Archives for July 2009

Why being (or having) a Guest Blogger is A Good Thing

We’re great fans of guest bloggers / authors on blogs, having welcomed them and guest posted on other peoples blogs, but what is a guest author, what does being one involve and why is it good (for both sides)?

What is a guest blogger / author?

This bit’s easy 🙂  A guest author is simply someone who writes a (guest) post on someone else’s blog. (You have to be invited or allowed to do this, you can’t just randomly start putting posts on other peoples blogs!)

Usually the blog will have some relation to your industry or speciality, but this isn’t necessarily always the case.

What is involved in being a guest author?

Usually you will have been invited to be a guest author, but it’s possible that you may have approached the blog owner and been accepted.

All that is expected of you is that you write a guest post that is suitable, informative and of interest to the usual readers of the blog.

It is a kind of unwritten rule that in return for the exposure and links back to your own site, you will point your own readers, contacts, twitter followers etc to the blog.

If I’m writing for someone else, what’s in it for them?

If you own a blog, having Guest authors can do wonders.  Having a guest author can:

  • Relieve you from having to post all the time
  • Bring in new readers
  • Increase traffic
  • Show a balanced/varied viewpoint
  • Increase links in to your site as your guest authors promote their participation.

In short, it’s a great way to keep a blog interesting and bring in extra, targeted trafic.

(Plus, if your guest author has any degree of « fame » in their industry or speciality, your « kudos » increases by osmosis!)

OK, So what’s in it for me?

So, why would you want to write great content, only to give it away ?

Writing for someone elses blog can:

  • Give you backlinks to your own site/blog – these will send you trafic as well as possibly enhancing any SEO you have in place.
  • Generate new readers/subscribers for your own blog/site.
  • Help to flesh cut your « circle of credibility » – it’s another place that people can see you talking knowledgeably about your speciality.
  • Reach people you may not ordinarily reach.

In summary, guest authoring on a blog is A Good Thing To Do.

We’ll shortly be launching a new site aimed at helping guest bloggers find blogs that want them,  and people with blogs find guest authors to contribute  – if you’d like to know more about this when it is launched, drop me a line at

Free Social Media Marketing Checklist

This checklist was inspired by a blog post from Social Media Expert Chris Brogan – you can find his post here – I’ve simply added and tweaked a few bits to cover the extra things that I do every day too.


Please feel free to share this list, as long as you give it away for free and keep both mine and Chris’s details intact.

You can download the social-media-marketing-checklist if you’re impatient – the rather long blog post below simply explains my reasonings behind each item. (Please note, these are MY thoughts, not Chris’s, so we might not 100% agree on the whys, even if we agree on some of the whats…)

Daily Social Media Marketing Checklist


  1. Retweet 7 things – to my mind, retweeting is the life blood of Twitter, and sharing of information is key. But let’s not forget, retweeting someone’s tweets instils a sense of loyalty too, and they’re more likely to retweet your items in return. DON’T retweet willy nilly – before doing so think “Are my followers going to be interested in this?”
  2. Reply to at least 5 people, with FULL replies – Twitter should be a 2 way thing – use it to build relationships, not as a broadcast medium. Don’t just reply with a ‘I agree’ or ‘Thanks’ – take the time to reply with a full message, a thought, a question.
  3. Recommend 1 person you admire – bring their tweets to the attention of your followers – you’ve found your followers someone new to follow, and you never know, it might catch on and you’ll be the focus of the next recommendation. People like to be appreciated – if someone’s done something good for you, let the Twitterverse know!
  4. Follow back at least 10 people – not following for the sake of following, but check out your new followers and see who’s worth following back. Chris and I both use an autofollow system (I cull the spammers, broadcasters and people of no interest to me regularly), but you could do this by hand if you have the time.
  5. 10 minutes of polite chit chat goes far – it’s easy to ignore people who send you messages if you don’t know them, but spending a few minutes chatting might be the difference between them remembering and recommending you or just dumping you for being rude 🙂
  6. Tweet 3 business related Tweets – these could be related to your industry, or links to your own blogs or products / services – people seeing your tweets will begin to align you with that industry in their mind. After all, a lot of us are using Twitter to promote our business.
  7. Tweet 2 personally related Tweets – let people see the person behind the Twitter account. I’m not talking about ‘I had a cheese sandwich for lunch’, but the more people feel they know about you, the more they feel they’ve built up a relationship with you.
  8. Ask at least one question that requires answers – asking questions and discussing the answers moves Twitter back into that 2 way medium, and who knows what nuggets of info you’ll find out? My favourite is to ask people what 3 words they think of when they see my name – the answers are illuminating (and sometimes a little bit odd!)


  1. Check in on Birthdays on the homepage – it takes 2 seconds to post a Happy Birthday message on someone’s wall, or drop them a Facebook message. Posting on someone’s wall means that all their friends get to see your message too. Chris recommends sending the Birthday Wishes by email for the surprise factor, which is also cool and maybe a little more personal!
  2. Respond to any comments on your wall – it’s polite to respond to any comments on your wall, if they warrant a reply, so get into the habit of doing so before you forget!
  3. Post at least one status message daily – keep people updated and keep you in their minds – don’t get over eager though and post all of your Twitter updates (including retweets and @ messages) into your Facebook status feed – it’s one of the quickest ways to find yourself ‘hidden’! Use the different parts of the status update – make a comment, share a video, share a link – promote conversation where possible!
  4. Share at least 3 interesting updates you find – if someone posts an update you like, use the ‘share’ button to post it to your profile – much like retweeting on Twitter it promotes the originator and allows you to share new things with your contacts.
  5. Comment on at least 7 updates or status messages – it doesn’t take long to put a quick comment or ‘like’ on the status updates on your feed page – and people like to have comments; who knows, they may reciprocate 🙂 Also remember that comments you post on people’s links or updates are available for all of their contacts to view.
  6. Leave a message on 2 fan pages – spend a few seconds posting on a fan page – not only will you help the page out, you’ll reach people you’re not connected to
  7. Leave a message on the walls of 2 people – not been in touch with someone for a while? A simple ‘hey, how are you doing’ message on their wall shows them you’re thinking of them and keeps you in touch without taking up loads of yours or their time.
  8. Respond to event invitations – I respond to all event invitations by posting on their wall, whether I can attend or not. If I can’t I wish them well and apologise for not being able to make it. A link to my website mens they can find my details if they want to, and I’ve made many new contacts this way.
  9. Recommend at least one person to your contacts – OK, you might not want to do this every day, but in the same way as you’d recommend someone on twitter, why not do the same on Facebook  you can do this in your status update and it doesn’t take long. I sometimes post details of pages I’ve become a fan of here.
  10. Add at least one update to your group / fan page – I’m as guilty as anyone of not always doing this, but the worst thing you can do with a group / fan page / business page is leave it stagnant – update it daily even if you think no-one is reading!


  1. Accept any invitations it makes sense to accept – a minute or so each day accepting invitations means they don’t pile up and become unmanageable. If you don’t think it’s sensible to be connected, then by all means don’t accept.
  2. Enter any business cards to invite them to LinkedIn – if you network offline it makes sense to connect to the people you’ve met on LinkedIn (and any other online networks they’re a part of)
  3. Drop into Q&A and see if you can volunteer answers – showcase your expertise with a quick answer or two – I’ve gained business from this, and you neverknow what opportunities may arise.
  4. Provide 1 recommendation every few days – if you’ve worked with someone or are happy to recommend them, then write an honest recommendation –  people like to be appreciated, and you’ll find that you get honest recommendations in return.
  5. Update your status at least once a day – people seem to forget that there’s a status update facility on LinkedIn too, and it feeds into an ‘activity feed’ that is shown on your contacts’ LinkedIn home page.
  6. Make at least one introduction – again this doesn’t need to be every day, but if you see someone needs or wants something and you know someone who can help – introduce them – it makes sense and makes all three of you happy!


  1. Reply to at least 5 comments on your blogs – if people have taken the time to comment on your blog, it’s polite to reply to at least a few of them where possible. It makes them more likely to reply again in future, and stimulates conversation on your blog.
  2. Comment on a couple of your commentators’ blogs – follow the links your commentators leave, and have a quick read of their blogs. Repay their comments by leaving a few of your own. You get to make them happy and leave a link to your site. Win/win I say!
  3. Stumble or Socially Bookmark your commenters’ blogs – if you like what they write, give them a bit of a traffic boost by Stumbling them – they might do the same for you.
  4. Write the occasional blog post promoting another blog – not only is it an easy blog post to write, new content foryour blog / site, but it helps your readers find new blogs (so they love you) and the owner of the blog you’ve recommended will love you for ever more. (This may be a slight exaggeration).
  5. Email a synopsis of recent posts at least once a month – I have to admit I’m a bit lax on this, but when I have done it regularly (to members of an opt in list of course) it has resulted inmore traffic, more comments, and ultimately more enquiries.
  6. Find 2 new blogs to comment on every day – it’s easy to stick with the blogs you know, but new blogs are cropping up all the time – take a few minutes to find them and leave a couple of comments. You get to read new things, leave your ‘brand’ in new places, and help out a blog that might need comments.


I’ve generalised here as you could be a member of many forums, and they’re not all the same.

  1. Reply to at least 2 threads every day – it’s easy to let your forums go when you’rebusy, but it really takes no time at all to scan through recent threads and drop in a couple of replies. You’re helping to keep the forum going, making sure people don’t forget about you, and people love people who reply to their threads.
  2. Post one new thread – I admit this one sounds easier than it is, and it’s not great t post for posting’s sake – but if you have news, have read something in the news, or simply want to raise an issue, don’t wait for someone else to do it – start a thread yourself!
  3. Make a point of thanking people who reply to you – a takes seconds to drop someone a line to say thanks – they’ll appreciate it more than you imagine.
  4. Accept any connections that make sense – lots of forums allow you to ‘connect’ with other members – it’s worth accepting any connections that make sense to you, and maybe initiating a few too.
  5. Recommend a member’s blog or website and say why – in the same way as you’d recommend someone on Twitter etc, a quick post saying why you like someone’s blog or website, especially if they’ve done work for you, goes a long way. Some forums have specific groups for this, so make sure you’re witin the rules. And granted, you wouldn’t do this every day, but there’s nothing to stop you from replying to someone’s posts on a thread with a quick ‘love your blog’ message.

I’ve left the Misc space for you to fill in yourselves – you’ll probably have your own ideas, and places that you go to that I haven’t mentioned, so feel free to mention anything you add in the comments below!


If you’ve read this far, award yourself a fun sized Mars Bar, and take with you my thanks 🙂

Also, a massive thank you to Chris Brogan for kicking me into finally putting this checklist together – it’s been on my to do list for months and without his blog post I wouldn’t have gotten around to it at all!

And don’t panic that all of the stuff on the checklist will take ages – you’ll soon have it down to the time it takes you to have a coffee and file your email on a morning!

5 Things Article Submissions can do for you

I’m a big fan of Article Marketing, and have been for over ten years – in fact I still get business from an article that I originally wrote back in 1995!

But when I speak to people online, it amazes me how many of them think article marketing is a waste of time, isn’t for them, won’t do them any good, or simply haven’t heard of it!

I haven’t yet found a small business website that couldn’t be helped in some way with a targeted article marketing plan, so here’s my list of 5 ways that article marketing can work for you:

1) Article Marketing establishes you as An Expert. Writing knowledgeably about your services or industry shows that you know what you’re talking about, and encourages people to trust you.

2) Article Marketing spreads the word. By submitting your article to the best article websites, you can reach more readers and find people who wouldn’t normally have visited your website.

3) Article Marketing helps SEO – by including relevant and targeted links from your articles, you’re helping Google to not only find your site, but learn a little more how to categorise it. Anchor texted links from well thought of websites can help your SEO tenfold.

4) Article Marketing adds content to your website. Google loves content rich websites, and adding new pages gives you things to blog about, Tweet about and generally tell your contacts about.

5) Article Marketing gets you exposure. Journalists often refer to articles they have found online in order to find an expert for a comment or quote in articles they write.

There are many other reasons to carry out article marketing – see the following articles for more details:

So if you’ve been thinking about Article Marketing, but not yet gotten around ot it, or you’re not sure it will work for you – give it a go!

If it’s submitting the articles in various places that’s wrrying you, check out our Article Marketing special offer – submission to the top 20 article websites, plus a whole lot more, for just £30!

"Google no longer uses title tags" and other blatant untruths…

burglarI like to think I’m a fair person. I don’t believe in slagging off my competition, and always try to be even handed if someone asks for my advice on work done by someone else.

But every so often someone sends me something that makes my blood boil. Well yesterday I had 2 emails from 2 separate people, who I’d given some advice to on public forums.

I won’t name them here, but I will cover the downright lies they’ve been told, and the bad service they’ve received from their SEO consultants.

To clarify: SEO Consultant 1 is a web designer specialising in SEO & Social media, SEO Consultant 2 is a company using dubious telesales tactics and mentioned in several places elsewhere for ripping customers off.

SEO Consultant 1 told his client that:

  • Google no longer uses title tags
  • The META description isn’t important
  • Link exchange is the way to good listings
  • No-one searches for your search phrase anyway

This was blatantly to cover up the fact that he’d done no work on the site and achieved nothing.

Well, let’s put those lies to bed:

  • Google DOES use the title tag – in fact it’s one of the most important parts of onsite SEO. Granted, it’s not the be all and end all of SEO, but it is a major part, and without it, you may as well not bother. If every page of your website simply has your company name as it’s title tag, then you’re not going to be found for anything else. And don’t get me started on the dreaded “Home Page” title tag. The simple fact was, the SEO had done no title tag work and was claiming that they’re not used any more by Google in order to dupe his client. That’s wrong.
  • The META description IS important – it’s the description that Google shows when your site shows up in the results, and can be the difference between someone clicking on your listing or not. Of course, if you don’t have any listings anyway because your SEO hasn’t done the work they’re supposed to, then I guess the description tag doesn’t really matter after all…
  • Link exchange CAN be a good way to help your listings if everything else is in place, but the link exchange page that this client was given was a FFA (Free For All) links page where anyone could sign up and no checks were made. This meant that the site could be linking to unrelated sites, and there was no check in place to ensure that reciprocal links were given. I’m not a big fan of reciprocal links, and it’s been proven that one way links from well respected sites work far better to enhance your SEO, so although this cold be said to help, I think the client was misled.
  • “No-one searches for your search phrase anyway” – well, I’m sorry, but this makes me REALLY angry! In the first instance, why wasn’t proper keyword research done to find out whether the phrase chosen was a) suitable, b) achievable and c) worth optimising for in the first place. If hardly anyone is searching for it (which, as it happens, was a blatant lie – it’s one o the most competitive searches on the web), why on earth bother optimising for it in the first place?

The client involved had paid for a year’s SEO up front and from what I could tell, received very little. The site had 9 backlinks showing in Google, of which 6 were internal links from the site itself, there was no Webmaster Tools account, and in 5 months there had been no reporting, no help and advice, no status checks – nothing.

SEO Consultant 2 promised his client:

  • Full website optimisation
  • In 6 languages
  • Keyword research
  • Ongoing reporting

For just £295 up front and then £50 a month.

As the £50 was due to come out of his bank acount, the client asked what had been done so far. He was presented with a 3 page word document telling him what to change the title and META tags on 3 pages of his site to read. As he said to me:

It can’t have taken them more than 30 minutes to produce, and I could have done it myself!

So, far from the ‘full website optimisation’ of his 100+ pages, he got given (bad) advice on how to change 3 of his pages. No content advice. No Webmaster Tools account. No offsite optimisation advice. No page structure advice. Nothing. Just 3 badly formatted pages of a Word document that to be honest my 9 year old stepdaughter couldprobably have written better, and her first language is French!

No mention of the 6 languages optimisation he was promised (which is impossible anyway as the site was only in English), or keyword research.

When he queried this, he was told that he can’t have been promised what he was, and all calls are recorded. He asked to hear his recording and this was rapidly altered to ‘some calls are recorded’.

Now, I’m going to put the ‘you get what you pay for’ argument to one side – the guy involved feels a bit stupid, but he was promised a lot, and most of it was blatant lies.

Is it any wonder that this industry has such a bad rep?

I will hold my hands up and say i’m not perfect. I’m not the best SEO in the world (there’s always something to learn from someone). And do you know what, I’m scatty as hell! But because of that I’ve put systems in place that mean that every site we optimise goes through a number of checks, and a whole process from start to finish. Once a site is ‘finished’ it goes into another process line that makes sure that ongoing recommendations and reports are sent. I like to think we keep in touch with our clients, and that goes some way towards the many people who come to us because they’re been recommended to by current clients.

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Everyone forgets, misplaces something, or has software / hardware issues that mean things don’t go quite to plan. But to blatantly lie to your clients, tell them things that are clearly untrue and provide them with substandard work? That’s scumbaggery of the highest standard.

When I speak with people like the two companies being ripped off above (and no, I didn’t pitch them for work) I feel ashamed to be in the industry I’m in.

My link exchange policy

Or, an open letter to people spamming me with requests to exchange links…

Yet again I receive a template email from someone who clearly uses an automated program to send them out, asking me to put their link on my site in return for having my link on their site (still with me?).

The email itself raises a few points, which I’d like to go in to, and then establish this post as my official link exchange policy.

My name is Oxxxxx Pxxxx. I’ve just visited your website

Erm, I don’t believe you.

I was wondering if you’d be interested in exchanging links with my website. I can offer you a HOME PAGE link back
from my Web marketing and SEO guide website which is xxxxxxxx.

I’m sure this exchange would be benefitial for both of our sites,
helping towards increasing our visibility in search engines.

If you are interested, please add the following information to your
website and kindly let me know when it’s ready. I’ll do the same for
you in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your

Title: SEO & Internet Marketing
URL:  removed
Description:  SEO & Internet Marketing for small business websites

If you had indeed looked at my website, you would have noticed a couple of things:

  1. I don’t have links to any other sites on there, unless they are contextual and part of something I am writing
  2. My site promotes my company’s SEO & Internet Marketing Services

Now, I freely admit that I’m not among the world’s most intelligent people, but I like to think I have a pretty sane head on my shoulders, so WHY ON EARTH do you think I would like to offer a link on my well promoted site to someone who purports to be one of my competitors? And if I, in some moment of deranged madness, agreed to do this, what makes you think that all I would want in return is a link on a page on your site which contains many of my other competitors, and isn’t even in your main navigation?

You finish your email with:


Well, Ms P., I beg to differ. It’s unsolicited and it’s commercial – and I suspect sent out in bulk with an automated program –  that makes it spam. And that’s before we get to your outrageous ‘you will not be contacted again’ rubbish – this is the 3rd such email from you in 2 days, albeit promoting different sites (I don’t want to link to an Indian web hosting company or a watchmaker site either, thanks awfully).

And if I ‘will not be contacted again’, why do I then have to visit some site to fill in a form to ‘be sure’ you don’t contact me again? The same form, by the way, that I have filled in 3 times already.


No, no, please accept MY apologies for:

  1. Thinking you clearly have no idea how to do your job
  2. Writing a blog post about how bloody useless you are, and
  3. Pointing out your faults to the lovely people that read my blog

The above is a moronic and useless way to ask for link exchange. The full email also claimed that having my link on their site would ‘benefit me in the search engines’ – having looked at their spammy site I can assure you it wouldn’t.

So, what is my linking policy? Simple – I don’t exchange links. With ANYONE. If a link is on my site it’s because it’s part of a post I’m writing, or it’s relevant to the page it’s on. I dont want to exchange links with holiday sites, hosting sites, watch sites, viagra sites, porn sites – I don’t want to exchange links with any sites at all.

Why? Because exchanging links with unrelated sites does nothing to help your Google listings, despite what people will tell you. Links from sites that are relevant and related to yours may help – but why would I want to advertise my competitors on my own website for the sake of a non-guaranteed ‘boost’ in Google? Even if I didn’t have the listings I wanted (I do) then that would be madness.

I’ll continue link building in the way I always have – slowly and surely, getting one way links from well thought of sites, and not seeing it as the be all and end all of SEO. Because it’s not.

I’ll leave the closing comment to Oxxxxx Pxxxx:

I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time.

Does PageRank matter? Here we go again….

It’s happened in 2 forums I’m a part of, and I’ve seen a few people Tweeting about it – the dreaded PageRank argument has raised it’s head again.

Before we talk about whether it matters, for those of you not so sure, here’s the Wikipedia definition of PageRank:

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page, used by the Google Internet search engine that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).

Put in a simple way, PageRank is a number assigned to your web page by Google – it goes from 0-10 (officially), and in the past it had some weighting towards your search engine positions.

Opinions differ on whether or not it matters – I’m of the opinion that it’s not worth obsessing over. To my mind, i you have a PR of 8, but your website languishes on page 55 for the phrases you want to be found for, life isn’t good. If you have a PageRank of 3, yet you’re on the front page of Google for the phrases that matter, then all is well with the world 🙂

I was challenged on my “Oh dear, not the PR debate again” stance with the comment “But PageRank matters when I’m buying or selling links. Links in from higher PageRanked sites matter more”. And the chap in question kind of has a point – if you have links from higher PR sites, then it can help your search engine listings, and is a GOOD THING. That said, to my mind it’s still not worth obsessing over.

Worry about your positions in the search engine results (SERPS), not some random number on a Google Toolbar.

As an aside to this, and just in case you were all rushing off to buy links from PR9 sites – here’s Google’s official stance on buying links that pass PageRank in order to help search engine positions:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.


If you read the rest of that page, high PR sites CAN sell links, but are forced to use the ‘nofollow’ tag, which stops any ‘Google juice’ being given and so makes them practically useless when used in that way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – rather than worrying about PageRank when approaching sites for links, worry about whether or not they get the types of visitors that would be interested in your site.

How I chose to market TweetMentor – and whether it worked

tweetmentorI love the idea of using ‘different’ marketing techniques rather than the usual same old same old. You know: “Make the price end in a 7”, “Offer loads of freebies that are actualy worth nothing”, “Pretend there are only a few places for signups”. I’m not stupid (I hope!) and neither are you, so we all know that offers such as that aren’t really offers at all. And every time I see a price ending in 7, it makes me cringe (sorry!) 🙂

When I launched 299 Steps to Website Heaven, I chose to release a tip per day in the run up to the launch of the book, and indeed afterwards, in order to create discussion and sales. It worked (thankfully!) and the ebook sold beyond my expectations.

This year I launched Tweetmentor, a day by day email course aimed at helping you to make the most of Twitter. I priced it at £50, with a prelaunch offer of £20 – so far, so dull 🙂

After a while, I started running Friday offers – so one Friday I’d offer it for a tenner, the next I’d pick a random figure out of the air (26 people bought it for 13.o9!), the next I’d let people pay what they thought it was worth.

And then people started tweeting about how helpful they’d found it, how much they liked it, and started recommeding it to others.

So I took what I consider to be a bit of a bold move and decided that for the whole of summer, people can pay what they think it is worth.

That’s right – there’s no fixed fee, people can pay as little as £1 or as much as they like, via the Paypal ‘donate’ system.

Some people said I was mad (I probably am, as it happens, but for far crazier reasons than this!) and that ‘everyone would pay £1’.

Do you know what happened? Over 500 people have bought Tweetmentor. And guess how many have paid £1?

4. (edited) 6

That’s right – 4.(edited) 6 And of those 4 (edited) 6, one came back on the 5th day and donated more as it had ‘proved it’s worth in the first few days’.

On average people pay around £18 – some more, some less. Everyone is treated the same, no matter how much they pay, and I’m on the end of an email for any queries.

Did my ‘gamble’ work? Yes, I think it did – I’m happy with it, people say nice things about Tweetmentor, and people’s worst fears of everyone paying the minimum haven’t materialised.

I like the fact that I’ve used something a little different to promote it, and it encourages people to tell others about it, which is great!

The lesson to be learned here? Think differently and take a chance – you don’t HAVE to use the same channels to market things, or the same ‘incentives’ that others use. Sometimes being a bit different pays off 🙂

Drop me a line on Twitter, or comment below, if you’ve taken a marketing gamble that’s paid off.

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