10 Reasons Why Your Blog Is Underperforming

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It’s true that 47% of consumers read between 3-5 pieces of blog content before making a purchasing decision.

Are you making sure your content is connecting with your audience?

Millions of businesses are writing content every single day (myself included) but you will find that they aren’t achieving the results they are looking for.

Writing content is time consuming, but after understanding what doesn’t work, you will find that the time you are spending writing content, will pay off for you.

After understanding my audience, and thousands of successful pieces of written content over the last nine years, I want to share with you 10 reasons why your blog is underperforming.

1. Un-Engaging Headline

When it comes to creating written content, the first thing someone will see is your headline, and one of the biggest reasons why your blog is underperforming is because your headlines are not engaging with your audience.

Research your industry to see what your audience are most engaging with, and take a look at your past articles to understand the type of content your audience wants to read.

2. Having A Boring Tone Of Voice

Every single company you come across that has a successful marketing strategy will have their own tone of voice that connects with their customers. People will always buy from people, so your brand has to have emotion, and a personality which they can connect with and relate to.

3. Using Short Keywords For Your SEO

Using one word keywords for a focus keyword for your metadata will not drive you traffic. You need to get more niche, and use long-tail keywords to make sure that when people are searching for the type of content you are creating, your blog is showing up in their search results. Think about how your audience searches, and make your long-tail keywords more conversational.

4. There’s No Powerful or Persuasive Hook

When you are writing content, you need to make sure that you are sharing compelling facts and statistics to connect with your audience. Having a powerful hook by writing something that will persuade your audience to read your content will help you when it comes to building trust and helping your prospect make that purchasing decision.

5. Lack Of Variety

You will notice that I have articles which are just written content, and then I will also have other articles that have visuals. It is important that you are always varying the type of content you create, as your audience want information in a variety of different ways.

6. No Call-To-Action

This is something I have been doing more of over the last 12 months. I always make sure to offer a call-to-action at the end of my blogs whether this be to sign up to a webinar, resource or just answer a question. Use a call-to-action as a way to encourage a two-way conversation.

7. Short Content

Just two years ago, optimum content used to be around the 300-word mark, but now, content that is 600 words + is performing better. I make sure that my content is at least 700 words long. If you find it hard to write longer content on a more regular basis, focus on writing less content that is longer, and more in depth.

8. You’re Not Telling A Story

In every piece of content I write, I like to share some sort of anecdote to give what I am saying credibility, and use it as a way to connect with you audience on a more personal level. Think about how you can talk about your story to help your audience.

9. Repurposing All Of Your Content

Only recently I discovered that repurposing every single piece of content, and sharing it on the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium within a week of posting on my website actually decreases the traffic I get to the article. Because LinkedIn Pulse and Medium are considered more “authoritative” websites, content of yours that sits on your website, and on these sites within a month of each other are in essence competing for traffic and you don’t want that.

10. Not Promoting Your Blog

Are you sharing your content across all of your Social Media platforms? To get traffic back to your website, sharing a link to your blog posts on Social Media is important. You should also look at other ways to promote your blog including email marketing, and other forms of digital marketing.

I hope that the above 10 tips will help your blog perform more effectively for your business.

Over the last nine years I have written over 1,000 articles, and have acquired more than ONE MILLION visitors reading my blogging content. How would you like to be able to achieve the same?

In the modern world, every business needs to communicate with their customers through content, and the best way to do this is through blogging.

To understand whether this webinar is for YOU, I have four questions I would like you to ask yourself:

  1. Do you know how to set up a blog?
  2. Are you happy with the blog traffic you are generating?
  3. Are you on the first page of Google for your blog content?
  4. Do you know how to find your target customers online?

If you answered NO to the above questions, this will be one of the best blogging learning opportunities you’ll have this year, and it’s 100% free, certified and live!

Here’s Why You Should Care:

  • Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages
  • 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with the company
  • B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not

In my NEW and EXCLUSIVE 1 hour webinar, I will share with you how I have generated thousands of leads through the content I create on a weekly basis.

As a small business, writing content is something that should be a huge focus for you, especially if driving traffic is important to your success.

Join me on the 21st June at 7pm and in just 60 minutes I will take you through my formula to small business blogging success that has helped me generate thousands of leads, and can be attributed to a 6-figure income.

Places limited to 100 people, so be sure to sign up below to secure your place. If you cannot make it live, still register to make sure that you receive a link to the recording post-webinar!

This is one of the best blogging learning opportunities you’ll have this year and it’s 100% free and certified.
[“Source-ndtv”]

Why Quarterback Is Again An Offseason Priority For The Cowboys

The biggest story of 2016 for the Dallas Cowboys was how they wound up with their new franchise quarterback through a combination of good evaluation and just plain luck. Dak Prescott proved to be far more capable than anyone dreamed. Arguably, he represents the greatest first-year return on draft investment ever, not just for Dallas, but for any team.

As good as that is for the Cowboys, it came with the unfortunate downside of ending the career of Tony Romo in Dallas with much more of a whimper than a bang. And it also means that there is a very familiar question facing the Cowboys again this year: Just what do they do about the backup quarterback situation?

In a recent mock draft, SBN draft maven Dan Kadar not only looked at who he projected for teams to take in the first round this year, he also addressed the question of whether each team should draft a quarterback. His answer for Dallas was succinct.

Should they draft a quarterback? Lol

That is funny, as well. It also is pretty much the wrong answer.

With Romo on his way out (and the whole story of where he might end up growing daily), the Cowboys now have exactly zero backup quarterbacks under contract. Kellen Moore and Mark Sanchez are both free agents. Even if the team should re-sign one of them, they still need at least two more camp arms. But camp arms and possible future backups are two different beasts, and the Cowboys have to be looking for the latter. Obviously they are not going to be looking to draft a quarterback early, but on day three, it becomes not just a possibility. It should be something of a priority.

It is certain that the team will want at least one experienced backup going into training camp, and that search would logically begin with Moore and Sanchez. Of the two, Moore would be the more likely option (signing both seems highly improbable). In the first installment of his breakdown of the roster, our own Mark Aggarwal laid out the logic.

Kellen Moore: Second String – As a favorite of Scott Linehan, there is a good possibility the Cowboys will re-sign him to backup Prescott. He knows the Cowboys system, has the trust of the coaches and should come relatively cheap.

That would result in more deja vu all over again, as having Moore as the incumbent backup to the established starter is exactly where the Cowboys were a year ago. Of course, Prescott does not have the injury and age concerns Romo had. But the team was clearly looking to upgrade at the position when they took Prescott in the draft, and that also still applies. The problem with Moore is that his ceiling just looks limited.

What the drafting of Prescott did show was that the staff, especially the coaches, were able to see something that others clearly missed (or at least were unwilling to move on before Dallas got its chance at the end of the fourth round last year). The odds are staggering against finding another Dak this year – but that wasn’t what they thought they had when they took him. They believed at the time they had a developmental quarterback with a lot of upside and good intangibles. This year, they should be combing the available quarterbacks for the same thing. They won’t find a second Dak – but maybe they can find Dak Lite.

The Cowboys have not had a history of taking quarterbacks in the draft in the years before Prescott was selected, but they also had a similar aversion to taking offensive linemen early before a certain Tyron Smith was drafted. His success led to a complete revision of the approach which led to adding Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, and indirectly to La’el Collins as well. Now that they hit the mother lode with Prescott, it would not be surprising to see them go back to that well.

However, this is seen as a relatively weak quarterback class, with no Jared Goff or Carson Wentz creating a sellers’ market for top draft spots to take perceived blue chips. The Cowboys do not want to force things here. They need to stick to their board, which they have been doing fairly well of late. If the value is not there, they will have to go the UDFA route (which, admittedly, they have also had some remarkable success at doing in the not too distant past). They can also consider signing another veteran backup, such as Josh McCown, but that is not a long-term solution. The goal for Dallas is to find a young arm with good football intelligence and processing speed to groom.

The ideal model here is the New England Patriots, who have a long history of drafting quarterbacks, making them look good, flipping them for draft picks, rinse, and repeat. Jimmy Garoppolo is the latest, and we all know about Matt Cassel as well. As much as we love to hate the hoodie, Bill Belichick is a master at this game. And there is nothing wrong with stealing an idea from the best.

What the Cowboys should be hoping for is a QB they have a third- or fourth-round grade on to slip into the sixth or seventh round, the way cornerback Anthony Brown did last year. Brown was the other real draft coup from last year, able to start capably when Morris Claiborne was injured, and now one of the cornerstones for rebuilding the secondary with so many key payers from last year also free agents.

If that happens, the Cowboys need to be ready to pull the trigger. There is no guarantee that they will solve the QB2 issue this time around, but it may take more than one shot at the target. They can’t be shy about making the pick if their scouting backs the move. Like it or not, it is a real need to address this year – as long as everything lines up properly.

[Source:-Blogging The Boys]

Why SEO is more powerful than your CEO when crisis strikes

Many critics and commentators look to the chief executive when crisis hits a brand or organisation. It’s recently become a matter of anecdotal wisdom that those businesses that survive crises best only do so because of the authority, credibility and empathy of their senior leaders.

Certainly those organisations with inept executives or spokespeople are heavily criticised and lambasted during, and even well after, the crisis event. But be clear, chief executive crisis appearances are often about the semiology of sincerity and the appearance of a swift response.

Read more: 11 ways to stop an online issue turning into a PR disaster

An out-dated crisis communication model

Historically, under-fire brands needed a consistent, calm authority figure that became the sole point of company crisis information; someone who could present a personable face for the business while it was under duress.

And there’s our first huge problem; many businesses still use a historic media and crisis communication model, rather than a contemporarily configured one. You see, in the modern media arena, the number of experts, pundits and sources—each replete with their opinions and retrospective ‘shoulda’s and woulda’s’—have multiplied significantly. One (chief executive) person cannot address all those fragmented audiences simultaneously.

In crisis, critics and detractors publish incessantly, inaccurately, and certainly more frequently than the under-the-cosh corporate. Crisis companies lose fair share of voice, almost as soon as the crisis breaks.

Erroneous content can fuel search results first

Online channels pick up much of this early, frequently erroneous, content. Due to the source traffic volumes and search engine rankings, the ‘wrong’ content infiltrates search engine results. And as over 90% of online searchers click on the highest-ranking webpages and sites first, ‘the fix’ is often in! Crisis-hit entities need to use search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure their pages get priority perusal.

But typically, I still lament what the majority seem to be doing. Many are waiting for the board or legal to approve holding statements, or rehearsing the chief executive with sound bites designed to placate a media ever ready to pounce on mispronunciations or misallocation of accountability or blame. The communications focus has become erroneous; technology makes it so.

Chief executives are outgunned by SEO speculation

In terms of message spread and traction, your chief executive is easily outgunned by speed, by speculation and by volume of overwhelmingly critical search engine optimised content. As a consequence, the effectiveness and impact of the chief executive in a crisis is fast being overtaken by the pre-eminent role of search engines (and SEO) in ‘framing the crisis narrative’.

After all, when a crisis breaks, many people trust search engines first to help them divine which channel they’ll follow for news on the incident information. So the big challenge facing brands-in-disaster is: ”Who are crisis followers listening to?” (And by association, “how do we get them to listen to us?”)

Why do companies still cede narrative relevance?

We could realistically expect a business at the sharp end of any crisis to be best positioned to explain and expose what’s truly happening—with updates, footage and on-the-ground interviews. For this to happen, companies need to move into the proprietary news business rather than just the reactive communications business.

DiscoverOrganizationWeb pageCrisis communication

But too often, businesses don’t just fail to command narrative authority in a crisis. Their message management methodology is pre-programmed to hand over that authority to third party media channels. They quickly cede influence.

In only grooming and training their chief executive to perform for traditional news outlets, the beleaguered ‘body corporate’ cedes influence to a process that sees them lose narrative relevance as soon as the crisis breaks. In so doing, they’re again relinquishing their power, the privilege of their reporting position at the crisis coalface and, ultimately, their reputation.

Move into the news business

Despite the newer digital media offering plentiful opportunities to publish crisis updates straight to stakeholders (and search engines), only a minority of Aussie corporates have restructured their message distribution strategies—and resourced their communications teams—to get into the news business.

Now I’m not saying the role of any chief executive in a crisis is redundant—not at all. But given the changes in our information, news and content sharing environments, the importance and impact of good SEO is an absolute mandatory in determining a fairer share of how the story is created, disseminated and located.

Ideally, you twin your chief executive’s status with all the SEO smarts at your disposal and drive your narrative to best represent your business; in crisis times and in peace times.

The big question is: “Do you really know the drill of modern crisis management?”

[Source:-Smart Company]

Why is Turkey holding a referendum?

In one brawl, a government MP alleged an opponent bit into his leg. In another, a plant pot was hurled across parliament. A microphone was stolen and used as a weapon. An independent MP handcuffed herself to a lectern, sparking another scuffle. The parliamentary debate on changing Turkey’s constitution wasn’t a mild affair.

On the surface, it might seem a proposal that would enjoy cross-party consensus: modernising Turkey’s constitution that was drawn up at the behest of the once-omnipotent military after the coup of 1980.

But instead it’s arguably the most controversial political change in a generation, becoming in effect a referendum on the country’s powerful but divisive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The plan would turn Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic, more akin to the United States. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister would be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, would be created.
  • The president would become the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retain ties to a political party.
  • He or she would be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, approve the budget, choose the majority of supreme and constitutional court judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone would be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament would lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it would be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs would increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day every five years. The president would be limited to two terms.

The government – and, principally, President Erdogan – argue that the reforms would streamline decision-making and avoid the unwieldy parliamentary coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past.

Since the president is no longer chosen by parliament but now elected directly by the people, goes the argument, he or she should not have to contend with another elected leader (the prime minister) to enact laws.

The current system is, they say, holding back Turkey’s progress. They even argue that the change could somehow end the extremist attacks that have killed more than 500 people in the past 18 months.

A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in IstanbulImage copyrightOZAN KOSE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionHundreds of people have been killed in attacks in Turkey in the past 18 months

A presidential system is all very well in a country with proper checks and balances like the United States, retort critics, where an independent judiciary has shown itself willing to stand up to Donald Trump and a rigorous free press calls him out on contentious policies.

But in Turkey, where judicial independence has plummeted and which now ranks 151 of 180 countries in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters Without Borders, an all-powerful president would spell the death knell of democracy, they say.

  • Profile: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s dominant president
  • ‘Open, police!’: The day a Turkish writer’s life changed

Mr Erdogan’s opponents already decry his slide to authoritarianism, presiding over the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and a country where some 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended since the failed coup last year. Granting him virtually unfettered powers, says the main opposition CHP, would “entrench dictatorship”.

“The jury is out,” says Ahmet Kasim Han, a political scientist from Kadir Has University. “It doesn’t look as bad as the opposition paints it and it’s definitely not as benevolent as the government depicts it. The real weakness is that in its hurry to pass the reform, the government hasn’t really explained the 2,000 laws that would change. So it doesn’t look bright, especially with this government’s track record.”

A boy wearing a Turkish flag in a show of loyalty to the state following the failed coup attempt in July 2015Image copyrightBURAK KARA/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionSince the failed coup 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended from their jobs

The governing AK Party had to rely on parliamentary votes from the far-right MHP to lead the country to a referendum. For long, the MHP leader, Devlet Bahceli, opposed the presidential system: “The Turkish nation has never allowed a Hitler,” he once said, “and it will not allow Erdogan to get away with this,” calling it the recipe for “a sultanate without a throne”.

But arm-twisting and rumours that he could be offered one of the vice presidential posts has prompted a spectacular U-turn. The question now is whether he can persuade his party to follow. The party’s deputy chairman and several local MHP officials have already resigned over Mr Bahceli’s stance.

“It seems this is not going Bahceli’s way,” says Dr Kasim Han. “But the naysayers may not feel able to go against the party culture by contradicting the leader.”

Opposition to the reform is led by the centre-left CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP parties, the latter of which has been portrayed by the government as linked to terrorism. Several of its MPs and the party leaders are now in prison.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of opposition Nationalist Movement Party, attends the parliamentary session for the debates on a new draft constitution at the Turkish Grand National Assembly
Image copyrightADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionDevlet Bahceli, leader of the far right MHP, now supports the proposed constitutional changes

AKP and MHP voters who oppose the reform may feel pressured into voting in favour, so as not to be tarnished as supporting “terrorists”, especially since the referendum will take place under the state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup.

“Holding the vote under this state of emergency makes it susceptible to allegations that people don’t feel free to say no,” says Dr Kasim Han. “It casts a shadow over the outcome.”

Polling has been contradictory and Turkish opinion pollsters are notoriously politicised. But all signs point to a very tight race.

With the detail of the constitutional reform impenetrable to many, the referendum has become focused around Mr Erdogan himself: a president who elicits utmost reverence from one side of the country and intense hatred from the other.

The decision as to whether to grant him the powers he’s long coveted will determine the political fate of this deeply troubled but hugely important country.

[Source:-BBC]

SEO How-to, Part 1: Why Do You Need It?

Editor’s note: This post begins a weekly primer in SEO, with the goal of touching on all of the foundational aspects. At the end, you’ll be able to practice SEO more confidently and converse with others regarding important SEO challenges and opportunities.

Search engine optimization is part science and part art. But the foundational principles of SEO are straightforward. Still, before I can address how to practice SEO, I should explain what it is and why it’s important.

Google alone controls access to trillions of annual requests for information. Google, Yahoo, and Bing remain three of the U.S.’s top four trafficked websites, according to comScore, the research firm. Presence in search results is critical to generating brand awareness and preference. With an estimated $80 billion spent online in the 2016 holiday season alone, and the increasingly “micro-moment,” quick-search mentality of mobile consumers, SEO is more important than ever to driving shoppers to your site and away from the competition.

SEO is simply the practice of optimizing your search-engine presence to produce traffic and to your site. It is also called organic search or natural search. SEO should thread through every aspect of an organization — from product planning, traditional marketing, and customer support to the more obvious areas of digital planning, strategy, content, user experience, design, development, and deployment.

Search engines do not charge advertising fees for natural search results.

Visually, natural search results are always toward the top of the page at the left side. Depending on the search engine and the query, there will probably be ads above the natural listings, as shown below.

Google’s U.S. search results page for the query “canoe paddles.”

Google’s U.S. search results page for the query “canoe paddles.”

With all of the other boxes and components on the search results page, it is increasingly difficult to claim a visible spot in the first view. Google frequently places a Product Listing Ads box and up to four other ads above the first natural search listing, resulting in only one or two visible natural search listings when the page loads.

Regardless, natural search remains one of the top-performing digital marketing channels for most ecommerce businesses. Some studies put the average traffic driven by natural search at around 50 percent of the total, and average revenue driven at about 40 percent. But in my experience, it varies widely based on the size of the business, and the maturity and spend of their marketing mix.

The more balanced the marketing spend is for the various channels — such as social, email, video, display ads — the lower natural search performance will be as a percentage of the whole, especially as the other channels mature and perform.

I’ve seen businesses that drove 75 percent of their traffic and sales via natural search. This level of dependence on SEO is dangerous because a single algorithm update or SEO-impacting technical glitch could decimate your revenue stream. However, even a business with a mature marketing mix and a site truly search-engine optimized should drive 15 to 25 percent of its traffic and revenue via natural search.

Fortunately, SEO is also one of the least expensive marketing channels in terms of direct and recurring spend. Advertising stops sending referrals when you turn it off. But SEO involves enhancements, which should also be transparent to or beneficial to your shoppers, that improve the site’s ability to drive shoppers from natural search from that time forward. Consequently, while not free as many claim, SEO’s cost is rooted in the time it takes to plan and execute the improvements to your site.

Seemingly every couple of months someone will claim that SEO is dead. That’s certainly true with individual tactics that seek to gain a faster advantage in search results — essentially sneaky tricks or cheating. For example, the very old practice of hiding white text on a page with a white background has long been stamped out. Likewise posting volumes of low-value “articles” or “press releases” filled with over-optimized links to your site in repositories for other sites to use as free content no longer has any SEO value.

However, ethical SEO isn’t about tricks, short-term gains, and taking risks. Ethical SEO is what marketing has become: creating compelling content that shoppers value so much that they share and link to it. When combined with the technical and architectural components of designing and developing a site that is optimal for natural search, ethical SEO is an ever-changing discipline that will only die when consumers stop searching.

[Source:-Practical Ecommerce]

How to . . . enable the Windows 10 dark theme – and why

The dark theme in Windows will get rid of some of the glaring white and bright backgrounds for the operating system.

The Windows 10 Anniversary update introduced last year brought a few new tricks, some that have proved very useful. One of these is the new Dark theme that takes all the apps in Windows 10 and gives them a bit of a makeover at the click of a button.

What does it do?

The dark theme in Windows will get rid of some of the glaring white and bright backgrounds for the operating system.

Maybe you like using your laptop late at night or in low light without burning your retinas out. Maybe it’s an aesthetic preference. Some people feel it’s less stressful on the eyes working for long periods of time with a darker theme. Whatever the reason, it’s nice that Microsoft is offering an easy option for this.

Enabling the dark theme in Windows 10 used to require a bit of messing around with the registry, but these days the process is as simple as toggling it on from the settings menu.

Click on the Start Menu. Click on the Settings cog, then Personalisation>colours and scroll down to the end of the menu. You’ll see an option to choose your app mode. By default it’s set to light. Change it to dark and you’ll see an immediate effect.

When you go into Windows apps, you’ll see the background colour has now been changed to black, making your desktop an altogether more tolerable place to work if you prefer more muted tones.

However, some things retain their white background – File Explorer, Edge and Microsoft Office, to name but a few. It also won’t have an impact on third-party software.

There are options, however.

For desktop applications such as File Explorer you have the choice to use the built-in high-contrast settings or go for a third-party theme. If you opt for the high-contrast settings, the main goal here is to make the screen easier to read rather than to present a slick, dark theme. In other words, it’s not the prettiest, but it does the job.

You can also customise certain parts of it – what colour hyperlinks show up as, how highlighted text looks, and so on – and create you own customer dark theme. To do this, go to the Personalisation menu mentioned previously, go to Colours, and at the very bottom of the menu, click on high-contrast settings. From there you can choose what high-contrast theme to enable and customise.

Edge:

If you are using Microsoft’s built-in browser you will have to enable the dark theme within its settings to dial down the brightness. Open Edge and click on the menu button (the three dots) in the top right corner. Select Settings and under Choose a theme, select Dark from the drop-down box.

Third party-browsers:

If you are using Chrome or Firefox, enabling Windows 10’s dark theme will have no effect on your colour scheme within those programmes. You can, however, download extensions or add-ons that will turn down the lights. For Chrome, try Morpheon Dark or Slinky Elegant, both available free. For Firefox, take a look at the Dark Fox theme.

Microsoft Office:

You can enable the dark themes for each programme you want to use – Word, Excel, etc – so you can have dark themes in Word. for example, without having it for your spreadsheets too. Or you can enable them across the board.

For the former, open the programme you want to turn dark. Go to the File menu>Options>Personalise. In the drop-down menu select Black. Click OK.

To enable it across all Office programmes, go to the File Menu on one Office programme, click Account and, under Office Theme, select Black from the drop-down menu.

[Source:-IT]

Price Check Widgets: Who, How and Why to Use Them.

The past two years have seen a relatively new product category hit the market for hotels: price check widgets, and this sudden proliferation has come hand in hand with the increasing move to drive direct bookings. As OTAs consolidate, many hotels feel constrained by high third-party commission rates, and the benefits of a book direct strategy are more widely understood.

How do price check widgets work? What are the benefits to your hotel of using one? Which price check widgets are out there?

The idea behind a price check widget is simple: when placed on a hotel’s website, it gives guests a clear, immediate way to see the price differences between the hotel’s own site and the price on various OTAs. Ideally, the guest should see that the hotel’s own price is equal to or lower than that of any third-party site. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s up to the hotel to ensure that their direct rates are better or the same as any third-party rates (there are a few widgets that will help you out with this – read on to discover which).

This encourages guests to make their booking directly. However, it also benefits the guest: it saves them time shopping around, assures them they’re getting the best deal, and gives them direct contact with the hotel. This in turn gives the guest more flexibility in adjusting their reservations, and builds loyalty.

What Do the Experts Say?

We’ve reviewed and reached out to the top price check companies in the market today to get their insights and look at what makes price check tools so useful:

Nancy Huang, Head of Marketing at Travel Tripper, says that Travel Tripper has “seen our hotels earn tens of thousands in additional revenue” through their Rate Match tool.  This is because price check tools allow customers to clearly see in the hotel’s own booking engine that they are getting the best deal, instead of shopping around a dozen sites.

Sophie Cartwright at Guestline offers similar sentiments, adding that “It can be the difference between clinching that direct booking and sending them back into the hands of the OTAs.”

So what are the options for hotels? Which price check widget is best for their needs, and where can they get it? We looked into the choices.

Firstly, we inspected stand alone price check widgets – the kind that can be integrated with any booking engine, and aren’t part of a larger system. After that, we looked at widgets that came as part of a larger package, and the key differences between the two types.

Stand Alone Price Check Widgets

These widgets can be attached to any booking engine, CRS or your hotel site. They are free-standing, lightweight and can usually be styled to match a hotel’s branding.

Triptease
The first price check widget on the market was Triptease’s. They invented the first widget, and created a whole new product category. Declan Ward, a representative of Triptease, says:

“It’s our firm belief that direct is best. When we launched two years ago, we realised after months of research that hotels were in need of one thing: a way to drive direct bookings. We launched Price Check, our smart widget that shows live prices from OTAs on a hotel website, and things really took off.”

Widely used and the subject of some recent controversy with Booking.com, it tends to be one of the first price check tools brought up in conversation. They boast 99.5% accuracy in the rates their widget shows, and work with hotels of all sizes. Unfortunately, they do not currently have any case studies available specifically for independent hotels. For their Price Check Widget and other innovations, Triptease were named European Travel Innovator of the Year at Phocuswright last year.

Their Price Check Widget shows real time OTA prices and compares them to your own hotel’s best available rate. One of the unique aspects of the Triptease widget is that the tool also comes with the option of adding 3 benefits of booking direct right next to the price (like free wifi or early check in), reminding guests of the benefits of booking on your site. ///

Clicktripz
Clicktripz offers “conversion solutions for travel.” The first solution they developed after their acquisition of hotel data science start up TheSuitest was their price check widget. They designed the widget to help “travel suppliers and online travel agents (OTAs)”increase their conversion rates.

Unlike other price check tools, they don’t seem to be specifically targeting hotels. Clicktripz works with a variety of client types, including suppliers, publishers, advertisers and travellers, so perhaps it’s no surprise. Nevertheless, it’s a broader arena than most price check tools are targeting, so they might have more opportunity for growth than other suppliers.

Convertio
Convertio is a company dedicated to their Price Check Wizard, engagement messaging and a personalized offer engine. Their smart widget shows your own price at the top, followed by several OTAs below. According to their website, they help hotels garner 35% more direct bookings on average.

They also offer comparisons at both the hotel level and the room type level, as well as customizable displays for different languages and currencies. Here’s an example of the comparison at a room level:

LiveRate
LiveRate’s exclusive product is their price check widget. Their sleek, simple widget integrates onto a hotel website’s home page and links directly to their booking engine. It places the call to action – ‘Book Now’ – right next to a strong motivation to book, making the choice easy for the guest. It can be compared with up to 3 OTAs and customized to match your branding.

Cloudbeds
Cloudbeds offers a PMS, a channel manager, a booking engine, and a group booking engine they call their “OTA-in-a-box”, along with tools like their price checker. Their Rate Comparison Widget is a bit unusual in that it can be placed on any page of your website – that means it can be featured on your home page, booking engine, or every page of your site if you like. It’s also optimised for mobile, which is swiftly becoming a necessity due to mobile’s dramatic growth.

Their Rate Comparison Widget can integrate with up to 5 online travel agencies, and offers guests up-to-date, real time data. Their fees, which also include their booking engine and other features, start at €23 per month.

World Hotel Marketing
World Hotel Marketing, who also provide other distribution solutions and digital marketing services, call their widget a Rate Comparison Tool. It offers comparisons with “at least” 3 real time OTA rates. It’s not clear if their tool is capable of offering further comparisons or is capped at 3, although in most cases 3 would suffice for a hotel’s needs.

Their widget can also be customised for your hotel brand’s look and feel, a must-have if you don’t want your price checker tool to feel out of place or too ostentatious.

Price Checkers as Part of a Larger System

One way to ensure your price check widget doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb is to make it a native part of the body – that is, to get a larger system that comes with a price checker of its own.

Here are 5 of those systems. Let’s see what they believe makes their widgets stand out from the rest.

Hotel Champ
Hotel Champ offers their Price Comparison tool as part of their ‘Triggering Toolset’, a set of 10 tools designed to increase conversions. This kit includes tools like a USP comparison with your website vs the OTAs, live chat and an exit popup message.

Their price comparison tool is clean, neat and does the job. Their Triggering Toolset starts at €229 per month for smaller properties, so make sure you look into the potential value for your property before investing.

Travel Tripper
To Travel Tripper, price check widgets are just one part of “making the actual booking process easy and seamless for the consumer” – an essential concern to those looking to improve direct bookings, says Nancy Huang, Travel Tripper’s head of marketing.

The Travel Tripper Rate Match tool is a little different. In addition to checking rates, Nancy says, the tool “will also price match any lower rate it finds on a third-party booking site.” That way the consumer can be absolutely certain that they’re finding the lowest rate on the hotel’s own site, and if you’ve forgotten to adjust your rates on your own site to make them the lowest, the tool can do it for you.

Paraty Tech
Paraty Tech is a Spain-based company who offer a booking engine, online marketing and web design. Their Parity Maker is their latest tool, and has most of the features of other price check tools we’ve seen – plus a little extra.

Parity Maker compares and matches rates with OTAs in real time. Then, like Travel Tripper’s tool, if the lowest price is not on the hotel’s own website, the prices will be modified to change that fact. The prices change right before the user’s eyes, giving them a powerful incentive to book immediately.

Guestline
Price Assure is offered as a free tool as a part of Guestline’s latest Online Booking Module. Sophie Cartwright at Guestline tells us that Guestline’s Price Assure tool allows guests to compare the total cost of their stay on the hotel’s website against up to 5 other online channels (the same number as Cloudbeds).

When checking room availability, the tool instantly returns results – there’s no wait to see the comparable prices. Sophie says that “the widget uses controls within Guestline’s software, and is configurable by the property, which can customise the messages that the booker reads.” This is convenient for hotels wanting as much flexibility as possible in their price check widget and looking to ensure information is constantly up to date.

Everyglobe
Everyglobe may technically be a stand alone widget, but they’ve partnered exclusively with Webhotelier. Since their price check widget is currently exclusively available with the Webhotelier booking engine, we’re going to treat it here as part of a larger system.

Everyglobe shows a live price comparison on both your hotel website and your booking engine. Here’s what it looks like:

Conclusion

All of these price check widgets have unique features to offer, and it’s likely that some will perform better for your property than others. Ultimately, however, they are all trying to do the same thing: drive direct bookings to your site.

When you are developing a book direct strategy, everything that can be done should be done to get guests on your site and keep them there to book. Hotel technology companies know this, so watch this space! It’s likely that the market will open up even further than it has in such a short span of time, and it will be interesting to watch and see which tools rise, which fall, and why.

[Source:-Hotilers]

Why The Traditional Rules Of Writing Still Matter: 5 Content Creation Tips

Over the past two decades, digital content needs have transformed tremendously. With the switch around the turn of the century towards writing for search engines, the basic principles of writing got lost. People who have never constructed valuable content were suddenly loading their sites with garbage just to drive traffic, which hopefully led to sales.

Regardless of how sloppy they were, these content efforts actually worked – for a bit. But as search engine algorithms have become smarter, content creation strategies require a revised approach. Modern machine learning-based algorithms can quickly find thin and irrelevant content and immediately discredit content accordingly.

The answer to today’s content needs is twofold: First, content must be written well with not only proper spelling and grammar but syntax – a return to traditional form, if you may. Second, the content must fit this form while also abiding by the rules of SEO, which includes a few must-haves, such as keywords based on research, proper headlines containing main keywords and attention-grabbing meta descriptions.

At my company, our content division adheres to traditional writing standards that are tailored for search engines. With that said, here are five content creation tips that every digital market needs to abide by for true success.

Think People First, Optimization Second

When the writing process begins for any type of digital content – whether a blog post about the benefits of a product or the product/service pages themselves – don’t think about writing for search engines. Rather, think about writing for people.

With the billions of digital platforms available, people want quality first. Most can tell a fake immediately and will quickly move onto a competitor. For true quality, write content that solves problems, educates, entertains and above all, adds value.

One technique that my content team at LSEO utilizes when writing is based on the importance of social media. Write content that your target customers would want to share across their social media platforms. If it’s worth it for them, it’s likely worth it for their social media audience, which will naturally spread the word about your brand.

Keywords Are Everything

Creating a targeted keyword list is an absolute must before any writing happens. There are multiple strategies available online for targeted keyword generation, but one can easily generate keywords on a topic-by-topic basis. There are multiple tools available; we rely on SEMRush and Searchmetrics to create the most optimal keyword list.

For example, say you owned a digital marketing firm that offered content creation and you wanted to build a service page on “content creation.” You would use tools to research the term and see things like what kind of monthly volume it has and how competitive it would be to actually rank for that term. These tools also provide longer-tail keywords that relate to your business which may have less volume but would be easier to rank for, such as “digital marketing content” and “content marketing SEO.”

Keyword research also leads to additional ideas for content creation, whether it would be a blog post that supports a service page or an entirely new service itself.

[Source:-Forbes]

Why Your Custom CSS Doesn’t Work in WordPress and How to Fix It

Occasionally, you may find that, when you add custom CSS to your website, it just doesn’t seem to get applied correctly. There’s a lot of reasons why this might be the case, but the primary one is the heart of the “C” in CSS’s full name (“Cascading Style Sheets”) and how WordPress enqueues your stylesheets onto your site.

We’ll walk through those basics so you understand what’s happening, how to diagnose the issue, and how to resolve it.

What’s Happening

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a child theme and you have a plugin that has its own stylesheet. For this example, let’s call it “Reaction Buttons”. If you were to activate that plugin and then try to override the styles in your child theme, you’ll notice that it simply doesn’t work.

There is a technical explanation: The plugin is enqueueing its corresponding stylesheet with the wrong action. But the outcome is that the stylesheet is added later in your page <head>, therefore taking precedence over any style that precedes it.

You see, that’s the “Cascading” part of “Cascading Style Sheets”, aka CSS. Here’s another example. Let’s say I want to make all of my H2 elements red and all my P elements blue. I might do this:

H2 {color: red;}
p {color: blue;}

But if I then styled the H2 to be orange, later in the same stylesheet, then ALL my H2’s would be orange. Like this:

h2 {color: red;} /* ← this one doesn’t get applied */
p {color: blue;}
h2 {color: orange;} /* ← because this one occurs later in the file */

Hence the term “cascading”. The same thing happens with multiple stylesheets. If that orange h2 was entered in a stylesheet that is output in the <head> later than the red one, the orange one would be applied and the red one totally ignored.

How to Diagnose the Problem

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to find and diagnose the problem. Go to any page on your site and, in Chrome, right-click and select “Inspect”. That will open up a new window with all kinds of code in it. Find the <head> element and expand it. There, you’ll see a long list of <link> elements. Those are your many stylesheets that are enqueued from a wide variety of sources. When done correctly, each should have an identifying ID. Most likely, you’ll notice that your plugin style is later in the <head> than your theme style.

That’s exactly what’s happening with our poor child theme and the Reaction Buttons stylesheet. See:

troubleshootingcss1

Of note: You’ll also know you have this problem if you start to add CSS and find yourself having to add !important to all your styles. As a general rule, you shouldn’t ever need to do that as long as everything is enqueued correctly.

What to Do About It

Now we understand “cascading” and we know that the order of the stylesheets is wrong, but how do we correct it?

The short answer is that you rearrange the stylesheets. But how do you do that specifically in WordPress? In this case, the plugin author should update the plugin to enqueue the stylesheet correctly. But what can you do in the meantime?

Part of the way WordPress outputs the stylesheets onto the page is to ask whether that stylesheet is “dependent” on any other stylesheet. You don’t want to change the plugin files directly, but you do have control over your child theme and how it enqueues its stylesheet. For example, most child themes enqueue their styles like this:

wp_enqueue_style( ‘total-child-css’,
get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . ‘/style.css’, array(‘total-parent-css’), ‘1.0’, all );

Between the parentheses, you’ll notice that there are five arguments separated by commas. The third argument is called the “dependency”. In this case, it is saying that the child theme is dependent on the parent theme and it calls it according to the parent theme’s “handle”.

Here’s the trick: Ensure that the child theme is ALSO dependent on the Reaction Buttons stylesheet. All we need to do is find the “handle” of that stylesheet and add it to our dependency array.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t make it easy to find the handle of stylesheets. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. You can open up the files of the Reaction Buttons plugin and search for “wp_enqueue_style”. The first argument in that function is that stylesheets “handle”.
  2. If you don’t like touching code, install two plugins: Debug Bar, and Debug Bar Script and Style Dependencies. Once they are activated, go to any frontend page and in your admin bar you’ll see a link called “Debug”. Click on that and choose the tab called “Script and Style Dependencies”. Look through that list to find the handle of the Reaction Button stylesheet. Here’s what it looks like:

troubleshootingcss2

Now we know what the handle is, let’s add it to our child theme dependencies, like this:

wp_enqueue_style( ‘total-child-css’,
get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . ‘/style.css’, array(‘total-parent-css’, ‘reaction_buttons_css’), ‘1.0’, all );

That’s it! Now when you write custom styles in your child theme, they will automatically override any style in the Reactions Buttons plugin.

Cascading Can Get Complicated

Like all things in web development, this subject can get much more complicated. For example, WordPress enqueues all plugins alphabetically. If you are building a plugin with styles and you want it applied late, you’re kind of stuck.

There’s also the matter of CSS specificity. Themes sometimes create styles that are extremely specific; so, even if your new stylesheet is output later in the <head>, you still don’t override their styles unless you get even MORE specific. ToTheNew has a great article on specificity, as does Smashing Magazine

Lastly, understanding specificity, inheritance, and how WordPress enqueues stylesheets is extremely important for plugin authors who might be enqueueing multiple stylesheets. Ensuring proper dependencies can lighten the amount of CSS you have to write – just don’t forget that, if you declare a dependency and that stylesheet isn’t marked as output for some reason, then your stylesheet won’t be output either.

In Conclusion

With all that in mind, troubleshooting enqueue and cascading issues should be much more straightforward for you. Go in confidence and CSS away your heart’s content!

[Source:-MT]

3 Reasons Why Your Website Needs an SEO Audit

3 Reasons Why Your Website Needs an SEO Audit

Most of the time when we hear the word “audit,” our minds immediately picture run-ins with the IRS, unsavory tax attorneys and boxes of old business receipts. But, don’t panic! Because not all audits are the same.

Related: These 9 SEO Tips Are All You’ll Ever Need to Rank in Google

In fact, an SEO audit is a good thing. It’s an absolutely essential process that will empower your business with real, actionable insights. When done correctly, an SEO audit will tell you what’s working on your current website, what’s falling short and how you can improve your site to rank higher and generate more leads.

What type of site audit does your business need?

With a website audit, you pay a company to forensically examine your site and apply its expertise to identify problems and offer solutions. Most comprehensive audits contain the follow elements:

Overall health: How does your current traffic compare against industry benchmarks? Are there any initial red flags, like a recent change in bounce rate, referrals or time on the site that are reasons for investigation? This general health assessment will identify potential problems your SEO team should further investigate.

Overall health edits include a holistic analysis of your site, internal linking structures, site map, anchor text, citations and social media profiles. Depending on the scope of your audit, the assessment may also include technical elements, like hosting, server metrics, caching and down time. Remember, site load time is a key SEO performance metric.

Red flag/penalties: Are there any SEO practices in use on your site that are known to generate a red flag or penalty from Google that could hurt your site rank? SEO best practices change rapidly and what made sense from a ranking statement just a few years ago could be landing you in hot water today. It can be hard to keep up with all the algorithm changes, so I recommend bringing in the experts on this one.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website by Jon Rognerud

Competitive audits: How does your website stack up against the competition? While an overall health assessment will certainly touch on general industry benchmarks, a competition audit will be much more in-depth. What are competitors doing that your website is not? For example, the competition may have a better site map and search system in place. Maybe they’ve optimized product listings with long-tail keywords, and you have not.

Or, better yet, maybe the competition is failing to implement industry best practices and, should your site implement them, you’ll gain a clear competitive advantage. The key here is to identify otherwise overlooked opportunities for enhancements on your site.

Penalties and negative attacks: Could a downturn in site traffic be due to an SEO violation or penalty? An experienced agency can determine whether your site has been algorithmically or manually penalized or been the victim of an attack by negative SEO methods.

In-house or agency: Which is best?

So, you’re ready to undertake a proper SEO website audit. Should you go with an agency or handle this in-house? It’s possible to manage the entire process internally. Both Moz and Search Engine Land have published comprehensive guides to performing basic audits, internally. However, keep in mind that your ability to identify and correct problems is limited by your team’s expertise.

If your internal SEO team happens to be the best and brightest, this won’t be a problem. But if your SEO “team” is one overworked staffer in your marketing department (who is also juggling social media updates, blog articles and inbound lead generation), you’re better off outsourcing.

A comprehensive audit is a major undertaking. That’s because an audit should not stop with a list of what’s working and what’s not. It’s not enough to identify problems. You need to take immediate, actionable steps to implement changes. And agency teams are typically better positioned to help you make these changes.

Teams also bring a wealth of best-practice experience. The team at Digital Rescue, for example, has reviewed more than 4,000 websites and saved clients thousands when it comes to costly SEO mistakes. Many agencies also offer free or low-cost basic site audits, which can be useful for determining whether the agency is the right fit for your business’ long-term SEO needs.

Related: How to Do an SEO Audit of Your Website

Bottom line:

A site audit is a must for any growing business and is essential for a robust SEO strategy. Even if you believe your web traffic is pretty strong, there’s always room for improvement. By identifying potential problems and taking actionable steps now, you can position your business for long-term growth and avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future.

[Source:-Entrepreneur]