Put Yourself Out There – Add Subscription Boxes with Feedburner

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Add subscription boxes to your articles.

Subscription boxes are easier than they appear.

I recently read an article that pointed out the importance of developing an email list.  The author pointed out several behavior patterns of readers and emphasized the placement of subscription boxes in places they are most likely to get follow through.  You can read the article here. If you are not already concerned about well placed subscription boxes, after you read the article, I promise you will be.

Word Press has widgets that you can put on the side of your blog to enable people to subscribe, but if you may be looking for something that does a little more.   When you want to put subscription boxes within your articles or on an external website those Word Press widgets are useless.

There is a solution with Feedburner.  There are plenty of other subscription sites out there, but Feedburner is very user friendly and easy to manage.  One of the things I like best is that you can create customized widgets to display your most recent posts.  Of course you can also incorporate a box on your side bar, inside your articles or wherever.

Here is a Headliner graphic from my main site, merchantkitty.com

Merchant Kitty

So you can see that it shows the most recent posts and it also allows readers to subscribe.  Feedburner also allows you to customize your boxes to, and it is not just limited to a headliner like this.  They have regular subscription boxes as well.

When you first sign up, you will be asked to give the url of your blog and it walks you through the process.  When you are done, make sure you enable email subscriptions so your readers can subscribe by email.  Then you click the publicize tab to create your box.

Once you have created your box and activated it, the next screen will create your code.  I like to select “just give me the code” which generates a basic html code.  I uncheck the “grab it” box and just paste it into your blog.  Easy peasy!

So check out feedburner,

But before you do, subscribe to my blog!

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How great is that?!

How to Write a Good Blog Article

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Obviously the point of a good blog article is to gain readership.  You have something to share and you want to get the message out.  It would be a shame to have a great article that no one would ever see because it was missing just a few easy tweeks.  So with the help of Word Press SEO plugin, I am going to list a few things you can do to turn a good blog into a great one.

Key word – the main word that describes what your article is about that if someone searched that particular word you would want your article to be pulled up.

You should have a focus key word, and that keyword should be found in the following places:

  • Your article heading
  • Page title
  • Page URL
  • Several times in your content (especially within the first paragraph and at least once subheading) The first few lines of the first paragraph may appear in your search snippet.
  • And in the meta description

Why my blog article should I use a subheading?

Search engines can examine subheadings in an effort to return valid results. Subheadings are also a great way to break up the reading in to shorter sections to encourage read through.

Word Count – Think about it.  or…don’t.

You can get some mixed signals when it comes to the recommended length of the typical blog article.  Longer articles are getting more clicks, but there is still concern about being too long and losing the reader.  If you can keep your reader, longer articles do a better job of converting visitors to loyal readers.  Better to focus first on a compelling interesting articles, and once it is written, then you can worry about word count.

It is recommended that blog articles exceed 300. Google considers articles under 200 words to be content thin. The thinking is, longer articles are more likely to contain pertinent information. So say it in as few words as possible, but have lots to say.  No lazy, keyword rich but empty content.  Readers want depth.  Check out this article about word count at Copy Press also.  You will not be sorry!

Develop a page title that is as good for Google as it is for you.

First of all, keep in mind that on a Google search result, only around 55 characters will fit. The rest will be cut off.  That being said, search engines will use page titles to obtain search results and may display the page title in the window tab even if the entire title does not show up in the results. Keywords in the page title may result in higher rankings, especially if the key word is at the front of the title.

If you include your business name in the page titles, this is called branding. If you think readers will search your name as opposed to your article’s key word, you should but your brand first. If your brand is not well know, you should put it at the end.

Compelling titles will attract more click throughs then generic labeling. “How to make your car last forever.” May get more hits then “Auto Maintenance”

Better still: “ Auto Maintenance- How to make your car last forever” Be creative.

Keywords are "key" for blog articles that get found.

Key words make your blog articles and pictures searchable for would-be readers

Include pictures or videos in your articles.

Studies show that viewers tend to read in an F pattern. They scan the first line, scroll down a bit and scan again, then scroll to the bottom. To break this pattern and keep them on your page, you will want to incorporate more eye candy throughout the body of the copy like pictures, videos or bold text with attention grabbing phrases.

When you do use pictures, be sure to use captions, and try placing a key word in them as well. Captions are the second most read text right after the headlines, and you should make sure you do not neglect them. Be sure to title and tag your pictures as well, because many visitors will be drawn to your website from image searches.

Taking the extra time to attend to these things will help your blog be found by the right people.

If you are a Word Press user,  the SEO plugin examines your work and tells you just where you need to adjust.  You can find it here.

Why You Need a Professional Email

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Professional Appearances

We understand why we need business attire when consulting with a new client. Your online appearance is just as important, and every online representation with potential clients is like an interview.  While you might be able to sit at your computer in your skivies, you can still give a professional appearance virtually.

Ever cue in on something that is not quite right?

We humans are constantly alerted to things that are unusual.  We might wonder if someone is playing with a full deck before they ever even speak to us:  We notice their clothes, their hair, the way they walk, their expression on their face, their gestures.  Sit in a crowd and your eye will be drawn to every itch, a dig through a purse, a tag sticking up out of a shirt, the fourth piece of candy.  Someone we don’t recognize looks us in the eye from across the room.  We catch every weird little detail without even trying.

Learning to be professional and using your social skills.

Mom fail. No, sweetie, you can’t wear your new Cinderella jammy’s to the store. Those are for bedtime.

Of course, not everyone’s social awareness is acute.  We’ve seen them at Walmart walking around in their pajamas without a clue.  Somewhere there was a mama who didn’t do her job and say, “No Jane, you can’t wear your new Cinderella jammys to the store.  You have to get dressed first.” (On a side note, Google “people in pajamas at Walmart” if you need a good laugh)

Put on your virtual best.

Someone has got to say it.  Just like there are social cues that say we are “with it”, there are virtual indicators that we are professional.  Here are a few things that potential customers might notice as weird.

No website

My Facebook page IS my “website”

Personal phone being used as a business phone “Hello?” *long pause* “is this Mort’s Beauty Salon???”

Inability to communicate with common methods of communication (can’t text, email, send pictures, don’t know how to send or open attachments, etc.)

Being completely at a loss with all social media “No, I don’t tweeter.”

Can’t accept credit cards.

Not having a professional email

But this article is not about all those things.  It is about this final indicator:  free emails for your business.  Personally I have a Yahoo and a Gmail mail account which I use for personal things.  I keep these because they are with me forever even if I change internet providers or domain names. But for my business I use charlotte@merchantkitty.com or info@merchantkitty.com.  This tells my customers where they can find me (at merchantkitty.com).  It tells them my email is dedicated to my business which gives a professional appearance.  It gives me yet another opportunity to get my name out there which is “branding”.

Having a professional email is easier than you might think.  If you already have a domain name, you probably have email hosting provided for you.  It is as simple as contacting your host and asking them to help you set one up.  If you purchased a domain name, you are paying these people to help you.  Take advantage of it.  They can help you set up your phone or log on through the internet even if you don’t have an email application on your computer like Outlook.

You can also have your business email forwarded to your personal email, so you continue to check your email the same way you always have, but the sender sees your business name instead of live.com.

But what if you do not have a domain name?  I recommend getting one.  Domain names are cheap.  You can get a domain name, web and email hosting from $4 to $10 a month.  Wouldn’t you spend that on a tie or a pair of jeans without holes to make a good impression?  You are really paying for web hosting, and domain registration,and the email is included free.

Now of course Merchant Kitty offers web design, setting up your email, registering your domain name and all that good stuff, but if you are a do-it-yourself-er, don’t be afraid to ask the people who sell you that domain name and hosting for help.  You work hard for a living, and so should they!

If you are in search of a web host, I recommend Site Ground.  They have a helpful staff, competitive rates, user friendly interface, and live chat which gives you a chance to walk through the process with them “on the line” .  If you would like to learn more about Site Ground click on the link below.

Web Hosting

So if you don’t have a dedicated business email – GET ONE!

Do it yourself by and activate your email by contacting your web host provider or consulting the how to section in their web site

or

Contact Merchant Kitty to set up a time to discuss helping you with your online presence.

 

“Now get out of those PJ’s, put on your virtual coat and tie and get professional!”

–Love Mom

Identifying Bad Web Design

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Avoid Pitfalls of Poor Design

There are as many ways to design a web page as there are ways to create a work of art.  In fact, your website IS a work of art.  While tastes may vary in styles and format, there are some pitfalls that turn people off.

Confusing Navigation

Have you ever found yourself returning to the home page simply because you feel lost, or still do not understand what a company does?  Has it ever seemed like you have scoured a website for basic information like a phone number, location, or hours of operation?  Have you ever clicked a link and tried to get back to your page and couldn’t find it?

The last thing you want to do is frustrate a potential customer before you have even started.  Design your navigation simply so your readers can focus on the information, and not how to find it.

Cluttered Space

Don’t overwhelm your reader with widgets, icons, pictures, and ads.  A cluttered website means working harder to find what you need.   In this fast paced busy culture that we live in,  people seldom stroll around the virtual world.  Even when I am “window shopping”, like you do on Pinterest or Google Image search, I scroll pretty quickly through the pictures.  You want to control the direction of eye movement seamlessly over your page, landing on focal points designed for purpose.  Think of it like putting a beautiful flower arrangement on a counter top loaded with dishes from the last meal.  With the unlimited space on the internet, there is no reason not to have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Adding a page for a calendar or a table of contents in order to clean up a side bar might give the eyes enough peace to find the main focus of your page.

Poor web design in pictures

This page has all your design pitfalls in one handy location!

Unity Begets Serenity

This is my motto for organization, and I believe it holds true in web design as well. A well organized space still looks like a hot mess if it is organized into assorted shoe boxes and cans.  Placing everything in matching baskets with clear labeling transforms the space without any reorganizing whatsoever.  This same idea can be helpful on the screen as well.  Pictures cropped to the same size and lined up neatly, matching typography and formatting, and using the same color scheme throughout your site give a feeling of continuity and …serenity.  Ahhh!

Unexplained Icons

I can’t begin to complain enough about unexplained icons–that is, icons that the author assumes you understand or thinks you can just figure out.  Icons are great.  Humans are visual creatures after all and it is a handy way to create more space.  BUT…icons have to be trained.  We know that the blue F is for Facebook because we saw it for years with the word Facebook next to it.  And some things are just “duh” like a picture of a house where you would expect to find a home link.  But what are these…

I didn’t want to offend so I found these generic “icons”.  It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to say, “at least use a tool tip or a mouse over morons!”  Always expect new visitors to your page.  Don’t sacrifice user friendly and simple design for something less just because it is cute and trendy. As we say to the children…”use your words”.

Slow Page Loads

As the curtain slooooowly rises the reader is wondering…hoping…praying that what lies beyond the blank bottom of the screen is the information he is hoping to find…..Nope.  He waited all that time for nothing!  Maybe its heeeeeeeere……watching the page appear with all the pictures missing showing only the little “x”.  One by one revealing this link and that.  See ya.  Back to Google search results.

Your website is like an interview for your customer.  Use your web design to dress your best, be on time, and make a dynamic first impression.

If this article was helpful to you, or if you would like to share an example of poor web design, leave a comment below.  Be sure to subscribe to get updates from MK webdesign by email!

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