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The Cornerstones to Building a Successful Blog

Building a blog, whether for business or personal interests, has become more prevalent than ever.

A blog serves as the voice of your brand. It enables you to communicate your value, purpose, and insights to the world.

Successful Blogging

However, the entire world is not listening, nor willing to read your blog.

The fact of the matter is, only a very fine and narrow audience is interested in what you have to say. Being mindful of this fact is the first cornerstone to building a successful blog.

In the rest of this article, I will share with you the remaining cornerstones to creating an effective and successful blog that actually gets read by your target audience.

Focus Your Blog on a Specific Niche Topic

Too often, businesses and individuals create blogs about general topics of interest. Although you may have many different things that you want to say, too much topical overlap will diminish the degree of audience loyalty and attraction your blog could potentially have.

Take a moment to specify the niche in which you or your business is most proficient. Additionally, define the characteristics that reflect your target audience. What types of articles will they find most interesting (and keep them coming back for more?)

For example, let's say you're thinking about building a blog about cooking and sharing recipes. (Yeah, so does else everyone else with culinary aspirations.)

Instead, think about the qualities that will make your cooking blog very unique and interesting to a specific target audience. Can you focus on a specific cuisine, such as Thai recipes or plant-based nutrition? Furthermore, can you center your blog on "cooking channel" theme that entails weekly, 5-minute YouTube videos? Successful Blog Content

Start brainstorming how you can focus your blog on a very fine niche while retaining your passion and willingness to share your ideas. Your true audience will appreciate it, and remain loyal for the long-term.

Diversify Your Blog's Content

To reiterate the example in the last cornerstone - what forms of media and content can you integrate beyond text-based articles?

The best blogs are loaded with rich media, such as quality images, graphics, and videos. These forms of content offer a higher level of audience engagement. As a result, visitors are more inclined to share your blog posts, in addition to becoming loyal visitors themselves.

Think about ways in which you can diversify your blog's content within you technical capabilities. Not everyone has access to video recording equipment, so be honest and real with respect to your resources.

Be a Social Butterfly with Your Blog's Brand

Just a like a business, your blog also has a brand and voice of its own. To magnify your blog's voice to its fullest potential, it's paramount to be active on social media.

Successful Blogging Tips

Three of the most essential social media platforms are Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. These social networks have the highest volume of users with widespread interests.

If your blog is image intensive, then you may want to include Pinterest. If your blog is video intensive, then you definitely want to have a YouTube channel.

As more and more people share, like, +1, pin, or Tweet about your blog, the greater value your content will have. Not only does this make your content more prominently exposed on social media sites, but these "social signals" can empower your content's SEO potential.

In conclusion, you want to build your blog around a very focal topic. This will make it easier to generate quality traffic to your blog, as well as build a loyal audience both naturally and on social media.

By respecting these cornerstones of blog creation, you'll be well on your way to developing a successful web presence.

 

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group. Tyler is highly engaged in social media, organic SEO, and content marketing. You can email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net or follow him on Twitter.

Guest Blogging: Tips and Tricks for Your SEO Link Building Efforts

Search engine optimization is a house built on shifting sands at best. SEO's and online marketers have to constantly change tactics as they adapt to Google’s ever changing algorithm, and after the major Penguin and Panda updates rolled out there was a major scramble to once again refocus strategies away from spammy, black hat techniques. guest blogging for SEO link building

This has put guest blogging in the spot light as a great link building technique for SEO. However, this also means there is an immense amount of spam now associated with guest posting. In order to combat this and still get posts (and links) on high authority blogs, here are some tips and tricks that I use.

Be Real and Be Persistent

Webmasters and editors receive dozens of guest post submissions every day if they run an authority blog, and the sad truth is that 90% of what they receive is nothing more than bots emailing out thousands of emails or spammy link builders that don’t take the time of day to be personal. They simply find a blog that barely mentions guest posting, paste in their stock email, and usually forget to personalize it in any way.

Even if you take the time to write out a unique email every time, the odds are that you’ll still get lost in the shuffle - so try implementing these strategies into your outreach.

  • Make Jokes: Everyone knows you’re the next Louis C.K., so let your inner stand up shine when you outreach. Granted, you have to pick and choose your moments since not every niche and blog will be open to that kind of thing, but even a flat joke tailored to the site shows that you’re trying and not a bot.
  • Don’t Give Up: If you get a refusal then by all means, thank them for their time and move on. But if you don’t hear back at all then follow up at least two more times before giving up. I like to give the recipient 3-5 days before my first follow up attempt, then another 3-5 days before my last outreach attempt. Once again, on this last one don’t be afraid to try and be funny. “Hello?! Is anyone there?! I’m having flashbacks to 8th grade dances where nobody talked to me!” You’ll find that a surprising amount of people will get back to you after this last ditch outreach attempt with apologies of having not seen or original emails (yeah right).
  • Give Them Something: At this point, most bloggers know what’s up when it comes to guest blogging and link building, so showing a little love can go a long way. It tells the editor that you’re not completely selfish. Tweet and share some of their articles, even link back to a blog post of theirs if you can to get them some link juice too. At the very least, leave an insightful and engaging comment on one of their posts.

Keep the Reader in Mind at All Times

I’ve found that bloggers are more protective of their readers than some cow moose in the spring time. With that in mind, always put the site’s audience and readers in the forefront of your mind while trying to guest blog, especially when it comes to writing the content. Look at the titles already featured on the blog, and read a few too to get a sense of the style and tone of the pieces. Then write something unique to that blog that offers the readers useful information. If you wouldn’t be proud to run the post on your own site, then you shouldn’t be trying to get it on someone else’s to begin with.

Build Local Links

For local businesses, it can be difficult to start building links with guest posts, especially if you’re trying to stay relevant to your niche. However, when you start looking at local link building your “niche” starts to change.

My rule of thumb is that if you’re targeting niche websites to build links to, then go ahead and target national and international websites and focus on your broader keywords. But once you switch your focus from “online marketing” to “online marketing in [LOCATION]” then all of a sudden your niche moves away from “online marketing” and becomes “your location.” This means your target sites become any site that is locally focused, even if it’s a mom blog or catering service.

Of course, it’s best to keep your posts more tailored to your niche in order to keep the relevancy as high as possible. So a post titled “How Stay at Home Moms Can Engage in Online Marketing” might be a better title than your favorite chocolate chip recipe (go ahead and send that recipe over to me).

The Slow Cooker Approach

If you suspect that a site is going to be difficult to get a link on, then don’t try cold calling out of the blue with an email pitch. Take a few weeks (yeah, guest posting is rarely quick) and engage regularly on the site by leaving good comments and interacting with the editor and other readers. When you feel like the editor will recognize your name in their inbox, go ahead and pitch or submit your guest post and follow up like you normally would.

Respond to Comments

Always keeping the readers in mind means not leaving them in the dark; you wrote the article so if they have any questions or comments about it you should be the one to respond to them. Don’t simply get a guest post and then never interact on the site again – this makes it clear to the editor that you only wanted to get links. It’s also important to remember that the webmasters, bloggers, and editors who post your content have the ability to go in and remove your links at any time if they feel slighted.

Another important note, I’ve found plenty of leads for further guest posts on niche related sites by following the people who comment on my posts, then asking them if they’d like an article for their website. They’re already familiar with my writing and know they’ll get good content so that hurdle is out of the way, and they typically have a strong reader base as well which is a huge benefit for any guest post.

A lot of this advice boils down to remembering one simple fact that often gets overlooked: people link to people. Websites are simply a front for people’s interests, businesses, engagements, and whatever else you want on the internet. Remember that it’s not a robot fielding your requests for a guest post, and robots will not be reading the content, people will. Remembering this helps to keep you from acting like a link building machine and keeps you focused on producing great content and earning great links.

 

About the Author:
Thomas McMahon is a link builder who uses guest posting as his primary strategy (along with this dashing headshot). He currently works for Page One Power, a link building company that focuses on long term strategies and results.

6 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

The capacity to plan and execute a social media marketing strategy is sometimes limited for small business. Because small businesses lack having a the resources and manpower to consistently manage social media marketing, some local companies tend to fall behind on this powerful medium.

This is a big deal, because local businesses that build cohesive social marketing campaigns can get a significant jump over their competitors. And because social media promotes customer interaction, credibility, and loyalty, small businesses in particular can greatly capitalize on these marketing opportunities.

So if you're seeking ways to promote your small business and have yet to delve into social media marketing, below we offers six solid tips to get you started.

1. Start Blogging

Okay, so blogging was probably not what you expected as the first tip to build your social media strategy. However, the blog content you produce (whether that be an article, video, or infographic) is the foundation for what you share via social media. In a sense, you can be as active as ever on Google+ or Facebook, but if you're not sharing quality, audience-relevant content, you're social media strategy will not reach its fullest potential.

The idea is to use the content of your blog to inbound traffic from social media sites to your small business website. This can be immensely powerful for a local business, because local social media followers often have see more trust and respect in supporting a business in their area. That said, not only should you be producing and sharing content about your business, but also sharing content about the area (when relevant to your market or product/service offering.)

2. Spruce Up Your Profile Pages

Most social media platforms allow businesses to get creative with their profile pages. Both Facebook and Google+ alike offer tremendous customization, enabling businesses to show-off the goods and funnel users down a conversion path.

An example of this is using custom tabs on your business's Facebook page. With custom tabs, you can add image galleries, videos, or an incentivizing freebie. You can also include a link to your email opt-in to build your company's email list.

To start using custom tabs on Facebook, you'll need to install an iFrame applications. Here is a solid list of iFrame apps that can be used for various purposes.

3. Create a Plan & Keep on It

It's common for us to hear the question "How many times per day should I post on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook?”

Unfortunately, there isn't an ideal number of daily posts. However, research does suggest that posting 2-3 times a day is a good baseline.

Anyone can manage a consistent posting schedule for a couple weeks, yet the real champs of social media marketing are the businesses that keep at it every day of the week. Because your followers check social media sites at different times throughout the day, only posting once every 24 hours is simply not enough - for most followers won't see it.

In short, consistency wins. Make an effort to post various types of content throughout the day. Additionally, stagger your social media posts at different times in order to reach more fans. Also, always remember to include a call-to-action statements (or verbs) like 'check-out,' 'click' or 'share.' This will help increase the level of engagement users have with your content.

4. Maintain Brand Integrity

It's easy to let personal interests mingle with a company's social media presence, especially if the business is small and local. We see this all the time, and in more contexts that social media.

For instance, the owner of a local brewery wanted all of his logo's designed around fish, purely because he loved fishing. However, nothing about his brand or beer had anything to do with fishing.

Like my favorite yoga teacher always said, "keep the ego out of it." That same idea can be applied to social media marketing. Avoid making posts about your business that center on you.

The fact of the matter is: nobody cares.

Okay, so maybe friends and fellow employees of the company care, but keep your personal life out the business's social media front. A good tip to avoid being tempted into doing this is always speaking in-terms of the business as a whole. Use "we," not "I" - because as we all know, there is no "i" in team.

5. Be Empathic & Engaging

Think of social media marketing as storytelling. Furthermore, think of your target audience or customers as the characters of the story. Be empathic: put yourself in shoes of the audience and think about what motivates them.

This concept is paramount in almost any form of marketing. Empathy drives engagement, and when you have engagement, the ability develop relationships (and drive leads) is limitless. Analyze and measure what patterns and reactions your followers display. In essence, let their actions, needs, and desires drive the story.

6. Reach Out

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of building a strong social media presence is proactively reaching out to individuals and other local businesses. Don't hesitate to tag people or other companies in your posts. Not only will tagged recipients find it awesome that your singled them out, but their friends and colleagues can catch on too.

The cool thing about Facebook and Google+ is that users get notified (typically through the social newsfeed) when their friends get tagged. Although this is not always the case, the concept of reaching out is imperative to generate more awareness.

Another easy way to reach out is to start following other related businesses, especially those within your local area. This shows that you’re engaged in your local economy and care about what other companies are doing in the area. It's also a great way to build relationships with other businesses.

Most of the social media marketing tips can be applied to any business model. We appreciate your reading our post, and if you'd like to learn more, visit our page about social media marketing.

This blog post was contributed by Internet marketing specialists Tyler Tafelsky. You can connect with Tyler on Google+.

The SEO Value of External Blogs

In today's digital age, blogs have become excellent marketing tools. Having a blog for your business can help to increase awareness about your brand or business as well as establish a greater online reputation. However what sparks the interests of many online marketers is the SEO value of building an External blog for their business.

What's an External Blog?

External Blogs for SEOIn essence, an external blog is a dedicated website to publish content. Unlike internal blogs that are a part of business's domain (e.g. www.businessname.com/blog), an external blog is separate domain outside of the company's website (e.g. www.businessblog.com). So what makes an external blog better than an internal blog? The answer to that question centers on the fundamentals of search engine optimization and SEO link building.

Link Building via Blogging

In SEO, external links (otherwise known as "backlinks") directing to a site are like measures of popularity and website credibility to the search engines. A website with several backlinks pointing to its webpages will typically be considered popular, valuable, and trusted, and thus deserving of a top search engine ranking.

The key to remember is that these links are coming from an external source, ideally via relevant content in a blog post or an article. For this reason, managing your own external blog to feed your money site backlinks is one of the most effective strategies for SEO and website optimization. Building optimized backlinks from your own external business blog is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient methods to generate "link popularity" for search engine optimization.

Best Practices Tips

You may be familiar with some of the Google search engine algorithm updates that have recently occurred. In short, Google has been penalizing websites for "over-optimization." That is, sites that have far too many backlinks with exact keyword matching anchor text. As a result, you will want to build links from you blog carefully and in moderation. As tempting as it may be to use targeted keyword phrases in all of your backlink's anchor text, it is wise to mix it up a bit.

For example: let's say you're optimizing your money site for the keyword phrase "Dallas business lawyer." Instead of linking to your website with that exact phrase each time, try using variations like "business attorney in Dallas" or simply "business lawyers," without the geographic modifier. It is also smart to link to your money site using the URL address of the domain (e.g. www.DallasBizLawyers.com) - this will make your SEO link building appear as natural as possible, and will help avoid any risk of "over-optimization" penalties from Google.

The last best practices tip when link building from you external blog is to consider the importance of content relevancy (or "contextual" relevancy of the link). This is another important factor that search engines like Google consider while evaluating the quality of your backlinks.

The practice is simple: only build links that are relevant to the surrounding content. Using the latter example, a link with the anchor text "Dallas business lawyer" should be immersed in blog content all about business law. This contextual relevancy is imperative to ensure that your link building and website optimization efforts are sound.

When you begin developing an external blog for your business, remember to build your blog with a purpose. Have goals for your external blog, and continue to keep the content fresh and focused on specific theme or topic. Blog righteously, my friends.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing & SEO Peoria IL specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

 

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