When I mention the Internet and danger, I’m not referring to explicit content; I’m also not referring to the addictiveness of Netflix or the questionable sources of premium TV shows I don’t have to pay for. What I’m talking about is textual content that’s sloppy, uninformative and produced with the sole intention of acquiring higher search engine rankings, not of educating and engaging online users.
As a creative web writer, I can’t think of anything more dangerous than lackluster textual web content. Or maybe the right word is disgusting.
Yes, when I read blog posts, whitepapers and articles written without care, attention and passion, it disgusts me. But that’s beside the point, because I realize that not everyone is a web writer or shares this attitude. However, almost everyone is an online reader and, as such, is affected negatively by valueless web content. The reason that content written for the purpose of obtaining higher search results is dangerous is because
- it often gets the facts wrong
- it offers nothing to the reader except wasted time
- it pollutes the Internet like toxins pollute the atmosphere and our bodies
This is the kind of content my fellow WebiMax writers and I stay away from. Instead, we produce web content that’s SEO-friendly primarily because of its user value – not because of how many keywords it squeezes in between filler text.
Because of writers like us and the brilliant world of search engine technology, the Internet is becoming less polluted by poor content.
We’re Fighting the Good Fight
When I read an article on the Internet, I expect it to be either informative, interesting, entertaining or a combination of the three, and I’m sure the entire WebiMax writing team agrees with me on this. Actually, I know they do because we’re taught to write content that we’d actually want to read ourselves. And after I read anything produced by my peers, I leave the page feeling informed, excited, entertained or, more often than not, a combination of all three.
By producing content we’d actually read, we’re making the Internet a prosperous space that can be trusted — not just by search engines, but by anyone with access to the Internet who is ready to open his or her mind to the seeming infinity of online space.
When we write with purpose and passion, we obtain the best results for our clients. By taking their unique business ideas and combining them with our writing skill and knowledge of what’s relevant, we attract organic traffic, social signals (likes, tweets, shares) and, consequently, the attention of the most powerful search engines. You could say we help to redefine what SEO copy and content writing really are every time we write. With this approach and the help of smarter search engines, we put worthy content at the forefront of search and bury the garbage content far beneath.
The Evolving Search Engine is Helping Us
Google’s objective is to lead search engine users to websites that fulfill their needs and desires, not to unhelpful content. This ethic is great for online users and, additionally, makes it harder for soulless SEO “writers” to succeed at ranking high in search. Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update is a testament to the company’s ongoing mission to deliver useful results instead of keyword-focused rubbish.
In addition to Google, there are other promising new search engines focused on providing online users with awesome content.
Blippex is a new kind of search engine that ranks websites based on bounce rate instead of keywords, phrases and links. If this isn’t a sign for web writers with old habits to change their strategies, I don’t know what is.
Do you know of anything (or anyone) else that’s making the Internet “less dangerous.” If so, drop a line!
As someone who contributes to numerous blogs and has a few of her own, I’m always browsing around the Web looking for inspiration and trying to find ways to improve my own content. There’s definitely an interesting contrast between personal blogs and those that belong to certain brands. While checking out the blogs for individual brands, I found that some corporate companies are absolutely killing it by honing in on a specific target audience/demographic and providing interesting, useful, and entertaining content for them. Those of us who write for smaller brands can definitely learn a thing from these four in particular.
The Brand: Whole Foods
The bloggers at Whole Foods really know what they’re doing when it comes to catering to their audience. Just look at their page – you’re greeted immediately with pictures of mouth-watering (probably organic) meals and treats which encourage you to read the surrounding text. With a closer read, you find that Whole Foods wants to supply its customers with recipes, tips, and information about different types of foods: namely, the ones they sell in their stores.
What we can learn: master the art of the how-to! Clearly, if you’re a big enough fan of Whole Foods that you’re checking out their blog, you’re probably a foodie to some degree. Whole Foods is doin’ it right because they show you cool things you can do with their products.
The Brand: Flickr
You know Flickr – the photo-sharing site renowned for offering its users an insane amount of storage and presentation space. It’s got one of the coolest blogs around, especially for photography lovers (which, one can assume, is nearly everyone in their target audience). Their posts are rife with super-cool, eye-catching pieces of art and often contain very little text aside from descriptions. They also have monthly themes and encourage their readers to get involved and submit their own themed photographs.
What we can learn: a picture is worth a thousand words. Blog posts don’t always have to be text-centered. And, maybe more importantly, get your readers to engage by contributing their own content.
The Brand: Zappos
Zappos faces a bit of a challenge: they don’t have a very niche target demographic, and they sell everything under the sun, so generating fresh content could be considered a bit difficult. They jump this hurdle pretty gracefully, though, by distributing their posts amongst multiple bloggers who all specialize in something different. They do weekly themes, such as Designer Picks and Wanderlust Wednesdays, which serve as a prompt and get their readers into a groove so they know what to expect from the blog.
What we can learn: weekly themes are useful when you feel like your blog is drifting from its intended focus and when your idea well is running dry!
The Brand: Modcloth
Modcloth’s target demographic is extremely niche, especially in comparison with the aforementioned brands. They reach out to twenty-something females who love somewhat retro, alternative clothing. For someone who fits the bill, their blog absolutely never gets boring to read. From their conversational, informal language to their cute, girly graphics, reading the Modcloth blog is kind of like having a chat with a friend.
What we can learn: be the target demographic! These blog posts don’t just talk about what cute clothes are for sale on the site – they offer recipes, recommend books, post art, discuss style icons and celebrities, and much more. You can tell their brainstorming sessions involve them getting into the mindset of their target audience and figuring out what things they’d want to talk about, which, to the potential customer, makes the blog worth sticking around for.
Between the countless writing classes I took a bit too seriously in college, the time I’ve invested in my hobbies, and the past couple years I’ve spent freelancing and working for SEO companies, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. As a result, I’ve written on a lot of blog platforms.
There are a lot of great platforms out there – some that are easy to use and secure, some that work well for niche purposes, some that make interacting with other bloggers really easy. Though I’ve had my dances with Tumblr, spent many a late night conversing with Quora, even had my morning coffee with Blogger, I’ll always return to my love affair with WordPress.
Perhaps it’s true that my affinity for a free, sophisticated, minimalist theme and a reason to spend hours perusing possible personalization options are what initially attracted me to WordPress, but its superior SEO capabilities are what keep me coming back. Maybe you’re blogging for the sole purpose of SEO or maybe you’re a hobby blogger who optimizes out of necessity; either way, blogging and SEO are happily married, so all authors should prioritize posting on a platform that’s easy to optimize.
If you’re not taking advantage of these four WordPress SEO customizations, simply stated, you’re doing it wrong.
The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. The SEO Plugin allows you to choose your focus keyword for the blog post, edit the post’s meta description, create custom descriptions for social media platforms, edit the post’s meta title, and more. It’ll even provide you with suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly. Get the plugin here.
The Ability to Customize and/or Modify Permalinks
Your permalink – that is, how your blog post’s URL appears in your browser bar – should be as reflective of the content as your title. If you modify your permalink, then instead of your permalink reading “www.webimax.com/blog/2013/10/01/modifying-permalinks,” it’ll simply read “www.webimax.com/blog/modifying-permalinks.” That way, Google only has to do a shallow crawl to see that this page is relevant. All you have to do to modify your permalinks is access your WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings, then go to Permalinks. Choose ‘Custom Structure’ and in the field, simply put /%postname%/.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this: I can write a decent blog post on nearly any topic, optimize it, and promote it. What I cannot do on my own, though, is make my blog look pretty. That’s why WordPress themes are the design-inept blogger’s godsend. There are few things more important than a user-friendly, attractive website if you’re trying to attract (and keep) traffic, but accomplishing a clean, easy-to-navigate look is hard when you know virtually nothing about Web development. Premium themes on WordPress are a good investment because they don’t glitch, they appear sophisticated, and they’re almost always pre-optimized by their developers, so your blog has a predisposed fair chance at competitive ranking.
The ‘Related Posts’ Widget
LinkWithin is a widget that shows related stories from your blog’s archive under each post. It’s genius! If someone’s reading a blog post about a recipe you created or a home repair how-to you detailed, chances are, they’re going to be interested in another recipe or another home repair how-to. Show them where to find more! Having them click to another one of your blog posts will keep them browsing your site, helping you to maintain their attention and giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your credibility. It’s basically free interlinking, and it helps your old content to resurface, making your blog posts into gifts that keep on giving.
Google’s recent Penguin Update redefined the basics of SEO link building. Prior to the update, sites linking to yours weren’t an issue. However, with guest posting becoming increasingly popular and more and more people engaging in it, link spamming has increased and Google has jumped on it, penalizing sites with unnatural links in posts. Now, SEOs and webmasters are hurrying to find ways to fix the link issue and prevent their sites from being hit.
Google refers to the unnatural linking in guest posts as link schemes and defines them as follows:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”
While we recognize that businesses selling links and sites building spammy link profiles are practicing bad SEO and applaud the Penguin Update for penalizing them, what about those of us who are just looking to guest blog — you know, those interested in creating well-written and relevant content that will be posted on another site?
It’s not the end of guest blogging
Don’t be discouraged! Guest posts can still be a useful and legitimate way to get your content hosted on another site with a backlink, expose your content to the online community, and even connect with other bloggers. In short, Guest blogging can still go a long way in your link building efforts. Google doesn’t want to do away with guest blogging — it just wants to make sure that you’re following the best linking practices.
A guest blog shouldn’t just be a few hundred words stuffed together without any clear purpose or understanding of the subject matter, with a link or two shoved in seemingly at random. The most important factor in a guest blog is relevancy. That goes for both content and links.
Guest blogging best practices
Here are some important guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your guest post doesn’t get hit by Penguin:
- Post to sites that are relevant to the industry you are writing about. Avoid over-diversified sites.
- Avoid posting to low-quality blogs or websites (the site should have a strong domain authority).
- Don’t use exact-match anchor text and make sure it looks natural — use long tail words or a call-to-action phrase.
- The page you link to should be relevant to the hyperlinked phrase.
- Don’t post to blog networks or article directories.
- Make sure your title is unique (type it into Google to ensure that it hasn’t been used).
Tools to help you spot and remove bad links
Whether Penguin sent you a warning about your links or you want to check and ensure that they are safe, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO are two of the most effective free link tools for analyzing backlink profiles.
With Google’s increased scrutiny of link profiles, there is some debate on whether or not guest blogging is beneficial to businesses. However, if done moderately with the right partners, guest blogging can be extremely valuable. Guest blogging isn’t only a link building tactic; it’s also a great way to build your credibility, your community, and expand your customer base. When you decide to guest blog for someone, it’s important to put your best foot forward to produce high quality content. After all of your hard work, you don’t want the result to be posted just anywhere – which is why it’s vital to find a guest blogging opportunity that fits your needs and will be the most successful.
When guest blogging, it’s important to consider your audience, as well as the tone of your content. The difference between a conversational tone and a more scholarly article will define what type of blog your piece will be hosted on, which can help you to narrow down your options.
Below are five steps to finding the right guest blogging opportunity.
- Search for potential blogs to host your content on
- Check for domain authority and link profile
- Check for engagement
- Begin building a relationship with potential blogger
- Reach out to blogger with guest blog proposal
The easiest way to start off is by using Google Blog Search. Try using some version of [inpostauthor:guest "keyword"] or [inurl:guest "keyword or topic"] and see what comes up. If you find that the results are few and far between, try using a broader keyword. There are also a variety of guest blogging platforms on the web that allow you to meet up with other bloggers.
Credibility and quality go hand-in-hand, but sometimes it may be a little difficult to tell how authoritative a blog is simply by looking at it. To get a clear-cut answer, you can easily take a look at the blog’s domain authority and link profile. You can do this by installing the SEO Moz toolbar onto your browser or typing the URL of the blog into Open Site Explorer.
Social media is an important aspect of choosing a blog, and is a tell-tale sign of the blog’s engagement of its readers. Search for posts and look for comments readers have left, as well as options to share via various social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Take a look at their Twitter page and see what kind of following they have and how often they interact with their followers. The more interaction, the better!
Once you’ve found a blog that meets your criteria, building a relationship before proposing a guest post is key. Share their posts, comment on their content, and interact with them via social media.
Let them know why you think it’s a good fit for their blog and tell them how you can help promote the post on your end.
Guest blogging is a powerful aspect of content development that is designed to connect with people, build relationships, and find qualified leads for your business. By finding the right opportunities, you can rest assured that your time was well-spent.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a first paragraph, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of a blog post. So if you’ve gotten to this point, you are part of the 80% of people who read the headline copy. Now, with the tips below, you can ensure your readers join the 20 percent who enjoy the entire blog post.
Regardless of how good your content is, if the intro doesn’t grab the attention of the reader, it’s no use. You have probably wasted your time writing a complete post that your audience simply won’t finish reading.
While blog posts are ideal for SEO purposes, as well as ways to spread interesting and engaging content, your opening statement should leap off the page and get readers engaged. As the first thing readers see, it should give readers a clear idea of what to expect to read. To ensure your posts are being read, here are a few tips on creating unique and captivating blog posts openings.
Have you ever found yourself completely caught up in an article? What was it that grabbed your attention? See what I just did there? I got you thinking by asking a question.
Questions engage readers immediately as a way to get them thinking while setting the tone of your blog posts as well. By asking a few questions, readers already have their wheels turning and have a good idea of what the blog post may be about.
- State Facts
79% of people scan web content rather than read it word-for-word. By stating a fact such as statistic as an opener, you are showing readers that you’re giving them well-researched and therefore reliable information. You can use facts to give readers a better idea of where the blog post is going.
- Quotable Quotes
“Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.” Capture your readers’ attention with a quote and set forth the overall theme of the post. Whether you quote an opinion or words of wisdom, the quote you choose should set the stage for the rest of your content.
Writing a unique and captivating opening for every blog post is important, but it is only half the battle. Engage your audience by creating user-friendly content including bullet points, lists, subheadings, relevant links, white space, and various forms of media. Blog posts are ideal not only for SEO purposes, but for solidifying your stance as a thought leader in your specific industry. Ensure that your blog reflects this by creating appealin