Hello Happy Site Owners! This week’s tips include a Hangout on Air about changing webmasters, new security, performance, and migration tips, a super coming soon plugin, the new membership plugin I’m using, Easy Digital Downloads upgrade, tips on monetizing your offers, plugins to improve conversion rate, a new way to do keyword research, new Google guidelines when moving your site, what makes for a perfect blog post, getting past your fear to create epic content, and for dessert, taking the plunge into higher visibility. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Thursday, June 12 at 12:00 EDT
I’d like to invite you to a new Hangout on Air series from +Stephan Hovnanian and +Susan Finch called If I Had a Nickel. And the inaugural show is on Webmaster Transitions. I’m delighted to be joining them as the featured guest. We’ll be discussing the kinds of fires we put out all the time for clients who either lost their webmaster, want to lose them, or got dumped by them. Although it’s a more lighthearted discussion, you better believe we’ll be passing on the hard-earned lessons learned from these transitions that could save your sanity if you ever need to make this kind of move. So, come join us for lunch on Thursday and we’ll have you laughing all the way through.
Security, Performance, and Migration
I’ve been getting a lot of requests this month for help with hacked sites, performance checks, migration to A2 Hosting, and member site planning.
And, some of those requests include splitting up multiple sites under one hosting account into separate cPanels. If you have a bunch of abandoned sites, or one big site and then several smaller ones, or perhaps you have several very active sites, and one of them is in the root and the rest are in folders as add-on domains, you really need to consider cleaning all of that up.
All of these conditions are a security risk and could negatively impact your performance in a big way just from the bot hits alone. This is especially true on shared hosting accounts.
There are lots of ways to clean up that mess, and some of them could impact your SEO too. What will work best for you depends on your current setup and I’d be glad to schedule a consult with you to help make a plan.
You may remember last week that I told you we did a soft launch on a complex member site. It has gone very well. Folks who were members prior to us taking it down for the rebuild have been enjoying a free quarter’s worth of content. And now we’ve opened it up to other folks who signed up to receive info on the launch with a special discount. We collected those email addresses with a premium Under Construction type plugin called SeedProd Coming Soon Pro. I was very impressed with the home page options I could create that included info about the site as well as an email subscription. It’s a great way to capture interest in your site even before it launches. And giving those folks a gift subscription or a substantial discount generates some goodwill buzz too.
We’ll be doing the fully public launch soon and I’ll give you a link to the site so you can check it out.
I want to thank super duper designer +Cyndi Papia for introducing me to this plugin.
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Speaking of member sites, y’all know that I’m a big fan of WishList Member. But, it’s just not the best fit for the new member site I’m building for a client. It’s all drip content. In fact, it’s 60 pieces of drip content, which is bigger than most. So, I’m using MemberPress for this one, as it specializes in drip content with recurring payments. And, it has a feature that no other member plugin does that will truly factor into the success of this site. It’s the ability to pause the subscription. So far, I’ve been very impressed with the features. I’ll have a full review for you on it after I finish this site.
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There’s a new version of Easy Digital Downloads and it has a big bunch of changes. In fact, there were 127 improvements and fixes. A few that stood out to me were:
- Now has Discount Codes
- Three significant improvements to the checkout screen including an option to enforce SSL on checkout
- The Payment History screens have received several significant improvements.
- Tools page has received some significant improvements and now holds several features that were previously spread out through the plugin.
I use this plugin as a super easy way to sell my Site Performance Case Study. It’s a 130 pages of a deep study with screenshots. Here’s a link to the summary post too And this plugin works perfectly for that.
Oh, and FYI on another performance case study for one of my clients, On Sutton Place where we improved performance by a whopping 1400%. The theme has been revamped and I’m about to run another series of performance checks. I’m really excited to see how much more we squeezed out of it with those changes.
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And while we’re on the subject of Easy Digital Downloads, I found this post by the developer, Pippin Williamson, to be very interesting too. It’s about balancing how you do your business. As you know, the plugin is free, but support and extensions are paid. And Pippin got so big so fast with this model that he had to jump from a one man show to a team. I’ve experienced that same sort of growth at BlogAid. You may be saying to yourself that you can’t afford to hire someone. I get that, but there are ways to do it, like partnering with freelancers where you’re sending them a steady stream of business, and making strategic alliances with folks that offer complimentary services. And sometimes you would be losing more money by not hiring a team, as was the case with Pippin.
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Anything that improves conversion is worth checking out and this post on BloggingPro gives you 4 good plugin ideas worth considering. And the reason I’m calling them ideas is because I want to supplement them with a few other choices that may work as well or better for you.
The first idea is to use the Hello Bar plugin to put a little thread of a banner across the top of your page. +Denise Wakeman has tried that and has a nice video with a direct comparison between Hello Bar and FooBar, which is what she’s using now. So that will let you see how both of them work and look.
The second idea is for the Formidable – Form Builder plugin. I cover the how to on creating the Fast and Secure Contact Form, and then Contact Form 7 plugins in the BlogAid Video Tutorial Library and those work very well for most clients. But I see that the advanced options in Formidable will be useful to some folks with the need for more fields and layout customization, so I’ve now got that one on my to make list.
The third idea is the Clickmap plugin. It has a very high cool factor, but is also performance drain on your site so be careful of that. You used to be able to get this same sort of visual info from Click Maps in Google Analytics. It was under the Content section. But, I’m not seeing an equivalent of that in the new Universal Analytics layout. Under Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Content, you get a look at the entry and exit points and such, which is good to know, but it doesn’t really tell you what folks clicked. So, if you know how to get a click map type visual, then please do leave a comment for us.
For those into keyword research, here’s a tool to stick in your belt. It’s the free Google Trends tool. Jumping on what’s hot with your content gets it seen by more folks. Yes, it could be cold traffic, but you just never know until you try.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear a lot of you saying, sure, jumping on the news is easy for you MaAnna because you are in the tech field. Actually, everybody can do this. One of my clients is a massage therapist and we were launching her revamped site in April. So, I suggested she blog about how a massage can relieve the stress of tax season. Another super example is from someone I follow on G+ that does marketing. The Game of Thrones was about to start and she made a cool video trailer of still images using the personalities of the characters to demonstrate different marketing techniques. It was totally spot on. So, if you’re really looking for ways to jump on trends, you will find them.
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If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve had at least a couple of sites that you wanted to close down and start over, perhaps even under a new domain. But, you didn’t want to sacrifice your Google juice. There are good and bad ways to redirect for different domains and such. The Google Webmaster Central Blog just updated their guidelines, which you might want to give a read. I found one interesting thing in there, and that’s the practice of wholesale redirecting all pages from one site to the home page of another. It’s actually considered a soft 404 error.
Another little tip from me is that you can actually remove a whole site and just leave an htaccess file to do the redirects. That way you don’t have an abandoned site to maintain. And that’s very important for security.
Content Marketing Tips
As my buddy +Stephan Hovnanian says, a unicorn dies every time there’s a post about when is the best time to post. But, this one is different. And if it hadn’t been for my other buddy, +Denise Wakeman insisting that it was worth studying, I might not have even clicked on it.
But, I have to say, the nice folks behind the Buffer App did their homework and put together something truly helpful. They give you the 7 essential elements of a perfect blog post with the data and screenshots to back it up. I’m not going to give them away here, you really do need to jump over to the post and see what they have to say.
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There are some buzz words and phrases around content marketing that are intimidating to a lot of folks like:
- Create epic content
- Share your passion
- Gain authority
This excellent post by Hunter Boyle on the Content Marketing Institute blog helps you reframe those phrases into something doable. The first one is start with value, expand to authority. And in that explanation he gives you a formula, which is Useful x Empathy x Inspired = Great Content.
Think about that. Whatever you find useful, others will too. Whatever inspires you will inspire others. Pay attention to those things and put them into your content via a story or a tutorial. I’ve watched folks like +Illeane Smith and +Chris Lema make a career out of these two things.
That’s the kind of value writing that Hunter is talking about. And if you write on the same topic that way enough, folks will start regarding you as an authority on that topic. Chris Lema writes about a lot of things. But I regard him as my go to guy for learning about new membership plugins and comparisons. Even when I don’t always agree with him, he has become an authority for me on that topic. I want to know what he has to say. His opinion carries weight with me.
There are lots of folks who seek out my opinion on certain topics. They put that into the mix with what else they’ve heard and make a choice. That’s what it means to be regarded as an authority on a topic. Not that you’re always right, or have all answers. But you do know enough to help who you can help from where you are and what you know.
Taking that approach with your content will help you accomplish the second tip in his post, which is to break out of your content comfort zone.
Go read the rest of the post and look at what he is suggesting with a can-do attitude and give it a try. You just might surprise yourself.
Whatever it is that may be holding you back from jumping into higher visibility, I’d like to invite you to watch +Gina Fiedel’s first video. She had already built quite a following through her posts and engagement, and finally decided to make the leap into on-camera video. In this post, she shares her story of overcoming obstacles, objections, excuses, and fear. And when you read this post, before you go watch the actual video, be sure to read all of the encouraging comments that folks left for her. It’s really heartwarming to see so many folks support her efforts to make this leap.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday. Feel free to ping me on G+ with tips you know will be helpful to folks, or news I cover. It really does take a village to keep up with all of the changes online. And please do leave a comment on the blog, on iTunes, or on Google+. I love hearing from you. Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.