How to Find the Right Guest Blogging Opportunities

For several months now, SEOs have debated the value of guest blogging. Has it lost its benefit? Or, is guest blogging still an effective SEO tactic?

As I have mentioned in several past posts, Google’s algorithm updates have cracked down on spammy backlinks and irrelevant content, shifting toward content marketing strategies. The key is finding the right guest blogging opportunity.

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging is when someone posts an article to a blog that is not their own. The incentive for doing so is to build quality backlinks for their own websites. Guest blogging can help you gain the status of “expert” in a particular niche. It can also build your community and your customer base.

In order to be successful with guest blogging, you must be strategic about it. Take your time to carefully write a blog post that not only resonates with your target audience, but educates them as well. And your work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve crafted a well thought-out post, you cannot just place it any where. You should place your post on a blog that resembles your values, beliefs and company.

Here are four steps to finding the right guest blog:

1. Set realistic goals

Being successful starts with setting realistic goals. What are you trying to achieve from guest blogging? What do you expect to gain from it? You are more likely to get where you want to go if you set a goal and commit yourself to it. It’s also important to measure your success. In terms of guest blogging, success can be measured by the number of connections made and leads generated.

2. Define your audience

In order to find the right guest blogging opportunities, you have to first identify your target audience. Research and find out as much as possible about the people you want to attract to your website through your guest blogging efforts. After you perform the research, you will want to create an audience profile. This is an in-depth description of who your average reader may be. It also includes demographic and psychographic information, such as age, gender, interests, values, lifestyle, and much more.

3. Find legitimate blogs

Now that you have figured out who you want to target, it’s important to seek out legitimate guest blogs. Reaching out to websites of similar interest is a great way to build a rapport with folks in the same niche. Also, find a blog that has strong credibility. Using tools like Open Site Explorer will allow you to check a blog’s domain authority and link profile. While it may be time-consuming and tedious to search for the right guest blog, it will be worth the hassle when you have real SEO results and more followers in the end.

4. Revel in the benefits

The biggest benefit associated with guest blogging is the ability to gain backlinks. These links will help your website move up in the search engines rankings. The second benefit of guest blogging is that it helps you build relationships with other bloggers. Such relationships will allow for future guest blogging opportunities. Another benefit is that guest blogging increases your exposure and helps build your brand. Lastly, when done correctly, guest blogging can be cheap promotion that generates a large portion of traffic flow to your website.

We would love to know about your guest blogging experiences!

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Building & Managing Your Community in the Digital Age

No one ever said building your brand is an easy process, and if someone did say that, they were dead wrong.

In fact, building and managing a successful community takes countless hours of dedication, hard work, and most importantly – the knowledge and experience to overcome the many obstacles one comes across during this process.

Let’s face it. Not everyone is cut out for the marketing world, but for those who are – here’s what you need to know about the keys to building and managing your online community in the digital age.

1. Establish goals
Establishing goals is sort of a given. Whenever you begin any sort of project, goals are essential.

After all, if you don’t have goals, how do you know what you’re working towards?

Goals should be established with a holistic approach, looking at the business, campaign or brand as a whole.

Now, don’t go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot by choosing a set of goals that are unattainable.

Of course, we want to reach for the stars and set expectations high, but don’t set them too high where they’re almost impossible to accomplish.

After your goals are set, make sure you explain yourself and what each goal means to the brand. Remember the why’s and what’s in this process, so clients have a better understanding of where you’re coming from.

2. Define KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)
What’s the million dollar question here? For most – it’s how will you measure your performance to show clients that their dollars are being put to good use.

With so many analytical tools and systems that are available at little to no cost, it’s easy to have your statistics automatically generated in the traditional format that thousands of other businesses do as well.

Sounds lame, right?

Be creative when proving your value! Develop your own unique document for proving your KPIs and give your clients something to talk about.

3. Develop a creative strategy
While this is a creative process, the strategy really needs to be the most creative of all.

Start by having a brain storming session with your team where you all can openly discuss your ideas. Weed out the good from the bad and put together an extensive list.

After you’ve got a strategic list of ideas, the next step is to put together an outline.

I know, I know. Outlines are boring and a pain to create.

But guess what? They work.

Have a vision for a 12 month strategy with broad ideas for all 12 months, but focus primarily on one quarter (3 months) at a time.

This way, you can hold brain storming sessions every 3 months. This way you and your team will be able to develop some fresh and exciting ideas each quarter!

Thinking strategically, you also want to make sure that the tools you’re using match your goals. Whether this means your tools will be social media, content, email marketing or even media outreach, make sure these match up with whatever your goals are.

4. Do work
After all this planning, it’s finally time to actually do the work.

  • Set up your analytics
  • Follow your strategy and execute with confidence
  • Be consistent with the quality of your work
  • Stay focused on the big picture – your goals

5. Evaluate progress
After all the analysis that goes into building a strategy and executing it, the last step is to evaluate the entire process.

Once you’ve reached the end of your first or second quarter, look at what you’ve accomplished thus far. How many goals have you reached? What’s working and what isn’t?

Chances are, you’ve found out what techniques work best for this client and which ones aren’t as effective. It’s okay if not everything worked out as anticipated. This is all part of the process.

Keep in mind that every client is different, and every industry draws in people in different ways. Each strategy is a learning experience, so never allow a small hiccup to interfere with the future of your clients growth.

What has your experience been like when building or managing a community in the new digital world?

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Making Your Videos More Creative

In a world that’s over-saturated with videos, everybody is trying to find that way to stand out.  Creative filming and editing can make or break your video!  With practice and time, you can make your videos more creative.

First and foremost, tons of people are switching to DSLR cameras to film nowadays.  So if you don’t have one, I highly suggest getting one.  It’ll make your videos more creative right off the bat, and you can get a good camera with a lens or two for 600 – 800 dollars.  Using DSLR professionally for video is still in that awkward stage.  You’ll be showing up to a shoot with what looks like just a photo camera, yet it can produce powerful, vibrant video.  And a lot of people will think you’re taking photographs.  But that’s not anyone’s fault.  DSLR footage is awesome to work with because it provides the option for a shallow depth of field.  That means you can only focus on certain subjects (if you choose!)  Those videos with a nice blurry background and a clear subject are the work of DSLR cameras/lenses.  It’s fun to play around with depth of field and see what you like.
Also for creativity, be sure to mix your video with all different types of shots.  I’m talking close up pans, far away stills, low angles, etc.  DSLR video really packs a punch, and you will have to buy multiple lenses and keep switching them depending on the look you’re going for.  I’m not going to lie, using a traditional video camera is a lot easier.  But we’re after creativity here, right?  You can’t get that with a regular camcorder.

Editing is equally as important as filming.  Often times you’ll notice a video has great cinematography, but the editing lacks.  Or vice versa.  It always impresses me to see crazy good filming AND editing.  It really shows off a skilled videographer.  In editing, remember that it’s almost ALWAYS about keeping the watcher entertained, and NOT about the length.  If your final video ends up being shorter than you thought, your watcher will probably thank you.  Did you know the average attention span in 2012 was eight seconds?  Short and sweet is probably the way to go, as long as you’re not sacrificing good content.

But what about editing techniques?  Quick cuts, constant movement, and good music will do a lot for a video that’s supposed to be fast paced.  For slower videos, multiple angles and effects are important.  You can look into downloading free/legal film burns to add flavor and color.  Or you can get an 8mm or 16mm film camera and try to create them yourself.  You can also download free light leaks, or you can try a technique called lens whacking when you’re filming.  That will make your video dreamy and give it a feel like you’re really there.

And after you do all of that, your choice of where to put your video is very important.  For most videos that have a truly cinematic/artsy/fun feel, you’ll want to use Vimeo.  The Vimeo community is much more focused around professional video production than Vimeo.  The Vimeo help forums are extremely helpful, as well as their messaging system for contacting fellow cinematographers.  Video comments are clean and respectable 99% of the time, and you’ll sometimes get good advice without asking.  One of the biggest issues people have with Vimeo is that it’s smaller audience can lead to much fewer views.  While often true, it isn’t always.  A truly cinematic video can get more views on Vimeo.

Both of these (exact same) videos were published by the same filmmaker/company on YouTube and Vimeo, and the Vimeo one has about double the number of views:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YYaUom4rh8

Hopefully you found these tips interesting and helpful.  For creative video, it’s all about practice and developing your own style.  A lot of cinematic choices aren’t right or wrong, they’re simply up to the videographer.

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Online Newsroom Tips For Your Website

Too often, the newsroom on a website is merely a home for old press releases. While it can be a struggle to provide up-to-date news, press releases can help improve search engine rankings for your website. This alone is reason enough to have a newsroom on your website—not to mention the valuable content that revolves around your keywords and is of interest to search engines and customers alike.

Here’s a list of what should be included in your online newsroom:

  • High resolution photos
  • Executive bios
  • Corporate backgrounders
  • Video content
  • RSS feeds
  • Opt-in email
  • Contact information
  • Social sharing buttons

Optimized Content

A dynamic online newsroom can be an effective search engine optimization (SEO) tool for reaching new and existing customers. However, not optimizing your news content can be detrimental to the success of your newsroom. As much as it’s important to write content that journalists will enjoy and find interesting, it’s equally important to craft content with SEO in mind. To be sure that your newsroom can be found by search engines, have a link to the newsroom on your website’s homepage. You should also use title tags rich in keywords and utilize HTML code like headline tags and meta descriptions.

Be Social

By including RSS feeds and email opt-ins, you can enable readers to subscribe to your newsroom. This will allow them to receive content as it becomes readily available. You should also incorporate your social media feeds as well as social sharing buttons on your press releases to make sharing your content as easy as the click of the mouse.

Gain Exposure

To increase exposure of your press releases, you can distribute them through services such as PR Web. This will not only increase the breadth of your release, but you can also gain inbound links from authoritative sites, which can improve your overall SEO.

Incorporate multimedia

You will also want to include videos and photos of your products and/or services. Embedding videos and photos that supplement your content can make your newsroom more appealing to both the media and consumers.

Online Newsroom Examples

A wonderful example of an online newsroom is by Red Lobster (http://www.redlobster.com/press). Simple, yet it includes all the key ingredients to the perfect online newsroom.

Dunkin Donuts also has a great online newsroom (http://news.dunkindonuts.com). It’s fun, engaging and offers the right ratio of news and multimedia content.

Thanks to all the Google algorithm updates, it’s more critical than ever before to craft high-quality and frequent content. The online newsroom provides a great opportunity for businesses to not only meet the ever-changing demands of search engines, but also provide relevant, newsworthy content for their customers too.

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