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Create a Blog – Researching Your Keyword and Niche

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Before we even get started and think about creating our blog and buying a domain and web hosting, it’s more important that we take some time to decide what we are going to be blogging about.

You can blog about virtually anything, but without the proper research your blog may be at a dead end before it ever starts.

Here are a few things you will need to think about when choosing your next blogging niche.

  • What is the purpose of my blog? (hobby / profit)
  • How competitive is the niche I’m looking at?
  • What is the long term value and monetization plan?
  • Will there be enough content for me to write about?
  • How can you build links and buzz for your site?

All of these questions are important, but the overall monetization down the road and the immediate competition are what should be your main concerns right now.

I spent a few days thinking about the niche I was going to use for this create a blog case study and I actually went through a bunch of different ideas. Several times I thought I had come across an interesting niche, but I came to the conclusion on a few of them that I might not have as many monetization methods or content ideas to build them out down the road.

Coming up with your basic topic is one of the hardest parts in itself. If you want to get some ideas on what people are search for (hot trends) right now, you can visit Google Trends or now.MSN.com to get a few ideas.

Originally I was looking at choosing a niche in the “education” and “work place” area. For ideas I was browsing through a bunch of the articles on Money.com that focused on the Gen Y audience and their college degrees and what are the most sought after jobs when coming out of school. Their site has some great “Top Lists” for stuff like that. However after using Long Tail Pro (click here for full review), I was seeing some highly competitive niches that were looking good in the average local search and average cpc department, but were monsters in the average Keyword Competition area.

Long Tail Platinum - Gen Y Niches

You can see in the screen shot above that many of the keywords were in the 50-60 range. This is very competitive keyword, and while you could break the keywords down even further, I continued to see much of the same competition levels.

So I continued to think about new niches and ideas I could create a blog on. Again, I wanted to pick something completely out of my realm that wasn’t “make money online” or “blogging” related. Eventually I saw an ad somewhere for solar power and I figured I’d throw that word into Long Tail Platinum and see the results.

Not too bad… the search volume is decent and the average cpc is much lower than the education niche, but it seems like a good keyword and niche to start a site with.

Long Tail Platinum - Find a Niche

For a couple days I thought about the “solar” niche and thought it was a good concept, but after writing down some pros/cons about the topic, I found I really wasn’t interested in the topic at all. If you can go after the keyword from the right angles you can definitely make good money and rank in the search results. There is a ton of money flowing in the solar space right now, which was one of my main reasons for looking into this niche. Your main competition would be local “solar installation” type of companies, but you could do fairly well if you were to build up a solid resource site around the topic.

With all of that said, I still had the education and jobs niche markets in the back of my mind and was continually opening up Long Tail Pro to try and find some new ideas.

Once again I was looking through news articles on Google about college students and jobs they are looking for when coming out of college. One of them was for “campus IT tech”, which was a bit competitive, but eventually helped me find “tech support jobs”.

You can see the screenshot below from running a report on “tech support jobs”. The average keyword competition is a 32 and the local searches come in around 33,100. While “tech support jobs” isn’t the main keyword I was going to focus on, I thought it would be best to build a new site around the topic as a whole and categorize the site into smaller long tail keywords.

Long Tail Pro Tech Jobs

It wasn’t easy to pick a niche to jump into, especially since I’m making this a public blog case study for people to follow me step through step on the process. The last thing I want to do is pick a niche and then say “oh well, that didn’t work”… hence why it can take a lot of time and research to finally pick a solid niche and keyword focus.

Now that I have chosen my niche and keywords, it’s important to make sure there is actual life to this niche and that it’s worth the time and effort we are going to put into it.

Why “tech support jobs” as a niche?

Tech Support Jobs Anyone?There are plenty of reasons why I am happy to get into the tech support jobs niche with this new web site. Just a few of the reasons are that the employment rate is horrible right now and people are going to be looking for information on how to get a job or work from home. There is currently a decent amount of search results for “tech support” terms related to working from home.

Another reason I like this niche is because it’s both job and education related. There is always going to be big money in these niches because businesses spend money to hire new employees and colleges spend money to advertise to people who are interested in getting higher education or a new job.

Lastly, there is a lot we can talk about in the tech support niche. Whether it’s how to become a tech support person or how to report complaints against tech support from other companies.

What’s the plan for this tech support jobs niche site?

The best way to answer this question is to actually think in terms of someone who is searching for “tech support jobs” related information online. Obviously they are looking for information on the topic and how they can become a support person or learn more about the profession… so that will be the main focus of the site.

The goal is to rank this blog for several long tail keywords (and eventually some generic keywords) in the search engines by creating quality content and information that people are looking for and find value in. The last thing we want is to put all of this effort into a site to only have it be another trashy “thin” content site. Remember, we want to make an AUTHORITY resource site, which means you are providing value.

Monetization and ideas down the road?

Tech Job SearchThis was definitely something that I had to think about when choosing the “tech support jobs” niche. Through Long Tail Pro we could see that “tech support jobs” related keywords are costing in the several dollar range per click, which means it could make some good money through Google Adsense, but we also don’t want to build a business that is reliant on only one revenue source.

Fortunately there are plenty of other ways to make money with a jobs related site, which includes affiliate marketing (lead gen), how to guides (product sales) and there will definitely be a potential to sell the site once it’s fully established. In addition to driving leads through other sources, the potential is also there to build out our own mailing lists and products relating to the niche.

Monetization is our last focus right now, as we will need to create our site, build content, generate backlinks and buzz and monitor the overall growth and rankings for the site.

If you are going to be selecting a niche for a new blog, make sure you consider all of the questions above and if they fall in your favor. It’s way to easy to jump into a new project and get too excited, buy a domain and setup a blog then lose interest in a few days. The last thing you want to do is spread yourself too thin with garbage projects or keywords/niches that have way too much competition or little monetization/return down the road.

Next step… now the fun starts and we will soon be setting up the blog and first pages of content.

*** Join in on the create a blog case study –> Click here to start your blog!

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Local Small Business Optimization Strategies

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Ever since Google made changes to their search algorithm, and introduced Google+, small business are benefitting more. The key change that Google made is their ability to provide search results based on location. This has improved the overall search experience for people because now when they search commands like – “Italian restaurant”, “banks”, and “flower shop”, you’ll find what’s close by. However, for small businesses to feel the positive effects of these changes, it’s important they optimize their websites correctly. It’s important they, add the right keywords and data so search engines pick-up on them when displaying search results.

I decided to do some research, and provide you with the best local optimization tips. This way if you’re a local business, you can start making changes right away. Let’s get started and your feedback will be greatly appreciated.

The Right Keywords

When someone is searching a towing company, and they’re located in Los Angeles, it’s important as a business owner you have those keywords placed within your pages. This will let Google know that you’re a business which offers this type of service, and have a business located within the region. First, how does Google track where the searcher is located?

First, they look specifically at the keywords typed into the search bar, and secondly, where they are typing from because the browser does have its own IP address delegated. Both will ensure the results obtained are as relevant as possible, however, the owner of the business must do their part too.

When optimizing your website, it’s important you have the address in place, and keywords like “Los Angeles” and “Towing” in the URL, on the page, and in the title of the page. The best practice is to choose keywords which relate to your business well so when Google indexes your page, you’ll be able to show up in the search results.

Here is a great resource on how to optimize your pages correctly as a local business.

Google Business Listing

As a small business, it’s very important to create a small business page on Google. Start by submitting your business to Google, and optimizing the description, name, and adding all the other relevant information. Why is this even more important now than before? Simple, it’s because now displays the local business high within the search results when searching. Just look at the example below when I did a search for “Italian restaurants” –

You can see how the nearest restaurants to me showed up first in the results. These are all connected to Google Business only because the owners added them by creating a page. Head over to Google Business, and create a page for free.

Citations

It’s important to add your business to local directories which are great for traffic, but also brand awareness. As Google starts to see your business more within directories, it starts to increase your value slowly increasing your rankings within the SERP’s. This doesn’t have to be hard because you can hire someone to go through adding your business to other directories. For example, head over to Fiverr.com and purchase a gig for $5.00 for 10-15 citations, and that’s all you really need to get started. However, focus on quality sites because these add most of the value quickly.

Select the Right Categories

Have you noticed when adding your business to directories, Google, and other business sites, you’ll always be asked what category your business belongs too? The reason is quite simple, it’s because doing this allows the search engine to understand more about your business. For example, when someone’s searching “Italian food”, they can be searching for food equipment, restaurants, chefs, etc. However, by simply stating what category your business belongs to, it’ll diffuse a lot of confusion…right?

The next time you are adding your site anywhere, it’s important to list the right category so things stay smooth, and clear always.

Final Thoughts

These are my top small business optimization strategies so start following them right away. They are very easy to follow, and the results can be amazing in a very short period. If you simply don’t have the time to do all this yourself, then hire someone who is experienced to get the job done for you. But, ask to see their work, and get a breakdown of their experience so you know the person you hired knows what they are doing.

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When Your Small Business Should Start a Blog

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Blogging is one of the most reliable methods of making a name for yourself as a startup. It is a valuable tool that helps you connect with your target audience, amass followers through a lead capture strategy, and put the brand out there through content promotion; such as social media posts, newsletters, and guest blogging.

It’s not so much a question of ‘if’ your brand should be leveraging the power of content marketing, but more of a question of ‘how’. With so many different options to choose from, it’s not just about creating new content and placing it on your site — it’s also about making sure you are effectively promoting it in the process.

Keep in mind that it’s not really a question of whether you need a blog or not—it’s when you’re going to build a blog for your business’s website. Without a blog, you can’t really prove your expertise in your industry and win the trust of your target audience. According to statistics, 81% of online consumers trust blogs for advice. A blog may also drive purchase intent and helps you unlock a higher conversion rate for your website.

Aside from connecting with your target audience, a blog will also fuel your SEO efforts by giving web crawlers more content to index. The more blog posts you publish, the more exposure your site gets.

How Soon Should You Start a Blog?

Granted, you do need to prepare the foundations of a successful blog first before you begin to produce content. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional designer to set up a beautiful site. A CMS like WordPress can provide you with brilliant themes and useful plugins to put together a fully-functional site; all without writing a single line of code.

Once you have everything set up and customized, make sure to get on with blogging as soon as possible. This 2016, 76% of B2B marketers say they will increase their blog content production this year. However, successful blogging requires a ton of research and planning. On top of writing the actual blog posts, you will also spend a lot of time looking for topic ideas, getting-to-know your target audience, and devising a solid keyword strategy. Here are some of the best tips you need to remember when blogging:

Write for Your Audience

First and foremost, remember that you need to blog for people—not for machines. The reason behind this problem is because some marketers only choose to blog for SEO. However, remember that search engines now prioritize the reading experience of users when it comes to determining the SERP rankings of content. While they still take into account the overall quality of written content, they also consider other factors such as bounce rate, page loading speed, session duration, and other indicators of user engagement level.

A rule of thumb is to develop personas for your target audience. Identify the information they need, understand their problems, learn their content preferences, and provide the necessary courses of action to help them. A content research tool like BuzzSumo will help you learn more about the type of content that’s popular in a specific industry.

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers,” says Brian Clark of Rainmaker Digital.

Invest in Custom Content

When learning the content preferences of your target audience, you are often required to explore other content formats such as infographics, eBooks, explainer videos, and slideshows. According to statistics, 90% of online consumers prefer custom content while 60% feel more “connected” with brands after discovering custom content from their website.

Keep in mind that your brand image is on the line with every custom content you publish. You need the help of professional producers and graphics designers to make killer content for your blog audience. While setting up a blog can be cheap, you might as well consider getting a business loan to fuel your custom content creation efforts.

Lastly, remember that you need to focus on the flow of your content and walk your readers through every step. Doing so will help build relationships with your readers and establish your brand as an authority. Also mention the key takeaways at the beginning or by the end of a blog post to improve retention.

“Content marketing and custom content are customer relationship processes that require unique and well-crafted content. Whichever approach you take, you need to invest either your time or money in content creation,” says Neil Patel of NeilPatel.com.

Be Consistent with an Editorial Statement

A lot of companies overlook the importance of having a clear editorial statement that keeps content development in sync with a brand voice. It helps make your content distinguishable amongst the internet’s vast sea of resources and keep your content team in the same page. This is something you should always keep in mind when creating content for your blog.

To identify your editorial statement, focus on supplementing the three key parts: the target audience, the deliverables, and the main goal. To help you understand this process, below is an example editorial statement for an SEO blog:

SEO blog provides online marketers (target audience) with up-to-date strategies (deliverable) to demystify the process of ranking for search engines (goal).

“Your editorial mission is something you—and everyone on your team—need to internalize. It is the measuring stick by which you evaluate everything you do,” says Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute. Make sure to follow his advice!

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Changing Workplaces Use New Apps to Guide Productivity

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The last decade reveals a significant change in the workplace environment due to new technology and the ability to convince employers that talent can work remotely and that they can allow and even encourage flexibly in the work environment. Now that the new dynamic of work is becoming accepted across more industries and business segments, the work environment is continuing to evolve as more technology is developed to guide productivity and shape collaborative processes.

Working in these new ways has made it possible to get more done and has contributed to better work/life balance, but it has also created new challenges in terms of maintaining employee motivation and connection to the company. However, technology is now working to address those challenges that remote workers face and to help provide a tighter network and sense of belonging to a company, despite where the work is being conducted.

From apps to software platforms, the changing workplace now has more tools that encourage more companies to alter where they expect their talent to work. Here are a few examples:

Asana

Asana provides a way to create and delegate tasks. It provides a way to chat within each task so conversations can take place while working, and attachments can be added or taken from Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. There are calendar features, dashboards, and to-do lists. Asana proves you don’t have to be in the office to take care of any daily tasks.

Confluence

This is another approach to working with anyone on a remote basis, especially in a team-oriented environment. All information is available to everyone on the team, including documents, notes, and plans in a format that can be easily searched. Gliffy integration is another feature that provides for a way to do wireframes quickly.

Taskworld 

Taskworld helps you to manage projects and stay on top of tasks and subtasks. Plus, it has an evaluation feature so you can measure and give feedback on job performance, which is still important regardless of the changing workplace structure.

Join.me

This tool provides an effective way to screen share meetings as well as conduct easy video conferencing. Join.me proves that there really isn’t a need to commute in to the office for a meeting anymore, saving considerable time that can be spent on something much more productive.

Flowdock

While Slack is getting a lot of attention for what it offers in terms of a collaborative tool for remote workers, Flowdock has similar features as well as integrates with a lot of other cool apps you might already be using in your new workplace, such as Jira, GitHub, Basecamp, Asana, Assembla, Trello and many more.

Insightly

In seeking an affordable, yet powerful CRM system that provides a way to organize and track all prospects and contacts as well as features that assist you with project management. It also offers a social CRM, which enables you to locate the social profiles of all your contacts in an efficient way without spending hours trying to sort through them.

Last Pass

Password management is critical for every company but especially those that employ remote workers. Passing around this sensitive information is necessary but can be handled much more effectively with a tool like Last Pass. Each employee has their own vault with the passwords they need to sign in remotely or access any type of cloud-based system the company uses.

Outro

Outro is a referral automation platform that speeds up how you find and identify new clients, employees, and investors. To further enhance your productivity, you can also export your other data and integrate it with all major CRM software.

PlutoTV

While it may not sound that productive to recommend an app that lets you stream live TV, you can take advantage of multitasking by staying updated on the business channels offered in PlutoTV’s line-up that cover markets, industries, regulatory environments and trends like MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg and more.

SystemID

If your company keeps inventory or has a warehouse for its products, SystemID can add greater efficiency and coordination to what often remains focused on manual processes. Instead, the use of a barcode system with integrated inventory management control offers a way to reduce costs and speed all logistical tasks.

Workfrom

One of the biggest discoveries about the changing workplace was the idea that people tend to work better when they regularly change the environment around them. Therefore, working from home makes a person more productive than always being at the office. Now, those working at home are discovering that, over time, the home also gets stale. Workfrom provides a source to locate other places where work can be done in your local area, such as a coffee shop, co-working space, or other tech-friendly spot.

Due

In the push to automate many tasks within a business, Due takes on numerous jobs related to project and time management, invoicing and estimates, and payment processing. This reduces human involvement, driving higher accuracy, speed, and productivity throughout all these critical business processes tied to cash flow.

Multiple Benefits in New Apps

In working with these types of apps, remote workers and their employers will discover further benefits from this changing workplace environment, including additional productivity, enhanced motivation, lower costs and greater revenue. Many studies have been done and are being done at this time which show us that having opportunities and flexibility in ones working hours and place of work is giving an added boost to work productivity. Finding the right tools to make all this work coordinate together is guiding that productivity.

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