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X-Ray Vision for Guest Bloggers: Author Stats

This guest post is by Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media.

Analytics are great for seeing your site’s performance, but we can’t usually peek into other people’s web stats.

However, there is a tool that gives you a view you may not have seen before. It’s called Google Author Stats.

Embrace your new blogging super power

I think of guest blogging as modern-day PR. It has social media and search marketing benefits, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a key part of blogger collaboration.

The X-ray vision we’re talking about is useful for guest bloggers, but it works for any blogger.

To make it work, you need to do two things:

  1. Use Google Authorship to add a “digital signature” to your posts.
  2. Apply some SEO basics to your writing: a bit of keyphrase research and usage.

If you’ve been doing this all along, get ready to see through walls! Here’s how: log into Google Webmaster Tools using your Google+ login info.

This might seem strange because this account isn’t necessarily tied to a website. But keep going.

Now, click “Labs > Author Stats”. Here’s what you’ll see…

The stats

You’re looking at the SEO performance of every post you’ve written and tagged for Authorship. Let’s step through the information that’s included here.

  • Page: the address
  • Impressions: the number of times it has appeared in search results
  • Clicks: the number of visits to the page
  • CTR/Clickthrough Rate: the percentage of searchers who clicked on it
  • Avg. Position: how high the page ranks on average for all its keyphrases

It’s a thrill the first time you put on your Author Stats X-ray specs. You’re seeing the SEO performance (an important part of Analytics) for your site, but also other people’s websites. It’s enough to make a man blush!

Use your powers for good, not evil

Now that you can see through walls, what are you going to do with your new powers? Here’s a tip: use them for good. Use them as a reason to reach out and collaborate. Here are a few ways a guest author can continue to work with a host blog based on Authors Stats.

Your guest post has…

  • Avg. Position of 11-15: You’re ranking on page two, but not far from page one. The host blog should look for a few opportunities to link to the post from older posts, improving the link popularity. Or you can write another post on a similar topic with new link to the original post.
  • Avg. Position of 1-5, but CTR below 5%: You’re on page one, but not many people are clicking. There may be a mismatch between the title and meta description and the meaning of the keyphrase. Tweak the title to make sure the keyphrase and the topic are aligned semantically.
  • Clicks of 500 or more per month: You’re driving some traffic! The combination of your content and the host’s domain authority are powering significant visits from search. You should work together more often!

Now take of the X-ray glasses, email the blog editor, and continue to collaborate. Help the blog, help yourself, and help future readers find your content.

Peek at a few final tips

There are loads of competitive analysis tools that can give you a peek into the stats of other sites, but there’s still a lot we can’t see.

Ever used X-ray vision? Need help troubleshooting it? Got a favorite super power of your own? Leave a comment or question below…

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

5 Ways to Harness Your Online Reputation For Blogging Success

This guest post is by Valerie Wilson.

Quick: Picture that bad choice for a prom or bridesmaid’s dress years ago. Or the haircut that your mom made you get—the one that looked like a Tupperware bowl had been placed on your head. The one that didn’t go over very well at school.

Some memories do last forever, don’t they? This is true. But, hey, they are just memories. All good. No real damage, right?

Quicker: Remember one rumor that floated around your high school years ago. Who was doing what with whom>?! Remember how it spread like wild fire? And how old are you now? How long has that rumor stuck with you? Those were rumors. No proof!

But your Facebook political blurt-out a few years ago—or last week? A scathing reaction you made or to which you responded? Or—the biggie—a “little comment” about a previous account or client or employer with whom you worked?

Brace yourself. That “just having a bad day” comment can have a long-lasting effect. That’s the stuff that can be cut and pasted and repeated and posted—everywhere. Don’t let that happen to you.

The good news is that there are some strong strategies you may employ to improve your online reputation:

  1. Always tell the truth. Remember those rules you learned as a kid? This was one of the most important ones. To increase your readership, don’t embellish. Your blog will succeed if you establish this intention. For example, Intentional Growth does a great job of establishing credibility.
  2. Build positive relationships. When you blog, you’re building relationships with people and organizations. Be aware of building as many of these positive relationships as possible. Follow other blogs; they’ll reply in kind. Appreciate them by directly commenting to them and about them, and keep the language fun and enjoyable. Upbeat blogs such as RapidBuyr’s exemplify this technique really well!
  3. Keep calm and carry on. If you do get that occasional negative poster, be sure to keep calm and carry on, just like the t-shirt says. The goal is to make it right. Do it quickly, or the number of your blog followers could dramatically decrease. Your reaction can and will be around for a long time. Act accordingly. One particular blog, Socialnomics, shares even more insight about how to handle negative feedback on your blog. Damage control can be painless if you pay attention to just a few key strategies.
  4. Go viral, go viral, and then … go viral. The more viral your blog goes, the stronger your reputation and following will be. Bigger is better. Get that blog up on every social media site you’re connected to, and consider providing incentives for folks who “share” your blog through their own social media. An angel investor, Haig Kayserian, shares the story of how his blog went viral, and it’s filled with great insights about how to get yours to do the same. “Word of mouth,” move over. There’s a new kid in town!
  5. Spread good karma! We all know that it just takes 30 seconds with the news, a newspaper, or a headline on your phone or tablet to remind you that life can present some pretty ugly stuff. Let people take a break from that by logging on and spending some time with your fun, upbeat, charismatic, and charming blog. When they like you, they’ll follow you. Just ask Oprah. Or Jimmy Fallon. They got the goods!  A personal favorite for spreading good vibes is the Etsy blog.

These five strategies can help you to attain and maintain a favorable reputation, and the great news is that there are now easy and efficient websites that you can use that will keep an eye on that reputation.

Sites like Reputation.com are fantastic for addressing the challenge of tracking your online reputation. They can monitor and guide you through reputation management for your businesses and your blog, and they have figured out how to make it easy for you! That’s a good day at the office right there!

Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics including creating strong workplace communications and spreading some good karma.

Why You’re Terrified to Write a Guest Post, and How to Beat the Fear

This guest post is by Ryan Biddulph of Cashwithatrueconscience.com.

I know. You are beyond terrified to publish a guest post on an authority blog. It took me years to get the gumption to submit a post to problogger.net. Yep, it took me years. To even think about submitting a post. Then, after thinking about it, I finally decided to turn out the guest post and submit it. Success!

But it took a while because I was terrified to write a guest post for one specific reason.

I feared receiving hyper-critical comments from strangers. Really, I was terrified about seeing different opinions or snide comments, or having someone take apart my post like a roast chicken at a family dinner.

This fear was very real, so real in fact, that I refused to even think about submitting a guest post for many years. Of course this held my online businesses back big time, because hey, look at the size of the ProBlogger audience.

Fear is funny. You can either be held captive by fear, or you can use the fear for your benefit, by growing from it. It’s your choice. Every time.

Getting over the fear

Getting over the fear of criticism from the comments field is not easy. It is quite uncomfortable, really, but one thing you will learn quickly is this: if you want to grow you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If you want to submit the guest post, get it approved, attract more readers and make money with your blog, well, all of these benefits reside on the other side of your fears.

You must accept this idea to become successful.

Practical tip

Here is a neat little mantra which can help you get past the fear of criticism. Use it frequently.

“All about them, nothing to do with me.”

That is it. Repeat the mantra a few times. Embrace the idea that a commenter’s opinion is their viewpoint, which has to do entirely with them. Their viewpoint has nothing to do with you, because it is their viewpoint, not your viewpoint.

It can seem like a Herculean task, attempting to get past the fear of criticism. I know, you likely hate receiving negative comments. I do. But you need to move away from taking things personally if you plan to grow your blog readership at a quick clip.

The tendency to enter your cocoon

After reading a few negative comments from strangers who read your guest post, and disagree with it, you’ll want to run back to your lil’ comfy blog. You never want to deal with these rude, boorish commenters, who “know nothing about blogging”, so you stop submitting guest posts.

This is a mistake, entering your safety cocoon, your blog, because you will attract new readers, share your talents with the world and make money online by leveraging your presence.

Leveraging your presence means submitting guest posts to blogs with massive readerships. So, resist the urge to sprint to your comfort cocoon when you are angry at receiving criticism.

Where the big money is made

Is the criticism you receive in the comments field true? Is your ego blinding you? Are you simply angry at someone who makes a point which is true, which would put more readers in your RSS, and money in your pocket? You can dismiss people without tact but you can never dismiss the truth—at least, you can’t if you want to grow as a blogger.

The big blogging bucks are made if you can embrace all criticism, sift through the garbage, and take out the gold. Remember, a negative comment is a person’s opinion, a viewpoint. It is a suggestion. So, accept or reject the suggestion, and simply embrace the sting that might arise as you go through the sifting process.

Practice

Practice makes perfect in the fielding criticism department. Submit guest posts to authority blogs. Read the comments. Respond when you can but make sure to observe all manner of comments, and the responses or reactions which arise from within. Your blog’s RSS count will thank you for it.

Are you terrified to receive negative comments on your guest posts? Let’s talk about it in the coments.

Ryan Biddulph helps entrepreneurs create value and build connections to grow their home based opportunity. Please subscribe to his blog Click Here.

Four Simple Traffic Strategies for a Post-Panda and -Penguin World

This guest post is by Lisa Angelettie.

For many years, there were bloggers who could follow a few basic SEO rules, publish a post, wait for Google to spider and rank it, and watch the traffic flow in.

In fact, many of these bloggers made a living primarily from the incoming traffic that Google sent them. All that rapidly and dramatically ended for many businesses after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.

Did these bloggers commit an online business blunder? Absolutely. How many times have you heard that you should never depend on one source of traffic to your website? I know I’ve heard it about a million times over the years, but the reality is that a lot of bloggers don’t really know how to actively get traffic to their sites from other than the search engines.

Here are a few blog promotion essentials to get traffic flowing to your posts from a variety of sources and none of them have anything to do with search engines reliance.

1. Share posts on your social media networks

Bloggers have one big advantage that many business owners who started years ago don’t, and that’s the leverage of social media. After you’ve written and published your post, naturally, the very first thing you need to do is to announce that post to the folks in your social media networks. Remember, though, that if you write a post at 2am, you’ll want to wait to announce it to social media sites when your followers are most active.

The social sites that have been proven to generate traffic include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Make sure that you have included social media sharing buttons on your blog, too—many bloggers still haven’t. WordPress now offers social media integration through their WordPress plugin Jetpack, you could use Wibiya’s social media sharing bar or try a variety of other free social media WordPress plugins available at WordPress.org.

One more note: I can’t talk about social media without talking about SEO. One can influence and improve the other.

Search engines like Google have been saying for a long time now that social signals matter when it comes to search rankings. So the more you build up your social influence with more tweets, more likes, more shares, and more pins of your content, the more likely Google is likely to view your content as authoritative and rank it accordingly. The Bing search engine now includes social influence ranking tool Klout in their social sidebar.

Bottom line: if you’ve been avoiding it or playing around with it, it’s time to get serious about becoming more social.

2. Announce posts to your circle of influence

This is a strategy that many bloggers avoid like the plague. One of the cool things about blogging is that you can write what you want, when you want, and try a lot of cool things on your blog without having to get anyone’s approval.

Unfortunately that “alone on an island” approach doesn’t work when it comes to getting actual readers to your blog. It takes a village to raise a blog!

Identify and build a circle of people who you can let know that your blog post is live and will share it with their lists and their social media communities. The circle doesn’t have to be big. Even if you only know two people, that will put your content in front of a lot more eyes than doing it all on your own. These could be friends who also blog, coaches you’ve worked with, or alliances you’ve made on social media.

To communicate with my circle of influence, I created a very small private group on Facebook, invited them to join, and now we announce each other’s articles there so we can easily share and link to them. There are also a few other more prominent bloggers who I send a personal email to and they share my content. One blogger recently mentioned me to his list which resulted in over 142 confirmed subscribers to my list over a 48 hour period. That’s great for one email!

Think of two people you could reach out to today and ask them would they be willing to enter a mutual blog promotion relationship. Most bloggers are going to say yes.

3. Promote posts on blogging communities

I use to think blogging communities were a waste of time. I was wrong. Many of the bloggers who are getting major traffic to their sites are very active in blogging communities and have been for a long time. These are the types of like-minded people that you want to meet and start building relationships with.

  • Promote their content on these communities.
  • Friend them on the communities.
  • Share their posts on social media.
  • Write guest posts for them.

When you do, you’ll begin to become a part of a “clique” of bloggers who support and champion each other.

Communities that are my favorites include BlogEngage.com, Bloggers.com, Inbound.org, FamousBloggers.net, Blokube.com and ViralContentBuzz.com.

4. Announce your posts to your list

The biggest ambassadors of my content are my email subscribers, but oddly enough, a lot of bloggers forget all about this. Some bloggers have tunnel vision and are only worried about “new traffic” coming to their sites, but an essential source of traffic to any blog is return visitors.

Return visitors clearly enjoy your content and are much more likely to give word-of-mouth referrals, share your content to their social networks, comment on your posts and act on any call to actions you may have included in your articles.

To get subscriber traffic, make sure that you offer ample opportunities and incentives for visitors to opt into your list: top of site, right sidebar, after posts, in guest posts, etc.

It’s also important to give subscribers more than one opportunity to read your posts. For example, I send out a newsletter that features one new article on my site at the top of the week, but then I send another email towards the end of the week giving a wrap up of all the articles that have been published on the blog in the last few days. This helps ensure that I get regular return visitor traffic to my site every week.

What are some of the blog promotion strategies you use to drive more traffic to your site? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Lisa Angelettie is a copywriting and content marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs how to make more money with web content. Download a copy of her free eBook Publishing Guide or visit her site for more tips like these.

11 Reasons Your Blog is on a Road to Nowhere (And What to Do About It)

This guest post is by Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing.

You’re smart.

You got drive.

You’re blogging, and blogging, and blogging. You’re producing good content. But somehow your efforts are not rewarded.

Your enthusiasm for checking your traffic stats is gone. Because the trickle of traffic makes you feel down, lonely, and maybe a little desperate. Are you wasting your time?

Let’s be honest.

Building a blog is hard work. It’s tough. And you need to be business savvy. That’s right. You need to treat your blog as a business. You need to get serious about marketing your blog. Because if you don’t market your blog, it’s going to remain lonely out there.

Let’s have a look at 11 common blog marketing mistakes. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll gain more traffic, more shares, and more comments. And eventually, you’ll be able to make serious money.

Mistake 1: You’ve jumped straight in

Of course, it’s great to get started.

Get a domain name, a web host, a theme, a topic you love writing about; and you’re ready to go. Right?
I don’t think so. You need to know what your audience likes; what they want to read about, what they’re passionate about.

Before launching Social Triggers, Derek Halpern knew exactly what his audience wanted: fact-based advice on how to grow web traffic. That’s why he combines academic research with blogging tips.

Before you start your blog, research your audience. Read comments on the big blogs your audience is reading. Which topics resonate most? What are readers passionate about? What questions do they ask? What do they struggle with?

Mistake 2: Your audience is too diverse

When you’re writing your blog posts, who do you write for? Are you trying to write for as big a crowd as possible? Are you trying to appeal to as many readers as you can?

Writing to a crowd makes your writing bland; writing to one person makes you engaging and fascinating.
Start by describing your ideal reader. Have you seen how the Word Chef describes her ideal client? You don’t have to publish your ideal reader. But you need to know who you’re writing for.

When you write your next blog post, imagine writing to just one reader: your ideal reader.

Mistake 3: You’ve picked the wrong topic

Do you think you need to avoid the big topics, because they’re too competitive? Think again. If you pick a topic nobody has written about, then most probably hardly anyone is interested in your topic.

The truth is: the big topics are the topics people want to read about. Finance. Personal development. Blogging. Parenting. Marketing. Gadgets.

Yep, those topics are competitive. Hugely competitive. But you can be sure there’s an audience waiting for you. You just have to figure out how you’re going to stand out from the other blogs. And that’s why you need a purple cow.

Mistake 4: You don’t have a purple cow

A purple cow is what makes you different. If you’d see a purple cow, it would draw attention, wouldn’t it? You’d be fascinated by it and you’d remember it, wouldn’t you? That’s why you need a purple cow—a term coined by Seth Godin.

Why would people read you blog rather than a competing blog? A few ideas:

  • Your personality appeals to your readers.
  • Your passion attracts followers.
  • Your writing style is special.
  • Your opinion is appreciated.
  • Your experience is unique.

You’re not Walmart or Target. You don’t need to appeal to everyone. If you create something truly different, some people may think you’re crazy. But that doesn’t matter. As long as other people love your blogging, that’s absolutely fine. Don’t be afraid to put readers off. Because you’ll build a stronger bond with your core audience.

Apple has raving fans who queue up to trade in their iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5 as soon as it’s launched. But Apple also has its haters, who avoid buying Apple products.

Do you know Johnny B Truant? He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, because he tells it as it is and he swears a lot. But he has hugely passionate fans, too. You see? You don’t need to appeal to everyone. You just have to build your own tribe.

Mistake 5: You don’t know how you want to change the world

You can’t create passionate readers if your message is lame. If you want to fascinate people and create a loyal following, you need a mission. Strong brands are on a mission. Think Nike, Apple, or Harley Davidson. Popular bloggers are on a mission, too.

Leo Babauta at Zenhabits teaches people to live simply, to keep themselves centered and at peace as they make a slow journey to creating good habits and achieving their goals. A clear mission, isn’t it?

How are you going to change the world?

Mistake 6: Your design puts people off

If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to look professional. Your blog is your brand. What impression do you want to leave? Professional? Full of fun? Warm? Corporate? Artistic?

Compare these two social media blogs: Simply Zesty looks fresh, but rather corporate. The {grow} blog from Mark Schaefer looks just as professional, but a little more fun.

Also, keep in mind that your design has a large impact on readability. Use white space, large fonts, and sub headlines to guide your readers through your content.

Mistake 7: Your blogging voice is erratic

You’re a blogger. You’re a writer. You communicate through your content.

Your brand is not just your blog design; and not just what you’re blogging about. It’s also how you blog. What’s you’re writing style? And does it match your blog design? Does it match your brand?

You need a unique voice that reflects your brand. Have you read the Aweber and MailChimp blogs? Aweber is quite serious and a bit corporate. MailChimp is cheeky and more personable. One is not better than the other. They’re just different. And their tone of voice reflects their brands.

Jon Morrow and Darren Rowse both blog about blogging. Jon Morrow is like your favourite high-school teacher. He tells you off when he needs to and uses strong language, but inspires you to study harder. Darren Rowse is like a friendly neighbour. Full of useful advice, helpful when you’re stuck, and he never says a bad word about you.

How are you positioning yourself? And does your tone of voice match?

Mistake 8: You’re hiding yourself

As a blogger, you are an important part of your brand. People connect with you because of who you are.
Nobody enjoys phoning a call centre. Nobody wants to get in touch with a boring corporation. Nobody wants to chat with a faceless company.

To build a loyal following you need to be human and get a little personal. Show your passion, mention some titbits about your life, share your experience, and let your passion shine through.

Even though I mainly write about copywriting and content marketing, my email subscribers know I love cycling, because I use cycling analogies to explain copywriting tricks and I’ve even included cycling holiday snaps to illustrate points. That’s how I’m building a connection with my readers.

Mistake 9: You think your traffic will snowball

You need to market your blog to gain an audience. Overnight success doesn’t exist.

Generating traffic is hard work, and no shortcuts exist. Social media and SEO can generate traffic, but guest blogging is often the best way because guest blogging allows you to borrow the audience from a big blog.

Don’t have enough time for guest blogging? Reduce your own blogging schedule, post once a week rather than daily; post once a month instead of weekly. And use the time you’ve freed up to post on other blogs.

Mistake 10: You’re not enticing people onto your email list

Getting blog readers to sign up to your email list should be your priority. Because once they’re subscribed, you can email them when a new post goes live. And when you’re ready to sell, your email list is your most precious marketing asset.

Email is more powerful than social media, especially when it comes to selling. Have you seen this graph from Darren?

Email drives profits

That tells you enough, doesn’t it? Get an email subscription form on your home page, your about page, and each blog post. Consider removing the option to subscribe to your RSS feed, because it distracts from your email subscription form.

Mistake 11: You’re a dreamer

Of course we’re all dreaming of success, of more readers, more shares, more comments, more money.

But dreaming about success isn’t going to get you there. You need plan. Not a Soviet-style ten-year plan. Just a plan for your next month. Decide on your mission, define your brand, your design, your voice, and think about how you’re going to grow your audience during the next month.

And then in a month’x time you can see what worked, and what didn’t work. And then you can write another one-month plan. To increase your traffic. To grow your audience. And to build your email list.

The truth about building your audience

Let’s be honest.

Growing your audience is hard work. It requires energy, enthusiasm, and guts. Dare to be different. Build your own unique brand. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Your most loyal followers, your raving fans are reading your blog because your style suits them; because your message inspires them; and because you are you.

Come on. What are you waiting for? Start marketing your blog, your brand, yourself.

Henneke Duistermaat is a marketer and copywriter. She is on a mission to make boring companies charming, and dull products exciting. Sign up for her Enchanting Marketing newsletter and receive free tips on copywriting and content marketing.

The Experts’ Views on Content Marketing

This guest post is by John Abrena of As the Ghost Speaks.

There have been a lot of discussions about what works in the realm of online marketing. Many say that massive link building and the quantity of links still matter, while others focus on optimizing their website to its fullest.

But after Google’s Panda update, there seems to be a talk of a “new” type of marketing which focuses on content.

Content marketing has boomed since Panda rolled out. Website owners looked for ways to build links, to promote their business, and to gain traction and traffic by having great content. But what baffles me is that it isn’t new. This type of marketing has been here longer than most online marketers realize. However, the belief that it’s a “new” system is ingrained in their heads only because, I believe, a lot of site owners haven’t really paid attention to their content until now.

A few weeks back, I asked a couple of online marketing experts about content marketing, and got some really interesting answers. My question? How do you see content marketing as the new face of online marketing?

Rand Fishkin

CEO of SEOMoz
RandContent marketing can accomplish much of what advertising attempts to do—earn the familiarity, trust, and positive sentiment of an audience toward your brand—and it does so without having the huge associated costs. Content requires and rewards creativity, effort and execution more so than strict dollars, but it also overcomes much of the natural bias modern consumers form against advertising’s motivations and “ad blindness.”

As online marketing evolves, more and more attention and awareness goes to the web’s content—to blogs, to social media, to search results, to videos, to news publications. But, only a fraction of this attention spreads to the paid advertising on these channels. Thus, it only makes sense that as ads become ubiquitous but low ROI, marketing efforts will spread to inbound channels.

Don Rhoades

Owner of The Gonzo SEO

DonContent marketing is a hell of a lot better word than “inbound marketing”. I would argue that content marketing has always been the face of online marketing. I know some people are tired of hearing the phrase, but it does best describe the intent of the campaign. It also supports the necessity for shareable content, and not just writing.

John Doherty

SEO Consultant at Distilled

John I don’t think it’s the new face of online marketing. It may be the new thing that SEOs have not thought about before, but it’s always been the most effective form of online marketing in ethical ways, ways that build businesses for the long term. As someone recently said, “Content marketing is not a shiny new toy.” It has always been around. We are just now realizing that old ways of gaming the system don’t work well anymore, and we need to find ways that will last.

Michael King

Owner of iPullRank and Director of Inbound Marketing at iAcquire.

MichaelIt’s not the new face of online marketing, content has always been what people are looking for. It’s trendy in online marketing right now at least to talk about. Not enough brands have embraced it as a more viable method than interruption marketing. The concept of Earned Media is definitely not new, and most brands only consider it a small part of what they do. They will continue to funnel the biggest dollars into advertising and the like, but I think as more big brands like Coca Cola and Red Bull see results more people will adopt it.

Jon Cooper

Consultant reachable via his blog, Pointblank SEO

Jon Content is giving someone a reason to link to you. In the past, you didn’t need much of a reason, just a website. But as time goes on, and like with any market that deals with an increase in competition, you have to set yourself apart in someway, and outside of the obvious ones like pricing, community, and product quality, content is becoming the main (if not only) way to do so.

James Agate

Founder of Skyrocket SEO, the content-driven link building agency

Content marketing isn’t a new concept. Joe Pullizi was recently talking about a form of content marketing which dates back to 1895; obviously it has moved online since then but the fundamental principles remain the same.

JamesContent marketing has and always will be an integral and vital part of online marketing. The name might change and the way we do it might evolve but fundamentally nothing has changed for over 100 years. It’s about “creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.”

Content touches and drives every aspect of online marketing so if a business isn’t investing in content then they will be falling behind. As many businesses (and agencies in fact) have found out recently, link building for example without the production of solid content will really only get you so far and in some cases may end up pushing you backwards.

Tom Demers

Co-founder and managing partner with Measured SEM, a search engine marketing firm that offers paid and organic search marketing consulting services

TomContent marketing is really a great example of a new kind of marketing that a lot of people are talking about by a number of different names (inbound marketing, permission marketing, etc.) I think the reason content marketing is being adopted so quickly is that it has a cross-over set of benefits where it’s delivering a lot of the things direct advertising has (direct, measurable traffic and conversions) while simultaneously providing a lot of the same benefits traditional brand advertising has (thought leadership, brand building, etc.)

Cyrus Shepard

Former SEO at SEOmoz, owner of Above The Fold, his own blog

CyrusIt’s ironic that content marketing is finally seeing it’s day in the sun. In reality, good content marketing has been the primary tools of many good SEOs and online marketers for years. If you look at what some of the industry leaders were doing back in 2005, it was content marketing mixed with technical SEO—really no different than today.

The difference is that many of the “tricks” SEOs have relied on for so long have finally been devalued, too many companies have been burned by Penguin and Panda, and so marketers with an eye towards the long term are waking up to the benefits of producing content with actual value. Take it for what you will, but the shift towards content marketing is a direct result of Google’s war against low quality websites.

Neil Patel

Marketing Guru at Quick Sprout

NeilI don’t see it as the new face. I just see it as a piece of the bigger picture. I don’t think there will be one thing that is the “face” of online marketing as what works for one company won’t work for another.

Ryan Clark

Head Strategist (and all around awesome guy) at Linkbuildr

Content marketing is the “old but new face” of online marketing perhaps, and it basically means lazy marketers are going to have to become creative in their efforts. Being creative will do the one thing I love the most, making your brand stand out from the rest. If everyone likes what they see those coveted links will come in naturally … and yes, that actually does happen. Being creative with your content will also bring in more social followers who will help spread your next masterpiece so keep that snowball rolling.

The other huge benefit of content marketing is also putting a face to your brand, not just a funky logo. Your customers will appreciate experiencing your brand with someone they can relate to and content marketing is the perfect weapon. This is advice myself and our team actually needs to get better at which is why I’m getting forced into doing more videos in the near future.

What do I love the most out of all of it? The fact that you’re not trying to trick any search engines or really care about them at all. It’s all about the user experience here and if you start by pleasing their needs and wants first, the search traffic will soon follow.

Hugo Guzman

Owner of his own title site, HugoGuzman.com

HugoI actually don’t see content marketing as the new face of online marketing. It’s been one of the foundations of my approach—and that of many colleagues—for many years. What I do think is that its popularity is rising, especially among SEOs, because Google has done a good job of muting other techniques like reciprocal linking, article submission, and paid linking.

Wayne Barker

Online Marketing Consultant at Boom Online

WayneTo be honest, content marketing isn’t that new but there is always a buzz when something starts to getter wider recognition. The more people ‘get’ it the more it spreads. I think people are definitely getter smarter at measuring it’s worth and defining real strategies – and that is where the success lies.

Bonus!

So there you have it. Now, you ask, how will you shape your content marketing efforts? Which types of content should you focus on? If you are a small business and plan to scale your content marketing efforts, read my previous post about truths in content marketing scaling for small businesses, answered by the same people I mentioned above.

But here’s what you need to know if you want to get started on content marketing:

  1. Focus on being a brand: whether your business is a small one, or if you are aiming to be a large enterprise, always (and I can’t express how important this is) focus on your branding efforts first. You want to be known as “that awesome company that provides great content,” not just “some random source of good content.”
  2. Develop a unique value proposition for your business: know what makes your business sell, and what makes it unique. From there, you can build additional content that will be bought by your market. For instance, the other day I was searching for car rental comparison websites and I stumbled upon CarRentals.co.uk. As a would-be customer, I really liked how the home page was set up, and for me, it’s the business’s unique value proposition. Have a look:

    Car rentals home page

    Note the following elements:

    1. They already know what I’m looking for, and make finding it straightforward. They make it easy to choose the date, pick up location, drop off location, etc. They don’t bother with asking your name, address, and other essentials yet. You came to their website to find something, and they help you do it.
    2. You can choose which currency you will be using.
    3. Country of residence can be chosen as well.
    4. You can get a free quote!
    5. A list of the best suppliers of car rental services to choose from is also provided.

    I took the bait. That’s how good the service is (for me). Learn which part of your business/blog is your most valuable asset, and harness it. From there, and with tons of creativity, other forms of content can easily be produced.

  3. Know your audience: after you identify your unique selling proposition, another very important factor is to know what type of content your audience and would-be customers want. Assess your website assets (current articles, videos, presentations, etc.), then from there work out what content types your audience would enjoy. Some people do not like reading long posts, while others enjoy interacting with you directly. Study your audiences’ demographics to help you decide which content to build.
  4. Businesses should know how the conversion funnel works: this is important if you wish to really convert your content marketing efforts into something profitable.
    1. Top-of-the-funnel content should be for promoting your site/business, which works well in forms of guest posting.
    2. Middle-of-the-funnel content can either be blog posts on your own site or a solid and interactive page with good call to actions.
    3. Bottom-of-the-funnel content can be your product pages, etc.

Content marketing isn’t new, but as we know, it works. Add your content marketing advice in the comment section below.

+John Abrena writes on his own blog, As the Ghost Speaks about search marketing, blogging, and all the random things on his mind. He is also a marketing consultant for UPrinting.com, a top of the line offline peripherals printing company.

Triple Your Traffic by Guest Blogging for Backlinks [Case Study]

This guest post is written by Joseph from GuestBloggingTactics.com

Guest blogging is all the rage now; it’s easily the #1 marketing technique used by both individual bloggers and online corporations.

Unfortunately, most people are seeing guest blogging to be different from what it was originally painted to be.

It’s no longer the sure-fire, high-traffic formula. It’s no longer the thing you must do if you want to increase traffic to your blog. In other words, guest posts on blogs that would have sent you 500 visitors a year ago will barely send you 50 today.

Well, what if I told you you’re doing it wrong?

What if I told you I was able to get 120,000+ visitors as an indirect result of guest blogging to one of my websites in one year? And that from less than 50 guest posts?

You’ll probably want me to share the sites I guest posted on so that you can write for them, too.

But it no longer works that way. Even if there was a magic site that sent thousands of visitors per guest post, it’ll barely be able to send ten per post in a few years time once everybody bombards it with guest posts.

The good news is: it’s not about the site you choose, but the approach you use.

Most people see guest blogging as something that has to be direct, and that has to deliver results instantly.

However, by seeing guest blogging in a new light—by focusing on using guest blogging to build links instead of direct traffic—I was able to triple traffic to my blog in one year. To be specific, I experienced a 340% increase in search traffic—over 100,000 visitors—in one year.

Here’s a screenshot showing traffic to my blog a year before I started my guest blogging campaign:

Here’s a screenshot showing traffic to my blog a year after the guest blogging campaign:

How did I do it? That’s the question this post will answer.

Guest blogging and SEO

While there are many reasons people build links to their websites, the #1 reason is often to increase their search engine rankings.

Search engines are the number one traffic referrer online.

When most people have problems or issues they want to solve on the Internet, they visit Google and type a keyword that can provide solutions to the problem they’re experiencing. You do it and I do it too, every day of the week.

That’s why search engines, especially Google, are the top traffic source to almost every website on the Internet.

Getting ranked well for your desired keywords in Google and other search engines can be left to luck, a game of waiting and praying that things get right, or you can try to take control by actively building high-quality, high-value links that will improve your rankings.

One of the best ways to build these high quality links today is by guest blogging.

When most people guest post, they do it for the traffic and often ignore the link aspect. I’ve observed that the links you can get from guest blogging are much more powerful than any traffic you can get.

Why not start actively building links to your blog from your guest posts?

A personal guest blogging case study

I dedicated a month to writing and getting guest posts published for one of my sites last year. I started a guest blogging campaign to publish over 30 guest posts on several quality blogs.

The guest posts were written in a way that ties the topic of each blog I approached to the topic of my blog, without sacrificing quality, and with a focus on getting quality anchor-text backlinks instead of traffic.

In other words, since every blogger has to get an author bio below their guest post, instead of just linking back to my homepage, I used my guest posts to link to internal pages and posts on my blog with specific keywords.

I knew that doing this would be very effective, but I never knew it would be much more effective than I anticipated.

While most of the guest posts I submitted didn’t result in a single visit to my blog, and every guest post I submitted, combined, resulted in less than 50 visits, I saw a significant jump of 100 additional daily visitors in my search traffic a week after the campaign ended.

Ever since, without any active SEO effort on my part, traffic has grown significantly to up to 340% more visits a year after the challenge.

For me, that was an additional 120,000 visitors.

Of course, the guest posts I wrote in that month alone weren’t the only factor contributing to the increase in search traffic, but when I did the math I estimated that each guest post I wrote then would have attracted at least 2,000 search engine visitors in the span of a year.

Even if I’m not accurate and it’s half of that, receiving 1,000 visitors for a single guest post is very rare these days.

The campaign enlightened me and made me realize that guest blogging doesn’t always have to be for direct traffic and an instant boost in subscriber count. A link-building guest blogging campaign can also be very effective.

It doesn’t have to be “immoral”

Due to how widely abused guest blogging for links is today, most people immediately come to the conclusion that guest blogging for links is a bad thing.

It doesn’t always have to be. It’s just like SEO: there’s good and bad SEO, but when most people talk about SEO they talk about it as if it’s unethical. Does that mean you should ignore SEO? Not if you want your online business to survive!

Guest blogging is a natural thing for bloggers and it is okay to expect something in return when you write guest posts; instead of ignoring the real estate you have in the author bio of every guest post you write, why not focus on getting a high quality backlink or two that can improve your own blog’s ranking?

With that said, whether you’re a blogger or a company utilizing guest blogging, quality should of course be your number one focus. This is especially important for agencies using guest blogging, and something Georgina recently talked about here at ProBlogger.

So let’s look specifically at the steps you’ll need to follow to make this tactic work for you.

5 Steps you should follow to guest blog for backlinks

Here are the steps I take when trying to guest blog for backlinks.

1. Have effective content marketing in place

While guest blogging is effective, doing it alone won’t help you get results.

Guest blogging should be a part of a bigger content marketing plan.

In other words, before you get started, you should have a blog that constantly publishes relevant articles; you should then develop a campaign focused on ranking your landing pages and pillar articles on your blog.

For a business, this might sound like something that won’t be very effective. After all, why put all that guest blogging effort into blog posts?

However, recent changes to Google’s algorithm and those of other search engines have made it very clear that content and social are the future of SEO. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for static web pages to rank well in the search engines—and that’s where you come in.

Of course, to really get the best from this you’ll need to ensure that articles published on your blog are properly aligned with the goals of your business; this could be getting leads, selling a product, or getting readers to take a particular action, for example.

The point is it’s easier to rank a detailed blog post that can get comments and social shares than it is to rank your blog’s homepage.

2. Prepare a set of keywords you want to rank for

Based on the content of special blog posts you’ve written as well as key pages on your website, prepare a set of keywords you want to rank for.

In most cases, these keywords should be centered on a particular major keyword.

So if I’m trying to rank for “guest blogging”, for example, instead of letting all the anchor texts I use in my author bio be “guest blogging”—which can be very dangerous—I’ll target a host of other keywords such as “guest blogging tactics,” “guest blogging tips,” “guest posting,” and so on.

If possible, try to avoid using the same keyword twice—even if it’s the main keyword you want to rank for. Instead, develop a set of keywords that center around your main keyword and use them in your author bio.

By using them, you’ll be able to rank for both those keywords and the main keyword you really wanted to rank for, giving you double benefits for your effort.

3. Research and select a list of blogs you want to guest blog on

They don’t always have to be as big and massive as Problogger.net, but in choosing the blogs to guest on, try to avoid link farms and poor quality blogs as much as you can.

If you can find a relevant authority blog in your niche, great. If you can’t find a relevant blog, however, you can look for a way to write content that’s relevant to both your audience and that of the host blogger to benefit.

For example, if I were to start a guest blogging campaign to rank ProBlogger for major blogging keywords, I can easily benefit from targeting entrepreneurship blogs and even law blogs by writing articles along the lines of:

  • “7 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Should Blog”
  • “Why Not Having a Blog for Your Law Firm Could be a Disaster”

You get the idea?

The focus should be on quality. You don’t have to worry about the relevance of the blogs; your focus should be on making your content relevant and this is very easy.

4. Write great content for your guest posts

Now, don’t get this wrong. Because you’re writing a guest post ostensibly for the purpose of gaining a quality backlink, that doesn’t mean it has to be poor content.

On the contrary. Look at this particular guest post I’m writing here on Problogger.net; it’s helpful to you, and I’m able to get a quality link back to my blog at the end of it.

By focusing on quality for your guest posts, you’ll benefit. Social signals are starting to influence how Google and other search engines view any post published today; this includes the number of social shares across various social networks, the number of comments and engagement on the post.

These are things you can’t achieve by writing poor posts; you may get links, but that’ll just be it. The real value of this strategy I’m talking about comes from the value of your post months after it has been published, not in the few days it spends as the number one post on the homepage of the blog you submitted it to.

5. Spend some time on your author bio

While it’s important that your post is great, it is also very important that your author bio isn’t neglected. Don’t let your author bio look as if all you want is a link. It doesn’t have to!

Make your author bio as professional and descriptive of you as possible, and also include the link; when adding that, here are a few tips you should follow:

  • Don’t use the same keyword in all your author bios. You might want to rank for “health blog” but that doesn’t mean you should use only that keyword in all your guest posts. You can use variations such as “health tips blog,” “top health blog,” “professional health blog,” “best health blog,” and so on. Do you notice how all those keywords are variations of “health blog”? That will have much more impact on your rankings than just targeting a single keyword.
  • Don’t use the same author bio in all your guest posts. Search engines don’t list duplicate content, and duplicate content isn’t about your articles alone. Using the same author bio in 40 different guest posts makes your bio duplicate content; it’ll be the same in all 40 guest posts and will be seen as unnatural, thus making it difficult for you to even get the value of one of those links.
  • Not all your anchor text has to include keywords. Feel free to use generic keywords such as “click here,” “check him out,” “visit his website” etc. as they make your links look more natural than focusing on keywords.
  • Limit the number of links you include in your author bio. Depending on the blog, don’t have more than two or three links in your bio. If you include three links, include two to your blog and one to your social profile. Anything more is unnatural and makes it clear that you only want the backlinks.

Tools of the trade

Guest blogging outreach and research can be very difficult; knowing what to write, which blog to contact and who to pitch is tricky. Here are my favorite guest blogging and content tools:

1. PostJoint

If you’re a guest blogger, especially if you’re guest blogging on a massive scale, then outreach can be difficult and sometimes stressful.

Of course, sometimes, reaching out personally is great but you can also save time if you have access to a platform or directory of blogs that not only accept guest posts but that make the process easy; PostJoint removes the hassles that comes with pitching guest bloggers and waiting for weeks for your guest post to be published.

2. MyBlogGuest

The premier guest blogging community online, MyBlogGuest can be a powerful tool in the arsenal of any blogger.

MyBlogGuest is a guest blogging forum where you can collaborate with other bloggers for guest blogging; it’s effective whether you want to publish or get published and there are bloggers in almost any niche.

3. Customrank

Customrank is a better alternative to Google pagerank and Alexa rank; unlike Pagerank and Alexa rank, Customrank isn’t overinflated.

Every website is ranked from 0–100 and the higher a blog’s Customrank, the more value you will get from guest posting on it.

4. Quora

Quora might seem just like an ordinary question-and-answer site, but to the discerning blogger it is a goldmine.

Whether you want to get ideas for blog posts on your own blog or ideas for guest posts, having an endless source of content ideas is important. By browsing questions related to your niche on Quora, you’ll be able to get more ideas than you need for your guest posts.

5. Google Keyword Tool

Before writing my guest posts, I come up with a list of keywords that inspire my writing and that I can also use as anchor text. There are a lot of quality tools online but a lot of them are expensive. The Google keyword tool is free and reliable and it provides data from Google.

Conclusion

What you just read is practically all there is to building links with guest blogging for beginners. It was what I did a year ago to experience the kind of increase I gained in my search traffic; I still do it for myself and my clients today, and it’s phenomenally effective.

Have you ever had an experience guest blogging for links or traffic? How did it go? Please share your tips and thoughts with us in the comments.

Joseph is a guest blogging professional with over 2 years of experience. He writes about all things guest blogging at GuestBloggingTactics.com. If you want to take your business to the next level by guest blogging, especially for links, you should hire him! Joseph is also available on Twitter @gbtactics

Why No One Wants Your Free Download (And 5 Steps to Make It a Must-Have)

This guest post is by Sophie Lizard of Beafreelanceblogger.com.

You finally released your free download. It took a lot of work to prepare, but you believed it would all be worthwhile.

Because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Give something away to get something in return, like email addresses or questionnaire responses. Or the undying love of a vast tribe of readers.

So … why isn’t it working?

Hardly anyone’s downloading it. You’re not floating high on a tide of reader engagement. If anything, it’s the opposite: you’re getting kinda depressed with the whole situation.

It’s okay. Know why? Because hardly anyone’s downloaded it. And that means the problem isn’t necessarily with your content. All those people who chose not to download it haven’t seen the content yet. They’re doing the online equivalent of reading the box and then putting it back on the shelf.

People judge your free download on expectation and reputation, before they make the decision to either download it or leave. That means you can massively increase your download numbers just by improving the audience’s perception of your freebie. Here’s how to do that in just five steps.

Step 1: Angle your topic to make people care

Even if your business is something as mundane as cleaning mattresses, your download doesn’t have to be on that exact topic. You could offer mattress buying advice, interior decoration tips, or information about dust mites.

Research your audience’s most pressing needs and concerns, then choose a topic they’ll find immediately interesting. If you’ve already chosen a topic and created your download, don’t panic! You can re-angle what you’ve got.

Your topic may be something that many people would find dull. Like dust mites, for example. But your angle gives it the all-important connection to your audience’s real life needs. Here are three example angles you could take on the dust mite topic:

  • How dust mites in the home affect children’s health
  • How to reduce dust mites without using harmful chemicals
  • The biology of dust mites and why they live in soft furnishings.

Each of these angles appeals to a certain audience by giving them a specific expectation. Your download might cover all three of those pieces of information, plus more. But by focusing on one particular angle, you help your chosen audience understand the value of your download to them.

Step 2: Format your download to suit your audience

Has this ever happened to you? You find a free resource that sounds amazing, but it’s only available as an mp3 and you prefer to read. Or you can download it as a PDF, but then there are worksheets inside that you can’t fill in unless you print them out first.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Your audience will be put off by a poor choice of format for your download, too. How did you decide what format to offer? If you asked your target audience what they’d prefer and then gave it to them, you officially aced this part already.

If you guessed, or gave them the format you like best, you’ve missed a trick. Let’s rethink.

Remember, some people are still bewildered by zip files. Some want to print hard copies; others work from a smartphone and don’t even own a printer anymore. You need to find out what format your target audience wants. If you don’t have an audience of your own to ask, go online and listen to what people on other sites similar to yours are saying about the free resources available.

And if they say there’s more than one popular format, consider offering more than one option. You can provide transcripts of your audio and video resources, create a slideshow presentation of your manifesto, or offer a Word copy of your PDF worksheet.

The easier you make it for people to consume your download, the more they’ll decide it’s worth downloading. If they ever notice it, that is. To make sure they do…

Step 3: Give it a name that grabs attention

The title is the only part of your download that most people read. I’m not being mean; I’m being practical.

Your download’s title can be read on your landing page, shared on social media, and displayed on search engine results pages. It’s one of the first things people will see about your download, before they make a decision about whether they want it. If the title doesn’t get more than a split-second glance, then your download sinks without a trace.

To create an attention-grabbing title for your download, check out the headlines competing for attention on magazine shelves or on Twitter, then try adapting them to your own topic.

You might see a headline like, “Warning: Single Women Think Your Man’s Available.” All you need to do is take that title and switch it to suit your download: “Warning: Dust Mites Think Your Bed is Their Playground.” For more headline templates to work with, check out Jon Morrow’s free Headline Hacks report.

Your title needs to create a hook of concern, pleasure or curiosity in your readers and keep them interested long enough to read further. You want visitors to your landing page to read beyond the title to the rest of the copy, and keep reading until they decide to download. So, on to the next step!

Step 4: Demonstrate high value with your copy

Your audience only needs to know one thing from your download’s landing page copy: how will this download make their lives better?

The features of your download—“30 pages with full-colour diagrams!”—are important, but your reader wants to know what it will do for them and how it will make them feel. So focus on the benefits of your download, like “Learn to reduce dust mites in your bedding so you can breathe easier at night.”

Once you’ve made the benefits clear, it’s time for a call to action. Keep it simple and clear, and only ask your reader for one thing: to download your free product. (We can tell them about all your other awesome stuff another time, I promise.)

After the call to action, feel free to add more information about the download format, those full-colour diagrams, and other details. Put another call to action after this extra info, so that anyone who reads this far can get your freebie without scrolling back up to find the download link.

Now, you just need to do one more thing to convince your audience:

Step 5: Prove yourself!

Everyone likes to try things risk-free. That’s part of the reason blogs and websites offer free downloadable products: sampling the free product makes your audience feel they’ve judged the quality of your products or services without the risk of losing money.

But here’s the thing: your average audience member isn’t only worried about money. They’re worried about losing time, too. You need to reassure them that your free download won’t waste their time, but will reward their investment.

One of the best ways to do this is with social proof.

Simply put, social proof is anything that suggests that other people have already tried something and liked it. That might include:

  • people sharing the link to your landing page via social media
  • testimonials from downloaders, customers, industry experts, or reputable celebrities
  • a case study explaining exactly how your freebie has benefited a particular user.

Most of the time, you can get social proof simply by asking for it. So, ask for social shares or testimonials when you deliver your free download, and ask again at the end of the freebie when people have finished checking it out.

Get to know some influential people, and ask them to share a link or testimonial if they think their followers will appreciate your freebie. Add a few of the best testimonials to your landing page, with another call to action at the end.

Send out copies of your free download to anyone whose opinion matters to your target audience, because…

You’re not alone

You’d be surprised how many successful blogs and online businesses have created a free downloadable product only to have it left on the digital shelf, friendless and unnoticed.

Many of the people you reach out to for social proof will have been through this experience at some point in their lives, and that makes them empathise with you. If your download’s relevant to them, they’ll want to help it find its audience!

So, don’t give up and watch your free download die—run through these five steps and give it the boost it deserves. After your download numbers increase, you’ll be in a position to judge how much people like the content. After you’re getting more downloads of your freebie, you’ll find that people start to offer their opinions on it before you’ve even asked.

For now, all you need to do is put your best foot forward, one step at a time.

Sophie Lizard is a blogger on a mission to help you increase your income and authority. To give your blogging career a boost, get free access to the “How to Make A Living Blogging” expert interview sessions and download your free copy of The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: 45 Blogs That Will Pay You $50 or More!

The Diamond in the Rough System for Gaining Influence

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman.

Content is still king, but influential relationships are queen. And we all know that women rule the world, so maybe we should start paying more attention to these queens.

Bloggers should publish less and promote more.

If you enjoy staying awake until 4am writing each night, and frantically trying to publish according to your over-zealous schedule, then continue doing what you’re doing. My guess is that you’re not paying enough attention to the queens though, and we all know how important it is to cherish, respect, and support the women in our lives.

That said, there are a lot of queens in the world, and everybody seems to be trying to get attention from the same ones. So you send emails to industry influencers and tweet at top bloggers. One day you get a response back and feel like you’ve made it to their inner circle.

Then you hear crickets … followed by tumbleweed rolling by. (Which is odd because you don’t live in the Wild West or in a cowboy movie. But I digress.)

The Diamond in the Rough System of relationship-building

In every industry there are a select few who are in the spotlight. They receive hundreds of emails, tweets, Facebook messages and so on every day. Likely they don’t answer their own mail and there isn’t much you can offer them in terms of support.

The Diamond in the Rough System is a way to get the influencers to want to approach you. It can be applied to any large social medium but I’m going to stick to Twitter for this article.

Twitter is a sea of shameless self-promotion. Much of it goes unnoticed. The feed is so cluttered and people are more interested in pumping their own information out than absorbing that of others. Add to that the unfortunate fact that what you’re saying isn’t unique—there are probably people with bigger followings already saying it—and you’re facing an uphill battle.

The Diamond in the Rough System will teach you how to find the Queens behind the scenes and court them.

First, understand that there are a number of influential people in every industry:

  • The influencers are the ones in control of the big brands. They may or may not be smarter than you, but they have hustled to get to where they are, and built an empire and great network around themselves.
  • The large magazines are usually faceless organizations with multiple walls and levels of bureaucracy getting in the way. This makes it difficult to get in touch with anyone.
  • The bloggers are gaining more steam in some industries. In the tech industries, for example, it could be argued they control the information; in plumbing they are relatively non-existent.
  • The senior editors are the top-level editors at magazines and industry publications. These people are over-worked and usually under-paid or under-appreciated.
  • The beat reporters and supporting editors are easy to access and have a lot of influence as to what goes into major publications. They are the diamonds in the rough.

Right about now you’re thinking I’m crazy. Because, if you’re like most people attempting to gain influence, you have tried to follow the conventional path and emailed various editors desperately trying to get his or her attention—and never gotten a response.

Get creative and get unconventional

Email is conventional. People have learned to ignore it. You must evolve your practices to get noticed.

Twitter is a way to build a relationship with the queens and create a friendship. Most of these reporters have modest, if any, followings on Twitter. So while they get 100+ emails a day, they might only get two @ mentions on Twitter. Which do you think they would be more likely to respond to? 

How to find the diamonds in the rough

  • Follow the head editors and scan the lists of the people they follow. Look for accounts that say something like, “NY Times editor focusing on social media and marketing.” Follow everybody that seems to cover your niche.
  • Identify the top bloggers in your niche and follow the same steps are above.
  • Identify the top influencers in your niche and follow the same steps as above.
  • Search newspapers websites and find the editors that cover the subjects your niche pertains to. A Google search is usually all you need to find their Twitter account if they have one.
  • Every magazine lists the various editors and writers on the first couple pages. Identify the top magazines in your niche and write down the names of everybody on this page that fits your specifications. Do a Google search and try to find their Twitter account and follow them.
  • Pay attention to networks of influence. It’s not uncommon for a number of influencers to tweet back and forth with the same person that you have never heard of. That person is likely an important member behind the scenes.

The community of people at the top of your industry is close-knit. There are the influencers that you know and a supporting crew that acts behind the scenes that you don’t. These supporting crewmembers are your diamonds. Find them and make them feel important. Support them and build relationships with them.

How to court your queens

Now that you’ve found these people, respond intelligently to their tweets. If they promote a blog post or article with a link, take the time to read the entire article and respond with a piece of feedback or a question. If they say something about their personal life or hobby, send back a joke or tidbit of information.

As an aside I’ll add that you should not respond to every tweet. This comes off as needy. Respond only if you have something intelligent to say and not more than once or twice every couple of days.

Don’t ask for anything in return. Your bio on Twitter says who you are, and includes a link to your work. They will check you out. And you only publish your best work right?

You should have a headshot as your profile picture in Twitter, not your company logo. People like talking to and doing business with people, not faceless organizations.

It works

Following this system, I have been able to get featured as one of the Top 20 Smartest Fitness Trainers You Might Now Know by Livestrong, had my book featured both in Muscle & Fitness and as one of the Top 21 Health, Fitness and Nutrition Books, also by Livestrong, and recently I was contacted by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s right-hand man to write content for his site.

All of this happened because I built relationships with those that control the content behind the scenes. I never once submitted an article. Every time they reached out to me.

Write great material and only publish your best work. Then spend all of the time you saved finding the diamonds in the rough. They are the ones who will get your work to spread.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author. His second book recently reached the #1 spot on Amazon in both the marketing and web marketing categories. Aside from consulting and running http://www.theptdc.com, he is currently writing Viralnomics: How to Create Directed Viral Marketing. The sections are being published for free online as they are produced. You can get up to date at http://www.viralnomics.com.