Category Archives: SEO

How to Get More Guest Posts for Your Blog: 3 Simple Steps

Get More Guest Posts

{Today, I am so honored to introduce you to Keri Lynn from Amazing Women in History. She’s a phenomenal writer, and one of the coolest women I’ve ever met (even if we’re only internet friends).

We met over Reddit once, and she had written this amazing list of tips to increase your guest blogger count, and I told her she should share it as her own guest post somewhere…like here! So she wrote it up, and sent it on over. This is some top notch advice, and I feel not worthy of such wisdom here!

So please, read everything, leave comments, and then tell her you love her, too. – Rachael}

I’m sure you’ve read all the advice floating around the interwebs about guest posting: why it’s the greatest way to build your blog, how to find the best blogs to guest post on, what to write about, and how to snag that spot on the A-list blogs.

But what if you’re on the opposite end? Not an A-lister, I mean (though if you are, and you’re reading this right now, you should totally read my blog AmazingWomenInHistory and tell all your followers about it). I mean a blogger like me with an established blog whose looking for some guest posters.

Get More Guest Posts

If guest posting is such a big thing, you might be thinking, where are all these bloggers that should be overflowing your email inbox with proposals and queries and kick-ass posts for you? The truth is, you’re probably not making it worth their time to write for you, or maybe you’re keeping it a secret that you accept guest posts. You’re probably not even asking for guests posts either, are you?

“Wait — why do I want guest posts?”

Besides the fact that it makes you feel like a superstar when other people want to write for your blog (isn’t that enough??), here’re a few reasons why you should be seeking guest posts:

  1. Other people promote your blog for you. When your guest post goes up, your guest writer will happily share their post with their own platform. They’ll tweet it, share it on Facebook or LinkedIn, post it to G+, email it to their friends & family, maybe even pin it to Pinterest. That’s a lot of marketing legwork someone’s doing for you for free!
  2. All this promotion your guest is doing for you is going to keep working for you long after their precious is posted, through the magic of SEO: Search Engine Optimization. All that social sharing and backlinks will give your blog a big Google boost long after the date stamp on the post itself.
  3. Mini-vacation! You’ve gotta take a break once in a while, but there’s no need to make your readers wait for your return. Why not take a mini-break from blogging by featuring other writers for a week or two? You can even spend the time you’re saving to start working on that e-book you’ve been planning for the past year. Okay, maybe that’s just me.
  4. Here’s one benefit that’s a little less markety: Having guests on your blog is a great way to build relationships (which actually is the best way to build your blog—but this point isn’t about marketing. Oops). I’ve met several wonderful people through Amazing Women In History who are just as passionate about women’s history and writing as I am. We’ve developed real relationships and helped each other out with the challenges of blogging and more, and I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten to know these amazing & inspiring people.

So if you weren’t before, you’ve gotta be dying for the secrets for attracting all these guest posters. Believe me, they’re out there! You just have to know how to reach them & convince them it’s you blog they want to write for.

1. Write your guest post guidelines

If you want guest posts, it’s absolutely essential for you to have a guidelines page on your website, with a clear link in your main menu:

  • It shows all your visitors that you accept guest posts.
  • It pops up in the Google searches of guest posters looking for your blog.
  • It saves you time by telling potential guest posters exactly what you’re looking for in a post.
  • It attracts potential guest posters by extolling the benefits of writing for you.
  • Make the title obvious. For a while, my page was titled “Contribute”. Terrible idea. I finally realized that everyone that saw the link probably thought I was asking for donations. Which I am; but not monetary, just literary. Now it says “WriteforAWH”.
  • Specify what kind of posts you’re looking for. If you only want posts on certain topics, list them here. Tell them what style of writing will fit with your blog, how long you want the post to be (in word count), whether you need pictures or other media with it, etc. If you want to limit the amount of outside links in the post, or disallow affiliate links, here’s the place to tell them.
  • Convince them it’s worth it. This is optional; you might want to keep this info to yourself, or tell them in a private email. You could tell them exactly how you’ll promote their post—how many times will you tweet it? Will you share it on Facebook? Send it out in your newsletter? On my page, I have a section titled “Self-Promotion”, where I tell them about how they can write their own bio including a picture, and include links to their websites and social media accounts.
  • SEO Optimize. This is a scary-sounding phrase if you don’t know SEO, but really it just means to use the same words on your page that are being used to search for you. Prolific guest posters will often search for new blogs by entering search terms like [niche] “guest post guidelines” or [niche] “write for us”. So you want to use these exact phrases on your page, especially in important places like page titles and headings.

Guidelines for your “Guest Post Guidelines” page

1. Make it worth their while

Here’s the most important fact for you to remember about soliciting guest posts: No one’s going to write for you for free.

Now I know you’re an awesome person with an amazing blog, and in a perfect world people would be flooding your inbox with proposals to write for you just for the sheer joy of it. Alas, that perfect world doesn’t exist, and everyone here in this blogosphere is in it for themselves.

We know why guest posting is so popular: bloggers guest post around the interwebs for exposure. Whether to build their newsletter, boost their SEO, or sell more books, they’re in it for the big payoff. You’ve got to let them know exactly why your blog is the best place for them to do that.

  • Have your stats ready to share if someone asks for them. How much to share is up to you; you may want to keep some or all of this info (like hits per day or your newsletter subscribers) a trade secret. But a lot of it is publicly available anyway, like your Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or RSS subscribers, so you may as well show them off. Focus on the big numbers and don’t mention the ones that still need work.
  • Give your guest authors a sweet author bio. Don’t just ask them for a bio—ask them for a picture and let them list all their websites & social media. I recommend the WordPress plugin CustomAboutAuthor. It lets you display a really nice-looking bio for guest authors with a picture and links to all their social media profiles. This is really attractive to potential guest posters because they know their bio will be featured prominently.
  • Tell them how you’ll promote their post. I tweet a post at least 3 times the week it’s out, plus it gets tweeted automagically every so often with my Tweetily plugin. I also share all posts on my Facebook page and send them out to my email newsletter. You can put this information on your “Write for Us” page, or just share it when inviting someone to write for you.

2. Ask for guest posts

Ninety percent of blogging success comes from building relationships. Okay, I just made up that percentage; but we all know that building relationships with other bloggers is truly essential if you want to succeed in blogging.

You already know where your readers and fellow bloggers in your niche hang out, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 90’s-looking niche forums, or wherever. You’re out there schmoozing and helping and giving advice and generally building your rep as the expert.

Guess what? All those friends & colleagues you’re meeting are potential guest posters for your blog. Some of them may be dying to get exposure for their own blog or book or Kickstarter project, and would love to write you a little post to help them get the word out.

Here’s how you can harness their powers for your own blog:

  1. Remind the world that you accept guest posts. Here’s where you can show off your new guidelines page. Just post a quick message like “Hey, did you know Super Awesome Blog is now accepting guest posts? We’d love to have you! Check it out here: http://example.com/guest-post-guidelines/
  2. Get your competition working for you. You’re already checking up on the competition, and you know they’ve got what it takes to write a great post. Email your blogging arch-nemesis asking for a guest post exchange.
  3. Hit up new fans and followers. Next time someone interesting follows you on Twitter or Facebook, take some time to check out their website or blog. If you like what you see, send them a Twitter DM or Facebook message complimenting their work, and ask if they’d be interested in guest posting on your blog.

Bonus tip: Don’t worry too much about how big or small your guest’s blog is. Maybe your guest only has 500 Twitter followers to your 5,000. Guess what? They’re way more likely to put their heart and soul into promoting their post, and may become one of your most loyal readers. And don’t be too intimidated to ask a bigger blogger for a guest post. You just won’t know till you ask—maybe your favorite big blogger is a fan of yours, too!

Now you’re ready for more guests posts on your blog! Here are 3 simple steps to take now:

  1. Start writing that Guest Post Guidelines page—don’t put it off! Don’t worry about getting it perfect at first; you can always add more info later.
  2. Get your blog ready for your guests. Collect some stats and decide how you’ll display your author bios and promote their posts.
  3. Now make a list of 5 bloggers you want to write for you, and contact them with a short & sweet email or Twitter DM.

Follow these three steps & soon you’ll be able to go on a blogging vacation with all the posts you’ll have rolling in ;)

What You Need to Know: Linky Party and Blog Hop Basics

Posted on by 0 comment
unwarranted-advice-icon-150

In the food blogging world within which I am so happy to be a part, there are these popular things called “blog hops” and “linky parties.” It took me some time to figure out WHAT THE HECK they were, but I think I have enough knowledge now to pass on how they work!

Let’s break it down easy style.

What is a linky party?

Basically, a linky party is an “event” that spans a set period of times (hours, days, months, years) that allows people to share URLs to specific posts or pages on another person’s website.

Often, the linky party host will allow for photos to display, which means you show a little picture of your recipe or project above the direct link to the post itself.

Linky Party Basics

Here’s a simple example of what a linky party looks like. Note the icons, purple URLs, and blue submission button.

A linky party is usually for specific projects, NOT your blog homepage, although there are some “market yourself” types of linky parties intended to increase traffic.

What is a blog hop?

Although pretty much the same as a linky party, a blog hop usually happens when multiple bloggers host a party from various different sites.

This happens when the bloggers embed a specific code (Java, iFrame, HTML, etc) onto their page, which shows the contents of the specific party (the pictures and links) on all of the sites that contain the code.

Sometimes blog hops are run by just a few people, but other times, entire groups of people pass the code around like in different recipe clubs, etc.

Why would I want to do this?

Well, this relates back to the issue of blog authority. If you can show the search engines that you are an authoritative, popular, and respected site, they will increase your ranking. A higher rank converts into more traffic, which can lead to higher income (assuming that’s why you blog).

Plus, you can pass on a fun recipe or project. For specific seasons and holidays, many bloggers host themed-parties, which makes it easier for people to find relevant content in one place.

Note: If you subscribe to a linky service, you often get unlimited lists. Many people use this to share long lists of links with ease, instead of manually changing everything from within a post. Like, you could host a page where people share their own linky parties or giveaways.

What’s in it for me?

In addition to the increased rank and potential earnings from traffic spikes, you can also create a wider blogger outreach (crucial to those of us who like communities). Sometimes, bloggers will even host giveaways based on their linky parties or hops, so all those who enter are eligible to receive a specific prize. Or, the party can really be a traffic contest. The most popular posts (those clicked most often, as tallied by the linky party program) are often featured in the next week’s linky party post (with full size pictures) and can receive free advertising, etc.

Do you have a particular program preference?

Actually, yes. At first, I preferred something called LinkyTools. There was a free trial, a nice set up, and a great blog run by the program’s creator.

But, LinkyTools required people submitting their links to open a new tab, and fill out a full page of information. It went quickly, but it was an inconvenience.

So, I moved to InLinkz, which requires a link, link name, and email address. It then opens a page for the individual to select a picture, and that’s it. Super easy, cheaper than LinkyTools, and very versatile. I’m sold (I even bought a year subscription to the service because I like it that much).

Linky parties and blog hops might not be for everyone, but they’re an incredibly popular part of the blogging world. Plus, they’re extremely easy to run and host (it’s as easy as creating a new post and embedding code). I love that they help me build pages full of relevant, blogger-approved content for my readers, and that I can build a little blogging world. They’re fun!

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of InLinkz, and may receive a small compensation if you purchase any services through the links above.

Backlinking Basics for Clueless Bloggers

All Chains 300ppi

Hello, bloggers! Welcome to the land of infinite snark. Today, I want to share with you the number one most important thing I’ve learned in building my blog. It’s got a scary name, so bear with me: backlinking.

It’s okay. Don’t let those twinges of anxiety that say, “you will never understand this technical stuff,” come over you. They’re wrong! You can totally do this because it’s super freakin’ easy.

First of all, what is backlinking anyway?

In a nutshell, backlinking is the practice of creating links back to your website from other websites. Those can be social media outlets, other blogs, or really, anywhere people can access your website that is not on your website directly.

Why bother with backlinking?

Obviously, anywhere people can access your site means that you increase traffic, readers, and potential earnings (if you’ve monetized).

Even more than that though, backlinking makes search engines happy. If you have a great website isolated in the middle of the internet with no links coming or going, Google doesn’t really think much of you. They see that, yeah, you have a good site, but you’re not an authority. Otherwise, people would be linking in.

Backlinks are the foundation for a strong, search engine optimized blog.

If you have little links around the web, the search engines see that you’re an authoritative, popular resource that others go to for great content. That’s why we do this — it’s fuel for the search engines.

That might sound a little boring. Who cares if Google wants to share my website? Well, that works. Think about why you started blogging in the first place. Do you want readers? Do you want traffic? Backlinking is your answer.

So, how do I get these backlinks?

Really, it’s very simple. You can get backlinks in a wider variety of ways, but my favorite is blog commenting! For avid blog readers like myself, this is even easier. Find blogs in your niche (those who write on similar topics), and leave comments. Only leave real comments that add something to the conversation (otherwise you’re just a spammer).

Unfortunately, each website comes with its own issues. On some, you can leave a comment with no problems. On others, you have to use a weird system or there’s some odd setting that won’t let you create that backlink. Below, I’ll give you a play-by-play for different blog platforms and log-in services.

Blog Commenting on Different Systems:

WordPress

You know, WordPress is friendly to backlinkers. Really. It’s very easy to leave a backlink since the automatic comment format allows people not in the WordPress.com system to add the URL setting.

Backlinking Tips

Blogger

Okay, so Blogger is my least favorite blogging platform for leaving comments. Unless the blogger allows the Name/URL feature, you won’t be able to leave a backlink to your website. Don’t sign into the other programs or you won’t get the link (If your blog is hosted through Blogger, you can use the Google Account).

Many bloggers don’t allow the Name/URL feature because it allows more spam comments. It’s kind of a mini-controversy, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Honestly, check the comments set-up before leaving a response on Blogger blogs. Look for the highlighted option below. If that’s there, you’re good to go!

Backlinking Tips

 

Disqus

Alright, so my backlinking love goes straight to Disqus. It’s a comment management system that is really well-organized and user-friendly. You do not have to create an account to leave a comment, but if you do, you can link directly to a social media profile or your URL via the Disqus profile. Plus, it’s awesome for bloggers (I’ve received 0 spam comments since I installed Disqus).

When it asks you to create a profile, I recommend checking the box. It doesn’t send you to another screen or require you to do anything special before commenting. Then, you can use the same Disqus account to comment on any blog with the Disqus system. Create a profile, attach a URL, and you’ll get backlinks while managing all of your comments (and their responses) in one place.

 

There are way more blog commenting options out there than the three shown above, but these are some of the most common ones. Look for a way to leave a URL or the backlink won’t register in your favor.

A note on backlinking services:

So, business owners and bloggers in the past have hired backlinking services to add tens to hundreds to thousands of links across the internet to their site. Search engines have wizened up to this practice, and can tell if your backlinks are real or not. Don’t waste your time or money with these services. Instead, engage with other bloggers and leave real comments to really do this whole thing the right way.

Do you backlink? How? Where? When? Why? Comment below (and get a backlink in the process)!

Killer Plugins: WordPress SEO by Yoast

Posted on by 1 comment

In my experience with WordPress, there are only a few plugins that every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Jane must have.

The number one: WordPress SEO by Yoast.

What is it?

Basically, SEO by Yoast is a plugin that helps clueless types like you and me make sure that every post and page are perfectly optimized for search engines.

Continue reading

Must Have WordPress Plugins for Blogs

Posted on by 3 comments

When you’re first starting out, it can take quite a bit of time and many accidental mistakes before you learn the ropes. That’s the natural learning curve of trying anything new, and those mistakes you never meant to make usually teach you more than all of the little successes you find.

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

Through my experiences and the establishment of probably too many new websites on WordPress.org, I’ve developed a list of plugins that I download immediately after I open a new site. There are many alternative ways of doing similar things but for me, these are my favorites and I recommend them to all newbies.

These are THE must have WordPress plugins for blogs:

Continue reading