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Don’t Be An Island: Connecting and Relating Online

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Last week, I wrote about how Shane from Contently spoke about the future of content online, but he wasn’t the only speaker at BlogWorld NY to delve into this topic. Shane co-presented with Andraz from Zemanta who also had a few tips for online content creators who want to safeguard their practices for the future. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that idea that we as bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers can no longer be islands, out there working by ourselves. A vital part of successfully creating content online is connecting with others.

“Building bridges is what content marketing is all about.” – Andraz Tori, Zemanta

This goes beyond convincing other people to like you and spread your content. In fact, this type of connection is not what the “don’t be an island” advice is all about. It’s true that you do need to connect with people in order to distribute your content well, but first, it’s about connecting with people to ensure that the content you create is good before you even start to distribute.

Citing Your Sources

Others, such as Dave Copeland, also talked about the importance of citing your sources when you’re reporting. And they are right. When you reblog and reblog and reblog of a press release, information gets lost or mixed up along the way. We also have a tendency to skip the legwork of following links all the way back to their original sources, and we instead give credit to someone else who reblogged along the way. This is not only unfair to the original source, but it is also a disservice to your readers. Link out to your sources to make your content better.

Find Inspiration

Connecting with others can also help you find inspiration for your own content. I think this is an important tip because it encourages bloggers, podcasters, and web TV producers to all open lines of communication. Remember, don’t be an island. If someone writes a blog post and you don’t agree with it, write your own post and say why. Link back to that original post and encourage others to do the same. Conversation through online content can be an awesome way to engage you followers.

Better Content

Finally, connecting your readers to more content through links simply makes your content better. Sometimes it isn’t about citing a source or providing a link to the person who inspired your content. Sometimes it is simply about connecting in order to give the reader a place to find more information about a topic. For example, you might link to the background story for a news piece you are writing. Or you might mention a topic in passing and link to a place where readers can find more since you don’t want to devote the space to it. Better content is only possible if you connect with others. We simply do not have enough hours in the day to be the one-stop resource for everything, so we have to turn to our fellow content creators and work together to create a better user experience.

Want to hear more from Andraz and all of our BlogWorld New York 2012 speakers? Consider picking up the virtual ticket to get access to all of the recordings from the show.

Guest Posting 101: Link Like a Champ

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Yesterday, I talked a bit about Penning the Perfect Post if you want to start guest posting, but there’s one element I left out – adding links to your post. When it comes to linking, especially when talking about SEO, someone could probably write a whole book on the different linking theories and practices. I’ll just tell you what works for me – and if you write guest posts, add a comment at the end to tell us all what works for you!

Some SEO Basics

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me first go over a few SEO basics for beginners out there. When you include a link in your guest post (or in your posts in general), it is important to pay attention to the words you actually link. These are your keywords, and they should be the words you’d imagine someone typing into Google to actually get to whatever page you’re linking. So, for example, say I wanted to promote this post in a guest post I was writing for someone else. I might link using the words “guest post linking” or “using links in your guest post” since those are words people might type into Google that are relevant to my post. Some people spend a lot of time doing keyword research. If you want to do that, great. If not, even being a little mindful of it and using keywords instead of stuff like “click here” or “my blog post,” you’ll be ahead of the game.

Link Overload

When you’re writing a post for your own site, you might want to include tons of links back to your own work or to blog posts that you’ve read and enjoyed. When you’re writing guest posts, you have to be a little more discreet. Everyone knows that guest posts are all about promoting your own blog, but if you do too much promotion – even if your links are relevant – you’re going to have a hard time placing the post on another blog.

Bloggers agree to post guest posts because they want cool content for their site. Most are happy to give you credit and even some links back to your site, bit too many links starts to get unattractive to them. Remember, every link you include is sending people away from their blog. If a post is full of extremely good information, but includes tons of links, most bloggers won’t accept it.

So how many links should you include? Consider:

  • Length: In general, the longer your guest post, the most links you can include.
  • Niche: Some niches are more link-friendly than others.
  • The Proposed Blog: Some bloggers are more link-friendly than others.

Your Bio

Almost all guest posts include a bio at the end (or at the beginning – depends on the blogger’s formatting style). Your bio is your chance to shine. You want it to entice people to learn more about you and what you do on your own blog, and from a linking perspective, you can go hog wild.

Well, kind of.

You still don’t want to include a billion links, especially since bios are typically only about two sentences long. Still, it is more than acceptable to include two to three links. Some bloggers who post guest posts actually request that you not include any links within the body of the article, giving you only your bio for linking. I actually recommend at least two links: one for SEO purposes and one that appeals more to actual readers who might want to visit your site.

Want an example? Check out the bio I include at the end of my BlogWorld posts. It might change in the future, but here’s what I have right now:

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner of After Graduation, a site for career advice and motivation. She works as a freelance writer and would love to connect with you on Twitter (@allison_boyer). Allison is also working on a super secret blog project, which you can read about here.

After Graduation is my site name, but also the keyword that a lot of people use to find the site, so that makes sense. “Freelance writer” is linked for SEO purposes. I want people who are looking for a freelance writer to get to my freelance writing site. The other two links, to my Twitter and to my blog project, are not going to help me with search engines, but they (hopefully) appeal to people reading my content who want to learn more about me.

Four links is probably the top I’d include in any kind of guest post bio (these are not exactly the guest posts here at BlogWorld, but it’s the same basic concept). Splitting them evenly between links for SEO and links to entice readers is what works best for me.

Okay, that’s my best advice for linking within guest posts. Check out the other posts in this series and give us your best tips in the comments below!

17 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blogrolls and Link Love

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. I usually post on Thursdays, but given all the exciting announcements yesterday with BlogWorld East in NYC and opening speaker proposal submissions I decided to post a day later this week so Brilliant Bloggers wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle! Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts here.

Want to be a BlogWorld Brilliant Blogger? Scroll to the end to find out how to submit your post for an upcoming edition!

This Week’s Topic: Blogrolls and Link Love

Are blogrolls a thing of the past? Maybe, but I think they can work for some people, and in any case, showing your favorite bloggers some link love is important. How you go about doing that depends on the style of your blog and your niche. I thought this was an appropriate topic, since Valentine’s Day was just a few days ago and that holiday is all about showing some love to people you care about! Let’s take a look at what some brilliant bloggers have to say about this topic.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

Blogroll or Links Page? by timetheif

This post is a great comprehensive look at the “to blogroll or not to blogroll” question. Another thing I love about it – there are tons of links throughout the entire piece where you can go to learn a lot more. Talk about link love! Remember to follow the author on Twitter after reading @timethief.

Using Linkbait to Gain Dozens of Targeted Links to Your Site by Ryan Schmitz

This guest post on Daily Blog Tips from Ryan Schmitz of Planting Dollars is great because it gives you an example of how you can compile an awesome link love post and turn that into free links back to your blog – even if you have no mailing list. Check out the post and follow Ryan on Twitter @plantingdollars.

The Benefits of Linking for the Linker by Deb Ng

Y’all probably already know that out very own Deb Ng is a brilliant blogger, but just in case you needed a reminder, check out this post on linking from her social media blog, Kommein. We often think of linking in terms of “how can I get others to link to me?” but in this post, Deb shares some of the benefits to being the one doing the linking. Don’t forget to follow Deb on Twitter @debng.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Next Week’s Topic: Klout

Want your post included? Simple email me at allison@abcontentonline.com with “Brilliant Blogger Link” in the subject line. Remember, only posts about this topic will be accepted. If you have another brilliant post, save it for a topic that better fits the post! Submissions will be accepted until February 23, 2011 at noon. Deadline pass already? Head the most recent Brilliant Bloggers post to see this week’s topic.

Sharing the Knowledge of Better Bloggers

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I know it may come as a shock to you, but some bloggers are better than you are. Yes, you are a rock star, I’m sure, but when it comes to blogging in a certain niche, you just can’t know everything. When that’s the case, don’t leave gaps on your website. Show some link love and share the knowledge of better bloggers.

Recently, I wanted to write a post on After Graduation about publishing your book. As I started writing, I realized that I was way over my head. I’ve never published a print book. Hell, I’ve never even finished writing a book, though I am a professional novel-starter. Who did I think I was, giving advice to my readers on a topic that I knew nothing about in the practical sense? Sure, I’ve taken some publishing classes, but just because you take a class doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.

Yet, this was an obvious hole on my website. It was something that my readers needed to know, and without covering publishing at all, it felt like my blog was incomplete. So, I created a post filled with links. The post has 18 resources for my readers who are interested in print publishing, many of which are websites specifically covering the subject, not just single articles. I even learned a few things about publishing when perusing websites, even though that’s not an interest of mine at the moment.

In other words, I found people who were experts in an area that I’m not, and I directed my readers there.

Now, you can look at this in a bad light if you’re so inclined. Every time I give a list of links instead of writing a post filled with my own advice, I’m saying to my readers, “Hey, I don’t know much about this topic.” Does that discredit me? Maybe a little.

But the fact of the matter is this: I know a lot about freelance writing in other areas. If you have a question about becoming a web content writer, I’m 100% your girl. I’m even developing a course for professors to teach this topic in the classroom. Admitting that I don’t know anything about a related topic (in this case, print publishing) doesn’t mean that my advice on online writing is worthless.

You should also consider that link love lists do send the reader away from your site. Even if you set the links to open in new windows, the reader could easily get lost in someone else’s website, never making it back to yours. This happens all the time. I should know – I have Internet ADD just like the rest of you, and a short trip online to check my email often turns into a three-hour surfing session where I end on the Wikipedia page for drum machines or Richard Rodgers.

So, you have to ask yourself, “What will bring my readers back to me?” Be memorable, and hook your readers so they sign up for your RSS feed or mailing list. Be an “ultimate resource” by listing dozens of links on a topic, so they come back to you again and again or even bookmark your page. Share the knowledge of better bloggers, but be a better blogger yourself.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She’s ashamed to tell you how many hours per week Wikipedia sucks her into its devious web.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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