Posts

Rock Your Blog With 5 Expert Promotion Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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 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)

Learn how to write content that both Google and readers love! Check into becoming certified in SEO copywriting best practices today.

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

This is it! Today’s the final day to save $300 on my live seminar on advanced SEO and business-building strategies, PLUS receive SEO Copywriting Certification training FREE! This special rate ends at midnight – register now!

 

 

 

 

 

Write a (Good) Blog Post in 1 Hour — Here’s How!

How to write fast when the clock is tickingAre you short on time and need to write a quality blog post – fast?

Sounds like it’s time for a quickie (blog post, that is!)

A quickie blog post is still high quality, informative and fun to read. The difference is, you’re writing your blog post fast and furious (and in one hour or less.).

Is it the ideal way to write? No. In a perfect world, you have hours to write, revise, and tweak. However, there are those times when carving out 60 minutes is the best you can do – and you need to write something engaging, intelligent and useful.

Here are some blog writing tips to consider:

– Write about something you enjoy. If you love your topic, it’s easier to write better blog posts – faster. I write motivational posts when time gets tight. They are fun to write, they come straight from the heart – and my fingers tend to fly over the computer keys.

– Narrow down your topic. This is not the time to write a highly-detailed 1,500 word post. Figure that you have between 300-500 words to work with – so choose your topic accordingly. Mini how-to articles or blog posts listing helpful tips are typically good for a blog post quickie.

– Gather everything you need in one place. Searching your desk for paperwork, surfing for source material and checking email wastes time you don’t have. Gather everything you’ll need to write your blog post before you start writing. This step alone will save you tons of time.

– Turn off distractions. There is nothing that will will break your flow faster than an email notification, a text coming through, or the phone ringing. Turn everything off while you write. If you have to, close down email and any browser tabs you don’t need. (I forgot to close my browser tabs, and Facebook is now notifying me that I have two messages. It’s taking me every ounce of willpower I have not to check them!)

– Spend 25 minutes (or so) writing your first draft. Get everything you can out on paper (or on the screen.) Don’t worry about editing. Don’t worry about tweaking that one sentence that’s not quite right. Just write. You can edit later.

(As a side note, I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, and working in 25-minute chunks. It’s made me a more efficient writer, and it’s nice to know that I get a built-in break every half hour.)

– Get away from the computer. You wrote your blog post in less than 25 minutes? Awesome. Now put it down and take a break. You’ll be able to see your mistakes (and see writing opportunities) faster if you come back fresh.

– Edit your blog post multiple times. This is the time to quickly flesh out what didn’t quite “click” the first time and fix any typos. I will edit a document at least three times, with a break between each edit. When I think it’s almost there, I’ll print out the post one more time, make any final edits, and then schedule the post.

– Ask someone to proof the post before it goes live. Writing fast often means you’ll make some inadvertent boo-boos. A quick proof by another person can free your post from typos and save your bacon. That no-big-deal typo you didn’t see may be a big deal to your readers – and can possibly even lose you business.

What about you? What tips would you add to this list?

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!

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.

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

Yes, You Should Blog. Here’s How to Make Blogging Easier

Greetings! Today we’re featuring Heather’s highly popular “how-to” business blogging video posts, as well as a third written post that asks “are you too busy to blog?” Good question, no?

No matter the size of your business, from enterprise to soloprenuer, a business blog is a fundamental part of any smart content marketing strategy in this highly competitive world of savvy, informed and content-hungry consumers.

Starting a business blog is much like having a baby. Since many of us are not familiar with business blogging, Heather offers tips for beginners as well as for those of us who may be a bit <ahem> rusty. Then, going beyond the launch of your blog, Heather addresses the less romantic, daily realities facing the business blogger.

And finally, we’re asked to consider if we are too busy to blog? What are the options? Enjoy this 3-part pocketbook guide of biz blogging tips!

3 Business Blogging Tips For Beginners

Were you among the many business owners who resolved to either start blogging or do more of it this year?  Given the overwhelming stat’s showing how blogging can increase leads, boost conversions, and drive more traffic to your site – of course you want a piece of that!

And while that’s a wonderful goal, it can be a challenging one for beginners. Tune in as Heather shows you the ropes and shares tips to help reduce the “frustration factor” of getting started…

3 (More) Business Blogging Tips For Beginners

In this follow-up business blogging video post, Heather goes beyond the launch of your blog and focuses on the nitty-gritty realities of business blogging: Do you have the time, resources, support, and practical wherewithall to keep your blog on track, consistently?

And do you know the critical distinction between sales writing and blog writing?

Are you too busy to blog?

It could be said that “no time to blog” isn’t a reasonable excuse. That’s because blogging drives traffic and helps establish you as an expert. It could be that you’ve found alternative content marketing strategies that work for you.

That said, if you’ve tried blogging and it worked for your company – even as a short-term experiment – you owe it to your bottom line to better manage your time or seek outside help to create the content that your readers crave.

 

 

photo credit to SweetGirl©

 

 

 

 

3 (More) Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Greetings! As you might have guessed, today’s how-to video builds on last week’s “3 business blogging tips for beginners.”

While thinking about that post, Heather realized that there were definitely more than just those three blogging tips to share, and so she created three more to do with the realities of time management and scheduling, as well as the question of sales vs. blog writing.

So if you are one of those folks who resolved to do more blogging for their business this year, tune in as Heather shares three more business blogging tips for beginners (and for those who may be a tad rusty)…

Original 3 business blogging tips: a recap

Last week, Heather discussed these three business blogging tips:

  • Brainstorm a list of possible topics
  • Loosen up!
  • Work with an editor

This week’s video focuses on the gritty realities of business blogging, starting with…

Tip #1: Be realistic

This first tip is focused around the time that you have to blog – realistically.

  • How much time do you have to blog?

A lot of people start off with the goal of writing a blog post every single work day, or maybe even churning out a couple of posts a day. They may think I have a lot in my head that I want to say…so yeah, that’s reasonable…

  • The challenge is that life gets in the way – and business gets in the way – of these ambitious blogging goals.

While you might have all these great ideas swirling about in your head, by the time that you’re able to actually sit down and write, you may well find that you really don’t have that much time to create a quality blog post… So think about how much time you really have to blog.

  • Think quality over quantity.

If it turns out that you can only create one blog post a week right now, that’s okay!

One really good, quality blog post a week is far better than five so-so blog posts a week, cranked out at the 11th hour just for the sake of creating something. Think quality over quantity.

  • Can other people help you?

Another thing to consider is if there are other folks within your company that can help you with writing blog posts.

This one can be tricky – because these other folks would need to be accountable for their blog posts, making blog writing an additional part of their normal responsibilities.

But if you have other people available within your business that could be good writers and have topic ideas, definitely see if you can bring them on board to help!

Tip #2: Schedule your blog posts

This tip addresses time management, and the editorial calendar.

  • Set deadlines and put them in your calendar.

This means: know exactly what you’re going to write, when.

Last week, we discussed brainstorming ideas for possible blog post topics – this is where you put those ideas on paper and say, “Okay, I’m blogging twice a week, and for Wednesday’s posts I’m going to talk about X.”

In the writing world, we call this an editorial calendar. It is a visual tool that allows you to look at a given week and know exactly what you’re going to be writing, and know exactly when you need to publish the post online.

  • Give yourself a lot of writing time.

If you’re just getting into blogging, be gentle with yourself: it may take a long time to write a blog post and again, that’s okay!  Even for professional writers, it can take a very long time to write a quality blog post.

  • So make sure you give yourself that gift of time. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself by thinking, “I have 30 minutes…I can kick out the post really fast.” Even an experienced writer might choke in such a situation.

Prevent that last-minute deadline stress and give yourself a lot of writing time before the deadline.

  • Be faithful to your blogging schedule.

Consider your blog post schedule and deadlines with the same weighty level of seriousness you’d give to your clients’ deadlines, or those of the IRS. Make a commitment to keep to your blogging schedule and honor your editorial calendar.

Tip #3: It’s OK to link to your products/services – just don’t overdo it.

This final tip concerns the writing itself.

  • Blog writing and sales writing are different – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some soft promotion.

Rather than thinking of your blog post as a sales medium – where you talk about all the wonderful things you can do or provide for the reader – instead come up with a general, informational article.  Think of a topic that would address customer questions, or would otherwise be useful to your readers.

  • If it makes sense to link to a product/service in your post – go for it.

You can easily direct traffic into your website’s inner product/service pages with links from your blog post, if it flows naturally and makes sense to do so. Such soft promotion is okay – just don’t overdo it.

  • You can always put a sales “blurb” at the bottom of every post, too.

You don’t have to get heavy-handed with the sales writing. You can simply place a sales “blurb” at the end of each informational blog post, such as: “Would you like to learn more about our emergency plumbing services? Feel free to contact us at X.”

  • Using a sales blurb provides you an opportunity to include a little bit of call-to-action, while ensuring that the integrity of your blog post stays intact.

photo credit: mrbill (Bill Bradford)

3 Business Blogging Tips for Beginners

Welcome back! Today’s video offers three actionable business blogging tips for beginners, as well as for those of you who may be a bit “rusty.”’

Heather thought business blogging would be a timely topic, as many business owners resolved to either start blogging or do more of it this New Year. They’ve seen the stat’s showing how blogging can increase leads, boost conversions, and drive more traffic to their site – and they want a piece of that!

And while that’s a wonderful goal, it can be a challenging one for beginners. So tune in as Heather shows you the ropes and shares bonus tips to help reduce the “frustration factor” of getting started…

Tip #1: Make a list of possible blog topic ideas

One of the big mistakes all online writers make – even those who are experienced bloggers – is to assume that the blog topic will come to them once they sit down to write.

Unfortunately, the blogging muse rarely strikes so spontaneously.

It’s easy to feel pulled in a million different directions, so what happens is the deadline you’ve set creeps closer and closer and you panic – realizing you have no idea what to write about.

Here are some starting points to help you plan your topics and avoid the blog deadline panic:

  • What questions do customers ask?
  • Can you offer any DIY (do-it-yourself) tips?
  • What are some “hot topics” in your industry?
  • Research other blogs in your space. What are they talking about?
  • Looking for local customers? Can you tie a local issue back to your business?
  • Is there a list of blog posts/sites that you love?

These are just brainstorming ideas. You don’t have to worry about creating a formal framework or outline at this point – just put your ideas down on paper.

  • Tip: Don’t copy posts from another blog. Link to it instead – and discuss why you think the blog post is a good one.

Besides the obvious copyright violation issue, copying from another blog doesn’t showcase your expertise. So if there is a blog post that you really love, link to it and tell your readers why they should check it out.

Discussing and linking to another post is a far more valuable strategy for positioning you as an expert, as opposed to randomly pulling resources from other sites and having no original content of your own.

Tip #2: Loosen up!

If you’re new to blogging and online writing, it can feel really weird to start. You may flash back to high school or college, conjuring teachers and professors and that red pen inking up your work. You may second-guess every word you write.

  • You’re not in high school English class anymore.

Relax. You’re not writing some sort of “paper” for grading. Try to write as you would talk – it will help the copy flow more easily and naturally.

  • Write with personality! A good writing style can make the most technical subjects approachable and fun to read about.

This is especially true when writing about a technical subject. Your writing doesn’t have to be dry and boring, even if the topic may seem so. Infuse it with personality and it will be far more readable and enjoyable!

Tip #3: Work with an editor

This is a really important tip for everyone, no matter how experienced they may be.

  • Typos happen.

Have an editor to check your writing for typos, grammatical errors, and to ensure that your message is coming through as you intended.

It’s so easy for all of us to get too close to our own stuff that we miss these nitty things. So if you start uploading unedited blog posts to your site, with typos, bad grammar, or rambling, unfocused copy, it just makes your company look bad. And you don’t want to do that.

Also, having an editor is one of the easiest ways you can reduce the stress of writing – just knowing you have a second set of eyes that will catch those common writing errors.

  • If your editor also knows SEO copywriting, he/she can help your post get better search rankings.

A bonus is to have an editor trained in SEO copywriting best practices. Then you have an ally who can not only edit your copy, but also optimize it for search engines to achieve better rankings and drive more traffic to your blog.

photo thanks to Jhayne: Foxtongue