Content Marketing for the Outdoor Industry

Content Density Blog

Comments Off on Why Fast Blogs Get More Traffic

Why Fast Blogs Get More Traffic

12.30.11 Posted in Blog Performance Metrics, Blogging Best Practices by

People are impatient. If your blog takes a long time to load in their browser or cell phone, they’ll abandon your site and go somewhere else.

Even worse, Google penalizes blogs and web sites with slow page load times by referring less traffic to them. If you’re spending a lot of time and money on SEO Optimization or content development, you could be pouring money down the drain if your site is slow. You’d be much better of speeding your site up first.

How fast should your page load times be? You want to shoot for an average page load speed of 3 seconds or less. Faster is better, but you’ll see about a 10% traffic increase in overall page views for every second you shave off your page load speed. The ROI compared to further SEO optimization or writing more content is surprisingly significant when you do a cost/benefit analysis.

What’s the first step for optimizing your blog’s page load times?

You guessed it. Timing your page load speed.

To do this, type your home page URL and the URLs of your best performing blog posts/web pages into the following FREE page load testing site.Record the first load and subsequent load scores for each page as a baseline to measure against.

If any of your first load times are over 6 seconds, you should immediately start a speed optimization project because 90% of the web sites on the internet, per Google, are faster than your own.

In subsequent posts, I’ll explain a number of ways you can rapidly improve your page load times irrespective of the blogging platform you use, as well as WordPress specific tips and tricks that can rapidly accelerate your page speed optimization efforts.

Comments Off on Link Less, Post Often

Link Less, Post Often

11.18.11 Posted in Content Strategy, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media by

The recent changes to Google indexing and ranking algorithms favor posts with original content in them and penalize posts that are cluttered with links that distract readers and decrease a piece’s relevance over time. Link love is important, but you shouldn’t include more then two or three external links in post.

If link love has been the key to your audience acquisition strategy, you need to switch gears and start writing posts that contain evergreen content. You can still share the love, but you should do so by posting more frequently and including fewer links in each post.

Of course, if you post great content frequently, you can wean yourself off the need to write for other bloggers and write for more for your audience. Let Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the legions of back-linkers boost your page rank. In the long run, this is a far better audience acquisition strategy because your reader pool is far greater than the number of peers in your content niche.

Another alternative to including link love in blog posts, is to use your social media channels to refer reader to content written by other people that is relevant to your niche and top quality. This keeps the search engines happy and still spreads the love around, but in a way that won’t harm your page rank over the long haul.


Comments Off on Paint a Big Target, Cast a Wide Net

Paint a Big Target, Cast a Wide Net

11.09.11 Posted in Content Strategy by

Do you want to know how to attract readers like a tractor beam? It’s easy. Provide them with a lot of high quality evergreen content and let Google do the rest.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for a narrow niche or for a broader pychographic. If you have a bigger net, you will catch more fish in it. It’s just take a little patience. The long tail of good content, and a lot of it, pays excellent dividends after a few years, in terms of search traffic and back links.

What kind of scale am I talking about? You should be aiming for 1,000 substantive articles over a three year period. Not blog posts about your favorite link buddies, but real meaty evergreen content that will stay relevant for years to come.

Too busy to write it yourself? Hire someone to write it. There are of lots of outdoor bloggers out there who know how to write evergreen content for your niche. Contact me for a referral, if you need help finding one.

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Respond to Every Comment

07.13.11 Posted in Blogging Best Practices by

Respond to every comment. Answer every email. For the rest of your frigging life.

People post comments on your blog because they want to establish a personal connection with you. If you respond to them, they will come back again and again and become pillars in your blog’s community.

But if you blow them off by never responding to their comments, they will abandon you, probably forever. I abandon bloggers who don’t respond to my comments on their blogs or social media channels with a vengence.

The same goes for email or messages that readers send you through a comment form. You need to get back to them promptly. Every reader you give advice to will tell their friends about you and your blog. The is audience acquisition 101.

If you are in a corporate marketing group and have multiple responsibilities that prevent you from getting back to your readers, I suggest you adjust your priorities. You are committing blogger suicide when you don’t interact with your audience.

Comments Off on Average Page Views and Time Per Visit

Average Page Views and Time Per Visit

07.07.11 Posted in Blog Performance Metrics by

How do you know if people like your content?

The best way to measure reader engagement is to track average page views and average time per visit. These two blog metrics will tell you whether people stick around and read multiple pages on your blog or whether they bounce off after a single page view.

It’s important that you understand that these measures are averages and include all of your bounces. A high bounce rate above 70% means that most of your visitors are probably finding your site through a search engine and that your content is either irrelevant to what they searched for, or that it’s not dense enough for them to stick around to read another page.

You can improve average time per visit by writing longer posts or adding video to them which will boost average time per visit. Adding more internal links to your posts will help increase the average number of page views per visit. Both of these approaches increase content density and promote deeper engagement.

If your average pages views per visit are 2.0 or higher and average time per visit is over 3:00 minutes, then keep doing whatever you are doing. If not, you need to make some changes to the amount of detail in your posts and the amount of internal cross-linking you do.

Comments Off on Search Rank and Content Age

Search Rank and Content Age

06.29.11 Posted in Content Strategy, Search Engine Optimization by

Have you noticed that the best ranked sites for many search terms are the ones that have been around the longest? It actually makes sense. Historically, these pages have had more click-thrus than newer, perhaps better content pages. If you write decent content, it  means that you’ll experience the same benefits after a few years too.

Is this fair?

I think it is. I also think you’d be wise to build it into your long term content investment plan.

The harsh reality is that most bloggers and web sites don’t last more than 2 years. But if you do, and you are consistently posting informative content on a regular basis, you will see the benefits.

For planning purposes, you need to invest at least 3 years before you begin to see your pages rise in search engine result rankings. From then on, the long tail benefits of your investment will kick-in noticeably and increase over time.

To maximize your return, the best thing to do is to generate a LOT of good relevant content in those first 3 years. If you write niche content, segment the subject matter within the domain and create content that spans it. This takes incredible discipline, but has an excellent return because your content will come up in the top search results regardless what people are searching for.

So strap in and get writing. If you can write 1000 x 750 word posts over the course of 3 years, you’ll see a handsome pay-off from organic search down the road.

If you want a faster ROI, open a pizza joint. The long tail takes patience.

Comments Off on Outbound Link Strategy

Outbound Link Strategy

06.22.11 Posted in Search Engine Optimization by

If you’ve never read Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide, I strongly suggest you read it a few times and use the techniques it recommends to architect your site’s structure and appearance. Google is the most important audience acquisition tool you have and you need to follow their best practices if you have any hope of getting new readers in a scalable way.

In particular, you want to pay attention to the section of that document which describes the use of rel=”nofollow” attributes in hyperlinks. You should add these attributes to any destination link you don’t want the Google crawler to crawl.

Why would you do that?

Google penalizes your page rank if you link to sites that have poor quality content, including spam sites, link farms, and content farms. When you link to a site, any site, you are in effect recommending it. So, Google penalizes you if you recommend crummy content.

By default, many blog and forum systems tag outbound links in comments with nofollow tags. Self-hosted WordPress blogs are a good example of this.

But there are other times when you might want to manually use rel=”nofollow” attributes in hyperlinks.

A good example, is if you have a long list of links on a page, particularly if it’s off your home page. The Google crawler will stop indexing external links on a page when it gets to 100 or so. If you pass a lot of link love to other bloggers via home pages links like this, you may be far less effective than you realize.

There’s also a danger that the Google crawler will doc your sites reputation if it thinks that all you do is write posts that have lot and lots of external links in them. If you see content like this, it’s usually an indication that the author has nothing to say, and Google will penalize them for it. That’s how it treats link farms and aggregator sites, which it considers to be spam.

If you find yourself tempted to write content like this, and there are certainly benign examples where it’s useful, it’s a good precaution to add rel=”nofollow” tags to the links on the page. This defeats the link love that you might be passing along to others, but protects your reputation.

Google doesn’t mind long link lists which point back to internal content within a site, but lots of external links can backfire if you care about your Google page rank and reputation.

Comments Off on Ask Questions

Ask Questions

06.08.11 Posted in Blogging Best Practices by

A company blog needs to be conversational to attract and retain an audience.  But to start a conversation, you need to initiate one by asking your audience questions. Asking for a response often pays dividends because you can get a one-on-one dialog going in the comments sections of a post or even better, a many-to-one conversation.

Here are a number of easy ways to ask questions:

  1. Don’t pretend to be an expert. If you don’t know how to do something, ask your readers. Chances are that one of them has something useful to explain to you and that your other readers will benefit from knowing. Getting help like this can put you and your readers on an equal footing, making them more likely to comment on a post or disagree with you in the future.
  2. Take a controversial stand and them ask for opinions. Disagreement is an excellent way to generate a dialog and get a long comment thread going. Just make sure that you are respectful to dissenting points of view.
  3. Solicit follow up questions, in other words ask for questions at the end of your posts. Often people will respond, particularly if they have been invited to.
  4. Poll your readers about a question or series of questions.

Comments Off on Answer Questions

Answer Questions

06.01.11 Posted in Blogging Best Practices by

One of the hardest things to do is for bloggers to come up with original content ideas, day after day.  But there’s an amazingly easy way for you stay ahead of the curve. Get hold of the search engine queries that people use to find your site and read them. Then type them into Google and see where your pages are ranked in the search results listing.

If your pages are ranked low, you can improve them by adding more relevant information to them or tuning your titles and keywords to make them rank higher.

If you don’t have any posts that are highly ranked for a specific query, write one, especially if it’s a questions or phrase that you can construct a compelling and helpful post around.

Answering questions like this is a great way to attract new readership to your site via search engines and to keep your existing audience coming back for answers to their questions.