello or Asana board. That’s how you get the job done.

A Collaborative Ecosystem

The biggest key to being effective in the world of work is to minimize the amount of time you spend on less important tasks and maximize the amount of time you spend on the work that actually moves the needle. The less time your sales team spends digging through an email archive to find an old conversation about a lead, the less time they waste in sending an old version of a contract only to learn that a revised version should’ve been used instead, the more time they can spend nurturing leads and closing deals. The same can be said about just about any department or any other project.

Armed with the right tools for the job — for sharing documents, for communication, and for managing projects — team members can be in a much more advantageous position to work toward more successful outcomes in the most efficient and effective manner possible.