3 Timeless Tips from 30 Blogging Heroes

timeless blogging tipsTypically, I'm not interested in how-to books regarding blogging, social media, search engine optimization, and all the different Google tools. Those books become obsolete so quickly since those platforms and how to use them change so much. For example, there's a book about Google Buzz on the shelf at my local library, a Google service that only lasted about a year. I always chuckle when I see because I wonder who would borrow it. But, I did find a book about blogging on my local library shelf called, Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. It was published in 2008, and the premise of interviewing the top 30 bloggers in 2008 and publishing the conversations sounded intriguing and evergreen. It seemed like Blogging Heroes would be one of those few how-to books that wouldn't be too outdated, and would still have a few awesome blogging tips to offer that would still apply in 2014.

I was right.

These Are Some Great Blogs

Of the 30 blogs/bloggers featured, 18 are still going in their current form. By "current form", I mean the same domain name and pretty much the same topic. Another seven still exist, but either have a new domain name, or the content is now found with another site (DIY Life is now part of Style Me Pretty, while Luxist is now part of The main reason why that number is high, in my opinion, is that the book featured Weblogs Inc. and several Weblogs properties. AOL acquired Weblogs Inc. in 2005, so some of their properties were added to the Huffington Post or to other AOL sites.

Only five of the 30 blogs featured have stopped entirely, where either the domain name listed doesn't lead to anything, or the blog hasn't posted anything new in several years. I mention this before sharing the tips because the sources of these tips come from the other 25 that are still going in some way, illustrating the timelessness of blogging as an art form and how to do it right.

Great Content Beats SEO

Robert Scoble of Scobleizer made this point best, and I was so glad to hear it because even in 2007/2008, when SEO was still new, the top bloggers of the time still understood the importance of great content. Others echoed the sentiment by emphasizing how quality content is what ultimately builds and keeps an audience, but I loved that the awareness existed back then that gaming the system was a short-term strategy at best.

Of course, many bloggers in the book acknowledged SEO's importance in getting found online, and paid attention to it to some extent. But, none of them obsessed over it to the point that is was more important than the content being written or offering value to the reader. No one even considered SEO more important than actively promoting the blog and its content on your own, either through networking or working with other great bloggers to highlight what they're doing.

Remember: Google doesn't buy from you! Google doesn't read your blog, subscribe to your blog, or comment on your posts. Therefore, worry more about offering something awesome and beneficial to customers, versus trying to please Google for higher search engine rankings.

Write about What You Are Interested In or Passionate About

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

"Finding your passion" is harder than it sounds, and Marie Forleo does a great explanation of how to find your passion and where you shouldn't look for it. But, a great point made by Scott McNulty from the Unofficial Apple Weblog, and many others in the book, is that successful blogs have a topic or several topics that they want to share with others and simply do that. Successful bloggers write about what they found interesting, or when they have something to add to the conversation. Many people may write about something because it's trending, or because they think people like X or Y so they ought to cover X or Y. But, McNulty and Howard Thurman point out that a blog really comes alive when the blogger is passionate about the subject and has his/her heart in it.

"I Don't Decide to Blog and then Look for Something. I Find Something, and Then I Blog It."

Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ gave life-changing (it changed my perspective on blogging for the rest of my life, that's for sure) advice on how to find blog post topics and how to remain relevant as a blog. I loved this quote because it takes the weight off about creating an editorial calendar and sticking to it. I've created a calendar and filled it in with blog post ideas many times, only to look at it a week later and not feel any excitement for these topics that I spent so much time to think about. I like Lieb's advice because it harnesses the initial creativity and spark of when you see something, and immediately come up with thoughts, ideas and responses to that something. From there, you can write a blog post. The energy is there when you write the blog post, versus scheduling to write about something in three weeks when you saw it and thought about it today.

Overall, Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers is an excellent book with plenty of relevance to blogging in today's world. I would highly recommend the book as it is a chance to learn from some of the original pioneers in the industry and practice. I do have a few criticisms and differences to point out, of which I will cover in a future post.

8 Factors in Search Engine Rankings You Probably Don't Know About

I just found out from a colleague that Google uses over 200 ranking factors when determining which pages go where in the search engine results. I knew there were a lot, but I didn't realize there were that many and how they impacted the search engine rankings of my website and the sites of my clients. The link is above if you want to review 200 yourself, but here are eight Google ranking factors that I didn't know about, and you probably don't know about either (until today):

  1. Exact Match Domains - An exact match domain is a domain name that's an exact keyword, such as or Exact match domains have always been a Google ranking factor, but they have lost strength in the last few algorithm updates. However, if your exact match domain offers high quality content, then it should still give you an edge, but more so because of the content and not because of the exact match.
  2. Page Loading Speed - Yes, it is a direct ranking factor. If your page takes too long to load, then it could hurt you. Google considers page loading speed, and several other factors, as part of the user experience. The better the user experience, the increased likelihood that the website offers quality content and is regularly maintained and updated, which is essentially what search engines want to show people in the search results.
  3. Image Optimization - This is one that's worth noting as its a Google ranking factor that may business bloggers and online publications miss. Google can't see images, so it "reads" them according to things like the caption, description, title, file name, and alt tag. When including images on your blog posts and web content (and please include images), include the keyword you want that page/blog post to rank for in each of those sections for the image.
  4. Contact Us Page - Supposedly, if your contact page actually has information on it (and isn't just a form), then that will improve your rankings. Although, it could just be for that page, but at least this is one more reason why a contact form isn't good enough for a contact page.
  5. Guest Posts - Guests posts, especially the backlinks, are very valuable for search engine rankings. However, links in the author bio aren't as valuable as those within the context of the article. This may be a little difficult to achieve, since some online publications are picky about the links that can be included in their blog posts, but it's something to keep in mind if guests posts are a big part of your online marketing strategy.
  6. Wikipedia Source Links - Bad news on this one! All Wikipedia links are 'no follow' so none of them count as part of your search engine rankings. As great as it is to have a link from Wikipedia, it does not count as part of your Google ranking factors. This also means that creating a Wikipedia page about your company may be good in that's in one more thing that can come up when people search for your company, but the links you include in there won't mean a thing.
  7. Word Count of Linking Content - A link from a 1000-word post is more valuable than a link inside ofa 25-word snippet. Who would have thought? This is a good reason to publish longer, more comprehensive content, as it boosts the value of the backlinks you provide to others.
  8. Brand Signals - This one actually encompasses several factors, but Google does like pages and social presences that indicate that your company or your website is, in fact, a brand. Make sure that your company has strong, fresh, and active brand signals, such as an official LinkedIn company page (using a personal profile is against the site's policy, so stop that if this is you), brand name anchor text, a Google+ local listing, and the number of blog/RSS subscribers you have.

Not only are there eight more ranking factors (well, more actually, if you count brand signals as several) to be aware of, but hopefully there's an additional understanding of things you can do to improve your SEO strategy. Keep in mind that search engine rankings aren't just based on one or two big things, but on a huge conglomerate of things that contribute to the user experience and what you have to offer a web visitor.

Improving Your SEO in Mobile Marketing

improving your seo mobile marketingPeople are already shopping on their mobile phones, tweeting from their mobile phones, and using their mobile phones to find jobs, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that people are using their phones to search online as well. Of smartphone users, 71 percent run a mobile search when they see an ad online, on television, or in print. The question is: are you picking the right keywords to reach them in your mobile marketing campaign? Just like with your regular website and with any other online marketing tactic or campaign, you need to think about the keywords you are targeting with your mobile website and in mobile marketing as well. Besides thinking abou it, you need to take the time to do research while improving your SEO every step of the way.

Thinking about Keywords in Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

Mobile marketing campaign? Isn’t it good enough that I have keywords on my website and blog? Well, no, because those searching on a mobile phone have very different motivations, and are under very different circumstances than someone who’s searching on a desktop or laptop. For example, those in front of a monitor may be more interested in making pizza, while those on the street searching on a mobile phone may be more interested in eating pizza and finding a good restaurant. In picking the right keywords for your mobile marketing campaign, businesses need to think about what the needs are of the potential customer on the street, searching for the thing he or she needs right then and there.

Fortunately, Google’s Keyword Tool has the option of checking keywords based on mobile search volume. In the advanced settings right underneath where you would type in your keyword or phrase, simple change ‘Devices’ to “all mobile devices”. You may find that popular keywords on desktops and laptops aren’t that popular on mobile devices. But, you will be able to find the keywords that are commonly searched for on mobile devices.

Why Mobile SEO is Incredibly Important

Internal Google data found that searches from mobile devices grew 130 percent year by year. On top of that, 59 percent of shoppers said they plan to use mobile searches to facilitate their holiday shopping. If your business has not yet paid attention to mobile searches and mobile keywords, now is the best time to do so. The holiday season is just around the corner, and the back to school season serves as a perfect time for you to test certain keywords and mobile marketing campaigns. This way, you can spend the time in between improving your SEO and better preparing yourself for the holiday season.

Mobile users conduct searches on their phones with the intent of visiting your store and making a purchase soon, if not immediately. If you have the perfect Christmas gift on your shelf, wouldn’t you want these people to know? If people are using their tablets to look up different services for their home or their businesses, wouldn't you want your company to come up in those searches? The best way to start is to think about what these mobile searchers would be looking for, and making sure you’re the one they find by picking the right keywords for your mobile marketing campaign.

Related Links:

5 Mistakes Businesses Make in Keyword Research

Starting a Website: Why Every Business Needs One

5 Big Components of Keyword Strategy