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A Fun Way to Increase Blog Traffic - Have a Contest!

Blog contests are gaining more popularity as bloggers begin to see the benefits that a simple contest or giveaway can bring.

Why Run a Contest?

Running a contest can double the amount of traffic coming through your site. Making sure you advertise your contest will drive more people to your blog to see and enter. Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and ask your followers on Twitter to retweet your contest information and they’ll gain an entry to the contest. Word of mouth is key, and who doesn’t like free stuff?
You can also list your contest at sites like these:

New Readers
New Traffic means new readers as well. People who stop by to enter themselves in your contest might also find themselves enjoying the content of the rest of your blog, and come back for more.

Giving away the right prize for your readers can produce a sense of loyalty and an eagerness to come back. Make sure you’re giving away things that are of interest to your particular group of followers, and things that somehow pertain to your particular expertise. Books, CD’s and gift certificates are popular giveaways.

Relationships with Marketers
When your blog generates enough comments and traffic, marketers will be interested in teaming up with you to promote their products, and often this means they will provide you with free products to use as prizes in your contests. This means free advertising for them, and no out of pocket expense for you to run your contest.

Running a successful contest can take time and practice, but judging from the success of other bloggers, blog contests can be a real way to help your blog become successful and popular.

We found some blogs that are currently having their own contests, check them out!

We want to hear from you! Have you run a contest on your blog? What were the results, and what did you learn for next time?

Landau Design is a web design and online marketing company. Let Landau Design review your online presence and devise an online strategy to take your company to the next level.

How to Add Share Icons to Your Blog or Website

Many Landau Design clients have asked this question: How do I get those cute share icons onto my blog or web page? It's quite simple if you're willing to do a little diving into the code. The two most popular share links are:

You'll notice at the top of this code we have the Tweetmeme and AddThis links (and if at this point you'd like to click them and share this post, we'd love you for it!)
If you're blogging in Blogger
You need to add the code for these icons into your Blogger template. If you add it as a widget in the sidebar, then the share link will go to your blog home page, and not to a specific blog post. It's better to have it go to a specific blog post so then you can reference what the blog is about when you share the link. Here are tutorials for adding these icons
If you're blogging at
Wordpress makes your life easier with simple widgets you can add to your blog template. There are several different kinds you can add, each with its own design. Tweetmeme And AddThis use Javascript, which is not allowed in blogs hosted at, so you cannot use these share icons here. The following links show you how to add the other share buttons if you are using to host your blog:
If you're blogging on a personally hosted blog
The personally hosted version of Wordpress has a lot more flexibility, and there are many social link plugins that are easy to add. Here are some links that will help you decide what to choose and how to install these plugins:
If your website is built in Joomla
Joomla offers several options for social media icons. There are ones that reside right on the page, and then there are global plugins that you can put into the header bar. We have used the following two extensions with great success:
For the traditional Tweetmeme and AddThis, you would need to add HTML code to your articles using a custom code plugin (Sorcerer is a great one). You would then follow the HTML directions in combination with the plugin syntax to put the share links onto your page.
If you have a regular HTML website
Adding the share icons is going to have to be done one page at a time. You will have to get the HTML code, and paste it into your page using an HTML editor, or by viewing the source code in your WYSIWYG (i.e. Dreamweaver) editor. Here are tutorials that show how to add Tweetmeme and AddThis icons to your pages.

Landau Design is a web design and online marketing company specializing in helping small businesses utilize the internet to get ahead. Let Landau Design review your online marketing strategy to take you to the next level.

Web Design 101: Please Don't Squish the Type!

http://www.landaudesignreview.comOne of my favorite things about web design is the flexibility it offers in terms of how to lay out text. With the arrival of CSS several years back, suddenly web designers who came from a print design background (like myself) got the control they had been longing for. Not only could we control the typestyle and color, but now we could control line spacing and even letter spacing. Wow, what a wonderful thing.

And so I respectfully request, when designing your website: Please don't squish the type!

What does"squish the type" mean?
When you arrive on a web page you want to be able to read what is there. But users do not read online as they would a magazine or book, instead they skim. They need the text broken up into bits so they it is easier to skim, and faster to grasp the content on the page. When you squish the type, you mush all the information into long paragraphs without a lot of visual breaks between the information (see screen shot below). If you add white space between your lines, and vary type size and color, it gives breathing room for your eyes, which makes it more likely a user will skim a little slower.

Here's an example of a web page that needs help. They are really squishing the type. It's unlikely anybody will get beyond the second paragraph because that third paragraph looks intimidating!

How users read online
It has been conjectured that browsing a website is a cross between reading a book and watching TV. When somebody reads a book, their mind is engaged in actually comprehending the words through the act of reading. They usually don't have visuals (if it's a novel say), so their mind is also actively engaged in visualizing what they are reading about.

On the flip side, when somebody watches TV, they don't have to do anything mentally in order to take in the information. They just stare at this big box, and watch what is shown. Hence the term "couch potato".

Usability experts have shown through research that browsing the Internet is somewhere in between. Some users will be engaged mentally, while others want the website to do the work for them. You must plan for this when you design, because most people will not read the precious words you have written, so you must help them read it.

Lay out your type so people will read it
  • Use bold headlines.
  • Create a larger, introductory paragraph that summarizes the page.
  • Don't have long paragraphs - break up the paragraphs into more bite-size pieces.
  • Use line spacing to bring white space between the lines of text
  • Do not make columns of text more than 550 pixels wide
  • Use subheadlines as much as possible
  • Use bulleted lists as much as possible
  • Hyperlink keywords and important points so users can get more information, and so it makes the key concepts easier to skim.
Oftentime clients will have great concerns about not creating scrolling in an article, and they want to squash all the lines together to keep everything within one page length. The only trouble with this theory as while it might prevent scrolling, it also inhibits reading. So would you rather they read the first couple paragraphs and not scroll, or read nothing at all? Besides, current usability studies show that users will scroll if they are interested in the content.

What you SHOULD do
Here's an example of the same page shown above in a much more readable fashion (after Landau Design review and changed it). The user can now decide how much or how little to read.

Site referenced here:

User behavior is part of the design process
We must remember how users read content, and only then commence with the creation of that content. How type is laid out should be considered when type is written. You put a lot of effort into creating your website, you certainly want to encourage everybody to enjoy your great work!

Landau Design is a web design and online marketing company specializing in small business services. Let Landau Design review your website and help you take it to the next level!