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This post is part of the Student Blog Series, a feature by Nuffnang interns
Author: Kane Jones, Swinburne University

As a keen blogger you will have heard countless times about the important role that social media plays in promoting and growing your blog audience by encouraging engagement with your readers. You’ve no doubt created profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and other various social media platforms and created a following on each.

You may have been lucky enough to have noticed an increase in traffic to your blog and readers engaging with likes, re-tweets and comments on your social media posts. But how can you find out how each of the different platforms are driving eyeballs to your blog and how can you learn what posts work best on each platform to achieve this?

This is where the advanced features of Google Analytics (GA) comes in. You may be already using GA to see the basic traffic stats for your site, but that is merely the tip of a very, very large iceberg.

Incase you haven’t heard of it, GA is an amazingly powerful (and free!) tool from Google that can monitor all traffic on your site and provides you with more data that you could ever dream of. While there are countless features available, there are two tools in particular that you may find useful to explore as a serious blogger to better understand how different platforms are interacting with your blog and over time use this knowledge to grow your blog.

Social Media Acquisition

You may be surprised to discover which platforms are driving traffic to your blog and how users from each are engaging in different ways.  For example, despite all your activity in promoting your blog on Facebook, you may be gaining more new traffic from Twitter or Pinterest which could lead you to reconsider your social media strategy (or even develop one if you haven’t already). Take time to study which platforms are delivering you high numbers of first time readers and how they are engaging with your site. Users from different platforms will often have different behaviours – e.g. users from one platform may be spending longer and visiting more pages than from another. Learn what content those readers are interested in and tailor your social media posts to their tastes to encourage them to become regular readers of your blog.

Within this feature you can set up goals (also known as conversions) to measure the success of your social media activity. You may set goals for various things including newsletter signups, time spent on your site or purchase amount if you run an online store. It can be encouraging to see that your hard work promoting your blog paying off by visitors signing up to become regular readers.

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Custom Campaigns

So you’ve just finished an amazing blog post and you have shared the link across your various social media platforms. But are you tracking the traffic each individual link is generating to your site? If not, you are missing out on a world of useful information about your audience and how they are responding to what you post.

By utilising GA’s Custom Campaigns URL builder, you can add individual tracking links to each URL you share, which allows you to track the traffic generated by each individual link, rather than simply the origin source as discussed above (eg, Facebook or Twitter as a whole). For example, you might send 3 tweets about your latest blog post out, but use different wording or a new headline in each version. By using individual tracking links and analysing the data collected, you can determine which of these posts is generating the most traffic to your blog. This can help you determine what style of post your audience is engaging with and individually craft your posts for each platform, better connecting with your followers. You may discover when posting the exact same content that it may be a hit on one platform yet fail to gain any traction on another.

Using this tool you can experiment with different ways of posting a link to your blog posts and see which style of social media posts attract the best result. For example, you may wish to compose a number of different Facebook posts to see which works best – e.g simply posting a link, adding a short summary or teaser, including an image or posting a longer summary to try and get readers interested.

social media tree nuffnang australia blog

There are countless blog posts out there which detail step-by-step instructions on setting up Custom Campaigns and using Google Analytics and its many other features. It may take you a while to fully understand the technicalities of what can seem to be an overwhelming amount of data, but if you are serious about growing your blog it can prove to be an invaluable tool in understanding what your readers and reacting to.

To find out more, Google Analytics has comprehensive guides to Custom CampaignsGoals and Social Media Analytics.  

Intern
Nuffnang Community Team

This post is part of the Student Blog Series, a feature by Nuffnang interns
Author: Courtney Freeland, Swinburne University

 

In for the long haul

Blogging is a demanding task at times; it requires many hours to upkeep and come up with ideas for. At least it does in order to keep it going, and growing. It is often time restrictions that cause blogs to go downhill, as they have many elements that require constant attention.

While everyone starts a blog for different reasons, it is the next step that will affect the blog’s nature and longevity. Do you want your blog to grow? Is it more than just a journal? Do you have a passion for blogging? Will it be a regular part of your future?

Usually bloggers want more from their blogs, and this is when several important factors come into play to ensure the success and growth of that blog.

1. Commitment
Expansion (4)

This is the most important element in blog longevity. In order to keep a blog going, posting must be somewhat consistent, and or/often. Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style says the best way to do this is to set a minimum number of post per week/month, so if life gets in the way, you have something you can stick to. Make it reasonable and work with your timetable. For example, if you work full time, 7 posts a week may be a bit much. This is also not limited to regular posting. Commitment to your audience in delivering things they are interested in, as well interaction with them. With saying that, social networks are a great way to connect with your audience and maintain your commitment.

2. Relationships

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Good Friends photo by Juliana Coutinho (used under CC license)

A blog is usually a very personal thing; therefore it is important to build relationships with your readers. Asking their opinions, getting feedback, giveaways, etc. All of these will lead to good relationships with your readers. This not only will help your blog grow and last a while, but will make sure blogging does not feel like a chore. After all, readers will help your blog grow. Imogen says the relationships she has made through blogging has not only made her friends all over the world, but great opportunities too, and ensures she will continue to blog for a long time.

3. Niche

While your blog is whatever you want it to be about, it is important to have a focus, or several focuses that interest you. This will help with building your audience, and also keep you interested. Imogen says it is important to find your voice, and to keep your blog unique. This will help it stand out and also again, keep you involved. Keep in mind that while you probably will have a focus, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about whatever you want- a blog is a personal thing.

4. Honesty and being yourself

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Blog readers have the ability to sniff out dishonesty quite well. It is important to be honest and yourself when blogging. This applies to any blog content, including brand partnerships. Nuffnang always encourages bloggers to seek out brand partnerships that are a good and natural fit for your blog content.

5. Expansion

This point depends on where you want your blog to go. However keep in mind that with success often comes growth. You may need to expand your blog through other platforms, new content, other contributors, layout changes – there will most likely be a few. With the expansion, remember to be yourself, and make sure your audience is happy – as they are key to a blog’s success.

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Ultimately, maintaining a long-term blog could be as simple as posting regularly. It comes down to what the blogger’s goals are for the blog, and where they want it to go. Like anything else, there is no formula for success; it will be different for everyone. However if you love it, and are committed, it could go anywhere.

 “If you want to blog long term, you have to just keep doing it!  In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming!”  There is no right or wrong way to blog; there is only your way, but to become successful long-term, celebrate your achievements and keep on blogging!”- Inside out Style 

Intern
Nuffnang Community Team

There are a couple of things that really annoy me when I’m online:

  1. Awesome Buzzfeed lists that don’t apply to me (but I reaaaaallllly want them to)
  2. People who chronically over hashtag #healthy #food #leaf #salad #green #instafood #instashutupwegetit
  3. Crap, spammy display ads encouraging me to find out which ‘6 foods I should never eat again’

I’m sure you can all agree with me on the last point. The display ad has earned itself quite a reputation for being notoriously annoying in the last few years. However, despite many people claiming the demise of display advertising, I urge you to reconsider the humble display banner and its potential as an effective and useful advertising tool.

Best practice for display advertising on a blog: Where to put your ads, how to get relevant campaigns | Nuffnang Australia

The problem with banner ads

Embarrassingly, banner ads have often been associated with the words “spammy”, “disruptive” and “irrelevant”. The key challenge of an advertiser is to pair clever, creative messaging and effective targeting to reach and elicit a response from the right audience.

Where do we, as bloggers, come in then? Undoubtedly, the first step to monetising our blogs should be to consider where we could provide value to an advertiser. Here are some key considerations that bloggers who offer display advertising should take.

1. Ad Unit Placement 

An ad unit that is poorly positioned would almost guarantee a less than ideal response. How can we ensure our audience is seeing and interacting with a display ad on our blogs?

Now, we’d never ask you to ruin the beautiful aesthetic you have going on with your blog and turn it into an ad-plastered billboard. However, with some intelligent placement and a little coding wizardry, you can implement an additional one or two ad units without taking away from the style of your blog.

It’s all about the banner placement, and to do it effectively, you need to put banners (not to mention all your good stuff, headings, links to your social profiles etc.) where readers’ gazes naturally falls. This is where the F Reading layout comes into play.

 F Reading pattern (see illustrated example below)

  1. Visitors start at the top left of the page.
  2. Then they scan the top of the site (navigation, subscription, search, etc.)
  3. Next they move down, reading the next full row of content… all the way to the sidebar.
  4. Finally, readers enter a “scanning pattern” once they hit the bulk of the site content.

F reading pattern

Implementing this sort of set up will certainly help when it comes to the flow of your blog, and that should translate to additional clicks on any display ads you’re running (whether they be Nuffnang, Google or self-managed).

2. Knowing your audience

The more insight you are able to offer on your audience, the better. Engaging with your readership is great way to uncover specific reader preferences and deduce how your audience would react to different brands and advertisers.

Nuffnang ads are mostly targeted; meaning ads are allocated on the basis of a particular vertical. Choosing the right category verticals for your blog means you’ll be helping us determine if a display ad is relevant to your blog audience. Examples of category verticals are things like “fashion”, “sport”, “technology”, or “food”. You can choose these by completing or updating your Blogger Survey within your Nuffnang account.

Our Ad Ops team uses these category verticals to assign you relevant ad campaigns. While most of the time categories give us enough info to ensure the ads are very relevant, you always have the option of declining a campaign if it’s not a fit for your audience.

Nuffnang Banner Advertising

Nuffnang runs a display unit on every blog that signs up to the network. These ad units serve two purposes:

  1. They provide us with a means to measure your blog traffic (we love seeing how your readership is growing)
  2. They allow us to run display advertising on your blogs. Which earns you $$.

We offer three banner sizes at Nuffnang:

  1. 160×300 or 160×600 (a.k.a standard steve) or Halfsky/sky-scraper
  2. 300×250 (a.k.a the big square one) or M-Rec
  3. 728×90 (the long rectangular one) or Leaderboard

Bloggers are only required to install any one ad unit size on their blogs, however, the more ad units installed, the higher the potential for us to allocate you display campaigns.

For more information on the different Nuffnang banner ads and how they work, please refer to this blog post.

 

Happy blogging!

Valissa
Nuffnang Community Team

 This post is part of the Student Blog Series, a feature by Nuffnang interns
Author: Erin Hogan, Swinburne University

The Importance of Social Media

Creating a blog and building a brand is hard work. Countless hours are spent creating content, organising graphics and finding inspiration, but if your blog is not connecting with popular social media, it could be missing out.

The world of social media is rapidly growing. Facebook now has over 1.19 billion monthly users, Twitter has 500 million users and 250 million active users, over 4 billion clips are viewed on YouTube each day, and Instagram has 150 million users. All of this could be used to drive traffic towards your blog. It’s time to ask…  are you making the most of social media?

social-media-logos

Photo credit: Zendo Media

Debs Alter-Resche has had massive success with her blog Learn With Play at Home. Learn With Play continues to grow and is attracting a lot of attention in the blogging universe. Debs credits her achievements to the assistance of social media. She has attracted over 25,000 followers on Pinterest and 22,000 followers on Facebook, which she believes is steadily increasing traffic flow to her blog.

“Learn with Play at Home wouldn’t be where it is today without social media. It was the key factor in getting my links out and directing people to my site. It took a long time to build the SEO and traffic coming in organically, so without social media, there may have been no one coming at all.”

Debs suggests using Pinterest and looking for people pinning similar content to yours and trying to collaborate with them. “Getting your pin onto boards with large amounts of followers will not only help drive more traffic to your blog, but will also help to grow your Pinterest followers which in turn leads to more page views.”

Social Media Blog Post

Photo Credit: Moodle Man

Using different social media avenues creates opportunities to widen the audience of your blog. New platforms are a great chance to be creative and experiment with new ideas, bringing new types of traffic to your blog. Having different avenues allows you to try new things, can help shake it up, and keep you out of your rut.

SM Blog Post

Photo Credit: The Wake Man Agency

TOP TIPS FOR USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET YOUR BLOG NOTICED:

1) Try to engage as much as possible with your followers and fans.
2) Post teasers from blog posts on Instagram and Twitter, aim to get traffic back to that post.
3) Diversify! Don’t be afraid to try new things, use new platforms to branch into different subjects.
4) Manage the timing of your content, rather than try to post constantly across multiple platforms, buffer and schedule your posts.

How Important is Social Media to your blog? Leave us a comment with your tips for success!

Intern
Nuffnang Community Team

 This post is part of the Student Blog Series, a feature by Nuffnang interns

Author: Hayley Griffiths, Swinburne University

Comments are an extremely important asset for bloggers as they have the ability to create a community. Here are a few tips for managing comments on your blog:

1) Don’t fear comments

You shouldn’t fear comments as they can be a great way of surveying your readership. They enable you to find out more about your audience and help you get information on how people are responding to your blog, whether it be negative or positive feedback. Any feedback is great as it allows you to improve on your posts and find out what your followers are most interested in.

2) Ask a question

It is important to try to prompt people to post comments on your blog. The more comments you get the better, so always try to end your blog posts with a question or a comment that can prompt a response from your readership. For example, you can ask for suggestions from your readers or their opinion on the topic of the post. This will increase your comments, which will help you connect with your readers on a more personal level.

comments1

Photo credit: Inkthemes

3) Make it easy

Make sure that posting a comment on your blog is easy for your readers to do. If you are not sure how comments work on your blog then test it out yourself by trying to post a comment. You don’t want to frustrate your eager readers by making them jump through hoops just to get a comment posted. Perhaps avoid having too many codes or personal questions as part of your comment mechanism – that usually deters people from leaving comments.

4) Responding to comments

Try to respond to comments as much as possible because not only is it a polite thing to do but it shows that you are really interested in engaging with your readership and you take an interest in what they are saying. If you don’t often respond to comments, then readers may feel discouraged from commenting in the future. In saying this, if your blog is really popular and you received lots of comments, you could write a quick generic response just to let your readers know that you are reading their comments.

5) Spam

Receiving spam isn’t the same as receiving comments. Try to remove spam as soon as possible as it doesn’t enhance your blog in any way, nor does it benefit other readers. Not to mention, spam can make your blog look unprofessional. There are plenty of programs online that will keep spam off your blog, such as Akismet. One of Nuffnang’s Talent bloggers, Debs from Learn with Play at Home advises not to use a moderator or captcha as most people she knows, “hate the captcha code and will even discard the comment they were going to make because it takes too long.”

spAM

Photo credit: SilverStripe

6) Comment to get comments

If you are trying to encourage people to post on your blog then post on theirs! Commenting on other blogs is like easy advertising for your blog; it has the ability to attract new readers to your blog. By commenting on other blogs, you can network with other bloggers and encourage them to come to your blog (and perhaps leave comments too!).

Do you have any more tips for managing blog comments?

Intern
Nuffnang Community Team

This is a guest post by David Jenyns of Melbourne SEO.
For more Blogger SEO help, watch the recording of David and Nuffnang’s Blogger SEO webinar

Google Hummingbird has flown into our midst. Cue hysterical bloggers claiming the new algorithm has assassinated their traffic, so-called experts claiming to have the inside scoop and passing off pure guesswork as facts, and SEO opportunists shaking down clients for extra cash in exchange for “updating” their websites.

But of course we’re much too smart to buy into the hype. Instead, let’s take a more balanced look at what Google’s latest update really means for online business owners.

First and foremost, let’s acknowledge that there might be a sizeable difference between what Google SAYS the Hummingbird update does and what it ACTUALLY achieves.

Keep in mind that Google gains a lot of publicity from these update announcements and that there is a certain level of PR opportunism wrapped up in these events.

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When Google announces the latest animal-themed update, what they’re really trying to communicate is that their search engine is, in their view, getting better and better.

And I’d probably agree with them.

But that doesn’t mean we should take this latest update announcement as a signal to completely overhaul our SEO best practices. And we definitely shouldn’t take it as a reason to fear that we’re about to lose ranking positions that we’ve fought long and hard to secure.

For example, although this is reputed to be one of the most sizeable changes in the Google algorithm in years – some even calling it an entirely new engine – it should be noted that Google Hummingbird came into effect almost one full month before it was announced…

And precisely nobody noticed.

Not exactly a totally new engine then. And why should it be? For the most part Google worked very well pre-Hummingbird. No need to remove the effective bits just for the sake of it.

Hummingbird makes some significant changes but it hasn’t undone years of solid progress.

So, what exactly has changed?

Primarily, the adjustments have been made to the way that Google handles “long tail” search terms; these are search phrases that are several keywords long and, at the outer edges, include search phrases that are unique. Long-tail searches make up a much greater proportion of searches than you might imagine – as much as 50% by some estimates.

This focus has been inspired by the rise in the use of smartphones and, more specifically, the use of voice-activated searches. When someone, for example, asks Siri how long it will take them to get to Sydney airport this creates a very long-tail search phrase.

Consider the difference here…

If you were sat at your laptop you’d probably navigate to Google, search for “Sydney Airport”, click on “Maps”, enter your address, and then check the results to see how long the estimated driving time is.

But if you’re using voice-activated search on your smartphone, then you’ll probably just say “How long will it take me to get to Sydney airport?” A less advanced search engine would just return a search result for the official airport website, but Google is smart enough to work out the implicit meaning of the question rather than just the keywords.  It uses your phone to figure out where you’re situated, uses its map to work out where you want to go, and then returns the exact answer you’re looking for.

Note the italics in the previous paragraph? Now we see why Google needs to update its algorithm. Working out the nature of the question rather than just picking out the cohesion between the keywords is a very different, and much trickier, endeavour.

It also explains why the new update wasn’t noticed before it was announced. Because this change is primarily affecting long-tail keyword searches, it’s impacting on an area of search results that isn’t monitored with the same fervour as key phrases 2-3 words in length.

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The really good news?

If you’ve been doing the sensible thing and focusing your SEO efforts on creating solid, useful content, rather than foolishly trying to shortcut your way up the rankings with masses of thin content, then you’ve already been developing the kind of material Google is looking for.

Google Hummingbird, if you want the really short version, is about doing a better job of answering people’s questions. And if your content answers questions, then, in theory at least (it’s much, much too early for anyone to have gathered meaningful, conclusive data on this update), your webpages have a better chance of featuring in long-tail search results.

In other words, if you’ve been doing what the smart SEO pros have been telling you for the last few years and putting quality above quantity, you’re probably already in good shape.

You want more?

Well, if you really, really feel the need to adjust your practices, based on the flight of one very, very small bird, focus on FAQ-style content. Write articles where the headline is a question, and the body provides a useful, straight to the point, answer.

Think about the questions your target market asks… and then write articles that answer them.

But please don’t get hung up on this. If you’re already creating great content then you’re in good shape.

And if you’re not already creating great content, and still trying to spin and manipulate your way to the top, then you’re heading in the wrong direction. It’s only a matter of time before a Google update pushes you into complete obscurity.

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By David Jenyns – Director Melbourne SEO Services & www.MelbourneVideoProduction.com.au

SEO has evolved and now it’s time to start getting serious with your blogging. Visit www.melbourneSEOservices.com to discover strategies you can trust to position you as the authority in your niche and get more traffic and readers!

Valissa
Nuffnang Community Team

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