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How to Protect Your Blog From an Advanced DDoS Attack

Although it’s pretty much unlikely that any high profile hacktivists are going to be targeting your website via a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack anytime soon, that’s not necessarily grounds for sitting back relaxed and complacent without a backup / protection plan. DDoS attacks are becoming more prevalent and much easier to execute thanks improvement in technology, bandwidth and accessibility to tools and information on how to do it. We continue to see big brands like Sony get brought down momentarily by these attacks, and even the CIA’s website suffered this pain in 2012. It’s a serious threat.

ddos protection

For clarification, DDoS attacks happen through an overpowering of numerous computers, usually through the use of bots, that continuously send traffic to an IP address or website. As simple as this might seem, the effects can be brutal to a website. What’s worse is that the typical common security protocols that are set up to defend against hacking and intrusion just don’t work against DDoS attacks and taking matters into your own hands, whether it’s through WordPress security plugins or code tweaks and improvements are not sufficient.

Luckily, there are a couple ways to protect a website from DDoS attacks.

Using a Cloud Security Provider

Using proprietary technologies, a number of web security companies have begun releasing different forms of protection from DDoS. These include the likes of Prolexic, for example, which has a fairly decent track record of mitigating web security threats. However, much of what these products do happens behind the scenes. In the push for full disclosure, more companies and website owners are relying more on cloud security providers, like Incapsula, who not only provide free usage of their CDN but also powerful DDoS protection at fairly reasonable pricing for anyone serious about their website’s security.

Where other services just kind of tell us that things are being handled, Incapsula offers some pretty slick monitoring options that take your website security a step further than a service: It’s a tool. Going beyond just DDoS traffic mitigation, Incapsula protects against other forms of attacks and site outages (both malcontent and accidental) while simultaneously offering a speed boost through those same site mitigation channels; along with pretty much guaranteeing 100% up-time for complex applications through load balancing and failover, spread across multiple servers. What’s even better is that they provide visual and trackable insights into the site’s performance and health.

Sophisticated web threat protection is becoming more available and affordable and it’s a valid inclusion among tools bloggers and other marketers normally utilize.

Self-Protected Domain Infrastructure

Bearing in mind that DDoS mitigation is not for the faint of heart or the modest wallet, I know there are some DIY admin types who live for the thrill of getting their hands dirty. Protecting against a DDoS attack on your own is a massive undertaking that’s easy to get wrong, which would leave you just as unprotected as if you had done nothing at all. But, if you’re up for the task and have the skillset required (seriously, be honest with yourself on this one, you or your client’s product is at stake here), the following Cisco reading material will get you moving in the right direction… if you really know what you’re doing:

Cisco’s Guide to Defending Against DDoS Attacks (A novella’s worth of information at 9,067 words, but absolutely solid information)

Discuss Options with Your Hosting Service

Of the many web hosts online offering bottom dollar deals to get your website up and running , a vast majority of them don’t have the infrastructure set up to properly deflect a DDoS attack. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your cost-effective host, whichever it may be, doesn’t have protection, but that doesn’t mean that they do, either.

Simply put, you should be contacting your preferred host(s) directly to determine precisely what they have in place to protect your site/sites from malicious attackers. Additionally, you absolutely need to know what their policy is on how to deal with sites that are suffering attacks that break through or overwhelm their servers. The punishment of a week or two of downtime from your host can be more damaging than the original attack itself since it’s more likely that your account will be blacklisted or suspended rather than the company taking full responsibility. Your best bet for protection via a web host is going with a premium provider like WP Engine who pride themselves on running very secure and well managed hosting environments.

The most important thing you should keep in mind is that, for relatively little time invested, you can set a site up to be guarded against incredibly expensive attacks. There’s no reason to find yourself in a situation where you’re looking for protection after a DDoS is launched. The risk for loss of traffic and in some cases, sales, is much too great.

The post How to Protect Your Blog From an Advanced DDoS Attack appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

Is Your Password Really Protecting You?

Editor’s note: This post was written by Danny, a blogger for Instant Checkmate, one of the world’s largest people search engines. He is passionate about writing and is currently a student at the University of San Diego studying English and Business Administration. Find him on Twitter or  Google +.

Take a second to think about what your password is protecting. If someone knows that simple word they can hack your email, your social media accounts, your blog, your bank account, and much more. Your password protects your conversations, your money, your secrets, and who knows what else!

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Do you think your website is too small, or your account doesn’t have enough information to be worthwhile for hackers? Many think this way, and that is exactly when one falls victim to hackers. Even simple Spotify accounts fell victim to hackers recently, putting large amounts of payment information at risk.

Cybercrime is a growing threat. Over 30,0000 websites are hacked every day, leading to an astonishing 378 MILLION victims a year.

There are a number of simple, yet crucial, steps that can be taken to protect your information, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Your password is the gate to all of your information. If it is weak, your site and your private information will fall victim to a hacker. If it is strong, you are putting yourself in a good position to fend off these cyber criminals.

Check out this infographic from Instant Checkmate, and learn the best ways to protect your information from hackers!

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The post Is Your Password Really Protecting You? appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

4 Things Online Publishers Need to Know to Avoid Legal Trouble

Online publishing has made it so easy for anyone to express his thoughts and opinions online, as well as share experiences and expertise. With online publishing being relatively new, some people who are only starting in the niche may not be aware that there are laws that do apply online.

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Print publications have traditionally been regulated by the government, but depending on where you are based, online publishers may get into legal trouble on various counts. Lawyer Daniel Perlman advises that online publishers should know the specific laws governing online publications in your particular area, but in general, here are things you need to know to avoid legal trouble.

Copyright legal issues

Copyright laws have been set in place to protect material created by entities. This includes written work, images, video, and audio. Plagiarism falls under copyright laws in that if you use another person’s blog post, for example, and claim it as your own, you are held liable.

There are different copyright licenses, ranging from you having to ask permission from the owner before you can use his material to using material without permission as long as you link to the source.

Before you use any images, videos, etc., make sure you know their copyright license.

Protip: Always go for Creative Commons license or royalty-free license.

Also read: The 3 Most Common Copyright Mistakes Bloggers Make

Trademark legal issues

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Isn’t trademark the same as copyright? Nope!

Trademarks are the realm of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which protects brands, names, and logos from being used by unauthorized entities. Once you have registered your trademark, you can sue others who use it. The reverse applies. If you use someone’s trademarked name/logo/etc., then you will be held liable.

The important thing to remember about trademarks to avoid legal trouble is that you should not use trademarked brand names or logos to mislead readers into thinking you are affiliated with that particular brand. Otherwise, if you’re just using the brand as part of your opinion piece, for example, that should be okay.

Privacy legal issues

Privacy is one of the most controversial issues these days, and as an online publisher, you have the legal obligation to protect your readers’ privacy. One of the first things you should do is write up a privacy policy which will let your readers know exactly how you deal with their data.

Basically, if you collect any data – email addresses for newsletters, for example – make sure that you have a policy set in place that will protect that and that you let your readers know.

Tortious interference issues

Tortious interference sounds so legally scary, doesn’t it? It is defined as:

encouraging a breach, infringing on another’s agreement, interfering with contract, interfering with contractual commitments, interfering with contractual obligation, interfering with contractual rights, intermeddling, intermeddling with business activities, obstruction, work against anothers contractual relationship, wrongful interference with business relationships, wrongful interference with contractual relationships

In short, tortious interference means that, because of your blog post, you hamper the ability of another party to do business, or if you encourage someone to break a contract.

This can easily happen when you’ve been ripped off by a seller online, for example, and you write about it. If your post is a call to arms to your readers to boycott the seller, the seller might have a legal case against you.

What you can do to avoid falling into this trap: word your post very carefully so as to avoid coming across as actively inciting readers not to patronize an establishment.

For example, instead of saying “Don’t ever buy from this deals site because they sell fake products!”, say, “I wish I hadn’t bought from this deals site because it seems that the product I receive is not genuine.”

Knowing the above can save you from legal trouble in the future, so make sure that you take them in consideration as you write your next post.

The post 4 Things Online Publishers Need to Know to Avoid Legal Trouble appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

Life in the Cloud: How a Content Delivery Network Can Make a Big Difference

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For those of us playing buzzword bingo at home, the word cloud might as well be the free space in the middle. Everything seems to be “in the cloud” today, but what does that mean exactly?

Cloud-based services might be the buzzworthy term of the year, but that doesn’t subtract from how useful and important they are. For example, take a cloud-based content delivery network (CDN). These amazing services help to serve content from a wide range of sites to people all around the world at breakneck speeds.

So what is a Content Delivery Network?

In its simplest form, a CDN is a service that uses multiple servers in a variety of geographical locations around the nation or world to improve the speed and quality of streaming content. In other words, they are servers that make it so that everyone gets the same speed and quality of download.

Files are stored on servers that are spread out over a given area so when a user connects to the site, he or she receives their content from the closest server. The result of this can be speeds that are significantly improved in regard to load time.

CDN

What Does Speed Mean for Your Site?

Speed is very important when it comes to a webpage. First, users will only wait so long for a page to load before giving up and moving on to the next site. A wait time of just 400 milliseconds can mean the difference between someone staying on your site or going back to the search results and looking for something else. A page load time of 10 seconds sees a nearly 40% page abandonment, no matter what the content on the page is.

This means that all that awesome content you have on your site to attract readers and up your page views can ultimately drag your load times down and cause people to go running from your site. Many sites host their images and other media files on the same server as the site itself, which, over time as traffic increases, can slow load times to a standstill and kill off possible visits and business.

The second way speed is important for your site is Google. Most web search traffic comes from this search giant, and Google only likes to show the most relevant results possible. This means that part of Google’s search algorithm includes site speed. The faster your site is, the better it will show up in search results.

Speed is one of the most important aspects of running a website, and a CDN works to help you with that exact issue, along with a few others you didn’t even know you needed.

How to Determine When it’s Time to Use a CDN for your WordPress Blog

Different Options in CDNs

An example of a content delivery network aimed at website owners and operators is KeyCDN. KeyCDN uses cloud-based servers to position content around the world to make it faster and more accessible to a wider audience, ultimately helping your content get seen by more people.

As quoted from KeyCDN’s site:

KeyCDN is a powerful and easy to use Content Delivery Network (CDN) made to satisfy the needs of a website owner. A Content Delivery Network (or Content Distribution Network) is a system of strategically positioned servers around the globe. These servers maintain and accelerate your content. The main goals of a CDN are about speed, scalability and high-availability. A request from a user will always be routed to the nearest point of presence (POP).”

In short, they make it so your content is more reliable and faster to load and download.

Is a CDN Right For You?

If your site has steady traffic and a growing following, or if you host a large number of media files, then a CDN is definitely right for you. Smaller blogs and personal sites may be fine with slower loading content and download links that can go down with the site, but bigger sites with products that are sold as downloads need a CDN to not only give them the speed they need, but to give security and better uptime for download links and media files that are accessed outside of the main site itself.

As well as speed and security, you get the ability to easily move your site from one service to another, and to grow the storage and location of your media without altering your website hosting itself.

Basically, if you’re reading this, a CDN is probably a good fit for you and your site. If you’re interested in learning more, checkout industry leaders like KeyCDN for more information on what content delivery networks are all about.

8 Ways to Make Your Website Faster

The post Life in the Cloud: How a Content Delivery Network Can Make a Big Difference appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

How to Write a Post That Goes Viral

Do you want your blog content to go viral? Sure you do. Accumulating more readers, views, and shares is the ultimate goal of a blogger, after all. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that your content will spread – on a massive scale or just in general – but there are steps you can take to boost your odds.

First of all, if you’re trying to reach lots of eyeballs through spammy or dubious methods, stop. As a blogger, you need to be dedicated to creating booming content, stuff that your particular audience will love and be inspired to share. Yes, slapdash content can work to gather initial views, but they do no favors for overall shareability.

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Headlines

Clickbait and a decent headline are not one in the same. In fact, giving your well-written articles catchy yet appropriate headlines is of the utmost importance when trying to spread interest. The headline is the first thing people see, and it needs to entice them to actually read further. Here are some qualities of a winning title:

  • Specific – hook an audience by telling them what to expect in the content of your article. Don’t be vague.
  • Informative – tell the audience what they can take away from reading your post.
  • Controversial – pique interest by tapping into controversy in your title. Get peoples’ hearts involved.
  • Unique – give your audience something they’ve never seen before.

Follow these molds in order to craft an intriguing lock-you-in headline. Then, once you’ve written one, send it through an editing process – get others to look it over and provide input, or even test it out on Twitter – to make it the best it can be. A good headline goes a long way, so you want it to be perfect.

Audience Familiarity

You need to know your audience. It’s the audience that needs to be inspired to share the article, so knowing what they like is pretty important. Get as specific as possible when targeting your audience, and do research or look at popularity trends to find out what they want. Do they want to learn more about ADHD in children? Write up an informative piece about it, or even share a video on the topic. Do they want to save money in order to pay off college loan debt? They’ll probably appreciate a tell-all piece about how to get the most out of selling off your old electronics. It’s all about understanding what inspires and motivates your audience.

Not only should you discover what content they want to read, but you should also know what formatting works best and what other aspects appeal to them. Do they like pictures? Lists? First person? Formal tone? Whatever they like, be prepared to deliver.

Overall Topic

Once you know what your audience wants, you need to write compelling, interesting and/or inspiring content that they’ll want to share. Neetzan Zimmerman, one of Gawker’s most successful writers, says, “Stories that evoke very primal emotions seem to work best.” Some of the best angles to stir up feelings in readers include:

  • Inspirational – posts that encourage readers to get up and take an action, or those that speak of the beauties of life can hold peak potential for sharing.
  • Controversial – posts presenting arguments, debates or a firm stance in a controversial topic can trigger a sharing response.
  • Tragic – publications regarding sadness or suffering draw in readers’ hearts, enticing them to share and discuss with others.

Create these angles for your posts and you’ll move more people to share them. The more shares, the more views, and thus more people to share your stuff. Indeed, the key to getting your posts to go viral lies in the reader’s heart.

If there is no way to spin your post into a heartthrob, aim to make it an ageless piece. Topics like weight loss, travel and food will be around forever. Publications that can resonate with people over time have a potential to pick up steam even months after they’re originally released. Stories that are trending, on the other hand, only have a small window of time in which they are of interest. They definitely can go viral, but the chances of them doing so are lower.

Peak Posting Time

You can now create a winning post, but there are still key details you’ll need to know. If you really want your stuff to go viral, you’ll aim to publish during peak post-screening hours. The best time to post is around noon EST, because people on the east coast are lunching, while people on the west coast are just getting to the office but stalling before jumping into actual work duties. Don’t post while people are rushing to work or are in bed. No one will read it.

Now, as stated, there is no guarantee that a certain post will go viral. There is some aspect of luck involved, and sometimes even the best posts won’t make the circulation. Regardless, adding these little bits to your posts will certainly up the chances of your content reaching more readers.

The post How to Write a Post That Goes Viral appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

Top 8 Personal Finance Blogs You Should be Reading

personal-financeLet’s face it: Personal finance isn’t necessarily the buzziest or most popular industry on the web. While some industries have an easy time creating viral videos, cool infographics, and other creative pieces of content, personal finance has a subject matter that is a little bit less exciting. Still, even so-called “boring” industries have reasons to start a blog. For starters, a blog is a great way to improve your SEO by helping you get indexed more often, thus showing up on a search engine results page (SERP) more frequently.

Fortunately for us, some personal finance companies have managed to create a blog with interesting and engaging content. If you’ve been searching for a blog to learn more about personal finance but can’t find anything quality, check out some of these options below.

8 of the Best Personal Finance Blogs on the Web

The Popular Options

  1. Saving Advice

This is a great blog because it offers more than just your typical articles. They offer forum discussions, a ”Saving Money” daily tip, and a featured tool that you may want to use. They also have member blogs where you can publish your own articles and see the type of feedback and comments you get, which helps keep the blog interactive. Overall, it’s one of the best.

  1. Wise Bread

This is by far the most popular personal finance blog out there today. Although personal finance is just one small section of what the website has to offer, it has some of the more detailed and well-written articles on its blog compared to others. They update their content frequently and keep up with the latest trends, so you never have to worry about reading something outdated or incorrect. Between interviews and video, Wise Bread knows how blogging works.

  1. Money Crashers

This is another blog that publishes content very frequently and has an excellent portfolio under its belt. They let you know what content is popular each week and offer recommendations of what to read in case you’re visiting just for fun and need somewhere to start. They do cover a wide range of topics, so it’s crucial that you use their tabs listed at the top of the website to find the subjects you want (otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed here!).

  1. Money Ning

This blog has been one of the more popular blogs for several years, but it’s much simpler than the others discussed above. You visit the blog and you scroll down to see each piece of content. In other words, it is formatted much like a traditional blog as opposed to a newspaper or magazine website. There is great content here with great readership so there are always lots of comments to engage in. If you’re just looking for something interesting to read (as opposed to researching something specific), this is a good option for you.

  1. Mint Life

Mint Life is actually the blog of popular company and tool Mint.com. Mint.com is a tool and app that helps you manage your money and will do all of the organizing and categorizing for you if you have several accounts, so it’s safe to say they know their stuff. Although the blog might not be the main focus of this company, it’s constantly up to date and offers great pieces. It’s set up like a blog as opposed to a magazine style layout, so it’s easy to read and browse through quickly.

The Up-and-Coming Options

  1. Banking Sense

This is a much newer blog on the scene, but it is already making a name for itself with an array of great content and creative topics. The blog specifically mentions in its mission statement that it understands the wide spectrum of where people may be when it comes to understanding personal finance, so they try to have content for everyone. With categories broken up nicely, it’s easy to get around this blog and find what you want for any topic from bank accounts to insurance to investments.

  1. Daily Finance

This blog hasn’t gained much traction in the personal finance world yet, but I anticipate it will in the coming years because of its modern design and strategy toward blogging. This is a blog that actually creates great videos, which is something rare for a personal finance blog, and it keeps you up on the markets right there on the homepage. Daily Finance even pulls articles from around the web to offer the best possible information, so I see this one going far.

  1. Good Financial Cents

Jeff Rose, certified financial planner, the CEO of his own wealth management firm, and author, primarily runs this blog and likes to give his own opinions with his own personality. He gives real-world advice and makes you feel like he’s been there and he’s talking right with you, so it’s more of a personalize blog than many of the others. He also has a podcast to help connect with those on the go, so it seems that this blog will only grow in popularity. What this blog is lacking is several different perspectives being written on the blog, but that may come in the future. For now, he’s giving great advice.

Do you know of any other great personal finance blogs? What makes them so great? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: bloggingpro.com

The post Top 8 Personal Finance Blogs You Should be Reading appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

Content Topics and Ideas For Your Blog

There comes a time when it seems that you are out of ideas for your blog. Maybe you feel there isn’t anything going on in the world that you haven’t already covered, or you have run out of different ways to address the same content. This can be especially true if you are developing a mini niche site with a specific focus.

Content Ideas

Or maybe you’re thinking of starting a blog but aren’t sure if you have enough content ideas to build a full-fledged website out of your existing knowledge. Instead of wasting your time using a free blogging site such as WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger to test the sustainability of managing a blog, you should do some keyword research, develop some general content themes, and plan ahead. This will save you the trouble of converting to a self-hosted site in the future.

Regardless of your situation, if you want to keep your blog fresh and constantly attracting new readership, you must tap into your creative side. The following content ideas may give you some inspiration for unique blog posts. Please note that the monthly search volume is specific to Google.

Money

Finances are always on everyone’s mind. Whether you write about making money, saving money, or ways to spend your money, you are guaranteed to bring in some traffic to your blog. Anything can be turned into an idea that has to do with money. This is a chance to be creative and try to come up with something that will fit right in with the tone of your blog.

  • Example Keyword: [How To Save Money]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 40,500
  • Competition: Low

Health

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Fitness and well-being are other topics that people constantly want more information about. If you know of a really effective workout regimen or diet, share it on your blog. People are often preoccupied with learning about new weight loss tricks, and you could help them figure out what works and what doesn’t. Do you have an easy home remedy for pimples, or a delicious low-carb recipe? Post about it in your next entry.

  • Example Keyword: [Home Remedies For Constipation]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 14,800
  • Competition: Low

Career or Education Advice

Employment or career/education advice is definitely a topic on which everyone can find common ground. The economy is rough and it’s not easy to find a job right now. If you are a successful employee or employer, why don’t you share your tips and help others land that perfect gig? There are all sorts of things on which you can give advice, including choosing a college or university, how to network, how to dress for an interview, navigating office politics, and negotiating a raise. Offering unique insights and knowledge, then marketing your post to other bloggers is a good way to increase traffic.

  • Example Keyword: [How To Change Careers]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 1,300
  • Competition: Low

Writing

Everyone needs to write, but not everyone can do it well. In some cases, your very readers are also blog owners struggling with their own writing skills and blog management. If you have some good ideas on how to become a better, more productive writer, other bloggers are going to appreciate your posts.

Good writers are driven to read about writing, not only so that they can relate to other writers, but also pick up some tips and tricks on refining their skills. If you tend to spend a lot of time proofreading other people’s work, perhaps there’s a niche there you need to tap into. Take advantage of your skills and share them with others. Maybe they’ll hire you as a freelance writer or editor for their blog.

In other cases, maybe your readers are potential bloggers considering starting a blog. Discuss the pros and cons of starting a blog, running an online business and resources that may help new bloggers. Your positive experiences managing a blog coupled with the mention of how easy it is to start one can encourage new bloggers to give it a shot.

  • Example Keyword: [How To Write A Book]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 27,100
  • Competition: High

Pets

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You ever notice how many views and social shares pictures or videos of cats get? It’s ridiculous. Animals are an appealing subject on the Internet, and people love to read cute stories about pets. Heartwarming stories about dogs, videos of funny cat antics and pictures of cute farm animals will increase the traffic of any site.

Record your pets interacting with each other or go to the zoo and snap some shots of elephants playing. You could also ask your readers to showcase photos of their own pets.

  • Example Keyword: [Cute Cat Pictures]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 6,600
  • Competition: Low

Psychology

Psychology is a growing interest in America. After multiple public shootings, school bullying, and an increase in violent crimes, mental health is a higher priority than ever. People want to read about everything from “how to stay positive” and “how to motivate yourself” to the best available MAO inhibitors to treat depression. As the number of readers diagnosed with anxiety and depression rise, so will the need to provide well-documented research for those in need.

  • Example Keyword: [How To Be Happy]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 33,100
  • Competition: Low

Breaking News

Unfortunately, we will always have crime, so whether you have tips to avoid identity theft or a unique take on the rise of school shootings, people are going to flock to your blog to read them. People would also be interested in reading subjective takes on natural disasters. Have you lost a home in a hurricane? Witnessed a building being leveled in an earthquake? Or maybe you live in a town that was ravished by a tornado? First-hand news stories are always popular, so share yours and it just might go viral.

  • Example Keyword: [Crime Rates By City]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 2,900
  • Competition: Low

Fashion

Clothing and fashion is an ever-changing industry, which means you will never run out of things to write about. Have you always been seen as a leader in fashion? Why not share your tips with the world? Know what types of clothing suit a certain body type? Are you familiar with chic styles? Write about it! Review the best comfortable dress shoes, or the least expensive accessories. This is an endless topic, so have fun exploring!

  • Example Keyword: [Spring 2014 Fashion Trends]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 8,100
  • Competition: Low

Lifestyle Changes

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Age is a very flexible topic. Anything can be discussed in reference to age, from ways to slow down the aging process to how to manage its effects on the brain. Have some good skin care tips or methods to improve your memory as you get older? Your readers probably want to learn about your personal experiences because they may be feeling the same effects.

  • Example Keyword: [Best Places To Retire]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 14,800
  • Competition: Medium

Holiday

Holiday blog posts are always popular. The good thing about using a holiday topic is that there is always an upcoming holiday right around the corner. From New Year’s resolutions to Christmas cookies, holiday posts are very trendy. Share gift-wrapping styles, delicious recipes and family traditions.

  • Example Keyword: [Best Black Friday Sales]
  • Average Monthly Searches in the US: 1,000
  • Competition: Low

How To Get Your Blog Posts Read

If you do invest a significant amount of time researching and writing your content, it is important that you do everything you can to get it read. That not only means promoting your blog and sharing your content on social networks, but making sure that when visitors do come to check out your work, your page design is optimized to encourage engagement.

Here are a few basic, but powerful tips anyone can implement easily to increase the number of people who actually read your blog.

  • Utilize headings (H2 and H3 tags, bolding), bullet points and lists to make your content easy to review and absorb.
  • Write in short sentences and paragraphs with simple words
  • Keep your posts between 800 and 1,500 words long, therefore allowing yourself enough space to adequately discuss a subject, but not so long that it discourages your readers
  • Use 2 or 3 images per page, preferably evenly spread out with the first one at the start of the article to grab the reader’s attention
  • Use “you” and “I” when writing to start a conversation and avoid boring or lecturing your readers
  • If you allow comments on your blog, ask a question at the end of your post to boost dialogue amongst community members
  • Pick an easy to read font, increase your font size, and maintain plenty of white space

What types of posts have resulted in the most traffic, social shares, or community interaction for your blog? And do you have any basic content layout and formatting suggestions you’d like to share?

The post Content Topics and Ideas For Your Blog appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

How to Use Time Tracking to Boost Online Marketing Success

Launching and running a successful online business and publishing career depends greatly on your ability to continuously acquire and please clients and securing a healthy cash flow. Satisfied clients equal greater potential for profits and success. However, getting the client through the door, closing the sales and acquiring profitable traffic are only small pieces of the puzzle. Seeing projects through to completion and delivering on the clients expectations are key.

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Unfortunately, many freelancers and businesses suffer and lack the dedication and organizational skills to follow through; leading to many frustrated and disappointed clients. Many failed projects are not necessarily from lack of skill on part of the web developer, writer or designer but due to poor time and project management skills.

Time tracking is a powerful way to gain control of your clients’ projects and can mean a world of difference as you work to standout. Also, as technology advances and we witness the rise of products like Evernote and Coggle and other design and productivity tools, we gain a better ability to produce stronger results.

Here are some powerful reasons why time tracking is one of the most important practices you can adopt in your practice.

Prevent Creative Fatigue & Burnout

Unfortunately, we’re humans and we will not always possess the energy and drive to work 24/7 passionately with enthusiasm and vigor. It’s simply not possible. There will be down time as we attempt to bang away at the keyboard to get in as much as possible.

This leads to burnout and it will do you more harm than good working excessively at any task without allotting time for breaks and leisure. Using time-tracking as a method of limiting the hours spent on creative work before taking a break or end the day will prevent your brain from crashing and burning. This keeps your mind fresh and in a healthy state for new ideas when you return.

Take note from some of history’s creative geniuses like Ludwig van Beethoven, who although worked very hard at their art, set limits on work and spent time on leisure and mental recovery. Time tracking simply helps you to know when to stop and accounts for the work completed, offering the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Time Tracking Keeps You Focused & Disciplined

There’s something special about taking a seat and hitting start on a timer as you begin your tasks. It creates a sense of urgency and purpose and you’re less likely to be distracted by the outside world and temptations to watch cat videos on YouTube.

A personal timer running in the background while you work makes you more aware of your time ticking away and accountable for it. It turns the working day into a challenge that feels like you’re disarming a time bomb set to destroy your home town. Without the anxiety and potential loss of life of course.

Tracking your work time is like having mini-deadlines, only, you don’t get fired for missing them. You simply brush yourself off and refocus. The important thing here is that you know exactly for what you’re accountable.

Develop a Killer Rhythm

For web developers and designers, developing work rhythms prove very beneficial, especially for repetitive and native tasks. Getting in the zone and working with the clock heightens your senses, blocks out the noise and keeps you on track.

As you log your time, you’re indirectly logging your workflow, revealing deeper insight into your creative process. This enables you to better identify and create work structures and models. Armed with this experience and knowledge, you discover the best practices and approach to client projects.

Time tracking is the best tactic for honing your skills and using your time efficiently as a designer, developer or business person. It’s like having a boss to keep you in check without the stresses that comes with a real live boss.

If you haven’t started yet or are doing it manually, here are 4 free time tracking apps that you can give a try and discover your unique work model:

1. Toggl – Create cool charts and discover the best use of your work time,

2. RescueTime – Find your ideal work-life balance.

3. Timesheet – Cool Android work time tracking app

4. Timely – Beautiful & powerful time and cost tracker

The post How to Use Time Tracking to Boost Online Marketing Success appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

How to Use Twitter for Prospecting

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Sophie Turton, a writer, editor and content strategist – fascinated by digital communication. You can also check out her web site: www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk.

Twitter has over 255 million active users a month – it is a massive database, buzzing with real-time information about individuals and communities around the world. Twitter is therefore a valuable source of information for online sales and digital content teams, as well as professional bloggers, who can benefit greatly from easy, personalised communication with prospects, as well as readers and consumers.

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A Social Database

Twitter is an interconnected game of follow the leader – if you are savvy, you can use it to start far-reaching conversations, as well as plug into those conversations relevant to your publication or brand.

We hear often of the importance of putting information out there on social media and using these platforms to gain followers and develop a valuable community. Twitter presents an alternative method to target and connect with your audience on a personal level and learn about their habits, interests and concerns. This provides a unique opportunity to understand what information your target audience is looking for, how they interact with content and therefore the most effective way to provide it.

Twitter also offers a great opportunity to jump on the back of social trends. For example, you may notice that Game of Thrones is a (pretty darn massive) current trend that lends itself to a plethora of content ideas – a travel blog may write a piece about destinations that resemble those in the book/tv show, a freelance advice blog may write a ‘five things I learnt from Game of Thrones’ advice piece. Shove #GameofThrones on the end of your tweet, complete with the link and a nifty image, and let the wildlings flood in.

Hashtags Are More Than Just A Trend

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Hashtags allow you to plug into a conversation and get your tweet, and the content attached to it, noticed. Effective use of hashtags could catapult your content further – therefore reaching far more people – than if you rely on your social channels alone.

Look out for any big event or social movement that relates to your blog, use it for inspiration for a post and then wop in the official hashtag. You will quickly see how many more people retweet, favourite and follow, which will hopefully also lead to a higher click-through and potential conversion rate.

Tweetreach is a great way to assess how far your tweet, and others like it, have reached and gives you the opportunity to analyse what hashtags are most effective. As an example, the hashtag #GameofThrones was used in a sample of 50 tweets and reached almost 130,000 Twitter accounts.

Keywords are Vital

Keyword searches are another brilliant way to identify your target audience. For instance, I am a writer targeting the freelance market so my keywords are very specifically focussed on freelancers and contractors. By setting up a keyword search in Hootsuite, I am able to gather every tweet that uses the word ‘contractor’ and ‘freelance’ and can analyse this data to more efficiently and effectively target my intended audience. I also keep an eye out for recurrent themes – is there a tax issue that many freelancers are discussing? What content can I provide to help solve any issue or confusion they might have?

Furthermore, you can monitor any conversations about your brand, industry or area of expertise – even when tweets don’t mention you directly – by setting up a stream in Hootsuite using a keyword search (domain name, hashtag, alternative spelling, industry, type of products you sell or topic of your blog).

Make content the solution

Look for buying or advice signals by searching for keyphrases such as ‘anyone recommend’ or ‘any advice on’ to identify those looking for immediate assistance. Once you’ve spotted an opportunity, jump in armed with a useful blog post that will help solve the problem – you can even use the information gained through Twitter, such as the person’s name, profession, interests, etc, to help you more effectively tailor your content and response.

You can then use Twitter to monitor whether the problem persists and make contact again with further information, therefore ensuring a return to the blog and adding a personal touch that could really make you stand out against your blogging competition.

And into the sales funnel

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Making content the solution is a great way of engaging prospects through Twitter without immediately putting them off with the hard sell. By putting your customers at the centre of all of your content, and ensuring everything you retweet is relevant to them, you will build a community that successfully engages with and values your brand.

This doesn’t apply to all bloggers, many of whom rely on web traffic for advertisements but do not actually sell anything. However, for companies that manage a corporate blog, the most important part of the process is shimmying the prospect further down the sales process and proving the worth of your blog through increased conversions.

A story in 140 characters

Twitter is a powerful tool – not only does it give you hands-on, immediate access to your audience and target audience, it also provides a plethora of real-time information about people around the world. It can initially feel daunting and some have previously been put off using it for little more than a sharing device. However, with a little bit of savvy and some serious gumption, you will see a significant increase in conversion rates, as well as the monthly visits to your site.

The post How to Use Twitter for Prospecting appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News

How to Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Engine for Networking & Marketing

Twitter cannot be ignored, point blank. If you and your business have written it off as a site simply for teenagers or idle youngsters to rant, make noise and post about every meal they’re having, you’re dead wrong. Any website that has 645 million active users with 58 million public conversations per day is not something you should be ignoring in your marketing strategy; and if you have an account but are not using it, I’m going to convince you to start doing otherwise.

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Twitter is a stage for building powerful credibility for your brand as its an open platform allowing the powerful players to get their messages out there; and when I say powerful I don’t mean the companies that can spend the most on advertising but the brands willing to connect with a global audience in unique and genuine ways. Brands can now directly reach out to and connect with people directly, in real-time and get real responses. Compare that to television or website banner ads and you’ll get the picture. Traditional advertising methods are somewhat like shooting with your eyes closed and hoping to hit something. Even banner ad click rates are at an unattractive all time low dropping from as high as 80% in the 90′s to now under 0.2%. So you definitely need a new strategy and Twitter is a good starting point in social media whether you are a car salesman, lawyer or IT solutions provider.

The most powerful feature I adore about Twitter is its advanced search feature which basically allows you to target any conversation relating to keywords your business covers. So if you want to find someone talking about bicycle repairs, you can and will have the opportunity to directly start a conversation with that person, for free!

Let’s Get Into Twitter’s Advanced Search

The whole point of marketing and advertising is getting your message to the right eyes and people, so targeting has always been a key factor in the strategy. Essentially, with Twitter’s advanced search feature, you can search for “I have a headache” and the results will show everyone who has recently said that phrase within the entire Twitterverse, within the last minute. I’m sure you can see how valuable that is for painkiller suppliers for example.

How Twitter advanced search works:

1. Go to https://search.twitter.com

2. Click Advanced Search. Then you’ll see a page looking like below:

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Here you’ll find the options to search and match exact phrases, target languages, specific people in certain locations and even include emotional responses related to their tweets whether its positive or negative (Shown at the bottom with emoticons). This is targeting in its most potent form and your marketing team needs to be leveraging this powerful tool.

Let’s try searching for something, let’s say “where can I find”, matching the exact phrase. Instantly we’re provided with results with the most recent people asking a question on where they can find something highlighted bold. Match this will your product, service or target market keywords and you’ll see the power. Here you can directly respond to anyone.

Forget About Spamming Anyone

So you’re excited to start trying out this new feature and can’t wait to get the word out and promoting yourself, take it easy. There is one more thing you need to take note of and that’s never spamming or overwhelming this newly found audience with your message.

With great power comes great responsibility, yeah I know that’s a bit cliché, but its true. This isn’t the time to start selling, selling, selling but its about engaging in a genuine way and showing real interest in the lives with whom you connect. You can approach a complete stranger and start selling them something, that’s true, but the most valuable transactions and business relationships are gained upon the pinnacles of trust and authenticity. Genuinely seek out people in your niche and target market and seek to build relationships without being hungry for the sale. Your audience cannot be viewed as prey and the wolves in the social media world are quickly identified, called out and ignored. Be authentic and be genuine as you execute your marketing campaign.

Now go forth and engage! Start experimenting with Twitter search and you’ll see how you can reap the rewards. Remember that the stronger the relationship and trust there is in you and your brand the more likely people with refer you, spend money with you and be loyal.

The post How to Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Engine for Networking & Marketing appeared first on The Blog Herald.

Categories: Blogging News