Making a Business of Your Writing Skills

You’ve always loved to write, and you think you’ve got good skills, some creativity, and solid understanding of the various types of writing.  Now, you’ve decided to make a living doing it.  Good for you!  There is a great career in store for you as a freelance writer if you do it right, build your business with care, and commit to the responsibilities that it entails.

Getting Started – Take Anything!

A plumber, starting his own business, takes any job s/he can find, no matter how simple and no matter how small the payment may be.  You must begin the same way, finding and taking any writing task you can find.  There are a few things that you can do to be pro-active, however:

  1. Perform a Google search for freelance writing opportunities.  You will find a lot of writing clearinghouses that want you to pay a registration fee.  They will promise you the “moon,” but don’t believe it.  Find the sites that allow you to register and establish a basic profile.  Usually you will then be sent opportunities, upon which you may bid.  Do some research on typical pay for novice freelancers (usually a few cents per word) and bid accordingly.  Many people have begun this way and have developed rather permanent relationships with clients.
  2. Take the time to complete applications and take the examinations that many writing clearinghouse sites will require.  You need to have your name on as many of these sites as possible.  Some will publish writing opportunities daily, and you simply accept the ones you want and complete them with professionalism and according to the deadline.
  3. Check Craigslist regularly.  They have two categories for writing/editing, and you should apply for any opportunity for which you may be qualified.
  4. Over time, you will “pick up” writing opportunities by referral.  Always take the assignments offered, and be willing to put in long hours to meet any client’s deadline.  You can always sleep when the job is completed.  Many of your clients may be foreign – they don’t care about your time zone.  Work with theirs!

Train Yourself – Become More Marketable

Given the wide variety of web-based writing opportunities, you need to embark on an independent learning process.  Familiarize yourself with all of the current writing platforms and tools that online businesses and organizations use – for directory articles, for blogs, for site content, etc.  You cannot learn enough, and this learning must be on-going.  Are you familiar with WordPress and Tumblr? Do you know how social media can be utilized to promote businesses? Do you understand content marketing?  If not, you have a lot to do in between writing jobs!

Time Management – How Organized are You?

It is really enticing to think that you can just work in your PJ’s all day.  Think of the freedom and independence!  If you are not careful, however, it becomes too easy to turn on that television, to check your Facebook page, to retire for a nap, etc.  You cannot compromise your schedule for these things.  A few tips follow:

  1. Have a physical space set aside in your residence for your work – a space that has the “feel” of an office.  You need the psychological mindset of being “at work.”
  2. Set up a schedule that provides for work and for breaks.  Follow that schedule.  If you decide that you will take a break every two hours, stick to it!  And, if you experience downtime, without a writing task, take the time to do some research, enhance your skills, or seek out new business.
  3. Accept the fact that your schedule may be totally uprooted.  A client may have an urgent or rush order.  If that client is important to you, then you must meet the deadline, without exception.  You must be committed to long hours when necessary, even if it means cancelling social engagements.  This is the life of a small business owner!

Payment Options

Your clients may have a variety of methods of payment – check, automatic deposit, etc.  Whenever possible, choose PayPal.  The beauty of PayPal is that, at the end of each year, you can obtain a full detailed accounting of all that you have earned.

Income Reporting for Taxes

Keep careful records of payments, and plan to set aside the appropriate amount for income and payroll taxes.  But do not forget the multitude of deductions that are available to individuals who work out of their homes.  You need to research all of the tax law and regulations that relate to your situation or find a tax preparer that is really skilled in self-employment tax preparation.

A Final Word

Freelance writing can be wonderfully rewarding and can provide the variety that you so want.  If you are careful and steadily build your business, you can enjoy independence and an income that will sustain you quite well!

Bio: Eileen Archer is currently a chief editor at Essay Planet and has researched and written on a number of topics affecting secondary and university students. After obtaining a Masters in English language she decided to dedicate her time to creative writing as well as providing assistance to students.

5 Bare Essentials of SEO-friendly Web Design

Having web design that’s SEO-friendly is critical in today’s digital marketplace. Many online marketing experts will agree that what’s the point of having a website if no one can find it via search?

As more and more business realize the potential of SEO and search marketing, the importance of an SEO-friendly website design reigns even stronger.

In this article, I will share with you five essential elements that define a SEO-friendly web design. Keep in mind that these are the essentials, and that more technical considerations can be applied to further enhance the SEO potential of a website.

Develop a Seamless HTML Coding Structure

Although the HTML coding structure of a website is more on the development end, it’s a technical component that also overlaps into the general web design category. The HTML back-end of a website influences how fast a website loads (impacting usability and human interaction,) as well as how efficient a website can be crawled and indexed by search engine spiders (impacting SEO).

As a result, it’s important that the HTML coding structure of your website is optimized for faster load speeds. This is particularly important if your website is custom developed with certain media elements or complex linking and navigation. If you’re using a content management system (or “CMS,”) opt for SEO-friendly CMS platforms like WordPress or Exponent. These CMS options have been developed so that the HTML coding structure is well-suited for fluid crawling and indexing.

Optimize Robust Media Files

Parallel to having a seamless HTML back-end, there are a few common media files that can be quite heavy in terms of file size. Robust media files can slow down the load speed (and sometimes the crawl-ability) of a website.

When creating a SEO-friendly web design, it’s important to optimize (or shrink) the file size of heavy media files, such as large images, videos, or audio files. In addition to optimizing media files for faster website load speeds, you can also keyword optimize these media elements for greater SEO value. This includes naming the file with respect to your keywords, as well as populating file’s properties to be SEO-friendly.

Build a Complete HTML Sitemap

Most SEO experts consider the HTML sitemap to be the second most important page on a website (next to the homepage.) However, it’s not uncommon for web designers to neglect building a complete sitemap.

The sitemap is like the index to your website. And although it’s not a common reference for visitors, the HTML sitemap serves as a roadmap for search engine spiders. In short, sitemaps define all of the pages on a website that should be crawled and indexed. For this reason, it’s absolutely essential to include this important page on your website.

Integrate Website Calls-to-Action (or “CTA’s”)

It is imperative that your website has calls-to-action on the primary pages which users engage with. CTA’s are designed to promote conversions after a visitor has landed on your website. The idea is draw the attention of a visitor to the CTA with some kind of incentive and thus promote desirable action.

Integrating CTA’s in your web design takes SEO one step further. This practice is known as Conversion Rate Optimization or “CRO.” In essence, a CRO strategy is equally as important as a SEO strategy. By including short submission forms, clickable banners and buttons, and CTA’s on your website, you maximize the value of your visitor traffic.

Include a Header & Footer

This might seem like rudimentary web design practices, but it’s surprising to see how many websites out there are missing a header and/or footer. These web design elements are very important for SEO in that they typically withhold the website’s most important links – such links that should be included site-wide (on all pages.)

The footer is the most common web design element that gets forgotten about. This area is crucial, for it acts as a mini-sitemap. Here you can link the pages of your website that carry the greatest SEO value. One of these pages should most definitely be the HTML sitemap.

 

About the guest authorTyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO and Internet marketing analyst for Click Centric SEO Company, a professional provider of ecommerce SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content marketing services. Tyler offers over five years of experience in the web marketing profession and is a strong advocate for socially-influenced SEO programs.

8 bad XHTML/CSS Coding practices affecting your Online Business

There are several coding practices to take care of while writing xhtml and css code. Failure to follow any one of it can lead to bad user experience and website owner can  lose potential customers. In this article we are going to discuss the points which must be followed by html/css coder.

1. Unavailable or Unaccessible website

If you want to target a large amount of audience irrespective of its location, then you must be aware about the count and behavior of Internet population. As on March 31 2011, it counted to 6,930,055,154 as per Internet World Stats. What do you think that all of these are coming from a single place and using a single browser? The Internet population is scattered all around the globe and currently Asia Continent has the largest share in this online population.

Displaying the Internet users Statistics (Source: Internet World Stats)

One can reach at following observations easily after going through above statistics. The Internet population is coming

  • from different locations,
  • at different time zones,
  • using different browsers,
  • with different types of machines like Desktop, Laptop, Netbook, Tablets, Smart TVs, Game Consoles, Smartphones,  Mid-range Mobile Handsets etc.
  • at different types of operating systems such as Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Ubuntu, Solaris, Debian, Android, Symbian, iOS etc., and
  • with different Internet connection speeds.

Based on the above listed points, your website must be:

1. accessible from all over the world,

2. online at all the time,

3. browser and operating system compatible,

4. tested on all possible devices and

5.  fast loading .

If your Website does not target any of the above points then it surely losing potential online business opportunities. To ensure this: HTML coder must test the website on different browsers, operating system and on all possible devices.  HTML/CSS code should be fast loading.

2. No Cross Browser Compatibility

Open-source has provided a great extension to software and especially, browser development. The companies are free take advantages of an open-source code and create a browser on it. Let us take the example of WebKit open-source project as it empowers more than 30 browsers (including mobile browsers as well). This subsequently has leveraged us to install any number of Web browsers in our computer systems and other machines. Therefore, each Internet user has leverage to surf the Web from any browser.

There are numerous Desktop browsers are available, however, the major players are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, and so on. Here is the usage statistics for the year 2013.

Year 2013 Internet Explorer Mozilla Firefox Google Chrome Safari Opera
March 13.0 % 28.5 % 51.7 % 4.1 % 1.8 %
February 13.5 % 29.6 % 50.0 % 4.1 % 1.8 %
January 14.3 % 0.2 % 48.4 % 4.2 % 1.9 %

Browser Usage statistics in 2013 (Source: W3C Browser Stats)

All the above major browsers are built with different framework, coding, practices and guidelines. Thus, their way of working is quite different from each other. It makes the Websites to appear and load different in each browser.

In addition, each browser has its subsequent releases to reach at an advanced stage today. With each release, the installation requirements for a browser changes and not everyone can meet continuously changing installation requirements for the latest or upcoming release of his/her favorite browser. This makes an Internet public to stick with that browser release which they’ve preferred in the past.

The feature of a Website to appear as-it-is in different or above major browsers is termed as Cross Browser Compatibility. If your Website is not cross-browser compatible and looks scattered in different browsers or its versions, then the visitors will close it instantly. This will increase the bounce rates and decrease the chances of order generation.

Its mandatory for html/css coder to test your Website in above major Web browsers. You can also make use of following tools to check the Cross Browser Compatibility of your Website:

3. Does not open similar or different Platforms

As discussed above, the Internet population is making use of different devices to be online and visit Websites. Even if you take the computer category then there are different types of operating systems. The major desktop & laptop Operating Systems are Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Let us have a look on their usage statistics.

2013 Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista NT* Windows XP Linux Macintosh Mobile OS
March 6.7% 55.9% 2.4% 0.4% 17.6% 4.7% 9.5% 2.3%
February 5.7% 55.3% 2.4% 0.4% 19.1% 4.8% 9.6% 2.2%
January 4.8% 55.3% 2.6% 0.5% 19.9% 4.8% 9.3% 2.2%

Operating System Usage Statistics by Internet population (Source: W3C OS Platform Statistics)

The continuous inception of Web browsers and the Web add-ons (like Adobe Flash, Java Applets, JavaScript, Microsoft Silverlight and others) have let a large chunk of internet population to either use outdated browsers even on latest Operating Systems or have latest browsers on outdated OSs. For example, one cannot have Internet Explorer 9 on Windows XP Machine but can install latest browsers (Mozilla Firefox 6, Google Chrome 14, Apple Safari 5 and Opera 11.5) or outdated browsers (Firefox 3.3, Safari 3).

It’s necessary for HTML coders to test the website on different browsers. The tools we mentioned to test cross browser compatibility can also be used to test website on different Operating system.

Let us take another example where one have tested its Website on all browsers at Windows but not focused on Macintosh and Linux. If a user or a community browses that Website in a non-Windows platform like Mac then we’re sure the Website look scattered until & unless it has been optimized for Mac.

Therefore, we advise you to make your Website appear as-it-is at different Operating Systems.

No Options to Increase the Loading Speed of Website

Not only the Internet populations employ different browsers and operating systems but they also surf the Web at different connection speeds. Please have a look on the following image showing average Internet connection speeds worldwide.

Displaying Average Connection Speeds of Internet Users across the globe (Source: Pingdom Blog Post)

After seeing above image, you’ve a clear idea of different Internet connection speeds in use around the globe. If you’ve not optimized your Website as per Page Loading Optimization standards then it will load extremely slowly at more than different speeds.

Before having an idea about the average time spent by an online user on a Website, you must know how much options he/she have when he visits a Website directly or through search engines. Consider following two factors for more information.

  • As per WorldWideWeb Size, currently there are 9.6 billion pages indexed Web pages as on April 10, 2013.
  • If you search for any keyword on any major search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, or Blekko then it will return million of results within few seconds. For example, searching for ‘PSD to HTML’ on Google.com return about 80,100,000 results (0.33 seconds) as on April 10, 2013.

After combining both of the above factors, today an average Internet user have thousands of options, irrespective of his/her connection speed, to look for a particular piece of information. Therefore, a user wants to stay only for few seconds on a Web page just to have a glimpse for targeted information. If your Web page or site loads up in minutes then who will stay at it? The increased Page Loading Time of a Website directly results in to maximum bounce rates or loss in visitors’ traffic. This in turn reduces the expected amount of money generation from a Website.

Therefore, you should optimize your Website and make it lightweight to load instantly on users’ machine irrespective of Internet connection speed. One cannot visit all the geographical locations and test the Websites at different speeds; but one can make use some guidelines and standards to optimize the Page Loading Speed of a Website. You can follow the Yahoo YSlow Rules and Google Page Speed Standards in order to have faster loading times for your Website. We also suggest you to make use of following tools to test the Page Loading Speed of a Web page or site and know the suggestions how to improve it:

Does not work without JavaScript?

JavaScript has played a great in adding the automation or dynamism in the Websites. It has not only saved the time of programmers but also lets the browsers to open and surf the Websites faster. Nowadays, whether it is a simple Website or has some special effects everyone make use of JavaScript. Numerous applications are made or supposed to be launched on the base of JavaScript.

Few famous JS applications are jQuery, Facebook Plugins, Google JS API, Adobe Active Content, Yahoo Active Content and others. As per BuiltWith.com Trends for JavaScript, 728,540 out of Top-visited One Million Websites employ JavaScript to add any application or facility for the users.

On the contrary, there is also good amount of users or browsers having JavaScript turned off and most of them are listed herein below,

  • Screen readers for disabled people
  • Accessible browsers for blind people
  • Mobile Web browsers
  • Out-dated browsers
  • Search Engine Robots like GoogleBot, BingBot, AskJeeves, ScoutJet and so on
  • Command-line browsers & simulators like Lynx, Xenu, GSiteCrawler
  • Server Administrator CUI browsers without any graphical interface

Let us have a look on the studies carried out in the last year 2010 to have an idea about the number of Internet users with disabled JavaScript.

  • In December 2010 WebAIM.org has conducted a survey to know the Website Accessibility through Screen Readers. It has reported that 1.6% of total respondents have JavaScript disabled while browsing the Web.
  • According to Punkchip.com, “If you take The Guardian as an example, the current average visitors per day is around 2,200,000. 1.3% of that is 28,600 users browsing without Javascript. Per day.”
  • In addition, Yahoo has conducted a research to have an idea of JavaScript Enabled and Disabled users of its Yahoo Sites in October 2010. Following figure shows a list of JavaScript disabled users categorized on the basis of their locations:

Statistics of JavaScript Disabled Users of Yahoo Sites in October 2010 (Source: Yahoo Developer Blog Post)

From the above points, we just want to iterate that JavaScript disabled users still exists even if they are small in numbers. It is not a big fight to make a Website work even if the JavaScript is turned off. However, few JavaScript applications may not work. We suggest you to test your Website at least in one or two browsers after turning of the JavaScript.

No Compatibility with Different Screen Resolutions

The days were gone when a Website used to have a logo, “Best Viewed in 800×600 pixels resolution”. Today, the Internet users around the globe have different types of machines and monitors. In addition, a latest monitor or display unit allows selecting any resolution from its settings. Let us have a look on screen resolutions statistics of the Internet population.

Screen Resolutions

Percentage of Users in Jan 2011

640×480

0%

800×600

0%

1024×768

14%

1152×864

1.50%

1280×1024

14.80%

1280×800

14.40%

1360×768

1.30%

1366×768

10.10%

1440×900

9.90%

1600×900

2.50%

1680×1050

9.20%

1920×1080

6.20%

1920×1200

4.50%

Other high resolutions

10.70%

Different Screen Resolutions in usage as in January 2011 (Source: W3C Browser Display Statistics)

If you are coding a Website to work only one or two screen resolutions available in your team then it will not open adequately in other screen resolutions. In nutshell, the Website is losing a large amount of Internet users having higher or lower screen resolutions than your preferred one. Therefore, we suggest you to have a pixel-perfect code & design of your Website, which opens as-it-is at all screen resolutions. You can make use of following tools to test your Website at different resolutions:

Invalid Code

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has laid down the standards for coding in Markup and CSS languages. If you are just coding without following the standards then it may cause a problem. You can test your code and get it validated at W3C Markup Validation and W3C CSS Validator. These validation services also show the suggestions to improve your existing code. You can improve it as per requirements and have a proof of code genuineness. Do not forget:

  • Even if the major browsers do not consider the W3C validation process, still it provides you the industry-standard code helping to perform cross-browser compatibility in less timing.
  • Major search engines may not give more ranking to the W3C-validated code; still W3C Validation process helps you to have search-engine friendly code.
  • Search Engine gives points to validated code when your Website has higher competition for top positions in rankings.

Inaccessible by disabled

More than 20 countries have made it a law that a Website should be accessible by disabled people. The most common conventions of making a Website accessible are governed by W3C WCAG Guidelines – Version 1 and Version 2. In addition, Government of United States has also passed the Section 508 instructing all US-based sites to be accessible by disabled. If you do not care about these guidelines and Accessibility law in your country there is no worry, just be ready to lose potential visitors and have a loophole for not following the law.

If you want to follow the Website Accessibility law in your country or WCAG guidelines to have the attention or business from disabled Internet users then you should make the Website accessible. You can make use of following tools to test your Website for Accessibility Guidelines and have suggestions to improve it:

Conclusion

Nowadays, most of the Webmasters checks above points before launching their Websites into public domain. You can also follow above parameters to have expected online business from your site. We invite our readers to pass on their valuable comments about this article and mistakes to avoid while coding a Website.

 

About the guest author: Ajeet Yadav is associated with WPIntegration offering services like PSD to WordPress theme conversion , WordPress Integration and other wordpress theme design services.(Its a specialized division of Ipraxa – A web design and development company). Follow us on Google+ , for updates on WordPress conversion and Integration service.

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Necessary Steps To Make Your Blog SEO Friendly

Google and other major search engines take content freshness seriously. And part of the freshness score happens to be your website’s age. Since most blogs are updated frequently with relevant content, Google scores this content differently from other static websites that haven’t added new content in a long time. Blogs are just less formal – which means it’s easier to update them frequently, impress the search engines and rank higher.  The question is – how do you do it? How do you effectively optimize your blog for the search engines? Let’s find out in the article below…

Create Keyword Rich Content

There’s a huge debate whether bloggers should work on keywords before writing content or simply focus on providing value. However, leading bloggers and SEO experts have suggested that while content quality and value it offers are the two most significant aspects that Google considers while ranking, making the posts keyword optimized helps you get ranked on a chosen keyword.

Then sprinkling that keyword across the content just compliments the overall ranking procedure. Of course, the keyword shouldn’t be overused and content should have a lot of helpful information for the readers.

Use the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress

Installing SEO plugins has long been one of the best ways to automate stuff and improve organic search traffic on blogs. Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress is a free plugin that allows people to evaluate their content’s ability to rank on Google. The way it evaluates the content is – first we need to enter the “focus keyword” or the ‘main keyword’ that you want the post to be ranked for.

Then it compares the content with common on-page SEO prerequisites such as keyword inclusion in the title, in the URL, in a sub-heading, etc. A lot of bloggers who use this plugin have found significant improvement in their traffic over a period of short time. And it would help you too.

Update Content Regularly

Some people say quality of content matters more than quantity, while others say quantity matters more. The truth is somewhere in between! Regularly updating your blog with highly informative and educational content makes search engine bots visit your website again and again improving the overall page ranking of the website.

Studies have shown that updating at least 2 blog posts per month results in consistent increase in search engine traffic. However, for that the content needs to be:

  • Informative
  • Lengthy (A minimum of 800 words)
  • Must contain internal and external URL’s
  • Relevant images and videos
  • Action oriented information and not just content

 

Remember, blog optimization for search engines is among the most important steps towards building a successful blog. And in case you do not possess the expertise needed for it, you can always choose a reputed SEO agency like Netmark Reviews to do it for you. It can save you time, efforts and bring better search engine traffic, helping you get the best return on your investment.

 

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Embedding SEO in Web Design

This is a trend I have been watching for long. The web design guys do their job and SEO theirs – the twain never meet. As a result, the website turns out to be neither here nor there. Many elements of good design are missing and SEO seems to be an afterthought. What needs to be done is to embed SEO into web design.

Creating a design template

Let’s be frank. Most of us fear Google than anything else in life. Our web design is focused towards optimization for Google search. Though I have nothing against this approach, we tend to lose perspective when we do this. We may get visitors to our site but if we don’t provide a suitable environment to them, they will move away. By suitable environment I mean, good presentation, good content and smooth navigation. We have to refocus our design towards fulfilment of visitors than merely on getting them onboard.

WordPress shows the way

I like the way WordPress is designed. The CMS or content management system is geared towards SEO. With the help of plugins you can optimize each and every page on the fly. This is the best example I can think of when it comes to embedding SEO. At the same time, the design or web page layout forms a different part of WordPress. What have they achieved? They have separated the aesthetics from the content. You can have a great template over which content is presented. The content creator works in tandem with the design. As a result, you have embedded SEO into design in a seamless fashion.

Dynamic web design

Another aspect of modern web design encapsulates change. You can no longer afford to create a site and then enjoy the fruits for all time to come. You have to change and adapt according to user requirements. This means constant changing and chopping. This can have disastrous effect on SEO. Your search ranking can plummet to unknown depth and recovering from the shock can be difficult. This is one reason why most web owners are reluctant to change their web design.  With a CMS like WordPress, you need not bother about this conflict of interest. You can change the interface and navigation without compromising your content.

Is SEO the same as old SEO?

With Google coming up with Panda and Penguin updates, SEO is no longer the same as it used to be. In fact some say that in today’s world no SEO is best SEO. I tend to agree with them. Keyword density has lost meaning. You never know what’s going to happen. In this scenario, it’s best to concentrate on other aspects of web design. I think time has come to forget about SEO altogether.

Conclusion

Web design must include SEO as a part and not as some external appendage. You must focus on your presentation and content as an integral whole. WordPress is a good example where this has been achieved.

 

About the guest author: Sarah loves to explore various aspects of internet marketing. To her, effective marketing is a combination of online and traditional.  You can print extra large brochures  here for your offline marketing needs.

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Why You Need To Add Photos To Your Blog

With the growing popularity of Pinterest, the reason you need to add photos to your blog has become somewhat obvious. If you have high quality images in your blog with the ‘Pin It’ button, your entire post gets enviable publicity when someone (could be you) does pin it.

Psychologists often talk about getting in touch with our ‘Inner Child’. As children, we all loved picture books. Text was boring, images were fun. That part of our mind is still there – only, we cannot afford to indulge now that we are all grown up and business like. The basic reason why you need to add photos to your blog is such practice helps you connect to your viewers in the most primal way, through color, shape, design, and the unspoken word – or a ‘thousand words’ as WordPress never tires of pointing out.

When you have a relevant image inserted into your post, people tend to find the experience quite pleasing. Unless you have an extraordinarily engaging style of writing, only text is likely to appear academic (read boring, for most people), and the Internet is largely a magic box that we have grown addicted to. The element of fun must be there if you wish to make your average visitor stop and read. Why do you think doctor’s chambers and parlors have magazines? They could very well have classics or short stories instead!

Not everyone is an artist, but most people have a sense of aesthetics and respond to visuals if only by pausing for a moment. There will be visitors on your blog who will want to leave after a casual screening of your content. An array of images will make them stop and look. This will ultimately lower your bounce rate. A reputed site has a particularly sneaky yet pleasant trick to achieve this. In addition to having images in posts, when you move your mouse away from the page to close the tab or window, a slideshow pop up appears with ten amazing facts. Each of the slides contains very interesting images. The extra seconds that it takes to look at the images add to the overall visitor retention time for your blog.

Another reason why you need to add photos to your blog is the amount of publicity it can bring you when your posts are shared on social media sites like Facebook. Because of the reasons we have already covered, a link that displays a thumbnail with the text appears more enticing than one which has only text. There are blogs that have entire posts in images. The text that is in the images is also written in the “alt” attribute for SEO purposes, but imagine a post like ‘How to Get More Following on Twitter’ that is composed entirely of images, and funny ones at that. It would beat an all text article hands down any day!

Finally, there are some compelling statistics from the New York Times, Alexa, PR Newswire, Web Liquid, Skyword, Brightlocal and the National Retail Federation that should explain why you need to add photos to your blog.

1. Skyword reports that articles related to News, Sports and Politics get the most enhanced readership when images are present.

2. On an average, content with images get about 94% more page views than that without.

3. 60% of consumers are more impressed with search results that show images when searching for local businesses.

4. The National Retail Federation has found that consumers rate product images, product specific descriptions and customer reviews in that order when browsing e-commerce sites.

However, you need to follow best practices when using images on your blog. They must be optimized so as not to slow down the loading time. You can’t engage your visitors with images if they click away before they load. Also, bear in mind the “alt” attribute and use your primary keyword / keyword phrase relevant to the image. This will give you the added benefit of appearing in image search results as well.

And, having no image is probably better than putting up poor quality images. Either get a camera and acquire the basic image editing skills, or find professional quality photos from sites that provide stock images.

By now it should be adequately clear why you need to add photos to your blog, and the pun may be excused when we say that photos are a must because they clearly enhance your blog’s image!

 

About the guest author: Jason Smith is an online consultant for ABWE. Jason likes blogging about online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation. In his free time he likes to study about web designing and practice Jiu Jitsu.

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Why Return on Investment Is Not Measured in Dollars Alone

The late American motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” This is as true for clients hiring a company for its professional services as it is for consumers who solicit a company in order to buy its products.

People hire personal injury lawyers because of the grief and injustice they feel after an accident. Worry about their health causes them to seek out the services of a doctor. And often the panic one feels after a call from the Internal Revenue Service prompts them to seek out the services of an accountant.

Benefits of Going Digital

If your business offers these types of services, then how do you allow others to find you? Let’s take for instance a criminal law attorney. While he may have the budget to afford a full-page ad in every new issue of telephone directories, such as the Yellow Pages, it’s time for him to bring his marketing into the 21st century. When used in place of traditional advertising, it offers quite a few advantages. Here are a few of them.

  • Make Changes Quickly – Once traditional forms of advertising are in place, like print ads and direct mailers, then if new information becomes available it’s impossible to change them. With online marketing, even after the strategies are in place it’s easy to make changes based on tracking the success rate of each advertisement.
  • Track in Real Time – Online analytics make it easy to see how your company’s marketing efforts are doing. Traditional forms of marketing lack this ability, which means you never quite know the return on investment on those methods.
  • Target Specific Demographics – Traditional advertising is usually limited to certain geographic areas. For instance a politician advertising his election campaign in order to get votes can send a direct mailer to those from a certain political party who are of voting age. But a criminal law attorney can use online marketing to advertise on the websites of doctors, insurance companies, and other places with traffic that might also need legal assistance.
  • Multiple Marketing Tools – Traditional marketing offers three primary forms of advertisements – print, radio or television. Online marketing offers blogs, online videos, social media, newsletters, email, and more. The difference is that once traditional marketing is seen then it is over and rarely seen again. Meanwhile people from around the globe are able to view digital marketing techniques again and again.

Return on Investment

When people consider digital marketing strategies of those who offer professional services, like doctors, accountants, and lawyers, they might wonder about the return on investment, also called the ROI. However if the answer is limited to a financial amount then it’s not a fair assessment. That’s because marketing isn’t just about making more money.

A good example of the added benefits of a digital marketing plan is social networking and everything that it offers. In addition to requiring little to no technical or computer knowledge, social networking can enhance the visibility of your business and help brand its good reputation. One of the largest benefits is that you can reach out to potentially millions of people who might otherwise ignore traditional advertising altogether. Here are some others.

  • Education – You can educate the public about your company and what it offers beyond the boundaries of an ad in the Yellow Pages or 30-second commercial. This is true whether they are looking for a product or some kind of a special service.
  • Time – Because there is a high availability of internet marketers available, you can outsource the work which allows you to better balance the time between work and other things like family.
  • Reputation – With digital marketing, you are in control of your company’s reputation because you choose where the ads are placed and who sees them. If your company decides to support a charity or perform some other philanthropic duty then you can let people know right away.
  • Trust – When your clients or customers see the results of your digital marketing, then they know they can trust you. People who trust you not only come back again, but when their friends and family need a lawyer, doctor, or other professional then they will refer these people to you.

Effective marketing could mean using all digital methods, but for those like lawyers, accountants, and doctors, it is best to use a combination of traditional and online methods in order to obtain the best results. That might mean adding a WordPress blog to your website that complements your full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, or adding a radio jingle to point locals to your company’s social network page.

 

About the guest author: Writing addict Benjamin Baker enjoys the research part of his job because it leads to so many interesting websites, like www.bgs.com where he learned about seatbelt safety. The only thing that distracts him from his first love is his family, which includes his lovely wife and their three teenage children. Benjamin and his family live in Denver, Colorado where they spend their free time camping and fishing.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

Can I Get Away with Free WordPress Hosting for Business

There are plenty of WordPress web hosting companies out there that offer free packages. In fact, the official WordPress site itself offers free hosting for blogs. If you’re running a personal site, these are always good deals. If your site is only designed to share information with a specific audience, such as your family, there’s no reason that you have to bother with search engine optimization, domain name purchasing and the other aspects of running a commercial site. If you’re running a commercial site, however, there are some things you’ll want to consider about free hosting that may make it inappropriate for your purposes.

Bandwidth Restrictions

A lot of free accounts have pretty restrictive bandwidth limits placed upon them. There are two problems with this. One, a business site could easily go way over the amount of bandwidth allotted. Two, if it’s a free server, you probably don’t have any control over how bandwidth overages are handled. This might mean that your site simply gets shut down, which is bad for business.

Bandwidth allotments are a big factor in determining whether professional accounts are suitable for any given business or not. You may want to consider the consequences of your website running out of bandwidth.

Domain Names

Most of the time, free accounts can only be used with the account provider’s domain name. For instance, if you are going with a free account provider named Example.com, you’re website address would likely be something along the lines of Example.com/YourSite. This isn’t good for search engine optimization and, for a business, it’s really not acceptable. Any legitimate website business should have what’s called a masthead domain, which means that your domain name more or less matches the name under which you do business.

Copyright Issues

The terms of service on some free Internet hosting providers are a bit sketchy for businesses. In some cases, they allow the hosting provider to use any content hosted on their server free of charge for whatever purpose they see fit. This may be a big problem for you, depending upon what type of site you operate. Make sure you read the terms of service for any free hosting provider before you determine whether they are appropriate for your business. You don’t have to worry about these issues with paid hosting providers, but you should read their terms of service, as well.

Uptime

Just about every paid hosting provider out there offers an uptime guarantee of over 99 percent. You can’t be sure of this with a free hosting provider. If a hosting provider offers a mix of free and paid accounts, you can bet which ones are going to be brought back online more quickly if there is a network outage. This is a good reason to consider whether you really want to deal with the free hosting provider. If you have a paid hosting provider and your site goes down, you’ll have a tech support number that you can call and complain to so you can get the issue resolved and get back to business.

 

About the guest author: Veronica Clyde is a tech writer at VPNServices.net – a place where you can read reviews about the best VPN providers. If interested check out a Private Internet Access review.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

Using Images – The New White Hat Seo

Using Images – The New White Hat Seo

Despite Google and Facebook interacting on hardly any level as far as page rankings go, it’s difficult to believe that data from Facebook has not influenced the mighty G in some way, even indirectly, when it appraises sites that feature user-friendly images as part of their SEO.

We’re not talking text images such as jpegs and pdfs that have reams of copy, although at this juncture it is probably worth noting that these may have greater influence in time as Google develops its OCR capability in searches.

No, we’re talking about pictures of things, images that make people go ‘ooh’ or ‘aah’ or are calls to action that make readers click through to access the accompanying text.

Data from Facebook has shown time and time again that posts with images receive twice as many likes and/or shares than text alone. Given the volumes that use Facebook, it would be folly of Google not to extract and implement relevant data that adds value to their own mission: delivering surfers what they want, when they want it and in the order that Google interprets is relevant to the search term.

Of course, it’s not taken bloggers (in the main) long to realise that using images correctly will aid their overall SEO effort. However, there is a fine line between using pictures in blogs relevantly and using images as spam.

After Penguin, anyone willingly stuffing their sites with keywords and poor-quality inbound links frankly deserve everything that Google throws at them. It is exactly the same for images.

None of those practises enhance Google’s reputation and are certainly of little use to Google’s end user – the surfer.

Best practices for using images in an optimisation strategy

Do not overuse – Unless you are a photographer, you should probably not have more images than text. Even if you do, you need to make sure single pages are not so overloaded with images that they slow down the loading speed of the website.

Overwhelming your audience with images – there are three reasons why you don’t want to overdo it with pictures:
• As we’ve stated above, there is an argument for spamming unless search engines recognise that your site’s sole purpose is to display images
• If you’re using someone else’s server, for example WordPress.com, you have a limited upload capacity
• Images are the magnet but people still want to read your blog – make sure that the images are in proportion to the textual content

Resize the image on your PC before uploading – compressing the image in Microsoft Office, for example, will help your image retain its clarity; you can also edit the colour, crop its borders and by doing so, you’re saving bandwidth that will ensure your site loads more swiftly for your followers and readers
ALT and <img alt=”” /> tags, along with a keyword-optimised title, will help web crawlers appraise the image more accurately. The ALT attribute is the words that appear on screen whilst the picture loads, thus describing the image to both readers and crawlers alike, the description of which is included within the <img alt=”” /> HTML code.

The image title is also an indication to a search engine of what the article, site or picture concerns. As with article titles themselves, try to omit stop words, such as ‘and’, ‘of’, ‘it’ and ‘are’ – these are commonly known as function words, have no descriptive value and thus add nothing to your SEO efforts. Rather, parse your keyword-optimised image title with hyphens, e.g. “wayne-rooney-scores-wembley-2012” to make best use of the title attribute.

By following these image best practises, you will ensure that Google, your server and your followers have eye-catching blogs that load quickly and are highly relevant to the keywords you’re targeting within any given niche.

 

About the guest author: Oliver Burrell is an SEO Internet Marketing expert and founder of SEO2SUCCEED. He has over 25 years experience in IT as a qualified software engineer.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

SEO Plugins for WordPress – How to Make your Site Better and Build its Page Ranking

One of the aggravating things for people who are just starting out on the web (and even those who may have been there awhile) is getting the people you know are interested in the subject you write about or the business you perform. The problem is getting those people to see your site in the first place.

This is where SEO comes in; SEO is search engine optimization which sounds a lot more intimidating than it is. All SEO means is that you recognize how the search engines build page rankings, and you want to make sure your site is legitimately counted and placed. To that end, there are certain sets of practices which have been discussed in other articles that will help the search engines recognize you and place you towards the top of the results.

The problem for a lot of people is that doing these things in itself involves doing a lot of behind the scenes manipulations of your website. This is usually quite easy once you learn how to do it; hosting and server companies like Macquarie Telecom Group Limited are always ready to lend a hand in understanding some of these issues as well, but there are other tools to check and see how your page is doing, not to humans, but to the search engine protocols that they use to place you in the search.

There are some great plugins that take on this task. Plugins can help a less experienced webmaster make sure he is doing all the right things. Many plugins make manipulating and changing your page a lot easier. It is not good to rely on too many of them, but the SEO plugins are very useful applications, even for more experienced webmasters who simply want a quick check of the work they have done.

This is especially true when working with a team of developers; the webmaster can look at the site as a whole, find the trouble or weak spots and reassign these areas back to the proper personnel with specific instructions on how to fix the invalid or weak piece of the website.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the best of the SEO plugins that you can get, bar none. WP SEO is very thorough. It was written Jost de Valk, a WordPress SEO consultant and WordPress developer, and it takes an all-encompassing picture of your website and picks out trouble spots.

WordPress SEO by Yoast looks at everything on your site, from breadcrumbs to RSS optimization, XML sitemaps, page analysis and more. The program will spot any trouble areas, where you may be getting outside the best practices put forward by the search engine companies.

Headspace 2 is another excellent plugin. With this you can write meta titles and descriptions easily, taking care of category issues as well as tag and custom taxonomy archives, and good analytic tools.

All-in-One SEO pack is probably the easiest for people who are less tech savvy to use, but it is still a great program; the more advanced you are, the more you can tweak the program to fit into your style.

No matter what you do, you need to get Google Site Verification as well. You can build your page ranking with just a little effort; look around, and choose one of these tools to help you get to the top of the page.

 

About the guest author: Macquarie Telecom Group Limited provides turnkey solutions to your network and hosting needs so don’t sweat the small stuff – concentrate on your business, not your IT infrastructure.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.