Hat Tip to Blog Promotion: Interview with The Social Media Hat’s Mike Allton

bullhorn_by_lemasneyIf you’re not already familiar with Mike Allton, there’s no better time to get to know him.

Mike is the CMO for SiteSell and lead “Content Marketing Practitioner” at The Social Media Hat, which only last week was voted one of the top ten social media blogs to follow in 2016 by Social Media Examiner.

For our part, we featured his article on blog promotion in the second of our series about conversions-driving content. In fact, so impressed we were with Mike’s guide – and The Social Media Hat blog – that we asked him if he’d agree to share his expertise with us.

Here, Mike offers his insights into strategies and platforms for promoting your blog, as well as for building your business with blog content.


Before we delve into questions about blog promotion, would you briefly share with us why you refer to yourself as a “Content Marketing Practitioner”?

Sure! While many businesses will use content marketing as an approach to reach and educate their audience, I don’t just use content marketing. I teach it. Experiment with it. Study new tools and techniques. Therefore, I’ve come to refer to myself as a practitioner, someone who is constantly learning and evolving in the study and use of content marketing, and sharing the results with my audience.

That evolution in my thinking has been mirrored in my writing, as I’ve worked to provide more and more detailed articles that reflect my own experiments and findings.

Your relatively recent article on blog promotion describes your most thorough social media sharing process. What would you recommend as an absolute minimum, core promotion strategy?

That’s a great question. At a minimum, every business needs to have at least one social profile and an invitation for site visitors to subscribe to their email list, so that new content can be promoted to at least one social platform and email list. And of course on the content itself, visitors should be able to easily share it to whichever platforms and networks they’re active on, regardless of which network the business selects.

So you begin to drive traffic to your site through a social channel and email marketing, and you allow your readers and prospects to share to other networks, increasing your content’s reach.

Of all the social media platforms you leverage for blog promotion, you clearly favor Google+.  Could you share with us why you prefer it to the other main social networks?

First, let me say that my preference is a personal one. While there are reasons why I enjoy Google+ so much, that’s not to say that other businesses can’t find equal or greater success on different platforms. That truly depends on the business and target audience.

For myself, I found Google+ to be a refreshing place to connect with and engage with my peers. That’s not just lip service. It’s been truly amazing to grow relationships with fantastic people who have helped me and my business tremendously.

Based purely on referral traffic, Twitter is currently my top social platform, yet Google+ remains my favorite, and where I spend the most quality time. That further illustrates to me how important it is for businesses to have a presence on multiple networks, and to develop an understanding how each platform fits into their overall marketing and business plan.

Besides Google+, you’re also a strong proponent of Twitter. How effective is Twitter for blog promotion, relative to the other main social media platforms? 

Twitter is one of the best platforms for blog promotion overall, at least in my own niche and experience. There are far more tools available to help with sharing and resharing, connecting with your targeted audience, and analyzing the success of your efforts.

That said, it’s all about your audience. If you’re targeting a demographic largely comprised of work-at-home moms, you’ll likely find that Pinterest is your best choice, followed by Facebook. Every blogger and business must do their own research and analysis to determine where their audience is active and approachable, and then develop ways to become organically part of their conversations.

There’s been a lot of discussion around Twitter expanding its character count. What do you think about it? Do you subscribe to the argument that it may “ruin” the platform?

Nope. I generally have a more open view when it comes to platform changes and development. Facebook’s newsfeed changes. Google+ going back into beta. Twitter expanding character counts… other than the occasional brief annoyance at losing a feature I found personally valuable (i.e. Google+ Ripples), I recognize the fact that platforms need to change and develop for a variety of user and business reasons. Those reasons sometimes won’t be immediately understood or universally accepted.

But with rare exception, I find it extremely unlikely that any modification to an existing platform could ruin it. A platform used by hundreds of millions of people around the world every month doesn’t fall out of favor overnight. It takes time and generally a series of poor decisions.

What are your thoughts about syndicating content on LinkedIn to increase its reach? 

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, but tend to avoid actual syndication too often. I prefer to push visitors to my original content on my own website, and instead like to use those platforms for original content.

However, as with everything else in digital marketing, opinions can and should easily change with exceptional testing and analysis. This topic, specifically, is one I plan to test this year. However, measurement of success is going to be elusive. As Mark Schaefer has pointed out, it’s next to impossible to measure how much visibility your content gets when it’s published on external properties.

You mention that you use Pinterest (even though your content, as a rule, is primarily text-based). Does it drive significant traffic to your blog?

Pinterest is great for bloggers. And the more niche and specific you can get with your content, the better platforms like Pinterest may prove to be for you.

And while I don’t create a lot of image content, I do make sure that I have at least one branded, feature image for each and every blog post. And for those articles that are more important to me (for any number of reasons), I’ll take the time to create an image specifically for Pinterest (900 x 1100). I’ve added a custom, hidden field to my new blog post form so that I can upload a Pinterest image that the share buttons will see so that anyone can pin it.

What would you say is the more effective blog promotion strategy overall: email or social media?


Social media is outstanding for creating and developing relationships, and it’s a necessary step toward moving interested people into your email marketing.

But let’s do some basic math here:

Let’s say you’re a small business who has been working on their marketing for 6 months. You’ve created a nice lead generation resource to collect email addresses, which you’ve shared to social media and other distribution channels routinely. With all of the other content you’ve created and your marketing efforts, you’ve built up 1,000 Facebook Page fans and 1,000 email list subscribers.

The average open rate for email marketing is about 18%, with an average click rate of 1.8%, which means that out of 1,000 email subscribers, 180 will likely open the email and 18 will click through to your latest blog post.

Share the same blog post to your Facebook Page and your post will see the typical “Organic Reach” on Facebook which is about 2%. Click rates vary from 0.22% to 2% depending on the page and audience. But no matter how you slice it, it’s likely that a mere 20 of your fans will see that post, and probably half of them will click through.

Facebook is brilliant for reaching a targeted audience in a number of ways, not the least of which is paid advertising, which is the most cost effective in the world. But for promoting a blog post, email is clearly more effective.

What are the top strategies you’d recommend for building a business using blog content?

You’ll read dozens and dozens of different ideas on how to use and promote blog posts to build and promote a business. But there are two things in particular that you can do that are far more effective than anything else.

First, you have to create long-form content. That means really long blog posts… at least 1,500 words, and preferably more than 2,500. Sound like a lot? It is, but don’t let that scare you. You don’t have to write that much every week. In fact, most successful businesses will create one of these posts, what I call a “Pillar Post”,  per quarter on average.

The pillar post isn’t just long, of course, that’s just a byproduct. It’s long because it extensively and exhaustively covers a topic of particular relevance to the business, and of interest to the target audience. It has to be something that thoroughly answers a question, yet is positioned so that it’s likely readers will want more information or assistance even after they’ve read it all.

These kinds of extensive posts get exponentially more shares than shorter posts, and that helps drive traffic which increases the already high ranking factor, bringing even more organic search traffic. Those visitors are just as compelled to share the post, thus continuing to feed the process.

The post should, of course, have a strong call to action for readers to proceed to the next logical step (call you, read about your services, another article, whatever).

But here’s where the second top strategy kicks in.

With a post like this, let’s assume it’s 5,000 words about how to do something integral to your niche. That’s a long post, and would make for a great PDF download. You can put the entire article on your site, and then let interested readers grab a PDF copy for reference. Better yet, come up with a supplemental resource, like a checklist, that boils the topic down into a one-pager and make that available.

To get the digital download, they just complete an email subscribe form on your article and you set it up to auto respond with a link to download. They’re then part of your email marketing (which is an entire topic for discussion another day… how to leverage email automation to create a series of emails, regular newsletters, and more, to lead prospects down a sales funnel).

There are many other tactics and strategies for building and using blog content, and a lot can stem out of these two. So start there!

Connect with Mike on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Image thanks: ID 160597642 © lemasney / deviantart.com



5 Expert Promotion Tips to Rock Your Blog

You’ve crafted a great blog post. Now what?

If you answered “promote it” — which of course you did — then you’re absolutely right! As you know, all the time and effort you’ve poured into your creation amounts to zero if it’s not reaching your intended audience. No visibility, no engagement, no social sharing, no Web traffic, no conversions. And all that nothing can be…um…discouraging.

So we asked five of the sharpest content marketing minds out there to share their insights into how to promote your blog, via this two-part question:

Digital content writers and marketers read a lot of tips about how to promote their blog posts. In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Their candid answers are illuminating, often amusing, and rich with details. Enjoy!



Arnie Kuenn (@ArnieK), CEO of Vertical Measures

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? 

It all starts with creating useful, valuable content that people would actually be willing to share and promote. Assuming you have that, the one thing I still see most bloggers miss is focusing on the actual title of their post.

Many bloggers spend hours creating this fantastic post and only minutes on the title. In today’s world, the title is everything. It typically becomes the title tag and H1 (main header) that search engines love. The title tag then becomes the text that social media displays when posting. So the title is your best chance to get the world’s attention – which is where the sharing all begins.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

In a word – Facebook. Our paid search team continues to find creative, cost-effective ways to promote content on Facebook. It almost always seems to work and sometimes there are some pretty big payoffs.



Gabriella Sannino (@SEOcopy), President & Founder of Level 343

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? 

Let’s face it – most bloggers focus too much on traffic and not enough on retention — keeping visitors coming back. Traffic is only as good as visitors’ staying power, and staying power is only as good as the relationships you build.

Look for your most successful content (analytics, anyone?). Keep it updated. Repurpose it. Pay attention to the headlines and content that brought them in. Do more of that.

At the same time, look at relationship building. Build relationships with influencers and your target market. Work to earn social shares and backlinks from influencers and brand advocates.

A great outreach program is to do competitive research and work on building a tribe with them. Just because you’re competitive doesn’t mean you can’t work to gain mutual satisfaction. For example, we can only handle so many SEO projects. So what do we do when we’re overfull? We refer them to the competition. We look good, the competition looks good – it’s a win, win.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Sending out muffins to people. 🙂

I’d have to say that my favorite secret strategy sauce is inviting your sources to read, share, and link to your content. Sometimes it’s a blatant invite, but most of the time it’s a notice that you’ve written about them, quoted them, or otherwise brought them some exposure. It’s a “hey, I like you enough to talk about you, hope you don’t mind…”

In the process, it brings exposure to you from the people who visit to see what you said about them.

And if that doesn’t work…. there are always the muffins.



Lee Odden (@leeodden), CEO of TopRank Online Marketing

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)?

One of the most important blog content promotion strategies overlooked is to consider promotion at the content planning stage, versus after the content is already created. You’d think this would be obvious, but in the case of corporate America, it’s definitely not.

This is a timely question because I just received an inquiry from a company chock full of content – original content from the content team, influencer content, user generated content amongst their community and still – the issue of content distribution and promotion was problematic. Why? Because they focused so much on content creation and on-page SEO, the importance of audience development, syndication and distribution only came as an afterthought.

Successful marketing content creators understand the value of developing channels of distribution for their content whether it’s through an email list, an active community on relevant social networks, forums and groups, or through co-creation that inspires participants to help promote the content to success. In the case of content co-creation, a significant part of content promotion is factored into the planning – from topic to publishing channels to activating the influencers involved.

However, keep in mind there’s a big difference between lazy “listicles” with famous industry pundits and actual co-creation that inspires influencers to help you promote your content.

What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

Secrets cost money 🙂

It would be easy to suggest a behind-the-scenes network of mutual content promotion groups, but I still think one of the most effective blog promotion tactics is the content itself. Understand what motivates your readers and give it to them – better each time. Nothing inspires sharing of blog content like anticipation of what’s next and your content delivering as promised.

Many bloggers don’t have the patience to grow a community and subscriber base in their search of shortcuts. As a result, they overlook things that can take more work with a bigger payoff a little further out.



Mark Traphagen (@marktraphagen), Senior Director of Online Marketing, Stone Temple Consulting

 In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

I could share a lot of high level strategies, but your audience has probably heard most of them, so let me instead share an easy tactic that gets us a lot of traffic and extra shares of our content we might not have had otherwise.

The tip is: create “click to tweet” quotes from your content. Choose a few of the best takeaways or quotable moments from your post, and make it one-click easy for readers to tweet that quote to their followers. The easiest way to do this is with a service such as ClickToTweet (https://clicktotweet.com/). Compose the tweet quote in ClickToTweet (don’t forget to share a link back to your post!) and the tool gives you a shortlink. We usually turn the quote into a simple graphic inserted into our post, with a “Click to Tweet!” call to action included. We then make the graphic a clickable link, using the ClickToTweet-provided short link.

When a reader clicks the graphic, a Twitter composition window opens, with the prepared quote already in place. The visitor just has to click “Tweet” to publish the quote to their followers. If you included a short link back to your content when you did the setup on ClickToTweet, the quote should drive more traffic to your post.

Every time we include these in one of our posts, we get far more Tweets and traffic from Twitter than when we don’t.



Kristi Hines (@kikolani), Freelance Writer & Blog Marketing Strategist

In your experience, what’s the ONE strategy most bloggers don’t utilize (and the most successful bloggers do)? What’s your favorite secret (or overlooked) blog promotion strategy?

I’m not sure that a lot of others do this, but one of the things I’ve found most helpful in promoting content long term is setting up Google Alerts and Twitter searches for keywords that people would use when asking a question that my post answers.

For example, I had alerts set up for Thesis versus Genesis for a while to promote a post I had written on the differences between those two WordPress theme frameworks. That post ended up being my most successful in terms of affiliate earnings as it helped anyone asking about the two and, no matter what they chose, they would get them through my affiliate links.

So now the ball’s in your court: do you have any blog promotion strategies that have worked well for you? Please share them with us in the comments below! And thank you 🙂

















5 Ways to Capture Attention with Your Blog Content

Grab attention with your blog content

Read this post to find out how to write attention-grabbing blog content.

It’s that time of the year when everyone’s energies are scattered – including your readers’. Keeping them involved in your business blog and coming back for more can be a challenge any time of year, but you face a special set of circumstances when it comes to the holiday season. Attention spans are at an all-time low – but your blog still needs traffic and you still need to create content that speaks to your audience.

In addition, your blog content will be on your website long term. Creating content with an eye for capturing attention can serve you well during this busy time of year, and help you develop assets that can pull in readers and leads for months to come.

From topic selection to formatting choices, here are five ways to create a business blog that will keep people hooked through the holidays and beyond.

1. Plan a series of posts.

Individual blog posts – like this one – can spark interest, but if you want to hook your readers in long term, try a series of blog posts. A monthly column on one subject or a four- to six-part series published over several weeks can help you hook your audience. It also gives you the opportunity to dive in-depth into a subject.

For example, if you’re a test-prep provider who works with schools to help prepare students for the SAT or ACT, you could put together a multi-post series on all aspects of the standardized tests. This would help hook your audience and give them important information that they need.

2. Concentrate on your title.

No matter whether you’re writing one article or a series of six, your title is the first exposure that most people will have to your post. Creating a compelling title will help you capture attention, get more click-throughs from social media and drive more interest from search engine results. If you change nothing else in the next six weeks, changing your titles can have a huge impact.

3. Get controversial.

It’s well known that ruffling a few feathers can get you some attention – and this time of year might be a good fit for that. Is there a hot-button issue or big controversy in your industry this year? Are there some trends on the horizon that you can take a stand on?

This is a good time of year to stake your claim on an important topic. Don’t be afraid to get controversial! It could be just what your brand needs to stand out from the competition.

4. Make your posts scannable.

Your topic is important for capturing attention, but if you deliver that topic in long paragraph, your audience is going to click away. Formatting is essential for keeping attention. Break your posts into actionable steps, numbered lists or concepts with subheads. This makes it easier for your audience to take a quick scan of your content and decide whether or not they want to dive in deeper for the entire article. You can also use bullets, bold and italicized formatting to add variety.

Look back at posts that have received the most comments on your blog in the past. How are they formatted? In most cases, you’ll probably see that the posts that get the most response are formatted in a scannable and interesting way.

5. Take a visual approach.

Using a visual format can capture attention and help you break out of the box. Writing is awesome – I love it. It’s what I do for a living. But you can’t deny the power of images. With images now more prominent in social media, it might be a good time of year to experiment with an infographic, create an image-based post or put together a presentation blog post.

Which techniques are you going to use to capture attention from readers this year – and into the next?

About the Author

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

Photo thanks to John Holm (fascination)

Need help creating your own blog or SEO content? Check out Heather’s SEO Copywriting services.

Woot! Are you having fun with your copy?

Thesaurus Shirt from Woot!

Woot! Shirt

Have you ever visited Woot!?

You may think that it’s just another online bargain website. Technically, that is true. But, even if you don’t want to find a limited-time offer on some random item or find an awesome shirt, as a copywriter, you need to check out this website.

Why? Because Woot! doesn’t just sell merchandise – it sells stories.

Get the specs and more

When you check out a featured item on Woot!, you will be able to find the basic information you find on other websites: product specifications, warranty information, shipping notes, etc.

But wait! There’s more!

You also will be treated with a fun introduction. What do I mean by fun? The Woot! writers let their imaginations go!

For example, the content for a recent tablet named all 32 of the device’s gigabytes. Some of my favorites include:

  • Gigglypuff
  • Sir Gigsalot
  • Whoopi Gigberg

Each product has a unique, funny story … even if the writers admit that they really don’t have anything to say. No matter the product, they still say something that keeps you reading.

Let your inner Woot! writer loose

Chances are you can’t write exactly like they do on Woot! However, you can harness some of that creativity.

Even B2B websites have some room for creative copy. You don’t have to sound like everyone else. You can reach your target audience and still have some fun. You can spice up your writing and turn up your creativity.

Here’s your task for this week: check out Woot! Poke around a bit and see what their content is all about. Then, embrace your inner Woot! writer and rewrite one page or write a blog post using your Woot! muse.

Time’s running out on Heather’s Copywriting Business Bootcamp! Learn how to make more money, faster. Save 10% until 11/13/13 with coupon code SECRETS.

Leveraging content relationships & social proof for conversion rate optimization

How to leverage social proof from content relationships for CROThough content marketing has only recently reached buzzword status within the search industry, guest posting has been a popular method of promoting products and services online for a long time.

It’s often cited as a great link building technique and when done well, can help your website in more ways than just search.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) has long been a technical art within digital marketing, but there are also a few ways in which you can utilise guest blogging and the relationships you build in the process to help improve conversions:

Qualified Traffic

Search is a fantastic driver of traffic for many businesses but it can also be wasteful in terms of conversions.

This is where content marketing can have more of an impact, as you’re segmenting your market before you ever set out your stall. When quality content marketing campaigns are focused around specific sets of users, they can be a powerful tool to drive qualified traffic to a website.

Social Proof

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation… driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.”

In other words, in observing the behaviour of others the decision process is simplified, providing us a convenient mental shortcut to responding to the task in hand.

The Blueglass UK website provides a prime example of using social proof from content marketing:

SEO Social Proof - 1

As you can see above, they have chosen to highlight their relationships with outlets that have featured their content as well as with other brands using their services, leaving visitors to ask themselves, “If it’s good enough for the Guardian, it must be good enough for me right?”


While I could talk about the benefits of Authorship (and the fabled AuthorRank) all day, suffice it to say there is a huge amount of value to be had in including your author profile within content.

As you begin to write and publish more content, your author picture will become synonymous with your writing. Use the same image across all platforms and content and searchers will recognise the visual clue as a familiar and trusted face within the search results. Not only does this lead to improved CTR but it also allows the user to personify the company, transferring their views of the individual content creator to the organisation.

Relationships and Testimonials

Once you’ve placed your content with a high profile blogger, don’t let that be the end of the relationship. There are so many more mutual benefits to be had!

One such example is Testimonials. Rand Fishkin wrote about this method for attracting links back in 2009, but I find it serves a double purpose. Not only does the content creator get a nice link back to their website, but you get a glowing reference that can be used as further proof of your credentials to potential prospects.

Distilled does this very well on their consulting pages, thanks to their close relationship with SEOMoz (now Moz):

SEOmoz Social Proof - 2


Custom Landing Pages

A personalised landing page can be a great tool to help create a seamless transition from your guest content onto your own website, and maintain the brand connection between the two.

This is particularly potent when looking to gather blog or whitepaper subscriptions without the user feeling like they are just being “handled”.

From these pages you have much more control over the user journey and can look to move the prospect onto a proven conversion path as soon as possible.

One great example of this is from James Agate who guest blogged for Raven Tools and used a custom landing page to squeeze users towards subscribing to his newsletter.

Simple, yet effective.

We all know that content marketing is here to stay, but as you can see there is so much more to it than meets the eye. By using the relationships we garner through our content outreach we can help further our business goals long after the article has been published.

Have you used social proof to help improve conversions? What are your thoughts on using brand relationships for CRO?

About the Author ~ Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro is a Cardiff-based SEO Strategist at Box UK, a software development consultancy, helping to run the digital marketing department. You can find him on his blog talking about digital marketing and the state of semantic search, or on Twitter: @andrew_isidoro.

Could your conversions use a boost? I can help. Check into my direct response SEO copywriting services today!

5 tips to guarantee your guest blogging pitch doesn’t suck

Want to guest blog for a great site? Here are 5 tips for your successI see a lot of guest blogging pitches. Most of them are simply ignored because most of them are really, really bad – sometimes they’re so bad they make my brain hurt.

But every once in a while, someone manages to make their pitch stand out from the cesspool that guest blogging has seemingly become. What’s their secret? They get “it”.

What is “it”, and how do you get “it” if you don’t already have “it”? Let’s find out by looking at some actual examples of emails I’ve received from people who want to write for my website.

Are You the Keymaster?

At some point, you’ve probably read a story about how editors are the “gatekeepers.” Well, I’m one of those gatekeepers.

Considering that Search Engine Watch (SEW) is the longest running site dedicated to covering the latest developments in all thing search, naturally it attracts attention from people in the search marketing industry – and sometimes from even people beyond SEM. During a week, we may see anywhere from 25 to over 100 requests from people who want to write for SEW.

Like many sites, SEW has a pretty straightforward page for people who are interested in writing for SEW, fittingly called “Write for SEW”. If you’re so inclined, you can click on that link and go read those simple rules, which aren’t there just for SEO purposes. These rules are meant to explain to potential contributors exactly what we’re looking for so we can avoid wasting each other’s time.

Still, so many people seemingly go to that page and fill out the form fields and click submit without bothering to read the guidelines, or even put much thought into their pitch.

Rather than talk in generalities, though, let’s look at a few examples of guest pitches that suck, so you can know what to avoid and increase your odds of guest blogging or becoming a regular contributor for a website you really want to write for.

1. Don’t Tell Me Where You Write, Show Me

Actual email: “I would like to see if you have an opening for a writer! As a full service digital agency, I write for [REDACTED] on SEO, UX, web development, kiosks, media production, mobile, and social.”

Why This Sucks: Too generic and not nearly enough information here to stand out from any of the 100+ pitches I’ll see this week, all from people with the same/similar skillsets (and many of them also have a “full service digital agency”).

Tip 1: Don’t tell me where you write, show meLink me to awesome posts you’ve written or at least to a bio page on another site. Trust me, gatekeepers at authoritative sites generally won’t make the time to hunt you down if you obviously haven’t spent more than two minutes on this form.

Additional (real) examples of things not to do:

“Please see my sample posts and let me know if you need anything else.” (No sample posts or links included.)
” ” (No, that’s not an error. More than one person has left the message where he/she should have included additional details, such as maybe a potential topic or links to previously published posts – or anything really!)

2. Your Pitch Isn’t About You

Actual email (excerpt): “[REDACTED] would love to expand his expertise by join SEW’s writing team. He is interesting in contributing articles that focus around SEO, social media analysis, content marketing and their relationship with new business.”

Why This Sucks: I’m instantly put off by someone who thinks that writing for my website will grow HIS expertise. (Remember: I don’t know you yet, so don’t expect me to fall in love and jump into bed with you (metaphorically speaking, of course) instantly!)

SEW wants to feature contributors who share their expertise with the greater community. SEW’s mission is to help marketers (our core audience) do their jobs better. If you need to grow your expertise by writing for us, you aren’t writing for SEW. The same will be true with other quality publications, regardless of the niche/vertical.

Tip 2: Your pitch should focus on the site you’re targeting: Show me how the post you want to write for SEW will help our readers, not you. Show me you’ve done some kind of research and we aren’t just a notch in your guest blogging bedpost.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“I produce a ton of good content. I’d love to become a contributor for SEW.” (You and 1,000 other people.)

“All I would ask is to be able to place 1-2 relevant do-follow links back to my client’s reputation management website.” (Asking for links is just asking to be ignored.)

“Kindly allow me to write here.” (Kindly, no.)

“I’m willing to become a regular contributor here at SearchEngineWatch.com. I have been following this platforms since many years and it would be really a good achievement for me to be a part of the platform I have been admiring.” (You may be willing, but I’m certainly not!)

“I am primarily looking to get my word out and write about something i have much passion in.” (Your word, eh?)

“I have been a reader of SEW for several years now, and would like to be a contributor on a bi-monthly basis. Thank you for your consideration. Looking forward to your response!” (But that first guy would “love” to be a contributor…you only would “like” to? ;))

“It has always been a goal of mine to write on a regular basis for a quality source of information and SEW is, in my eyes, perfect for me.” (So, are you expecting me to start singing “Call Me Maybe”? Because I just met you, and this is crazy.)

3. Grammar and Spelling Count, Big Time!

Let’s stick with the same email excerpt from the previous section for a minute.

Another Reason This Sucks: Just as typos or grammatical errors will get your resume thrown in the trash, so too will a pitch with just wording as “by join SEW’s writing team” and “He is interesting in contributing articles” get your email deleted. If you want to write for a site, you better be able to, you know, show that you are able to write.

Tip 3: If you really want to write for a website, check your spelling and grammar before you send that email or submit that form. First impressions count. If you can’t get your pitch right, I assume everything about your content will be suspect, and you definitely aren’t worth the risk.

Additional (real) examples of bad grammar that kill you dead:

“Please let me know if you can allow me writing a guest post on your blog and I will send you my article for review.” (There’s a difference between can and won’t.)

“All of the content I provide is unique and written to a high quality ” (This is a huge warning sign that your content will actually be the opposite.)

“I writes passionaly about social media in reliance on marketing tactics, technique and on my marketing education.” (Passionaly? More like painfully.)

” I’m be interested in writing for searchenginewatch…” (Work on mastering writing first, OK?)

” I would like to contribute as a write to your prestigious portal” (Funny, I want to keep it prestigious.)

4. Your Contacts Have Names

Actual email (excerpt): “Hello Admin…”

Why this Sucks: My name is not Admin.

Tip 4: Do a bit of research: Find the “About Us”, “Staff”, or “Contact Us” page on the website or blog/publication you want to write for. There, you’ll likely discover an actual name of a staff member, editor, or webmaster. Show the blog owner or editor a signal that you know who they are. Make it personal.

Additional (real) examples of things not to say as your “pitch”:

“Hi {NAME}” (Wow. Just wow.)

“Dear Sir/ma’am” (My facial hair doesn’t give away my gender?)

“I’ve been reading your blog on searchenginewatch.com since long.” (Don’t use a domain name…use the publication, website, or blog name. Not to mention don’t use terms such as “since long”.)

“I was just checking out your blog…” (Obvious way to show you don’t know the website.)

5. What Are You Going to Write About?

Some people simply link to their writing samples. While linking to published content is helpful, by itself it is useless.

Tip 5: Clearly explain what you want to write about: If you’re targeting a search marketing publication, you should have some expertise in SEO, PPC, social, analytics, local, mobile, or video. What topic do you want to write about?

Even better, pitch a headline and blurb (teaser). This will be another indicator that you’ve given some good thought to your pitch.

Even better, do a site: search and make sure the post you’re pitching hasn’t already been written about. Identifying a hole in your target site’s coverage, or perhaps offering to update/rewrite an existing article, are two quick ways to potentially get your foot in the door.

You Can’t Game a Gatekeeper

Think of gatekeepers as if they’re Google. Google’s algorithm determines a website’s ranking based on more than 200 ranking factors and signals. So when you pitch a blog post, you can’t just focus on any one of the above areas, or even other “intangibles”, and expect success.

Spammy guest blog pitches will be wiped out of inboxes in the same way Google removes spam from its index. Sending editors all the right signals won’t guarantee success for any number of reasons, but you will definitely improve the odds of getting a reply to that email you’re waiting for.

Bottom line: Don’t be selfish. Be human. Be polite. Be smart. Be specific.


About the AuthorDanny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin is the Editor of  Search Engine Watch, the longest running search industry publication dedicated to covering the latest search and social news and trends, as well as providing how-to guides and actionable advice for marketers and advertisers of all skill levels. You can find him on Twitter.

photo thanks to Rachael Towne (stockerre)

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Blogging: 4 experts share their favorite tips & strategies

Four reader favorites about blogging are featuredLast month we shared a collection of our all-time favorite posts that focused on content: creation, marketing, quality and strategy.

Following up on that thread and twisting it a tad, today we feature four reader favorites about blogging by experts who shared their favorite tips and strategies with us!

Learn: how to land a guest post gig, what to watch for when writing and publishing your blog, how to write a quality post in a time crunch, and the content marketing mojo of blogging beyond SEO.

And enjoy!


Ann Smarty

8 steps to landing guest posts

Widely known in the SEO and blogging community as the owner of MyBlogGuest and SEOsmarty, Ann Smarty writes an expert mini-guide on how to land guest post gigs, every time!




Nick Stamoulis

Beyond SEO: The content marketing power of the blog

Brick Marketing’s Nick Stamoulis discusses why blogging makes for a powerful content marketing strategy and savvy business practice in establishing yourself as a go-to resource for your clients and becoming an expert in your vertical.




Melissa Fach

5 things that make me stop reading a blog post

Written from her perspective as the (then) Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal, Melissa Fach discusses what she can’t abide in a blog post. With its inclusion of readability and usability, this is especially helpful information for aspiring bloggers!



Heather Lloyd-Martin

Write a (good) blog post in 1 hour – here’s how!

Our own Heather Lloyd-Martin shares 8 pro tips for cranking out a fun, informative, quality blog post in a time crunch. (It can be done, and well!)




image thanks to Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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3 proven strategies for the challenged SEO copywriter

Has your writing muse abandoned you? Fear not – it happens.

In these three “best of” SEO copywriting video how-to’s, Heather shares her favorite writing tips to awaken your mind and kick-starting what it is you do best: brilliant SEO copywriting!

Take courage and avail yourself to Heather’s savvy & successful SEO copywriting tips with these three video shorts:


3 SEO content ideas for the blogging blocked

Heather discusses three SEO content ideas for those of you who may be “blogging blocked.”

If you’ve been blogging awhile, eventually you’ll probably hit the point where you’re not sure what to write about anymore. It can be very frustrating to sit there, looking at a blank page, thinking, I need to come up with a post, what am I going to do?

So here are some ideas for those folks who may be stuck because they’ve been blogging for a while, or for those who are just starting to blog and they’re looking for different avenues in which to do it…


How a swipe file can conquer writer’s block

Heather shares her favorite writing tip that can benefit all writers, whether you’re an in-house copywriter, freelance writer, blogger, or even a novelist. And that tip is: how to use a swipe file.

Swipe files are spectacular because they offer a great way to conquer writer’s block and provide inspiration on those days that you really need it!

Tune in to learn what a swipe file is, and how to use it to infuse your writing muse…


How to create an editorial calendar

In past webinars, Heather has discussed the importance of having an editorial calendar, but she has never actually addressed how to create one. So in this video, she does just that.

Listen up as Heather de-complicates the “editorial calendar” with three steps to creating one that serves both you and your content development team…


photo thanks to eamoncurry123 (Eamon Curry)


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3 SEO content ideas for the blogging blocked

Greetings and welcome back! Today Heather discusses three SEO content ideas for those of you who may be “blogging blocked.”

If you’ve been blogging awhile, eventually you’ll probably hit the point where you’re not sure what to write about anymore. It can be very frustrating to sit there, looking at a blank page, thinking, I need to come up with a post, what am I going to do?

So here are some ideas for those folks who may be stuck because they’ve been blogging for a while, or for those who are just starting to blog and they’re looking for different avenues in which to do it…

1. Weekly “best of” roundup posts – Content curation

  • List the best blog posts, articles and cutting-edge information.

One thing I would recommend is content curation, such as a weekly “best of” roundup post that lists the best blog posts, articles, and cutting edge information in your industry.

  • Warning! These may be easy to write, but take a lot of research time.

While these content curation posts and articles are easier to write, in that you’re mostly gathering information and writing a short summary, know that they are time-consuming as well.

My blog editor, Laura Crest, published a great article illustrating all that she does to come up with the weekly SEO Content Marketing Roundup posted here each Wednesday. So definitely check that out!

2. Post interviews

The second thing I’d recommend is to post interviews. People love reading interviews! You can chat with other folks in your industry, and they don’t necessarily have to be the big, well-branded folks.

  • Review other interviews in your industry – then come up with a different slant.

You’ll want to check out what other folks are doing in your industry – you don’t want to regurgitate the same interviews that are being posted in other places.

  • Include a mp3 with a transcript – or just a written interview.

You can include an mp3 with a transcript, so people can listen to the interview as well as read it. And if you have video, you can add video!

  • Interviews with market leaders are always interesting – but consider interviewing other people in the field too.

Sometimes just interviewing someone who’s doing something relevant in your industry on a day-to-day basis can provide your readers with an interesting perspective – and that is good! Folks like reading those kinds of interviews as well.

  • Have fun!

The big tip here is to have fun! Infuse a little bit of your personality when you’re interviewing folks – don’t be afraid to add a quirky question, because your interviewee’s really appreciate and respond to that. It makes the interview seem much more human.

3. Run a “best of” post

Finally, there’s the option of doing “best of” posts.

  • Review your analytics. Summarize and link to your most popular posts.
  • Another idea: List the posts with the most comments, the most controversial – even the posts with the best pictures!

Besides those posts with the most comments or those that prove most controversial, I listed here the posts with the best pictures because people really loved the “dog mullet” post, and I hear a lot about it – so I included it in the slides. 🙂

  • These posts are especially good to write at the end of the year.

These are prime posts to write up at the end of the year, as they tend to be really popular and people tend to link to them a lot! Try it out!

Thanks for tuning in! And remember, if you’d like more SEO copywriting information, you to sign up for my weekly newsletter that will arrive in your inbox every Tuesday. You’re also welcome to sign up for our daily blog updates!

And as always, you’re welcome to email me with your comments or questions at any time via heather@seocopywriting.com, or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to Steve Jurvetson

If you’re wondering what is going on with your site – if you’re not sure why it’s not positioning or converting as well as it should, or if you’re not using the right voice for your readers – I invite you to check out my new SEO Content Review service. I can diagnose your sticky SEO problems and help you find some solutions!




How to land a quality guest post gig – 9 tips from an editor

As the blog editor for SEO Copywriting, I receive a lot of guest post queries – many with complete submissions.

Every so often, a relatively “unknown” freelance writer gets it right – but these instances are sadly few and far between. All too often, it’s a thinly-veiled attempt to market his or her stuff couched in a poorly-written, badly-conceived, keyword-stuffed piece of caca I wouldn’t unleash upon anyone – much less our loyal blog readers!

So both inspired and irked, I have assembled some tips for successfully submitting your guest post query and text to a quality site – and for ensuring your content is well received!


  • Your research

This not only applies to your blog topic, but also to the guest blog site’s tone and feel.

Is it a data-based blog that features stats and research? Is it light and airy with humor thrown in? Research the site’s past blog posts – have they already recently published a post on your topic? Adjust your copy and the timing of your guest post submissions accordingly.

  • Write about what you care about

This may seem obvious, but apparently it is not so…If you haven’t any passion for a subject, it will show in your copy (translation = it will be mind-numbing dull). Dig deep and share what you care about and feel for – your writing will be all the more captivating and informative when you do!

  • Be smart about how you pitch it

Speaking of care, do take care in crafting your pitch in your email subject line and in your first few words of introduction. Sending emails that start off with “I am looking for links to my site and I can write an original article for you” is far from compelling (translate: spam folder)…for any blog editor.

  • Take the time to double-check your spelling, grammar, tense & syntax

Sure, you may have done a spell-check – but spell-check does not catch errors in tense or syntax.  Amy C. Teeple wrote a great post about just this with “SEO is no excuse for cre8ive spelling and grammar.”

If you start off in the first person, stick to it. If you are writing in present tense, keep it in the present tense. It is a matter of staying consistent and being conscientious –try printing off your post and reading it out loud. If something sounds “off” it probably is…

Does it make sense throughout? Or did “they” become “him”? “Had” become “have”? “Is” become “was”? Pay attention to these details – if missed, these simple errors make both you and the blog site look bad. If caught, your guest post may end up returned with those red notes or rejected altogether.

  • Make sure your links are working

There are few things more annoying than having to investigate a broken link in submitted content. It is a time-consuming pain in the ass.

As with your basic grammar/spelling/tense/syntax check, take the extra time to make sure your links are functioning!

  • Credit your sources and link to them

This goes beyond copyright law and covering your butt – it is a matter of respect to other writers and website sources.

The freelance writing community is relatively small, and if you go into niche writing (like SEO), it is smaller still. People notice (and talk about) those who neglect to give credit where credit is due.

Just do the right thing, and you’ll be all right.

  • Include quality images, properly cited

It has been well documented that images greatly enhance content – so go that extra distance and include images with your guest post, provided they render well and resonate with your post.

For free images online, check out Yahoo’s flickr creative commons (select the attribution-only photo option), and Wikipedia’s public domain images. As with giving due credit to content sources, be sure to credit the source of the image you include with your post (if requested).

  • Get clear with the blog editor about reprinting your post on your own site and the whole “syndicated content” thing

Should you have plans to reprint your content elsewhere, whether it be your own site or elsewhere, be sure you communicate that with the blog editor.

It is most unpleasant for host site editors to find their “original” guest post content duplicated all over the web – and especially on the same dam day!

Give your host a “head’s up” – or better still, an explicit notice as to where and when you intend to reprint your post. Most blog editors will be okay with a reprint within a month or so – the same day or week…not so okay! At least, not without a conversation and links back to their site, sourcing your original guest post.

  • Finally: Honor the deadline

Give the blog editor a chance to review, edit, and upload your copy into their publishing platform. Believe it or not, this does take some time and the more lead time you give the editor, the better your post will read!

An 11th-hour post submission is rarely free of a glaring grammatical error or five. Account for the fact that it takes two pairs of eyes and a bit of time to ensure your copy is free of oh-shit! errors!

And p.s. it will not go well with the frazzled blog editor. Don’t burn your bridges if you hope to keep a good thing going!

Hope you find these tips helpful and not overly snarky 🙂 For more great advice on getting your guest posts published, see Ann Smarty’s own guest post on landing guest posts!


photo thanks to jinterwas

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