Blogpros Blog https://blogpros.com/blog Wed, 02 Jun 2021 20:54:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.5 15 Ways to Improve Your Blog’s E-A-T Score https://blogpros.com/blog/2021/06/ways-improve-eat-score https://blogpros.com/blog/2021/06/ways-improve-eat-score#respond Wed, 02 Jun 2021 20:54:21 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4967 As a blogger, you may have heard of something called your EAT score. This score is part of a Google core algorithm update they released back in August of 2018.
If you haven’t heard of EAT before now, there are…

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As a blogger, you may have heard of something called your EAT score. This score is part of a Google core algorithm update they released back in August of 2018.

If you haven’t heard of EAT before now, there are two plausible reasons. The first is that you simply missed the news. The second is that you’re not part of the industries that it targets.

EAT is part of an algorithm update that focuses primarily on health and wellness website, but also impacts legal and finance websites. Websites outside of those industries aren’t as likely to be affected by EAT changes. These industries are known as YMYL: Your Money, Your Life. In other words, any industry or website that encourages you to follow their advice regarding either your money or your life is a site where the EAT score applies.

Of course, as with any Google update, complying with it now can help improve your site. Either Google has added it as part of their general updates, with a stronger emphasis for those industries, or they’re simply factors that will apply to any site.

So what is E-A-T, and how can you improve it?

What Is E-A-T?

EAT is an acronym. It’s made up of three words, each detailing a concept Google has decided is important for sites in those specific niches.

Expertise Authority Trust

They are:

Expertise. The information presented on a page should come from an expert in their field. If you’re an expert, you can cite your own credentials to establish your level of expertise. If you’re not an expert, you should get your information from an expert source, and cite the source with their credentials to prove that it’s valuable information. This part of EAT is meant to help minimize the number of unfounded “experts” and gurus and other people who simply want to exploit an industry for a quick buck.

Authority. The information presented on a page should come from a source of authority. Who are you to be writing about it? If you’re not an expert, you should at least be someone with some level of authority, such as an author who has continually written about a given subject for years. Typically, this involves including writer credentials in blog posts.

Trust. Users need to be able to trust the information they get on a page. You want to build in signs of trust so that your users will be able to trust your authors, your website, and your content.

As you can see, all three of these qualities are basically just different aspects of the same thing. Google wants the content you find through their search to be high quality, trustworthy, and authoritative. These qualities are extra important in areas like finance or health, where following the wrong advice can lead to severe personal consequences, like bankruptcy or hospitalization.

In the title, I promised 15 ways to improve your blog’s EAT score. Here are those 15 ways.

1. Add an Author Byline to Every Post

One of the core elements of trust on a website is knowing who is writing the content you’re reading. As a blogger, you should have an author name and byline at the top of each post, and a longer author bio at the bottom of every post. It’s easy enough to set these up that it should be no problem to maintain, even if you have authors who come and go.

Author Byline in Article

One thing you should avoid doing is having every post published by “site admin” or by another generic name. These sites seem like they’re trying to hide who is really behind them, and that does nothing to inspire trust in your readers. A publicly visible author is a more trustworthy author.

Depending on your blog platform, this may be something that you can add with a plugin, or it may be something that you have to hard code into your template.

2. Maintain an About Section to Explain Who You Are

A good blog should have an About section to explain who you are. This is relevant for single-author blogs because it gives you a long-form location to explain your background, your inspiration, and what makes you trustworthy. You see these all the time on travel websites, for example.

On a multi-author blog, your About section can serve to explain to the reader who you are to bring these people together, what your authority is, and what the goal of your site is. Obviously, even if your goal is “to make money”, you want to showcase your concern for your readers and your industry at large.

3. Link to Authoritative Sources for Information

Whenever you cite a piece of information, ideally you should cite a source for that information. Sometimes it can be as simple as a link to Wikipedia for something foundational. If it’s something that comes from a study or a survey, link to the original source of that data. If it’s a survey you published yourself, link to the long-form source of the data so that people can see the actual data you’re using.

Adding a Link Source

The goal here is to make yourself part of something larger than yourself. People might not trust you, but if you’re getting your information from somewhere else, they’re more likely to trust you for referencing it, assuming it’s a good source. They can also use that source to judge you if, for example, you’re linking to a source known to be untrustworthy.

4. Explain Source Credentials in Your Text

You don’t have to do this for every single piece of information, but when you have a crucial piece of information to build upon in your post, you should explain the source in greater detail than just a link. Instead of “according to X”, you can write “According to X, leader of the Y foundation, in their study about Z”.

Of course, this will get long and overly complex if you do it for everything. I generally prefer to leave this level of detail to the most crucial pieces of information or for people who may not be known. The more prominent and recognizable a figure is, the less information you’ll need to write about who they are.

5. Focus on Establishing a Trustworthy Brand Identity

Perhaps the number one thing to do with a site you want to establish as an authority is focus on establishing a brand. Make a logo for yourself. Make a custom blog theme so you stand out from all of the thousands upon thousands of template-based sites out there. Make sure your content is as unique as possible, while still being relevant and accurate to your source material.

You can also delve into smaller touches. Pick a color scheme and try to format icons and logos around it. Establish a graphical style for your images. Make sure the writing on your site is consistent in terms of tone and voice. A brand identity will make you more trustworthy as more and more people read you over time.

6. Implement SSL for Your Website

SSL is a security method you can use to boost trust for your site. It’s also a minor element in modern SEO, and it helps users of browsers like Chrome trust your site more. Chrome, for the record, labels non-SSL sites as unsecure, which turns some people off, even when the content is simply a blog post and doesn’t really need security.

Installing an SSL Certificate in WHM

Implementing SSL properly can be tricky, but once you establish it, you’re good to go for the foreseeable future. It’s a good change to make, and doubly so if you have anything where a user needs to log in or submit information to your site.

7. Use Relevant Trust Badges Where Necessary

Tasteful use of a couple of trust badges can go a long way towards establishing trust for a new site. This is most important if you have a storefront and you want to establish that your checkout process is secure.

Keep in mind that using too many different trust seals all at once looks trashy and fake. Pick a couple of the most relevant trust badges and use them, don’t just use every one you can find.

8. Build Your Site Larger

I don’t mean taller or wider, here; I mean deeper. Add more pages. Add more content. Buff up the back catalog until you have a ton of content for users to go through.

They won’t, but Google will. Google can tell when you have a lot of content, and they’ll be able to roughly analyze that content for other EAT signs. The more good, authoritative, trustworthy content you have on your site, the more credit Google will give you.

To a certain extent, this takes time. You can’t go from nothing to a site with 10,000 articles on it overnight and not draw some suspicion. You need to build up your site over time to build that authority.

9. Focus on High Quality Backlinks

It should come as no surprise that backlinks are a huge sign of trust. Getting good links from good sources will boost trust in your site, and that has innumerable benefits with Google’s algorithm.

10. Write for Other Sites in Your Industry

One way to get more backlinks, and build more trust in yourself as an author, is to write for other sites in your niche. The better the site, the more trust you establish in writing for it, because if you’re not a trustworthy or relevant person, why would they let you write for the site?

Example Guest Post Author at Multiple Sites

This is a core element to blog outreach and guest posting. Reach out to sites that are relevant to your topic and pitch content you can write for them. If they don’t accept you, you may have to start a little lower on the ladder, at lower quality sites, to build up some citations and prove that you can write quality content for sites you don’t own. Eventually, build up to the big names.

11. Cut or Improve Content with Low EAT Attributes

For larger, older sites, it’s worthwhile to go back and look into older content and audit it for its EAT score. Old content that isn’t very long, or that is no longer accurate, or that cites irrelevant information, or that does not cite sources for its information, may be worth removing from your site. That kind of content may be holding you back. If the content is good enough to be worth improving, you can update it and make the information more relevant, with citations, to get that added benefit from it.

12. Fact-Check, Edit, and Include New Information

From time to time, science – or whatever authority governs your niche – discovers something new. It might be a new marketing technique, or it might be a new benefit of a health food, or it might be a new medical breakthrough.

Occasionally, this new information invalidates old articles you have written. It can be a good idea to go back to your old content and edit it to include or reflect this new information. This puts your site ahead of the curve and removes now-false information that can be diminishing public trust in your site.

13. Check Your Website’s Reviews and Ratings

One thing it’s worth doing from time to time is looking up reviews, citations, and ratings for your website. There are a lot of sites out there that serve as review aggregators, and they rate and review other websites.

Researching Your Reviews

If your site has negative reviews, or if people have called out your brand as a negative brand in articles, you can try to take action to rectify the situation. In some cases, that means adding positive reviews to outweigh the negative reviews. In others, it might mean refuting the points and getting negative reviews removed.

14. Work to Manage Your Reputation

To carry on from the previous point, it’s worthwhile to occasionally embark on a quest of reputation management. Whether you do it yourself or hire a company to handle it, you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible public image you can, reflective of your actual trust and authority.

15. Keep the User’s Needs First

Above all, you want to make sure you’re keeping the user in mind ahead of your own needs. Especially in the YMYL industries, the user is putting a lot of faith in you, and if you betray that faith, it can be devastating.

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List of WordPress Caching Plugins, Reviewed and Ranked https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/12/list-wordpress-caching-plugins https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/12/list-wordpress-caching-plugins#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 11:48:04 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=5019 Under normal website operation, when a user wants to visit one of your pages, they have their computer or phone send a request to your domain. The request is forwarded to your web host, which directs it to the appropriate…

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Under normal website operation, when a user wants to visit one of your pages, they have their computer or phone send a request to your domain. The request is forwarded to your web host, which directs it to the appropriate server to reply with data. This is, of course, vastly simplified, but it’s the basic gist of things.

Often times, the server needs to make other requests. It needs to fetch data like images, it needs to process scripts, it needs to load data from databases, and generally compile the total sum of the website to send back. This can take a long time, from the perspective of a web server; even full seconds, depending on the size and amount of dynamic content.

Now imagine that hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people are sending these requests. All of them are getting basically the same result, but the server needs to make all of those requests and compile all of that data every time. That’s an immense amount of strain on the servers which, while they can handle it in some circumstances, might not be able to handle it all the time.

This is where caching comes in. Caching allows the server to make all of those requests once and compile a “snapshot” of your website. Then it can serve that snapshot to users, with changes made depending on the user’s situation. Static elements like your site structure, your header and footer, your sidebars, and your homepage content is cached with a long lifespan. More frequently updated content, like a blog feed or ad scripts, are cached with either a smaller lifespan to allow for updates, or with no caching, like ads that are served dynamically.

WordPress has a lot of different options for caching your website, and I’ve attempted to give them a thorough review, albeit with limited attention spent to each one. Here’s my ranking.

Honorable Mention: Hosting Caches

The first thing I want to mention is that some web hosts had caching systems built in that you can use instead of setting up your own caching through a plugin. I’m only mentioning these in passing because there are a lot of them, and they vary quite a bit based on what the web host is prioritizing and how much caching they’re doing. Some, like SiteGround, are generalized caching systems that help regardless of your site architecture. Others, like WP Engine, are WordPress-specific and have some fairly advanced options to set.

Enabling Varnish

Still, since these aren’t WordPress plugins specifically, they don’t get a real place in the rankings. You can use them if you like, and sometimes they might be the best option, but you’ll want to look into what your host actually offers before you make the decision. Plus, keep in mind that this puts the onus on your web host to maintain the caching system appropriately, which might not be ideal. It depends on your situation and your host!

Honorable Mention: Sucuri

Sucuri is a general WordPress security plugin suite with a whole range of different features. They have some caching and CDN features, as well as website monitoring, security, and incident response options. On top of that, their primary offering is a firewall, which protects against unauthorized intrusion, hacking and brute forcing attempts, DDoS attacks, and other kinds of attack.

Sucuri Homepage

I’m including this because they have a WordPress suite, but it’s only an honorable mention because caching is the least of what they do. The whole firewall system uses caching to serve a copy of your website to users without actually exposing your servers to them, which allows you greater security. It can be a great performance boost, but it’s also dramatically overkill if all you want is caching.

Sucuri is great, but it’s not the kind of tool we’re looking at today. Still, it’s definitely something worth checking out, especially if you think your site is at risk of an attack.

#9: Hyper Cache

Hyper Cache is a PHP plugin that handles caching in a simple, yet effective, manner on your site. It maintains separate caches for desktop and mobile browsers, and it handles some level of compression. It caches comments in many situations, though some comment plugins might not work with it. One of the better features is the ability to serve cached versions of pages to bots even when those caches are expired, so bots get the fastest possible version of your site.

Hyper Cache Plugin

It’s worth noting here that, even though this plugin is the last on the list, that doesn’t make it bad by any means. Any caching is good, so long as it works, and you’re definitely going to see a performance boost when you run it. The only questions are how effective they are, how many useful options they have, and how fiddly they are to set up. Hyper Cache is simple, effective, and lightweight, but it’s not excellent compared to the other plugins on this list.

#8: Comet Cache

This plugin has been around for a while, but is making a comeback since their rebranding. They used to be known as ZenCache and Quick Cache. The plugin works by creating snapshots of individual pages to save them and use them. It’s very simple to get up and running, and it has some configuration options if you want to set up advanced features like user agent exclusions, referrer exclusions, and caching 404s.

Comet Cache Plugin

Again, this plugin is not bad even though it’s low on the list. It has some cool features you don’t often see in other caching plugins, but some of them aren’t really selling points if you don’t have the setup to use them. For example, it can cache RSS/ATOM feeds for you if you use them, but if you don’t, it’s not really a great benefit.

#7: Cache Enabler

Cache Enabler is one of the more traditional forms of caching plugin. It generates static HTML versions of your pages and serves those upon request, rather than generating them each time. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it has some additional features you may find useful. These include extras like minification of JavaScript when it’s inline with the HTML, support for multisites, and support for custom post types.

Cache Enabler

Beyond that, it’s really not a robust plugin. It’s a pretty basic caching plugin without a lot of advanced features or configuration options. That’s great if that’s all you want, but a lot of modern websites want something a little more robust.

One additional drawback is that a couple of its features, like WebP support, require other plugins to work properly.

#6: Simple Cache

Simple Cache is the epitome of its name. It’s extremely simple; you just install it and turn it on, and it does its thing. There’s no need to dig into configuration options or advanced settings at all. Clearing the cache is easy, as is removing the plugin if you want to try something else. It’s also open source and well documented on GitHub.

Simple Cache Plugin

So why is this one higher up on the list when I’ve listed “too simple” as a negative for other plugins? Well, simply put, it’s because this is the simplest of the simple plugins. If all you want is a fire-and-forget caching plugin that does what it says on the tin with zero input from you, this is the best option you have. If you want anything with more robust options, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. Since I value certain features over simplicity, I’ve put this one lower, but you might think it’s the top of the top for your site, and that’s fine.

#5: Cachify

Coming immediately after Simple Cache, it sounds like Cachify is a much more robust plugin, and it is. They have three different caching methods; caching via database, caching via web server drive, and caching via server system cache using APC. It works with custom post types, it works with multisites, it has whitelisting for posts and user agents, and other features. It’s also available in German with community support, if that’s important to you.

Cachify Plugin

This is a perfectly serviceable caching plugin, with a few nice advanced options to configure the fastest cache you want, but it doesn’t have a lot of specialized caching features. As such, it’s still in the simpler categories for me.

#4: WP Fastest Cache

This is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress, with over a million active installations (compared to 10K for Cachify, for example), and a frequent update schedule. I’ve put it higher up because of this, but personally I’ve had somewhat lackluster results with it. It’s easy to set up but tricky to configure, with some options that just don’t have clear explanations unless you dig into documentation or are a WordPress dev yourself.

WP Fastest Cache Page

When I tried out this plugin, I found that the cache preloading was somewhat unreliable. It doesn’t really do some speed features like image lazy loading, and its support for CDNs exists but isn’t exceptional. Overall, they have a very high rating and a lot of people like them, and they are by no means a bad caching plugin, I just prefer a few others over what they offer.

#3: W3 Total Cache

W3 is another of the most popular caching plugins, but unlike WP Fastest Cache, it’s very polarizing. Some people absolutely love it, while others find it quite poor. I’m putting it fairly high up on the list because of its generally high reviews and its broad feature coverage, but I personally wasn’t as fond of it.

W3 Total Cache Plugin

In particular, because of how complex this plugin is, it’s easier to do something that can break your site, at least temporarily. It has CDN support, but my CDN didn’t play nice with it until I used another plugin to get them to work together.

Perhaps my biggest gripe, though, is that this plugin is laced with ads for its premium version. I don’t need my admin dashboard to be yelling at me to upgrade every time I want to check on my cache, you guys.

#2: WP Super Cache

As popular as the previous two plugins combined, Super Cache is universally considered one of the best plugins for caching out there. It has different configuration options for different levels of user skill, including an advanced mode for detailed configuration and a simple mode that just caches the most common options and runs with it.

Super Cache Plugin

In my personal experience, this plugin is good with caching but slightly unreliable with my audience, so it didn’t give me the overall speed boosts I hoped it would. It also works with CDNs on a pretty lackluster level. I think they kind of intend it to be a replacement for CDNs for small blogs, but larger sites that still want to use CDNs might need to mess with it to get it all to work nicely. The cache preloading is also somewhat broken, which is unfortunate.

#1: WP Rocket

This one is my favorite plugin, and it’s the one I use, which is why it’s at the top of the list. I readily admit it’s not ideal for all of you, because it’s a premium plugin compared to all of these other free options.

WP Rocket Homepage

Anecdotally, this is the plugin that had the most positive impact on my site’s PageSpeed scores. It has advanced features like lazy-loading for images, script minification, smushing for images, browser caching, and a bunch more. Some of the advanced features, like scheduled database cleaning and optimization, are great as well.

The downside, of course, is that it’s not free. $50 gets you a license and a year of support for a single website, with higher priced packages for 3 and unlimited licenses. I found it totally worthwhile, but you might not.

What’s your personal rankings for these items? Do you have another caching plugin you prefer that I didn’t find? Let me know.

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AddToAny vs AddThis vs ShareThis: What is The Best Plugin? https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/11/addtoany-addthis-sharethis-best https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/11/addtoany-addthis-sharethis-best#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 01:01:48 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4998 In the world of social sharing buttons, there are dozens of different plugins out there, if not hundreds of viable options. I personally tend to prefer the big guns of Social Warfare, but I acknowledge that they aren’t ideal for…

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In the world of social sharing buttons, there are dozens of different plugins out there, if not hundreds of viable options. I personally tend to prefer the big guns of Social Warfare, but I acknowledge that they aren’t ideal for everyone. As such, I’ve decided to review and compare three of the most popular social sharing suites: AddToAny, AddThis, and ShareThis.

Where to Find Them

First, so you can follow along or so you can grab the buttons yourself, here’s where you can find each of the three products I’m comparing.

  1. AddToAny
  2. AddThis
  3. ShareThis

Compatibility

Next up, let’s look at the compatibility for each.

AddToAny – Sharing buttons from AddToAny are available for basically any platform. They have a page with each option. Clicking on an option will take you to instructions for installing the buttons on that platform. Supported platforms include WordPress via a plugin, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress.com sites, Cloudflare, Tumblr, Blogger, TypePad, FeedFlare, and Elgg. They also have an option for embedding buttons in your email signature, and a generic code package for use on a custom website.

AddToAny Buttons

AddThis – In order to get the code for this social sharing suite, you need to register an account. Once in, they give you the option to install on sites with a variety of different platforms. These include WordPress, AMP pages, generic HTML websites, Shopify pages, Blogger pages, SquareSpace pages, Magento, Wix, Weebly, and other website builders and blogging platforms.

AddThis Buttons Page

ShareThis – Clicking to get the buttons brings you to a page to choose a style, whereupon you can then choose a platform. Supported platforms include Weebly, Jimdo, BigCommerce, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, and a generic HTML code package to install on another form of website.

Pricing

If you’re looking at plugins like these, you’re probably concerned about pricing. Do any of these three options have specific pricing requirements, restrictions, or other caveats? Let’s look.

AddToAny – This set of sharing buttons is free to get and install, and has no paid plans at all.

AddThis – This set of sharing buttons is free to obtain and use, and includes all of their additional features. However, they also have an enterprise version. The enterprise version allows you to get priority support, white glove service, and custom design for your buttons. I have no idea what the pricing is, because I’ve never needed any of those features. You can contact them yourself if you’re curious.

AddThis Enterprise Pricing

ShareThis – This set of sharing buttons is free to get and install, and has no paid plans at all.

Supported Social Networks

One of the main features of a social sharing button suite is the set of social networks it covers. If you have a specific network you need covered and they don’t cover it, you either have to edit the code to include it yourself, or find a different option. I know which one I’d usually choose. So which networks do these tools cover?

AddToAny – When you choose to get the code for this plugin, you choose which networks to include and what order to include them.

Giant List on AddToAny

They have a lot of networks in their list. Here’s the full list as of this writing:

Facebook, Twitter, Email, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, WhatsApp, Gmail, Telegram, Pocket, Mix, Tumblr, Amazon Wishlist, AOL Mail, Balatarin, Bibsonomy, Bitty Browser, Blinklist, Blogger, BlogMarks, Bookmarks.fr, Box.net, Buffer, Care2 News, CiteULike, Copy Link, Design Float, Diary.ru, Diaspora, Digg, Diigo, Douban, Draugiem, DZone, Evernote, Facebook Messenger, Fark, Flipboard, Folkd, Google Bookmarks, Google Classroom, Hacker News, Hatena, Houzz, Instapaper, Kakao, Kik, Kindle It, Known, Line, LiveJournal, Mail.ru, Mastodon, Mendeley, Meneame, MeWe, Mixi, MySpace, Netvouz, Odnoklassniki, Outlook.com, Papaly, Pinboard, Plurk, Print, PrintFriendly, Protopage, Pusha, QZone, Rediff MyPage, Refind, Renren, Sina Weibo, SiteJot, Skype, Slashdot, SMS, StockTwits, Svejo, Symbaloo, Threema, Trello, Tuenti, Twiddla, TypePad, Viadeo, Viber, VK, Wanelo, WeChat, WordPress, Wykop, Xing, Yahoo Mail, Yoolink, and Yummly.

If you’ve never heard of most of these, don’t worry; I haven’t either. A lot of them are email clients, messenger apps, or foreign language social networks based in eastern Europe or Asia.

AddThis – If you thought the list above was a lot, get read for… I’m just kidding. I’m not going to type out everything AddThis supports, because they did it for me. Just take a look at this page.

AddThis Services

The trick is that AddThis doesn’t support these natively; you have to manually add them, which is why they give you the specific code used to activate it. There’s a huge number of sites there, some of which aren’t even social sites, but they still might have a niche role for your website.

ShareThis – This service has a more traditional array of social networks available to choose from. The full list is: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, ShareThis itself, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Digg, StumbleUpon (now defunct), WhatsApp, VK, Weibo, Odnoklassniki, Xing, Print, Blogger, Flipboard, Meneame, Mail.ru, Delicious, Buffer, Diaspora, Douban, Evernote, Google Bookmarks, Gmail, Hacker News, Instapaper, Line, Pocket, QZone, Refind, RenRen, SurfingBird, Skype, Telegram, Threema, Yahoo, WordPress, and WeChat.

Features

The features comparison is probably the most important, and will take up the bulk of this article. Let’s dig in.

AddToAny – This service has your basic social sharing buttons, as you might expect. It also has floating share buttons and a couple of other configuration options. You can upload your own SVG icons to use in place of the default icons, if you wish. AddToAny is also mobile responsive out of the box. It does not have it’s own analytics, but it allows you to tie into Google Analytics out of the box as well.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of AddToAny is that it is basically open source. Their FAQ and Customize menus give you tips on how to do anything from how to change the button alignment to how to modify event handling and implement asynchronous loading. If you’re willing to make some modifications, you can completely customize this platform to suit your needs.

Open Source AddToAny

AddToAny also has browser extensions that you can install to give yourself customized social sharing tools on any website you visit. These aren’t really useful from a business perspective, but users may like them.

AddThis – AddThis has several different kinds of sharing buttons, including floating buttons, inline buttons, expanding buttons, image sharing pops, pop-overs, banners, and sliders. However, they also have several other tools as part of their overall package.

  • Follow buttons, distinct from sharing buttons, that allow a user to follow your page with a click. Since getting users to follow an account is generally more valuable than just getting them to share a single post, this can be a useful tool.
  • Link promotion plugins, like a Hello Bar style banner or a mobile ad-like pop-over. These banners can be used to promote specific links, deals, or other content you really want your users to see no matter where they visit on your site.
  • List building tools, like an exit intent pop or time-delayed pop-over script. As a user of exit intent pop-overs, as annoying as they can be sometimes, they’re very effective at getting people to sign up, assuming you have the right offer.
  • Additional website tools, like a related posts widget for your blog posts. You can get more advanced versions of these tools from other sources, but then you’re going to be managing five different plugins instead of just one, and that might not be what you want to do.

Additionally, AddThis boasts that they are the only social sharing plugin that is available as a component for Google’s AMP initiative. If you don’t know what this means, it’s basically meaningless. If you’re invested in AMP pages, this can be a huge benefit.

Google Amp for AddThis

ShareThis – This social sharing plugin is basically just that; a dedicated sharing plugin. It’s lightly customizable, and mobile optimized. It has support for ten different languages. Those languages are English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese.

Like AddThis, ShareThis also has a couple of extra tools you can use. There’s the share buttons, but also follow buttons, which do what they say on the tin; allow your users to click them to follow your account on social media. You do, of course, have to actually have an account or page for them to follow, so this takes slightly more configuration than sharing buttons do.

They also have a reactions button. This is basically a custom toolbar that works similar to how Facebook’s like/reactions work. They are, in fact, the same set of reactions out of the box. You have the like, love, laugh, shock, cry, and anger emojis, and you can choose to remove some if you only want a few of them. Customization isn’t very robust for them, but it’s more of a gimmick toolbar than a useful marketing tool, I feel.

ShareThis is the only platform out of the three to provide pages directly comparing themselves (favorably, of course) to other tools. For example, on their page comparing themselves to AddThis, they claim to have everything AddThis does, plus social split testing, GDPR compliance, and independent operation.

Final Verdict

The tool suite you choose depends on your needs. If you need certain social networks that aren’t commonly available, you need to find the tool that supports it. In general, this is going to be AddThis, though you will need to make manual edits to make it work. This shouldn’t be too difficult, though.

Additionally, if you want extra features or display modes, AddThis is probably your most robust option. That is, if you want an all-in-one solution. If you’re not worried about having control over all of those plugins in one place – or if you want individual plugins like YARRP or Hello Bar with their more advanced features – you can get those instead. AddThis is only useful in this respect if you want something that does everything decently, but nothing exceptionally.

Conversely, if you want a simple setup and install process with minimal options or configuration, ShareThis is your best choice.

I like that AddToAny is basically just open source and completely customizable to your needs. They’ll help you out if you want to make advanced tweaks to the platform, and indeed give you a lot of tips from their customization menu on how to do it, depending on the platform you’re using.

At the same time, I’m less of a fan of the fact that AddThis requires you to log in to use their tools. Rather than managing your plugins directly from your own space, you have to go through their dashboard to do it. Even though it’s free, it’s an extra bump in the road.

I should also note that in some third party testing, AddThis showed some inaccuracies with their share counts and does a lot of third party cookie tracking and other referrals. I don’t know how much it has improved in the last few years, but given that it centralizes everything in its own dashboard, I assume not a lot.

If you would like to weigh in on this discussion, comment below. I’m curious what my readers have been using. What do you use on your website, and how has it worked for you? Have you had any issues with one of these three plugins? Do you have an alternative you prefer over these three? Tell us your story.

The post AddToAny vs AddThis vs ShareThis: What is The Best Plugin? appeared first on Blogpros Blog.

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Why Aren’t My Blog Posts Showing up in Google? https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/blog-posts-showing-google https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/blog-posts-showing-google#comments Sat, 26 Oct 2019 00:10:43 +0000 http://blogpros.com/blog/?p=556 As far as you can tell, you’ve done everything right. You wrote a new blog post. It’s lengthy, it’s authoritative, it’s well-written and proofread. You’ve included a bunch of links to authoritative sources. You’ve included compelling images. It’s all set…

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As far as you can tell, you’ve done everything right. You wrote a new blog post. It’s lengthy, it’s authoritative, it’s well-written and proofread. You’ve included a bunch of links to authoritative sources. You’ve included compelling images. It’s all set for publication, with a catchy title and well-formulated meta data.

You hit that “publish” button and walk away, secure in the knowledge that you did a good job. This post should be a hit. And yet, when you check the next day, you can’t find the post. What’s going on?

Refresh Your Local Cache

The simplest possible issue, albeit a rare cause for this problem, is simply that your local cached version of your own website doesn’t have the new post. You visit your homepage, but your cache hasn’t expired, so your browser doesn’t check to see if the page has changed. Your new post is live, but you can’t see it.

Deleting Cache in WordPress

The solution to this is as simple as the problem is rare. Simply force a refresh of the page that refreshes the cache. On some browsers this just means hitting F5, or hitting ctrl+F5 or shift+F5. Typically, though, this won’t be the problem; modern caches are good at checking for incremental changes.

Check Your Drafts

One of the more common reasons why you might not be able to find your post is that you “published” it as a saved draft rather than a published, live piece. If you’re used to saving posts as drafts and publishing them later, or saving them as drafts with a publication date in the future, this could be your problem.

Go into your blog CMS and look for your post. What is the post status? It should be published or live, if you want the post to be visible. If the post status is something like “saved as draft” or “scheduled”, your post isn’t live and published.

Post Draft

I’ve had this issue once or twice when scheduling a post in the future, accidentally setting the month one too high, or even setting the year incorrectly. A post I thought was going to go up the next day actually was scheduled to go up 366 days from now.

Luckily, this is a very easy problem to solve. Simply change the publication date, or even click the “publish now” button instead of letting it publish on a schedule. Sure, it might throw off the carefully calculated timing you set up for your post publication, but it’s better to publish a post a few hours or a day late than to miss an editorial content slot entirely.

If your post is labeled as published, and you can view it on your own website, but it doesn’t show up in Google’s search, that’s when you might have more insidious issues. Let’s look at those next.

How Google Finds New Content

If you want to know why your site might not be visible in Google search, one of the first things you should learn is how Google finds new content. They actually have several different mechanisms in play looking for new content, either in the form of new blog posts on an existing website or in the form of a new website entirely.

Google Spidering Web Content

Here are the various ways Google uses to find new content. Also, note that when I say “Google” I’m really just using it as shorthand for any search engine. Other search engines work in much the same way, though they may have less power, fewer avenues, and a slower indexation speed, depending.

  • Google has search “spiders”, which are simple bot scripts that crawl the internet. They are set loose on a page and index that page, then follow each link on the page. At each destination, they compare the existing version in the Google index with what they see on the page, and index any changes. If the link leads to a page Google hasn’t seen before, that page will be indexed.
  • Google will check various properties they own for new links. For example, if you’re using Google ads and you submit an ad that links to a page Google hasn’t seen before, Google will crawl and index that page.
  • Google will check submitted site maps in their webmaster tools suite. When you build a sitemap, you’re building a complete list of all of the pages on your site. Giving this to Google means Google has an easy list of every page on your site. When you update that site map, Google will notice and will check the new pages.
  • Google keeps an eye on social media. There’s no official link between social networks and Google, not since the Twitter firehose debacle, but Google still crawls and indexes selections of social media, which shows them new content.

Anything that makes it difficult or impossible for Google to find a piece of content is a roadblock that can prevent your articles from showing up in the Google search index. Here are some of the more common causes.

Is Your Site Brand New?

If your site is brand new, Google will be indexing it at a slower pace before they add it to their main search index. They do this for a few reasons. First, they want to prevent pages from being indexed as good and then being edited to be malicious. They monitor pages for a short time to see if they’re changing frequently. It doesn’t do anyone any good if Google indexes a page that then changes completely before it even has time to circulate.

Registering a New Domain

If it has been more than a few days since your site should have been indexed, it’s possible that it simply hasn’t been given any attention. You can take steps using Google services to try to “force” your site to be indexed. Add your site as a new property in Google webmaster tools and Google analytics. Submit a sitemap to Google manually. These should be adequate to tell Google “hey, I have a page here for you to look at.”

Are You Blocking Robots?

A common technique for building a new website is to upload some of it online to test. However, since you don’t want Google indexing half-baked pages and issuing penalties before you’re even up and running, it’s not uncommon to block all robots from viewing your page until you’re ready for it to go live.

The problem here is if you haven’t removed these robot-blocking directives from your site before going live for real. If you’re still blocking robots, it doesn’t matter how many times you submit a sitemap, you’re telling Google to eff off.

There are two places where you can find robots directives. The first is a generalized robots.txt file in your root directory for your website. This file is a basic text file and tells robots what to do on your site. Typically, this is used to block indexing of system pages, like the admin login page, or landing pages you’re split testing and don’t want indexed.

Example Robots.txt File

Check to see if you have a robots.txt file, and if so, if there’s anything in it. Look for any of the Google user-agents and whether or not you’ve disallowed them. You can read more about that here.

The other place you can find robots directives is in the meta data of your pages themselves. A line of code that looks like “<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>” will be blocking robots from your page. You’ll need to remove this line for your page to be visible. Again, more on this here.

Other Indexation Issues

If your content just isn’t indexed, you can look for other fringe issues that might be causing a problem.

  • Is your web host down? Low quality hosts without redundancy or protection can be taken down by surges in traffic or by a DDoS attack, and your content won’t index or display if the host is down.
  • Does your site use scripts or code that is somehow malformed? If code is causing rendering issues, redirects are breaking, or other issues are popping up, Google will choose not to index you until you get that all sorted out.
  • Does your site include copyright or trademark violations? If so, Google might be complying with a DMCA to remove your content, or they may be penalizing you for copied content.

These issues typically affect indexation more than ranking; if you are indexed but don’t rank, that’s another problem to discuss.

Are You Just Not Ranking?

Another common problem is the misconception that indexation means that you’re going to show up in any preferential position in the Google search index. Just because you’re in the database doesn’t mean you’re going to float to the top, right?

To check to make sure your content is indexed, but isn’t ranking, do a site search. Go to Google and type in “site:yourdomain.com” followed by the title of the blog post you’re looking for. For example, the post you’re reading right now would be “site:blogpros.com Why Aren’t My Blog Posts Showing Up In Google?”

No Results on Google

Look for your content in the search results. If it’s not there, you’ll see a search results page with your search “did not match any documents”. To make sure your site as a whole is indexed and it’s just that post that’s not there, do a blank site search for your domain and see what pops up. If it’s “nothing”, then your site isn’t indexed. If other pages show up, you just have a problem with one post.

Incidentally, this can show you if you have issues with pages being indexed when you don’t want them to be. If you see system pages you don’t want indexed, make sure to add a robots directive to those pages.

If your content is indexed properly and shows up in the site search, your issue is not with your indexation, but with your ranking. That’s an entirely different subject.

Do You Have Any Penalties?

If your site isn’t ranking, even though it’s indexed and you believe the content is fine, you might be operating under a Google search penalty. These can be tricky to identify. The easiest way to identify them is to visit your Google search console and look to see if there are any manual actions in place.

Manual actions typically mean there’s some issue with your page. These can include issues with redirects and cloaked links, sites with hidden or cloaked text and keyword spam, pages with thin content, and so on. You can read a full list of penalties and the solutions to them here.

Encouraging Indexation

If, as it so often turns out, the issue is simply time, there’s not much you can do about it.

Google XML Sitemap in WordPress

That said, you can take some steps to encourage indexation for your new content.

  • Always double-check whether or not spiders can access your site.
  • Keep an eye on your search console and deal with any penalties as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you’ve submitted a sitemap to Google, preferably an XML sitemap, and that you keep it up to date immediately upon publishing a new post. Many sitemap plugins will do this automatically.
  • Use Google analytics. I know there are other analytics suites out there, but using GA helps Google identify when new content is created.
  • Link to your site and your new content from social media. There’s no guarantee of discovery, but the more times your link shows up on social media, the more likely it is.

And so on. Making sure your content is indexed properly is step one of running a good website. It’s a fundamental you need to fully understand before you can focus on ranking properly.

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How to Get a Count of Your Total Social Media Shares https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/count-total-social-shares https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/count-total-social-shares#respond Fri, 11 Oct 2019 00:53:01 +0000 http://blogpros.com/blog/?p=1392 When you publish a blog post and it gets three shares on Facebook, seven on Twitter, and another two on Pinterest, is that good or bad? How does it compare to other posts you’ve published? How does it add to…

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When you publish a blog post and it gets three shares on Facebook, seven on Twitter, and another two on Pinterest, is that good or bad? How does it compare to other posts you’ve published? How does it add to your overall total?

If you don’t have an accurate count of social shares, you just don’t know. You might have an idea what your averages might be, but how accurate is that impression? If your posts usually average five shares across their lifetime, getting three on the first day might be pretty good. On the other hand, if you’re used to 100 shares a week, a mere three on the first day is nothing. You need perspective to understand your data, and you need data to gain perspective.

Counting Social Shares

On an individual article basis, counting up your social shares is pretty easy. Typically, you’ll be using a social sharing plugin like Social Warfare or AddThis, which give you the option to either display or hide the share counts for each social network you choose to use. Our posts, for example, currently show buttons and share counts for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Buffer. To get a share count for an individual article, simply enable your share counts in your plugin and count the shares.

Social Warfare Homepage

Alternatively, you can use a plugin that aggregates your social shares into one total share count. The MashShare plugin, for example, allows you to display one total of social shares, which displays shares per social network individually when you hover or click on it.

Now you’re confronted with a question: which social networks do you count? There are easily hundreds of social networks, and plugins like AddThis promote having over 200 buttons to choose from for your personalized toolbar.

Obviously, you can’t have 200 social network buttons floating in a tray to the side of your post. So which buttons do you display, and which networks do you count?

Choosing Social Networks

Clearly you need to count the major social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, maybe Reddit and LinkedIn, depending on how much you use those networks. Then you have to consider other networks and network-adjacent share counts, like Buffer, Mix (formerly StumbleUpon), or VK.

Ask yourself which networks you use and which networks your audience uses. If you have a large and active audience on VK, maybe it’s worth using that share button and adding that share count to your total. On the other hand, even if you have an active account on Ello, if none of your followers are using it, should you bother including the button? Possibly not.

Another question you have to ask yourself is where you draw the line between a social share and a backlink. That’s really all social shares are; specialized backlinks on social networks. If you want, you can make a selection of social networks to tally, and ignore everything else as nothing more than a backlink.

Issues With Counting Share Totals

There are several different methods you can use for counting your total, aggregate share counts, though you have to remember that none of them will be completely 100% accurate to every single social share you get across every platform.

Why is that? Two reasons. First, some social networks can share links but don’t have any way to track or record those shares. For example, Snapchat allows you to add a link to a snap with a “swipe up to visit” functionality similar to that found in Instagram Stories. However, Snapchat doesn’t record or track data about those links and their use, and there’s no way for you to add those shares to your count.

The second reason is that you have to draw the line somewhere. With hundreds of possible social networks out there with share counts you can access, you’d have to be pulling data from hundreds of different sources to get an accurate count. Now, you could do this with some custom code that aggregates all of that API data, but it’s going to take a long time to get that data, which slows down page loads significantly.

Share Count API Example

Plus, you have to consider that some of those shares are meaningless. There are entire social networks where every share you get from them is trash. Maybe the network is in a language and services a region you can’t do business in. Maybe the accounts sharing your posts are bots that serve as little more than a glorified social RSS feed. You can add those shares to your total, but if anyone looks into that total and sees that a bunch of your shares come from networks they’ve never heard of – The Sphere? Hub Culture? Dol2Day? – they’ll distrust your share count totals.

Thus brings us to the purpose of a total share count number: social proof. Your total share counts exist entirely so that you can say to visiting users, “Look! 15,000 people shared this post! That means it’s really good and you should check it out.” Higher social share counts indicate more valuable, more viral posts.

This is also why so many blogs either choose not to display their share counts, or only display a number once that number reaches a certain threshold. For example, you might choose to show nothing rather than a zero, or only show a number once you have more than 50 social shares from a given network. Low share counts can have a depressive effect on future shares: the peer pressure to share is simply not there.

Another issue you might encounter is that some social networks have chosen to hide share counts from their official APIs. Twitter chose to discontinue the public availability of their share counts back in 2015, and any modern plugin that gets Twitter share counts does so using a third party service or active scraping. Google Plus chose to hide their share counts as well, though that network has since gone extinct.

Using Plugins for Total Share Counts

There are two primary methods you can use for counting total shares across social networks.

The first method I’ve already mentioned above: using a plugin that does it for you. MashShare is one such plugin for WordPress blogs. It’s one of the best and most active social sharing plugins for this purpose, because it’s kept up to date on a regular basis and covers a broad number of social networks you’re likely to be using. You do, however, need to include an extra sub-plugin, the social networks add-on, in order to get share counts from some of the more esoteric networks or networks that hide it, like Twitter.

Shared Counts Plugin

Social Warfare is another plugin I’ve already mentioned, and it’s been one of my favorites for a long time. For one thing, it’s a very attractive plugin with a variety of different formats for your buttons and total share counts. It supports networks like Facebook and Twitter without needing to use a third party scraper. It’s also very fast and responsive, so it won’t hurt your user experience. It’s not a free plugin, but neither is MashShare once you’re using their add-on.

Some other plugins offer similar functionality for free, though they might not be as robust, or they might not be kept as up to date, or they might not be as fast. Cresta is a decent option, though it’s limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, with nine other networks available in the pro version. Shared Counts also works and supports a slightly wider array of social networks, and even offers the semi-outdated sharing methods of an email button and a print button.

Counting Shares with Custom Code

The second method for counting your total social shares is to create a little custom script to do it for you. It’s not difficult, though you will have to do some legwork to get the API access and formats for each network you want to use, or use a third party system to do the scraping for you.

The method is simple in essence. Write a script that takes the URL of the current page and passes it through the API of a given social network. This API call will return your social share count. You can then pass that data over as a variable to add to a total, which will display on your page.

This is tricky for a few reasons. First, you need to be able to access the API of the social network you want to use. In some cases, like with Twitter, the API no longer offers this data, so you need to get the data from a third party tool that can scrape it, like the WebUpon’s Social Share Count tool or SharedCount.com. Alternatively, you can scrape it yourself using a custom scraper engine like Web Scraper or with a system like IFTTT.

IFTTT Twitter Shares

You also want to make sure this data is as accurate as possible, which is somewhat questionable. I’ve personally checked some posts from this very blog and seen different numbers between my own plugins and each of these counting methods. Which number is most accurate? It changes every time.

Second, you need to successfully manage all of this data in a way that doesn’t erroneously mess with the math. It doesn’t do you any good if you add the same variable over and over, or if a slight lag in polling causes an error.

Third, you definitely want to make sure you’re caching the data. If every visitor to your website is hitting a scraper or polling an API to potentially dozens of sites, it’s going to cause two problems. On the one hand, APIs might have rate limits you could hit, which could suspend your API access or your account. On the other, polling a dozen or more APIs on every page load will slow down the user experience dramatically. You want to cache the data on your server and update it only once an hour or once a day, depending on how frequently your count needs to be updated.

Fourth, of course, you need to make sure your code is kept up to date with each new API change or third party tool update. That’s a lot of maintenance for something that is adding minimal actual value to your page. Frankly, you probably have something better to do.

At the end of the day, there are only two reasons why I would recommend this option over the first option. If you’re not willing to pay for a solution and want a free script, writing it yourself will do that for you. You have to pay with your time invested to create it, but that’s likely to be cheaper than an ongoing monthly fee. Alternatively, if you absolutely need shared counts from a social network the plugins don’t support, you’ll need a custom solution. There’s no way around that, unfortunately.

Are Share Counts Really That Important?

When all is said and done, you really have to ask one real question before you try to get a total aggregate share count. Is that number important?

Social share counts are useful for social proof and for encouraging other people to share your content, but the quality of your content is much more important for both of those factors.

And what are social shares, besides just specialized, limited backlinks? They’re backlinks with the potential to drive traffic, but which don’t have a major impact on Google ranking. Drawing the line between what’s a social share and what’s a backlink is tricky, with social networks like Reddit or even Digg acting more like content aggregators with valuable backlinks. Do you start adding backlinks to your totals? Should you start adding a view counter too?

Share Counts and Social Proof

Then you have implied links, the brand mentions and non-linked namedrops you get from people writing about you but not linking to you. You can’t count these without social listening, and even then, those mentions might not be positive. Some reports indicate they count for Google search benefits, but in a hard to quantify way. On social media, implied links don’t count for much, but they can raise brand awareness and those posts show up in native search.

The lines are blurred and the numbers are fickle. What’s more important to you? Personally, I just prefer some buttons that work, some numbers that look good and are reasonably accurate, and above all a plugin that doesn’t slow down my site. What about you?

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25 Ways to Convert Your Blog Post Traffic into Sales https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/convert-blog-post-sales https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/10/convert-blog-post-sales#respond Sat, 05 Oct 2019 05:44:58 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4935 You’ve got your storefront set up. You’ve got a blog up and running, and you’ve been posting to it regularly. You’re seeing traffic coming in, and you’re ranking in the top few results on Google’s search for your keywords. You’ve…

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You’ve got your storefront set up. You’ve got a blog up and running, and you’ve been posting to it regularly. You’re seeing traffic coming in, and you’re ranking in the top few results on Google’s search for your keywords. You’ve even had some success with running ads.

Now it’s time to kick things into high gear. You want to take this success and swing it directly into profits. Get this traffic to actually buy something! Here are my tips.

Get Sales Directly

First up, let’s talk about ways you can convert your traffic directly from your site into purchases. You’re going to want to have a good number of these implemented, though if you have too many little widgets and pop-ins you might annoy some users.

Converting Visitors With Hellobar

Test them to figure out which ones work best for you.

  1. Put a shop button in your navigation. A nice big shop button, preferably in a color that stands out, is pretty much essential. If your traffic doesn’t know you have a shop – and you’d be surprised how many people will miss a simple button that doesn’t stand out – you’ll lose a lot of possible conversions. Don’t forget to optimize that button.
  2. Use a hello bar to promote a deal. You’ve seen a hello bar before; it’s that banner that drops down at the top of a page when you show up. You don’t have to actually use the Hello Bar brand, though; there are a bunch of alternatives for a similar banner-like call to action. The key is to have a good call to action up in that bar.
  3. Use an exit intent pop to promote a product. I’ve personally found that exit intent pop-up lightboxes are very effective. They disrupt a user looking to leave and can capture a new conversion simply by presenting an offer the user hasn’t seen yet. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be a special offer, though that can help.
  4. Use a large CTA box at the end of posts. A lot of blogs these days put a big box at the bottom of their blog posts, typically above the comments, and sometimes above the related post boxes. This box acts as a call to action for users who make it through the full post, and can be very effective for the right offers.
  5. Use a heat map to identify hot spots for attention. Heat maps can show you where the user is looking and clicking on your site, which can give you a lot of valuable insight into how users are using your page. Look for opportunities to put new calls to action, new buttons, and new offers where they’ll get attention.
  6. Use split testing to try different landing pages and CTAs. Split testing is hugely important for capturing new traffic and making sure you make the most out of every hit you get. Here’s a good guide on split testing landing pages, which you can use to give you an idea for other testing you can do as well.
  7. Give users fewer choices for what to do. Sometimes less is more. Ever heard of decision paralysis? If a user has too many choices, they often make no choice at all. Instead, give your users only one way out, which is to your landing page or product page. This is hard to do with blog posts, but easy with landing pages.
  8. Make use of social proof to encourage sales. “150,000 subscribers can’t be wrong” you say, as I read your landing page and decide if you’re reputable enough to invest in. Well, maybe you’re right; that element of social proof can definitely help convince me.
  9. Capture FOMO by using a recent sales widget. Widgets like this one create a miniature and temporary feed in the corner of your site that shows recent sales, and helps other people decide they too want to buy, lest you run out of product or they somehow miss out on a deal. This works best with limited quantity products or limited duration offers.
  10. Write content that draws people in. The more people you have coming to your site, the more people will become paying customers. Growth is the name of the game, and by writing content that draws in people – and convinces them you’re an authority in whatever it is you do – you can gather both more people and more trust.

Convert Traffic to Subscribers

Sometimes – most of the time, in fact – people on your site aren’t going to be ready to make a purchase. They might not have the money on hand, they might need to run it by a boss or a family member, or they might just not want to do it at work on via a phone.

Subscribe Popup

Your job is to capture the value you can get from these users with a lower buy-in conversion, namely, getting those people to sign up for your mailing list. Otherwise, who knows if they’d ever come back?

  1. Use a slide-in box to promote a mailing list. A slide-in widget can be a great little promotional tool to capture attention from the people who make it far enough down your page to see it trigger. Just be careful using one of these in conjunction with too many other widgets. You’ll slow your page down and hurt the user experience, which can have a negative effect.
  2. Offer a “free” product in exchange for a subscription. This is exceedingly common with ebooks, but can also be used to give away free tools or other resources. The user, of course, is paying you with their information, which you can use to reel them back in later once you’ve decided they like the content or tool you gave them.
  3. Offer “content upgrades” to people who subscribe. You see this a lot on blogs; someone like me writes a post like this one, and then offers you a longer, more in-depth ebook, or a course, or some other upsell for the content you already like. You already know you like it, so you’re more inclined to give me your email address to see something with a bit more detail to it.
  4. Keep users around with related post links. Either manual links in each post and surrounding it, or a related post widget that pulls them automatically from other content you’ve posted, both will work. Keeping users in your ecosystem is a great way to build trust and get people to spend more time exposed to your CTAs, which in turn makes them more likely to convert.
  5. Put a large banner above the fold. This is kind of like the hello bar but on steroids, and it doesn’t go away if the user tries to close it. You see this a lot on sites dedicated to selling something, with a blog as a secondary focus. The top chunk above the fold is just dedicated to an ever-rotating CTA.

Convert Traffic to Social Followers

Just like you want to get people to subscribe to your mailing list, you want to get people to follow you on social media. Typically, I find that either one works, and getting both is a bonus.

Floating Social Buttons

Plus, you can engage with your social followers to get them to come back.

  1. Use floating social media buttons. Giving your users a way to interact with your social media profiles – or just share your content on theirs – at the drop of a hat is very easy. A floating tray of buttons is easy to set up and configure, and can help ensure that people are always aware of your social profiles and able to give you a follow at any time.
  2. Embed social posts in blog posts. Every social network allows you to embed posts from their network in your blog posts, which is a great way to share something you’ve posted recently. Use it sparingly with posts from other users unless it’s explicitly the focus of an article, and consider taking screenshot backups in case the original posts disappear.
  3. Embed a social media feed widget. You can embed a Twitter feed or a Facebook feed in a sidebar, footer, or even in the middle of a blog post, though the latter is less likely to play well since it’s not contextual. These can help show users you have an active page and can even show them recent posts they might be interested in engaging with, to pull them in more effectively.
  4. Encourage social follows with exclusive content or giveaways. Using an app like Gleam is great for linking up both your website and your social media. You can run contests and giveaways, and require both visits to your website and social media interaction as entry options, which encourages people to do all of it.
  5. Use a social locker widget. Social lockers come in and out of style as their efficacy comes and goes, but they can be worth trying. You can lock part of a blog post, or some upsell after a blog post, behind a social media engagement action. Make your users “pay” you for your content in the form of a follow or other engagement that can then put them on a list for future marketing.

Get Your Traffic to Come Back

All that traffic you’ve been capturing as subscribers and social media followers needs to pull its weight. Otherwise, why bother maintaining those profiles at all?

Retargeting on Google Ads

Here are tips to get those followers to come back and convert.

  1. Run ads on social media targeting followers. This is one of the easiest kinds of social media ads to run, since you already have your audience. You can also use tracking code like the Facebook Pixel to track people who visit your website and market to them as well. Different audiences, of course, so they require different types of marketing, but I trust you to figure that out.
  2. Run ads on Google focused on remarketing. Google ads can target people who visit your site, and you can reach them pretty much anywhere they are due to how prevalent Google is around the web. Running ads to remind them they have a purchase they could make or a deal they could miss is a great plan.
  3. Link to posts, offers, and deals from your social profiles. Make use of those social media followers by reminding them you have a site and have products they can buy on the regular. Just don’t be too self-promotional or sites like Facebook will likely penalize you somewhat.
  4. Make your newsletter worth reading. Remember all those steps that got people to sign up for your newsletter? You need to make that newsletter worth opening. Make sure it’s packed with value, not just upsells. Everything from a weekly digest to a special tutorial to exclusive subscriber-only content can help here.
  5. Send lapsed customers reminders or special offers. People who don’t open your newsletter for too long should be removed from your list, but not before you give them a one last chance special offer. Customers who canceled, or who haven’t made a return purchase in a while, can be reminded you exist with a gentle message.

What about you guys and gals? What are your favorite tips for converting your blog traffic? Come up with something clever and I might just add it to the list.

The post 25 Ways to Convert Your Blog Post Traffic into Sales appeared first on Blogpros Blog.

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15 Ways to Include Calls to Action on Your Shopify Blog https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/09/calls-action-shopify-blog https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/09/calls-action-shopify-blog#respond Thu, 12 Sep 2019 03:48:25 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4917 A Shopify blog is basically just like any other blog on the web. You have your core theme, you have your navigation, you have your blog post content, and you have an array of different widgets you can use to…

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A Shopify blog is basically just like any other blog on the web. You have your core theme, you have your navigation, you have your blog post content, and you have an array of different widgets you can use to improve and expand functionality.

All you need to do is get it to work for you. The trick, here, is the call to action. A good call to action mobilizes the user, convincing them that now is the time to take action, not later. Different calls to action have different properties, and how you formulate it all comes down to your goals.

Before we get into specific ways to include calls to action, let’s first talk about what makes a good call to action in the first place.

  • It inspires urgency. A good call to action either states or implies that there’s some reason why the user should take action now, rather than later.
  • It stands out. A good call to action draws user attention, either by positioning, animation, or color.
  • It’s simple. Many people will only glance at a call to action, so it needs to convey its message at a glance.
  • It’s above the fold. A lot of people will fail to scroll your page at all, so a call to action placed too low on the page won’t attract attention. There are some exceptions to this, as I’ll mention below.

You can read more about each of these, as well as see some examples of good calls to action, in this post from Shopify themselves.

Now let’s talk about positions and methods for including a call to action on your blog. I’m going to list 15 different options here, but I recommend you choose maybe 3-5 of them at most. If you put too many on your page at once, you end up looking like a spam page trying harder to sell something than convey information. That’s bad for your users, and it’s bad for Google, so it’s bad for you. Find the most effective options you have and stick with them.

1. Link to Products in Blog Posts

The simplest and most common form of call to action is just a link in your blog posts. You’re probably so used to this you might not even think of it as a call to action. All you need to do is mention your services – like blog promotion – with a link to your service page, or product page, or what have you.

Adding a Link to a Product

See what I did there?

The tricky part with this is that blog post links don’t stand out. This is just one link of many in any given post, and not even the only internal link. You can’t necessarily make it stand out without making your blog posts distracting. I always say you should include this kind of call to action, but make sure you’re not relying too heavily on it.

2. Create a Shopify-Based Clickable Button

Shopify provides instructions on a step-by-step basis for creating a clickable call to action button for your Shopify store. You can read their instructions on this page. It walks you through the entire process at a mechanical level.

Creating Custom CTA

Typically, this kind of button is placed on or next to a header that showcases a product. You show a product with an image, and include some reason why the user should click; maybe it’s a limited edition product, for example. You then provide the button with text like “get yours now” or “shop today” or whatever text happens to work best for your audience.

3. Use a Scroll-Triggered Slider Call to Action

You’ve probably been on a website before where, as you’re scrolling down through the content, you see a box that slides in to the side and hovers in the corner. This is really just a script that triggers when the user gets far enough down the page, and all it does is makes a small box of content appear. You can do this with plugins like OptInMonster or with some custom code.

Slide in Forms

This is one example of a call to action that can be below the fold. Because it doesn’t appear until further down the page, it’s guaranteed to only capture the attention of your most engaged users. As such, it will probably have a lower view rate, but a higher click rate than other CTAs.

4. Use a Hello Bar

Hello Bar is one of several similar plugins that creates a colored banner across the top of your page, usually with a slight scroll-in effect, and always with a call to action button on it.

Hello Bar Homepage

You can customize the color and the text, as well as the destination of the button. Hello Bar is the brand that pioneered this plugin, so they have some of the more robust options, albeit not for free.

5. Use a Top Banner CTA

Unlike a Hello Bar, a top banner call to action is more like a banner ad. You can make these small and position them above or below your navigation. You can make them larger and have them take up a larger portion of the top of your site. Different styles require different kinds of attention, but the main benefit is that they’re big, they’re up front, and they’re obvious. It’s impossible to ignore these kinds of top banners, though whether or not they get any real attention is another matter entirely.

6. Deliver an Offer on Exit Intent

One of my favorite semi-annoying methods for capturing user attention is the exit intent pop-over. These pop-ups are easy to code, or they can be found in plugins as well.

Exit Intent Popup

Basically, when the user’s cursor moves outside of the active window – such as towards the X that closes the tab or window – the pop-over appears in a lightbox. This disrupts the user’s action and makes them glance a second time at the site. You can then capture them with a compelling offer, a time-limited deal, or just a guilt trip asking them not to go over a picture of a sad kitten. You know, whatever works best.

7. Turn Product Images into Links to Pages

Since you’re likely writing about your niche for your Shopify blog, you can probably find a way to include a picture of one of your products. Any time you include such a picture, you can make it into a call to action. The picture itself can be a link to the product page for that product, and you can use the caption to be a text-based call to action as well. There’s a reason those Amazon boxes work as well as they do, right?

8. Use a Sidebar Ad for Your Own Products

Sidebar ads are familiar to just about everyone, and sidebars tend to be relatively wasted space. In addition to a hovering box of social media buttons – more on those later – you can also include a larger tower-style ad for your own products. I see this most often with ebook offers and newsletter opt-ins, but you can really make one for whatever you want.

Sidebar Ad CTA

The major downside to this is that they aren’t necessarily going to be visible on mobile. Mobile is a vertical format, and one of the first things to go with a responsive design is the sidebars. This means your call to action in the sidebar is necessarily going to be focused primarily on desktop users, so keep that in mind.

9. Use a Recent Sales Widget

A lot of small-scale stores use apps like this one. What does it do? Well, while your users are browsing your site, this continually pops up a message in the corner every few seconds – you can set the timing – with a sales notification. It’s usually something simple, like “MWebb42 just purchased Product Name. 3 Minutes ago.” It might also include a thumbnail of the product. You can customize it, of course.

Recently Bought Popup

This works best if there’s a limited quantity of products available, to encourage the fear of missing out. If only three are available, and the user sees a notification saying “ONE JUST SOLD JUST NOW HURRY IF YOU WANT ONE OR IT WILL SELL OUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN IT’LL BE BACK”, well, maybe they’ll make a purchase.

10. Embed Social Media Posts that Link to Landing Pages

Posting on a site like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest with images of your products and a call to action can help you get traffic and buyers to your site. Beyond that, though, you can then take those social media posts and embed them on your site, in your blog posts. You get all of the benefit of a social media post, in your blog post, with accompanying call to action.

11. Create Whole Site Wraps

Fewer sites do this than they used to, but some sites still create whole site wraps full of advertising. Usually this is on behest of another company willing to pay for a lot of web real estate, but you can use the same technique to advertise something you’re selling. A whole site wrap will add sidebars, gutters, backgrounds, headers, images, everything. It basically replaces your existing theme with its own huge pile of advertising.

12. Use Social Media Buttons with Arrows

One thing to keep in mind is that not all calls to action have to be about products and landing pages. I’ve mentioned a couple of other kinds, like the newsletter mailing list before, but social media is generally one of the easier sells.

Configure Social Buttons

You can include social media buttons in a variety of different ways, such as across the top of posts, in a sidebar that hovers with the user as they scroll, at the bottom of the post, in a header or footer, or even in more than one of those locations. Embellish them with some arrows to draw attention, and you can get a good inflow of followers with each new post.

13. Include a Related Posts Widget

Every blog, in my opinion, should have a related posts widget. A related posts widget like this one will add boxes that showcase a thumbnail and title for a couple of other blog posts, typically posts that have some relation to the post the user is currently reading, though they may just be recent posts as well. It’s like internal linking but with additional graphical visibility. The call to action here is just to keep users on your site reading more of your articles, where they can be exposed to other calls to action as well.

14. Create a Box for Newsletter Opt-Ins

I’ve seen a variety of different boxes that focus on newsletter opt-ins, but one of the most prominent tends to be a large box that interrupts the blog post text, either mid-way through or down near the bottom. Some even sit after the conclusion, but before the comments section.

Email Newsletter Plugin

They have a call to action like “don’t miss our posts in the future” with an email opt-in attached, and they do a good job of getting the people who read your post in full to sign up to read more in the future.

15. Call for Comments

Another good call to action you can use is simply a call for comments. At the end of your blog posts, just post a sentence or two at the end asking your users to leave a comment. As long as your comments sections are generally moderated and easy to use – none of that proprietary account stuff – you can get a lot of people commenting just by asking for it.

Blog comments are great because they boost the amount of content on your page, they give you engagement from your users, and they give you feedback. You can use them to build a community and guide the future development of your blog topics.

It’s even simple to do. See, watch:

What do you guys think? What calls to action have proven to be the most effective on your sites? I’d like to hear how well various techniques perform. Leave a comment with your top techniques below!

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How to Automate Emails to Your Blog Subscribers https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/09/automate-emails-blog-subscribers https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/09/automate-emails-blog-subscribers#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2019 16:20:20 +0000 http://blogpros.com/blog/?p=1370 Email automation is a tricky thing. If you do it right, you’re engaging your subscribers, you’re referring traffic to your blog or storefront, you’re gaining new social media followers, and you’re keeping your audience in the loop. Done poorly, and…

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Email automation is a tricky thing. If you do it right, you’re engaging your subscribers, you’re referring traffic to your blog or storefront, you’re gaining new social media followers, and you’re keeping your audience in the loop. Done poorly, and you’re flagging your business as a spam source, getting your domain blacklisted, and losing your audience all at once. For obvious reasons, the first outcome is the better one.

Determine a Frequency

The first thing you should do is determine how often you want to send your emails to your subscribers. You typically want to be consistent and up-front with your schedule, so you avoid sending too many emails and flooding your users with meaningless messages.

Calendar Scheduling

Here are some options you can consider:

  • Daily. A daily digest can be effective if you’re a particularly active site. A site like Forbes might have a newsletter for each major channel, such as an entrepreneurship digest, a business digest, a commerce digest, and so on. A smaller site like PC Magazine might send out a daily newsletter with a rundown of the posts they published that day. If you don’t publish multiple pieces of content on your site in a day, however, this option is unlikely to be a good idea.
  • Weekly. A weekly newsletter or round-up can be a great idea, particularly if you’re a blog that publishes content once a day or only 2-3 times per week. This keeps your audience engaged and aware of your content, without requiring them to commit to keeping your schedule in mind or setting up alerts. Though you can use those too.
  • Bi-Weekly. Publishing a newsletter once every two weeks has the benefits of a weekly newsletter, but allows you to spend more time building up and curating the content you want to deliver.
  • Monthly. A monthly newsletter is good if you want a longer, more detailed newsletter with a deep round-up of what you’ve been doing for the month. It’s best for slower blogs or for blogs that tend to dig deep into subjects rather than surface-level news coverage.
  • Irregular. Irregular newsletters are more useful for things like new product notifications. Some authors use them to notify readers when a new book is in the works or ready to be published. Companies often set up these newsletters for notifications when a new product launch happens.

Every frequency has its benefits for different kinds of businesses, so no one frequency is better than any other. You simply need to figure out what works best for the level of content you have to share and the audience you want to share it to.

I also highly recommend testing different frequencies. I’ll go more into testing later, but for now, consider segmenting your audience and running two different newsletters to see which has the better open and engagement rates.

Decide What to Send

What will your email include? What are you sending to your readers? The most obvious answer is a digest of what you’ve been up to as a company. You want a newsletter that contains your branding and links to your social media profiles. It should also contain a casual rundown of what your business has been up to, what’s coming up down the pipeline, and something stand out about the past however long it has been since your last email. Additionally, it can include links to either your top performing blog posts, or simply all of the blog posts you published.

Newsletter Email

More frequent newsletters don’t get to include as much detail or interesting discussion, because they’re too frequent for a retrospective or a forward-looking discussion to take place. I don’t need a recap of the last month of news if you’ve been sending me news updates every day, after all.

At the low end, you can make your daily digest trigger when you publish a new blog post. It’s easy enough to configure an email system to trigger when you publish a post and send a notification to your readers that a new post went live. You can also put this on a delay; the people who didn’t see the post right away will be caught by the email reminding them that it’s live.

As you scale up the detail level, you can include more exclusive discussion, turning the emails from a notification into a newsletter. They will be content in their own right, which is both good and bad.

You can also take a different tack and send emails that are more focused on sales, like catalogs in the inbox. Promoting products through email can be pretty useful, but you need to make sure your audience will tolerate it. If they signed up to get blog notifications and you’re sending them a sales pitch, they’re going to opt out.

Design a Compelling Email

Every email has two inherent goals. One of them is the same goal as any and all marketing copy that isn’t on your website: get users to click a link to visit your website. The other is unique to email; get users to open the email. Your emails need to be crafted specifically to encourage not one, but both of those calls to action.

Example Email Newsletter Design

First up, you need a compelling subject line. Put yourself in the user’s shoes; if you received the email, would you open it? What’s the value in the subject line? It has to either present a value proposition right away, or it has to make use of the curiosity gap to get users to see what’s inside. Unlike something like Facebook, you can use clickbait in your emails all you like. Here’s a great post on subject lines for further reading.

Next, you need compelling copy in your emails. Your goal is to get users to click through one of the links you’ve provided, be it to a landing page, a blog post, or a social profile. As long as you can get them to click through, you can get them exposed to your other marketing. Even if they don’t commit then and there, you know they opened the email, so they’re still part of the fold.

Keep in mind as you’re writing your copy that you want to avoid common email spam words and techniques. Have you looked at your inbox recently? All of those funny fonts in subject lines just get an email filtered. You also want to avoid words like free, “extra income”, “cheap”, and a whole range of others that are commonly used in spam emails. You aren’t likely to be filtered immediately, but it’s a warning sign and makes you more likely to be flagged as spam by automated systems.

Consider a Welcome Drip Campaign

In addition to your standard newsletter flow, one thing you can consider is a specialized welcome campaign. A welcome campaign is sent specifically to people when they sign up to your newsletter for the first time. It spends a few days or even a few weeks sending emails that introduce them to various parts of your newsletter and your business, before bringing them up to speed and merging them into the core newsletter.

Welcome Email Example

One of the primary uses of a drip campaign is product onboarding. You welcome them to your product and give them basic information about it, then you send them increasingly advanced information, tutorials, and use cases over the course of the following weeks.  Once this is wrapped up, those users should be up to speed with using your products.

Drip campaigns typically take some skill to compose, and they can be adjusted and adapted with a hundred different levers to improve them. Change how often the emails are sent, change what specific information is in each, change how many there are, and so on. This is a great rundown for them.

Learn About Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation is going to be a huge part of how you run your newsletters and email digests, so it’s something you want to get used to. There are two purposes for segmentation: retention and testing.

Segmentation for retention is a way to adapt to people who no longer open your emails. If a user stops opening your emails, you have to wonder why, right? Are they tired of you? Are they no longer a customer? Are your subject lines not compelling enough? Are your emails filtered?

If they aren’t opening, you can move them into a segment of people who get higher focus on open rates. Specialized “still with us?” style subject lines can help get people to open a few messages, and then you can move them back to the main audience. If they don’t open even those messages, you have to think that they’re no longer interested.

Click and Open Rate

At this point, you can stop sending primary emails to those users. Keep them on a list, and then a month or so later, send them a refresher asking if they’d like to stay on the list. If they open that and engage with it, you can move them back to the main list. If they don’t open it, they can be removed from your lists.

Yes, this means you lose a lead. However, these people weren’t engaging with your emails in the first place. They weren’t really a qualified lead. They could have dropped off for any of a thousand reasons, from spam filters to dying. It’s your job to keep your core email list pruned.

Testing is the other way you can segment your mailing list, and you can do it in two ways: through demographics or randomly.

Demographic segmentation requires you to learn about your users. If you have a product that requires them to submit information about themselves, that’s easy. Otherwise, you might need to use a customer management platform to give you a better idea of your users. You can harvest some data when they sign up in the first place as well.

Searching by Country

Demographic segmentation is useful for delivering semi-targeted advertising directly to the users who are most likely to be interested in it. For example, if you have a male/female divide in your segmentation, you can send a “new mothers sale” newsletter to the female half while you send a more standard newsletter to the male half. That’s just a simple example, of course, you can get quite detailed with it.

Random segmentation is more for blind split testing. Divide up your audience into two equal halves and send them the same email with different subject lines. Since there’s no pattern to who is in which half of the audience, the only different between them is the subject line. Thus, the subject line with the higher open rates is the better subject. This kind of split testing is incredibly important and worth a post of its own.

Pick an Email Management Platform

All of this might sound complicated, but that’s what email management apps are for. All of the professional, business-class email apps have customer management features, include newsletter management, and usually have drip campaign features. Where they differ tends to be in the number of emails or contacts they can manage at different price points, as well as some fringe features, like syncing with other marketing platforms or including composition tools.

Constant Contact List

Platforms you can consider looking into include MailChimp, Benchmark, AWeber, GetResponse, MailJet, Emma, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor. There are others as well, too; in fact, let me ask you. Which email manager is your favorite of the ones you’ve tried? Let me know in the comments.

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Should You Redirect 404 Page Errors on Your Blog? https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/08/redirect-404-errors-blog https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/08/redirect-404-errors-blog#respond Fri, 30 Aug 2019 22:24:55 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4890 Did you know that there is likely a ton of traffic coming to your blog that simply has nowhere to go? People who arrive at a broken link, people who mistype a URL, people who try to go to a…

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Did you know that there is likely a ton of traffic coming to your blog that simply has nowhere to go? People who arrive at a broken link, people who mistype a URL, people who try to go to a page that moved or no longer exists; all of this traffic ends up on the familiar, dreaded, 404 page.

The 404 page is part of the core infrastructure of the internet. The protocol that the internet uses to route traffic and load data, the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, has a series of standard response codes or status codes that convey information. Some of them are simple acknowledgements that a directive was processed successfully. Some of them are errors that tell people who know what they mean where in the process something went wrong. For example, a 502 error occurs when a server acting as a gateway failed to receive a response from the target server.

A server 404 error means that the destination page cannot be found. The page might have existed in the past but no longer exists, or it may not exist yet but will exist in the future. It might also be a malformed URL leading to a page that doesn’t exist.

Different websites handle the 404 error in different ways. Some of them handle it gracefully, while others do not. Let’s look at different options you have, and whether or not you should use them.

The Raw 404

The raw 404 error is the basic browser 404 error page. This occurs on a site that does not have any 404 page configured in any way. It looks more like a browser error than a website error, and it provides absolutely zero value to the user.

Here’s an example. Rense.com is a weird page run by a guy named Jeff Rense, who is a run of the mill conspiracy theorist radio host whose knowledge of web design – and science, and politics, and reality – is virtually nonexistent. If you try to visit a page on his side that doesn’t exist, like this one, it results in a simple server 404 error. There’s nothing to it; a banner that says Server Error, the server error and its description on a light gray background.

Example Apache 404

This is the default for old web design, but most modern sites handle it a little more gracefully. If your site brings up a page like this when you visit a URL that doesn’t exist, you need to change it.

There’s absolutely zero reason to keep this style of 404 page on your site. I’ve seen some people argue that it allows you to record the number of errors from people arriving on your site, but so do formatted 404 pages. This provides zero benefits and makes it look like your site doesn’t even exist. If a simple typo in a URL or link can lead to a page like this, it’s actively harmful to your site.

The Homepage 404

One option a lot of novice marketers use is the homepage-redirect 404. Websites that do this simply direct you to their homepage when the page you’re trying to reach cannot be found.

Here’s an example. CLogica is a company that creates WordPress plugins and other forms of coding and development. If you try to visit a page on their site that does not exist, for example https://www.clogica.com/web, you will be taken directly to their homepage. I found this website, by the way, because they are an example used in a WordPress plugin that implements this redirect.

404 Redirect to Homepage

Now, this isn’t a good idea for a 404 page. On the one hand, it makes sure your users know your site is alive and gives them a “fresh start” for choices of where to go. On the other hand, users who were looking for a specific piece of content might just bounce.

Additionally, Google still treats this as a 404 error. They know about the redirect, and they still choose to treat your homepage as a soft 404 page. This doesn’t necessarily penalize you, at least not much, but it’s needless complexity and it doesn’t benefit you much at all. For that reason, I don’t recommend this option.

The Graceful 404

The graceful 404 is what most modern website platforms use. At least, it’s what modern platforms like WordPress use by default, unless you configure it differently.

Many sites based on WordPress handle 404s this way. When you try to arrive at a URL that does not exist, you still get the basic template for content on the page. This beauty blog based in the UK is a good example. There’s no content on the page, simply a 404 error. However, you still have the title of the blog, the header with navigation, and the footer with any information you choose to add to it, which in this case is just a copyright and theme credits.

Capture 404 Logs

Chances are, this is the kind of 404 page your site currently uses. It still allows you to record information about 404 errors on your site, but it also gives your users some options. Rather than thinking the site doesn’t exist, they know the site exists, even though the content they were looking for does not. They can choose to browse your site through the navigation if they want.

This is generally a decent baseline option. It’s not the best option, but it’s better for users than the raw 404. On the other hand, you can get a lot more value out of your 404 pages, so I don’t recommend this option either.

The Landing Page 404

The landing page 404 is a style of 404 page that converts your 404 into a basic landing page. This may not even look like a 404 page to some users, though in general it still has some basic 404 information on it.

Nike is actually an example of this. In their online store, if you try to visit a page for a product that doesn’t exist, you are taken to a 404 page. This page, specifically. It has a header that makes it clear that the product the user was looking for is not available, but it offers other products the user might be interested in. It also has the usual top bar header and bottom bar footer full of navigation if the user wants to browse instead.

Example of a Custom 404 Page

There’s a variation of this that many pages use that, instead of providing a few products as a landing page, provides a search. Moz is a good example of this one. When you visit a URL that doesn’t exist – like the link I provided – it brings you to a page formatted with all of their usual top and bottom navigation, but also a search bar in the middle of the page. If you know what you were looking for, you can search for the real page quickly and easily.

Neil Patel even recommends the option of using an exit intent pop-over with a coupon or offer code for people who arrive on your 404 pages. If a user lands on your 404 and has any intent at all to buy, giving them an offer can feel almost like an easter egg. It’s a clever use of space that otherwise wouldn’t be useful.

Both of these options are, to me, better than a graceful 404 by a mile. They provide additional options and value to users, without confusing them about the lack of the original content they were looking for.

The Resource 404

One step up from the landing page 404 is the resource page 404. The concept of this kind of 404 is pretty simple. You acknowledge that the page the user was looking for does not exist, but then you provide them with a series of other options for content they might want to find. Moz, up above, is almost like this. That’s because their footer has a ton of evergreen links to content people generally want to see. However, since that’s part of their general footer, I don’t consider it a true resource page 404.

Another possible example is Smashing Magazine. Their 404 page apologizes for being a 404 page, but it gives you a few other options. You can click a link to see their homepage, view their latest newsletter, or take action to report the 404 through Twitter or their contact form.

Smashing Magazine 404

I consider the resource page 404 to be one of the best options for a 404 page. You can customize the page to include a series of evergreen pieces of content, as well as options for getting in touch with you, and some more timely content the user might want to see.

Yoast is a similar example. Their 404 page offers some tips for getting the URL right a second time, a link to the homepage, and all of their typical header and footer information and links. Additionally, they have the search bar, and they have a widget that shows off recent posts. This page is almost a full resource hub, if not for the fact that it’s missing the core content.

The Smartly Redirected 404

The option I prefer the most, and the option we have implemented on the site you’re reading right now, is the intelligent redirect 404 option.

This option redirects your 404 pages, but rather than sending users to the homepage and creating a detrimental soft 404 page, it analyzes what they were probably going for and brings them to that page. It makes URLs “fuzzy” in a sense; similar URLs redirect to the proper, canonical URL.

For example, here’s a recent post we wrote. The full URL is https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/08/start-travel-blog-money. However, if you do something like remove the date, you get https://blogpros.com/blog/start-travel-blog-money. That link directs to the canonical link appropriately. It even works if you cut out most of the URL, so you’re just left with https://blogpros.com/blog/start-travel. Incredible, right?

Auto Redirecting to Similar Posts

It takes a lot to confuse this kind of plugin. If there’s no page with a similar URL – something like https://blogpros.com/blog/blah-blah-blah – then the plugin won’t properly redirect to anything. This is where having a secondary backup plan is helpful as well. Ours, as you can see, is a graceful 404 with a search box, the header and footer navigation, and the sidebar we have on every page.

Admittedly, we could improve it, but why? 99% of the time, people arriving at broken URLs will be redirected to the appropriate URL. In this case, we could even get away with redirecting other 404s to our homepage, because there’s no clear intention of where the user wants to go in those cases.

It’s worth noting that you can still see referrals linking to pages that don’t exist, so you still have 404 data you can use to troubleshoot. I still recommend contacting people who use broken links to point to your site, just in case their users use a redirect-blocker or no-script plugin that stops redirects. It’s always better to use a proper link whenever possible. It’s just a good fallback.

Over to You

Your turn. Show off your 404 pages! What kind of 404 page do you have, and what kind do you want to have, if you could put one together? Have you found one method to be more effective than another? Personally, I’m a big fan of our current smart redirect. It’s graceful, it helps fix basic link copying errors, and it still provides value if the user gets past it.

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Can Using Quotes in Articles Hurt Your Blog Post Rankings? https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/08/quotes-article-hurt-blog https://blogpros.com/blog/2019/08/quotes-article-hurt-blog#respond Thu, 22 Aug 2019 09:17:28 +0000 https://blogpros.com/blog/?p=4850 Duplicate content has long been a boogeyman for marketers, ever since the apocalypse that was the Panda updates in 2011. For nearly a decade now, people have lived in fear of duplicate content and its ability to destroy the search…

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Duplicate content has long been a boogeyman for marketers, ever since the apocalypse that was the Panda updates in 2011. For nearly a decade now, people have lived in fear of duplicate content and its ability to destroy the search ranking of a site.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what is and isn’t duplicate content, and how bad the penalties can be. All people remember from eight years ago is the outcry when thousands upon thousands of websites cried out and were suddenly silenced. Unlike the people of a doomed planet, though, these websites weren’t worth the space they took up on the internet. Good riddance to them.

What Duplicate Content Actually Means

So what is and what isn’t duplicate content? Here’s a quick test.

  1. Site A has a guide you really like. You want to reference it on Site B, so you copy three paragraphs and paste them as a quote in your article, surrounded by your own content.
  2. Site A has a guide you really like. You approach them and ask if you can syndicate it on your domain, and they agree. You publish the entire guide as-is, with a canonical link pointing to their domain.
  3. Site A has a guide you really like. You copy the guide and post it on your Site B, without a canonical link.
  4. You have just created Site A. A marketing firm you contracted to promote it copies your homepage and distributes it as a press release, making its content appear on sites B through Z.

Which of these is duplicate content? Depending on your definition of duplicate content, all of them can be, but what we’re talking about is Google’s definition.

In scenario 1, yes, you’re directly copying and pasting some of the content of another site onto your site. However, it’s just a small amount of content. Google doesn’t care. This scenario is perfectly fine.

Googles Duplicate Content Description

Why doesn’t Google care? Well, they know for one thing that it’s perfectly fine to quote and cite passages from another source. I’ve done it before when quoting Facebook or Google help center articles, for example. I link to the original source, I quote the relevant passage, and I’m good to go.

This is true stretching all the way back into the antiquated world of books and academic papers. You cannot produce new research or new study without referencing what exists elsewhere. Thus, quoting and citations have to be fine.

There’s also the case where what you’re quoting is not a reference article or paper or blog, but the data itself. You can’t exactly edit the data to be unique, that disrupts the data and can misrepresent it. Obviously, Google doesn’t want to encourage misrepresentation.

Plus, well, there are only so many possible combinations of words in the English language. The internet is basically the million monkeys with a million typewriters scenario, writ large. Two people can write the same sentence when they’re discussing the same topic, and it’s not theft or plagiarism or copied content, it’s simply two great minds thinking alike.

Infinite Monkey Theorem

Of course, the chances of two entire 2,000-word blog posts being identical and independently created is slim to none, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

In scenario 2, what we’re talking about isn’t copied content, but syndicated content. Syndication is when multiple sites publish the same content, all of them referencing back to the original version. This is explicitly what the rel=”canonical” link attribute and meta entry is for.

Syndication can be a good way to get traffic to your site. You’re publishing great content, which can show up in Google, and which your users may value, even though you didn’t produce it.

There are two keys that form the difference between copied content and syndicated content. These are the canonicalization and permission.

Article on Medium

Canonicalization simply requires you to add the rel=”canonical” link to your page’s meta data, pointing at the URL of the original version of the content. This tells Google of the official source of the content, when it’s not you.

Permission, meanwhile, simply means making sure the original source of the content gives you permission to use it in this way. If you don’t have permission to use it, the original content creator can file a DMCA notice to have your version taken down, and can pursue legal action if you do not comply with the takedown notice.

In scenario 3, meanwhile, the process is more akin to theft. You like the content, you take it and publish it, and you hope no one notices. Well, Google will notice, you can guarantee that much. You could block Google’s bots – though you probably won’t get them all, since they have spies they don’t announce – but then your copied content isn’t going to rank and isn’t going to be found, so it does you no good to steal it.

Copyscape Plagiarized Content

Even then, if you do this for one blog post on a site with 100 other blog posts you created on your own, Google probably isn’t going to care. What Google cares about, typically, is value across the whole site. The reason thousands of sites were killed off in the Panda updates of 2011 was because those sites had no original content of their own. They didn’t provide unique value, they simply stole content and attempted to monetize it.

Now, that’s not to say that your theft wouldn’t be noticed. Anyone who finds the copied content can report it to the original copyright holder, who can then pursue legal action starting with asking you to remove it and ending with a lawsuit. You’re not in the right just because Google doesn’t automatically penalize you.

In scenario 4, we have copied content in the opposite direction. I stole this scenario from Neil Patel’s article on the topic, 3 Myths About Duplicate Content. The exact scenario happened and it blacklisted the original site, even though the original site was the source of the content that was spread around. It was a misunderstanding, and it was eventually fixed, but the point remains: the site had no value outside of the content that was published in 100 other places, and thus the site had no value in the search rankings.

What Google Cares About

At the end of the day, Google only cares about one thing: value to the user. They don’t care where that value comes from or how you put it together. That’s why a lot of things that might seem like they’re going against the rules are perfectly fine.

For example: a post on Yahoo News is identical to a post on Time Magazine’s website, both of which have rel=”canonical” links pointing to themselves. Google sees two identical pieces of content, both claiming to be the original, but neither is penalized. Why not?

Two reasons. First, both of them credit the original source, and the original author. They aren’t trying to represent the content as their own, they’re saying “this is a post from the AP”. It’s syndicated content, and Google knows it.

Original Author and Source

Second, Google knows that different people like to read different news sites for their information. Syndicating one piece of legitimate news from one source across different affiliated news organizations means more people are exposed to the value of the news. Sure, it dilutes the value of the piece, but each different news site has different selections of content and different ways of adding value.

Duplicate content will penalize a site when that site has no original value of its own. If you run a blog, but all you do is steal blog posts from 100 different sources, you’re not providing your own value. Each of those sources has their own value, but the only potential unique value you could provide is having it all in one place. Chances are, that’s not good enough. And if it is, well, that’s what blog aggregators do.

Google often ranks sites based on dozens of different factors, and when they have the same content posted on them, Google will omit them. In the case of the news article I listed above, it shows up on a dozen different sites on Google, but you can bet it’s actually syndicated on hundreds more. It does no one any good to see hundreds of copies of the same post in their search results, so after a few of the top options, Google starts looking for other possible value sources.

Omitted Results Example

Sites that steal content are almost universally ranked lower than the original sources of those sites. Often, they’re ranked so much lower that they never appear in the first five pages of Google, long after their position holds any value. In the rare instance where a site has stolen content and ranks higher than the original source, the original source can report the scraper and have it dealt with.

How to Quote Content in an SEO Friendly Way

Quotes in general are not going to hurt your SEO. However, if you want to be doubly and triply sure that you’re not going to penalize yourself by quoting someone else, here are some steps you can take.

First, take as little of the source content as possible. Instead of “quoting” an entire blog post, quote a few relevant paragraphs. Better yet, instead of quoting a few paragraphs, quote one paragraph and write your own write-up of the context that makes it make sense. Copy as little of the original content as possible to get your point across.

Quoting Part of a Paragraph

Second, add your own original content to the post surrounding the quoted content. The more of your own original value you have on the page, the better off you are. Even if you’re writing something like “50 SEO Experts Opinions on Onions” with quotes you sourced from posts all of those marketers posted on their own blogs, you can add value. Copy their quote, but then write a description of where the quote is from, the context of the quote, and what you think it means as a key takeaway.

Third, use the proper format for quotes. WordPress, in the Gutenberg Block Editor, has a specific Blockquote Block you can use for a quoted passage. If you’re not using WordPress, or if you’re using an older version, you can use block quote tags in your code directly. When you flag the content as a quote, Google knows it’s a quote, and knows not to penalize you for it. I mean, they don’t need the HTML to tell them that, but it doesn’t hurt. It also flags the quote as a quote to your readers.

Fourth, make sure to cite the original source. Attribution is the main difference between reference and theft. You can do this in a number of ways. You can say “from X:” and put the quote. You can put the quote and then add “—from X”. You can even just use a footnote at the bottom of your page, though such citations are less effective than in-text citations.

Fifth, just don’t worry so much about it.

  • “Remember, Google has 2,000 math PhDs on staff. They build self-driving cars and computerized glasses. They are really, really good. Do you think they’ll ding a domain because they found a page of unoriginal text?” – Anthony Crestodina, via neilpatel.com

The fact is, if you’re embarking on a campaign of content theft as a way to fill out a blog, you’re going to be penalized with invisibility. If you’re quoting a few passages as a way to add value to your own content, you’re perfectly fine. Duplicate content isn’t nearly the boogeyman it seems to be.

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