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10 signs that the Internet hates you

What- did I really just say that? The entire internet itself can’t hate someone, and why would it pick on little old me? Please, say it ain’t so.

It might be… If you’re not ‘feeling the love” from the energy you put into your niche blogs, there might be a reason.

Over the past 3 years in this business, I’ve seen so many people start writing at the same sites I write for and, to my surprise, they aren’t making money. Or they’ll start a niche blogging business and report similar failures.  Someone told me the other day “I think the Internet hates me.”  Which made me chuckle, until I looked at her website and figured out that she was right. (Sorry, B… we’ll fix it!)

10- The Internet doesn’t want to read your diary

Unless you’re extremely witty or famous for something else, you’re probably not going to get a lot of traffic or ad clicks from a site that simply tells your personal stories.  This doesn’t mean you can’t monetize a personal blog it means that Google adsense or other keyword-based ads probably aren’t the way to go (Chitika– maybe…)   Look for affiliate links for products and services you recommend, or sponsors.  If you’re using SEO principles in each entry and writing on a variety of topics. Try using adsense in permalink pages only, they might perform better than sitewide sidebar ads because your permalink pages will be more focused than the site itself. This will clean up your multi-post pages and eliminate the possibility of having a page full of acai berry, American idol and Get rich quick ads.  Still- you can probably generate more traffic at the get-go by exchanging banners with a similar site, then, later, sell sponsored banner links.

I prefer the Atahualpa theme for WordPress because it’s completely customizable and allows you to specify different sidebar settings for different pages, so you have complete control over whether or not the sidebar shows up on multi-post pages, search result pages, the front page, etc.  With optional inner & outer sidebars on both the right and left side PLUS the byline, kicker and post footer fields,  the appearance of each view is completely customizable.

9- You’re not speaking the Internet’s language

Your titles, categories and tags are not written with SEO standards in mind. No one is going to search for the term “B’s favorite recipe for chili that tastes like my neighbor’s from Texico” but they will search for “Tex-Mex chili recipe” The very simplest SEO advice, if you don’t want to study it in depth is to “Use the words you’d enter into a search engine if you were looking for the info.”  Which often means writing your title AFTER you write the rest of the post.

Your categories and tags should also be keyworded.  Muy importante.

8- They don’t know how to get back to your house

When new visitors arrive, they probably don’t just randomly type “ into the address bar on a whim or because an angel whispered it into their ear.  And, if they did, what are the odds that such a thing will happen again?  Make it easy for visitors to subscribe to your site, to share posts on Facebook, to “like” your site, to email posts to friends, to share the site on twitter, do whatever it takes, without being intrusive, to bring them back later.  Not every reader knows what the orange RSS icon is for. They might see it all over the place, but have never clicked on one.  Make it easy for them.  Use an email subscription form in the footer, an exit popup or even slidein form to offer regular updates.

7- You’re invisible

You can’t just build a website and expect the Internet to do the rest. If search engines don’t see other sites linking to yours, they won’t bother sending you traffic, either.  How will you get incoming links?  By GIVING them.  Who do you give them to? Your competition, sometimes.  Try to link each post to 2 or 3 other websites. Your goal is to serve yourself by serving your readers.  Some outbound links will be more effective than others.  I try to link to the sites of other webwriters, especially those who write in my niche, because I want my niche blogs to noticed by authority sites in their niche.  So for my laptop website, for example, I have links going out to a few Suite101 articles, written by people other than me. I have links going out to other technology bloggers, and popular sites like PC magazine, etc.  I also have links going out to columns, and that’s paid off, too, because they end up linking to me pretty quick (Examiner encourages liberal use of outbound links)

I don’t know if there’s an ideal ratio of outbound vs incoming links, but I don’t feel like a sucker with 1/3 as many incoming links as I have outbound links.

6- You’re buried under garbage

Have you ever searched for something and seen “1-10 of 437,000,000 results”  I wonder how many people click through 43,700,000 pages to find that last web page?  Probably none.  You don’t want to be on the last page, you want to be on the first page.  The Google May Day algorithm change might have done a number on long-tail keywords, but the concept wasn’t eradicated entirely.  It just means that your social networking efforts are more important now and that it’s more important than ever to deliver what you’re promising your readers,  because otherwise, you will stink like rotting rubbish and the Internet doesn’t like that.

5- Your site sucks and it always has

Hey- we all have typos, we all spell things wrong occasionally, or format something a little wonky. In the course of adding new content to your site each week, don’t stop paying attention to your older articles.  If you notice something that could be clarified, rewrite it a bit. If you notice something that’s spelled wrong, fix it.  If you’ve linked to another webpage that’s no longer available, get rid of the damned link.

The entire beauty of niche blogging is that your work today earns you income FOREVER, not just for today. So maintaining the integrity of your older articles is just as important as writing new ones.  Devote a day every month to just skimming through last year’s entries.  I did, and found something to change on almost every one.  I was shocked that they’d sat there for a year.

Nurture your older work as much as your newer work.

4- Their friends don’t like you either

Because of the May Day algorithm change, I recommend creating a Facebook page for EVERY niche blog.  Yep. Pain in the butt?  Maybe.  Actually- I created about 12 in 3 hours, I’d be happy to set them up for you if you want.   I’ve got mine pretty much automated, but I’ve decided to experiment with manual updates on a few, I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Automation- I set up the Facebook profile to automatically send a twitter tweet (each blog has its own twitter, although some in similar niches share an identity) Then- I set up the RSS feed to automatically post to Facebook using Socialite plugin for WordPress.  This process has a kink- because it’s posting Facebook to Twitter.   Twitter is getting more attention because I’m also using Tweetlater in a process I described here to promote older content. Consequently, the older content isn’t making its way to Facebook automatically.

I’m experimenting with a switcheroo and another scheduling service, so my Twitter and Facebook updates aren’t identical.  I think twitter hashtags are effective and I want to use them when they’re applicable, without them showing up in Facebook.

If I notice anything remarkably different about the clickthroughs, I will let you know

Anyway- the point here is that when you integrate social networking, it gives people a way to promote you. I feel like I’ve said that already, but it’s REALLY important. How will anyone know you’re the goddess of your topic if you don’t make it easy for them to worship you?

3- You talk too much

Regularly updating your site is important. Posting 3-4 times a day is annoying.  Let me clarify… For some reason, celebrity gossip sites are exempt from this.  Maybe a few other niches are exempt, too.

Just consider your audience deeply. Do they want more than 1 update a day?  On this site, I might be able to get away with more frequent updates because my audience is online a lot. But this site isn’t much of a moneymaker, and in spite of all the crazy ads everywhere, I really didn’t intend for it to be.

I recently followed a twitter account based on the fact that I really liked the craft project that she did with her kids.  Her photos were lovely and I know I fail to read email subscriptions, so I followed her on twitter so I could hopefully catch her next post. That lasted about 24 hours. I follow a lot of people, over 600.  When I logged into Tweetdeck, I saw that more than half of my screen had her face on it.  She tweeted every 5 minutes.

She was a niche blogger and had several automated feeds tweeting into her account, plus she used twitter on her iPhone so she had manual updates, too.  Taking her daughter to the dentist… how to make a felt cell phone cover…sitting in the waiting room… Low fat salad dressing…. daughter has a cavity….. baby-proofing your camper…… picture of daughter’s numb pucker…. LEAVEMETHEHELLALONE

I would have continued following her if I was getting JUST the updates from the site I liked, but the combination of all her updates AND her personal life was overwhelming.

2- They think you’re selfish

Don’t keep all the best information a secret. GIVE your readers the exact information they need so THEY can succeed. You can’t post the pictures of a recipe and then tell them they need to buy the book in order to make it.  Give them a few recipes.

You can’t use every post to promote an affiliate product. And you can’t promote several different products.  Promote what you USE- whether it’s free or paid.

No one will trust your authority if you’re always trying to sell them something. Your readers have brains, too.  Ask them for advice. Give them helpful information and resources. Share your latest awesome discovery.  Sure- you’re here to make money. But you can’t do it without readers and no one will want to read you if they’re not benefiting from it. GIVE GIVE GIVE

  • Give high quality content
  • Give your best information and advice
  • Give outbound links to other sites in your niche

1- You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny

A purple background with orange text, come on?  “You won a laptop popup?”  That’s so 1999.  Keep it clean.  White or light background with black text.  White space. Don’t use teeny tiny fonts. Don’t use giant fonts.  Don’t use a row of animated .gifs as a divider.    Don’t use photos larger than the average user’s screen size.

THIS website is too cluttered.  The one you’re reading right now.  One day I’ll get around to cleaning it up.   I’m just confessing in case someone feels the need to tell me.