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written by John Chow on March 6, 2015

Secure Affiliate Marketing

This is my first Driving with John Chow video that I did with the new Jaguar F-Type. You’ll have to bear with me for the next few videos while I try to adjust the mic to that crazy exhaust system.

On this episode, I talk about long term relationships, and why you must think long term if you want to truly make money in this business.

Too many new marketers think of Internet marketing as a short term game. They promote an affiliate product, make some money, and then go on to the next promotion. If that’s the way you think, then your odds of making a real living at this is about the same as rolling the dice at the tables in Vegas.

Creating a long term relationship strategy that endears your readers to you and your blog is one of the keys to Internet success. Don’t be tempted by short term thinking. The winners in this industry are here for the long haul.

Go Download John Chow’s New eBook and Live The Dot Com Lifestyle!!

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written by Michael Kwan on March 5, 2015

Auto Recruiting Platform

It doesn’t really matter what line of business you are in these days. You could be a technology startup that develops a range of mobile apps. You could be a professional wedding photographer. You could be a natural food and supplement company. Or you could be a freelance writer like me. Whatever the case may be, it’s obvious enough that social media should play an important role in your overall marketing strategy.

The trouble is that too many people (and companies) just take the haphazard, shotgun-style approach to their social media strategy. They just throw out whatever updates whenever they happen to tickle their fancy and they simply hope for the best. It doesn’t really work that way and while we could go at least about the content strategy involved, today’s post will focus on just one element: timing.

Not All Social Networks Are the Same

Part of the confusion arises because all of these different networks can covered under the same blanket term “social media,” but each of these networks needs to approached in a slightly different way because of how they operate the core demographics that they have. I’ve written about how Pinterest is changing for example, even though most of its users are still fashion-conscious, youthful-thinking female consumers.

A short while ago, Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel posted an infographic on the best times to post on social media. The main takeaways from that can be summarized as follows:

  • Facebook: Post on Thursdays and Fridays, because “the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook.” You’ll get the most shares around 1pm and the most clicks around 3pm.
  • Twitter: B2Bs get better engagement during the work week, while B2Cs get more engagement on Wednesdays and weekends. The highest click-thru rates are observed at 12pm (lunch time) and 6pm (evening commute home).
  • LinkedIn: Post mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) during business hours for best results. This makes sense, since LinkedIn is much more of a work-oriented network.
  • Pinterest: Pin your content Saturday evenings when people are relaxing at home, casually browsing through material that isn’t all that urgent.
  • Instagram: The highest engagement is during the week, particularly on Mondays and during off-work hours.
  • Google+: Weekday mornings are the best times to post, especially around 9am on Wednesdays.

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If you stop and consider when people are most likely to engage with these different networks, you’ll get why these times are typically the most appropriate. This is more profound on “real-time” networks like Instagram and Twitter than on the algorithm-based news feed of Facebook.

Schedule Your Updates Accordingly

“But what if I’m not at my computer during those hours? What if I don’t want to be tethered to my social networks around the clock?”

This used to be an issue for many social media marketers, but thanks to terrific dashboards and services like HootSuite or Buffer, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. For a lot of these networks, you can schedule your updates in advance, capitalizing on these “best times” to post.

Even if you’re sharing the same blog post, you can custom tailor how it is presented and when it is sent out based on each of these networks. Neil Patel says that by following these guidelines, he was able to see an increase in traffic from social media of up to 39%. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Keep Your Followers Engaged

And this goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Unless you are “live-tweeting” an event or otherwise providing real-time coverage, it doesn’t make sense to bombard your followers with a flurry of content only to follow that by an extended period of silence.

Just as you should have a steady flow of content on your blog, the same is true for all of your social media sharing as well. Key in on those ideal times, but don’t neglect the rest of the day and week either. You’ll likely have followers from other time zones, not to mention regular folk who happen to check during other times.

And remember that social media is meant to be a conversation. It’s a discussion that involves actively engaging with your audience and not simply using these networks as your soapbox-style platforms. And that can happen at any time of the day.

Go Download John Chow’s New eBook and Live The Dot Com Lifestyle!!

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written by Rizvan Ullah on March 5, 2015

Images have always been a powerful way to increase engagement. Using the right images within your content is a great way to add depth and provide a funnel for people to understand your content. For example, the Internet connects people from all over the world with some of them NOT able to understand as clearly as others. Using images within your content provides a visual aid to those people who find text confusing and hard to grasp. Images also provide a quicker way to get your point across, which is why infographics are being increasingly used by bloggers all over the world. Here’s something else…

Did you know that images can be used as an effective link building strategy? For those of you NOT aware, Google has an awesome image search that links images to the homepage they are displayed on. This means if you type something like “link building” and head over to Google images, you’ll find the URL of the website next to the image. It’s a great way to increase traffic and brand awareness. It’s also why it’s important to name your images correctly before uploading.

An Example

Head over to Google search and type in a keyword. In this example, I’ll be using “link building strategies” and then click search. Once Google generates its results, you can click on images at the top. You could have done an image search directly, but I wanted to show you how to browse to images from the main search engine.

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Here, you have several images to choose from and Google images are ranked according to optimization. The ONLY catch is that there are over 100 ranking factors for images. I’m going to quickly list some in point form below…

  • Alt-Text
  • Image copies
  • Engagement or shares
  • Links to image
  • Blog authority
  • Keyword density on page image is displayed
  • File name
  • The domain and page authority

These are just some factors and you’d be surprised how good they are for those blogs that create high quality content and put effort into creating substance. If you’re someone who has been blogging for years and put enormous effort into growing your business, then it’s ONLY fair your images rank higher than others. Next, the factors being closely related to the blog’s authority decreases the chances of people manipulating image results and gaining traffic WITHOUT putting any hard effort into content, blogging, and credibility.

I’m personally glad that image and general search results are closely related as it keeps the playing field balanced.

A Cool Statistic

When uploading images to your content, you have to keep Google image search in mind. Here’s why…

I did some skimming online to find traffic potential from image search. I found this quick graph that shows traffic increase and decrease through their image search. When viewing the image, keep in mind I’m just trying to illustrate the potential images have in generating traffic. For example, 87 websites were studied and this was the traffic seen within “1” year of combined data. The decrease you see at the end of the chart is the result of algorithm updates that knock down the authority of the websites and, ultimately, their traffic.

The illustration is provided by SearchEngineLand.com

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At its peak, you’ll notice these 87 websites had a combined traffic reach of 1.4 million generated through Google image search. Awesome!

Optimizing Your Images

Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re uploading your images to your content.

First, when saving images, it’s important to use a relevant name to your content and where the image will be posted. If you’re writing content on “content marketing”, then when adding an image, save it using the following “content-marketing.jpg”. That’s just an example and you can switch around the relevant name and file format. Next,

Include alt-text when you’ve finished uploading your image to your blog. Many blogging platforms have an “alt-text” field that you can fill out once you’ve uploaded your image. This is necessary because if a browser cannot load the image, your “alt-text” will be displayed instead. It’s a great way to tell users and search engines what was displayed in that place.

Because page load time is a ranking factor within Google, it’s important to reduce the image size. A simple WordPress plug-in will do the trick and it can be configured to automatically compress images when uploaded. This will ensure load time remains stable and Google responds to it correctly by indexing and listing it within their search.

In general, make sure the image is relevant to your content and helps add value to your content. No point in adding an image that is completely different than the written text of your content.

After Uploading

Usually, once the images have been uploaded, you have to wait until Google re-indexes your website and pages. To help, you might want to keep updating your website as a frequent publishing schedule has been proven to bring the spiders back to your blog. There is a cool way to track image traffic from within Google Analytics and I’ll post a quick link to a tutorial below on how to set this up. Just like content data, it’s important to analyze what’s working and what needs to be tweaked going forward. Your goal is to ensure images get indexed and displayed in Google image search. Once they’ve been optimized and correctly displayed, they can serve as an awesome traffic source for years.

Go Download John Chow’s New eBook and Live The Dot Com Lifestyle!!

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written by John Chow on March 4, 2015

Orange County Restaurant Week is still going strong, and so are we!

Yesterday, we had lunch at Eureka! Today, we headed over to Costa Mesa to try out Scott’s Restaurant & Bar to sample their Restaurant Week offerings. You can eat out everyday when you live the Dot Com Lifestyle. :)

Scott’s Restaurant & Bar offers fresh, locally sourced and organic ingredients to create unique yet classic dishes. Whether you are looking for seafood, steak, or an amazing salad, we have it all. Located in the heart of downtown Costa Mesa by South Coast Plaza and Segerstrom Center of the Arts, Scott’s is where to eat in Orange County if you’re looking for a quick lunch between meetings, or a pre-show dinner before heading to the theater.

Scott’s Restaurant & Bar specializes in sustainable seafood and the prime-aged steaks. In business for over 25 years, Scott’s has become a landmark restaurant. Executive Chef Michael Doctulero creates new American cuisine with influences from Asian, French, classic American and beyond. The restaurant only use produces harvested from local organic farms. All the seafood dishes on Scott’s menu are sustainable and backed by the Seafood of the Future Foundation.

The reason Scott’s is a landmark restaurant is not just because of its food. The restaurant is HUGE! I’ve never seen a fine-dining restaurant this big before. It must seat at least 400 people.

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Our $20 per person Restaurant Week lunch menu consisted of an appetizer and an entree. Most of the OC Restaurant Week menus include a dessert course, but I guess Scott’s couldn’t fit that into the budget. However, there is dessert on the $50 Restaurant Week dinner menu.

There were six appetizers and five entrees to choose from. We went with the Housemade Short Rib Ravioli and Calamari Provencale for the appetizers, and Grilled Mahi Mahi and Oregon Petrale Sole for the entrees. I was extremely impressed with the size of the dishes. They were very generously portions for a fine dining restaurant. I can see why Scott’s could only fit two dishes into the Restaurant Week menu.

In a way, excluding the dessert was a good thing. I was completely full from the appetizer and entree, and didn’t have room for dessert. The food was so good, we’ll be going back to Scott’s to try out their dinner menu. You can do that when you live the Dot Com Lifestyle. :)

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Scott's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Go Download John Chow’s New eBook and Live The Dot Com Lifestyle!!

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written by John Chow on March 4, 2015

One very common question I get is on getting more people to subscribe to your email list. After all, the bigger the list, the more money you make.

Increasing email opt ins is very much like tweaking a banner ad or sales copy to increase conversions. There is a lot of testing involved, and you really can’t stand still.

In today’s Driving with John Chow episode, I give you my best tips for increasing your email opt rate. Using these tips, I personally saw a 10X increase in my email sign ups.

Go Download John Chow’s New eBook and Live The Dot Com Lifestyle!!

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