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How do I get back to the full dashboard on WordPress.com?

 

I’ve been asked this question a few times recently, as WordPress has sought to make it easier for users to post a quick blog post or create a page. People who are familiar with the old, more detailed dashboard want to find it again. So here’s how.

How do I find the old dashboard on WordPress?

When you log on to WordPress, you will find a button marked My Sites. Click on that and you’ll get the new, simplified dashboard:

WordPress new admin page

Now click on WP Admin, circled on the above image.

This will take you to the old familiar interface:

Old WordPress dashboard

Note: this works for WordPress.com, the free version – self-hosted WordPress.org is a little different. If you’ve found this post useful, please do share it using the sharing buttons below.

Other useful posts on this site

Is it worth having a website for my business?

WordPress 1 – the basics – joining and setting up a blog (links to all the other WordPress tutorials)

Resource guide – blogging and social media

 
23 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Blogging, Business, SEO, Social media, WordPress

 

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Six things that you can do to increase your website or blog’s SEO (search engine optimisation)

Graphic showing an increasing numberSEO or Search Engine Optimisation is one of those mysterious areas of knowledge – like setting up a website – that people like to keep to themselves. If you’ve been involved at all with a website or blog, you will know that people tend to almost prey on newbies, offering to increase their SEO if they work with this or that company.

The impetus for this post came from offering some help to a community organisation I’m helping out with. They don’t have the money to spend on expensive consultancy, so I’ve put together this guide for them – and you – to help clarify the myths and provide you with some advice to help you build good SEO.

What is SEO / search engine optimisation?

SEO means making sure that search engines like Google and Bing find your content and present it to people who are searching near the top of the results (just below the adverts).

Although they obviously work for a profit and want to make people advertise with them, the search engines do want to get reliable, decent and useful information to their users – otherwise those users will go elsewhere. They go to a lot of trouble to weed out spammy and dodgy sites that will put users off and don’t provide useful and relevant information (if every search you did on Google only gave you results on how to improve your SEO, when you wanted to know about Halloween outfits for dogs, you’d soon get bored and use a different search engine).

Therefore, we need to make sure our blogs and websites have the right information and content that will prove to Google that we’re legitimate sites full of useful content that it’s good to show their users.

There are various technical and writing related ways to do this and I’m going to cover the simple ones that you can do with, for example, a free WordPress.com website or blog and no coding skills.

I’ll note here that there are more detailed and technical things that you can do, to do with the coding of the actual site – this will however give you some simple tools that I’ve used to get good viewing figures and good SEO.

My blog post referrersWhy do I need SEO?

You want people to read your stuff, right? Well, although many people will find your content, services, products, etc. through social media, recommendations, blog readers, etc., the majority will find you through search engines.

Have a look at the statistics pictured. This was on a day when I published an article that was shared quite a lot on social media. Where did I get all my hits from? Search engines. So it’s really important to make sure that when people search for keywords to do with my blogs in the search engines, they find my blogs and find their way to me, so they can buy my services / be helped by my informative posts / buy my books.

How do I improve and maintain my SEO?

1. Publish useful, relevant, original and “natural” content

This is my number one top tip. The search engines are always looking for ways to stop people gaming the system and this is a clear example – we’ve all found websites which just have lists of keywords, etc.

I’ve got good results from the fact that the text on this site is useful, it’s relevant, as in it fits in to various categories and has information on those categories (Word, business, social media, etc.), it’s original (all written by me) and it’s written in natural language that looks like it’s been written by a human, not a robot or machine translator or spammer. This will always outweigh everything else.

2. Publish content regularly

Search engines like material that’s updated regularly, as it’s indicative that the site is still live and up to date. Try to post at least once, if not twice a week – it doesn’t have to be massive long articles, but something twice a week is better than five posts in one week then none for a month.

3. Use keywords wisely

There are some “rules” about the keywords that you want to use to attract readers. Here are the ones that have worked well for me, as far as I can tell:

  • Place the keyword / phrase in the title of the piece – so, here I have used “Increase your blog or website’s SEO” in the title.This automatically adds is to the “metadata”, in this case the URL of the piece. There is more you can do with metadata which is outside the range of this article.
  • Place it in an H1 or H2 level heading – here, I’ve used it in top-level headings.
  • Use it in the description of an image – the image above has the words “increase SEO” in the description field.
  • Use it early on in the text and in the final paragraph.
  • Scatter it throughout the text – but NATURALLY. A good aim is to have the keyword / phrase represent no more or less than 5% of the whole of the text (so if your text is 100 words long, you need the keyword to appear around five times.

4. Use questions in the title and headings

Many people search using questions these days – have a look at your statistics if you can and see how many question phrases appear.

So, use questions in your title (this one doesn’t have a question, but many of my blog posts do), and in your headings. These may well echo the exact phrases that people use to search, boosting you higher in the results.

5. Use categories and tags or whatever your blogging platform offers

Categories, tags, whatever your blogging platform calls them, will be searched by search engines, increase the validity of your site and improve your SEO. Use them wisely, using general (reading, writing) and specific (WordPress, copyediting) ones to help your visibility and to help your readers navigate around your site and stay on the site for a longer time.

6. Make judicious and careful use of backlinks

Search engines like to know that a site is reputable and well-respected by peers. Therefore, they put a high premium on the sites that link into your website or blog (i.e. they include your URL / website address on their own site). Of course, a good way to build these is to reference other well-known and well-respected blogs and websites on yours.

However, this is a tricky area that is used very heavily by spammers, too. So here are some dos and don’ts:

Do:

  • Place guest posts on other people’s blogs that are relevant and useful to both your audiences. You should be given the opportunity to include a link back to your website.
  • Offer people in your industry guest posts on your blog (or run interviews with them, etc.) and ask them to link back to the piece on their social media and website.
  • Get yourself in well-renowned and useful / appropriate listings – for example I’m in a Find a Proofreader listing and one for a professional discussion list I belong to.
  • Carefully comment on relevant articles and blog posts, with a relevant and useful comment. As an example of another blog, I comment on book bloggers’ review posts if I’ve read the book or have something to say about the book they’ve read, and include the URL of my own book review blog in the URL field. That way, a network of links builds up.
  • Use whatever reblogging facility you have on your platform (WordPress has a reblog button) to share interesting and relevant content on your blog (I don’t do this myself, but I’ve been reblogged a lot). This will publish a snippet of your blog and a link on the reblogger’s own page and direct readers to you and reassure the search engines that your content is useful.
  • Publicise your blog posts on social media (you can do this automatically) to increase the number of places your web address will appear.

Don’t:

  • Randomly ask to place guest posts on unconnected blogs – you might well get accepted but it’s not going to do you much good long-term.
  • Accept random and unconnected pieces to place on your blog, even if they say they’ll pay you – it’s not worth it long-term, as your readership will suspect it and anyone visiting your website for Dallas real estate and finding the rest of your articles are about crocheting will not stick around.
  • Put random comments full of your own links on people’s blogs that are not in any way connected with yours. Again, some might let these through (I delete any comments like this on my blogs) but it’s not going to look great, as many people will spot what you’re doing and it’s artificial, not natural, so may well harm you in the future.
  • Copy other people’s blog posts wholesale and paste them onto your site – search engines take a dim view of exactly duplicated content and will tend to push both examples right down the results screen. If you want to share something, share a snippet and a link to the rest of the content on the site where it was originally posted
  • Sign up with a company that offers to increase your SEO without checking very carefully whether they do this kind of thing – many of the rogue random comments and links I get on here obviously come from third parties unscrupulously throwing their customer’s URL all over the Internet

These dos and don’ts are to do with being decent, honourable and ethical. I’ve done it this way, and my blog is pretty successful. I will probably write about this in greater depth, but this should help as a handy guide.

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OK, that’s six things that you can do with your next blog post to help improve your website or blog’s SEO or search engine optimisation. This article itself has been optimised following my rules, and I hope you can pick out what I’ve done now. Do let me know if you have questions or comments using the comments option below, and please share using the share buttons if you’ve found this post useful.

Other useful posts on this site

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

Is it worth having a website for my business?

WordPress 1 – the basics – joining and setting up a blog (links to all the other WordPress tutorials)

Resource guide – blogging and social media

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Blogging, Business, SEO, Social media, WordPress

 

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Google+ for business

In this article I’m going to go through how to set up a business page on Google+

Because I don’t want to show my home address in public on Google, or give it to Google, most of the examples here are drawn from setting up a Brand. However, I understand that the principles are the same if you’re setting up a local business with an address. Do get in touch if you’d like to share screen prints from setting up an account with an address and I’ll be happy to include them (but not tell everyone where you live!)

Why should I set up a Google+ account and page?

This is a good question, as Google+ is known to be one of the rather less active social media platforms. However, the clue is in the word “Google”. Basically, stuff you post on Google+ and your Google+ page will be indexed more quickly by Google and will appear as more relevant in a Google search. There are active communities in Google+ and Hangouts and other social discussions and groupings – I have to admit that what I personally do is auto-post to Google from this blog and my others, so invest minimal effort, but it is worth doing for the indexing and SEO side alone.

How do I set up a Google+ account?

If you have a Google email address, you will automatically have a Google+ account. Look at the top of your email and you’ll see a +[your name] icon …

Google+ icon

You do need to have a Google account to have a Google+ account, although of course you don’t need to use it for anything else. Notifications about Google+ interactions come to your Gmail, but you could set up an autoforward to send that to another email account. Anyway, enough about options for escaping being taken over by Google – click on the +[name] icon and you’ll be taken to your Google+ account:

Google+ account

You can see that this looks quite a lot like other social media platforms such as Facebook, with posts by friends, recommended contacts (names deleted for privacy purposes) and a place to post an update at the top.

We’re not going to explore personal G+ at the moment, but instead look at the business application.

How do I set up a Google+ page for my business?

To access the Google+ pages creator and editor, click on the Home button at top left and choose Pages:

Pages on Google+

This will lead you to an option to choose a business type:

Google+ pages business type

Clicking on Storefront or Service Area (which is what I chose when I first did this) will first give you an option to search for a business. This gets a bit confusing, but we’ll work our way through it. If you choose Create New Page, as you would expect to do, after clicking Not a Local Business …

Google+ pages create new page

you will get the option to add a business with a street address. This is great if you have a shop or trading address, for example if you welcome people into a high street shop, have a gym in an out-of-town location or have customers visit your home to collect products, have therapeutic sessions, etc., and if this is the case, you can fill in all the details and have a listing for your business appear on Google maps for prospective customers to see.

Google+ pages add your business

Here’s what a business with a local page looks like on Google Maps. Here, I’ve searched in Google Maps for the business name, but it will also appear if you are viewing the map of the area at a certain level of zoom:

Google+ pages on Google Maps(thanks to Alison from Silicon Bullet for letting me use her business as an example!)

But what if I don’t want to list my address and have a pin on Google Maps?

I don’t want to list my address on Google Maps because I work from home, but I don’t see any clients here and I don’t really want the world to know my address! So this is how to set up a Google+ page without your address. Note, you can’t cheat the section above and put in spaces or dots – it really does want to pinpoint your address with a little label.

When you’re at the point of choosing your business type, choose Brand if you don’t want to have to add your address:

Google+ pages business type brand

This will take you to a screen where you start to add your details:

Google+ pages add brand details

You can now start filling in your details:

Google+ page set up brand

You can add in your URL and select the type of thing you’re talking about – so this is how you set up a community or other non-business entity, too.

Do note that you need to tick the box to agree to the Pages Terms (and do click through to have a look and check you DO agree) and to confirm that you’re authorised to create the page.Then click Create Page to create your page:

Google+ page setting up brand page

Once you’ve created your page, Google+ will give you a tour or you can just get started customising your page.

Google+ pages page created

This is all pretty self-explanatory. For example, you will be asked to complete your profile and given options to share updates. There’s also a section where you can see Insights – how people are interacting with your new page.

Google+ page complete profile

You can update your cover with your own image as well as adding your own picture to the place on the left:

Google+ page change background

Once you’ve clicked Change cover, you can choose one of the gallery or upload your own photo (if you have already put up several cover photos, you can click on that link to choose one you’ve used earlier).

Google+ page change cover

Upload takes you into your own folders so you can choose your own image. Here I’ve added my own image and I can now explore, add updates and add contact information and links.

Google+ page complete profile

How do I edit my Google+ business page(s)?

You can access your business pages at any time by clicking the Home button and choosing Pages. If you’ve created more than one Page, you will be shown all the ones you have active, with a link to edit them:

Google+ page edit pages

The Golden Rules of Google+

The rules here are the same as everywhere on social media …

  • Be professional
  • Reciprocate and share

In this post, we’ve learned about Google+ pages and how and why to create them. To learn about more aspects of social media for business, take a look at the resource guide.

if you’ve enjoyed reading this article and have found it useful, please take a moment to click on the buttons below to share it! Thank you!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

Facebook for business

How to delete posts and block users from your Facebook page

How to add a moderator or admin to your Facebook page

How to find a job using Twitter

Using Twitter for your business

Using LinkedIn for your business

Additional resource:

Garrett and Mike from Techfunction Magazine have got in touch to let me know about their resource guide to Google Business – read the first article here.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Business, Social media

 

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How do I delete a post or ban a user on a Facebook page?

This post follows on from my one about the basics of Facebook for business and covers two really common concerns for people with a business Facebook page:

  • How do I delete a post or comment that someone has put on my Facebook page?
  • How do I ban or block someone from commenting on my Facebook page?

In fact, the way to do the second leads on from the first … so let’s look at how to delete a comment first.

Where can I see other people’s comments on my Facebook page?

Comments move around a bit on Facebook, but if you’ve enabled people to be able to comment, you can see their comments under the heading Posts to Page:

Posts to page on Facebook page

To look at all of these posts in detail or delete some, click on the arrow at the top right. You will then see just your comments:

Posts to page view Facebook

To delete this post OR to block or ban the user, click on the down arrow at the top right. You will now be presented with three options:

Delete post to Facebook page

  • Hide from Page will hide the post but not delete it – no one will be able to see it. This would be useful if you suspected someone of posting inappropriately but wanted to get in touch with them to check what they meant or give them another chance / ask them to edit their post. You also have the option to ban the user at this point:

Facebook page hide post

(use Undo to backtrack from here, the x button to hide and close the dialogue box, or Ban User to ban the user from the page)

  • Delete from Page will delete the post and give you the option to ban the person who wrote the post

Delete post from Facebook pageYou can Delete the post and ban the user, Cancel if you clicked this option by mistake, or just Delete the post (you could use this option if the user had made a mistake or posted something you didn’t want on the page but you don’t actually want to ban that person from posting on your page in future.

  • Embed Post will generate some HTML code that will allow you to include an image of the post on Facebook in other places such as your website or blog – useful if you have a great post from a fan or celebrity:

Facebook embed post

Copy the code that’s highlighted and use it anywhere that you can place HTML – in a blog post, on a website, in a discussion forum, etc.

How do I block someone from posting on my business’s Facebook page?

As we’ve seen above, you can use two methods: both need you to look at the post itself first. You can then …

  • Hide the post and ban the user
  • Delete the post and ban the user

How do I stop people posting on my Facebook page at all?

If you want to suppress all posts from people who are not the Facebook page’s administrators / moderators, go to Settings / General / Posting Ability. When you go to the General area, under Posting Ability you will see your current settings. If you want to change these, click Edit:

Facebook settings allowing posts

Clicking Edit will allow you to choose whether and what people can post on your business page:

Edit posting ability Facebook

Use the round buttons to choose whether you Allow other people to post to my Page timeline or Disable posts by other people on my Page timeline. The tick boxes allow you to choose whether to let people add videos or photos (useful to untick if people have been posting inappropriate photos but you still want to allow comments) and allow you to ask Facebook to send you posts by other people that you then have to approve (you’ll receive an email alerting you to the new post and allowing you to approve or reject it).

Click Save Changes to save your changes or Cancel if you want to keep your settings as they are.

Important information about allowing posting and deleting posts

I personally think it’s a good idea to allow other people to post on your business Facebook page. After all, you want to encourage interaction and conversations, not just pump out sales information, right? I get a bit frustrated if I go onto the Facebook page for a business and find I can’t place a comment about how much I loved their veggie sausages or enjoy wearing my new shoes. So, unless you are bombarded with spam and abuse, try not to use the Disable posts by other people on my timeline option if it all possible.

And a word on deleting posts. Be careful what you delete.

Posts it’s OK to delete or hide

  • Unfounded or personal abuse
  • Spam that has nothing to do with your own page (e.g. on this Empedia page for an IT consultant, a post about buying homes in West Texas)
  • Spam from rival companies in your business area who are not supporting and cooperating with you, but merely trying to get your followers to move over to them instead (for example, on my own editing page, posts from student proofreading companies just saying “For the best proofreading click here”)
  • Pornographic or other inappropriate images, text or video

Posts it’s best not to delete or hide

  • Genuine complaints and negative feedback – OK, so your first reaction will be to hide that post where someone complains the shoe they bought from your range has fallen apart. But if they’ve taken the time to find your Facebook page and complain, then they’re going to know they did that, and they’re going to notice if you delete it. What will they do then? At very least, post it again, but be assured that they will have told their friends and family, shared your page on their Facebook timeline with a note about what you’ve done, and been very unhappy altogether.

If someone posts a complaint or negative feedback on your Facebook page …

  • Think what you’d do if you encountered them in person. You wouldn’t stick a bit of tape over their mouth or turn your back on them, would you? Yet that’s what you’re doing when you hide or delete their post.
  • Address the issue at least partly in public – for example, you could post a reply along the lines of, “Sorry to read you’re experiencing problems. Please contact me at vvv@vvvvv.com or via my Contact Page [with link] so we can resolve your problem”.
  • You could go further and say something like, “I’m sorry you appear to be having a problem – you can of course return your shoes to use for a full refund” and give them information on how to do this.
  • Once the problem is resolved, pop another reply on – “I’m glad we were able to replace your shoes and hope you’re happy with the new pair – do let us  know how you’re getting on.
  • Be polite – if someone posts a little aggressively – “I’ve heard you supply slip-on shoes with fancy chains and blood diamonds on them to arms dealers: what do you say about that?” then take the polite route, and address their question in public as far as you can.
  • Don’t get into a fight in public – if it gets messy, take it offline with an offer to call them or whatever’s appropriate.
  • If the poster strays into the inappropriate, follow the steps above for deleting or hiding posts, but maybe consider putting a note on the page to explain (calmly) why you did this.

This article has hopefully helped you to deal with negative or inappropriate comments and commentators on your Facebook page. You now know how to hide or delete comments and block or ban users from your Facebook business page, and how to use the Settings to control who can post what.

Other useful posts on this blog

Facebook for business – the basics

How to add an admin or moderator to your Facebook page

Thank you to my husband, Matthew, for allowing me to set up a Facebook page on his behalf to harvest screenshots! And of course, Laura Ripper is a good friend and colleague and never posts inappropriate content on people’s Facebook pages!

If you’ve enjoyed this post or found it useful, please click one of the sharing buttons below! Thank you!

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Business, Facebook, Social media

 

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Facebook for business – starting out

This post takes you through the basics of setting up a Facebook page. You may have found this page from a link in one of my e-books, if so, welcome to this extra free resource!

You can set up a page for your business on Facebook as long as you’ve got a personal page.

The slight issue with Facebook business pages is that Facebook wants you to pay for adverts and to have your posts and page promoted to other people. So do be prepared to receive lots of suggestions to pay for ads and promotion, and not a lot of interaction from other users.

How to set up a Facebook business page

You will need to be logged in to Facebook

Go to www.facebook/pages/create or click on Create a page when you’re in any other Facebook page …

Facebook create a page button

and choose a category of page to create:

Facebook type of page

If, for example, you choose Local Business of Place or Company, Organization or Institution, you then need to choose your category, and it’s worth noting that you get different categories for Local Businesses …

Facebook create local business page

… and Companies:

Facebook create company page

and give your page a name. If you choose local business or place, you’re given space to enter your address – good if you have a shop or need people to find you, not really recommended if you operate from your home office and don’t want all and sundry to know your address. I’m choosing Company, Organization or Institution:

Create business page

Whatever type of page you set up, you will be asked to tick that you accept Facebook’s Page terms and conditions. These include a host of stipulations about promotions, advertising, tagging and other issues. Note that Facebook can remove admin rights and shut down your page if you don’t abide by these rules. This is why I would never suggest limiting your web presence to only a Facebook page – make sure that you have your own website, too.

Now it’s time to set up the basic details of your page – Facebook walks you through this:

Facebook set up pageNote here that you used to have to have a certain number of Likes before you could choose a unique Facebook web address; now you can do it right away. Here’s this first screen with the info filled in. Note that once you’ve said that it’s a real organisation, you’ll get a second option to confirm that you represent the company:

Facebook page set up filled in

This is the point at which Facebook checks that the URL you’ve chosen is available. In our case, it isn’t (I checked, and the URL belongs to an individual with the surname Empedia), so I’ve added to the URL to try again:

Facebook url not availableOnce you’ve saved this information, you can add a profile photo:

Facebook page add profile photoIf you choose Upload From Computer, you’ll be taken to your computer’s folders to find the photo you want:

Facebook page add profile pictureYou will also be prompted to add the page to your favourites – this means that you’ll see when you (or someone else) posts to it and you will also see it in your left-hand side panel:

Facebook page add to favouritesThen you get a bit of hard sell with the Reach More People section:

Facebook page reach more people I would certainly advise pressing the Skip button at this point, as anyone directed by an ad to Like a page that has no Likes or activity is not going to be compelled to do so!

And now you have your page!

Facebook page

Once you’ve set up your basic page, you can set up a cover image for your page. There are all sorts of rules about what you can have here, but they change frequently, so refer to the current terms and conditions.

Facebook page add a cover

You can choose a photo from your albums or upload one from your own folders on your computer:

Facebook add cover

Once you have uploaded the photo, you can move it around until it’s in the right place, then Save Changes:

Facebook page cover

You can change these two pictures by hovering over them, at which point a button will appear offering you the opportunity to do so.

Facebook page change profile pic

When you’ve created your basic page, you can also add information and details as you wish. Use the Settings button to access these options:

Facebook page settings

The Settings pages allow you to describe your business and add hours of operation, etc. You don’t have to fill in everything, but it is useful to add your website’s URL, for example. You can change this information at any time.

Facebook Page Info settings

General also allow you to set out who can post on the page and other features. This is useful if you have people putting spam comments, etc., on the page – you can set it so that only you can post. However, I do like to let people post and comment to foster a sense of community.  It’s worth looking at this area frequently, as what you can and can’t do does change over time.

Page roles allows you to add other people who can administrate the page – useful if you’ve set up the page but you have someone in your company who’s a social media expert. I’ve already written about this here.

You’ll see a Page button at the top of the screen which allows you to return to the page at any time.

The Activity tab lets you know how often your posts have been seen and the viewing figures. Note that these are likely to be distressingly small – see the section on paying for promotion below.

Interacting with people on your page

You can post updates on your page, including photos and notes, just like you can on your personal Facebook timeline. I send my blog post notifications to this page – but then I share them to my personal timeline, too, where they have more chance of being seen.

When you Like a page belonging to someone else, you can click on the down-arrow by Message and Like as your page – this will appear in their timeline and can lead to some nice, friendly interaction.

If you have set your page up to accept comments by others, do pop by the page to respond to these – a) it’s polite to reply to comments and b) you need to watch out for spam and complaints, and address them accordingly.

Stopping spam and dealing with complaints

It is possible to delete comments that other people make on your Facebook page. Just be aware that if you delete complaints, the complainer is liable to share the fact that you’ve done that – a bit of polite damage limitation on the page itself is often more appropriate.

If someone spams my page, I usually reply politely the first time, in case they’ve made a mistake, if someone’s just posted a link to their page and it’s vaguely relevant, otherwise they get deleted.

I will be writing a longer article about dealing with spam and blocking users – watch this space!

If you’re considering paying for promotion on Facebook …

Whenever I get tempted to advertise on Facebook, which they do promise can be targeted to your selected audience, I think about the random / odd / offensive / inappropriate adverts that I see on my Facebook timeline, and that makes me think that it’s perhaps not worth it.

If you do decide to pay for advertising, go for one of the pay per click options where you can limit how much you pay out per day. Observe how it goes very carefully, and try to assess how much business you’re actually getting for what you pay for (have a look at the articles in the Investing in Your Business section above).

The golden rule of Facebook business pages

There’s a golden rule that applies to all social media and that’s Be Yourself. Allow your own personal self to appear on those pages. Have a picture of you on the profile, and comment and respond as appropriate.

It’s also worth noting that your friends do not want to feel spammed by your business. I share my business page posts once at most onto my personal timeline. I don’t leap in to every personal conversation with “Oh, I can proofread that” or “need some transcription, just call me”. It isn’t appropriate, none of us like having that done to us, and it’s a good way to annoy those very people who might otherwise be spreading the word about your business. By all means, mix business with pleasure, but make your business page pleasurable to read and keep your personal page personal as well as businesslike.

Other useful posts on this blog

How to add an admin or moderator to your Facebook page

How to delete posts and block users from your Facebook page

Thank you to my husband, Matthew, for allowing me to set up a Facebook page on his behalf to harvest screenshots!

If you’ve enjoyed this post or found it useful, please click one of the sharing buttons below! Thank you!

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2014 in Business, Social media

 

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Guest posts 2: How to be the perfect guest

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Getting guest posts published on other people’s blogs is generally considered to be A Good Thing. It can bring you new clicks, followers and even customers. But even if you’re being commissioned to write a blog post for someone else, there are some fairly unwritten rules that will help you to make it a success on both sides.

In this article, I share what makes a good guest blogger, from initial contact to thank yous and shares in ten top tips for being the perfect guest blog poster. I talk about being a good host here, by the way).

1. Do your homework

You’ve got a post you want to share and you think it’s a good guest post. Before you even contact the host to ask them to post it, do your homework. Check whether they have a guest post policy (I have one, and you can find a link to it on my main blog and in more detail on the Libro Full Time blog). Many busy bloggers will not even reply to you if you haven’t looked and noted any guidelines. I will give people a second chance if I have time – but not always!

Presumably you know the blog because you’ve been reading it already. Have a think about who the audience is. What sort of posts does this person publish? How does your prospective guest post fit in with them?

2. Pick your hosts wisely

Have a think about whether this person welcomes guest posts. Are they on your topic or are they specific interviews or on other subjects? Is this someone you’ve engaged with on a long-term basis? Have you liked, shared, commented on their posts for a few months already? If they know your name and where your expertise lies, they are more likely to welcome your guest post.

Note that common advice is to only guest post on blogs that are more popular than your own. You can look at their Alexa score and yours, for example, to see which is more popular. BUT, because part of my mission is to help other small businesses and colleagues, I’m happy to guest on smaller, newer blogs, like I did here and here, to help to promote them as well as myself.

3. Show that you’ve done your homework

When pitching to place a blog post cold, or when replying to a commission, make sure that the host knows that you’ve had a look at their blog, that you’re familiar with their style and content, that you have an idea who their readers are. Nothing annoys a blogger more than having a random person contact them saying “I have read your blog [on football] and I think this post [on nuclear physics] would fit really well, please post it and all my links as soon as possible”. Even super-polite old me doesn’t always reply to those ones!

4. Follow the guidelines

If a blog has guidelines for guest posts, like The Creative Penn does, for example, then do follow them! (These ones are very detailed because it’s a very popular blog with lots of guest posts, but as I said above, most people have them). In fact, if you can’t find any published guidelines, ask the blogger if they have any specifications as to the ideal length, angle, etc. Make your piece match these as closely as possible.

5. Don’t duplicate content

Google and other search engines do not like duplicated content. So make sure that any blog post you tout around is fresh, new content, not something that has appeared elsewhere or been pitched elsewhere. It’s fine to pitch the same post to several potential hosts as long as you do it in series not in parallel, i.e. you wait for the first rejection, then try the next blogger. Also see section 9 to avoid doing this on your own blog.

6. Help the host with the formatting

As we learnt in the last post on hosting guest posts, formatting text sent in by someone else can be a nightmare. If you really want to help your host, by all means write your post in Word so you can spell check it, etc., but then “save as” a plain text file with a .txt file (drop down the “save as” box when you’re saving and choose “plain text .txt”). Your host can then open the file in a text editor and paste it into their blog editor.

You can always send a Word version as well, so they can see any bold or italics or special formatting.

It goes without saying that you’ll spell check your post and – if necessary – have it checked by your proofreader first, doesn’t it?

7. Provide an author bio and links

To make it easy for your host, do provide a short author bio about yourself, and links to whatever it is you want to promote. I usually put together a few sentences on what I do and what I care about (this guest post by me has a good example which the host has altered slightly to fit her style and context) and then give the full URLs for the links, with an explanation of what they’re linking to. Some hosts will put the links under the text, some will put them next to the text, all should make them live.

8. Accept feedback and give feedback

Many bloggers who accept guest posts will want to tweak your article a little to make sure it fits their guidelines, style and readership. Please do accept this graciously – you’re playing round someone else’s house, so you do need to play by their rules.

I submitted one piece to a blog as a guest post, but it wasn’t what they were looking for. They came back to me with ideas for tweaks, but in the end I thought it was better to abandon that idea and do a whole new post for the other blogger. That was accepted immediately and proved popular with their readers. Not being one to waste some good text (and proving that it was fine as a blog post, just not as a guest post on that particular blog, I tweaked it to remove references to the original blogger and published it on my own blog!).

Once the piece has been published, have a look at it, and if there are any errors, do let the host know. Typical things to look for include spelling your name incorrectly and not putting live links on. If you spot anything like this, let them know right away and give them an opportunity to put it right. No one’s perfect, and I would certainly prefer my guests to let me know if there was a problem.

Related to this, though: don’t push. If you’ve submitted a request to guest and haven’t heard back, by all means drop one reminder or question a week or so later, but that’s it. For many bloggers, blogging isn’t their only job. Sometimes my blog has to come second to my paid work (I pre-write and auto-post, so even if it looks like I’m spending time on the blog every few days, I might not be!) and I’m sure other people are in that situation, too. Hassling will probably lead to a refusal!

9. Promote and share

Your guest post will build hits for and interest in both your host’s blog and products/services and yours. So get promoting and sharing on their behalf, since a hit on your guest post is likely to generate a click-through to your blog or other resource. I get a lot more hits on those posts that both my guests and I promote – AND because there are more hits, the click-throughs go up, too (this is particularly noticeable on my small business chats, when it can make a big difference). So you have a vested interest in promoting the blog on which you’re guesting.

One important point: don’t paste the whole of your guest post into your own blog. By all means write about it and link back to the original (this is a good example by one of my guests) but duplicating content over two different blog posts will make your content disappear down the search engine rankings very fast, as the search engines are suspicious of anything that looks like automated activity and will ignore two blocks of identical text.

10. Say thank you

It’s always nice to say thank you. So email the blogger who has hosted you and also put a public thank you out there on the social media. I’ve got a page on my blog where I list my own guest post requirements but also list all the guest posts I’ve placed – and that sends a few people over to my hosts every day.

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This post has talked about how to be a good guest blogger. If you enjoyed this post, please click some of the share buttons below or post a comment yourself – all are welcome! And if you have an idea for a guest post for this blog … do get in touch!

Related posts:

Guest posts 1: How to be the host(ess) with the most(est)

10 reasons to start a blog

10 reasons NOT to write a blog

Reciprocity and Social Media

Top 10 blogging sins

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Blogging, Business, Social media, Writing

 

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Guest posts 1: How to be the host(ess) with the most(est)

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We know that placing your guest posts on other people’s blogs and hosting other people’s guest posts on your blog is A Good Thing. It increases traffic to both of your websites, gains you social capital, and gives you new, fresh and different content for your blog.

But how do you make sure that you do it right – for both you and your guest? Here are ten top tips to help you get the most out of hosting guest blog posts. If you only read and apply two of these, please make them numbers 7 and 8!

1. Know what you want

It’s all very well deciding to welcome guest posts onto your blog, but what do you want to achieve? Do you want to show different angles on your line of business? Allow so-called competitors space to talk? Give your clients some publicity? Help other people in your geographical area? Start to formulate a policy rather than having a scattershot and random approach. This will help your readers to understand why you’re hosting guest blog posts, and will help potential guests match their posts to your blog.

I accept guest posts on writing, especially on editors as writers and writers as editors. The more random ones I’ve posted up in the early days didn’t get many hits, because they didn’t really mesh with what I write about. The most popular – ones that chime with my experiences, and the odd Troublesome Pair or Be Careful post that someone has written from the heart.

2. Know what you don’t want

Once your blog has a certain reach, you’ll find that people get in touch regularly wanting to place guest posts. Many of these seem almost completely random, with almost no (or absolutely no) relevance to my blog. I might give these people a second chance, but not often. I realised early on that there wasn’t room on my blogs for random links to unconnected companies, or links to companies doing things that I didn’t quite approve of – I get a lot of requests for “guest posts” which are just ways for a company to place their client’s URLs in popular places and build their SEO, and a good number for links to student proofreading companies that I wasn’t entirely sure about.

3. Be clear on what you will and will not accept

Once you know what you want and don’t want, you can narrow this down to what you will and will not accept. Most of the guest blog posts you publish will probably be suggested to you rather than commissioned, and it’s up to you to say yes or no to these ideas. Personally, I will accept trial copies of relevant software or hardware but I’ll say if that means my review is effectively a sponsored post, but I won’t accept requests to place blatant ads. I might in future accept ads for products that I have reviewed, found good and am happy to recommend. I have got a few links that earn me an affiliate fee on my Links page, but I make it clear that I earn a fee from purchases coming from those clicks. Some people won’t take any ads, some will take anything that pays. I don’t mind what you do but it’s best to be clear about it.

So, once you know what will and won’t accept, get clear about it. I have a Guest Post Guidelines page on my other blog (linked to from this one) – I put it there because it linked in with my policy on reviewing books I’m sent. I refer enquirers there when they want to place a guest post with me.

4. Commission guest posts

I get a lot of requests for guest posts, but I’ve also commissioned them (and been commissioned to write them too – I was asked to write this one after chatting about exercise with a fellow attendee at a networking event). Commissioning doesn’t mean paying: it means asking someone if they’d like to contribute.

I have done this recently with a fellow editor who is less far along her business path than I am. She’s got a specialism in which I’m interested, and fits with what I do, but isn’t something I do, personally. So I’ve asked her to contribute a guest post on it, which will be interesting for my readers and get a link to her website on mine, too.

Another aspect of this is reciprocal posting. I did this recently with Tammy Salyer. I asked her to write a post on being an editor/writer, and she then commissioned me to write about 10 top tips for fiction writing. I’ve noticed a good flow of hits and referrals between the two posts – win-win for the two of us!

5. Don’t be afraid to give feedback

Once the post has been written and sent to you, rather than just publishing it as is or rejecting it wholesale, if there are aspects that I think could be changed, or I think the post needs major work, I will feed that information back to the poster. If there are minor spelling and grammar errors in Small Business Chats, I tend to change them silently (my initial instructions should make it clear that I’m likely to do that), but if there’s a more major content change, I will send a note to the poster before I publish (or reject)

6. Help people out

I try not to use guest posts just to give me me me more content, more hits, more interest. If I can give someone an opportunity to promote their book, service or specialism, AND it fits in with my blog and its readers, I’ll offer them a guest post or accept their proposal. I do care about hits, but I also care about helping people and promoting things that are of value. That’s why I’ve turned my own posts over to topics like Kiva and the Soberistas, and am happy to work in guest posts on topics that I feel are valuable.

7. Format the post

Most people will send their guest post to you in one of two ways: text in an email, or a Word document attached to that email.

Probably, like me, you usually write your own blog posts straight into the blogging interface you use – you hit “new post” and start typing. Fine, that’s all new text and it should format OK. If you copy text straight from an email or Word document and dump it into your blog interface in a “new post”, you are likely to end up with a mess.

This is because most emailing programs and definitely Word documents contain all sorts of invisible formatting commands that will carry over into your blog post and run paragraphs together, put it all in unfeasibly tiny print, and all sorts of other sins.

It’s easy to avoid this. Copy the text that will form your blog post and paste it into a text-only editor – most PCs will have Notepad installed as standard, for example. Paste it in there and then copy it and paste into your blog editor. Job done. You may have to reformat any links that the guest blogger has given you, but see the next point for how to work that one out.

8. Include links and an author biography

In my opinion, this is the most important one of the lot – and something that sadly I see going wrong quite a lot of the time.

If someone is decent enough to provide you with a guest blog post for your blog, be decent enough to tell your readers about them, and put links to their product / service / book / cat pictures / whatever they want to promote – and that’s LIVE LINKS, not just URLs that you can’t click through with – on the post.

This is a good example (I won’t share a bad one to save people’s blushes, but I’ve come up against this with my own blog posts). It includes an author bio with proper links that make sense and are in a different colour, so readers can find me and the book I wanted to promote easily.

It’s great to reciprocate, but the effort someone has put in to writing a guest post for you will be simply thrown away if you don’t provide links so that people can click through to them and their websites.

So make sure you ask your guest blogger for a quick biography and links to the things they want to promote (don’t assume!), and then place the links in the article.

If you don’t know how to create live links in your blog posts, read this article. Now.

9. Share and promote

Once you’ve published your guest post, make sure that you share and promote it just like you do your own ones. It’s nice to include the author’s name and link in any posting you do on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ etc.

This extends to telling the author that you’ve published the article and where they can find it – send them a link to the URL. And ask them to promote it, too. That way, you can leverage the social capital of both of you – or in simple terms, get more people to look and click. And that’s really what guest posts are about!

10. Say thank you and feed back again

Once someone has been kind enough to provide you with a guest post, do say thank you publicly and privately. It’s also nice to let them know how many hits the post has had – say in the first week. You look at your stats for your posts, right? You can also let them know how many click-throughs they got to their website or other resource. Also let them know if there are comments on the post that you think they should see or even reply to – not every guest will bookmark it and check obsessively for comments. But don’t leave them to do all the responding – take part yourself, too. Again, this one is a good example – look at the comments, where both I and the guest poster respond to them in turn.

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This post has talked about how to be a good host to guest bloggers. Next week I’ll look at how to be a good guest. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post, please click some of the share buttons below or post a comment yourself – all are welcome!

Related posts:

Guest posts 2 – how to be the perfect guest

10 reasons to start a blog

10 reasons NOT to write a blog

Reciprocity and Social Media

Top 10 blogging sins

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Blogging, Business, Social media, Writing

 

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