Category Archives: Blogging Strategies

Perception Is Key – An Interview With Kristen Crusius

As much as we’d like to believe content is king, a reign isn’t complete without an aesthetically pleasing site.  Many bloggers are on the hunt for the big ad dollars, the best products to review, exclusives and media notoriety.  Even if you’re not looking to be famous, it’s important to be perceived as a serious, knowledgeable blogger in your chosen field.  For the answers to the tough questions, we turned to Kristen Crusius, a SEO & Emerging Technologies Strategist for Morpheus Media.

How important is domain mapping? How does it affect the perception of a blog?

Domain mapping is extremely important for SEO, Marketing and perception value. When a client sees someblog.blogspot/typepad/wordpress.com they question its validity – and at times, so does the social media team. Each platform is great for its own reasons, easy and it is very easy to map a domain to it. Having a domain mapped or a self hosted blog indicates you take what you do seriously, and thus others will.

What is the first thing you notice on a blog in terms of advertising? Does it affect you negatively or positively?

The quality and placements of the ads, the amount as well. If there are non-specific ads associated with the blog, its really unappealing. There is nothing wrong with being a part of an ad network, it makes everyone’s life much easier. Joining the right one is key. I would recommend even joining a network like blogads so each blogger has full control over their placements.

The placement of the ad is also important, if there are dual sky scrapers, how it plays into the usability, readability and design is a major factor. If you are using ads that force your content below the fold, it creates a poor user experience and perception of the blog – not to mention crawlers are likely to see you as a spam blog.

A lot of companies don’t fully understand he value of blogs. What are some ways bloggers can make companies more at ease when dealing with the blogosphere?

We really try hard to present the value of each blog to our clients – we spend a lot of time reading through posts and comments and looking at the quality of photos and presentation.

First and foremost: make it easy to find your contact info – also your city location. The hardest part at times about outreach, especially about events, is knowing who is where!

While it is in the best interest of everyone to establish one to one relationships, it may need to start with a press release to open the gates. Include a section about how you accept press releases, event invites and samples, your personal preference is key here – companies need to know how you like to be interacted with. You are a blogger, part of the new internet press – noting that you are open to receiving press releases and being explicit about sampling is key. Set some “ground rules” in your reply if you receive these types of things, how often or methods you prefer after initial contact is made without being pushy.

Set up a PR alias for your blog if you don’t like being inundated with releases but still want to receive them – that way you can browse that at your convenience.

Be open about your traffic – the statistics we see from quantcast are never going to be spot on – so if we have questions, don’t feel that your traffic isn’t sufficient enough. Our main focus as an agency is quality of content, but for analysis we like to see numbers. The more familiar you are with your traffic and demographics, the better it is for all parties involved.

Break out your blog into categories – associate categories by brand even, that way when we visit your blog to see how you feel about a particular brand, its all right there.

If you really love a brand, link back to their site in your post – if you want to link your readers to deals and third party sites, include those too – but always give credit to the brand site first.

 How much does a blog’s design affect it’s perception?

Oh, very much – this is the fashion & beauty industry – you will be judged by your appearances! Have a well made theme, if you don’t understand how to do it, there are plenty of people out there cheap-for-hire, or even other bloggers within the network who know – have them work with you on tying it all together.

First and foremost – your header image is like a window into your soul – or people assume it is. Make sure it represents who you are, of course! The size of it matters as well – it should not push down the content of the page below or near the fold.

Sites that use the obvious set of default templates or garish looking sites are often not even considered by our clients when we send them for approval. Backgrounds, colors and fonts that interfere with readability are usually the culprit. It is key to have a professional looking blog  – remember, if you want people to take you seriously, be sure it looks like you do too!

On that note – it is always super important to remember to never alter a brands logo – distort it or change its color for any reason.

 Thank you so much for chatting with us Kristen! If you have any questions for our next interview with her, please leave them in the comments.

Blogging Strategies: The Great Ad Network Debate

Perhaps you’ve noticed that some blogs are using every bit of their advertising space as efficiently as Times Square.  Ad space, ad dollars, ad revenue – the truth is, we all just want to make money.  If you haven’t joined an ad network yet either because of lack of information or indecisiveness, you’re not alone.  Even if you are monetized to the hilt, there’s no guarantee that you’ll turn a profit, even though advertisers are being seen on by your readers.

Ad networks compensate publishers using one of three methods:

  1. CPM – Cost Per Thousand.  For every one thousand ad impressions, publishers are paid a flat rate.  One challenge publishers face with CPM deals is the ad servers that power the advertisements often use different metric systems to determine impressions than the blogger’s own metric system.  
  2. CPC – Cost Per Click.  Publishers are paid on a per-click basis.  This is the least desirable method of payment, as a very small number of users actually click ads (read: less than 10%), especially if they visit several blogs running the same ads (which often happens when blogs in the same genre belong to the same ad networks). 
  3. Flat Rate Advertising. Publishers are paid an agreed upon flat rate for an agreed upon time.  This is also known as brokering your own advertising, it is often the best option for those who are interested in advertising, yet would like to keep the organic feel of their blog.  The only downside of selling your own advertising is that the opportunities aren’t always consistent. 

Ad networks aren’t right for every blog, especially if you pride yourself on originality. Additionally, another problem with ad networks is that publishers cannot select the advertising displayed on their page, and ad networks also require premium placement on it’s partner’s sites.  

How have your experiences been with an ad network? Do you broker your own ads?

    Blogging Strategies: Making Money

    The “blogging success stories” run rampant.  It’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the thought of making money off your blog, but monetization isn’t the best option for everyone.  As we’ve lightly touched on before, there are many methods of advertising, but before delving deep into advertising strategies it’s import to decide if advertising is right for you. ProBlogger offers an informative post on how to decide when and where to advertise.

    Pros of advertising:

    • Motivation – We all find ourselves slipping into a blogging slump, but advertising can keep you motivated.  If you don’t write new posts, your regulars won’t have a reason to visit your site.
    • Funding to grow your blog – Every blogger has ambitions, from a redesign to becoming a full time blogger, expanding your blog can take capitol.  Advertising can provide you with the means to create the blog of your dreams.

    Cons of advertising:

    • Reader backlash – Readers are more perceptive than we give them credit for. Advertising can cause reader distrust in your motivations and intentions.
    • Layout problems – If your site’s layout wasn’t initially built for advertising, you might experience organizational issues.  
    • Same old, same old – Chances are, most bloggers in your genre are utilizing the same ad networks as you, which means your readers are seeing the same ads on all the sites they visit.  Additionally, in ad networks, publishers generally don’t have approval of which ads are displayed on their site.  Choose wisely. 

    Let us know what type of monetization you’ve considered and what options you’d like to learn more about. 

      Weekly Educational Wrap Up: June 23 – 27

      • Blogging Strategies: Slow Your Load Time
        • As social media grows, it can be tempting to embed every badge, widget and toolbar into our sidebars in the hopes that it will drive traffic and further promote your blog’s brand.  Aside from an aesthetic standpoint, you can have too many embedded objects in your site leading to a virtual traffic jam.  These objects can delay your site’s load times, frustrate your reader or cause your site to be completely unusable.
      • Discussion: Favorite Blogging Features
        • When we started our first blogs, the majority of us were inexperienced.  We had passion for our chosen topic, but knew little to nothing about the technology and methodology essentialto creating a successful blog.  Web 2.0 has literally exploded, with blogs dedicated to the subject of blogging, tools, and services designed to make the blogging experience a little more interesting.  
      • Essential Blogging: Product Giveaways
        • Network partner Sharon ofThe Bread and Butter posted the following question in our Google Group: I’m curious to know how most of you started putting together your first “Contest” on your blogs. I have no idea what to do and I’m interested in eventually offering “giveaways” and “contests” sometime down the road as well. 
      • Essential Blogging: Brush Up On Blogging Vocabulary
        • These days everyone has a blog, so how do you set yourself apart? One of the greatest parts of “everyone” having a blog is the free flowing transfer of information from one expert to another.  The key to setting yourself apart in the crowded blogosphere is continuous education.  Daily Blog Tips has compiled The Bloggers Glossary, a mini dictionary of terms and definitions essential to any blogger’s vocabulary.  We’ve selected a few essential and surprising terms from the list.

      Blogging Strategies: Slow Your Load Time

      As social media grows, it can be tempting to embed every badge, widget and toolbar into our sidebars in the hopes that it will drive traffic and further promote your blog’s brand.  Aside from an aesthetic standpoint, you can have too many embedded objects in your site leading to a virtual traffic jam.  These objects can delay your site’s load times, frustrate your reader or cause your site to be completely unusable.  Google has now taken a stand against slow-loading sites, calculating a site’s load time into the Ad Words Quality Score, which ultimately effects the minimum bid for an ad.

      Using WebsiteOptimization.com, I compared the load times of three very different websites – StyleITOnline.com, Coutorture.com and the Learning Annex. The results are below.

      Ask you can tell from the results of the page load time test, the amount of script and flash embedded in a site significantly effects the page load time.  WebsiteOptimization.com breaks it down into major categories:

      • Total Objects
      • Total Images
      • Total Size
      • Total Script
      • Total HTML
      • HTML Size
      • Images Size
      • Script Size
      • Multimedia Size

      There are several ways you can effectively reduce your site’s load times.  

      1. Use HTML embeddable objects instead of Java/Flash.  Most sites, such as Twitter or ThisNext, offer a variety of different types of embeddable objects.  Choose the most simple (usually HTML) object to give your site a boost.
      2. Place large posts behind a jump/cut.  If you’re posting images, multiple videos or wordy reviews, find a good stopping place and put the rest behind a cut.  Not only will it slow your site’s load time, but you’ll get a bump in page views when your readers have to click through.
      3. Be sensible.  The best way to feature your content is to keep it simple.  Don’t insert too many bells, whistles, flashing objects and resource hogs into your site.  You’ll appreciate how much better your site looks, and your readers will appreciate the usability. 

      What are your tricks to keep your site loading fast? Or do you not even think about it? 

      Blogging Strategies: 8 SEO Tactics To Avoid

      seoDuring our BlogTalkRadio Seminar with Vyque of Fasshonaburu.com, we discussed how effectively using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can boost your blog’s traffic.  It’s easy to go overboard with keywords, metatags and alt titles, so we appreciate Search Engine Land’s 8 Keyword Research Mistakes That Are Costing You Money.  While you’re probably not paying for your keyword research or hiring an SEO engineer, you might be making these mistakes.

      1: Targeting keywords people never use

      Don’t add unnecessary keywords into your photo or post tags.  Think about how you use a search engine, and tag accordingly.  Try to be as descriptive as possible without overanalyzing. 

      2:  Confusing keyword popularity with keyword appropriateness

      Using a tool like Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Suggestion Tool seems to be an easy way to add key words to your posts.  After searching for “fashion”, it becomes clear that it’s easy to go overboard quickly.  Additional search results include “jojo’s fashion show”, “emo fashion”, “80’s fashion”, “fashion tote bags”, and “fashion games to play”.  Not only will adding in excessive keywords clutter your site, but it will also cause a visitor to spend less time on your site once the realize you don’t have what they’re looking for.

      3: Not considering user intent in keyword selection

      If you use keywords correctly, it’s a great way to turn potential readers into loyal subscribers.  It’s important to think about what they might be searching for when tagging your post or photo so you can lead them right to it.

      4: Using a single word

      Simply tagging your post “fashion” will throw it into the mix with millions of other posts tagged fashion.  Examine your post to determine what sets it apart and tag it appropriately.  If you’re writing about Dior Cruise 2009, simply tagging Dior won’t draw in as many views as tagging your post “Dior Cruise 2009 Fashion Runway Show”. 

      5: Using the wrong keywords

      Lumping all your posts about shoes into the accessories category seems like a natural choice, but it can throw off your search engine traffic.  While it’s not necessary to have an entire category devoted to platform sandals, don’t forget to add those descriptors in the keywords.

      6: Remember your competition

      While it’s important to remember that your fellow bloggers aren’t specifically your competition, they are in search engine land. Every blog that is meta-tagged “fashion blog” are competing for the same top spot in the search results.  Be sure your meta-tags set you apart from your competition.

      7: Review your keywords

      When you first started your blog a year ago, you used the most appropriate keywords you could think of.  After a year of evolution and learning, it’s time to review your tags. There are most likely several that could (and should) be updated.

      8:  Make time for SEO

      Search trends change as fast as the latest fashion trend.  Periodically review what users are looking for and adjust your strategies.  In a market that is always changing, be sure to leave time for self-education.

      Blogging Strategies: Keeping Your Traffic

      After our BlogTalkRadio Seminar with Vyque of Fasshonaburu discussing SEO strategies, many bloggers saw an increase in traffic from simply tagging their photos correctly.  When readers discover your blog via a keyword search, they either find what they were looking for or immediately leave.  How do you keep your visitors from leaving your site within 30 seconds of their arrival? ProBlogger put together a comprehensive list of ways to keep your readers engaged.

      1:  Related posts

      Include related post links in every post, whether your blogging software automatically inserts them (ie WordPress) or you have to manually include related posts.  For example, if your latest post is on Kate Moss, link to photoshoots or other newsworthy stories relating or containing Kate Moss.  You’d be surprised how many people want to see related information.

      2: Interlink your posts

      If your latest post includes information about Fashion Week, link to other information on your blog about about Fashion Week, either via a category or search within your blog.  Try to interlink as much as possible within reason. 

      3:  Series posts

      If there is a topic you cover frequently, turn it into a series.  Brand your posts as a series with a series title, categories, and tags.  Be sure to link to other series posts in each post so that your readers can see your previous work.  Focus on being as consistent as possible to give your readers something to look forward to.

      4: Excerpts in RSS

      More tech savvy readers will read your blog via an RSS reader such as Google Reader.  You want as many people as possible reading your content, but full posts in your RSS feeds don’t translate to page views.  In order to tease readers to click over to your site, only provide an excerpt of your post in RSS.  

      5: Make your blog searchable

      Be sure there is a search box in your sidebar.  If readers want to know something, be sure you’re the first place they look. 

      For more ideas, view ProBlogger’s 11 Techniques to Increase Page Views On Your Blog.