Larry BraunerIn 8 Simple Ways to Penetrate Social Media Clutter, I recommended  that you leverage multiple traffic sources. In Looking for Traffic in All the Wrong Places, I gave you a partial list of the places I look to get more website traffic.

Based upon Google Analytics data pertaining to my recent blog visits, bounce rates and average time on site, I present my top 10 blog traffic sources along with some notes on each:

  1. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing - They account for 35% of my traffic. When my blog was new, I didn’t get any search engine traffic at all. Now, however, I get 5,000 visits from searches per month — including business people seeking precisely the types of services I offer. The credit goes to search engine optimization and to a growing reservoir of content.
  2. Entrecard, a traffic exchange for bloggers - Admittedly, Entrecard provides me with lots of worthless traffic. Fortunately, however, the site provides me with some great traffic too and an opportunity to build key relationships with other bloggers. One of my favorites at Entrecard is Gera from Uruguay, owner of the Sweets Foods blog. He and I are now also connected by email, Facebook and Twitter. As with all other traffic sources, to benefit from Entrecard you’ll need to make a long-term commitment to developing it.
  3. Twitter - I’ve written at length about Twitter. Read Twitter Stats Defy Measurement. I’m happy to have started with Twitter in 2008 when Twitter’s rules didn’t get in the way of building a large following. Today, different tactics are necessary to connect with your target audience. Start by encouraging your website visitors and friends on social networking sites to follow you on Twitter. Then gradually introduce new Twitter tools into your mix. My favorite tool, Tweet Adder, which I use daily, is worth the small investment.
  4. Facebook - I turned my attention to Facebook in June 2009 and experimented with the NetworkedBlogs application, which may have introduced new readers to my blog, but proved to be a poor source of ongoing traffic. On the other hand, profiles, fan pages and events showed themselves to be excellent traffic sources. It seems to me, so far, that Facebook fan pages are very effective as a form of web site subscription.
  5. Ning social network - I’m sorry to report that Ning has morphed into a host of unrelated niche sites. If you have your own Ning site, or a group or lots of friends on someone else’s Ning site, you can use that site to move traffic. As with Twitter, getting started with Ning is harder than it used to be, and the marketing benefits are fewer. I belong to many Ning sites and have several of my own. My primary Ning site is Small Business Network.
  6. Business Exchange - Discovered this social bookmarking site recently and wrote about it in 12 Tips for Using Business Week’s Social Bookmarking Site. I’m hoping that Business Exchange will help me generate a lot of high quality traffic in the year to come.
  7. Blog Catalog - If you have a blog and decide to use BlogCatalog, start your own group there; make many friends on the site and invite them to join your group. Those who join are interested in you and your group’s theme.
  8. StumbleUpon - Planning to learn much more about StumbleUpon and use it much more this year. I’ll keep you posted.
  9. LinkedIn - While well connected on LinkedIn, I’m not using it much at present. Most of my LinkedIn traffic is coming as a result of the Twitter LinkedIn integration.
  10. Ryze - Here I first encountered online social networking back in 2003. I  find Ryze very underwhelming in 2010. The traffic I get from Ryze comes from posting in groups, which are really forums.

I believe that Blogger is sending me websitetraffic because of Google Friend Connect. Also, I heard a rumor that Yahoo! is dumping MyBlogLog. Will let you know about both of them.

You made it all the way down here. Why not scroll down a drop more and leave a comment? ;-)

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Larry Brauner
Like you, I typically visit many blogs and websites each day.

Some websites clearly have it together. They have lots of website traffic and appeal to visitors.

Other websites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more website traffic and appeal much more to their audience.

I promised myself that I’d write up some suggestions for improving blogs and websites. I realize that while much is possible, we can’t hope to do everything. We need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on strategies and techniques that are easy to implement yet promise substantial benefits:

  1. Make Your Text Easier to Read - Some months ago, I noticed that my blog’s text wasn’t visually sharp enough. It was difficult to read. Upon examination, I noticed that the font wasn’t quite black, and the background wasn’t totally white. The links were grayish. After a few minor theme changes, the color scheme was improved. Low contrast combinations or light text on a dark background always require extra effort to read.
  2. Optimize for Human Eyeballs - A site’s title tells search engines and their users what the site is about. The title is the bold headline in search engine results. Using keywords in your site’s title can help you rank higher for those keywords. Recently, I changed the title of my blog hoping to rank higher on more keywords, and my traffic fell. The new title was unfortunately less relevant and less appealing to my potential readers. I changed my title back, and traffic rebounded. The takeaway: Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.
  3. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles - Headings break up an article into sections and help make the article easy to scan and read. Limiting paragraph size helps too. Headings, however, like titles, can tell search engines what an article is about and are an excellent place to insert your keywords.
  4. Link Out - I provided a rationale for linking out to other sites in The Blogger’s Guide to Links and Comments: “Use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.” The advice in that article applies equally to blogs and conventional websites. Unless you’re linking to ads, use only dofollow links.
  5. Link Internally - This can be huge. Linking internally increases a site’s circulation, and it increases the perceived relevance of both the linking page and the page linked to. Link to another page or article on your site when you have the opportunity. In a blog, you can even link to a tag, as I often do. A blog site map such as the once generated by the Wordpress plugin Really Simple Sitemap makes it easy for visitors to find a blog’s archived content. I use internal links on my blog nearly everywhere, even in places which aren’t obvious.
  6. Be Social - Adding a social dimension to your web presence makes you real and credible. Join all the major social networking sites, and let visitors know how they can connect with you. Google Friend Connect and Facebook NetworkedBlogs widgets add sociability to your site and enable readers to publicly endorse you. Bloggers can join blog networking sites as well such as Technorati, Entrecard, BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
  7. Make Subscription Simple - Make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Blogs should offer subscription by both email (using a service like Aweber) and RSS (using a service like Feedburner). I’m always amazed when I have to hunt for a way to subscribe to a site.
  8. Use Social Bookmarking - Make your content easier to find and, as is the case with some social bookmarking sites, create quality links into your blog or website. Some of the social bookmarking sites I use are Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Reddit, diigo, Jumptags, Google Bookmarks and iZeby.
  9. Encourage Comments - Not only do I generally ask readers to comment, but I comment back as well whenever it’s appropriate.
  10. Extend Your Domain - If your domain will expire with the next twelve months, you might be signaling to search engines and savvy visitors that your site is only temporary.

I’ve omitted other ways that you can improve your website, because they’re harder to implement, and because they’ll give me something to discuss in a subsequent article. ;-)

In any case, we have our work cut out for us. :-)

What do you think?

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I read an excellent article this afternoon in the Wall Street Journal by Jessica E. Vascellaro about the declining role of e-mail in our day-to-day communication, as services like Twitter, Facebook and lots of other social networking sites continue to grow in popularity.

According to Ms. Vascellaro, we obviously still use email. However, email was better suited to the way we used the Internet in the past, when we’d go online intermittently to read our messages.

“Now we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.”

E-mail MarketingIf more of our attention is being directed toward social media and away from email, is there a future for email marketing?

The success of email marketing depends on our ability to efficiently reach our target markets via their email inboxes. As people increasingly turn to social media, and internet service providers apply more aggressive spam filtering, email marketing becomes less viable.

Just last night, a friend messaged me on Facebook saying that she was “shifting over from an e-newsletter to blogging,” and that she was looking for a little advice.

Email marketers want to know how to react to the trend toward social media and social marketing.

Advice for Email Marketers

Here are seven tips for coping with the decline in email communication:

  1. Act Now - Don’t sit on the sidelines like your old media friends. There are still plenty of newspaper publishers scratching their heads wondering what they’re going to do about their failing businesses.
  2. Diversify - Adopt a variety of new social marketing channels, but do not discontinue your email marketing campaigns. Build on your past successes.
  3. Stay Cool - Don’t overreact. Email communication isn’t going away any time soon. Gradually make adjustments and find the allocation of resources that delivers you the best ROI.
  4. Learn Social Media - There are many social marketing resources and a fairly steep social media learning curve. Either make social media training a priority for yourself and stick with it or find someone to whom you can delegate or outsource all or part of it.
  5. Learn SEO - Learn search engine optimization as well, or again, delegate or outsource it.
  6. Keep Testing - Just as you’d test different lists or advertising copy, test different social media venues and content to determine what works for you, and what doesn’t. Be flexible.
  7. Get Help - Even if you do decide to educate yourself, look to social media and web marketing experts for help along the way. Their guidance will save you much time and money in the long run.

I still use my email autoresponder to communicate with many of my blog subscribers. However, email accounts for only 2% of my total blog traffic. Google, Entrecard and Twitter combined account for about 80%, and all other sources add to the remaining 18%.

I will have more to say on email marketing and on list building in future articles. I suggest meanwhile that you read List Building Paradigm Shift which I wrote at the beginning of the year.

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Larry BraunerNearly every day I hear from people who want to know how to start a blog or how to have a more successful blog.

I admit that I’m still learning myself, but I’ve made great progress in the nine months since I started blogging.

This past month alone my Online Social Networking blog received 5,202 visits including 1,993 visits from search engines.

My Google PageRank is up to 3, and my Alexa traffic rank is 181,032. These stats put my blog in the top 1% of all websites.

What are the critical success factors contributing to my rapid progress?

My Personal Blog Philosophy

There are ten success strategies that shape my blog philosophy.

  1. Blogging Mindset - Writing and publishing a successful blog is a major project that requires very big commitment. Blogging requires that you move forward at all times. So often people start blogging and give up. They didn’t have the blogging mindset, and they weren’t willing to do what successful bloggers do.
  2. Research and Planning - Before I wrote one word on my blog, before I decided what to call my blog, before I purchased a domain name for my blog, I did plenty of research. Where should my blog be hosted? What platform should it run on? What will I write about, and which keywords will I optimize for? These questions and more were addressed up front and their answers formed my initial plan of action.
  3. Bias for Action - Getting started and keeping your momentum going is essential if you want to have a successful blog. While adequate preparation is important, a time comes when you must “draw a line in the sand”, stop preparing and begin writing. Your ongoing research and writing need to become routine. Don’t worry if your articles aren’t perfect. You can edit your posts after publishing them, and it could even help with the search engines to do so.
  4. Experimentation and Tracking - Every blogging enterprise is different, and you’ll need to find the mix of strategies and tactics that are right for your blog. If you install Google Analytics, you’ll be able to track your blog’s traffic. You’ll know what is working and what’s not. Materminding with friends and mentors is another way to gain valuable insights.
  5. Correction as Needed - When you discover something that’s not working, you’ll look to refine it or replace it. Ongoing tracking will provide you with the feedback you need to make the necessary correction in your direction to stay on course.
  6. High Quality Content - Quality content to me means writing with both the reader and the search engines in mind. It means writing well, revising the text many times, proofreading, etc. It also means choosing topics that will make readers want to return to your blog. Please don’t write long run-on paragraphs. Make it easy for your reader to go through your article on the screen without having to print it out… Because they won’t. And one more thing, until you have tons of visitors reading your blog every day, don’t even consider cluttering it up with cheesy ads.
  7. Online Social Networking - The best way to find readers and subscribers for your blog is at social networking sites. For this purpose you can use most business networking sites or networking sites that cater to bloggers such as Entrecard and MyBlogLog. I happen to prefer Twitter and the Ning family of social networking sites. Carefully inviting site members to visit your blog is a nice way to reach out to them — not at all spammy. Make it easy for your readers to subscribe. My readers have two ways to opt in RSS Feed and autoresponder.
  8. Search Engine Optimization - Treat every blog post as a website that will one day stand on its own, because it will. It will eventually works it’s way down and off your blog’s cover page. Use keyword research to find the best words and phrases to use in your articles. Make sure that your main search terms are neither too general nor too competitive to earn you good placement in the search engines. Don’t limit yourself to using only your primary keywords in your text. Using all relevant search terms, even the ones that are hard to compete for, will turn you article into a search engine magnet.
  9. Social Bookmarking - Using social media sites such as Digg and del.icio.us to anchor and promote your blog posts is very important. Social Marker will help you find more bookmarking sites and facilitate the bookmarking process. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms of service of each of the social media sites you use, so that you don’t get banned. Bookmark articles using their individual URL, not your blog’s URL, since each article is its own website, not just a part of the blog.
  10. Patience and Time - Over time your traffic will increase, so will your credibility, and you’ll gain subscribers. Don’t expect much before three months, and give yourself a full year to become a blogging superstar.

For more articles on blogging, blog marketing and SEO see Blog Marketing and SEO Training.

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Marketing and Keyword Research

I met Marcus Hochstadt several months ago through our participation at one of my favorite social networking sites for bloggers called Entrecard.

I recently previewed and gave a thumbs up to Marcus’ new keyword research home study course which will help you identify niches in both US and international markets.

The training is geared to both newbies and advanced Internet marketers. I got some great ideas from watching the videos.

Marcus shows in great detail how to use a number of free but powerful research tools.

Here’s what I wrote in my review:

I enjoyed your course very much.

I liked your in-depth look at free tools that people can leverage and assess online market potential as well as select relevant keywords.

Your introduction made a case for research, and I was lead to believe that the course would be for beginners. Once I got into the body of the course, I realized that it is also valuable for professionals.

I have experience, so I found your course very valuable, because it took me to places where I hadn’t gone before.

Read the course details and place your order at Marcus’ blog.

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Surging Ahead in the Search Engines

Extensive keyword research and long-term persistence are starting to pay off in a very big way.

Last month, in Blogging and Search Engine Marketing, I patted myself on the back for my SEO progress during my first six months publishing this blog.

Blog Marketing and SEO TrainingI didn’t at all expect that in May I would receive more visitors from search engines than in all previous months since my introduction to the world of blogs.

These visits were above and beyond the 2,000+ visits that I received from my subscriber lists and from online social networking at Entrecard, MyBlogLog and social networking sites.

Furthermore, slightly more than 30% of those search engine visitors stayed on my site long enough to read something.

Of the 787 search engine visits to my blog in May, 239 “stuck”.

Why so much growth in one month?

My keyword research helped me choose search terms that were ambitious yet realistic. And my persistence helped me to establish PageRank and credibility with Google and the other search engines.

I continue to add lots of content to my blog and bookmark all my content on major social media sites.

Do you think I might top 1,000 visitors from SEO in June?

SEO Training

The good news is that what I’m doing here with search engine optimization is duplicable, and I hope to empower you through our Blog Marketing and SEO Training series to develop a massive web presence and achieve great success in your particular niche.

Whether you’re starting a small business, growing an established business, or building a network marketing business, I can’t think of a better way to increase website traffic.

Are you ready to receive thousands of search engine visitors to your site?

Don’t miss any posts. Register, it’s easy, or subscribe to my RSS feed! You can also subscribe by e-mail using the form at the top of the home page sidebar.

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Larry Brauner

At social networking sites we communicate and build relationships. We can also share websites and other content with each other.

At social bookmarking sites we primarily share websites and other content with each other and with search engines. However, we can also communicate and build relationships.

What is the difference between a social bookmarking site and a social networking site?

Our priorities. Online social bookmarking emphasizes content, while online social networking emphasizes relationships.

Benefits of Social Bookmarking Sites

If you publish a blog or own some other website, you probably want visitors, and backlinks too. Social bookmarking sites will help you in these ways.

  • You share your site with the community. They visit it and rate it. You can form relationships that lead to quality backlinks for your site.
  • Search engines take note that your site is bookmarked. Bookmarking is a form of recommendation. Search engines react favorably to your site’s presence in the community.

My Favorite Social Bookmarking Sites

The social bookmarking sites I use most often are StumbleUpon, Technorati, propeller, del.icio.us, Spicy Page and Digg. See the list on my sidebar and at Social Marker, a tool that streamlines the bookmark submission process.

I also use blog traffic sites, notably Entrecard and Link Referral. The latter can also be used to promote a static website. I’ve made valuable connections at Entrecard and have learned much from the blogs I visited there.

Regular participation at social networking sites will do wonders for your popularity. Reqular posting and participation at social bookmarking sites will do the same for your blogs and other websites.

Don’t miss any posts. Register, it’s easy, or subscribe to my RSS feed!

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My First Effort

I launched my Online Social Networking blog on November 6, 2007 with my first post, Here We Are.

I was a blogging and search engine optimization newbie.

You might remember my earlier post, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going!” I made a plan and got started.

My strategy was to attract readers at social networking sites such as MySpace and Yuwie, and at the same time build a strong presence in the search engines.

I chose to write about social networking because of the large amount of experience I had with online social networking and social networking sites, and I selected the name of this blog and its principal keywords accordingly.

My blog took form over a period of several months with a few false starts and reversals. I kept writing week after week and networking and strategizing while waiting for my search engine marketing to kick in.

I joined MyBloglog and Entrecard to connect with other bloggers and entice them to visit my site. At Entrecard I made new friends.

Marcus HochstadtOne, a gentleman named Marcus Hochstadt, has helped me enormously. Not only has Marcus given me lots of encouragement, but through a contest he organized and ran on his Internet Business Guide blog, he also helped me gain more than fifty good inbound links to my blog. This helped my Google Page Rank.

Moving Up in Google

Page rank is Google’s measure of a site’s authority. It’s a major factor in Google’s determination of a site’s position in search results.

Having your site shown by Google and other search engines on page one of the results when people search for your targeted keywords is highly desirable and is the primary goal of search engine optimization.

As my credibility increased, and my page rank went from zero to one and from one to two I moved up in the search engine results and saw large increments in the number of visitors Google was sending my way each day.

I started tracking my blog’s traffic late January using Google Analytics. At that time Google was already providing me with a couple of visitors per day. The following chart shows how my results improved over time. Click on the chart to view a larger much larger version.

Search Engine Visitors 

On a good day now I receive about 30 visitors. This will continue to grow over time, and I’ll keep you posted.

You Can Do It Too

I’m teaching a free course on blogging, search engine optimization and social media marketing. You’ll learn all the techniques I’ve discovered and how you can apply them yourself.

A wide range of social media marketing training courses is available at My Private Classroom for Marketers.

Subscribe to my newsletter at my free social media training site.

If you’re interesed in harnessing the synergy of blogging, social networking sites and search engine optimization, visit my Blog Marketing and SEO Training.

Don’t miss any posts. Register, it’s easy, or subscribe to my RSS feed!

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