Tracking Hot Keywords For New Blog Subscriptions

Mark over @ 45n5 talks about geotargeting ads and keyword tracking for sales to best optimize your blog and fine tune it for sales. While I was writing a comment to his post, I realized this is actually too large and better suited for a blog post–so here it is.

Question:

  • Do you know what keywords are converting blog subs for you?

Sales aren’t the whole shebang, subs are good gravy too (and depending on the type of site–Subs hold *more* long term value than hit-and-run-sales IMO). So which of your blog pages draw more subs? And which keywords are the “omg-sign-me-up-now!” eyeballs finding your blog with?

It’s easier to twig into what topics/content draw links and inbounds, you don’t need any special analytics tools to track that. But what about subscribers?

I have some pretty heavy traffic pages–and popular too. But they’re not big subscriber/converters. Some link love, some stumbles, it’s all good. I also have small traffic count pages that go unnoticed (link love) yet I discovered they are subscriber gold mines and I make sure those get some attention so they rise and hold their spot in the SERPs.

What twigged me onto this was keeping a close eye on my subscriber counts. I find email sub counts easier (more stable) to monitor, so I work with those numbers. If my blog averages between 10 and 20 new *email* subs a day–I keep on trucking. When I hit 20+, 30+ and 40+ a day, that’s when my bloggy senses start to tingle and I want to know WHY.

Things to note:

  • There is no new stumble/delicious/social bookmarking action going on
  • There isn’t a new juicy inbound possibly sending the converters
  • Search traffic counts are within normal range

So when you discount each of those things as being a reason for the jump in blog subscribers, how can you pinpoint where these new subscribers are coming from and why? This had me scratching my noggin for a bit, but the secret: It’s in the keywords.

Analytics is cool, groovy stuff that I’m delving more into right now, but I’m not that sophisticated with implementation yet. For one thing, every analytics option that’s 3rd party hosted isn’t allowed on any of my sites and blogs (why hand over all my juicy secrets to competitors? Free? Ha!). And I’m not a coder. Double whammy.

But I have found a works-for-now option: Bot Tracker (WordPress plugin). You can use it to monitor which pages the search engines are crawling and all that jazz, but you can also watch which pages are hot spots in the SERPs for any given day. Drill down a bit and you’ll see which keywords are being used to find those pages.

When you discover the keywords and content that best converts to new subscribers, it’s easy to write more of that juicy subscriber-bait, as well as make sure what you already have floats to the top of the serps and is more easily found by searchers.

Cleaning Up Your WordPress Blog

Remember back in the day WordPress came with a “wp-images” folder? Well I still had that plus a lot more crap in the folders here on SuperAff. Uploading a fresh new theme motivated me to clean up the loose files, remove old forgotten folders as well as do a complete fresh install of WordPress itself.

I found a bunch of files loose in the root domain (wth was I thinking?) and some stuff scattered throughout that just needed better organization. Moving files can cause problems for old posts though, anyone who’s bookmarked that post or new to reading it will find the file MIA. It’s simple to fix:

  • Just do a search for the filename (ie. “smilie.jpg”) and edit the post to the new file location. You can do this right in WordPress admin area (under Manage) or use the blog’s search box. I didn’t have much post editing to do (makes me wonder what the heck I have those files uploaded for), but if your job is a big one you may prefer doing a database search and replace.

If the search doesn’t come up with any posts using that file, chances are it was something to do with an old theme and can safely be removed from the server completely.

I do have more plans for SuperAff, I don’t blog much here but I am fond of the place. Time to treat it a little better ;). I’ll be adding a few new sections, maybe do something a little different with all the resources, tools and bookmarks, as well as switch up the categories I blog under and a few other ideas. It will take some time though, I have other places that require top priority, but I’m looking forward to updating things around here. I won’t be announcing each improvement or change or removal or update, so if you come across something new the next time you’re visiting, you’ll know why.

I’ll also be monetizing SuperAff a bit. Buying the new theme and realizing that I couldn’t justify the cost for an exclusive theme (that was affordable and reasonably priced) is so wrong for a blog that’s three years old. I won’t be going crazy or interrupting your feed reading constantly with the “latest and greatest must have deals”, so no worries.

How To Purchase A WordPress Theme

After searching what seemed like forever, I finally found a theme to purchase for SuperAff from a nice young fellow all the way over in South Africa, Cobus. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. During my theme hunt, I discovered a few things to look for when buying WordPress themes:

  1. Window Shopping: I found browsing through portfolios for ready-made designs to be the best bet rather than trying to explain to a designer exactly what you want. If no prices are listed, just ask–you might hit the jackpot and be pleasantly surprised (like me). Unless you have a designer on hand that knows your style and what you expect, there’s a high risk that it just won’t work out. You explain to the designer what you want, she understands, and whips up something completely different than what you had in your mind. She’s incorporated the things that you’ve requested, but not at all in the way you envisioned. It’s like clipping a picture from a magazine and taking it to your hairdresser to style your hair in the exact same way. You walk out with a hairdo that’s not at all what you thought it would be (ladies, you know what I’m talking about here!). That’s because how I see/perceive something can be different than how you see it. I see shiny highlites and bouncy curls, my hairdresser sees orange undertones and perm. I’ve lost a few bucks because I didn’t like what the designer came up with.
  2. Watch The Graphics: Make sure the theme’s category and sidebar titles are text and not graphics. It’s *real fun* trying to customize and make new titles/headers match the font and shade exactly when you are trying to add something other than the usual suspects to your sidebar (like “categories”, “archives”, “meta”). If you have the graphic skills and are able to edit them easily, it still sucks having to create a new graphic file every time you want to add a section to your sidebar.
  3. Be Clear On Specs: If you want the sidebars to be a certain width (to hold a certain size banner for example), or if you want the content to be read in the code first before the sidebars, make sure to mention that to your designer. If your specs aren’t already in place, they can easily do so before handing the new theme over.
  4. Original Design: If you want a theme designed from scratch that you totally own and no one else can get their hands on, expect to pay between $700 and $1100 dollars. It aint cheap. But in return you better get some serious input and editing control in place, otherwise chances are high you’ll be stuck with a very expensive theme you are dissatisfied with or even hate (see point #1).
  5. SuperAff AvatarTheme Accessories: Ask the designer to whip up an avatar and a favicon to match the theme. Be specific though, same rules apply as with choosing a theme. My words to Cobus were: “Basically just the two letters from my blog title (maybe staggered) with a nice border” and this is what he came up with–I love it. I lucked out though, this could have gone very, very wrong if I was wanting something particular in design.
  6. Widgets: Is the theme widget ready? Do you want widgets? Although WordPress is widget friendly, I use them *sparingly* on other blogs. This theme was widget ready and I could have had Cobus “un-widgetize” it, but I decided to go for it. Now I think I hate widgets :P. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new theme, do you want widgets or not?
  7. Header graphics: Ask the designer if they’re willing to customize the header graphic. SuperAff in the above header doesn’t look that complicated and I probably could have pulled it off myself, but Cobus did a beautiful job on the theme–would I really want to go in and slaughter the design by topping it with a header hacked together with my crappy graphic skillz?
  8. Customize It: Once the new theme is delivered, upload it, add all your favorite plugins and then comb through the code. Designers are artists, net marketers are hacks. But with our fresh pair of eyes sometimes we can spot things that could be streamlined or tightened up in the code. Feel free to hack away at your new theme, just make sure to keep an untouched master copy on hand in case you screw something up and can’t fix it. This new theme on SuperAff has been modified a bit, and Cobus was ok with that ;).

You can also join WordPress theme clubs like this one and this one, you get an array of goodies to choose from with new releases on a regular basis.

Please Note: If any “report bots” are reading this and are tempted to skedaddle off to report this post, I have not received a reduced price, a free theme, a cup of coffee or anything in return for mentioning Cobus and his mad design skillz. I’m simply a happy customer that recommends him and am pleased with this purchase. That’s still allowed to discuss. Sad state of affairs that I even have to add this blurb.

a:visited Not Working In Firefox

Oh boy, this took hours of pulling my hair out trying to determine why a:visited was not working on a new theme when viewing in Firefox but was totally fine in IE. Here’s a tip:

Make sure your Firefox isn’t set to “0” days in Tools => Options => Privacy

If it is, Firefox ignores the a:visited styles.

Found the answer on thescripts.com.

Ridiculous amounts of time were wasted because of that setting. Who knew.

If that isn’t it, make sure the link order in the CSS file is:

a:link
a:visited
a:hover
a:active

Email Management Tips

I am literally swimming in tech stuff, domain management and site development right now, and yesterday’s WordPress upgrade couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. Anyhow one thing I thought I’d share with you are the changes I’ve recently made with how I manage all the emails across dozens of domains. I think I’m just avoiding my disaster pile of work that’s waiting for me ;). But I had to hunker down and nuke my past email setup (email client was wonky) because it wasn’t as efficient as it could be. First here’s a bit of backstory:

  1. I don’t allow my domain emails to pass through a third party (like gmail, yahoo, whatevs).
  2. I’m a Microsoft fan, but not Outlook. To me–it’s a magnet for virus disasters IMO.
  3. I’ve used a few different email clients through the years, namely Pegasus and Foxmail (can’t find the non-chinese link). Too limited though when things got complicated (ie. bunch of email addies per domain) and some features just aren’t there that I’d like.
  4. I have a couple (or a few–depending on the domain) email addies per domain. Such as one for site contact form, one to use when making comments on other blogs, one for article/directory/whatever submissions, etc. The method to my madness is that when one gets picked up in the spam train (and when using them ‘out there’ for whatever reason–they will), I can just delete it and start with a fresh one. This keeps my main email addresses mostly out of the spam loop.

Since I am working with several live domains, with each domain having at least two email addresses, and download all the emails locally to my computer every few minutes rather than have an online third party handle them–things got a bit heavy and clunky. I have been using Foxmail for a few years now, but I seemed to have broke it with all my accounts and the megs of stored emails (it constantly drops the stored passwords).

I recently made the switch to Thunderbird and although I still need to figure out a few tweaks for personal preference, overall this email client is “The One” for me!

First, a new trick I figured out for domain emails: And this one may make your eyes roll since it’s *always* been available to do, I just never picked up on it. In the past I always created a new account in cPanel for each email address. Hello! Just create one email address and then go into “Forwarders” and create all the aliases you want to send and receive mail for and then forward to the one main email address. You can forward all emails from one domain to another domain’s email account too–I haven’t looked into that at all though since it’s not something I’m interested in doing atm.

What Happens: It saves your email client from logging in and checking dozens (maybe hundreds) of email accounts. It just has to log into the main account for the domain and grab all the emails including ones for the aliases.

Here’s where things get interesting with Thunderbird: You can create an account for the main email, then add a bunch of Identities to that account. What happens then is that you can create emails or respond with the “email alias” you are working with instead of your main email account showing up in the headers as “to” and “from”. I won’t get into the details of how to do that, it’s laid out very well here: Web Worker DailyThunderbird

Be Linkable & Put All Your Focus Where The Results Are

Some feedback in my email regarding the last two posts made me realize that I need to clarify a thing or two.

There’s no way around it: If you want links, you have to provide linkable content.

You can comment on all the blogs you want, woo all the biggies with links and feedback and all that jazz. But if you aren’t creating linkable content–nothing you do is going to successfully get you inbounds.

When I said: Write for the linkers and the stumblers–that means create GOOD STUFF because that’s what the linkers and the stumblers promote.

Also it helps to remember that no one OWES you a link. Your blog is not entitled to a single one. However, if you know your blog has plenty of linkable content and you’re being a good social blogger yet not getting anywhere, it’s common sense. You have to move your attention elsewhere to get those inbounds.

How to be linkable? Well here are few ways that are barking up the wrong tree:

1. Creating the same content everyone else is. You notice someone’s getting a bunch of attention for their blog post about 20 Hilarius Names For Dogs. So you get a Big Idea: write your own blog post about 30 Hilarious Names For Dogs. That should do it! Not. It’s too obvious, too desperate, and has been done (even though the amount is different). You really do have to be more original and unique.

2. Writing about your day to day activities. How you got up and brushed your teeth. And ohhhh! Baby said the most cutest thing. Got stuck in killer traffic. And then you picked up groceries and saved $25 with all the coupons. How is that giving someone a reason to link to you?

3. Your opinions. They don’t matter to anyone so that isn’t linkable either. Unless you’re established and accepted as an expert in that given topic, your opinions really don’t mean anything to anyone. If your blog is post after post after post about what you think about this, that and the other – you’re pretty much sunk.

4. Vague information that really doesn’t say anything about anything. I look at some of the popular blogs and wonder just how true that is lol, but in general – you really do need to provide good, detailed info and not hot air or hype.

5. Content that doesn’t matter to anyone. If you’re writing about stuff no one gives a crap about, why would someone link to your blog?

6. Ads ads ads ads ads everywhere. It smells desperate. It looks ridiculous. And it’s not user friendly. It also sends a message: Cash is the motivation and not conversation.

So what’s linkable?

I think you have to know your niche to really know for sure. Some niches respond to “Just the Facts Ma’am”, and others respond to more commentary or something entertaining and newsworthy.

Watch what’s being linked to consistently. Is it tutorials? Then write tutorials. Is it freebies? Then create some freebies. Is it funny stuff? Then be hilarious. But in all those things, the most important is to be original. Offer what hasn’t been offered already. Make sure it’s something wanted or needed or lacking in your niche. Fill a need or a want. AND MAKE IT GOOD!

The unique and the original accomplishes something: it grabs and holds attention for a few seconds.

So if you do have plenty of linkable content–yet not having any luck with your chosen fellow bloggers: Dump those that refuse to give a little back and find those that ARE open to two way streets. Don’t link to them, don’t comment, don’t even read their blogs.

Put all your focus on finding where the results are.

If someone’s offended that I’m “preaching” about dumping bloggers that aren’t giving a little back, that’s their problem not mine. I don’t have time to waste on bloggers that aren’t interested in working with the rest of the community, and I *assume* no one else has the time to waste either.

But…they’re so big! So…successful! So…respected! Good for them. Question: Just how is following their every move help *YOUR* blog grow? Because that’s what you’re trying to do online. Isn’t it?

But…isn’t this all…so manipulative? Should blogging…really be so focused on who’s linking to who and who isn’t? Honey, the people that preach that links aren’t everything are those that already have the eyeballs. If you don’t have links, you’re just blogging to nobody.

Want a big blog? Put all your focus where the results are and quit banging your head against a dead end. At some point you’re going to find the secret sauce and you’ll find inbounds to your blog creating themselves magically. Just quit wasting time chasing people that aren’t interested.