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20+ More Bloggers to Watch: The Readers’ Choice

It’s been nearly a month since Bloggers to Watch in 2013 was published. We had a fantastic response, including some compelling recommendations via the comments section and around the web.

Telescope

Image courtesy stock.xchng user saavem

This post presents all the bloggers that people have highlighted over the past few weeks.

Mark Richards

If you want to read a genuinely very funny Dad blogger then you can’t beat Mark Richards.  The blog has only been live for about three months but it is fast getting a strong following in the UK. It’s a mix of current posts (Mark’s kids are all teenagers now) and flashbacks to when they were younger and the only thing he had to worry about was whether they’d eat their carrots. Highly recommended to all parents.

via Charlie Plunkett

Matthew Woodward

Jacob King loved Matthew Woodward.  He said:

Guy is a beast. Teaching so much about link building some of his stuff I don’t even want to share.

What do you guys think? Have you ever come across a blog so good that you wanted to keep it a secret?

Tsh Oxenrider

I’d also include Tsh Oxenrider of Simple Mom. She’s been around a while, but I’m always eager to see where she goes next.

from Tara Ziegmont

Wellness Mama

One blogger I really enjoy is Katie from Wellness Mama. She’s a health and nutrition blogger, but does a great job of getting readers involved with her posts.

via Shea

Christopher Foster

“An older blogger who is an accomplished and wise writer. He blogs regularly at The Happy Seeker. I highly recommend checking him out!”

via Dave Rowley

Bianca Jade

She’s a fitness fashion trend expert and women’s active lifestyle blogger. Bianca is the creator of MizzFIT.com where people can find fitness fashion and health & wellness news. She’s truly inspirational and empowers women to work out, feel sexy and how to live an active, and strong life.

via Emily

More suggestions

Alison Elissa Horner had some great suggestions:

I really like Brooke Castillo’s blog. She doesn’t post super regularly, but her simple, direct posts remind me of this quote.

“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.” -Czeslaw Milosz

I’m also a fan of Jenny Shih’s blog.  She has thoughtful posts and tips for being an entrepreneur. She’s an excellent teacher because she walks you through new ideas step by step.

Mara made the following recommendation:

Three women, including myself, were asked to speak as we’ve each had great success in less than two years. We’d love for you to check us out:

Therese from the Unlost had a couple of interesting ideas:

She highlighted her move-lah concept has an idea to encourage people to take action: “All my products are payable– in full or in part– with “Move-lah,” the world’s newest form of currency, which is designed to help people move and take action on the concepts they’re learning.”

She also recommended Nicole Antoinette as a “smart, witty, and, well, funny” blogger.

Eden Riley, one of this year’s bloggers to watch, recommended we keep an eye on Karen. She said that the blog was:

one of the best and beautiful blogs ever, written by buddhist monk and mother Karen Maezen Miller. Run to her words—I did.

R Siemienowicz recommended that we check out…

…the visual diary of photographer, illustrator and author Garance Doré. He said she has “the best and most genuinely arresting voice among #fashion bloggers.”

I recommend you read her recent article where she explains the philosphy behind her blog.

More lists

There were also three useful blog posts curating interesting bloggers:

Over to you

No list post can ever cover all niches and communities. Bloggers vary widely in age, race, and gender. Having said that, there were two types of bloggers that people sought recommendations of:

  • examples of Asian bloggers
  • bloggers aged over 60.

Do you know of any interesting bloggers in the above demographics? Or do you know of a niche/community that you feel isn’t represented enough in the wider blogging community?

Let me know in the comments. It will help shape the type of bloggers that I feature here throughout this year.

Why Blogs that Allow Guest Posts Will Be Penalized in 2013

This guest post is by Jeff Foster of WebBizIdeas.

Just as low-level article directories (ezinearticles, articlesbase, and others) got hurt by Google’s Panda Update in 2013, I predict that Google will hurt sites abusing guest blogging in 2013.

I don’t feel guest blogging is bad, nor that all bloggers who do it will be penalized by Google. SEOMOZ.org allows guest blogging and their rankings increased during the Panda update. But when SEO companies start to abuse any link building tactic, you need a preventative plan in place because an update from Google will be coming.

How do we know an update is coming?

Quite simply, Google’s spam team has warned us.

What’s the wrong way to publish guest posts?

1. Stop telling people it’s a guest post

Would you find the information credible on the front page of the New York Times if the title said: “Guest post: 10 Ways To Improve Your Home Value”? Stop using the words “guest post,” “guest blog post,” “guest author,” or whatever phrase you’re using.

There is nothing wrong with allowing someone to contribute to your blog, but if you wouldn’t trust an article in the newspaper that says the writer is a “guest author,” do you think Google will trust it?

Notice What SEOMOZ.org does:

seomoz-author-name

Does this person work for SEOMOZ? No. Do you notice what the title is? A regular title that you would use if you wrote the article. Do you notice who it is published by? A real person. When you click on his name where does it go? To an internal author bio page using Google’s recommended rel=author tag.  Learn how Google wants you to link a guest author’s name correctly.

2. Stop letting authors add unnatural links in posts

Google’s Penguin update penalizes sites that link text unnaturally. What is unnatural linking? If I linked the words “Minneapolis SEO Company” to my homepage, that is unnatural. An editor of CNN.com wouldn’t link to a company talked about that way.

Should you add that to your “write for us” guidelines page? No. You should just not accept guest posts from people who submit content to you that way. Just like Google doesn’t tell you their algorithm, don’t tell people your filtering mecognizsim.

People who write content this way are spammers or a terrible SEO Company. You don’t want to be associated with their company or their clients. Why? Google has a new Co-Citation Algo that associates people with one another. Just as Google will devalue your website if you are in thousands or bad link directories, they will devalue your website if you are associated with spammers.

3. Stop letting people add unnatural links to their author bios

Many sites that were not pumping out low value content in exchange for links were still affected by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Why? They weren’t trusted websites. The truth is Google thinks differently than you.

  • What you say: Sure, I would love to accept a well written article from you that relates to my blog.  I am ok if you add only a couple of links in the author bio.
  • What Google hears: If you tell people (i.e. SEO Companies) they can give you something for free (i.e. an article) in exchange for a link, it violates our link scheme guidelines.

Rationalize and argue all you want, but that is what Google will hear if you are not a trusted site. Do you think Google cares if the unnatural link occur in the article or author bio section? Do they they say, “We allow spammy links in author bio sections?”

You have a much higher chance of being penalized for this unnatural linking if you are not a trusted site—especially if Google knows your site is just built to accept guest blog posts in exchange for links. They normally don’t penalize sites they trust, but be safe and don’t give them a reason to get confused.

When in doubt, check out trusted websites that allow links in their author bio sections and emulate them. For example, check out this case, this example, and this one.

4. Stop promoting links as a benefit of submitting a guest post

Please read again Google’s link scheme guidelines. Anything that a person gives you in exchange for a link is spam in Google’s eyes.

Stop giving them reasons to not value your website. Nothing is wrong with having a “write for us” page with editorial guidelines. Nothing is wrong with allowing a natural link(s) in the author bio section. But saying one of the benefits of giving us an article is a link back to your site technically is in violation of Google’s policy.

You may never get penalized for it, but why take the risk? Instead of an overdone “write for us” page that begs people to submit content, why not try this?

Make your little blog look like the CNN.com in your industry, and Google will be happy.

What is the proper way to allow guest blog posts?

1. Allow author bios

Download an author bio plugin or create your own so people can connect with the authors on your site. A basic author bio section (bottom of post) looks like this:

Author-bio-section

What are the main features of this section?

  1. It’s about a real person: it links to an internal author bio page, correctly coded
  2. It includes social links: these allow people to follow the author socially, and are correctly coded.

The most important part of the example is the Google+ link. By default, you should have it link the Google+ anchor text to the profile of the user in the format of: <a href=”https://plus.google.com/(number)?rel=”author”>Google+</a>

Why would you want to do that? Because then the person’s picture appears in Google’s search results! Is the picture the only benefit? No. What if Rand Fishkin of SEOMOZ posted on my blog and Google could identify that it was actually Rand Fishkin? Do you think Google would trust me more if I am associated with Rand? Yes. Google’s Co-Citation Algo is already in full swing, so code correctly!

2. Provide author bios for each author

To “feed” the Google Panda Update you needed to create quality unique content. To “feed” the Google Penguin Update you needed to create natural links. To “feed” the next update that attacks guest blogging you will need to create co-citations.

Step 1: Create an author bio page to create co-citations

Here’s an example author bio page.

Author-bio-page

What is an author bio page? It is a short biography of the author with properly coded social links. It also includes links to all the content that the author published on your website.

Step 2: Link the author’s name to the author bio page

Do this using rel=”author” on each blog post when you say “By [author name]” and in the author bio section.

This way, Google will associate the person with your website. If you get President Obama to write a guest blog post on your website and Google knows it really is the President, do you think they will find that article and your website valuable?

On the flip side, if Google doesn’t know who anyone is who’s published content on your site, are they going to value—or worse, devalue—your blog posts or blog? In 2013, that is my prediction. If the blog doesn’t tell Google who wrote the article, or if Google can identify that the people who wrote the article are spammers, the blog will be penalized.

3. Allow natural outbound links in the post

Many website owners are scared of Google. Some media sites don’t allow links because they just don’t know if Google will penalize them for it or not. Worrying that Google will increase or decrease your rankings shouldn’t be a reason why you don’t allow links in your posts.

Imagine reading this article (see screenshot below) and not being able to click on the resources the author is talking about. Even if the author, CEO of SEO.com, links to his own site, it is still cleverly relevant to the post:

Allow-links

Does Google penalize you for allowing relevant DoFollow links in posts? Well, Google ranks this post #1 for ‘link building in 2013′

Link-building in 2013

So it is not wrong to allow contributing authors to add natural links to posts. No, you don’t have to put Nofollow tags on every outbound link; Google does not want that. What do they want? They want you to ensure the content and links are relevant. So do allow contributing writers to add natural links.

4. Allow real people to comment

Are you giving real people reasons to want to contribute to your site? Do people actually read and respond to your comments? Do your comments look like this:

Links-in-comments

How should you code your comments?

  1. Link the person’s name to their author bio on your site using a Dofollow link; not to their website. Learn how to properly code your author bio section.
  2. Automatically make all outbound links NoFollow links.

The benefits of doing this are:

  • More people feel part of your blog.
  • More people comment.
  • Which means more new/targeted content for Google.
  • Authors get links back to their author bio pages.
  • This increases the value of those pages.
  • And this ranks their articles (on your blog) #1 in Google.

When Google comes out with its next big update, if you have followed the steps above and associated each blog post with a real, influential person, you won’t be penalized.

But if you have low-value spammers writing content for you, or you don’t tell Google who wrote your content, expect your blog to be devalued.

is the owner of WebBizIdeas, an SEO, social media marketing and website design firm. WebBizIdeas Visit his seo resource center for more helpful tutorials on how to promote your business online.

The Science of Storytelling: 6 Ways to Write More Persuasive Stories

Guest post by Gregory Ciotti.

When it comes to crafting “words that sell”, the research shows us that stories are among the most persuasive forms of writing out there.

Persuasive writing is an essential part of blogging—there’s no two ways about it. So if you plan on selling anything, connecting†deeply with your readers, or going viral with a post that bares all about your life (like Jon Morrow did), you better be prepared to create stories that actually move people.

Why do stories work so well?

They work because “transportation leads to persuasion,” and as such, if you can capture your reader’s attention, you can nudge them towards being a customer or a brand advocate who supports your business at every turn.

That’s all good and fun… but how exactly can you write more persuasive stories?

Today, I’ve got some academic research that will show you how!

The six elements of better stories

According to some fascinating research by Dr. Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green, called Narrative Persuasion in Legal Settings: What’s the Story?, stories are powerful because of their ability to affect emotional beliefs in a way that logical arguments just can’t touch.

That is to say, stories get in “under the radar” because we are so open to hearing them. We tend to block out sales pitches or “do as I say” styles of dictation, but stories are inviting, personal, and capture our imagination.

The researchers looked at persuasive aspects of stories in the court room, which is certainly one of the hardest places to craft stories, as you have another person (the other lawyer) trying to shoot down your arguments at every turn.

From their research, Mazzocco and Green found six consistent elements that are apart of startingly effective stories…

1. Audience

As a blogger, you have far more control over this aspect than a lawyer does, so pay attention!

Above, I mentioned a post by Jon Morrow than went viral here on Problogger.net. While the story was an amazing one, a key element of that post that many might miss is that Jon constructed it for a very particular audience: those looking to do what he’s done (i.e. turn blogging into a lifestyle-sustaining business).

Picking Problogger.net was perfect because he knew the audience would be receptive to such a story. He’s done it time and time again—here’s another post on Copyblogger in a similar vein that addresses fighting for your dreams.

How can you implement this critical technique in your own efforts?

The answer lies in finding your target customer (or reader) and crafting your message and content entirely around them. What are their hopes, fears, and dreams? You better know if you hope to stay with them after they leave the page.

If you can’t identify this ideal reader, then who are you really writing for? Without this information, it’s much harder, if not impossible, to tell a really persuasive story: you need to have the right audience in mind first.

If you’re going “off-site” (via a guest post) like Jon did, then you also need to be careful in choosing another blogger’s platform: be sure to write for their audience.

2. Realism

This one may seem surprising, but it’s actually not if you look into the reasoning.

Although fiction stories are popular, the best ones are always easy to relate to on some level. Although you may not be a WWII spy or a dragon-slaying knight, you can relate to the emotions, struggles, and thoughts of the characters.

Roger Dooley put this best when he said:

Even if you are painting a fictional picture with the story, its elements need to relate to the reality that the audience is familiar with, for example, basic human motivations.

Make sure your stories have something the audience can relate to on a deeper level, beyond the events that are being told.

For instance, in Joel Ryan’s article titled, An Unexpected Ass-Kicking, he relays the tale of meeting the inventor of the computer.

The story wouldn’t have gone viral without another element, though: Joel connected the tale to his readers’ own psyches by relating how it’s important to not be afraid of things that “haven’t been done before”, because if Russell Kirsch had believed that, we wouldn’t have the computer today>

3. Delivery

In the same way that a comedian’s timing is practically everything, Mazzacco and Green found that story delivery was critical to crafting a tale people could get wrapped up in.

Delivery is a mix of pacing, flow, and hitting readers with heavy lines at the perfect moment.

One of my favorite examples (in fiction) is how George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Fire and Ice series, ends his chapters with a surprising close or a startling realization.

This example isn’t a story, but it perfectly demonstrates my point: Brian Clark’s post called, The Writer Runs This Show is a fantastic demonstration of using dramatic pacing throughout a post.

Note how he interrupts the manifesto with “The writer runs this show,” over and over to drive his point home.

4. Imagery

Did the sun rise, or did the sun’s rays reflect rainbows off of the crisp morning dew?

Interesting research on the matter says that your stories should be describing the latter: the human mind gets swept up in stories only when the visuals are painted clearly.

Transportation (the key to story persuasion) cannot happen if you use vague details and boring language.

You have to craft the scene with startling detail to wrap your reader up in your message: they need to share in the struggle you went through, the joys you encountered, and the doubts you battled.

If you read Benny Hsu’s post on his first iPhone App store feature (and his subsequent $30,000 week), you can feel his excitement with every word; you’re not just getting the play-by-play of what happened.

Let readers see what you’re “seeing” in your tale, and they’ll be more willing to go along with the journey.

5. Structure

While some movies, like Memento, can get away with switching things up once or twice, the classics always follow this one golden rule: keep story structure simple.

People prefer stories that follow a logical manner, for example: elements of suspense are most effective when they’re established early to keep people engaged, plot twists are best saved for the climax, and having a strong ending makes a story more memorable.

This is especially true for writing in the business world. Let your creativity shine through the actual story being told, not in how you decide to structure it.

When you try to get cute with plot structure and other storytelling staples, you’ll risk losing people rather than creating something memorable.

In all of the most popular story-related blog posts I’ve come across, I’ve yet to see a story that defies the classic story structure that focuses on being enticing in the beginning, building up in the middle, and finishing with a satisfying conclusion (and a powerful message).

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

6. Context

While the study referenced the storyteller and the physical environment as important factors in how persuasive the tale was, for online storytelling we have a different set of variables…

For the storyteller, the author of the tale still matters: elements of trust established with the audience and social proof play roles in making a tale believable and easily digested.

As a blogger, you should already know about the powers of social proof, but are you utilizing it in your off-site features? A persuasive story on another site should always include a brief introduction explaining why you’re qualified to tell it, otherwise people will glaze over and block you out.

For surroundings, we now have to turn to a element that strictly applies to the web: design.

According to a fascinating research study entitled, Trust & Mistrust of Online Health Sites, it’s your blog’s design that is most likely to influence first-time visitors about the site’s trustworthiness, not the quality of your content.

A bad design makes people feel like your site isn’t trustworthy, and any storytelling efforts that you attempt will be greatly hindered, so clean up your surroundings!

Your turn

Here’s what to do next…

  1. Let me know in the comments what you thought of this research.
  2. Tell me about one of your favorite stories that you’ve read on the web, and let us know which blogger told it.

Gregory Ciotti is the content strategist for Help Scout, the invisible customer service software for solopreneurs and small-business owners. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout blog.

Increasing Traffic and Engagement … with Fun and Games

This guest post is by Danny Iny of firepolemarketing.com.

When you blog all the time about a certain topic…

…even if you’re still completely passionate about it…

…it can sometimes get a little boring.

You feel it as a blogger, and your readers may feel it, too.

Now, of course, your readers can go elsewhere on the internet for new stimulation, but wouldn’t it be better if they stuck with you?

Or better yet, what if they had such interesting and engaging experiences on your site and with you that they wanted to tell their family and friends about it?

And what if they shared your content with their networks because doing so made them look really good?

This scenario is absolutely possible.

If you can keep enough novelty, challenge, and inspiration coming, your readers will want to spend more of their online time with you, giving you more opportunities to strengthen your relationships and make sales.

But before we talk about all of that, let’s explore why this usually doesn’t happen—even when we’re working our hardest and doing our genuine best to make our blogs worthwhile for our readers and subscribers.

Why the same old stuff gets stale

Do you have a certain route that you follow a lot?

It could be your drive to work, or to your Mom’s house. It’s a path that you travel frequently, and know intimately.

There’s nothing surprising or unusual that happens along this route; it’s the same every day, and if it weren’t hideously dangerous because of other drivers and pedestrians, you could do it with your eyes closed. It’s so boring that you don’t even think about it.

The same thing can happen with any task that you do again and again. Brushing your teeth. Putting on your shoes. And even reading your favorite blogs.

It’s so common—such a habit—that you do it automatically, and don’t really consider what it is you’re doing, or pay attention to the details.

As a consumer of blogs, this is kind of a shame.

As a producer of blog content, it’s absolutely catastrophic. You need your readers to be riveted! And as a reader of Problogger.NET, you’ve made sure you’re not making any of the common mistakes that bloggers make.

So how do you fix the problem?

What you need to do is shake things up a little bit—change the process of engaging with you on your blog from one of providing content that gets read and maybe commented on, to an experience that happens that gets your readers thinking and motivated to act.

One of the best, most fun and most effective ways to do this is through a contest, challenge, or game.

Do it through contests, games, and challenges

What makes a contest, game, or challenge fun?

Well, it lights up areas of your brain that you don’t usually get to use every day—and that’s interesting. Moreover, it’s exciting—your mind has to sit up and take note because, “hey, you’re making me work!”

There are some principles that are common to all successful games, and I’d like to go over them quickly here. The four principles are:

  1. motivation and loss aversion
  2. status and competition
  3. surprise and hope
  4. feedback and reward

Get them to start and keep them going with motivation and loss aversion

When you think about running a contest or challenge, I bet that the first thing you consider is the prize—it’s got to be amazing if it’s going to get people to play, right?

Not necessarily. People are more likely to act because they’re afraid of losing something they already have, then to gain something new.

You can apply this technique when you’re introducing your challenge. Paint a vivid picture of how wonderful winning and participating is. Outline all the benefits participants stand to gain. They could gain the prize, or knowledge, or networking, or glory—just make sure to make them feel like they already have it when you’re writing your description. If you do a good job at this, they’ll play to keep that feeling.

Status and reputation will help them take it further

Once people are playing a game or challenge, they’ll be dying to know how everyone else is doing, and how they stack up against the rest of the competitors. (Even if they’re too cool to admit it, or are just “playing for fun.” They want to know—trust me.)

Take advantage of this by providing frequent updates to contestants, and emphasizing again how wonderful it will be to win—and how possible that is for anyone. Someone who starts out with a strong lead will be desperate to keep it, and those who are only a few points behind another player will want nothing more than to inch up in the rankings.

Keep everyone involved with discovery and surprise

Obviously, not everyone is going to be occupying a top spot—that’s unavoidable. But the people who aren’t can be kept equally passionate and engaged with a little sense of discovery, surprise, and the possibility that this kind of excitement will happen again.

Think in terms of bonus challenges, opportunities to do a little extra, a funny note, a contestants-only joke. These kind of unexpected treats get people excited to be doing what they’re doing, and happy to keep going, even if they don’t expect they’ll win.

Make it worth their while with feedback and rewards

We all like to know that we’ve done a good job—and most of us are mature enough to at least grudgingly accept constructive feedback when we could have done better.

It’s no different in a contest than in life. If you can immediately, or very quickly, give someone feedback on how participants are performing, both on a personal level and as a part of the group, they’ll either want to continue to do well, or prove that they can do better.

Leaderboards and other tracking systems are good for this, as are personal emails, and contestants-only updates. Think of how valuable feedback is in your day-to-day life, and double that amount for your contestants.

Now you are the games master

Yes, the games master. Congratulations—you’re calling all the shots.

…But what shots are you calling, exactly?

Well that depends on what you want.

If you need more comments on your blog post, then run a comment competition. Let your readers know that for the next week or so you’re going to be looking at all of their valuable comments, picking a few favourites, and letting everyone vote on a winner. More comments will come.

If your social media presence isn’t that great, then run a guest post contest with the winner being the post that garnered the most Tweets or Facebook Likes. We did this recently on Firepole Marketing, and generated thousands of social media shares. (Not to mention a record traffic month!)

If your traffic is slow, create a wonderful new piece of giveaway content (for an opt-in!), and let your readers know that whoever directs the most people to it will win a fabulous prize—possibly in the form of your products or services.  For this option you’ll need to set up individual links for readers, but plugins like PrettyLink make that a snap!

A never-ending source of competition

You can use this idea in almost every aspect of your content calendar. You can promote a new product or series, you can use it to make your training and content more interesting and relevant, and you can use it to deliver content and training.

You can do it to teach, to engage, and to just have fun.

That’s what we’re trying to do right now with our Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt for bloggers and business owners; we’re using all of the gamification elements I’ve talked about here to teach contestants new marketing skills, to get them to experiment different technologies and techniques, and to help them extend their reach online.

So what are you going to do? What games will you play to boost your traffic, engage your readers, and keep them coming back for more?

Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a the “Freddy Kreuger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works over at Firepole Marketing. Right now, there’s a hugely exciting Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt going on over there, and it’s not too late to get in on the action, expand your reach online, and engage with an amazing community of marketers.

Blog Design For ROI: Keep On Fixing, Keep On Fixing

This guest post is by Gab Goldenberg, author of The Advanced SEO Book.

If you choose to redesign your whole blog in one go instead of adopting little improvements on a regular basis, the odds are that your redesign will be a brutal chore.

Blog redesign

Instead, I’d like to encourage you to review the posts in this series on Blog Design for ROI and pick one area in which you’d like to improve. We’ve covered literally every area of the blog, from your homepage to category pages to posts, to individual elements like sidebars and social aspects like your community, so there’s bound to be something to appeal to you:

Once you’ve chosen where you’d like to improve, do the following.

  • Measure where you stand currently. For example:
    • Use usability testing with three friends to see if they can find your email subscription, and get their feedback on how appealing it is to sign up to your newsletter.
    • To simplify your sidebar, header or navigation use Feng-GUI to get an idea how visually loud they are.
    • Try a tool like CrazyEgg to measure how much and where people are clicking your archive pages, as well as how far they’re scrolling.
  • Write down your theory of why your performance is at its current level.
  • Brainstorm different ways to improve and write all the ideas down (don’t reject ideas at this point, as that will discourage creativity). See which of the tactics in the above articles you can apply, and how.
  • Choose one option to improve and test it out.
  • Measure results and repeat the above.

From my own experience, I can tell you that testing numerous small things and making incremental progress is a much easier—and more effective way—of improving your blog’s design, in comparison to the traditional ‘grand redesign’ method. Similarly, the crowd at Wider Funnel make a good case for the “Evolutionary Site Redesign” process instead of the “Revolutionary Site Redesign” process.

Now it’s your turn: in the comments, tell us which area of your blog’s design are you going to focus on improving? Why did you pick that? And what changes are you thinking of making? Share your goals with us in the comments.

Gab Goldenberg and Internet Marketing Ninjas are developing a book based on this series – get your free copy at http://seoroi.com/blog-design-for-roi/ . You can also get a free chapter of Goldenberg’s The Advanced SEO Book.

 

How to Leverage Blog Comments to Increase Search Rank

This guest post is by Jonathan Solis of NutraSol Natural Center.

When the topic of getting blog comments for SEO comes up, your first thought would probably be to get links to your site by commenting on other blogs.

Well, I usually don’t waste my time with that technique, because most comment links are no-follow anyway.

And I want to bring focus to the comments on my own blog.

Having user-generated content on your site has always been an easy way to gain search engine traffic from long-tail keyword queries.  Comments are a good source of user-generated content containing those keyword phrases.

For the last two years, I’ve been conducting SEO experiments for all types of websites, ranging from my blogs to local business directories, and I have found that user-generated content from the comments section in my health blogs has increased my traffic tremendously.

The site that’s producing the best results for me right now is the Spanish health blog, Informe Natural. I apologize for using a site in a foreign language as an example, but this is the site I reached my conclusions from, and the idea will apply no matter what language you’re blogging in.

How it works

It all started when I began marketing Alpiste Seeds for sale online and featured an article about where to buy them on the Spanish health and nutrition blog.  As people found the page, they began to ask questions in the comments section.

Without realizing it, they were adding to my on-page search engine optimization efforts.

They would ask questions with keyword phrases like, “where can I buy the alpiste seeds in Georgia?” and I would reply with another comment answering the question in a complete sentence that contained the keyword phrase.

For example, I would write “you can order the alpiste seeds by the phone and we would be happy to ship it to you in Georgia”.  I would continue this technique with all the comments and the results were very rewarding.

I ended up getting a high ranking for the Spanish keyword phrase of where to buy alpiste seeds and also the long tail keywords derived from the conversations in the comments section of my blogs.

This technique made that page the second-most popular page on the entire site after my home page.

SEO Blog Comments

How can you do it? Let’s see.

5 Ways to increase search engine rankings with blog comments

1. Provide a call to action

Some people will not comment unless you entice them to.  A good technique is to write a call to action at the end of your article that tells readers to feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section of your post.

2. Reply to all the comments on time

If you give a prompt response and reply to the comments, other users will see that you are involved in the conversation and they will be more likely to ask questions too.

3. Know your target keywords before writing your comment

Make sure you know what your target keyword is before you respond with your comment.  This may seem obvious but it can easily be overlooked.  Do keyword research to find the words that are used more often by searchers.

4. Use complete sentences in your comments

As I stated earlier, answering in complete sentences gives you a reason to use your keyword phrases more often naturally, which helps you avoid making it look like a spammy attempt to increase keyword density.

5. Reply to comments with another question

When you reply to the comments, try to reply with questions so that you will get another response and, therefore, more user-generated content.

Are you using comments for SEO?

Leveraging blog comments is an effective way to get more traffic from search engines.  They are a great source of long tail keywords which account for about 85% of search engine traffic. And best of all, they are acquired from the users directly.

Do you use your blog comments to boost the search rank of your posts? Let me know in the comments.

Jonathan Solis is the owner of NutraSol Natural Center and Director of marketing for Expert Building Services, inc.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and he also has a blog where he often writes about professional business strategiesProfessional Tactics.

The Dos and Don’ts of Weight Loss Blogging for Beginners

This guest post is by Karol K.

There’s a popular trend on the internet these days among people who have taken upon themselves to lose some weight. I’m talking about starting a weight loss blog.

The idea in itself is perfect. You get a place to document your progress, talk about the things you’re doing, get additional motivation by interacting with other people through comments (also great for getting additional tips from them), and finally, you’re making your journey public, which is sure to improve your success rate all by itself.

There are some problems, though. The weight loss blogging space is really heavy on purely promotional sites, deceptive sales messages, or even scams desired solely to earn some quick money.

All this makes it really hard to build a credible brand that stands out from the crowd.

That’s why I decided to create this quick tutorial to show you some things you can and should do ASAP, as well as other practices that are better left alone—unless you want to be mistaken for a spammer.

The light side of the force

Before I get to that, let me take a minute to list some people who do this the right way. Here’s the light side of the force (so to speak), just as an example on how weight loss blogging should be done.

  • MindBodyGreen.com: MindBodyGreen was founded by Jason Wachob, Carver Anderson, and Tim Glenister—all wellness experts and enthusiasts. Their team is one of the best in the business. From top yoga instructors to wellness gurus, and weight loss experts, there’s something for every interest and ability level on this blog.
  • NowLoss.com: A very successful blog in the weight loss niche by Andrian Bryant. NowLoss.com now helps over 1.5 million monthly visitors look good naked by losing weight, getting curves, and/or building muscle. NowLoss.com is the #2 weight loss website in the world behind commercial giant Weight Watchers.
  • WorkoutsForHome.com: In her blog, Susan invites us to join her in Operation Awesomeness and lose weight fast, right from home. She is here to teach you everything she knows about becoming awesome…
  • Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat: A blog founded by Rebecca Regnier—an Emmy-winning television journalist and author of “Your Twitter Diet,” available on Amazon. The blog’s mission is to teach you how to lose weight in a way that’s suitable for you individually (whatever weight loss steps you take, Rebecca supports you).
  • A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss: A blog where you can join Erika in her journey from 330lbs to personal trainer. Everything she shares comes from her personal experience. An great blog with lots of personal touches.

Now, let’s focus on how you can join the ranks of these quality weight loss blogs.

Do use your own name and personality

These days people don’t have that much trust reserved for websites talking about weight loss. With so many poor affiliate blogs around—blogs publishing low quality content purely to promote other products through affiliate links—you never know who’s for real and who’s in it just for the quick buck.

One of the common things such marketers do is that they never use their real names. Instead, they showcase some lame brand name, like LoseWeightTacticsBlog, or something.

The easiest thing you can do to differentiate yourself from this crowd is to prove that you’re a human being by using your real name. Then, go one step further and display some actual photos of you (either taken by you or your friends; nothing too professional-looking).

When your audience sees your face on the blog, they will know that you are a real human being who genuinely cares about the content they publish.

Don’t promise

Whenever you want to endorse something (a product or service) be careful about promising any kind of results. This is something spammers do every day. They publish loads of promises, great looking success stories, and even fake before-and-after pictures.

People are very careful now when it comes to believing any sort of promises. Whenever you say that something will bring massive results you’re immediately becoming suspect.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t endorse anything. But do it only when you are absolutely sure that the product is of great quality. You have to experience the results yourself, otherwise you won’t be believable.

Do pick the right name

This is about the name of your site.

Now, you can take one of two possible paths here:

  1. Get a custom domain at godaddy.com (or some other registrar) and your own hosting account.
  2. Register your blog at wordpress.com and get a free subdomain.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. The first one is obviously more expensive. You have to spend $10 a year for the domain, and around $6 per month for hosting.

But what you get in exchange is better credibility and a more serious look from the get-go.

The second path is quick and cheap. You can set up a new blog within minutes, but its address will end with .wordpress.com.

This is up to you, but make sure to go with a good name. Whatever you do, don’t make it seem spammy. For instance, WeightLossTacticsBlog is spammy. MagicWeightLossToday is too. LosingWeightWithKaren is not. There’s no rule of thumb here. Always go with your gut feeling.

The consequences of getting this wrong can be serious. If people see your blog’s name as spamm—as a hidden marketing pitch of sorts—they won’t believe a thing you’re saying.

Do build credibility

As I said before, trust is the rarest commodity in weight loss blogging. If people don’t trust you, they won’t listen to your advice, and might even find it hard to believe your stories.

There are some ways to boost your believability rate, so to speak, and your trust:

  • Use your real name and display pictures of yourself (already discussed).
  • Try storytelling and sharing personal insights. This is where you get to describe genuine stories that are taking place in your life (related to weight loss, obviously). People love stories, and it’s the ultimate way to prove that you are real. If people can relate to what you’re saying, they will surely pay attention. Make every post you publish personal to some degree.
  • Display trust elements. “Trust elements” sound fancy, but what I mean is quite simple. Whenever other website mentions you in one way or the other, put their logo in your sidebar and label it “Websites talking about me” or something similar. The point is to prove that other sites see you as a real, credible person. If you don’t have any of those yet then don’t worry, the day will come.

Don’t talk only about good things

One of the main giveaways that we’re dealing with a weight loss marketer rather than a real person is the fact that each post only touches upon the positive side of things.

As in life, in weight loss, too, there are good and bad days. Good and bad products. Good and bad people.

You can create much additional credibility when you share a message that’s not that positive, but is still 100% real.

Only the strongest people are able to share a negative story and be confident about what they’re saying at the same time.

Don’t use too many ads

Advertising is the most intuitive way to monetize a website. Essentially, I’m not against advertising. If there is a possibility to earn a couple of bucks from your blog then I believe you should take it.

However, be careful not to make your blog overloaded with ads. Such situation will bring your credibility down very quickly. Just one block for AdSense ads (or any other provider) in the sidebar is really enough.

Do publish only real reviews

You can skip this if you’re not planning on publishing any reviews. If you are, keep reading…

The main problem with reviews online is that a big chunk of them is simply fake. Every day countless marketers publish reviews of crappy products without even having those products in their possession.

This is especially visible in the weight loss space where, as we all know, there are hundreds of products available … pills, diets, training programs, training equipment, DVDs, you name it.

That’s why if you’re going to write a review, you should remember a handful of things:

  • Always list the bad sides of the product (there surely are some).
  • Provide pictures of the product taken by you (or better yet, pictures of you using the product if that’s possible).
  • Get in depth to the core benefits the product delivers.
  • Don’t quote any of the information from the product box or the official website.
  • Give an honest final opinion.

Do publish different types of content

Most of the time, spam-bloggers publish only simple 400-word blog posts providing no actual advice. You can differentiate yourself pretty easily by looking at the topic of blogging much more broadly.

Some examples, besides the traditional blog post:

  • Your progress update. If you’re on a weight loss program yourself then you can share your weekly progress updates. I guarantee that your readers will love those.
  • “Meal of the week” or something like that. Provide a complete recipe.
  • “Task of the week.” This is where you can set a goal for the week and update your audience on how well it went. For instance, your goal could be to exercise at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Interviews. If you can have a talk with someone knowledgeable about a given weight loss-related topic, your audience will surely be glad you shared this.
  • Reviews, as discussed above.
  • Off-topic posts. This is where you get to connect with your audience more broadly, by sharing something that’s not related to weight loss, yet still relevant to you as a real person.
  • “Ask the readers.” This is where you ask a question and your readers respond through comments. Then you can round up the most interesting answers and publish them in another blog post. You have to have a big enough audience to make this work, though.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about using a blog as a way to document your weight loss story? Are you a weight loss blogger? What tips and advice can you share?

Karol K. teaches how to save on the popular Flex Belt, and discusses the basics of TRX training (learn more). He contributes articles on fitness training, working out, and losing weight in general. He also enjoys writing occasionally for WeightLossTriumph. He’s a fan of healthy living and being in shape no matter what. In his personal life, he proves that one doesn’t have to struggle to be healthy.

The New Writer’s Guide to Evaluating Websites for Guest Posting Opportunities

This guest post is by Traian of Pitstop Media Inc.

Almost every article written after the infamous Panda and Penguin updates has suggested guest posting as a viable and effective technique to increase authority with search engines, improve organic search visibility, generate leads, and build authorship.

As you can see, there are quite a few benefits to guest posting, but you have to do it right—start small and then grow big.

What most people don’t realize is that it’s almost as easy to go wrong with guest posting as it is with any other content marketing technique. There is no guarantee that just because a website is accepting guest posts, it is reputable or credible.

It’s also now evident that Google has no love for low-quality sites and inbound links from them.

So, when it comes to guest posting, you have to ensure that you associate your name and brand with authority, or at least quality, sites only.

If you want to guest post the right way, you need to know from the beginning that it’s a time- and resource-consuming process. But it’s also one of the best investments you can make to build your reputation online.

Evaluating guest posting opportunities

Finding the most valuable guest blogging opportunities on high-authority sites takes time. You have to nurture a relationship with the blog owner, and that means human interaction, not automated emails.

But if you’ve just started building your reputation, you can’t approach authoritative bloggers yet, because you’ll have no evidence of what you can write about, or how well. If you approach them at this stage, you will probably get a low response rate.

Instead, focus on blogs with small and medium levels of influence (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, likes, +’s and so on).

Contrary to what many believe, finding such guest posting opportunities does not have to involve hours of research. When approaching small blogs, you don’t have to put yourself through the cumbersome process of pitching your guest posts to famous bloggers in niche-related blogs. You will get refused, but it won’t hurt as much as being refused by an online influencer.

Once you build a bit of a reputation and learn from your mistakes and feedback, you can gradually approach the bigger players.

For the lowest hanging fruit, register on popular sites like MyBlogGuest and BloggerLinkup that offer members a platform to announce niche-specific guest posting opportunities and to solicit proposals. Keep in mind that these are also populated by offers that are not worth considering.

Once you have shortlisted a few guest posting opportunities with influence, the next step is to make sure that the site you agree to write for is credible.

The following checklist will help you determine their standing.

Check the site’s integrity

While you cannot guarantee that a website will always stay online, or that a link from it will never be de-valued, there are precautions that you can take to minimize the chances of those things happening.

Integrity checklist

  • Check the website’s PageRank. Don’t automatically dismiss lower PR sites. Sites with low PageRank (below 3) should be checked for other metrics. Dismiss anything that’s not ranked, has a PR of 0, or gray PR on the toolbar.
  • Ensure the website is backed or owned by an organization/individual with a physical address.
  • Ensure the website has clearly stated editorial or business objectives.
  • Ensure the website has a clear design and a sitemap.
  • Ensure that the About page clearly states who the owner is.
  • Check site:sitename.com in Google to see if the site is banned from the SERPs (no results means a Google ban).
  • Check for the site/business name. If it’s not showing, there’s a problem.
  • Ensure that the website is not a blog network. Blog networks don’t usually have contact details and viable About pages.

Look for social signals

Check for the website’s presence on social media sites. For instance, it should have an active Facebook page with a decent number of Likes, and the owner should have a respectable number of Followers on Twitter and/or G+, and/or have an active LinkedIn profile.

Of course, these are no guarantees of credibility, but they can certainly be considered points in the website’s favor.

Find the number of RSS subscribers

To accomplish this, either refrence the data displayed on the blog, or identify the number of subscribers using Google Reader (this is not as accurate a method, though).

To use Google Reader: login, go to Browse for Stuff, and then Search:

rss

For an in-depth article on how to find this number you can read the article Using Blog Subscriber Metrics for Better Outreach Decision Making.

Check content quality

A look at the top two to three posts hosted on the website will give you an idea of the blog’s quality. If most of the posts look spammy, are badly structured, or are just generally low quality, you should be wary.

Also, if you see more ads than content on the website, it’s a good idea to give the site a miss.

Check competitive data sources

Try Compete, Quantcast and Alexa, but be aware that none offer completely accurate data. Look for absolute numbers, but also for trends.

This alone will give you a lot of information and help you decide whether or not the website is worth guest posting on.

Checking Alexa rank

Trending shows that this site is growing (wonderful, that’s our site J)

Alexa.com reveals metrics like:

  • Social Reputation: the number of inbound links a site has
  • Time spent: how long visitors stay on the website, and how many pages they view
  • Demographics: the profile of visitors that frequent the website
  • Keywords: the list of keywords that people have used to search for the website.

The demographic and keyword information will help you decide if a particular site’s visitor base matches your blog’s target market profile.

Visitor time investment and social reputation will give you further clues about the quality of the website.

It’s worth the time

Putting every potential guest posting opportunity through the full checklist might sound like a lot of work. But, in practical terms, all you’ll have to do is this:

  1. Enter the website name +Facebook/Twitter/G+/LinkedIn to check social signals.
  2. Check if the website has a working About page and a contact address.
  3. Spend five minutes reading through the website’s content.
  4. Enter the website URL into Alexa.

The whole process won’t take too long. In any case, it’s better to spend ten minutes on the checklist, than to waste hours writing for a website that is penalized or banned, or doesn’t have an audience.

Keep records

This comes last on the list, but it’s actually critical. Every interaction with a site owner has to be recorded for future reference. Nowadays I use Buzzstream to keep track of my guest blogging initiatives. I used to use Excel but things get very complicated very quickly.

This article is just the tip of the iceberg for guest blogging, but it should at least provide a quick checklist for selecting the right guest blogging partners.

Writing the content to win them is the other part of the story and one that’s been covered here at ProBlogger many times.

Traian is Director of SEO and co-founder of Pitstop Media Inc, a Canadian company that provides top rated SEO services to businesses across North America.

Partnering With Another Blogger: The Complete Guide

This guest post was written by Yoav Vilner of Ranky.

“Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”—Hellen Keller

If you are a genuine pro blogger, then I shouldn’t waste your time explaining just how important it is to co-operate with your competitors.

It’s been mentioned around here over and over, in so many different variations.

It’s crystal clear how beneficial a blogging alliance would be for you: you can grab your partner’s traffic, social followers and social signals in return for letting him or her borrow yours.

Sounds like a treat, doesn’t it?

But much like trying to produce a mega-successful content marketing campaign, most of us can see the benefits in doing it, yet can’t put our finger on just how to get there.

This tutorial won’t toss reckless slogans in the air; it will turn you into a partnership expert, and teach you how to ignite that one relationship that could change your blog forever.

We’re all human

Your first and most basic takeaway from this piece of content should be to understand that we’re all human.

I am not going to drive you into bugging big shots on Twitter just for the sake of equality, but try remembering that even Pete Cashmore started off as a one-man-with-a-laptop-show, blogging about his passion, before unleashing his brilliant networking skills and creating the empire known as Mashable.

So you might not see the point of re-tweeting his keynotes from where he’s standing now—you’ll just be another fish flapping around the gigantic ocean, right?

But just for fun, imagine if you offered him a fascinating opportunity for co-operation right before Mashable’s big breakthrough.

Imagine you’d messaged him when Mashable was still a medium-sized blog, seeing a mere 10,000 visitors a month, only to get the green light: “Sure man, let’s do this!”

Where would your blog be today?

Remember: don’t be afraid nor shy to address bloggers who you might think are bigger than you. Our blog has an overall of 12K adorable social followers; do you think that it could keep us from partnering with a blog that carries an audience a third of that size?

Don’t research

Hear ye, hear ye! I hereby deny the research phase of finding your future partner! Read all about it!

Logic says that if you are blogging right now, it’s probably because you have followed blogs for at least a year, and have developed an appetite for blogging.

You’ve done enough “researching” when Googling for popular blogs, finding the ones that captivated you and made you follow them on Twitter—or better yet, contained posts that you shared to your Facebook buddies and tried creating discussions about.

They taught you all you wanted to know about your niche, whether it be social media marketing or deer hunting, and made you dream about becoming a blogger yourself one day.

You can’t think of two or three blogs that captured you right from the start? Then I would suggest you hold on to your blogging dream for the moment, until you become a more active follower of the blogosphere.

After all, you wouldn’t go and open a restaurant if you’d never actually had dinner in one, right?

I’m not writing this tutorial for people who plan on sending 100′s of automated Emails to all the blogs in their niche, but to a lot more focused bloggers.

It takes two to tango

So you have in mind a few blogs that you fantasize about partnering with.

Now, most of the blogging alliance articles online consist of tips on how to address that future partner of yours.

I find them to be completely useless. We aren’t in second grade, and we don’t need anyone to teach us how to compose an email.

I can summarize 100,000 words that I’ve personally read about writing a winning email to these obvious pointers:

  1. Make it personal: no “Dear Sir\Madam.”
  2. Prove that you are an actual follower of the blog: state just what value the blog has provided you so far, and which articles within it actually made you think.
  3. Get to the point quickly: no story-telling!
  4. Remind the blogger that it takes two to tango, and both of you should benefit from the partnership.

I just saved you hours of reading these tips in many different variations. The truth is, you don’t even have to follow them! Just remember one simple rule: be honest.

In a world dominated by one search engine, we all know Google rewards bloggers for being honest with their readers, but tend to forget that actual people can reward us even more for keeping it real.

Points of partnership for a blog the same size as yours

So you emailed the blogs that you dream of partnering with, and one of them replied asking for more details.

Great! Already you have showed more progress than 80% of people who do it wrong and don’t get a single reply.

Now, you need to elaborate on what you had in mind. Let’s take a look at the most popular ways of co-operating with a blogger.

Writing content for each other

I’m going to start with the most obvious idea, just to get it out of the way.

Google wants to see that your site is ever-growing content wise. Meanwhile, we are all very busy, lazy, and constantly seeking inspiration, and that’s where some co-operation could help out.

Though writing your own stuff is the only way to earn your crowd’s trust, just imagine how great it could be to have your partner-blogger help you out with your writer’s block and the content gaps that appear when you’re not able to write for a few days.

He’ll write an article from his angle, and once it’s up he’ll promote it to his social followers for you.

Then, when he gets stuck the next time, you’ll help him out the same way.

Both of your blogs’ readers will appreciate the diversity—sometimes it’s quite refreshing to read someone else’s opinions when following a single-author blog.

While you use your content to brand yourself as an expert in the field, uploading articles to the partner’s blog will get your “brand” in front of a new group of readers.

After exposing them to your name for the first time, you’ll start writing for the other blog on a monthly basis, say, and they will slowly realize that you know what you are talking about.

Social co-operation

We all need social signals on our articles.

They increase the chances of getting the post to go viral, they expose thousands of people to your headline and thus to your site, and in overall they just make your content seem more believable. (Would you believe an article that has been re-tweeted twice, or one that has been shared 200 times?)

Other than driving traffic, social signals have a direct affect on your site’s Google Authority, as Google started measuring these metrics in its algorithm.

If you have 2,000 social followers, and your future partner has 1,500 social followers, this would be a perfect case for a social alliance that will help you both cross the 3,000-4,000 line just by sharing each other’s stuff.

Assuming you both have social bookmarking profiles, use Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon to bookmark each other’s posts. Use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to share your partner’s articles to your own followers.

Not only will you help him reach more readers, but that way you can get his article to be indexed by Google much faster and help it rank higher for its keywords.

A bonus benefit of a social co-operation is that most of us share our own content 90% of the time, without realizing that a better practice would be showing our followers that we aren’t a bunch of boring narcissists—we are also open to other people’s opinions.

Remember: making your partner’s blog socially stronger will directly make your own blog stronger!

Comments

It’s not enough to socially adore your partner’s blog: it’s also important to light up discussions within it.

It takes only one real comment on a post to ignite a viral discussion, and agreeing that you will both start or contribute to discussions on your articles can do wonders for your blog’s traffic and engagement levels.

This is social proof at its finest.

If you’re traveling and you need to decide whether to have a coffee at the empty place in front of you, or the packed place next door, you will probably choose the one that has the crowd.

Customers bring more customers, and the same goes for comments.

Make a rule to leave a genuine comment on each new post your partner writes, and you will see the results for yourself.

Mentions

This is my favorite idea, and it comes in two forms: backlinks and Thank you pages.

Backlinking to your partner’s relevant pages from within your new articles can do wonders for their Google rankings, and you can also benefit when they return a link.

Just remember to keep it clean and natural, as Google’s Penguin update from last August has massively increased the search engine’s ability to identify unnatural and low-quality reciprocal linking patterns.

The other kind of mentions that I like are those that come through Thank you pages.

Your readers get (or at least should get) to a Thank you page after they register, login, subscribe to your newsletter, or perform any other desired goal.

Imagine how beneficial it could be for you and your partner if you mentioned each other’s blogs as a recommendation each time a user completes such a goal.

Points of partnership for a blog that’s bigger than yours

Blogs that are at a higher traffic level than yours will likely need a lot more convincing to agree to an alliance offer.

After all, if you’ll be tweeting their content to 1,000 followers, while they’re tweeting yours to 30,000 followers, it can be difficult to see what they’ll get out of the partnership.

It’s important that your points of partnership are unique, as the bigger a blog gets, the more similar requests its owner will get per day.

Offering a free service

Do you have expertise besides blogging? Great!

Use that expertise to offer the bigger blog free services in exchange for a blog partnership.

You will naturally have to donate more time and effort at the start of the partnership, but when you’re calculating long-term ROI, both sides can gain much from this alliance.

Are you a graphic designer? Throw in a few free graphics to save the partner’s cash when they’re designing their next landing page. You know solid SEO? Awesome: make them a nice SEO report for their site at no charge.

The list goes on: you could be a social media expert, a mobile App developer, or even a t-shirt provider.

The bigger your partner blog is, the more you should be willing to provide at no cost in return for an alliance.

Volunteer to be the blog’s editorial assistant

If you got a reply from a blog that’s significantly bigger than yours, you might want to consider volunteering as an editorial assistant.

If they go for it, you will save the blogger a load of time answering to guest post requests, editorial emails and different kinds of inquiries. You can be the one answering all the guest posters, supplying them with the guidelines, and making sure their submissions are up to par before passing them to the editor.

Extra benefits

So you’ve started co-operating with another blog, and you’re doing great. You get twice as many social signals, your traffic has jumped and your brand is growing beyond your wildest dreams.

The good news is that it doesn’t end here.

Life is unpredictable, and you could end up running into amazing business opportunities just by forming a simple online alliance.

If you and your partner come up with a really creative partnership or a mutual product co-operation, it could be so newsworthy that it gets picked up by major news outlets in your niche—and that’s when you’ll see some serious traffic spikes.

If you and your partner blogger are both social media experts, and your alliance has earned you both more business leads, you might come to the conclusion that there’s something to it, and start a new business as real-life partners.

If you have been volunteering as an editorial assistant for a massive blog for a few months, gained their trust, and shown that your own blog is also growing, your blog might be acquired by theirs—giving you the chance to earn more money from the deal than you ever imagined.

Last but not least, partnering with a blogger can earn you what money will never buy—a new best friend.

Have you got a blogging partner? Tell us how you work together in the comments.

Guest post was written by Yoav Vilner, co-founder of Ranky.