23 Things That You Can Do To Get Your Blog Post Seen Everywhere

Traffic seems to be the one thing that people obsess over the most when it comes to blogging. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest reasons people give for why they don’t start blogging. They’re afraid no one will come to their site.

People seem to constantly look for that “magic bullet” traffic technique… That one method that’s going to send them a windfall of traffic.

It’s true that viral traffic can happen overnight. However, you never know where it’s going to come from. It takes effort on many fronts to get that traffic flowing in.

To accomplish this, be everywhere with your content, don’t use just one single traffic source and sit back and wait… Create a system that works for you and follow it to the letter every time you create a new post.

Over time, you’ll learn which strategies are effective and which ones don’t pan out. You will need to adjust, add new strategies, remove ineffective strategies, and repeat. That’s the true trick to creating website traffic.

To help you understand what I mean, I’ve decided to share the strategy that Bradley and I use to generate a ton of traffic to every single new blog post we create.

In fact, chances are, you found this exact blog post as a result of our efforts with this strategy.

This strategy evolves. We remove ineffective actions and constantly add new actions as we learn them… For the most part, here is what we do with every single blog post.

I’ve broken it up in to 3 sections. “Standard”, “Above and Beyond” and “ROI (Return on Investment) Potential Tactics”.

The “Standard” tactics are what we use for every single post, no matter what.

The “Above And Beyond” tactics are what we use when we really really want the post to go viral.

And the “ROI Potential Tactics” are what we do when we expect a return from the post. They are paid strategies because maybe we’re promoting an affiliate link or maybe the post talks about a new product we’ve created. We will use paid techniques if we see the potential for a return on investment for the payment.

So here’s our blog post promotion checklist:

Standard Post

  • Mail your list
  • Post to Facebook fan page
  • Post to personal Facebook wall
  • Post to any relevant Facebook groups
  • Share on Twitter account
  • Search Twitter for relevant hashtags and @reply them
  • Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using HootSuite
  • Share on Google+
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • If you use an image, share the image on Pinterest
  • Go to Google Alerts and look for relevant blog posts – Run alerts for the week
  • Post to a minimum of 5 blogs linking to your new post – Entire week
  • Create an image with a quote from your post, share that image on Facebook and Twitter – Ask for shares
  • Create a quick YouTube video related to your post, put link to post below video.

Above And Beyond

  • One Time – Create blogs on Tumblr, LiveJournal, Squidoo, and WordPress.com
  • Post about most recent post to Tumblr (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to LiveJournal (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to Squidoo (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Post about most recent post to WordPress.com (don’t copy – write a synopsis)
  • Create a post with your YouTube video on each of the sites as well
  • Find 2 relevant questions on Quora, answer the questions and link to your post
  • Find relevant questions on Reddit and answer them with a link

ROI Potential Tactics

  • Boost post on Facebook
  • Submit press release to PR Web about topic

Many of these things are self explanatory but I’ll break them down even more…

Standard Post Tactics

Mail your list: This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you know us by now, you know that we are huge proponents of list building with your blog. Once you have a list, you can mail your list whenever you create a new post and bring past readers right back to your site. We recommend GetResponse for list building.

GetResponse

Post to your fan page and personal walls: Every blog post that you make should be shared to your Facebook fan page and shared to your personal wall. The truth of the matter is, friends and family probably WILL be the first readers of your blog. That’s OK! Get them commenting and sharing to build some momentum.

Post to relevant Facebook groups: Find groups that are relevant to the niche that you blog in and, if it’s allowed, share your latest posts with those groups. If your post is relevant to a topic already being discussed in the group, share your post in the comments of that discussion.

Share on your Twitter account: Share a link to your latest blog post in a tweet or two. So many people tend to want to just focus on Facebook. However, we find that, while we get more traffic from Facebook, we get more engaged visitors from Twitter. The people that come from Twitter tend to stay on our page much longer and return to our page more often.

Search Twitter for relevant #hashtags and @reply those people: Find people asking questions on Twitter that your blog post could answer for them. When you find them, send them a reply and link to your blog post. This is SUPER effective because if other people have the same question, they may stumble across your conversation as well.

Queue up a minimum of 4 more promotions using Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a tool that lets you schedule up your Tweets in advance. I always go in to Hootsuite and schedule at least 4 more tweets for that same blog post to go out at different times during the day. People aren’t on Twitter all day. This makes sure you will get more exposure to your post on Twitter as the day goes on. I also like to schedule 2 or 3 tweets for older blog posts at the same time to ensure steady traffic continues to my older, but still relevant, blog posts.

HootSuite

Share on Google+ and LinkedIn: The idea is that you pretty much want to share your blog post on any social media accounts that you are active on.

Share on Pinterest: This one may no be relevant to everyone. If you use images in your blog posts, pin the image of that post to Pinterest. This works better in some niches than it does for others. For example, this is huge in fashion and in cooking type niches but gets a little more difficult and conceptual type niches like marketing and personal development.

Google Alerts: This is somewhat of a “ninja trick” or “growth hack”… Basically, you go to Google Alerts and you create an alert or two related to the topic of your recent blog post. When you receive emails about new posts on that topic, you go to those blogs and comment on them with a link back to your post. In fact, I made a quick video about this tactic.

We keep an eye on the topic for a minimum of a week (usually much longer) and continue getting the link everywhere.

Create an image with a quote and share it: This is a trick that I learned when Pat Flynn interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk on The Smart Passive Income Podcast… Basically, you take a great quote from your latest blog post, create a little image with that quote, and then share the image on all of the social media channels that you use. A great tool to easily create these types of images is called Canva.com.

Here’s an example of an image I made for one of my blog posts:

Matt Wolfe Quote

And here’s an example I saw Pat Flynn share:

Pat Flynn Quote

 

These are super powerful because if people like and agree with your quote, they tend to share them on their social media channels as well. They establish your credibility as an expert and really get shared.

Create a YouTube video related to your topic: Once you blog post is finished, create a quick YouTube video that is relevant to your blog post. In the description of the video, link to the post. Anyone who finds your topic via a YouTube search will probably watch your video and then click over to your post to get even more detail. YouTube can be a MASSIVE source of high quality traffic.

Above and Beyond Tactics

The “Above and Beyond” strategy is something that we don’t do every time we make a new blog post. The reason being is that it is very time consuming. Instead, we might do this strategy once per month but do it for four blog posts at a time. However, if we’re doing a blog for the sole purpose of promoting affiliate products, like what I did for Easy Video Suite, we will do this for every post on that style of blog.

Here’s a video I made a while back that explains the steps of the “Above and Beyond” strategy.

The only thing that we have added to the list that’s not mentioned in the video is that we now also look for relevant questions on Quora.com and attempt to answer them, citing one of our blog posts for more info.

ROI Potential Tactics

When we talk about “ROI Potential Tactics” we are talking about posts that will generate us some income. Examples would be posts that directly promote affiliate products, posts that promote one of our products, or posts that promote one of our services. Basically, any post where we can directly calculate the money made as a result of that post we will use these tactics.

Boost Post on Facebook: Facebook gives you the option to promote your posts when you have a fan page. You pick your budget and hit the boost post button and the post will be seen by more followers.

boost post

boost post 2

Submit a Press Release: Writing and submitting press releases is a whole topic in itself and will require a whole blog post. Essentially you are writing a news article related to your post and submitting to various news agencies. The agencies that find it newsworthy will publish it on their site and in their publications. PRWeb is probably the most notable press release service.

Here’s a quick read on how to write a good press release.

And that’s about it… That’s our entire strategy for generating traffic to our blog.

I actually created a checklist in Evernote that we use every time we create a new post. We hit publish and then go down the checklist, making sure we do everything on the list to promote the blog post.

Maintain a strategy like this for every single post that you make and you will have floods of traffic to your blog much quicker than you’d think.

What did we miss? What traffic strategy would you add to the list? Which would you remove? Let us know in the comments below!

 

A Simple Strategy To Make Money From Blogging

In this post, I want to teach you one very simple strategy that is the easiest way to make money with your blog. Actually, I shot you a video that gives you a live walkthrough.

No, it is not through clients, ads, or selling your own products on your blog.

It is through affiliate marketing. Yes, getting a commission through selling related and proven products and services.

And if you watch the video below, you will learn how we use affiliate marketing as an income source on our blog.

 

 

Choosing the Right Options and Settings for Your WordPress Blog

Do you want your blog to be indexed by search engines or you simply want to keep it as a private affair? Wanna add www to your site or rather prefer to use a non-www version? Well, the requirements and preferences of all of us vary and a self-hosted WordPress blog gives you plenty of options to fine-tune your site as per your choices. But at times, especially for a beginner, these options can be quite overwhelming and you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out the right setting for your blog. So, if you are wondering if you are choosing the right settings for your WordPress blog and how they impact your site, this guide will help you…

Search Engine Visibility

Ok, first things first. By default, your blog is set to be found and indexed by search engines. After all, that’s what most of the bloggers want: to be found and read by others. But in case you don’t want search engines to index your site (e.g. if yours is an invite only, paid membership, or any other type of blog with restricted access) then you should change the search engine visibility settings of your site. To do this:

  • Go to Settings > Reading
  • Check the checkbox for Discourage search engines from indexing this site
  • Save Changes

search-engine-visibility

Though this will put up a request before search engines to leave alone your site, you can’t completely rely on it; it depends upon to what extent the search engines honor your request.

www. in the Blog URL

Having www. in your site URL or steering away from it is just a matter of choice. There does not seem to be any particular reason attached to it other than your personal preference. But once you choose one over the other, make sure you stick to it. Here is how you can make these changes:

www-site-url

  • Go to Settings > General
  • Add or remove (as you want) www. from WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) boxes
  • Save Changes

Permalinks or the Blog Post URL

Permalinks give you the flexibility to decide how the URLs of your blogposts look. This applies to all of the existing and future blogposts on your site. The default URL is based on the post ID (which is auto generated) and is probably the shortest among all. There are various other options that enable you to choose your URL structure based upon date, archive, and post name. Apart from these, you can also design your own custom structure. You can choose these by just selecting the appropriate radio button (and of course, saving your preference).

If your blog is based on events, news or other time sensitive posts, then you may want to go for date or archive based structure. And if you want to keep it short yet fancy, then the post name structure would make a good choice. If the categories are important and you want to include them too, you can do that using the custom structure. Just to give you an idea, here is how to make a structure based on category and post name:

  • Go to Settings > Permalinks > Common Settings > Custom Structure
  • Enter this in the box: /%category%/%postname%
  • Save Changes

permalink-settings

As per this custom structure, if you have a post named WordPress Setting Tips under the category Blogging, then your post URL would look something like this: http://www.xyz.com/blogging/wordpress-setting-tips

Again, while actually writing the post, you can further edit the post name part in the URL to anything of your choice. So, you can even make it to look like this: http://www.xyz.com/blogging/wordpress-setting

Category Slugs

If you want to have control over what name should appear in the URL of a particular category archive, then this where you ought to make the changes. For example, if a category name is social media marketing and you want to display only social media in the category URL, then you can simply edit the slug for that category.

  • Go to Posts > Categories
  • Hover over the category name you want to edit and click on Quick Edit
  • Just edit the slug and click on Update Category

category-slug

Now, wasn’t that simple?

Enable or Disable Comments?

WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system in order to promote interaction between the author and their readers. But there are situations when a blogger may not like to use it on their blog; for instance, when they use WordPress to create a non-blogging site, or when they prefer to use some external blogging system (like Facebook comments), etc. In addition to just enabling or disabling comments, there are a whole lot of options to manage them on your site. You can see them all under: Settings > Discussion

discussion-settings

After you set the universal discussion settings for your blog, you can still enable/disable comments on individual posts and pages.

Display Name of the Author

This is the name that you wish your readers to see as the author of the posts on your blog. You can choose to have it same as or different from your real name, user name or nickname:

  • Go to Users > Your Profile
  • Select the appropriate option from the drop down menu in the Display name publicly as box
  • Click on Update Profile at the bottom of the page

author-display-name

If you are not getting the desired name in the dropdown menu, check whether you have left blank any of the fields under the Name section.

Media Settings

Media settings may not be that important most of the times but they can really make your life easy if you run an image based blog, or your blog requires images of a standard size. You can set thumbnail, medium and large sizes for your images here: Settings > Media

If you need thumbnail images of exactly the same dimensions that you specify, then you should check the box for this, in the Thumbnail size section.

media-settings

Apart from the image sizes, you can also choose/change the folder to store the images. Also, your media uploads would be automatically organized into month and year based folders by default. I personally prefer to disable this feature by unchecking the relevant box, so that all my images are uploaded in a single folder. This provides for easy replacement of linked images whenever required.

Menu Structure

With the introduction of Menu in WordPress, it has become very convenient to include and exclude items from your navigation. It has also facilitated building of drop down menus. Now you can include pages, categories and individual links, and that means almost anything. You can also choose to automatically add new pages in the menu as and when you publish them; all you need to do is check the box for Auto add pages.

For creating a drop down menu:

  • place the items of the dropdown menu right under the main item you want them under
  • one by one, drag the drop down menu items towards little right, so that they are created as submenu of the main item
  • Click on Save Menu

menu-structure

But before you can start using the menu feature, you need to create a new menu, give it a name and assign it a theme location. Be it while creating a new menu or making any changes in an existing menu, don’t forget to save the Menu, else your changes will not take effect.

Theme Settings

Apart from the WordPress settings, you also need to set your theme settings right. What and how many options you get actually depends upon the theme you use. But almost all modern themes allow you to upload a header image, change the background color or upload a background image, edit your footer, choose which side you want to have the sidebar, etc.

Here is what the theme settings for the twenty fourteen default theme would look like:

twenty-fourteen-theme-settings

Right File Permissions for Security

This one is not typically a WordPress setting but given the importance it holds, it makes up to the list.  From the point of security, it is imperative that you check the file permission settings of some important files, especially wp-config.php and .htaccess files. But remember you won’t find them in your WordPress login; they would be there inside your web hosting control panel.

htaccess-file-permission

  • Login to your web hosting control panel
  • Click on the File Manager
  • Go to the public_html directory (or further down to your blog folder if it is not installed in the root domain).
  • Look out for the wp-config.php and .htaccess files.
  • To check the file permissions you’ve currently given them, right click on the file and click on Change Permissions in the pop-up menu that appears.
  • These two files should have read only permission under all the 3 modes: user, group and world. If there are more permissions assigned (Write or Execute), reduce them to read only, so that the digits in the Permission boxes read 444
  • Click on Change Permissions to save the changes.

So, these are some of the core settings of your WordPress site and choosing them right is just a one-time process. You need not, or rather should not, keep them changing every now and then; since that’ll have a negative impact on your site. Apart from these, you should also ensure that the settings of any plugin that you install are optimized for your site.

Crank Up Your Copy: Ideas to Improve Your Content

If you’re blogging for business – or running a blog for a business – you need to have stellar copy. The best ideas, arguments, and offers won’t get you any new clients or convert readers into loyal followers if they are conveyed poorly. The quality of your copy matters when it comes to determining your blogging success.

You may be an incredible speaker, a wise consultant, or an inspiring teacher. But if you’re blogging, all this could be lost on your readers if they don’t like your way with words. Writing is the primary medium when it comes to selling ourselves online. Even podcasts or YouTube videos require captions or short introductions to help convince your audience to listen or watch. Your writing is your delivery, your execution, and if that fails, so does a large part of your ability to be persuasive, compelling, and engaging.

The truth is, your writing could probably be better. Everyone’s writing could stand to improve (and yes, I’m including myself and this post in that assessment). If you want to crank up your copy and start producing standout writing, consider these ideas and tips to improve your content.

Find and Maintain Your Passion

The first rule to amazing copy is to make sure you are passionate about your subject. Your enthusiasm and delight will shine through your words, and these positive emotions are contagious. You need to believe in your subject, service, or ideas. After all, if you don’t feel strongly about them, how will you persuade other people to feel the same?

This is why it’s crucial to understand you can’t start blogging or creating copy that converts readers into followers or clients with the sole purpose of making a profit from your endeavors. That’s where that sleazy car salesman vibe comes in, and most people are incredibly adept at picking up on that – and running in the opposite direction once they sense it.

Good copy starts with a belief in the content you’re creating. You don’t have to be a writing wizard to lay down some fantastic blog posts that people will get behind, because your passion is going to do a lot of the work for you.

Mentally Revisit Your 8th Grade Grammar Lessons

Keep in mind passion won’t do all the work, however. You can’t expect your copy to be outstanding if it’s barely readable. Temper that wild enthusiasm and tighten up your writing with a touch of formality and you’ll have the best of both worlds.

Remember those years in school where all you did was learn about the “right” way to write? Think back to the classes in which you were endlessly drilled on grammar rules and the way words were supposed to be formally composed (if you immediately started humming “Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses..” yes, you’re on the right track).

Although it might be tedious, good writing often follows basic rules of grammar. Here are a few common trouble areas in grammar that plague even the best of writers:

  • Subject-verb agreement and verb tense agreement
  • Sentence problems: fragments, run-ons, and comma splices
  • Overusing pronouns
  • Using weak words, including just, very, a lot, really, and like
  • Using passive voice (and avoid combing this piece for passive voice please, as it’s my biggest vice as a writer).

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should work to make every piece of content you produce extremely stiff and formal. Rules were made to be broken. Sometimes. It’s important that you write in your own natural voice and let your individual personality shine through. But you also need to remember that excellent copy by and large sticks to the fundamental rules that govern language. This makes writing easy to read and comprehend. Using three punctuation marks after every other sentence is obnoxious. Adding in a little flair with a brief sidebar (perhaps in the form of a parenthetical!) might be appropriate.

Excellent copy is a balancing act between your own style and generally agreed-upon rules about what makes a piece of writing great.

Other Rules to Follow and Tips to Consider

Grammar creates only some of the guidelines good writing typically follows. There are additional “best practices” that you can utilize to improve your content. In order to create standout copy, keep the following in mind as you write:

Create a Hook

Your introduction can make or break your copy. You need to immediately hook your readers with something compelling that encourages them to continue consuming your content. Don’t use up three lengthy paragraphs of text before you get to the engaging line. You need to…

Get to the Point

Avoid being extremely wordy. If there is a simple way to say what you mean, always choose that straightforward delivery over something full of jargon or a sentence stuffed with adjectives. Be specific and be precise.

Be a Storyteller

Some of the best, most compelling copy is content that tells a story. Spitting out dry facts left and right may make for accurate writing, which is certainly important (always be honest) – but it gets dull fast. Craft a story for your audience to delve into and explore.

Format Your Copy Properly

Once you’ve got the actual content figured out, you need to dress it up in a pretty package if you want your readers to pick up what you’re laying down. Format your copy in a way that is easy to read.

For the internet, this means easy to scan and easy to consume. Using headings, subheadings, numbered or bulleted lists, and break up paragraphs so that chunks of text are balanced by white space. It’s intimidating to open up a web page only to be confronted with a massive wall of text. Make your copy inviting to readers by breaking up long sentences and paragraphs into smaller pieces.

Include a Call to Action

Great copy won’t rock back and forth on its heels, shyly waiting for an audience to engage. A compelling piece of copy will leap up and flat-out say what readers can do next. This is a call to action, and it means that you wrap up your content with a next step. Ask a question to encourage comments or provide a click to tweet link for a great quote from the piece.

Try Some Actionable Techniques

If you want to crank up your copy, then take action!

  • Practice. Apparently, it makes perfect. The more you write, the more adept you’ll be at working with words.
  • If you get stuck or don’t know where to start when creating new copy, resort to word vomit. It may get a little messy, but that’s what editing is for. Sit down and literally put pen to paper if that’s what it takes.
  • Brainstorm. You can’t write excellent copy if you have zero excellent ideas. You might have to let the word vomit fly here too until you make brainstorming sessions a habit, but simply getting everything out is a great way to unearth amazing ideas.
  • Do research if you need to. Be able to admit what you don’t know, and strive for accuracy.

Once you’ve created your copy, there are a few hoops you can make it jump through to find its weaknesses, figure out how to improve it, and determine whether or not it’s ready to be published.

  • Read your copy out loud (or have a friend read it out loud to you). This technique is a great way to fish out sentences that are clunky, confusing, or need clarification. This will also help you identify areas where you’ve been overly verbose.
  • Also plan on making multiple revisions. There’s a reason your teachers required you to submit rough drafts and final drafts. A quick read-over of something you’ve recently produced is not a great way to edit; because your ideas are so fresh in your mind, your brain tends to automatically correct any mistakes as you read or discrepancies in the text. Before you edit, go do another activity or let a significant amount of time pass. Sleep on it if you need to, and come back at your copy with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Now, Get Out There and Crank Up Your Copy!

With these tips, ideas, and actionable steps, you should be ready to attack your next copy challenge and crank up the quality of the content you’re creating. Don’t let your incredible ideas and important message get lost in poorly written copy. Instead, work to improve your writing so you can provide your audience with intelligent, persuasive copy.

The 10 Best Secrets to Blog Post Titles that Attract Readers and Get Noticed

With so many blogs existing in the world, you have a very short amount of time to catch the attention of your valued readers. Your title is what most readers will see first – in an RSS feed, in Google or Bing or embedded in an email. If your title is clunky, too long or plain lackluster, your blog post will likely be lost, forgotten and just plain not seen. With so much pressure to perform, you may find your title writing skills flagging when it matters most. If your goal is to create blog post titles that attract readers, whip their heads your way, and click on your latest blog posts with fervor, here are the ten most well-kept secrets for optimizing your blog titles that every blogger should know.

Enticing Blog Subject Matter

If you are stuck on what to write about, these three title categories are sure to lure new readers to your blog in droves.

  1. Provide a Benefit: Titles that get clicked on the most promise a clear benefit to the reader. They solve a pressing problem, they offer advice from luminaries in the field and they generally seek to improve readers in one way or another.

Whether readers are trying to improve conversions, lose weight or train their dogs to sit and play fetch, get to the heart of their passions, desires, apprehensions and fears and craft blog titles that speak to your readers and promise results; and make those results fast if possible. A good example of this is the blog title How to Eradicate a Zit in a Single Evening.

This will require extensive research in order to accurately analyze the psyches of your reader base, but today’s social networks and popular forums make that research easier than ever before.

  1. Spread the News: Some of the most popular blog titles are those that strive to keep your audience informed of updates and happenings as they relate to your niche. Scour the news, read the latest press-releases in your industry and write blog titles that keep your readers on the up-and-up. A good example of a title for an IT blog might be Ten Industry Updates All IT Professionals Should Know. 
  1. Pique the Curiosity: Attempt to write blog titles that are different than everyone else’s and that resonate with your audience. Use odd but relevant word choices, personal experiences, funny anecdotes and quirky subjects that no one else is using. Your readers won’t be able to help themselves but click and read. An example of a title for a construction blog might be Hammers and Hamburgers: A Day in the Life of a Construction Worker.

Proper Title Construction

Use the following tips to develop titles that drive traffic and attract comments.

  1. Set Expectations and Tease: Your blog title should let readers know exactly what they will get out of reading your blog in its entirety. For best results, tickle your readers with a hint of what’s to come and force them to commit to experience the true payoff.

Consider this title for a weight loss blog: See What Happens when Weight Loss Happens Too Quickly. Notice how the title doesn’t say what happens, it just urges readers to continue reading and pay attention.

  1. Concise is Nice: The shorter your title happens to be, the better. Remember, you only have a very short window to reach your audience. Not only that, but your readers will typically have very short attention spans. Long, drawn out titles get ignored more often than shorter ones. A short and sweet title for a gardening blog might read 7 Plant Watering Secrets.
  1. Optimize for Search: Use your primary keyword very early on if you want to beat out competitors that are optimizing for that same term. For example, if you are writing for a cosmetics blog and your keyword is ‘eye shadow’, your title might read Eye Shadow Tips from the World’s Top Makeup Experts. While not a sure way of improving rankings, there is always the chance that this technique will give you an edge against other bloggers that are using the same term keyword term a little later on in their titles; so this tip is always worth considering. 
  1. Beat Competitors: Once you get a good idea of the title you would like to create, get online and start searching for others who are writing about the same subject. Take their titles in, process them and then use what’s available to make yours even better. 
  1. Use Active Language: Stay away from passive verbs and instead use plenty of action words to get your readers’ hearts racing. Instead of the title How the Best Athletes are Running and Jumping Today, it would be better to use the title Run Faster and Jump Higher Just Like Today’s Best Athletes. 
  1. Lists Bring the Clicks: Blogs that contain numbered or bulleted lists tend to always perform well. Readers prefer blogs that contain easily digestible content, and lists provide exactly that. For instance, 10 Mistakes All New Police Recruits Should Avoid. 
  1. A Strong Title Never Lies: Your titles should always come through on the promises you make. In other words, if your blog title promises to help readers Change a Car Tire Quickly, Even in the Rain, make sure you provide exactly that advice. If your readers are ever made to feel misled, you may lose those readers forever.

Test Your Titles for Better Results

The above advice should help you develop titles that get results, but don’t stop there. Keep testing your titles, feeling your audience out and start looking for patterns of most-read blog posts by studying your analytics data. If you notice that some titles get more clicks than others, replicate your results for even more blog conversions.

They say that your choice of title can make or break every blog post you write. With these ten tips, your posts are sure to strike a nerve with every reader you target.

Blog Security 101 – Part 2

The first part of this article covered some of the basics when it comes to WordPress security. This installment will focus on some of the basic steps you can take to address some of the vulnerabilities that are common to web applications and those that are unique to WordPress itself.

A Foundation in Good Security

Before we start with installing plugins or changing file and folder permissions we need to start with you and your computer.

Think about it, you are the Admin of your blog; you have control over everything and you use your computer to access that blog. If these two things are not secured then it doesn’t matter what else you do as far as security is concerned, your blog will be easy to compromise.

Is your computer malware free?

Before you install WordPress onto your server, before you create the database before you do anything related to your blog make sure that you computer is free of viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, spyware, etc. Malware that resides on your computer has the ability to log every action you take and report it back to another computer. If it sees you login to your bank, it can capture your account and password information; likewise if it sees you login to www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin it can capture your username and password. If the bad guys have this information then they own your site. Make sure that you update your anti-virus software and run it frequently. If you already have a blog set up, take this precaution anyways. If you find malware on your computer clean it off and change your password immediately. Check to see if there have been any additional admin accounts created as well; if they are not ones you recognize then you should think about deleting them.

Speaking of passwords…

Are you one of those people who use a strong password? That’s good, as long as you use different strong passwords for all of your different accounts. People who use the same password over multiple accounts run the risk of that password being compromised somewhere. If an attacker has that and it works on all of your accounts then they have access to everything. Instead of just password complexity, think password diversity. If you have trouble remembering all of those passwords then use a piece of software known as a password safe to store them in.

Stay up to date

One final word on security fundamentals; stay up to date. It was mentioned that your anti-virus software should be up to date at all times. This is so it can identify all of the latest malware that is out there. Likewise, your WordPress installation should be up to date and all of your plugins should be as well. These updates usually address any known vulnerabilities in the code itself.

The Plugins

One of the easiest ways to add functionality to any blog is by using a plugin. Plugins, however, can be a way for you to better secure your blog but they can also be a way for someone to breach it as well.

Plugins contain code, and it is that very code that may be vulnerable to an attack so it is important that you keep your plugins updated but that you also remove any plugins you are not using on your blog. While you are at it, remove any themes that are not being used as well as these may contain vulnerabilities also. For this reason you should only install themes and plugins that come from reliable, trusted sources.

As previously stated, plugins can also be used to help secure your blog. At a minimum, you should install plugins to handle the following:

  • System hardening
  • System scanning
  • File monitoring
  • Firewall tasks
  • Backup and recovery

One plugin, Better WP Security, takes care of most in the aforementioned list. It will help hide essential information from potential attackers by taking steps like changing the URLs for the dashboard, renaming the admin account, changing the database table prefixes and much more. It will also protect the application itself by forcing strong passwords, limiting file editing and scanning a site to find vulnerabilities among other things. Other features included in this plugin are the ability to monitor the file system for changes, schedule backups of your database and look out for automated attacks from bots.

The drawback to this plugin? It isn’t fully functional for blogs that have WordPress installed on Windows IIS server; it will only work to its fullest on Apache, LiteSpeed or NGINX web servers (NGINX servers will require you to manually edit your virtual host configuration). If you are unsure which operating system your server runs, check with your hosting provider to make sure.

If Better WP Security isn’t the plugin you want to go with, there are others that can handle different aspects of security for your blog. One of the most highly regarded plugins is Acunetix WP Security. Created by a leader in the web application security space, this plugin will do many of the same things that Better WP Security does to obscure information from attackers, harden the system and backup your blog. What it does not do is monitor files to see if anything has been changed and it does not have the same ability to thwart attacks from bots and other agents. There are some other features that it does not have that can be found in Better WP Security, however Acunetix does work on Windows IIS web servers as well as Apache, LiteSpeed and NGINX. It will also scan your blog and provide a security overview report with information any vulnerability it finds. This alone makes WP Security worth a look as Acunetix sells professional vulnerability scanning tools to many leading security firms.

Your blog should also run a web application firewall in front of it to protect against any outside attacks. Plugins like NinjaFirewall for WordPress will protect against threats like cross-site scripting, brute-force scanners and shell scripts. If will also sanitize input to guard against attacks like SQL injections and block attackers from scanning your site for vulnerabilities. These tools are so important that the credit card companies strongly suggest they be used on any e-commerce site. This one is for free and provides a solid barrier of protection for your blog.

There is one other plugin that needs to be mentioned as it takes the place of all three of the ones mentioned here and that is the Sucuri WordPress plugin. Not only is it the most comprehensive security plugin you will find, customers also have access to a great support team if they run into any configuration or management problems. Unlike the others, Sucuri does come with a yearly subscription fee but if your blog is part of your business it might just be worth the $90.

Using the .htaccess file

Many security checklists will tell you to change file and folder permissions and this is a good thing because it helps prevent access to your site. That isn’t covered here too much because the plugins that were mentioned will take care of this. If you want to do this yourself then you can do this using any FTP program and following the guidelines under the File Permissions section here http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress.

While file permissions will not be looked at, making some changes to the .htaccess file will be. This file defines access control to certain areas of your web site, and in this instance your WordPress site.

In order to edit the .htaccess file you will need to use an FTP program. Most web hosting companies offer this as part of their management console so this will do for making changes to the file.

Once opened you should see something that looks like this:

# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

</IfModule>

# END WordPress

We are going to add some things after the # END WordPress so that when you update WordPress your changes will not be overwritten.

The first file to protect is wp-config.php that stores information about the database and the site itself. To the .htaccess file add:

<Files wp-config.php>
order allow,deny
deny from all
</Files>

Once saved, this will deny outside access to wp-config.php.

You can also add a snippet of code to this file to protect the .htaccess file as well. Using:

<Files ~ "^.*\.([Hh][Tt][Aa])">
order allow,deny
deny from all
satisfy all
</Files>

will do just that.

Securing a WordPress site means being constantly vigilant. The methods attackers use to compromise sites is always evolving. They discover new vulnerabilities every day so staying on top of things is paramount.

While no site will ever be 100% secure against attack, these tools will certainly help keep most of the bad guys out and will alert you to any that do make their way past your defenses.