Got Writers Block? Use Google Alerts to Find the Best Stories for Your Blog


Got Writers Block? Use Google Alerts to Find the Best Stories for Your Blog

Once you’ve learned all about how to create your own blog, it’s time to start sharing your compelling copy with eager readers around the world. No doubt you have a least a handful of concepts for your first few articles, but what happens what the well dries up and you find yourself without any website content ideas?

Regardless of what topics you generally cover, every writer sometimes gets stumped and could use a hand coming up with a fresh subject to write about. A surefire way to clear the roadblock and give your fingers the fodder they need to craft another captivating post is to scour the Web for recent news relating to your topic of choice. But finding that information can take time, especially if you’re not sure where to start looking. Luckily, Google Alerts exist to keep you up to date about news in your industry, which can help you find valuable inspiration for your next blog post.

Here’s a look at Google Alerts, how the service works, and how to get started using it.

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is an often overlooked, but incredibly useful service powered by the Internet’s most popular search engine. The way it works is simple: You give Google a set of keywords to monitor, and whenever those words appear on a newly published Web page, you’ll receive an email notification. Using Google Alerts makes it easy to get ideas for website content by having the search giant keep tabs on keywords relevant to the scope of your blog.

It’s no secret that some of the most-shared content on social networks relates to current event topics. By using Google Alerts to find out about the latest trends and developments in the area(s) that you write about, you’ll be better positioned to share your thoughts about that news while it’s still relevant to the rest of the world.

Ideas for Blog Content

Getting Started with Google Alerts

It’s free and easy to get started using Google Alerts, but it helps to know a few tricks about how the search engine works first. To begin, head over to, and you’ll immediately be presented with a search box prompting you to “Create an alert about…” Enter the keyword or phrase that you want to keep track of in this field. Use quotation marks around groups of words if you only want to receive alerts about pages that include those words in the same unbroken order as what’s inside the quotes. Use a dash before a word or phrase to exclude results that include that word or phrase. (There are several other ways to use symbols and punctuation to fine-tune your search results, but those are the biggies. Learn about the rest here.

After entering your keywords or phrases in the search bar, you’ll see the most recent results relating to your query. These are the results that Google would email you for that particular alert. Depending upon the popularity of the words you’ve chosen, the results could range anywhere from just a few, to a few thousand. Fortunately, Google Alerts also gives you the ability to determine how often you’d like to receive your alerts.

Customizing Your Alerts Experience

After you’ve defined the keyword(s) that you’re interested in tracking, you can customize your alert experience by clicking the “Show options” link underneath the search bar. You can select if you’d like to receive alerts once a week, once a day, or throughout the day, as they happen. Based on the popularity of the terms you’ve chosen, alerts could range anywhere from a few a week to a hundred or more each day. For more common keywords, a daily or weekly digest might be your best bet. You can also denote which sources you’d prefer to receive alerts from, whether they be blogs, forums, news sites, or anywhere else on the Web. You can also choose to only receive alerts in a particular language, or from a certain region of the world. Finally, you can opt to receive alerts whenever your phrase is mentioned on any site, or you can leave it up to Google to only send you the results that it deems most relevant.


Now that you know how to get ideas for writing blog posts by using Google Alerts, you’re in a powerful position to create killer content for your website. Using Google Alerts can help you generate blog material that can keep you top-of-mind with your readers, while also enabling you to grow your digital following. So if you’re looking for personal website content ideas, count on Google Alerts to save you time and energy by doing the legwork for you. One you receive your alerts, you can just scan the headlines, and if it looks like something you’d like to write about, you’re well on your way to crafting another winning blog post.


Must-Know Terms When Building Your First Website

First Website Terms to Know

Are you building your first website, but hesitating because you’re confronted by a bunch of website terms you don’t understand? Don’t worry! This brief article will cover the basic words mentioned in every introductory website glossary. Here’s a crash course in the terminology of website building – designed to help anyone build their first website ever.

Domain Name

This is the address of your website or blog, which typically ends in a suffix such as .com, .net, or .org. You can purchase your own domain name from a registrar and link it with your website, or you can use a subdomain name provided at no charge by many of the free website builders. So instead of having a blog or website at, it will be located at, or

For those looking to have the domain name of their choice, you’ll need to pay a fee to the website builder. A domain name never comes for free and when looking for one you have to make sure it is unique. The free website builders allow you to obtain your domain name via their site.

Web Terms to Remember

Website Template or Theme

When building your first website or blog, you will be asked to choose the “template” you prefer, sometimes the word “theme” is used instead. Either way, this refers to the look and feel you are choosing for your site. Most of the free website builders have created hundreds of these templates for you to peruse when building your website. All of the coding is already complete and you, as the user, simply need to choose the one you want.


Follow these 10 web design blogs for inspiration

Has your next web design project sent you into a Pinterest spiral? Not sure which design format will yield the best results for your site? We’ve all been there. Stop storyboarding a ton of ideas and head straight to the experts. The top 10 web design blogs are full of ingenuity and smart ways to jazz up your online space.

Whether you’re building a website for the first time or you’re a professional web designer, it’s important to stay on top of the latest web design trends. The best web design blogs know how to reach their audience and convert visitors into customers, and their bloggers are constantly studying ways to improve their craft. Even those of you building a website using a website builder like can benefit from some web design knowledge when creating or refreshing your webpages.

Here are 10 of the top web design blogs to help get you started.

Web design blogs – Smashing Magazine

1. Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine is a web design blog known for it’s vast information and tips for creating a well designed and engaging website. With monthly contests, thousands of pages of tutorials, ebooks, posts, a job board, and more, it’s one of the largest resources anywhere on the web. The blog focuses heavily on web and mobile design, an area that is largely overlooked.

2. WebDesignerDepot

WebDesignerDepot has been running since 2010, covering hot topics in design such as usability, typography, and responsive design. Great for people building a website for the first time and pro designers alike, this is the place to go for web design inspiration, tutorials, and lots of great resources.

3. Designerfix

Designerfix is a blog that constantly updates about the latest graphic and web design trends. Its web design section is full of great examples on how to optimise your site’s look and feel to better fit your primary objectives. Believing in the power of free knowledge, their motto is to “be less selfish with our design, and be more about sharing like a community intent on evolving the art!”

4. Web Design Ledger

WDL is more of an online magazine than a blog, but it is still insanely useful. Hundreds of posts and easy to access archives covering topics from User Interface tips to typography can be found throughout the dusty URLs of the site.

5. Six Revisions

Six Revisions is one of the best blogs for beginners, as it skips a lot of the artsy design ideals and gets straight to the point. With many different guides to choose from, if you’re doing something wrong, this blog will let you know – but it will also help you correct any mistakes you’ve made. Not sure what images work best or what’s the best use for white space on your site? This great blog has all the answers for you.

Web design blogs – You the Designer


What Apple Pay Means for Your E-Commerce Site

If you own or oversee an e-commerce store, you may have heard some scuttlebutt in recent months about how Apple Pay is poised to revolutionize the way consumers purchase products. And while it may be true that mobile payments are the future of shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, can the same be said for online vendors? The answer’s not as cut-and-dried as you might think. Here’s a closer look at how Apple Pay could influence the way you sell your goods over the Internet, and whether or not it makes sense for your business.

What is Apple Pay and Why Use It?

Announced in September 2014 and launched the following month, Apple Pay is a mobile payment system designed to streamline financial transactions for owners of the latest Apple devices. Apple Pay utilizes NFC technology to enable secure, contactless transactions both in physical stores and certain mobile apps. It works by allowing consumers to save their credit card information in their iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, and at the point of sale, they confirm a payment via Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner. This added level of biometric security has won Apple praise for enabling increased privacy and security for both the purchaser and the retailer. Since Apple Pay transactions don’t require the presence of an actual credit card, the account numbers of users can’t be stolen by criminals.

Get your e-commerce shop off the ground when you use a free website maker to create an awesome online store.

Where is Apple Pay Available?

At the time of its debut, Apple Pay was compatible with terminals at more than 220,000 retailers in the United States. For the time being, Apple Pay is still confined to the U.S., however the company plans to expand the service internationally as well. Aside from physical stores, Apple Pay also works within a set of popular mobile apps, including nationwide brands such as Uber, Target, Groupon, and Panera Bread®. Considering that as of August 2014, Apple products accounted for more than half of all online shopping conducted on mobile phones, and north of 80% of shopping from tablets*, it makes sense that these retailers have chosen to get onboard with Apple Pay. (Though it’s important to note that Apple’s dominance in that area has been dwindling as it continues to lose ground to Samsung and other emerging competitors.)

Apple Pay and E-commerce

Although it’s relatively easy for brick-and-mortar businesses to learn how to get to Apple Pay to work for them, the service is not so simple for e-tailers—nor does it always make sense. For starters, Apple Pay online payment does not currently work with digital goods such as downloadable software, music, or e-books, unless they’re sold through the iTunes Appstore. So unless your business’s offerings are exclusively of the physical type or included in the Appstore, Apple Pay isn’t be an option for you. Also, depending upon the physical location and income level of your typical customer, accepting Apple Pay in your business might not be a worthwhile endeavor. If your average purchaser doesn’t live in the United States, or likely doesn’t have enough disposable income to afford a high-end electronic device, Apple Pay is probably not a good fit for your business.

Additionally—and this is a biggie—Apple Pay does not support standard e-commerce purchases made from desktop computers or from Web-based mobile stores. However, if your business offers a branded app as a means to purchase your products, then Apple Pay can be a viable option for you, so long as you use one of Apple’s approved payment-processing partners to handle your transactions. That list of approved partners includes a few big names like Stripe, Braintree, and, but one company is noticeably absent. Apple Pay does not work with PayPal, and industry analysts believe that it’s highly unlikely that these two companies will strike up a partnership anytime soon.

So What’s a Small Business E-tailer to Do?

While Apple Pay can certainly be a game-changer in traditional retail environments, using Apple as an online store payment method is likely not going to make a substantial difference for small businesses—at least for the foreseeable future.


Website Bounce Rates Demystified

Owners of e-commerce businesses are constantly hunting for ways to improve the performance of their sites. One of the most common analytical measures is the bounce rate. however, as helpful as this stat can be, it can also lead you astray. A few variables mix with the bounce rate and it does not stand alone as a barometer of success. As with any piece of information, it is just a piece of the puzzle, not the entire picture.

Defining Bounce Rates

What Is Bounce Rate?

A bounce is defined as when a visitor lands on your site and does not click through to a second page. The bounce rate calculation is the number of visitors that only record one hit (i.e. landing on a page) divided by the total number of hits—or entries—to the page. In theory, this raw data can then be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the site.

But, take a breath, because this can sometimes be very misleading. The bounce rate metric is meant to measure engagement and visitor behavior; yet it does not include visitor expectations. In other words, bounce rate analysis can be highly subjective.

What Is an Ideal Bounce Rate?

Whether you have a professionally designed website or used a free website maker yourself, many e-commerce business owners want to know if their site is effective and what a good bounce rate is. Well, that depends—and that’s not a cop-out answer, either! Logic tells us that a lower rate would be best. An average bounce rate is about 50 percent, but that may be a very good or very poor percentage, depending on visitor expectations.

One of the main drivers of those expectations is the industry in which your business operates. An ideal bounce rate is industry dependent. Some industries naturally generate a high number of new visitors to sites, and are therefore likely to have higher bounce rates, while others are prone to more repeated visitor traffic.


Everything You Need to Know About Cyber Monday Online Success

Cyber Monday is like Black Friday for people who don’t enjoy being trampled to death. Occurring the Monday after Thanksgiving, it serves as a digital second chance for every frustrated Black Friday shopper who was #42 in line to pick up one of the 40 half-priced laptops at Best Buy.

If you own an online business, you need to come prepared with enticing Cyber Monday deals.

The customers are ready to buy, but if you want to maximize your profits on this important shopping day, you’ll have to consider a few key pieces of advice.

Absorb the following wisdom, and Cyber Monday may just become your favorite day of the year.

Your Web Builder Must Be SEO-Friendly

If you’ve been in the e-commerce game a while, you probably don’t need a lecture on the meaning of SEO.

It simply includes all of the techniques and processes involved in maximizing your site’s search engine visibility.

Research indicates that organic traffic (e.g. Google traffic) accounts for about 20 percent of online holiday sales, so it’s very important to get the most out of your Google presence and collect your piece of the pie.

No one can take advantage of your Cyber Monday sales if they don’t know you exist.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to tackle the fundamentals, as most web builders give you everything you need.

The first thing to look for is an “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” menu. You can usually find this under your main site settings.

Here are just some of the most important fields you’re likely to encounter:

Title Tag (or sometimes “Meta Title”): the main title for your site that appears in Google search results. Make sure to include your top keywords, and try to keep it under 55 characters.

Meta Description: A main description for your site, usually 150 characters or less.

Keywords: Some web builders will ask you to input your most important keywords so that it can grade your content accordingly and recommend improvements.

All of these fields can (and should) be filled out for all of your category pages and product pages as well. Just click on any page in your site editor to access its individual settings.

If you haven’t yet chosen a web builder, and you don’t consider yourself to be SEO-savvy, consider choosing a web builder that offers SEO guidance or coaching.

For example, offers Website Coaches that will analyze your site to determine — among other things– if it’s designed in a way that encourages high search engine rankings.

Responsive Design for Cyber Monday Deals

One of the most important Cyber Monday tips we can give you is to make your site mobile-friendly.

Cyber Monday shopping on mobile phones more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, and the number of mobile shoppers continues to increase.

If your business website doesn’t work smoothly and seamlessly on an iPhone or an Android device, you’re going to miss out on tremendous profit potential.

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