Archive for the ‘Blog Promotion and Search Optimization’ Category

Guest Post Secrets – How To Do Successful Guest Posts

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One of the best ways to promote a new blog is to do guest posts.  Guest posts are articles that you write and give to another blogger to publish on their blog.  Usually there will be some kind of introduction with a link to your site along with a couple of links in the guest post itself.  If the guest post is successful it should be able to drive some traffic to your site and hopefully you can gain a few new readers.

Another big benefit of guest posts is to get more links to your blog.  This will give you some SEO benefit which might help certain posts rank higher with the search engines.

This post is mainly focused on how to write a guest post to gain new readers.

There are a number of different criteria to measure the “success” of a guest post.  Having it accepted and published is one criteria.  The amount of traffic it creates is another.  New readers as measured by RSS count is another one. Comments on the guest post could be another.

Here are a whole pile of suggestions on how to have a successful guest post:

Quality – Make it top quality – It has to stand out or nobody will check out your site.  Try to make it interesting and a bit controversial if possible.  You don’t need to hit it out of the park but don’t submit your “B” material.  In most cases the host blog will allow you to reprint the post after a certain period of time (ie 30-90 days).  This is a great feature because if you can use the post as part of your regular schedule then it won’t be any extra work.

Topic – Make sure the topic fits the host blog.  Submitting your “Mixed Martial Arts/Ultimate Fighting” post to a “Mommy” blog is a complete waste of time.  The post topic has to fit your blog as well.  There is nothing wrong with adapting your style a bit to fit a potential host blog but there has to be a connection between the host blog and your blog.   If you do a debt reduction post on a debt reduction blog but your blog is a stock trading blog then you are not likely to get any new readers no matter how much the readers like your guest post.  Here is a post which covers How to write guest posts which generate traffic.

Technical details

One of the keys to getting your guest posts accepted is to make the post as close as possible to a finished post on the host blog in order to cut down the time necessary for the host blog owner to publish your post.  If the blog normally has a picture then find a picture and include the link and attribution info.
The idea is to reduce the amount of work necessary for the host author to publish.  If someone provides a guest post where the host has to:

  • Find a picture.
  • Write an intro with links to your blog.
  • Edit the post.

That’s a lot of work and might not be any easier than just writing the post themselves.  If some other blogger has provided a well prepared guest post that requires no extra work then it will be an easy choice as to which post will get published.

The less work the host blogger has to do, the more likely they are to accept and quickly publish your guest post.  Make it easy for them.

Keep in mind that most blogs have some sort of rules regarding intros, outros, links within the post, so try to find out what those rules are and obey them.  If there are no rules then I suggest including all of the following:

Introduction

Having a sentence before the post which contains a brief description of your blog, a link to your blog and a call to action to subscribe along with your feed link.  Here is an example of an introduction.  A little bit of investment knowledge goes a long way.

Links in post

Make sure you put at least 2 links to your blog inside the post (assuming the host blog allows).  Getting link juice to your blog is part of the benefit and exposing the readers of your guest post to different articles will increase the odds that they will check out your site.  Make sure these links are relevant and don’t be shy about putting more links rather than less.  But don’t stuff the post with links.  I would say don’t use more than 1 link per 250 words as a very general rule of thumb.

Another benefit of links is that they will draw the readers to relevant posts which might be buried deep in your blog.  Just sending them to the front page might not work so well if your last post is a contest update or some other announcement.

Try to put any relevant keywords in the hypertext of the links to your blog ie rather than have “See my post on budgeting <link>here</link>” it should have the main topic in the link hypertext.  “See my post on <link>budgeting</link>.”

Another subscription call at the end

I always duplicate the introduction at the end of the post.  This will often get removed by the host blog, but lots of times it doesn’t.  I figure having a subscription call at the end of the post is a great way to get people who have actually read your whole post and might be interested in subscribing or visiting your site.

Picture

If the host blog normally include photos, then you have to find one and provide it to them in the same size they normally use.  Either give them the file or link plus the attribution info.

Typos/grammar

Take the time to reread your post for errors.  Get someone else to read it too – a second set of eyes will ALWAYS find another typo.  A post that needs too much editing will not get published.  Sometimes a host will barely read the guest post and won’t correct any errors.  This doesn’t help you since now you have a guest post that has a lot of spelling/grammatical errors which reduces the effectiveness of the guest post.

Every guest post you do is a one time shot – Do it as perfectly as you can or don’t do it at all.

Length

This is highly dependent on the topic and the host blog.  Look at some typical posts on the host blog and count the words – I copy and paste the article into Word and then do a word count (tools/word count).  If you don’t have any direction as to the proper length then as a general guideline I would suggest not submitting a post less than 400 words or more than 1000 words.  This also has to fit your blog style as well.  If you write a nice concise 550 word guest post and then the new readers find out that most of your regular posts are 3,000 words then they probably won’t come back.

Welcome post

If you have a guest post on a big blog then it might be worthwhile to create a welcome post on your own site.  This will say something like “Welcome XYZ readers” and give a brief outline of your blog – some links to popular posts and a call to action with a subscribe button.   Once you create this post you can change it and republish for different guest posts so it doesn’t just have to be for mega-blog posts!  I don’t often do the “welcome post” – usually just for the biggest blogs and big media mentions.

How to choose a host blog

I’d say go as big as possible.  The more exposure you can get, the better off you will be.  However size isn’t the only factor.  Here are some other considerations:

  • Style/topics have to match your blog
  • Lots of comments – typically a host blog that has an active community will be a good choice for a guest post.
  • RSS can be misleading.  If the blog has been around for a long time then the RSS number might be far higher than the number of active readers.
  • Frequency of publishing.  Ideally you want a blog that only publishes once a day or less.  Some blogs publish 2-3 times per day and your post will not get as much exposure as you might think.
  • Publish during the week – Tues – thurs are the best days.  Weekends are awful.  Unless the site is really big then I would ask for the post back if they are going to publish on the weekend.  Try to negotiate this – don’t forget in most cases you are doing the host blog a favor!
  • Don’t submit guest posts when the host blog author is going on holiday and is asking for guest posts.  This might be a seemingly easy way to get published on a big blog but if the author is not publishing for a week or 2 then most regular readers will just tune out for that period of time.  You are much better off if you can get a day where most of the readers are expecting the regular author to be publishing.   Don’t be fooled by stats – some hosts will tell you how many unique visitors they get a day.  This number means nothing to you since most of those visitors will be search engine visitors to older posts.

Read the blog for a while (or go back and read the last few weeks worth of posts).  This will help you determine if the site is a good fit and perhaps give you ideas for topics.  Commenting on the blog is a great way to get to know the author if you don’t already know them.

This can also give you clues as to when would be a good time to pitch an article – if they mention they are moving next week or are on a business trip then they will probably be thrilled to get a good guest post to help them out.  This will also give you more leverage in terms of getting it published during the week (Tues-Thurs).  Several times I have submitted a post on Sunday or Monday to someone who I knew was short of material.  This helped ensure that it was published mid-week which will maximize results.

How to pitch

I’ve had a very high success rate with my guest posts.  In fact only one blog has ever turned me down out of about 30 guest posts that I’ve done.  My suggestion is to email the post to the potential host blogger and ask him/her if they will consider your post as a guest post.  It helps a lot if you know the blogger – maybe you have emailed in the past or commented on their blog or Twittered with them.  But if you haven’t – no big deal – just send the email and see what happens.

It should be said that some bloggers prefer if the potential guest poster ask them for topics or approval of a topic before it gets written.  This is fine but I have yet to have anyone turn down any of my topics.  The worst case scenario if a blogger asks for a different topic is that you just use the other one on your own blog or as a guest post on a different site.

Repeat posting

If you have good success with guest posting on a certain blog then try to repeat the experience.  After a few months or even a year – try submitting another guest post to the same blog.

Patience

Some blogs will accept your post but won’t publish for a long time.  There is nothing wrong with asking them for an update but don’t worry about the timing.  Once the post is submitted then monitor to make sure it eventually gets published but otherwise just get going on the next guest post.

Guest posts just for link juice

If you are doing it for link juice only then the rules are very different.  The goal here is to do the minimum work/quality necessary to get the link(s).  A short and simple post is better for your purposes.  Pick a topic you are very familiar with so that you don’t have to do any research.  Perhaps take an existing post and do a rewrite of it.  Don’t go overboard – I get lots of crappy guest post requests that are just offered to get a permanent free link.  If they are too short, too basic, too obvious then they are useless and I just ignore them.  Try to do something more specific that might help it be more unique and interesting.
Again – the bigger the blog the better but it’s not as critical.

Checklist before submitting your guest post

  • Find out the first name of the blogger you are submitting to.
  • Proof read the post.
  • Get someone else to proof read.
  • Create an intro.
  • Put links in post – make sure they work.
  • Create an outro (can be same as intro)
  • Find a pic (if applicable) and attribute link.  Resize if necessary.
  • Make sure your blog is ok (ie up and running).

Improve Search Ranking With Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Last time I wrote about using Google Analytics to boost your AdSense earnings, this time I am going to show you a simple process where you can use Google Analytics Advanced Segments feature to methodically improve your search engines ranking.

How To Find Web Pages With The Most Search Traffic

First let’s find your top performing web pages with the most search engines traffic. Here’s how you’ll find that information from your Google Analytics account:

  • Click on Content
  • Click on Top Content
  • On the upper right, click Segment

advanced-segements

  • Uncheck All Visits and select Search Traffic
  • Click Apply

You’ll see a screen similar to the one below — note that I filtered mine for privacy reason. Note that you now know your top performing web pages in term of search traffic, and can expand the list to see more results.

top-content

How To Find Top Performing Keywords For Your Web Page

Take note of these top search traffic articles and follow these steps to find top performing keywords:

  • Click on the URL link under the “Page” column
  • In the Analyze pull down, select Entrance Keywords
  • In the Content pull down, search for and select your chosen article

You’ll see a screen similar to the one below that shows all of the keywords for that particular article with all the vital statistics.

top-keywords

How To Improve Search Traffic With Google Analytics Advanced Segment Data

This is a very powerful piece of information that you are looking at, and there are several things you could do to leverage it. Here are a few ideas you can use to improve your search engines ranking using the data provided.

1. Keywords Optimization

You can start by rewriting the article to emphasize these top keywords.  Make sure they appear in important places like the title, first paragraph, meta description, headings, etc. You also want them to appear a few times in your content so that you can achieve a 3-5% keywords density.

If you want to rank well for a particular key phrase, then make sure you optimize the key phrase verbatim as per the suggestion above. For example, if I want to rank well for “new frugal ideas”, then I should have that exact phrase “new frugal ideas” appears a few times and in the headings, first paragraph, etc.

2. Link To This Article From Other Articles Using Various Keywords

Another approach is to link to this article using the keywords you’d like to improve from existing articles within your site, or better yet, from other web sites. Of course, the former is easier, but the latter is much more powerful.

3. Write Follow Up Article

Another idea is to write a brand new article that target similar keywords — i.e., an update to the original article, or a different look at the same idea, etc. In this new article, you also want to link back to the original article using the most important keywords as the anchor text. However, limit the number of links to 1-2.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even get the valuable indented search listing.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of how you can optimize your web page, and there are other optimization ideas that you can apply to leverage the information made available by Google Analytics Advanced Segments.

Another nice touch about Analytics is the ability to change your timeframe on the fly so that you can see if what you’re doing is actually helping or hurting your site search ranking. However, try to keep your timeframe long enough so that you’re not fooled by daily fluctuation.

Get More Search Traffic With Keywords Optimization

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

If you have been blogging for a while, chances are you’ve been getting some traffic from search engines. For example, based on Google Analytics my personal finance blog received 12,707 total visits via 8,513 keywords in the past 30 days — of which, the top 50 keywords produced 4,876 visits (or 38%).

Traffic
Photo by Spiritokko via Flickr

What can we derive from this information?

  1. It’s a mistake to focus on a few keywords. I often see new webmasters trying to rank for a handful of specific keywords that describe their sites. For example, I could’ve tried to rank Moolanomy for “personal finance blog” or “investing blog”, but that’s not where traffic will be coming from.
  2. Long tail keywords and search traffic are powerful. There are limitless numbers of search terms and you’ll not be able to anticipate them. So one of the best search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is to write as much high quality content as you can. Think of content as fishing net, and more content is like having a bigger net that allows you to capture more search engines traffic.
  3. Top 50 keywords give you the most return for your effort. It’s likely that a major portion of your search engines visitors found your blog through one of the top 50 keywords, so there’s a good opportunity for keywords optimization in this area.

How To Choose Which Keywords To Optimize

If you have to choose just 10 keywords to optimize, how would you do it? Personally, I don’t have unlimited resources so I try to focus on efforts that provide the best return on investment. In this example, I will show you how I identify the top 10 keywords that I feel will provide me with the most search engines traffic.

1. Identify your top 50 keywords and the amount of traffic for each

This is an easy exercise if you use Google Analytics. Just a few clicks and you’ll have access to this list. You can simply copy and paste the result into a spreadsheet. Here’s a small sample of my top 50 keywords.

Keywords Hits
passive income ideas 204
frugal ideas 179
extra income 103
larry swedroe 99
dave ramsey 93
frugal tips 92

When you are doing this, you’ll be doing it for all 50 keywords in order to get the final 10.

2. Identify current search engines ranking for your top 50 keywords

Next, I am going to add the search engines ranking for each keyword into the spreadsheet. For this exercise, I usually stick to Google search result since it’s my biggest source of search engines traffic. Moreover, to simplify the task, I recommend Digital Point Search Engine Keyword Tracker & Keyword Ranking Tool.

Updated 4/19/2009: You may no longer be able to get Google API needed for this application to work. If that’s the case, you’ll have to track it manually. You top keywords tend to be in the top 20 SERP positions so this is just a bit of extra work.

This is what my spreadsheet looks like after I add search engines rankings:

Keywords Hits Rank
passive income ideas 204 1
frugal ideas 179 3
extra income 103 10
larry swedroe 99 1
dave ramsey 93 18
frugal tips 92 16

If you run into keywords that you cannot identify the rank — i.e., not in top 100 — you can simply enter 999 for the purpose of this exercise.

3. Calculate the Keyword ROI Score

To calculate the keyword ROI score, you just multiple the number of hits by rank. The logic behind this is to focus on keywords with highest traffic hits, but lowest ranks.

Keywords Hits Rank ROI
passive income ideas 204 1 204
frugal ideas 179 3 537
extra income 103 10 1030
larry swedroe 99 1 99
dave ramsey 93 18 1674
frugal tips 92 16 1472

Note: With 50 keywords, the easiest thing to do is sort the list by ROI and look at the top 10 rows. You should skip any row with rank of “999” to find the top 10 with the best chance of improving.

Based on the example above, I should work on keywords like “dave ramsey”, “frugal tips”, and “extra income” instead of “frugal ideas”, “passive income ideas”, and “larry swedroe”.

How To Optimize Keywords For Better Search Engines Ranking

Now that you know the top 10 keywords you’d like to work with, there are a few things that you could do to improve your search engines ranking. For example, since I know that my article Extra Income Guide rank #10 in Google for “extra income”, I could do a few things to optimize it for better search ranking. Here are a few things that you could do to improve your blog article:

  1. Install All in One SEO plugin to optimize the title. Also it will add META keywords and META description to your post.
  2. Change the title of the page to include the word “extra income”
  3. Add headings — i.e., H2 and H3 — to include the word “extra income”
  4. Write custom META description for the post. Note, All in One SEO will use the first few sentences of your post, but this is not always the best META description.
  5. Add and/or modify tags in your post. Note, All in One SEO uses your tags as META keywords
  6. Search for the word “extra income” within the blog and link to your targeted article
  7. Ask your friends to link to the article using the keyword as anchor text

So there it is…a basic strategy on how to get more search traffic with keyword optimization.

Free Website Magazines and SEO White Papers

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Recently, I have partnered up with Tradepub.com to provide Blogthority readers with free website magazines and SEO white papers. In order to get these magazines and whitepapers, you’d have to qualify by provide Tradepub.com with brief demographic information (about 5 minutes worth of work). If you qualify, then the magazines and whitepapers are yours for free.

Here are some of the recommended magazines and white papers:

Website Magazine

Has tapped premier talent in the Internet industry for our content and each and every issue will contain practical advice…

Search Engine Optimization for E-commerce Sites: The Seven Most Common Pitfalls

Learn to attract the right level of online client…

Search Engine Optimization and Web 2.0

Don’t fall into the “Web 2.0 will fix SEO for our site trap.” Find out how to address common…

Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click: A Holistic Approach

Learn how pay-per-click (PPC) and natural search engine optimization (SEO)…

12 SEO Campaign Killers

Learn what not to do when launching a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign to attract more visitors, leads and…

Be sure to check out the full selections and don’t miss the opportunity to get these free magazines.

Use Blurb Exchange To Promote Your Niche Blog

Friday, April 18th, 2008

With all the rave about niche blogging and linking only to related sites, bloggers are overlooking a powerful marketing tool. Sure, its great to get targeted niche traffic but some niches are universally appealing to most readers. Some of these universal niches include:

  • Personal Finance,
  • Career,
  • Parenting,
  • Education,
  • Health and Fitness,
  • Self-Improvement.
  • etc.

If your blog belong to one of these niches, there’s a technique that I call “blurb exchange” that may be useful to promote your blog traffic.

What’s a blurb?

A blurb is basically a brief promotional statement designed to generate interest.

How does blurb exchange work?

Similar to link exchange, you make an arrangement with another blogger preferably in a different niche than yours. In one of your blog post, you’ll mention something about your blurb exchange partner’s blog and in return your partner will say something about your blog.

For example, let’s say I am working with someone in the education niche, I could start a blog post with something like this:

I was reading about American high school curriculum at The Education Wonks the other day and it made me think about how we should teach our children about money management in high school…

In return, The Education Wonks would write something about my blog. For example:

Recently, I came across a post at Moolanomy about teaching money management in high school, which I thought was an interesting idea…

Well, you get the idea. Essentially, a blog level link exchange with the primary purpose of driving traffic to another blog.

As far as best practice goes, the blogger could make it easier by recommending a few posts that his partner could link to. The blogger could even go as far as recommending the key phrase that should be used.

How is this beneficial?

Since universal niche blogs are appealing to most readers, this technique gives the collaborating bloggers an opportunity to gain new readers and subscribers. It is a good supplementary technique to working within the niche because you are expanding beyond your sphere of influence.

The main problem with this technique is that it takes a lot of work to find someone to work with for several reasons:

  • You are not familiar with the players in other niche
  • You’ll have to explain the concept persuasively to the other person

However, I think both of these could be overcome. First, I recommend using Alltop.com to find potential partners. Then you can explain the concept and point your potential partners to this post on Blogthority.

Give it a try. You won’t regret it.

This post was featured in:

How to Write a Killer Guest Post: The Art of the Clickthrough

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Now that we’ve figured out who we want to write a guest post for, the trick is to figure out how to get those readers to become your readers. By choosing an appropriate blog to write a guest post for, we know that their audience and your potential audience has a lot of overlap. But the get their readers to click through to your blog, we have to make them not only interested in what you have to say, but hungry for more.

Follow

Photo by The Hungry Eye via Flickr

Here are three suggestions for how to achieve the elusive clickthrough and potentially turn their readers into your readers as well:

1. Tell your story in your post, but not the whole story.

No matter if your post is fact based or personal, it still tells a story. That story should be something that you’ve explored on your own blog in more detail at some point, and this is where using links to your blog within your post is key. Inserting links at relevant points to provide more detail about points made in your post can get the reader interested enough to click through and read more. Don’t overdo this, however. Use a few select links and make sure they are to relevant and interesting articles of your own, that will encourage your new reader to delve even deeper into your site once they get there.

2. Relate your post to other posts/topics on the host blog.

The readers of the host blog are readers because the host is providing them with something of value. Don’t try to completely stand out and be unique – relate your topic to another that the host blog has explored successfully in the past. A perusal of their popular posts or categories, or simply asking the host what types of topics seem to do best on their blog, will really give you an edge when it comes to engaging their readers. And engaged readers are more likely to turn into your readers.

3. Write a great byline with relevant post links.

Most blogs will let you provide your own byline for the post, and instead of just linking to your front page, write a sentence about the main focus of your blog with a link to one of your best posts as well. One of my most successful guest posts in terms of driving traffic back to my blog, the host invited me to link to a few of my posts in my byline, and it really worked wonders as far as clickthrough to my blog. And subsequently my pageviews and subscribers both jumped significantly over the following days and weeks and stayed that way.

~*~*~*~

Guest posting can be a great way to expose your writing to new readers, and to help your own readership grow, no matter what stage of growth your blog is in. You just need to be selective about your opportunities. That is not to say I discourage the writing of guest posts for any blog (and I still write guest posts for a wide variety of blogs myself), but doing a few specifically targeted ones may give you better results than you expect. Write a few great guest posts and soon you’ll have opportunities knocking down your door, and readers who will follow your blog anywhere.

Writing Guest Posts to Increase Traffic: Choosing An Audience

Monday, February 25th, 2008

One of the key ways to grow a new blog is to get noticed by the right people. A simple way to get this recognition is to write guest posts for other blogs related to yours. There are only so many avenues for people to find your blog, and links to your blog on other blogs is one of those ways. Especially when your blog is relatively new, you will most likely not have a lot of visitors via search engine traffic, so finding ways to get your name and blog out there in the eyes of those who might be interested in what you have to say is key.

Color Pencils

Photo by Drops of Ruby via Flickr

Not all guest posts are created equal however. And sometimes, it isn’t as easy to determine what blog would be most beneficial to yours to have a guest post appear on. Knowing your own niche, and your relevance to it, is key when choosing a blog to offer a guest post to. Here are three key points to consider when thinking about guest posting on another blog:

How is their target audience relevant to mine? How much potential overlap exists?

The most successful guest posts, by far, are going to be on blogs where you have a significant overlap in topic and interest with the host blog. Think about who their audience is – if it is composed of people who are generally interested in the same things you write about, you are more likely to capture their interest and garner visits to your own blog through theirs. This is another place where being a good reader makes you a good blogger — if you are reading the relevant blogs in your niche on a daily basis, it should be rather simple to identify at least three or four blogs where their target audience is your untapped potential.

How much reach does the blog have? Am I likely to find significant numbers of new potential readers there?

Guest posting on a blog that is just starting out, when you are the same, will not generally garner you the level of interest and attention the effort of writing a guest post is worth in terms of numbers and visitors. This is not to say that I discourage writing guest posts for smaller blogs than you are — in fact, I have written numerous guest posts for blogs much larger and much smaller than my own. Writing guest posts also builds relationships between bloggers, and I feel that this is an important aspect that can’t be overlooked. But in terms of increasing your own audience, thinking about the audience you are reaching through your guest post is important. Don’t write a guest post for a blog with 5 subscribers and then expect 1,000 visits from that blog and a 500 point jump in your own numbers. Be realistic in your expectations.

How does my focus and insight compliment theirs? Do I have a viewpoint to add that is complementary to their own?

This is another area where doing your homework is key. What posts of theirs have been the most successful? Can I relate my guest post to points they’ve already hit upon and expand those points with my own insight? The more value the readers of the host blog find in your post, the more likely they are to actually want to read more from your site.

~*~*~*~*~

With a little thought and consideration as to audience, topic, and reach, a guest post on another blog can be a really rewarding experience, both in terms of growth of your own blog, and building name recognition for your particular “brand”. Look for opportunities, be bold and create a few opportunities by asking (and don’t feel bad if you get turned down, just try again somewhere else!) and generally, enjoy yourself and spreading the love of your chosen topic. Stay tuned in the future for tips on writing that killer guest post that will drive hoards of readers to your site.

How To Grow A New Blog Efficiently

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

This article contains some information and ideas that I have about how to grow a small or new blog efficiently. Unfortunately writing good content is not enough — there are so many blogs out there that you have to do some extra work in order to get noticed. These ideas are more effective on smaller blogs so as your blog grows then you can modify or omit items.

promote new blog
Photo by Mtchm via Flickr

Content

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: without reasonably good regular content then your traffic growth will be sluggish at best. Write about topics that interest you and hopefully you know something about.

A few ideas about content:

  • Focussed or not? — Some people say that blogs with a narrow range of topics are more successful. Personally I don’t worry about it — if something interests you then write about it.
  • Length — When I started on a blog and was posting five times a week I decided to try to do posts that were 300-500 words in length. I didn’t want them too short and I didn’t want them too long. Because if they were, I’d rather split them up and post them over two days. Now that I’m sharing a blog I don’t worry about the length as much, but I do think that posts that are too long might be detrimental to growing traffic since most readers don’t really want to read a book when they are browsing their reader. On the other hand it can be a bit annoying when you check out a new post on a blog and they have written a two sentence reminder to themselves or something equally silly which I’ve seen many times.
  • Think up ideas in advance — It amazes me when I hear about bloggers who regularly sit down in the evening and think up an idea and then write a post on it. I suppose this has to do with individual style but I like to think up most of my ideas in advance and I hate writing last minute posts.
  • Avoid burnout – If you post twice a week for a year then you will have a much larger following then if you post seven days a week for three months. If you want to be a blogger for the long term then you have to pace yourself. Even taking a week off now and again (maybe not right in the beginning however) is not a bad idea.

Posting schedule

This is an interesting topic since not everyone agrees about how often a blogger should post. My blog posts five days a week which is facilitated by the fact that there are two writers so we only write every second day. My feeling on this topic is that you don’t have to post five times a week to grow your audience — two or three times a week should be sufficient.

I would however suggest that you follow a schedule — i.e., for twice a week then post the same two days each week. Avoiding burnout is a key goal of a beginning blogger so if posting three times a week feels comfortable then do three times a week. There is nothing gained if you struggle to post five times a week (or more) and then end up quitting the blog after a frustrating few months.

RSS Icon

See that orange square in the upper right side of the screen? That’s a FeedBurner icon and it allows readers to easily subscribe to your feed. This is very important because making it easier for readers to read your posts when they are published will increase your readership. Get one!

Carnivals

Carnivals are one of the best ways for a new blog to get new readers. I’ve found the Carnival of Personal Finance to be the best for my personal finance blog but Festival of Frugality is also quite good. Other PF carnivals to consider are Carnival of Money Stories, Carnival of Financial Goals, and Money Hacks Carnival.

Whatever your blog is about — there are probably carnivals covering that topic. If not then start one of your own at Blog Carnival!

Some suggestions regarding carnivals:

  • Don’t wait — I don’t care if you only have two posts up — start submitting now!
  • Submit often — Especially in the beginning you should be submitting every week.
  • Concentrate on bigger blogs if you don’t submit regularly — The most traffic the blog gets, the better your chances for some referrals.
  • Submit early — Putting in a late submission means the host may not read your post and will probably “bury” it at the bottom of the list. The higher up the page your submission is, the more referrals you will get.
  • Appropriate topic — Try to pick the best posts for the right carnival. If you are really keen you can even try to write posts with a particular carnival in mind but this is not something I do.
  • Match your post to the host — Take a look at the host blog and see what kind of material they are into. If a host looks like they are not into your favorite topic then try to find something else to submit. If you don’t submit regularly then try to submit a post when the host blog has similar topics to yours. If the host really likes your submission then they will often use it in their “editor’s picks” which will be (hopefully) featured at the top of the page where you will get the most referrals.

Hosting carnivals

This is a lot of work but it can really raise the profile of your blog because:

  • You will get a lot of traffic and will get noticed
  • Getting links to your blog raises your profile with Google which will help you in the long run

Try to pick carnivals that are appropriate to your subject manner and look for smaller carnivals in the beginning because the more popular ones tend to choose more established bloggers to be their hosts. I have yet to host a carnival but I’ve signed up to do three in the next few months so I shall see how it goes.

Comments on other blogs

This is a great way to market your blog. Some suggestions for leaving comments:

  • Correct info — Make sure you fill in the name of your blog and the correct URL.
  • Usefulness — Write a meaningful comment on the post. Things like “great post” are not going to get you any traffic.
  • Relevancy — The more relevant the post is to your blog then the more likely it is that a good comment will get some referrals. Someone who is reading the comments is definitely interested in the topic so if you look like you are interested in that topic as well then they might check out your blog. On the same idea — focus on blogs that are similar to your own.
  • Blog size — Comment on medium sized blogs. Commenting on large blogs is often a waste of time since there are too many comments and it seems like nobody reads any of them! By the same token, a small blog will not have enough traffic to make it worthwhile commenting if it’s traffic that you want. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t comment on very small or very big blogs if you want to but the traffic potential will be less.

Link to other blogs

This is a key tool and is part of networking with other bloggers. Bloggers love to get recognized and praised (at least I do) so if you write a post and include a link to one of their posts then they will often come and check out your blog. Ideally if they like your blog and hopefully start reading it, then they will put some links to your blog in one of their posts which can be an excellent source of traffic. As I mentioned with the comments, medium sized blogs will probably provide the best results for this strategy.

Read other blogs

If you want to comment on, link to and network other bloggers then you have to know what they write about so make sure you read at least a few blogs regularly.

Network with other bloggers

This usually takes the form of emailing other bloggers — you can comment on a post, tell them you like their blog, ask for advice etc. This won’t work with every blogger but it can serve as a great learning tool and can also lead to more links — and you might even make some good friends.

Guest posts

This is another area where I will be venturing for the first time in the next few weeks. From discussions with other bloggers this can be a good source of new readers. Guest posts take time so this shouldn’t be done at the expense of your own content. Again, try to match the subject content of the blog you will be guest posting on to your own for maximum benefit.

Here too I would say try to go for medium sized blogs — they are likely to be receptive to a guest post and if their content is similar to your own then this strategy could be quite beneficial.

Advertisement on your blog

I would suggest that you not bother with any advertising when you start a blog for the following reasons:

  • No money — You need traffic to make money with advertisement on your blog, so until your blog has a chance to grow there is no benefit to having advertising.
  • Aesthetics — Advertisement on your blog almost always has a detrimental effect on the way a blog looks. This is an acceptable trade off for an established blog but for a new blog you are better off without ads. It’s kind of like a first date — you want to look as good as possible!

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a fascinating subject but for a new blog I would completely ignore it. You will have plenty of time later on to get into this topic. Time spent on SEO is time not spent on content or marketing which is a mistake for a new blog.

Social Networks

Social networks are a great way to generate traffic and new readers. StumbleUpon in particular has been pretty effective for me. I would say that this might not be the best route for a brand new blog but keep it in mind and maybe after a few months, start looking into it.

Summary

If you try to do all of the above items in a big way then that would take a lot of time which doesn’t fit with the “efficient” theme of the post. I would concentrate on the following items for maximum benefit:

  • Content — This has to be the top priority.
  • Carnivals — These don’t take much time to enter so this will help grow your blog efficiently.
  • RSS icon — This doesn’t take long to set up.
  • Link to and comment on other bigger blogs.
  • Networking – It’s hard to go wrong with getting know other bloggers.

None of these suggestions are “all or none” propositions. If you want to enter three carnivals a week then go ahead. If you only want to enter one carnival every three weeks then that is fine too. Whether it’s entering a carnival, adding an extra link to to a post or emailing another blogger — every little bit counts.

Link Love Makes The World Go Round

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Last week I talked about determining who makes up your target audience. Now that we’ve figured out who we’re talking to, we have to figure out how to reach them. Your blog can be full of great, interesting, relevant and appropriate content for your target readers, but if they can’t find you, then they can’t read you. Blogging, at the start, is a game of being noticed, and one of the simplest ways of getting your blog out there and noticed by other bloggers is to practice the art of link love. If you are interested in your chosen topic, you more than likely read other blogs in your same niche. (And if you don’t, may I suggest you start!). Chances are you come across content every day that is interesting and relevant to you, and therefore would also be to your potential readers. My advice is to link to it. I am not advocating that every (or any) post you write be a rehash of other people’s content. What I am advocating is that your content incorporates references to other outside content that can only serve to enhance your message.

Why do you want to be noticed by other bloggers? It is all about making connections and sharing interested audiences. Blogging is a lonely game if you don’t have any friends. When I started blogging about personal finance, I didn’t have any sort of relationship with any other personal finance bloggers at all. Over the course of the past 8 months, I’ve forged relationships with many many bloggers, big and small, and my audience has grown as those bloggers have introduced my blog to their audiences. One of the big ways I forged those relationships is to link to things from my blog that I found insightful or interesting on theirs. Bloggers who might never have known about my blog came to visit to see what I was saying about them, and I’ve gained readers not only in those bloggers, but by extension, when those bloggers later started linking to my content as interesting to their readers. The concept is circular, and truly, what goes around does come around.

The biggest question I get about this strategy is – will other blogs be upset if I link to them? And the very short answer is – no. Bloggers, by and large, love when they are linked to, as long as the source of the link is not just copying parts of what they have written. We love attention and interest, and linking provides both.

There are two main ways to link to other blogs from within your content, and I generally incorporate both. One is to do a weekly roundup of interesting posts from your niche. Although this is less personal, it does provide recognition to other bloggers you feel best exemplify what you’re trying to talk about each week. I try to provide weekly links that will be both relevant and interesting to my readers, because they were relevant and interesting to me.

The other method of linking to other blogs from your content is to find relevant posts relating to topics you write about and link to them as resources or examples. I have done this both when I wanted to make a point that was best defined elsewhere, as well as when my inspiration to write about a topic was sparked by a post on another blog. This is more targeted to only the blog you are linking to, and therefore can provide more recognition to a single blog. That blogger may come read what you have to say, comment, and may even start reading your blog if your content catches their interest. My own feed reader is populated by blogs that I first noticed when they linked to me, and I know that my first blip on some other bloggers’ radar was when I mentioned an excellent post they wrote.

Link love truly makes the (blogging) world go ’round. Make it a valentine’s goal this year to start sharing the love – and reap the rewards.