The blue pill tips

Practice plugin hygiene

As a WordPress user myself, I understand why some bloggers get carried away when installing plugins. A plugin that integrates functional contact forms into any theme? That’s something I need! What about a plugin for a fancy, interactive calendar on your homepage? Yes, please. I get it — plugins are great. But if you install too many of them, you’re negatively affecting two things. First and foremost, too many plugins can bottleneck your website’s performance. Here’s the thing: every single plugin you install will consume precious server resources and inevitably impact your website’s performance. That’s why most all-in-one page builders tend to slow your WordPress site down unless you perform all the necessary optimizations. As soon as they’re activated, they create pieces of code — from CSS to JavaScript — that can bog down your site. On the bright side, there are countless proven plugins that are either lightweight or well-optimized out of the box. Even if they do impact your website’s performance, their effects are barely noticeable. Other than performance-related issues, having too many plugins may also affect your productivity. Have you ever tried working on your WordPress site with these many items on your dashboard? In addition to being distracting, too many plugins can also slow down the performance of the dashboard itself. There’s also the possibility of plugin conflicts that can lock you out of your WordPress account. As a rule of thumb, avoid installing plugins that have similar features. Also, be sure to check plugin reviews before installing them to see if other users are experiencing issues.

Get more optimization suggestions from Google PageSpeed Insights

You may notice that most of the optimization suggestions from the Mobile-Friendly Test pertain to design-related issues. It’s one thing to make a website visually usable and comfortable on your audience’s devices. But in order to give users the best possible experience, you should also focus on your website’s performance. PageSpeed Insights is another piece out of Google’s arsenal of website optimization tools. It’s designed to help website owners identify and solve performance-related issues on their site. To use PageSpeed Insights, enter your website’s URL and click ‘Analyze.’ The tool should immediately get to work and identify issues that increase your website’s loading time. More importantly, it matches each issue with an optimization suggestion — plus, learning resources to teach you what to do. You can find these actionable insights under the “Opportunities” section. For more tips on how to reduce your blog’s loading time, read this guide.

Check your website’s mobile friendliness

Whenever Google rolls up algorithm updates, they almost always emphasize how those changes can improve the user experience. With the ever-increasing usage of mobile internet, it’s not surprising that a website’s mobile friendliness has become a ranking factor. Fortunately, there’s a good chance that your website already performs fairly well on mobile devices. Regardless of your blogging platform, most developers already design and develop themes with mobile friendliness in mind. Your job now is to iron out the creases. Ensure that every building block of your site is optimized for mobile users. Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test tool will let you know where to start. Simply enter your blog’s URL and click ‘Test URL’ to begin. It should take several seconds before the tool finishes analyzing your site. When it’s done, it’ll provide you with a report that states if your website is mobile-friendly enough or not. If it’s the latter, Mobile-Friendly Test will show you a list of issues that demand your attention.

Don’t forget outbound links

If internal links redirect to other pages within your site, outbound links point users and crawlers to entirely different sites. An outbound link is a type of “external link,” which exists between two different domains. And yes — outbound links do have an impact on SEO in more ways than one:

  • They Improve the User Experience — Outbound links prevent readers from hitting a dead end when conducting online research. This makes your content more enriching and valuable to them — exactly the type of content that search engines want.
  • Establish Your Content’s Topical Relevance — Links in general, whether internal or external, are recognized as important for establishing “topical relevance.” This helps search engine crawlers determine what your content is all about.
  • Network with Authoritative Brands — Linking to an authoritative site, especially from a top-notch piece of content, is a great way to get their attention. If they like the way you describe their brand, it might compel them to share your content with their followers.

Establish a solid internal link structure

Since I already brought up on-page SEO optimization, let’s talk about your website’s internal link structure. To understand why it’s important, you need to know how search engines discover and index web pages. Basically, search engines like Google send out “crawlers” that evaluate rank-worthiness using SEO signals and overall content quality. These crawlers visit millions — if not billions — of pages every single day by traveling through links. With internal links, you can help search engines discover and index more of your website. This, in turn, will boost your website’s overall authority and rank-worthiness. Now that we got that out of the way, the question remains: How do you build an SEO-friendly internal link structure on your website? You can find the answer along with invaluable tips in my internal linking guide.

Don’t hire an SEO agency right away

SEO or Search Engine Optimization may be a crucial pillar of digital marketing. However, it’s unwise to invest in professional SEO services as soon as you build your site. To get measurable results, you need to invest hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars a month in your SEO campaign. This isn’t ideal for a budding blogger who needs to make every single cent count during their website’s early stages. Eventually, you’ll need professional SEO services to help with activities like link building and blogger outreach. But until your website can sustain itself with a steady stream of profits, focus on content development and on-page optimization.

Manage your sales funnel

A sales funnel is something that exists in every blog or website for that matter. However, only those who successfully monetize their blog know what to do with them. Let me break it down for you. You see, a sales funnel consists of different stages that measure how close a lead is to buying something. The most common sales funnel model has four stages:

  • Awareness — This is when a prospective lead first learns about your brand. They may have seen a post on social media, an ad, a mention in another blog, and so on.
  • Interest — The interest stage is when a lead starts to do research and consider if you’re worth their time. They’re not ready for your sales pitch yet, but they sure will find educational content incredibly helpful.
  • Decision — By the decision stage, leads are just about ready to make a purchase. They’ll be looking at your product pages, looking for alternatives, and search for free trials they can use — if any.
  • Action — From a marketing perspective, the action stage in a sales funnel is the finish line. This is where the lead finally turns into a paying customer, making them ripe for remarketing opportunities in the future. Once you understand how the sales funnel works, it should be easier to segment your email marketing leads. Have they checked your blog? They’re in the interest stage — send them more informative content to establish your expertise. Have they viewed your product pages? Send them a special discount or offer a freebie to sweeten the deal. Of course, everything I’ve discussed here uses a simplified version of the sales funnel. In bigger companies, the marketing and sales teams should collaborate closely to build the sales funnel. Communication is also important to develop a more refined set of qualifications for MQLs and sales qualified leads or SQLs. As for smaller blogs, you only need to worry about each lead’s interactions with your brand. That should help you decide the right kind of content promotion for them.

Split test your emails

Now that I’ve mentioned split testing, let me give a brief explanation to those who don’t know what it is. Basically, split or A/B testing is when you test multiple variations of pages, emails, CTAs, and so on. This will essentially cut the time it takes to acquire sufficient test data by half or more. ConvertKit allows you to split test multiple versions of your subject line to determine which variant works best. Of course, it may take some time before you gather enough data. ConvertKit actually recommends using the split test feature once you get at least 1,000 subscribers. Otherwise, it will be night impossible to acquire conclusive data. Eventually, you should be able to pick a subject line the consistently outperforms the rest. Split testing is just one of the ways to leverage analytics to make better decisions for your blog. There will be more brilliant ways to use analytics by the end of this post.

Write click-worthy email subject lines

Clicking the “send” button right after finishing your latest email blast copy is a fulfilling experience. That is, until you remember that not everyone on your mailing list will actually read it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember, even the most accomplished marketers in history never had perfect email open rates. What you should do is focus on the factors that can affect the likelihood of subscribers to open your emails. One such factor would be your emails’ subject lines, which is the equivalent of headlines in blog posts. There’s actually no one-size-fits-all recipe when it comes to writing email subject lines. You’ll have to go by trial and error to concoct your own combination of strategies. Check out the tips below on how to write winning email subject lines:

  • Use the Word “Tomorrow” — It may sound weird, but adding “tomorrow” to your email subject lines can increase open rates by 10 percent. This works by making your email’s message sound more urgent.
  • Stop Using the “RE” or “FW” Prefix — Adding the prefixes “RE” and “FW” may have worked at first, but they’ve proven to be very costly now. Not only can it trigger the recipient’s spam filter, it can also leave a bad impression on marketing-savvy subscribers.
  • Keep It Short — Long email subject lines may get truncated when displayed on your subscribers’ inboxes. This problem is more common now that people frequently check emails on their smartphones.
  • Test Emails with No Subject Lines — You read that right — you can actually increase your email open rate by 8 percent by removing the subject line. Since it may not be appropriate in some niches, run split tests to make sure this trick works for you.

Curate content that your audience will appreciate

Not everything you send to your users should be about you. Don’t forget that most email subscribers signed up because they were promised valuable information. Whether or not that information came from your website isn’t their concern. That’s why, if you’re out of ideas for your email, you should try curating content from other sources. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger, you can send your subscribers updates about the hottest fashion icons or influencers. Naturally, you should also share your opinions and insights to prove that you know your stuff. There’s no secret formula when creating emails that contain curated content. Just write a simple email in plain text with links to the content you want to share. In exchange for the free, useful information you provide, your audience will reward you with their trust and loyalty. They should also be more eager to check your next email if they know they’re getting valuable knowledge.