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%/.

Premium Themes

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.

Guest Blogger MM BoxThe 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.

HBA Expo ImageWebiMax is fortunate enough to have a booth at the HBA Global Expo in New York City from now through Thursday. Guests who attend this event will get to see exhibits from some of the top brands in the beauty industry from all around the world. Whether you want to check out some new products and technology, learn about the current trends, or find ways to promote your own beauty products, the HBA Expo has it all.

As with nearly any industry, brand development and consumer relationships are integral to retailers in the field of cosmetics. Getting to know your consumers is the best way to help create the products they want, and reaching out to your customers is the best way to get to know them. In today’s technological world, this often means using social media, blogging, integrating user-created content onto your site, and marketing online. The workshops at the HBA Expo cover these points. I’m particularly excited for Beauty Goes Social: The Link Between Content with Consumer Behavior, a workshop where I hope to get new ideas about how beauty companies can use social media to market their products and make new suggestions. It’s no secret that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are huge players in the beauty industry right now, helping fashionistas and makeup artists to gather inspiration and gain traction. I’m excited to see how different cosmetic companies use it to spread the word about their products.

Beauty in the Digital Age is another workshop of interest, which will cover how “going digital” was once a way for brands to be ‘hip,’ but is now a marketing and selling necessity. I think it will tie in nicely with the e-commerce event I attended last week – digital marketing and e-commerce most definitely go hand-in-hand.

If you plan on being in NYC this week, definitely stop by our booth, which is number 1033. We’ll be set up all three days for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!

Exhausted BloggerIt’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!

 

I’m not going to tell you to start a company blog because there are other ways to communicate brand messages and gain online traction.  However, if you do have a company blog, you should concentrate on making it better and providing more value to readers.

It’s easy to say, “Start a blog.”  I know because I’ve suggested such things before; but, there are as many reasons not to blog as there are to blog.  You don’t have to be like anyone else is an immediate suggestion if you do blog.  Don’t chase the style of influencers or popular brands; chances are you won’t find the same ‘magic’ during your trials.  However, you could make the blogging process your own.

Consider the following ‘normal blogging’ alternatives:

Text is boring
I love reading; but, not everyone agrees.  Actually, I bet a lot of people rather view a slide show or watch a video than read lines of text.  Think of your days as a student.  Not many people retain information from a textual once over anyway.  Your blog doesn’t have to be textual at all.  Some people enjoy speaking, opting to share information in that format.  Are you more of a talker than writer?  Begin podcasting your ideas.

Outsource
I’ve ghost written before for other individuals.  I love writing.  Like reading above, there are those who would disagree with my choice of passion.  It’s understood.  If in-house workers are not natural writers, then don’t try to mold them into it; they’re likely to resent the need.  I’d love to see someone attempt to make me into a ‘number cruncher.’  Alternatively, think about outsourcing your writing needs to…a writer, someone who enjoys doing it.  I would suggest limiting the number of them.  I think the more people involved, the less likely all parties can accurately channel the personality of your brand.  Perhaps your owner can closely work with one ghostwriter, who can accurately capture the owner’s insight.

Don’t Do It
I know.  I’m an online marketer telling you to dismiss an online marketing objective.  You don’t have to blog at all, especially if your brand is going to do a poor job of doing it.  This is something I wish more brands would realize: doing something poorly can grossly counteract online initiatives, creating poor impressions.  For instance, I can’t count how many handles do an awful job of social media participation.  Some brands would benefit from retiring their Twitter and Facebook accounts because the accounts are so poorly managed and curated.  I hope your blog isn’t poorly managed; but, it’s not an out-of-this-world notion.

Optimization Doesn’t Equal Conversions
If you rank well on major engines for words associated to your services and products, you’re business is in a good place.  But how many people ‘fit’ on the first page?  Not many.  I think an excellent ongoing branding campaign (for some brands) is just as good as great rankings.  Good rankings ensure more people notice your brand.  Branding does the same, yet ‘optimizes’ your brand toward its target market.  Isn’t that who you want to sell to?  I’m not saying dismiss all notions of SEO; I’m saying notice the widespread tools of online marketing.  You don’t have to be number-one on Google to be successful online; you have to be number-one with your customers to be successful.

 

Blogging is a form of communication.  Offline, when a communicative process is not getting optimal results, a modification is in order.  For instance, if the reception of a cellular phone is bad, you’ll move to get better service.  Blogging should experience the same trial-and-error processes.  Can you hear me now?  I’ve noticed a few wrongdoings with the blogosphere, committed by those writing, promoting, and commenting.  Consider the following wrongs and making modifications for the future.

Blogging

-          Be quick on the draw.  Are you writing about the same topics as others in your vertical?  If you’re not amongst the most-popular blogs in your space, you’re wasting time.  Don’t chase the same stories as a number of personalities in your space unless you can put your own spin, perspective, or add more to it.  Otherwise, you’re offering the same products already on the shelf; readers are likely to grab the name-brand posts first.

-          Do you enjoy writing?  If you don’t, it’s likely to come out between the lines. Don’t fret; consider using a helper or ghost writer.  The writer can merely be the scriber, the person who comprises your thoughts on paper.  There’s no reason to disconnect your name from your thoughts.

-          Be consistent with your writing, especially if you’re building an audience.  It may be best practice to post on pre-elected days; that way, the readership has a level of expectation you can appropriately address.  Being sporadic and lazy may turn readers away or make them think your ability to post is ‘unstable.’

Promoting

-          Are you writing a post, hitting publish, and waiting?  That’s a bad idea, even for a well-read personality.  There is way too much information these days.  People are ‘busy’ online; you can’t expect them to know you published unless they have subscribed to your blog.  It’s absolutely necessary to promote posts via social media.

-          Do you promote the posts of others?  There is a golden rule in blogging.  Sharing others’ posts shows those in your community you’re active and participating.  It also raises the chances of others sharing your content.  Blogging is a community effort; you’re not just writing for your eyes alone; blogging is a social activity; so, make sure you’re interacting.

-          Are you promoting the same article on several platforms?  If you have a lot of the same followers and friends, you’re confronting them with reruns.  It’s likely not very appreciated.  Segment your content and make a clear distinction between types of content displayed on separate platforms.

Commenting

-          Do you want readers, shares, and comments?  You must engage in the same kinds of activities.  Comment on other bloggers’ posts.  This can be done within your respective vertical and beyond.  Could readers in another space benefit from your blog’s insight?  Make an impression outside of your vertical, inspiring readers to take interest in you and your blog.

-          Are you leaving comments just to write something, anything?  Do you leave URLs pointing back to your own posts or online properties?  In many cases, these are not championed and often highlight ulterior motives, such as commenting for selfish means.  Make a comment to strengthen your own authority as well as enhance the education of the community.  The blogosphere is much larger than you and your business!

-          Are you attempting to make a connection with the writer in the comments?  Think about your own writing.  Would you like to feel as if your post was read, reviewed, and pondered?  Of course you would-all writers would enjoy that.  Consider revisiting a point within the post or directly writing to the writer in your comments.  Commenting is not just about writing something; it’s about forming relations!

 

Are you interested in search engine optimization and a variety of online marketing efforts?  Before you begin the process, you need a ‘translator,’ an online ‘tour guide.’  You need an SEO service provider.  Download our free white paper and learn how to shop for a provider.