Tuesday, January 14, 2014

12 Reasons Why That Content is not Enjoying Quality Readership:

Every writer and blogger wants to create contents that people would love to read but the drive to achieve increased click through rates (CTR) and enhanced readership for varied contents has been quite elusive to many content creators even as we continue to research and explore  on what makes a content thick and highly readable.

reading your content

Do you ever wonder why your contents are not getting the type of readership that you’d expect it to (yes I ponder over this all the time)? Well this is the bane of many content creators (including yours truly), and even as I write this some of my contents written across varied platforms are not getting the type of page views I’d normally expect it to which is quite disheartening.

why then?

The reason behind this anomaly could be attributed to many factors both seen and unseen, this is what this article will be explicitly looking at as we try to understand why top contents written and shared on the sites and blogs like hongkiat.com, mashable.com etc are enjoying wide readership, while lesser known blogs with equally good contents are finding it relatively difficult to get a substantial number of loyal readers.

How many readers do you get on your blog daily?

That is a very big question that most blogger and site owners feel uneasy to answer because determining the strength and visibility of your site will require so much stats and analytics. These’ll include number of times your post/content has appeared in Google, Yahoo and Bing Search Result Pages, Number of Facebook likes, Re-tweets, Re-pins and other info.

So what factors are you talking about?

Though some of these factors might be regarded as academic, hypothetically speaking; while some are generic factors that top content producers have identified overtime as endemic to content promotion, join me.

  1. Inconsistency: The reason behind the monumental successes recorded on sites like shoemoney.com (ably run by John Chow), Mashable.com, Hongkiat.com and problogger.com is simply because these sites understand the importance of consistency as content publishers and as such consider it the corner stone of their business. Visiting the homepages of these blogs would make you understand this assertion truly as you would be treated to a huge array of blog posts sincerely caressing the homepages of these blogs on a variety of topics bordering on their niche area.

    what are these guys are doing to be as consistent as they are?

    That is a very big question, but having combed through their sites a couple of times I made the following discovery:
    1. Regular Tweaking and re-editing of old contents: every top guy I know always does this and I think this is one way that keeps them as consistent as ever as they continually tweak contents to add new ideas, delete irrelevant tips, create new arguments and in some extreme cases take a bold new stance on an earlier held assertion as regards the topic of their contents. When contents are tweaked and reedited consistently, it keeps the content fresh and also whets the appetite of search bots who love fresh and sweet smelling contents!
    2. they outsource for contents: top freelancers like award winning Carol Tice are really making a fortune from top content producers who constantly look for fresh contents written for them by top freelancers in the game like her and others in her writing cadre. This is one way a big guy like Steve Haws of nichepursuits sustains the retinue of micro-niche blogs in his kitty. He outsources for content which helps keep them blogs updated frequently. Though this might bore some little hole in your pocket, but for them big guys it is timesaving and super productive.
    3. They encourage Guest Posting: With the death of article marketing via article directories, the new form of article marketing that has replaced directories is guest posting. Brian, Hongkiat Lim, Darren, Pat, and Danny of searchengineland.com all allow guest writers for their respective blogs and sites. The good thing with guest posting is it’s 50-50 rule where the guest gains more audience while the host keeps his blog updated on a regular basis, this is one way that helps the consistency thing going.
    4. Rehearse old contents: as trends and events change, many ideas become obsolete and strangely irrelevant to the new order, to avoid being redundant and losing the consistency game, many of the top guys rehearse old blog posts from which they create new blog posts that is more contemporary with the times and season in place. This is another easy way out for them big guys as they keep going strong and consistent as ever.
    5. they employ a retinue of top writers and contributors: Brian Clark, Hongkiat Lim, Mashable, Techcrunch, shoutmeloud etc are all examples of sites who employ top contributors to their platforms to help keep the engine of their biz (contents) constantly oiled and superbly lubricated. With these large pool of writers, the aforementioned blogs find it quite easy to be as consistent as ever with some having an average of ten high quality blog posts written by different contributors everyday.
  2. Poor site structure:
    site structure Google and Yahoo as rich and financially healthy as they are still maintain one of the cleanest and properly structured sites and for this reason have this unwritten preference for clean and properly structured sites which subjectively make sites like hongkiat, mashable, copyblogger and more a good friend of the bots who find it relatively easy to maneuver and browse the entire length and breath of these sites. On the contrary, most of us believe that what makes a site thick is the number of media like flash, animations, scrolling images and so on been streamed as against the type of content written or produced.  The implication of having a poor site structure are numerous; ranking high amongst the many negative issues identified is a slow and un-navigable site as a result of heavy images and flashes, coding scripts, design map and so on; coupled with a rough and difficult site terrain difficult to crawl and index.

     
    How to improve your site's structure and outlook
    1. Learn a little HTML/CSS: I always stress here that knowing a little HTML/CSS could do you a lot of good and I’m speaking from personal experience not from some generic advise gotten from the many tips shared by the so called gurus and experts. The good thing with acquiring some html skill here is that it helps you understand the nitty-gritty of building sites. I’ve been learning a lot lately on how to handle the structural built of various CMS platforms like Blogger and Wordpress and so far this has practically broadened my horizon on what a good site design should look like. Understanding HTML tags and attributes takes you many leaps ahead helping you with making informed design decisions especially as it concerns the structure of your site. One thing I truly love about html aside its being easy is the array of free resources that abound on learning the language. However one go-to place remains the W3schools.com, till date this site remains the most updated site and also the design-arbiter; there are other cool places you can run a search and you’ll be treated to a huge array of free and equally good resources. I’d be making a post in future in this regard.
    2. Understand some basic SEO when creating contents: Basic SEO can become a true lifeline for any serious content creator, remember your contents is what makes your site what it truly is and a little knowledge on how search engines work could really be a useful thing. Remember things like indentation, error free contents, proper picture arrangement etc. are those little things that helps put a site in proper perspective. With a good site map created, indexing your site can be one easy ride as the bots crawl from one point to the other and seamlessly too giving your content the needed exposure that it truly deserves. 
    3. Reduce unnecessary clutter in form of ads, animations and more: Flash images and animations might look a little aesthetic to the eyes but they indeed make a site run very slow. Guess what? search engines hate slow loading websites and cases of sites getting de-SERPed (removed from Google, Bing and Yahoo’s Search Engine Result Pages) has been reported every now and then. This is why you need to get your site better structured by reducing or even removing entirely those heavy and distracting flash and animations. One other thing that keeps getting many site penalized not just by Google, but other search engines as well is placement of ads indiscriminately. Trust me every webmaster need some extra green in their palms through ad revenue, but when these ads become a center point of a site and to a large extent disrupting the contents proper, believe me the bots will avoid such a site and when it does the stuffed kids led by panda, penguin and the hummingbird will come calling.
    4. Hire a professional designer/developer/SEO: This could cost you some red cents but for those who can afford it I think it is worth the investment, but sadly only a handful can do this. Trond Lyngbo a contributor at Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Land and an SEO expert had this to say:
      ...like most SEO consultants, I am often contacted late in the web development process, well after information architecture and URL structure have been determined...

      Well the thing here is that people tend to hire SEO's, designers and developers  only when things have been pretty messed up and needs to be rearranged. Though I don’t see myself hiring one (because of the money of course), but if you are a lot confused as to why your contents are not getting the much needed hook and readership especially if you need a quick fix of your site’s structure, then looking for a good SEO expert is highly recommended.
  3. Weak and unattractive Headlines:
    headlinesIt is rather surprising that most content creators are yet to understand the power of a good headline, to examine this closely, lets hear what two top content creators have to say on how a well crafted headline could make a lot of difference; hear them:

    Pat Flynn of smartpassiveincome.com:

    ...the headline or title is one of the most important elements of your post. You can have the best content in the world , but if your headline is terrible chances are people are not going to read it because they'll skip over uninteresting headline...

    Brian Clark senior editor and CEO copyblogger.com:
    Your headline is the first and perhaps the only impression you make on a prospective reader, Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist...
    The two assertions made by these two top content creation gurus goes to show how important a headline is and why you should spend quality time crafting impression making headlines.

    How?
    A very good question dear, but the road to drawing up interesting headlines for your contents can be very tiring but then you just have to get it done or you’ll remain in this vicious cycle of writing good content that readers don’t get to read.
  4. Poor content Intro: A content must make its impression strongly felt with the first two to three lines of its run, this is why I make it a point to use an introduction that hooks the reader compelling such a reader to read the rest of the content. Your intro aside your headline is your first impression and if not well utilized would mean losing those prospective and very useful readers. More so, when searchers search for stuff, remember if your post or content appears in the SERP’s, it is always the first three lines that appears with the headlines. If the intro can grasp the attention it needs, this would result into a higher click-through-rate. Susan Gunelius an about.com guide and a powerful mentor I follow so closely has this to say on how important a good headline combined with a superb introduction is, hear her:
    The title of your blog post, first sentence, first paragraph are critical to capturing people’s attention getting them to read the post, and motivating them to share the post. If your blog post opening is dull, no one will read or share it. That’s a recipe for blogging failure! Instead, instantly hook your readers with an irresistible blog post introduction…
    A very good introduction will not only hook the reader but also elicit reactions which these readers would display by way of comments and social media shares

    How can I create a power intro for my contents?:
    They are just three things you need to do and you are on your way to receiving increased CTR for those posts and articles:
    1. Power headline: a headline that is concise, precise and straight to the point and also embedded with the right keywords associated with the topic in focus.
    2. A strong and compelling first sentence that tell the story and also makes your reader aware of what is ahead and yet to come. This first sentence must be strong and spiced up with the right keywords too, if necessary a little humor would do and if on the other hand it does not require some sort of humor, then using newsflashes and contemporary happenings can indeed rub on the subconscious and the CTR should normally happen. If you somehow read this post to this level, then the first sentence of this post probably worked.
    3. A short but well propped up paragraph containing all the vital information on the reason and argument behind the content.
  5. Wrong domain and URL structure: With the Exact Match Algorithm still in check, they’ve been this argument on what a good domain should look like, on the heels of this is also what a good URL structure should look like. Blogger has a well optimized URL structure while Wordpress on the other hand gives you three to choose from. As for choosing the right domain, many people assert that content is king, so therefore whatever your domain name is does not really matter? Well I don’t really subscribe to this because Google bots remain one of the dumbest lot I’ve ever seen and are prone to undo things quite easily. What this implies is that a bot will prefer a domain that conspicuously spells out a niche for example a domain that looks like this- goodfashion.com  looks more professional than giogio.com. The first one tells these dumb ones em sorry my bad -bots that its all about fashion while the second looks more like an Italian mob’s web identity or something. So preferentially it’ll place the former first in it’s SERP before the latter. What I’m saying in essence is that whatever the likes of Matt Cutts would say, Google bots still prefer keyword rich domain over normal or bland domains. As for URL link structure, your post title should be contained in the URL like- www.example.com/-how-to-make-google-fear-you/  instead of- www.example.com/post=345/?/456. Though it has been said that both URL structures have been known to work, but the former has the tendency of getting more exposure and CTR for your contents especially at the SERPs (theoretically).
  6. Writing on exhausted topics with no new idea or point of view: As trends and events continue to change, to meet the times, the way and manner we present our contents should also reflect the times. I still read some very crappy stuff in the name of content written across by some desperate blogger looking to earn his first Adsense check. The thing with writing on topics that people consider uninteresting and lacks value is that these topics puts you in bad light. For example they was a time people where so hooked on MLM and all the spurious pyramid schemes rocking the whole place at that time, but these days any post or content promoting these schemes is being viewed as scams and the person behind such content(s) a scammer. During the last Economic Recession, many people had their homes and properties foreclosed and to avoid foreclosure these people were ready to do anything to escape this bad experience. For this reason many sites began various schemes on avoiding foreclosure, most people lost a substantial amount of money to these group of fleecers  who exploited the times and the desperation of these people to make money from them without actually delivering the goods. But now contents that talk about mortgages must be from a verifiable and reliable source, other than that people flee with their two legs hitting the back of their heads. This is why as a content writer/producer, you must look at topics that could put you in bad light and avoid creating such contents, rather do contents that are in tune with the season, one that follows the trends, creates the pace and still stays in the game.People don’t want to hear about your cat, rather they want to know how you got it trained, no one wants to see your fat checks but what you did to earn it. No niche is outdated and exhausted, rather what makes them look so is the content creator’s viewpoint and arguments and presentation. Dieting and weight loss tips used to be the in thing, but when it became an all comers affair with most weight loss experts throwing up amateur tips to a gullible and listless audience who wish to shed some pounds without breaking a sweat (wonder how that is even possible), it then looked like every weight loss tip was indeed a big lie just because some group of lazy folks want to loss weight by not doing anything which gave room to the fast and furious to drill some hole in their pockets with wrong tips in the form of text, videos, podcasts and even webinars. The truth here is weight lose tips given by proven dieticians and physical training experts still work, mortgage and Insurance advise spelt out by well trained insurance brokers are still in range, so the real deal here is understanding what is been required by the time and serving it up to your audience while it is still hot!

    So how do I come up with new and contemporary ideas for my contents?:
    Good Question right there, well for me I try to see what's up via the under listed means;
    1. Social media trends: Coming up with good ideas using Facebook and most especially Twitter has really helped me in this regard. Different types of contents are shared on the platforms of these social networks that spells new brands, ideas and innovations and to stay abreast of these happenings I frequent here, Twitter for example helps me a lot with its trending topics
    2. Amazon: Amazon happens to be one rendezvous that is always resplendent with new stuff all round the year. With so many controversies still trailing the shopping giant’s alleged role in supporting at the same time opposing the recent online sales tax imposition rocking the senate, congress and state congresses; it became imminent that closely watching events as they unfold could help me and every serious content creator by following Amazon. Staying on the sidelines of this Giant will really help keep you and i in the know and help us create information that are timely and up to date.
    3. Google Alerts: I’ve set up varied alerts on important keywords that I monitor closely and are also related to the niches I blog on. This has helped me a lot and kept me at the top of many situations since Google doles out information on any topic I set an alert on based on the frequency I set for delivery. I’ll advise every person to utilize this tool as it’ll help you stay in pretty good shape especially as new developments bordering your niche and industry unfolds.
    4. News Networks: From CNN, FOX, CNBC, BBC to French Reuters there’s always something new to learn everyday by making these news networks your friend. I got to know of Facebook and Twitter’s IPO launches via CNN. I also got to know of one of the death of one of the industry’s greatest minds Steve Jobs through Reuters Twitter Update. For a serious content creator, News networks have a very important role to play especially in keeping you in line of what is happening all around you. For example if you are a Sports caster, blogger and more: do you know that former NBA Bad boy Dennis Rodman is currently in North Korea (Pyongyang to be exact) to train this Communist Nation’s Basketball team? Well I got to know by staying close to CNN, so make sure you do.
    5. Email updates from top guys: I hate subscribing to email updates because some of them get your inbox so cluttered that you risk losing important email updates with the incessant influx of these many and in most cases extraneous emails. But then I’ve benefited from a few like WebProNews whose contributors are one of the coolest guys you can think of, guys like Jack Walton, Chris Crum and so on. It was through their cool email updates that I got to know about every of Google’s new algorithm updates; from panda, penguin, Exact match domain and even the latest hummingbird update. This is why it is very important for a content producer to look out for top industry experts and subsequently sign up for their various email updates. I’d suggest though that those ones that only send you promotional info can be flagged if you don’t need their sales advertorials. But then, I’ve seen very good ezines that are quite helpful to subscribers, so look for those ones and subscribe to their updates as they sure help in educating, informing and keeping you abreast of new developments concerning your niche and industry.
  7. No email subscribers:
    email subscribers
    I happen to be guilty of not having a list and this is one new year resolution I intend to see through; without a list, a well written content will not get to the specified audience that needs it. I wont teach you how to build a list here because I only practice what I preach and till I build one, I’d rather shut my whatever, okay! till I get my acts right. But bear this in mind- the money is in the list,  I used to doubt this marketing fact till I truly analyzed the power of a list. For example if you had a list of over a thousand active subscribers, your content is blessed with the prospect of getting seen by these 1000 folks all for free. So next time you start wondering why the top guys like Harsh Aghawal, Pat Flynn, Susan Gunelius (who I happen to be a subscriber to her list) and more get their contents, read, shared and made viral, just remember this once again, they have a list and the money is in the list!
  8. Abusive Writing and Contents: No matter how well thought out a content might be as long as it insults the sensibilities of some people, such a content will not make its impression felt. I still remember this guy when I used to contribute regularly on Hubpages, he had this penchant for stylishly insulting other hubbers especially through his comments, he also used his hub as an arsenal for launching his tirade of attacks on fellow Hubbers by criticizing their writings. Though I found it kinda strange that he was never reported for his abusive tendencies to Hubpages’s Editorial board for reasons I’m yet to figure out. This guy came on board one day and hauled some insults my way by criticizing my contents and more, I felt really insulted and weak till another hubber advised me to ignore him because he was fond of doing this all the time. Well the message I’m trying to pass here is this- as a content creator, your contents must not in any way insult, denigrate, humiliate or victimize your readers. Remember the reason for our creating contents is for the benefits of those who’ll consume it, so if you become inconsiderate to these set of people and instead decide to take on them, then don’t get surprised when your contents are flagged for one reason or the other.
    When can a content be said to be abusive?
    Well that actually depend on the context of presentation of the said content, for example former US GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney felt insulted after his African-American grandson was singled out of his 21 grandchildren to be a butt of the jokes of Harris-Perry's MSNBC show which the latter has "tearfully apologized” to the statesman and his family for her and panelists misconduct. Now looking closely at the highlights of this imbroglio, it can be deduced that Miss Harris-Perry was clearly misunderstood as it was never her intention to denigrate Mr. Romney when she herself is a product of transracial adoption. Her intention was to make a good joke out of a situation that she and her group of panelist thought was funny and political. The joke ended up hurting the feelings of others, instead of being a joke it ended up being an insult.
    The lesson:
    The lesson here is that as a person who produces contents for public consumption, you need to be wary of sensitive issues like race, sex, sexual orientation, religious and cultural beliefs and dogmas and every issue that could place you in an awkward position where you could be labeled a racist, sexist, homophobic or anything that might be classified as Hate crime or prejudice. The reason behind the success of Oprah and Ellen's TV shows is that these two wonderful ladies avoid issues that are touchy and very controversial as contents for their respective programs. You and I must take a cue from these, the moment you imbibe this rule, then the tendency of staying long and successful in this biz is insured.
  9. False Information/Misinformation: I always tell this story; when I was a contributor at Triond.com, there was this particular writer who took pleasure in reporting fake news especially on celebrity deaths. This guy wrote an article on the death of Pamela Anderson’s former squeeze Brett Michaels when in truth Brett was only sick; he did not stop there but went further to spew more falsehood when he again misinformed the public by falsely reporting the death of playboy’s founder and CEO Hugh Hefner, when the old man was busy enjoying the company of his Girlfriends Holly, Kendra and Bridgette. Well I don’t need to tell you what happened to this fraudster. But the story here is- never produce contents that are in no way verifiable all in the bid to gain unnecessary notoriety and page views because it is only transitory and will only last for a while. I’ve promised myself ever since I got back into the game that I’ll write and produce contents whose veracity is easily determinable. As a content producer all that I concern myself with is creating contents that will stand the test of time and at the same time building my own brand via the contents I create.

  10. Not utilizing social media marketing:
    social media networks Social media integration is becoming more intense since Google introduced the Google Plus badge on every product they own from YouTube, Blogger, Glass and more. Many content creators are yet to key into this marketing reality and for this reason losing a lot of chances for increased CTR and page views. My favorite Social media marketing tool remains Twitter and I get carried away anytime I view my page analytics where I notice some favorable activity contributed from tweets I generated to promote my contents. Before I proceed lets see what Darren Rowse has to say on the importance of Social media marketing especially as a traffic generation tool and also how current marketing trends are changing the face of marketing:
    ...the idea of social network being a mass communication medium through which we update our followers on everything we blog may change as the shape of social networking changes from mass networks to niche networks
    Darren is predicting a systemic change that'll sweep the face of marketing all dictated by social media trends and also how as a content producer you can key into this initiative to parse contents using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and every other available platform.
  11. Lack of basic SEO skills: Understanding and implementing Basic SEO on your contents is like joining the missing clues in a puzzle that being bereft of this little skill can hamper the success of how your contents fare at the SERPs(Search Engine Result Pages). There’s so much literature out there on what basic SEO is, but I’ll just list some basic things that every content producer must consider when optimizing their various contents. This is what I do, not what I read or heard. If it works for me I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work for you too:
    1. keywords: There was time a time I felt keyword researching was not that necessary till it became crystal clear that for your contents to be seen on the SERPs, then you must build contents based on what people are searching. The question here has always been which is preferable; long tail or concise keywords. Some SEO demigods have always spoken in favor of the former and this is in terms of competition for visibility since the big guys with more Ad resources and strong pay-per-click bidding power can rack up all the space leaving breadcrumbs for the little guys, so in this case the short keywords always end up getting the big names listed. On the other hand, long tail keywords are a bit more detailed and specific and improves the chances of getting ranked because the bots are better informed on what a searcher is precisely looking for. Now through concerted keywords researching ability, the chances of your content hitting the top of the SERPs like I’ve seen most of mine becomes bigger.
    2. headlines: I’ve stressed so much on headlines, for you to know how important an SEO practice crafting powerful and attention grabbing headlines really is, then you can scroll up this post to see what two big men (Pat Flynn and Brian Clark) all had to say as regard the power of a strong headline. This is why it is very important that you grab some headline writing skills pretty fast to beef up your basic SEO skills.
    3. images: Images form an intricate part of any content, but knowing how to markup  these images for SEO purposes can do more in getting your contents high up there. This is where the Alt Attribute for the <img> tag comes prominently in. With this attribute in place, search engines and browsers can easily determine the purpose of the image, and in cases where the browser couldn’t load the images correctly, the alt attribute can help users understand what the blank and empty box staring at them is. For example you want to markup an image with the alt attribute you can do the following:

      <img src=”url of the image.jpeg/png” height=”in pixels” width=”in pixels” alt=” this image is cool”>
    4. Interlinking your contents: Wikipedia.com regardless of the fact that it is known for high quality contents, one other thing that grants this site the authority it currently enjoys at the SERPs is its strong and very relevant internal linking structure. Interlinking your posts gives you more relevance in the eyes of the bots because it kind of shows that you have enough quality stuff to share. This is one SEO skillset I’ve acquired, though I’m yet to get my posts strongly interlinked, but this’ll change the moment I start publishing regularly (one of my new year resolutions).
    5. Using the “nofollow” Attribute value for external links: There’s so much argument on how best to handle external links lately to avoid getting penalized by Google, remember the panda and its feathery counterpart the Penguin are still pretty much around that thinking of violating the rules that’d bring them to your courts is outta the question. To be save when linking from outside your site, it is a standard SEO practice to use the nofollow attribute value for the <a> tag, see how:

      <a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>This is a no-followed link</a>
    6. Writing Quality content: Nothing can replace quality and this is the basis of SEO, it is the tripod on which every content optimization tip rests because without creating what can be termed quality content  in the eyes of Google and his kid brothers (Yahoo and Bing), then the drive towards getting that content visible can be said to be unrealistic to a very large extent. The problem has always been understanding what quality content is. Well that’ll be a topic for another auspicious day.
  12. Penguin/Panda/Humming bird/Exact Match Domain (EMD) and every other known and unknown algorithm change: The fear of Google stuffed kids remains one of the biggest hindrance to a better Click-through-rate to any content these algo-beasts decide to lynch on for dinner. The proper way to avoid them remains more of a mystery to many webmasters and SEOs. Google will always keep the secret on how sites are ranked even if Matt Cutts have been a bit loquacious these days. Writing good stuff, avoiding duplicate content (hypothetically speaking), crafting good headlines, staying completely away form plagiarism and spinning of articles and more are some of the ways that your content might just be free from the eyes of these arbiters. However flying under their radar does not necessarily mean you are completely free because hey! they goes a panda, no it is webbed feet I think it’s a penguin oh no ! it hums just like a hummingbird!

       

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