Blogging 101

5 useful links you must bookmark today to boost your blog

Introduction

Until recently, FertileBrains was mostly my hobby site, a part-time experiment while I waited for our son to grow up a little more and start school full-time. In my mind, once that happened, I thought I’d go back to the corporate world and start again from where I left off. But over the course of two years (Today marks the second year of my leaving the corporate world), I have started enjoying being my own boss a little too much. Although this blog is still a part-time job at best, going back to the workforce seems like a far-fetched possibility at the moment.

With that realization (that I will probably never be going back to the corporate world) has stemmed the urgent need for me to take FertileBrains to the next level. So, in the last three months or so, I have started getting serious about this blog. And it has already started paying off nicely (FertileBrains went from Less Than 4k page views in May to Greater Than 10k page views in August).

There are many factors contributing to the boosted page views on FertileBrains. And I intend to share every single one of those factors with my fellow bloggers (especially newbies) over the course of time. But today, let me start with these 5 crazy-useful links that every blogger must keep handy at all times to boost their blog traffic:

1. Link to analyze captivating headlines

headline

The first thing that attracts any reader to a blog post is the post’s headline. In merely 10-15 words, a prospective reader will determine whether the post you wrote is worth their time or not. Unless you are writing for a top-notch blog, your headlines matter and they matter a lot. No one will click through to your post without a captivating title even if your post is the best article ever written on the topic! So yes, you must always advertise the top qualities of your post (perhaps intrigue your readers a little!) through your post’s headline so that they are inclined to click.

But how to write click-worthy headlines?

CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is the answer. With a quantitative headline score and a comprehensive qualitative breakdown analysis of your headline, Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer is the go-to place if you want your headlines to stand out. A few cycles through the headline analyzer for every post and soon you will learn many things about picking the best click-worthy words for your headlines.

♣ Bookmark it: CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

2. Link to high-quality professional stock photos

camera

Images are as important as a good headline (perhaps even more!). And unless you are a photographer extraordinaire, your personal photos clicked hurriedly through your cell phone camera might not make the cut if you are to take your blog to the next level.

But where to find high-quality images?

I struggled with this for quite some time before finally stumbling upon the fact that there were websites which had CC0 Free To Use images. Pixabay is one of my all-time favorite such websites for finding high-quality images for my articles. They have over 730K free stock photos to choose from!

One drawback of using free stock photos though is that you will end up seeing the popular, better-looking ones on other people’s sites too. Using paid stock photo sites is an alternative for you if you are to retain the uniqueness and novelty of your blog post images. Depositphotos is my favorite site for that with over 50 million high-quality photos from professionals. (You can get 10% OFF subscriptions and on-demand downloads using my affiliate link listed).

♣ Bookmark it: PixabayDepositphotos

3. Link to analyze page speed

page-speed

No matter how enticing your headlines or how beautiful your featured images, if your page does not load within a couple of seconds, your prospective readers are more than likely to close the window and never return.

Did you know: According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. [Source: Kissmetrics]

At FertileBrains, some of my more popular posts have a load time ranging from 3.5 to 5 seconds (depending on traffic), which may seem like a good enough number. But one look at Google Analytics and you will know that I have a very high abandonment rate (This rate has gone up in the last couple of months in direct proportion to my increased traffic). So, yes, if you want to take your blog to the next level, you must bring down your page load time to under 2 seconds.  (I have started working on this and will definitely write a post when I succeed in bringing my page speed down.)

But how to check page speed and decrease load times?

My favorite links to check page speed are Pingdom and GTMetrix. Google Webmaster Tools also has a PageSpeed Insights Tool, but it does not give you the load-time in “seconds” but rather analyzes your page for areas of improvements and shows you qualitatively whether your page is in green, amber or red.

All three of the above links also give you hints and suggestions on how to go about tweaking your page to improve load times (For example – caching static resources, using GZIP compressing etc). Implementing the suggestions will definitely improve your site’s performance.

♣ Bookmark it: PageSpeed Insights ToolPingdomGTMetrix

4. Link to comprehensive social proof

social-proof

I am very quirky when it comes to the social share buttons on my blog. I have used many plugins in the past for this including but not limited to Shareaholic, AddToAny, Jetpack, SumoMe etc., before eventually settling for SumoMe (for the time being). If you are like me and have changed your social share and counts plugin many times over, you will notice that the counts shown on your current plugin need not necessarily reflect your actual share counts. This is because all of the share plugins use different URL shorteners by default which doesn’t sync with each other.

So, how to figure out your exact share counts?

Muckrack is one of my favorites for finding this out. It gives you not only the total share count but also the breakdown of your shares based on the platform. Again, you can not only use Muckrack to find your own post share counts (which you will know by heart anyway if you are like me 😉 ), you can also spy on your favorite sites too. Again, if you are simply interested in the Pinterest pin counts, then PinPlugins is a good alternative link to save.

♣ Bookmark it: MuckrackPinPlugins

5. Link to post ideas generator

title-maker

Some of you may not find this useful, but for people like me, Porten’s Content Idea Generator is an awesome way to kick the rear of your writer’s block. It is ridiculously funny and doesn’t feel like work. It is one of my favorite procrastination tools when I am feeling uninspired. Agreed, most titles/ideas auto-generated by this idea generator are unusable in their default form, but if you pay attention, you can come up with many ideas by putting a spin on those crazy titles.

♣ Bookmark it: Porten’s Content Idea Generator

Since you made it to the end of this post, here’s a bonus tip for you to boost your blog to the next level 🙂

6. Bonus Tip: Link to identify authority sites

authority

We bloggers visit many sites during the course of the day and read many blog posts. But when it comes to collaborations and backlinking, all links are not necessarily to be valued equally. It is always a good idea to check the links before including them in your blog posts to ensure that they are high-quality ones and from authority sites.

But, how to separate good links from the not-so-good ones?

For this, you can either install the Moz SEO Toolbar or the Alexa browser extension. I prefer the Moz one because it not only gives the page authority and domain authority but also tells many other useful details about the link in question. Once you have installed these, the next time you want to check a link for its authority, all you need to do is click on your toolbar.

♣ Bookmark/Install it: Moz SEO ToolbarAlexa Browser Extension

Over to you

Now, it’s your turn to share. Which ones did you find the most useful? Which ones am I still missing? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments section below.

PS: If you found this Blogging 101 post helpful, please share it with your friends on your favorite social media platforms.

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