How to Use a Mind Mapping App For Insanely Great Content Marketing

mind mapping app for great content

 

I don’t just mean that your message isn’t clear or you don’t have a clear call to action.

I’m talking about a deeper level of clarity.

Does your message as a brand reflect who you say you are as a company?

Not just when you decide to post a picture of engagement with your favorite charity or retweet something that’s profound.

Does every single piece of content you produce in the name of your brand align with who you say you are and what your purpose is?

This coherence of your message and your purpose is what many online thinkers refer to as authenticity. And working without it can be the kiss of death for online marketing. Not because there’s anything special about social media, which there isn’t. It’s just one more channel that’s accessible to the average person with a computer and a connection.

Actually there’s one thing about social media that makes it special. The speed at which your message can be shared and amplified is truly breathtaking. And this means that if there’s a disconnect between your message and your purpose, it won’t take long for your fans to discover it.

I’ve recently discovered the tool of mind mapping and a mind mapping app I can use on the fly. (I like the MindMeister app) Lately, I’ve been working to incorporate it into my content on a more regular basis. My brain has some ADD-tendencies, and the act of focusing sometimes demands that I use some tools to be more effective.

But even if you don’t struggle with thinking tangentially all of the time, I think regular use of mind mapping (an app or otherwise) can seriously elevate the quality of your content by its very nature.

(What is a mind map?  It’s a diagram you create to visually represent information.  Mind mapping tools are sometimes referred to as brainstorming tools, though I think mind mapping takes the usefulness up a notch by including a way to show the connections between ideas)

Sometimes it’s easy to get down in the weeds with our content and forget to step back and make sure that we can still see the proverbial forest. And by this, I mean that we need to make sure that each piece of content fits within the whole of our overarching message.  We need to be crystal clear on our brand’s story so we know if any given piece of content is a harmonious part of that story or if it’s a plot twist in the story that really doesn’t fit.

While mind mapping is often thought of as a tool to help capture and then refine ideas for their logical fit, I think it has even more value. Using the tool of mind mapping and exploring the many interconnections among ideas can be a simple way of evaluating our content against the broader story of our brand.

How to Use Mind Mapping Tools To Focus Your Brand’s Message

1.  Create a mind map template that tells your brand’s story

Include the elements in your brand’s mission, vision, and values. If you have causes that are near and dear to your heart, include these as well. Add lines to connect the pieces that should be connected.  Ideally, if your brand is focused and aligned, there should be a rich web of connections among each of these elements of who you are as a brand.

2.  Each time you produce content, test it against this core mind map.

Are there obvious places of connection? Are there only a few or are there many places where your content connects to your brand’s story? The more points of intersection there are, the more focused and authentic your content will be to your audience.  (And conversely, content with fewer connections might need to be examined for its relevance or appropriateness within your overall content marketing plan.)

When’s the last time you stepped back to evaluate the bigger picture of how your content tells your brand’s story?  I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below!

5 Quick Tips How To Revive A Dying Blog (Hint: I’m Using #5 Right Now)

how to revive your blog with branding

 

It’s time for a mea culpa here.  

Bless me, for I have committed one of the cardinal sins of blogging.  

I’m an inconsistent blogger. 

And what makes that even more embarrassing is that just the other day, I wrote a halfway decent post (I think) about blogging consistency over at Social Solutions Collective.

Ouch.

It’s the classic what not to do for someone using a blog to build a business, I might add.  If you want to earn money consistently, your blog (aka your online storefront) has to be fresh and up to date (aka have new content regularly).  Otherwise, you risk angering That Large Search Engine Which Shall Not Be Named, not to mention that you just don’t look as relevant to the people who manage to stumble upon your website.

It’s not as if I’ve been sitting around eating bon bons.  For starters, I don’t even like bon bons.  But in all seriousness, I’ve found myself busy with client work and the work of raising 4 wonderful small children ages 9 to 1 while their daddy, aka my husband, has been off saving the world courtesy of his work with NASA and the US Air Force Reserve.  I’m not sure if I’d call it that I have any kind of balance; most days it feels like I’m juggling chainsaws.

(I know, for other work from home moms who manage to keep up with blogs, that sounds like an excuse.)

But when I’m immersed in kid learning and not making sure I read or listen to something to keep myself learning, admittedly, it’s really, really hard to pull a meaningful blog post out of nowhere.

What can I say… it’s almost Lent, and I’m feeling all introspective and stuff.

Forgive me.

But I know I’m not the only one who has to figure out how to come back from the blogging dead, so to speak. I know there are other bloggers who have started with the best of intentions, only to become one of the vast majority of blogs that fizzle out due to lack of fresh content.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you’ve had a lapse in posting doesn’t mean you have to give up on your website entirely.

Really, if you look at the number of large businesses out there that manage to stay alive without fresh content regularly, you’d see it’s entirely possible. Here’s how to revive a dying blog.

How to Breathe New Life Into Your Dying Blog

1.  Time for a vision check

No, don’t go hauling out your phone and calling your eye doctor (unless your visual issues really are interfering with your content production).  By vision check, I mean, it’s time to give your website a little tough love.

Is the reason you’re having trouble being regular with your content because your focus is too wide or too narrow?

Do you know what value you bring to your readers?  Do you know what action you want them to take (becoming subscribers or customers)?  Does your blog speak clearly to your ideal customer?

If you’re having difficulty blogging, it could be because you’re not 100% clear on the value you provide for your readers.  Get clear on the vision for your blog, and you might find that your stubborn case of writer’s block clears up nicely.

2.  Commit to blog regularly

It sounds simplistic, but one of the best things you can do to jump start your blog is to make the mindset shift that blogging isn’t a negotiable item.  Decide how often you’re going to post and make a commitment.  Write it on your calendar.  Just like you wouldn’t accept a job and then not show up, this isn’t up for debate.  If you are serious about choosing to restart your blog, make that choice.  Say it out loud.  Tell people you meet, “I am a blogger.”   As my writing professor used to say, “a writer is one who writes.”  Well, a blogger is one who blogs.  Period.

3. Feed your brain

Writer’s block is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome as a blogger.  I get it.

But every time I mentally “go there,” I can hear the aforementioned writing professor’s voice declaring that “writer’s block is another word for laziness.”

Ouch.

But I think he’s right.  I’m sure he’ll be relieved that I finally gave him my approval.

If I can’t think of what to write, it’s because I haven’t somehow given my mind enough quality content to interact with.  (Ideas do not come out of a vacuum. It’s a metaphysical law or something like that.)

The key to avoiding writer’s block is to feed your mind quality content on a regular basis, and give yourself time to think it over before sitting down to write.

4. Plan your content

One of the ways you can make starting a post easier is to have a content calendar.  A content calendar is nothing more than a plan for your blog content.  There are a ton of great templates out there.  

That said, ideally, your content calendar includes your social media content so that you can deliver a more focused, consistent message between your website and your social media postings.  (Your social media is nothing more than an avenue or channel for you to share the value of your brand…so it makes sense to have consistency between your web content and what you share on social media!) 

5.  Get started.

What time is it?

Writing time.  Not research time.

Plan when you will write.  Make it a date with yourself.  Sit down (unless you use one of thosecool standing desks).

And then write.

When you sit down to write needs to be writing time.  If you need to do some research for your blog, do so at another time.  (See point above about reading in your niche and then letting it percolate a while in your mind.)

I know a lot of people are going to resist this. But what I’m encouraging you to do is to make sure that you have as few ways as possible to distract yourself (in the name of “research” ) while you write.

Turn off social media and email.

Really, they’ll wait.

Unless you choose to outsource, this is the step where the rubber meets the road.  But if you’ve completed the steps above, I promise, it won’t be as painful as you might think.

Need MORE creative ideas to get out of your rut and Revive Your Blog?  Click here to receive my checklist: Revive Your Blog created just for you!

How to Write A Good Meta Description

how to write an effective meta descriptionThe other day, a friend of mine posted a link to an article that really got my blood boiling.

The link pointed to a piece from Mother Jones that had to do with the number of golf courses operated by the Department of Defense. The blurb included the number of courses and the US Golf Association’s estimate about the cost to maintain golf courses.

Like I said, it got my blood boiling.  As a military spouse, I know there are some pretty crummy locations for DoD personnel to be sent. While I think golf is one of the more boring sports out there (and I even went to the same elementary school as did Phil Mickelson), I realize it’s a favorite pastime of many people.  So – it seems a worthwhile form of recreation to have on military installations, especially since the courses are nearly self supporting.  Most young enlisted troops wouldn’t be able to afford to play at public courses, so it seems especially appropriate to have a low cost form of exercise and fun.

So – contrary to the efforts of the folks at Mother Jones to get me all hot and bothered about how much it costs to run golf courses for the Department of Defense, I can’t say that I give a flying leap about it. Instead I found myself rather irked that they would write such an article at all.

But – the description did what it supposed to. It got me to read an article I otherwise would have glossed over.

How can you use the decidedly unglamorous meta description to get more targeted traffic on your article?

How to Write an Effective Meta Description

1. Use your keywords in an intelligent manner

This means – yes, use your keyword in a way that is contextually appropriate. And no, do not stuff your keyword into the meta description ad nauseum.  Once is nearly more than sufficient, thanks to Google’s algorithm tweaks.

2. Make your meta description compelling

This is where the money meets the road. Using your keyword in your meta description for SEO purposes only gets people to potentially see your content in a search engine results page (SERP).  Google and other search engines also bold your keyword in the search engine results pages, so it really is a best practice to include your keyword in a tasteful, value-added way. However – once they see your article blurb, they have to click on it, otherwise all the SEO in the world is pointless.

Getting people to actually click on your post and read it is a result of your superior writing skills (effective SEO copywriting, really).  Your meta description needs to make it clear why someone would want to click on your content rather than the thousands of others that likely came up as the result of someone’s search.

One way to write a meta description that encourages readers to click through is to ask a specific question and then let readers know you’ll answer that question in your content.

For example, ‘Need to know how to write an effective meta description? Get the tips you need to create highly compelling meta descriptions for your blog content’  could be a great meta description for a post such as this one.

Writing Killer Meta Descriptions –  Quick Tips

  • Use keywords in an effective manner
  • Don’t keyword stuff
  • Use effective copywriting techniques to encourage click throughs
  • Give your readers the specific benefit they’ll get from reading your content

What are your tips for an effective Meta Description?  Leave a comment below!

How Google Plus Can Boost Your Blog’s Visibility

Google Plus might be the most important social media platform that has ever existed.

how to use google plus to boost your blog's visibility

Bold statement, right?  Especially since so many people aren’t using it!

But here’s the thing. Because of the way Google Plus is set up, this powerful social network has the power to give your blog more visibility than any of the other networks out there. And if you’re not leveraging its abilities, you are missing out on traffic from a number of sources, not just straight from Google.

Here’s how Google Plus can boost your visibility as a blogger.

Google Plus Authorship

Google Plus lets you connect your blog (Blogger or WordPress) with your Google profile. This is easily set up with a plugin.  This helps you a few ways.  For starters – you get an SEO boost when Google “sees” all of your content across the web that’s connected with your Google Plus profile. If this content is related in topic and theme, it starts to build your authority and relevance for that topic. Over time, this will move you up on search engine results.  Of course you must make sure your content is worth reading, too, otherwise you won’t get much of a benefit. People have to both find and read your content for SEO to help you.

Google Plus Communities

Google Plus became a much more interactive platform with the addition of Communities, and it’s a super easy way to connect with, learn from, and share information with people in your niche.  Search Google Plus for Communities related to your field – or get adventurous and start your own!  Note – if you start your own, you’ll want to stay involved with it. It doesn’t make you look like a thought leader if you’re never around to facilitate conversation in your community!

Google Plus +1 Social Proof

Just like the “Like” on Facebook or “Retweeting” or “Sharing” on Twitter, the benefits of social proof when people +1 your content can’t be overlooked.  Of course when other people see your content has been shared this way, it gives you the strength that other people’s approval grants. However – it’s also important because it’s also a signal that Google takes into consideration when delivering search engine results. If your content has a high number of shares, Google will naturally “see” it as more relevant and authoritative in your field. And this will give you stronger search engine rankings for your topics.

Speaking of Google…

Google Plus is important for bloggers for one key reason: It’s Google.  Like it or not, the name Google has become synonymous with search. And Google continues to favor Google-owned properties in search engine results. Once your blog is set up with Google Plus Authorship and connected to your Google profile, you will get the biggest boost in SEO if you are an active member of the Google Plus community and add content that is relevant and valuable to people searching for great content in your field.

QUESTION: What’s your Google Plus username? Leave a link below and let’s connect!

How to Get More Targeted Traffic To Your Website

All Website Traffic is Not Created Equal

how to get more targeted traffic me

Have you seen people on forums and in Facebook groups asking about how to get more website traffic? It’s almost funny to watch them, but wow, they can be pretty aggressive!

Don’t get me wrong – having website visitors is critical if you’re using the internet to market your business online. But I just have to say – it’s important to keep in mind that not all website traffic is useful to you!

Here’s what I mean. If I have 1000 people visit my website in a week, that might sound great. But if they’re looking for someone who does article spinning those 1000 people aren’t going to benefit my business one bit – that’s not part of my business model.

But if I have 10 new visitors this week who are interested in outsourcing the development of their coaching program materials, then these 10 visitors are exactly the kind of customer I love, and they’re going to benefit my business far more than the 1000 random people would.

Make sense?

When you want to attract more traffic to your website you want a specific kind of traffic. You want targeted traffic. If you just get any old kind of traffic through some sort of service you may not end up with the traffic that counts..the kind of traffic ready to read your articles, sign up for your mailing list and buy your products.

Are you wondering how you get that kind of targeted traffic to your website? Here are five sure-fire ways to get more targeted website traffic.

How to Get More Targeted Traffic To Your Website

1.  Fill Your Website with High Quality Targeted Content

I harp on this a lot, but it’s super important. Targeted content can be blog posts, articles, comments, forum posts, and even photographs and products that your market would enjoy. Of course anything that you put on your website should contain the right keywords within the descriptions, text, and alt tags. If you use a website building software such as WordPress.org you can ensure you have all the right search engine optimization done easily.

2.  Write Articles and Blog Posts that Speak to Your Market

You should know exactly who your audience is. What is their age group? What sex are they? What are their hopes, dreams and fears? What solutions can you provide them? What words can you use to attract them, keep them, and motivate them to act in the way that you want them to act? Know the keywords, lingo and acronyms that are common within your niche so that you can use them in all of your content.

3.  Offer Products and Services that Fill Your Audience’s Need(s)

If you have a website that is targeted to business owners who are bookkeepers, it would not make sense to offer them products or services that are directed toward spa owners. Be very specific about what you are offering them and do not stray from your market no matter how tempting it can be to sell a high commission product. It simply won’t work. They want you to offer them products and services that solve their issues for the topic you are claiming expertise in.

 

4.  Offer Freebies with a Twist

 

Don’t just give away free things on your website. Rather give away something of value to your visitors in exchange for something such as their email address and permission to communicate with them via email.  When you give them the freebie ensure that it always includes some sort of  offer  to pass on what they have gotten to others who they feel will be interested. This will further encourage like minded visitors to come to your website therefore gaining even more targeted website traffic.

5.  Always Have a Call To Action

In every blog post, every email, ever freebie, every eBook, every eReport and every other product or service that you offer should always have an additional call to action. Whether it is an invitation to comment on your blog posts, or submit a testimonial, or to do something else entirely, it is important to always ask for interaction of some kind from your website visitors. Not only will that create a situation where the visitor comes back, but if you’re interesting enough they might invite others that they know.

QUESTION:  Do you have all the targeted traffic you can stand, or are you interested in learning more ways to boost your traffic, loyal readers, and paying customers? Leave a comment below!

SEO Content Writing for Businesses: The Great Blogging Hoax

great blog hoax

Opinions about SEO content writing are a dime a dozen these days – everyone’s got one. (And, like a related saying, most of them stink.)  Seriously, though, just because anyone can blog doesn’t mean that anyone should, much less that they should dispense wisdom about how to blog.

But because they do, there are a number of myths about blogging that persist. Have you fallen for the great blogging hoax?  Check out these myths that need to be refuted now!

SEO Content Writing for Businesses: 5 Blog Myths Busted!

1.  Google isn’t your only reason to blog.

It’s easy to get in the habit of thinking that you’re only blogging for Google and other search engine traffic.  And while yes, you want your ideal customer to be able to find your products or services if you can truly help them, the simple act of scoring well on search shouldn’t be the only reason you’re doing SEO content writing!

You should be blogging if you can create value for the people who need you. And you should be blogging if you can create that value in a way that makes people have a compulsive need to share your content.

On the other hand, if you’re just cranking out content ever few days or weeks just because you’re supposed to these days, please do us all a favor and stop. Because in that scenario – you’re wasting your time and money, along with ours.

 

2.  Some people can blog every day and it’s good. Other people blog every day and it’s hurting them.

This goes along with point number 1. You should only blog if you have something to say. You should not “find something to say” in order to have a blog. Make sense?

If you are able to create amazing content on a daily basis, some bloggers have experienced great results driving respectable amounts of profitable traffic by doing so.  I can’t say that it doesn’t work for some.

But on the other hand –  Jon Morrow over at Boost Blog Traffic  posted a guest post recently that says that daily posting actually hurts your traffic by decreasing the social proof possible on each post.  (There are a few other reasons listed too, and I have to say I agree with him) .

So – posting daily isn’t a part of my strategy, and I’m okay with that.  I’m guessing you’re busy enough that you don’t really want daily posts from me anyway.

3.  If your headline sucks, your article can’t save it.

A reminder for the new – the purpose of your headline isn’t to tell your readers what your article’s about. It’s not to prove to your readers that you’re a super clever author, either.

It’s to get your readers to read the first sentence.

And that first sentence? Yep. It’s to get them to read the next.

If all of those are written well, there’s a good chance they’ll keep reading, unless you bore the bloody hell out of them at some point, in which I can’t help you.

But if that headline sucks?

Kiss those carefully SEO-attracted readers goodbye.  And watch your bounce rates soar.

(Proven and profitable headline tips are often a subject of my weekly e-mails, incidentally)

4.  If your article sucks, your SEO can’t save it.

Okay, so you’ve written this article – and it’s mediocre at best. And then you carefully keyword it, putting in your title and meta tags, tagging your images, and sprinkling your carefully analyzed keyword phrase in like magical fairy dust so your article will rise to the top of Google search.

Even if that somehow happens, there’s just one problem. If your article sucks, no one is going to share it. And Google continues to look for ways to incorporate social signals in their ranking. If your articles aren’t shareworthy or worthy of peoples comments or likes, all of the traditional SEO in the world can’t save them.

5. If you write amazing content, Google’s Panda and Penguin are your friend. If not – watch out!

I think it’s funny to watch people freak out about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, and here’s why. The team at Google isn’t really sitting around at a table with a perpetual agenda item where Matt Cutts starts by asking, “How can we screw the heck out of as many unsuspecting small business owners as we can today” in his best impersonation of Pinky and the Brain.

Google is continually refining its algorithm to find the best quality content – content that is engaging, authoritative, and relevant – and ensure that content is what appears at the top of search.  And they’re trying to make sure that the boring or crappy keyword-stuffed garbage is penalized and doesn’t see the light of day any more often than possible.  That’s all. So if you’re creating great content in your niche and your readers eagerly await it, comment upon it and share it – Panda and Penguin are 2 of the most loveable black and white creatures you’ll ever see.  You can even look forward to each new release.

Are there any myths I missed? Leave a comment below!

Are These 3 Content Marketing Mistakes Killing Your Profits?

Once upon a time, there was a myth that content marketing was easy. That anyone could churn out articles on nearly any subject, that they could be SEO optimized with just the right percentage of keywords at the right density, the search engines would find them, and we’d all be on our way to the bank living happily ever after. The End.

content marketing mistakes killing your profits

Except – that’s not what happened.  Google had to get in the way and insert those dang black and white animals into our fairy tale, and nothing’s been the same since.

The result? Content marketing has become a landmine-studded field of challenges. If you’re not careful and if you’re not successfully overcoming these challenges, you could actually be losing money!

Yikes!

What are the pitfalls that could be hindering your efforts?

1. Your content stinks

I wanted to write “sucks” instead of “stinks,” but admittedly, I’m still aware that my mother occasionally reads my blog.  Go figure.

But here’s the thing. If you’re buying your content from the lowest bidding writer who hails from another country and doesn’t write like a native speaker of English, it’s likely your content stinks.

If your content is a barely veiled attempt to sell your product, it probably sucks for that reason too. (I’m getting on a roll now, there’s no stopping it!)

If your content is so boring and dry that it has absolutely no personality and could have been written by any of your competitors, that’s another reason it could suck and be lowering your return on investment. ‘

What’s a good way to see if the quality of your web content needs improvement?  Check your social engagement. If no one is liking or commenting on your articles, either on site or via your social channels, chances are good that your articles – and their headlines – need improvement.

Solution: One of two things needs to change – you either need to become a better web copywriter, or you need to outsource to someone who is.  You can either contract with a ghostwriter for web articles, or consider joining a service that produces high-quality PLR articles you can add your own personal touch to and publish under your own brand

2. You’re producing too much content

I know that there are a ton of people telling you that you need to produce more content, and that if you just produce more, you’ll get more traffic.

This is flawed thinking, and here’s why.

Producing content every day challenges your ability to produce high-quality content (see point #1 above).  Low-quality content decreases your likelihood of engagement. And if you’re writing content that people don’t find useful and aren’t engaging with, you just about might as well not be producing it.

It’s also likely that too much content actually suppresses engagement just because there’s too much of it. People don’t have the time to read your site every day, and if you’re swamping them with too much information, pretty soon they’ll tune you out.

SolutionWhen you’ve started producing high quality articles either yourself or via PLR content or some kind of article writing service, experiment with your frequency of publishing.  See what interval gets the most engagement from your audience, and then stick with it.  Creating a content calendar can help you stay on target for producing quality content for your website on a regular basis.

3.  You have the wrong person producing your content

This can sometimes be a cause of the problem addressed in point #1 (do you see me emphasizing different aspects of creating crummy content here?!)

Whoever is producing your content needs to have the mindset of providing value, not making sales. Of course if you’re a business, you need to be profitable – I’m not arguing against making money.  But if your content is clearly a prolonged sales pitch because it’s produced by someone who believes that the point of your content marketing is to sell, sell, sell, it won’t convert. And honestly – it’s likely to push your readers away, causing your content marketing efforts to actually cost you money rather than giving you the solid return on investment that quality content been shown to do.

Another symptom of the wrong person creating your website content is that your articles are bland and boring. They read as if they could have come from Wikipedia or a textbook.  It’s important to have a writer who is confident about writing in your brand’s voice.  (Did you even know your brand had a voice?)  Writing in your brand’s voice is one of the things that makes your content interesting, engaging, and likely to be shared via social channels.

Solution: Choose your content creator carefully.  (I’ve always had a thing for alliteration.)  Make sure that whoever is producing the content for your brand understands what your target market needs, in terms of information and is able to provide it. Even better, make sure that your content marketing producer has the ability to “hear” your brand’s unique voice and produce content that is believably in that voice.

QUESTION:  What content marketing mistakes did I miss?  What are your other questions about why your content might not be yielding results?  Leave a comment below !

How to Write Blogs For Your Business: Keyword Research Demystified

One of the most important keys to learning how to write blogs for your business is doing keyword research. 

How to Blog Effectively

Talking to other bloggers, I think it’s also one of the things that mystifies people the most.

Keyword research has a little bit of a bad reputation in some circles. For a while, less than credible SEO consultants were using keywords to try to game the system with Google, stuffing keywords here, there and everywhere in an attempt to rank better.

While that’s become more difficult in the post Panda and Penguin world, it doesn’t mean that keyword research is less important. Far from it.

What has happened is that the practice of choosing a good keyword needs to be paired with creating quality website content that people naturally want to read and forward.  Your keyword needs to be set within the context of quality content. Keyword rich content in a meaningful, share-worth context is the key to Google magic.

Which brings us back to the first part of that equation…keyword research.

What is Keyword Research

I was just about to write that it’s the process of researching your keywords to find out which ones are most likely to generate the most qualified traffic to your website. And then I remembered that I shouldn’t define a term by using the term.

Silly me.

But in a nutshell, that’s exactly what it is.

You don’t want just any traffic – you want people who are interested in what you have to say and what you have to sell (products or services). And when you’re trying to monetize, you don’t just want one vistor a month (though if it’s the right visitor and it’s something that’s pretty high-end, I suppose it could work).

How to Blog Effectively For Your Business:  Conducting Keyword Research

  1. Think from your customer’s perspective

This is probably the hardest thing to do when it comes to keyword research. You need to know how to think like your ideal customer to determine what query he or she might Google and expect to find a website like yours.

When someone comes up with your website in a set of results, is it going to help them answer the question they searched under? Will they be pleased to come across your website for that topic, or will they consider it a waste of time?

Are the people who are looking for your website and find it likely to be interested in exchanging money for your products or services?  Unless you’re running a nonprofit, you have to be honest when you answer this question. A few ways to check this might be to see how books on your topic rank in terms of sales at Amazon, or to see if you get any Google ads when you search for your topic.

2.     Use a keyword tool to look at demand for a possible keyword

One of the most popular and free keyword tools is Google’s keyword tool.  Enter a possible keyword phrase in the search box and see if it is a highly searched term or not.  To be as precise as possible, use exact match keywords with this tool.

3.     Compare the demand for a possible keyword with the number of sites that already exist for it. 

Knowing how easy it is to rank for a given keyword isn’t just about how many people search for it per month, it’s also about knowing how much competition you have.

Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income has some great articles about keyword research – he has an interesting comment that he believes anyone can rank for any keyword – it’s just all about how many resources (time and money) you want to spend in the process.  If you’re just starting a business, you need to make money quickly, and you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend at the moment, it would be wiser to work with a keyword or words that don’t already have millions of websites trying to rank for those words.

Another website that has great in depth information about keyword research is Moz (used to be SEOMoz).  Actually, just about everything they have is fantastic, and I strongly recommend diving into their resources about SEO and content marketing.

How comfortable are you with keyword research?  Would it be helpful to have a template I use to keep my results organized?  Leave me a comment below!

How to Stay Motivated Even When You Feel Like Giving Up

Last week my family and I went camping for a week to celebrate my youngest daughter’s first birthday. I can’t believe that she’s already 1! It’s amazing to think how fast this year has flown by and how much she’s grown. It’s equally amazing to realize that it means I’ve been in business as a content marketer and blogger for a year. Truly – time does fly when you’re having fun, and working from home is a form of fun (and chaos) I wouldn’t trade for the world.

building a successful business online

I blogged about our trip a little bit a few days ago – it started with a bang. Literally. The door next to my second-youngest daughter – my 2 year old – received a rock through the window from a passing rock hauler. Glory to God, she was unharmed, and thanks to a fast acting insurance company, we were back in action in no time at all.

Apparently that set the tone for the entire trip!  The night we picked up the trailer to head to the campsite, both of the little ones were in the throes of teething molars, and we experienced some unusually low temperatures for the end of May. Translation: our 2 year old and our 1 year old were awake all night long.

Given that our final destination for our camping trip (the Northern California coast) was set to be even colder and more damp, we made the difficult decision to scrap the camping trip altogether. A few hasty phone calls later, we had a place to stay with friends who were delighted we’d called.

But between you and me, I felt like the world’s crummiest parent. I knew we’d made the right choice (to paraphrase a common saying, if a 1 year old and a 2 year old aren’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right?)  But it felt like we’d completely let our kids down, along with blowing our 1 year old’s special birthday celebration.

Yep. I pretty much felt like giving up on the concept of having a fun family trip, and it had just begun.

But something amazing happened in the experience of being flexible and going with the flow.  At first our kids were totally bummed by the change in plans – we’d planned this trip for the past year. But when we explained where we were staying – and that yes, we’d still be able to roast marshmallows (the standard by which every campout is judged), they dove right in to the experience and had a blast with some friends they hadn’t seen in a year.

And this has since been judged The. Best. Family. Vacation. Ever.

When you’re working on building a successful business online, it can be tempting to give up when times get tough. Especially when you’ve worked on something for a long time and it doesn’t go anything like you’ve planned, staying motivated is tough.

The key to building a successful business online and staying motivated when things don’t go as you’ve planned is flexibility and a determination to find a way to keep on moving forward.

And the key to being able to be flexible is to have a plan and to know what your goals really are.

Sometimes when building a business – online or a brick and mortar business, you can get so caught up in the process you’re using to reach your goals that you forget that it’s just that – a process. It’s the vehicle that’s getting you from here to there. It’s not the goal itself.

When my family and I planned our camping adventure, the goal wasn’t really camping itself. It was to spend quality time together without the everyday distractions. It was to reconnect. And it was for each of us to refresh our souls.

By all accounts, even though our trip went nothing like we’d planned, it was a 100% success.

Question: How do you stay motivated when your business goes nothing like you’d planned? 

Leave a comment – I love hearing from you!

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