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Getting Rid of Distractions for Self Improvement Part 2/4 – Failure is Okay.

So I am a couple weeks behind on this post. It is all with good reason though. Firstly, I wanted to start our new series that fit better into our blogging schedule earlier in the month. The new series highlights other financial bloggers and their income reports, Income Report Roundup (new title is in the works). This is a great opportunity for you and I to see what others are doing to accomplish financial freedom.

Secondly, I failed pretty hard with a lot of my goals in this first month. So I needed to take a step back, be honest with myself, and reset. We will go over more about this next. Since resetting two weeks ago, I have been able to accomplish every goal in the shorter time frame. Pretty awesome!

There is Nothing Wrong With Failure

Failure is not what I am scared of. There is nothing wrong with not figuring something out the first time around, or the second, or the third, or…well you get the picture. What I am really scared of is not learning anything from those failures, getting stuck in a loop trying the same thing over and over.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”   – Thomas Edison

See we can read every self improvement article on the internet but never know what really works for us as individuals. Those articles, like this one give, can give us a starting point. From there it is how we handle the failure because there likely will be. Either we can get frustrated, giving up on the first try saying, “Working out to get healthy just is not for me.” Or we can keep pushing, analyze what went wrong, and make adjustments for the next time around.

For me, there have been many things in my life I have kept trying to fit into my life as a habit. This includes working out. I have tried everything in the book but nothing ever stuck. Over the years I have tried different routines, exercises, times of day, and so on to keep that motivation going. Finally, I have found the routine and motivation to get up every morning (continue reading for the answer).

What habit have you been trying to make stick? Have you found the solution or are you still searching for what works for you?

Last Month’s Goals

So let’s go over the goals I had for last month. These goals were meant to help me get rid of materialistic distractions, technological distractions such as Facebook, and getting in better habits such as working out in the morning. I am not going to explain each goal in detail again. If you are curious about the details of every goal you can read about them in Part One of this series.

Sell extra items that can be a distractions – This one is going A LOT slower than I thought it would go. I have put everything on the market but I have only sold one item. I will continue to post these items, probably cutting the prices a bit to make the items more enticing.

Finish our backyard renovation – Major Success! By the middle of May we had the backyard completed. For more details check out my article about How to Save Big Money on a Home Remodel. I wouldn’t have been able to complete this task without friends and family. Especially my wife who watched our little one every night so I could work on the yard.

Start waking up earlier, 5:00 AM, to work out – This was a major fail in the first four weeks. I partially blame it on how intense the backyard project was. With how much material I had to move around, remove, and move in I was just wiped for the day. But excuses are excuses. I still did not work out for two weeks after that until I did my reset a couple weeks ago. So what changed? Well…

As mentioned already, in the last two weeks, I have woke up every morning at 4:45 AM to work out for 30 to 45 minutes. What really worked for me to wake up so early was prepping everything I need in the morning, the night before. This was the last goal of mine for this month. Turns out it had a cascading affect on other goals.

Stay focused on achieving my goals one percent at a time – I am not sure if I know how to quantify this one but I believe this was a success. I was able to work on Wallet Squirrel and other goals for at least an hour every day after my little one went to sleep for the night.

Set up my next day the day before. Each night before bed – Pass! I spend about 15 to 20 min a night getting ready for the next day. This really sets me up nicely for getting up at 4:45 in the morning to workout. I found a time during the evening that is consistent for me to get everything ready. The trick is remembering to stick with this which enforces the habit. To help you remember, set an alarm or a reminder on your to-do list.

Next Month’s Goals

This coming month I want to continue to build on top of what I started. This makes for an easy first goal…

Continue to build on with what I started last month – Though most of what I set out to accomplish last month was a success, they are still new habits that can be lost very easily. These first month’s goals were supposed to be a foundation for the next goals. To lose them might make it harder to continue in the coming months.

Improve the marketing for Wallet Squirrel – Now that I have completed my initial goals for Wallet Squirrel (SEO, web performance, and content) it is time to reach a wider audience. Even though we have tripled our views in the last three months we still need to increase our viewership. Andrew and I met this past weekend, dividing out our tasks so I know what needs to be done.

Less social media – I talked about this a lot in the first article but I really did not do anything about. This month, I want to get rid of all distracting social media that is not beneficial for my goals. This means that the only reason I should be on Facebook, Twitter, and so on should be to promote Wallet Squirrel. Other than that, who cares.

Close lose ends – There are a couple of tasks that I need to wrap up. They are 95% done but there is only one more item to cross off before the overall task is at 100% complete. One example of an almost complete task is with our web performance. We have done everything to boost it even including the move to Bluehost.  The last piece of the puzzle will be to setup a new caching plugin. Should be an easy one, hopefully.

Review

Remember, failure is okay, as long as you learn from that failure. Do not let that failure get you down and quit. Use it to prop yourself up to get back at it with a new strategy.

Like last month. I challenge you make your own goals for this upcoming month. Let’s check in next month at the third week of July to see how we all did.

If you are looking for ideas on what you could do, check out our Ways to Earn More Money page. Here you might find something that catches your eye.

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How We Reached 500 Twitter Followers and Lessons Learned

Growing Twitter followers organically is NOT easy. It is a hard, grueling process, where we just reached 500 Twitter Followers but we could have done it so much easier and faster. Here is how we reached 500 twitter followers and lessons learned for the next 500.

First, 500 Followers isn’t THAT impressive

I’m not saying reaching 500 twitter followers is the best you can ever do. It’s just a nice milestone I would like to highlight as I tweak my Twitter strategy. Some of the top Twitter stars have MILLIONS of followers on Twitter.

For example, some of the top Twitter Influencers like Katy Perry has some 99.5 million, Justin Bieber at 96 million and Barack Obama closes in on third at 89 million (source).

Obviously, I am not an ex-president or pop singer, so I’ll stay within the Personal Finance world. Which among them, most Personal Finance Bloggers I’ve seen on average have around 1,500 Twitter Followers. Wallet Squirrel is 1/3 way there!

What I learned getting to 500 Twitter Followers

I am still fairly new to Twitter, so I did a lot of research to understand what Twitter was about and how people are gaining mass followings. Here are the top 20 things I learned from research and experience.

1. Get a Schedule Tool like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule tweets when you’re not around. Tweeting consistently will tell your audience that you’re engaged and visible. I use Buffer and love it.

2. Start following other people in your niche, or who you’re interested in. People feel obligated to follow you if you follow them. Following someone is providing value to them, and people typically want return that value to you. However if you’re following someone Katy Perry, she’ll likely not follow you back. I’m still waiting on Taylor Swift…

3. Regularly Retweet others content. For the same reason as above, people typically feel appreciative when you Retweet their content and will likely follow you since you have similar tastes.

4. ALWAYS add photos in your tweets, it’s regularly proven that tweets with photos are engaged by more readers than plain text. People like photos, use a gif and get even more engagement. I personally don’t always use gifs, I’ve learned photos work just as well. I just make sure to use some type of graphic.

5. Use the Hashtags! That’s the point of Twitter, people can follow certain keywords and your tweet may be among them. Twitter shows you the popular keywords if you want to hop on a current event, otherwise sometimes making up funny hashtags reaches a more engaged audience.

6. Sometimes just ask for a Retweet, it seems silly but people who enjoy your content are happy to help you out if you ask.

7. Don’t use a logo as your profile image. Twitter is a conversation platform, people engage more with people’s faces as profile photos rather than faceless logos. I just updated my Twitter Profile Pic.

8. Promote your Twitter account on your other social media platforms and blog. While Wallet Squirrel’s Twitter is 500 Followers, Facebook actually brings in the most traffic for us monthly. So we can ask our Facebook users to follow us on Twitter every once in awhile.

9. Reference people/companies from your blog posts in your Tweets. We get way more engagement when we specifically reference people in our Tweets. Usually when I comment on other people’s blogs, I’ll send out a Tweet referencing them saying nice article. I did this in “What I Learned from Commenting on 30 Blogs in a Week“.

10. Use Follow Buttons on your website so people can share your content. So far NO ONE has done this through our page buttons, but maybe in the future. I’m on the fence about this one, but maybe when we get more traffic.

11. Tweet Inspirational Quotes from Warren Buffett or your favorite philosophers. It seems silly, but sometimes it hits someone right when they’re feeling down. I need to do this more.

12. Pin your best tweets to the top of your Twitter Profile. When new users look at your Twitter Profile, they’re going to look at your top tweets to see what kind of personal tone you use. Pin your best tweets up top to give the best impression. I’m going to try to pin my monthly Income Reports up top.

13. Ask your email list to follow you on Twitter. This can be a simple “PS please follow me on Twitter so I can have more follower than my mother” comment.

14. Tweet the same content multiple times. Each Tweet last 15 seconds on average and then disappears forever. What if your perfect audience wasn’t reading at that time? Retweet messages that you think are beneficial. Some of the top Twitter influences do this all the time.

15. Always reply to tweets that reference your or direct messages. If someone takes the time to mention you then you should give them some kind of thank you or recognition. It’s polite and really well received in the community. I try to thank everyone publically who retweets my tweets.

16. Always thank users for Retweeting your content. I mentioned it above, but it deserves its own line item.

17. Don’t send a massive amount of tweets in a short period. If your tweets are filling up people’s entire screens over and over, they’ll get aggravated and unfollow you. You should constantly be tweeting but spread them out.

18. Don’t stop Tweeting. People who regularly tweet are considered to be more engaged and get more followers than those who tweet once every two weeks.

19. Tweet snippets of your articles. Instead of tweeting “5 Ways Millennials Waste Money”, you should break it into 5 different tweets each sharing 1 of the reasons. Giving value in your tweets is better than taglines any day.

20. Be a real person. Don’t spam your Twitter account with “READ THIS” and all of your stuff to read/sell. Remember that you’re talking to real people. Use words and tones as if you were talking to a group of your friends. People WILL notice.

My Short Failed Twitter Experiment

In February I told myself that I would tweet 16 tweets a day for a month to see what would happen. In February I had previously sent 111 tweets, had 338 Twitter Followers and was following only 29 people.

I did 2 weeks of it until I was exhausted. I only sent out my own tweets and it was all promotions garbage. I hated every second of it. So I cut back to 5ish tweets a day and started a mixture of retweets, some promotional content and new content. I told myself I would do this until I got to 500 Twitter Followers and reevaluate if Twitter is worth it.

It took 4 months, ugh. Growing Twitter Followers is hella hard.

Today I’m at 513 Twitter Followers (151% increase) having sent 646 Tweets (581% increase) and now following 184 Twitter Followers (634% increase). Calculating the math to it, it seems like the increase in people who I follow had a significant impact, related to lesson #2.

Conclusion

While I originally went into this experiment hating Twitter, I’ll admit it’s grown on me. It’s an effective communication tool for short concise messages. I can’t knock that.

During the last 4 months of focusing on Twitter, I’ve learned a lot. So I’m daring myself to get to 1,000 followers in the next 4 months. Think it’s possible?

Lol Not with my current stats. I’ll have to up my game and stick to these 20 lessons learned. Any additional suggestions?

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Website Performance – Decrease Your Page Load Time Now

Website Performance – Decrease Your Page Load Time Now

When I joined Wallet Squirrel a few months ago, I came in with several goals to complete for the website. My first goal was to improve the SEO with a formalized SEO Strategy, read about our Ultimate SEO Guide for 2017. Secondly, I wanted to increase the value of the website by creating a ton more excellent content on top of Andrew’s. Lastly, I wanted to improve the overall website performance by decreasing our page load time.

After a lot of work, this last goal has been completed! In this article I, Adam, will talk through what Andrew and I have been working on to increase Wallet Squirrel’s overall website performance.

A Special Thanks To Ross!

Firstly, I want to thank Ross over at Paid Insights, who gave us some great advice on helping us speed up Wallet Squirrel. Though I did not use every plugin he recommended, he did point me in the right direction. For this advice we are very grateful for.

If you have not checked out his site, please do. He is an expert in paid search campaigns. Whether you are looking to get started on your first or 50th campaign I would look into his services. Plus, he has an awesome podcast so you can learn more about the PPC (Pay Per Click) and AdWords world.

New Hosting

We used to host Wallet Squirrel on iPage but were tired of the poor performance of their servers. The lack of website performance and slow page load times helped us make the decision to move over to Bluehost. The new hosting service provided a great package that took care of several items on our list.

Bluehost is our choice for website hosting. You should check them out too!

Firstly, they offered high performance servers that would help improve our overall page load time. Improving those load times, improves user experience. With the short attention spans of our society, your website needs to load quickly. If the page load time is high then you are most likely to lose visitors not willing to deal with the poor website performance.

Secondly, the Bluehost package we chose, the Pro Package, came with a SSL certificate. Now, the SSL certificate does not help out with the overall website performance. What it does do, is increase the our SEO rankings with Google.

Thirdly, we were also able to get a dedicated IP address. This is another item that does not decrease the page load time of Wallet Squirrel. But Google does look fondly on dedicated IP addresses. I am not fully sure why but it is nice to have that helping us out with rankings as well.

Compressing Images

Even with high performance servers having poorly compressed images will slow down the page load time of any website. We had about 3,500 images that were bogging down the website performance of Wallet Squirrel.

Use TinyPNG for compressing your images.

To compress all of these images required an awesome plugin and we found one thanks to Ross. He pointed us in the direction of TinyPNG. The plugin was able to compress the images by 62.8% taking them from an initial size of 415.91 MB to just 154.92 MB. After the compression our server response time went from 4 seconds to an extremely fast .21 of a second.

If you are looking for a good image compression plugin for WordPress, I highly recommend TinyPNG. The interface is clean and simple. The compression process does take some time but performs amazingly well in the background letting you work on other tasks.

Caching

Caching allows the website’s page load time to decrease significantly. This is because caching temporary stores the content on a user’s computer. This allows the page to load a lot faster the next time someone visits the website.

W3 Total Cache is a lot more robust versus WP Super Cache.

Right now we are WP Super Cache. This is a very basic and easy cache plugin for WordPress. I am in the process of testing out a new plugin called W3 Total Cache. This plugin is a lot more complicated but handles a lot more responsibility. When using it, I felt like the website performance increased dramatically. I had to disable it because the caching is a lot more firm compared to WP Super Cache. I should be able to get it working with some more testing.

Cache Control Header

Cache control helps with telling the user’s browser to load previous content or not. Because websites are getting more and more complex, telling the user’s browser this information is crucial. With more JavaScript and CSS on websites it takes more and more time for the user’s computer to retrieve and download all of this information each time. If this information is stored on the user’s computer then the website can load that much quicker.

With the Cache Control plugin you can control the expiration dates as to when certain aspects of the site redownload on a user’s computer. Some items on the site you will want to have a shorter expiration date and others to have a long expiration date.

Cache Control helps you decide when your site refreshes its content for your viewers.

For example, take the three little number counters on Wallet Squirrel’s home page. Each one of those takes some JavaScript to load on the backend. If they had to be retrieved and downloaded each time, it would add on some significant time to load the webpage. Because they are only updated once a month, we can increase their cache expiration date compared to the blog page that updates twice a week.

Hopefully this makes sense. If not let me know in the comments and I can answer those questions.

Minify

Typically a lot of WordPress themes will have tons of CSS and JavaScript code running on the backend. This code can take a lot of resources and time to load a page. Using a minify plugin will reduce this code allowing page load times to decrease.

We are using Fast Velocity Minify to improve our website performance. This plugin is working swimmingly but will be replaced once I get W3 Total Cache working properly. W3 Total Cache does support minifying as well. Being able to move to one plugin that handles multiple tasks should improve website performance as well.

Minifying your code is crucial for a fast web page load.

Website Speed Testing

We use two websites to help grade the website performance of Wallet Squirrel. The first one is Google’s website speed tester. I like using this site the most because you are getting a speed grade by the company that is ranking your website in its search results. My thought is, if you can impress them, you should rank high in their results.

Secondly, we use Page Speed Grader. This site was recommended by Bluehost and has been very beneficial so far. This is because it ranks a lot of the same items Google looks at but it looks at other important items as well.

I used both of these website speed testing to figure out what we needed to work on to improve the website. I recommend you to use these tools to get a blueprint as to where you need to improve your own site.

Conclusion

Overall, this process has increased our speed grades with Google and Page Speed Grader significantly. Our score has jumped up nearly 30 points according to Google. And just over 20 points on Page Speed Grader. I am very pleased with the results after some serious work on the backend of our website.

Have questions?

Feel free to contact us and we might be able to help you out.

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Oh, We’re Getting Faster

As Adam mentioned in Monday’s article, we are revamping and drastically improving Wallet Squirrel. =)

In the last 3 months we have about doubled in traffic so we’re committing more resources to Wallet Squirrel and that means upgrading to Bluehost. Specifically we upgraded to the Pro Plan. Yay for growing!

Why Bluehost? Well because ONE it was highly recommended by many of my blogger friends and TWO because it’s MUCH faster. We were SO slow! This is a much needed and happy upgrade.

How does switching over to Bluehost work?

  1. On Friday, Bluehost started copying our WordPress files from iPage.
  2. By Friday evening, everything was copied over.
  3. Then I had iPage switch the DNS over to Bluehost. This is how the internet knows which server to use when someone visits WalletSquirrel.com. It takes 24-48 hours to switch.
  4. By Sunday night everything was switched over!

So actually, we are NOW completely switched over on Bluehost, however we’re using this time to fine tune things like removing useless plugins, optimizing our site by image compression plugins and working with Bluehost to do everything we can to increase speed.

Can you tell if it’s faster?

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The Ultimate SEO Strategy for 2017

The Ultimate SEO Strategy for 2017

It is time to formalize Wallet Squirrel’s SEO Strategy for 2017. This strategy will help get the website to rank higher within Google and Bing. Over the next 12 months we will give you updates on how the process is going, where we rank, and where we still need improvement.

Andrew has done a nice job over the last couple of years by laying down a solid foundation for Wallet Squirrel and its SEO strategy. The most important thing he did is he built the website using a highly responsive Enfold WordPress theme. Google gives Wallet Squirrel a score of 99 out of 100 in their Website Mobility Testing Application. This is great news because if he did not do this, we would be redesigning the website to meet this criteria.

 

Google's Mobile Friendly Tester

Google’s Mobile Friendly Tester helps our SEO Strategy for 2017 by ensuring our site is mobile friendly

Another nice thing Andrew has done is create some great backlinks. About 70 percent of the links he has created are dofollow links as well. This seems like a healthy balance between the two.  A lot of the research I have found shows that you want a balance between Do Follow and nofollow links. In case you do not know what those two types of links are, I will explain.

  • Dofollow links allow juice to travel from their site to your site giving Wallet Squirrel more power/authority. Nofollow links do not allow that juice to flow from site to site. Simply put, dofollow links allow humans and the search engine to travel to Wallet Squirrel through the link but nofollow links only allow humans to do so.
  • Nofollow links do not allow that juice to flow from site to site. Simply put, dofollow links allow humans and the search engine to travel to Wallet Squirrel through the link but nofollow links only allow humans to do so.

SEO Strategy Starting Point

Before we begin to dig into what our new SEO strategy for 2017 is I must disclose some information. Since neither Andrew nor I are SEO experts we have done a lot of research to come up with a plan. We chose the tips on this page because they were consistently talked about throughout our research. Also, Google and most other major search engines have never formally disclosed what makes a website rank higher. They have hinted at things but they like to keep this information a secrete just like the Coronal’s Famous Crispy Chicken Recipe. So everything below are educated guesses as to what makes for a great SEO Strategy.

Focus on topics for Wallet Squirrel’s audience

We need to find what our audience is really looking for. The main question we need to ask ourselves is, “What do you, the audience, want to read?” If we take Wallet Squirrel down a path of topics that people do not care about then we will not receive any interest. This simple question seems like common sense but it can be an easily overlooked part of SEO.

The process is fairly easy with a little bit of practice and increase of knowledge as to where to search. During this phase of our SEO Strategy we will look for five to seven broad topics to look at. These topics will not be our keywords, those come in the next step. They will be for defining the broad ideas we write about.

Defining  Topics

To be able to define these topics we need to do a lot of research as to what current trends are. Our main goal during this research period is to find the readers pain points. What do they need to know about? For example, credit cards. Now a days pretty much everybody has one. These little pieces of plastic control the lives of many people. Within this topic there are dozens of articles that could be written about. Some include how to choose a credit card, how to properly manage payments, how to payoff that debt, tricks to earn more awards, and so on.

Flipboard Application used in our SEO Strategy for 2017

Flipboard Application helps us with our SEO Strategy for 2017 by finding trending topics

As I mentioned before, finding these pain points can be tricky. We will need to search around the web for trending topics as to what is being talked about. This can be on the news, demographic profiling tools, social media, or any other creative place you can find. I personally like searching through social media with hashtags because it is the most current. Another source I have been using is the application Flipboard. This news application allows you to customize content based on topics. It then pulls in trending articles. Looking through those articles I was able to find some patterns to help identify some broad topics.

Find Keywords Within those Topics

Now that we have found the topics that the audience is looking to read about, it is time to find keywords to create content around. This is where Google’s Keyword Planner comes into play. Here is how I gathered keywords for each topic.

To-Do:

  1. Firstly, I opened up a new blank Excel document and named it “Topic Keywords”.
  2. I created new tabs for each topic and named them accordingly.
  3. Next I went over to Google’s Keyword Planner and signed in.
  4. I opened the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category” section and typed in one of the topics to search for such as “Credit Card”.
  5. After hitting search, Keyword Planner takes you to the next page to show you all of the keywords that would fit under that “Credit Card” topic.
  6. Next, I selected the “Download” button and selected “Excel CSV” for my export.
  7. In the new Excel CSV that I downloaded, I select everything in “Keyword” and “Avg. Monthly Searches” columns.
  8. I copied and pasted those columns into my “Topic Keyword” Excel file under the “Credit Card” tab.
  9. Now that I have retrieved all of the “Credit Card” topic’s keywords, it is time to grab to the rest of the keywords for the remaining keywords. To do this, I repeated steps four through eight.
  10. After all of the topic tabs are filled out, the real fun can happen (sarcasm). It is time to clean up our new keywords list. This is done by deleting out irrelevant or poor keyword choices. Also, we will lay out a priority list by marking higher priority keywords with a certain color and lower ones with another color.
Credit Card Keyword Planner used in our SEO Strategy for 2017

Credit Card Keyword Planner used in our SEO Strategy for 2017

Loose Guidelines

Phew, now we are done with finding keywords! We do not have to follow these keyword lists to the dot. There will be other topics that we will want to be write about. This list is a nice guidance to keep us focused on those broad topics but it is there to help with content ideas. It is time to move on to the next step in our SEO Strategy for 2017, creating lots and lots of content.

Create Lots of Excellent Content

Google’s Algorithms are said to rank good solid content higher than poor content. What does this mean? You should create content that is written to the highest standards. It should be highly readable and informative for the reader. The content should also have a lot of substance. The days of writing short 300 word articles are over. Any article should be 1,000 words or greater. So grab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat, and start writing!

Our articles should be based on a keyword that is searched for monthly. It does not need to be a ground breaking keyword with 100,000 searches per month. Anything with 100 searches a month is a great place to start.

We also need to make sure to do internal linking. Creating deep links from the home page and throughout the website allows for the Google Bots to crawl throughout the website easier. This helps provide more page authority and domain authority to more fresh content.

Build strong Headlines and Titles

During my research I found that building strong headlines and titles for each article does help it rank better. For last week’s post, Way #73 – How to Earn More Money in 2017 – The Achievement App, I used an application I found off of Money Lab. The Headliner Analyzer Tool by CoSchedule analyzes the phrasing and word structure of the soon to be headline or title.  It gives it a simple score between 1 and 100. The higher the score the better.

When reading, it sounds like a score around 75 is pretty darn awesome so I shoot to get something around there. I consider something below 60 as pretty low but what do I know. The application also gives you a breakdown of word types used within the headline. I try to get a healthy balance between all four of those types. This tool will be used when we go through to update older yet high performing posts (see last step below).

Define Our Competitors

Many of you reading this post are friends to Wallet Squirrel so do not be hurt by this headline. Defining our competitors is not us putting every financial blog in our cross hairs rather it is about something else.

When we write a brand new blog post, we choose a keyword for that post. For example, this keyword could be puppies. Who doesn’t love puppies, right? After publishing this new article about puppies over on the blogroll we will go see who the article’s competitors are. Within Google’s search bar, or any other search engine preferred, I type in the articles keyword, puppies. Every website that pulls here are our competitors for the blog post on puppies. Next, we will look into how we can copy the backlinks they are getting as well.

Puppies search in Google to find competition.

Puppies search in Google to find competition.

Spying on Our Competitors

After defining the competitors, we need to spy on our competitors to see what they are doing. Chances are they have a lot of referring links coming in from people who wrote about their article. Here might be an opportunity to see if those people will want to link to our article as well, especially if it has better content. Here is what we need to do.

  1. After defining our competitors we need to go to Backlink Watch and enter in the exact URL of your competitors page. This is the exact URL that competes with your keyword.
  2. Backlink Watch will bring up a list of referring sites pointing to the competitors page.
  3. Click on each link and contact the site owner/author about the new blog post we just posted that focuses around the keyword.
Backlink Watch used in our SEO Strategy for 2017

Backlink Watch helps us find who is linking to our competition.

Backlinks

During my research I keep reading that backlinks are not as important as they use to be for ranking. I personally do not think you should take backlinks lightly for several reasons. Firstly, as we compete against several other blogs out there, these backlinks might just be enough to take Wallet Squirrel above and beyond. Secondly, Wallet Squirrel has been around for a couple of years now so it is not exactly young in the internet world. It is very immature with its reach though. These backlinks can help with exposure to the site as we try to broaden our reach around the internet.

We will make sure to post to credible websites that provide backlinks to each new article. These can vary from other blogs, social platforms such as StumbleUpon, social media, and others. There will not be a set list of sites to post on for each post. This is because each article will be about something different and the previous backlink sites might not fit properly.

In the past, on a previous website, we have paid for backlinks. My research has consistently told me that this might be a waste of money now. We will try not do this and see where it takes us in 2017. What do you think of purchasing backlinks?

SEO Strategy Extra Points!

After completing all of the above steps we still need to use the little remaining time we have on these remaining SEO Strategies for 2017. These are more advanced SEO Strategies that will take a lot more time (not sure where that is going to come from). It will be interesting to see how we can fit these techniques within the overall strategy.

Infographics

Infographics are becoming more and more popular. Luckily we have an immensely talented guy on our team to make gorgeous infographics, Andrew. If you have not seen his What Happens To Debt When You Die – Infographic, you need to head over there next. Plus, the other dude on the team, Adam, wrote his Master’s thesis on Data Visualization. So we should have no excuse to make amazing infographics for Wallet Squirrel’s audience. They have a great potential to bring in a lot of traffic to Wallet Squirrel.

We want to make sure our infographics can be found. Submitting to infographic directories will help gain more exposure for each one. Though this will be time consuming, it should be worth it in the long run. The article by Modern Marketing Partners provides twenty sites that we can submit too.

On top of this we want to make it easier to share the infographics from Wallet Squirrel. Making information easy to share for our readers will increase the likelihood of it being spread across to broader audiences. We have not figured out this method yet but once we do, I am sure we will keep you posted. Ideas?

Guest Posting

We will continue to jump on any guest post opportunity that comes our way. Some people are nervous about doing guest posts because you are creating other content for your “Competition”. Then your “competition” gets all of the viewership and affiliate links. I will be challenging us, Team Squirrel, to not think this way. Other financial blogs are not our “competition” but rather friends and colleagues who are also reaching for financial freedom.

I personally think guest posts can work be very effective! They help spread our voice across the internet to other audiences. Essentially, I see it as putting in a little work for some easy advertisement to the blog. We will want to be somewhat picky as to who we guest post for. It will be important to make sure that the other blogging website has a similar vision and morals. It would not be good to guest post for a website that could bring negative feedback to ours.

Story Time

Trey Ratcliff, who is the photographer that inspired me to get into photography. About five to seven years ago he was doing something most other photographers were not doing on the internet. He was uploading high resolution photographs without a watermark to a downloadable site, SmugMug. He would put his content under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license. Everyone was saying he was crazy to do this. People kept saying “bad” people could take his work and use it illegally. He thought so what, at least my photography is getting out there and viewed. Trey is now one of the world’s most popular photographers. He even has work in the Smithsonian! I believe he made it to where he is today because he let the leash loose on his photographs allowing his viewership to expand even more rapidly.

SSL Certification

Google helps promote websites with the newish SSL certificate. I have read in several locations, including Moz, that this certificate is really important now. You can tell if a website has the SSL certificate when its URL starts with https://. Wallet Squirrel does not have this certificate…yet. Adding the SSL certificate should be a fairly easy item to check off our SEO strategy for 2017 list.

The SSL Certificate is highly ranked by Google and should be apart of anyone's SEO Strategy.

The SSL Certificate should be apart of anyone’s SEO Strategy.

Slow Website Speeds

Research tells us that Google will ding websites with slow loading speeds. When running tests on the Wallet Squirrel, the site fails miserably. I will work on trying to figure out what is causing this slow down. Firstly, I will check with our web hosting provider iPage about what might be going on. They have amazing customer service so I am sure we can get to the bottom of the issue.

There are several other ideas that could be slowing the site down. The first item I will explorer is checking to see if the images are too large. Secondly there is a possibility that there is too much JavaScript and CSS code. This code could be imbedded into the WordPress theme that we use. I really hope iPage is able to help us because I do not want to go digging through code.

Let me know in the comment section if you have any other ideas?

Index the pages

We need to make sure that our pages are being indexed on Google and Bing. This can be done on Google Webmaster Tools as well as Bing’s Webmaster.  This is a very easy process of making sure Google or Bing Fetches the website or blog post.

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Another tool recommended by Neil Patel Is the Ping-o-Matic. The application will allow us to ping high authority search SEO service directories. According to Neil, this allows Google’s bots to crawl the website a lot quicker and easier.

Use Authoritative Social Platforms

There are several  social platforms include websites such as DocstocSlideshareBloggerQuora.

Our goal will be to create a document on each site that can push more visitors to Wallet Squirrel. This is obviously easier said than done but is not out of the question. First we will want to pick one of the social platforms to create a new document such as Slideshare. We will want to pick a trending topics that relate to Wallet Squirrel. We can use GrowHackers.com or Google Trends to help us search for those trending topics.

After finding an awesome topic to create a slideshow about it will be best to do research on how to make it spectacular. Luckily, we can look at the what other slide shows are doing themselves. Looking at what those authors did we can figure out what works and what does not work to create something jaw dropping. Creating well written content within the slide share will help engage the reader but more importantly we will want to add images. Adding a visual dynamic will create a more well-rounded presentation to keep our audience roped in.

Return to Old Blog Posts

We do not want older but popular articles to go stale. Google does not like stale content and will lower its ranking within search results. So every three to six months we need to examine older articles to refresh them a bit. First it is best to find what the best performing articles from that time frame are. One example for Wallet Squirrel would be Andrew’s Review of the Robinhood App.

  1. First we went to Google Analytics
  2. Under the Behaviors Tab I found what the top posts were three to six months ago.
  3. After finding the top three or so posts are we can go ahead and update them.
Updating old but high performing posts every three to six months is an extra point item to our SEO Strategy for 2017

Updating old but high performing posts every three to six months is an extra point item to our SEO Strategy for 2017

There are several ideas as to what to update. One thought is to update the headline or title of the article. This would be another great opportunity for us to use the Headline Analyzer talked about earlier. Also, as time progresses we usually learn more about that particular subject. We can update the article to include this new information.

Measuring Progress

So I have decided on a few metrics that we will use to measure the progress of our new SEO Strategy for 2017. All numbers are current as of March 16, 2017. We will update them as the year progresses.

  • Alexa Ranking – 3,609,825
  • Sites Linking Into Wallet Squirrel (by Alexa) – 30
  • Moz Domain Authority – 18
  • Avg. Weekly Views – 329
The goal to our SEO Strategy for 2017 is to climb the ranks with Alexa

The goal to our SEO Strategy for 2017 is to climb the ranks with Alexa

SEO Strategy Resources

To put this SEO Strategy together, I looked all around the internet for consistent recommendations from credible sources. I must give credit to the sites that gave me each idea first. I wish I could name all of the sites that confirmed these ideas but that would be too long of a list!

Cheers!
-Adam

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