5 Tips to Guarantee Your Guest Blogging Pitch Doesn’t Suck

I 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 “Become a contributor.” 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 was 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. He’s now the Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. You can find him on Twitter.

How to Master Meta Descriptions With the Google Snippet Trick

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last week, I came across a Yoast article discussing Google’s longer meta descriptions (Google doubled the room we have for meta descriptions last year — from 160 characters with spaces to 320.)

The first paragraph contained a sentence that made me laugh:

“It appears that Google very often creates a meta description by itself…”

Basically, the author is saying that Google will often disregard our submitted meta descriptions and use a snippet of text from the landing page, instead.

(For those new to snippets, you’ll find the meta description snippet underneath the clickable link on the search engine results page — and the search term — or close variations — are typically bolded.)

Is this true? Is Google doing a meta description switcheroo?

Yes. But, here’s the deal…

This has been true for a long time. In fact, I remember writing about the Google Snippet Trick back in 2003 or so.

What’s the Google Snippet Trick? I’m glad you asked…

It’s simple.

When you write your page copy, try to include a benefit statement or call-to-action near the first instance of your main keyphrase (which is typically in the first paragraph.)

That way, when Google does grab a snippet of text for the search engine results page, your copy has as much marketing oomph as possible.

For instance, if you do a search for [SEO copywriting training], the search snippet for my site reads:

Endorsed by organizations such as seoPros.org and AWAI, the SEO Copywriting Certification training is a self-directed training focused on web content and social media writing. The materials are continually updated, reflecting the latest search engine changes.

Yes! I’ll take it!

Yoast recommends spending extra attention to your main paragraph. Although I would agree, remember that Google can pull the snippet from anywhere on the landing page (for instance, my snippet is from the bottom of the page.)

So, yes, every word counts — not just with your readers, but with Google, too. If you write a bloated, sloppy page, your search snippet may also read bloated and sloppy.

And, since meta descriptions help your readers convert and click through to your site, sloppy writing will hurt more than help.

What should you do now?

Take a peek at Google search results for your main keyphrases (or, if you work as a content strategist, your clients’ keyphrases.)

How do the search snippets read to you? Are they strong, or is there room for improvement?

If you find your snippets suck, you could gently tweak the site content, and add benefit statements or calls-to-action. Per Yoast’s recommendation, you may also want to pay special attention to your first few sentences.

Remember, search snippets are something that Google “controls,” so you may not be able to move the needle.

But, it’s worth a try. Especially if a keyphrase is super-important to you, and you want your Title and meta description to sing.

After all, the more compelling your Title and description are, the more chance your prospect will click through to your site — even if you’re not #1.

Cool, eh?

BTW, it’s still important to create a meta description, even if Google doesn’t always use it. After all, you don’t know when Google will make up its own snippet — or rely on your site for the answers. Why not err on the side of caution and spend three minutes crafting a cool description?

What do YOU think? Post your comments below — I’d love to hear from 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.

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?”

Authorship

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!

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)

 

Would you like prime search engine positioning and powerful SEO copywriting that converts? At a reasonable price? Check into SuccessWorks Direct response SEO copywriting services!

 

 

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 [email protected], 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!

PLEASE DO…

  • 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

Learn how to kick SEO copywriting butt with Heather Lloyd’s SEO Copywriting Certification training! A wicked smart move for your own bottom line and copywriting career.

8 tips for writing content that sticks

The web is filled with mushrooming content, with no real score of what is worth our time to read. What most people do is scan and skim through pages of articles with fast mouse-clicks, only to actually spend time to read cornerstone content. In this article, we will talk about eight tips to writing cornerstone content. But before anything else, let’s define what it is.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content is one that is composed with powerful data, outstanding facts, creative out-of-the-box opinions, and true advice that leave great emotional impact on readers, and/or impart a strong and positive sense of your brand’s identity.

With more and more of these cornerstone content pieces produced on your site, you will notice that the number of likes, shares, re-tweets, and plus-one’s will increase via both social media and word-of-mouth marketing.

How to Write Cornerstone Content

1. Follow best practices of grammar.

Remember when your high school English teachers keep on reiterating the correct subject-verb agreement?

Now is the time that you should pay extra attention to your tenses, your sentence buildup, correct usage of words, formation of phrases in relation to the topic and the like. If you have a good topic but your reader gets frustrated and sick of your wrong grammar, every writing effort will be a waste.

2. Write to a specific audience.

When you have a niche or specific topic, you should write with a conversational tone speaking directly to one target audience.

For example, if you are writing about the cures for a medical disease, don’t write in medical jargon – relate to your readers with a personal tone. You need to express your ideas with an energetic voice that strikes a balance between seriousness and wit for them to remain focused.

3. Do your homework.

By “homework,” this means research.

Readers are impressed by – and will stay “hooked” to – your content if it contains useful and informative information. These are people who trust that your content can give them the answers to their burning questions.

To achieve this without sounding like you’re trying too hard, write on subjects that you’re most knowledgeable, familiar, and comfortable with. First-hand knowledge is never second best, and research data only comes second. You can get a plus when you have interviewed experts in the chosen field and share the lessons and insights learned as part of your content.

4. Be clear on the objective.

Let your readers know that the article is well-planned and well-structured – and one that attains a clear, specified goal in the end.

You should begin to capture your audience through your introduction, telling them what the article is about and what the intent is. The details fall in the body, following through on the main intent and pointing out the solutions to tackle and solve the issue at hand.

You should provide a clear explanation as to how you end up with your conclusions, thereby matching your objective as determined in the first paragraph.

5. Stay inspired.

Reading fuels your mind—particularly, your creativity.

Look for interesting articles with similar cornerstone content, and try to model them to improve your own work. Also, delve into places that can spark inspiration. Travelling to experience new adventures, communicating with strangers, and eating exotic food might be good ways to start.

The key is to not write the same things repeatedly. Strive for the inspiration to offer fresh and exciting content every time.

6. Inject interaction.

Don’t fill your content with dry facts from beginning to end.

This type of writing is too formal and should be left to newscasters, “hard copy” journalists, technical writers, etc. If you’re blogging or promoting something on your site, you should try to look for ways to call your readers’ attention to action. You can do this by asking questions in the middle or at the end.

For example, if your topic is about shopping, ask your readers about their shopping strategies and make them feel free to respond by leaving their comments below. You can also assure them that you’ll reply to their e-mailed queries.

7. Be original.

Make use of Google Trends, Adwords, and other traffic searching tools to see how many hits a keyword gets.

Search for the keywords you intend to use and see how many original posts this niche has. Many content on the web are just copycats, rephrased time and again. Your writing efforts will pay off when you set a different angle and perspective to it. Give it a different spin, weave the story and make it more interesting than the rest. In this way, readers will be more likely to like your content than others’, though you have the same topics.

8. Make sections.

There’s nothing more boring than reading a text chockfull of unending paragraphs.

If you don’t want to be scanned and ignored, follow the golden rule: break your article into sections. Usually, readers know about two-thirds of the information or message you’re conveying already. What they want out of your article is the gist and the distinct juices that they can squeeze out of it.

So it’s important to break your text into manageable and readable chunks (e.g. bullet-point form or numbered list) to highlight the main points and let them see immediately what they came looking for. This article is an example!

Concluding Thoughts

Writing cornerstone content is largely about presenting your thoughts differently from the other thousands of existing pieces of content on the web with the same idea. By applying these tips, you can watch your content (and “space”) soar in traffic and popularity. Start and end with a bang and you’ll stick your brand, ideas and content to their minds like gum sticking to their hair…but far more pleasantly so.

 

About the Author ~ Celina Conner

Celina Conner is a Yoga Instructor, an alumna of Marketing Management at Martin College Australia and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Krizia. She has a passion in cooking and formulating vegan recipes.Follow her adventures on Twitter.

 

photo thanks to teamstickergiant (John Fischer)

 

You’re invited! Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 22nd, Heather will be holding an open Q & A at noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Email our Heather G. for call-in information: [email protected]. Look forward to “seeing” you there!

 

 

5 things that make me stop reading a blog post

I have been a blogger and a net reader for a long time. I am not always the most focused reader because I have clients, multiple email accounts, Twitter, Facebook and my work at SEJ (Search Engine Journal) that I maintain all day. When I read an article I need something that keeps my brain interested and stimulated from the beginning. As the managing editor of SEJ I have to keep up with the SEO world and also read incoming articles from our writers. So I know what holds my interest and what loses it.

With Twitter I am clicking on links to articles all day long. I will be honest and say I give very little time to a good number of posts and I am going to tell you 5 reasons why:

1) The Font is Too Small and/or Too Hard to Read

I know some people like their fancy, little fonts and their “super-clean” designs and that is fine, but if the reader has to struggle to read they will leave long before you want them to. I need to read fast and anything that stops me from doing so loses my interest quickly.

It is important to remember that not everyone is using a 20-24 inch screen. Some are using an 11-13 inch laptop and your little, fancy font might make reading a nightmare. Who reads a nightmare? Make sure whatever font you choose is easy to read for everyone on every screen size and every browser. Use A/B testing if you feel you must use a unique font and really determine which font keeps visitors the longest.

2) There Are No Headlines

I am a scanner as soon as the page loads. If there are no headlines and lots of paragraphs I am instantly irritated. I personally need headlines and graphics to break up the text. Headlines can instantly indicate that the article is worth staying for and valuable data will be given throughout. If there are no headlines I often leave. The only time I don’t is when I know that someone really important wrote it and I have to force myself to read it. Yes, I said force and you know what happens when someone does something they really don’t want to? They are not as focused as they should be and important items are missed.

3) Headlines That Are Not Supportive

Headlines need to support the subject of your article. If I click on a link about Google+ and I see headlines not about Google+ why would I stay? Sometimes writers get creative with headlines and have personal feelings in their headlines, quotes, or funny sayings. I read to get facts and information I can use. As I said before, I scan to determine if your posts will give me the data I need. If all I see is your feelings or humor I am gone. If your feelings include something about Google+ then I would get it, but only then.

If the subject of your post is about you and your feelings than headlines with feelings would make sense. If your post is about a particular subject make sure your headlines support that subject.

4) An Unfocused Article

I think it was in midde school that they taught us the basic 5-paragraph writing strategy:

Beginning paragraph – explain what you will write about.

Have 3 supporting paragraphs – Paragraph one would explain a subject or issue. Paragraph two would have a different topic, but would build on paragraph one. Paragraph three would introduce another concept but would support one and two.

Ending paragraph – summarize paragraph one through three and come up with a conclusion.

That strategy is pretty basic, but it makes sense because there is a clear direction for the reader and writer. There needs to be a sense of direction in every post, from beginning to end. A reader should not be confused on the direction or they will give up and leave. Don’t make it hard for your reader to understand where you are going with your post. Keep it focused and give them something to remember. You want the reader to come back, so you have to make them believe you have good information to give.

Another tip – read through your post and delete any words/sentences that do not directly support your focus.

5). Font to Background Contrast

There are some that think that a light gray background looks nice with text that is a slightly darker gray. Nope. If the background and font are too similar I leave. I need the text to stand out and be easy to read quickly. I don’t need to strain my eyes to read and your visitors don’t either.

Please have some contrast that will make reading easy on mobile devices, all computers and all the browsers people use.

Concluding Thoughts

I will admit that I am unique in a way, in that I am in a rush all of the time. I have a lot to do quickly and I don’t have time to waste. Others may be calmer than I and have all the time in the world to read, but I know there are many like me. Your website and/or blog has to target multiple audiences. People like me can be the most supportive audience you have, so it is important that you visually please those that decide quickly if they are going to stay or go.

 

Melissa Fach is the Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal and the owner of SEO Aware, LLC. She has been in the Internet marketing business and blogging world for the last 7 years. She is a self-proclaimed Star Wars need and geek extraordinaire. She also takes great pride in being a big cat volunteer. You can find her on Twitter – SEO Aware.

 

photo thanks to DonkeyHotey

Beyond SEO: The content marketing power of the blog

In my opinion, your company blog is the second most valuable piece of online real estate your company has, next to the company website of course.

Blogs and other content marketing platforms are essential for long term SEO success. The saying “content is King” has been around for a long time simply because it’s true. Great content gets shared and linked to, which makes it more valuable in the eyes of the search engines, which in turn helps your site perform better in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Each blog post can rank individually in the search engines, helping expand your overall online brand presence and giving you the opportunity to target various keywords as well as different segments of your target audience.

However, even with nearly 7 years of posts backing me up, I’m fairly confident that most visitors don’t find my company blogs by searching for “SEO blog.” There are too many high-powered industry blogs for me to compete effectively for that search term.

The same is true in most industries. Unless your company is a major player, chances are there are a few industry blogs that are always going to outperform yours. They’ll get more social shares, more RSS subscribers, more inbound links and more readers every day, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make big progress with your own company blog and help build your business online.

Become the go-to resource: Write to help your clients

I know and accept the fact that most of the content I write isn’t going to outrank some of the big names in the SEO industry, but I also know that it doesn’t matter. I’m not writing to rank well; I’m writing to help my clients.

I want to become a trusted source of information for my readers (no matter how many or how few that may be) so that if they ever are in need of SEO help they think to come to my site and blogs first. Some SEO blogs are geared towards other SEO professionals or more advanced site owners, but I focus on helping my target audience—small to mid-sized businesses, website owners and marketing professionals. Those are the people I want to connect with and build relationships with, so I create content that speaks to their unique needs.

I know that not every blog post is going to be a huge hit with every reader and go viral, but I also know that every post has that potential. You can’t force something to go viral, but as long as you are publishing great content you’ll succeed in the long run. When you focus on producing great content for the reader, as opposed to content that exists solely to help your SEO, you usually end up producing much more interesting and useful content.

Interesting and useful content gets shared, generic and boring (no matter how SEO friendly) does not.

Become savvy in your vertical: Write to fine tune your own skills

By adopting a content marketing schedule and sticking to it you actually help improve your own skills, along with providing valuable information to your target audience.

Think about it, in order to become and stay a trusted resource your readers need to know that you know what’s going on in your industry. You need to be aware of trends and how they impact your business and the business of your clients. What’s coming down the pipeline? What are people looking for more information on?

In order to give people the knowledge they need (and in a way that makes sense) you need to do your own research. Activities like reading other blogs, attending local conferences or signing up for a webinar help keep you on your toes and fuel your own content marketing strategy. The tips and tricks you learn can be spun for new posts for your own blog or company newsletter.

You don’t always need to be ahead of the curve but you should at least be keeping pace with the pack.

Content marketing is incredibly valuable for long term SEO success, but that isn’t the only reason website owners should invest in a company blog and other content marketing platforms. Writing content that speaks to your audience is going to pay off in the long run, both for SEO and your long term business success.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President of the Boston-based full service SEO agency, Brick Marketing.  With 13 years of experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.

You can find Nick on Twitter [at] @brickmarketing, and contact him directly [at] [email protected]

Looking for low-cost SEO copywriting training? Learn more about the SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification Program, designed for in-house marketing professionals, agencies, SEO shops and copywriters.

photo/image thanks to Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com