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How I Built My Authority Blogger Member Site

Because of all the interest in Teaching Sells and membership sites in general, people have been asking about my own membership site, Authority Blogger, so I thought I would tell you how I built it, and how you can easily create your own membership site using WordPress. »crosslinked«

UsefulTools Critique

UsefulTools is described as … … a web magazine for people who love web tools and apps. There are new and exciting applications being developed all the time. We sift through the abundance of technologies available to you, and help you find the most useful tools. Right away you might be thinking this puts them […]

Search, Segmentation and Silos

Knowing who and what your site is for is key.

As important, is knowing who and what your site is NOT for.

Consider this site, there are lots of things I can and do talk about, but in most cases I try to bring it always back to the main themes of boosting your authority and business via new media.

Pictures of my cat are more likely to appear on my personal site. Photography stuff goes on my photography blog.

What about when a topic does have relevance to your audience, but only a small subset?

That is when segmentation comes in. This is where you get people to opt-in to a more focused site, list or feed, so that the rest of your audience are not bothered by it and where you can comfortably lavish the full package on just those people.

Sub-lists though are not the only way to do it. You can create off-shoot websites, as I did with Authority Blogger. These satellite sites can attract their own search traffic through creating highly targeted content and some kick-start links from your main site.

This traffic will also be funneled to join your niche email list or feed, and will not be distracted by your broader content outside of that silo because they will not get to see it unless you intentionally link it up.

Yes, creating new sites is additional work, but often a highly focused site does well both with audience and search, much more easily than a broad, cumbersome and disorganized monolithic site. A domain and ten pages of killer flagship content might be all you need.

Worth a try?

WordPress Infiltrating Business

WordCamp UK 2008 was an interesting mixture of blogging (as you would expect) and developer conference. It was like two familiar worlds had collided.

WordPress as CMS

One of the development issues raised was the growing use of WordPress as a platform rather than as a blog. Many people are now looking to WordPress as a CMS or as a framework. Notably, one of the big announcements from the weekend was that our Prime Ministers home, Number 10 Downing Street, new website is going to be 100% WordPress. - Home

If that doesn’t give some credibility to WordPress in larger corporations I don’t know what will. Good work Simon!

Economic Downturn?

A couple of people expressed confusion that we are meant to be in an economic slump but there is more and more WordPress work coming through the pipeline.

I have an answer, or at least a theory!

They know with a WordPress site they can be up and running, fast, and making sales in weeks rather than months

The reason we are seeing more WordPress work is precisely because we are in a tough economic place right now. Companies are looking for a lower cost tactical solution. Rather than a long, drawn out, expensive project, they want something quick, nimble, efficient and effective. They know with a WordPress site they can be up and running, fast, and making sales in weeks rather than months.

Think about it, consider how these things used to work. I used to be as guilty as any, building 7-figure monster bespoke content management systems over months that didn’t turn out much more capable than WordPress 2.6 is right out of the box.

Also you will find the charge is being led by sales and marketing functions, conciously avoiding official channels and especially the IT dept.

Yes, they are looking for tactical “right now” solutions, but as most of us have seen, tactical quick fixes tend to stick around, especially when the solution is found to be proven and beats other more complicated ones. I have seen departments running 20-year old COBOL reports, stealthily cobbled together Access databases, and even one company who seemed to run the whole business off Excel!

WordPress isn’t just being used because it is cheap, it is growing in favor because it works.

Blog SEO: Boost Your Search Rankings With Internal Links

One of the common issues I find with my blog critiques is people not utilizing internal links to boost their search rankings as much as they could. Do not underestimate the influence a good internal link structure can have on your rankings! Also internal linking is good usability for readers. You want visitors to find […]

How to Build a Useful Site

Usability ScentWhat are visitors arriving at your site for?

It’s a question worth asking because if you don’t know, how can you provide it?

Search stats will tell you, as will some of the visitors if you ask.

In general your readers have followed a scent, a trail that will lead them to their goal. What is their goal likely to be?

Understanding Reader Missions

There are several missions a reader will be on, and while the specifics will be as unique as the individual person, people are always looking for …

  • Specific information
  • A solution to a problem
  • News and commentary about current events
  • Ideas, concepts, tips, education
  • Further details of the information they have found
  • General information on the subject area
  • More entertainment
  • Just something interesting – “surprise me”

The person who lands on your homepage will be in a different mode than the person who lands three levels deep on a specific article.

Mission Accomplished?

Once they have arrived, you need to deliver what they were looking for. Knowing how this works will let you understand why

  • You only get one page view per visitor
  • Some comments get more clicks than the article itself sends
  • Adsense works for some sites and not for others
  • Brand banners get fewer clicks than Adwords and contextual ads
  • “Click Here” can work to drive more link clicks than product names
  • Some people spend only seconds on your site and never return
  • While other subscribe and visit regularly
  • While further others give you feedback that you are writing about “the wrong things”

You need to get into the mindset of each type of visitor to your site. Take your own browsing behavior as a guide. Here is my standard browse session:

  • BBC News – I want to know what is happening in the world, and will look through the front page and entertainment for interesting headlines. Sometimes I get all I need to know from the headline, sometimes I will click through to the article, sometimes I will click through to the further information links.
  • Blog Reading – Again, it is all about interesting headlines, but also it might be an image or a subhead that grabs my attention and pulls me in. Each blog will have a different reason to be in my reading list, some are friends I want to keep up to date with, others are topics I want to learn more about. For example, I subscribe to a couple of blogs just because they will let me know when there is a new piece of photography equipment available, but I won’t read every article as I have a loyalty to Canon cameras and not Nikon or Sony.
  • Digg/Reddit/SU and BoingBoing – I will generally take a look at several sites just to take a break and see what is out there that is interesting. Although I am saying “surprise me”, I know from referral or past experience that these sites contain the sort of stuff I like to read about. A personal blog could contain the same sort of stuff but is going to have to work extra hard to convince me that they can do a better job, so would need to provide something unique and special.
  • Forums – I visit forums to read and ask questions, or answer them. Most people are going to be in the former category more often than the latter, simply because human nature is such that we focus on our own needs or passively consume media most of the time, just as there are more listeners on radio than callers, and more readers than commenters on blogs.
  • Searching – When I search I want the answer to the question I asked. It’s very rare I will search for anything general, it is almost always looking for something specific. That specific question though might get more detailed as I find answers and follow the scent. Think of researching a purchase, you might have a problem, then find products exist, then find reviews, then look for outlets, then find the best price. While you are making progress and the scent trail is there you will keep following it until mission achieved, even wading through swamps of spam to get there. If we lose the scent we change searching strategy.

I hardly ever visit directories. The way I discover more sites on a topic is to follow links, and usually it is through a specific article that has been linked rather than “go look at this blog it is great”.

Your own behavior might well be different, as might your audiences, so understanding how your niche works and the kind of reader missions they might be on is important to knowing if you are going to serve them or frustrate them.

Frustrating Browsers

Much that has been written about traffic is about getting the visitors to arrive. The problem is, by only focusing on attracting people and not serving them we can often create more problems than we solve.

Consider the searcher who thinks they have found the perfect “Britney Lohan” site only to see a bunch of advertising links. They might well click the links, but only because this site hasn’t got the information they want but the adsense headlines look promising. That site is going to only receive one visit per visitor but they don’t care as all they are about is driving more people in so more people leave via the clicks that pay them. The more people they disappoint the more money they make.

Think also about the blog that starts off promising to be “the number one walrus polishing resource” but has a front page full of politics and election stories.

Make Your Site Useful

The key to a happy, return visitor is to

  1. Promise benefits in your titles and headlines and actually deliver on it.
  2. Make your navigation suit the missions your readers are on.
  3. On your homepage provide links for first time visitors who want to explore and long time visitors who read via the web and not RSS.
  4. Individual articles should provide the content they promise, then provide links to more on the same subject.
  5. Add clear signposts to all your best stuff, and your subscription options, while keeping your visitor on the scent of their hunt with series, related articles and category links

Track where your visitors come from and what they are after, and if you can actually talk to them. If you know why visitors arrive you will be in a better position to make them happy.

New WordPress Plugins to Try

Here are two new plugins that you might like to try out.

First up is WP_DeliciousPost from my friend Damian

WP_DeliciousPost is a free WordPress plug-in that auto submits your post and pages to Delicious as you publish them.

Submitting your post to Delicious makes it easier for Delicious users to find under the appropriate tags, plus some blog advertising/ranking and valuation services count the number of Delicious entries into their scores so the more times you appear the better.

The second is from another blogging friend, Mark from Search-This Comment Info Tip

When you mouseover a commenter’s name you will see a tip appear displaying some information about that given commenter. legend

Try them out and let me know what you think 🙂

Selecting a Random Blog Comment From Your WordPress Database

Bloggers like to give and win prizes. It offers some excitement for readers, content and links for the blogger, and if the prize is offered by a third party it gives them some exposure too. Darren does this a lot and to good effect, I do it very occasionally when I have something good to […]

What is New Media?

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I have been using the phrase “New Media” without ever thinking about the definition very much. You see, “New Media” is one of those things you know when you find it, but when it comes to explaining to someone else we can stumble. Let me try now […]

When Good Plugins Go Bad – Comment Relish Considered Dangerous

Recall I found out about an automatic commenter-thanking plugin I was very excited about? It turns out that Dreamhost, my hosting company, were not quite as thrilled as I was. Hello, Please disable the plugin that is causing this query (otherwise I’ll have to disable your mysql table or user and I really don’t want […]