Blog tip #13: watch your bounce rate

Bounce rate is a measurement that is used to see how many people come to your site and “bounce” off of it before going to any other page on your site.

A high bounce rate usually means one of two things:

1. People are visiting your blog looking for information and they are not finding it.

2. People are visiting your blog, finding the information they need, but do not feel compelled to look any further into what your blog has to offer.

Using Google Analytics you can see the bounce rate depicted as a percentage – the higher the percentage of the bounce rate, the more people that are visiting your site but leaving before clicking through to other pages. So a bounce rate of 90% is a bad thing, while a bounce rate of 25% is a very good thing.

A general rule of thumb is that a bounce rate of around 70% for a blog that is putting out daily news content is pretty good, while a site offering a deeper level of information should be aiming for a bounce rate of around 40 to 50%.

One of the best and easiest to lower your bounce rate is to add a plug in to your blog called “related articles” – a function that will add content to the sidebar that is related the blog currently up on the screen.

The best example of this design is the BBC website (see my red arrows):

So when people come to the BBC to see the latest news on Wimbledon, down the right side column is a whole list of links to other news related to Wimbledon and interesting related information.

There are other ways to reduce bounce rate and many of the tactics will be outlined throughout my 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging series.

Blogging tip #11: Take a Stand

Like in traditional media formats, controversy sells and you need to look know further than someone like  shock jock radio host Rush Limbaugh who has built an empire on this idea.

While you don’t have to be nearly as over-the-top as someone like Limbaugh, you can attract new traffic by blogging about your position on an issue related to your business.

You will also see a lot of return visits because when you take a position in a blog post, you increase the liklihood that others will add their own two cents in the comment section and check back to see if you or others have responded. On that note, I recommend that if comments do begin to appear that you engage with the commenters – especially if you are just starting out as a blogger.

All over the internet there are these longstanding epic “flame wars” or heated comment section arguments that have been going on for years logging thousands of comments still to this day. All because the writer took a stand like, “Why I love my Blackberry and hate the iPhone” or ‘Why the Washington Redskins Stink.”

Taking a stand can be tricky though and it is important that you remain respectful and get your facts right. Past that, go for it.

Taking a stand is a great way to show your thought leadership and expertise and it can also engage a very large audience in an interesting conversation.

Written by Kevin Grandia

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

How to Post a Youtube Video on Your Blog

I get this question a lot and in light of my latest blogging tip on producing your own online video, I thought I would do a simple walk-through of how to post a Youtube video on your blog. While this tutorial uses a WordPress blog and Youtube, it’s the same process for pretty much every type of blog software and embeddable videos.

It’s really simple to embed Youtube video on your blog.

1. You need to copy the “embed code” from the Youtube video you want to post. Here’s where you find that:

2. Copy the code you see there (make sure you copy ALL of it or the video will not work when you embed it on your blog).

The embed code will look something like this:

<object width=”480″ height=”385″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gFEB1VyvZEA&hl=en_US&fs=1&”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gFEB1VyvZEA&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”480″ height=”385″></embed></object>

3. Now start a new blog entry. You want to switch to HTML editing before you paste the embed code. You switch to HTML on a WordPress blog by clicking on the HMTL tab in the top right corner of the blog editing area here:

4. Once you’ve switched to HTML go ahead and paste the embed code into your blog post. Try and paste it where you want it to appear in the post. If it’s too confusing because of all the other coding, don’t worry, just paste it wherever and you can move the video when you switch back to “visual” mode.

5. Switch back to “visual” mode and you should now see a yellow box with a “f” in the middle that looks like this:

6. You can now align the video to the left, right, center or whatever else you want to do using the editing menu on your WordPress blog post editing dashboard. You can also re-size the video to fit your blog – to do that click on the yellow video box and holding the small squares that appear in the corners of the video you can make it bigger or smaller:



7. That’s it! Hit publish and your video should be viewable on your blog post.

If you’re having problems still, leave your question or comment in the forum section below.

And here’s the Baby Kangaroo video just in case you want to watch it:

Blogging Tip #6: Beware of Epic Server Fail

Written by Kevin Grandia

Did your mom ever warn you to “watch out what you wish for, because you might just get it”?

If she did, she was unknowingly a social media marketing genius, because your mom’s warning speaks to a big issue that I see time and time again. To see it in action go to the homepage of Digg.com right now,  click on any of the stories in the “popular” section and see what happens.  When I did, a couple of the stories kicked back and error code or a “this server has timed out” message.

The reas0n these webpages are not going to the story is because being on the front page of Digg.com and many of the other social media news sites, blogs and forums can send a crushing amount of traffic in a very short amount of time. Here’s what that can look like, I took this from a recent traffic spike we had on one of the sites we manage, EnergyBoom. com when a story went on the homepage of Reddit.com:

If we were not prepared, that spike (sending about 100 pageviews a second at one point) would have completely crashed our servers and all that work that had gone into writing a compelling story would have been a complete waste of time.

A lot of hours can go into creating that perfect “viral” video or blog post and when it pops you want to be sure your servers have the capability to handle the surge in traffic.

Here’s a couple of tips that should take care of this issue:

1. I would suggest that if you are building out a project that could result in a crush of traffic that you ask your web designers if they have hosting capabilities as well as the capacity to handle a large surge in traffic – nowadays with the cost of storage and broadband being so cheap, many web designers do have this capacity. It is better to have your own web team handle your server needs because they are very accessible and you can phone them (if they are good at what they do) anytime you want when you have server capacity issues. You can also discuss with them ahead of time when you think they need to prepare for a ton of traffic.

2. If you do not have a designer that offers this, then I would look for a third-party service provider that offers server space on the “Amazon Cloud.” You don’t need to know much about the cloud other than that it is a service that can host your website and as your traffic grows (i.e. when your site is going viral on Twitter), your capacity to handle that traffic grows with it – this is why the Amazon cloud is also called the “elastic cloud.”

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Blogging Tip #4: Write like you have a million readers

Written by Kevin Grandia

Unless you’re super-famous or already have a large built-in audience, the first year or so of blogging can be a pretty tough slog.

You will see traffic spikes of optimism that come crashing down to days of very little traffic or any at all. This can very disheartening and frustrating and this can lead to a little bit of sloppiness – you might forget to spell check or not tag items or give your posts poor titles, or *gasp* start posting pictures of your cat – thinking that it doesn’t matter because nobody is reading anyways.

But if you keep at it, your traffic will grow and one day you might regretting all of those less-than-stellar posts with spelling errors and photos of your cat in a party hat (not that there’s anything wrong with cats).

So always write like you have a millions readers, because one day you just might.

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Blogging Tip #2: Cross-Posting

Written by Kevin Grandia

Crossposting is a great way to reach new audiences and drive more traffic to your own blog. All it means is that when you write a post, you take it and post it on another blog that you have access to.

Warning: I do not mean that you should go out and start another blog where you simply cut and paste your content. This would be very redundant and has very little value – it is also something that Google frowns upon and may actually  effect your overall page rank.

What I DO mean is to seek out other blogs covering the same areas as you are that you think might be open to posting your content.

What you are looking for is either single-author blogs you really respect or large multi-author blogs whose business model is to amass a very large quantity of content everyday. In either case, email the owner or editor of the blog, introduce yourself and ask if they would be willing to cross-post your content from time-to-time.

If they agree take them up on the offer and either post the content directly if they let you or send them the content you would like to have posted. Ensure that you always are attributed as the author of the article and that there is a link back to your blog.

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Blogging tip #5: Try Video, it’s King

Written by Kevin Grandia

There is a saying in social media geek land that goes something like, “On the internet, content is King, but video rules.”

Okay, I might have just made that up, but when you consider that the average person watches an average of 182 online videos a month, I sometimes wonder why I spend any time at all writing blog posts.

There is in fact a lot of reasons why written blog posts are still very valuable for things like search engine prominence and low production costs, but think about how you might be able to integrate some video content into your blog.

It might be something as simple as a tour around your office introducing staff, or if you are in the service industry you can demonstrate to your customers what it is you do. For instance, a plumber could do quick and simple video showing the 5 things to remember when trying to unplug a toilet or a real estate agent could do a tour of home they have listed.

Your video doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production and nowadays even the cheapest cameras shoot in high-definition.

Once you’ve shot a video I would recommend uploading it to Youtube and then copying and pasting the embed code into a blog post.

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]