Google launches Nexus 5 handset with Android Kitkat

Google has officially unveiled the latest incarnation of its flagship Nexus smartphone.

Nexus 5

Made by LG, the handset is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96in (126mm) touchscreen is bigger.

The Nexus 5 has been developed to show off the capabilities of the new version of the Android operating system.

Called Kitkat, the software has been designed to work well on both high-end smartphones and cheaper feature phones.

The alliance with Google has helped bolster LG’s fortunes even though, according to statistics from Gartner, it is still a long way behind rivals Samsung and Apple.

In the April-to-June quarter, the consultancy indicated 3.8% of all smartphones sold were LG handsets putting the South Korean firm in third place.

By contrast, Apple accounted for 18.8% of all sales and Samsung 29.7%.

Memory cut

The specifications for the new phone were widely leaked before it was announced on the official Google blog.

The gadget shares some of the hardware from LG’s G2 handset and can record and play back HD video at the full 1080p resolution. Its camera also has a rapid burst system that captures several photographs at the same time so owners can pick the best shot.

The handset is due to go on sale on 1 November in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea.

“Nexus devices serve an important function for Google,” said Ben Wood, head of research at analyst firm CCS Insight.

“The company collaborates closely with the chosen phone maker as it rolls out a new version of the Android operating system and this results in a ‘vanilla’ version of the software that acts as a reference platform for developers and tech enthusiasts.”

Google said a base 16GB version of the device would cost $349 in the US (£299 in the UK), unlocked and without a contract. The 32GB version should cost $399 (£339 in the UK).

With Android Kitkat, Google said it had made the software use less memory so it could be used on handsets with much lower specifications than top end smartphones.

In addition, Google has begun moving some services off Android’s core software and onto its app store. Many see this as a way for it to maintain more control over the security of the software and its associated applications.

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Russia Launching New Search Engine ‘Sputnik’ to Compete With Google

Core

The name Sputnik stands tall in history books as the vessel that helped spark a space race with the U.S. But a new Russian project with the same name is planning to play catch-up in an area where the U.S. already has a huge lead: search engines.

Rostelecom, the country’s state-controlled telecom service, has been charged with creating a search engine to compete with the likes of Google, as well as well local search-engine leader Yandex, which is based in the Netherlands, according to Reuters.

Even with state backing, however, Sputnik will face stiff competition. On its website, Yandex claims that it currently generates 62% of all search traffic in Russia.

But recent events have destabilized the company. Yandex lost its popular co-founder, Ilya Segalovich, in July to cancer. That led to a brief dip in Yandex’s stock, and doubt about the company’s long-term future.

So while Yandex is currently the market leader — and Google is close behind with roughly 25% of Russia’s search users — Rostelecom may be launching Sputnik at just the right time.

Rostelecom has already spent $20 million on the search engine, according to a report in Russia’s Vedomosti. The site will reportedly be accessible at http://www.Sputnik.ru, and will launch some time in the first quarter of 2014.

What Does Google’s Hummingbird Update Mean For Your SEO Efforts? Nothing

googlehummingbird

News broke at a Google press event that the largest upgrade to its search algorithm since 2001, dubbed Hummingbird, had already rolled out last month. “Algorithm?” you ask. “Isn’t that the thing the determines how websites are ranked? And you say this is the biggest change in their algorithm in 12 years?! What about all my SEO work? Is it ruined? Do I have to change everything?” Rest easy, you don’t have to change anything about your SEO efforts, at least not if you’re already doing what you should have been doing all these years.

If you’re looking to get all the details on the Hummingbird update then head straight on over to Danny Sullivan’s Hummingbird FAQ at Search Engine Land. But if you just want to know what you need to do about Hummingbird, then I’ll save you the task of reading Sullivan post and cut to the chase. It comes near the end where Sullivan asks the question “Does this mean SEO is dead?” He answers:

No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have high-quality and relevant websites linking to your own website, then your website is still going to rank well. If anything, your website’s rankings will improve just as they should have after the Penguin and Panda updates rolled out.

The key to making the right decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s goal is that when someone creates a new search, what Google shows that person is exactly what the person wants or needs. We’ve all had the experience of searching on Google and seeing websites come up that obviously aren’t what we want. We don’t even need to click on the link to figure that out, because what Google shows us is enough. When this happens to me I think “Good heavens, why in the world would Google think that’s what I wanted when I typed in those words?” Google wants to get to the point where I never think that again. To lose sight of this goal would be the death of Google. This is, in part, why Google employs a few thousand PhDs.

Many people have been frustrated by Panda and Penguin, and they’ll now see Hummingbird in a negative light. Don’t fall into that trap. If you’re the best at what you do, these updates Google has been rolling out are opportunities to separate yourself from your competition. They may have been engaging in spammy tactics to get good rankings, but if you’ve been focusing on creating content that provides real value to potential customers, their days are numbered. These changes will help you rise above, and the good news, as mentioned above, is if you’ve been doing the right things for your SEO you don’t need to change a thing.

Have you seen any impact to your website(s) as a result of the Hummingbird update? Do you see any details in the update you feel will give you an advantage?

Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 2)

As I have already discussed about Search Engine Optimization Technique in my first part:  Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 1) .

Lets discuss about Google Guidelines and many more Advance SEO techniques.

google guidlines

 

Google Guidelines

Here are some of the important tips and tricks that can be employed while dealing with Google.

do

  •  A website should have crystal clear hierarchy and links and should preferably be easy to navigate.
  • A site map is required to help the users go around your site and in case the site map has more than 100 links, then it is advisable to break it into several pages to avoid clutter.
  • Come up with essential and precise keywords and make sure that your website features relevant and informative content.
  • The Google crawler will not recognize text hidden in the images, so when describing important names, keywords or links; stick with plain text.
  • The TITLE and ALT tags should be descriptive and accurate and the website should have no broken links or incorrect HTML.
  • Dynamic pages (the URL consisting of a „?‟ character) should be kept to a minimum as not every search engine spider is able to crawl them.
  • The robots.txt file on your web server should be current and should not block the Googlebot crawler. This file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled.

Not to do

  • When making a site, do not cheat your users, i.e. those people who will surf your website. Do not provide them with irrelevant content or present them with any fraudulent schemes.
  • Avoid tricks or link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking.
  • Do not employ hidden texts or hidden links.
  • Google frowns upon websites using cloaking technique. Hence, it is advisable to avoid that.
  • Automated queries should not be sent to Google.
  • Avoid stuffing pages with irrelevant words and content. Also don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains, or domains with significantly duplicate content.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with hardly any original content.

Crawler/Spider Considerations

Crawler

Also, consider technical factors. If a site has a slow connection, it might time-out for the crawler. Very complex pages, too, may time out before the crawler can harvest the text.

If you have a hierarchy of directories at your site, put the most important information high, not deep. Some search engines will presume that the higher you placed the information, the more important it is. And crawlers may not venture deeper than three or four or five directory levels.

Above all remember the obvious – full-text search engines such index text. You may well be tempted to use fancy and expensive design techniques that either block search engine crawlers or leave your pages with very little plain text that can be indexed. Don‟t fall prey to that temptation.

Ranking Rules Of Thumb

thumb

The simple rule of thumb is that content counts, and that content near the top of a page counts for more than content at the end. In particular, the HTML title and the first couple lines of text are the most important part of your pages. If the words and phrases that match a query happen to appear in the HTML title or first couple lines of text of one of your pages, chances are very good that that page will appear high in the list of search results.

A crawler/spider search engine can base its ranking on both static factors (a computation of the value of page independent of any particular query) and query-dependent factors.

Values

values

  • Long pages, which are rich in meaningful text (not randomly generated letters and words).
  • Pages that serve as good hubs, with lots of links to pages that that have related content (topic similarity, rather than random meaningless links, such as those generated by link exchange programs or intended to generate a false impression of “popularity”).
  • The connectivity of pages, including not just how many links there are to a page but where the links come from: the number of distinct
    domains and the “quality” ranking of those particular sites. This is calculated for the site and also for individual pages. A site or a page is
    “good” if many pages at many different sites point to it, and especially if many “good” sites point to it.
  • The level of the directory in which the page is found. Higher is considered more important. If a page is buried too deep, the crawler
    simply won’t go that far and will never find it.
  • These static factors are recomputed about once a week, and new good pages slowly percolate upward in the rankings. Note that there are advantages to having a simple address and sticking to it, so others can build links to it, and so you know that it’s in the index

Query-Dependent Factors

google-confused

  • The HTML title.
  • The first lines of text.
  • Query words and phrases appearing early in a page rather than late.
  • Meta tags, which are treated as ordinary words in the text, but like words that appear early in the text (unless the meta tags are patently
    unrelated to the content on the page itself, in which case the page will be penalized)
  • Words mentioned in the “anchor” text associated with hyperlinks to your pages. (E.g., if lots of good sites link to your site with anchor text
    “breast cancer” and the query is “breast cancer,” chances are good that you will appear high in the list of matches.)

Meta Tags (Ask.Com As An Example)

Though Meta tags are indexed and considered to be regular text, Ask.com claims it doesn’t give them priority over HTML titles and other text. Though you should use meta tags in all your pages, some webmasters claim their doorway pages for Ask.com rank better when they don’t
use them. If you do use Meta tags, make your description tag no more than 150 characters and your keywords tag no more than 1,024 characters long.

Keywords In The URL And File Names

It’s generally believed that Ask.com gives some weight to keywords in filenames and URL names. If you’re creating a file, try to name it with
keywords.

Keywords In The ALT Tags

Ask.com indexes ALT tags, so if you use images on your site, make sure to add them. ALT tags should contain more than the image’s description. They should include keywords, especially if the image is at the top of the page. ALT tags are explained later.

Page Length

There’s been some debate about how long doorway pages for AltaVista should be. Some webmasters say short pages rank higher, while others argue that long pages are the way to go. According to AltaVista’s help section, it prefers long and informative pages. We’ve found that pages with
600-900 words are most likely to rank well.

In case for any queries feel free to comment.

Social Media Doesn’t Have to be Hard. 8 Tips to Get You Started

8-social-media-tips

Getting started with something new is always the hardest part. I’m going to share tips with you on the very basics of social media that writers will need to start building a social media platform to sell their books. As with any new habit, working it into your schedule and making it a priority are important. Investing the time on your social media now will benefit you in the long run for your book sales.

Why do you need an author platform?

  • Connect with readers
  • Build an audience for your books
  • Meet other writers and network
  • Start building your email list

Authors need to build a social media platform but also balance the time that they need to write therefore making wise choices is essential for success.

Remember that writing is only part of your job as an author, you need to be able to market your book. Social media marketing is a great way to do it. I like to work smarter and not harder, I want to show you tips I’ve learned that will make it easier for you.

Tip 1: Be consistent

The first thing you need to think about is how you want the world to meet you. This is called your personal brand online. One important thing to remember is that you need to be consistent. I would recommend setting up everything with your name so people can find you. Consistent spelling and/or abbreviation are helpful for people wanting to learn more about you. Many authors are tempted to use the name of their book but what happens when you write book number two or three? Using your name helps everything get bundled together on Google or in other search engines.

Tip 2: You don’t need to be on all the social media sites

The next choice that you need to make is what social media sites you should go on. Each has different benefits and styles. I don’t recommend that you join all the different social media sites because you’ll immediately be overwhelmed. I would try one, learn it and then add another once you’re comfortable. They are all used in similar and yet different ways. Which you use and how you use them will be the challenge, we’ll cover more on individual platforms later in the series. I’ve included a few resources at the bottom if you’re curious. You’ll create your own cocktail of social media to make the mix that works best based on your style, where your audience is and what you have time to do.

Tip 3: Use the same photo on all the social media sites

Having a good profile photo or avatar is crucial. This is how people will see you each time they log on and they’ll be able to recognize you when they see it pop up in the Twitter stream or show up in a Google search. I recommend having a professional photo shoot for your photo and these could also be used for your author photo on your book as well as on your website.

Tip 4: Create a full profile on each site

Don’t set up camp and leave the default avatar without text. When you decide to sign  up for a new network, allow yourself the time needed to properly add a bio and fill it out completely. Use a few keywords that summarize who you are such as novelist or business writer to put out crumbs across the web for search engines.

You’ll need to update these later as things change but starting out with a good foundation profile with a strong photo gets you started on the right foot.

Tip 5: Make a list of all the social media accounts that you open and write down all the user names and passwords

Trust me on this one, you’ll be glad that you did.

Tip 6: Be original

It seems silly to mention it but one thing to remember is that you want to present your best ideas and show your personality. While you might gain inspiration from someone else, being unique and original is one of the keys to social media. Don’t copy other people’s content whether it’s a Facebook post, photo, Google+ post, tweet or blog content, give proper credit for other people’s work. If you see something on Facebook that you like, share it from that person and mention them in your post. It helps build a relationship with the other person and it’s just the right thing to do.

Tip 7: Plan time each day for social media. Set a timer

You’ll need to spend time each day on your social media to post something new, comment on other’s posts and share things. Decide how much time you have to spend and set a timer. This will help you stay focused and not get drawn into clicking on too many things that can distract you from your work. Stay Focused is a Chrome Extension that you can restrict your web browsing activities.  You can set a maximum time allowed per day or set a weekly schedule. This can definitely help you stay on track.

Tip 8: Be generous

One mistake to avoid is sharing only your own content. Many authors are so focused on their own book that this is all they talk about…constantly. Imagine that in real life at a party. It turns into a blah blah blah type of message and everyone tunes out. Honestly, no one is that interested in your book. Sorry, but it’s true. You’d even be exhausting your mom. Mix up your social media conversation with interesting facts, quotes, entertaining stories, and other people’s content. Don’t be the person that everyone hides from their Facebook timeline and mutes on Google+.

Be interesting and by that I mean don’t talk about yourself and your book all the time. 15% to 20% of your overall message can be your content, the rest should be other people’s content.

 

Feel Free to comment for suggestions or queries

Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 1)

“This Post is a hard-hitting guide that gives you the information you need to make the adjustments to your site right away to help improve your search rankings and benefit from the increase in organic search traffic” – COREVISION TECHNOLOGY TEAM

SEO

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is simply the act of manipulating the pages of your website to be easily accessible by search engine spiders so they can be easily spidered and indexed. A spider is a robot that search engines use to check millions of web pages very quickly and sort them by relevance. A page is indexed when it is spidered and deemed appropriate content to be placed in the search engines results for people to click on.

The art and science of understanding how search engines identify pages that are relevant to a query made by a visitor and designing marketing strategies based on this is called search engine optimization. Search engines offer the most cost effective mechanism to acquire “real” and “live” business leads. It is found that in most cases, search engine optimization delivers a better ROI than other forms such as online advertisements, e-mail marketing and newsletters, affiliate and pay per click advertising, and digital campaigns and promotions.

What On Earth Is An Algorithm?

algorithm

Each search engine has something called an algorithm which is the formula that each search engine uses to evaluate web pages and determine their relevance and value when crawling them for possible inclusion in their search engine. A crawler is the robot that browses all of these pages for the search engine.

GOOGLE Algorithm Is Key

Google has a comprehensive and highly developed technology, a straightforward interface and a wide-ranging array of search tools which enable the users to easily access a variety of information online.

Google users can browse the web and find information in various languages, retrieve maps, stock quotes and read news, search for a long lost friend
using the phonebook listings available on Google for all of US cities and basically surf the 3 billion odd web pages on the internet!

Google boasts of having world‟s largest archive of Usenet messages, dating all the way back to 1981. Google‟s technology can be accessed from any conventional desktop PC as well as from various wireless platforms such as WAP and i-mode phones, handheld devices and other such Internet equipped gadgets.

Page Rank Based On Popularity

The web search technology offered by Google is often the technology of choice of the world‟s leading portals and websites. It has also benefited the advertisers with its unique advertising program that does not hamper the web surfing experience of its users but still brings revenues to the advertisers.

When you search for a particular keyword or a phrase, most of the search engines return a list of page in order of the number of times the keyword
or phrase appears on the website. Google web search technology involves the use of its indigenously designed Page Rank Technology and hypertext-matching analysis which makes several instantaneous calculations undertaken without any human intervention. Google‟s structural design also expands simultaneously as the internet expands.

Page Rank technology involves the use of an equation which comprises of millions of variables and terms and determines a factual measurement of the significance of web pages and is calculated by solving an equation of 500 million variables and more than 3 billion terms. Unlike some other search engines, Google does not calculate links, but utilizes the extensive link structure of the web as an organizational tool. When the link to a Page, let‟s say Page B is clicked from a Page A, then that click is attributed as a vote towards Page B on behalf of Page A.

Back Links Are Considered Popularity Votes

Quintessentially, Google calculates the importance of a page by the number of such „votes‟ it receives. Not only that, Google also assesses the importance of the pages that are involved in the voting process. Consequently, pages that are themselves ahead in ranking and are important in that way also help to make other pages important. One thing to note here is that Google‟s technology does not involve human intervention in anyway and
uses the inherent intelligence of the internet and its resources to determine the ranking and importance of any page.

Hypertext-Matching Analysis

Unlike its conventional counterparts, Google is a search engine which is hypertext-based. This means that it analyzes all the content on each web page and factors in fonts, subdivisions, and the exact positions of all terms on the page. Not only that, Google also evaluates the content of its nearest web pages. This policy of not disregarding any subject matter pays off in the end and enables Google to return results that are closest to user queries.

Google has a very simple 3-step procedure in handling a query submitted in its search box:

1. When the query is submitted and the enter key is pressed, the web server sends the query to the index servers. Index server is exactly what its name suggests. It consists of an index much like the index of a book which displays where is the particular page containing the queried term is located in the entire book.

2. After this, the query proceeds to the doc servers, and these servers actually retrieve the stored documents. Page descriptions or “snippets” are then generated to suitably describe each search result.

3. These results are then returned to the user in less than a one second! (Normally.)

“Approximately once a month, Google updates their index by recalculating the Page Ranks of each of the web pages that they have crawled. The period
during the update is known as the Google dance.”

Do You Know The GOOGLE Dance?

The Algorithm Shuffle

Because of the nature of Page Rank, the calculations need to be performed about 40 times and, because the index is so large, the calculations take several days to complete. During this period, the search results fluctuate; sometimes minute-by minute. It is because of these fluctuations that the term, Google Dance, was coined.

The dance usually takes place sometime during the last third of each month.

Google has two other servers that can be used for searching. The search results on them also change during the monthly update and they are part of
the Google dance.

For the rest of the month, fluctuations sometimes occur in the search results, but they should not be confused with the actual dance. They are due to
Google’s fresh crawl and to what is known “Everflux”.

Google has two other searchable servers apart from http://www.google.com. They are www2.google.com and www3.google.com. Most of the time, the results on all 3 servers are the same, but during the dance, they are different.

For most of the dance, the rankings that can be seen on www2 and www3 are the new rankings that will transfer to www when the dance is over. Even
though the calculations are done about 40 times, the final rankings can be seen from very early on. This is because, during the first few iterations, the
calculated figures merge to being close to their final figures.

You can see this with the Page Rank Calculator by checking the Data box and performing some calculations. After the first few iterations, the search results on www2 and www3 may still change, but only slightly.

During the dance, the results from www2 and www3 will sometimes show on the www server, but only briefly. Also, new results on www2 and www3 can disappear for short periods. At the end of the dance, the results on www will match those on www2 and www3.

GOOGLE Dance Tool

This Google Dance Tool allows you to check your rankings on all three tools www, www2 and www3 and on all 9 data centers simultaneously. The Google Web Directory works in combination of the Google Search Technology and the Netscape Open Directory Project which makes it possible to search the Internet organized by topic. Google displays the pages in order of the rank given to it using the Page Rank Technology. It not only searches the titles and descriptions of the websites, but searches the entire content of sites within are related category, which ultimately delivers a comprehensive search to the users. Google also has a fully functional web directory which categorizes all the searches in order.

Submitting your URL to Google

Google is primarily a fully-automatic search engine with no human-intervention involved in the search process. It utilizes robots known as „spiders‟ to crawl the web on a regular basis for new updates and new websites to be included in the Google Index. This robot software follows hyperlinks from site to site. Google does not require that you should submit your URL to its database for inclusion in the index, as it is done anyway automatically by the „spiders‟. However, manual submission of URL can be done by going to the Google website and clicking the related link. One important thing here is that Google does not accept payment of any sort for site submission or improving page rank of your website. Also, submitting your site through the Google website does not guarantee listing in the index.

Cloaking

Sometimes, a webmaster might program the server in such a way that it returns different content to Google than it returns to regular users, which is often done to misrepresent search engine rankings. This process is referred to as cloaking as it conceals the actual website and returns distorted web pages to search engines crawling the site. This can mislead users about what they’ll find when they click on a search result. Google highly disapproves of
any such practice and might place a ban on the website which is found guilty of cloaking.

————————————————( END OF PART 1)———————————————————-

In our next post we will be discussing about:

  • Google Guidelines
  • Crawler / Spiders
  • Ranking Rule of Thumb
  • Values
  • Query – Dependent Factors
  • Meta Tags

Do comment for any queries or suggestions

20 Ways to Be More Creative on Your Blog

blog-creativity

Between attempting to monetizing your content and trying to build your community, it’s easy to forget that at its core, blogging is an outlet for creativity. Yes, professional blogging allows you an avenue for educating, inspiring, and entertaining your readers, but it can also be a channel for you to explore your ideas about a topic in a creative way.

When’s the last time you infused a little creativity into a blog post?

The fringe benefit is that a bit of creativity creates a pattern interrupt. It isn’t just good for the soul; by doing something different, you give your readers a little jolt that can be extremely effective in sparking them back to life. That’s why humor is so popular. So much of what we read online is serious that something funny catches our attention.

Creativity isn’t just about being funny (though that can be one form). Here are some other tips to help you be more creative on your own blog:

1. Challenge yourself to imitate a blogger you admire.

Humans learn by intimidating, so one of the best ways to grow creatively is to emulate bloggers your respect. It seems like an oxymoron, that copying someone can help you be more creative, but the innovation comes from expanding your horizons and trying new things. (When imitating, remember to never cross the line into plagiarizing. Always respect others’ work.)

2. Get out of your comfort zone with content creation.

Do you usually write short posts? Write something longer. Does video scare the crap out of you? Record one instead of always posting text. The comfort zone is, well, comfortable, but doing something a little scary can help get the creative juices flowing.

3. Tell a personal story that you might not otherwise share.

Creativity comes in many forms, but one of the most underutilized is storytelling. Telling your story, especially a personal one that you wouldn’t normally share, can help you more creatively blog about a topic.

4. Write about the opposing opinion.

It can be an awesome challenge to talk about the other side of a debate. Play devil’s advocate, even if you feel strongly about a specific topic. When you’re done, you might not what to publish your blog post if you stand strongly on the other side of the argument, but writing the opposite can help you strengthen your own argument. And you never know, you might expand your way of thinking. Questioning our own ways of thinking can help us grow.

5. Change your scenery.

Want to be more creative? Go outside. Or take your computer to your local coffee shop. Or even just work in another room. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for your creativity and productivity.

6. Get visual.

Usually, I start with a post idea and at the end, I find images to fit. When I want to get creative, I do things backward. I find an image that I think is beautiful or inspiring or interesting, and I try to write a post around it. An example? This post: “Blogging and the Candy Corn Problem.” While searching for an image for another blog post, I came across this shot of candy corn on a black background, which I thought looks striking, so I decided to get creative and think of a way to incorporate the idea of candy corn into a post about blogging.

7. Look for a connection between two seemingly-unrelated things.

Think about the things that inspire or interest you in life. For me, this happens when I learn something new. I like to share what I’ve learned with others. But what if it’s not related to my niche? How can I tie these two things together? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but looking for these connections can help you get creative. Remember, you don’t have to publish every experimental post you write!

8. Open your mind about your own skills.

What are you really good at?

Okay, now what if I told you that everything you knew about that topic is wrong? Questioning your own skills and knowledge is a great way to think creatively about a topic. For example, this doctor gave a TED talk about how questioning his knowledge about diabetes helped him think about the problem in a new way. Be confident, but always ask questions, even of yourself.

9. Stop asking yourself how you’re going to monetize or drive traffic.

The pressure to make money or drive traffic to a blog can stifle your creativity, because we’re worried about failure. Give yourself permission to fail by not caring at all about the ROI of a post. Certainly, if you want to make money with your blog or are otherwise using it to support a business, ROI is import, but we occasionally need to let loose and simply be creative.

10. Take a risk.

Risk-taking is scary. Again, the fear of failure is very real and can be suffocating when you’re trying to be creative. Every once in a while, though, you have to take that leap of faith and just do something different. Put yourself out there and do something that just might be a flop. It’s okay to fail occasionally, because that’s how we learn and grow.

11. Do some mind-mapping.

I’m not a huge fan of brainstorming. There are actually studies that show this isn’t a super effective tool because there is no criticism (see the next point). However, mind-mapping is a different beast. With mind-mapping, you’re organizing your thoughts, which allows you to see holes in your place. It can help you pull some creative ideas out of those nooks and crannies of your brain.

Lifehacker has a really great post on five mind-mapping tools you can use to help you with this process.

12. Be critical of what you’re doing.

Brainstorming is supposed to give you a safe environment to dump everything you can think of onto a paper or whiteboard or whatever, no matter how bad your ideas may be. The thought is that if you aren’t inhibited by being worried that your ideas stink, you’ll come up with some great, creative ideas, even if most of what you brainstorm is crap.

Except this model for creativity doesn’t really work. What works better, according to some studies, is to freely brainstorm ideas, but to debate and critique these ideas as you go. So as you’re coming up with some creative ideas for blog posts, look at them with a critical eye. Or, better yet, work with a friend or a mastermind group to “brainstorm” some ideas, but using the debate model, where you think about each idea critically.

13. Consider Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.

The Six Thinking Hats that de Bono wrote about can help you with thinking…and with being creative about your blog posts. These hats are:

  • White: the facts
  • Yellow: optimism, benefits
  • Black: judgement (devil’s advocate, see point #4)
  • Red: feelings, intuition
  • Green: possibilities, alternatives
  • Blue: management of the thinking process

The last hat, the blue one, is more about how the other five types of thinking work together, but take a look at what the white, yellow, black, red, and green hats represent. When you write a post, “put on” one of these hats and think about how you could rewrite differently. For example, if you wrote a highly emotional post (red), could you put on the white hat and go back to add in more facts? Or if you wrote a most about why something is great (yellow), could you go back into the post and address the downsides (black)?

You can learn more about the six thinking hats here.

14. Think about alternative realities.

It’s a lot of fun to play “What if…” Think of some crazy scenarios and write about them.

15. Solve a problem with limitations.

Sometimes, the best way to think outside of the box is to put yourself inside of the box. Set some crazy limitations for yourself and see what you come up with! For example, if the readers of your fashion blog could only buy black and white items, how would you suggest they add style to their wardrobe? Or if the readers of your food blog needed to prepare a satisfying vegan meal that the meat-eaters in the room would also enjoy AND that was low-carb, what would you suggest?

16. Practice.

Like anything, creativity takes practice. The first post you write might stink. That’s okay. Don’t publish it. Try again tomorrow!

17. Keep a journal and use note-taking tools.

Sometimes, a creative idea may come to you from an unlikely source. Once, I was at a Holocaust museum in Israel when I realized it would be the perfect feature for a post about storytelling. If I didn’t have Evernote to jot down my idea on the spot, I would have forgotten it by the time I got home.

18. Work with people from different backgrounds.

Blogging is often a lonely endeavor. But as writers, we can sometimes benefit from working with our peers. Lots of bloggers belong to mastermind groups, but I actually think you need to go a step farther. Get out there and work with some people who aren’t in your current circle of friends. Look for people who come from different backgrounds, like different countries/cultures, different niches, and different experience levels. Fresh eyes on your project (and lending your critiquing skills to their projects) helps everyone get more creative.

19. Work on projects that make you excited.

It’s hard to be creative if you couldn’t give a you-know-what about the blog post you’re writing. Stop what you’re doing and move on to a project that does make you excited.

20. Ask why.

I’ve found that when I question the norm, people get uncomfortable. But it also allows me to say, “I’m not going to take this rule at face value. I’m going to get creative and come up with another solution.” If everyone is saying there’s one best way to do something, question it.

Bonus Tip: Stop reading, thinking, and planning. Start doing.

To be creative, you need to get out of your head and start DOING. Stop thinking about how you can make your blog post more creative. Just try something. Don’t plan out every little detail or outline your post. Start writing.

And for heaven’s sake, stop reading this post. Get out there and start working!

Choose the Right Path [Infographic]

More than 38 million adult learners have started college, investing a lot of time and money, but have no degree. It’s because universities don’t give you the tools you need to make good decisions about whether to pursue a degree, what degree to pursue and how to achieve it affordably.

Check out the infographic below presented by FutureIsCalling.com to learn more about how to best lay out your future path when it comes to higher education.

Career

Top 10 Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make With Pinterest

pinterest

Pinterest is a social network that focuses on sharing images… visuals, as opposed to text. Bloggers can use Pinterest to their advantage for promoting products, services and building your brand online. Yet, there are some major mistakes beginner bloggers need to avoid when it comes to Pinterest. Here are the top 10:

1. Using Dull Images

Pinterest is all about visuals. Your images should be engaging, and filled with good descriptions and colorful text. Some beginner bloggers use stock photography, not understanding the value of quality, compelling images.

2. Not Utilizing Keywords Enough

Create categories, and assign each board to a specific category. Each board should have a description, which uses detailed SEO keywords. This helps other Pinterest users locate your pins based on they’re searches. However, try not to over-analyze your descriptions. If so, users will assume you’re just pushing some product and won’t follow you.

3. Limiting Your Genres

This is one of the top beginner blogger mistakes. Many will stick to only one genre. Just because your company specializes in landscaping doesn’t mean you have to pin only images of lawns, trees and landscapes. Your target audience is all over Pinterest, interested in many different topics. So, you should be all over the place too. For your landscaping company, pin home cleaning and design tips also. Have a guided imagery business? Pin boards with inspirational quotes. Keep your pins related, but don’t be too narrowly focused.

4. Not Networking

Competition can be a good thing. So, don’t fear it. Search for other companies and bloggers you admire who are active on Pinterest. Then, band together with them, pinning their content in exchange for them pinning yours. You can also band together to create group boards. This will help to increase your visibility on Pinterest and online in general, increasing your traffic.

5. Not Linking Properly

This is another top beginner blogger mistake. Users get very annoyed with they click a Pin that takes them to a page not relevant to the post they were expecting. Some users will become very frustrated maneuvering around your site looking for that particular post. Others will close the screen and move on. All of your pins with links should send users directly to the post with the featured image.

6. Not Following Others

If you find pinners and boards that your target audience might find interesting, follow, follow, follow. Following others adds to the content and images your Pinterest followers have access to. As long as your images link to your blog content, this will help you boost traffic and generate leads. Also, many other bloggers will follow your Pinterest boards and pins in return. This assists you with building online communities on the Pinterest social network. So, be sure to like and repin any images you truly love.

7. Not Adding Descriptions

All of your images should have accurate descriptions. This helps Pinterest understand which pins and boards to display in search results. It also helps Google and other search engines understand what your images are all about. This helps your search engine optimization, which helps to raise your search engine rankings. It will also help you get found via Pinterest’s own search tool.

8. Not Using It to Recycle Content

All great content doesn’t necessarily need to begin from scratch. In order to provide your users with great content, gather it from various resources. Pinterest can be great inspiration when you’re writing. You can also repurpose content using Pinterest. Create an infographic out of a blog post. Link to your pins in your post. Create boards to supplement your topics. Get creative!

9. Not Staying Up-to-Date with Pinterest Changes

Did you know that Pinterest has new rules about running contests? Are you aware that Pinterest displays vertical content differently than it has in the past, which effects how infographics are displayed? Do you know how Pinterest has been updated recently? Stay on top of how Pinterest is changing so you can always get the most out of it.

10. Not Using Pinterest!

Pinterest is a very popular platform for promoting visual content, such infographics, cartoons, even videos. Get your content up there as soon as you publish and use pinterest.com/source/YOUR-URL to check what others are pinning from your blog.

Do you use Pinterest to market your business blog? How have you implemented your pins and boards into your daily tasks in order to increase traffic to your blog?