Guest Blogging Hacks from a Guest Blogger

helpful tipsThis title probably seems all wrong because no one should be “just a guest blogger,” but even if there was “just a guest blogger” he/she shouldn’t be using any kinds of hacks or shortcuts (at least not according to Matt Cutts). Nevertheless, we all know that guest bloggers still exist and guest bloggers have little tricks they use to be successful.

It’s true that guest blogging should be about more than links and shouldn’t be your only tactic when it comes to SEO, I agree with this completely, but even when you’re following these rules and doing everything right it helps to have a few hacks to get your by. As a full time “guest blogger” (who is also an editor, in charge of outreach, analyzing data, following trends, etc.), I know a few of these tricks and I know how helpful they can be, so let’s get right to it!

Top Guest Blogging Hacks Only a Guest Blogger Would Know

You still have some of your obvious guest blogging rules (put out quality content and make sure you edit being number one), but below are some tips that I’ve found you only learn from experience:

  • Have an article ready to go when you pitch your ideas, just in case.

It’s always nice if an editor has something to work with right off the bat. This shows that you’re serious and shows that the process doesn’t have to take too long. Always offer to send other story ideas, but send something so he/she can get a feel for your writing right away.

  • If you have a good portfolio, mention that before you even utter the word “guest post” (this includes in the subject line).

Many times an editor will be so annoyed with people asking to gust post that he/she won’t even continue reading an email if it seems like that’s where the message is going. However, if you have a good portfolio and have worked with good sites in the past, chances are that editor will want to work with you. You’re the one out of hundreds, remember, so it’s best to get all of that out there before you mention guest blogging. I usually use the subject heading “HigherVisibility Inquiry” as opposed to “Guest Post for Your Site,” and I’ve found this really works.

  • Don’t mention links back to your website at all. Put your author bio at the bottom of your article and be done with it—by now most good editors understand that you want one link back to your company.

This point is coming directly from Matt Cutts himself. In his announcement about guest blogging for spam, he gave an example pitch that talked about needing a link and how the company was willing to pay for it. Even if you’re not necessarily asking to buy a link, it’s best not to mention it at all. Talk to an editor about your experience and what your article is about, and let the obvious speak for itself.

  • It’s who you know more than what you know. Name-drop and ask for introductions.

If you have a close relationship with one editor who happens to know another editor that you want to work with, see if you can get an introduction. This will go much further than sending out an email on your own, and it’s usually well received in the SEO world. It’s also not a good idea to name-drop in your pitch unless you clear it with the person you’re mentioning, but name-drop website names anytime you can!

  • You’re going to get ignored, but keep those sites on the back burner. On that same note, a follow-up email goes a long way.

I oftentimes find that a website will get back to me after I’ve sent a follow-up email. It shows I’m serious and it gives them a reason to actually respond (after all, a spammer isn’t going to send a follow-up email). If a site ignores you after a follow-up, record that and then try to circle back in 6 months. It could be under new management or remember you from before, which again, shows you’re really serious.

The Takeaway for Small Business Owners

This might be an article catered toward writers, but even if you’re a small business owner some of this information can be helpful. By understanding how guest blogging works and some of the techniques that go into being successful, you will be able to weed out some of the better writers out there.

Are you a guest blogger with any tricks you’d like to share? Any stories you’ve learned from in the past? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock marekuliasz

Social Media Storm: Responding to Negative Comments

social mediaIf you run a business you likely have a presence on several social media channels, if not, then you should! Don’t be taken aback when you receive negative comments via social media. If it has not happened to you yet, congratulations! But sooner or later it will. I mean let’s face it, we are all human and we cannot please everyone.

In an ideal world everyone would have a pleasant experience but everyone is different and my idea of a pleasant experience and your idea of one may be totally different, therefore we would give two very different reviews of the customer experience.

Negativity Happens

It will all go down a bit like this: you will be working in your office when you suddenly get a notification from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. At first this is going to be exciting because someone commented on your business profile, right? Yes, that’s right, after all, social media is all about engagement so you are absolutely ready to engage with your customer. However, as you read the comment, you are totally crushed. This person had a negative experience and they are not happy with your brand at all. The more you read the worse you feel.

You should be very concerned for your brand about this negative experience, BUT you also CANNOT take this personally. The last thing you need is to take the comment personally, lash out at the customer, and then have to backtrack trying to repair yet ANOTHER negative experience. Or worse, start a viral case of bad PR for your business!

The important thing for your brand is to be prepared for these negative comments BEFORE they happen. So let’s take a look at some easy steps to responding to negative comments on social media.

3 Steps to be Prepared for the Social Media Negativity Storm:

1. Have a plan in place.

This is the absolute most important step of this process. If you have no plan in place the only plan you do have in place is a giant FAIL! Without a plan the chances of everything going completely wrong and out of control are much higher. To combat this, go ahead and take some time to sit down and work out your plan for negative comments on social media. You should consider having a direct customer service link for the customer such as a direct phone number they can call and speak to someone personally or an email address. Perhaps it will be a specific person dedicated to handling these complaints. Let it be known who that person is. This adds a personal touch and makes the customer feel like they have an advocate on their side. You should already know in your plan what you are willing to offer them in order to correct the situation. This could be a discount, refund, gift card, etc. Whatever it takes to make them happy and turn this negative into a positive.

2. Respond on the fly!

You need to respond to this comment ASAP! The best response time would be within minutes of the comment. If not within minutes you should at least be able to within hours. And, you better respond within 24 hours because by that point you are pushing it. I don’t think anyone is too busy to be able to address a customer service situation. If you are then you need to have someone dedicated to the customer experience. Remember, the longer the comment sits there with no response, the longer the problem sits there festering, continuing to boil to the point of another negative comment or lash out against your brand.

When you do take the time to respond to their comment, stay calm. Let them know you care about their situation and be courteous. You want to let this customer know that you are truly sorry about their negative experience and that you are committed to giving them a positive customer experience on behalf of yourself and your brand. Then you need to quickly get the correspondence offline, out of the public eye. This can be handled via private messages, email, phone calls, etc. utilizing that dedicated customer service person we were talking about.

3. Do not get combative and attack them.

If you need to actually release a statement on social media regarding a specific situation, stay calm, courteous, and positive. Always show your brand’s dedication to a positive customer experience. DO NOT attack the customer or undermine the legitimacy of their complaint. Remember what I said about different people having different opinions about the measurement of a positive customer experience. No matter how big or small, a customer and their concerns should always be important to your business. If you attack and/or downplay their complaint, this will very well likely lead to even more problems with the situations quickly escalating into a PR nightmare for your brand.

By following the above steps, you will be able to minimize the chances of the situation escalating while maximizing the chances of changing the mind of the upset customer. You will also demonstrate to other customers and potential customers that you can handle their frustrations in a professional, helpful matter. These same steps are also useful for customer reviews on Google, Yelp, Foursquare, etc.

You Cannot Ignore

Before we wrap this up, let’s take a look at a major question that you may be thinking: Why can’t I just ignore the negative comments? It can be tempting to just ignore negative comments, especially on social media, and hope they go away. And if you did, you would not be alone; people do it all the time.

Here’s the thing, by ignoring negative comments, your brand is missing out on a prime customer service experience opportunity. Over half of the customers whose complaints do get a response end up with positive feelings about the brand.

Keep in mind, you are not just responding for the upset customer’s sake; social media followers who see that you are ignoring customer complaints will conclude that you don’t really care about customer service and you could lose scores of customers without even knowing it.

The good news is that, by following these steps –having a plan, responding quickly, and avoiding attacking the complainer– you can minimize the damage of a negative comment on social media and prove that you provide the excellent customer service your brand claims to.

Image Credit: Shutterstock Bloomua

AuthorityLabs Now Has AdWords Volume Data and a New API

We have been hard at work on several new features here at AuthorityLabs. We take all customer requests into consideration. When those requests make sense based on our current road map, we do what we can to make sure they are implemented and improve everyone’s experience.

AdWords Volume Data Now Available

Exact match data from AdWords is now being displayed in the volume column of our interface. This is the same data that you would see in the Keyword Planner tool and will be updated regularly. These volume metrics, coupled with ranking data and our universal result reporting are key to determining campaign priorities. Sign in or sign up and check it out.

AuthorityLabs Reporting

API Access for Enterprise Accounts

We know that API access for our interface accounts is something many of you have shown interest in and now it’s here! All paid Enterprise accounts can request access to this new API. Documentation can be found at http://docs.authoritylabs.apiary.io/. If you would like to get started, contact us and we will enable the API on your account.

 

Interview with Matt Siltala: See Him Speak at @Pubcon NOLA

Matt-SiltalaMatt Siltala is the Owner/President of Avalaunch Media and he will be speaking at Pubcon NOLA on Tuesday March 18, 11:30a 12:45p in Salon C. You can also see him on Tuesday from 4-5pm in Salon F for Site Reviews – Focusing on Content Marketing and Development.

Matt is well known and respected for his experience and knowledge about content marketing and social media. Because he is such a brilliant guy we thought we would pick his brain a bit about content marketing and see what we could learn.

You are speaking at Pubcon NOLA about Content Marketing. Can you give us some hints on what you will be discussing?

As most people know, my company, Avalaunch Media specializes in visual content marketing. Things like infographics, interactive graphics, videos & motion graphics. I am obsessed with visual content and these are the things I will be getting into during my presentation. I will be sharing best practices, case studies and tips for staying ahead of the competition.

What content marketing mistakes are you hoping businesses will avoid making in 2014?

The thing that frustrates me the most is people putting up 300 word blog posts with no thought and calling it good in the content marketing department. They don’t use imagery, they don’t answer questions their community is answering, and they are not being helpful. Understanding the things that people are wanting to consume in your specific industry is key, and then coming up with an editorial calendar around that is crucial, and sticking to that calendar is even more critical. You will build up a better audience when people know they can turn to you for consistent information.

Which content marketing strategy do you feel people still don’t quite understand?

I think the fact that people look at things like infographics or videos as “tactics”. They are not tactics, they are part of marketing and an overall strategy when done right. You don’t just do “an infographic” hoping it gets you all the links or brand mentions you could ever want or need, because you typically will fail every time doing that. A plan needs to be in place whether your content is PPTs, white papers, memes, ebooks, infographics or video it is important to remember none of these are “tactics” and that they are all part of “marketing”.

Your company, Avalaunch, makes many beautiful and effective infographics. Can you tell us what you think has to be improved when it comes to infographics?

avalaunchA story needs to be told, and this is where I think a lot of infographics fail. They are thrown together too quickly and they are not thought out or researched out well. Big fonts and big numbers is not data visualization.

When you have a story board you can give your infographic designer that is easy to understand and follow, you will make that data so easy to consume and the public will love it and share it until the cows come home.

What are 3 general recommendations you could make to any business in regards to content marketing?

First one is make sure you do good research, second understand the social network or community that you want the content do well on and third stick to your editorial calendar. Again, consistency is the key here. I often talk about content marketing being like a game of baseball. Most of the time you are going to hit singles and doubles, but every once in a while you will hit a home run or a grand slam. Sticking to an editorial calendar will help build a community so you have more chances for home runs.

If people want to learn more about effective content marketing strategies what resources would you recommend?

In all honesty my best resources are paying attention to the major social networks that are out there. I really understand what is doing well on major social networks like Pinterest & Instagram I would pay attention how imagery is being used for example, since these are very visual networks. I recognize what kind of content is being shared the most on specific networks and do my best to create the same type of sharable content. I am not copying what they are doing, only getting ideas and figuring out how to make that work for my clients communities. So the recommendation would be to pay attention to top content that is being passed around and shared on major social networks.

Do you have any recommendations for Pubcon NOLA attendees?

My biggest recommendation to anyone attending is to make sure and say hi to the presenters. They are normal human beings just like you and most of them. I’ve learned that if you buy them a beer, they will just about tell you anything. Also, plan out the sessions you want to attend, with multiple tracks going on, deciding on the spot which session to go to could cause you difficulties. Oh and bring plenty of extra battery power. Most of all have fun and don’t spend all your time in the conference center, see where dinners are taking place and where the parties are going on at and enjoy the city!

Fun Questions – (conference fodder)

Biggest Pet Peeve – being asked what my biggest pet peeve is. :-)
Mac or PC? – Mac all the way baby
Beach or Snow? -  I don’t know what this thing you call snow is??
Beer, Wine or Neither? – I am boring – don’t drink.
Star Wars or Star Trek? – Star Wars
Beer or Wine? – I think you were drinking when you put this together cause you already asked that above :-)

Thanks Matt!

We really appreciate your time and awesome responses. We will see you on March 18th! If you haven’t been able to hear Matt speak yet I highly recommend you go see him at Pubcon! You can also check out his past presentations on Slideshare.

Facebook Makes Changes to Facebook Email

Facebook is posting the following announcement:

“UserName, we want to let you know about an upcoming change to your Facebook email address: UserName@facebook.com.

When someone sends you an email at that address, it will no longer go to your Messages on Facebook. Instead, the email will be forwarded to the primary email address on your account: username@whatever.com

We’re making this change because most people haven’t been using their Facebook email addresses, and we wanted to make it easier to view all your emails in one place. Plus, we can focus on improving our mobile messaging experience for everyone.

Learn more about your Facebook email.

facebookTo be perfectly honest I was quite irritated when Facebook created their “email address” and didn’t even ask me if I wanted it. I have not utilized it in anyway and I know no one that has. I think Facebook email is/was essentially wasted time, energy and money.

Ask Us What We Think!

I think all social networks, and search engines, could save wasted time, energy and money by asking the users what they would like or not like. If you are not asking your user what they like or don’t like you are missing out on valuable information that could help your company create something amazing and useful.

Marketers are constantly talking about the importance of user feedback. TV and movie studios use test audiences all the time. Product producers use testers and get opinions. What I don’t understand is why social networks and search engines, both are used pretty much non-stop, don’t ask their users what they would need, want or would like or dislike!

Obviously social networks and search engines do a lot of things right, but I think they fail at a lot of things because they fail to get the input of their users. What do you think?

 

Friday Humor, Because You Deserve It

It is Friday and we have all had a long, exhausting work week. So, I thought I would share some funny videos because you deserve some smiles and laughter today. As you probably know Jimmy Fallon took over the Tonight Show on Monday night and he has some done some hilarious things this week. I thought I would share some of them with you. Happy Friday!

Dancing…I can do none of these.

Rapper’s Delight

The Fabulous Will Ferrell Figure Skating

A Remix of R. Kelly’s Ignition

Something Social Geeks Will Understand