Real Estate Content Strategy: SEO And Your Blog

If content writers had cocktail parties, I imagine things would go along quite swimmingly for a half hour or so: interesting conversation would be peppered with the most random factoids that only content writers would ever know.  Then, somewhere around the bottom of everyone’s first glass, I can envision some disagreements breaking out.

You see, we’re not all of the same camp.

 

I’m imagining an argument about SEO (search engine optimization) developing.  The fact is, there are some copywriters who want to stuff their blog posts and static website pages with every keyword imaginable, over, and over, and over.  Then, there are others who will use a keyword twice, and pat themselves on the back for writing an essay worthy of Montaigne.

Surely there’s a medium, wouldn’t you agree?search

The Perks of SEO Focus

When it comes to real estate, there are many reasons why you might want your content to be SEO heavy.  The truth is 94% of homebuyers begin their search for a new home online.  96% of first time homebuyers begin their search online.

Are you getting excited?  Or, are you freaking out because you don’t have an online presence?  Hang with me here!

When that many people are looking for a home online, it’s inevitable that the search engine terms they use are going to be all over the map.  “My Title Guy” says that 50% of Google searches will happen once, and are never performed again.  Wow!

So how do you combat those daunting statistics?  The SEO camp would say you stuff your content with keywords in an effort to grab onto all the Web traffic you can.

But What About Quality?

If you’re like me, you might be feeling just a little bit uneasy about that approach.  Sure, you want to get traffic, but you also want to have a little style… a little flair, right?  Well, you can.  If you’re new to this wonderful world of real estate content marketing, then there’s one thing you’ve got to know about:

Landing Pages

Landing pages are the hubs that take your visitors from the busy streets of Google into the quiet, nicely decorated rooms of your house.  They’re kind of like the threshold.  Your guests can see inside, but the street is also within earshot.

What am I talking about?  Let me put it this way… your landing page is where you load up on keywords.  Everything from “six bedroom house in Omaha with pool” to “Nebraska high end real estate.”  You throw everything you can out there onto your landing pages, and you spread these terms out over multiple landing pages, each with their own specific niche focuses.  It might not be pretty, but it brings your visitors to your home.

Your Real Estate Blog

Next, your landing pages have a call-to-action that brings visitors into the comfort of… your blog.  Your blog is where you can share valuable information.  This is not the SEO-heavy, keyword-centric content.  This is the meat: the juicy pieces that your visitors can savor.

If you’re curious to know what a great real estate blog looks like, I’m happy to recommend you the Zillow blog.  Zillow does a great job with their blog because they’re largely non-promotional.  They focus on being a valued resource, realizing that their audience will convert to customers as they consume more and more content.

Here are some great examples of Zillow’s non-promotional blog posts:

  • 5  Tips for the Final Walk-Through
  • Mel  Gibson’s Former Greenwich Home Hits the  Market

These posts are completely different from one another, but they both offer valuable content (albeit, of totally different natures).  Also, check out how non-promotional they are.  Then again, notice how slyly that second post encourages the reader to link through to additional resource pages.  Perfect.

Your Real Estate Content Approach

So what will your real estate content approach be?  Do you see major issues with either side of the SEO spectrum?  Or, do you believe there’s a better way to reach a happy medium?

Do you have any thoughts on what a good real estate blog should do?

 

Do You Need An Attracitve UX Blog?

Leaders are always there to inspire others and the field of User Experience design is not an exception. In the design world everyone looks for a good leader for getting an inspiration, tips and more. Thanks to the today’s world of blogs and due to the popularization of UX blog, the advice is completely free for the UX designers. But searching for a good UX blog is not an easy task as there are thousands of blogs on UX design to choose from. Choosing the best one is necessary in order to achieve the best advices and the tips to follow for a great UX design. If you are an active UX designer and looking for a nice UX blog to follow, here are some of the best UX blogs the internet is offering and choose the one you find best.

‘A list Apart’ UX blog

‘A List Apart’ UX blog helps you to explore a number of subjects on web design and development. The focus is on web design standards and the best practices. It is loaded with many insightful articles which explore the web design, development, web content and others.

Boxes and Arrows

This UX blog is devoted to practice, discussion of design and innovation which includes graphic design, interaction design, design of business and information architecture as well. The promoting contributors are dedicated to provoke thinking, pushing the limits and teach some good things on the way.

EverydayUX

IT is a UX blog which focuses on the design that we face on day to day basis. It is especially related to interaction design.

Functioning Form

It is about the blog related to interface design. It is where the art and technology meet and where the interactions are useful and enjoyable.

InspireUX

InspireUX is a blog which posts quotes related to UX i.e. user experience design. The quotes focus on the impact that UX has on the people, business and the world. These quotes are even downloadable and printable and this functionality is available on the site.

UsabilityPost

It is a great user experience blog about the design and it is not about how it looks but it is all about how it works. The aim of this blog is to help you to understand how to make good products by providing relevant resources, tips and insights, all at one place i.e. UsabilityPost.

There are many other UX blogs which are available over the internet but those mentioned here are worth choosing from. The quality of the blog posts and the ability of the blog to inspire people and the purpose are important and this makes the best criteria for selection.

SEO Interview with Matthew Barby: Exceptional Digital Marketer

SEO Interview with Matthew Barby: Exceptional Digital Marketer

In my third SEO interview on the Ahrefs blog, I talk with Matthew Barby, an extremely talented digital marketing consultant with a ton of reputation in the industry. His posts got published on industry-leading sites like Search Engine Land, Moz, and Search Engine Journal. We talk about SEO, brand building, content marketing, and Matt’s journey in the online marketing field in this interview.

matthew barby

So, without further ado, let’s head straight over to the questions.

Q: Hello Matt! Welcome to the Ahrefs Blog. Would you like to give a self-introduction at first?

I’m the digital and content strategist at Wyatt International, a lecturer for the Digital Marketing Institute within their search marketing professional diploma and post-graduate courses, a blogger and all round digital marketer.

Q: How did you get started with SEO and how long have you been practicing it?

I first got into SEO around 7 years ago when I was at university. I started by playing around with affiliate marketing, black hat SEO (and all that kind of stuff) to try and make a quick bit of cash. As time went on, I moved more into the content marketing side of SEO and use all of my knowledge of the more technical sides of SEO in order to get results.

Q: What has been your experience so far holding mostly top positions in the SEO department of several renowned digital marketing agencies in the UK?

That all clients are different, and all agencies operate differently. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced internally is scaling up SEO processes in a way that didn’t compromise quality but also increase profitability. This is something that a lot of agencies go through at one time or another, but the main thing to focus on is employing the right people. This isn’t easy in the digital marketing industry because great SEOs are few and far between but if you find the right person, make sure you invest in them from an early stage.

Q: You’ve been giving more and more importance to digital marketing as a whole that includes other forms of online marketing than just SEO. How do you think some of the other forms like content marketing and PR actually help in a site’s SEO?

The biggest mistake that a lot of people make is that they look at things like social media and say, “social signals don’t have a direct impact on SEO rankings.” Yes, this is true but it doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Having a solid social media strategy will improve the online reach of your content, which will increase the likelihood that someone will pick it up organically and link to it. Taking a more indirect approach to SEO can pay dividends in the long term. Of course, this needs to be combined with direct ranking factors, but diversifying your strategy is important because, if anything, the search landscape is moving too quickly to place all your eggs in one basket.

Q: Google have been increasingly intolerant towards guest blogging as a way to build links, and in turn, I think, made a lot of general webmasters (who are not necessarily knowledgeable about SEO) skeptical about even high-quality guest posting. But you still write for a bunch of different industry-leading publications, and even smaller sites about inbound marketing. What’s your take on this?

I think that a lot of people misunderstand what Google are referring to with guest blogging. If I’m writing an article on Moz, Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Land that has a link back to a piece of my content, it’s a world away from me plugging a link into an article on a blog that nobody visits and has little to no authority in the eyes of Google.

Like with anything, there has to be a level of moderation, but if you take the approach of sending link signals that are from trusted sources, you should be fine.

Q: Your personal site currently ranks on the first page of Google for ‘digital marketing consultant’ and a bunch of other very lucrative terms for anybody who’s into digital marketing. Did you specifically target a few keywords or it happened kind of naturally as you kept on growing your site and it naturally accumulated links over time?

The answer here is a combination of yes and no. I’ve had a few top tier keywords that I’ve specifically targeted, but by and large I’ve focused on creating a ton of long-form content that will organically earn links and gain me a nice spread of keyword rankings.

It’s important to understand opportunities that you can take advantage of in the SERPs, map out a list of ideas and use this within the content creation process. I then just make sure that all of the pages within my site have a good structure, etc.

Q: You also run FindMyBlogWay, which basically covers a wide array of topics related to blogging. What’s the history about that – how did you grow it till the stage it’s at today?

It isn’t actually a very glamorous story to be honest! Around a year and a half ago, someone on my Facebook feed messaged me to say they’re looking to clear out a few domains that they had kicking around. I checked out the link profiles of them and found FindMyBlogWay.com with a ton of great links and a good age to it – for the price of $50, I snapped it up.

Now, initially I thought that I would just use it within an SEO campaign that I was running at the time (as a 301 redirect), but instead decided to use it as a testing ground for all the little SEO tricks I wanted to apply to my campaigns but didn’t want to risk it on live sites… so, I set up the website (coded the template myself from scratch because there were a few things I wanted to test from a dev side), wrote up a few articles and started the ball rolling.

What I didn’t expect was the reaction to the content I was publishing. The first few posts that I went live with gained a ton of social shares, organic links and ultimately, traffic. I decided that it might be worth investing a little more into FMBW so I started to build a community around it. A year later and it has loads of links, an active social following and over 1,000 newsletter subscribers. Not bad.

The only problem with Find My Blog Way is the brand. I HATE the name. This is one of the reasons why I’ve taken the decision to migrate everything into MatthewBarby.com so that I can place all of my focus into one area (you’ll already notice that the content has been moved). So there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere!

Q: Even if link building is not and was never your primary motive, you’re still an experienced guest blogger. Can you share a few lessons about it that you’ve learned over the years? Would you recommend SEO professionals and agencies to still leverage guest blogging for client sites?

In short, yes. I do a lot of work within the B2B sector and thought leadership often plays a part within a large number of my campaigns. Gaining coverage within industry publications is often the goal here and guest blogging is a great way of doing this. The main thing that you need to decide before embarking on an all-out guest blogging assault is whether the website that you’re looking to place an article on will actually have the capacity to drive through a significant amount of relevant referral traffic.

Within all my SEO campaigns, I don’t just chase links to improve rankings; I chase links to drive sales (or any other form of conversion I’m working to).

Q: How do you see SEO evolving in the next few years?

If I’m completely honest, not a whole lot. There’s always tons of articles being written by people that claim the next big change in the search engines but the reality is that although the way you go about things like link building have changed, the basic principles of SEO haven’t changed:

  • Work on developing high quality, relevant links back to your website.
  • Develop content that’s relevant to your niche.
  • Ensure all of your webpages are optimised to their full potential.

Blah, blah, blah…

The main thing to remember is that every campaign is different. There isn’t a one-fits-all strategy that will get results. You just need to be able to adapt and evolve as an SEO to each new situation you’re placed in (like any other form of marketing).

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the best ways to build/earn links in the present time without violating Google’s guidelines?

I could easily write build great content here but it doesn’t really add any value to anyone reading it – plus, that’s a bit obvious. I mean, if your strategy was to build mediocre content then that would be fairly odd.

My advice here is to build links carefully and as naturally as possible. What I mean by this is that you should consider the types of website that you’re building links from. Near the beginning of a campaign it can be tough to pull in those high authority links but it’s this stage when it’s most important. Work on building a platform of authoritative signals so that later down the line you’ll have more of a buffer to work with when you’re bringing in some ‘not-so-authoritative’ links.

Q: Can you tell us about some off-beat ways that you’ve leveraged content marketing either for your own websites or for clients?

I really like working on big content pieces. These are the forms of content that will earn organic links over time and be a great link building asset when it comes to building credibility and brand awareness in the long term. One pretty cool new example that I’ve just worked on is this web app for eCO2 Greetings Ecards.

Q: If you could only use 10 tools and services (except for most common ones like Gmail or Twitter) for all of your digital marketing work, what all will they be?

  • Buzzsumo
  • Ahrefs
  • ScrapeBox
  • SEO Tools plugin for Excel
  • URL Profiler
  • Buffer
  • SEMrush
  • Keyword Snatcher
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider
  • Wistia

Q: How important is to build a persona or a brand for yourself online in case of digital marketing aspirants?

It’s incredibly important. I’ve spent the past 2 years working particularly hard at raising my profile within the industry and although I’ve still got a long way to go, I’ve built a solid community around my content and myself as a person. The biggest advantage that I’ve found with this is that I don’t need to waste any time of lead generation – the people that I work with are those that approach me because they want to work with me. They’re already sold into my philosophy so the relationship is built in the way that I like and there is trust there from the beginning.

matthew-barby-com

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Five years is a long time. I’m still only 24 at the moment and I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved so far. That said, I’ve got a long way to go to achieve what I want. My next steps are to work on developing a suite of tools that can be used by content marketers, SEOs and pretty much any other forms of digital marketer. The first of these should be released soon, so follow me on Twitterand Google+ to hear about it first 😉

That’s all, folks! If you have any questions or anything to say about this interview, feel free to drop a comment below.

How to Build Keyword Rich Links With Guest Articles When All the Odds Are Against You

How to Build Keyword Rich Links With Guest Articles When All the Odds Are Against You

I really hate it when someone tries to pull the rug out from under me.

I hate it even more when they’re successful.

Like this Matt Cutts guy.

So one day, I’m sitting at my computer, doing some good ol’ guest blogging, when I see this:

(from https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/)

My reaction?

“Could it be?” – I was thinking. “Could it be that guest blogging is really done?”

So today, more than a year and a half later, let’s find how things actually stand in the land of guest blogging.

In this resource (not to call it a spy-piece), we’re going to tackle the following:

  • Are guest posts still effective for SEO, and if so, how to use them?
  • How to come up with good, shareworthy and linkworthy content that every blog editor will love.
  • What role should guest blogging play in your link building strategy?
  • How to get the exact link you want from a guest post.
  • Are author bio links any good?

Let’s take it from the top:

Are guest posts still effective for SEO?

Let’s cut the chit-chat and look into the data instead.

The first example comes from the Kissmetrics blog and a guest post published there by Jacob McMillen.

In the footer of that post, we can see a bio box with a keyword-optimized link pointing to Jacob’s site (a nofollow link, if that matters, which I doubt):

jacob4

If we put Jacob’s site along with this keyword into Ahrefs Positions Tracker tool, we’ll see this:

jacob3

At the time of writing, that’s the 5th spot.

Note: This keyword doesn’t have the highest search volume – as told by Google Keyword Planner – but that’s not the point right now.

Okay, so let’s see who actually links to his landing page ( http://jacobmcmillen.com/professional-copywriter/ ) and what anchors they use.

Here’s the Referring Domains report:

jacob2

We have 15 different TLDs.

And here’s the Anchors report:

jacob1

Wow, almost exclusively one phrase: “expert copywriting” – the one he used in that Kissmetrics post.

Doing further lookup – checking the exact snippets that use this anchor and link combo (you can do this with ahrefs too, by the way) – I can see that all of those indeed come from guest posts.

Some proof, although the screenshot doesn’t give it justice:

jacob5

Another example.

A guest post on the Crazy Egg blog by Tamar Weinberg.

The bio box:

Tamar1

One keyword-optimized link pointing to http://www.tamarweinberg.com/

Doing some sniffing around via Ahrefs Site Explorer I see the following:

Tamar2

There are 64 referring domains. And:

Tamar3

The term “professional hustler” is used 19 percent of the time.

Again, upon further lookup, all of those links come from guest posts, just like with the previous example.

Tamar5

Okay, but where does the site rank for “professional hustler”:

Tamar4

Not bad.

But let’s stop here for a moment…

I admit, there’s an elephant in the room.

Both keywords I use as examples here are not highly popular and therefore probably don’t hold incredible value for the person ranking at #1.

But I’m doing this on purpose.

First of all, if I were to select a more popular term and found a site that ranks well for that term, I’d also have to take other factors into account.

Like for instance, the possible myriads of other SEO-things the person needed to do in order to secure a good rank, and also everything the competition is doing to make their job harder.

Note:if you’re new to SEO, Tim covers all of that in his video series called “Oversimplified SEO”. Go check them out on YouTube.

With an easier keyword, however, what we get is a confirmation that ranking through bio links with exact anchors is indeed possible.

Or in other words, we’re not focusing on how easy it is, we just want to know if it’s at all possible, which it seems very much so.

So what gives? Why is this still a thing?

Matt Cutts said it’s the end of guest blogging for SEO, yet some simple, obvious and highly-optimized bio links still do a great job of putting a page on the radar.

I’m no expert on this, and I’ve never worked at Google or anything, but if there’s one thing my computer science degree taught me, it’s that we’re far from developing a truly intelligent and adaptable algorithms that can operate efficiently at scale.

My prediction is that Google isn’t as clever as they would like us to believe, especially when it comes to telling whether a link comes from a guest post or not.

Of course, upon human review things become obvious in seconds. Everyone can recognize a guest post a mile away. But computers still probably can’t. There are too many factors at play.

For instance:

  • How do you distinguish between staff authors and guest contributors?
  • How do you tell whether a name mentioned within the body of the post (say, John Smith) is a name of a guest author and not just a name brought up as part of the topic of the post itself?
  • How do you distinguish between the guest author’s bio and the first commenter?
  • Better yet, can I get Seth Godin in trouble if I publish 100 fake low-quality guest posts and sign them with “guest contribution by Seth Godin”? How do you tell which guest posts are real and which are a lame negative SEO attempt?

For a human, all this is easy to work out. But for an algorithm? Not so much.

Okay, so what to do with all that info?

As with all things SEO, the risk is always on you. If you still want to use guest posts for any SEO gain, it’s your call.

What remains is the question of how.

I’m glad you’ve asked.

Step #0: Build a relationship

“Build a relationship with other bloggers” is the advice we see literally every day. Yuck.

However, as much as I hate clichés, even I have to admit that having established relationships in your niche brings multiple benefits.

First of all, you’re becoming a part of something bigger – a community. You create and influence that community. Effectively, you are the community. Your opinion begins to matter.

Then, knowing people in your niche opens doors to countless opportunities, joint ventures, other business projects, and so on.

And lastly, there’s SEO.

With the right relationships, you can get your guest posts featured on some valuable sites, and then link to your own site from within those guest posts. If you’re lucky (sorry, luck has nothing to do with this), you can even use optimized links.

In fact, it’s really quite simple. The closer your relationship is with the blogger, the more you’ll be able to do in terms of linking. Once someone trusts you, they will have no problem linking to your pages with whatever anchor text you wish.

But that comes with time.

You’re going to need to put in a lot of groundwork before you can expect an optimized link to be approved for publication.

Just like in offline life, blogger relationships are built on trust. There are hardly any shortcuts.

  • Start by contacting bloggers in your industry. Do something for them. Then do something more.
  • Don’t stop there, ask about their opinion on something you have going on.
  • Share your opinion on something they have going on.
  • Don’t force it. Rinse and repeat until asking for a favor no longer feels weird.

I really can’t emphasize this enough, having actual relationships with bloggers is the no.1 most effective guest blogging strategy of them all. Even if you’re a crappy writer, you can still get published on some great sites provided that the owners of those sites like you.

Step #1: Suggest the right topic

Coming up with the right topic is a required element. You can’t just send any old re-hashed piece of content and hope for the best.

Firstly, you don’t want to lose their trust. Secondly, the crappier the topic is, the more work it’ll require on the blogger’s part. And bloggers don’t like work. We all know that.

Thirdly, even if you do manage to get a sub-par idea approved, you’re still probably going to end up with the least popular post on that blog. This isn’t good for the blogger’s brand, your brand, your SEO, anything.

What you really want is for your guest post to be in the upper part of the popularity/traffic charts for the blog. That way, apart from all the exposure, such a post is also going to bring you the most SEO benefit.

Right now, Google pays attention to social shares, comments and other content quality/popularity indicators. The weight of those indicators is debated, but we can still safely assume that the more popular a post is, the more potential link juice it has to pass on.

There are some really great guides on the web on how to select the perfect topic for a guest post (like this and this), but if you’re pressed for time, consider this simplified approach (or a checklist, rather):

  1. A guest post needs to be your best work, not your second-quality work.
  2. It should tackle the topics that are popular on the blog (you can find those with Content Explorer).
  3. It should mimic the style of the blog.
  4. It needs to speak to the exact audience of the blog.

Let’s do a quick experiment going through the above list one step at a time.

My target is going to be the Kissmetrics blog. Here’s how you can come up with a topic for that blog:

First, look up the most popular content through Content Explorer:

kiss1

I’ve filtered my results to display “Past Year” only.

This gives you an insight into what works and what’s best received by the community.

Look for patterns.

For example, the things I’ve noticed:

  • Ultimate resources work.
  • List posts work.
  • Expert gatherings work.
  • Social media marketing topics that are data-focused work.

Next, mimic the style and speak to the site’s audience.

To figure this part out, you need to look through the most popular content on the blog and note down the common characteristics.

What I’ve found for Kissmetrics:

  • short intros,
  • friendly style that lowers the reader’s guard,
  • content presented as a list, even if the headline doesn’t indicate so,
  • a lot of visuals (images, charts),
  • longer-form content in general (anything above 1,000 words, up to even 3,000 words).

Once you have this sort of homework done, proposing a headline becomes a lot easier. You already know what works. You already know what the blogger likes to publish. You already know what the audience wants to read. Win win win.

Step #2: Write your post

Your success in SEO guest blogging is all in the content quality that you deliver.

The rule is really simple:

Write quality stuff and link to quality stuff.

One cannot exist without the other. Here’s why:

  • Delivering an awesome article will make it a no-brainer for the blog editor to publish it. They will, in fact, thank you for sending it in and then ask for your rates. Don’t stop working on your post until you have something that you think is on par with the best content published on the blog. This is the only type of content that will bring you long-term results.
  • Every link in your post will be closely examined by the editor. If something doesn’t seem right, it’ll get scrapped. What this means is that even though your idea might have been initially approved, your link still won’t survive through editing if the destination isn’t of the same quality. Save yourself the frustration of having links removed, link only to exceptional resources.

Which brings me to:

Step #3: Link to your stuff

Ah yes, links and anchors – the evergreen guest blogging riddle.

So how do you link to your own site and do so in an SEO-friendly way?

More importantly, are you only left with the poor simple bio box?

Yes … and no.

The bio box you will get anyway. It’s a standard nowadays, and every blogger who publishes guest posts allows their contributors to have bylines with links in them.

Here’s the kicker though:

Don’t use them for SEO.

Although it might work (the two examples above), it still makes your SEO intentions clearly visible. For that reason, you might want to be more careful.

If you’re going to have a bio box at all, just link to your social media.

When it comes to your SEO money links, place them within the content.

“What?! How?! This isn’t always possible.” – says you.

Well, it is possible most of the time, and there’s actually no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Granted, if in-content links are what you’re looking for then you can only link to things that are thematically related (considering the post itself and the blog you’re targeting). But on the other hand, if your site isn’t related then why are you even trying to get your post published on that specific blog?

Secondly, this is where the relationship part comes into play. If you know the blogger, you can simply say to them that you don’t need a link from the bio box. Instead, you’d prefer linking to your site contextually from within the content.

For example, here’s what Tim Soulo actually did when working out one of his guest posts:

TIM-link

In a nutshell, make your content so awesome that the editor won’t mind the link even being there. Be upfront about what you want to achieve and how you’ll link to your stuff. If the relationship is there, the editor will simply say, “sure, why not.”

Note. If the bio box link is all you can get from a conservative blogger … well, still better than nothing, so run with that.

About linking itself, here’s how to pull it off:

a) Optimized anchors or not?

Even though the examples earlier on in this post indicate that SEOd anchors still work, it’s not the recommended approach. You’re probably better off linking in a way that appears natural (using brand names, general words, or long phrases).

That way, you at least don’t give away your SEO intention right up front to Google and every human reviewer who might be looking at your post.

The contextual relevancy, the headline, the body of the post, and the niche that the blog’s in should be enough to give you an SEO boost in all the right places (for all the right keywords).

b) Contextual relevancy

This is a must-have. The only way for your link to be natural in Google’s eyes is if it’s contextually related to what’s being discussed.

It’s also the way you get the reader dragged into the story and willing to give you a click.

This actually goes back to the thing with topic selection. In short, you need to create your own opportunities and figure out how you’re going to link to your stuff before you even start writing the post itself. For example, when brainstorming possible post topics, ask yourself this:

“What headline could I propose that will allow me to link to my site naturally from within the content?”

It really is that simple.

c) Linking to other websites (outbound linking)

Linking to other websites helps your money link get lost in the shuffle.

If you have a handful of outbound links in your post, it’s no longer obvious which one is yours when examined by an outside reviewer (the blog editor still knows … since you’ve told them).

Don’t go corny here though. Enough with Wikipedia links and such.

Actually do proper research, find valuable resources on other sites and link to them contextually where it makes sense. This will also make your post a better all-around publication.

Bonus. Later on, you can notify the people you’ve linked to and let them know about the post. With some luck, they will share your post and help boost its SEO value some more.

d) Linking to other posts on the blog (internal linking)

Bloggers like to see links to their other work within your guest post.

It proves that you’ve done your homework, and it also raises value of the post itself, making it truly belong to the site.

Adding some internal links takes only five minutes or so. Surely worth the effort.

Is this all cool?

Before we start questioning whether these and similar strategies are cool or not, let’s not forget what guest blogging is ultimately about from your perspective – the person using it as a tool to achieve certain goals.

And in this sense, guest blogging is a transaction.

You give the blogger awesome content, they give you your ROI.

Whether that ROI is SEO-related, or direct-traffic-related, or branding-related, or whatever else, there has to be something. If there wasn’t, guest blogging wouldn’t be a thing.

No one guest blogs for charity.

So if you decide to make SEO your goal – and as I said earlier, you’re ready to accept the risk – then you might as well try getting the most out of it.

How To Find Popular Content With Lots Of Backlinks And Social Shares [OSEO-07]

How To Find Popular Content With Lots Of Backlinks And Social Shares [OSEO-07]

Why would one need to search for “popular content” anyways?

Well, I’d like to address that with one of my favourite quotes by Pablo Picasso:

“Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal”

If you want to produce the kind of content that will attract tons of links and social shares – you have to steal proven content ideas from others.

So here’s how to find them…

How To Find Popular Content With Lots Of Backlinks And Social Shares?

NOTE: if you’re enjoying my “Oversimplified SEO” series I invite you to subscribe to Ahrefs YouTube channel.Actually this was an easy question for me, since we have a tool that does just that:

Content Explorer

Just plug any keyword into the tool and it will show you a list of most popular content based on this keyword.

You can then sort the list by amount of links or shares just by clicking on the appropriate columns.

That’s it!

Sorry if that was too basic for you, I promise to cover something more advanced next week!

Winning New Clients with Email? Here’s How You’re Doing it Wrong

Winning New Clients with Email? Here’s How You’re Doing it Wrong

Email marketing can be so frustrating.

Everywhere you go you hear about its potential and how you should use it to gain more business. But somehow it just doesn’t work for you.

And I am sure you tried (or at least heard) all the advice.

  • Make the subject lines snappy
  • Keep it simple
  • Segment your audience
  • Give your audience what it wants

And more.

Well, let me tell you a secret – all this advice sucks.

Big.

Most of what you read about email newsletters is either too generic or too B2C focused. And even if you find some good information, it still rarely works for a consulting business.

That’s because the role of consultant’s email is different

B2C companies send their emails to sell. You should do so to confirm your authority, build trust and nurture your subscribers until they are ready to hire you.

Of course that doesn’t mean that consultant’s email doesn’t make money. Quite the contrary in fact. But it doesn’t happen in the same way as for B2C companies.

One of my favourite sales writers, Jeffrey Gitomer once said that

only if they know you, believe you and trust you… then they MIGHT buy from you.

Even though this quote wasn’t uttered about email, the advice here relates to it as well. The role of your newsletter isn’t to push prospects for that new offer you coined or advertise your latest successes.

It’s to build trust and convince prospects that it’s you they should hire. 

And there are few things you should remember when trying to do that.

Your best subscribers are offline

Given what you do, it comes as no surprise that you spend so much time focusing on bringing online leads. But all those signup incentives, e-books or other rewards combined will not generate a better prospect than the one who’s there right beside you.

Many SEO consultants, especially when starting out, win most of their clients from their local area. Later in time you might get other clients than local businesses, agencies or even friends and family. At the start though these are often your best prospects.

And what are the chances that they will sign up to your newsletter on your site? Slim.

But if you ask to add them to it, most will agree without hesitation.

We had an unwritten rule in a web development studio I managed a couple of years ago. We would ask every person we’d come in touch with, be it at an industry event or anywhere else if we could add them to our list.

Most would say yes and thus our list was growing fast. Moreover, many of those people would later become clients through the weekly email tip we were sending.

There was another benefit of building a list this way. Before even receiving a single email from us, these people would know us already. They’d know the face behind the email and thus our job of building connection with them was easier.

This rarely happens with online leads.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against building a list through your site. At the start though, I believe that focusing on offline contacts can yield a much better result and do so faster.

Design doesn’t matter

People might be buying with their eyes, true. But even if you send a text only version of your email and pack it with good advice, your email is still going to make a better impression than the best looking one.

B2B audience seeks information. They not only want to be educated but also seek content that will make them look good in front of their boss, managers, colleagues, business partners and so on.

Therefore, instead of investing too much time on the design of your email, think about your audience and what advice to offer them.

Then send it.

Your email is your blog on steroids

Few weeks ago I posted two articles here on Ahrefs about using content to stand out and build your authority.

This advice relates to your newsletter too.

In fact, to make your newsletter more powerful, treat it like your blog on steroids.

Whatever topics you write for on your blog, be even more laser focused on them in your emails. Go deeper with your advice, extend it and make it even more practical. Don’t be afraid to share some tips of the trade. The majority of your subscribers will have no expertise to do it themselves.

But by reading your stuff they will know that you do.

Effort sells

Here’s the thing with building authority – most of your prospects don’t understand your advice. It’s unfortunate but after all, that’s why they need you. So how do they figure out if you are an authority in your field? By two factors:

  • Topics you cover – are you laser focused on your content sweet spot or jump from topic to topic?
  • Your effort. Send your subscriber a tip once a week and they will quickly figure out that you know what you’re talking about and are putting the effort to gain their business.

In other words, it’s your effort that’s going to sell you, not your advice.

Keep that in mind when working on your newsletter.

The best way to measure your newsletter success

Some people set up KPIs to track the success of their campaigns. And they are right in doing so. Delivery or open rates tell a lot about whether your emails work or not.

But there is a much better metric to find out if your email works:

The amount of quote requests you receive as a reply to your newsletter. 

When prospects dig one of your emails from their archives and hit reply to send a request for help, you can be sure that your efforts weren’t in vain.

Or if you have prospects contacting you and complimenting your newsletter when asking for quote, you know you do things right.

Headline Mistakes Even the Pros Make

Headline Mistakes Even the Pros Make

Headlines can propel content to stardom or kill it at birth.

  • Summarizing
  • hiding the meat
  • over-promising
  • repeating formulas

are just some of the most common headline mistakes even professional publishers make.

I’d like to explain why each of them is actually disadvantageous and whatalternative techniques could be implemented.

As you probably know I’m frequently blogging on behalf of clients. I pitch several blogs each month with 12 or more headline ideas. Ahrefs usually reserves four of them. I start writing and submit the post to the editors based on the headline that has been agreed upon for weeks.

On Ahrefs we tend to agree on the headline ideas quickly and the numbers have been on our side thus far. Nonetheless sometimes editors of other blogs decide to alter the headlines in the last minute to adapt them to the actual article for example, or for them to fit in with the overall strategy of the publication.

Sometimes the headlines get optimized just for Google. These editors and publishers have years of experience. It is, therefore, not easy to convince them that the headline I chose was perfect the way it was. I’ve blogged for over a decade and before that I had been a freelance journalist so I’m not easy to convince either. Especially as I witness the same mistakes made by these professionals over and over.

It’s really hard to optimize for all the audiences you need to optimize for:

  1. you have to “wow” the social media audience
  2. you have to provide the search audience with the keywords they will search for
  3. your returning audience who read your blog regularly and do expect something new that is elaborating on past articles ideally

As a result, my headlines are a well-balanced compromise of those three in the best case. Sometimes they cater to just two or even one audience and neglect the other one/s on purpose.

In any case every word in a given headline is significant. Replacing it or adding more words is a huge change that can break the original headline and distort the message of the article completely. I see it elsewhere too. Both blogger and publishers make the same mistakes I know from my own experience with editors and publishers. Of course, I learned myself the hard way, too. Years of trial and error led me to believe that I know what’s working currently.

Summarizing

One of the most obvious mistakes I’ve seen again and again is summarizing in headlines. A headline is a promise. It’s a teaser. It’s trying to convince you that you need to read the article in order to get the message. In case you decide to put the whole message into the headline, why should someone feel the need to read your article? That’s like giving away the movie outcome in the teaser video.

The only reason to give away the outcome beforehand is when your artwork is epic (not dramatic).

The epic form of writing is about giving away the outcome in order to explain the path how the protagonist got there. You know that that hero died in the end but you wonder why. In all other cases you don’t know whether there will be a happy ending or not and thus your curiosity is stirred up and growing as the story goes.

Just compare these headlines:

  • This Man Got Cancer, then he Died [summarizing]
  • This Man Got Cancer and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next [dramatic]
  • This Man Got Cancer and Died 50 Years Later [epic]

In the first case there is nothing to read it seems. A man got terminally ill and as expected he died.

In the second case the patient got cancer too but the outcome is left in the open. The headline even suggests that it’s an astounding or downright unbelievable outcome. Naturally we get curious and want to know what happened. What might be different from what we expect (that he will die of cancer)?

In the third case the man died too but 50 years later so apparently he either got cured or he was able to live with a tumor. We know the outcome that he died eventually but we wonder how he managed to stay alive for so long despite his illness. All three headlines could be used for the same story of an atypical cancer patient!

Hiding the Meat

I have to confess, I’m an aspiring vegetarian. What does that mean? One day I will overcome my meat addiction. Until then I eat more vegetables and less meat for the time being. When I don’t see meat, I rarely have appetite for it. When it’s on the plate and smells tasty, I’ll eat it. Despite or because of that I will use the meat metaphor in a way everybody understands it. Hiding the meat may work when it comes to eating habits but not for writing. When you hide the meat in a headline, the potential readers will skip your article and get the meat elsewhere.

What do I mean by hiding the meat? Let me show you an example headline:

  • Four Types of Impressive How to Content

It’s almost a real life example, just slightly adapted so that it doesn’t look too rare. Now what’s the problem here? Just count the words. It takes all the 7 words for you to know what the article is dealing with in the first place. To make it clearer, let’s take a look at the representation of this headline as the reader’s brain perceives it:

[fluff][fluff][fluff][fluff][fluff][fluff][meat]

You might argue that nobody cares for the word order as long as there is a juicy keyword in it. Here’s it’s “content”. Sadly usability studies have shown that the average person just skim the first 6 words of a headline before making the decision to read on or not. Thus you need to provide some meat early on. I love the “colon” solution:

  • How to Content: The Four Types that Impress Most

Do you notice the changes? Despite all the fluff I made, the headline was enticing enough to get more people to read the post actually. On a side note: the second version will work far better in search too because the relevant keyphrase is upfront. I also removed the biased adjective “impressive” and replaced it with a much stronger and truthful verb “that impress”.

Over-Promising

How many ultimate guides have you read in recent years? I have seen many. I’ve ignored most of late because they tend to over-promise and in many cases mistake quantity for quality. There are at least two pitfalls with the “ultimate guide” headline formula (even I have advised to use in the past): not meeting the expectations and meeting the expectations with such an amount of information that you might overwhelm potential readers. Besides, the original meaning of ultimate is the last one. Is this guide really the last one on the topic? Probably not. So you can’t successfully keep the promise.

I have over-promised in many less severe cases in the past too. “The Best [Insert Your Topic Here] Blogs”, “The Top 10 [Insert Your Topic Here] Tools” are typical headline formulas probably every second blogger has used by now. After a few years of blogging, I realized that I would lie to my readers if I use my own judgement to tell them something is the “best”. There is no objective way of determining what the best is. What’s best for me may be under-performing for you and vice versa.

Readers have become smarter over the years.

When someone claims to be the best-seo-company-india.biz, they probably won’t accept that claim as truthful. Similarly, headlines are treated with even ever increasing grain of salt. That’s the reason I have chosen to become more modest and more truthful over the years. I’d rather blog about “Some of The Best [Insert Your Topic Here] Blogs to Subscribe” and admit that I can’t really figure out any of them as better than those best blogs. At the same time I may still rank on Google with such a headline because it has best [x] blog in it too.

Repeating Formulas

Over the years there have been literally hundreds or even thousands of posts that offered us “proven headline formulas” for social media, landing pages, massive traffic, etc. In the early years of my SEO 2.0 blog, I have been advocating a lot of such formulas myself. Once they became mainstream and everybody started using them, readers got tired of the same old boring headlines though. You’ll find top 10 this, top 10 that everywhere. Even very specific headline formulas like the above mentioned “ultimate guide” became so wide-spread that people started overlooking them.

Publishers are still clinging to the recent past of the proven headline formulas. They have seen the proof, maybe even proven themselves that it worked. However, when there’re 1000 similar articles later, the formulas might not work as desired anymore despite all that proof from three years ago.

Even A/B testing results can be misleading.

Why? Well, just think more about it: 50 clicked the “Leading Design Blogs to Subscribe to” while 100 clicked the “Top 10 Design Blogs” headline. Based on these numbers can you really tell whether these people actually believed what they read? Can you distinguish whether web-savvy users clicked them (probably not) or just newbies who didn’t know which one would be better? Can the A/B test show you how much trust your blog has lost because of missing at least three design blogs that would deserve to be listed in a top 10?

Things to Consider Before You Invest in a Social Media Platform

Things to Consider Before You Invest in a Social Media Platform

Maybe you have set up your website or blog, and now you want to get on the social media bandwagon. These platforms are excellent places to gather a new audience and get more people attracted to your website.

There are many types of social media and each of those platforms come with their unique benefits and drawbacks. The audience of each platform can be different, too. As such trying to find the right platform for your business could turn out to be very difficult.

Selecting the right social media platform

It is extremely important that you select the correct social media platform right from the beginning. This decision will affect your content and brand like no other.

Before you take a decision, consider the following factors:

  • The platform’s unique audience, including its demography
  • The kind of content utilised in that specific platform
  • The skills required to present the content
  • The user numbers that can be reached by using that specific platform

Different social media platforms

The major social media platforms are discussed below:

Google+

Most people find Google+ to constitute a harder learning curve compared to other platforms. However, learning to use this platform has many rewards which justify the effort. It could be a tad harder to connect to people (this depends on your profession), but Google+ has main benefits of a number of social media platforms.

  • It will help you to connect with people
  • It helps you to share information with the audience
  • Establishes your expertise
  • It helps you find an audience in your category

It is apparent that Google+ has covered all the basics. It also has a number of other special features that may benefit you immensely.

1. Benefits of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

One of the principal benefits of associating with Google+ is SEO. From a business point of view, this feature alone trumps other social media platforms. It is to be remembered that it is a Google product and Google search is the most widely used search engine in the world. It is clear that sharing posts on Google+ assists the SEO increase of your website.

2. Google Authorship and the Publisher Tags

When you are involved in the workings of Google+, it is important that you apply Authorship to blog posts that are written there. This proves that you are the author, and you can post a little picture of yourself adjacent to the post as well. You can use plugins or simply manually apply the Authorship to each post.

3. Communities

Google+ Communities are an excellent method to interact with people on the same wavelength as you are. It is easy to verify whether there are relevant communities on site before you invest. Do make sure that the community remains active with shares, comments and likes.

4. Local Business

Google+ really helps you with this one. It offers local listings and business pages.

Twitter

If you want to get involved on Twitter, do keep in mind that this social media platform changes very rapidly. Twitter also delivers a number of unique benefits. One of them is that it is very easy to connect to a large mass of people. In case you want to make contact with an influencer, Twitter is frequently the simplest route to achieve this.

1. Finding new leads and connections

Connecting to people is very easy on Twitter. There is also the etiquette where people frequently “follow back”. If you monitor the hashtags and the terms applicable to your area of expertise, then it is possible to connect with probable new customers and leads very easily.

2. Twitter openness

Everything on Twitter is open to the public and can be easily found. If you own a business, remember that anybody can read what you post on Twitter. If customers complain about your service through the Twitter account, the problems can be read by the whole world. The upside of this is fast response and super-easy communication. You can resolve a situation extremely quickly. It is regarded as one of the most economical customer service channels.

Facebook

It is the biggest social media platform and for many, the first place to begin a social media campaign. Compared to other platforms, Facebook users spend more time on the site. However, recent changes has made it difficult for businesses to gain publicity without paying the social media giant. Expenses can quickly notch up to high levels.

Pinterest

Pinterest is excellent for the visual niche. It is also increasingly utilised by websites and non-visual blogs when they want to share text centric information. This is made possible by sharing good quality images, where text is visible on the image, highlighting the post content.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place where like-minded individuals can connect. Since it is a platform geared towards professionals, it makes an excellent place for B2C and B2B connections.

It is important to know what you want before you select a social media platform. Audience outreach plays an important role in the selection and the potential benefits must be considered, too.

How to Write Compelling Copies that Convert Every Time

How to Write Compelling Copies that Convert Every Time

Short attention span, a legion of web distractions, a plethora of competitors waiting to grab your target audience – the troubles with copywriting are numerous! However, that doesn’t change the fact that you need a compelling copy to meet your business goals. So how does one write a copy that can brave all the troubles and is coercive enough to convert?

By following the nine best practices of copywriting, you will be able to improve conversion rates and rule the roost –  

Possess clarity of purpose

Before you begin writing, ensure that you know exactly what your conversion goal is. A clear idea about purpose of the copy is essential to optimise it for favourable actions and facilitate conversion.

Say you want site visitors to sign-up for your newsletter, purpose of the copy will be to ensure that visitors agree with your offer and take a favourable action (that is, sign-up). So the copy should, therefore, answer the question “why should I sign up?” from the view of a potential customer. It should also help visitors evaluate the pains and gains of signing up in a manner that outweighs the benefits.

The copy, which would have normally said something generic like “get most recent updates straight to your email” will now be more purposeful. You will be compelled to get into the details of why a visitor should sign-up (example – to get case studies, podcasts, how-to videos, surveys and tests results) and how the pain of signing-up (filling up a short, two-section form) will surpass the gains.

There are three good questions you can ask yourself to ensure that your copy fulfills its purpose – why, what and how, and in that order.

  • The why questions for target customers – a) Why would they say yes. b) Why would they say no.
  • The what question for site visitors – a) What information will they need to say yes. b) What information will make them understand that the gains outweigh the pains. c) What will best convey the value of my offer.
  • The how question for you – Specific to this purpose, how do I write a compelling copy?

Mind your language

You know what irritates customers the most? Being sold to! Unless the purpose of your copy is to sell a product or service, you don’t want to come across as overly self-promotional. Even while writing sales copies, avoid being too “salesy”. Take care of the language – the specific words and phrases you use in the copy to ensure that they do not push prospects away.

One good example is how all major e-commerce players choose to use “add to cart” instead of “buy now”. The latter carries a heavy sense of commitment that often pushes customers away. The former is easier to follow since customers feel they’re not being sold to and can back off whenever they wish to. “Buy now/purchase now” and other similar phrases have in fact been found to reduce conversion rates significantly and are best avoided.

Win them over with the right words

Certain words and phrases conjure more positive response than others. Five of the most powerful words a copywriter can use are – 1) New, 2) You, 3) Free, 4)Instantly and, 5) Because. Ensure that you make good use of them in headings, headlines, first and last paragraphs, CTAs and email subject lines.

Here are 20 more words that were shortlisted by the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy’s as most influential words –

Suddenly, Announcing, Startling, Remarkable, Amazing, Introducing, Revolutionary, Now, Improvement, Sensational, Miracle, Wanted, Offer, Magic, Quick, Compare, Easy, Bargain, Challenge and Hurry. 

Keep it simple

It is never a good idea to sacrifice clarity for creativity. Notice how none of the powerful copy-words are complex or fancy? Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication that you can add to your copy and it works to good measures. Simplicity also applies to how you present the copy. A good idea is to use bite-sized nibbles of information.

Use numbers, bullets, short paragraphs, italics and bold texts to make information easy on the eye and digestible. Use a white background and publish text in black or another solid, calm color. Remove unnecessary distractions around the copy on your webpage.

Say it with a picture

It’s not only words and words are not all you have to take site-visitors’ hearts away. Pictures have been proven to increase conversion rates. Add relevant images on your webpage wherever applicable. Follow best practices when using images – relevant hero image, no decorative pictures, eyes/arms of the hero image should point towards your CTA and so on.

Be the one with the benefits (and not just solutions)

Everybody offers solutions! Customer-centric benefits are what separate you from competition. Combination selling is the key to converting. Dress your features in such a way that they turn into benefits. “ Highest speed in the market so that you can ….”, instead of just saying “Highest speed ever”. Similarly, just before the CTA, present some incentives for favourable action in the form of benefits. “Join now to get it before everybody else.” “Become an insider.” 

Be the one with relationships

You can humanise your copy with the use of an affectionate, conversational tone and small stories/examples/case studies with which your audience can relate. Human beings are hard-wired for connection. When calling visitors to action, appeal to their sense of belonging with phrases like “Come along”, “Join 5000+ of your friends”, “Become a member”, or “Become one of us”.

If you have received reviews and testimonials from customers in the past, use them to build relationships. For instance, if your B2B product allows smaller businesses to store, share as well as collaborate files over the Internet and you have a testimonial where a client mentioned that the product saved them from the pain of mailing files constantly, use it in the copy. “Put an end to the pain of constantly mailing files backward and forward.”

Remember: copy is a means and not the end

Optimise the entire page on which you’ll host the copy, with the goal of displaying the same message unanimously. A good idea is to plan all the webpages beforehand and then allocate resources to each page such that they align with the central value you want to convey.

Always be testing

One size never fits all. Not in a marketer’s world at least. Test, test and test your copy with different control elements to ensure that your page is constantly updated and optimised for more conversions.

Why Your Links Are Not Helping You To Rank High In Google [OSEO-06]

Why Your Links Are Not Helping You To Rank High In Google [OSEO-06]

My mission with “Oversimplified SEO” video series is to help you guys get your website to the top of Google SERPs.

I started off with explaining some basic SEO concepts:

  • How To Rank #1 In Google For ANY Keyword
  • How To Rank In Google Without Links
  • How To Get Powerful Links That Help You Rank In Google
  • How To Retain Your Top Position In Google For EVER!

And honestly I was almost running out of the “basics” that I could share with you.

But luckily, after watching my videos, you guys started asking great questions!

And today’s video is purely based on one of these questions:

Why Your Links Are Not Helping You To Rank High In Google

NOTE: if you’re enjoying my “Oversimplified SEO” series I invite you to subscribe to Ahrefs YouTube channel.Here’s a quick recap of what I talk about in this video:

You might have a reputable authority website with lots of links, but some lousy competitor will still outrank you for a keyword that you wish to rank for.

First of all, check out what keyword are both sites (pages) optimized for.

There’s a chance that competitor’s site is well optimized for that particular keyword, while yours is optimized for some other one.

But if your on-page SEO is pretty much identical, it’s time to examine the backlink profiles.

Check out the anchor text distribution on both backlink profiles. The anchors of your backlinks give hints to Google as to what your website is relevant to.

The odds are that you’re sending wrong signals to Google, and that is why it ranks you for some keyword that you didn’t wish to rank for.

Sounds confusing?

Please watch my video for more details. I had a great example to show you and hopefully I managed to explain this case well.

PS: I would love to get more SEO-related questions from you! Even if they are pretty advanced, I’ll try to “OVERsimplify” them in my videos. So shoot me!