Can We Kill Crap Titles Please?

Do you know what really irks me when it comes to blogging?

People trying to outdo each other with titles.

The icing on the cake was a title a week ago I read on a less than reputable blog which was “10 Least Vitally Dangerous Aspects of SEO”. Eh? That title doesn’t make me want to click, it makes me want to slap the writer. I’m not the only one – it’s touched on by Unmemorable Title before now.

Unfortunately, like the greatest ever Liverpool XI, a post listing the top 10 of something is deeply subjective (unless of course, it’s based on fact,  like “Liverpool’s top 10 goal scorers”).

It’s poor writing. So, here’s my two tips for great titles:-

  • Use Only One Superlative - Otherwise you don’t fall over yourself contradicting yourself. Try to use a descriptive one (rather than “Best”).
  • If Your Post Begins With A Number…Write it Out - I saw this used brilliantly by Ali Luke on this post on Problogger. I just think it looks neater and more clickable. Not entirely sure why, any copywriters out there?

There my two tips for titles, what are yours? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

How To Write A Guest Post Proposal

I accept guest blog posts on this blog, which is the same as many other blogs. However, even though I accept them, the main focus for my blog is to keep the quality of posts. As a result, I do reject guest posts (probably why you haven’t seen any posts yet!), even those that don’t get past the proposal phrase.

One such proposal was sent to my personal blog (which I rarely, if ever, accept guest posts on!) in the past few days. It was long with 4 wordy paragraphs, which I read then immediately sent it into the bin.

Why didn’t it work? Well it was long & wordy, but there were a few phrases that stood out:-

  • “Whilst reading your blog I noticed that you have used guest posters previously, and so thought I’d send you a quick email.” - Lazy. I had never guest post on the website.
  • “The post would offer simple [their niche] advice (not a sales pitch in any way!) for the readers of your blog, with the post being relevant to the details of your niche….I think it’s safe to say that we could really help your readers with some high quality unbiased (and uncommercial) advice..” - Again, their niche was completely unrelated to mine. I also wasn’t happy having ‘advice’ posts on my website, which is a personal blog.

But the main phrase that stood out was the following:-

We’re offering to write you a unique 400-600 word blog post, which will be relevant to your readers and will enhance your website as the quality of the content will be very high. Hopefully the post will be helpful to your readers and also will help your exposure in the search engines due to having more content.

Two reasons why this stood out for me. Firstly, the fact that they mention the words “quality”, “expert”, “unique” & “helpful” a lot. Ever see a drunk who try so hard to convince you they are sober they give the game away? That’s what the email & the passage reads to me.

Secondly, it felt like they were patronising me, that my blog needed their content to be a great blog.

So how should you effectively pitch when guest posting?

Simple, don’t. Write a blog post that you want publishing & send it yourself. Make your first guest posts generic (so that if they are refused, you can still use the blog post), before going into tailored blog posts to blogs. By pitching, you’re setting yourself up for a fall, so don’t!

Photo Credit: http://www.rodolfoclix.com.br/2000info.html

4 Blogging & SEO New Years Resolutions You Should Make

Happy MMXI everybody! (I like it as a Roman Numeral this year, don’t you? It sounds like something that can slip so easily into raps or other forms of spoken word entertainment) Of course, with a new year comes resolutions – ways in which we resolutely improve ourselves, before two weeks later tucking into a McDonalds, smoking a cigaratte & drinking enough booze to sink the QE2.

This year though I want you to make these 4 blogging resolutions, they’re a pice of cake to keep. In fact with the exception of one, you’ll probably be done by January the 4th.

  • Trim Fat (from your Blog) - Running a blog over a long period of time can lead to junk being built up in the plugin folder. This can make your blog slow & can leave you open to attacks (though this is rare). Remove plugins you’re not using on your site. Consolidate some of your plugins. For example: replace your SEO & XML Sitemap Plugins with Yoast’s SEO Plugin, replace individual button plugins with Digg Digg.
  • Travel (both online & offline) - In the olden days of blogging, most blogs were personal of nature or had a technological stand. Now there are a number of blogs of everything, with larger niches having loads (here’s the top 100 blogs in the football niche according to the Guardian), and even tiny niches having a few authoritative voices. For the SEO/Web Niche, I’d recommend checking out State of Search, 3ac.co.uk, Holistic Search, Mike’s Life amongst others. Also, one of the best things you can do as an SEOer is meet other SEOers at conferences & offline. It helped my career no end last year. Next year I’m attending SASCon & Think Visibility (both of which are paid), as well as attend a bunch of MancSEOs (which are free). Although conference round ups are posted online, you learn so much more in person!
  • Stop Smoking (and burning yourself out) - One of the hardest things about blogging is keeping going. Unfortunately when people start blogging they think they have to blog every day. This is completely not manageable over the long term unless you have a team of writers. Plus you don’t need to do this unless you have a huge audience. I’d recommend blogging at least once a week though, as well as building an email list to let people know when you update.
  • Stop Drinking (other people’s kool-aid, start doing) – Apologies for the use of the Americanism. Everybody (including myself) has an opionion with the way things work online, but the best thing you can do to begin with is stop reading, and start doing. Sure you can analyse the best way to tweet your latest blog post, or you can actually just tweet it & see what works. Very little online is irrecoverable, and even less is fatal. You can know as much as you can – but as Paddy Moogan posted on his blog – Knowing Everything Doesn’t Mean Shit.

I’m sure you can think up of your own resolutions. Feel free to share them in the comments!