Sunday, 30 September 2012

Titles and Headlines: Why They Matter and How to Write Good Headlines

Why Writing Good Headlines is Important

The importance of writing a good, strong headline often goes amiss with many bloggers out there. Writing a strong headline is an important part of SEO, for many reasons – just about as important as the write-up itself!

For starters, a headline is the first thing a potential visitor reads; which means that the headline is the thing that ultimately compels or convinces him/her to read the article, or completely ignore it. It is hence, the biggest tool in your arsenal to actually ‘sell’ the idea that your article is worth a read, your website is worth the visit or the product/service that you’re trying to sell is worth the money.

Write a compelling headline, and you’ll basically guarantee that your article gets a ton of views – this is a proven strategy that many newspapers, publications and tabloid have successfully used to sell papers.

The title also shows up as the clickable hyperlink in Google’s search results. Whenever someone looks something up or searches for something on Google, and your website shows up in the results, the blue hyperlink is the headline. Nail this, and you’ll get a ton of visitors and traffic on your articles from search engines, etc.

And of course, the title or header (H1) of your article allows search engines to know what the article is about, and rank and index it in a better manner. If your header contains the right (relevant) keywords (more on this in a bit), it allows crawlers to know what your article (and your website in general) is about, since the H1 headers are the most important of all the header tags, and are given the maximum amount of priority by search engines as well.

General Tips and Trick to Write Compelling Headlines

Here are a few general tips and tricks you can use to write compelling headlines and titles for your articles:

1. Interesting – ask yourself this, if you were to stumble upon this article on the internet, would the headline compel or force you to read the rest of the article? Is the headline/title catchy, interesting, intriguing and attractive? Would you, as a visitor looking for information on the internet, be actually compelled or forced to click on it?
Example A: Write Compelling Headlines
Example B: How to Write Compelling and Catchy Headlines That Will Help You Increase Traffic

2. Relevant – having a catchy and attractive headline is great, but it should also be relevant to (a) the write-up/post/page and (b) to the content and the subject matter of your blog. It should accurately reflect the content of the blog, and immediately and instantly let potential visitors as well as search engine crawlers know what the accompanied post or page is about. Headlines should never be misleading, in the sense that the accompanied article fails to match what the headline promised to deliver.

3. Targeted – Your headline should be targeted in the best possible manner for your target audience, and people in your niche. It should be able to get the attention of people in your industry and in your niche, people who will be the most interested in your content. For this purpose, identify your industry/niche, as well as your potential visitors and customers, and try coming up with headlines tailored specifically for these people and their interests.

4. Keywords – It is extremely important to use relevant keywords in your titles/headlines. Keywords that are: (a) relevant to the article, and (b) relevant to the theme of your website. Avoid (at all costs!) stuffing your titles with keywords; instead, be as natural when writing your titles as you possibly can. After Penguin, keyword stuffing in any part of your website puts you at risk of getting banned from Google. And of course the fact that doing so wouldn’t look very good from a visitor’s perspective either.

5. Benefit – Use your headline to communicate a benefit to the potential reader. This can perhaps be best demonstrated with the help of an example:
Headline A: Best Wordpress Plugins
Headline B: Best Wordpress Plugins that will Make Blogging Easier and More Effective

Headline A: Tips for Losing Weight
Headline B: Pro Tips for Losing Weight Easily within 60 Days in 10 Simple Steps

In both cases, the second headline is obviously a much better choice, and does a good job of communicating the benefit to the user.

6. Numbers – Use numbers in your headlines to convey a numerical advantage that readers will get if they read your post. This is a very effective way of getting more readers and more traffic, as it instantly lets your visitors know – in clear, numeric terms – what benefit or advantage they would get if they read your article. It reflects the value of your write-up in numbers. For instance:
Example A: Tips for Getting More Visitors on your Blog.
Example B: 20 Excellent Tips to Instantly Boost Your Traffic.

7. Different – Try something different with your headline. Think outside the box. Do a headline that is completely different from the ones that you usually do. Be creative with this. Chances are that it might work out for you very well. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

How to Find Motivation and the Creative Spark When Writing for a Blog

Blogging, and in particular writing and producing content on a fairly consistent and regular basis is not an easy gig.

In fact it can be mentally straining, and downright exhausting.

Therefore, bloggers and writers need to find new sources of inspiration, keep themselves motivated and focused in order to produce quality content regularly.

Here’s a list of things you can do to find blogging motivation to produce great content:

1. Keep abreast of news and the happenings in your industry. If you do, you’ll always have something to write on and write about. Use social media, your RSS feed and Google Alerts to instantly know what’s happening in your niche, and choose any story, news item or a blog post as the source for your next post.

2. Read other blogs in your niche/industry. It’s a great way of not only knowing about the things happening in your industry, such blogs can also be a great way of getting inspiration from. Read up a few posts on such blogs and you’ll certainly find something you might want to write on yourself!

3. Try something totally new and completely different from what you’ve been doing till now. Is there something that you would like to try out with your blog? Perhaps something that you’ve been thinking about doing for some time? Or doing a completely different type of a post than the ones you usually write. Right now would be the perfect time to do just that!

4. Revamp your blog. Give it a visual-overhaul. Change the interface completely and give it a new look. Try changing the colors (or the color scheme), or change the theme of the blog completely. Invest in a good theme, such as the theme pack from Elegant Themes. A new theme and/or a visual overhaul might just be the thing that reignites your creative spark.

5. Come up with a list of different kinds of posts that you can do on your blog (I’m certain there will be many different sorts of posts you can do, no matter which niche you might be in), and develop a schedule so that you can do one type of post every day. For instance if you come up with 4 or 5 different types of posts, you can do each one of them starting Monday.

6. Guest posts. Take guest posters on, and allow them to do posts on your blog periodically. Guest posting is a great way of link-building, and it also allows you, the blog owner, to get fresh, quality and at times, thought-provoking content on your blog. Guest posts might even get a great amount of traffic and comments, and might provide you with inspiration for a new post by building upon a guest post on your blog.

7. Take a break. Seriously, take some days off from blogging – take a blogging vacation. Travel, go ona road trip, visit people such as your friends and family, do something that you might’ve been planning to do for a while, or simply relax at home with your guitar. Do a post when you really want to do one. You’ll come back more motivated than ever!

8. Write as many posts as you can over the weekend, when you have free time or when you really feel like writing, and put them on schedule. This gives you a list of ‘buffer’ or reserve posts that you can use when you don’t feel like writing. You can then put these posts on schedule so that your blog remains updated with fresh content.

9. Set up blogging goals, and stick to them. Yes, it’s probably easier said than done. But give it a try. Write down your goals – they could be anything, such as writing at least 2 or 3 posts in the weekdays, and then doing one detailed, in-depth and thorough post on the weekend. Keep your goals to yourself, in order to avoid people talking you out of them.

10. Learn from some of the big bloggers out there. Follow some of the big bloggers in your industry/niche and observe how the blog owners keep their blogs fresh and updated. Try learning from them, and emulating and incorporating those best-practices yourself. A great way to connect and speak with these people is over Facebook and Twitter!

As a blogger or an online publisher, what do you do to keep yourself motivated, inspired, focused and driven? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Essential List of Wordpress Plugins that Every Blogger Must Use

One of the best aspects of choosing Wordpress as your CMS-of-choice is the fact that there is a plugin for virtually everything on it!

Here is a comprehensive list of some of the best plugins on the Wordpress platform. (All links are direct, no affiliate links)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

1. Wordpress SEO by Yoast (Free): The complete SEO solution for Wordpress! Handles all aspects of your Wordpress blog’s SEO for you, allowing you to optimize the content and various parts of your blog for search engines – which means you improve your on-page SEO, and get more traffic and visitors to your blog. Super-easy to use and get the hang of, even if you’re relatively unfamiliar with search engine optimization. Should be one of the first plugins your install on your Wordpress blog.

2. Google XML Sitemaps (Free): Google’s XML sitemaps automatically generates a sitemap for your blog and submits it to Google as well. This allows search engine bots/crawlers to find your blog easily, and index all pages on it in a much better manner. In addition, the plugin also automatically informs search engines whenever new content is uploaded on your blog, saving you the hassle of doing this manually.

3. SEO Friendly Images (Free): Self-explanatory. The plugin optimizes any and all images on your website for search engines by automatically adding ALT and Title attributes to them. As you might or might not know, filling out both these fields is essential, as it allows search engines to ‘see’ and index your images, bringing you traffic from sources such as Google Images. The title tag also lets your visitors know what the image is about if they hover their mouse over it.

4. SEOPressor ($47, $97): A premium SEO plugin for Wordpress, SEOPressor claims it will ‘skyrocket your website’s search engine ranking (SERP)’ by automating the optimization process. It strengthens your on-page optimization factors such as <Header> tags, Keyword density and placement, images and links, ALT tag for images and the like, and then provides an SEO score for the page as well as suggestion on how to optimize and tweak your content even more. Their claim of the plugin being akin to an SEO expert optimizing your website isn’t far from the truth!

5. 404 Redirection (Free): An absolute life-saver! 404 Redirection lets you redirect all 404s (‘Page Not Found’) to your homepage. This improves your bounce-rate, among other SEO metrics. It redirects your visitors to your homepage instead of taking them to an erroneous page, it prevents your blog from losing its rankings in search engines, and most importantly, it prevents your blog from losing valuable link-juice and prevent you from losing your Page Rank.


1. W3 Total Cache (Free): Optimizes your Wordpress blog for speed and page-load times. Your Wordpress blog, and its pages load up super-fast, as this plugin improves server performance through (i) caching, and (ii) CDN integration. Needless to say, the difference in speed is pretty great, and certainly noticeable!


1. Digg Digg (Free): Puts a floating bar (or a normal ‘fixed’ one at the top of the posts) – anywhere on your blog – with share buttons, similar to what websites such as Mashable have. The bar contains all popular social sharing buttons, such as for Facebook, Twitter, Digg, G+, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Buffer and a whole lot of others. This allows visitors on your website to easily ‘like’ your content, and be able to share it on their social media profiles with one click of the mouse. You can choose which social buttons you would like to have displayed on the bar, as well as in which order.

2. WP Tweet This Button (Free): The plugin does a good job of adding a ‘Tweet This’ button on every post on your blog, and/or the sidebar. You can choose from various button types and sizes.

3. Facebook Like Button (Free): Similar in function to the Tweet This plugin, The Facebook Like Button, as the name implies, puts up a Facebook ‘like’ button anywhere on your blog, allowing visitors to ‘like’ your posts and hence spreading the word about your blog. Once again, you can choose where to place it on your blog, as well as choose whether you would want to display a ‘like count’ with each button.


1. WP-DBManager (Free): This will probably be one of those plugins that sits there and is rarely used, but once it is needed, it will be indispensable! WP-DBManager manages all aspects of your Wordpress database, allowing you to optimize, backup, repair and restore your database in case something goes wrong, you end up with a corrupt database and/or your database ends up gets wiped off. Make sure you schedule automatic backups for at least once-a-week.

2. Backup (Free): Another great Wordpress backup solution which allows you to make periodic backups of your (complete) Wordpress blog to Google Drive. You can choose to make a comprehensive backup of all the things in your blog, or a selective list of things.  

3. VaultPress ($15, $40, $350): A premium backup solution, VaultPress provides a slew of features in order to back up your blog, including real-time backups which backs up your database every time something changes (new post, comment, page/post updated, etc), and then allows you to choose from a list of backups and seamlessly restores those backups for you. A nice (added) feature of the plugin is its security suite, which safeguards your blogs by continuously monitoring security threats. Certainly worth the money!

4. Backup Buddy ($75, $100, $150): One of the most popular backup solutions for Wordpress, Backup Buddy does a brilliant job of backing up your entire Wordpress blog – including posts, pages, widgets, themes, plugins and the database, and then restore the backup to any service of your choice – Dropbox, Amazon S3, an FTP server, your email (time to put that massive amount of storage offered by Gmail to use!) or simply on your desktop. You can then of course, easily restore your backups. However one of the biggest advantages of Backup Buddy is the fact that it lets you flawlessly move (migrate) your Wordpress blog if you’re planning on switching hosting for instance – something which can turn out to be a lifesaver!


1. Google Analytics for Wordpress by Yoast (Free): When it comes to monitoring various aspects of your website and its health – such as visitors, traffic sources, and other vital stats – Google Analytics is the undisputed king! The Analytics for WP allows you to easily add and integrate your Analytics suite with your Wordpress blog by allowing you to add the tracking code in the plugin. It also adds extra analytics data available for your blog in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Comments and Feedback

1. Disqus (Free): One of the best comment plugin on Wordpress. Disqus allows visitors to easily leave a comment or two on your blog, either as a guest, or through logging into any of their social media profiles. It arranges comments into threads, so if a comments gets replies, it will be displayed as a single, continuous thread of comments. And the plugin looks fantastic, and gives your comments system new life!

2. CommentLuv (Free, $67, $87, 97): CommentLuv actually encourages your visitors to leave a comment on your blog (and come back again) by giving them a free backlink to their blog, and at the same time, it also allows them to share your post on their social media profiles, which means more exposure for you; a win-win for all. The plugin offers a whole host of features (which you can read more about on their homepage). It’s a good alternative to Disqus.