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

Effective Description Tags for SEO

Description tags are an interesting element when SEO’ing your site, in that they are one of the most essential elements on your on page SEO. However, for most search engines, they have no effect on your on page SEO.

What Are Description Tags?

Description tags are tags, placed in the header of the HTML page, that looks a little like this:-

<meta name="description" content="This is the description text!">

They describe the content on page and are no bigger than 160 characters in length. Often they are used beneath the search results for the search engines – for example, this is how this website appears in Google:-

A few years ago, it was a hugely important part of SEO, as often keywords were stuffed into the description tags willy nilly. Now, not so much. Though keywords are highlighted when searches are made (this is the search for “Old Trafford”).

What’s the Official Word on How Description Tags Affect SEO?

From Google’s Webmaster Help:-

“While accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won’t impact your ranking within search results. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL’s content.”

So yes, Google does recommend them, but it doesn’t have an impact in the rankings.

Why You Should Include Them on The Page?

Well Google does suggest that useful description tags can help clickthroughs, as even though your site may rank second in Google, you may get the clickthrough instead of the number one listing.

This can have an effect on your search engine rankings on individual local machines – as the most popular results can appear higher in Google (thanks to local search history) – though it’s doesn’t effect worldwide Google Rankings.

Advice for Good Description Tags

So what should you include in description tags? One thing not to bother with is a list of keywords. What I’d try and include is an elevator pitch (if nothing else). I also try to include the following.

  • Unique Selling Points – Do you offer free delivery? Are your products covered by a guarantee? What makes you different from all the other results on the page? Depending on the client, I try and include such phrases in my meta description such as:-
  • Free Delivery.
  • No Win No Fee.
  • 30 Day Return Policy.
  • Call To Action - The most important thing is a call to action to get you to click on the link, or depending on your website, not getting them to click at all. Stick a phone number there if need be. Either way, you should provide a primer for your domain in the call to action.

Share Your Tips!

This is just my opinion on description tags, and it appears to work. What works for you? Do please share your thoughts in the comments.

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!