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Guest Blogging‘ is one of the most effective (and accepted) link building method practiced widely now. Guest blogging works around creating a win-win proposition both for the link acquiring website and for the link donating website/blog. The ‘link acquiring‘ website benefits from the high-value backlink it gets  (also from the referral traffic received through the link), and at the same time the ‘link donating‘ website benefits from the high-quality article it receives (a new article for its regular readers, lifelong traffic from search engines etc)

In this article, let’s dig some proven and practical tips to identify potential websites/blogs accepting ‘guest blog posts’.  I am choosing ‘interior design’ as a niche for ease of explanation. You can apply these ideas to the niche of your choice.

Suppose I own and manage a blog in the ‘interior design’ niche where I write about interior design trends, styles, reviews interior furniture and decoration products. I have written a 100+ article in the blog and now I am looking to build some links to the blog through guest blogging to improve my overall search engine rankings and traffic. So how do I go about it? My first task is to build a list of potential websites/blogs that accept ‘guest blogs’. Since my blog belongs to the interior design niche, naturally I would like to guest post in blogs in the same/related niche like ‘interior design’ , ‘home improvements’, ‘home designs’ etc. I have two reasons to stick with blogs/website from a relevant niche:

  1. Links from relevant niche has more value in the eyes of Search Engines
  2. Higher chances of getting accepted for a guest blog entry

So here we go, the Tips to identify potential websites that accept guest blogs.

#1 – Scan through Blog Directories based on category

Blog directories like BOTW Blogs are repositories of blogs based on different categories and niches. Identify a category that is very much related to your niche and skim through the blogs listed in that category. Not all of them will be accepting guest posts, but some of them will be more than happy to accept a guest blog. Contact the blog owner with your guest blog idea (if possible through email) and wait for his/her response. For better conversions pitch with 2 or 3 different article ideas (that are not yet published in their blog) so that the blog owner has a choice.

The screenshot below is a list of blogs under the ‘home improvement’ category. On the right sidebar (of the screenshot) you can see many subcategories as well.

guest_blog_directory

There are around 20+ popular blog directories which are worth your time. I just scanned the BOTW Blogs directory  (while writing this post) for a niche I am interested in and found 10 potential blogs that accept guest blogs. So get to work now. Here is a list of most popular blog directories.

#2 – Searching with keywords

Searching in Google with the related keyword phrase(s) is another practical and quick way to get a good number of blogs that accept guest posts. Most of the blogs that accept ‘guest posts’ will have pages with title(s) like ‘write for us’ , ‘contribute’ , ‘guest posts’. Google will index these pages in their database and a simple google query “write for us” will list all blogs/websites that have something related to the query. In most cases, these blogs will be accepting guest posts (while some blogs will be looking for paid writers only). The problem with a general “write for us” query is that it will return blogs/website from a wide set of categories which may not suit your niche. To solve this problem always append a keyword phrase that is relevant to your niche. If we resort to our example niche ‘interior design’, run a query like ‘interior design + write for us‘  which has higher chances of returning blogs in the interior design niche that accept guest blog posts.

query_guest_blogs

Note 1:- While writing this post, I tried my hand on the above idea for a niche that I have an interest in. I got 10 high quality blogs that accept guest posts. The good side of this method is that you get access to very high-quality blogs (with good Alexa rankings, good count of backlinks, good domain authority etc) that accept guest blogs.

Note 2:- You can repeat the same tricks with Bing.

#3 – Using Tools – Similarweb, Alexa

You can find lots of websites/blogs (in a particular niche/category) with the help of research tools like Alexa and Similarweb. Let’s say for an example, Housely is a very popular website in the home decor niche. I would like to find sites similar to housely. An idea that comes handy here is to use tools like similarweb. Run a search/query on any of these tools with the URL in your mind and access the results. For example:- a query on smilarweb or alexa would fetch you lots of useful information on websites/blogs in the same niche.

#4 – Backlink Analysis of a Competing Website

Analysing backlinks of a competing website is a great idea to identify blogs that accept guest posts. There are lots of backlink research tools out there like RankSignals which provides you with backlinks to any website. For example if you want to identify the backlinks to a website like housely, just run a query in RankSignals and you are done. You will get an idea of which all sites link to housely. Analyze those links and identify which all of them offer/accept guest blog posts. Pitch them with your rocking idea and there you get your piece of cake.

backlink_analysis

So these are some practical and proven ideas to find guest blogging opportunities. If you have some other interesting ideas, feel free to comment.

Blogging has its own challenges and successful bloggers rarely talk about them.Maybe you saw those tempting, blogging income reports that were being posted around the web.

For example, Lindsay Ostrom made $29,053.44 in the month of August 2015. Matthew Woodward made $23,470.13 in the same month.

Read: Top 10 money making bloggers and their income reports.

You might be tempted to start your own blog and believe you can make $20,000. Yes, of course, you can even make more than that. But it will never be possible if you don’t have some repeat visitors.

Lindsay Ostrom may have earned $29,053.44 from her blog. What you may not know is that 40% of those visits were from people who are not first-time readers.

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Matthew Woodward may have earned $23,470.13 from his blog, but a whopping 45% were repeat visitors.
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So you need lots of repeat visitors. You have a business if your blog receives 30,000 visits a month and at least 30% of that comes from repeat visitors.

Repeat visit is an important metric every blogger should watch.

How can you get readers to keep coming back to your blog? How can you make people stick with your blog and forget your competitors?

These are interesting questions. This article provides you with everything you need to know to get loads of repeat visits on your blog.

Let me introduce the CODA formula to you. It’s a powerful formula that can help you get lots of repeat visitors.

CODA means Content, Outreach, Design and Action.

Are you ready to learn the CODA formula?

Then, let’s get started.

1. Content: How to Create Contents That Spread Like Wildfire

You may have heard it many times: They say content is king. Is that true? No!

Content isn’t king anymore. Great content is the new king.

Don’t publish a 500-word blog post you quickly typed in Microsoft Word and expect social shares, page views, comments and links to start rolling in. Your fluffy 1000-word article won’t bring any worthwhile page views even if you ask all your friends to share it on Twitter.

You need great contents that can spread around the web without you promoting the hell out of it.

How can you create such contents?

There are 3 things I do:

Don’t Re-Invent The Wheel

Don’t ever try to do any new thing. You’ll waste a lot of time trying to find a new thing that will stick on the wall. Instead of doing that, find something that stuck on the wall, and make it 10x better. Rand Fishkin calls this the 10x content. I like that name.

Your competitors have written a lot of blog posts, isn’t it? Some of their blog posts were popular while many of their blog posts weren’t popular. Your job is to find those competitors’ contents that were popular. Then make them 10x better. Wow, you’ll have lots of great contents that people will start talking about you.

Here are my 3 top favorite tools for finding competitors’ contents that were popular:

  1. BuzzSumo
  2. Open Site Explorer
  3. Ahrefs

After you’ve found your competitors’ popular contents using any of the above tools,make the contents 10x better by going in-depth, adding more images, more videos – it’s all about improving the quality.

For example, let’s say your competitor published a blog post titled “10 Ways to Surprise Your Girlfriend”, you should make it 10x better by writing “20 Ways to Surprise Your Girlfriend”. Then you should add more pictures, videos and graphics. If you can write “40 Ways to Surprise Your Girlfriend” do it. Your goal is to knock out your competitor’s content.

Surprise People

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles, checking it every 15 minutes for more than six months.

They studied over 7,500 popular articles during those six months.

The study yielded a big discovery.

They found that articles that produce positive emotions are more likely to go viral.

Positive emotion can quickly transmit from one person to another. Contents with positive emotions like joy, surprise, awe, pride, and love are likely to spread because people won’t hesitate to share them with their friends.

So, when next you create content for your blog, think of a positive emotion you can associate with your content. Make your content produce that positive emotion in your readers and watch your content spread.

The further your content spread, the more visitors you have. That gives you more repeat visitors.

People won’t go back to a blog that made them sad, weep and felt disgusted the last time. In fact, they will want to stay away from such blogs.

Write Super-Catchy Headlines

Check your Twitter Timeline and your Facebook Newsfeed, you’ll see lots of contents.

You don’t have time to read all those contents. Your time is limited. You have lots of things to do. Other web users are like that too. So, instead of reading anything that pops up on their Timeline or Newsfeed, what they do is just read the headline. If the headline is interesting enough, they click and read the content. If the headline isn’t interesting, they just move on to the next headline.

You want people to click on your headline when they see it on Twitter, Facebook and Google?

Then you have to start writing super-catchy headlines.

A super-catchy headline is a type of headline the reader can’t wait to read.

What makes a headline catchy?

There are 4 things:

  1. Useful: Why is the blog post valuable?
  2. Ultra-specific: What can I expect to learn from the blog post?
  3. Unique: Why is this blog post compelling and unique?
  4. Urgent: Why should I read this NOW?

2. Outreach: How to Develop Relationship with Influencers

Outreach is the O in the CODA formula. Keep that in mind.

If you want lots of repeat visitors, then you have to do outreach.

Why do you have to do outreach?

There are 11 reasons why I do outreach:

  1. Pitch a guest post
  2. Ask for a quote on a relevant topic
  3. Invite influencers to contribute to your blog
  4. Invite influencers to take part in a one on one interview
  5. Invite influencers to take part in a group interview
  6. Offer up an infographic influencers can publish on their blog
  7. Pitch a giveaway to promote a product
  8. Offer some unique data influencers can use in their blog posts
  9. Ask for a link to one of your blog posts
  10. Offer readers of popular blogs a free copy of your product to try out
  11. Help influencers out and ask for nothing in return (helping is the new currency of the web)

All these 11 reasons can give you repeat visitors. They will help you develop a relationship with influential bloggers who have large readerships.

When people start seeing your name pop-up on every influential blog, they’ll want to visit your blog and see the stuff you have on it.

This is the power of outreach: It helps you develop a relationship with both bloggers and their readers.

So if you are not seeing a lot of repeat visitors, you should ask yourself “are you doing enough outreach?” If not, then it’s time to start.

3. Design: Having An Attractive Blog Design Is The Key


Bloggers are now the third most trustworthy source of information, following only friends and family, according to a U.K. survey.

Bloggers are even more trusted than celebrities, journalists, brands, and politicians. People are in love with blogs. But not ugly blogs. People are in love with blogs that are attractive and make them feel at home while on the web.

Your blog is like your home where people can visit you.

Imagine you have visitors at your home today, and your visitors can see and smell trash everywhere, what would they do?

They will leave fast and may never return.

The same thing applies to blogging. Your blog is like your home. It should be attractive. It should make people feel good.

Beautiful blogs, they are the type of blogs people can trust.

It may cost you thousands of dollars to renovate and beautify your home, but beautifying your blog will only cost you less than $100.

There are good blog designs out there that won’t break the bank. I recommend popular ones from StudioPress, the maker of Genesis Child Themes, and I also recommend Thesis Themes.

If you have less than $50, you may get a modest design at Themeforest.

Just like your home, if your blog is ugly, none of your visitors will bother to come back.

4. Action: How to Write The Best Call-to-Actions

Now, I will like to ask you this simple question “why are you blogging in the first place?”.

Wait. Before you answer that question, I will like to say that you may be blogging for the purpose of quitting your day job and becoming your own boss. I know that. That’s a good reason to blog. But that’s not what I’m asking now.

The reason why you’re blogging should be visible on your blog.

Most bloggers blog for one thing: to collect their readers’ email addresses.

When you have your readers’ email addresses, you can always notify them when next you publish a new content on your blog. And you can always notify them when you have new products you want them to buy.

Readers who visited your blog and dropped their email addresses are more likely to return. But readers who visited your blog and left without dropping their email addresses may never return again. This might be because you didn’t ask those readers to give you their email address.

Matthew Woodward made $23,470.13 in the month of August. Lindsay Ostrom made $29,053.44 from her food blog in the same month. Their blogs both have over 40% of repeat visitors. What I may not tell you above is the fact that both of them are collecting their readers email addresses. That is what give them the opportunity to make that much.

So you should do the same thing on your blog. Make sure you’re collecting the email address of your visitors.

The more email address you have, the higher your repeat visits. And with a high number of repeat visitors, you too can start making $20,000 a month from your blog.

Press Release – is an official statement from an organization or an individual released to media for publication and distribution. Well, that’s the definition of Press Release! In this article we are analyzing how press releases are used for digital marketing. Let’s first analyze how press releases work!

As we already told, press releases are an official communication (written or recorded) by an organization or an individual. In the print media, press releases are usually announced by calling an official press meeting; in the presence of media editors & journalists. The press release will then be submitted to all media contacts for publication. The journalists and editors who find the press release newsworthy will publish them and others usually ignore the release.

In the digital world too, press releases works in same fashion. Instead of calling a press meeting, press releases are usually emailed to the personal/official mail of online media journalists. Those journalists who find the press release useful to his readers will publish them. The difference between print media press release and online media press release is that we get a chance to embed our website’s link in online media press releases (as the content we distribute is in HTML format). When our press release gets published in hundreds of online media news websites, we get hundreds of genuine backlinks to our website (never mind they are do follow or no follow) through the link we embed in our press release content. In addition, we get lots of referral traffic to our website from the news websites who publish our press release. The net result is we invite attention to our website,business and our products using good press releases.

Let’s dig what we can achieve with a good press release:

  • Eyeballs – a lot of people will read about your company name, your product/service and your website.
  • Traffic – Not everyone will be interested in your company and its product/services. A few interested ones will click on your website link to know more about your business. These are prospects who might get converted as customers.
  • SEO Advantage-1 – Outgoing links from most of the news websites will be having a “no follow” tag. But a few of them might have “do follow” tag as well. This will give your website back link value.  Net result is that your website is going to get a boost in search engines.
  • SEO Advantage-2 – Even if the link rel tag is “no follow”, most of the search engines are going to count references to your website from other websites. This number of references from different news websites are surely going to add value to your websites domain authority.  This is definitely a positive signal for search engines.
  • SEO Advantage-3 – is through social shares! Number of social shares and traffic from social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn etc are definitely a metric counted by search engines. Good press releases will get shared in social media. Since you have a link reference to your website in the press release content, a small percentage of these social traffic (traffic originating from social sources) will get directed to your website as well. This will result as a positive signal for search engines to boost your websites overall value in search engines.
  • Social Traffic – Good press releases will get lots of social shares through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+ and other social medias. Thus more people will see your products and services. In addition, social shares brings trust and authority to your products and services.

When to use Press Release for Digital Marketing ?

There are usually 2 instances in which press releases are used  – 1) is for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) 2) is for increasing visibility and get audience to your website

1) SEO Activities  – Press Releases are good for Search Engine Optimization activities. The first one being the articles/news releases will get ranked in search engines as most of the news websites are well established and hold high authority in search engines. These articles will rank high in search results and traffic will come to your website as a referral from the news websites through search engines. The second one being back links obtained from the news websites adding value to your websites link profile and your website getting boosted in search results.

You have to take caution while doing Press Release for SEO activities:

  • Don’t do Press Releases often – when you do for SEO purpose, release news only in a limited frequency. You can do a PR during the initial launch of a website, during a new product/service launch and during such relevant occasions.
  • Don’t embed keyword stuffed anchor texts – You have to keep in mind that Google tracks and punishes link building activities that attempts to take advantage of their ranking algorithm. Google takes manual actions against website which violates its link building policies. For Example:- We are a new Chicago Real Estate Agency, which focus on premium apartments and condos. We also focus on Rentals in Chicago for premium villas.  Embedding links like in the above statement can get you punished. Instead, embed links only 1 or 2 times in a press release. An ideal case is adding first link within the first 100 or 200 words and second link towards the end of release. Instead of using keyword stuffed anchor text, use natural word combinations. For example:- We are a new real estate agency based in Chicago known as RoseVil, and we focus on premium apartments and condos.

2) Increasing Visibility – when you do Press Release for increasing visibility and getting audience to your website, you can do it often. But make sure you add “no follow” tag to every link you embed in the press release.

There are a 1000+ things to take care of when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In this article, I am demonstrating a proven experiment which will definitely improve your search engine rankings. The idea I am proposing is that “Updating your blog posts or articles will improve your search engine rankings“. In addition, updating articles and blog posts will definitely increase your Click Through Rate (CTR) in Search Results Page.  So lets begin!

Lets start with screenshot of a Search Results Page. Please see the rectangle highlighted (in red color) portions in the screenshot.

SERP Results Page - Importance of Date in Search Results

You see dates right? So we can guess that dates has something to do with search rankings. For a blog post or an article, there are 2 dates that matter. First one is that date on which the article/blog post was published for first time. Second one being the date on which the blog post/article was last updated. Now we have to identify which date has importance and weight when it comes to search rankings. To find that, lets get inside Google Webmaster Tools. If you take a close observation inside “Structured Data” section (inside Search Appearance) of Webmaster Tools, you will see an interesting data. You may analyze the screenshot given below and see rectangles highlighted in blue color.

Structured Data in Webmaster Tools

You see 225 items with “missing updated” structural data. This actually is the date on which an article or blog post was last updated. So lets conclude that Google gives weight to a recently updated article than to an article of same content quality published long before. This means “last updated date” of an article has a higher weight as ranking signal compared to age of the article.

Lets put an analogy! Blogger A has published an article on “Make Money Programming” in 2014 January with a 1000 words content. Blogger B has published a 400 words article on same subject on same date. Now Blogger A left the article as such after publishing where as Blogger B kept updating it every 3 months. Lets say, Blogger B added 200 words of new content every 3 months for next 1 year. After 1 Year, Blogger B has updated the article 4 times and has 1200 words article in his blog. Now Google is going to take notice of this data (that Blogger B has updated his blog post 4 times and his last updated date) and weigh between Blogger A’s article and Blogger B’s article. In this comparison, Blogger B’s article will win the game and will be placed above Blogger A’s article in search results. I hope you got the idea clearly with this analogy!

Okay! Now lets get to our experiment with “last updated date”. I am using WordPress blogs as a case study for explaining this article. However you can implement the same technique in other platforms like Joomla, Concrete5 or in your custom CMS application. By default every WordPress blog post comes with published date just below post title. The date will be displayed following a text like “Published on” or “Posted on”. Please see the screenshot given below.

Date Setting in WordPress

This date is called using the_date() function of WordPress (which is infact a user defined function developed from date() function of PHP). We can change this to “Last updated date” by calling the_modified_date() function of WordPress instead of the_date(). This new function (the_modified_date) will print the date on which the blog post/article was last edited or updated.  Please see the screenshot below.

The Modified date Function WordPress

So we changed date display of DollarFry from publishing date to “last modified date” by calling the_modified_date() function of WordPress. This is the basic step.Unless we do this modification, Google won’t be able to fetch “updated date” from the blog post  or article page.  The experiment begins now!

We have published an article on How to Make Money with WordPress Plugins six months ago. We have not applied any SEO techniques other than getting the basic on page factors right. We did not build any links to this page as well. What we did, is we kept updating this article frequently by adding small snippets of useful content every month. We published it as a 1000 words content and in six months we updated it regularly that we have nearly a 2000 words article now. We achieved first page position in Google for keyword combinations of “Make Money WordPress Plugins” within six months.  Whoa! How good is that ? No back link building, no social media promotions, not much internal linking and the first page position with only regular content updating.

The Conclusion!

We know this is not a sound experiment in SEO. There are many other factors that influence this ranking like Domain Authority! But this certainly is a signal to the importance of updating blog posts regularly and getting the “Structured Data” in your webmaster tools error free. So to benefit from this SEO ranking signal from Google, you have to do 2 actions:

1) Implement Structural Data tags in your HTML perfectly for all pages and blog posts. You may read more about Structured Data to learn and implement the idea perfectly.

2) Update your blog posts (especially the one’s that deliver traffic and popular posts) regularly with useful content. Don’t just add content for the sake of increasing word counts. Add them for the user. Delete them for the user. In the end, user or your blog reader is your ultimate customer (not Google and its rankings). If the visitor is not spending time on your blog and closes it immediately, its another ranking signal and you will loose in that signal count. So update your blog posts to fine tune your content. If you don’t have anything to add that deliver value to readers, just keep the blog post as such and don’t update it. Remember this ranking signal is only one of the 1000+ other signals that Google count.