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Doing a Technical Audit: An SEO Checklist

A checklist for SEOIt’s really easy to get distracted when optimizing a website. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new site or if it’s a site that needs to be audited. Unless it’s only one page, there is generally a lot to do. And what happens when you have a lot of tasks to do? Easy — you make a list. An SEO checklist can help you prioritize the tasks that you need to accomplish during a technical audit, save you time, keep you organized and maintain your sanity.

What is a Technical Audit?

*Disclaimer:  If you’re already familiar with what a technical audit is, feel free to take inspiration from the SEO checklist below.

A technical audit (as it relates to SEO) is a thorough investigation of the optimization (or lack thereof) of a website. Things like inbound links, content, layout, navigation, keyword placement, site speed and a host of other elements are scrutinized to ensure they are done correctly based on the goals of the website.

ExcelPrioritize Your Pages

  • Download all of your URLs into an Excel file
  • Identify the ones you want to work on first. These should be the most important ones. Maybe they are the pages that are most traveled on your site, or the least traveled, or the ones that make you the most money. Decide what your goals are for your website, then choose the pages to work on first based on those goals.

 

Analyze Your Content

  • Does each page have a target keyword phrase and related variants?
  • Are the target keyword phrases in headers on the page?
  • Are the target keyword phrases contained in the copy of the page with an appropriate keyword density? Note that there is no definitive rule for keyword density but somewhere in the 2-3% range is good enough.
  • Is the content lengthy? Your content should not be too thin. Make sure it is greater than 400-500 words in length.Auditing your content
  • The site is free of duplicate pages wherever possible. Note that some duplicate content is unavoidable like certain legal disclaimers for product pages. For the most part (and as long as spamming isn’t the motive for this), you shouldn’t have to worry.
  • Keywords are contained in copy and in header tags above copy
  • Text is broken up using images or video
  • Text is configured in a way that makes it easy to read, such as in short paragraphs or in ordered/unordered lists
  • Ads on the page are in smaller proportion to content
  • There should not be too many ads above the fold of any given page (ideally, you should have one)

Canonicalization

  • There is some method for canonicalization of pages in place whether it be the rel=”canoncial tag or some kind of plugin for a CMS or a line of PHP code in the header of a page

GooglebotThe Site Must be Accessible by Bots and Humans

  • Do you have a robots.txt file? If so, it must be configured to allow search to index the  appropriate pages.
  • Links and content remain present and working even with Javascript, CSS and cookies turned off
  • There should be no presence of cloaking
  • If you are using a CMS or have some other kind of plugin installed, ensure there are no third-party URLs in the header of your website. These can cause issues with bots accessing a robots.txt.
  • Flash objects have text or html elements in them

Analyze Your Infrastructure

  • All pages have a meta description with a target keyword in them
  • Meta description has compelling language and adequately describes the page that it applies to
  • All pages have a title tag with a target keyword
  • The target keyword phrase front-loaded into title and meta tags (i.e. does it come first or near the beginning of the tag?)
  • Meta robots tag present and not inadvertently blocking pages
  • If applicable, title tags contain branding

Check for Indexed Pages

  • Use the site:operator in Google, Bing and Yahoo search. Are pages of the site indexed? Are there fewer than there should be?
  • Do you see pages that shouldn’t be indexed?
  • Are there old URLs that no longer work?

technical SEO auditTechnical

  • The pages of the site load fast
  • Redirected pages are using 301 codes if they are permanent and 302 codes if they are temporary
  • Redirects are pointing at similar pages
  • Important content is not rendered using Flash
  • Important content is not rendered with the use of iframes
  • An XML sitemap is present on the site

External Measurement Services

  • The site has been submitted to Google and Bing Webmaster tools
  • There are no errors or other issues as reported by these services

importance of backlinks

Inbound Links

  • Inbound links are from reputable websites
  • There is no evidence of spammy link-building tactics (for example, a disproportionate number of exact-match anchor text links to more natural-looking links, disproportionate number of no-follow links to do-follow links, links coming from sites that are known for or appear to be link sellers among other red flags)
  • The majority of inbound links come from websites that are similar in niche to the website being audited

Internal Linking

  • There is a clear website hierarchy, meaning the home page links down into category pages and category pages into sub-category pages. Category pages can link to similar category pages.
  • Any given page is no more than five levels away from the home page
  • Content is linked to other relevant content that helps users discover more useful information on the site
  • Appropriate anchor text is used to link to other content internally
  • There are no broken links

Content Quality Review

Whether you are reviewing pages for search engine optimization purposes or not, the quality of your content should still be a priority. Poorly written, poorly researched or error-ridden content causes visitors to lose faith in a website. This could cause a visitor to avoid making a purchase or to leave a site entirely.

  • Articles and other content should be free from spelling and grammatical errors
  • Paragraphs and headers should be properly formatted. Content should be easy to scan and broken up with images or other larger elements.
  • Content should be well-researched and accurate. No matter what your content is about, it should be authoritative and something people can rely on. Inaccurate content makes people lose trust in a website and/or a brand.
  • Does the content have good internal linking? It’s always good to link relevant portions of content to other relevant pages on your site. Not only does this help PageRank flow freely within a site, but it helps visitors find other content that may be of importance to them.
  • Is your content useful? This may be sort of subjective depending on what niche you are operating in; however, in general, all content should have some purpose. If your content is just a bunch of fluff or useless jabbering, it’s better to not have the page be present at all.
  • Is your content well-researched?  If you are an authority on a subject or trying to become one, it is important to offer data or other resources to back up anything that you say. This not only builds your credibility, but can create other SEO opportunities. Go to as many sources as you can in order to get good content for your readers.

SEO changes on a daily basis, so this checklist may not always be complete. Invariably, there may be things added or elements that aren’t as important as they were before.

What processes do you go through when auditing a website? Does having a checklist help you in your activities? Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.

 

Conversational Search: Game Changer or Novelty?

Conversational SearchWhen conversational search was rolled out at Google I/O, it was welcomed by a throng of Google glad-handers who marveled at what the search giant had been able to accomplish. Impressive it was with Google’s VP of Search & Mobile running through mock queries, and at one point using pronouns without the algorithm missing a beat. So, if this is the future of search, if people are going to talk to computers like they are human beings in order to get the information they need, then what does that mean for search engine optimization?

GooglebotDid Conversational Search Kill The Keyword Star?

Right now, if you want a web page to be found in search, you must use keywords. Other factors like social signals are starting to play an influential role for many users’ results pages, but for the most part, if you don’t have the right words in your copy, you probably won’t show up as being relevant for a query.

In an effort to make search easier and to deliver more relevant results, Google is developing strategies that don’t necessarily involve keywords. The Knowledge Graph, for example, ties relevant information to other things that you searched for. This information may have nothing to do with keywords you typed in, but are displayed for other reasons — reasons that apparently cannot be gamed.

I doubt keywords will ever go away as a ranking factor; however, they will change a lot. In a recent video released by Google’s web-spam team, Matt Cutts explains that keywords are still important, but people are using them differently. When you type a query into Google, it is more common to use rigid language because you know you are giving instruction to a computer. With the proven abilities of conversational search and voice search in general, people will speak queries more naturally. When typing queries, it is generally known that the more words you cram into the search bar, the less likely it is you will find what you are looking for. With conversational search, the opposite is true. The more information you give, the more the algorithm has to go on, and the better your results will be. So, instead of typing, “carwashes  Detroit,” you might speak, “find me carwashes in Detroit.” That will change the way marketers use keywords in the copy of their websites and other places online.

Conversational Search ListeningConversational Search is Not a Game-Changer…Yet

It’s hard to say at this point whether conversational search is going to have a large impact on SEO. Certainly, voice search is more prevalent on mobile devices, but what about traditional computers? At this point it’s more of a novelty than a practical tool. Currently, conversational search is only available on the Chrome browser. At the time of this post, Google has not provided the ability for the search function to listen for a command like on Google Glass, where users say the command, “ok Google.”

Further, when you are on a laptop, how often are you really using voice search? Assuming voice-enabled search were available on all major browsers, you had the hardware for your computer to listen to you and Google had the capacity to listen for a query, would it be easier and faster for you to speak it or type it? That is Google’s goal (to make the computer from Star Trek, where all you have to do is speak out into the room).

Search By VoiceGoogle is certainly no stranger to endeavors that just didn’t catch on. Google Buzz comes to mind along with a host of other programs that never took flight. Unlike industries of the past, Google can afford to make a bunch of flops and also put products out there that aren’t fully finished. Partly, that has to do with the nature of software products in that they never really need to be completely finished, but useable.

A New Way to Search

One thing is for sure: conversational search works very well combined with Knowledge Graph. We are already seeing that pervade some parts of the SEO industry. If it does become more mainstream and easier to use, methods that work well now like link building and keywords in content architecture may not be so important anymore. Instead, being relevant online will mean producing content that people like as evidenced by how much they click on it, share it, like it, plus-one it and otherwise interact with it. Eventually, being relevant in the online world will resemble that of the offline world in that it will be nearly impossible to fake.

 

What are your thoughts on conversational search? Have you used it? Do you think it has a future? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below…

Google Phases Out Its Keyword Search Tool – Welcome To Keyword Planner

Googles Keyword Search Tool InterfacePer usual, Google can’t seem to sit still. I suppose that’s a good thing considering that tech in general moves at the speed of…well, tech. Yet another change to the search giant’s web services is coming down the pipeline. The company is shutting down its popular keyword research tool and replacing it with the Keyword Planner. If you are heavily involved in AdWords or SEO, you have probably used this tool a lot, and (like myself) may have been a bit apprehensive about how good the next iteration will be. After all, wasn’t the tool working just fine?

Screenshot of Google's Keyword PlannerWhy Is Google Changing the Keyword Search Tool?

Judging by the way the tool works and its name (keyword planner), it appears that Google is meshing the services provided by the old keyword tool and the traffic estimator tool that was also a part of AdWords.

If you don’t interact with Google a lot on a deeper level than its search engine or its browser, you are probably unaware of the fact that the organization is constantly in beta mode. Unlike the billion-dollar juggernauts of our parents’ time, Google routinely launches products that aren’t really in a finished state or that perhaps could have been thought through more. Such is true with most tech-related services. They can always be made slightly better than the version released a month ago.

As it relates to the Keyword Tool, there are a variety of ways that it could be better designed to do what it was originally intended to do — help people select keywords for their AdWords ads. Google has been moving progressively closer to that goal by introducing iterations of the tool with better features like ad group ideas. The keyword planner is one more step in the direction of making AdWords a little bit more user-friendly and logical in terms of what it does and how to have the most success with it.

What Does This Mean If You Use The Keyword Search Tool?

If you are an AdWords user…

Google AdWords LogoChoosing keywords for your campaigns will be much easier. With the old tool before ad group ideas were added, keyword additions to a campaign was less than organized. If you weren’t savvy to the notion that only similar keywords should be added to your ad group, your campaign probably tanked right away because the tool suggested tons of keywords that had little to do with what you were selling. A lot of extra effort went into discovering that, “hey, just because you typed in headphones and the tool suggested ‘oversized pink fluffy headphones’ doesn’t mean you should use the keyword.”

After the addition of ad group ideas, it was a little easier to target your ads because the tool was telling you that only this group of keywords should be associated with an ad group. Integration with AdWords was still a bit cumbersome. The tool also didn’t emphasize enough that keywords needed to be grouped by related words.

Googles Keyword PlannerAnother benefit is the usability aspect of the new planner. It resembles more of template for choosing keywords for a campaign rather than a multi purpose tool that can also be used for AdWords. Users see only the options related to the tool and there are even helpful links to the right of the planner in case you are completely lost with how to use it.

Among other additions that make the planner better for AdWords users are the ability to upload bulk keywords from an external file and customization options that allow users to filter out data that isn’t needed. Additionally, the tool does a better job of associating steps in the process with goals that advertisers may have.

If you are an SEO…

Many Google keyword tool users don’t use the tool for AdWords at all. Instead, a common tactic is to get the information from Google and then use it to optimize a website for search. While the basic information that can be gleaned from the tool for SEO can still be found in the new Keyword Planner, the new tool wasn’t improved with this use in mind. SEOs can still make use of the new filters such as the ability to exclude keyword data by number of monthly searches as well as include/exclude filters.

 

Have you used the new Google Keyword Planner? Do you see any drawbacks?Improvements? Join the conversation by dropping us a line or commenting below.

Smashwords Self-Publishing: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Smashwords self-publishingYou’ve done your homework. You’ve assessed and compared the pricing models, royalty options, publishing guidelines, and ToS agreements of several eBook distribution channels. For you, Smashwords outshines the others.

Now that you’ve made your choice, how do you ensure you make the most of your Smashwords self-publishing experience? In this post, you’ll find out how to upload your first eBook and maximize the marketing opportunity Smashwords offers writers.

Step 1: Create a Smashwords Account

Join Smashwords

Before you can start the process of uploading and publishing your eBook, you need to join Smashwords. The sign up form is fairly standard, but you’ll want to pay special attention to the screen name, first name, and last name fields. While you may be tempted to use names that are funny or controversial, it’s important to create the right impression and establish yourself as a professional author. “Beefcake” or “partychick” simply won’t cut it.

Also, keep in mind that your unique Smashwords URL will rank in search engines. While you can edit your first name and last name after signing up, you cannot edit your username. Choose wisely.

Once you click the “Sign Up!” button, Smashwords will send a confirmation email to the relevant email address. You’ll need to click the link within that email to complete your registration.

Step 2: Create an Interesting and Complete Author Profile

Smashwords Self-Publishing Author Profile

Clicking the confirmation link should take you back to the site’s homepage. Once there, click on the “My Smashwords” tab to update your profile information. Although you’ll find three different links to complete your profile, they all lead to the same form.

Using this form, you can:

  • Upload a professional picture. If you’ve already built a readership through a website, blog, or social media site, consider using the headshot you’ve used on those pages. You can potentially increase sales if people recognize you and associate you with your other works.
  • Add a video. This is a great opportunity to build your author brand by introducing yourself to potential readers and sharing relevant information about your experiences or expertise.
  • Update your payment information. Hopefully, you read through the relevant earnings and payment documentation when performing due diligence. Entering the correct payment and tax information is crucial if you want to be paid on time.
  • Add links to your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wattpad, and MySpace properties. Adding this information gives interested readers the opportunity to connect with you on multiple platforms, as well as learn more about you, your books, and your business.
  • Include links to sites where readers can purchase print copies of your books. For many readers, eBooks simply can’t beat the feel of a paperback or hardcover book. Why not give them a choice if your books are published in print?
  • Include an author bio. Aim for a short, meaningful, and interesting bio that entices readers to check out your books. Try to highlight relevant facts and achievements that may help your marketing efforts.

After clicking the “Update Profile” button, you’ll want to download the Smashwords Style Guide. While the guidelines seem extensive, formatting your eBook correctly ensures your book is eligible for inclusion in the platform’s Premium Catalog. This means your eBook will reach major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and more. This widespread distribution is one of the main reasons so many Indie authors and publishers are choosing Smashwords over other platforms.

Step 3: Enter Your eBook’s Title and SynopsisSmashwords Self-Publishing Title and Synopsis

In this section, you should fill in your attention-grabbing title, as well as your eBook’s blurb.

You’ll notice that Smashwords’ self-publishing platform allows for two descriptions. The short description should tease and tempt without revealing too much, while the optional long description should include any additional information that may help readers in the purchasing decision. For example, a longer blurb might include a chapter outline for a non-fiction book.

Step 4: Set Your Price and Enable SamplingSmashwords Self-Publishing eBook Pricing

Smashwords offers three pricing options. When you opt to charge a specific amount, three different pie charts will appear. This visual presentation is a great way to see how revenue will be divided between the relevant parties. Although you’ll receive less for a book that is distributed to multiple retailers, the potential for sales is much greater than publishing through Smashwords alone.

When you enable the sampling feature, make certain you provide enough to hook your audience without giving away everything.

Step 5: Select Your eBook’s CategoriesSmashwords eBook Category

Make certain you choose the correct categories in this section so that Smashwords indexes your book properly. You’ll also avoid any potential problems once your book is published and distributed.

Step 6: Add TagsSmashwords Self-Publishing eBook Tags

Tagging your eBook with relevant keywords is essential if you want readers to find your book easily. As soon as you enter your first tag, Smashwords produces a box of suggestions to help you with keyword selection. Ideally, you’ll know which keywords to target based on the initial keyword research you performed before writing your book. Smashwords suggests that you enter no more than 10 tags.

Step 7: Opt Into Your Preferred eBook FormatsSmashwords Self-Publishing eBook Formats

If your eBook isn’t in a pre formatted eBook file already, Smashwords will convert your Word document for you. The platform offers seven options, which is ideal if you want to make your book accessible to a wider market.

Step 8: Upload Your Cover ImageSmashwords Self-Publishing eBook Cover

Before uploading an irresistible eBook cover, make certain your image meets the size and format requirements. Although covers are optional if you’re not distributing through any channel other than Smashwords, a great cover design acts as a powerful marketing tool. In addition to capturing attention and persuading prospects to give your book second look, covers can help build your brand as an author or business.

Step 9: Upload Your eBook FileSmashwords Self-Publishing eBook File Upload

One of the worst, and easiest, mistakes a self-publishing author can make is uploading the incorrect file to a distributor. You’ll want to avoid delays and hassles in the future by double checking the file name you’re uploading. Make certain it’s not only formatted to Smashwords standards, but that it’s also the final version of your eBook.

Step 10: Agree To Smashwords Terms of Service and PublishSmashwords Self-Publishing Agreement

Although the last step may seem like the easiest, your journey to becoming a self-published author isn’t over just yet. Once you hit the “Publish” button, you’ll see a message indicating your place in the queue. Your book will then be sent through what Smashwords likes to call the “meatgrinder.” During this process, your eBook will be converted into the file formats you’ve chosen and checked for any errors.

You’ll then receive an email with the results of the conversions and a list of problems you’ll need to fix before final approval. If there are no errors, you can log into your Smashwords dashboard and view your book’s page. On this page, you’ll find options to upload a trailer, manage coupons, and view the book’s stats.

Click on the “Dashboard” tab after you’ve checked the cover, synopsis, and tags. What you need to do now is assign an ISBN to your book. Some distributors won’t accept your eBook without one, so you’ll need to complete this task if your goal is to become part of the Premium Catalog. You can assign a free ISBN by clicking on the “ISBN Manager” link in the left-hand panel and then clicking on the “Assign An ISBN” link. After you order the type of ISBN you want, Smashwords will send a confirmation email.

Last but not least, you need to select the distribution channels through which you hope to sell your book once it qualifies for Premium Distribution. To do this, you need to click on the “Distribution Channel Manager” link in the left-hand panel, click on the title of your book, and then opt out of the channels you don’t want included. You can ignore this final step if you want Smashwords to send your book to every distributor on its list since you’re opted in automatically.

That’s it. You’re a published Smashwords author!

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If you’re already leveraging Smashwords as your distributor, let us know what you love about the platform.

Using Goals in Google Analytics

goalSometimes it is necessary to track specific actions on a website in order to learn things. Goals in Google Analytics are the perfect tool for doing that. Using goals, webmasters can track things like when someone landed on a specific page, how long that person stayed there, and events that happened on their website. Goals track these occurrences and display them in reports as an integer each time they happen so webmasters can keep track of how many times the action was completed. Goal reports also display data in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand way.

What Can I Track with Goals in Google Analytics?

With goals, you can track destination pages, visit duration, pages/screens per visit or an event.

Destination:  A common use of the destination goal is to track when someone lands on a confirmation page. For instance, you may have advertising out on the web that leads visitors through a conversion funnel. The funnel may end at a final web page (such as a thank-you or confirmation page) where the funnel is complete. By using goals to track when users hit these pages, you can determine the success of your advertising and conversion funnel.

Duration:  This goal triggers when a visitor has spent a specified amount of time on a page. For instance, maybe you have blog pages, and you want to determine if visitors are spending time on those pages. You might set a goal to record if a visitor spends more than 5 minutes on the page in order to determine if you are meeting content or SEO related goals. Conversely, you may want to know if people are having trouble with a form page. You could set a goal to record if they are spending too long on the page. A high number might suggest that the form needs to be redesigned.

Pages/Screens per visit:  This goal is useful for tracking how many pages someone looked at per visit. You may want people to travel deeper into your site.  This goal type would help you determine if any changes you made were effective at doing that.

Event:  It used to be you were not able to track events as goals in Analytics. Events are simply user interactions that happen on a web page, but that cannot be recorded by the Analytics tracking code because they do not trigger a pageview. Things like video views, clicks on external links and downloads are examples of actions that are recorded as events. In the past, you would have to trick Google into thinking a pageview had happened in order to track the event as a goal. This was a complex workaround, and it also inflated pageviews artificially. Now you can track events as goals instead.

Setting Up Goals in Google Analytics

  1. Log into your Google Analtyics account
  2. Click the Admin tab near the top of the page
  3. Click on the profile that you want to create the goal in
  4. Click on “create a goal”Create Goal Button Screenshot in Google Analytics
  5. At the time of this writing, you will be prompted to choose from one of many pre populated goal templates. These are simply pre named templates that automatically select the radio button for the goal type in the next step based on the nature of the action. You can change the radio button selection in the next step, if necessary.Goal templates in Google Analytics Screenshot
  6. If the templates don’t fit your purposes, select “custom” and click “next”
  7. In the next step, you will either confirm your goal type (for templates) or choose one (for custom)
  8. Select the appropriate goal type based on what you are measuring
  9. The next steps will vary based on the goal type that you choose. For URL destinations, you will have to enter the URL of the page. For events, you will have to enter the category, action, label and value of the event.
  10. After you are finished, save your goal

Viewing goals in Google Analytics reports screenshotTo view data from goals in reports, go to standard reporting and then Conversions->Goals. Here, you can look at an overview of all the goals you have running, goal URLs if you have specified a page, reverse goal paths, which show how users achieved the goal, and funnel visualization reports that give you a graphical representation of how users completed a goal or abandoned the funnel. The goal flow report gives you another graphical representation of the process, but it is a little more interactive.

Goals are a great way to measure specific actions on a website.  They have advanced to the point where you don’t need to use virtual pageviews in order to record goals that don’t trigger the Analytics tracking code

Are you using goals in Google Analytics? What has your experience been like? Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.

AdWords Optimization: Best Practices for Your Campaign

Google Adwords LogoSEO is great for driving organic traffic to a website, but sometimes you just need things to happen faster. Pay-per-click advertising is a prime way to do that, and one of the best platforms is Google AdWords. It’s a sure-fire way to get targeted traffic fast. Hold on a minute, though. Just because you pay for ads does not mean you will have instant success. A little AdWords optimization is necessary in order to get the most out of your advertising dollars. Since there are so many different PPC platforms to advertise on, optimization is not a one-size-fits-all deal. So without writing an encyclopedia on the topic, I’ll attempt to provide some proven tips to optimize a variety of different PPC campaigns.

AdWords Optimization

Google has greater than 60% market share, and its platform is thought by many to be second to none. If you are looking for highly targeted traffic that is ready to buy, this is the place to go.

Highly targeted keywords, adgroups and landing pages:  This concept is fairly simple, yet many people miss the target when starting out with AdWords. If you think about how Google’s advertising works, you will understand why having keywords that are relevant to ads and landing pages makes all the sense in the world. When you enter keywords into the AdWords interface and associate those keywords with ads, you are telling Google, “These are the ads I want you to show when these words are typed into your search engine.”

Case in point:  I like to buy car parts online, and I rely on Google a lot to find what I’m looking for. So I hop online and look for a very specific phrase “Jeep window motors.”

Excluding the highly relevant Google shopping results for my search, the ads on the right column of the page are as follows:

jeepads

Note the ad in the first position (after Google shopping results). Nowhere in the ad text can I find what I’m looking for. Yes, the word “Jeep,” which is the first part of my query, is present, but the meat of what I’m looking for is absent. Needless to say, I’m not clicking on that. The second ad follows the same theme; there’s nothing relevant to my query. The third and fourth ads, however, are starting to get the picture. I like 1aauto.com’s reviews, and they have most of the words I’m looking for in their ad, so I click and I am brought to this page:

1aauto

For AdWords optimization or tweaking of any PPC campaign, the landing page is key. This is not the best landing page I have ever seen, but they have done some key things very well. Notice that the same text that compelled me to click on the ad (i.e. window motor) is also front and center on the page. This lets me know I’ve come to the right place. I was looking for Jeep window motors and this site is about to show me what they have in the way of window motors. Simple, right? It looks like I’m in store for some cumbersome vehicle identification steps, but to their credit, my query did not specify a model, just a brand name.

Well, maybe I want to check out another site before I commit to this one. So I back out to my search results and I click on the last ad pictured above for advancedautoparts.com. The ad doesn’t have my exact keyword phrase, but it does have one key term, “window,” and the word “parts” suffices for my purposes. After all, I am looking for car parts. This is the page I am brought to.

advancedauto

Oh, wait a minute — did I click the wrong ad? I back out and click again. Nope, this was the right page. Not a keyword in sight that has to do with windows, Jeeps or motors. I see they have free battery testing and that they are running a promotion, but I don’t see any window motors or even a hint of where I might go to find what I’m looking for. It is an auto parts website, but now what I’m thinking as a user is, “great, now I’m gonna have to dig around in here to find what I’m looking for.”

The whole point of this exercise is to shed light on the fact that if a business is trying to get its prospects to do something specific (whether it be filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter or buying a window motor for a Jeep), they need to make that process as simple and unambiguous as possible. People will muddle through if they really have to, but if they are not that invested, they can just as easily back out and start the process over on another website. The more obstacles you put in place (or fail to remove) throughout your conversion funnel, the less likely people are to finish it.

AdWords Optimization: Searcher Intent

In order to avoid low click-through and conversion rates, you must optimize your campaigns and landing pages for your specific goals. Starting with your ad campaign, you will want to place keywords that are similar in the same group with their associated ads. With AdWords, it’s easy to feel like you may be missing out on something if you don’t add every keyword under the sun that could relate to what you are selling. In fact, the more keywords you add, the less targeted your campaign becomes and the less likely it will be successful. Focus on a narrow set of related keywords. For instance, the following phrases could be combined into the same group:

Jeep window motors

Buy Jeep window motors

Jeep window motor

Cheap Jeep window motors

Your ad copy might look something like this:

Ad Example

 

 

 

It would be tempting to include phrases like “install Jeep window motor,” “Jeep window motor manufacturers” or “diagram of Jeep window motor” in the list above; however, this would work against you. These phrases talk about the same object (i.e. window motors), but they are different in terms of intent of the searcher. Those using the phrase “install Jeep window motor” may be looking for a tutorial on how to put one in their Jeep and not to buy the product. Those using the same phrase with the word “manufacturers” in it could be looking for a variety of things like information about a specific company, warranty info or even a job.

AdWords Optimization: Ad Copy

Your ad copy must contain the keywords that you have associated with your account. Not doing so can affect your quality score and can also increase your ad spend. Aside from these elements, the way text is written in your ad can also affect its success. Notice in the example above how the first line (the header) has the exact keyword phrase that is dominant in the keyword group. This is a good place to put your keywords because headers are emboldened when shown on SERPs (search engine results pages). The second line of your ad should have your value proposition. In my example above, this isn’t the most enticing proposition, but you get the idea. Explain in a few words why clicking this ad will deliver what the searcher is looking for. Notice also the line at the end that reads “contact us today!” This is known as a call to action, and every ad should have one. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you should write some short line that tells the reader to act.

These small tips can do wonders for a campaign that is struggling, and can set you off on the right foot from the beginning. There are also numerous sources for AdWords optimization information out on the web. Google’s AdWords help center is a good place to start. You can even study for their certification exam there.

Optimizing Facebook Ads

Much of the information already stated applies to various forms of PPC, but there are some little differences between networks. Unlike AdWords optimization, you won’t be using keywords to target your market on Facebook. Instead, you will have access to the vast amounts of demographic information that Facebook  has gleaned from its users in order to target ads to them.

It should be noted that advertising on Facebook (if you are accustomed to search advertising) is quite a different experience. Click-through rates tend to be much lower because people’s intentions on social media sites are different than on search engines. For instance, people go to search engines in order to research purchases or actually find things to buy. The same cannot be said for social media and for Facebook.

Some tips for getting the most out of your ads

Images are important:  Unlike search, you have the opportunity to leverage images much more on Facebook. If you are a company advertising, try to find an image that relates to your message, but that is also compelling. It has been found that images of happy, attractive women can increase click through rates. Colorful logos are often more enticing than images of machinery or logos that follow the same color scheme as Facebook’s platform .

AT&T follows this strategy effectively in their ad for Internet services:

attad

Notice that they don’t use images of modems or broadband lines or anything that has to do with Internet. They use an image of a happy little girl with the headline “Share precious moments.” This makes the ad much more compelling than it would be if there were a picture of a computer accompanied by text reading, “buy our Internet service today.” The ad tugs at the notion that people like to share the fun moments in their lives online with their friends and doing so easily requires good Internet.

Compelling ad copy:  In search, ad copy is really a no-brainer. People are generally looking for the text that they put into a search engine in the first place. On Facebook, more traditional marketing savvy is called upon. Advertisers have the benefit of only showing their ad to people that will most likely relate with it, but the message is also appearing during a time when people are busy “lurking,” coming up with clever comments or, in general, are focused on something else. Even though you are showing them something that Facebook has determined they will like, you have to make it appealing with your words.

As an Internet marketer, I thought Hubspot did a good job of using some effective ad language,

hubspot

Those who practice web marketing are also heavily engrossed in data on how they and their campaigns perform. Having a statistic in their ad copy resonates well with prospects and is enticing enough to want to learn a little more. They also touch on a hot value proposition, which is driving leads with a social media platform. Driving leads is one of the main tasks of any Internet marketer.

It is important to remember that with Facebook (and other platforms), advertising is an iterative process. Think carefully about what would appeal to your target market, design, implement and then analyze. You may find that some images or ad copy work better than others, and advertisers rarely get it right the first time around.

Third-Party Websites

Aside from the major networks like AdWords, Bing’s AdCenter, Facebook and others, there are many third-party websites out there offering ad space. Many of the principles outlined above still apply. Banner or other image-based ads must have compelling copy that is relevant to the landing pages they are attached to. Something worth noting here is not so much optimization, but data related to exposure from those sites. A webmaster offering ad space may have compelling packages, but be sure and do your homework before you buy. Ask for data on the number of unique page views or visitors the site or page you are advertising on receives on a monthly basis. Get demographic data to ensure that what you are selling actually appeals to those visitors. You should also not be afraid to ask for historical ad data or success stories from other advertisers that have used those services. Things like click-through rates, conversion rates, ad rotation and the like.

Paid advertising is one of the primary models for monetization of websites these days. No matter which network or website you go with, a huge user base is only part of the equation. You must configure your campaigns in a way that promotes a good user experience. This means not only configuring accounts correctly, choosing the right keywords and images, but also making sure your website is easy to navigate and relevant to the value proposition you have promised your prospects.

 

What tips do you have for optimizing PPC campaigns? Have you found that certain tactics bring in more conversions than others? Join in the conversation by commenting below.




Make More Sales with Book Metadata

Book MetadataThe explosion in popularity of eBooks has created a burgeoning market that does not seem to be slowing down. The explosion of eBooks has been helped in part by devices that make them easier to consume as well as clever marketing tactics. In the past, end users found titles they were interested in by going to a bookstore, a library or other means. Today, people take to the Internet to discover books that they want to read. Part of what makes those titles easy to discover is book metadata — the descriptive information about a book, its author, its publisher as well as other information. Not only is metadata important for discoverability of both physical and eBooks online, it is central to an effective marketing plan.

Metadata is simply information that is related to a book, such as author, ISBN, title, author biography, images and virtually any other piece of descriptive information. Traditionally, this information was used by publishers and their vendors; however, in the Internet age, book metadata has a new role. Rich, complete and abundant metadata helps buyers discover your books and learn more about them so that they are more likely to buy. Not having this information in even its most basic form means trouble from a marketing and distribution standpoint. Not having good metadata means selling fewer books.

Elements of Good Book Metadata

Book Metadata as outlined by ONIXONIX (Online Information eXchange) defines more than 200 different elements of metadata that can correspond to both physical and electronic books. ONIX is the international standard for representing book, serial and video product information in a digital form. Not all types of data apply to all kinds of books. The types of metadata that a publisher, distributor and/or printer require may differ. This being true, there is a core set of elements that are commonly found across many different types of titles. These are data that are essential for almost any book and required by almost any entity that will touch a title throughout its life cycle. Examples include ISBN, title, author, date of publication, publisher, content description, dimensions of a book, status code of the publisher and usually a digital thumbnail for the cover of the book.

Book Metadata and SEO

pagerank basicsThere are two distinct types of metadata: data used for physical books and that used for the discovery of eBooks in a digital space. Whether you are selling eBooks online or physical books (or both), comprehensive metadata is important for SEO. As recently as February of 2012, over 73% of Americans used a search engine to discover something online. During any given day in 2012 more than half of Americans were using a search engine. In case you couldn’t tell, making your title discoverable in search is key to making sales, and SEO for your eBook can help make that happen. Book metadata that is complete, detailed and full of useful information ensures your title will get found and get purchased more often and more rapidly.

When search on the web first hit the scene, engines were not the highly intelligent logical giants that they have become today. Search algorithms relied heavily on signals that could be manipulated easily. It is estimated that Google alone has put more than 1,000 person-years into perfecting its own search algorithm, and other competitors are also very advanced. It is more important than ever for marketing books online to have rich metadata that search engines can latch onto and serve up to users looking for specific authors, titles, genres or other pieces of information that may relate to the content you have out on the market.

Making Your Book Metadata Stand Out

Standing Out with Book metadataWhen a writer first composes his or her masterpiece, there is a lot of data that simply isn’t available. Once a title starts to move through its life cycle through publishers, printers and other vendors, more and more data gets added. A title may get an author biography added, it may win awards, perhaps reviews get published about it or any number of other occurrences that can enhance metadata even further. Once added to a specific title, this extra data can help it stand out to end users who may be interested. It can help increase the discoverability of the title in search and create a more enticing description for those who may be interested in purchasing it. For example, users may search for reviews or author biographies before deciding to buy a specific book online. They may look for awards or environmental information about the title. The more data that is available in a virtual space, the better.

In the physical world, even without visual cues, we can often touch and hold objects that we plan to purchase. Books are no different, and in a virtual world, metadata acts as a placeholder for our senses that we would normally rely on to help us make decisions. When authors can provide as much data about their titles as possible, end users can make more informed decisions about the books they plan to purchase.

 

Have you seen a difference in providing more vs less metadata in terms of book sales online? How has metadata helped you market your books online? Be a part of the conversation by commenting below.

 

Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

Screenshot for Advanced Segments in Google AnalyticsSometimes you just want to see one piece of information about your website and not the onslaught of data provided by Google Analytics. You could filter your data (which is nice), but that has its own caveats. Advanced segments, on the other hand, are an excellent way of isolating subgroups of information about your website for analysis. There are lots of ready-made segments, and you can also create your own.

What Are Advanced Segments in Google Analytics?

As mentioned before, an advanced segment is a setting that can be configured in a profile in your Google Analytics account to exclude other data and only look at one specific metric. For instance, using common default segments, you can view only direct traffic or only search traffic to a site. Using custom segments, you could do things like only see traffic related to mobile devices. Advanced segments are useful because you can cut out other data and only look at what is important to you. You can also compare that data to the site overall and other metrics, plus (even though you may have just created a segment) they can be applied historically; this is a feature not available when you create a filter on your profile.

Advanced Segments vs. Filters in Google Analytics

Making Changes to Your Website Based on DataAlthough advanced segments are essentially filters that use logical expressions to exclude data, they are much different than the filters that can be applied to profiles.

Historical reports: One of the most notable differences with advanced segments compared with filters is that you can apply them to historical data. When you set up a filter on a profile, this is not possible because the only data the filter is affecting is that which is collected after the filter has been implemented. Conversely, advanced segments can be applied retroactively on profile data. In this way, they are far more powerful than a regular filter because you can see your trends over time. The only drawback is that you have to reapply the filter each time you leave and come back to your Analytics account.

Comparing data: By selecting more than one segment at a time, you can compare the metrics together in reports. This is something that cannot be done by applying a filter to an entire profile. With profile filters, data that has been marked for exclusion is thrown out and is no longer retrievable.

Excluding traffic: An area where filters can be more useful than advanced segments is with excluding traffic. For instance, many businesses will exclude their own internal traffic to get a more accurate picture of prospects visiting their website. There may be visits that you want in reports all the time or ones that you don’t. Whatever the case may be, remembering to always manipulate this traffic data with advanced segments can be a pain, and that is where filters come in handy.

User Roles: Filters are also better for managing user roles. For instance, you may have team members working on a specific area of a site that they only need to see certain data for. In this regard, filters can exclude that data or manipulate it in other ways that are permanent and don’t require those team members to see all data.

Using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics


Default Segments

Using advanced segments is super easy. Follow the steps below to use default advanced segments.

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account.
  2. Click on the profile that you want to view data for.
  3. Navigate to a report that you want to view data for (note that if you are just playing around with segments, you can do it in any report).
  4. Click on “Advanced Segments” near the top of the page.Screenshot for Google Analytics Advanced Segments
  5. A menu will drop down showing default segments on the left and any custom segments on the right. Note that custom segments are created at the account level. Even if you have been made a user on another Analytics property, as long as you are viewing a property in your account, the segments for that account will appear regardless of whether or not they will work.Screenshot for Advanced Segments
  6. Click on any segment that you want to view data for. Note that by clicking on more than one segment, you will be viewing data in side-by-side comparison and not in aggregation.
  7. Click “Apply”.

Custom Segments

Customized segments are a little different. They work in the same way that the default segments do; however, they are created by the user and are very versatile. For instance, you can use customized code on your web page to capture information and then use it in advanced segments like this code to capture visits where people were logged into one or more popular social media accounts.

Setting up a custom segment

  1. Log into your Analytics account.
  2. Click on the profile where you want to create the advanced segment.
  3. Click on the “Advanced Segments” button. 
  4. On the right hand side of the dialogue box that appears, click “+New Custom Segment”.Screenshot for segments in analytics
  5. Next, you will have to set the parameters for your custom segment. This includes whether or not you want to include or exclude data, what data that is and the logic you want Google Analytics to use in finding that data. Note that after you create the segment, you can test it by clicking the “preview” or “test segment” buttons. Analytics will then apply the segment to your data. If you don’t get the desired result, you can tweak it.Google Segments
  6. If you are satisfied with your segment, click “Save Segment”.

Unlike filters on profiles, you can also add “and/or” statements to your advanced segments. This means that when the segment is applied, Google can include other data that you have specified in the segment as opposed to throwing everything out and only looking for one set of data that was entered.

Advanced segments in Google Analytics are a nice tool for looking at subsets of data where filters don’t quite do the job or are overkill. You can choose from one of many default segments or you can create your own. The coolest part is that you can use your own custom programming to create data to be used by advanced segments.

How do you use advanced segments? Do you have any innovative tutorials to share that incorporate advanced segments? Join the conversation by commenting below.

How to Write an eBook: 17 Key Things to Consider

How to Write an eBook

You’ve done your research on how to write an eBook, but have you really considered every element of content that can be found between your front cover and your back page?

The chances are you may have missed a thing or two. There’s a lot to think about during the planning and writing phases of eBook creation, so it’s common for something to slip through the cracks. To help you keep track, we’ve made a list of 17 vital components you should think about while creating your eBook.

1. Title Page

It’s simple but significant. Your title page consists of your eBook’s title, subtitle (if there is one), and your author name. Although it sounds like a waste of space, it’s really not. Besides reminding readers of the book they’ve downloaded, as well as who wrote it, the title page provides a buffer between the cover page and the information you include directly after it.

Most importantly, this component sets the book’s visual tone, making design a huge factor here. Whether you select a classic, formal, stylish, or minimalist design will depend on the look and feel you hope to create. Play around with font styles, sizes, color, and text positioning until you achieve the title page you want.

2. Author Bio

Building your author brand and implementing a pre-launch marketing strategy is the ideal way to go. You’ll not only have an established group of qualified prospects eager to grab a copy of your book, but these fans and followers will also have insight into the person behind the brand. As a result, there’ll be immediate recognition and trust when they land on your author page.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for readers who stumble upon your eBook rather than discovering it through your blog, social media, email, or other marketing initiatives. Therefore, incorporating an author page is a great opportunity to make that initial introduction and establish a connection. It’s also an excellent space to note your expertise and build your credibility as an authority on the book’s topic.

Tips for designing an outstanding author page:

  • You’re not divulging your life story so keep the text a reasonable length.
  • Highlight factual, relevant, and interesting information to entice readers to seek you out on other platforms.
  • Include your website, social media, and contact information to help readers get in touch easily.
  • Add a professional headshot to improve recognition.

3. Copyright Notice and Disclaimer

eBook Copyright Notice and DisclaimerDo you balk at the sight of legal jargon? You wouldn’t be the first author, and you certainly wouldn’t be the last. Legal matters can be a sticky business, but the reality is you have to protect yourself and your work. Imagine the horror of finding your blood, sweat, and tears on the site of someone claiming your content as their own. The good news is you can limit this type of nasty surprise and dissuade people from stealing your work.

Although copyright notices and disclaimers vary in terms of wording and the type of information included, they help you assert your rights and limit liability. They also look professional, which is crucial for self-publishers building a professional image. If you’re not sure how to create a copyright page, look for examples and fill-in-the-blank templates online.

4. Acknowledgements or Dedications

If you’ve been helped along the way, a page honoring the people who have supported you is a great way to show them thanks. A short note to express your gratitude goes a long way and demonstrates that you don’t forget the individuals who have contributed to your success.

5. Foreword

Usually written by an established author, expert, or celebrity, a foreword can help put a stamp of approval on your work. In addition to boosting your credibility, a foreword tells people why they should read your book. This piece of content is optional so don’t panic if you can’t get a well-known figure to provide this type of endorsement.

6. Preface

A preface is simply an explanation of why you chose to write the book. It’s the perfect area for providing further insight into your experience and expertise for dealing with the topic at hand. Again, this is an optional item.

7. Introduction

An introduction helps set the overall theme of the book, explains methodologies you may have used, highlights the benefits of the content contained within, and outlines the purpose and goals of your writing. When done correctly, introductions define how you want readers to view your book.

8. Table of Contents

This essential component shows there is organization to your book and that readers can easily find what they need. Often, especially with non-fiction books, a reader will skip back and forth to find relevant information. A table of contents saves time and eliminates unnecessary frustration by providing a page reference for each chapter.

A tip for designing a great table of contents:

  • Hyperlink each chapter outlined on this page to the relevant section of the book. This improves navigation and makes your eBook user-friendly.

9. Chapter Title or Section Pages

While you can simply slap the chapter title above the opening paragraph and call it a day, there’s a far more creative and visually appealing way to go about it. Consider using title or section cover pages to mark the beginning of a new module clearly. This gives readers an indication of the content covered next and helps break the book up into digestible bits. Graphics and relevant pieces of data offer a great way to spice up these pages and keep readers engaged. Keep in mind that you want to link back to these pages if you’re using hyperlinks in your table of contents.

10. Callouts

eBook CalloutCallouts typically include tips, quotes, snippets of research data, subtle product mentions, and other pieces of micro-content. They stand out from the main body of text and keep things interesting. They’re often presented as speech or thought bubbles, highlighted using different font sizes, colors, and styles, or set apart using other visually appealing elements.

Tips for callouts:

  • Don’t be afraid to use callouts as a way to create awareness about relevant projects or features of a paid product or service you offer.
  • While they’re a great addition to educational eBooks, don’t overuse them.

11. Links

The great thing about eBooks is they’re becoming more interactive as technology develops. With a simple click on a link, readers can discover a wealth of content that provides additional information or supports the contents of your book.

Tips on links:

  • Try not to link to content you cannot control.

  • Schedule checks to ensure your book doesn’t contain any broken links.

  • If necessary, update your book with links to newer sources of information.

  • While links should be designed for usability they should also be attractive, so pay attention to style.

12. Visual Components

Everything from graphs, graphics, and screenshots to charts, bullets, and text typography form part of your eBook’s visual component. These elements break up large chunks of text, offer a way to explain complicated ideas visually, and make consumption of your content easy. If you’re creating eBooks for your business, make certain you follow your company’s brand style guide.

13. Headers and Footers

While your header and footer content will depend on the publishing format you choose, they’re aspects you still need to consider. When supported by e-readers and other devices, your header and footer can benefit from page numbers and chapter titles.

14. Social Sharing Buttons

eBook Social Sharing ButtonMake it easy for readers to promote your work on social media sites by adding social sharing buttons to the pages of your eBook. When they come across something they love, they’ll more than likely share your book with their networks. Make certain the link leads to a relevant landing page with a lead-capture form.

15. Blurb

You know that promotional description you’ll use to convince and convert in the first place? Well, it’s a good idea to slot it in at the beginning of your book. The reason being is that many people don’t read the books they download immediately. In fact, your book could sit on someone’s Kindle or iPad for months before they even look at it. Including the blurb in your eBook is a great way to remind buyers about the book’s contents without them needing to search for the information online. They’ll thank you for the convenience.

16. Footnotes, End Notes, and References

Whether you’re commenting on the same page or citing a source at the back of your book, this type of supporting content is crucial to your credibility. Although many people ignore references, there are those that follow up and explore research data for themselves.

17. Call-To-Action

Whether you’re the owner of a company or simply an author, you’re in business. When you’re in business, it stands to reason you don’t want the relationship to end once the final word has been read. A compelling call-to-action can ensure readers remain with you long after they’ve put their e-reader down and turned off the lights.

Tips for a CTA:

  • If you have other eBooks or relevant downloadable content to share, consider including mini versions of their covers in the back of your book and linking to their relevant landing pages. If your readers like this book, the chances are they’ll like the others.
  • Ask readers to subscribe to your blog and connect with you via social media platforms.

  • Depending on your line of business, you may want to offer a free trial period or invite readers to join classes and discussion groups.

Ultimately, your eBook is what you make it. It can be a roaring success or a depressing failure. While the former doesn’t require you to integrate all 17 content and design components into your eBook, it does mean you need to think about improving the marketability of your offering. Many of these components can enhance an eBook, making a boring topic tolerable and a great topic spectacular.

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How to Create an eBook that Generates Leads

Content is a great way to generate leads online. To do that successfully, you have to offer something really useful. It must be easily digestible, tangible and it has to be compelling enough for people to want to trade their personal information for it. An eBook is a great way to do this. You have to craft your eBook in a way that targets the right people. After all, you don’t want people leaving their information if they aren’t interested in your product or service. The following outline will help you create an eBook that generates leads.

Determine Your Goals for Your Lead-Generating eBook

If you want people online to give you their information, you have to give them something in return. One of the main reasons people take to the Internet in the first place is to find information. The Internet has become the central conduit for quick knowledge, and many people don’t even think of looking any other place first. As a business, if you can provide prospects with high-quality information that they can use immediately, they will gladly provide you a name, email and probably a lot more than that. An eBook is a great way to do that because it’s something tangible that visitors can take with them. There are two main themes for success with this. Your eBook has to be good, and it has to be relevant.

Learn How To Create an eBook That Attracts the Customers You Want

Your goals for what kind of prospects you need are very important. Perhaps your book will help solve a common problem that your target market experiences. In this regard, your title can help position your company as an authority on the topic. For instance, a heating and cooling company might write a guide on maintenance items to check on an annual basis for a central air unit. A computer-repair shop may put together an eBook on common files that can be deleted when cleaning up a PC. If you require prospects for one type of product or service that you offer, make your content revolve around that. If you want a certain demographic, produce content that will appeal to that demographic.

It is important that you craft your eBook in a way that attracts the ideal potential buyers because if you don’t, your other tools and functions for marketing to them will not be effective. You will have also wasted a lot of time making content that does not appeal to your target market.

What Does the Market for Your Content Look Like?

It doesn’t make much sense to sell your product for $9.99 when your competitor down the street is selling the same thing for half the price and throwing in a freebie, as well. Of course, it isn’t always possible to undercut your competitors, but you must be aware of what they are doing so that you can do it better or offer a more compelling value proposition.

Are Your Competitors Offering Content?

Check to see if your competition has free or low-priced content on the market that prospects and consumers are taking advantage of. What does it look like? Is it helpful? What problems does it help solve, and are people pleased with it? How well are they reaching their target market with content?

If they aren’t offering something free like an eBook, what are they doing instead? Do they have tools that make their customers’ lives easier? Perhaps they have web-based tools or special offers that their customers and prospects respond well to. Whatever it is, your eBook needs to be able to trump that. Customers must see value in the content that you have to offer in order to give up their information in order so they can read it. If they don’t find it valuable, they will not download it and you will not have anyone to market to.

Is There Demand for Your Content?

You should also determine if there is enough interest among your target market in order to generate the content you are thinking of. By using tools like Google’s Keyword tool and by simply searching for information online, you can get a picture of how popular the topic you have selected to write about is. You may also discover that it isn’t that popular, but the people who do find it convert very well. This is very similar to gauging demand for a product or service. If there is little demand for such a topic, you probably shouldn’t waste time writing about it.

How to Create an eBook Layout

If prospects have enough interest in the topic you wrote about, you should have your content laid out in a way that is easily scannable and easily searchable. Having your content in PDF form helps; however, for those who want to skim through text, you should have some elements in place to help facilitate that.

Table of Contents

Every eBook should have a table of contents. Not everyone will want to read your content from front to back. You should have a short map at the beginning highlighting all of the important sections so that they can skip through and find the things they need. If you make things hard for people to find, they will be frustrated with your book and with you.

Descriptive Headers

Just like on a web page, people often scan through reference materials (like this blog post) to find info on the page that is most relevant to them. Headers are great for making that happen quickly. Without headers, readers are forced to skim through all text until they come to a point that seems like it would be good to read. Again, this makes readers frustrated.

Get to the Point

Make your sections short but powerful. Get to the meat of what you are trying to say, and cut out all the fluff. For the most part, readers of your eBook didn’t download it for a leisurely read on a Saturday afternoon. They got it because they were promised that it would solve some issue they are having or that it would educate them in some way. If it doesn’t do that quickly, they may not read past the first page.

Helpful Resources

I’m sure you know a lot about whatever it is that you do. I’m sure the people reading your book also think the same. Even though that may be true, you should provide outside resources that you trust so that readers can get a differing viewpoint. Naturally, you don’t want to suggest your competition; however, some other authoritative third party is enough. Incorporating this into any concepts or points you make in your writing as a citation is also acceptable. The idea is to bolster any arguments, theories or statements with other authoritative sources.

How to Create an eBook Design

How your pages look is almost as important as the content contained in them. Design goes a long way toward making your pages easy to read and your content easy to digest. It also works to make your book look professional and not like it was thrown together in a couple of hours. In order for your readers to take you seriously, your book has to be well-designed.

Images

Make good use of images throughout your text. One of the best ways to use images is to break up text on a page. When people see large blocks of text on a web page or in a book designed to educate them, they experience a small degree of anxiety. While it may be small, seeing enough of these pages could cause them to stop reading. Place images at the beginning of pages where text begins and if you have large section, place them in different paragraphs throughout the text.

Using images as a supplement to further explain or enhance a concept is also good. If you have a graph or a visual that can help provide more clarity to the reader, they will better understand what you are trying to tell them.

Graphic Design

Graphic design elements are the pieces that make your ebook look more professional, overall. Things like page numbers, colors on borders of pages, lines that delineate sections or headings and other elements all work together to give a professional feel and make the content easier to digest. Be careful not to overdo your design elements — a little can go a long way.

The ability for your eBook to generate leads will be directly related to the strength of your previous eBook or other content. Bringing in prospects as a result of your eBook will depend on how well it is written and how useful the content is. If people think your site is professional, or they have seen content that you have written in the past and they liked it, you are more likely to get someone to download your eBook this time around and give an email or other info in return.

Have you ever offered content to your prospects? Did they find it beneficial? Join the conversation by commenting below.