Left and right, entrepreneurs and businesses are using blogs to help build their businesses. From transparency blogs, which follow a journey, to straight up authority resources, people still like to read, and content marketers who can give them something nice to look at and valuable to read will have no problem expanding their reach with a blog.
While there are a number of ways to start gaining initial traction and readership, few are more effective – provided you’re willing to put in the time – than a genuine guest post. Guest posting doesn’t have the SEO and backlink umph that it used to, but it certainly is still highly effective as a means of leveraging an already established audience or readership to help grow your own.
Unfortunately, the way that many people go about guest posting is, well, just plain awful. They reach out with cold emails, beg, plead, or send half-baked ideas to editors and bloggers that have way too much on their minds to entertain the thought of babysitting someone who isn’t willing to put in the effort. Let’s learn how to overcome that.
Guest posting is about leverage
Leverage is a two-way street, and when you’re guest posting, you have to understand that you need to be able to offer another blog owner enough value that they are willing to give you their readership. Essentially, they’re risking their audience and credibility by letting someone else pen something for them, so they need to be convinced it’s worth their while.
This generally comes down to two factors:
Can you write as well and generate as good of a post as their readership is used to, and
Is your own audience, who you will be promoting your guest post to, large enough to help garner the blog owner some new owners.
The first is qualitative, and something that some people will just be naturally better at, and to develop with practice will take lots of time and study. The second is much more easily measurable and readily apparent: if you pitch a blog post to someone who gets 10,000 daily readers, and your social media followings are hovering in the 100-200 range, they probably aren’t going to see how putting the time in to partner with you is worthwhile for them, as there isn’t a large potential to gain new readers.
Instead, work on a stepping ladder type approach, in which you work with those who are just a small notch or two above you. If you get an average of 20 shares or so on each of your posts when you write it, look for blogs in the 50-100 per post range, this is a level of engagement that is above your own and is growing, but it’s not excessive and doesn’t indicate someone who is going to ignore you completely.
As you progress with this technique, you will be able to reach out to larger and larger bloggers each time, and before long you yourself just might be one of the big guys.
Not to sound bigoted, but let’s just face the facts: some customers are more valuable than others. There! I said it! More specifically, customers who can be classified as “early adopters,” especially in the realm of digital technology, are major players in the success or failure of a 21st century business and/or product. Early adopters are so important because they’re often also your influences; they run blogs, Youtube channels, and everything they say has triple or quadruple-digit retweets on twitter. Get on the good side of an early adopter, and they can bring with them hundreds or thousands of average users. In some writings on the adoption curve and life cycle of new products in our day and age, early adopters are touted as those who can guide a new business across the “chasm.” The chasm is the period of uncertainty where it is uncertain whether a product will make the jump from something a few people try out to a technology that is adopted and integrated by the majority.
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can help your products and businesses be as attractive to early adopters as possible, and how you can best leverage that attention.
1) Find a genuine need. Depending on where you’re at, this might be advice coming too late, but the first step to getting your product into the hands of eager early adopters is to make sure you’re filling a genuine need. People have “cool” ideas all the time, but that doesn’t mean they’re ideas that will come to be known as “needed.” Sometimes, however, your big idea can simply be an improvement of another system (think: Facebook usurping Myspace), however the barrier to entry with these ideas is higher because your product has to be so good it entices people to drop something they’ve grown accustom to.
2) Have a proper incentive system. Don’t just offer to give people free products, give something above and beyond that. For example, you might take a note from the gaming industry: Often times, these companies will offer their early adopters exclusive titles for their profiles or unique character looks called “skins” that won’t be available ever again after the initial testing or adopting period. Think about what rewards could be relevant to your audience in the same way. Maybe you’re launching a mobile ecommerce platform and you offer “veteran seller” badges or other marks of credibility to those who sign up and start using your site within the first 3 months, etc.
3) Communication will make or break you. The world we market in today is one of two-way communication. Social media. You know, that kind of thing. You should be regularly reaching out to and interacting with your potential early adopter audiences through the channels that they use most. Beyond recruitment, this also expands to post-adoption feedback and support. Early adopters will likely be using these channels to either get in touch with you directly or to broadcast their opinions about your product or service. Either way, you should be monitoring social and traditional channels all the time to respond in a timely, appropriate way.
With the coming of the mobile revolution being heralded for years, it seems we’re finally here (even though it came in with a whimper, more than a bang). With that said, it’s now critical that every marketer that wants to stay competitive be not only findable, but viewable on mobile devices. Mobile devices make up a greater portion of all searches each and every year, and we’re finally starting to see some viable means in terms of mobile purchasing to warrant the push to either responsive websites, native apps or both.
But what’s the difference?
What is a Responsive Website?
A responsive website (or more accurately, responsive web design) simply means that the site is coded and designed in such a way that the content will adjust to fit on whatever size screen it is being viewed on. So if you’re looking at a site on your 27-inch desktop monitor, it will look great, but if you visit the site on your 3-inch mobile device, it will also display correctly.
Responsive websites eliminate the need to have a dedicated site built for mobile (in addition to your standard website). The coding in the site responds to the device it is being viewed from and tells the browser exactly how the content should be displayed so there are no errors and functionality is preserved. If your audience connects to your site via a number of devices (e.g. computer desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, mobile phone, etc.), a responsive website is a critical investment.
Benefits of responsive web design include:
– Your site is indexed as mobile-friendly by search engines, while still maintaining all of its normal indexing
– All of your updates to your website can be done in one place and show up on any viewing device
– Your site becomes flexible, able to reach all viewers no matter the device they are using
– All of your updates are seen by anyone who views the page and are not limited or restricted by device
What is a Mobile App – or Native Mobile App?
Mobile app and native mobile app are two terms used interchangeably for the same thing. A mobile app is an application designed specifically for use on mobile devices. It is an entirely separate program from your website and instead of being stored on servers, it is downloaded by the user and stored on their smartphone.
What this does is it allows users to connect even when they don’t have internet access. This is due to the fact that the app is stored locally (though some mobile apps will require internet). That means native mobile apps grant faster access for users than mobile (or responsive) websites do.
In addition, mobile apps have permissions that can help your sales such as access to the phone’s camera or speaker. This makes it easier for customers to interact with you. The downside here is that native mobile apps require different operating systems for Android and iOS phones, so it does cost some money to develop them…twice.
There are also a few more downsides and upsides to mobile apps:
– While faster than websites on mobile devices, mobile apps have fixed layouts meaning you must design one for each operating system
– Your audience for mobile apps is limited to people who have smartphones
– Search engines don’t index mobile apps because they aren’t stored on the internet, but rather on the user’s phone
– Updates can be tricky because the user must download them for updates to appear. Not everyone does this, so your newer content might not gain as much traction
– It is both expensive and time-consuming to develop native mobile apps and then get them approved by the app stores (Google Play and the Apple App Store)
Ideally, you would have both, but for now, a responsive website seems like the safer plan for internet marketers until your business demands a mobile app.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the state of SEO 4+ years ago was laughable, a joke, if you will. Google’s own search results were so easily manipulated with “backlink packages” and the like that it was straightforward to a fault to get a new site ranking, even for a competitive keyword, provided you had the money (or the time).
Over the past few years, Google – and other search engines, too! – has wised up and started making it more difficult to game the system. While some lamented the downfall of blackhat, spammy techniques, it was a game that was doomed from the beginning, and an equal number of people recognized the value in Google’s new incarnation.
Right now, the social and link cues that tell Google a page is important and relevant are more closely aligned than ever with the actual relevance and genuine popularity of that page. This has been Google’s goal for years, so it’s no surprised that they’ve worked extremely hard to move this direction as quickly as possible. I’m sure they’re quite happy with themselves, and they should be.
Is there still some way to game the system? I’m sure, but it’s not worth it, because every loophole gets closed, and at a rate that is gaining speed with every single day.
So, if the old kinds of link building aren’t effective, what does work?
Social cues are big.
Social media is the currency of a generation right now, and content that is blowing up with links, likes, shares, and retweets on social media is going to make a blip on Google’s radar. Google knows that these are often real indicators of people thinking something is valuable and worthwhile, and they’re all about that positive end user experience.
Leverage and squeeze every drop out of your social networks. Repurpose your tweets and posts to help appeal to different people and at different times. Try scheduling posts to go out on social at various times of day, with different images, and try alternating your headline with a quote from within the page itself.
Mobile is king, for now.
While we can’t know exactly what the future holds, one thing is for sure: Google is big on the mobile trend. It’s for good reason, too, seeing that internet usage on phones has skyrocketed over the past few years, meaning that websites who are responsive to various screen sizes and who don’t have a crappy mobile experience are going to be rightfully propped up in the search results.
This trend is also true of tablets, and any new device that comes out and begins to gain popularity.
Don’t stop building links.
Backlinks are still a big deal, but the focus now is on the quality of the links you’re bringing in. When it comes to lone links with suspiciously consistent anchor text, your efforts are going to get ignored at best or earn you a penalized site at worst. Instead, focus on building contextual links through creating products and services so good other people write about you, through stellar guest posting gigs, and by leveraging the press.
Recently, content marketing has been all the rage. It isn’t that it’s only now that content marketing is starting to be effective, but more so that larger, more traditional media and advertising powerhouses are finally starting to take the trend seriously.
Content marketing, for several years now, has been the true language of the blogging community, and the businesses who were smart enough to narrow in on and take advantage of these networks.
Content marketing itself rests on one of the founding principles that most of you reading this will understand: providing value before asking for it.
Content marketing also has major crossover with “relationship marketing,” which is what we’re going to get into today. Specifically, those who have worked with content marketing have also found value in maintaining a blog or similar platform to regularly share content with and grow their audiences through.
Guest blogging is the act of posting on someone else’s blog, largely in the hopes of getting some attention and exposure for your own web property. The problem, however, lies in how to reframe that goal in a way that it becomes mutually beneficial.
If it’s your first time trying to land a guest blogging gig, you need to understand that these relationships are all about leverage: What can you offer someone else? What are you getting in return? In order for your offer to write a piece for another blog (even if it’s really good) to be tempting, you need to make sure you frame it in the right way. Here are a few steps you can take to massively boost your chances of successfully integrating guest blogging into your content marketing strategy.
Identify blogs in your weight class or just above it. Look for blogs in your market than have similar audiences and are getting some social engagement and shares on their posts, but who are not yet massive.
Make contact in a helpful way. Do not just blurt out that you want a guest post and try and pitch cold via email. Instead, leave insight comments over a few days and interact with the blog owner on twitter or another social platform. Share their content to show you like it.
Make a careful pitch by asking permission via one of these platforms to reach out via email. Once you have the greenlight, send an email with your idea, and highlight why it would be well-received by their audience and what you will do to help share the piece and grow their blog.
Write something truly amazing. If you get the honor of having a guest post pitch accepted, do it justice and get invited back by really creating something special. Whatever time you put into researching and creating your own posts, double it. Go above and beyond and make an infographic or embedded slideshare to help out – that kind of thing.
Promote like your life depends on it in order to get the blog you’re working with the biggest return possible and show that partnering up with you was worthwhile.
Simple, yep. Easy? Well, you’ll be putting in some work, but it’s nearly always worth your time.