7 SEO Best Practices That Every Blogger Should Follow

Have you thought about how your audience will discover your blog? Sharing links to your recent blog posts via social media or emailing your followers is certainly one way, but your reach will be limited. On the other hand, many people search for topics in your niche every day on Google and other search engines. What if your blog would show up as one of the first search results, and people just had to click on it?

If you want to make it to the top position, then you can’t get around search engine optimization (SEO). It’s an ever-evolving discipline, but there are fundamentals that every blogger should apply. And that’s exactly what this blog post is about. Before we show you the seven fundamental SEO best practices, we have to clear up a pervasive misconception. 

Will your top-level domain affect SEO?

Let’s get this out of the way first. Many still believe that the .com TLD has the best chances of topping search engine rankings. And we can’t blame them since .com sites are usually the ones showing up in the first few positions. However, this is mostly the case because as much as 48% of websites worldwide end with .com. 

Because of this misconception, bloggers might shy away from using new gTLDs like .blog. The truth is, though, that all TLDs are treated equally by search engines. Google has made this crystal clear. Every TLD can rank in the top position if SEO practices are adopted. Let us help you get closer to your dream search engine ranking. 

7 fundamental SEO best practices for bloggers

SEO is a complex topic with many nuances. As a blogger, you probably don’t want to become an SEO expert. You’d rather focus on your writing. So, to make SEO easy for you, we’ve distilled the seven most important best practices that you can start implementing on your blog immediately. 

1. Create quality evergreen content

One of the most important rules in blogging will help with your SEO, too: focussing on quality. Search engines tend to reward long-form, in-depth articles while shallow, short content stuffed with keywords will lose over time. So, how long should your blog post be ideally? Sources suggest that a word count of around 1,760 is best for SEO

Another crucial SEO tip is to write your blog posts with the aim of staying relevant and valuable over a long time (with some minor updates). That’s called evergreen content and will help you score a steady stream of visitors. This is how you build your site’s authority over time.

2. Focus every blog post around 1-2 long-tail keywords 

Keywords are what people search for in search engines. SEO specialists distinguish between short-tail keywords like “blog post” and long-tail keywords like “how to optimize a blog post for SEO.” When people search for the latter, they are looking for a specific solution. There’s more intent. 

We’d recommend focusing each blog post around one or two long-tail keywords. They are usually less competitive, so it’s easier to rank better. There are plenty of tools available to research the best long-tail keywords for your blog posts. You could try Google’s Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest for free, or a paid more advanced tool like ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer

3. Include your keywords strategically in your blog posts

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, make sure to include them in the right areas of your blog post to increase your chances of ranking high on the search engine results page (SERP). These are the four main places:

  • Title tag: This is the first thing that search engines use to determine the relevancy of your content. Include your keyword in the first 60 characters of your title, so it doesn’t get cut off in the search results.
  • Headlines, subheads, and body copy: Be sure to include your keywords in a natural, reader-friendly way. You don’t want to get penalized for keyword stuffing. 
  • Meta description: This is what appears right under your title on the SERP and is crucial for generating click-throughs. 150-160 characters is the ideal length. 
  • URL: Every blog post you publish lives on its own unique URL. It’s a good idea to include your keyword here, too. 

4. Optimize your images

Your blog posts are likely not all text. Pictures and infographics not only add to your readers’ experience, but they also help with SEO. Make sure to give them a relevant title, file name and alt text. The image alt text tells search engines what your images are showing and should include your keywords. It’s also what appears on the screen when the image can’t load, giving your readers the necessary context.  

5. Start link building 

When other sites link to your blog, it’s a clear indication for search engines that you have a quality, authoritative site. In turn, you will start ranking higher. So, how do you receive more inbound links? Basically, by creating valuable content that others want to share. You can also reach out to other bloggers proactively and ask for guest blogging opportunities.

Besides inbound links, you should also include some outbound links to other sites in every blog post. And don’t forget to add internal links within your blog so that readers can discover other valuable content on your site. 

6. Make your blog fast and mobile-friendly

More and more people are browsing on their smartphones or tablets. Search engines know that, of course, and reward websites that are mobile-friendly and load fast. To check if your blog meets these criteria, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and a website speed test like Pingdom

How exactly do you improve your blog’s mobile-friendliness and speed? First, by using a responsive design that ensures that your site automatically adapts to smaller screen sizes. Second, by reducing the size of your images which could impact load speed. Squoosh is a handy tool for that. 

7. Upload an XML sitemap

This one is a little technical, but can give you a simple SEO win. An XML sitemap is a file on your website that lists all important URLs, telling search engines proactively what pages you want them to notice. A simple plugin like Google XML Sitemaps for WordPress will help search engines to better understand and index your site. 

Conclusion

What if you’ve implemented all best practices, and your blog is still not showing up on the first page of Google? SEO does take time and you have to be patient. There are no shortcuts to the number one spot unfortunately. As you keep following these tips, you will attract more visitors and slowly build the authority of your site. And even when you prioritize SEO, don’t forget to always write for humans first and search engines second. 

How To Choose The Best Blogging Platform For Your Needs

There’s a lot to figure out when you start a blog. You have to pick a niche, come up with great ideas for blog posts, and find time to write. But, before you can even publish your first blog post, you need one essential thing: your blogging platform. It’s your number one tool and a basic necessity for every blogger. 

If you’ve googled blogging platforms, then you’ve been bombarded with a multitude of options. This can be overwhelming. Especially when you aren’t really sure about what you need and what the difference between a hosted and self-hosted platform is. 

That’s where we come in! We are here to lift the fog and help you choose the right blogging platform for your needs. 

What to consider when choosing a blogging platform

We’ve compiled six simple questions that you should ask yourself before committing to any blogging platform. Your answers will help to point you in the right direction. 

1. What is the purpose of your blog?

Will your blog be a fun hobby, or are you planning to monetize it? Maybe you want to use it to boost your career or establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Your goals will dictate the functionalities that you need to look out for when choosing your blogging platform. 

2. Who is your target audience?

You probably have at least a rough idea for whom you are writing your blog. Certain audiences might be drawn to particular blog formats and platforms. A little research into your audience’s preferences will help you to show up in the right places. 

3. What key features will you need?

Generally, we recommend choosing a blogging platform that can grow with you. You might want to start simple, but your needs can change in the future. Your blogging platform should be flexible enough so that you can add more features as your blog grows. For example, you might decide at some point to run ads or sell products. If your current blogging platform doesn’t offer this functionality, it can be challenging to switch. That’s why it’s important to think early on about any special integrations you might need. 

4. How technical are you?

Have you built a website before? If so, you will likely be more comfortable with a blogging platform that requires some technical skills to get set up. But, if you can’t afford to climb up a steep learning curve right now, we’d recommend choosing a platform that is easy to use and doesn’t require any coding skills to get started. Also, think about the level of support you might need. 

5. What is your budget?

If you want to dip your toes into the water first before fully committing to a blogging budget, then getting started on a platform that offers a free plan like WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger might be the right choice. However, you will have to live with limited functionality. By investing a little, you can get a custom domain, more control, better designs, and access to different levels of support. 

6. Do you have a design in mind?

Maybe you already have a clear vision of how your blog should look like. Then you should select a blogging platform that gives you the option to customize the design fully. If you are willing to spend some money on your blog, then you will gain more flexibility with regard to the design options. 

What are the options?

There are three main categories when it comes to blogging platforms: hosted, self-hosted, and social. Let’s look at the pros and cons as well as examples of each option. 

Hosted blogging platforms 

If you are looking for a simple, done-for-you blogging service, then hosted blogging platforms are for you. They are easy and often free to get started. That makes hosted platforms ideal for novice bloggers who want to experiment with a niche, but can’t commit a budget to blogging, yet. Also hobby bloggers benefit from the free services. 

Pros

  • It’s very user-friendly for beginners. 
  • You can get started for free. 
  • You don’t need any technical skills.
  • You don’t have to maintain the site as everything is done for you. 

Cons

  • Customization is very limited. 
  • You have to pay for more advanced features.
  • You don’t own your site, and the platform could suspend your account if it believes that you are violating their terms and conditions. 
  • You will likely have the branding of the blogging platform on your site unless you upgrade your plan.
  • Your blog will have a subdomain, for example, https://yourblog.wordpress.com or https://yourblog.blogspot.com unless you pay for your own domain name. 
  • Monetization is typically not possible on a free platform. 

Popular hosted blogging platforms include:

Worth noting: In addition, with many hosting companies, like GoDaddy, you can also find hosted blogging platform options.

Self-hosted blogging platforms 

The main difference to hosted blogging platforms is that you have to secure your own hosting first before you can get started. Signing up with a hosting provider like Bluehost allows you to choose a custom domain and TLD like .blog.  

Self-hosted blogging platforms are great for bloggers who want full control over their blog, its features, and the design. They provide ample amounts of freedom and allow you to monetize their site. 

Pros

  • You have more freedom to build exactly the blog you want. 
  • You can choose from lots of themes and plugins. 
  • You can add features like a forum, galleries, and contact forms. 
  • There are plenty of monetization options (e.g., an online store, paid membership, ads).
  • It’s search engine friendly.  

Cons

  • Requires more technical knowledge.
  • You need to buy a domain name and hosting service first. 
  • You have to maintain your blog, including tasks like backups and security.
  • The learning curve is usually much steeper. 

Popular self-hosted blogging platforms include:

Social blogging platforms 

Social blogging platforms work like social networking sites. You just have to create an account and can start writing and publishing immediately. They are viable options for seasoned bloggers who want to extend their reach. Also new bloggers who want to get started quickly can benefit from the existing audience.

Pros

  • It’s free. 
  • It’s ready – no need to install or set up anything.
  • You can take advantage of a ready-made audience and online community.
  • You can focus solely on writing, as there is no need to design a website.

Cons

  • It’s very hard to monetize. 
  • It will be more difficult to stand out from the crowd because you can’t change the design. 
  • You don’t own your audience or your content.
  • You can’t use your own domain name. 

Popular social blogging platforms

Which blogging platform will you choose?

We’ve realized that this is a decision where many new bloggers get stuck. There’s no definite right or wrong when it comes to selecting a blogging platform. Only your unique requirements will determine which platform is right for you. We’d recommend that you take some time to look into the different options and then make a decision to move forward. This is the crucial first step to getting your blog into the world. 

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Which top-level domain is right for you?

Anyone launching a website has a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a top-level domain (TLD). This little extension that comes at the end of your domain name is more important than many realize. It creates the very first impression of your brand and sets the expectations of your website visitors.

Currently, over 1,500 TLDs are available. So, how do you know which one is right for you?

Quality is key and a crucial factor in making the right choice. In this article, we will show you how to spot a quality TLD, why it’s so important to choose the right one, and what you should consider when deciding on your TLD. But first, let’s do a quick recap of what’s out there.

What are your options?

TLDs have been in use since the 1980s when the original set of seven extensions was released (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org). 40 years later, we have a much larger variety in four general categories:

  • Classic generic TLDs: These were the first TLDs created in the early days of the internet. TLDs such as .com, .net, .org are still among the most commonly used.
  • New generic TLDs: In 2012, ICANN approved over 1,200 new gTLDs to relieve pressure from the classic gTLDs. That’s when extensions like .blog, .top, and .xyz were born.
  • Sponsored TLDs: These are strictly limited, only to be used by certain organizations, programs, and communities. Examples are .edu, .gov, and .mil.
  • Country-code TLDs: These are reserved for businesses and individuals in the respective countries, states, or territories. Around 250 ccTLDs are available, for instance, .de for Germany or .br for Brazil.

What determines the quality of a TLD?

Not all TLDs are created equal. While most TLDs are used by legitimate businesses, some are unfortunately being abused for the malicious practices of professional spammers and malware operators. This devalues the TLDs and turns away website visitors. To find the right TLD for you, we recommend that you first look into the quality of your chosen extension by considering the following:

Usage rates

A TLD with a high usage rate indicates that most domains with this extension are used by their owners as unique, active sites. This builds trust with your potential website visitors who are getting used to expecting a real website behind a TLD.

Renewal rates

A high renewal rate means that many domain owners extend the contract for their domain name. That is a clear sign that their websites are successful and thriving. And when other sites with this TLD are growing, so could yours.

Abuse rates

When many domains with a certain TLD are being used by spammers and malware operators to do harm, then the overall trust for this TLD deteriorates. You should avoid extensions with high abuse rates.

Why picking a quality TLD is crucial

Your domain name, together with your TLD, is your address on the internet. It creates the first impression of your brand and will immediately shape your audience’s perception of your business. When potential visitors see a certain TLD, they form expectations of your site. For instance, they will more likely expect to be directed to a blog when they click on a .blog domain than clicking on a generic .com address.

Choosing a quality TLD will immediately instill trust in your visitors that you have a legitimate site. It can also make your brand more memorable when the combination of the domain name and TLD is catchy and easy to remember. That’s why the decision for a TLD shouldn’t be made lightheartedly.

What about SEO?

A prevailing misconception is that .com domains have the best chances of topping search engine rankings. That is not true. Search engines such as Google treat all TLDs as equals. If you adopt common SEO best practices, every TLD can theoretically rank in the top position.

When it comes to local SEO, though, country-code TLDs have an advantage. For example, search engines make websites with an .au extension more visible for residents in Australia because they assume that’s where your target audience is located. On the flip side, this will give you less visibility in other regions.

You should also consider that some domain extensions won’t rank as well because search engines see them as a spam factor. Here’s a handy website where you can cross-check the TLDs that are on your short-list. The higher the percentage of bad domains with a TLD, the less likely you will rank well with this extension.

What to consider when deciding for a TLD

The quality of the TLD is undoubtedly a major factor, but there is more to deliberate. You should also think about your site’s purpose. Are you setting up a blog? Then .blog would be the obvious choice. Launching a non-profit organization? Most businesses of this kind use the .org extension. Look for a TLD that immediately explains what you do.

Also, consider your target audience and the location of your business. Do you mainly want to reach people in a particular country? Then, a country-code TLD might be best for you. You can get even more specific and pick a city TLD like .nyc or .berlin. If you have an international audience, then a generic TLD might be better.

What if my domain name is not available anymore?

Having your heart set on a certain domain name and TLD only to discover that it’s already taken can feel like the end of the world. We get it; it’s frustrating. But, there are always other options, like choosing a different TLD or slightly modifying your name. This is your opportunity to flex your creative muscles.

Which TLD will you choose?

If you are considering starting a blog, then we can wholeheartedly recommend securing a .blog TLD. Already over 196,000 .blog domains are registered today. Our new TLD has shown steady growth as well as high usage rates (60%) and renewal rates (72%). We see this as proof of the high quality and great value that bloggers receive from their .blog domains.

How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions going

Can you believe we are already in the second quarter of 2020? We thought it’s about time to take stock of how we are all doing with regard to our New Year’s Resolutions. Apparently, 80% of them fail already by the second week of February. If that sounds familiar to you, don’t worry. We won’t judge.

On the last day of 2019, we wrote about our New Year’s Resolutions for .blog. It’s not like we have been thinking about them every single day ever since. We managed to keep up some but also failed to implement others. The truth is, changing behavior for the better is hard. We all struggle with it and could use a little help. That’s what this blog post is all about.

Why is it so hard to keep your resolutions?

No matter how noble our intentions may be, we often fall back into old behaviors after a while. Or, we don’t even start in the first place. To make our resolutions stick, we first have to understand why they fail. These are the most common reasons:

  • Goals aren’t specific enough – Resolving to “blog more often” probably won’t provide enough motivation to keep you going. Vague goals lack markers of progress and success, showing you that you are on the right track.
  • Too many changes at once – Trying to grow your blog while starting a new diet to lose weight and training for a marathon? Too many lifestyle changes at once cause stress and wear out your self-control. Ultimately, you are less likely to reach any of your goals.
  • Unreasonable goals paired with high expectations – Setting big, scary goals can be a big motivator. But, expecting to accomplish too much in a short time frame will likely set you up for failure and disappointment.
  • Lack of accountability – Not sticking to your new blog schedule? It’s easy to justify to yourself why you are breaking your resolution. But, that is much harder if someone else is involved.

7 tips for making your resolutions stick this time

Whatever time of the year, it’s never too late to reinvigorate your New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, this will require some serious work and won’t happen overnight. But, with the help of our seven tips, you are much more likely to succeed this time.

1. Keep it realistic

Goals should be a bit scary and push you out of your comfort zone. At the same time, they need to be achievable to keep you motivated. That’s not an easy balance to find. So, consider what you can realistically achieve, given your lifestyle and circumstances. Be absolutely honest with yourself and think about the resources and time you have available. Then, set your goals accordingly.

2. Break big goals down into small steps

Imagine setting the goal of growing your blog to 100,000 visitors a month. Achieving this would be awesome, but how do you even get started? The problem is that the goal in itself is not very actionable. Hence it can seem overwhelming and even paralyzing. The solution is breaking it down into tiny steps that can give you some quick wins. As you build more confidence, you’ll soon be itching to tackle bigger and harder tasks.

3. Make the tasks so easy that you can’t say no

So, you’ve committed to taking small steps towards your goal. But somehow you are still not doing the work. What’s happening? Likely, you are procrastinating on getting started. Don’t worry, there’s a solution for that, too. Suppose you want to get into the habit of writing every day to produce more blog content. How about sitting down for just five minutes to write? You hardly can say no to that. Once you are in the flow, you’re likely to continue writing even after the five minutes are up.

4. Focus on consistency

Even though your goals are important, life always finds a way to distract you. Suddenly you are being pulled in another direction and can’t find the time to work on your resolution anymore. What should you do? Put your goal on hold until you have room in your schedule again or keep at it even if the progress is tiny? We recommend the latter. Consistency is critical to not lose your momentum. Any small progress you make will compound to big gains over time.

5. Forget perfection

You will fail. Everyone does. That’s just a normal part of the process. What’s important is how you treat yourself when you do inevitably slip up. Letting your disappointment send you into a spiral of shame and guilt is not the right way to deal with failure. Instead, forgive yourself and get back on track. Think about what you can learn from your mistakes so you can do better next time.

6. Get others involved

Working all alone towards a big goal can leave you feeling isolated sometimes. It’s much more fun when you get others involved. If you know someone who is working towards a similar goal, make them your accountability partner. It will lighten your load when you know that another person is going through the same challenge as you. Ultimately, you can learn from each other and make progress together faster.

7. Celebrate the successes

Reaching your dream is, of course, the right time to celebrate big. But what about the small victories along the way? Pause regularly to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished as you tick off the milestones en route to your goal. Don’t forget to share your success and get a pat on the back from your accountability partner, spouse, or friends. You deserve it!

You are never alone

Always remember this. We are a community of bloggers determined to help each other out as much as we can. Feeling demotivated or confused about what to do next? Tell us about your struggles. We are here to answer your questions and cheer you on so you can achieve your big goal this year.

Who has time to blog? 7 tips for busy bloggers

Does this sound familiar? You started your blog like you were on fire. Everything was new and exciting. Your passion for your topic was driving you, so the ideas and blog posts were just pouring out. Writing seemed effortless.

But life always has a way of catching up. Your 9-to-5 job got busier, it was exam season at college, or your friends and family just needed more attention. Suddenly, your blog got put aside, and it became harder and harder to find time to write posts and promote your site.

Should you just abandon your blog because it does not seem to fit into your already busy life? Or can you find a way to make it work with the help of best practices that have supported successful bloggers all over the world? We’d suggest the latter. This fourth installment of our ‘Better Blogging’ series is focused on helping you find time to blog.

(If you’ve missed our last post about finding fresh ideas for blog topics, check it out here.)

7 practical tips for busy bloggers

The truth is, you can fit anything into your life if you make it a big enough priority. The first thing to do when you are struggling with finding time to blog is to consciously decide that blogging is important to you. Remember why you started your blog in the first place. Only when you are certain that you want blogging to be a part of your life can the following tips really help you.

1. Be realistic about your time

Many bloggers set very high expectations for themselves. They ideally want to post five times a week, but then beat themselves up when they can’t reach this target. Our recommendation is to take a hard look at how much time you can realistically spend on blogging each week. Find a schedule that you’re comfortable with. It’s absolutely OK to post once a week or even once every two weeks if that’s a frequency that you can maintain without straining yourself. This will make a huge difference to your frame of mind.

2. Plan ahead

If you have to decide what exactly you’ll do every time you sit down to work on your blog, then you likely won’t be very productive. Proper planning is key when you have limited time. As a start, make a list of all the tasks that are involved in growing your blog. For example:

  • Coming up with ideas for blog posts
  • Writing the content
  • Finding pictures to accompany your posts
  • Publishing posts
  • Promoting your blog posts on social media
  • Responding to comments

Then, schedule these tasks into your calendar. You might plan some jobs for the same time each week or each month. Other tasks might be more ad hoc. The important thing is that you know what you will work on when. Additionally, you can implement an editorial calendar to keep track of your ideas and to lay out the next couple of weeks of blog topics.

3. Break up tasks into small chunks

Have you ever wanted to tackle an ambitious project, but the sheer size of the task made it seem insurmountable? Thinking of everything that needs to get done can be paralyzing. Our tip is to break up big jobs into bite-sized chunks that you can manage easily. Checking off each step as you move forward will give you a feeling of accomplishment and keep you motivated. You will be surprised how much you can get done by working through many small tasks consistently.

4. Find time everywhere

If you are waiting until you have a solid couple of hours of free time to write an entire blog post from start to finish, then you might never get it done. But, you can find small chunks of time here and there to move your blogging tasks forward. Sitting in traffic? Brainstorm some new topic ideas. Waiting at the doctor’s office? Write a quick outline for an article on your phone. There are more opportunities than you think in your daily life that you can turn into productive moments.

5. Don’t multitask – Focus!

You’ve finally found the time to sit down and get words on the page. But then your phone buzzes, a little icon announces that you have 12 unread emails, and the dirty dishes in the sink are calling your name. Sometimes it seems impossible to focus. However, switching between tasks constantly only makes you feel like you are being productive. In reality, you aren’t getting as much done as you think. The solution: Force yourself to work on one task at a time!

Here are some extra tips for sustaining focus while working:

  • Get chores and other distracting tasks out of the way.
  • Close all browser tabs and programs besides the one you need to write.
  • Turn off all notifications or go completely offline.
  • Write in fullscreen mode.
  • If you can’t focus at home, find a cafe or library where you can work in peace.

6. Automate or delegate tasks

If you are struggling to keep up with blogging tasks, then it’s time to assess what you could automate or delegate. There is an abundance of automation tools out there to make your life easier. For example, with social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can schedule your social posts all at once in advance. Delegation is great for any tasks that you want off your plate or can’t wrap your head around, like the technical aspects of your blog. Engaging a virtual assistant could free up a lot of time.

7. Invite guest bloggers

Who said that you could only publish your own writing on your blog? Get a helping hand from other bloggers now and then. It has advantages for both of you when they contribute their work to your blog. The guest blogger will receive exposure to your audience and raise their profile. At the same time, you can keep up your content schedule when you are too busy to write.

The world needs you

With everything going on in your life, it can be so hard to find the time to write and grow a blog. But it pays off! Remember that you can make a real difference to people’s lives by sharing your unique experience and expertise. Your blog has the potential to help others and have a positive impact on the world. That’s why we believe it’s well worth dedicating time to blogging.

Selling .blog? Here’s why and how to do it

With over 1,200 new TLDs available for sale, registrars have more options than ever to satisfy the domain name needs of their customers. Instead of choosing a regular .com option, businesses and content creators can now be as specific as they wish when launching their online identity.

.blog is a TLD that’s growing in popularity. Maybe you are already actively selling .blog domains or are considering adding it to your portfolio. In either case, this article will explain how you can effectively position .blog to the right clients.

Understanding the landscape of new TLDs

Currently, almost 35 million new TLDs have been registered. Since ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved them in 2012, we are observing a steady growth in new TLD registrations proving that the demand for new domain extensions isn’t slowing down any time soon. This is excellent news for domain resellers and registrars.

However, not all new TLDs are on the same trajectory. While most new TLDs are used for legitimate purposes, some are not and instead utilized increasingly by professional spammers and malware operators for their malicious practices. This devalues certain TLDs and turns away customers who want to establish serious businesses.

In order to find the right TLDs to offer end users, we recommend you determine the quality of that TLD by looking at the following:

  • Usage rates: High usage rates indicate that most domains are used by their owner on unique, active sites.
  • Renewal rates: High renewal rates signify that the owner extends the contract for his or her domain name – a sign that the website is successful and thriving.
  • Lifetime value: High usage and renewal rates lead to high lifetime values of the domains. The more successful and active the sites, the better for registrars who can benefit from yearly renewals over a long period of time.
  • Abuse rates: Abuse means that a domain name is used by a spammer or malware operator to do harm. If a large number of domains with a certain TLD are used for such practices, the overall trust for the TLD deteriorates.

The benefits of .blog

So, where does .blog stand in the vast landscape of TLDs? We are proud to say that over 195,000 .blog domains  are registered today. Our new TLD is showing steady growth since its introduction to the public in November 2016.

What’s exciting is that over 60% of all .blog domains are unique sites with real people and businesses behind them, producing content, building communities, and sharing information with the world. And when their sites are successful, they certainly wouldn’t want to let them go. That’s why the renewal rate for .blog averages over 72%.

In addition to this, we’ve seen that 85% of .blog domains have a paid hosting plan associated with them. That’s a clear indication that customers who purchase .blog domains are also interested in other paid services, which increases the lifetime value of clients.

The solid growth, as well as high usage, renewal, and paid attachment rates, are proof for the high quality and great value that customers receive from .blog domains. This should yield strong revenue and longer-term customers with high customer satisfaction for domain resellers.

Selling .blog effectively

The main customers for .blog domains are – unsurprisingly – content creators and bloggers. We will explain where to find them and how to market to them.

Should you target new or existing content creators?

It is certainly possible to convert already successful bloggers to a .blog domain. Tim Ferriss’s tim.blog and Seth Godin’s seths.blog are great examples. We’ve also seen YouTube and Instagram influencers choose a .blog domain when they want to launch their own website. This is not the easiest customer to convert though as there are a multitude of steps to migrate a website to new domain as this process is often daunting for the average user.

What we have seen is the best conversion rates come from new content creators who are just starting out. They want to establish a fresh online identity and are often more open to trying out something new, particularly with a quality TLD that is globally recognized and is on brand.

Where to find customers for .blog

It isn’t always easy for domain resellers to identify aspiring content creators who would be a great fit for a .blog domain. What most new bloggers have in common, though, is that they spend a lot of time online to learn how to make their blog a success. They will consult already established blogs, Facebook groups, and any other online authorities that explain the topic of blogging. When you are active in these spaces, it’s very likely that you’ll reach the right audience.

In addition, you could further narrow your marketing efforts by targeting specific niches within the blogging space. If you wish to convert aspiring bloggers in the fashion niche, seek out authority websites in this space and partner with them to market your offers. Likewise, targeting specific geographic areas is also a good idea.

How to market to potential .blog customers

After you’ve identified where your target customers are spending the most time online, you can develop concrete steps to build their trust and convert them into paying clients. We have three tips for how you can achieve that.

  • Offer free content that helps aspiring bloggers get started. You could explain the main steps to launching a blog online and position your service as a done-for-you solution.
  • Build a landing page that caters to a niche audience of bloggers and markets .blog domains. Bobb.blog is a great example of such a page.
  • Bundle other services into your offering to make it more attractive, such as a Content Management System (like WordPress, Squarespace, or Weebly).

How to keep your .blog customers engaged and happy

The success of your customer’s websites is also in your interest. Happy clients are more likely to renew their domain registration and buy other services. You can build long-term relationships with your customers by continuously supporting and helping them to do better.

Why not send some valuable content their way? Our ‘Better Blogging’ series is the perfect source of information for hopeful bloggers. Whether they are still looking for reasons to start blogging or wonder which niche they should focus on, our articles provide practical tips and valuable insights. You can share our blog posts directly with your audience. They will thank you for it.

ICANN 67 – Cancun…what now?

This week, many members of the domain community would be focused on prepping for a slightly unusual Spring Break trip: ICANN 67 in sunny Cancún, Mexico (March 7th – 12th). We would be spending a little extra time with loved ones knowing we’d be away for a week. Some would even hit the tanning beds to avoid being scorched by the southern sun, while others might brush up on their Spanish and double-check their passports.

Alas, this is not the case. Instead the community is heads down, ploughing through another typical week in front of our computers. What happened? Due to public health concerns around COVID-19 (Coronavirus), ICANN made the difficult – and polemic – decision to cancel the in-person meeting. Instead, ICANN 67 will be the community’s first fully remote ICANN meeting.

With this growing global health threat – which some say is on the verge of becoming a pandemic – we are all relieved the international domain community puts the well-being of its constituents first in times like these. As important these industry events are to the health of the internet, people’s physical health is much more important. Face-to-face meetings have many benefits in business, but if we can’t get by using remote technology in times like these, then we’re probably in the wrong industry.

As we wait to see if any other events will be cancelled we will continue to plan ahead and remain optimistic that the healthcare community will continue its tireless work to contain, control, treat the infected, and hopefully eliminate COVID-19. In the meantime, we will be present and participating in the remote sessions, as the community works hard to put together an adapted schedule and agenda to adjust to the changes. We’re hopeful that we can continue to make progress on the many ongoing efforts within the ICANN community, even if we’re doing it from conference rooms across the world.

The best strategies for creating fresh ideas for your blog

Every blogger suffers from it eventually: the notorious writer’s block. You feel like you’ve run out of ideas forever. It seems like everything has been said before. And you just can’t think of anything good to write about. These are some scary thoughts when the success of your blog depends on new ideas and fresh content.

Whether you’re already with your back against the wall or you want to prevent writer’s block, this article is what you need. We’ll show you how to consistently churn out high-quality content without ever running out of ideas. This is the third part of our ‘Better Blogging’ series. If you’ve missed the last one about finding the right niche for your blog, check it out here.

The fundamentals of creating and capturing ideas

Successful bloggers who seem to create new content effortlessly have one thing in common: the right mindset. Their credo is that there are always more ideas. You will literally never run out because there are infinite ways to tell a story. This is something you can internalize, too.

When you pay attention, you will notice that topic ideas are all around you in real life. Just capture anything that draws your attention – on a notepad, in a quick voice memo, or even in the draft mode of your CMS (Content Management System on your website). The crucial step is to save ideas immediately because “trying to remember them” simply won’t work. Trust us on this one!

How you think about your ideas is important too. Focusing solely on what will earn you the most attention and likes is not a sustainable long-term strategy. Instead, always prioritize how you can help others with what you know.

The 3-part strategy to generating endless ideas

Whenever you feel stuck, these three idea-generating strategies and writing prompts are your way out. They are guaranteed to jumpstart your brain and spark new thoughts.

1. Solve problems

One of the best ways to help your audience is to answer their questions. Find out what people are struggling with and show up with your knowledge, expertise, and experience to solve their problems.

  • What are the top 10 questions everybody asks about your niche?
  • What mistakes do people constantly make?
  • What are the top five hurdles that someone has to overcome to succeed in your niche?

2. Explain your niche

What is obvious to you might be completely foreign to others. Don’t underestimate the basics. Talking about the fundamentals is extremely helpful for those who are newly interested. And when you share the inner workings of your niche, your readers will begin to remember you as the expert they trust.

  • What are the common misconceptions in your niche?
  • What are the biggest controversies in your niche right now?
  • Can you explain the most important terms in an easy to understand way?
  • What predictions do you have about the future of your niche?

3. Reveal your secrets

Sharing the thought processes, moments, and events behind what you do creates a strong bond with your audience. You will show up authentically and make it much easier for your readers to connect with you.

  • What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made, and what have you learned from them?
  • What do you wish you had known when you just started out?
  • What was the best investment you’ve made related to your niche?

Where to find ideas for blog topics

Not all ideas have to come from within you. Often, the best way to get new inspiration is by talking to others and spending some time researching online. Here’s where to look for new ideas.

Talk to people in real life

Never underestimate the power of a real conversation. Friends, colleagues, and experts in your niche can spark new insights. Especially talking to someone who doesn’t know anything about your niche can be eye-opening. You will discover what kind of questions and struggles absolute beginners have.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Get out there and talk to others to get some good insight on useful blog posts.

Tap into groups on social media

By now, there are groups on Facebook or LinkedIn for virtually everything. Find them, join them, and participate in the conversations. What questions are people asking? Problems that come up again and again will make for great blog post topics. (Not to mention that your posts can be great conversation starters to share in your groups!)

Check Quora, Pinterest, Twitter, and forums

These are the exact places people go to find answers to their burning questions. Start your search by entering your niche topic and see what comes up. You should quickly find a whole bunch of questions and issues that members of your niche are discussing.

Do keyword research

What do people on the internet want to know about your niche? Keyword research can help you answer this question. Leverage a tool like BuzzSumo to find out what content in your niche currently performs best. Or try AnswerThePublic to get heaps of prompts for your topic based on what people search for.

Follow other bloggers

Unless you are blogging in a hyper-specific niche, likely other bloggers are writing about the same topic as you are. Reading their blog posts can provide you with inspiration for new topics and different post types that you might not have explored yet.

It’s your turn

Before you go and start researching and capturing all of your new ideas, we want to leave you with two more snippets of advice: Whenever you are writing, find your unique angle to tell the story. Your viewpoint and experience are unlike anybody else’s. Let it shine through!

And remember that you don’t always have to come up with fresh ideas. You can also repurpose topics, for example, by turning them upside down. If you’ve written about ten ways to get more traffic to your blog, write about the ten ways that will turn away traffic.

Now, there’s only one thing left to do: Bookmark this page, so you can easily come back to it whenever you feel writer’s block creeping up. Happy blogging!

Why your blog needs a niche and how to find the right one

When you start to learn about blogging, you inevitably stumble across the word “niche” (and wonder if it’s pronounced neesh or nitch). You’ll hear that picking the right one is critical to increasing your chances of generating traffic, building a following, and eventually monetizing your blog. That finding the right niche is one of the essential steps on your way to becoming a successful blogger.

And now you’re contemplating what that means for you. What is a niche exactly? How can a niche help you, and what’s the best way to find one? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss. In this second article of our ‘Better Blogging’ series (Check out the first part covering the 6 reasons to start a blog in 2020 in case you’ve missed it.), we’re going into the trenches with you. When you’re done reading, you’ll have a much better idea about what a niche can do for you and how to choose one.

What is a niche?

In simple terms, a niche is the central theme of your blog. It’s the overarching topic that you cover. So, instead of writing about several random topics, all of your articles focus on exploring different aspects of one single topic.

To give you an example: Sports is a very broad topic. If you’re interested in surfing, then that’s a niche within this general topic. To narrow it down further, you could blog about surfing in Hawaii.

Now, many bloggers fear that by choosing a narrow niche, they will limit the size of their audience. And that’s correct! Let’s look at why this is actually a good thing.

Why you should have a niche

When you target a broad audience, it’s more difficult for your blog to get traction. Your traffic and search engine rankings will likely fall below your expectations. That being said, there are successful multi-topic blogs out there that keep visitors hooked, such as Popsugar or Buzzfeed. However, as a new blog, it will be very tough to compete.

That’s why establishing your blog around a niche has many advantages for upcoming bloggers. This approach will help you…

  • Not burn out – Blogging needs to be sustainable for you. Imagine having to keep your blog up to date on multiple topics simultaneously all the time. A single niche is much easier to handle.
  • Grow an audience quicker – People search the internet to solve their problems. When your blog happens to address the specific challenges of your target audience, they’ll likely stick around, waiting to hear more.
  • Stand out as an expert in your niche – The deeper you dig into your niche, leaving no stone unturned, the more you’ll establish yourself as the go-to source of information.
  • Monetize your blog – It’s easier to develop a personal relationship and trust with a smaller, loyal audience. If you decide to launch products, they’ll be much more likely to buy.

How to find the right niche

At first, identifying the perfect niche for your blog can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are just too many options. Luckily, we have a guiding principle for you: Your ideal niche is where your interests, expertise, and monetization potential converge. Let’s look at each of these in detail:

What are you interested in?

Even though the advice to write about something you’re passionate about can sound very cliche, there’s truth in it. When you find a topic that you truly love, you’re more likely to put the necessary effort and time into your blog. You’re less likely to abandon it when you hit the first hurdle. And you won’t run out of ideas to write about that quickly.

Here are a few questions that can help you identify your interests:

  • What is your passion?
  • What do you do in your free time for fun?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you enjoy talking about?
  • What do you enjoy learning?

What do you know?

Many people shy away from starting a blog because they feel that they don’t know enough about a topic. They think that they’ll need to be experts to even attempt to help others. That’s not true, though! When you know the basics of a topic, you likely already know more than the majority of people. And if you’re genuinely interested in a topic, then learning more about it and building your expertise will feel natural. You can even write about any challenges that you encounter while learning and how you’re dealing with them.

To find out what you already know, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you good at?
  • Which topics do you know well?
  • In which areas do other people constantly ask for your help?
  • About which topics could you talk to your friends and even strangers for hours?

Does the niche have the potential for monetization?

Not all bloggers are looking to make money with their blogs. But, if you are eventually, then it’s time to ask yourself a tough question: Could any of the potential niches that you’ve identified be profitable?

To answer this question, let’s look into these three factors:

  • Audience size: Is there a large enough audience interested in this niche? Use a tool like Google Trends to find out how many people are searching for it. The graph will tell you whether the interest is increasing, stable, or declining. Picking a topic with a stable or rising interest means you can potentially drive traffic to your blog for many years ahead.
  • Current competition: Are there already established blogs in your niche? If you find several existing blogs that are thriving, then this is a good sign that this niche is profitable. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to figure out how to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
  • Monetization Options: Are businesses spending money on advertising in your niche? An easy way to discover this is to enter keywords related to your niche into Google. Look for paid ads on top of the search results. When brands are already investing in Adwords, then there’s the possibility for you to monetize your blog with AdSense ads. Of course, other monetization options like affiliate sales or your own products may also be viable options.

Selecting your niche

Choosing the perfect niche means finding the sweet spot between too broad and too narrow. Should your niche be too broad, you can get overshadowed by established, high authority sites. Is your niche too small and has no demand, you won’t make an impact.

Our advice is to invest sufficient time in researching several niches and then making a choice. Only once you’ve launched your blog and written your first posts, you’ll know if you’re getting traction. The good thing is that you can always pivot or start over if it doesn’t work out.

2020 SuperBowl commercials: These ads featured domain names

Sunday, 2 February 2020 was not only a highlight for Football fans, but also for marketers and businesses. While the Kansas City Chiefs beat the 49ers, millions of people in the stadium and in front of the TV were treated to brand-new ads by some of the world’s most successful companies.

Advertisers have used the popularity of the Super Bowl again and again to set new trends and standards that influence mainstream media. One trend immediately caught our attention: marketers put the domain name front and center in ads for online businesses – with resounding success. Squarespace’s 2017 Super Bowl ad featuring John Malkovich left viewers laughing with tears, and GoDaddy.com’s controversial ads regularly make waves.

We couldn’t wait to see if new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) would get any exposure this year. They didn’t, unfortunately. Still, we want to share our take on this year’s Super Bowl ads and what it means for the growth of new gTLDs. But first, let’s get quickly up to speed on the evolution of domain names.

New gTLDs are on the rise

Since ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved over 1,200 new gTLDs in 2012, users have a broad choice when creating their online identity. While the top three domain names by market share remain .com, .net, and .org, new gTLDs are growing in popularity.

Businesses and website owners are embracing new gTLDs as a way to express themselves and reach a new level of specificity that just wasn’t possible anymore with standard gTLDs. As of January 2020, there are almost 32 million registered new gTLD domains. The current top three are .icu, .top, and .xyz. Our own .blog has reached over 181,000 domains, growing steadily since its introduction in 2016.

2020 Super Bowl ads featuring domain names

Surprisingly, there weren’t too many commercials displaying the domain names during this year’s Super Bowl. And new gTLDs didn’t make it into any ad. But, we did manage to catch the few that showed their .com domains. Here are our favorites:

Squarespace – Winona in Winona 

In this ad, Stranger Things star Winona Ryder travels to her namesake, Winona, Minnesota, to build a website about the small town. It’s hard not to be charmed when she proudly exclaims: “It’s got pictures on it!” You can see the domain of the actual website WelcometoWinona.com prominently on screen before Squarespace’s tagline “A website makes it real” appears. Squarespace did an excellent job, again, at communicating that everybody can make a website about anything.

Progressive Insurance – Portabella’s 

If you are wondering whether you are watching a commercial for a restaurant chain or an insurance company, then you aren’t alone. The diners at Portabella’s seemed to recognize Progressive Insurance employees Flo and Jamie posing as waiter and waitress. The insurer actually registered the domain name Portabellas.com for its fictional restaurant. You can see the URL prominently marketed at the end of the commercial.

WeatherTech – Lucky Dog 

This ad didn’t only melt the hearts of animal lovers, but likely of anybody watching. WeatherTech dog Scout shares the story of how he survived cancer. And shows how everyone can make a difference to pets’ lives by donating via weathertech.com/donate. The URL is not only shown on screen for several seconds but is also mentioned by the narrator.

Avocados from Mexico – The Avocados from Mexico Shopping Network

If you are into avocados, then this spot is for you. Avocados from Mexico sells adorable accessories for avocado lovers via its shopping channel. You can see the domain name TheAvoNetwork.com multiple times during the ad, just below the price tags for products such as the Avo-Carrier, the Tortilla Chip Pool Float, and the Matching Travel Collection.

Mike Bloomberg – George

Also the presidential campaign of Mike Bloomberg couldn’t go without featuring his domain name mikebloomberg.com during his Super Bowl ad.

Discover – No annual fees 

Discover’s short and sweet ad ends with their domain name Discover.com shown on screen under their tagline.

New gTLDs mean new opportunities

Although new gTLDs are growing, we still have a way to go given the lack of usage in this year’s Super Bowl ads. However, we are confident that brands will soon realize the many opportunities that a non-.com domain name can provide. Here are just a few:

  • Exact messaging –  A .brand, .shop, or .car domain name doesn’t leave any room for interpretation, making it easier for potential new clients to grasp the nature of your business.
  • Easy to remember – When a fitting .com name is just not available or too expensive to acquire, many companies resort to longer domain names. But, by utilizing a new gTLD, brands can create much shorter, more memorable domains.
  • Enhanced brand awareness – Imagine if Turbotax were to establish the domain name turbo.tax. New gTLDs can be catchy, making it easy for customers to associate them with the brand.

We are excited to see how the adaptation of new gTLDs progresses this year and if new domain extensions will make their way into next year’s commercials. We believe they will!

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