The door shuts, the drinks are gathered and before the first trash bag hits the can, the hosts of the party are already talking about their guests. “Did you see the shirt Bill was wearing?” “Did you notice how much Jack was talking?” “Don’t you already miss Michelle?”
The world of guest blogging is a lot like the social world we live in today. You may get invited to a party once, but if you leave a bad impression – you probably aren’t going to be welcomed back. So, how do you get your hosts to miss your content? It’s all about minding the P’s and Q’s of guest blogging.
Follow the House Rules – Is there anything worse than a guest who shows up and gets a little too comfortable with the phrase “make yourself at home?” While you certainly don’t want to completely change your writing style to appease the needs of your host, you should view the guidelines or parameters that a hosting site has put forth. Stay on topic, meet their word count and ensure your information is valuable to their audience. Mutual respect is essential to building strong blogging networks. A disregard for the rules is as annoying as a guest commandeering your iPod doc to blast the latest Nickelback hit.
Don’t Bring Unannounced Friends – While follow links may be a great friend in link building circles, they aren’t invited to most guest blogs without bringing something to the table. Much like a party that only invites guests who bring something for everyone to enjoy, most blog hosts won’t allow random links. And, guess what? That’s the way it should be. In the same way you wouldn’t show up to a party with a few unannounced friends, don’t provide a guest blog with some unwanted links. Instead, add links that boost the value of your content.
Confirm the Theme in Advance – Have you ever felt the chill of showing up to a Halloween party in a costume only to find out that it wasn’t a costume party? What? Just me? Anyway, matching the theme of a party is just as important as matching the theme of a guest blog. When your content is submitted for posting, there shouldn’t be any surprises. By confirming the theme of your piece in advance, you won’t metaphorically be left at the doorstep in your Raggedy Andy costume.
Socialize – Throwing on the headsets and playing round after round of Call of Duty is a great way to eliminate any possibility of appearing on future guest lists. Who wants to spend time with an antisocial person? This same concept is perfect for the guest blogging community. Not only should you look to provide engaging content that starts a discussion in the comment section, you should also work to promote your content. While you will certainly enjoy the increased number of eyeballs reading your content, your host will greatly appreciate the increase in quality traffic to their site.
Much like the unwritten rules of social etiquette, the guest blogging experience requires certain courtesies. Be respectful of your host, mindful of your readers, and follow some good old fashioned common sense. Following certain standards will build your reputation within the blogging community. It won’t be long before word spreads that your content is the life of the party.
It’s kind of ironic – recently I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs on a lot of different topics to try and freshen up my style and get new ideas. In my Web travels I’ve come across not just one, but a few different blog posts that mock and criticize what has sort of become the characteristic format of a post written by an exhausted blogger. It starts with a cheap – though descriptive – title: “Three Tips for Traveling by Plane This Summer” or “The Benefits of Using All-Natural Sunscreen.” It’s followed by an introductory paragraph that explains how the topic relates to what’s currently happening in the world, and then breaks up into a few paragraphs with headings that delineate each “tip” or “benefit.”
While this format doesn’t necessarily mean that the content isn’t useful, there’s an issue when every post you’re churning out looks exactly the same. It reads more as apathy than authenticity – a symptom of what I like to call Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, which is a cold you don’t want to catch.
If you’re guilty of churning out such a piece in the past, don’t feel bad – we all are. Blogging, like any task, can easily become muscle memory. But today’s SEO environment depends on keeping things fresh and authentic, so when you’re suffering from Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, here are a few commandments to keep in mind.
• Thou shalt not assume the reader has no common sense. If you’re not an expert on the topic and you wrote the blog post without doing very much research, it’s probably boring. Find some statistics that may shock and awe me about the price increase of checked bags – don’t just tell me to pack light!
• Thou shalt not fear the themed post. One of the reasons I keep checking my favorite blogs for updates is because they do a weekly themed post, like Friday’s Outfit of the Day or Monday’s Industry Update. It builds a sense of community within the blog, it sparks discussion, and it gives you the opportunity to link to an old post which sends visitors clicking around the site.
• Thou shalt provoke discussion. It’s not uncommon for me to write a blog post and end it with a question to encourage posters to leave a comment. This is great for SEO and it’s great for building a blog following.
• Thou shalt invite guest bloggers. Whenever I feel like my blog is getting stale, I bring in a guest blogger! The new perspective is refreshing, it attracts readers from their blog, and it helps me gain ideas for a new direction in which to take my blog. And that being said…
• Thou shalt interact with other bloggers. Don’t become content with the process of posting a blog and having it float around in the ominously silent open space of the Web. Find other bloggers who blog on your topic and talk to them! It’s another great way to generate ideas, and they’ll be likely to comment on your discussions as well.
• Thou shalt vary post lengths. Don’t be afraid of a post that seems too short or too long, as long as every word counts. When you start stuffing in content just for the sake of word count or cutting yourself off before you’re done speaking, that’s when things get super dry. Leave the 1-3-1 format to middle schoolers and switch it up!
On February 19th, WebiMax’s Danelsy Medrano will be presenting the “Internet Marketing 101″ Webinar from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia, PA.
While registrations are still open, space is limited both at the event and via WebEx conference, so click here to register now for an informative look into the present and future of Internet marketing and how these strategies can help bring more revenue to your business!
Date: February 19, 2013
Registration from 8:00AM – 8:30AM
Program: 8:30AM – 10:00AM
Location: Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
200 S. Broad St. Suite 700
Philadelphia, PA 19102-3813
To register: http://lp.webimax.com/internet-marketing-101/
The popularity of blogging continues to grow with countless new blogs created each year and massive spikes of traffic making its way to blogs. Businesses have also recognized the many benefits that a blog provides their business. A blog allows businesses to easily and quickly reach a large online audience. Blogs not only help generate traffic, but also give a business more online exposure and increase a business’s credibility. Also, online audiences favor blog content because it delivers a more personal message to readers in which readers feel connected and valued.
Great blog content is what heavily attracts online audiences. Through blogs, businesses can provide information and their thoughts on their latest product or service, and inform readers about the latest news in the industry or their business. However, while business may produce stellar content, there are other important elements that a blog should consist of to make it stand out. While blogging is nothing new, competition is still alive and fierce with businesses trying to capture the interest of online audiences.
If you want your business blog to stand out, here are three things your blog needs:
- About us page
What if, after reading your blog, audiences want to learn more about your business? Unless you write a blog post discussing your business, audiences won’t learn about your business. To help readers learn about your business, your blog should include an “About us” page. You can discuss when your business was created, your company’s mission, and step into some detail about what your business does, and your products and/or services. Another page you may want to include is a “Contact us” page should readers have any questions or want to learn more.
- Comments section
Nothing turns away online readers easier than the inability to voice their opinion or comment on a blog post. Allowing online audiences to comment helps them feel appreciated and valued. Also, don’t just let comments sit there; respond back to them. If you end up receiving a myriad of comments, in order to respond to all, create a blog post that answers their questions and responds to their comments.
- Social media engagement
In order to give your blog more online exposure and help online audiences become more familiar with your business, make sure your blog has your social media sites on it that readers can easily click on and be directed to your social media sites. Also, be sure your posts have share buttons so that readers can share your posts via social media.
In yesterday’s blog post, I spoke at length about the necessity of high quality image and video assets in a company’s marketing efforts. With visual media becoming an increasingly useful tool in every internet advertising campaign, the race is on to secure photos and digital camera footage that users will find engaging. Whereas in my previous blog entry I gave advice to small business owners on how to procure this media, today I will be giving guidelines on how and where to implement these excellent strategic marketing assets.
The key to any visual media-centric advertising campaign is knowing where to find one’s audience and how to make those assets appeal to potential traffic. While there is no shortage of options available when it comes to selecting a venue for media sharing, different types of sites do provide different better potential for media exposure than others. As always, I encourage readers to experiment with how they use their visual assets. Sometimes going off the beaten path can prove far more rewarding than sticking to tried-and-true SEO techniques or online marketing practices.
Social Networks: Sharing Visual Media with the Masses
For the highest level of exposure for your unique media, look no further than social websites such as Google+ and Facebook. Both these networks are excellent places for visual assets of all sorts. From professional photographs to video blogs, nearly anything can be shared via social media these days. The current page layout found on Facebook allows for trending images to remain high up in the follower Timeline feed for extended periods of time, while Google+ pages actually spotlight large photos for users to find easily.
The only issue with posting your media assets on social networks comes from the fickleness of public trends. Although a high quality photo can provide a solid click-through rate for attached links, most companies are subject to the whims of the web itself. When a trending topic starts to die off, relevant media takes a hit. It’s because of the fickle nature of public interest that social media sharing takes an attentive eye to use successfully. However, if a company is able to time its efforts correctly, the pay-off in traffic and conversion rates can be worth it.
Blogs: Building up a Following and Community over Time
More often than not, a significant amount of a business’ media assets are found on its company blog. Many businesses maintain a running blog as a way to gain loyal customers, continually add unique original content to a page (thus increasing its SEO value) and convey important news. Accompanying photos and video clips are usually included with blog updates as they add visual panache to a page and give readers something with which to associate the new text content.
While a blog does not offer immediate benefits for the small business owner, a well-run WordPress or Blogger page can act as a hub for both outbound and inbound links. By updating its blog regularly with new content and implementing interesting or eye-catching media elements, a company can draw in visitors to the site which may then interact with valued links.
Video Advertising: Getting Clips to Earn their Keep
Although much of the footage a company creates may be intended to show off its staff and locations, advertising and publicity-based videos are also a core component of most businesses. For those more overt marketing films that a company may shoot, it’s important that they’re used in a strategic and cutting edge manner. To this end, video ads often find their home on websites such as Hulu or Youtube.
In particular, Google’s recently rolled-out AdWords for Video service offers SMB owners a straightforward and efficient way to manage PPC advertisements on YouTube. My previous write-up on the new marketing program goes over the details in full and offers some excellent starting tips for it as well. Businesses looking to get the jump on their video ads should go ahead and create a YouTube channel with all their video media assets uploaded to it. This will make launching a pay per click campaign that much easier when the time comes for it.
By choosing the correct venue for one’s media assets, it’s possible to see results that can bring a small business the sort of traffic it would normally think impossible. If any readers have any further questions regarding my recommendations, I can be contacted at email@example.com.
Many businesses these days are looking for ways to build up an online audience without having to pour endless hours into social networks. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all serve as excellent venues for interacting with customers and brand followers, but their streamlined interfaces often lead to content that feels stilted and formulaic. Although company owners clearly want to always be on the minds of its followers, the limited space and compartmentalization of these websites greatly hinder the level of exposure that social media can offer. This is especially true in the case of smaller businesses that may not be on a potential reader’s radar at all.
It’s due to dilemmas such as these that blog maintenance is quickly becoming a bigger focus for companies hailing from every industry. Regardless of whether a business sells consumer electronics or creates custom furniture, there will always be at least a handful of people who are interested in a product. While some small business owners may look at blogs as being a waste of time, the fact is that they serve a useful role in the overall SEO process.
A well-written and regularly updated blog has the potential to contain content that lands high up in Google and Bing SERPs. As an organic SEO method and one focused on quality, company blogs have become a regular practice for white hat search engine optimization. Fortunately, getting started with this medium is not particularly difficult as all it takes is choosing the right place to host one’s content. The following are two major sites for blog activity which I personally recommend to would-be corporate bloggers.
Blogspot: Blog Generation Made Easy
Google’s Blogspot/Blogger network is easily the most accessible of all the current blog websites around today. For the past several years, the network has given its users free access to a blog service that is easy to use, has plenty of good-looking template options and can be updated without any hassle. Even if a company has little to no experience managing a blog, Blogspot provides enough streamlined features and functionality to allow anyone to produce good-looking content.
WordPress: The Go-To Blog Site for Professionals
There’s a reason why WordPress has become the most prevalent source of corporate blogs. Where-as Blogspot offers an accessible interface, WordPress delivers far more tools into developer hands. It’s unsurprising that many companies actually use the blog site as the network upon which they build their own official websites. By allowing site users to edit their blogs with HTML and their own original assets, the potential for content generation through WordPress is staggering to say the least. While it is most certainly not for the novice, the website does allow skilled web developers to flex their muscles.
Having done quite a bit of writing on both of these websites, I highly recommend that new users start with Blogspot. WordPress can offer a lot of challenges and is a less stable platform than Blogspot. For additional blog advice, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.