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Tag Archive: blogging

  1. Why You Need a Business Blog

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    The Internet has provided business owners with a wealth of possibilities for driving traffic, generating leads and ultimately obtaining customers. One of the most popular and effective options is to create a business blog. According to HubSpot, “nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes and companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.” This data proves how big blogging has become for companies and the benefits it offers. Let’s get into the specifics of why you need a business blog.

    SEO Value

    With more and more people turning to Google and other search engines to find everything under the sun, getting your business’s website ranked highly is crucial. Since the majority of search engine users don’t click beyond the second page of results, it doesn’t do you much good if you’re not on the first two pages. One of the best ways to receive a top ranking is by blogging. This is helpful for several reasons:

    1. You can utilize internal linking where similar blog posts can be linked together
    2. You can optimize your posts as you go by using proper keyword density, adding tags, etc.
    3. Each blog post has the potential to be shared on other websites, blogs and social media networks
    4. Consistent posting tends to appease search engines because they value fresh content, which can increase rankings and traffic

    As your blog post count continues to rise, your SEO should continually improve as more respect is earned from search engines. An added benefit is that it’s possible to receive a considerable amount of traffic from keywords you’re not even trying to rank for. Due to the nearly infinite number of keyword combinations, you can appear in search engine queries that weren’t even on your radar. The more content there is, the more traffic your site should receive.

    Community Building

    community-building

     

    At the core of most successful companies is a community of loyal customers. This group acts as a strong foundation that brings in repeat business and also spreads the word to others, while validating the company as being legitimate. These individuals are sometimes known as brand ambassadors who go above and beyond to aid in the success of a company. While there are several ways to build a community, maintaining a business blog is one of the best.

    By creating high quality posts and routinely engaging your audience, it inevitably sparks a discussion. One person chimes in with a comment which leads to another person doing the same. As information is exchanged and relationships are formed, your audience has the opportunity to get to know you, your employees and each other. Over time, this can lead to the formation of a thriving community where everyone is interacting and learning. In turn, this keeps existing community members coming back and new ones coming in to see what the buzz is all about. This means plenty of exposure, added credibility and the potential for more sales.

    Unbiased Feedback

    Another perk of a community around your business is that it’s a natural catalyst for valuable input. For a business to maintain itself and keep growing, it needs to always be in touch with its customer base. Otherwise, losing touch with customers is one of the quickest ways lose brand equity and flounder. By allowing your audience to voice their opinions via comments following blog posts, it will immediately tell you what you’re doing right and what could be improved.

    This is like getting feedback straight from the horse’s mouth and from the people who matter most – your customer base. Some companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars on exhaustive campaigns to figure out what their customers want. Blogging, reading comments and responding to them is a great way to cut to the chase and gain an objective perspective that should keep your business on the right track.

    Developing a Personality and Brand Identity

    A large part of ensuring longevity involves distinguishing your business from the masses. That’s why companies like Apple and McDonalds have thrived. They have been able to create a unique personality and brand identity which makes them immediately noticeable and memorable. Blogging is the perfect platform for businesses that have a certain style and message, but need some polishing. By having a single writer or group of writers regularly contribute to a blog, your audience will quickly get a taste of your personality.

    Whether you take a casual and slightly sarcastic approach, or a more formal one, blogging provides an excellent outlet for branding. This is beneficial because it gives your business the opportunity to transcend a single product or service and become your own unique entity. When compared to competitors who have no real identity, this can be a serious advantage.

    Building Trust

    In order to get potential customers over the buying hump, it often depends on earning their trust. Before people spend their hard earned money on a product or service, they want to know that the company is competent and professional. They also want to know that their purchase will solve a problem or enrich their lives. To turn leads into conversions, it usually takes time and a sincere effort to gain trust. This is a huge factor because it’s one thing that money simply cannot buy.

    Providing your audience with insights pertaining to your industry is a great way to show that you know your stuff and that they should pay attention to what you have to say. For instance, a dentist might create articles that explain teeth whitening techniques or flossing tips for healthy gums. A mechanic may create posts about maximizing a car’s gas mileage or tips for changing a flat tire.

    Regardless of the industry, blogging is the perfect medium for showing what your business brings to the table and acquiring trust from your demographic. Claiming authorship on Google+ can take it even one step further and will display your headshot along with a brief bio next to your articles in Google search rankings. As readers make the connection between you and your content, this can be monumental in gaining trust.

    Proving You’re Reliable

    Along with this, adhering to a steady posting schedule is a subtle way of letting consumers know that they can count on you. In most cases, two to three quality blog posts per week is sufficient for keeping readers interested and proving that you’re on the ball. Otherwise, only creating a half-hearted article once every few months can be counterproductive and raise questions about your dependability. Fortunately, even one or two writers can usually produce the necessary amount of posts with relative ease.

    Affordability

    An added advantage of running a business blog is that it requires only a minimal financial investment. If you create content in house, the only expenditure is the cost of hosting and the only real investment required is your time, which is also minimal. If you choose to hire professional writers and/or developers, the costs are still relatively low in comparison to many other marketing techniques like pay per click advertising. This tends to level the playing field between small and large companies, which is a real breakthrough if your business is an up and comer.

  2. How to Maximize The Value of Your Guest Blog Posts: Part 2

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    Maximizing your blog posts

    In part 1, I outlined four powerful ways to maximize your blog posts. You can create videos, design infographics, use different facts and anecdotes from the content to create a series of social shares, and compose new content around offshoot topics to provide contextual inbound links and maximize the value of each blog post.

    In part 2, we’ll take a look at five additional ways that a great blog post can be used to generate more clout, conversation, traffic, and ROI.

    1. Guest Posting as an Expert

    Easier said than done, guest posting has become one of the toughest things to do. It’s easy to get in when you approach an emerging blog or low-quality website, but webmasters of high-quality, unique, and highly informative websites are understandably wary of granting new guest blogging requests.

    It’s quite obvious why. They have an established reputation, they value every one of their readers, and they want to push only the best content available.

    When you consistently publish high-quality posts on your blog — ideally peppered with images, infographics, videos, or other media like Slideshare slide decks — you’re building a strong portfolio that can be referenced when you pitch for a guest blogging opportunity. Remember, we talked about guest blogging when we spoke about offshoot topics (item #4 in part 1). This is different.

    The best way to maximize your blog post is by using it to pitch for a guest blogging opportunity. And what’s interesting is that in many cases, you can actually write on the same topic as your original blog post (although you’ll want to approach it from a different angle).

    2. Create Slides / Presentations

    Information that can be provided in chunks goes down well. It’s received easily. Slides and presentations are fine examples of this kind of information delivery. But of course, you’ve got to do them correctly.

    As an example, this very article could be converted into a beautiful slide deck presentation, and I could use it to share on websites that accept slide deck presentations, like Slideshare.

    This wouldn’t require much extra time to do. All the research and content has already been done. I’d simply re-purpose the content into a different format — in this case, slides — and I could then use those as a new form of content to spread the word across additional, new media channels, thereby extending my reach and audience.

    Creating slides from great content that can be cut into chunks is a seriously underrated tactic.

    3. eBooks, Reports, Emails

    Another method of re-purposing content is a surprisingly old one: create eBooks out of existing content. Tie up several blog posts around a particular topic and create a PDF out of it. Or, follow the same principle as in item #2 above (slides / presentations), and create a PDF out of that.

    This strategy can be used not just to lure more people to your website, but also to collect emails and facilitate social sharing. Interestingly, this practice has also been modified of late to create a series of posts and then send them out via email on a steady and regular basis — as weekly or daily lessons.

    Again, as an example, I could create a free nine-part course out of these two articles on maximizing your blog post, and use them as bait to attract potential customers.

    4. Do Interviews

    No matter what topic you might want to address, there are experts out there who’ve been doing it for long time, better, or in an innovative way. If you can catch up with one them and get him or her to do an interview, you’ve got another piece of high-quality content (whether as video, audio, or text) that will be helpful for your readers / target market.

    In the age of interconnectedness, Twitter, and email, there’s really nothing to stop you from reaching out to these experts. You might be surprised by how many of them are more than eager to share valuable information — and not because they want to get their names published. They are genuinely willing to help!

    I did an interview with Neil Patel discussing link building in 2013. Here it is:

    If you can do video interviews, you’ve got a gold mine: you can share the video on blogs, you can transcribe the interview and come up with a blog post, and you can also go on to create slides, short reports, and possibly even clips of edited video that are short (so people are again motivated to look at it).

    5. Generate Conversation / Debate

    This one can be a little challenging.

    Some websites use each new blog post to generate conversations on their forums as soon as it is published. Examples include AppleInsider and MacRumors, which use a comment+forum post system. You can replicate that if you have an active forum or discussion board where people take notice of new posts.

    There are other ways to generate a conversation, though. You have websites like Inbound.org (for inbound marketing-related topics) and HackerNews (which tackles tech-related topics). Almost every niche has a popular discussion board of some sort where the brightest of minds in the field meet up. Share your blog posts here, not just for traffic or links, but for genuine conversations. These can help you refine your blog posts, as well, which may be the most useful and productive effect they can have for you.

    So there you go. One blog post can actually serve as the staple for nearly a month’s worth of activity that creates enormous value around it. Ultimately, you have to keep your readers in mind every time you create something: Is it truly useful for your readers / target market without being repetitive?

    If the answer is yes, you’ve hit the jackpot.

  3. How to Maximize The Value of Your Guest Blog Posts: Part 1

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    Creating high-quality blog posts — or any content, really — is just as important as making the best possible use of it. “Maximizing” draws a line between hard work and smart work. When you set out to produce great content that will be enormously useful to the readers (your target market), you are going to have to work hard.

    Maximizing guest blog value

     

    It can end there. But if it does, you’re not really squeezing the lemon for every drop of juice. In truth, you’d be leaving a lot on the table. With every genuine, high-quality, unique, and powerful piece of content comes a plethora of tactics you can employ to maximize its effects (ie, drive traffic, conversions, and social buzz).

    But why do that at all? It takes a lot of time to compose content in the first place. Why pile on extra work by trying to maximize the blog post after it’s already been published?

    The answer is simple:

    1)  You are creating more opportunities for content, links, conversions, conversations, and readership (all of which lead to a strengthened brand, greater trust, SEO value, and of course revenue).

    2)  You are reducing the need for “more” blog posts.

    Publishing 20 different blog posts every month is a great goal to aim for, but once you establish such a routine, it can get either exhausting or boring. Every good blog post you produce opens up various avenues for exploration. These take time and effort, but they pay off better than if you spent the same time producing more blog posts.

    So what can you do? Take a look:

    1. Produce a Video

    Videos are gold mines. If you can create simple videos relating to the content you publish, you can improve the quality of your rankings, visibility, virality, and readership. It works on a simple concept: If I show you a 2000-word blog post that scrolls for a long time, then a video associated with this blog post, you’ll probably choose the video.

    Most people don’t want to read and read and read, if they don’t have to. Not every blog post can be converted into a high-grade video, but wherever it’s possible, you should do it. Videos can be as simple as animated text against a good background. The objective is to make a media component out of your blog post so it’s easier for people to get the information quickly and easily.

    Plus, you’re going to attract links from YouTube and other video sites to which you publish your videos. And speaking of keywords, it’s easier to rank videos for certain keywords on Youtube because the competition is much less fierce than on Google.

    2. Create an Infographic

    If there’s data or statistics in the content of your blog post, there’s got to be a way to present it in an infographic. Infographics get shared, retweeted, and repinned, and are excellent drivers of traffic and inbound links.

    Here again, the combination of media (graphics) and easily-readable/digestible chunks of information helps readers to warm up to this style of presentation. So if you can follow up your blog post with a relevant infographic, your chance of hitting the social shares grows stronger.

    3. Slice Up and Share on Social Media

    It’s said that the average time a tweet is visible on a person’s timeline is about two hours. After that, it gets buried under more recent tweets. This is why you find a lot of content producers (and marketers) who share the same content over and over again. Some take it to an extreme, so that it almost becomes spamming other people’s timelines.

    When you have content — such as a blog post — that’s rich and filled with great information, you can pick various details from it to share on social media. For example, this very article you’re reading could be shared in six different ways on the same social channel.

    Each time, I’d pick a particular way of maximizing the blog post (create videos, do interviews, upload bits of content on forums for conversations, etc.) and share it along with the link to this content. It would be the same link but with different angles of sharing it.

    Through this method, I’d be helping people find this article, and prevent my share from getting buried in the overload of a Twitter or Facebook newsfeed. Each method might also appeal to a different set of people.

    This is much better than sharing the same text that goes along with the link on all social channels.

    4. Explore Offshoot Topics

    For almost every blog post that you write, you can propose offshoot topics about which to write more content that is relevant and linkable. Content agencies have used this as a method of coming up with blog post topics, but the trick is to tie things up with natural link-building.

    Suppose you’ve published a post on your blog. You can generate a few offshoot topic ideas around the blog post you just published. After you produce content relating to those topics, you can use them off-site. You can use them to pitch for guest posts on other people’s relevant websites or post them on other web properties you own.

    The trick is to link back to your original blog post contextually. This gains links and also improves click-throughs, because instead of forced or blatant branding, you are creating a contextual backlink that motivates users to check out your original piece.

    High-quality content producers understand the time involved in coming up with blog post ideas and getting them produced and published. You can either choose to rinse and repeat, or you can refine this strategy to the point where the time you spend in coming up with blog post ideas (and subsequently, the content itself) is maximized.

    By creating surrounding content and opportunities like social shares, infographics, and videos (or other media like Slideshare), you can dramatically raise the chances of your content gaining more inbound links, social shares, and readers.

    Ultimately, this will increase the brand value.

  4. 5 Ways to Come Up With Awesome Blog Post Ideas

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    5 Ways to Come Up With Awesome Blog Post Ideas

    “Content is king.”

    We’ve all heard it, time and again. But how do you come up with something that’s worth anything? Day in and day out, it seems like everyone’s writing content—a lot of it. But 90% of the commentaries on the web go down the drain, and only the remaining 10% makes it to the top of Google’s rankings, or Inbound.org, or Mashable, and makes the rounds via social channels.

    Aside from the fact that it’s hard work to churn out lengthy, valuable content on a regular basis, it’s also difficult to come up with interesting ideas. From my perspective, that’s been the biggest challenge of maintaining AudienceBloom’s content strategy.

    How do you identify topics that will connect with your audience? How do you come up with post ideas that will help you rank well? How do you locate ideas that will have an impact on your content strategy (and lead to more traffic, revenue, and brand building)?

    Over the years, a pattern has emerged that has helped me keep coming up with new and solid article ideas.

    As simple as it sounds, it can’t really work unless you do a lot of reading. Regardless of what niche/market you are in, there’s always a lot to learn, a lot to read, a lot to assimilate. If you are fully involved in the market, you surely have many personal experiences: these, too, come under “education” which should help you generate good topic ideas for your content.

    So briefly, remember these three things:

    • Read a lot. Assimilate!
    • Draw from personal experiences.
    • Answer/troubleshoot your target audience’s (or clients’) queries.

    Let’s dive in to the details.

    1. Read and Curate Great Content

    Content curation has become a mantra for many writers these days. Although I’m not a big fan of curated content, it’s definitely a productive way to come up with posts. The key is to find really helpful, actionable, and highly interesting/unique content across the web. The danger with curated content is that if you use it too often, your readers will come to think of you as just a resource-person/website rather than an authority.

    This means you don’t want to pick the most obvious, popular content and thread all those bits together to create your curated posts. If a content is particularly popular (let’s say it’s gone viral), you can assume that most of your target audience has already read or seen it. So unless it’s so vital that it bears repeating, or you can put an extra spin on it by expanding on the central idea, better not include those links in your curated content.

    Bottom line: Curated content is effective when used sparingly. Think of weekly roundups or monthly roundups of the best writing across the web in your market/niche. Ideally, your post should be a mixture of news/general information, “actionable” content, and some innovation or discovery.

    How to come up with curated content:

    • Scour the web for the best writing in your niche. Search under blogs (when you search in Google).
    • If you follow popular blogs, you already have your sources. Also, hunt down the articles those other blogs link to.
    • Online magazines, email newsletters, and even Twitter are good sources.

    Bonus tip: While reading and curating other content, you’ll get plenty of ideas from what other people in your industry or niche decided to write about. Can you give your own take or spin on a topic someone else wrote about? Did they get it wrong? Write your own version of it! There are lots of “How to come up with ideas for content” articles on the Web written by many different authors, but that didn’t stop me from writing my own. Why? Because I think my version is the most helpful and thorough of them all. Good content always wins, and it’s usually easy to improve on existing content ideas.

    2. Compile Lists

    In my experience, nothing performs better than a list post. If you clicked on the title of this article to read it, then you’re now a data point strengthening this hypothesis. List posts are crisp, easily consumable, and can be very informative.

    You can make list posts out of a variety of things. If you stumble upon three different methods in three separate blogs, then bingo: you’ve got a “3 Ways To…” post idea, ready to roll.

    3. Write “How-to’s”

    “How To Do Something” is another evergreen article title format. Coming up with one can be tough, however, unless you’ve figured out something yourself and can blog about it in your own terms.

    It’s easy to regurgitate what others have already blogged, and it’s difficult to write something unique. But if you’ve done or tried something yourself (with the help of other resources, no doubt), and then you write about it, that content is going to be more powerful. It has voice and it has an experience. Most importantly, it has the persona.

    I like to compose “How to” posts when I need to figure out something for my own good. One example that comes to mind is a post I wrote for Search Engine Journal called “How to Set Up Your Company in Bing Business Portal.” I got the idea for that post when I realized that I had no idea how to do it, and I wanted to learn. As I learned, I took screenshots, walking through each of the steps, and wrote it down in article format.

    Another instance in which “How to” posts are useful is when you would like to train your employees or clients how to do something. If you want them to learn how to do it, then it’s a safe bet that it’s useful information that other people would find value in knowing how to do as well. One example of this was my popular post titled “How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities.” Obviously, with the popularity of guest blogging at an all-time high, I wanted to outline a quick and efficient method for finding opportunities for my employees. I decided to publish the blog publically since I believe it has a ton of value as a resource for other folks as well.

    How-to posts perform best when you’ve figured out what your market wants. To do that, you should consult:

    • Forums where your target audience interacts
    • Comments made by your target audience on your and your competitors’ websites
    • General discussions on other boards and websites (posts themselves)

    If possible, try to interact directly with your target audience—through forums, comments, email newsletters, etc.

    4. Discovered something? Write about it

    If you figure out a new way to measure ROI through Google Analytics, that’s going to be a great thing to share. If you came up with a new way to reduce load times, there’s another post idea! There are many things you do every day… and if you do something new, unique, or even something that’s old but still time-saving, cost-effective, or groundbreaking in some way or another, you’ve found a new post idea to write about.

    One example of this was my post for VentureBeat titled “How to Reduce Stress as an Entrepreneur.” The article details my experience with stress, some examples of how that stress started pervading my life, and the steps I took to solve the problems, complete with specific recommendations for tools and plugins I discovered that help de-stress my life.

    One objection to this idea might be that you’re afraid to share trade secrets or cool little advantages you’ve discovered. My advice is this: if you figured it out, someone else has too, or will soon. And the first person to publish the article about it will receive all the recognition, inbound links, website traffic, and referrals. So, don’t withhold information because you’re afraid your competitors will use it. Instead, think about ways you can be more helpful than your competitors are to your target market; how can you be the authority in your space that your potential customers think of when they’re ready to buy?

    5. Get controversial

    Plunging into a controversy is risky business but if done correctly, you could have a shot at virality. A good, controversial post — say, “Everything You Know About SEO Is Wrong” — has the ability to generate instant and relevant reader interest. But where do you find controversies?

    • Break the rules. Say why a trend is wrong.
    • Criticize someone else’s post (but do it respectfully and sensibly).
    • Disrupt the market by telling everybody what they think is wrong (but be ready with a strong explanation).
    • Touch on harm, fear, and lies to generate controversial topics.

    In Conclusion

    Stay on top of the best places to make sure you have your finger on the pulse of the market.

    • Discussion boards. These include forums and websites like Inbound.org and Mashable
    • Comment threads on popular websites
    • Twitter, Facebook and other social channels (follow people and brands)

    In the end, coming up with content ideas is half the battle, but it’s the first part of the battle. And if the content ideas are no good, the post won’t draw much interest. I hope these five tips for coming up with ideas helps you overcome the first challenge on your road to becoming a content marketing expert. Do you have other ways to come up with article ideas? Let me know in the comments!

  5. The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging

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    Many business owners are passionate about their product or service, but assume they lack the expertise in the online marketing sphere to gain visibility and website traffic.  This is a common challenge faced by many of today’s businesses and entrepreneurs.

    But in reality, you don’t need to be an SEO professional or online marketing expert to succeed with your online marketing initiative. In fact, if you have the skills to start a business, you already likely have all the skills necessary to exponentially increase your website traffic while building your brand equity for the future.

    The secret to success in the online marketing world, and the solution for business owners struggling to generate website traffic, is to establish your brand (and yourself) as a credible authority within your niche, and the best tactic for doing so is called guest blogging.

    Guest blogging has become the darling of the SEO industry, but that doesn’t mean that only SEO professionals can do it. In fact, in the competitive world of online marketing, it’s necessary for business owners to do, or risk being burned by the competitors who are.

    This article is meant for business owners who want an easy-to-follow, understandable guide to building their business online through guest blogging.

    Why Guest Blogging, and What are the Alternatives?

    It’s important to note that guest blogging is not the only tactic business owners should pursue. Online marketing is a diverse and rapidly-changing field that currently consists of tactics such as:

    • PPC (paid search)
    • Paid ads
    • Social media marketing
    • Search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Content marketing
    • Email marketing

    With the exception of paid search and paid ads, all the other tactics intertwine and affect each other. For instance, a strong social media marketing campaign will positively affect your organic search rankings, improving your SEO. And a strong content marketing campaign will provide fuel for social media marketing and SEO campaigns.

    While paid search and ad campaigns can yield great ROI in the right situations, they usually amount to short-term gains with little or no long-term impact. A good SEO campaign, on the other hand, is like building equity in your business that lasts for the long haul. It’s similar to the difference between buying a house and building equity vs. just paying rent.

    So, why do I so strongly advocate guest blogging? Because a properly-executed guest blogging campaign yields the strongest and safest ROI while simultaneously supporting your SEO, social media, and content marketing efforts. It builds the most valuable, long-term equity in your business, and, most importantly, requires nothing more than a computer and an internet connection to execute. This means there are no excuses; if you’re reading this, you already have everything necessary to start a guest blogging campaign and grow your business online.

    Don’t have time? Hire staff and assign them some of your duties to take things off your plate. Trust me, this is an initiative you should be making time for.

    The Benefits of Guest Blogging

    There are many benefits of guest blogging.

    • Builds and improves Author Rank
    • Creates links to your website
    • Strengthens awareness of your brand
    • Aligns your brand with industry leaders
    • Builds your personal brand
    • Generates leads and traffic
    • Creates social signals

    Here’s the breakdown on each of the benefits.

    Builds and improves Author Rank: Author Rank is how Google calculates the credibility of the author of a particular page, affecting how well that page ranks in search. Credible, authoritative, trusted authors receive “bonus points” in the rankings for articles they write related to their niches of expertise. I believe Author Rank will grow significantly in importance in the ranking algorithm over the next few years.

    Creates links to your website: Inbound links have the heaviest weight of all the ranking factors in Google and Bing. Inbound links are considered much like “votes” by one website for another. Links from more credible, trusted websites will be treated as more important votes, so it’s best to spend your efforts focusing on getting inbound links from authoritative publishers.

    Strengthens awareness of your brand: Every time you publish an article, you’ll get an accompanying author bio. See the screenshot below, which is my author bio at Search Engine Journal. The more posts I make at Search Engine Journal, the more exposure AudienceBloom gets there, which helps to build the brand image and awareness, driving higher-quality traffic which converts more often, increasing sales.

    Aligns your brand with industry leaders: Aligning your business name and website with brands that Google already ranks at the top in search engines is the best way to become a part of Google’s inner trust circle. This results in higher rankings for your website, driving more traffic, leads, and sales.

    Builds your personal brand: After a while, if you publish enough great content that your readers love, you’ll start to become an authority in your niche. Once you become a niche authority, this opens the doors for many more opportunities, such as:

    • Speaking opportunities at events (for which you can get paid and further build brand recognition)
    • Easier access to guest posting on more, higher-quality publishers in your industry
    • More leads from your target market
    • Higher quality website traffic

    Generates leads and traffic: Give advice or solutions to problems, and you’ll come to be recognized as a trustworthy source for further help, resulting in leads and sales.

    Creates social signals: Social signals include Tweets, Facebook Likes, LinkedIn shares, Google +1’s, and more. Together, social signals represent a quality signal to search engines, because pages that are shared and discussed more often in social media channels are usually higher-quality. They are growing fast in importance as one of Google’s many ranking factors, so it’s important to get lots of social activity associated with your brand in order to stand above the rest in search engine rankings.

    Your Step-by-Step Guide to Guest Blogging

    Step 1: Start by ensuring that your social media profiles are complete and optimized. Be sure to set up your Facebook page, Google+ profile, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. Additionally, be sure to include links to your social channels on your website (usually in the upper right corner) and link to your website from your social channels.

    Step 2: Write ten amazing (yes, AMAZING) articles related to your industry, then publish them on your website. I recommend publishing them as blog posts rather than static pages. Writing anything less than amazing articles won’t help you, and may actually hurt you; your goal here is to impress editors of large websites, so show them what sort of value you’re capable of providing.

    Great content has the following elements:

    • Information that’s valuable, interesting, or insightful
    • Proper spelling & grammar
    • Subheaders to segment the article, making it easier to read
    • Text formatting (bold, italics, bullet points, etc.)
    • Images

    Additionally, longer content tends to rank better in search results; aim for a minimum of 1,000 words per article you write. For more information about how to optimize an article for SEO, please see “10 Steps to SEO-Optimizing Your Blog Articles.”

    Here are ways to get new ideas for articles to write:

    • Visit Q&A websites like Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Answers.com. Search for your keyword, see what questions people commonly ask, then see if you can answer one or more of them with a new article.
    • Find other industry blogs and read their articles to see what ideas they’ve come up with. If you can write a different take on a particular topic, go for it!
    • Think about upcoming events or holidays and how you could tie those into your industry. If Halloween is coming up, perhaps the “Top 5 Ways a Zombie Would Invest in the Stock Market” would be a good article idea for my friend. If the super bowl is just around the corner, then the “Top 10 Craziest Super Bowl Mascots Ever” could be an interesting article that would attract readership.
    • Think about questions you commonly hear from clients or potential clients. Can you compile them into one article that answers them all?
    • Analyze industry news.
    • Write about how you solved a recent problem.
    • Think about questions you currently have, and figure out the answers to them, then compose an article which outlines your findings.
    • Create proprietary or original data, then publish an analysis.

    Step 3: Now, it’s time to identify and contact authority publishers in your industry. If you have industry connections, contact them. Peruse your LinkedIn profile for other folks who could help as well.

    Next, If you’re technically savvy, refer to my post “How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities” which outlines a step-by-step process for quickly identifying publishers in your industry by using a software tool.

    For non-technical folks, start by making a list of keywords for your business or industry. For example, if you’re in the business of selling raw dog food, then your keywords might be “raw dog food,” “natural dog food,” raw food for dogs,” etc. Your goal is to figure out what queries your target market would use to search for the product or service you offer in Google. For a walkthrough on how to figure out what keyword(s) you should focus on, see my post titled “How to Perform Keyword Research with Google Adwords Keyword Tool.”

    Next, visit Google and search for your first keyword. Go through each of the top ten pages or so, and keep track of any websites on which you’d love to get exposure. Great choices will include websites that are well-known, get lots of shares and tweets on their articles, have a lot of traffic, and get a lot of user comments.

    Step 4: After you’ve gathered a list of publishers which would make good candidates for outreach, gather their contact information. Usually, it’s easy to find an editor’s email address on the website, but you may need to use a contact form to get in touch with someone.

    Record the publishers you have contacted in a spreadsheet in order to keep your efforts organized. Additionally, I highly recommend Boomerang for Gmail, which is a Gmail plugin that will automatically remind you if you don’t receive a response after a certain amount of time. This is a tool I simply can’t recommend highly enough.

    Here’s a sample email template you can use:

    Hi [editor name or website],

    My name is [your name], and I currently write for [website A, website B, website C].

    I’m a business owner and passionate about [your industry]. I’m trying to meet new people, and build a name for myself as a thought leader in the [your industry] community. I would be honored to have the opportunity to contribute to [website]. My goal is establish my name as an expert in the industry while giving positively to the community.

    Would you please let me know if you’d be open to having me write for [website]?

    Samples of my writing:

        • Sample URL 1
        • Sample URL 2
        • Sample URL 3

    Cheers,

    -[Your Name]

    Step 5: As you get responses, agree on acceptable article titles and formats. Then write and send the articles to the editors. Remember to have your Boomerang remind you after a few days if you don’t hear back. You don’t want your articles to go to waste!

    Step 6: Every time one of your articles gets published, share it via Facebook, Twitter, and any other applicable social channel, then be sure to say “thank you” to the editor. Then, in a spreadsheet, record the URL of the published article. Whenever you write a new article, refer back to this spreadsheet and see if you can link to other articles you’ve written. This will help those articles get more visibility, further building your brand.

    Step 7: Continue identifying and contacting more publishers with article pitches. As you contribute to more websites, you’ll find it even easier to get on board with new ones.

    Step 8: Keep another spreadsheet that tracks how long it’s been since you last contributed to each publisher. Every time an article goes live, be sure to update that spreadsheet. If it’s been over a month since the last time you contributed to any specific publisher, reach back out with a new offer to write. This will help to grow your relationship with that publisher, opening the doors for more frequent guest blogging.

    Here are some handy Google Doc formulas for tracking how long it’s been since your last post:

    Column A: Publisher Name

    Column B: Last Post – set the date that your last post at this publisher was published

    Column C: Days Since Last Post – =TODAY()-B2

    Is Guest Posting a Sustainable Online Marketing Strategy?

    Absolutely; in fact, it’s exactly what Google and Bing have said they want you to do, according to this article:

    “[Duane Forrester] suggested contacting an authority site in your space to see if they would publish a guest article that you write particularly for them. If the authority site finds your content valuable enough to publish, that’s a completely different situation from article hubs that allow anyone to publish anything.”

    Conclusion

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on building your business through guest blogging. I strongly believe it’s the most valuable tactic business owners can (and should) be using to build a sustainable online business for the long haul, while growing traffic and sales. Did this guide help you? Are you going to give it a try? Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts!

  6. Why an Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative

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    The most important rule of blog management and creation: if you aren’t going to regularly update a blog, don’t bother creating one at all. Nothing looks worse than a blog that hasn’t been updated in months. It represents a lack of care for customers and contributes to a negative overall impression. While many companies think they need to jump on the blog bandwagon because everyone else is, many don’t realize exactly why everyone else is.

    The truth is, an active blog has many benefits, including:

    • Helps your website get indexed more frequently, resulting in better organic search visibility and traffic.
    • Improves conversion rate because your users see that the website is active (and, therefore, so is the business). Also helps to establish authority and expertise in the niche, building brand loyalty and further increasing conversion rate.
    • Provides discussion content for social media streams, and helps generate social signals when readers decide to share articles via Twitter or Facebook. Social signals improve your organic search rankings.
    • Allows you to rank for more keywords relevant to your niche. Every blog post is like adding another raffle ticket to a hat, giving you more opportunities to rank for user queries that are looking for your services.
    • Helps generate inbound links from other publishers looking for relevant articles to cite, which improves your rankings, generates brand awareness, and drives inbound leads.
    • Improves click-through rate in search engine results pages when paired with Google Authorship markup, resulting in more website traffic. 

    Google’s Freshness Update

    Google’s Freshness Update has shown just how much importance Google is placing on showing up-to-date, fresh information in its search results. This is a major reason for websites to ensure they are continuously updating their existing content as well as publishing new content.

    Blog posts also fall under the category of pages that search engines love to crawl and index. Not only should companies be updating their regular website content pages regularly (ie, their About Us and Contact Us pages), blog posts should be the medium through which significant additional value is added to readers, customers, and potential customers. They provide that dose of freshness that search engines are looking for.

    Blog Content Mix: Company News & Unique Value

    One of the types of content that’s great for SEO and readers alike is company news, which can include new hires, products, services, or new locations. These types of posts are filled with information (such as employee names, product names, and city names) that users might be searching for in search engines. They also reveal what’s been happening in the company recently, which is useful for potential customers, and shows Google that the company takes customer service seriously, making them a better candidate for displaying prominently in search results. Google’s emphasis on fresh content stems from its desire to provide the most up-to-date information available for website visitors, because this gives users a better experience.

    In addition to existing readers and customers that can stay updated from these types of news items, new visitors will also appreciate a cohesive view of what the company has been up to recently. This could lead to repeat visits or even a contact that could translate into a sale.

    A good mix of blog content includes unique news releases specific to the company as well as articles that offer compelling, actionable value to readers. While writing informational or insightful articles for a blog is excellent, throwing in once-in-a-lifetime news pieces as part of the company blog provides even better variety.

    Engaged Readers = More Traffic & Visibility

    Search engines are currently building in personalized search to more accurately find the right results for their users. This means that companies need to meet that need by focusing their blog content on what’s most engaging for their readers. This happens by writing content that answers questions or fosters discussion. In other words, it’s important for bloggers to stay updated in their industry and write posts that educate and keep reader interest.

    Blog posts that usually do well have a great title (such as those that begin with “How to…” or “## Reasons Why…”), can capture initial interest, while unique opinions or resource round-ups can keep it. To write posts that are engaging to readers, look at what gets most traffic and social shares, and prioritize writing about those topics or in that format. For instance, if video blogs generally yield the highest traffic, replacing one written post with a video equivalent may actually take less time (depending on editing) and could have a higher impact.

    And that’s where it all comes full circle: higher reader interest and more engagement results in better overall site and blog traffic. Great content is the best form of natural SEO.

    Gain Exposure and Credibility, and Google’s Authorship Effect

    Writing great content will naturally lead to better exposure, both through social media and other blogs and websites. Active social media users and bloggers love to share great content with their own audiences that they believe has merit. Because Google and Bing have incorporated personalized social search into results, blog posts written by companies or individuals with an extensive social network are often shown more frequently and prominently in search results, thus leading to more traffic.

    In addition, when a blog establishes itself as an authority in its field, it will be more likely to garner inbound links, which are a core factor in the ranking algorithm. More exposure for a company’s blog posts online will indicate to both online readers and search engines that a company’s website (and by extension, the company) is a credible source, building brand loyalty, improving conversion rates, and resulting in better visibility in search engine results pages.

    This effect is amplified when Google Authorship is implemented, which causes search results to include authorship markup, placing an image next to links in search results. These images draw the eye and attract more clicks, resulting in higher traffic, more leads, and more sales. Additionally, Authorship has been shown to increase the average ranking of pages on which it is applied, due to the effect of Author Rank.

    Being seen as a credible resource in the industry should be the top priority for all companies looking to build an extensive online presence. Luckily, a blog is the first step to becoming an industry resource, while vastly benefiting the overall SEO initiative.

     

     

    Google photo credit: Matt McGee via photopin cc
    San Francisco print credit: thelittlecanoe on Etsy

  7. Are You Getting Great Results for Your Business Blog?

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    One of the most indispensable online marketing tools today is blogging. It’s hard to imagine implementing a successful online marketing campaign that doesn’t include a blog in the marketing mix. For online entrepreneurs, blogging plays a central role in their day-to-day strategy to provide their customers and their audience valuable information.

    If you are new to blogging, it can seem like an overwhelming task. There are things you need to consider carefully so as not to waste your precious time. Effective blogging is supposed to help you increase leads for your business and deliver value to your audience.

    If you do blogging the wrong way, you’re bound to waste valuable time and resources, as well as place your credibility in jeopardy.

    To help you get the most out of your blogging pursuits, the following are some of the primary components of an effective blogging strategy:

    • Social media share buttons
    • Calls to action
    • Blog layout
    • Visuals (images and videos)
    • Option for previews
    • Fast loading speeds

    Social media share buttons

    Social media is exploding, obviously, and it’s providing great opportunities for bloggers to get the word out about their blog to a broad range of potential audience with remarkably little effort. As people spend more time online in the social networks, it’s important to integrate tools that will allow you to connect your blog instantly to the locations where folks are hanging out.

    That’s why it’s crucial to incorporate social media share buttons into your blog. These include Facebook’s Like button, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and the Google+ +1 button.

    However, you don’t want to overuse share buttons. Only include those that prove to be effective for your blog. The ones listed above are the ones we use here on the AudienceBloom blog; so far, each of these share buttons has provided us with tremendous results in terms of traffic and lead generation.

    The calls to action

    Calls to action are a must. After all, the ultimate goal of a business blog is to capture leads. One of the most powerful ways to capture leads is to include a call to action at the end of each of your blog posts. A call to action can be as simple as telling your readers where to get more information that complements your post, or letting them know where to sign up for a newsletter.

    I often include a call to action at the conclusion of each of my blog posts to tell readers how to get information about our social media marketing services.

    Blog layout

    The layout of your blog is also crucial. Most successful business blogs are two-columned with a prominent header and spare amount of ads. Make it easy for your visitors to navigate around your blog: be sure to keep the layout simple and user-friendly.

    Include visuals for stronger engagement

    Visuals such as photos, videos, and infographics are some of the most engaging components of an effective blog. People are easily drawn to content that is complemented by strong visuals that strengthen the blog post’s message. The photos you use should either demonstrate your message or act as a nice introduction to give readers a visual sense of what to expect from your content.

    Make it easy for readers to preview your content

    We live in an extremely fast-paced era in which people are on the go and always in a hurry. That’s why when you write a post, you want to be sure to make it easy to scan by including lots of sub headers, bullets, and bolded words. If you do that, you will make it easier for your readers to get the message, even if they don’t take the trouble to go through your entire post.

    Fast load speeds

    Nothing is as annoying as a site that takes a long time to download. Load speed is now a ranking factor. Make sure your blog loads quickly to enhance user experience. Work with your developer to find out how to speed up your blog’s load speed.

    Conclusion

    There are lots of other things to mention about effective business blogging, but the tips we’ve provided in this post should be plenty to get you started right and achieve the results you expect from your business blog.

    For inquiries on effective copywriting and content strategy for your business blog, contact us for your options.

  8. How Automated Content Generation and Recycling is Bad for Business

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    Creating high-quality content on an ongoing basis is one of the most important aspects of running an online business. For one thing, creating specific content caters to a specific audience. And populating your site with fresh content regularly is crucial for raising your site’s ranking in search.

    But let’s be honest. The steady composition of new content can take a toll on your resources, especially if you are running a solo online enterprise.

    Because writing marketing posts is indeed an exhausting activity, some online marketers have opted to use software that automates the process of churning out content for their sites. It sounds like a great idea — one that helps businesses save on their precious time and resources.

    But is it really smart to entrust content production to software?

    Before we can address that question, we need to delve into an issue that is at the heart of web content production.

    To plagiarize or spin?

    Spinning an article has become a popular tactic among many content marketers. It has become much more acceptable to spin an article than copy or plagiarize an entire article without attributing the content to the proper source.

    Article-spinning software aims to create a unique piece of content out of an already published article in such a way that it it will pass duplicate tests administered by the search engines.

    What an article-spinning software does is to mechanically create a new version of an essay or review by using synonyms to replace certain terms, or rephrasing entire sentences and paragraphs to make the piece look and read differently from the original.

    How spinning crashed

    Spinning articles worked for a while … at least during the early stages of search engine optimization. Automating content production certainly helped online marketers to free up their time and save on resources. This approach allowed many marketers to focus on other tasks that were also important to their business.

    The need to automate the content-writing process arose when it took a toll on the marketer’s time. As many of you can undoubtedly recognize, even some of the simplest forms of writing require a level of critical thinking that no software has thus far been able to match. Despite the advances in technology, no software is capable of writing in a way an average human does. At least not currently.

    As search engines have gotten smarter, they have become better able to determine which content has been spun and which has not. We are now at the point where spinning an article using automated software no longer works.

    Search engines are currently capable of determining how an article should read; i.e., that it should flow smoothly and naturally. We humans are also readily able to tell whether an article has been spun or not. Spun articles tend to be difficult to read; the sentence structures are convoluted. That’s why most of us human web browsers tend to discard content at the first hint that it has been spun robotically.

    The death of content duplication

    Before the age of Google Panda, authors were free to distribute a single article to as many different article directories as they could find. However, when Google released an update that penalizes duplicate content, the tradition of submitting a single content to multiple directories was effectively outlawed. Google and other search engines became hell-bent on implementing measures to provide nothing but quality information for users.

    If you are actively promoting articles and other forms of content to increase your business’ exposure and your ranking, be careful not to damage the search engines’ trust, especially Google’s. The search engines are now disqualifying sites that use various forms of content duplication. As you know, Google is not very forgiving about that.

    Conclusion

    Quality will always be at the top of the agenda for Google and other search engines. It should be on yours too. Always strive to write content of unique and excellent quality. The search engines will approve — but more importantly, your target human audience will, too.

    If you would like to know how we can help you with your content marketing strategies, contact us to find out more about the opportunities.

  9. Affiliate Marketing Tips: Making it Big with Authority Sites

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    Are you an affiliate marketer looking for marketing tips to help you succeed online?

    Then you’re in luck. This one’s for you.

    Because of Google’s latest update, dubbed Penguin, you could be having a hard time ranking your own affiliate website. Post-Penguin, a lot of sites have been negatively affected, with their rankings dropping substantially. Some even woke up and discovered their sites had disappeared from Google’s index.

    Naturally, marketers are extremely worried about where all this could lead.

    But it seems that the latest update Google rolled out will hold for the long term. That’s because Penguin is all about giving value to authority, quality, and relevance. And that’s what this entire search engine ranking game is all about.

    If you are new to affiliate marketing, that might discourage you in a big way.

    However, on the flip side of it, Penguin has actually created new opportunities for newbie affiliate marketers to make it big online. The best thing you can do these days is to ride on the solid reputation of authority websites by hosting your content on them.

    How’s that possible? What are authority sites and how do you get them to host your content?

    Sites familiarly known as web 2.0 sites like Tumblr, Yahoo! Voice, and Blogger, as well as video sites like YouTube and DailyMotion are authority sites. These are some of the biggest authority sites out there.

    Post-Penguin, there have been reports that content hosted on Blogger that disappeared from Google’s index has recently resurfaced. That missing content is actually sitting pretty on Google’s first page now.

    If you are a newbie affiliate marketer, we’ve got some nice affiliate marketing tips that you should take advantage of in order to dominate your niche with the help of authority sites.

    Use Tumblr or Blogger as your blogging platform
    Your new content will have a chance of ranking faster on the search engines if it’s hosted on either Tumblr or Blogger. That’s what recent experiments have shown. However, if you’re just starting out, you should probably choose Blogger over Tumblr.

    Why? Is Blogger any better? Not necessarily, but there is one very powerful reason to go with Blogger: It is owned by no less than Google.

    That being said, Blogger admittedly has a lot of shortcomings. It falls short of the user-friendliness of WordPress. But Blogger is relatively easy to customize, both on the dashboard and the HTML side.

    For your Blogger.com site’s name, choose one that is keyword optimized. Use a blogger name with the keywords that your affiliate marketing campaign is optimizing for. If you are selling car DVD players, for example, choose CarDVDPlayer.Blogspot.com as the name for your Blogger-hosted blog’s name.

    Upload videos on top video-sharing sites like YouTube
    YouTube is still the biggest and most visited video site on the planet. It is the largest in terms of videos uploaded and it is the most popular in terms of the number of visits per day. Above all, like Blogger.com, YouTube is owned by Google.

    The search engines are favoring video even more than they used to. That should make you want to step up your online video marketing for your affiliate campaigns.

    However, you should also distribute your content on other video sites. Some of the top choices would include MySpace, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and Videofy.me. These sites also have the ability to provide your campaign with a much-needed boost in traffic.

    Other affiliate marketers have noted that some of the videos they posted on DailyMotion showed up on the search engines way ahead of the ones they posted on YouTube.

    Conclusion
    Now is your time to make it big online. Follow these affiliate marketing tips and you won’t have to wait very long before you see your first affiliate sales.

  10. Are Bad Habits Ruining Your Blogging Routine?

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    Ah, habits. They make you or break you.

    It’s no less true for bloggers. I’ve seen a lot of promising bloggers who put off writing down their best ideas until someone else has beaten them to it. Others let distractions destroy their passion.

    There are other counterproductive habits that are worth discussing. The goal of this article is to help you get back on the blogging track by determining which bad habit is causing you serious problems.

    Not posting on a regular basis
    Skipping posts is a perennial problem among newbie bloggers. The danger of posting inconsistently is that it’s a sure-fire way to annoy visitors who have developed a liking for your blog. If you intend to attract a steady stream of loyal followers over time, be sure to post on a regular basis.

    How regularly should you post? It depends on you. You could update your blog daily, two or three times a week, or every business day. No matter what schedule you choose, stick to it religiously.

    One of the biggest benefits of posting regularly is that content freshness plays into search ranking. The more you post fresh relevant content, the more the search engines will give you favorable rankings.

    Ran out of ideas to blog about? Be sure to read this post.

    Not paying attention to your visitors
    Nothing is more rewarding for bloggers than seeing readers visit their blogs regularly. If you’ve developed regular followers for your blog, let them know you’re thankful by acknowledging them.

    Make a point of appreciating them by posting a tweet about it, moderating comments, etc. And if people are tweeting your posts, return the favor by tweeting their content or simply posting a shout-out or tweet that acknowledges their attention.

    Make acknowledging your visitors a regular habit, not only to build solid loyalty among your followers but also to develop a healthy two-way relationship from which both you and your readers will benefit.

    Paying too much attention to stats
    Paying attention to stats is a great way to learn how you’re doing and how to improve your blog. It gives you insight as to where visitors are coming from and which keywords they’ve used to find you.

    However, you should not obsess over the numbers. It’s counterproductive. Over-analyzing your stats eats up precious time that could be used to produce further great content.

    If you create great content on a constant basis, the numbers will take care of themselves.

    Obsessing over social networking
    Sure, it’s great to create relationships with followers via Facebook and Twitter. It’s also a great idea to pursue some marketing on social media so your blog will gain exposure to even more eyeballs.

    However, don’t trade your blogging time for social networking time. You must continue to dedicate a sufficient bloc of your time to thinking, research, and composing great content. Focus on constantly creating excellent content for your audience, and if your content is worthy enough to go viral, loyal readers and one-time visitors will take care of doing the marketing for you.

    To deal with this problem, set a time for blogging and a separate time for social media interactions. Schedule your blogging activities for the part of the day when you feel most productive.

    Stick to this routine to continue producing high quality and useful content for your audience. The rest of your time should be free for you to do as you please, but be sure to acknowledge your visitors and interact with them on social media.

    Conclusion
    I hope you’ve gotten an idea or two from today’s post. If you would like to share your thoughts on how well you are using your time for blogging, drop us a line or leave a comment below.

    Happy blogging!

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