Toprated Tips

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clever Ideas for Organizing Your Home Office

Organizing is definitely not everyone’s passion, especially when it comes to home organization. The hustle and bustle of the daily routine often does not allow us to put an order in our home and to arrange things in a perfect way.

Home office tends to be a sacred piece of corner for people who usually work from home as well as for those who use their weekends to create their projects or simply to take up with additional job in their free time.
Home Office
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Having well organized and arranged home office is more than essential, if you really want to create nice working atmosphere and to be inspired to manage with your projects and tasks on time.

In this article you will receive information about clever ideas that will help you to organize your home office in the best way. They are easy to be applied and they will definitely make your piece of inspiration more comfortable and easy for use. Read the following lines and get ready for changes in your home office!

Choose the Appropriate Furniture


The first thing to consider is ensuring adequate furniture for your home office. By this I mean to make enough space for your computer as well as for the peripheral equipment. You also need to make space for the additional materials like paper, pencils and other useful instruments. For that reason, you need to choose bureau that is vast and that will ensure space for all of the materials that are required for your project or work.

Clever Placing of the Hardware


Another important thing to take into account is to position the hardware and the peripherals according to their use. For example, if you use the printer on daily basis, make sure that you can reach it easily and in a fast way.

If you rarely use other peripherals, you can place them next to the desk or if you prefer, you can situate them under it. In case you hardly use your scanner, do not hesitate to place it outside the home office area. As far as hardware is concerned, be careful and pay attention of access to cords and trays.

Make Your Own and Unique Processing Area


This is another clever idea that will contribute for establishing order in your home office. For the purpose you need to store the paper due to your current projects or appointments, in a place that has easy access. If it is easier for you, you can choose different colours for the paper as long as you know which colour corresponds to the paper that you search for. Place them on the bureau or in an area that will allow you to arrange them in the desired way.

Last but not least, do not forget to ensure proper cleaning of your home office. Do not neglect your own working space, unless you want to feel the chaos in your home. Clean all the dust and dirt from the computer and place a tiny bureau under the desk. Use special detergents to clean all the furniture from top to bottom and do not forget supply yourself with special microfibre towels for more effective cleaning.

These are some of the clever ideas that will help you to organize your home office space in the best way. All you need is free time, some inspiration and the right tips to follow. Do not be afraid to make the changes and to enjoy a nice and cosy home office. The secret for establishing an order hides in better organization and in choosing the right furniture for the home office.

Guest Author
About the Guest Author:
Edna Thomson has flexible working hours as a Finchley refurbishment employee. She is often working from home and that's why she organized her own working area as a home office.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

13 Best Paying Freelance Websites You Should Join Today

Making money online or online jobs are some of the most searched keywords if Google Trends is anything to go by. Sadly, this hype has been met by hundreds of fraudulent freelance websites, solely to get contents from the eager writer and disappear without paying them a cent.

So, today, I'm going to give you an honest review of some sites I have written for and how credible I believe they. It is important note that this  review isn't based on personal feelings but one that has also extensively incorporated the views of a majority of writers on a given site.

For instance, we will not degrade site x simply because my articles weren't approved or because I flaunted some of their rules and thus got banned.

5 Questions to ask before you join any freelance site

  1. How long has it been in operation? Only join sites that have been running for more than a year 
  2. What is its credibility based on unpaid reviews? Be weary of sites that are tagged as scam by most reviews to avoid unnecessary disappointments
  3. How much do they value freelancers? Work for a site that values your input as opposed to those who only value the client. 
  4. Is there any proof of payment? Rely on proof from friends before you join. Don't just join because of what the site owners and other affiliates are saying.
  5. Do they ask for registration fees or charge you to get bids? My take is that you stay away from 'the gets rich quick missions or anything that want you to invest a certain amount of money in order to get freelance jobs. 

Top Revenue Sharing Sites

1. Bubblews

Bubblews is relatively new among the freelance websites. However, it is the fastest growing revenue sites owing to its earning system. Briefly, you join the site, update your profile and make a maximum of 10 posts

Freelance Websites
My Profile at Bubblews
Brief Overviews
  • Allows membership from allover the world
  • Allows up to 10 posts (a minimum of 400 characters or about 120 words long)
  • Pays a cent for every view, like, dislike, comment or social share
  • Payout is from $50 via an eCheck to your Paypal account 
  • Success depends on how active you are. 
Note: There have been few complaints of non-payments and scam alerts associated with Bubblews. I'm not going to give them a clean bill of health either as I also have two pending payments of about $60. Have, however, been paid $110 from this site.

I placed Bubblews at the top based on how easy it is to make money on it and their unbeatable rates. Join Bubblews

2.Constant Content


In terms of quality writer support, I must say that I've never visited a site better than Constant Content. This site has, despite the numerous number of freelancer that use it, has a prompt response and very elaborate help for new writers. You can improve your writing skills and meet their quality demands by visiting the help menu on their site.

Brief Overview
  • Sells quality articles on your behalf and pays you about 60% of the revenue.
  • Has some of the highest rates you can get for articles (in excess of $70 for a 400 word well written article)
  • Allows you to sell your article under as Usage, Unique and Full Rights. 
  • Success depends on writing quality and trending articles. Write what most blogger or webmasters are looking for and you will make it big at Constant Content
  • They pay whatever your earnings are to you Paypal account at the end of every month
Note: My best moments at Constant continue are when I sold a 402 word article for $40. My worst moment are when I submitted about 5 low quality articles to this site with the aim of getting more sales. The latter got me banned thus wouldn't advise you to post any low quality articles on this website. Join Constant Content

3. Postloop


I consider Postloop as one of the most credible post exchange website I've ever visited. Here you are just required to post thread and comments on various forums. You then earn points which can be redeemed for cash paid to Paypal within 24 hours.

Brief Overview  
  • Joining is free but you must get the average rating before you are allowed to post your comments
  • Are very strict on quality and penalizes forum spamming
  • Payout starts from as low as $5, an amount you can make daily  by dedicating some time to the site 
  • Success depends on posting comments that are at least 50 words long and starting engaging threads. You must also be very active on the site and exercise decorum when engaging other forum posters 
Note: Postloop has a very prompt contact or what you would call writer support. Their own forum is also full of answers to most of your concerns. However, you must post 10 comments on their forum so that they can rate and allow you into their system. Join Postloop

4. Hubpages


Honestly, I've had little success with Hubpages which might be due tot he recent Google updates that negatively affected  Hubpages. While it is ranked among the top 1000 sites in the world according to Alexa rankings, there has been a decline of unique visitors to this site.

However, the challenge doesn't mean that you wouldn't make it here as there are hubbers (as they are called) who earn about $33  per day from Google Adsense.

Brief Overview
  • Hubbers earn directly through Google Adsense and Hubpage Earning Programs. You can also earn from Amazon and eBay affiliate programs on the site
  • You must write at least 10 stellar hubs (very high quality i.e. with at least 3 images, a table, a poll, a video and links) before applying for the Google Adsense via Hubpages
  • It is the most advanced blogging platform I've ever used as it has all the 'capsules' you need to publish a quality and engaging article.
As I mentioned I've never been paid from Hubpages, and I blame the poor timing (on a light note though). Join Hubpages

Top content mills


5. Iwriter


Sites like iWriter are knowns as content mills as you can get quality articles from as low as $1.6. Well, some content mills take advantages of the new freelancers by giving all the attentions to the client and totally ignoring  the writer. For instance, you may write a good article only for it to be rejected by the requester without a specific reason. Anyway, Iwriter isn't as bad.

Brief overview
  • You pick a task from hundreds of requests available under the appropriate category and complete it within the indicated time period
  • You are rated as Standard, Premium and Elite where elite is the highest rank, and the best paid writers while standards are the lowest in the cadre.
  • You are paid bi monthly (based on your settings) via Paypal and once you've accumulated a minimum of $20
  • Success depends on writing quality articles at all times. Also, you should prefer special requests made to you by the client as opposed picking a task from the dashboard
Note: I have been paid once at iwriter, and I'm yet to come across a complaint of none payment. It also has an affiliate program for webmasters and bloggers to make some extra cash. Join Iwriter

6. CloudCrowd


CloudCrowd has lots of micro tasks and other well paying writing and editing tasks. The site was recently acquired by another leader in the micro tasks field i.e CrowdSource. 
Brief Overview
  • You join through their facebook app and do credentials tests
  • The credibility score determines the types of tasks you can hand. Most tasks are  in English 
  • Has some of the best payments per word for article writers and editors
  • Success is purely based on quality and completion of tasks
  • They payout is as low as a few cents and is done daily to your Paypal account
My stay at CloudCrowd has seen me receive some daily payments of up to $14 dollars. You however, must be a good writer for you to be allowed to take article writing jobs here. Join CloudCrowd

7. Textmaster


Textmaster is a good site for translators and a copywriters. If you know you are good in either, then this your site of choice. they pay per word in Sterling Pounds.

Brief Overview
  • Very simple sign up process
  • Very prompt response from their contact center 
  • Alert of new relevant jobs via email 
  • You do a test to qualify as an expert in a given field. 
  • Success here depends on your ability to deliver quality work at all times
I joined it recently and has seen some success though I'm yet to withdraw any cash from them. I recommend you join this site and start making money doing what you love. Join Textmaster

Freelance/Bidding Sites


8. Elance


Elence is a highly reputable freelance site where you bid on the available task. Bidding means that you give the client the reason why you are the most suited to handle the job. 

As reputable as elegance is, they have some strict rules when it comes to giving your identification and credentials. They in fact verify all your credentials (at a small fee though). Once your profile is 100% complete,, you can bid for a job and make a descent leaving. One advantage with sites of Elance's calibre is that the clients rarely reject your work instead they ask for a revision. Join Elance

9. Odesk


Just like Elance, Odesk is a popular freelance site. It is one other easiest to join and qualify for bids as they don't charge fees for verification identification details or orientation tests. You can also take free English Test to improve your credibility as a contractor/freelancer. Join Odesk

10. Freelancer

This is the largest freelance site in the world. It has thousands of jobs being posted daily and handled by the over 7 million freelancers i.e. its members. It is a nice place to make some money as long as you can make successful bids. To improve your chances of winning bids, Freelancer suggests that you take an English test at a fee ($5 or less) or upgrade your membership.

Just like in Odesk and Elance, Freelancer demands that you complete your profile. Interestingly, they don't put much emphasis on verification of one's identity. Join Freelancer

11. Guru


Guru is another popular freelance site (most for graphical design jobs). From what I've seen, it is reputable and worth joining. You can find more by joining the site. Join Guru

12. Fiverr


Fiverr is my favorite freelance site. Not that have made any money from it but because it where I've actually hired freelancers from. Advantage that the freelancer only gets paid when you give a positive review thus ensuring that you get the best quality service.

As a freelancer, you posts gig (what you can do for $5) and wait to be contacted by a client. It is the best place to do anything for five dollars including singing a lullaby to making logos for companies. You should consider joining the site to learn more and make a decent living online. Join Fiverr

13. Slice the pie


This is where you write a short review of a song and get paid. Just make sure you write about 120 words to get at least $0.10

Since Slicethepie allows you to review a good number of songs per day, you can comfortably make $10-20 a day which is not bad for new freelancer. I'm already enjoying some success at the site. Join Slicethepie

Since this post is based on sites I've worked for, you should be free to drop a comment with info on similar sites or more insights on the above sites.

See Also: Top 100 Freelance Sites For Writers
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Friday, January 2, 2015

Simple Ways To Improve Alexa and Google Ranking

Are you obsessed with Google or Alexa website rankings? Well, you are not alone. Millions of webmasters agree that there is nothing as important as improved online visibility. That being the case, it is only proper that a blogger or website owner understands the various ‘straight’ techniques of raising their visibility to search engines.

As with every trade, there are rules if one is keen on achieving the above-mentioned visibility. There are factors considered by Search Engines when ranking sites and knowledge of such factors, I have come to realize, is very vital to getting higher Google Pagerank and lower Alexa Rank.

Alexa Ranking, Google Ranking
Screenshot of  Blogger.com's Alexa Ranking
Source: Alexa Toolbar for Chrome

Simple steps towards a better page rank

While I agree that my blog may not be anywhere near the top 100,000 or most successful sites, some of the following tips have helped me achieve some real progress:
  • SEO - Effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices demands that certain keywords are used in article titles and that unnecessary repetition is avoided. It is therefore important that you do not stuff keywords (e.g. do not exceed six (6) keywords in a 400word article). Just following this simple procedure has seen almost all my posts indexed by Google and Bing in less than 24 hours.
  • Relevance – It is paramount that your article body explains the title. Try as much as you can to avoid unnecessary deviation from the topic while writing. I’m not suggesting you have a stiff article but that such deviations (if necessary) should be relevant at least. Since a page’s relevance to the main keyword determines the search results, it is proper therefore; that your content gives as much information on the keyword as possible.
  • Quality – Even if all your Keywords were well placed and your article relevant, its quality matters a lot. In short, write high quality, original and reader friendly articles i.e write for the readers not the Search Engines. Following this tips will:  Reduce your page bounce rate (the length readers take on your page) the low the percentage the  more engaging your article are,  Promote organic sharing and back linking, which is highly valued by all search engines and Increase your page views, as readers would want to read other articles from you. Such improved page views is what will lower your Alexa ranking and bring more income from ads. 
  • Social Media – Responsible use of social media plays a major role in search results. Simply put, the number of Facebook Shares or Twitter Mentions determines how highly a page will rank in the Google page rating. Therefore, the more the social media mentions and shares the higher the page rank. Social media influence is the reason behind highly ranked pages yet they are not keyword-laden. 
  • Quality Backlinks – Linking your site to relevant brand names will automatically improve your search engine ranking. I must admit that getting Dofollow links (links that point back to your website) from sites with page above 7 is very difficult and might seem impossible in sometimes. However, if your content is relevant to that of the highly ranked page, getting a link is possible. Here are some tips on how to do a healthy backlinking: Comment on the Dofollow and relevant sites only. Do not link your Smartphone blog to a health website. Stick to your niche and leave your link naturally, Apply to write as a guest on their sites (i.e. Guest Blogging), Ask for backlink by contacting them (less effective as they may take forever to reply and Write a review about that site or about their product (do not be promotional even when doing this)Just remember that pages with higher page ranks are shown first on  Search Engine results 
  • Page Ads - It is said that too much of something is dangerous. Well it also with much advertising as this can hurt a site's rating. For instance, sites with a higher percentage of prominently placed and distracting Google AdSense are ranked lower. The use of advertisement should therefore be controlled to ensure that the real web content is not overshadowed and to get a higher Google Pagerank of course. 
  • Domain Names - It is also advisable for site owners to use domains names with keywords to attract higher ratings and visibility. 

Conclusion 

The introduction of changes in the Google's search algorithm (which aims at removing unnecessary contents from the web) has seen the fall of some popular sites. The biggest victims are sites, which largely consisted of repetitive content.  Consequently, site owners have resorted to less text but high quality to encourage the readers to share their content. This, as mentioned earlier, results in high number of backlinks.

See Also: How To Create High Quality Backlinks

Actually, linking one’s site and sharing pages on the social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Tumblr) is very effective. If you follow these above tips, then you need not to worry about any new algorithms from Google, Alexa or other website ranker.

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10 Reasons Why Your Adsense Application May Be Rejected

Why did you start a blog? The answer to the rather weird question determines if you succeed as a blogger or not. I know you are here to know why your AdSense application has failed times without number. I'm also aware that you want quick insights and solutions; and that I will give or at least die trying.

The problem is, there are cases where not even dark magic will get you an Adsense account. It doesn't matter if you in a 'suspicious' country in the Antarctica that has to wait for a decade to be approved or Google's neighbors at Mountain View Califonia.

Google Adsense, Make Money Online
Googleplex Sign (Free Image Via Wikimedia)

My false start

I will use myself and blog as a case study. I started blogging or what I thought was blogging, around July 2013 when I got bored with sharing my views on Facebook and Twitter. Don't get me wrong, those social sites remain the most powerful tools to provoke thought online. However, your views are only relevant for a few hours or days depending on the number of followers you have.

My reasons to look for a better platform, while petty, were sincere. I mean, all I wanted at that time was a brand name. I had seen what it meant to be an online writer around here and I wasn't going to be left out. So, I blindly become a blogger. Yes, I started a free blog on Blogger platform with some weirdly long subdomain. I Ironically called it the 'Fountain of Information' for reasons I'm yet to discover.

Well, it didn't take a month before reality started biting back. What I thought was a quick ladder to stardom turned out to be rocket science or should I say quantum physics (whatever that means)? I just didn't lack purpose or what to write; I had no audience.

The obsession to get blog traffic then took the better part of me and I would take a whole day trying some haphazardly posted blog traffic generation techniques with unavoidable titles like 'How my 3-day old blog gets 50,000 pageviews per day without me doing a thing'. You guess is a good as mine, those tricks so-called didn't work then and won't work in the future. I'm sure of it.

Resources:
  1. Blog Traffic Generation Techniques
  2. How to get blog readers today
It also dawned on me, around the same period, that I could 'make money' with my blog. I could monetize my website and make 'passive income' in my sleep. Not my words thought, a read it on one of the 'make money online blogs'. So, I started scouring the net for tips on how to earn through my blog and that's when I bumped on Google's Adsense.

I tend to think that it is Adsense that bumped on me because, as I later realized,  my blog had broken every Google Webmaster Rules in advance. But who cared then, I was blogging with a terrorist's mentally i.e. only results matters, what you do to achieve the results is irrelevant.

A stream of rejected Adsense applications

Talk of being 'young and inexperienced'! I didn't even go through Adsense Rules let alone consulting other stable bloggers on Google Forums. The excitement of finally getting rewarded for my efforts clouded my judgement, vision, thinking and anything it found on its way. I applied for Adsense account and received a rejection email within a few hours. The main reason was 'Insufficient Content'.

So, I started writing on everything and anything. Did I hear you asking what my niche was? I only learnt about that word recently. I'd research (which meant going to sites like about.com, wikihow, wikipedia etc  and rewriting their articles in broken English).

Soon enough, I had over 50 articles on my blog. I hurriedly re-submitted my Adsense application which was rejected much faster. The reason for rejection was 'Insufficient Content'. What? how many articles was I supposed to write?

A unique combination of frustration and despair set in and I lost it. I would now write articles almost daily, since some blogger had mentioned that I needed at least 100 posts to qualify for Adsense. Another blogger offered to explain what 'rejected because of insufficient content' really meant i.e. the blog originated from  spamming countries.

They had to wait for 6 months to even think about thinking to apply for an Adsense account. Yet another said, that traffic is all that mattered and Google Adsense being an ads platform valued traffic above all. I didn't know who to trust but decided to give my blog some 6 months before applying again.

Meanwhile, I would try every traffic generation technique posted online. I also read about affiliate marketing and decided to put some Amazon banners on my blog. This I deed in spite of the fact that my daily pageview was about 100 of which 90% were my own.

Like I said, when desperation meets frustration thinking straight is a luxury you cannot afford. As expected I re-applied for Adsense account and without mincing words, the team at Google rejected my application although my blog was now 8 months old. Reason: 'Site does not comply with Google Policies'.

Resources:
  1. Google Webmaster Guidelines
  2. Adsense Policies

Why my blog cannot be approved

Frustration was slowly metamorphosing into something else. That is when I read that I read that I had to buy a custom domain. That was the missing key at least according to the blog post for my blog to be approved by the Adsense team.

Well, I bought a domain name from namecheap, I registered 'topratedtips.com'. Little did I know that Google was no longer interested in the topsomething.com domains. So, I technically sealed my fate and bid Google Adsense bye.

Google Adsense, Make Money Online
Photo Courtesy: FreeDigitialPhotos.Net
I waited for another boring 6 months only to apply and be rejected for 'not complying with Google webmasters guidelines'. I fumbled with few techniques and re-applied almost bimonthly with no success.

So, I went to forums and complained bitterly and that when I learnt that no tricks or complaints were going to get my  blog an Adsense Account. One bully, told me that my blog was crap and added no value to the net. I couldn't take that lying down but that is a story for another day. Bottom line, the 'suspicious' domain name had sealed my blog's fate.

What can you learn from me?

Have you learnt something? The pickup line here is; get all your facts right before you start a blog. It will save you a lot of  pain and stress like the one I went through. You may be wondering why I should write a guide on Adsense on a blog that is not running their ads? The answer is simple; I'm a being my brother's keeper. I want you to avoid my mistakes and succeed where I failed.

Introduction to Google Adsense

Briefly, Adsense is a program for Publishers (or website owners as they are commonly called). The webmasters place ads on their websites and are paid for the Impression, Clicks and Conversion. Simply put, you earn some amount per every 1000 views. You even earn better if the viewers clicked the ad and even more if they performed an action.

Example: You place a hotel banner on your blogs sidebar. You get paid for the views. Let's say some click the banner and visits the hotel's website, you get paid too. What if this viewer decides to book a room in the hotel? Well, you earn more.

So, Adsense gives you an opportunity to earn with your blog as long as you have quality traffic. The said payment is dependent on the Keyword (a word or phrase that that people type on the Search Engine Address). As you can guess, some keywords earn you more than others.

Resources:
  1. Introduction to Keyword Analysis
  2. How to get traffic through SEO

Why your blog may be rejected

You already have an idea why your application for an Adsense account may have failed. However, Is till give this checklist just in case.Just make sure your site complies or have the following:
  1. About Us Page- This makes you look credible and gives Google an idea of what your site is all about
  2. Contact Page - Provides your subscribers or any other site visitor a ways of reaching you whenever there is concern
  3. Privacy Policy - A must-have if you are serious about Adsense. You can generate an Adsense compliant Privacy Policy for your site from serprank.com and bennadel.com among other sites
  4. Organic Traffic - Just make sure that your traffic is natural not driven from automated traffic sites or paid to click site. Google wouldn't approve your account if you are already cheating your way into popularity. Secondly, ensure that you have about 2000 daily views before you apply. While you can apply with lower traffic, chances of approval are lower. 
  5. More than 6 months old - Google is against spammers and wants to do business with 'serious' publishers. So, unless you come from the US or UK wait for least 6 months before applying.   
  6. SEO and Ads friendly Template - Buy or design a responsive template with fewer frames. Adsense doesn't allow the placement of ads in frames. Just buy an SEO- friendly and Ads ready template from . There are many places you could get such templates. 
  7. No Ads - At times, your only disqualification may be placement of so many ads from other sites. The best practice (not just with Adsense) is to always no ads placed on your site before applying.
  8. Be Original - Copied ideas or contents are not good for your online reputation as well as Google Adsense
  9. Have Unique Information - make sure that your ideas are unique and not very easy to come by online. This will really help you build a good reputation and get Google Adsense approval easily
  10. Be of Good Length - while there is no specific standard, Google always rank high content that are exhaustive and provide sufficient information bout the title. As a guide you should, write 800+-word article. The article should be High Quality  and SEO-Optimized. I mean you should strategically placed keywords and link your post accordingly 

Adsense Alternatives

I believe you are smart enough to know that Adsense isn't the only way to make money online. It may have the best rates int he industry but certainly not the only option we have. You can choose to promote other sites and get paid for every referral or place banners for online stores like eBay, Amazon etc.

Better still, you can place ads from Google Adsense look-alikes such as Yahoo Bing Network!, Chitika, Infolinks, Epom, Qadabra, AdClick Media, CPM Go, Kontera just to list a few. Whichever program you choose, there is bound to be prerequisites and policies to follow to get an approval, make sure you read them.

Last Line...

Blogging is not hard if you have all facts aforehand. Also, be patient enough to see things work out. Otherwise, you can guest blog for money or do join freelance writing to supplement your income. I have compiled up to 100 freelance sites for writers. I'm always open minded, just share your views via the comment box or our contact form at the footer section. Enjoy blogging
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Friday, December 19, 2014

How To Download The Best Free Blog Template

Professional blogging on the major blogging platforms (e.g. Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress, TypePad etc) you need a uniquely designed template. Now, that would be easy if you have HTML knowledge because then all you need is time to design a professional template for your blog. However, without web design skills, you must either buy a predesigned template or download a free one.

Free Blog Template
Responsive Blogger Template
Whether you are going for the premium template or a free one, there are certain factors that remain constant. You should also understand why a good template is important. For instance:
  • A template determines you blogs load time (this in turn affects the number of visitors your page will have). Just know that a blog that takes more than 2.5 Seconds to load is considered very slow and will certainly send away more visitors.
  • A template influences how engaged the visitors to your site will be. If  your template lacks Related Post Widgets, Social Sharing Buttons and professional navigation menu then your blog readers won't be fully engaged.
  • A template contributes to the number of blog followers and subscribers.
Of course, you a good template is not all that there is when it comes to blogging. You must strive to write unique and high quality contents and do so frequently.

See Also: How To Write A Good Article: A Beginner's Guide

How to get a blog template


Having looked at the importance of good template, let's go about how to get one. As intimated earlier, you can design the template yourself and include all the SEO features needed. Since web design is a preserve of the chosen few, you are left with the other options of buying a premium template or downloading one free. Here we will focus on downloading a free template.

Just to be clear, you are better of with a premium template more so if you are into blogging for the money. But since not all have the dollars to spend on buying a template, you may want to start with a free one. Again, free templates are not as refined as the premium blog templates. You may also not get support from the template designer the more reason you need to pick the best.

There are hundreds of artistically designed blog templates out there. As expected others are purely traffic generation ploys in the name of  free templates. But then again, that's the reason you are reading this post.

See Also: Simple Traffic Generation Techniques

Six qualities of a good free blog template 


1. Has Clean Codes


More often than not, free templates have unnecessary codings which may impact your SEO score negatively. In worst cases, designers include URLs that will drive traffic to their own sites or result in annoying popups. Just take your time and read credible reviews about the template you would want to download if you cannot detect the design flaws yourself

2. Has A Responsive Design


You know that a majority of the web users are doing so using mobile devices. So, you template of choice should automatically display on Smartphones, Phablets, Tablets, Notebooks, Laptops and Desktop in a way that doesn't affect the user experience. 

3. Has Technical Support


While most free blog templates do not come with support, that doesn't not mean all lack technical support. As hard as this may be, there are thousands of web designers who are willing to give their templates for free and even offer support. They appreciate the fact that not all bloggers have mastery in HTML or CSS.

Come to think of it, what is the need of downloading a blog template only to find that you can't customize it and there is no documentation? So, only download a blog with sufficient instructions on how to install and customize it. Better still, the designer should be readily available to help (either via email, live chat or the comment section).

Follow this rule to avoid endless changing of your templates, which will portray you as unprofessional.

4. Allows Access to the Source Files


You may not know this, but all the template source files are hosted somewhere. For distance, have you asked yourself where the header or background images of your template are hosted? If you don't know and don't care, you may wake up one morning and find a dull site with no background images or headers.

You can never count on the hosting site to be online all the times. Download a template that gives you access to the source files or better one that has no externally hosted files.

5. Permits Full Customization


Your template is well coded and even gives you access to the source files, very well. But does it allow full customization? How far are you allowed to customized this template? Imagine having a template that doesn't display bullets or lists in your post thus making your posts dull and disorganized yet you can't change that.

It is important to contact the designer and ask about the limitations of customization. I'm not insisting on removing the footer, as this may be part of the license. However, ask if there are other limitations when it comes to changing how your blog looks.

6. Guaranties Future Updates


The web is changing and so should your template design. It is not a big surprise to find that a coding style that was trending a few months ago has been replaced with a new one. Similarly, SEO features do change based on Search Engine upgrades and so should your blog's. Therefore, ensure that you only download a free template where updates are guaranteed.

Resources:
  1. Download Free High Quality Blogger Templates
  2. Get Free Premium WordPress Templates
  3. Find Free Professional Tumblr Templates
  4. Free Joomla Templates for download
You should know that all free blog templates are released under Creative Common Licenses. Just be human and respect the hard work the designer has put into the template design. It costs nothing to abide by the terms of that license.

Let me know what you think about this post as well as other features you would want added via the comment box. 
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Optimizing Your Site And Posts For More Traffic

That traffic (i.e. readers) is important to a blog is never in question. In fact, without readers, there is no blogging. What matter most however is the nature or quality of your readers. Questions pertaining to their origin, age, gender and interests are key. Fortunately, you can get these details free from sites like Alexa (once you are below the top 100,000) and Google Analytics.

While there are several ways you could attract targeted traffic to your site, this post focuses only on one i.e. SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

SEO is simply any activity aimed at ensuring that your content crawled (or indexed) by the major Search Engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Aol. Effective SEO can guarantee unlimited traffic to you site for years. Such traffic is needed on shopping sites and blogs running ads from Adsense, Bing Yahoo Network among other as it means increased sales and earnings.

See Also: Things To Avoid When Applying For Adsense

Optimizing Your Site And Posts For More Traffic

There are key things to note when doing SEO for your site. First, understand that most internet surfers click on the first-page of search results. This means that the higher your link ranks the higher the number visitors to your website).

Secondly, accept the reality that Google Search has the highest market share (over 60%).. You therefore must follow their Webmaster Guidelines to get your site indexed easily. Finally, you must accept the rule that ‘content is king’. Poorly crafted articles or fluffs are the greatest enemy of SEO.

So, how do you ensure that you are on the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo search results? Well, it is not rocket science to achieve. The following tips will help you boost your SERP and traffic almost instantly:

Article Optimization 

  • Write Unique and Quality Contents – You should just focus on passing Copyscape but also giving a unique point of view. For instance, instead of re-writing contents from other blogs, you can find the less discussed points and write about it. You could discuss the disadvantages of a widely promoted product. Just ensure you are factual, grammatically correct and provide sufficient information
  • Coin Catchy but realist titles – Ensure that the keyword is used in the title. Needless to say, the title should be catchy (I am not refereeing to unrealistic titles like ‘How I made $1,000,000 in a day with Google Adsense’) and realistic
  • Use the keyword moderately – You might decide to use the keyword thrice or six times depending on the number of words, you intend to write. Beat the temptation to overuse a given keyword by replacing it with synonyms and phrases. In most cases, a keyword should appear on the first paragraph and another in the last paragraph. The rest of the keyword should be evenly distributed throughout the article.
  • Promote the article via Social Media – Social media networks like Facebook and Google+ are great for traffic and easy indexing. Just ensure you share your posts with those who will also share it. Since these sites are crawled more often that your blog, your post will be indexed within hours of publishing. Twitter, Tumblr, and bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon can also improve your rank in search engine results. 
  • Index the article’s URL on Google , Bing, Aol - Directly submitting your post’s URL to the major search engines can also raise its chances of indexing and rank
  • Submit to other search engines, and ping them – Using sites like Pingler and Ping-O-Matic you can easily notify hundreds of search engines and directories that you have newer contents. You should however not over ping your site as this might be consider spamming by most search engines.
  • Share your URL on relevant forums – for higher ranking and fasting indexing you should be active on major webmaster forums like Warrior, Digital Point among others. You could share a link to your articles as response to questions people ask on Quora and Yahoo Answers. 

Site Optimization 

  • Use clean template coding/design - If you are a designer, then you already know the benefits of clean coding. It is not only important for SEO but also to the page visitors. Sites that have solid web design showcase unity and order. You should therefore give more attention to page layouts and see to it that they show a clear hierarchy. On the other hand, a clean website has fewer typefaces to give a perfect typography (i.e. arranging how the different sections of your posts will appear in terms of color, font, size and casing). Lastly, use few but harmonious colors for your design to show professionalism and increase the number of returning site visitors.
  • Ensure the website can render well in major browsers -I once downloaded a blogger template that could only render well on Google Chrome. This led to a higher bounce rate and loss of readers, since most of my page visitors (based on Google Analytics reports) were using Internet Explorer. I therefore had to change the template. You should also try out your blog or website on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera to ensure that the rendering is ok. Otherwise, you will not be able to retain readers
  • Adopt responsive Design- A responsive design simple means your blog can be read with a lot of ease using various devices. Since most people use their phones to access internet nowadays, you should optimize your site for mobile rendering. Therefore, it should be easy to access all the features of your site via a tablet, Smartphone or feature phone. 
  • Use fast loading templates -As long you use a clean design, you need not to worry about speed. However, if your site takes more than two (2) seconds to load, you need to optimize by editing the HTML code or simply minifying the java scripts and CSS using free content delivery networks (CDN) such as Cloudflare, jsDelvr and Incapsula. You can also download a free SEO Optimized blog template or hire a SEO expert from Fiverr or SEOClerks to optimize your website for the search engines
Provided you follow the above rules, chances are that you will not need to look for visitor anymore. Don’t forget to leave you comments and ideas at the comment box.
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