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The best alternative to Feedburner: Follow.it

The best alternative to Feedburner: Follow.it

If you’re not familiar with feedreaders, they are a great way to organize multiple sources/websites in one consolidated location. Kinda like bookmarks but without the need to remember to go through your bookmarks every day, because that’s so 2004.

For a long time, I used Feedburner but when google reader became defunct, I moved over to other platforms. Some of them were okay but for the most part, I stopped using them because they either went out of business or didn’t really deliver.

I recently learned about follow.it, and started using it for this site (see the subscribe box in the sidebar) and I thought I’d share more about it here.

What is follow.it?

Follow.it is a feedreader, yes, but it’s also a way to turn visitors into subscribers, send them notifications about new content you’re creating, and then get those subscribers back to your site.

Does that sound like a funnel to you?

It is and I love it. Follow.it worked really hard to figure out a way for publishers to acquire new subscribers and get them coming back to their site. As we already know, only 2-4% of initial website visits will result in a conversion, so this is another way to capture your visitors and provide them with value (updated blog content) and then get them to come back to your site later to reengage with your services/offer.

Customizations for Subscribers

A lot of subscription tools only think about the publishers, but really the most important users are subscribers. We need subscribers to see the content they want to see and Follow.it gives subscribers various options to customize the information they receive using filters, which can be broken down by keywords, tags, authors, and even popularity.

Email Notifications

The inbox is still where most people live on the internet. More than 50% of people check their email at least TEN times a day (I KNOW!). The great thing about Follow.it is that they automatically check your website for updates and if there’s new content, they send out a notification to all your subscribers. BOOM!

No extra work on your part and your subscribers are getting the latest news from you right in their inbox.

Easy to setup

Follow.it makes it super easy to add a subscribe to your website and there are multiple customization options available. It’s basically plug-and-play. I was able to get our setup in less than 5 minutes!

They also provide thorough documentation, including a how to on moving from feedburner to follow.it.

Pricing

Follow.it offers a free plan that covers most of what you’ll need to get started. But they also offer two paid options with additional benefits like statistics and changing the subject line for your emails. Check out their pricing page for more details, because there are a lot of extras!

Both of the paid plans are based on follower count and very affordable. For example, it would be approximately $25/mo for 2500 followers on the highest (super cool) plan.

Statistics

If you do decide to go with a paid plan, statistics are included, which I highly recommend. What we don’t measure, we can’t change.

From total follower count…

To the number of clicks on messages. Knowing what content resonates with your audience is key in understanding additional content you should be creating.

Overall I’m really excited to see where follow.it continues to go with their product. I’m loving the email notifications and the statistics. And the fact that it’s so easy to set up is great.

So if you haven’t already, go to the sidebar and follow our blog so you can get our updates in your inbox right away. And let me know if you decide to use follow.it on your own blog. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

7 steps to get your website to the top of Google search results

7 steps to get your website to the top of Google search results

You already know your website needs to stand out from the crowd to attract the customers you want to serve. 

Getting to the top of Google’s search results page is the best way to get noticed by your target audience.

But, this is easier said than done and getting to the number one spot on Google takes a lot of hard work.

Google is always changing up their algorithms and it’s now more difficult than ever to get to the top of the SERP (search engine results page). 

So, let’s break down how to get to the top of google. How do you climb up to number one – and stay there?

Here are the seven steps you need to implement to get your website to the top of Google.

How to get to the top of google in 7 steps

1. Write about relevant long-tail keywords

Keywords or key phrases are the words that your audience types into Google to find what they’re looking for online. 

If you think you can rank on Google without using the right keywords, you’re going to hit some trouble further down the line. It’s unrealistic to think you can rank high on Google’s results without implementing some well-researched keyword strategy into your content. 

Now, we’re not telling you to completely stuff your content with a random assortment of keywords, this won’t help your rankings at all. In fact, it might actually damage your reputation and your site could even be penalized by Google!

A good place to start with keywords is by looking at long-tail keywords. These are perfect for attracting the right people to your website. 

Long-tail keywords usually consist of three or more words. Unlike singular keywords they’re more focused (and natural) as they include phrases that your customers will use in their searches. 

When you write using long-tail keywords you’re giving your website a better chance at appearing on relevant searches by people you want to connect with – especially when they’re in your industry and your niche. 

Here are a few examples of keywords and long-tail keywords so you can see the difference:

KeywordsLong-Tail Keywords
Buy shoesWhere to buy designer shoes near me?
SEO tipsSEO tips for small businesses
Forest walksWhere can I go on a forest walk in Salisbury, NC? 

The more specific you get with the things you write about, the more likely Google will be to promote you to your target audience. 

2. Optimize your website’s content

The only way to get to the top of the search results is to start climbing with great content. Put plenty of time and effort into your content and create helpful, engaging, and interesting pieces of copy for your audience to read. 

Do you already have content on your site? That’s great! But if you’re here then that means you’re still trying to get to the top of Google. 

You might have to optimize your current content to make it more appealing to Google (and your audience). 

Here are some ways you can optimize your content for Google:Create excellent, engaging headings

Create excellent, engaging headings

You want your H1, H2, and H3 headings to not only stand out for your audience but to also stand out for search engines as well. Make sure your headings are catchy, easy to read and contain the necessary keywords that will help Google identify your pages.

Your blog posts and copy

Your onsite copy, as well as your blog posts, needs to be written so your audience can easily read them. The longer your clients read your content and stay on your site, the better. Google monitors how long your visitors stay on your site – the longer they stay, the higher Google will rank you.  

You can optimize your website copy by: 

  • Present it using UX best practice (make it easy to read, interesting to look at and use plenty of white space)
  • Writing short sentences so your readers can easily digest your content
  • Making good use of bullet-pointed lists and paragraphs so your posts can be skimmed
  • Using images and graphics to break up any walls of text
  • Writing in an active voice instead of a passive voice 
  • Only writing relevant and useful information – no waffle!

3. Develop a content strategy (and use it)

To help get the most out of your content efforts, you’ll want to create a content strategy – or hire an agency to develop one for you – for your future content creation.

By having a detailed strategy at your fingertips you’ll be able to streamline your content creation process and have a consistent flow of new content on your site. 

With a content strategy, you’ll know when and where you need to post content. You’ll know what topics you’re writing about and how often you need to post them.

4. Blog, and blog a lot. 

How often are you posting fresh new content on your website?

Is it once or twice a month? Or are you blogging once a week?

Updating your website’s blog at least once a month is the minimum you should be doing. Posting something only once every so often or even worse – once a year isn’t going to help you get anywhere with SEO.

If you’re consistently posting unique, valuable content to your website then Google will actively push you up their search engine results.

Publishing articles on a weekly or monthly basis will help generate more trust with your audience too. The more trust you have, the more traffic you’re going to get on your site and the more traffic you get, the higher up on Google’s rankings you’ll be.

5. Get high-quality backlinks

Backlinks are like a gold mine when it comes to pleasing Google. Especially if they’re high-quality backlinks from trustworthy sources. 

The more backlinks you have, the more Google will see you as a trustworthy site. These backlinks will need to come from credible sources though – if they don’t (or you flood your site with dodgy backlinks) then you’ll be penalized. 

Don’t put your trust in any ‘quick fix’ guest post offers – they won’t supply you with any well-respected backlink sources. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. 

Approach getting your backlinks with care.

6. Keep your ‘Google My Business’ updated

Every business should have a Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to market your company and get more traffic to your site. 

Google My Business is quick and easy to set up – and most importantly, it’s 100% free. 

If you don’t have a GMB listing we’d recommend getting one as soon as possible – and if you do have one then it’s time to update it and optimize it for SEO. 

Optimizing your GMB profile is all about updating your information and sharing accurate information about your company to any potential clients that search for your services. 

By keeping your profile updated you’re also keeping Google happy, which means your business is more likely to show up when a customer searches with relevant keywords. 

7. Analyze, Refine, Repeat

If you’re not seeing much of an improvement in your website’s ranking then there is only one thing for it. 

  • Analyze your site and identify where things are going wrong
  • Refine your site by improving on the parts that are failing you
  • Repeat this process until you see real results

Getting to the top of Google is an ongoing process – even when you reach the top, you have to work hard to maintain your position.

If you need some help climbing to the top of the search results, get in touch today!

Are you missing out on local business?

Are you missing out on local business?

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, the most popular information on your site is your contacting information.  This is how potential customers will find your location, hours and phone number.

The following information should be on every page of your site:

1. Include the name of your town and state

Not all websites are meant for the entire world.  A lot of small town businesses only cater to customers in their town, so it’s imperative to include your town and state.

2. Your location, phone number and hours 

This information definitely needs to be in the header or sidebar of your site, on every page.  If someone lands on your about page or services page from google, they’ll have that information immediately available.  This is also helpful for mobile users so they can quickly see where you are located.

Optional, yet important, information to include on your local small business site:

1. Photo of your store front

People are visual by nature and when they’re driving around looking for you business, having a snapshot in their head of what the building and store front looks like is very helpful.  This can be great on the home page and/or contact page.

2. A map

So simple, but rarely used.  You can go to google maps, put in the address of your business and they’ll give you a simple piece of code that you embed in your site so a map of your location will show up.

So taking the above into consideration, we went on the hunt for local businesses in our town (Salisbury, NC) to see how they stacked up.  A few sites included this information on their contact page, which is great start.

One site we ran across has it all. Pottery 101, is including their location, hours, phone number, plus a photo of their storefront on every single page (big points!).  They also have a handy link to directions which includes a map!

All of this information is vitally important for small town businesses.  If customers can’t find you online, they won’t be able to find you offline.  Are you doing everything you can to ensure your customers can find you?

Finding new customers locally

As an online business owner, It can be very easy to over think your advertising and marketing strategies. Even worse, we tend to overlook the most obvious group of potential customers. Your local businesses.

Every week we visit these potential clients while running our normal errands, but how often do you introduce yourself and tell them what you do for a living? Do you hand out business cards everywhere you go? Probably not. One of the reasons we fail to do this is due to either being shy or out of fear of rejection. We think “What if they say no? I will be embarrassed and humiliated in public!” First of all. No you won’t. The worst case scenario is that they will say no thank you and guess what? You didn’t have them as a customer before so you lost nothing. The most successful people in history have been rejected many times before they succeeded. One of the best examples of this is Abraham Lincoln. Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout his life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown. He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of our country.

The best case scenario is that they will say “I’ve been looking to redo my website ( or hire a caterer, photographer or whatever your business may be). Or maybe their brother or neighbor is looking for someone. Just think about it. How many times have you been looking for a company whether it be a contractor, plumber or landscaper and asked around to your friends and family who they recommend? We do this because we want to do business with people we know or someone we know KNOWS. We feel more comfortable spending our money this way. The point is, you’ll never know unless you ask!

I have to be more mindful of this advice myself. Just the other day I was at a car dealership I used to work at, giving some former colleagues a few business cards and one of them said that a friend of hers owns a beauty salon and is looking to set up a website. When I got home I mentioned this to Melissa and it turns out that my sister in law works for the very same salon. Clearly, I haven’t been networking locally at my fullest potential! The moral of the story here is that as an online business owner, it can be easy to hide behind the keyboard and get lost in the vastness of the world wide web of Twitter and Facebook. So next time your at the local pizza parlor or dry cleaners, introduce yourself and hand them a business card. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a discount on your shirts for providing them with such great service!