Introduction - ANNETTE Snoopys Dog Blog went live in September 2010 and as the name suggests is all about Snoopy. It's written from Snoopy's perspective on life as he grows up. He recently turned 2. It was originally just set up so my nephews in the UK could see him growing up, I had no idea that nearly 2 years on we would now have nearly 400 posts and 40,000 page views a month. Snoopy's blog is all about the Fun he has as he's become a Therapy Dog and visits elderly people in retirement homes – who would have guessed he'd also become such an accomplished Mischief Maker!
Introduction - COLBY So what's it all about? Originally I started my blog to chronicle my journey with my first guide dog puppy in training, Stetson basically so my friends and family could see some of his pictures and read about some of his adventures. For the first 6 months I'm pretty sure only my mom and girlfriend (maybe my brother and sister) were reading my blog. I've come a long way since those humble beginnings. Today the blog receives around 60,000 visitors and 100,000 page views a month.
Build Biz Blog - COLBY It's really not just pet bloggers...most bloggers start blogs as a hobby or because they are passionate about something. Think back to the day you started your blog...was it based on your passion? Very few think of it as a business from the beginning. Examples: Colby and Annette If you decide to turn your blog into a business things will change. You will have to take into consideration your sponsors. Are you willing to do product reviews? You will be held accountable. While you may have to make changes you should always stay authentic. Keep your original tone and voice of your blog. One thing we thought about is do our blogs look how we want? Do they look professional? It's a good time to think about moving from free hosting like Blogger and Wordpress.com to a self-hosted solution. Also look into a premium or custom theme for you blog. A good first step into building a relationship with a brand is through product giveaways. Jeff will talk more about that Make it easier for brands by providing a PR/Media Friendly section so they know a little bit about your site. Time to start thinking more like a brand.
Build Biz Blog – COLBY Annette and I were given the opportunity to work with PetSmart to build our blogs into business blogs. We were lucky to work with both Jeff and Stephanie and several experts on the PetSmart team. After an initial introduction we discussed 3 key areas where we could improve our blogs. Before and after each lesson we were given tasks to complete and work on our blogs. These key areas are also important to getting noticed by brands Great Content – Lesson 1 Content Strategy Social Media Presence – Lesson 2 Social Media Strategy High Traffic – SEO Strategy Annette and I had the opportunity to work on all 3 of these areas and today we're going to share with you some of our results from our discussions with the PetSmart team.
Content - COLBY How many of you have analytics software installed on your blogs? How often do you check your stats? Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly? Before our meetings with PetSmart I did take a look at overall pageviews and visitors, but never took a more in depth look to see what content was resonating with my readers. Lucky for both Annette and I we both had analytics software installed, but weren't using it to it's potential If you haven't already you should install analytics software. AWStats, Google Analytics, etc. You can see what content is doing well and what is doing poorly. Take a look at your traffic sources. Are you diversified? One of the areas both Annette and I discovered was that our traffic sources were not diversified What is your best content? What is resonating with your readers? Who are your readers? Taking a close look at our content help to reveal exactly what types of blog posts were most receptive to our readers. It also showed who our readers were.
Content - ANNETTE Whilst working with PetSmart we were encouraged to look at which posts were most popular with our readers and where did our traffic come from? I discovered that some of Snoopy's most popular posts were the more silly ones, like when his buddy Cosmo had rainbow hair..... I also discovered that most of my traffic, unlike Colby's blog didn't come from search engines – this was something I'd never focused on – but there were probably lots more people out there who would like Snoopy's blog if only they could find it
Content - COLBY After taking a close look at Google Analytics I noticed my site is heavily skewed towards search engine traffic. Referral traffic from other websites and direct traffic were a distant 2 nd and 3 rd . Take a look at the pie chart I'm doing a good job with my SEO traffic. I decided I needed to diversify my traffic sources and put more time and effort into social media and relationship building with other bloggers, my readers/community, and brands. One of the very interesting things Annette and I discovered during our journey was how different our 2 blogs were. After analyzing my analytics data and discussing with PetSmart and Annette I discovered 6 different types of posts that I thought would work well for me. Guide Dog Puppy Raiser Posts – Already heavily commented on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog Solve a Problem Posts – A lot of my posts revolve around “how to” puppy training as I work through my problems with my pups. Product Reviews and Contest Giveaways – Self Explanatory Think About Time Frames – Holiday posts, October is my biggest month with an increase of about 30K page views from Halloween blog posts. Upcoming Pet Events – I like to list pet events that I try to or would like to attend. The America's Family Pet Expo has spike my monthly page views in April by upwards of 10K page views. Blog Hops – I've participated in blog hops in the past, but I wanted to get in a consistent routine and started participating in Wordless Wednesdays and Monday Mischief hops
Content - COLBY Annette and I both started using the WordPress Editorial Calendar to help us better organize our blogging schedules. Planning ahead was something we realized was very important as we worked to build a business blog and using the Editorial Calendar Plugin is a great way to get a more visual look at you past, present, and future blog posts. Sorry, but we don't know of an equivalent plugin for the other blog platforms (Blogger, Typepad, etc) WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin helps you to plan ahead. See all of your posts and when they'll be posted. Drag and drop to change your post dates. Manage your drafts with our new drafts drawer. Quickedit post titles, contents, and times. Publish posts or manage drafts. Easily see the status of your posts.
Content - ANNETTE Working together with PetSmart we decided to try hosting a Giveaway to see if it was something that our readers would like. We'd never done one before, but it was a huge success and everyone really liked it We were careful to choose a product that we really liked and were happy to promote – I'd actually bought the harness for Snoopy before the contest and loved it and really wanted to tell everyone about it – I was delighted when PetSmart said we could give one away!
Content – COLBY As Annette mentioned we were given the opportunity to host a product giveaway as well as review to see how well those types of posts would resonate with our readers We put together a product review post for Martha Stewart Slow Feeder Dog Bowl. Our first blog post was an initial review of the product as well as announcing a giveaway. Our second blog post was our video review along with our final thoughts on the product Our product review had some great results with 68 comments is a very high number of comments for the Puppy In Training blog. 546 pages. I checked stats this morning and in the few weeks since putting together this post we have received an additional 100 page views. These views are coming from some of the SEO tactics we implemented from as a result of our SEO lesson which will talk about more in a few slides.
Build Biz Blog – ANNETTE I'd never viewed Snoopy's blog as a business so it hadn't occurred to me to include a PR Page. For a long time we've been contacted by companies asking us to work with them, but we've never made the step before. Now with the PR page we can tell Brands and PR Managers the type of things we'd be interested in before they contact us. In addition, we can tell them our stats, rather than them having to try and find them, especially as they'll appear differently in lots of different places on the Internet.
Build Biz Blog - COLBY Here's my PR Section. This section includes: Statistics about my blog and social media channels Different advertising options Information about product reviews Different ways to contact
Social Media – COLBY Before we started our social media lesson I did not think much about what I was posting just posting when and about whatever I was thinking at the time. However, after our discussions on Social Media it helped me think more deeply about what I should be posting. Here's a list of some of the important attributes to keep in mind when communicating on your social media channels.
Social Media - COLBY A second area that I did not think much about is your voice and how each Social Media Channel differs. After our meeting and looking over this image I had a better understanding of how I should be communicating with my community on the different Facebook channels Twitter differs from Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter is for telling people what you are doing at any given moment (eating a donut), Facebook is more for sharing what you like in general (I like donuts), and LinkedIn is for sharing what you’re good at (skilled with donuts). Another good point mentioned about Twitter was the Twitter half life. People won't always see what you post because they won't always be logged in seeing everything coming through their feed.
Social Media – COLBY We were given some great tips on how to best utilize Facebook. I tried all of these on my Facebook page and found a lot of success on all, but posting outside of biz hours and posting on Thu and Fri. I've found success posting updates no matter what time or what day as long as I post something compelling to my readers.
Social Media – COLBY I haven't had as much success with Twitter, but I did try all of these techniques. One things I'd like to add to this list is using Hootsuite or BufferApp which makes it much easier to schedule tweets and facebook updates. In fact I scheduled several updates throughout this weekend to keep my twitter and facebook accounts active just in case I become a little too busy for timely updates. I have also noticed the Twitter half life as I get different readers interacting with my tweets depending on the time they go out.
Social Media – COLBY I had the chance to track and see what types of posts worked best with my Facebook Fans. Some of our most popular updates on Facebook and things that resonate with my readers: Questions and fill in the blanks Cute pictures Caption the picture Guide dog puppy updates
Social Media – ANNETTE It was great to learn how PetSmart approach Social Media – we've been using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc for a while but we've been very random about it... They told us when are the best times to post, so more people will see the post as well as the types of things people may like to see..... I like to post pictures and videos of what Snoopy's up to right now on Facebook and I've just started using Tout for short video clips, which makes it easy to share them on both Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Pinterest is my work in progress project
SEO – COLBY We're not going into a deep discussion about SEO, but there are a couple SEO specific sessions going on at BlogPaws SEO 101 and SEO 201. These are a few things we discussed during our SEO meeting If these look a bit cryptic check out the SEO sessions.
SEO – COLBY One thing that I did implement during my product reviews including this one on the KONG Wobbler was to focus on keywords. When doing product reviews it's fairly simple to find the keyword it's most likely the name of the product. So first think about you keyword then make sure to emphasize, but don't over emphasize (hard to do with product reviews) in your post. Title – this will show up as your title(h1) Keyword in URL Keyword in a heading tag I focused on KONG Wobbler Dog Toy for my keyword and noticed that on some days I rank #1 in the Google Search results. My SEO efforts on this post results in about 10 page views a day related to the Keyword KONG Wobbler.
SEO – ANNETTE The all in one SEO plugin can change the title tag which is relevant in search engines. The meta description is also relevant in Search engines as seen in the next slide.
Blog Buddy - COLBY From the very beginning Annette and I stayed in constant contact updating each other on our progress and bouncing ideas off each other on what we should do and how we could improve our blogs. We found this part of our build a biz blog experience invaluable. Here's a list we put together that we felt help benefit the both of us. If you don't have a blog buddy Annette and I both highly recommend finding one. Especially someone who has a different blog and much different perspectives as Annette and I do with our 2 blogs.
Takeways – COLBY Finally we wanted to put together a short list of takeways that you could implement right away that we thought was very important to your success building a business blog. 1. Make sure your blog is looking professional and how you'd like to present it to brands. 2. Dig into your analytics and find out what blog posts your readers love. 3. Find your voice and find out what your readers enjoy on the different social media channels. This may be different for each channel including your blog. 4. Think about you keywords when posting to your blog and try using the All-in-one SEO plugin to customize your title, meta keywords, and meta description 5. Find a blog buddy!
SEO - COLBY AND ANNETTE
Jeff Davis, PetSmart: Snoopy's Dog Blog and Puppy in Training Business Case Studies
Welcome!PetSmart Blog To Business Case Study Snoopys Dogblog - http://www.snoopysdogblog.com By Snoopy and Annette Puppy In Training - http://puppyintraining.com By Linus, Stetson, Apache, and Colby
Introduction The competition The winning videos! And the grand prize winners are:
Snoopys Dogblog Snoopysdogblog.com - The story of a young Bearded Collie Therapy Dog who likes a Little Mischief! First Blog post – Sep, 2010 380+ Blog Posts 40,000+ Page views a month
Puppy In Training PuppyInTraining.com – Puppy training tips from our experiences as guide dog puppy raisers. First blog post - August, 2007 500+ blog posts 60,000+ visitors a month
Blog to Business Why do most pet bloggers start blogging? Changing the way you think about your blog...think like a brand. Ensure your blog is ready. Does it look how you want it to? Starting to build a relationship with brands with product giveaways. PR/Media Friendly Section.
Getting Noticed by Brands How PetSmart works with bloggers • Product reviews to help your readers discover new items. • Reader giveaways to draw more engagement with your posts. • Vouchers for a grooming, boarding or training product review to give your readers a look at our in-store services. • Ideas for posts on relevant news, seasonal trends, tips, and new collections. • Interviews with our experts on nutrition, safety tips and other topics you and your readers want to discuss.
Getting Noticed by Brands What gets you noticed by brands? – Great Content – Social Media Presence – High Traffic Worked with PetSmart on 3 major areas: – Content Strategy – Social Media Strategy – SEO Strategy
Content Strategy Install analytics software and check your traffic. Is your traffic diversified? Where are your traffic sources coming from? What is your best content?
Snoopys Dogblog Analytics Search Traffic Referral Traffic Direct Traffic
Puppy In Training PR Section http://PuppyInTraining.com/advertise/
Social Media Important attributes to keep in mind: – Authenticity – Humanity – Reflection of Culture – Consistency – Credibility – Responsive Dont forget about weekends
Find Your Social Media Voice Social Media Explained How social media channels differ explained with a donut! Consider these differences when posting to your social media channels.
Facebook Strive to keep posts less than 80 characters Post outside of business hours Facebook fans are active on Thu and Fri Keep posts concise Ask questions Use fill in the blank posts 2-3 times a day
Twitter Leave 20 characters at the end for retweets Maintain a schedule Write in headlines or factoids Use handles in your tweets and tag liberally Think eastern time Use URL Shorteners 6-10 times a day
SEO StrategySome basic steps for SEO – Change Permalink Structure – Keyword research on your blog posts – Use the Google Keyword Tool – On-Page Optimization – Install the All-In-One SEO plugin – Backlinks
All-In-One SEO Pack Resource: http://kikolani.com/getting-the-most-out-of-all-in-one-seo-pack-wordpress-plugin.html
Do You Have A Blog Buddy? A blog buddy can be invaluable You can get feedback on posts and ideas You can work on projects together You can help each other stay motivated It helps to talk with someone else who understands your situation. You can share ideas, best practices, and things that have worked.
Key Takeaways1)Ensure your blog is ready. Does it look how you want it to?2)What content resonates with your readers?3)What is your social media voice?4)Do you use keyword research? All-In-One SEO?5)Do you have a Blog Buddy?