Expert: Allen Stern, CenterNetworks.com

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About the Expert

Allen Stern is the editor of CenterNetworks, a site with a focus on “new” Internet such as social networking, Web 2.0 and social lending. As a consultant and resource to his clients and readers, Allen has worked with companies such as IBM, Georgia-Pacific, Wimbledon and Citibank to focus on strategy, optimization, analytics and social media solutions. CenterNetworks provides site reviews, news, insight, interviews and conference coverage all with the focus of helping its readers to create better business-focused web applications. With Allen’s vast experience in this realm, Chitika is excited to host his advice on how to Create, Promote, Track and Optimize.

Several people over the last few months have asked me what I do to increase CenterNetworks traffic and user loyalty. I started drawing on my whiteboard and after drawing and erasing, I was able to distil my process to four words: Create.Promote.Track.Optimize.

Create Naturally creation is the key. If you create poor content, the other parts won’t matter. So how do you create good content? I think it begins with reading blogs inside and outside your niche. See what types of content works. Yes, having a great title is important but the meat is equally as important. What entry lengths work? What level of vocabulary is used to reach the audience? These are all questions you should ask yourself as you craft your content style.

Promote This is an area where bloggers can sometimes go down the wrong path. How do you promote your best articles? There are the easy ways like Digg, Reddit, Netscape, and StumbleUpon. But some other ways might be worth considering as well. First, make every single post you craft search engine friendly. Doing it from the beginning is much easier than going back a year later to do it. At a minimum use a good title tag, description and keywords. There have been some recent tests which prove that even just these three things can make over a 15% difference to the traffic to your posts. Second, when you write a post that references a company or person, let them know! Don’t expect them to find it themselves. A simple email can work wonders as they may link back to your post. Third, head out to conferences and meetups. Hand out a card that has your blog address and contact information. This has worked very well for me so far. People will forget you after a week-long conference. But when they pull out your card, you instantly draw them to your blog. Finally, add Microformats to your site. Microformats are basically an extension of HTML which allow peoples names and addresses (vCards), and reviews (hReviews) to be tagged for future reference.

Track The most important part of this chain is analytics and it’s the area most bloggers ignore. Creating and promoting content is important. Knowing what’s working and what isn’t — priceless. There are hundreds of great tracking applications out there (some are free). I have reviewed many on CenterNetworks. Let’s say you know that Tuesday is your best traffic day. Use that to your advantage by posting your important stories on Tuesday. What I have learned on CenterNetworks is that 4-7am in the Eastern time zone produces the lowest numbers of users and so I think about that as I post my content. Of course this is just scratching the surface of what can be done. No matter what you use, use something.

Optimize Take everything you have learned from the previous effort to make the next post better. The key is to keep improving as it is a continual process. As you continue to optimize you will see your traffic — and more importantly — your user loyalty grow. Now get out there and go, go, go!