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Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

The Top 4 Reasons That I Don’t Respond to Most Guest Blog Post Requests

I manage several blogs; some are personal blogs on various topics, and the others are for my clients. As a result I get guest blog posts just about every day, but I don’t respond to most of them. If you are an avid guest blogger, that’s a great thing. It’s a great way to get exposure, but if you take the wrong approach when you reach out, you are wasting your time. Here are the top reasons that I don’t respond to guest blog requests.

1. They did not read the requirements. If you have a section on your blog where you solicit guest blog posts, you need to spell out exactly what you are – and are not – looking for. If you get a request that doesn’t meet the requirements, save yourself some time by deleting it.

2.The request had poor English. If you can’t type a compelling guest blog request email, complete with proper grammar and typos corrected, then I won’t hold out much hope for the end product.

3. The post was off topic. Take this blog for example, the target audience is people with an interest in online marketing. If you send me a blog post about “How to save money on car insurance” I will assume you did not read the blog, you were high, or that you aren’t competent to think that a blog post about car insurance belongs here. And folks, I am not making that up to be funny. You would be amazed at the kind of emails I get as blog post requests.

4. I don’t want to link to the site you are proposing. The primary goal of guest blogging is exposure to a new audience. One of my requirements is that you tell me in advance what website the blog post is going to link to, so I can make sure it’s something I want to endorse (because linking to a site is pretty much an endorsement.)

Don’t let that discourage you. Guest blogging is a great way to get in front of a new audience, just make sure you know the rules of the blog you are seeking to make a guest appearance on. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, so I know you can find one to post on. If you need help finding great blogs to posts on, I recommend checking out these two resources:

www.BloggerLinkUp.com
www.MyBlogGuest.com

If you have never been a guest blogger, make it a goal to do it this week. Have a great day!

Use The News to Grow Your Business

I find the news pretty discouraging for the most part, but the good news is that you can use what is shared in the news to grow your business in two very specific ways.

Blogging
I am a big advocate of blogging for the purpose of growing your online reach. When I share this with business owners, I am often asked “what should I blog about?” The simplest answer is to listen to what your prospects are asking you and then blog about those answers. Chances are, they are not the only ones asking the questions.

Another great way to find relevant content is to keep up with the news. For the most part, the news is discouraging, so I keep my intake at a bare minimum. In fact, I get most of my news via the web and social media. If you listen to what’s going on in the news, it will certainly give you relevant material to talk about. If it is directly related to your business, that is ideal, but even if it is not, you can either find a connection of just give your commentary. People want to know that you are human, and not always just about business.

The more you do this, the more you will be seen as a thought leader in your field, because you are staying current with what’s gong on, and you are relating it to your business.

Getting Quoted in the News
It’s no secret that being quoted as an expert by the media can help elevate your positioning in the marketplace. I always encourage business owners to build relationships with local and niche market journalists to get on the short list of “go to” experts that are called upon when someone is needed for a story.

A few great ways to connect with journalists are:
1. By making direct contact. Many use Twitter, so I recommend starting by connecting through Twitter and being a good netizen.

2. Respond to their requests. Journalists make requests all day long; you just have to know how to find them. One great resource is HARO, a free service that literally sends these requests to you three times per day.

Creating press releases can be a good way to get in the news as well. The key to a successful press release is making sure it is actually newsworthy (and not just an advertisement) and sending it to the right journalist at the right time.

My one caveat is that in the quest for using the news as a means of growing your business, that you don’t become addicted to it :-)

Wishing you success!

5 Ways to Help Google Find Your Blog Posts

If you are a blogger, you certainly want to make sure that your content gets found by Google, Bing and the other search engines to maximize your online exposure. Below are 5 tips to help increase your exposure on Google.

Keyword Research
One of the most critical steps you can take to help improve the search engine rankings of your blog posts is to engage in a little bit of keyword research prior to posting. You can use a free tool such as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and find out what people are searching for related to your blog post. Next, you want to use those keywords in the title of the blog post, and ideally closer to the front of the post. For example, if I wanted to leverage the popular phrase “blogging tips”, I would have made the title, “Blogging Tips – How to Help Google Find Your Blog Posts.” You have to balance SEO value with what reads well obviously. Given the volume of blogging tips on my blog, it would not make sense to start every post with “blogging tips.”

Using Ping Services
If you use WordPress, I would make sure that you have more than just the one ping service listed under the “Writing” settings. I am sure other blog platforms have this option, but I am pretty much a WordPress guy. Here is a list of recommended ping services:

http://api.feedster.com/ping.php
http://api.moreover.com/ping
http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2
http://ping.feedburner.com
http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
http://pinger.blogflux.com/rpc
http://rpc.newsgator.com/
http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
http://services.newsgator.com/ngws/xmlrpcping.aspx

Blog Often
The more content you put out, the more opportunities you will have to be found through those keyword rich titles. Eventually, you will start to see your blog come up in searches under the keywords in the post titles. Your web stats (analytics) will show you the keywords that people are using to find you.

I recommend setting a schedule and sticking to it (unlike I do). At a minimum, you should shoot to post at least once a week.

Promote on Social Networks
Social networks are a great way to promote blog content. For starters, I would add your blog feed to your LinkedIn profile. If you use Facebook, then I would post your articles to your profile and your business page, and if you are on Twitter, I would not only Tweet, but use related hashtags for maximum impact.

Using Tags Effectively
Tags are a great way to capitalize on popular keywords and themes by linking your posts to them. For example, I have tagged this post with the following keywords; blogging, blog SEO and blogging tips, which are popular keywords that I would like to connect with. You can see them referenced in the footer of the post. WordPress makes adding tags simple as does Blogger, and I would imaging other blog platforms do as well. Just don’t overdo it and make sure the keywords are related to the blog post. Often a tag will get listed in a search engine from a blog and rank well for the related keyword which gives you additional opportunities for search engine exposure.

This is certainly not conclusive, but a good top 5 list. Feel free to post any tips below in the comments.

Happy blogging!

How to Leverage Current Events to Promote Your Brand

Do you ever find yourself at a loss for blog content? One thing to keep in mind is that Google gives preference to content related to current events. All you need to do is ask yourself what is going on in the news or what holidays are coming up and then write a blog post about the event or holiday.

There are two approaches to making this work. The first method is to tie it in to your business by either adding a marketing message or showing that your company offers a solution to a problem being mentioned in the news. The second method is to simply put out the related content for brand exposure. Like every other marketing strategy, I recommend testing to see what works best for you.

After you have written your blog post, you will want to share it across your social media networks as this will help to “give it some legs.” A great one to use in this case is Twitter because you will also be able to leverage #hashtags which are basically keywords used to search on Twitter. Twitter monitors the top #hashtags which is an indication of what people are sharing or searching about. Tying your blog post into a #hashtag will help increase exposure to your blog post by leverage the event or holiday related activity on Twitter.

Last week I heard some interesting statistics about the Super Bowl and I decided to do a Super Bowl blog post on Sunday. I went the route of branding and made no mention of my company or what I did. It was a success; and is now the most visited blog post of the year. The real proof that Google listens came from viewing my analytics to see where the visitors came from. Most of the visits on Super Bowl Sunday and the two days following came through Google search (as indicated by Super Bowl search queries) and not just from the social media networks I submitted it to.

The moral of the story is that Google listens when you know how to speak their language.

Recommended WordPress Plugins (Update)

This is an update from a blog post I did way back in April of 2008 which ended up being one of my most popular posts even to this day.

There have been some changes due to plugins no longer being supported and the evolution of some great new security plugins. Also, prior, I had recommended that people install plugins the old school way of uploading and now you can simply upload them through WordPress without using FTP software which is much much simpler.

First, let’s start with the installation instructions:

1. Log in as administrator.
2. Click Plugins in the left column.
3. Select “Add New” from the top of the new page that appears.
4. Type the name of the plugin you want to upload in the search box.
5. Scroll down through the results and locate the exact plugin you want to install by name. There are many similar names so be careful.
6. Select “install now”
7. On the next screen click on the link that says “activate plugin”
8. Configure plugin by selecting it from the left column. If you do not see it, you may need to click on settings for it to show up in the drop down menu.

Security Plugins for WordPress – WordPress has some security issues so it is critical that you use the following WordPress security plugins:

  • Akismet – This one will cost you a mere $5 per month, but it is well worth it to keep the spammers away.
  • Login Lockdown – This prevents people that use tools to guess password from getting access to your admin console. It is also recommended to choose a secure password.
  • WP DB Backup – This plugin will email a copy of your blog to you periodically (I recommend daily). This way, if you have to reinstall it, you can.

SEO / Social Media plugins for WordPress – These are plugins designed to help you market your WordPress Website or Blog.

  • All in One SEO Pack – Allows you to enter custom titles and meta tags for each page or blog post.
  • Blog Glue (formerly known as Arkayne) – Allows people to find you through other blog posts as it syndicates your blog posts to a network of related bloggers. I have actually seen quite a bit of traffic come to my SEO blog from Arkayne/Blog Glue.
  • CommentLUV – Encourages blog comments by linking the comment to the posters previus blog post.
  • Dofollow – This plugin removes the “nofollow” attribute which is supposed to encourage people to comment on your blog. Truth be told, people should not worry about this so much as whether or not they are contributing to good content. In the end, this plugin actually produces lots of spam because those that seek out “dofollow” blogs are typically looking to take advantage of links they can get from posting bogus comments.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – Allows you to insert Google Analytics code simply on all pages of your WordPress website or blog.
  • Sociable – Allows readers to share your blog posts through a variety of methods including several different social media sites.
  • Tweetmeme – Allows your readers to retweet your content with minimal effort.

Communications Plugins – Plugins designed to help your readers communicate with you.

  • Contact Form 7– Creates a form for people to use to communicate with you.
  • Subscribe to Comments – Allows readers to be notified of additional comments to a blog post, which would allow them to continue the dialogue is they desired.
  • Really Simple CAPTCHA – This works in conjunction with the Contact Form 7 plugin to create a CAPTCHA code to eliminate bogus automated form responses from bots.
  • YouTube Brackets – Makes embedding YouTube videos into your posts simple.

There are dozens of additional plugins. In fact, if you want to find one, just do a Google search and you will find many plugins that can really make WordPress a powerhouse such as:

  • Directory Plugins – To create an online directory using WordPress.
  • Membership Site Plugins – This is a great way to monetize a website; by creating a membership site and charging a monthly fee.
  • Buddy Press – Helps you create a Social Media community using wordPress.

In closing, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding plugins:

1. Since they are developed by 3rd party developers, you will need to get support from the third party developers as opposed to your webmaster or web hosting company.

2. Plugins need to be kept up to date, otherwise failure can occur.

3. Make sure your plugins are compatible with your current version of WordPress (and vice versa), or you could have conflicts or plugins that do not function as they are intended.

If you have any great WordPress plugins that you think should be listed, feel free to let me know by commenting below.

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