If you’ve been blogging for longer than a couple of months, you should’ve heard by now how great guest blogging is when it comes down to building an audience.
Pretty much every blogger out there is aware of that fact.
The real problem is that most folks aren’t taking action.
For a while I was in the same boat.
I waited and waited for months…
There was the fear that my post wouldn’t be accepted.
Then I feared that if the post was accepted, I would receive very little social sharing.
However, the biggest reason why I waited so long was that I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make anything out of it.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to get people to convert into subscribers or even into followers.
After finally jumping into guest blogging, I realized that lots of things could’ve gone wrong had I started right away.
Below I covered four of the most important components you have to have in place if you want to maximize your guest blogging traffic, conversion rates, and SEO benefits.
You might start with saying content is king… yeah, we’ve all heard that phrase and I personally am fed up with it.
There is no denying – without solid content, readers won’t have a reason to visit your blog.
We are all visual creatures and, as they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words.
The picture I am referring to is the design of your blog.
You might think no one cares about the design when the content is good.
Well, you’d be WRONG.
Say you click on a link in someone’s byline.
The first thing to load is the logo, but quite an ugly one.
A moment later you unintentionally notice the background – a very bad color choice that takes the focus away from the content…
Okay, big deal… you start reading anyway.
It turns out even though the design is bad, the content is actually intriguing.
But then there’s another problem.
Despite of the bad first impression, you decide to share that content.
So you look for the retweet button.
Whoops – there simply isn’t one. There is actually not a single share button in sight…
Oh well… You decide to sign up for the person’s list.
But wait a minute! Where’s the subscription form?
Yep, you guessed it – it doesn’t exist.
So all in all, yes, design plays a role.
There’s a big difference between something nice and neat like this:
And something that looks like a splash of random colors like this:
Need some inspiration?
Check out this list of quality blog designs!
The Share Buttons
The next important element are the share buttons.
The Really simple Facebook Twitter share buttons WordPress plugin is a great way to get them.
Another suggestion would be to use a plugin like Digg Digg – that’s the one that powers Ana’s social sharing buttons to the right.
The Opt-in Form
Then there’s the subscription form – make sure to both place it above the fold and under your blog posts.
The Social Media
Also, think about how people can reach out to you – the Social Media Widget WordPress plugin is all you need to add social buttons to your widget areas.
Your Social Profiles
You have to leave an impression on people.
Having your guest post appear on a highly-respected blog is, of course, step one.
Step two is the design of your blog as I talked about above.
And step three would be to have a blog that receives dozens of retweets, likes, and shares, PLUS has a big enough social following.
The social proof your new visitors see on your blog just might be what seals the deal for you to earn their trust and respect.
Don’t be the kind of blogger who talks about social media, yet has 500 followers, or talks about SEO, yet has no rankings to show for their “expertise”.
One great way to get more likes for your Facebook fan page is with Facebook Page Promoter Lightbox WordPress plugin.
That one is a pop-over that displays a like box for your fan page, giving readers an opportunity to like it.
Here’s what the lightbox looks like:
By leveraging the two properly you can get thousands of followers… the process takes months, but it’s effective.
I don’t believe in overnight success anyway, and I hope neither do you.
Additionally you can cross-promote your content.
For instance sometimes instead of retweeting an article directly from your blog, you can tweet the Google Plus story for the same article.
That will bring some of your Twitter followers to your Google Plus page and they might just decide to give you a follow.
Again perseverance is the key – as weeks go, you will slowly start getting more people under your belt.
In short, guest blogging can wait…
Not forever, but it can certainly wait a couple of months until you gain momentum in terms of social media.
That solid social proof is important because it will make you trustworthy in the eyes of visitors, readers and potential clients.
But of course that’s not all there is!
Your On-Site SEO
Yes, social media signals are extremely important for social proof, as well as search engine rankings.
However if people don’t link to you, you will hardly achieve the rankings you want.
Here comes another benefits that guest blogging provides.
If you are able to get high-profile blogs to feature you, you get your hands on some solid links, pointing back to your site.
That is what can make a big difference to your search results.
To make the most out of the links you receive once your guest blogging quest begins, you will have to optimize your blog’s on-site SEO first.
You have to be the one directing the search bots – you have to be the one telling them how YOU want them to rank YOUR content.
There are things like keyword density, there are things like including the main keywords in specific areas of your posts and so on.
One awesome free WordPress plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast might just be what you need.
Aside from many other helpful features, you get a really neat scoring system that helps you to optimize your content.
Once you set the focus keyword, you are given tips as to where and how you should include it in your article.
Plus for each of the on-site SEO elements there’s a color indicator, telling you how well you are doing.
That simple solution makes optimization a piece of cake even for bloggers without much SEO experience.
Here’s what it all looks like in the WordPress post editor:
…And as far as finding the perfect keyword goes, Ana has written a great review about Market Samurai – THE software when it comes to keyword research.
It’s best to take care of that on-site SEO part before you get into guest blogging, since search engines can be quite quirky sometimes.
Optimizing your posts afterwards might not result in the same traffic as if when you’d done that before starting to guest blog and receiving all the quality backlinks.
The main way to benefit from guest articles is via the guest author box also know as the byline.
The author’s box basically consists of a couple of sentences about yourself, where you can include one or two links that point to your blog.
Since most of your potential click-throughs as well as SEO advantage you will gain hugely depends on your byline, you should consider spending a little more than five minutes on it.
There are several factors that you need to consider in order to create a bio that attracts the reader’s attention:
Length – You really need to find the balance.
Make it too short and most folks won’t notice it, but make it too long and you might end up boring the ones who read it.
I would suggest you include at least two sentences up to four or five.
Mine comes at exactly 32 words, but anything from 25 to 50 would be okay.
Call to action – One of the best ways to encourage clicks is to ask for them.
Don’t forget that the byline is not simply an introduction, but also your best bet at getting new people to check out your blog.
So instead of simply saying who you are and what you are fighting for, urge people to actually check out your blog.
- “Make sure to check out *blog’s name*”,
- “Don’t forget to check out my blog”,
- “Take a look at my blog for more social media and blogging (or any other topic) insights”…
…are a good way to make your links a focal point.
The right links – Obviously you want to link to your blog, but what most bloggers do is simply link back to their homepage.
Something else you could do is create a page for newbies and direct people there instead.
On that page you can tell first time visitors a bit about your blog – how long you’ve been running it along with the topics you write about.
Then you could create different subheadings for each category and supply two-three links to your best articles in each category.
At the end you could write a call to action of some sort and include a subscription form to convert those visitors straight away.
Take a look at one of Ana’s resource pages for an example of how you can structure yours:
Additionally you can link your name that directs traffic to your About page.
There you tell a little about yourself and include ways for newcomers to connect with you.
A third option would be to include a link back to an eBook that you’ve written or to any product that you find suitable as long as it doesn’t sound self-promotional.
Let Me Hear Your Thoughts
Those are pretty much the four most important steps I believe every soon-to-be guest blogger should take into consideration.
Getting them right would make your guest blogging efforts a little more effective.
Now I would like to hear what you think.
What in your opinion is the most crucial guest blogging element? I’d also be interested to know which one you’d choose and why – guest blogging or social media marketing?