How To Get Inbound Links: 7 Strategies That Actually Work

Is your website suffering from link deficiency?

You’ve probably heard how important backlinks are for SEO (roughly 40% of Google’s ranking factors). But getting inbound links ain’t easy. Rather than going out and building links on external websites, Google’s Matt Cutts says we should earn links through creative content.

And since part of creating “good” content is making your pages/posts stand out, I only found it appropriate to use a set of brilliant colored pencils to light this page up with some personality. I actually borrowed this idea from an article on Search Engine Journal (only they cheated and used a cute puppy). Either way, making your content visual, useful, and easy to navigate is WHY people will link to it. People don’t link to anything – you need to do something different.

1. Create Educational Content

This is the type of content people actually WANT to link to, they’re not just going to come by themselves. I specialize in SEO for WordPress so most people are looking for help configuring the Yoast SEO Plugin, or how to make a WordPress site load faster. These are some main topics people want to learn and I have spent WEEKS writing these tutorials. They’re the ones I put front and center in my navigation menu and the ones I link to most on my site. If you have a high value keyword but only a mediocre post about it, you should try improving that content.

What happens when you take a mediocre post and invest multiple days turning it into the best tutorial online? My Yoast tutorial went from 5 visits/day to 100 visits/day (all from SEO) within 24 hours of republishing it with the new content. Now it has over 190 comments and a TON of links from people who have found it through Google. Of course it’s been ranking on the first page for it’s keyword (Yoast SEO Settings) for years because I’ve invested hours and hours into the content. When Matt Cutts says to “create good content” that’s exactly what he means.

WordPress Speed Optimization Guide

You need to identify key topics and write the ‘ultimate guide’ on each one. Yes it can take an entire week to write just one article, but that’s exactly what it takes if you want an extra 100 visits/day through a single post. Good content WILL pay off especially since Google has started penalizing websites with low quality content. 90% of my links are to my SEO tutorials.

Creating articles targeting high value keywords (educational topics) helps you:

  • Establish long-term, high traffic posts
  • Get links through SEO traffic it generates
  • Be viewed as an authority in your industry
  • Get tons of comments/conversations on those posts
  • Acquire some of the most loyal followers through education

2. Spruce Up Your Content

Visual content is 40x more likely to get shared (source) and while nice graphics are obviously important, don’t limit your content to text and graphics. Embed a Twitter status if you’re quoting someone, use a 2 column layout to list pros and cons, embed a video, or use an HTML table of contents like you see in the top of this post to help people navigate to specific topics.

I personally like using 2 column layouts in many of my blog posts. I also know my content body is 680 pixels (width) which means if I’m using a 2 column layout with photos, each photo would be 330(w) if you count the 20 pixels of space between each column. Knowing your dimensionshelps you resize images to look better and makes them load faster. Just a quick tip for you 🙂

680 Pixel Width Rectangle

Although it’s specific to WordPress, my tutorial on how to spruce up content in WordPress has a LOT of ideas for diversifying your content. This includes how to add an HTML table of contents, embed a Youtube video without Youtube’s branding, embed social media statuses, style fonts, and other ideas. Here are just a few ways you can make your content more visual…

Content Ideas

  • Add an HTML table of content to help with navigation
  • Design infographics using canva.com or hire a freelancer
  • Embedded videos, ideally your own if it’s a high value topic
  • Take screenshots (I do a LOT of this since I blog about WordPress)
  • Use Advanced Twitter Search to find tweets to embed on your posts
  • Style links (and their hover color) in your posts so they’re easy to see
  • Use tables, 2 column layouts, buttons, lists, bold items, and other styling options
  • Adding a photo/bio in your blog sidebar so people know who is writing the article

3. Add Videos

People love videos (and love linking to them too), but few website owners actually do this. Creating your own videos if definitely preferred if you have the time, but even finding a helpful video on Youtube adds a ton of value to your content, like what Matt Cutts says about links…

Listen, I’m an introverted dude who was completely uncomfortable creating SEO tutorials (I still cringe when I hear myself talk). But guess what? I have over 200,000 views between all my Youtube videos and have gotten links, clients, and affiliate sales through these videos. When I write a super important article on my site (like my tutorial on optimizing content for keywords) I will create a video and embed it on that tutorial. Videos not only attract links because people love them, but by embedding videos on your site you are also improving engagement with your content (average time on page) which Google uses to determine your rankings.

Higher rankings, more links, more subscribers, and more sales from people who saw your videos. That’s like a win-win-win-win! Suck it up, get a camera, and start creating some videos.

4. Design Infographics (In 10 Minutes)

What else do people like linking to? Infographics. Read this article by HubSpot which says visual content is 40x more likely to get shared. You can create these yourself using a free infographic maker like canva.com or hire a freelance infographic designer for around $100-$400 depending on the graphics, how detailed your directions are, and the freelancer’s rate.

This infographic literally took me 10 minutes to create…

seo-link-building-infographic

I’m still trying to keep up with my videos, but you should be investing time in either videos or infographics – ideally both if you have the time/money. I urge you to create a couple videos or infographics and see what happens. I bet traffic to your post will double, and so will your links.

5. Post Long Content

One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see is people throwing up short content (usually mostly text) and wondering why it doesn’t rank. If you want to be on the first page of Google and people to link to you, your content needs to be better (and more thorough) than everyone else behind you. Longer content ranks higher in search engines and posts with 3000+ words is ideal. If you’re using WordPress, the Yoast SEO Plugin counts number of words for you in the content analysis tab, otherwise you can paste your full article in a Google Doc and do a word count.

When I revisit old posts to improve the content, I try add at least 500 words. You can plan out key topics (subheadings), add a table of contents in the beginning with those subheadings, then add additional sections to the article. Do your research and Google the keyword, see what other people are writing about, then include topics you think would make your article better.

6. Improve Your Design

People link to websites that look good. This does NOT have to cost a lot of money. For $40/hour you can hire a skilled overseas developer on freelancer.com who can help you design or redesign your site. I’ve been working with the same WordPress developer (Pronaya) for 5 years who is only $40/hour and helped me build over 25 websites when I was running a small WordPress design business. You can hire him by signing up for a freelancer account and searching for user BDkamol. I’ve invested $20,000 in him over 5 years because he’s that good.

pronaya-freelancer

Even if it means migrating your to a WordPress theme from StudioPress (super nice mobile responsive themes), I did this and it this has payed off HUGE for me. My old site wasn’t responsive so I migrated to StudioPress and while I can’t directly correlate it with link growth, it looks WAY better, loads in under 1 second, and is more SEO-friendly. Generally the nicer your website is (and the easier it is for people to find things) to more people will link to you.

7. Do More Content Marketing

Once you’ve creating an AMAZING piece of content around a high value keyword and published it, you need to get some eyeballs on it. Here are a few easy ways you can do that…

  • Send out a newsletter
  • Post it on your social networks
  • Join Facebook groups and share it when appropriate
  • Email bloggers in your industry who it would interest
  • Mention people in the actual article (they could likely link to it)
  • Publish interviews and quotes from Twitter to include more people
  • Hold contests, prizes, and discounts in return for sharing your content
  • Create a Youtube video about the topic and leave a link in the description

Avoid Hiring A “Link Builder”

You can hire an overseas link building freelancer on websites like freelancer.com and upwork.com but I would NOT do it since this can get you a Google penalty. I dabbled with some (very high rated) link building freelancers and they did get me ranked higher for WordPress SEO consulting and other services. But sure enough, within a couple months I got hit with a Google penalty and my traffic cut in half. It took me several months (and a lot of hard work) to recover from this penalty so do yourself a favor and avoid doing this together.

Besides, Matt Cutts says we should be earning links, not building them.

matt-cutts-link-building

The few “link building” methods that actually work:

That’s all I got! If you have any questions about how to get inbound links to your website, drop me a line in the comments (glad to help). Just remember, people naturally want to link to good content so that is the single most important thing you can do to speed up your link growth.

Source: onlinemediamasters.com ~ By:  TOM DUPUIS ~ Image: pixabay.com

The Difference Between Direct and Organic Search Traffic Sources

For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic traffic pretty similarly and simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines, while direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser. This explanation, however, is too simplified and leaves most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic, especially organic and direct sources.

Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:

  • Referral: Traffic that occurs when a user finds you through a site other than a major search engine
  • Social: Traffic from a social network, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Organic: Traffic from search engine results that is earned, not paid
  • Paid search: Traffic from search engine results that is the result of paid advertising via Google AdWords or another paid search platform
  • Email: Traffic from email marketing that has been properly tagged with an email parameter
  • Other: If traffic does not fit into another source or has been tagged as “Other” via a URL parameter, it will be bucketed into “Other” traffic.
  • Direct: Any traffic where the referrer or source is unknown.

Now that we have a general basis for all traffic sources, let’s dig into the specifics of two very important sources: direct and organic traffic.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.

Traditionally, we’ve attributed these visitors to manually entering the URL of the website or click on a bookmarked link. Today, however, the story behind direct traffic is a bit more complex, and the number of visits from direct traffic seems to be growing for many websites, especially sites with growing organic traffic.

To test this theory, back in 2014, Groupon ran a test in which it de-indexed its site for six hours. When Groupon did this, it was able to conclude that 60 percent of direct traffic was actually organic because de-indexing its site and halting organic traffic also dropped its direct traffic.

Why are more sites seeing direct traffic growth, and what should you do about it?

Let’s dig into the common causes of direct source traffic to find the answer:

  • Internal employees: Your employees commonly visit your site and do not have their IP filtered from web analytics. As a rule of thumb, filter out all company IPs from web analytics.
  • Customers: Do your customers log into a customer portal on your site? This is often a culprit within direct traffic. In this case, you do not want to completely filter out the traffic, but instead set up different views within Google Analytics to view web analytics without this traffic.
  • Actual direct traffic: These are the people who enter your URL into their browser or find you via a bookmark. There’s nothing you can do to dig deeper on this—just embrace the fact that users actually know your brand.
  • Emails from particular email clients: It’s quite common for email clicks from Outlook or Thunderbird to not pass on referring information. You can typically identify whether an email caused a spike in direct traffic by analyzing traffic around the time a particular email was sent.
  • Mobile traffic: In the Groupon experiment mentioned above, Groupon found that both browser and device matter in web analytics’ ability to track organic traffic. Although desktops using common browsers saw a smaller impact from the test (10-20 percent), mobile devices saw a 50 percent drop in direct traffic when the site was de-indexed. In short, as mobile users grow, we are likely to see direct traffic rise even more from organic search traffic.
  • Clicks on mobile apps or desktop softwares: Programs such as Skype or news apps often do not pass referring information and result in direct traffic. The best way to capture and analyze this further is to understand where your site links might be commonly used or placed digitally, including apps.
  • Secure (https) to non-secure sites (http): Since Google began emphasizing the importance of having a secure site, more websites are securely hosted, as indicated by the “https” in their URLs. Per the security protocol, however, any traffic going from a secure site to a non-secure site will not pass referral information. For this issue, you can correct by updating your site to be secure through a third-party SSL certificate.

When you look at your overall traffic, a healthy amount of direct traffic is about 20 percent, according to web analytics pro Avinash Kaushik. However, with major web shifts that are disabling marketers from tracking the true source of traffic, it is likely we will see this percentage rise. Now, what about organic traffic?

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is the primary channel that inbound marketing strives to increase. This traffic is defined as visitors coming from a search engine, such as Google or Bing. This does not include paid search ads, but that doesn’t mean that organic traffic isn’t impacted by paid search or display advertising, either positively or negatively. In general, people trust search engines, and sayings such as “just Google it” reinforce that humans are tied to the search engine. Thus, paid search, display, or even offline campaigns can drive searches, which may increase organic traffic while those campaigns are running.

That said, we also know that organic search traffic as a whole has been negatively impacted by the layout changes Google made to search results last year, which caused some websites such as Wayfair to see 25 percent of click share on desktop and 55 percent on mobile be lost to paid search results.

To sum up all of this information, even organic traffic, like direct traffic, has some gray areas. For the most part, though, organic traffic is driven by SEO. The better you are ranking for competitive keywords, the more organic traffic will result. Websites that consistently create content optimized for search will see a steady increase in organic search traffic and improved positioning in the search results. As a marketer, it is important to look at your keywords and high-ranking pages to identify new SEO opportunities each month.

Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.

Source: smartbugmedia.com ~ By: Amber Kemmis ~ Image: pixabay.com

How SEO Works, Exactly

Search engine optimization evolves and changes all the time.

Every year, certain methods are embraced by the SEO community as “must-have tactics,” while others get pushed to the brink of history thanks to Google’s algorithm updates.

In light of this, SEO is perceived by many as a never-ending battle between search engines and SEO professionals who continue to puzzle out updates to gain more traffic and increase SERP visibility for a short while.

But is that really the case? How exactly does SEO work?

In this article, I will provide my perspective on the SEO landscape today, list several fundamental principles that search engines adhere to, and share my understanding about the inner workings of SEO, and why combining multiple tactics through trial and error is the only way to successfully drive your campaign.

Today’s SEO Landscape

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s get a broader perspective of what is going on in SEO right now.

If we search for  [income lawyer new york] on Google, here is what we see first:

Search results with ads

And then this:

Featured snippet news

And this:

QA snippet in Google search

We only see actual search results halfway down the first page. Then, even more ads and more related search terms.

What it comes down is this: Google and other search engines suppress organic results from search.

Although Google still displays 10 organic results per page, they are designed to draw attention to ads, answer boxes, “People also ask” sections and other widgets.

It is hardly surprising that organic CTR has dropped by 37 percent since 2015 and will apparently continue to drop heading forward.

While the competition to get listed organically keeps heating up, SEO professionals need to up their game in 2018 in order to survive.

Here is where learning which principles are working right now may help you out — provided you can figure out how to combine them to your website’s benefit.

Fundamental Principles of SEO Today

1. Links Still Rule

Links have been important from the earliest days of SEO and are still one of the strongest indicators of a website’s superb performance to Google.

The more high-quality, relevant links you acquire, the higher your website’s SERPs will potentially become.

In short, links are still fundamental to SEO.

It makes sense to invest in link building as part of your SEO efforts.

2. Relevant, Optimized Content Wins

The links vs. content problem is somewhat like a chicken-or-egg dilemma.

You need content to attract links, but your content needs links to boost your site’s ranking in search results and to help drive traffic to a content piece.

Eventually, what it comes down to is this: Links and content are the backbone of SEO.

If you want to crack the first page on Google, you need links to your relevant, well-optimized content.

Here are some things to bear in mind when crafting and optimizing your content:

  • Keywords matter in context. Keywords are still of strong relevance to Google, but instead of scanning the page for “keyword appearance,” its crawlers now analyze the context and related secondary keywords that share the searcher’s intent.
  • Titles, meta descriptions, ALT attributes, H1 tags, and URLs are still important. Include targeted and relevant keywords in these elements.
  • Increase your expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T). Read Google’s search quality guidelines for guidance on content quality. Google states, in part, that “the amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”

In short, establish a process to produce and share high-quality, optimized content. Ensure that all content is written for humans, yet optimized to feed data to search engines.

3. UX Signals Have an Impact on SERPs

User experience (UX) plays a substantial role in how your website does with the search engines.

Unfortunately, user experience depends on too many factors (e.g., site infrastructure and layout, content, etc.), and is often too hard to measure.

Figuring out where your site lacks from a UX perspective can be a painful experience. Thus, some SEO pros choose not to deal with it whatsoever.

Spy on Any Website’s Analytics Account
See their sales and how they get them, in real time. Insights you were never meant to see.

Yet, if you want to win your SEO game in 2018, mastering UX is what you need. You can partially outsource the design and layout parts of the process, but you will still have to:

  • Ensure that dwell time and CTR are high, and bounce rate is low.While these signals have been around for some time, and Google does not use them as direct ranking factors, optimizing your site for high engagement can’t hurt and could even help indirectly.
  • Improve site architecture. The key part here is to improve a website’s navigation and make sure that search engines can crawl all the pages, and users can easily find a page that they are looking for. “The simpler, the better” approach works perfectly here.
  • Optimize for speed. Regardless of the platform, your site has to load in 2 seconds or less. Image compression, code and structure optimizations, and faster servers will help.
  • Attract a UX professional to optimize customer journey in line with user intent. Since SEO has evolved to become more user-focused, you should work together with UX people to provide great digital experiencesat each stage of a customer’s journey. In other words, your goal is conversions and sales, not just traffic and leads.

In short, UX optimization has already become a fundamental part of SEO.

Focusing on the visitor will likely play even more important role in the future (since Google becomes smarter and clearly improves for a user’s sake), and you need to learn at least the basics of it.

4. Mobile SEO Can Make or Break It

As Google is determined to use its mobile-first index to rank and display search results on all devices, it is time to finally polish your website, mobile-wise.

Unfortunately, although Google’s move makes sense (with more than 50 percent of traffic worldwide generated on mobile), making your site perform smoothly on both mobile and desktop is not simple.

To begin with, you will have to invest in a responsive design, since Google recommends it.

You will also have to make your content consistent across desktop and mobile devices, and ensure your website is fast and easy to use.

What it all means:

  • Optimize your content for mobile users.
  • Accelerate your page speed.
  • Enhance mobile-friendliness.

In short, you will need to up your mobile game or you’ll find yourself ranking poorly on Google.

5. Voice Search Is Already a Thing

Although I do not believe that voice search will revolutionize SEO in the near future, customers seem to love it.

Northstar Research reports that 55 percent of U.S. teens and 41 percent of U.S. adults use voice search.

According to Google, more than 20 percent of all mobile searches are voice searches.

With that said, it makes sense to start optimizing for voice search now.

Specifically, you can start with these steps:

In short, while voice search optimization is not a must-have right now, related optimizations make sense and can help you own more Google real estate.

Combine and Experiment Through Trial-and-Error

SEO success most often comes from best practices plus some trial and error.

Nowadays, the fundamental principles described above are for you to combine and experiment.

Unfortunately, SEO rules are not carved in stone. The rules and tactics change and evolve all the time.

There is no universal SEO formula; only trial and error can help you determine which SEO methods work and which do not for your particular website in your particular niche, at a particular moment in time.

The secret of SEO is simple:

You must learn how to combine and experiment with multiple methods, and then analyze the results, bearing in mind that all your work may go to waste due to Google’s latest algorithm update or what your competitors are doing.

In the process, you sift out well-performing tactics, while cutting out those that do not work anymore. Then, rinse and repeat.

In doing so, you will never end up with a linear SEO strategy which, however successful for a short period of time, can prove dangerous in a matter of days. Google is usually pretty quick to figure out when someone discovers a way to cheat their algorithms.

Conclusion

SEO is a never-ending, ever-evolving, multidimensional science. Every SEO would love to find the magic formula that could once and for all explain how SEO works, with specific rules and concrete equations on the table.

Unfortunately, SEO is too complex to fit into a template. Although it does evolve around principles and certain rules, its inner workings are all about analyzing and applying tactics that work and sifting out tactics that do not.

Bear this in mind, and keep a close eye on your competitors, and you will definitely succeed in search results. This is how SEO works, and will continue to work, until the process is completely outsourced to AI.

Source: searchenginejournal.com ~ By: Sergey Grybniak ~ Image: Pixabay

Is a Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency Making You Tired?

YOU ALREADY KNOW A LACK of iron can drag you down.

But experts say numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies can contribute to fatigue. If left unchecked, the same deficiencies that make it hard to keep your head up can lead to long-term health consequences – from brittle bones to impaired brain function.

“Fatigue can be like an early warning sign of potentially more severe problems down the road if you don’t recognize and treat the problem causing the fatigue,” says Dr. Anthony Komaroff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “You need to explore all possible explanations for your fatigue.” That goes for ongoing feelings of exhaustion to concerns about muscle fatigue being more pronounced or prolonged than might be expected from physical activity.

Some of the most common causes of fatigue – and easiest things to test for – involve deficiencies in three minerals and two vitamins, Komaroff says. After iron comes lack of magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12 and folic acid. “All of them can be corrected by giving supplements of the missing minerals or the missing vitamins,” he says, or through dietary changes.

“More serious problems than just the fatigue can develop from these vitamin and mineral deficiencies,” Komaroff says. “For example, vitamin B12 deficiency, if it goes on long enough, undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to permanent damage of the brain and the spinal cord that can affect people’s ability to move, walk and think clearly.”

Even the mundane can become imperiling – such as untreated anemia from iron deficiency. “Iron is needed to build hemoglobin, which is what is inside the red blood cell,” Komaroff explains. “It carries oxygen, which is a critical source of energy to every cell in the body.”

Anemia often occurs in women as a result of blood loss due to menstruation, though it can affect women of any age as well as men. In mild cases, it can escape detection. But as iron deficiency becomes more severe – and if left uncorrected – symptoms can escalate to include severe fatigue, headache, chest pain and increased heart rate. Besides iron, vitamin B12 or a folic acid deficiency can also lead to anemia.

One factor that may be largely to blame for vitamin deficiencies is a national obsession with restrictive diets, according to Jessica Crandall, a Denver-based registered dietitian nutritionist and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Most Americans are engaging in some kind of fad diet throughout their life, and when they do that, they are cutting out food groups, [which] can cause repercussions, such as nutrient deficiencies,” Crandall says.

A big sandwich might make you sluggish; but, she says, cutting out carbohydrates – the centerpiece of several popular diets – has left many feeling like they’re forever out to lunch.

“I’ve seen a serious rise in people cutting out carbohydrates from their diet, whether it be they’re following an Atkins or South Beach or Paleo-type of diet,” Crandall says. “When you cut carbohydrates out of your diet, you essentially are restricting a lot of the B vitamins as well as essential nutrients to provide your brain’s energy it needs to function.” Low-carb consumption, and resulting deficiencies – including in vitamin B12, which is already not absorbed well by women over age 50 – can cause brain fog or mental fatigue as well as physical exhaustion, she says.

“So we know we need to make sure we’re getting B12, whether that be from fortification, supplementation or our primary source, which would be our food groups,” Crandall says. She recommends eating a variety of foods and consulting a registered dietitian if considering food restrictions to lose weight. That’s in addition to reviewing lab tests with your physician to unearth any potential deficiencies.

Haphazard calorie cutting and meal timing, including skipping meals, can also contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as fatigue, she says. “I always encourage my clients to eat within the first hour of waking up to better kind of fuel their metabolisms and get their brain and body functioning,” Crandall says.

Whether a vitamin or mineral deficiency is contributing to tiredness, experts say it’s always worth exploring the cause from a health and wellness standpoint. There’s no shortage of potential culprits for fatigue from lifestyle issues, such as lack of sleep and not exercising enough, to more insidious causes, including underlying heart disease.

Felicia Stoler, a registered dietitian nutritionist and exercise physiologist in private practice in Red Bank, New Jersey, recommends that those experiencing chronic fatigue see a doctor to rule out medical causes. The type of fatigue matters, too, in pinpointing if or how a vitamin or mineral deficiency may contribute. While iron, for example, might cause an overall feeling of tiredness, a lack of potassium and magnesium can contribute to muscle aches and cause a person to feel sore and weak, Stoler says.

She, too, typically starts with diet to address mineral and vitamin deficiencies that can trigger fatigue, from recommending more meat, fish, fruit – such as cantaloupe, bananas and apricots – plus potatoes, turnips and other veggies to deliver magnesium; to cashews and peanuts, whole-grain products, fish, poultry and eggs to offset a zinc deficiency, which can also cause fatigue.

“I add supplements as needed,” she says, most commonly for vitamin D deficiencies, which can also invite fatigue and hurt bone health in the long term, increasing the risk for osteoporosis.

Stoler says it’s important to heed vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including those that might contribute to fatigue, and to be mindful of the broader implications. “If you think about why we even started looking at adequate intake levels and dietary guideline levels,” she says, “it’s really preventing … illnesses or disease associated with deficiencies.”

Sources: health.usnews.com ~ By: Michael O. Schroeder ~ Image: pixabay.com

Fatigue: Why am I so tired and what can I do about it?

Fatigue is a common problem involving a physical and mental state of being extremely tired.

Physical and mental fatigue are different, but they often occur together. Long-term physical exhaustion can also lead to mental fatigue.

Poor sleep can lead to fatigue if ongoing, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 Americans say they do not get enough sleep. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend sleeping 7 to 8 hours a day for adults over 18 years of age.

Poor sleep is associated with a variety of medical problems and health conditions. These include:

Lack of sleep can prevent a person from fulfilling their usual tasks. It can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. When it affects safety, for example, on the road, it becomes a public health concern. In severe cases, a person may show signs similar to that of an intoxicated state.

Fast facts on fatigue:Here are some key points about fatigue. More detail is in the main article.

  • Fatigue can be due to a variety of medical conditions and health problems..
  • Some causes can include anemia, thyroid conditions, diabetes, lung and heart disease, and having recently given birth.
  • If a health condition, such as diabetes, is diagnosed and properly managed, the fatigue may go away.
  • A healthful diet and regular physical activity can help reduce fatigue for many people.

Types

Fatigue can make it hard to stay awake or to get up in the morning.

There are different types of fatigue.

Physical fatigue: A person finds it physically hard to do the things they normally do or used to do, for example, climbing stairs. It includes muscle weakness. Diagnosis may involve a strength test.

Mental fatigue: A person finds it harder to concentrate on things and stay on task. The person may feel sleepy, or have difficulty staying awake while working.

Sleepiness or fatigue?

Sleepiness can happen when a person does not have enough good-quality sleep, or when there is a lack of stimulation. It can also be a sign of a medical condition that interferes with sleep, such as sleep apnea or restess leg syndrome.

Typical sleepiness is more likely to be short term. Sleepiness and drowsiness can often be solved by getting regular and consistent sleep.

Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue, is usually linked to a medical condition or health problem. It may also be its own chronic condition known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Causes

Fatigue is associated with many health conditions.

1) Mental health issues

It can result from stress, bereavement and grief, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety, moving home, boredom, and divorce. It can occur with clinical depression, either due to the depression itself, or because of associated problems, such as insomnia.

2) Endocrine and metabolic reasons

Conditions such as pregnancy, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, electrolyte problems, diabetes, hypothyroidismanemia, and liver disease can all lead to fatigue.

3) Drugs and medications

Some antidepressants, antihypertensives, statins, steroids, antihistamines, medication withdrawal, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs can cause fatigue. Changes in doses or stopping medications can also be a cause.

4) Heart and lung conditions

Pneumoniaarrhythmiasasthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), valvular heart diseasecoronary heart diseasecongestive heart failureGERDacid reflux, and inflammoatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause fatigue, among many other heart, lung and digestive diseases.

5) Sleep problems

Working late, shift work, jet lag, sleep apnea, narcolepsyinsomnia, and reflux esophagitis can lead to a lack of sleep and fatigue.

6) Chemicals and substances

Vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, poisoning, and consuming too many caffeinated or alcoholic beverages may disrupt normal sleep, especially if these are consumed too close to bedtime.

7) Various diseases, conditions, states, and treatments

Cancerchemotherapy, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), radiation therapychronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)fibromyalgia, systemic lupusrheumatoid arthritisobesity, massive blood loss, and weakened immune systems can all cause fatigue.

Fatigue can also be a sign of infection. Some infections that cause extreme tiredness include malariatuberculosis (TB)infectious mononucleosiscytomegalovirus (CMV)HIV infection, flu, and hepatitis, among many others.

8) Chronic pain

Patients with chronic pain often wake up frequently through the night. They typically wake up tired and poorly rested, unable to get good quality sleep. The combination of pain and lack of sleep can cause persistent tiredness and fatigue.

Some diseases and conditions where pain is the main symptom, such as fibromyalgia, may also be linked to other conditions, such as sleep apnea. This further worsens syptoms of fatigue. In one study on fibromyalgia and sleep, half of the individuals with fbromyalgia also had sleep apnea.

9) Being overweight or underweight

Being overweight increases the risk of fatigue, for various reasons. These include having to carry more weight, being more likely to have joint and muscle pain, and being more likely to have a condition where fatigue is a common symptom, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.

Similarly, a person who is underweight may tire easily depending on the cause of their condition. Eating disorders, cancer, chronic disease, and an overactive thyroid, can all cause weight loss along with excessive tiredness and faituge.

10) Too much or too little activity

A person who feels fatigued may not exercise, and lack of exercise can cause further fatigue. Lack of exercise may eventually cause deconditioning, making it harder and more tiring to perform a physical task.

Fatigue can also affect healthy individuals after prolonged, intense mental or physical activity. Working or staying awake for long hours without a break, especially when driving, increases the risk of errors and accidents. Statistics have shown that, among truck and bus drivers, longer hours of staying awake lead to more motor vehicle accidents.

It is important not to drive while sleepy. A survey carried out by the CDC found that around 1 in 25 drivers aged 18 years and above had fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.

Symptoms

The main symptom of fatigue is exhaustion with physical or mental activity. The person does not feel refreshed after resting or sleeping. It may be hard to carry out daily activities including work, household chores, and caring for others.

The signs and symptoms of fatigue may be physical, mental, or emotional.

Common signs and symptoms associated with fatigue can include:

Body aches can be a sign of fatigue.

  • aching or sore muscles
  • apathy and lack of motivation
  • daytime drowsiness
  • difficulty in concentrating or learning new tasks
  • gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea
  • headache
  • irritability and moodiness
  • slowed response time
  • vision problems, such as blurriness

Symptoms tend to get worse after exertion. They may appear some hours after activity or exercise, or possibly the next day.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis can be difficult, because the causes and symptoms are varied and non-specific.

The doctor may ask questions relating to:

  • the quality of the fatigue
  • patterns of the fatigue, for example, times of day when symptoms are worse or better, and whether a nap helps
  • quality of sleep including emotional state, sleep patterns and stress levels

A person can help by keeping a record of the total hours slept each day, and how often they awaken during sleep.

The physician will carry out a physical examination to check for signs of illnesses and ask the patient which medications they are using. Other factors to consider include present or recent infections, and events that may trigger fatigue, such as giving birth, having undergone surgery, or recovering from a major injury or illness.

The doctor will also ask about lifestyle habits, including diet, caffeine use, drug use, alcohol consumption, work and sleep patterns.

Diagnostic tests

These can help diagnose an underlying cause. Urine tests, imaging scans, mental health questionnaires, and blood tests may be necessary depending on other symptoms.

Tests can help rule out physical causes, such as an infection, hormonal problems, anemia, liver problems, or kidney problems. The physician may order a sleep study to rule out a sleeping disorder.

If an illness is diagnosed, that illness will be treated. Controlling diabetes, for example, may help solve the fatigue problem.

Treatment

To treat fatigue successfully, it is necessary first to find the underlying cause. Some examples could be:

  • anemia
  • sleep apnea
  • poorly controlled blood sugar
  • underactive or overactive thyroid
  • an infection
  • obesity
  • depression
  • an abnormal heart rhythm

Appropriate treatment for the condition can help alleviate fatigue.

Yoga, CBT, and mindfulness for fatigue

In one study, participants reported that fatigue, anxiety and depression fell, while quality of life improved in those with multiple sclerosis (MS) who underwent 2 months of mindfulness meditation training.

study on the benefits of yoga, found some improvement of symptoms of fatigue and sleep quality in cancer survivors. The 4-week program included postures, meditation, breathing, and some other techniques.

A 2017 study reviewed the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and yogaon treating sleep disturbances in breast cancer patients. Researchers reported those who participated in CBT appeared to have the most improvement in sleep, with decreased fatigue, depression, and anxiety, along with improved quality of life.

Results from studies on mindfulness and yoga were not as clear, but seemed to show slight improvement or at least some benefit, overall.

Home treatment

Here are some tips for overcoming fatigue.

Sleep

Quality sleep is an important part of managing fatigue. To practice good sleep hygiene:

  • Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on days off.
  • Set the bedroom temperature at a comfortable level. Cooler may be better. The National Sleep Foundation recommend a room temperature of 60 to 67°F.
  • Make sure the room is dark and quiet.
  • Avoid screen time an hour before sleeping, as the light and sounds from a TV or computer screen can stimulate brain activity, affecting sleep quality.
  • Avoid eating within 90 minutes or 2 hours before going to bed.
  • As bedtime approaches, physically and mentally slow down. Have a consistent routine. A warm bath or listening to some soothing music can help you clear your mind of stressful and worrying thoughts before going to sleep.

Keeping a sleep diary may also help.

Eating and drinking habits

Diet can affect how tired or energetic we feel.

Here are some tips:

  • Eat small frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Eat snacks that are low in sugar.
  • Avoid junk food and follow a well-balanced diet.
  • Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink alcoholic and caffeinated beverages in moderation, or not at all. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

A moderate and well-balanced diet can lead to better health and better sleep.

Physical activity

Regular physical activity can help reduce fatigue by improving sleep. However, those who have not been physically active for some time should introduce exercise gradually. A doctor or sports therapist can help. Exercise during the time of day that is most productive for you.

Take a break from driving

The CDC urge people to know the warning signs of drowsiness on the road.

If a driver notices they are doing any of the following, they should pull over and take a nap or change drivers.

  • yawning and blinking
  • not remembering the last few miles they have driven
  • missing an exit
  • drifting across the lane
  • driving onto a rumble strip
  • having trouble staying focused

If fatigue and sleepiness are affecting your daily life, and none of these tips work, you should see a doctor.

Source: medicalnewstoday.com ~ By:  ~ Image: pixabay.com