Written on April 19th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 12:04 am by David Shawver city Stanton

The Importance of Landing pages on Blogs

Blog Design 17 comments

Nice post over at Seth Godin’s on “Landing pages” which coincidentally was something I was working a little on this afternoon on one of my blogs.

I’ll let Seth say it because he’s the master of this kind of thing:

‘A landing page is the first page a visitor to your site sees…..

A landing page (in fact, every page) can only cause one of five actions:

  • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)
  • Get a visitor to buy
  • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.
  • Get a visitor to tell a friend
  • (and the more subtle) Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback’

Landing pages on blogs are really important IF you have a desired outcome in mind with your blogs. If you’re blogging aimlessly with no real goals then don’t worry about them.

What I’d recommend bloggers consider are some of the following questions:

  1. What are the goals of your blog? What outcomes do you want of a reader visiting your blog (one or more of the above - or others)?
  2. What pages do most bloggers enter your blog on (most statistics packages will tell you this)?
  3. Are these landing pages optimized for your goals?
  4. If not how can you either change what appears on these landing pages to help you achieve your goals OR how can you get readers to land on other pages that have a better chance of converting?

Here’s a couple of case studies from some of the work I’ve done lately with blogs:

Blog 1 - AdSense Conversion

This blog’s owner came to me wondering why they were getting good visitor levels but were no seeing their advertising figures at a decent level.

Analysis of where people were entering this blog found that 95% of all visitors entered the blog via individual posts (archives). The majority of readers then left the blog via links in posts. Very few readers landed on the front page or category pages or visited them after landing.

Analysis of where the advertising on the blog was predominantly positioned was the exact opposite of where visitors landed - ads were largely on the front page and category pages. Individual post archives had not really been optimized for advertising well. They only had one AdSense ad at the bottom of each post - in most cased under the fold and unseen by readers.

Some basic AdSense optimization work on individual post pages saw a 400% increase in advertising revenue almost instantly.

Blog 2 - AdWords Campaigns

In the second case study a blogger approached me wondering why their AdWords advertising campaign was not converting well. Their goals of the campaign were multiple. They wanted to attract new loyal readers, they were hoping for conversion from affiliate programs and they wanted to sign up readers as email subscribers.

As I looked at their AdWords campaign it became very clear that their main mistake was the landing page of the ad that they were running. The Advertising campaign did a reasonable job of getting people over to the blog but the problem was that the page that visitors was directed to was the from page of the blog.

This front page did have opportunities on it for all three of the above goals to be realized on but also contained a lot of other clutter and options for readers to click on.

My suggestion to the blogger was that they run multiple AdWords campaigns that each linked to different landing pages. Together we developed three new ‘pages’ on their WordPress blog (not ‘posts’ but ‘pages’) that targeted the specific objectives that they had. The three AdWords ads were also quite different from one another and were worded in a way that attracted readers wanting what they would find on those pages.

For example for the objective of getting new newsletter subscribers the AdWords ad explicitly promoted a service that offered free weekly tips on the topic of the newsletter and linked to a landing page that was uncluttered and that gave readers some brief information about the newsletter and had a field to enter their email address. There were no other options to other things to do on the landing page. The sign up rate was much higher than previously.

The other ads and landing pages similarly targeted the specific objectives and were optimized accordingly.

Written on April 18th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 10:04 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

Cory Doctorow Speaks

Blog News 10 comments

Tonight I heard at the last minute about a lecture that Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing was giving here in Melbourne (thanks to a enternetusers reader for letting me know about it)

His topic:

‘Offering a remarkable global perspective on the future, Cory will discuss his view that technologies which seek to restrict the copying and use of digital works suppress creativity and treat honest users like crooks. The session will cover the tension between corporate imperatives and end-user experience, the current state of Digital Rights Management, online book publishing and more.’

The focus wasn’t directly about blogging and the written media but he’s an interesting guy and it was well worth the $15 to go along and hear him present.

Perhaps the quote of the evening (or at least the one that connected with some of my own thinking over the past few months) was along the lines of:

‘Content isn’t King - Conversation is King’

Cory is also presenting tomorrow night in Sydney.

Written on April 18th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 10:04 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

SOME Australian AdSense Publishers Get Direct Debit Payments

Adsense 9 comments

Last week I posted that AdSense had made available Direct Debit Payments to Australian Publishers - I was so excited about it that I actually posted about it from the road on my holiday after finding it in my inbox (I only checked twice while away). I confirmed it was true by logging into my AdSense account and saw the option to do so.

Unfortunately by the time I returned home the option was gone.

This was a little odd - I considered whether it was a hallucination caused by lack of oxygen after a day of scuba diving at first but then emailed AdSense to check. I just got a reply from them saying that the EFT payment option for Australia was ‘launched on a limited basis’ and isn’t available any longer.

In other words they are testing it with a closed group of publishers. They also said that they’ll be opening it up to a ‘wider set of publishers in the near future’. Whether this means to all Australian publishers or a slightly larger group I’m not sure. I’ve also heard whispers that they’ve been doing similar ‘tests’ in other countries that have so far not had the option for EFT payments. I’m unable to confirm this though at this point.

My apologies for getting Aussie publishers prematurely excited about EFT. Hopefully it’s not too far off for the rest of us.

Written on April 18th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 01:04 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

Speed Linking - While I was gone

Pro Blogging News 8 comments

While I’ve been away the Pro Blogging scene has been as busy as usual (in fact I’m sure it gets busier when I’m away). I’m slowly working through my RSS feeds but here are some of the stories that broke and posts that interest me from the last couple of weeks. Expect another one of these posts later today or tomorrow as I’m barely scratching the surface of my Bloglines list so far.

Andy Wibbels has a great post documenting the story of the launch of his new blog. Sounds like a pretty exciting day!

AdSense have introduced a referral program for AdWords so now you can earn $20 for referring a new advertiser to the program (once they spend their first $100).

AdSense have also reintroduced the option to generate your AdSense code all from one page rather than using the new multi page wizard (that many of us complained about).

Google finally launched Google Calendar - I’ll give it a go this week but am interested to hear what others think of it?

Blog Editor Qumana announced a deal with Lycos where by Lycos are using Qumana as the basis for their new desktop blog editing tool. Congratulations to the Qumana team.

Comment spam plugin Akismet has been released for Movable Type.

Elliot Back names his top 10 best designed blogs - there are some nice blogs there in the mix.

Written on April 18th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 10:04 am by David Shawver city Stanton

enternetusers Returns to ‘Normal’

enternetusers Site News 22 comments

The two week break is over and I’m back home after what was a wonderful couple of weeks in tropical far north Queensland (north eastern tip of Australia). We spent a week in Port Douglas and just under a week in Palm Cove.

While we did catch the end of the rainy season and saw some rain each day the overall vibe of the time was very relaxed. It was around 30 degrees Celsius most days and the humidity was 97% because of the rain.

A lot of the break was spent beside the pool reading and swimming but we also got out for a day of touring the Daintree rain forest and took a tour of the Great Barrier Reef where we got to do some suba diving (stunning stuff).

Now it’s back to reality though in my home city of Melbourne where the weather has turned and we’re on the way to what looks to be a pretty cold winter. Luckily we’ve got lots to keep us distracted this year with the arrival of Mini-Rowse expected in just 10 weeks. I spent the last 24 hours assembling cots, changing tables, strollers etc. I get the feeling life is about to change in a pretty significant way!

Thanks to my guest bloggers and case study writers who kept enternetusers ticking over while I was away. I hope readers found the two weeks helpful. I’d love to hear your feedback on the case study experiment. Were they worthwhile? Would you like to see more of them scattered throughout my future posting (perhaps one per week with a little of my own analysis thrown in)?

Please excuse me if I’m a little distracted over the next few days but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. The inbox is full (5000 unread emails), the News Aggregator is overflowing (close to 10,000 unread), there’s heaps to catch up on with b5media (which has had some great developments behind the scenes while I was away) and I’m halfway through writing a new resource which I’d like to be able to release in the coming weeks. I’ll definitely be busily keeping enternetusers going but may be a little distracted for a day or two until I get on top of things. Also - if you sent me an email in the last two weeks please don’t be offended if I havn’t gotten back to you. It might be worth resending it in a few days time in order for it to ge my full attention as I’m scanning a lot of emails right now.

Lastly - here’s a little picture of me taken out on the reef - hopefully it will help me extend the feeling of the holiday for a few days longer.

Photo 022

Written on April 17th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 02:04 am by Aaron Brazell

Akismet for Moveable Type

Blogging Tools and Services, Blog Design 13 comments

This post has been submitted by regular contributor - Aaron Brazell

Late last year, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, launched a brash new anti-spam product for blogs called Akismet. Of course, at the time of launch, I took the product to task but quickly changed my tune as I understood the system better.

When I installed Akismet at , I was truly amazed at how well it handled spam. Literally, I went to maybe one comment a month that needed to be moderated. That was with no comment moderation enabled (save Akismet’s), and only Akismet installed as an anti-spam plugin. I was truly amazed.

So when I heard about Akismet being released for Movable Type last week, I had to go check it out (even though I only own a sandbox Movable Type blog).

In typical fashion, the way to install Akismet (which can be downloaded here), is to upload to the Movable Type plugins directory. Excuse my ignorance of Movable Type, but I expected that the plugin would have to be activated at this point but apparently that is only a WordPress thing. (I shudder to think what happens when some malicious script kiddy writes a MT “plugin” full of malicious Perl code that gets activated automatically on a blog - but I digress).

Because my Movable Type blog is a non-published blog, it was hard for me to determine how exactly Akismet sorts comments/trackbacks it believes is spam. With WordPress, there’s a queue of comments that Akismet isn’t sure about in the moderation queue and then another queue of “scrubbed” comments. I imagine Movable Type handles comments in a similar fashion.

The important thing, I think, to know about Akismet is that it handles spam through a centralized service that learns from the bleeding edge. In other words, by learning what is spam from WordPress, WordPress.com and Movable Type blogs together, Akismet becomes stronger and more efficient.

Scot Hacker was the guy who ported Akismet to Movable Type (Actually it was Tim Appenl) has some interesting insight in the comments over at John Batelle’s blog on the inner workings as it pertains to MT as well.

With WordPress, those two levels are identical in terms of server impact, since everything is dynamic. With Movable Type, publishing always requires a page rebuild, which is CPU-expensive. So the more you can prevent unnecessary publishing, the lower the impact on the server. What you really want to do is prevent spam submissions from triggering page rebuilds. Akismet is great at preventing unneccessary publishing, but so are a lot of other spam fighting tools. Fortunately, Akismet has a VERY low false positive
rate, so virtually all of its estimations about what is/is not spam are correct.

Nutshell: Akismet/MT doesn’t reduce the overall number of database inserts, but it does reduce the number of CGI-based page rebuilds that are ultimately triggered.

I’d really be interested to know if anyone is using this on their MT blog and how you’re finding the results. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Written on April 17th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 12:04 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Blogs as a Profile Builder - Blog Case Study

Case Studies 11 comments

The following post was submitted by one of enternetusers’s Dutch readers, Bertrand, as part of the enternetusers Case Study Series

Hello fellow bloggers, I’m glad Darren gave me the opportunity to tell you my story. Unfortanetly the blogs I maintain are Dutch, so I will describe the background, the way it came about what the strategy is.

When I started blogging 2 years ago I wanted to experience this new way of expressing myself and writing. I picked a subject which interested me and that I can talk about for a long time (this is my first tip).

So it started with a free web-log.nl account managementboek.web-log.nl (tip. 2, it doesn’t has to cost you anything).

After a year I had a lot of content, a lot of free books from publishers (my second goal with the blog to get the things I like to read for free) and with my already started personal and much more professional weblog www.blogmania.nl (based on Wordpress) a great personal marketingtool.

Not much money though, not one dollar on amazon-income. (tip 3: make micro-money with a lot of public or find a sponsor, but make a choice).

So I went to the biggest online businessbook seller in the Netherlands managementboek.nl (much like the US 800ceoread.com) and offered them the weblog as a tool to extent their customer relation (tip 4: to get the bigger money search for a strategic partner which you can offer something new with your blog, but not to far off his imagination).

So starting from March 1st experiences with businessbooks is live. It gets â≠¬ 500 every month, and probably earnings from sold books. My maintask is to start an editorial team, get them up to speed and start new themeblogs soon. So I think it’s a success. It gets attention now from the publishers, who see me as an strategic advisor and experienced blogger. New changes are on their way.

My last tip for all new bloggers: although you can read a lot about blogging (mostly on marketingsites) there is a lot to experience, try, learn and win. But be realistic, not everybody can win and not evrybody is a good writer. But you won’t know before you try and your fellowbloggers can give you advise whenever you like.

Written on April 16th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 03:04 am by David Shawver city Stanton

How to Attract Readers? - Blog Case Study

Case Studies 20 comments

The following post was submitted by Carolyn Goodwin as part of the enternetusers Case Study Series

I hadn’t even read a blog until my brother introduced me to English Cut and explained the benefits of blogging for business. I recently began my career as a professional gift consultant for Whirled Events, and joined the land of bloggers shortly thereafter. I’m not a “computer person”, nor are many of my clients, at least to the extent that most people in the blogosphere tend to be.

As the primary intention of my posts is to inform people about what I am doing and where my company is going, I ask of you all the following: How do I attract readers when my primary market doesn’t know much about blogs? I specifically wonder how those of you out there with blogs that don’t relate to technology, science or news issues originally attracted your readers.

The standard suggestions of commenting on others’ blogs or submitting articles doesn’t seem to be as effective here, since I’m catering to an audience that is less hi-tech and more traditional in nature. I’ve been writing for a little over a month now, but don’t seem to get any readers that stick on my site and read through several posts, indicating to me that my target market isn’t reaching my site (or perhaps my writing just stinks, but I’ve asked my most confrontational friends and they assure me that isn’t the case).

I am in the process of setting up a company website to which I will link my blog into, which I am hoping will help. Because I believe that blogging will only grow as a means of informative, customer-centric advertising, I also hope to gain somewhat of a “first mover” advantage in my industry, since the gift and home decorative industry is relatively absent in blogging. How have some of you dealt with a similar situation? I extend my sincere gratitude in advance for your suggestions and comments.

Written on April 15th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 12:04 pm by David Shawver city Stanton

Blog Tools

Blogging Tools and Services 109 comments

Do you Want to Improve Your Blog? Subscribe to enternetusers Today for Free.

A couple of months ago I asked readers to share which blog tools they use the most in some of the following areas. The suggestions were a nice start but I’d like to see the list expand as I’m certain there are more blog tools and services out there.

Please note that I’ve decided not to add ‘hosting packages’ to this list and am attempting to keep it to products that directly help bloggers blogs improve rather than more general organizational/business products. Lastly I’m not including actual blogging platforms - if you’re interested in these and how to choose between them you might like my Choosing a Blog Platform post.

Here’s the list of suggestions so far - what would you add to it?

Statistics Packages and Metrics Tools

• Sitemeter
• Google Analytics
• My Blog Log
• WebAnalyse
• Performancing Metrics
• AWStats
• Mint
• Extreme
• Webalizer
• Stat Counter
• Measure Map
• Slim Stat

Blog Editor Tools

• Ecto for Mac and Windows
• Qumana
• BlogJet
• Zoundry
• w.bloggar
• Blog Desk
• Post2Blog
• Performancing for Firefox
• Mars Edit

News Aggregators and News Sourcing Tools

• Bloglines
• FeedDemon
• Technorati
• Google Reader
• Website Watcher
• BlogPulse
• Blogarithm
• Topix
• Blog Bridge
• Grazr
• Rojo
• Memeorandum
• NewsGator Online
• Net News Wire

Email Subscription Tools and Newsletter Services

• FeedBlitz
• Zookoda
• Aweber
• Yutter
• RssFwd
• Feedburner’s Email Subscription Service

Blog Poll Tools

• Blog Polls.com
• Vizu
• Free Blog Poll
• Blog Poll
• Blog Flux Polls
• WP Polls

Other Blog Tools

• Pingoat – pinging service
• Pingomatic – another pinging service
• AudioBlogger – audio post to your blog via phone
• BlogRolling – a service to manage your blog roll
• Creative Commons – copyright protections service
• Feedburner – RSS tool that adds a variety of features to your blog’s RSS feed
• Picasa – find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC
• Flickr – Store and share your images - good way of hosting images if you don’t have a stand alone blog on your own domain.
• Flock – A browser that enables sharing and blogging from within it
• Copyscape – allows you to track down other sites that are stealing your content
• TalkDigger – ‘find, follow and join conversations evolving on the Internet.’
• Blog Flux – Stats, Pinging and Directory

• Backpack It – A place to organise your to do lists, notes, files, reminders and more - all online
• Basecamp – Like Backpack it (same people behind it) but great for collaboration on projects.
• Ice Rocket – Blog Search
• coComment – Keep track of the comments you leave on different blogs in a central place
• co.mments – Similar name to coComment but not to be confused with it - a way of bookmarking and following comment threads via RSS
• Gabbly – Add live chat to our blog posts (like real time comments combined with IRC)
• Del.icio.us – Social Bookmarking site - good for sourcing stories but also great if you get linked to on it to get traffic
• Digg – Another major Social Bookmarking site
• Only Wire – a bookmarklet that submits posts to multiple social bookmarking sites at once
• Odeo – a tool for recording and sharing audio/podcasting
• TagCloud – produces Tag Clouds for your blog from RSS feeds
• Indie Karma – a micropayment system for bloggers
• Tiny URL – Turns long URLs into tiny manageable ones
• Swicki – a new type of search engine that harnesses the power of a web community - sort of like a search engine and wiki combined
Filmloop – photo sharing
• Stock.xchng – Free Stock Photos
• Favicon Maker – allows you to make a favicon from a photo
• YouTube – a tool for putting video on your blog
• blip.tv – another video uploading tool

Do you know of other great blog tools? Feel free to share them in comments below.

Written on April 15th, surf Active Apparel website cowboy boots women 1 zone.at 12:04 am by David Shawver city Stanton

Back in Skinny Jeans - Blog Case Study

Case Studies 14 comments

Skinny-JeansThe following post was submitted by Stephanie Quilao as part of the enternetusers Case Study Series

I am a new blogger, and published my first blog November 1, 2005. I got so excited about the potential of being a six-figure blogger that I decided to create a mini network consisting of four blogs. In no particular order, the blogs I created and why:

- Noshtopia: a blog celebrating little food: snacks, appetizers, and hors devours. Americans eat $13 billion a year on snack food, and I love food especially snacks.
- Style from the Couch: a blog featuring web only deals at Target.com. I’m an avid Target shopper, and wanted to highlight their web only deals.
- The Great Munchkin: a blog about computers and electronics for kids. There isn’t one place for adults to go find and buy what’s new and cool in electronics for kids.
- Back in Skinny Jeans: a blog about coping with society’s high standards of beauty and body image through hope and laughter. This blog was just an outlet for me to share my personal experiences to help other women.

Because I wanted to be serious, I got the urls and joined a paid blog service like you suggested. I use TypePad Pro because I wanted something robust yet fairly simple. I like TypePad because I do not do code. I know enough to cut and paste affiliate link codes and frankly, that is all I want to know. I care more to build my creative muscles than geek muscles. I have a friend who helps me with the techie stuff.

Noshtopia, Style from the Couch, and The Great Munchkin were designed to be revenue-generating blogs. I signed up with Linkshare, Performics, and Commission Junction. I also signed up with Google AdSense and the Amazon affiliate program. I applied for Chikita and got denied. I planned to go after paid advertisers as soon as I had some decent traffic, and to add on some merchandising using Zazzle or Cafe Press.

After 3 months of blogging, I noticed something that shook me up. The stats were showing that the traffic for Back in Skinny Jeans was more than all of the other 3 blogs put together, AND it was generating the most revenue despite the fact that I had no intention of monetizing it at all. The Back in Skinny Jeans blog was just supposed to be my creative outlet. I slapped in some Google Adsense and a tip jar for fun, and boom, money was coming in more than the other three.

A girlfriend told me that she wasn’t surprised. She said that the Back in Skinny Jeans blog really reflected my personality, and it came across as funny and warm. She said that you could feel my passion in my writing here. Writing for this particular blog is a joy, and it’s easy to come up with post topics. I also enjoy the fact that I feel no boundaries in what I can express here.

Adding to the surprise, this blog was invited to be a part of the new BlogBurst network. The BlogBurst editor found my blog, and told me she liked the blog because it had great compelling content related to women’s issues. Now, I have the opportunity to have my writing exposed to major newspapers. Wow! Again, something I never planned on because this blog was just a creative outlet free of pressure and revenue generating stress.

I started a full-time job this month because I need to pay the bills, so I decided to stop the other blogs for now and focus only on the Back in Skinny Jeans blog. The building success of this blog was due to the fact that I was simply enjoying myself, helping others, and not caring about the revenue generation. Now, I am starting to feel pressure to write more, better, best because of the revenue and the BlogBurst exposure, and truth be told, my writing is starting to be affected.

My question therefore is, how do I prevent all the new attention and pressure from adversely affect my writing? A blogger is nothing without the writing, and I want to keep the integrity of my authenticity and passion in tact. I’m new to all this stuff, and want to stay focused. How did you handle it when all your blogs started to take off, and you became a high profile blogger?

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