Tag Archive | "Bloggers"

10 Modern Editing Tips for Meticulous Bloggers

protractor, ruler, and gray pencil - copyblogger

I watch a lot of YouTube videos about the best ways to clean your bathroom.

In fact, I realized that I spend way more time watching “hacks, tricks, and tips” about how to efficiently clean a bathroom than I do actually cleaning my bathroom.

Given the hundreds of thousands of views on these types of videos, perhaps it’s not just me. And I started thinking … this might be similar to bloggers who read about editing tips.

Editing, like cleaning a bathroom, isn’t always the most fun, so bloggers might spend more time reading about editing tips than actually implementing them.

We’d like to have a polished bathroom or a polished blog post — we just don’t always want to perform the work required to produce that shiny end result.

The 10 modern editing tips I’ll share today should invigorate you to put in the elbow grease … at least when it comes to your writing.

1. Become the Editor-in-Chief of your blog

Even though blogs have been around for a long time, some people may still associate them with sloppy, weak information posted on a website. And that’s what some blogs are.

But that’s not what you do.

While the writing rules you follow certainly depend on the audience you serve, your presentation must be thoughtful.

Blog posts that work for your business ideally satisfy a need for both you and your readers.

Here’s my definition of an Editor-in-Chief that serious bloggers like you can use to demonstrate your commitment to quality:

Editor-in-Chief (noun): a person who assumes complete responsibility for, and ownership of, all of the communication he or she puts out into the world to enable a self-directed, creative career.

2. Build editing momentum

You don’t start physical exercise without some gentle stretches, and you probably don’t even start drafting a blog post without some writing warm-ups.

So, don’t just jump straight into editing your writing without some preparation either.

Instead, energize your brain to tame wild words with your audience’s best interest in mind.

You want to feel ready to shape and craft your text rather than simply read it.

To build momentum to edit with ease, begin your editing routine by:

Those are just a few activities you can try. How do you get ready to edit? Share in the comments below at the end of this post.

3. Bond with your audience over a shared worldview

As I mentioned above, your blog post should be a thoughtful presentation that considers your audience’s desires, hopes, and needs.

And you don’t always need to write more to create the most engaging, useful, content possible. Sometimes you might just need to arrange your ideas in a way that is easy to consume.

That may include:

  • Revising your headline or subheadlines
  • Adding bullet points
  • Rearranging your sentences or paragraphs
  • Deleting confusing tangents
  • Turning a long blog post into a series

Editing is more than just checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It’s your opportunity to extract your winning difference from your draft and shine a spotlight on it.

4. Sleep with one eye (and one ear) open

We know writers are always working, so look for meaningful snippets everywhere, even if they seem to have nothing to do with the topics you write about.

Why is this an editing tip?

Your draft may be a straightforward article that offers helpful information, but during the editing process you can infuse it with your own writing voice and incorporate interesting elements that hook readers on your blog’s style.

Go ahead, make the competition irrelevant.

More on writing voice on the blog tomorrow …

5. Ask yourself questions

It’s common to take a break after writing before you begin editing to help clear your mind. After all, it’s difficult to review your own writing objectively.

Another thing you can do is ask yourself critical questions about your content:

  • Does this introduction explain why someone should keep reading?
  • Is there too much hype and not enough value?
  • Can I simplify this point?

Since your headline is always a good place to start, check out: Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Craft Better Headlines.

6. Add carbonation to your flat water

Plain water is fine, but isn’t sparkling water a little more fun?

As you examine your draft, vary your word choice and fine-tune your language throughout your post — especially at the beginning of paragraphs.

For example, if you begin the majority of your paragraphs with “Something you could try …,” or “Make sure …,” the text is going to look repetitive to a reader.

Also, take a look at the list items in this post. They aren’t merely “1. Edit,” “2. Proofread,” etc. They state unpredictable, unusual actions that guide the reader through the post in an unexpected way.

Be an artist. Play with your words and look for different ways to present your ideas.

7. Bring an umbrella (just in case it rains)

It happens to the best of us. We can all get a little … wordy.

Shield your final draft from extra explanations with your trusty word-repellant umbrella.

Aim to not get too attached to your words and swiftly cut out sections of your draft if they don’t benefit your audience. (Save them for later because they might fit perfectly into a different post!)

You want your article to be complete, but communicate your main message in a precise way.

8. Complete a “revision triangle”

Once you’ve set up a post in WordPress:

  1. Edit in the Text Editor screen
  2. Proofread in the Text Editor screen
  3. Proofread once again in Preview mode

I call this a “revision triangle” because a triangle has three sides and these are three steps that help ensure you have thoroughly reviewed your writing.

Since many mistakes are often not caught until you proofread, let’s look at my favorite proofreading technique.

9. Keep the reader in your created reality

In the draft of this post, I accidentally typed “learn” instead of “clean”, “person” instead of “perhaps,” and “always” instead of “also.”

If these errors had published, they would have jolted readers out of the experience I created for them.

They could reread the text and figure out my true intentions, but that’s a bit disappointing for readers — and extra work for them.

Catch these types of mistakes by proofreading from the end of your post to the beginning in Preview mode.

Remember that proofreading is not reading.

You need to slowly inspect each word in your draft.

10. Zig when others zag

This tip is also known as “double-check details other bloggers may overlook.”

Properly attribute any quotations you use and verify their accuracy (no missing or incorrect words).

Look up the exact names of companies and products. You don’t want to write “MasterMix 300” when the product you’re talking about is actually called “Master MixIt 2000.”

It’s easy to skip over hyperlinked text when you proofread, so give those words special attention.

Fact-check event information, such as the day of the week, date, and time.

There isn’t just one set of editing tips that help your blog stand out; you build respect and trust by getting the details right over time.

Strengthen your editing habits to differentiate your blog

Now that we’ve got a handle on practical editing techniques we can all use this year, I’ll resolve to also stay on top of my cleaning chores.

Should I straighten up the area around my bathroom sink?

It’s a start.

The post 10 Modern Editing Tips for Meticulous Bloggers appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results

Department of Blogging Labor Seal

We’ve said it so often you’re probably sick of it.

Content marketing doesn’t work unless the content is genuinely worth reading.

Routine, phone-it-in content won’t get you the audience, the leads, the prospects, or the conversions you need.

Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media Studios is one of the content marketers who really gets it. When I found out that Andy had conducted a survey of more than 1,000 bloggers about the specifics of how they work, I knew that I wanted to get a post together to share our takeaways from the survey.

Good content takes time. It’s a lot of work. And it can be hard to put the time in when we have deadlines and publishing calendars to meet.

This tension is built into the lives of all content marketers. Every blogger and every content creator is looking for that balance between quality and quantity. All of us.

So how much time and how much work does it really take?

Let’s dig into some specifics from the Orbit survey and see what we can glean.

The quality factor

The first thing the data shows is a huge difference in the amount of time spent per post among bloggers.

  • 54 percent of bloggers spend fewer than 2 hours on a typical post
  • Just 5.5 percent of bloggers spend 6+ hours per post

The survey shows other big differences in what people put into their content.

  • Only 15 percent of bloggers have a formal editing process
  • 4.9 percent of bloggers write 1500+ words in a typical post
  • Less than half of bloggers use multiple images
  • 14.7 percent are adding video

In case you’re curious, on Copyblogger the typical post takes about 5-7 hours to create (sometimes quite a bit more), but that work is spread out over several content creators. Because we have the luxury of an editorial staff, we have a multi-stage editorial process in addition to the time that the original writer spends on each post.

If you don’t have a team of writers, don’t worry. Solo content creators can absolutely create excellent content, and some of the most wonderful blogs on the web are produced by individuals.

One key is to give yourself enough time to create quality work. Strong writing is a product of many factors, but those factors always include time for proofreading, editing, fact-checking, and rewriting.

Make the commitment to producing your content in several phases — a draft phase, an editing phase, a fact-check phase, and a final “picky” proofreading phase.

The Rule of 24 is an excellent one for every writer. Allow at least 24 hours between your draft phase and your editing phase whenever humanly possible.

In order to make this happen, we have to get real about the quantity of content you’ll be able to produce.

The quantity factor

You can probably guess that those who are spending six hours per post aren’t likely to be posting every day.

Here’s a partial breakdown of the post frequency among the bloggers who were surveyed:

  • 54 percent of bloggers are publishing at least weekly
  • 32 percent publish more than once per week
  • 3.3 percent publish daily

The good news is that most bloggers are actually consistent. They’re getting the job done. Most bloggers are publishing a lot of content.

When we go deeper into the data, it’s clear that the biggest bloggers aren’t usually the most frequent bloggers. (Not including large, multi-author blogs like Copyblogger.)

Only 4.3 percent of the bloggers who publish weekly are spending 6+ hours per post. In the trade-off between quality and quantity, they’ve made a choice.

Every content creator makes that choice. The question goes something like this:

What’s better: a solid weekly post or a monthly masterpiece?

Frequency is important, right?

Ideally, your content frequency is aligned with the length of your sales cycle. If it takes two weeks for your prospect to discover you, learn to trust you, and fall in love with you (or go hire your competitor), it seems that you’d better publish at least weekly — monthly won’t cut it.

Right?

Well …

Monthly won’t cut it unless it’s great. Unless it’s so good, it’s memorable.

A monthly post that your reader remembers (and shares) is worth a lot more than a weekly post they’ll forget. A memorable monthly article beats four soft weekly posts every time.

If you do decide to cut back on your publishing schedule in order to boost quality, I always recommend you put a really good email autoresponder sequence in place. That will serve the role of nurturing the lead until she’s ready to buy from you — holding her attention (and building your credibility) until the buyer is ready to make her decision.

Email marketing consistently proves itself as the most effective online method for moving an audience through attraction and interest and on to a purchase. And an email autoresponder is the way to use terrific content to make email much more effective.

Will you be average or awesome?

Most bloggers spend around 2.5 hours writing 800-word posts and publish weekly. They share it on social media (94 percent) and move on to the next post. Only half check analytics on a regular basis.

Is this what excellent looks like?

Andy and I both want to throw down a challenge for you:

Just maybe we can get away with higher quality. Maybe we can add the research, the audio, the polish. Maybe we can put more time and thought into our content. Maybe we can check our analytics to see if our content is hitting the mark.

Maybe it’s time to publish less, but write more.

Look back at your blog. Have you published a lot of “ok” material? Pretty-good stuff that answers audience questions in a routine way?

Now look forward at your calendar. Planning more of the same?

Try putting this on your publishing schedule: go big at least twice a year. Epic posts. Game-changing posts. Posts that establish real credibility and authority, and don’t just conform to a schedule.

Where you take it from there is up to you.

The internet wants quality.

It doesn’t want more … it wants more original.

Check out the full survey

Make sure to head over to Orbit Media Studios and read Survey of 1,000+ Bloggers: How to Be in the Top 5 Percent.

And if you have thoughts about the survey, or the gauntlet we’ve laid down above, join us for a discussion over at Google+.

Image via Orbit Media Studios.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

Andy Crestodina is a web strategist and the co-founder of Orbit Media. He is a speaker, content marketer, environmentalist, and author: Get more from Andy on Twitter.

The post How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results

Department of Blogging Labor Seal

We’ve said it so often you’re probably sick of it.

Content marketing doesn’t work unless the content is genuinely worth reading.

Routine, phone-it-in content won’t get you the audience, the leads, the prospects, or the conversions you need.

Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media Studios is one of the content marketers who really gets it. When I found out that Andy had conducted a survey of more than 1,000 bloggers about the specifics of how they work, I knew that I wanted to get a post together to share our takeaways from the survey.

Good content takes time. It’s a lot of work. And it can be hard to put the time in when we have deadlines and publishing calendars to meet.

This tension is built into the lives of all content marketers. Every blogger and every content creator is looking for that balance between quality and quantity. All of us.

So how much time and how much work does it really take?

Let’s dig into some specifics from the Orbit survey and see what we can glean.

The quality factor

The first thing the data shows is a huge difference in the amount of time spent per post among bloggers.

  • 54 percent of bloggers spend fewer than 2 hours on a typical post
  • Just 5.5 percent of bloggers spend 6+ hours per post

The survey shows other big differences in what people put into their content.

  • Only 15 percent of bloggers have a formal editing process
  • 4.9 percent of bloggers write 1500+ words in a typical post
  • Less than half of bloggers use multiple images
  • 14.7 percent are adding video

In case you’re curious, on Copyblogger the typical post takes about 5-7 hours to create (sometimes quite a bit more), but that work is spread out over several content creators. Because we have the luxury of an editorial staff, we have a multi-stage editorial process in addition to the time that the original writer spends on each post.

If you don’t have a team of writers, don’t worry. Solo content creators can absolutely create excellent content, and some of the most wonderful blogs on the web are produced by individuals.

One key is to give yourself enough time to create quality work. Strong writing is a product of many factors, but those factors always include time for proofreading, editing, fact-checking, and rewriting.

Make the commitment to producing your content in several phases — a draft phase, an editing phase, a fact-check phase, and a final “picky” proofreading phase.

The Rule of 24 is an excellent one for every writer. Allow at least 24 hours between your draft phase and your editing phase whenever humanly possible.

In order to make this happen, we have to get real about the quantity of content you’ll be able to produce.

The quantity factor

You can probably guess that those who are spending six hours per post aren’t likely to be posting every day.

Here’s a partial breakdown of the post frequency among the bloggers who were surveyed:

  • 54 percent of bloggers are publishing at least weekly
  • 32 percent publish more than once per week
  • 3.3 percent publish daily

The good news is that most bloggers are actually consistent. They’re getting the job done. Most bloggers are publishing a lot of content.

When we go deeper into the data, it’s clear that the biggest bloggers aren’t usually the most frequent bloggers. (Not including large, multi-author blogs like Copyblogger.)

Only 4.3 percent of the bloggers who publish weekly are spending 6+ hours per post. In the trade-off between quality and quantity, they’ve made a choice.

Every content creator makes that choice. The question goes something like this:

What’s better: a solid weekly post or a monthly masterpiece?

Frequency is important, right?

Ideally, your content frequency is aligned with the length of your sales cycle. If it takes two weeks for your prospect to discover you, learn to trust you, and fall in love with you (or go hire your competitor), it seems that you’d better publish at least weekly — monthly won’t cut it.

Right?

Well …

Monthly won’t cut it unless it’s great. Unless it’s so good, it’s memorable.

A monthly post that your reader remembers (and shares) is worth a lot more than a weekly post they’ll forget. A memorable monthly article beats four soft weekly posts every time.

If you do decide to cut back on your publishing schedule in order to boost quality, I always recommend you put a really good email autoresponder sequence in place. That will serve the role of nurturing the lead until she’s ready to buy from you — holding her attention (and building your credibility) until the buyer is ready to make her decision.

Email marketing consistently proves itself as the most effective online method for moving an audience through attraction and interest and on to a purchase. And an email autoresponder is the way to use terrific content to make email much more effective.

Will you be average or awesome?

Most bloggers spend around 2.5 hours writing 800-word posts and publish weekly. They share it on social media (94 percent) and move on to the next post. Only half check analytics on a regular basis.

Is this what excellent looks like?

Andy and I both want to throw down a challenge for you:

Just maybe we can get away with higher quality. Maybe we can add the research, the audio, the polish. Maybe we can put more time and thought into our content. Maybe we can check our analytics to see if our content is hitting the mark.

Maybe it’s time to publish less, but write more.

Look back at your blog. Have you published a lot of “ok” material? Pretty-good stuff that answers audience questions in a routine way?

Now look forward at your calendar. Planning more of the same?

Try putting this on your publishing schedule: go big at least twice a year. Epic posts. Game-changing posts. Posts that establish real credibility and authority, and don’t just conform to a schedule.

Where you take it from there is up to you.

The internet wants quality.

It doesn’t want more … it wants more original.

Check out the full survey

Make sure to head over to Orbit Media Studios and read Survey of 1,000+ Bloggers: How to Be in the Top 5 Percent.

And if you have thoughts about the survey, or the gauntlet we’ve laid down above, join us for a discussion over at Google+.

Image via Orbit Media Studios.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

Andy Crestodina is a web strategist and the co-founder of Orbit Media. He is a speaker, content marketer, environmentalist, and author: Get more from Andy on Twitter.

The post How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Why Savvy Marketers Build Affiliate Relationships with Bloggers

Having bloggers on your marketing team can keep your content flowing, but there are limits to their reach in terms audience perception.

Watch this interview from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition with Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer, All Inclusive Marketing, to learn more about how recruiting bloggers as affiliates can expose your brand to fresh new audiences.

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The World of Link Opportunities Beyond Bloggers

Posted by JamesAgate

There is an awful lot of controversy going around for things like guest posts, with techniques being proclaimed dead and blogs being decreed toxic, but the fact remains that if you handle blogger outreach in the right way, you can get a tremendous amount of value from blogs.

Targeted audiences, run by passionate and receptive bloggers; these types of opportunities shouldn’t be discounted. If you take a step back from your link profile, it is very likely to be heavily weighted towards blogs, whether that be as a result of guest posts, editorial mentions, competitions, or just about anything else.


However
, while all of the above add value (broadly speaking), they point to a link profile that looks skewed toward just one type of website. Links from blogs can be overcooked, and the reality of being an SEO in 2014 is that it is always wise to diversify the ways in which you get links—irrespective of which color hat you think you wear. You need to be proactive about what your link profile looks like.

We’ve probably all recently seen instances of overly harsh penalties, websites that looked
whiter than white (especially in relation to competitors) getting spanked. I’ve seen instances of sites getting hit that didn’t even look like they cared all that much about SEO, and yet someone at Google arbitrarily decided they had fallen afoul of guidelines.

Do I think Google is crazy? Sometimes, yes. But I’m not here to complain, because frankly it’s their playground, so I guess we all need to learn to live in it and determine ways to make the most of it—or face the consequences.

My point is we all have to think carefully about the things we do (even if they don’t at first appear to impact SEO) and what knock-on effect that is likely to have.

This especially applies when it comes to content generation and building links. It is easier to get bogged down in the day-to-day and think you are diversifying your link profile because you have a variety of blogs or because you are using different means to connect with bloggers, but from a bot’s point of view those links probably all look quite similar.

Here are just some of the wealth of link opportunities that are out there in almost every market:

  • Resource pages
  • Forums
  • Directories
  • Professional organizations
  • Events
  • Submission-based
  • Press

The sad thing is that at least one person reading this can probably find one instance of each of the above links being mentioned by someone at Google as “unnatural.” That being said, all of the above, if done right, are highly defensible and would pass the litmus test of “would I still want this if Google didn’t exist?”

Targeted acquisition

The problem (actually, the opportunity, because it means fewer people will bother) is that there isn’t usually a surefire step-by-step to finding these types of opportunities; the process can be quite serendipitous. I know that sounds like fluffy nonsense but there is no substitute for really getting to know a client and their market. This is why we often save this kind of activity for several months into an engagement: That is when some of the really golden opportunities seem to appear—after a few conversations with your contact, some research for a content piece, etc.

It is also likely that opportunities are limited in certain markets. There’s nearly always another link opportunity out there, but to be brutally truthful this process isn’t going to be easy, and it isn’t going to be one of those things where you can suddenly
make it rain links.

In most cases we have found markets to be a series of rabbit holes with niches, sub-niches, sub-sub-niches,etc.—the internet is HUGE, and if you are just focusing on “Keyword” + “Write for us” in your link prospecting, then you are leaving a world of opportunities on the table.

Resource pages

This type of opportunity is likely to form the foundation of any proactive “blogless” link building campaign because there are so many resource page opportunities out there.

You can really shoot for the stars with this technique, though and we’ve secured placements on government, academic, and top-tier websites like About.com. I must stress that this isn’t always an easy sell, because these types of websites don’t link to just anyone so you’ll need to adjust your expectations accordingly particularly if your business or client has only a small amount of value to offer outside of its usual commercial enterprise. It probably doesn’t surprise you that these types of websites care very little for link-baity stuff. :-)

A common mistake is to adopt the mindset of “I have made this guide on website, it is really {useful | interesting | identical to everything else on your resource list} and so should be included on your page because it will be good for {your audience | me}”. You either need something completely new that brings diversity to that resource page, or you need to sell the webmaster on the asset you are asking them to link to.

A common approach we adopt is to utilize an existing client asset and then look for multiple angles depending on the type of resource page you are targeting. If you think about, a governmental website, they want to help local citizens, so content about things like public safety is of interest to them. However, there is no incentive for them to link if they’ve already got three guides to the issue you are talking about. If you can find one governmental site that has a section on a specific public issue, though, you can use that in your pitch to another website, offering them a reason to link (because it rounds out their offering to their local citizens).

In terms of finding these kinds of opportunities, there are two main ways we do this:

  • Digging through an existing link profile (the client’s or a competitor’s) and extrapolating the tactic from there
  • Surfacing (often) hundreds of opportunities using a combination of prospecting phrases that include a variation of resource, help, further reading, and the keyword

Forums

Who would have thought a type of link usually reserved for the spammer could be valuable?

Well, a number of our clients enjoy mountains of traffic from targeted forums; in fact, in some cases they are the biggest referrers.

Naturally I am talking about the client adding value to the forum, or in most cases (this is easier if you don’t have the client industry expertise and the client doesn’t have the inclination) encouraging conversations about the client within the forum. Tread carefully, as most forums don’t take all that kindly to marketers poking their noses in, but with a modicum of client participation you may be able to join a conversation and highlight a piece of content on the client’s site. By doing so, you might just ”turn on” the forum to the wealth of useful content you probably already have there.

Our participation in forums is often content-led, and it is a very low-volume tactic, as there are often only a handful of worthwhile forums in the industry you are looking at.

Directories

A recent study found most
web directories are dead, and I wouldn’t disagree that most are simply live so they can charge for removal of links. Leaving this type of directory aside, there are a wealth of industry directories and localized business directories that real people actually use. These are the types of listings where you can get phone calls. Regardless of what you think of directories as a link type, that to me is a defensible link that is worthwhile irrespective of whether it is going to have an impact on your rankings.

The US is a gold mine of link opportunities like this, with directories for cities that are relatively easy to get listed on and can actually generate calls and new business. If you are in the travel industry, for example, where people who don’t know the area need to book a car service from the airport, they might use a site like
SantaMonica.com to find a provider. There is that perceived credibility of being listed in what is an authoritative site in the area.

How do we go about finding them? The
Link Prospector tool from Citation Labs is very useful in surfacing these types of opportunities if you use a combination of local and niche-specific phrases. If you don’t want to subscribe to the Link Prospector tool, then it is easy enough (albeit less automated) to do generic searches that include a combination of keywords or geographical locations and the directories themselves often show up. I actually prefer the manual method, as it allows for more serendipitous opportunities to present themselves.

Professional organizations

There won’t be all that many, but as with directories you want to be thinking in terms of niche and location as well as a combination of the two. Especially in the US, there are a wealth of opportunities with local chapters of organizations that you or your client could join.

There is often a cost involved with joining these professional organizations (at least the worthwhile ones), but the credibility associated with it and often the other business benefits for the client hugely outweigh the cost.

We’ve been frequently surprised at how often a client is already paying a subscription fee for a membership that entitles them to a listing but they’ve simply never claimed it! These are very quick and easy wins, granted the impact isn’t necessarily going to be life-changing.

To find these kinds of organizations, again the
Link Prospector tool is very useful if you need a quick and easy way to find these opportunities. You might find this list useful (albeit a little user unfriendly to navigate) as many trade publications have a corresponding association. Not always, but hey, it is still a useful resource if you want to find out about trade press.

Events

I strongly suggest you read this blog post on
Link Building with Local Events by Kane Jamison from 2012. There is very little I can add to this specific topic that Kane hasn’t already covered, but a few specific points are worth repeating:

First, why would we want these links? Well, you are likely to be getting links on domains that are otherwise hard to get even a citation from, let alone a link, websites like well-respected news outlets. Similarly the links are geographically specific, there is nothing more difficult than obtaining links from blogs within a certain geographical area, because the pool is often really small. So when it comes to “blogless” link building, it is nice to add that local element to your profile, and event-based link building can really help with that.

Secondly, think about the whole process when it comes to event-based link building, because there is more to it than just the “submission to the event section.” You need to consider how you structure the event pages on your website as well as selecting the right ticketing provider (e.g.
Eventbrite) for maximum SEO-related benefits (and frankly to ensure a seamless experience for any attendees).

Finally, consider all the angles for leveraging your event for link building goodness, from typical search queries that uncover submission opportunities to looking for footprints within event widgets.

Submission-based

This is an excellent way to maximize the reach of content either through finding or repurposing for a new audience.
This guide, whilst painfully cringe-worthy in its analogy to food, is a mostly useful guide to repurposing your content.

I am talking about worthwhile submission-based link opportunities here, though, whether that be making a presentation from a guide to go onto Slideshare or just submitting a podcast to the relevant directory. This is less about the resulting link (Google knows these aren’t exactly tightly editorially controlled), but you can effectively plug into an audience that you didn’t already have access to.

I still get milestone notifications of a guide I wrote for eHow nearly five years ago. I’m actually a little embarrassed about the content so really must get around to updating it but that has had over 10,000 pageviews since it launched. I accept that’s not viral traffic, but it was an extract of a longer piece on my site, and I linked my guide in the section beneath. My guide has subsequently had just over 4,000 visits since the eHow extract was published, which is almost certainly a lot more eyeballs than it would have gotten just sitting on one of my websites.

Eric Ward is a big proponent of submitting content to different places; many of the Link Opportunity Alerts that you find in his
LinkMoses newsletter service are submission-based, but often niche-specific and have a large audience or carry some real credibility.

Press coverage

Is doing PR a challenge as an SEO? Absolutely. It isn’t always an option, because if your client has a PR department or existing agency you might just end up crunching toes. On the flipside, however, we as SEOs are often far better at actually getting the link than a PR exec might be. We’ve achieved coverage for clients on TV networks, offline magazines, radio interviews—lots of great things that any PR agency would be proud of, and that started as a way for us to build some links!

The thing we have found is that most press opportunities present themselves and you have to be a bit reactive (or real-time) rather than proactively seeking coverage. We have also found some success in looking at how and why clients (and their competitors) have been covered in the past. Go into this with an open mind—I couldn’t believe when we found one of our clients had received coverage for the release of a product brochure; my initial thought would have been “who actually cares besides the owner of the business that our client has released a new product brochure??!”… turns out the trade press cared, and would happily cover it. In situations like that you find an asset which even the best of us would have dismissed as little more than sales fodder that can actually be used effectively to garner links.

Incidentally, I would be interested to hear your experience gaining press coverage with services like
HARO. We’ve probably had 4 successful pieces of coverage from HARO pitches, and while you could argue our targeting was off, our pitch was poor, or the client wasn’t a good fit, we’ve got coverage for those exact same clients through all sorts of other means so it truly baffles me when I see other people cite HARO as though it’s a push-button way of getting publicity. Maybe we’re doing it wrong, or maybe it’s just inundated since all SEOs on planet Earth started using it. Who knows?

A walkthrough

It is often easy to illustrate a point with an example, so I wanted to do a quick runthrough of what we might do if we were to handle link building for
Ontraport, a small business CRM provider. These guys aren’t a client, and were selected at random after going through a list of a few of our providers (we use them for email auto-responders among many other things) I thoroughly recommend their software, but I digress.

Let’s look at the assets they already have that we might be able to work with…

  • http://ontraport.com/ The software itself is likely to appeal to small business owners, seeing as it has been designed with them in mind. From a link building point of view, we might struggle given that there isn’t a free version of the tool, but as a “suggested tool” on a small business website we might have an angle. The better angle here is that the company is itself a “small business” success story (or at least sort of small; they’ve featured on the INC500 list and Forbes Most Promising Companies).
  • http://ontraport.com/women/ This one is buried in their footer, I actually found it digging through their link profile, but it is a sign-up page to join an online community for women in business. Ontraport’s COO is a woman named Lena Requist and she wanted to create “The Professionistas” to be a community within the wider Ontraport community. It is such a great idea, and is likely to be a valuable asset for any link building campaign.
  • http://ontraport.com/community-meetups/ This provides details on all their forthcoming in-person meetups. Loads of potential link building angles here.
  • http://ontrapalooza.com Their annual event which seems to work a bit like MozCon. I saw details of the event last year but didn’t actually attend, and there are opportunities aplenty with a large-scale event like this.

Here are just some of the opportunities I came up with after little more than 10 minutes of research:

  • The founder of Ontraport did an interview on Mixergy a while back, how about reaching out to BusinessInterviews.com?
  • SBA.gov helped me find an office that supports female business owners that is local to Ontraport and that office has a resource page.
  • The National Association for Female Executives has setup a page to help guide female executives in their career here. Perhaps Ontraport’s Professionista community for women would be a good addition for any women looking to strike out on their own as a means of furthering their career?
  • Their forthcoming in-person meetup in Santa Monica is likely to be of interest to the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce in their business event listings: http://members.smchamber.com/events/
  • The Annual Ontrapalooza event I mentioned was held in Santa Barbara last year, so how about telling local residents about it and getting a link in the process? You can submit event details to the Santa Barbara Independent events section (granted most listings are aimed at general public but there are some specialist events in the calendar).

Conclusion

Ultimately you need diversity in the link building that you do. Many of the tactics described above are low-volume, high-value so are worth investing a bit more time in. Can you build a process around them? Yes, but it is likely to be more of a framework or alternatively very industry-specific because there are so many nuances hence why I haven’t provided a step-by-step.

I don’t think that you should consider blogger outreach or links from blogs to be dead, but as with anything in SEO, there is such a thing as too much of something good. Hammering away at one tactic because that’s what’s cheap or in your comfort zone is only going to get you so far.

I’d love to hear thoughts in the comments below, particularly success stories with “less common” types of links.

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How Guest Bloggers are Sleepwalking Their Way into Penalties

Posted by James Finlayson

How do you get links in a post-penguin world? For far too many the answer seems to be, exclusively, guest posting. Today I’m going to give you four reasons why I think this tactic is as dangerous as those it replaced.

Note: I’m not about to say that ‘all’ guest posting is bad – in the same way not all directories are automatically spammy. I’m also not about to say ‘all’ guest bloggers will be penalised. What I will do is point out the dangers of guest posting as Google becomes increasingly intelligent; and what you can do to avoid them.

Link Quality

Penguin really hurt sites that relied on low-quality links. Many have responded by setting a minimum domain authority threshold when prospecting. To keep the process efficient they then remove sites with a DA over a certain level – seeing these as less likely to accept content.

No new site owner ever sat down and thought ‘hmm, well I best not link to buybluewidgets.com today, my domain authority’s only 28 – I’ll wait a few months’. Equally, the reason Mashable's not linking to you isn't because your DA has yet to hit a magical level. If you offer something of value links naturally come from a huge variety of high, medium and low quality sites. High quality links are rare naturally, that’s part of what makes them so valuable, but they do occur. As a result, a completely natural link portfolio looks something like this:

A natural gently sloping curve peeking around a DA of 35

I’ve now started to see new sites, fresh out of a ‘successful’ outreach campaign whose link portfolio looks like this:

links only appearing within a short band of DA

There’s little way that this could have occurred un-engineered and, if it’s obvious to us then it’ll be obvious to Google too.

"Mass guest posting is dangerous because it creates an unnatural looking link quality graph." [tweet]

Link Type

Conventional wisdom tells us that directories are bad, blogs are good and academic links are amazing. Tools like Link Research Tools and Linkdex allow you to break up your competitors’ links by type – if SEO tools can do this then so can Google. I took a vertical at random and wasn’t surprised to see this:

A lot of directory links, but also some forum links and, to a lesser extent, blog and news links


It’s not unusual to find sites with a huge percentage of their links coming from directories and these are sites we currently think of as having engaged in low-quality link building. So your site proudly strides in to the market and builds this profile:

Almost entirely blog links, standing in stark contrast to the rest of the industry.

I’m not saying that you need to replicate the industry standard – that’s not going to put you ahead of your competitors. I am saying “A link profile made up of only one type of link looks unnatural – whatever those links are.” [tweet]

Link Location

Google devalued footer links because they’re too easy to game. Google devalued sidebar links because they were being purchased en masse. Are links in author boxes next? When you’re consistently relying on links in guest-post author boxes you’re building a very obvious footprint. Due to the author box’s proximity to the author markup, relatively standard layout and positioning on the page it would be incredibly easy for Google to algorithmically target them in the same way it did sidebars and footers.

When a link’s in the middle of a post there’s an assumption that it’s there because it’s relevant. When a link’s in the author box it’s rarely there for the benefit of the user – it’s the writer’s payment for the post. It’s a box in which the author advertises themselves. So it could be argued the author box is a form of paid advertisement. How long until Matt Cutts does a video saying those links should be no-followed?

That’s all before you consider that the link’s in a box that gets skipped over by readers. That means you can expect virtually no traffic from it. Wouldn't it be better to be building links that drive traffic as well as rankings?

Anchor-text-heavy links in author boxes look fishy, even to non-marketers; let’s stop building them.” [tweet]

Authorship

Google’s really started to push authorship as an important signal. So, many guest bloggers have used their own name (or repeatedly the same name) in each of their guest posts to build up their authority. This has led to a great new form of competitor link-building. If you’re an agency, this creates a competitive issue:

typing in an SEOs name with "guest blogger" surfaces far far to many guest posts

Whoever you are, this creates two other problems:

  1. Your competitors can Google your name and easily find your link-building efforts – no SEO tool necessary.
  2. Whichever domain you’re building links to has a large number of their links coming from a single author.

Every SEO knows how important domain diversity is; having a large number of your links coming from a single author is the authorship version of putting them all on the same domain. Assuming all other factors are equal (including average link quality), which of these do you think Google would be likely to rank more highly:

Site A has more links, but very few authors writing about it. Site B has fewer links but many many more authors writing about it.

In real life it’s natural to assume a company that has lots of people talking about it is more important than one nobody's heard of – that has very few people mentioning it; shouldn’t Google follow the same principal with linking authors?

Let’s assume Google gets smarter still. On your Google profile there’s a nice box for you to enter your employment history. What if Google used that data to make a graph similar to this?

What percentage of your links are from your employees? What percentage of your links are from self-professed content marketers?

Search engines see links as an indicator of quality because they’re essentially recommendations. If most of a company’s recommendations are coming from its own employees would you trust them? You’d probably just ignore those recommendations. What if Google decided to discount all links created by a company’s own employees? Simpler still, what if Google decided to ignore all links created by SEOs where those links are in articles that aren’t talking about SEO? Google’s collecting all this data now, why wouldn’t it use it?

One person authoring the majority of your links looks like link building – because it is.” [tweet]

Fundamentally, this all comes back to Dr Pete’s Top 1 SEO Tips For 2013 – diversify. Each of the issues is a problem of oversimplifying the link building process. I’m convinced that taking a holistic view to inbound marketing not only provides the highest ROI, but will increasingly become the only ‘safe’ way to aggressively grow a company’s reach online.

Takeaways:

  1. Don’t rely on any one type of site for a majority of your links; build links of all types into your plans.
  2. Be aware of the quality of links you're building, but make sure to keep the overall portfolio looking natural.
  3. Don't use a single author for all your content – vary it between different, real, people. When using external writers, use their authorship to help further vary the mix.
  4. Split up different parts of a client’s campaign between different team members; that way there should naturally be a slightly different approach applied across the client’s links.
  5. Oversimplifying a link building process may make it faster, but the footprint it generates also makes it riskier.

Have you begun to scale back, or even phase-out, guest posting? Let me know in the comments below.

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Bloggers & Acquisitions: How to Finance and Partner with an Existing Blog

Posted by John-Henry Scherck

A few months ago, Rand Fishkin wrote a post about the benefits of buying a blog. It's a tactic I have become a big fan of – it's effective, efficient, and scalable. By purchasing/financing a blog you can work hand-in-hand with an established site that already has an engaged readership and a social following.

One thing to keep in mind, the end goal here isn't links. Do you get links? Sure! You get a ton! But this isn't a tactic to pump a contextually relevant blog full of anchor text links. This is a blueprint to align your site with an established publication, partner on content, and build your brand. This is a strategy to grow a business, not just a back link profile.

Prospecting

(Credit: Flickr user ToOliver2)

Target a niche blog that pertains to your vertical - It's best to target a site that is about one very specific subject that pertains to your money site. If I was working on a site that sold beer brewing kits, I wouldn't go for a general beer blog. I would prospect for blogs that cover a specific aspect of beer, like home brew recipes or rare beers. 

http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/a304e__1349637279_e8728dceb9a5cc5603299dafe7c9113a.jpg

(Credit: Flickr user Tim Patterson)

Every site ranking for "beer blog" or other generic head terms that pertain to your industry is going to get hammered by link requests on a regular basis. When you target something niche, you are going to cut down on the amount of link requests they receive, and they may be more open to talking with you. I like to target sites that cover my secondary and long tail keywords. 

(Credit: Flickr user Tax Credits)

Look for a blog that is not monetized – There is no point in trying to purchase a blog from someone who is guest posting, doing product reviews, and hosting giveaways several times a day. When prospecting, find a site that publishes a lot of original content for the sole purpose of benefiting their readership and sharing a unique perspective. 

Target a site with one writer – During the acquisition process, it will be easier to sell a single person on the idea of financing their blog. Also, managing workflow, deadlines, and payment is much easier with one person as opposed to a group of writers.

Research the prospect with a microscope - If it's a serious prospect, I will read through the last four weeks of their blog and then do the following searches

  • site:blogimresearching.com AND [client name]
  • site:blogimresearching.com AND [head keyword] OR [secondary keywords]
  • site:blogimresearching,com AND [CEOs name] OR [spokesperson name]

I look for any inclination that the blogger has been exposed to the brand before. How do they feel about the industry and your client's executive officers? I read the posts for tone, which I admit takes a lot of time. This is going to be someone promoting your brand, so you need to pay attention. If the mentions aren't extremely favorable, move on to the next prospect. 

(Credit: Flickr user Victor Bezrukov)

Go for something established, but not a powerhouse - You are not going to be able to sponsor or buy a top blog that pertains to your industry. In my experience, it's best to target up-and-comers. Don't be too picky. If they are a solid writer, I would take a Domain Authority of 35 or higher with 40 or more linking root domains.

Outreach Phase

The term "buying a blog" is scary, remove it from your vocabulary when communicating with target sites. I like to refer to it as a "promotional partnership." Craft a quick personalized letter that comes off as professional and friendly, here's one of mine:

Always ask for a phone call in the introductory email. It's imperative to become a real voice in their ear and not just another thread in their inbox. This shows the blogger that you are willing to invest your time and attention towards them. If they have posts that have been picked up by major publications, it wouldn't hurt to reference those achievements either. 

The Response

Acquisition Phase

Off the bat, I like to let them know that this proposed partnership isn't about links and anchor text, it's about driving traffic. 

Before you go any further, it's important to get a screenshot of their analytics, if they have no traffic there is no point in going through with the partnership.

That's way better than I hoped for.

To seal the deal, I offer to pay for their hosting and the time it will be taking them to work with us to grow their audience. It's critical to go over all of your expectations with them. Let them know that they are free to have other advertisers on their site, but that they shouldn't engage in advertising with any of your competitors.

IMPORTANT: GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING!

(Credit: Flickr user NobMouse)

I recommend having the blogger agree to the following in writing

  1. Since our experts' opinions are useful and informative for your readership, we would like X amount of posts every month to feature them for an expert opinion or interview. These posts will link to relevant portions of the client's site in an effort to reinforce the overall message of your posts.
  2. One badge, with the client's branding that links over to the client's site with the alt image text of the client's choice shall be placed on the homepage for the duration of the partnership
  3. Site will be paid X on the 1st of the month as long as all publishing deadlines are met.
  4. Site will not engage in any advertising with the following sites: (list of competitors)

Once that's signed, the real work begins.

Mentoring Phase (Ongoing)

Now you have to follow through on the promise to grow their audience. These recommendations can be time consuming for both of you. I like to make one recommendation per month to improve their blog. Here's a starter list of things you can do to help out your blogger.

  1. Clean Up Their Site - Run their site through Xenu and send them the broken link report. Have them download Check My Links for Chrome so they can easily find and clean up their 404s from the Xenu report. 
  2. Help Them With Indexation  - Look over their site and provide them with a new robots.txt file that blocks out unnecessary directories with duplicate content. (like /tag/ and /category/)
  3. Make Them an XML Sitemap – I like to use Screaming Frog for this, just make sure to take out any unnecessary pages. 
  4. Send Them Guest Post Opportunities – Those HARO opportunities that might not be right for your client are probably perfect for your partner blog.
  5. Identify Influential Peers - Use Followerwonk to find influencers in their space. Encourage your blogger to interact and engage with the influencers you've identified through social media and insightful blog comments.
  6. Optimize Their Evergreen Content – Get a user account for their Google Analytics and see which old posts are still getting search traffic. Rewrite the title tags and meta descriptions of these evergreen posts for increased click through rates. 
  7. Give them social media advice - My favorite social media guide for small business is The Social Media Workout Plan (TM) by @manamica. It's extremely actionable and very easy for anyone to follow, including bloggers. 
  8. Teach Them About Google Alerts – Show them how to set up topical Google Alerts so they will have a constant stream of relevant news stories that could inspire their blog posts.
  9. Give Them an SEO Education – Blogs need SEO help too; the Beginner's Guide to SEO is the best entry level resource out there. 
  10. Grow Their Commenting Community - Have the blogger implement Livefyre or DISQUS for increased commenting on their site. 

Content Creation Phase (Ongoing)

Every month, your blogger should come to you with a new topic that they want to write about that pertains to your client's industry. It's your job to get a representative from your client's company to get you a quote in a timely manner. As long as you don't slow down the blogger's creative process, they should like working with you. After all, you are providing them with authoritative industry opinions for their content.

If the blogger ever has writer's block, I like to use UberSuggest to create an evergreen post concept. If you need some tips on using the tool, Amanda Orson wrote a great post on how to use Followerwonk to create content.  

Although it's a lot of work at first, this beats the headaches that come with maintaining a flimsy microsite that could get penguinized at any moment. With this strategy you get a real site, with real readers, that are being exposed to your client's brand on a daily basis. It can drive conversions, educate consumers, and help build a loyal brand following. This isn't just and SEO strategy; it's a business strategy. 

(Credit: QuickMeme)

This isn't the only marketing initaitive we have going for this client, so I can't say if this single strategy lead to undeniable success. There have been a lot of other efforts to push them into mainstream press. However, here is a screenshot from their analytics that shows the conversion rate of the traffic from the partner blog:

This relationship is driving revenue. 

Our client is experiencing growth because of a real relationship that we have created with a trusted and authoritative site. Overall, their rankings have gone up, they are seeing more conversions, and they love that we are creating content that gets read by their target demographic and not some "Top 10 Signs You Are…" to place on a low level blog in exchange for a single link.  

Savvy clients are starting to care less and less about PR3 links on pay-to-play mom blogs or infographics you have to throw down $ 150 to post on the equivalent of a content directory. As an industry, our clients are relying on us more to be real marketers. Inserting our client into a target demographics’ preferred and trusted media source has helped grow their business, brand, traffic, and trust. This may not be traditional SEO, but it's working.

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How I Got The Attention of One of the Top SEO Bloggers With Diet Coke

Posted by Sparkplug Digital

We've all heard stories about companies who do remarkable things for their customers that results in people talking about them. These examples include the Nordstrom's employee who accepted a return for tires, Zappos providing surprise overnight shipping, or Gary Vaynerchuk sending a Mark Sanchez jersey to a customer, even though he sells wine. Delighting customers with unexpected acts of kindness doesn't have a directly measurable ROI, but often times it leads to loyal customers and evangelists who spread a story.

I recently learned that doing remarkable and unexpected things can also get the attention of the linkerati and lead to social media mentions and even a link on one of the most popular internet marketing blogs. And all it took was Twitter and Diet Coke.

It was 9am on a Tuesday and I was getting settled into work when I decided to check Twitter. I noticed the following Tweet from one of my favorite internet marketing bloggers:

"Hmmm." I thought. "Wouldn't it be funny if someone actually delivered some Diet Coke to Ian". After a few moments of wondering how something like that would be received, I decided to do it and find out. I have been a fan of Ian Lurie's Conversation Marketing blog for years and thought it would be fun and unexpected.

I drove to the grocery store, picked up two 12 packs of Diet Coke, and went to the Portent Interactive office which happened to be 15 minutes away from my location. I walked into their entrance and was suddenly in front of several desks of Portent employees. I walked up to the first desk and told an employee that I noticed on Twitter that they were out of Diet Coke. Fortunately they pretty quickly realized it was for Ian and accepted the boxes.

I drove off laughing because I thought this was probably one of the most random things I have ever done. Within minutes I saw Ian Lurie's Tweet.

When I got back to my desk I read an email from Ian stating that I had definitely earned a link and it was one of the most brilliant displays of social media marketing he had ever seen. Later that night Ian published a post titled How Social Media Works on Conversation Marketing. I had just earned a link to my company's website from one of the most popular marketing blogs which has a domain authority of 70 and links from 1,674 domains according to SEOMoz.

Soon people I admire in the SEO community like Dr. Pete from User Effect were Tweeting about it and even Rand Fishkin noticed.

Wow!

I never expected all of this to happen simply from helping someone on Twitter, but it makes perfect sense. I must have subconsciously channeled years of reading books like Seth Godin's Purple Cow about the importance of being remarkable. It really does work, in both off-line and online marketing if executed well. Here are some of my top takeaways from the experience.

Help Others Without Expectation of Reciprocation

When you help others with no expectation of receiving something back in return, good things tend to happen. People are naturally compelled to reciprocate when they have been helped, like telling their friends why they should do business with you or linking to your site. Even if you don't get a link at least you will be happier. According to a studies, people get a stronger boost in happiness from helping others rather than helping themselves.

Keep An Eye Out for Opportunities to Be Helpful in Social Media

If someone talks about a problem they are having in social media, look for ways that you can help. People frequently talk about things they need help with or problems they are having. If you are proactive and go out of your way to help them, it will almost always be appreciated. I use Tweetdeck to organize people into lists to focus on Tweets from the most relevant people.

Do Something Totally Unexpected

One secret to delighting customers is to do something nice for them that they don't expect. This makes it remarkable and worth talking about. This requires some creativity but there are several good examples for inspiration like the Southwest rapping flight attendant or Kimpton Hotels' response to a customer's request for a bed full of puppies and bathtub full of Reese's Pieces.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to do remarkable and generous things for your customers, community, and linkerati and you might give them a story worth sharing.

Update December 23, 2011: Diet Coke noticed the story and responded… :)

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