Example

I recently made some big changes to the Bike198 site that not only made my life much easier…but the big changes also drastically increased my search engine traffic. There is something in this story — we’ll call it my big mistake — for all bloggers, so take this ride with me and see how you can use this story to improve your blog.

This story really starts back with the re-branding of Bike198.com. Back then…I had the idea that I wanted to have each of the separate cycling disciplines on their own sub-domain with individual WordPress installs. On paper, it looked like a great idea. I would have individual sites that could carry their own weight and have their own direct advertising campaigns while somewhat benefiting from each others back links. I even made it look cool by the colors switching between mountain, road, commuting and the base domain.

It was a dumb idea.

At least for me. I have always said on this blog that I learn as much from my mistakes…if not more…as my successes and I was learning a big lesson on this setup. What I basically did with that setup was create a HUGE headache for myself in several major areas.

  • Separate installs was like running 4 different blogs at once. A total pain in the ass and ultimately some of the categories/sub domains suffered.
  • You don’t really get the full benefit of back linking to the main domain. The other sites have to hold themselves up in a lot of ways.
  • This setup rendered the core domain Bike198.com literally useless as it had no relevant info. All it ended up being was basically a landing page with post lists.
  • When people linked to my website, 9 times out of 10 they said Bike198.com instead of the respective sub-domains. Who was really going to type mountain.bike198.com anyway?

That really only scratches the surface of the issues I was running into. Basically I created a setup that need a team to run…and I am just one guy with a blog.

So I had to go about fixing this as it was driving me crazy. My great idea on paper was driving me up the wall and hurting my business. So I started looking into a setup that would actually work for me while strengthening the site.

I made the decision…I was going to drop years worth of articles and photos on the main domain…Bike198.com. Mountain.Bike198.com, Road.Bike198.com and Urban.Bike198.com were going to get combined onto Bike198.com. Sounds like a big move and it was.

Luckily, WordPress makes this entire process stupid simple. Export from one into the other and click a simple check box stating you want the images to be downloaded too. It is actually so easy that you think you are doing something wrong. As far as moving the domains so Google and the other search engines wouldn’t get confused, I just hit up an article I wrote on moving domains and I was set.

So everything was on one site. Google and other search engines knew to take the change due to the 301 redirects and I was on my way to having an easier life with my main source of website income. Through the process, I even figured out that I could simulate the separate sites through WordPress 3.0.

  • Conditional menus with WordPress would handle navigation
  • OiOPublisher would actually handle the separate advertising by category for me (huge score for that plugin)
  • Each individual category RSS feed would be my different feeds for road, mountain and urban…so that was an easy switch

So the only thing I lost was my colors…and I can live with that. (Oddly enough, a coding genius friend of mine thinks he can still get that done with a couple of lines of Javascript…)

The Real Result: The next 72 hours…

A crazy thing happened in the next 72 hours. My traffic went through the roof…by a large percentage. It was actually so bad that I thought I had done something wrong. I was already ranking incredibly well for high competition keywords like “mountain bike reviews” so I am used to a surge of traffic especially during the warmer months. But I was not prepared for this…

As I started to research into what was “going wrong”, I found something really interesting. As Google was spidering my content and switching the url from the sub-domain to the main domain thanks to my 301 redirects, my rankings were increasing drastically within it’s rankings. I just started laughing to be honest. I thought it was a mistake and things would go back to normal soon.

It wasn’t a mistake…as things kept going…results kept getting higher and stabilized.

I was now ranking 1 and 2 for positions I was holding in the 4 to 5 territory. Long tail keywords (around 4 words) were always in the top 5. It was as if my site was given instant juice that was getting directly injected via IV into all of my pages.

The goal of this project was to make my life easier…and hopefully that change make my site perform better. If anything, I was expecting a slight drop off in traffic until Google caught up with the inbound links from the other sub-domains. That would have been completely normal…the increase is not when moving domains.

The big difference here is that I was performing actions that was making it like trying to run in lead boots. I had great content, it was getting linked to and I was otherwise making all of the right steps. Where I went wrong was trying to bite off too much at once…which ended up biting me in the ass by making my SEO efforts harder and my general site maintenance harder. Now…my site is getting full advantage of all of my hard work…and it is awesome.

So what should you take away from this?

I know you are probably thinking “Wow…that’s great. But I don’t have multiple sub-domains or the issues you were having…I am just trying to build traffic and subscribers.”

You are right. 99% of bloggers were not in my situation which you would think would make this post completely worthless to most bloggers. But like with most stories, there are things that you can take away that will help you in your blogging.

Getting Credit For All Inbound Links

Make sure you are putting your best foot forward by choosing www or non www in your domain and stick with it. While WordPress handles this by your settings…you need to make sure you are letting Google know exactly how you want to be indexed and linked to by putting a simple bit of code in your .htaccess file .

Redirect www to non-www:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Redirect non-www to www:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Think About Your Visitors…Not You

When you are designing your site and handling how your visitors will interact with your content, you absolutely have to think of your visitors first…what you think looks cool second.

If it doesn’t convert…it is not worth having. Drop all of the widgets that 70% readers aren’t going to interact with and make things easy to find. Beyond that it is about converting visitors into readers.

Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

As bloggers, we want to take on the world. Sometimes, this gets us away from what we are good at an in a world that we can not possibly manage. Try to avoid the shiny key syndrome (running after every new idea) and really plan your attack that will fit in your life. You can not possibly manage 10 blogs on your own and be good at it. Do what you do best…and manage your life at the same time.

Blogging is not rocket science…but we try to make it that way.

Blogging at its core is great content and marketing…not complicated site builds and big dreams. It is important to have goals and to see where you want to be in the future. It is detrimental to your success to not stay rooted in reality and plan your moves carefully.

You could be giving up a lot and making things harder on yourself like I did.

Example

Editors Note: This is a guest post from Lauren Bailey. I am a firm believer in diversifying the content on your blog to engage your readers on a deeper level. I think far too many times we see people that only write posts that generate revenue or none at all while focusing on only providing one type of article to their audience. Switch it up a little bit and provide some diversity! You will be surprised at the result.

As the saying goes, content is king. Successful blogging requires many things quality web design, strong marketing, clear niche but the most essential aspect is content.

If you want to be a professional blogger, you have to produce content that is well written, engaging, and unique. One of the most difficult aspects of blogging is creating content that is new and exciting enough to surprise our readers and encourage them to want more. It can be easy to lose inspiration and interest when you are writing the same way over and over again for your blog.

Work to diversify the types of articles and posts you publish on your blog. By diversifying your blog in this way, your readers will have several different ways to interact and engage with your blog. Publish articles within these four categories to help spruce up our blog and keep your readers interested.

Pillar Articles

Quality content is what brings readers to your blog in the first place (for the most part). Pillar articles are the posts that you write that make up the “meat” of your blog. Foundational posts like this allow you to thoroughly examine a topic that interests you and suits your blog area. Your readers can read these posts and come away with a solid understanding of the subject matter.

Oftentimes, these posts will be “how to” articles, tutorials, or other informational pieces. These posts help to position you as an expert within your niche area of blogging. With strong pillar articles, readers will come to your blog for the information they seek. Furthermore, quality pillar articles can generate a lot of traffic from search engine results.

 Guest Posts

Diversifying the voice used in your blog can help keep things new and fresh for your audience. Invite guest post bloggers to write for your blog. Readers will appreciate hearing varying viewpoints and opinions on the topics considered in your blog. Guest bloggers can help generate more traffic to your site by linking to their guest post for your blog on their own social media and website. This may attract readers you would not have otherwise reached. Of course, it is important to select the guest posts you publish wisely. Make sure that your guests write quality posts that fall within your blogs general niche.

Mixed Media

Using multimedia within your blog is a great way to change things up. A blog can get weighed down by too many text heavy posts. While text posts are popular for their search engine optimization potential, an occasional multimedia post can attract new readers and bring new life to a dull blog. Try doing a video blog or a podcast every now and again. This can be a great strategy for upping the traffic to your blog. Some visitors may not want to spend the time reading a post, but if they can watch or listen, they may stick around.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 [at] gmail.com.

 

Example

This past weekend, I did something really stupid. At the end of BlowWorld, my wife and I stayed in NYC for a couple of days to take a long weekend, mini vacation. On Friday, I came down with something terrible. Cold sweats, high fever, aching body, coughing like crazy…it was all there. For the next 10 days, the symptoms just ran over me like a Mack truck.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided after a week of feeling sick (and not feeling any better) that it would be a great idea to go on a 52 mile road bike ride with my friends. What harm could it do right?! By the end of the ride, I thought I was dead. I could barely hold on to the handlebars, my voice was completely gone and my throat felt like I had swallowed razorblades. What a dumb move…

Ironically enough, like most things in my life…it created inspiration for a blog post on Bike198.com. I wrote an article basically telling on myself and explaining how impatience as cyclists can take us backwards instead of forwards.

After the article went live (you can read it here: Riding Is More Than Just Spinning Wheels), I ended up getting emails from readers and calls from friends in and out of the industry telling me how spot on the article was and thank you for publishing it. Here is an example of one of the emails I received.

Hello Robb.

Thanks for the honesty of your reviews and insights.

It is always nice to read the articles as they genuinely have the human touch.

Keep up the good work

Many thanks

Reader of Bike198 (name removed)
(Brisbane Australia)

When the emails started coming in…I was floored. It completely made my day and energized the thought process for more related articles.

When we write our blog posts, I think it is easy to sometimes forget that we are connecting on a 1:1 basis with our readers. While you might be writing to an audience of thousands, each reader digests your content one at a time. The reason they do this is to connect with you and your thoughts. While they might agree or disagree, that connection is what separates blogging from other traditional forms of content publishing.

It is important…and that connection is what ultimately will grow you blog.

Top 7 Ways To Connect With Your Readers

So how can we, as bloggers, capitalize on this and make a stronger connection with our readers? Let’s take a look at this list and see if you are doing these on your blog.

  1. Tell On Yourself – No one is perfect and showing that you are human by displaying your mistakes along with your successes is a great way to connect with people. I have also always said, sometimes it is more valuable knowing what not to do as much as it is what to do. There is much to be learned in mistakes.
  2. Teach Them Something – Whether it is through one on one coaching or an article on your blog, if you can make your readers better at something in your niche, you are going to start that connection process that can go on for years. I will often times, ask my readers what they want to see covered on the blog, then actually write it! Make their voices heard and deliver.
  3. Answer Emails/Tweets/Comments – That one on one connection with your readers is extremely easy with blogging. By answering tweets, emails and comments, you are able to quickly and efficiently talk one on one with your audience. These are very powerful tools that many bloggers say they don’t have time for. Make the time and you will see the results.
  4. Attend Conferences and Meetups – Face to face interaction is the best way to get in touch with people. Shake your readers hand, meet new potential readers and continue to make that personal interaction.
  5. Be More Than Just A News Source – Your blog needs to be a resource for something other than the news. Your readers can get that from anywhere. Editorials and thought based articles will give your readers insight on what goes on in your head. Make that connection and keep it rolling.
  6. Hold Webinars – You can be everywhere and attend every conference…and neither can your readers. Just like I said with #4, the strongest connection you can make with your readers is face to face. With the widespread adoption of video conferencing, you can now host a webinar on UStream and other services to put the name with a face. The huge benefit to going this route is that you can also do Q&A.
  7. Video Posts – Not all of your readers want to schedule the time it takes to attend a webinar, but they do want to see that interaction with you. By doing video posts, you are able to bring your personal touch, attitude and personality to your content that will connect with your readers far beyond basic text.

The context of blogging was based on that connection between writer and reader that was not possible through conventional content publishing methods. By remembering that core ideal while you also try to increase business, you will be able to grow to new heights and attract raving fans of your blog.

How do you connect with your readers?

 

 

Example

As many of you already know, last week was BlogWorld Expo East in New York City and I was invited to come talk about review blogging and how to capitalize on current buying trends to turn that into blogging profits. To be honest, I was a little bit nervous! I have presented in conferences before in the professional business to business world, but this was my first time jumping into the bloggers trade show arena. I was stoked for the opportunity and at the end of the day…everything went perfectly.

Speakers I Attended At BlogWorld East

Conferences like BlogWorld are a great chance to listen to varying opinions and suggestions of other successful bloggers and marketers throughout the industry. There were a couple on the list that I knew I was going to want to hear and since I arrived in the Big Apple on Monday and my talk wasn’t until Thursday, I had the time to network and hear others.

Lewis Howes – Webinars

For those of you that don’t know Lewis, he has quickly become the king of webinars in the industry (he also happens to know a ton about LinkedIn if you are interested in that as well). You can dig into his content at LewisHowes.com, but his talk was on “How to Turn Your Blogging Passion into a 6 Figure Business with Webinars”…and he isn’t kidding. In the first quarter of this year…he has cleared over $250k by doing webinars. I don’t know about you…but I think that is insane and you can see why I wanted to hear what he had to say.

This ex pro football player took himself from living in his sisters basement to killing it online by doing webinars. His first LinkedIn promotion ended up netting over $8k for an hours worth of work! Those are concrete results showing that the environment is changing for promoting digital and physical products online. My main interest in hearing him talk was to get the nuts and bolts on how to get this going on my end as I have been looking for a way to more personally interact with my online friends/audiences.

Lewis didn’t disappoint and there was a ton of great information included. I’ll be starting something up really soon.

Johnny B Truant – Radical Transparency

Johnny is one of those guys I have been quietly watching for some time. Honestly, I really respect how he presents himself online and how he is able to act like himself and attract raving fans at the same time. When I saw he would be doing a talk on this at BlogWorld, it was on my list of must do’s.

Out of all of the presentations at BlogWorld East this year, Johnny’s was the one that got me thinking the most. The way he brings himself into his content and his relationship with his readers is nothing short of amazing (and a lot of the time…hilarious). I think we find ourselves trying to get too “professional” with our tone and talk online, and Johnny is the in your face reminder that blog readers want to connect with bloggers…not some boring cardboard cutout. The more honest you are with your readers and bring as much of you to the table as you can…the more response you will get and the more success you will see.

Far too often, I try to be Mr. Business on here when I should let go a lot more. I don’t wear a suit to my office…I am sitting in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with my dogs at my feet…and that is a good thing! Radical transparency is just that…being yourself at all cost and letting people connect with who you really are…not who you think they want to connect with. This one hour session will hopefully radically change how I speak online.

You can check out Johnny’s site here: The Internet Made Awesome

Syed Balkhi, John Chow and Zac Johnson

As you saw from an earlier post with David Risley’s intro of these three, there is never a dull moment when you get Syed and Chow together. While their talk was monetizing outside of banner ads, it was basically information that anyone already making a sum of money online knows. Things like why you need a newsletter and setting up a sales funnel were main topics in the conversation. Syed also highlighted the need to teach people how to use tools and complete things in your respective niche to create value and increase affiliate commissions (which I completely agree with). Zac illustrated how diversifying income streams can also open up your possibilities.

Again, all information I implement on my blogs and if you are not doing it now…you need to start today if you actually want to make any money online. It was fun hanging out with the guys over the course of the week and they even made me work “honk if you are horny” into my talk due to some horns they got from the book expo that was upstairs…yes…they literally said “honk if you are horny” on the horns themselves.

Here are the links so you can check them out for yourselves. John Chow (johnchow.com), Syed Balkhi (WPBeginner.com), Zac Johnson (zacjohnson.com) and David Risley (davidrisley.com)

Shane Ketterman – Rapid Success and Google’s Strong Hand

Shane is a newcomer to the block that has made HUGE strides in a very short period of time. After 7 months of blogging on his iPad blog (now sold), we was getting over 12,000 visitors a day and making thousands of dollars by capitalizing on events and teaching people how to use their new tablets.

The story is really a cool one as he went through the process and how he dealt with this rapid success. Unfortunately, he also got hit hard by the Panda update from Google (from what I can guess by what he was saying…the content scrapers are what did him in…not his content. He was writing five 1,000 word posts a day of unique content which is just insane!).

So there are two main things you need to take away from Shane (@rewirebusiness).

  1. Never put all of your eggs in one basket. Google traffic and Adsense can go away quickly if that is all you are relying on.
  2. Have a newsletter!! If Shane would have started a newsletter from day 1, he could have kept things rolling much better with a database of people that wanted his content.

When it was all said and done, Shane made out pretty good on the sale. It would have been much better without the Panda hit, but he is onto new things and I am excited to see what comes out of it.

Networking…Networking…Wait…

Outside of hearing some great speakers, BlogWorld was also a great time to put faces with names of people that I talk to online all of the time. I wouldn’t call it networking…I call it solidifying friendships. It was great to be able to hang out with everyone and I am looking forward to doing it again soon.

Unfortunately I will not be making it to LA for BlogWorld West as I will be neck deep in having our first baby around that time. If that isn’t a good excuse to miss…I don’t know what is! Our first child, Daniel Merrill Sutton is due October 25th..so we will be just a little bit busy! 😉

Oh yeah…the Bonus!

Some of you probably scrolled all the way down to the bottom of this page before you read anything above. That’s ok…I do it to! Just make sure you scroll back up at some point. There is some good stuff up there from some great bloggers and internet people.

Anyways, I am going to be annoucing the bonus in my newsletter this week, so if you are not already subscribed, click here…enter your info…claim your free eBook and watch out for a very cool announcement on something I am going to do for you and do it for free this week. I’m stoked and there will be a lot of value to it…so stay on the edge of your chair for this one.

In case you missed it…click here —> Blogging Labs Newsletter and Free Problogging Is Dead eBook! and then watch out for a killer free deal this week.