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How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard in Just 5 Minutes

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard

You’ve spent money on your website.

You’ve invested hours into your blog.

Now it’s time to track the results.

Just like any part of your business, if you want to improve performance you first need to know where you’re at. These are often called KPI’s, or Key Performance Indicators.

Enter your website performance dashboard.

This dashboard will give you the most important numbers you need to track and warn you when you need to make changes.

At BlogWorks, we are checking our website performance dashboard and it’s one of the first things we recommend our clients create.

It’s Monday, you walk into your office…

It’s Monday morning, you’re updating your list for the week and you stop.

There it is—that item you’ve been putting off for weeks: “update website.” Every week you’ve moved it to the next week; not sure how to start. Should you do a major overhaul (ugh!) or does your site need tweaking?

The problem isn’t your website. The problem is you don’t have the right information.

You need good information to make good decisions

Now imagine a different scene…

It’s Monday morning, you walk into your office and there’s a single page report lying on your desk. You smile.

It’s your website performance dashboard and it quickly gives you all the numbers you need to make good decisions. Cool, right?

But, before we get into what goes into your website performance dashboard, let’s look at a common mistake.

It’s called scope creep.

Avoid scope creep

As you start to build your website performance dashboard it’s easy to go too far.

For example, you want to know about traffic going to your site in the last 30 days. Great! But do you look at unique visitors (“users”), or do you look at pageviews, bounce rate, session duration, country of origin and best time of day to publish?

There are hundreds of data points on your site and trying to track any more than the essentials will quickly turn your website performance dashboard into a failed experiment.

Trying to track too much data is a recipe for disaster.

It’s like the dashboard in your car. There are hundreds of moving parts in your car, but to drive safely and make good driving decisions all you need are: speed, fuel level, distance (odometer), and maybe tachometer. All other indicators are hidden (like low oil warning light) until you need them.

Anything more is scope creep.

The perfect website performance dashboard needs to do 3 things:

  1. Give you important feedback on your online performance
  2. Be easy to update
  3. Indicate problem areas that need fixing.

The other problem with scope creep is the time it takes to update data.

The dashboard I’m recommending requires pulling data from multiple sources, so the more data points you collect, the more time this will take, and the more likely you are to stop updating it.

In the past, I have built crazy-complicated dashboards. Sure, they were full of great information, but it was a hassle to pull all the data, and inevitably they all failed.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build your website performance dashboard in just 5 minutes.

First, let’s look at where this puppy is going to live.

Where to keep your new dashboard?

There are lots of places where you could keep your new spreadsheet:

  • On your computer
  • Dropbox
  • Google drive

At BlogWorks we use Google Docs for all of the information we share with members of our team. It’s easy to use, you can select who gets to view, comment, or edit the document and there’s virtually no risk of losing the document or wasting time searching for the document on your hard drive.

Plus, it’s free when you are starting out and don’t have a lot of data to store.

The perfect starter kit

To get started, the perfect website performance dashboard will have only 3 categories:

  1. Mailing list size
  2. Website performance
  3. Social media followers

At the time of writing, I’m delivering two webinars a month, so at BlogWorks we also track webinar performance.

Here’s an example of what your first website performance dashboard can look like:

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Example of your first website performance dashboard

Let’s get into more detail on each category.

Mailing list size and growth.

Your mailing list is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have. Unlike social media, emails from your mailing list can get directly into your prospects’ Inbox. You can deliver invitations, follow up with leads, and nurture your list with new blog posts.

Even if you only have a few hundred on your list now, growing your list should be a business goal. Here’s why…

As our world rushes to get online, most business owners are reconsidering their business model. Traditional businesses, like lawyers, physiotherapists, retail stores – even house painting – are finding ways to attract customers online. In many cases, those businesses are now delivering their service online.

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Building a larger email list means you have more options in your business for future growth.

Having a mailing list makes all of those changes possible.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business Click To Tweet

At BlogWorks, we track the total list size every week. And because we have multiple lead magnets, we track the number of people who accepted each opt-in offer.

Website performance

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with Google Analytics because it tracks all activity on your site. That won’t help you!

Most business owners simply need to track:

  • Number of unique visitors (called “users”)
  • Goals

Periodically you should also be checking:

  • Top blog posts
  • Source of traffic
  • Percent of mobile users
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion on top blog posts

Here’s how to find unique visitors:

Log into Google Analytics. Click Audience > Overview

In Google language “user” means the number of people who visited your site at least once (it doesn’t include multiple visits)

How to create goals in your website

To simplify your website performance tracking you need to create goals within Google Analytics. In WordPress, this is a one-time exercise that starts the data collection so in one click you can get all the numbers you need to add to your website performance dashboard.

Typical goals will include traffic to your:

  • sales page (consulting, book, products, etc.)
  • prices page
  • thank you page (for an opt-in)
  • special offer page
  • contact page
Once you have your goals created it’s easy to update your dashboard

Creating a new goal is easy:

  • Click the Gear button (bottom-right corner)
  • Click Goals > “+ NEW GOAL”
  • Click “Custom” (the last option in the list) > CONTINUE
  • Enter the name of your new goal (like “Contact page”) and for Type, click “Destination” > CONTINUE
  • Under “Goal Details”, enter the last part of the URL for the page you want to track, like “/contact” > SAVE
With a few steps, you can create a new goal and easily track your website performance

Automatically Receive your Google Analytics Report

If you want to have a bit more detail you can easily set up Google Analytics to automatically send the standard website dashboard to you on a regular basis.

Here’s how to set that up:

  • Log into Google Analytics.
  • Click on Audience > Overview.
  • In the top-right corner, click “Share”. Fill in the form that pops up including selecting the frequency you want and you’re all set.
It’s easy to set up to receive your Google Dashboard every month

Social media followers

Each social channel has its own measures of “success”. On Facebook, it is followers, likes on posts, comments, and shares. LinkedIn tracks connections, followers as well as likes on posts and shares.

That’s great to know if you’re making decisions on what posts to create next, but it’s too much information for a regular dashboard update.

I recommend your dashboard only tracks your number of followers (connections in LinkedIn.)

Create a system

Now that you have your first website performance dashboard created it’s time to add a system (or SOP Standard Operating Procedure) to make updating it a no brainer.

The worst thing to do is go to all the work to build the dashboard and then stop updating it.

If you are going to update the website performance dashboard yourself, one trick is to block time to make it happen. Create a calendar appointment for 15 minutes that repeats.

Now that you have your website performance dashboard you will want to keep it updated

You can also create a reminder that repeats.

If you have an assistant or use remote freelancers, this is a perfect task to outsource.

Your business will grow because of your hard work, but also because of good information. Just like knowing your financial information you should also be tracking your online performance.

With a little effort, you can easily create your first website performance dashboard and start using it to make better, more informed, decisions.

Liked this article? Here are 3 more all about growing your business with a blog:

SEO 101: using keywords in your blog post
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
57 remarkable statistics and insights about blogging

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

You’ve written your best blog post ever.

Seriously, this is great stuff that’s going viral with hoards of hungry readers.

Woah there Silver! First, you need to get their attention.

Before anyone will read your brilliant piece they need to first stop and pay attention.

That’s where images come in..

Pictures, videos, screenshots, diagrams, and illustrations are a great way to keep your reader from clicking away. Adding images to your blog helps readers understand your information and ideas, and remember your post.

The trick is to create and add those blog images quickly and effectively.

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the steps, tools, and tricks to add images to your blog without having to spend hours doing it.

WHY IMAGES WORK

“Our brain is mainly an image processor, not a word processor.” – Psychology Today

We are (literally) wired for images. Neuroanatomist R.S. Fixot estimated that two-thirds of our brain’s activity is dedicated to the visual activity. And it makes sense…

Historically we used our sight to warn us against nasty attacks from predators or to spot food that we could either hunt and kill or pick and harvest.

It’s no different online…

Your readers are unconsciously scanning for content relevant or entertaining, or both. In fact, articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images.

Articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than articles without images Click To Tweet.

That’s where images help. Anything from a simple picture to a custom created gif will make the reading experience more interesting and keep your reader scrolling down.

Our brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text

In fact, 65% of senior marketing executives say that photos, video, illustrations, and infographics are core to how their brand story is communicated.

So, if images are so, great, how should you add images to your blog to get more traffic and better results?

Let’s start with image sizes.

PIXELS, FORMAT, SIZE AND ALL THAT STUFF

Trying to understand the different image size options can get pretty complicated. The two basic things to know are orientation and size/compression.

Orientation

For most blogs, a horizontal orientation (longer width than height) works better. Horizontal/landscape images take up less real estate on the screen, allowing your content to catch the eye of your readers. Horizontal images are also perfect for sharing your blog on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

But vertical or square images perform better on Instagram and are more likely to be pinned on Pinterest. Again the reason is simple – Instagram and Pinterest are all about images. A vertical/portrait image takes up more screen real estate, which makes them more eye-catching.

What orientation you choose comes down to your users and what social platforms they use.

Sprout Social maintains an up-to-date list of the best image sizes for the various social media channels in this post.

It’s handy to know the basics of image sizes for each platform you use.

Size/Compression

The image size can mean two things – the physical size of the image (length x width) and the file size (bytes).

Most images straight from your camera or from a stock photo website are higher in resolution (file size) and physical size than they need to be for the web. The problem with large image files is they slow your site down.

A digital photo is made up of pixels (px) – tiny square tiles of colour. We generally talk about pixels in two ways – pixel count and pixel density. The pixel count is the number of pixels that make up your photo. So an 800px by 600px photo simply means your photo is 800 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall.

The image on the left is 3456 × 5184px and 2.7Meg. The image on the right was reduced to 800 x 1200 and 193kb.

Pixel density, or dpi, is the number of pixels per square inch. The more pixels per square inch, the higher the resolution of the image, and the clearer it is.

For print photos, 300dpi or higher is ideal. But, for the web, a good range is 72-150dpi.

Best sizes for your website

The goal for your website is a good resolution (not fuzzy) and speed (not big).

Your images should only be as large as your blog content width. All modern sites are built with responsive design (automatically resize the page for smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop screens), set your image for the maximum width.

Find a balance between file size and quality

The smaller the file size of your image, the faster it will load for your reader. But, reducing size too much can create a fuzzy image. Your goal is to find the balance between the lowest file size and acceptable quality.

Try to keep your image size between 150KB and 300kb. Take a look at the example below. The original image was 7.6MB and 5000px wide. The image on the left was resized to 860px wide and saved as a high-quality jpeg, which produced a 250KB file.

You can barely tell the difference between this image and the original when viewed online. It’s perfect for the web.

The image on the right was resized to be 860px wide but saved as a low-quality, 30KB jpeg. Sure, it will load quickly but it’s fuzzy and will look amateurish.

The optimal image size is 150-300kb. Any smaller and your image will be too fuzzy.

Of course, when adding images to your blog it isn’t always possible to keep your images to under 300KB. On retina displays, a complex photograph may likely look fuzzy at 300KB.

The key take-home idea is to keep file sizes as small as you can, especially if you are using a lot of images in your post! Page loading times affect your google rankings and readers are likely to be turned off a page that takes ages to load.

There’s a number of free services for reducing image size, like Pic Resize, and Tiny PNG. Or you can use free design sites like Canva or PicMonkey to get the right size and resolution for any social media site or for your website (more on using those tools below).

Tools like Pic Resize make it easy to shrink the resolution on your image without sacrificing quality

Do I use JPG, GIF, PNG, SVG?

If you’ve ever been confused with all the image types (jpeg, gif…) this will help.

When adding images to your blog what’s the best format?

  • JPG/JPEG – offers great quality images at small file size. It’s the best option for photos unless they need to be transparent, animated or have a lot of text in them
  • GIF – perfect for small graphics and animations, and they can have transparent backgrounds.
  • PNG – ideal for detailed graphics, images with a lot of text or transparent images. PNG files tend to be larger than JPG files.
  • SVG – this is a scalable vector format, which means it stays crisp and clear at any resolution. They tend to be large in terms of file size, but if you have a complicated graphic that needs to automatically resize, and/or has rollover effects or animations, SVG is a perfect choice.

In most cases, use jpeg for all images unless you want a transparent background.

NOTE: Not all websites are set up to automatically handle SVG files. WordPress has plugins that will help. For non-WordPress sites, give it a go and if your SVG file doesn’t display check with your web developer.

Test your images

Not sure how your image will show online? Most content management systems (like WordPress), allow you to preview your draft blog post before you make it live.

FEATURED IMAGES

Every blog post needs a Featured Image.

Your Featured Image is the first thing your reader sees and is the image pulled by your social media channels. In this article, we explain what to do if your image is not being pulled correctly by your social channels.

Your featured image could be a photograph or, with a little extra work, overlay your headline on the image. Either way, it needs to create some curiosity and make the reader want to read on.

In WordPress, you’ll find the link to choose your Featured Image on the right side of your WordPress menu.

MAKING YOUR OWN IMAGE

Stock images are great, but original is better – even if you are just adding a twist to a stock image.

You don’t have to be a graphic artist or own expensive software to create your own images. Free tools like Canva and Picmonkey have a wide range of templates, images, and ready-to-use graphics and fonts. With a little practice, you can add your unique spin on your images or create quote images, memes, diagrams, and infographics.

Here’s an image I made in Canva in only 5 minutes.

With a little extra effort, you can overlay your headline on your image.

Once you get comfortable with these tools, you can get creative with your results. Simple techniques like resizing images, adding screens, cropping – even choosing more interesting fonts will make your image stand out.

Learn more simple techniques for making your images pop in this post.

[You don’t have to be a graphic designer to dress up your images so they stand out.]

AVOID THE LAW

You’ve searched the web, found the perfect image, and added it to your blog.

Fast forward two months and you receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter demanding money for damages.

WHAAAAAAAT?

Images have ownership, just like artwork. And you can’t use some images without the owner’s permission. In this post, we explain how creative commons works with images.

The good news is there are more sites than ever to supply you with brilliant images you can either buy user rights to or use by crediting the artist.

Credit the artist

If you are using an image under a Creative Commons license, it’s good practice to credit the photographer and source. Most stock photo websites will supply you with the link when you download the image.

With sites like Unsplash, they make it easy to copy the artist’s credit so you can paste that in the bottom of your post

At BlogWorks we use a number of sites for our images. We do have an account with Adobe Stock that we rely on for our clients’ blogs, plus we often use Pixabay, Unsplash, Refe, and Magdeleine.

Adobe provides a high-quality source for images, along with other creative software packages. If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images, you can check out their products here.

If you still can’t find what you want, go to Librestock where images from over 40 sites are aggregated for you to search. We listed 7 sites to find great pictures in this post.

You can even use Google to add images to your blog – just be sure to choose ‘Labeled for reuse’ under Tools.

If using Google to find images, always search for ‘Labeled for reuse’

Quick tip about searching for that “perfect” image: finding a picture slightly better than the one you found in the first 5 minutes won’t make your post go viral. Limit yourself to 5 minutes to find a good-enough image – you can always change it later if you find a better one.

USE IMAGES OF REAL PEOPLE

Pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of content on the internet.

Faces are unique and humans have a hardwired visual preference for staring at faces. Images of faces and people will hold a reader’s attention.

But your image needs to relate to the content or help explain a concept or point – studies have found that pictures of people are glossed over by readers when they are generic, decorative images.

When it comes to social media, faces engage us. Photos with faces attract more comments and likes.

If I’m adding images to our blog, I try to avoid cheesy stock images, like the image on the left and look for something more original like the image on the right.

Stock photography can be cookie-cutter, unoriginal, and sort of boring (left) or more interesting and original (right)

ADDING SCREENSHOTS AND DIAGRAMS

Let’s say you are trying to explain how to use an online search engine or where to go on your site to find your latest book, or even how to make sure your opt-in email didn’t go into that person’s “promotion” folder in Gmail.

Kind of hard to explain in words – right?

That’s where screenshots are super helpful. Within a couple of minutes you’ve captured the image, added a couple of arrows and now your picture is worth a thousand words – plus you get more people going to the right place!

A tool like Snagit is an invaluable investment. For only $50 you have a ready-to-go workhorse for screenshots, videos, and even gifs (all the screenshots used in this post were created with Snagit).

Here’s a video I created in Snagit of using Snagit to edit a screenshot (now that’s meta!).

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

Custom graphics and diagrams are another great way to explain complex concepts or just add some fun to your post. OmniGraffle and Lucidchart offer flowcharting tools that you can use to make fun diagrams. Piktochart has a free version for creating infographics and data-driven graphics.

Need a chart to help illustrate some information? You can take them right from Excel, Google Sheets, or Word. Just copy your chart and paste it into your text editor, or take a screenshot.

And don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil or pen! Sketch your idea and take a photo. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t an artist – your readers will enjoy seeing that you are just like them!

ADDING VIDEO AND GIF’S

Sometimes text alone isn’t quite enough. That’s where video and animations can come in.

Giphy and Tenor are good resources for animated GIFs. Sitepoint has a great resource list of places to find creative commons images, videos, and other media.

I’ve been asked many times how I add videos to my blog. I’m certainly no expert, but when it comes to anything that smells technical I remind myself ‘done is better than perfect’ and I keep it simple. Start to finish, a simple video should take me no longer than 15 minutes.

Here’s an illustration of the steps I go through.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

You do need to host your video somewhere. We have used Vimeo for many years and love the price and how fast and simple it is to use. You can also use YouTube or Wistia.

The steps to adding video to your blog are pretty simple once you’ve practiced them a few times, but they do vary depending on your website and where you are hosting your video.

Here’s how to insert a video from YouTube into WordPress:

  1. This process had gotten super simple. Start by locating the video you want on YouTube.
  2. Next, copy the URL for that video (it will look something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKrPz6JHwYw)
  3. Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit, locate your cursor where you want the video, paste the URL.

This free tool will allow you to customize the look of your YouTube video and do things like turn off the annoying “related” videos.

Here’s how to insert a video from Vimeo into WordPress:

  1. To get your video’s embed code, go to its page on Vimeo and click the ‘Share’ button.
  2. Click the ‘+Show options’ link and copy the embed code.
  3. Log into your WordPress website, open the blog post to edit, and click on the ‘Text’ tab in your text editor.
  4. Locate your cursor where you want the video and paste the embed code.
How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro
With tools like Vimeo, it’s easy to insert videos into your blog like a pro.

Note: You should include text in your post with your video if you want your post to get picked up by search engines like Google. You can see how it’s done on the Gone with the Wynn’s travel vlog. With every blog post they have lots of text, images, and videos to keep you, the reader interested, and for SEO purposes.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

USING A CONSISTENT THEME

When you are choosing images or fonts it’s a good idea to be consistent with the theme of your site and your blog.

It could be as simple as using a consistent font (I’m a fan of Helvetica Neue, Marker Felt, Yellowtail, and Bebas Neue), a color scheme or icon style.

The customer service app, Help Scout does a great job of using consistent design elements in their blog that are light, modern, and quirky.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FILENAME

Image SEO starts with the file name. When you use images in blog posts, you want Google to know what your image is about without even looking at it!

Before you upload your new image, take a look at the name of the image. Your image should be named something that relates to the image and/or the content of your article. It should also include your keywords whenever possible. Choosing a keyword-rich name for your image will make it easier for search engines to rank your page.

For instance, if you are writing an article on how to choose the best chew toy for puppies, name your image “best-chew-toy-for-puppies.jpg”. If your image shows a sunset on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, name it ‘thailand-koh-samui-beach-sunset.jpg’.

Use dashes between words, rather than spaces, underscores, or running all your words together.

This recommendation comes straight from Google. We’re not sure of the exact reason for this as Google guards how it’s search engine algorithm works closer than a magician guards their tricks. But the Google Webmaster says dashes between words help google find your images!

ALT TEXT

When you upload your image, video, or other media, you have the option to include ALT text. You should do this whenever you can.

The ALT text tells search engines about your image, which helps your rankings. Plus, screen readers read out the ALT text so you are helping your content be more accessible.

How to Easily Add Images to Your Blog Like a Pro
The Alt text on your images explains what your image is about

Your ALT text should help explain your image or the point you are trying to illustrate. Like choosing a file name, your ALT text should be related to the content of your article or your keywords.

CAPTIONS AND HEADLINES

Image captions usually appear below your image. Many readers scan articles and your image captions can grab their attention and get them to get curious about your content.

At BlogWorks we try to write captions that add to the written content. The idea is if the reader only reads the captions they will get a good idea of what the article is about.

BarkPost, the inventors of the monthly dog treat subscription Bark Box, tantalize dog lovers (like me) with goofy, fun images of pooches matched with Hollywood tabloid-style headlines, like these:

  • 5 Signs Your Dog’s Eye Boogers Are Caused By Something Dangerous
  • 18 Dogs Who Don’t Approve Of This Water Torture You Call “Bath Time”
  • I Signed My Dog Up For A Dental Care Box, And Here’s What Happened

YOUR FINAL CHECKLIST

Any image you add to your blog should make your readers’ experience better. And entice them to read the article – which means they stay on your site longer.

As a final check, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Will this image keep the reader on the page longer?
  • Does this image help the reader to understand my message better?

The extra effort you put into finding and adding images to your blog can pay big rewards. Instead of getting passed over, your post could be shared with thousands of readers and take on a life of its own.

After all, our goal is to get our blog read, shared, and loved. Right?

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about images, video and making your blog go viral:

The ultimate guide to adding YouTube videos to your blog.
Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources
4 Ways to Make Your Blog Images Pop

Footnotes:

  1. In a paper published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology neuroanatomist R.S. Fixot estimated that 50% of our neural tissue is directly or indirectly related to vision and two-thirds of our brain’s electrical activity is used for visual processing.
  2. In one study by eMarketer photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide and generated 87% interaction rate from fans (compared to less than 10% from any other post type.)
  3. A study at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs looked at 1.1 million posts on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38% more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

How to Guarantee Your Blog Posts Look Amazing on Social Media

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts

You just spent five hours writing an epic blog post.

Congratulations!

Now, it’s time to share your masterpiece with the world.

Moving like a social media ninja you quickly write an update for Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and – just for good measure – Pinterest.

This is going to be huge – maybe it will even go viral.

And then it happens. Ugh!

You check your recent social posts and find that the wrong image was pulled.
Or worse… no photo at all.

When you put lots of work into your social media post you want the image to pull correctly

We all know that social media updates with images are seen more, get more likes and shares and are more likely to pull traffic to your site. Photos on Facebook posts receive 53% more likes than the average post.

In short, photos work to get our attention and drive behaviour.

Always Be Converting

Before we dig into the details about images and getting the best results for each blog post…let’s talk about the ABC’s.

No, not the spelling ABC’s – I’m talking about Always Be Converting (apologies to Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake in the film Glengarry Glen Ross)

The purpose of your blog post is to attract your ideal client, to influence them and to invite them to take some kind of action. Ultimately, to convert them to a sale.

Sure, you love to get more readers and more people Liking and sharing your updates on social, but that doesn’t pay the bills. You need to Always Be Converting.

At BlogWorks we help experts turn their solutions into SEO-rich blog posts that work 24/7 to bring business to their door. Learn how we can update old blog posts and get a 200% increase in traffic.

Writing original content for your blog is hard enough without the hassle of images that don’t show the way you wanted (learn how to get free images that don’t look like stock images.)

That’s why we wrote this guide – to teach you how to control the social share images of your blog post so they look great every time (and you get maximum engagement).

The good news is once you make these changes, your images will get pulled automatically and you will have one less thing to worry about.

Let’s get started.

(Don’t worry if this all sounds complicated – I’ll show you a super easy, non-technical way to do this below.)

Use social networks troubleshooting tools to check your work

Fortunately, you can check your work with free debugging tools for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This is a super-fast way to see if your social updates are going to display the way you want to and, if not, what to do about it.

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts
Use free tools to debug how your images are being pulled from your blog post

Changing Your Social Share Image With Open Graph

When posts are shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin a process called Open Graph is used to extract information from your blog post to create a special social share link. This link includes the title of your article, an image, the URL, and a description.

It’s sort of like how Google pulls your metadata to show your blog posts in search results.

How does the protocol know how to find this info?

The information is sent to the Open Graph via meta tags that are found in the <head> of your website’s code. If not redirected, The Open Graph Protocol will use the information found in the meta tags on your site’s web page, just like Google does.

So, to ensure that the right titles, photos, URL and description, are used for your blog post, you’re going to want to optimize your posts for social media.

Here are Three Methods to Change the Share Image of Your Content:

#1 Add the Open Graph Tags

When the Open Graph Protocol tags are located in the right place, social networks can pull the information needed for your social posts.

If your website doesn’t have plugins (such as Yoast SEO) to automate this process, you’re going to have to add OG tags to your site manually.

The metadata needs to be added to the head section of your blog post. Here’s how:

Step 1: Add this code to the head section of your web page:

<meta property=“og:image” content=“http://example.com/picture.jpg” />

<meta property=”og:image:width” content=”180″ />

<meta property=”og:image:height” content=”110″ />

Be sure to replace “http://example.com/picture.jpg” with your images URL, and change the width and height to the correct numbers as shown below.

Step 2: Add your Image’s URL.

It’s important to follow Facebook’s guidelines when adding photos.

As for sizing, photos should be at least 470 x 246 pixels. However, for the best resolution, photos should be 1200 x 627 pixels.

For all Facebook image sizes, check out this post.

Step 3: Add the generated code snippet into the HTML head section of your page.

Adding the meta tags manually may take some getting used to but, once you’ve set a few blog posts, you’ll be able to easily add meta tags to all your future posts.

#2 Use Twitter Cards

If you’re not using WordPress for your website, then Twitter cards might be a great option for your social shares.

Although you can set up Twitter Cards with Yoast for WordPress (option #3 below), you can also set up your cards with meta tags.

This meta tag will describe your content, including images, videos or summaries:

<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”YOUR SUMMARY HERE”>

This meta tag is the page you are sharing with Twitter:

<meta name=”twitter:url” content=”YOUR URL HERE”>

You will also need to select a compelling title that is share-worthy for your Twitter card using this tag:

<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”YOUR TITLE HERE”>

You then want to create a description that is under 200 characters:

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE”>

Lastly, and most importantly, you will add your image:

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”YOUR IMAGE URL HERE”>

After you follow the guidelines and apply the tags to your website, you have to apply to Twitter’s card program. Once approved by Twitter Card’s program, Twitter cards will be added to all of your Twitter posts.

Check out Twitter’s card developer overview for more info.

#3 Install Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress

As promised, this is the non-technical way to change your social sharing images!

Yoast SEO takes care of the guesswork and allows you to have complete control over the images seen on your social shares. If a social image has not been selected, Yoast will give Facebook an image to use based on the photo’s metadata.

And Yoast makes it incredibly easy for you to choose your own photos when you select “social’ in the Yoast menu bar (premium version).

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts
The premium version of Yoast allows you to change the details of how your blog post appears on Facebook and Twitter

You’ll want to follow Yoast’s steps to make sure that the right photo is used for your social posts. Even if you don’t take the time to select a photo, Yoast does a pretty good job of selecting a photo for you.

Yoast also lets you add a title and description and helps you to make it SEO-friendly, so it works well on social media sites and search engines.

If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images and audio, we recommend Adobe products. You can find all of their creative software packages here.

It’s time to promote your posts

Now that you understand how to optimize your photos for social media and how the Open Graph Protocol works, you’ll be able to churn out excellent content that your social media readers look forward to viewing.

You’ll see your engagement increase and get more traffic back to your site! Your social share image never looked so good.

You might want to also include more images in your blog posts. Every image is a reason for your reader to stay on your page and get closer to taking an action. In this post we detail 7 strategies for crafting your blog to get more conversions (including adding more images).

Once you’ve created killer content and made sure it looks great on social media, you have to spend more time promoting it to get the best results. Many of our BlogWorks writing clients also use our social media packages to promote their blog posts automatically.

If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to share it so we can help make social media a prettier place!

Want to learn how to write like a pro? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.

Enjoyed this post? Here are 3 more all about putting your blog to work:

SEO 101: using keywords in your blog post
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
57 remarkable statistics and insights about blogging

This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2020.

Blogging vs. Social Media – what gets you the best ROI?

“The key to success in blogging (and in many areas of life) is small but regular and consistent actions over a long period of time.” – Darren Rowse, Founder of Problogger

Wondering how to get the best ROI from your content?

Most businesses find it at least a bit challenging to build and maintain consistent readerships on their blogs…and many get frustrated.

But we’re here to help you keep going, even when times are tough.

Read on for a few of our favourite strategies for getting your blog working for you.

Blog Content or Social Media: What should you focus on?

Consider this scenario: Your update on Facebook got 15 likes, you just added 7 followers on Instagram, and a few people just added some great comments on your most recent LinkedIn article.

That sounds like a pretty good day, right?

While most people would agree, we need to consider the bigger picture: Is all of this social media traffic really bringing you the revenue and staying power you deserve?

It can be hard to compete with the “sex appeal” of social media, but a good quality, well-maintained blog will help your business stand out from the crowd.

Can you take your social metrics to the bank?

“Don’t try to plan everything out to the very last detail. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there: create a minimal viable product or website, launch it, and get feedback.” – Neil Patel

It might appear that pouring more attention into social branding and reach is the wise choice for marketing professional services or your line of products.

But…is it?

Here are a few points that might change your mind:

  • Social media is shared on “rented land,” but you own your blog content in perpetuity, so it can (theoretically) make money forever.
  • These channels have plenty of competition, but with your blog, you can build a consistent relationship with your audience.
  • Social media might bring you likes and shares, but your blog is more likely to lead people to make a purchase.

Get the best ROI from your blogs and social media

Your social media channels and your blog should absolutely be connected, but you can use your blog to build relationships and sell products via a targeted strategy, leading to a higher ROI rooted in your blog, but composed of the two content types.

Get the Best ROI by Building Blogs for Lead Generation

Blogs aren’t directly for selling, but they are great for educating and informing your readers about what you know best.

Readers who find blog posts online are often looking for information about specific products or services.

So if they are already interested, you lead them to learn more about your product by making a soft offer — for instance, a free e-book — which will help them keep your brand on their mind.

If they have read the entire blog, you can keep on them on your site by linking other blogs at the end of the article. Another option is to take the opportunity to also send them to your revenue pages, whether that be a particular product, or your consult/contact page.

Here at Blogworks, we like to think of your website like a conference.

When people stop to read your blog they are staying for 4-10 minutes – that’s a big opportunity.

Imagine your homepage is the main conference room and your blog posts are breakout rooms where different speakers are talking about different topics. While people may stay in the main room for only 1 or 2 minutes to grab a bite to eat; they could spend 7 to 10 minutes in the breakout rooms listening to the speaker.

It is the same with your website. We have found that people tend to stay on blogposts significantly longer than any other page on your site. So why not capitalize on that?

Instead of letting them go from the breakout room, back to the main room, send them to your revenue pages. In doing so, you can turn those readers into leads, and possibly even clients.

Share Blogs on Your Mailing List

If you use social media, think about which type of content sticks with you more: that random post that you scrolled by when absent-mindedly scrolling through Facebook?

Or the well-crafted, thoughtful and handy article you were introduced to after signing up for a favoured company’s newsletter?

The truth is that marketing is always a puzzle – one way can work better one day, and the other the next.

With its capacity to generate an ROI of 3,800% (according to HubSpot), email marketing remains one of the most versatile and inexpensive of all marketing options.

Try using A/B testing to see what subject lines or email content work best. By doing this in conjunction with the statistics generated by whatever CRM you are using, you will be able to better understand what works with your list, and what does not.

Build a Useful Library of Content

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” – Brian Clark

When investigating strategies for the best ROI, you will hopefully be thinking long-term. Building a blog is essentially like creating a little business “library” where people can go to learn about your business anytime.

So long as you own this content, you can use it over and over again in different ways in perpetuity.

Here are some ways to repurpose your blogs:

  • Re-share older blog posts on social media with a fresh image and title
  • Update old blog posts to include some current relevant information
  • Mix and match media – combine blogs with podcasts and videos

Get Support

No matter which way you spin it, keeping a high-quality, consistent blog takes time.
So why not leave it to the experts?

Book a consultation with us to get started with a fresh content strategy asap!

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles all about putting your blog to work:

10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

9 big blogging mistakes you need to avoid in 2020

Key Blogging Mistakes to avoid

If you have a blog congratulations!

Whether you’re a lawyer, financial planner, doctor, motivational speaker, you’re on the right track.

Even in 2020, this is the easiest and most effective way to attract clients, build rapport, build a contact list, book appointments, and sell products.

But there are definitely blogging mistakes you want to avoid.

Some are obvious, like bad grammar, spelling mistakes or using tacky stock photography.

Here we’ll outline 9 blogging mistakes you might not know you are making that can hurt your results.

Ready?

Let’s dive in…

Mistake #1: Not Solving a Problem

Imagine you’re meeting with a financial planner to decide if you want to hire them. And all they do is talk about themselves.

Interesting? Maybe.

Helpful? Nope.

What you want is solutions—what do they know that will help you?

Your blog is no different. Every article has the potential to solve a problem for a reader. And the more specific the problem, the better.

Here are some examples of some bloggers that consistently offer valuable, useful content:

Seth Godins Blog
There is a reason why Seth Godin has earned millions of readers – consistently great content. 

One of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make is not making this problem obvious. So start at the top to grab attention.

It’s no different than a speaker on stage asking their audience “Has this ever happened to you?”

Right away, we are leaning in…waiting for the solution.

Mistake #2: Not Measuring Results

You wouldn’t drive a car without a speedometer or open a bank account if you couldn’t see your balances, so why would you invest in a website if you couldn’t see the results?

Examples of metrics you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Social shares
  • Bounce rates
  • CTA clicks
  • Traffic sources

Here’s more on how to measure your blog’s success.

A great place to start is by making sure you have Google Analytics installed correctly on your website. Here is how to check. Next, set it up so you get a simple PDF of your results emailed to you once a month. Now, you will be getting feedback on your site and can track the results of your blog posts and site traffic.

Google Analytics
A good place to start is to set up your Google Analytics to send an automatic report

Mistake #3: No Call-To-Action

Every article you publish should help your readers take the next step.

It could be as simple as a related article on your site they can enjoy, or a link to your book or to learn about your services.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to do anything fancy here! Just make sure that you are offering some valuable content, product, or service that is relevant to the reader.

Here are some examples of Call-To-Action for your blog:
– read a related post (like this post all about adding a Call-To-Action to your blog)
– download a more in-depth ebook, report, or video on this topic
– complete a quick survey on this topic
– learn more about your book, courses, facility, staff, services…
– submit a comment
– share this post on social media

Mistake #4: Doing it All Yourself

You’re a busy professional. Your time is valuable.

One of the biggest blogging mistakes is trying to do it all when you could be delegating tasks to other professionals.

If you’re looking at your content and thinking “It’s no big deal, I’ll just do it myself” maybe it’s time to do a little self-reflection.

Next time you are about to log into WordPress to publish your blog, ask yourself: What does this time and inconvenience cost me?

Those 15-20 minutes are an interruption in your day and a big distraction from growing your business, enjoying a break or even reading a chapter in that book you bought last month.

Here are some blogging tasks that are easy to outsource:

  • Research – wouldn’t it be great if someone was pulling together the perfect quotes, statistics, stories, and facts for your next post?
  • Editing – once the writing is done, editing is a tedious task someone else can do.
  • Publishing – there are at least 15 steps to publishing a blog (if you do it correctly and set up: tags, categories, meta descriptions, etc.). And they are repetitive – perfect for outsourcing.
  • Video creation – you are the rock star, not the whole crew. There are lots of freelancers who love messing around with transitions, intro’s and sound.
  • Slide decks for presentations – if the presentation is important enough, it’s worth have a pro check over your slides and adding final touches.

Upwork is a great place to find talent. If you’re using it, use filters to help you narrow down parameters like country, skill level, and rates. In this post, we walk you through how to set up a job and find freelancers.

At BlogWorks we pride ourselves on being able to deliver white-label, SEO rich blogposts to our clients. If this is something you are interested in, contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you!

Mistake #5: Being Inconsistent

One of the biggest blogging mistakes that people tend to make is trying to publish randomly, when inspiration strikes, or even every day.

But, just like most things, quality is more important than quantity.
So if you want to stick with a schedule of weekly or bimonthly, that’s fine! But stick to it.

Consistency builds loyalty, and readers will look forward to your next post.

At BlogWorks, we publish weekly. And we can see a nice spike in our traffic every time we publish.

Start by blocking out a little time for writing out some drafts or ideas, and then outsourcing (see #3, above) where you can.

TIP: Check out Cal Newport’s argument for time-blocking in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Cal Newport Book

Mistake #6: Skipping Your Mailing List

If you are a service professional (doctor, lawyer, professional speaker, medical professional, coach, etc.), then your blog is the ideal way to attract more clients. You get to showcase your best solutions and your clients get to “test drive” your services.

Your blog is also a great way to build your mailing list.

Having a mail list is a simple way to stay in touch with your audience, keep them informed of what you’re up to, and advertise your latest products and services. It also adds value to your business.

Unlike, advertising that you have to constantly feed, your mailing list can reach your followers for free. And unlike advertising that is pushing your products and services on people, your blog is welcomed by readers and attracts them to your solutions.

Not having a mailing list is one of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make. So, even if you only have 200 people on a list now, it’s not too late to start growing that list. Before you start, though, check out these 5 questions to ask before you build your mailing list.

Mistake #7: Not using an Template

You wouldn’t start a business or go on a vacation without a plan. Similarly, you shouldn’t write a blog without a template. Your template, or blueprint, or outline, is a guide for what comes first and what follows.

For example, all blog articles need to start by getting your readers’ attention. That’s pretty obvious, right? After all, your reader needs to stop scrolling long enough to pay attention to your post. But, did you know that the next part is all about a problem?

The whole idea is to create a reading experience just like a conversation. You start by getting your listener’s attention, then you present a problem you think they would be interested in solving and then tell them what you know about that.

Often, just by reorganizing your content you can turn a ho-hum blog post into a viral machine that attracts thousands of readers.

Here’s a quick overview of the exact template we use at BlogWorks.

Opening – always start by getting your reader’s attention and get them to stop scrolling on their phone or tablet or lean in if this is a presentation. Start with a story, a bold claim or a statistic/fact.

Problem – next, you need to make it obvious what the problem you are solving. It could be to save time, rescue a marriage, or delegate better – whatever it is, make it clear that you understand their problem.

Personal – why are you writing/speaking about this? What is your personal experience or client’s story, or research you’ve completed?

Promise – what will you share? What will they get from reading further or listening to you?

Solutions – what do they need to do or change? Can you give examples of how this has worked for others? Is there anything they need to avoid?

Next Steps – remind them of the problem and why this is important.

The Offer – how they can go further with you (products, services, courses, etc)

Close – motivational message, call-to-action, or challenge

Download your copy of the complete template here.

Mistake #8: Forgetting Social Media

At BlogWorks we love to bring you more love.

We don’t use mindless automation, instead, we have a team of wonderful, local writers who get to know your writing style and craft each update for your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

It’s important to have a clear picture of what’s working, but wading through a sea of metrics can be time-consuming and even confusing.

Here are some tips to help you simplify

  • Get clear on how to use social media analytics
  • Choose only one or two key channels which are most relevant to your audience
  • Hire a dedicated social media professional to manage and monitor posts
  • Develop a content plan which encompasses social posting and all marketing activities

Learn more about why social media scheduling tools might be a bad idea.

Mistake #9: Getting Discouraged and Giving Up

Finally, we are at the biggest of all the blogging mistakes: giving up!

Here’s the thing:

Your blog will never be as sexy as paid advertising or as daring as hosting a webinar or renting a hotel room and inviting people to a free seminar.

Instead, it will be something that adds value to your company slowly over time.
Every day, readers are giving you their attention. They come back over and over for advice and guidance.

And all it costs you is some planning and a bit of your time.

You will want to quit. After all, it’s not like you see the readers marching into your office waiting room or lining up at your home office. But they’re there.

When you get discouraged and want to give up, remember this…

You’re building an audience and if you serve them well that audience will become fans and those fans will become clients. Your blog is an investment in your business that will keep paying rewards for years to come.

Now all you have to do is keep investing in your blog!

Did you like this blog? Here are three more you’ll want to check out:

The Ultimate List: 7 Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Need A Blog Today
5 Ways To Get More Social Media Followers
3 Reasons To Measure Your Blog’s Success (And How) 

4 Social Media Activities You Should Be Doing in 2020

4 Social Media Tips for Getting Your Blog Working in 2020

As of January 2020, Statistica reports that Facebook remains the most popular social media site in the world, and was the first social channel to reach 1 billion accounts.

And while some other applications like WhatsApp and TikTok have sprung into popularity in the past few years, it’s no surprise that three key platforms continue to dominate.

Here are the number of monthly active users for key social sites as of January 2020 (via Statistica):

  • Facebook: 2.45 billion
  • Instagram: 1 billion
  • YouTube: 2 billion

This is good news for your business!

Read on for a few ideas of how to use these sites to build and grow your business in 2020!

1. Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are still one of the most effective ways of marketing your business as of 2020
They allow you to target your audience based on what they’re searching for.

So for instance, if someone recently looked up “best skincare products” and you’ve targeted your ad accordingly, they should see your ad on their Facebook feed.

According to Hootsuite, about 87% of marketers in the US will use the platform to market their products and services in 2020.

In light of the fact that personalized marketing is becoming increasingly necessary, they have also recently introduced a way to make your Facebook Ads more personalized.

For more social media marketing ideas, here are 21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year.

2. Use Video as Part of Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Video is really the king of content these days, and for good reason: it’s personal, easy to use, and good for SEO.

Data from Cisco suggests that by 2021, 80% of traffic will consist of video, and Hootsuite claims that twice as many people watched product videos in 2018 than 2017.

Have you made video part of your content strategy yet? Learn How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO. 

3. Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are 24-hour snippets of live video which you can use in a variety of ways to help build brand awareness and trust.

They are simple to view and use: all you need to do is log into Instagram, and find the circles at the top of the screen.

Click on “your story,” (the top left “circle”) and get creative!

Here are some examples of good ways to use Instagram Stories:

  • Share a new blog
  • Promote a new product
  • Introduce a staff member
  • Talk about something you learned today

This is one social media marketing tool where the possibilities are truly endless, and it’s one of the best ways to get “up close and personal” with your customers!

(P.S. You can use Stories on Facebook, too!)

4. Use Twitter Strategically

If you’re still wondering what Twitter does and how to use it, here are a few things to try which can help you build a following and generate brand awareness.

Microblogging

Microblogging is exactly what it sounds like: creating short, written posts which can be combined with various forms of media.

Twitter is really the key platform for microblogging, but it’s not a bad idea to generate a bunch of short, punchy posts in advance and have them at-the-ready so that you can stay in the conversation on any social media channel.

Engaging with Influencers

Following your influencers on Twitter might be fun, but actually engaging with them is what counts.

Take this Jimmy Fallon Tweet, for instance: A quick little response using this hashtag could get you on the show!

The key here is to find influencers who are relevant to your niche or industry, then connect with them by following them and liking, commenting on, and sharing their posts.

Cross Promoting & Media Mentions

When using Twitter, be sure to use the @ sign to mention other media outlets — for instance, if you have a guest post or interview.

This type of cross-promotion can work wonders for your authority and help attract more relevant followers.

If you want help building an exceptional library of content to base your social media marketing on, we can help!

Want to make your blog stand out? Email us to set up a quick call so we can learn more.

Want to be able to write like a pro? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.

Enjoy this article? Here are 3 more articles to help you get your blog working for you:

7 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out from the Crowd by Being Different
11 Blogging Statistics That Might Surprise You
How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!

This article was originally published on March 7, 2017, and has since been updated.