I just started up my very own Medium account @juliaborgini this week. There I’ll be posting summaries of early posts from this blog, new posts specifically written on Medium, and more.
Check it out and follow me there too:
I just started up my very own Medium account @juliaborgini this week. There I’ll be posting summaries of early posts from this blog, new posts specifically written on Medium, and more.
Check it out and follow me there too:
Guest blogging helps you gain traffic, get in front of your audience, and boost your SEO ranking in a cost-effective way. – Mike Fishbein on guest posting
Mike’s right. Guest blogging (or posting, as it’s also known) can do all of that and more, but only if you do it right. He recently wrote a post on Convince and Convert about how to get more web traffic through guest blogging, and I wanted to create a Top 5 list of my personal favourite reasons to guest post.
Whether it’s a relationship with the new audience who’s reading your content, or the one you build with the owner/editor of the blog you’re guest posting on, it all comes down to relationships.
Bloggers talk a lot online and can be extremely influential with both their on- and off- line audiences. So it makes sense you’d want to be friends with them, right? This goes for professional and business bloggers too.
Making friends and developing relationships with other bloggers grows your sphere of influence online, which leads to more readers and blog subscribers.
When readers find you on other sites and like your guest posts, they’ll want to read more of your writing. Especially if they’re busy prospects who perhaps don’t have the time to come to your blog every time you publish new content, or want to know where your next guest post is published.
A dynamic email list is also a good thing to have for your business, giving you a captive audience who wants to hear from you. So include an email signup link in your guest post bio to keep track of them.
This is especially helpful for business bloggers who are constrained by a strict style guide. (I’m not saying a style guide is bad, but sometimes you want to try something new before unleashing it on your main audience — and a guest post is a great place to do that.)
By researching the sites you’re targeting, you’re looking at other blog posts, articles, and websites. You’re using it to craft the best guest post pitch, but it’s also a great way to gather ideas for new posts or other content assets. Simply put, it’s research! Use it for whatever you need.
And now, for my #1 reason why I love guest posting…
The simple reason is because you’re creating backlinks to your own site from reputable, authoritative sites. Search engines (in particular Google) love this. It means that your site is also authoritative and trust-worthy too.
Secondly, it lets you take advantage of long-tail traffic. Neil Patel talked about how this works over on the QuickSprout blog, as did Jeff Goins. It’s another opportunity to create valuable content based and let’s you rank higher and better for these keywords. (To find out more about long-tail keywords, read this.)
Thirdly, by writing a summary post of the guest post on your own blog, you’re adding another layer to your SEO toolkit, and your site earns even more love. Remember to keep in mind any exclusivity clauses on the guest post site, and to not simply copy & paste the post to your site. That’s why it’s a SUMMARY post, and link it over to the guest post.
So, over to you now. Are you guest posting for your technology business? How’s it going?
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Guest blogging’s been pronounced dead quite a few times over the last couple of years. Yet if you take a quick spin around the interwebs you’ll see that many people are growing their businesses through guest blogging. So how can it be dead?
Well, it’s not. Guest blogging is alive and well and a great way to solve any SEO problems you may have with your website. That’s because it’s able to help you out with three of the best ways to get organic traffic to your site:
Let’s take a closer look at this.
Many websites use guest bloggers on a regular basis, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, HubSpot, Forbes, and Fast Company. Their staff writers already produce great articles for them, but they understand that there are other writers out there with different perspectives and want to showcase those voices on their blogs too.
To maintain those high-standards, they have rules and guidelines that all guest bloggers must follow. Rules that cover how they accept pitches, the topics they want to cover on the blog, and guidelines about style, tone, links, and more. All of their writers, staff or guest, must follow these guidelines in order to have their work published on the site. Period.
It starts with having all the usual parts of SEO covered on your website: good keywords on all pages, filling out all the meta data for your site, search-friendly headlines, alt tags on images, etc. But what gets you even more search engine love is inbound links to your site and web pages from authoritative sites. Just check out this graph from Moz about search engine ranking factors:
Guest blogging on authoritative sites increases the number of those inbound links, and therefore your search engine ranking as well. How you do this is by writing an engaging byline/bio that points back to your website. Here’s mine on KISSMetrics:
Bonus tip: Set up some tracking links in your bio, so you can find out which bio is working best, and which site is giving you more traffic.
Usually when I get accepted to write a guest blog for a site, they ask me to share the content on my social media networks. It’s part of the “agreement” between us, and to be honest, something I’d do anyways. Add this to their sharing on social media, and your guest blog post is getting shared to a wider audience. Again, this is just one of the reasons guest blogging is good: to get exposed to a new audience.
One of my posts on Social Media Examiner has been shared over 5,500 times on social media, with over 3,000 shares on Twitter alone.
Search engines like the social sharing because it signals to them that your content is good. They take the amount of social sharing into account when they return search results. They take all of these factors into consideration (high-quality content, authoritative sites, social sharing) when they return search results.
It earns you inbound links from authoritative websites. It increases your brand awareness by introducing you to a new audience. And increases your ranking with search engines as it gets shared across social media networks. Guest blogging really can solve a lot of your SEO problems.
Need help getting started with a guest blogging outreach program? Download a copy of my Guest Blogger Outreach Playbook and get started today.
How much gated content do you have on your website right now?
A lot? A little? Just the right amount? (Sorry, couldn’t resist the Goldilocks reference.)
Most marketers struggle with the idea of gated content. You want to capture all the leads you can with your highest-value content, so you put it behind an opt-in form. Yet most website visitors hate filling these things out, and may never come back to your site if you ask them for too much information to get it.
And that’s the million dollar question: how can we generate leads without using an opt-in form on some of our content? There isn’t a simple answer to it. In fact, if you search online, you’ll find so much conflicting information on the subject that your head will spin.
So which content should you give away and which should you gate? Here are 4 ways to strike a balance that’s right for your business.
Blog posts, infographics, gifs, checklists, guest articles, etc. grab your readers’ attention and are a perfect introduction to you and your products. There’s no need to submit any information at this point, as they’re just getting a feel for you and your content. They want to see that you’re knowledgeable, professional, and are someone they could do business with.
Ian Rhodes, digital marketing consultant, gives away almost all of his content for free for a simple reason: “If the information is truly worthy of my time, I’ll naturally want to receive more. Give me easy access to your information and I’ll be your biggest customer; your biggest advocate.” He feels that content should develop relationships and build advocates, not just generate leads or customers.
Unfortunately search robots don’t know what to do with an opt-in form, so if you’ve got all of your content behind one, you won’t get any search engine love. Keep some of your valuable and insightful content non-gated to keep your site updated with and optimized for the search engines. After all, if a prospect can’t find you while searching, it won’t matter if your content’s gated or not.
By ‘lightly gate’, I’m talking about asking only for a name and an email address. Readers aren’t expecting a sales all after submitting this type of information, but may be looking to put you on an evaluation list for further investigation. Think of this as the “tire kickers” form. These readers are semi-serious, and could do with some lead nurturing, but don’t need the full-court press just yet.
Plus, you’ll know if they’re serious when they give you their actual email address and not their throw-away one they use for newsletters and other spam. Demian Farnsworth, Copyblogger Media’s Chief Content Writer, agrees, saying that,
Holding something back identifies those who are more serious. The blog post draws in a crowd and builds trust – the download indicates someone wants more information. If it’s a valuable download, more trust is accumulated.
This is the content that you’re using for true conversion of your leads into customers. Your longer form articles, guides, white papers, product demos, etc. Readers expect to be put on a lead nurturing program at this point, and are ready and willing for the serious content you’ll be sending them. These are serious leads that are potentially ready to purchase now.
Readers are at different stages of the buying cycle, so to keep producing the right content for them, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Base your evaluation on the status (gated or not gated), topic, and type, and ask yourself how each item is doing. Are gated pieces being downloaded more than non-gated? Are blog posts working better than case studies? Next, take a look at the lead gen performance of your content. What’s producing more leads? More qualified leads? What’s converting leads into customers?
Always include a way for readers to unsubscribe from your gated content. In some countries like Canada and the U.S. this is the law. You cannot ask for personal information without offering a way to unsubscribe. Plus it’s just a nice thing to see.
Make it easy for visitors to download future gated content. Some websites do this by using social media platform logins on their opt-in forms, so visitors just have one click to fill out their information. I’m not a fan of this as not everyone uses social media professionally and so may not have an account to use for this purpose. Secondly, if the social media platform changes their integration or sign-in protocols, your opt-in form may break down. My personal favourite method is to simply pre-populate the form for visitors based on their previous information (through website cookies or plugins.)
Creating content consistently for your business website is a key part of your inbound marketing strategy. Gathering reader information is a key part of your lead gen strategy. You have to find the balance between the two in order to grow your business. Experiment with both gated and non-gated content, weight their value to your business, and review their performance regularly. You’ll eventually find the equation that works best for you, without ticking off your readers.
Engaging social media content gets shared more often on social media.
Well yes, of course it does! We’re more apt to share content if it resonates with us, or creates an emotional connection/reaction with us. Engaged audiences are more likely to turn into customers too, so if you’re using social media for your technology marketing programs, it’s critical that your content is better than 90% of what’s out there.
Here are 5 actionable social media strategies that will help you develop your own winning social media program.
Connecting with your audience is easier when you talk directly to your audience. Start a conversation, don’t just talk at them. Use the second person voice in your content to create that connection. Use “you” and “your” instead of generic terms like “clients” or “customers”, or worse yet, “I” and “we”. Your audience will appreciate that you’re speaking directly to them and become more engaged when you do so.
We’ve all heard the stats about images on social media, right?
Create images more easily for social media with these tools:
There are certain words that have that uncanny ability to unlock your emotions when you read them. They’ll give you goosebumps, make you feel happy or sad, or inspire you to greater action. These are the words I’m talking about when I say power words. It’s the ones that go beyond how a product is “great” or “awesome”, but tells you how it’ll save your “teetering distribution network” or how it’ll “smash through those time barriers” your customers experience. For some great lists of power words to use in your social media messages (and frankly, everywhere else too), take a look at this list, this list, and this list.
Lots of tech companies don’t want to talk about exactly how they helped their customers; just that they’re working with them. That’s why they always put up the company logos of their customers, but don’t often quote them in success stories they publish.
That’s a mistake when it comes to social media. In social, it’s all about making connections with people. Yes, reaching out and connecting with the people behind the account handles and usernames. In fact, if you sound too corporate or impersonal, you’ll lose followers quickly and no one’ll listen to your stories.
Ask your customer support teams to find out how your customers are using your products; then write about it! Tell your followers the obstacles your customers overcame using your products. Go beyond the traditional case study and showcase your customers’ surroundings, market obstacles, challenges, and more. Revealing this information to your audience helps them identify with you, since they probably face the same ones.
Square shows this through their Square Stories series of videos on YouTube. They’re short videos of Square customers explaining how they’re using the product in their business. There’s everything from retail shops to restaurants and even a pediatritian, Dr. Nash of 1-to-1 Pediatrics.
On Twitter you’re forced to be brief, since you only have 140 characters to play with. But other social media platforms give you a much longer space to write in. Avoid the temptation to fill it up. That’s because as readers we love to scan, and not read. This applies to all social media, including the business blog.
Today’s marketer is creating content at a staggering rate. There’s no way for us to read it all. Give your content the best chance possible at being read and shared by using these 5 lessons in your next social media program.
I’ve been working on a new Wordpress site for a new business I’ll be launching shortly, and it got me thinking about what I value in a professional business blog design too. Good use of images, colour blocks, and white space. Solid font choice and accent colours. Buttons that stand out, but aren’t in-your-face about things.
It’s obvious that these web designers chose well for their audience, and it’s paying off with lots of web traffic and post shares, likes, and comments.
So what about your business blog? How does it look? Think it needs to be refreshed?
Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind when choosing the right design for your business blog.
Online readers are impatient; business readers even more so. They want to read your content NOW, so a business blog that takes too long to load just won’t cut it. You could have the best business blog content in the world, but if it takes more than 10 seconds to load, readers will just bounce to another site.
In the U.S. alone, we now spend more of our time online on a mobile device than ever before. It’s surpassed 51% usage this year to date. So if your business blog (and website, for that matter) aren’t mobile responsive and don’t deliver a good user experience to your readers, your blog will never succeed.
Your business blog should be mobile responsive at the very least, and if possible, optimized based on device operating system too. That ensures a consistent look and feel for readers regardless of the device they’re using to read your content.
Most business websites have their social media badges somewhere on their home pages, and probably in the footer of the site as well. That’s great, as you want your audience to connect with you on those networks. But what about social sharing buttons? They’re on individual blog posts, but is there anywhere else you can put it too to increase your SEO love? You bet!
Try putting sharing links on:
This helps your audience share the blog as a whole with others, as well as the individual posts too. Plus if they’re interested in a specific category of posts you publish, they’ll be able to share that as well with other colleagues and hopefully decision makers.
Having social media sharing buttons on your business blog is important, however cluttering up your blog with all the buttons can be bad. In fact, giving them too many choices can be overwhelming for them and they’ll subsequently take no action at all.
Limit the sharing buttons to the networks that send you website traffic and leads new prospects to you.
Bonus tip #2: Maintain a multi-network connection with your audience by including prominent “Follow us” social media badges in the sidebar of your business blog.
Including CTAs in every business blog post you publish is critical. Actually, it’s more of a requirement if you want to turn your blog into a well-designed lead generation machine. After all, you want your readers to do something after finishing your awesome content, right?
For the readers that enjoy the longer courtship of a B2B sales cycle (or ones who are simply too lazy to come back to your business blog each time you publish a new post), invite visitors to subscribe to it via email or RSS. That means having an obvious CTA that encourages them to subscribe to the blog. Most email newsletter solutions will let you create a great little subscription box, like the one I’ve got here on my business blog.
Your blog is a part of your larger business website, so don’t isolate it from the rest of your site. Your blog design must make it simple and obvious for blog readers to get to the key parts of your website. Pages like your product and services pages that give them more information about how you can help them. Landing pages that advertise the next webinar you’re hosting next month. All of these pages need to be connected to your business blog to help move your readers along to the next stage in the buying cycle, whatever that is.
Try using clear blog navigation links and buttons, as well as dedicating some of your sidebar to direct readers to key website pages.
If you’re restarting your business blog, you may have a back catalogue of posts that you’d still like new readers to see. If you’re just starting it, you don’t have that, however it doesn’t mean you should ignore the search functionality. Make sure your blog design makes it easy for readers to search and sort for all content (new and old.) You can use search boxes, tags, recommendation widgets like Outbrain, YARPP, Engageya, and more.
Choose just the ones you think your readers will need and like, and just use those. No more, no less.
Not only do you have to craft compelling headlines that get readers to click on them to find out more, but your business blog design should make it obvious that it IS a headline. Use the right formatting to keep it front-and-centre for readers so they know where to click. (Not literally front and centre, of course.)
Your business blog headlines should be significantly larger than any subheads or other titles on the page, and possibly even a different colour, if that works with your site’s overall theme.
Finally, the last principle to a great business blog is to have clean and simple sidebars. I know some web designers have been doing away with them completely, however I think they’re still useful for business blogs — provided you keep them to a minimum. Like the social media sharing buttons, searching, and sorting options, it’s important to keep the information in the sidebar to a manageable level, otherwise it becomes too overwhelming for readers.
Look at each widget and how it fits into the overall look of the page. Does it serve a purpose? Does it encourage the right behaviour you want readers to take? Or is it driving them away from your blog? Keep it clutter-free and you’ll notice a big difference in how long readers stay on your blog.
What other business blog design elements or practices would you add to this list? Hit the comments and let me know.
Feel free to share links to your well-designed business blog too; I’d love to see them.
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 9, 2015
How Smartphones Are Changing Our Perception of Time http://t.co/Z8VUEhUWUT
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 8, 2015
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 8, 2015
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 7, 2015
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 4, 2015
Happy July 4th to all my American friends & clients! Enjoy the day.
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 3, 2015
#HappyCanadaDay! I’m enjoying our nation’s 148tj birthday today with friends. Hope yours is as lovely as mine (but a little warmer.)
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) July 1, 2015
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) June 29, 2015
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) June 26, 2015
And that’s a wrap!
Every time I log in to my WordPress admin panel to write a post or take care of a site admin task, I see a little box in my dashboard about my site’s links.
It’s from a handy WP plugin (Broken Link Checker) that verifies all of the links on my site and lets me know if any are broken. I’m mainly interested in the incoming links, since I don’t often change the link structure of my own site, but it’s always a good thing to stay on top of.
It’s also good from an SEO perspective. Broken links can lead to a decrease in inbound traffic, so I always want to know how I’m doing.
Ask any SEO wizard and they’ll tell you that inbound backlinks are the single most important objective to getting high rankings in SERPs. (Those are inbound links from other sites.) That’s why all the online marketing folks talk about guest blogging and commenting. Those inbound links are a difficult metric to manipulate, which is why search engines give them a lot of weight when determining the popularity of web pages and sites.
The big deal with inbound links is that they’re a good indicator of relevancy and popularity of a web page.
Simply put, inbound links to a web page are a signal that the info is good, the site is trustworthy and is possibly an authority on the topic. Search engines (specifically Google) put a lot of stock into the notion of authority when weighting web pages on SERPs.
Search engines first look at the number of links to a single web page, and then cast their net wider, looking at the number of domains that link to that page. This is why having multiple inbound links from a variety of places is good, but multiples from multiple inbound places is even better.
Wait, that was a bit too confusing. What I’m talking about is having multiple inbound links coming from a wide variety of quality sites, not just one or two from the same site.
Normally traffic and other related numbers are buried in private server logs and databases owned by the website owner. External links are publicly visible and easily stored by services that are accessible by the public.
So, after all this tech talk about search engine results pages, rankings, inbound links, and analytics, what does that mean to you, the website owner?
Simple: ensure that your backlinks are always up and running, driving traffic to your site.
Between all those meetings, status updates, reports, and actual work, who’s got time to keep the business blog stocked with great content?
Well, you should.
Here’s the Top 10 List of Business Blogging Tools that’ll help you do that and much more.
Previously published content that’s valuable, insightful, and chock full of great info for your audience is good to read any time. That’s why it’s often called evergreen content. It’s always good and never goes bad.
The issue with your archived content is that it’s constantly being pushed down the page by your new content. There’s nothing wrong with the content, it just happened to get published first.
To revive and re-use them, add a related posts plugin to your website (if you’re using WordPress.) A related posts plugin will display and link to additional posts related to the current content a visitor is reading. The two most popular are Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) and Outbrain. YARPP displays only posts from your business blog, while Outbrain can display both your content and external site content that’s relevant.
Keep in mind that these types of plugins may slow down your site, so give them a try first and see how yours responds.
Canva is a great online tool that lets you edit images quickly and easily. Upload your own images, then add text and other graphics easily. Download it as a jpeg and you’re all set in minutes.
Whether writing for your business blog is your main job or just one of the many things you do at work, we could all use some help improve our writing. The newer writing tools out there not only help you with the basics like spelling and grammar, but will also check for more subtle things like your use of passive sentence construction and the number of adverbs you’ve used. Assess your writing quickly with Hemingway, which is free or Grammarly, which has both a free and paid version.
Give your audience what they want and they’ll keep coming back to your blog over and over. But where can you find out what they’re most interested in? Check out Google Trends to see what the hottest search topics are. Use BuzzSumo to find out what the most popular blog posts are for a particular topic. Just type in a topic and it’ll show you the top-performing posts, including how many social shares it got, as well as which social media influencers shared it (plus a lot more.)
Blog comments are great for building relationships with your audience, answering questions, and just connecting with new people. They’re also an easy target for spammers who are just looking for a backlink to a questionable site. Install a comment anti-spam plugin or use an online commenting service like Disqus or LiveFyre to stop them in their tracks.
And that would be the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. It’s been downloaded over 14 million times and is free. Yes, free. Get immediate content analysis of your posts for your keyword and set up your Facebook and Twitter messages without having to leave your blog post draft. It lets you adjust the SEO data for both your site overall and your business blog posts in particular, and did I mention that it’s free?
You already know that you should have good, quality images in your business blog posts, so where can you find them? There’s the usual places like iStock and Big Stock Photos, as well as Flickr and CompFight. I recently discovered Pixabay and Pexels, which also have some great HD quality photos that are good for blogs.
As always when it comes to using images and photos, please be sure to check out the usage terms and abide by it.
There’s a good reason for all the posts, books, articles, talks, webinars, courses, and classes on how to write headlines; it can be really hard to do well. Good resources to look at include: Jon Morrow‘s Headline Hacks and Copyblogger’s How to Write Magnetic Headlines.
And if you’re looking for some headline fun, check out Portent’s Content Idea Generator. Here’s what it came up with for this post:
Make it even easier for your readers to share your content by using plugins that will help them send out messages directly from your business blog post. Plugins like Click to Tweet from CoSchedule draw your readers to the content you want tweeted most with a visual cue like a button or special highlighting. Others like Click to Tweet let you set up the message to send out, including a shortened link to your post.
Many marketing automation tools have email newsletter capabilities built right in, so this may not apply to you. But if you don’t have a provider right now, then it’s time to get one. Your email list is the lifeblood of any business, large or small. Try MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, or MadMimi and see which one works best for you.
In a benchmark study of HubSpot customers, they found that ones that blog 15+ times per month get 5 times the traffic than the ones that don’t blog at all.
While part of that is because they’re putting out a lot of great, valuable content for their audience, the other reason is a little more subtle. The more blog posts you publish, the more you have in your archive. And your archive can produce just as much, if not more, traffic to your blog and site as your fresh content.
You read that right: your archived blog posts can give you just as much, OR MORE, web traffic than your new content. Especially when you’re publishing valuable posts every time.
You want to create recurring, lasting value with each and ever blog post, offering insight and information that your audience craves.
Start with the search engines. They constantly send you traffic regardless of when you published the post. Each business blog post is a considered as a new page on your website, which gives it another chance to be indexed by the search engines.
If you’ve optimized each post for SEO, and included some nice images + ALT tags with keywords, you’ll enjoy the benefits of your blog post long after it was first published. That goes for both regular posts and evergreen ones too.
Add in social media sharing buttons to your business blog and your older content gets out there even more. Readers who like your content and appreciate its value are going to share it regardless of when you published it.
Promote your older content any chance you get. Schedule a quick series of social media messages to blast out links to the old content on a regular basis (I do this every Friday on Twitter with my “From the Spc-Files” tweets.)
— Julia Borgini (@spacebarpress) November 14, 2014
Ideally you should use different compelling headlines with each message, but you could even just use the same one. Much like the syndicated sitcom on TV, you’ll just be sending out the same message every time. It works for them, so it can work for you.
If you’re in the groove and really want to mine the value from your old business blog posts, then how about using it to build your email list? Simply take one of your post headlines and turn it into the opening line on your email sign-up form. Once the reader’s handed over their name and email address, redirect them to the blog post, where they’ll get the great content you promised if they signed up.
You don’t just publish blog posts and then forget about them. Use them to your advantage and wring every drop of value they have. Whether you just want to do the minimum for your old posts, or really go to town on them, they’ll deliver for you forever. Start them off right and they’ll be the gift that keeps on giving.
I'd love to help you develop more profitable connections with your market. To find out more: