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

I honestly see no reason for hating WordPress. Millions of people simply can’t be wrong. Just look at the numbers. 13,800,000 blogs running as self-hosted installations, and 13,900,000 active blogs on wordpress.com (2010 data). Of the top 1 million websites (according to Alexa) 12.4% use WordPress. That’s a whopping 124,000 of them.

But still, you don’t have to be preaching WordPress if you don’t want to. So if you’re about to launch a new website you might as well use a different web content management system (CMS). Or don’t use any CMS at all, and build the site from the ground up with pure PHP and HTML. Although this is probably not the best possible idea since there are tons of great systems out there.

Here’s a list of 13 top web content management systems you should consider if you’re not really into this WordPress thing.

1. Joomla!

(http://www.joomla.org/)

I had been a Joomla! (don’t forget about the exclamation mark) programmer for a couple of years before I switched to WordPress. Joomla! is an advanced, full-blown open source content management system that powers 2.7% of the entire web (as it’s claimed on joomla.org). Joomla! provides many functions you would expect from a CMS, plus has an impressive directory of extensions (8,065 of them at the time of writing). This CMS is great for all sorts of corporate websites or portals, online magazines, e-commerce stores, small business websites, and other.

If you want a social proof here’re some websites that use Joomla!: http://gsas.harvard.edu, http://www.outdoorphotographer.com, http://www.quizilla.com.

2. Drupal

(http://drupal.org/)

An open source platform as well. Drupal is close to the top of this list not without a reason. It’s a great CMS for building corporate websites, information portals, enterprise applications and even blogs. Plus, you can choose from more than 8,000 modules (extensions).

Some websites that use Drupal: http://www.fastcompany.com/, http://www.popsugar.com/, http://www.symantec.com/connect/, http://www.observer.com/.

3. CMS Made Simple

(http://www.cmsmadesimple.org/)

The name itself is pretty self-explanatory. CMS Made Simple is the winner of the “overall best open source CMS award 2010” by Packt Publishing. It’s a scalable platform (suited both for small businesses and large corporations) and provides a really big list of features. Some of them are: SEO friendly URLs, user and group management, multiple language support, multiple themes per website, forms, polls, newsletters, guestbookÖ there’s no point to mention every single feature here, just go to cmsmadesimple.org and find out for yourself.

4. Plone

(http://plone.org/)

First non-PHP CMS on this list. Plone runs on Python. But what it runs on is not important to the end user. What is important though is its simple and easy to use interface. “Elegant minimalism” they call it. The new version of Plone is claimed to be 50% faster than the previous one and to be one of the fastest open source CMS platforms on the market. Its many features and constantly growing community makes it the top non-PHP choice.

5. XOOPS

(http://www.xoops.org/)

Back to PHP systems. Easy to use, feature-rich, and fully modularized ñ this pretty much sums it up. Some interesting features are: expanded users management and theme-based GUI (with over 1,000 currently available themes).

6. PHP-Nuke

(http://www.phpnuke.org/)

This one is old-school. It was one of the most popular systems when I was starting out as a PHP programmer. Fortunately, it hasn’t been forgotten and it’s still developed by a devoted community. The counter on phpnuke.org indicates more than 8,450,000 downloads, which is impressive to say the least.

7. e107

(http://www.e107.org/)

“e107, it’s pimp, init?” ñ one of the random sentences you see when you visit e107.org. This is a great, developer-friendly CMS with many interesting features, and if you think there’s something missing you can suggest a new feature. There’s a special section on the site for that. If you happen to be a product owner yourself then here’s a hint ñ there’s no better way of showing your community that you care than by letting them suggest new ideas for improvement.

8. Magnolia CMS

(http://www.magnolia-cms.com/)

It’s targeted mainly towards business users, so it’s no surprise it’s the CMS of choice for many government and large corporate websites. Among its many features there’s a possibility to preview content exactly as it would be seen by the website visitor. If you’ve been working with other CMS platforms you know that it’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to explain to your client why in the end the content looks differently from what they see in the editor. No such problem here.

9. dotCMS

(http://dotcms.com/)

This one is a Java-based content management system. You can choose from two available versions (free ñ Community version, and paid ñ Enterprise version). Similar to every CMS on this list this one provides a wide range of features as well. You can use it to manage small, micro-sites as well as large online magazines. If you’d like something built around Java this is basically the route to go.

10. b2evolution

(http://b2evolution.net/)

This is a blog content management system (similar to WordPress). Free and open source. It provides some classic, blog features but also many additional ones. It lets you manage files and photos, launch multiple blogs, use detailed user permissions and more. Of course, there’s a lot of available plugins too.

11. CuteNews

(http://cutephp.com/)

If you need something really simple you should consider this CMS. It’s basically just a news management system that uses some standard files instead of a normal database (like MySQL for example). Somehow it still manages to support things like commenting, archives, search function, file uploads, and even backup and restore.

12. CushyCMS

(http://www.cushycms.com/)

This CMS is probably one of the easiest to use platforms on this list. A “truly simple CMS” as the authors say. And it’s hard to disagree. I was really surprised when I learned how the CMS works because it uses none of the industry-standard ideas. The first surprising thing is that there’s no software to installÖ yea, how about that? I encourage you to find out for yourself. The video on cushycms.com is just 5 minutes.

13. Nucleus CMS

(http://nucleuscms.org/)

Basically a blog content management system running on PHP and MySQL (same as WordPress). What’s interesting about it is the fact that you can use it to launch multiple sites with a single installation. If you like to you can extend it with a number of plugins (which is kind of a standard for top-shelf CMS platforms these days). One of the more interesting features is the possibility to backup and restore the whole database with just a single click.

Which one is the best?

There’s no best or worst here. If you need a good, feature-rich, and safe content management system you can go with either one from this list. It’s best to check them all out and see which one appeals to you the most. And when you do, don’t forget to come back and let me know in the comments which one is it.

P.S. My favorite one is still WordPress sorry.

About the author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland who hates to work but loves to train capoeira. But anyway, tune in to get his blogging tips and tutorials.

Example

Yesterday, I received an email from one of the companies that I am an affiliate with that should have a lot of bloggers incredibly nervous.

With the impending passing of the California Budget which includes an Affiliate Nexus provision we have begun the process of removing all publishers located in the State of California.  From what we understand the Governor needs to sign the bill by July 1st and that when he does it will become effective immediately, if the Governor does not sign the bill all publishers will be reinstated to our program.

This is not something new. North Carolina and Illinois have also passed similar laws that allow for taxes to negate the money that companies use to pay affiliates. As a result, companies like Amazon.com have pulled their affiliate programs from these states because those programs are no longer profitable for the company and the bloggers.

For the bloggers that were depending on these commissions to support the bulk of their income stream, they are now without cash!

Diversifying Income Streams For Long Lasting Growth

I think I have probably told this to every blogger I run into and mentioned it in every presentation I have ever done…if you want to be successful over the long haul, you have to diversify your income streams. Business changes from day to day. What was great today could be gone tomorrow.

You have to ask yourself one simple question. If my #1 source of income was gone tomorrow…what would I have left?

If you answer is nothing, you are in a lot of trouble as a law like this…or some companies choice to leave the market completely…could leave you broke and penniless.

Successful companies are successful because they continue to grow and expand. As market conditions change, the economy does its thing and people’s tastes adapt to times, there are going to be periods in which certain areas that generate income for your business are up and down. When you diversify into multiple, related areas, you are able to handle the swings. When one is down, another one may be up. If one goes away completely, you are able to make up the difference in other areas instead of starting back from square one.

As a blogger, you have a lot of areas outside of just affiliate revenue that you can diversify into to keep your ability to go the distance healthy.

  1. Make Your Own Products and Services (eBooks, consulting, membership sites, physical products)
  2. Sell Direct Advertising
  3. Pay Per Click and Pay Per Impression Advertising (Adsense, Contextual, etc)

By jumping into different income options and expanding your offerings, you are taking the steps to insure that your blog is always generating income. Perhaps the best and longest lasting of these would be to create your own products and services that not only make you money…but strengthen your brand name at the same time.

Not Every Income Stream Is Right For You

Now…with this said. Not all of these areas will work for your blog. Just because you want to diversify, that does not mean to keep things going that do not work. In some markets, PPC/PPM advertising payouts are horrible and not worth the screen real estate. Choose what you implement carefully and test how they perform on your blog before deciding whether or not it is worth the effort and space.

And…like most things in life…this too can change so you have to be willing to test out income producing assets of your blog even if they might not have worked well in the past. With new knowledge and new market conditions, they could be a viable option now when they weren’t before.

Do Your Market Research

What is working for your competition? Is that an option for you? What are they not doing that might work in your market that you could capitialize on and set the bar?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself as you look for unique ways to produce income. While it is always good to look at what your competition is doing to make money on their own websites, sometimes it is even better to try what they are not doing as you might have found a hidden gem in your industry. It is always a good idea to keep tabs on the people around you for ideas.

How I Diversify On My Blogs

All of this theory is great, but how do we implement it in practice. On Bike198.com, I diversify my income streams with the following assets:

  1. Direct Advertising
  2. Sale of Review Products
  3. Affiliate Advertising
  4. CPC Advertising (2 banners)
  5. My Own Products (Ramped Riding eBook, 29er T-Shirt, Riding Kits)

As you can see, there is a lot to pull from to generate income. All of these avenues produce consistently month over month.

How do you diversify your income streams on your blog?