7 Techniques to Make Your Article More Useful to Readers

Whether you are writing articles for article directories or posts for your blog, your goal should be to make them useful to readers. But, most of the articles and blog posts are full of vague generalities and they contain a pile of words and sentences meant for search engine rankings only.

If you make your contents useful to readers and strategically use a few key words to make it search engine friendly, you will not only attract search engine traffic but also develop readers’ loyalty who will promote your brand virally.

How do you make your article useful to readers? Use the 7 techniques discussed in this article to make an impact on your readers.

1. Use examples to elaborate your point. Without example the writing becomes an exercise in abstraction and many readers will not have a clue as to what you are trying to convey. You can either start with examples and than generalize message to an abstract concept or you can start with a general statement and elaborate it with examples.

If you are discussing several concepts, start with a simple example and build on the same example to illustrate all of your concepts. Switching to different examples for each of your concept, will leave the readers wondering how all the concepts you have discussed in your article relate to each other.

2. Use analogy, metaphor, and story. Analogies are very instructive and they provide insights to an unknown concept using a known concept. For example, you can explain back links by saying, ‘a back link to your website is like a vote for your site. If you have more votes than your competitors, you win. More back links to your site means higher ranking in search engine results.’

Metaphors are also used to compare two different concepts but the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ are not used in metaphors. Our every day speech is full of metaphors, e.g. ‘raining cats and dogs’, ‘old flame’, etc. Use them to liven up your prose but be cautious. Improper use may sow confusion in the reader’s mind.

If you have a personal story, use them to illustrate your point. Stories are very powerful in conveying a message. A Story resonances more in the minds of the readers than an abstract concept.

3. Enhance value by incorporating opinions. Bloggers often link to other articles and write a sentence or two to introduce a topic. While this is a good practice in letting your readers know what others are thinking in the related topics, you can enhance the value of the post by including your opinions and inviting others to post their own thoughts in the comment section.

4. Use Quotes from Authoritative Writings. You may already know about the value of using quotes from your college essay writing class. Quotes from authoritative figures help increase the value of your opinion and thoughts. You can proclaim that you are not the lonely person who has this crazy thought, but lots of respected people do agree with your insights.

5. Use illustrations and charts. You can use this technique in Squidoo lenses, Hubpages and in your own blog posts. This technique may not be possible for general article marketing sites because of the popular article directories don’t allow images and videos in the article.

Some concepts are difficult to explain using words only. However, a simple illustration helps readers grasp the concept easily. Readers can also easily remember a chart than a few paragraphs of a blog post.

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to create useful illustrations. Use MS PowerPoint or other free chart software to create your charts. Use screen captures when writing a ‘how to article’ about the use of software.

6. Write Pros and Cons. Most articles discuss only one side of a topic; either the writer is for or against it. Why no use both sides of the coin? Share your opinions about why it is good for your readers and what your readers should be cautious about while using or implementing the concept in your article.

7. Let your article sit for a day or two. Don’t rush to submit your articles to all the article directories as soon as you finish writing it. Wait for a day or two and read the articles again to see if you can add or modify some thing to make it more useful to your readers.

Does your article provide any useful information to readers to make their life better? It does not always have to be materialistic gains for your readers. Even if you can share humor or inspiration with your readers using your prose, you have achieved your goal of providing value by your writing.

In the web information is cheap but valuable information is few and far between. If you do your part in making your readers happy, you will be recognized as an expert in your field and money will flow.

7 Steps to Effective Search Engine Optimization

After making your Website human friendly, you have to make it search engine friendly so that human searchers can easily find your site in the search engine result pages. By following the steps described below, you can optimize your Website for search engines.

1. Use a keyword research tool for mining keywords related to your site’s offerings. One of the most effective and free keyword research tool is Google Adwords Keyword tool. Do a Google search for the URL of the site.

You start with some broad keywords like “golf ball” and the tool lists all the related keywords people use in their search queries related to “golf ball”. The tool also displays the monthly volumes of those search queries.

2. Get a domain name that is not too long and has relevancy to the products or services your site is offering. Using the keyword research tool, pick a few keywords related to your site. Pick a domain name based on one of these keywords.

All the domains based on broad keywords are already sold out. So you cannot get a domain based on a broad keyword, like golf ball. If you find one, grab it without any delay. However, most domain registrars, like Godaddy, have domain finding tools that suggest available domains based on broad keywords.

3. Your Website title that is located in the HTML TITLE tag should be meaningful and at the same time it should contain related keywords. Limit the title tag to 50 characters so that is is not truncated in the search result page.

4. The most important meta tag in a web page for a search engine crawler is the description meta tag that has two attributes: NAME=”description” and CONTENT=”your site’s content”. Describe your site’s contents using a few sentences in the content attribute of the META tag. Your site description should contain related keywords.

5. Create quality contents using texts and graphics. Use short paragraphs for text and separate texts using headings or H1 tag, and sub headings or H2 tags. Use one H1 tag per page. Don’t forget to use keywords in your paragraphs, H1, and H2 tags.

Use plenty of white spaces and bulleted items so that visitors can scan your page easily. Most people don’t read web pages but they scan to find texts that are of particular interest to them.

6. If you are using images, use keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of the IMG tag. Use keywords for image file names. Most people use meaningless image file names like image1, image2, etc. Search engine crawlers have no way to understand what image1 and image2 are all about.

7. Cross links your web pages using keywords in the anchor texts. For example, if your web site is about golf ball, you can use anchor text “callaway golf ball” on your home page to direct visitors to a page dedicated to “callaway golf ball”.

Search engine optimization is the art of creating contents for human readers using keywords. Don’t create contents for search engines. Create contents for human and use keywords strategically placed in your contents for the consumption of search engine crawlers.

5 Must Have Sources for Writing Articles that Attract Traffic

Are you getting ideas for writing your articles from the article directories? If you answer positively, you are not giving any valuable information to your readers. You are just rehashing published materials and spamming the article directories.

Whether you are writing for blogs or article marketing, you must come up with new ideas constantly to create valuable contents that will benefit your readers now and in the future. Coming up with new ideas from the thin air is difficult and time consuming.

If you know quality sources that help you generate new ideas for your contents, you will be able to produce fresh contents that others will refer to and, thereby, help increase the number of backlinks to your posts. This article introduces five must have resources for generating new ideas.

1. Subscribe to Google Alerts. On a piece of paper, write down all the keywords and key phrases that you are passionate about and want to write about those topics. You can use a tool like Google AdWords keyword suggestion tool for researching popular keywords and key phrases.

Once you have a list of keywords, go to Google Alerts and create a Google alerts based on those keywords. Google will send you the latest relevant Google results based on those keywords. You can choose to receive the alert email once a day. You can also opt to receive alerts on topics published only in blogs and news.

2. Subscribe to Meme Tracker. Meme is a thought or behavior that passes from person to person by imitation or learning. It is like viral marketing and it propagates very fast.

Have you ever noticed how top bloggers write about the same topic using different angles? For example, when Apple released 3G iPhone, tech bloggers did not spare any time in explaining their views on the product. And thus 3G iPhone became a hot topic in the blogosphere for a few days,

Some of the popular meme tracking sites are Techmeme, Megite, Tailrank and Technorati. Tweetmeme and Twemes are meme trackers for Twitter, the most popular microblogging site. To track meme from these sites, subscribe to their RSS feeds.

The number of articles from these meme tracker sites may overwhelm your RSS reader because each day these sites track hundreds of posts. So, you need to organize all these feeds in a single folder of your RSS reader. Just scan the titles quickly few times a day and flag the post you are interested in before marking the feeds as read. Go back to the flagged posts to review them further.

3. Subscribe to Online Newspapers and Magazines. Spend a few week-ends building a list of online news papers and magazines that regularly publish topics related to your niche. And subscribe to their topic specific feeds using your feed reader. Put them in one folder and name the folder to identify it by your niche.

5 Steps to Make Your Website Visitors Buy

In his book “Practical Thinking”, Dr. Edward de Bono talks about the basic thinking processes, how one understands, and the ways to be right or wrong in thinking. He said that the main purpose of thinking is not just to accumulate knowledge but to get enough knowledge in order to act on something. He also said that, in practice, the validity of an idea does not have any bearing in being right in thinking, for being right is a feeling, a belief that one is right during the time of thinking.

To put this in practical use, you should write your ad copies so that your visitors will feel it is right to buy your products. Make them feel that it is their idea to make the purchase. By doing so, it will be easier for you to persuade these potential customers to hit that buy button.

Here, then, are some ways to create that feeling of rightness in your readers:

1. Provide the benefits of your product.

People usually buy because of the benefits, not because of the features of a product. They think, “How can this help me? What’s in it for me?” By providing the benefits, you can show how your product can avoid pain. For example, you may say, “Never again be rejected when asking for a date.” You can also show how your product can gain pleasure. An example, you can say, “Imagine yourself opening the doors of your dream home.”

2. Use “goody-goody” words to build up the positive emotional reaction of your readers.

Words such as honesty, freedom, dignity, love and dream, convey such emotions that your readers react positively to them. For example, you can say, “Financial freedom for you.” Your visitor will then have the feeling that financial freedom is possible for them, and they may want to take a look at your product.

3. Use “bad” words to elicit the negative reaction.

Using “bad” words, such as hate, weak, or debt convey the opposite. By using these words, you can heighten the negative feelings of your readers that they may see your product as a tool to avoid or end their pain. You can say, for example, “Don’t you just hate your job?”

4. Assume your visitors will buy your product.

A popular line in ad copies start with the words “Who wants to be the next”. For example, by asking “Who wants to be the next millionaire?”, you are assuming that by buying your product, your visitor will become a millionaire. You can also start your sales letter with the greeting, “Dear Future Millionaire”.

5. Add a little humor in your sales letter.

Humor can put people in a good mood, making them to agree with you and lower their resistance to buy. This can provide that little extra push needed to close a deal.

Remember, make your readers feel that buying from you is a right decision they are about to do. Provide the benefits of your product, use words laden with emotions, and add a little humor in your ad copy. This way, you may see a drastic improvement in your sales conversion.

Collect Social Security Benefits on Divorced Spouse’s Earnings

Social security is complex and essential for retirement life. Due to the usual limitations of time, I present a handful of rules that most people should understand because they are most likely to be affected by them. Some of the less well-known rules regarding divorce that can nonetheless have a big impact on your benefits if they happen to apply to you.

When Social Security was first created, most married couples consisted of a “bread-winner” and a “home-maker.” Recognizing that a couple would be hard-pressed to get by on just one benefit—that of the bread-winner—the initial law provided for a “spouse” benefit for the home-maker.

The amount of the spouse benefit was pegged to 50% of the bread-winner’s benefit at Full Retirement Age (currently 66). Effectively the couple could receive 150% of the bread-winner’s benefit if they both retired at Full Retirement Age; when the first one passed away, the survivor would receive the bread-winner benefit amount for the rest of his or her life.

As divorce became more common in the latter half of the 20th century, these rules were adapted to apply to divorcees, so long as the couple was married at least 10 years. In fact, in certain ways the claiming rules are more generous for divorcees.

To better understand how this is so, let’s look at an example… Martin is 62 and Karen is 66. They have been married 35 years. Karen has a negligible work record of her own, having spent most of her adult life looking after their children. Suppose Martin’s Full Retirement Age benefit (at 66) is $2,000. Karen would be eligible for a spouse benefit of $1,000 (50% of Martin’s age 66 benefit) because she is 66. However, she cannot begin to collect until Martin starts his own benefit under the current rules. He doesn’t want to claim at 62 because his benefit would be reduced 25% to $1,500; in fact, he is probably well advised to wait to age 70 to collect his maximum benefit in order to maximize the potential benefit for the survivor. That’s a big dilemma for this and many couples.

Suppose, however, that Martin and Karen divorced several years ago when they were in their 50s. In this case, Karen could file for the spouse claim at age 66 when Martin is 62—whether or not he starts his own benefit. How big a deal is that? Well, if they were still married and Martin waited eight more years to file, when Karen is 74, she would forego eight years of the spouse benefit—that’s $96,000.

Moreover, if Martin waits to claim at age 70 in order to maximize his work-record benefit at around $2,640, that would also further benefit Karen should Martin pre-decease her. Why? She would be immediately eligible for a survivor benefit of $2,640 which would replace her spouse benefit. However, to qualify for this she must not be remarried before age 60.

But what if Martin remarries? How does that impact the benefits of Karen and the new spouse? Not a single penny. Both former and current spouse can be eligible for both a spouse benefit and the survivor benefit on Martin’s account. In fact, had Martin been married at least 10 years several times in his life, all the former spouses (and current one) could be eligible on his account for spouse and survivor benefits, so long as all the other requirements are met.

There’s a larger point to discussing these particular rules with you today: Whether we are single, married, or divorced, Social Security is complicated. If we don’t understand our options—whatever our current status—then we run a strong risk of leaving money on the table that could prove important to our long-term financial security.

Avoid Stupid Moves by Leaving Thousands of Social Security Benefits

Most of us don’t want to make simple yet costly mistakes, especially if we can avoid them. The problem is that we have to know a possible mistake is looming up ahead in order to make a better choice.

Unfortunately, when it comes to claiming our Social Security benefits, we too often lack the information we need to make a wise decision. The result is money left on the table: typically tens of thousands of dollars for singles and upwards of $100,000 for married couples—sometimes hundreds of thousands.

Let’s look at two common mistakes we make when claiming our benefits.

First, we claim too early. Why? Some believe that the program will run out of money so they try to get as much as they can while the money lasts. While we don’t have the space here to address this complex issue in full, you should note that Social Security has had looming shortfalls in the past and Congress has always solved the problem before any benefits were cut. These periodic “fixes” involve small changes to various elements of the program and are usually implemented so gradually that—after the legislation passes—no one notices. There is every reason to believe that Congress will step up to fix any new shortfall if and when it appears sometime in the future.

Others claim too early because they believe it doesn’t matter: Claim a smaller check at 62 for eight more years or claim a larger one at 70 for eight fewer years and you’ll get about the same total amount either way. However, those numbers don’t add up: if we merely live to our average life expectancy, we will collect considerably more by waiting to claim later—tens of thousands more typically for singles and commonly $100,000 or more for married couples. And if we are “unlucky” enough to live a very long time (it happens) those numbers can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So in general, we usually make a costly mistake if we claim our benefits early; it’s almost always better waiting to claim later if we can. (Like everything with Social Security, there are exceptions…)

The second common mistake is failing to know whether we are or will become eligible for certain elective benefits. While we mostly understand that we can start a claim based on our work record—when we paid taxes into the system—anytime between 62 and 70, there are other benefits we may be eligible for, but only if we apply in a timely and proper way. These include spouse and survivor benefits among others.

Consider this example: Carol is 66. Her age 66 benefit would be $2,000, but she plans to wait until age 70 to collect her maximum benefit of about $2,640. Tragically, her 64-year-old husband Carl dies suddenly. His age 66 benefit would have been $1,600 had he lived to that age. Carol is eligible to claim a survivor benefit immediately that will be based on Carl’s work record. In this case she would collect $1,600 monthly then switch to her own maximum work record claim of $2,640 when she turns 70.

Here’s the thing: she needs to know to file a “restricted” application for the survivor benefit. No one will contact her from Social Security to inform her of this important right. She needs to know what benefit(s) she is eligible for and when. Otherwise, she could end up leaving $76,800 in survivor benefits on the table. That’s costly.

You have worked hard to earn your Social Security benefits. So it’s all the more important to be certain that you claim all the benefits for which you are eligible and to understand the claiming age that will best serve you and your family for the remainder of your lives.

Live in Your own Land of the Free and Liberate Yourself from Location

I think the thing that doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to moving abroad for retirement is the freedom of it all.

I’m not talking about the relative and particular freedoms of one country over another. There are places in the world where people can’t say what they want, can’t own what they want, can’t work or play the way they want, can’t express their dissatisfaction with things, can’t move freely from one place to another.

But the places my wife, Suzan, and I have lived and worked in abroad aren’t among those kinds of places.

Among the enlightened and civilized places in the world—the places I and most other expats choose to live—the basic freedoms of speech, action, and movement are pretty much the same, and for the most part guaranteed by the governments of those countries.

This past week, the United States celebrated its birthday and it got me thinking about freedom…especially the freedom to pick the place you want to live.

My own birthday is incidentally the same as the birthday of the United States. I spent the first decade of my life thinking all the fireworks and hotdogs and ice cream on the Fourth of July were just for me. I grew out of that, but I never grew out of the feeling of the day—a nation-wide celebration of independence. The independence of one country from another. The independence of an entire people. Independence as a way of life, as a cultural trait, as a defining national characteristic.

People tend to forget that everyone in the United States other than the indigenous peoples arrived from somewhere else. Part of what we’re celebrating when we celebrate the establishment of the United States is the freedom of people to go somewhere else and try something new.

As far as I’m concerned, every U.S. expat who has gone to some other country to try something new in their lives is a living testament to those values and a torch-bearer for the tradition of freedom and independence that started the United States in the first place.

Greener pastures. More opportunities. Fewer restrictions. Greater independence. More options.

These are the values embedded in the American dream and the values that Americans grew up with. And in today’s world, there are dozens of countries—countries that International Living specializes in covering and discovering for readers and subscribers—where Americans can explore more options, find greener pastures, uncover more opportunities, enjoy fewer financial restrictions, and enjoy greater independence.

These are places where, like in America, they can be free.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about freedom this week. Because people—at least in the United States and those dozens of other civilized and enlightened countries—are free. Free to explore the world, to discover other countries and communities.

That’s pretty amazing to me. It’s almost as though not exploring those new locations, those greener pastures, those more independent and financially affordable options…well, it borders on the un-American. Because it is precisely that freedom to move and explore and experiment and change that made America great in the first place.

I was Scared of Latin America And Then I Found Safe Heaven Uruguay

Are you looking for a true safe haven in Latin America? If so, you need to know about Uruguay—a politically, economically, and socially stable country with a mild climate free of earthquakes and hurricanes.

Uruguay is below the tropical zone and has four seasons. The average summer high temperature is 82 degrees F, cooling down to 63 F at night. The average winter high temperature is 57 degrees F, cooling down to 43 F at night. Because Uruguay is in the Southern Hemisphere with opposite seasons, summer is in December, January, and February.

Besides mild weather, Uruguay has a warm social climate. You’ll find less economic disparity here than anyplace else in Latin America. Uruguayan culture is noted for tolerance and inclusiveness. And expats who are respectful of Uruguay’s culture and make an effort to learn some basic Spanish report feeling comfortable and accepted here.

Uruguay is also among the top countries in the region when it comes to infrastructure. Here, you’ll find the best overall road system, the most reliable electrical grid, and one of the fastest overall internet speeds in Latin America. You’ll also find quality medical care, safe drinking water, and good public transportation.

Even though Uruguay is a small country, it offers a variety of lifestyle options. Choose among places like Montevideo, the capital city with an active cultural scene; Punta del Este, the continent’s most sophisticated beach resort; La Paloma, a small beach town on the Atlantic coast; or a small farm or rural town in Uruguay’s countryside.

But what about Uruguay’s solvency? The country of Uruguay has investment-grade sovereign bonds. The locally-owned banks are well capitalized and safe. In 2009, when most of the world’s economy was suffering from the global recession, Uruguay posted an economic gain. There were no failed banks, and the rate of nonperforming loans throughout the country was just 1%.

Uruguay is a popular place to invest in real estate. That’s because foreigners can buy, own, and sell property with the same rights and protections as a Uruguayan citizen. Uruguay’s government welcomes foreign investment by individuals, the system for registering property ownership is solid, and property rights are enforced.

Uruguay is a nice place to spend time. It’s a small food producing country, which offers a variety of pleasant lifestyle options that is out of the way of world conflict.

Why Social Security is Your Most Valuable Financial Asset

What is the most valuable financial asset that will support us in retirement? Most of us think that’s our retirement accounts (regular savings as well as tax-deferred ones). Others might think of the net equity in our homes. Still others might point to a pension, rental property income, and so on.

Few of us will identify our Social Security benefits as our most valuable asset, yet for the vast majority of us—80% or more—that is the case

Why do we undervalue the importance of this benefit? Probably because we only see the value as a monthly payment, which is difficult to compare to our other assets. We need to “convert” Social Security into a value that provides an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

Consider someone who typically earned an annual income of $60,000 over the course of their working career. This income level would roughly qualify them for a Social Security benefit of around $1,943 if they start claiming at age 66 and a benefit of $2,565 if they claim at 70. If married to a spouse with a similar income and benefit, their combined age 70 benefit would be over $5,000.

As an International Living reader, you’ll already know that this benefit level can provide a comfortable lifestyle in almost any location overseas…with plenty left over to save for a rainy day.

Now, let’s try to find out how much money we would need to have saved in order to be able to draw down this benefit of $2,565 without fear of ever running out of money, no matter how long we live.

We can do this by considering a financial product sold by many insurance companies called an annuity: In a basic annuity, we pay a lump sum to the insurance company and then they pay us a fixed amount of money each month for the rest of our lives. A specialized type of annuity adjusts the monthly amount of the payment for inflation each year…much like Social Security.

So how much would we have to pay an insurance company at age 70 to buy one of these “inflation-adjusted” annuities that would pay us the Social Security benefit of $2,565 for the rest of our lives?

For a married couple, it would cost around $418,000 for his benefit and $474,000 for hers. Why more for her? Because the insurance company knows she will live longer on average and therefore the company will likely need to pay out several years more in benefits.

Think about that: for this couple, their benefits at age 70 are comparable to having saved $892,000 in a savings account…not a tax deferred account where you still have to pay income taxes when you draw it down, but an after-tax account.

That’s a lot of money. Our Social Security benefits are valuable. And like any valuable asset, we need to learn how to get the most out of it.

Are you ready to invest your time in learning about this valuable program? The best way I know for you to do this is to get your hands on a copy of the book I’ve written especially for International Living readers. You’ll discover how the right claiming strategies could give you thousands of extra dollars in retirement benefits…including a loophole, that is closing very soon, that could see you take home over $46,000 in extra benefits

Imagine being able to retire sooner and a lot more comfortably than you ever thought possible… just by being strategic in the way you manage your Social Security claim? This book will show you how to do that…and I want to give it to you…for free. So claim your copy here now.