how to blog

Writing Meta Descriptions: 5 More Quick Tips

writing meta descriptionsOur article offering four quick tips to writing meta descriptions has been one of most popular articles on our blog to date. Writing a great meta description hasn't changed all that much, but there have been enough changes to social media and search engine rankings to merit a review of the tips to writing great meta descriptions. Since this is something that a lot of folks in our audience are interested in, I have five more quick tips on how to write great meta descriptions:

  1. Give Each Blog Post a Meta Description - In our last article, we discussed meta descriptions from the angle of having one for each web page. Although that's still key, your blog posts need to each have a unique description as well. It's not enough to use the description of your blog or something equally generic. Take the time to write a description that summarizes what your post is about. If you have a Wordpress blog, you an easily do this by adding a plugin, such as Greg's High Performance SEO or All in One SEO Pack. Scrive also includes a similar function, but calls it the 'subhead'. If you aren't using either, you can also look at the code to add a meta description.
  2. Include a Call-to-Action - It's important to describe the page, but you want to nudge the reader to click on your link and to read your blog post. To do that, you need to show why your blog post is a worthwhile read. Therefore, it's good to include action words, such as 'discover', 'learn', 'read more', 'a comprehensive how-to' etc. An even better thing to do is to start the description with a call-to-action and end with a similar call-to-action. This positioning allows you to show the value of your blog post.
  3. Leverage Your Credibility - This one doesn't necessarily apply to blog posts, but is a good trick for your home page and product pages, especially for smaller businesses who might not have brand recognition. Including language such as 'over 10,000 customers' or 'been in business since 1988' makes your business look more trustworthy and reliable. This is particularly good to use if you have intense competition, where they might have descriptions that focus on how great they are and how great they're products are but don't really show why. A credibility statement speaks for itself.
  4. Social Media Considers Meta Descriptions - If Google+ is an important part of your social media strategy, then you should know that it picks up on the meta description of shared links. Facebook also shows meta descriptions on shared links. This means that meta descriptions aren't just for the search engine results anymore. They aren also a crucial component in having your links look professional and enticing on these networks. The links without a great meta description just look awful when shared on social media.
  5. Meta Descriptions DO NOT Influence Search Engine Rankings - Since they do not influence how well a page will rank for a keyword, there's not point to stuff our meta description with keywords (there's no point to do that anyway). However, including the same keyword that's in the blog post title does influence whether or not someone will click on your result. Therefore, it's important to write meta descriptions for the searcher and give a compelling reason on why that person should read your content.

Related Links:

5 More Business Blogging Tips

How to Make Your Titles More Search Engine Friendly

How to Add Length (and Value) to Your Blog Posts

    To Reply or Not to Reply to Blog Comments – That is the Question

    blog commentsThis is a guest post from Alexandrea Roman, who is an EFL instruction materials writer for business English language learners across Europe. She is also a freelance writer for various websites. She co-writes for the blog The Background Story.

    Bloggers love to joke about hunching over their computers and refreshing the page every five
    minutes to see if any comment comes in for a recently published post. Well, many of them aren't exactly kidding. It's a well-known fact that most bloggers live for comments!

    Comments let business bloggers know that not only do people read their content, but that people also care enough about it to leave a reaction. Whether it's positive or negative is another story – suffice to say, either one beats being ignored.

    Given how precious comments are, it's not surprising to see business bloggers -- especially the newer ones -- respond to every comment they get. But as a blog grows, replying to every comment can be impractical and time-consuming. It can also be quite frustrating for those readers who are subscribed to comments. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine getting an email notification for every “Thank you!” you leave behind. A couple wouldn't be so bad, but what about hundreds of responses? That can be quite annoying.

    However, leaving all comments unanswered is not a good thing, either. An interactive blog attracts more visitors, which is something all bloggers aspire to have. This leaves you to go for the middle ground. It's not always easy to determine which comments you should reply to, but here are five guidelines to follow that can make the decision easier:

    1) Comments with questions – This one is pretty obvious. When your readers ask you something, they expect to hear from you. Basic Internet etiquette calls for you to answer their questions. So yes, reply to this kind of comments and get those exchanges of ideas going.

    2) Comments with stories/anecdotes/discussions – Some readers enjoy expanding on your content with their own input. Whether you agree with them or not, if people found the time to type something lengthy and insightful to your post, it's a great idea for you to carry on with the dialogue.

    3) Comments with disagreeing ideas – Not everyone will see things the way you see them. Some people will leave comments to let you know that they disagree with you. It's easy to gloss over them, but why do that when you can start meaningful discussions instead? Just make sure to be polite when replying, and do keep an open mind. It's counterproductive to get
    into an online fight, so don't confuse a disagreeing idea with an offensive or hurtful comment. The latter should be deleted immediately.

    4) Comments from first-time visitors – Acknowledge new readers (especially subscribers) by replying to their comments. It's a good way to make them feel welcome, and it can also
    encourage them to return to your blog again and again. However, take note that some
    people leave comments just once and never go back again. They do this not because they
    feel strongly about your content, but because they just want a link back to their site. You
    can easily tell them apart from truly interested readers because they don't have anything
    more substantial to say other than “Great post” or a variant of it. You can also prevent against that by making every link in the comments section a "no follow", so it doesn't count toward SEO credit.

    5) Comments from frequent visitors – Even a modestly successful blog has avid followers.
    Engage in conversation with your blog's loyal fans every now and then. This is the best way
    for you to get to know them. After all, the more you know your readers, the more you know
    what kind of content appeals to them. If you engage with these people, it's likely you can convert them into a lead and/or customer.

    Still feeling guilty about not replying to all comments? Here's a final tip: Comment on your readers' blogs instead. That's the best way you can show your gratitude. Hits and comments thrill them as much as they thrill you, so you better return the favor.

    How to Make Your Blog Article Titles More Search Engine Friendly

    blog article titlesA mistake that I see a lot in business blogging is that the blog titles are not specific enough. When blog titles are too vague, not only do they not full tell the reader what the blog post is about, but the vague blog title makes it harder for your post to rank on search engines. Blog titles are just as important to the SEO mix as the content itself, the meta descriptions, tags, hyperlinking, photos etc. The titles are the first thing readers see (and may be the only thing they read) before deciding whether to read the post, so it needs to count.

    The way to make your blog titles more search engine friendly is to make them more specific. More specific means that it ranks for a long-tailed keyword related to your industry instead of a generic keyword that's not necessarily related. To start, let's illustrate a blog title that's vague and not very search engine friendly:

    Keeping a Business Calendar

    It may seem specific and straightforward, but it's really not. What about keeping a business calendar? Is the post about how to keep one? Why we should keep one? What kind of business calendar? Weekly, monthly, yearly, insurance, finance, appointment? The questions can go on for a while. Utilizing these questions, here's how this title can be made more specific and more search engine friendly (each change is underlined):

    • Keeping a Weekly Business Calendar
    • Keeping a Weekly Business Insurance Calendar
    • How to Keep a Weekly Business Insurance Calendar
    • How to Keep a Weekly Business Insurance Calendar in 5 Steps
    • How to Keep a Weekly Business Insurance Calendar in 5 Simple Steps
    Look at how specific the title is now! We did that by adding adjectives and other words to describe we are talking about. Not only are we clear on what exactly this blog post is about, but a reader would also know right away whether or not this is a blog post to read. If the reader needs help keeping an insurance business calendar, this might be a good one!
    Also look at how many keywords this post could rank for now! In the original title, there were only two keywords: "keeping a business calendar" and "business calendar". However, this new one could rank for:
    • insurance business calendar
    • weekly insurance business calendar
    • how to keep a keep a weekly insurance business calendar
    • keeping a weekly insurance business calendar
    • keeping an insurance business calendar
    Those may be very specific keywords that don't get a lot of traffic. BUT, the traffic that the blog post does get from those keywords will be high quality because that traffic will be finding exactly what they are looking for. That's the kind of traffic you want, since you'll be able to convert them into leads much more easily. It's also more search engine friendly, since this post is now able to rank for more keywords, and more specific keywords that don't have a lot of competition.
    To make your blog article titles more search engine friendly, you need to get specific. A specific blog article title may be harder to come up with than a vague, so what you can do is start with the vague title and add in adjectives and other words where possible to make it more specific, just like we did in the example.
    If you want more tips to improve your blog article titles, then check out our ultimate checklist to great blog article headlines. To download it, click the button below:


    3 Things I've Learned from Managing My Own Blog

    managing a business blogThis is a guest post from Farhan Niazi, an IT professional with expertise in the fields of Web and Database Development. Niazi is the founder of SMB Tech Guide and is currently serving Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology, Pakistan as the Deputy Director of Information Technology.

    When I started my first blog about three years ago I didn’t had much idea about how things would turn out to be. But as I progressed, things got more and more interesting and very fruitful! The first blog that I started didn’t do well, and I had to dump it eventually.

    But over the years, I have learned a lot about how to get run a successful blog. I thought I should share my own experience with the world so they may benefit from it and get a head start.

    1) Choosing the right platform for your blog:

    The first thing you need to do is to decide the platform on which you will be publishing and running your blog. There are a lot of platforms available out there but I’ll just stick to the popular ones.

    Blogger by Google is undoubtedly the best out there followed by Wordpress (which is a bit advanced as it offers more features and is highly flexible). You can use any of these to start off a blog.

    In a simpler language, I would actually differentiate these two on the basis of your interest and the motive behind your blog. If you’re just a hobbyist who loves to blog and likes to keep it simple, then Blogger is definitely for you. However, if the reason behind your blog is business, then I would suggest that you go with Wordpress (as an FYI, this blog uses the HubSpot platform).

    2) Choosing the right niche:

    This is somewhat controversial but I will mention it anyway. What I’ve learned over the years is that blogs with a specific niche tend to do better than the blogs who are blogging about everything. Unless you’re LUCKY, I personally don’t think you’ll do well if you don’t define a niche for your blog.

    Focusing on one niche will also help you when you’re submitting your blog to directories as it gets easier to categorize your blog.

    3) Letting the world know about your blog:

    Once you’re done with selecting the right platform, the next thing on your to-do list should be to let the world know about your blog. Because if you’re generating worthy content and no one is going to read it, then it’s a waste!

    There are different ways to get traffic for your blog, let’s discuss them briefly.

    Search Engines:

    Everyone uses search engines and they are definitely the best way to get traffic. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and Bing/Yahoo Webmaster Tools. Get your site listed there, so these search giants can find out about your blog. It is a long discussion if we go into the details of these tools, but the main things that you need to know is that you should submit an updated sitemap of your site to these tools and make sure your site is error free, it is not blocked for robots, and that the SEO for your site is done properly. Both Webmaster Tool services will guide you on every step and once you’re familiar with them, you won’t be facing any problems.

    Social Media:

    Search engines may bring you traffic but in order to retain your traffic, you must have a social media presence for your blog. Besides that, it’s a great medium to get you started initially as you can ask your friends and family to join your page, so they may get regular updates on what’s happening on your blog.

    It can be a hectic process to post everything to your social media profile/page so the easiest way to do this is to sign up for a free service that will post your latest blog topics automatically to your profile/page. I suggest using for this purpose.

    Word of mouth:

    Word of mouth is another way to get your blog noticed. The more the people talk about your blog, the more it’s going to get popular.

    Some useful tips:

    -       Never over-optimize your site

    -       Never use blackhat SEO techniques

    -       Never infringe copyrights

    -       Always generate original content

    -       Make sure what you write is interesting and appeals to your readers

    Final Words:

    This is a very basic walkthrough of my personal experiences of running my blogs. I will be posting in-depth tutorials on how to do everything properly, so keep on checking back for more!

    If you are already business blogging, but need some extra help, the download our ultimate checklist to great blog article headlines. Blog titles are just as important as the content itself. Click to button below to download the checklist:


    How to Add Length (and Value) to Your Blog Posts

    lengthening blog postsDid you know that Google now prefers blog posts to be 600 to 800 words, instead of 300 to 400 words? Because of the search engine's growing emphasis on quality content and a good user experience, blog posts that go more in-depth and cover one topic really well will be more highly ranked than one that doesn't go in-depth or tries to cover more than one topic.

    This doesn't mean that you now have to add a few more paragraphs to all of your previous blog posts, or that shorter posts no longer have any purpose. It does mean that if you can, strive for the 600-800 word mark. Here's how to add length and value to blog posts and to get them ranking on search engines:

    Elaborate On Your Arguments

    I came across this blog post on a marketing firm's blog that posited that Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham isn't the best approach to sales. The post says that Sam I Am never asked the prospect if he was hungry, and never took the time to talk to more willing prospects.

    And that's it.

    The post could have easily extended this post by elaborating on the argument, or turned it into a series of blog posts. What should Sam have done instead to get the prospect to eat green eggs and ham? Why is Sam a bad salesperson? How should Sam go about finding these willing prospects? It would even be really neat if the blog post/series went through the entire book and showed with each scene how one should proceed with sales. All of this would do a better job of showcasing the marketing as a thought leader in lead generation and as a quality provider in sales services.

    Answer the Question, "Why?"

    Why is it bad? Why is it important? Why does this matter? By not answering this question in your blog post, you not only end up with a short post, but with a frustrated reader who wasted 10 minutes on something that didn't offer any value. Case in point:

    This blog post from a commercial cleaning firm outlines the rationale of paying an employee extra to clean the office space. It ends with an anecdote of a vice president scolding an employee for not doing a good job in the cleaning department, despite good work in his regular position.

    It's obviously a bad situation, buy WHY is it a bad situation? Do you put yourself at risk of losing the employee by burning him/her out? Do employees just not clean as well as a commercial cleaning company? Do you ruin company culture by creating an opportunity for others to pick on the cleaning employee? The goal of the post is to say that commercial cleaning is much better than in-house cleaning, but it fails to illustrate why this is the case.


    Formatting, such as subtitles and bullet lists, can not only make your blog posts more appealing to read, but they could also lengthen your posts by giving you more to talk about. As an example, this post about the six ways to get more from your blog doesn't make it clear from the blink test what those six ways are. Because it's not even clear what the six ways are, it's also not clear how these six ways help you to get more from your blog. By creating a list, or adding subtitles, instead of just paragraphs, you can better illustrate the value of the information in your blog post.

    Add a Conclusion

    This is one I am guilty of sometimes, but adding a conclusion is a great way to add length and value to your blog post. A conclusion is often missing for list posts, where the end of the list is also the end of the post. Here's a link to a post about how a smartphone can help with freelancing that could use a concluding paragraph.

    Yes, the post does have a concluding sentence asking for comments on other ways a smartphone could be helpful, but a paragraph summarizing how helpful the smartphone is, or why having a smartphone is so much better than not having one, or how much of a time saver it is would really push the value of the smartphone for freelancers. Nothing wrong with the concluding sentence, but a concluding paragraph would tie everything together.

    Overall, consider all of those principles that we had to learn and to incorporate for a middle school book reports and high school essays. Sure, no one is grading us, but that doesn't mean including details, concluding paragraphs, and supporting our arguments don't have purpose anymore. To the contrary. Those concepts were taught because they work and they improve writing, just like they would improve the length and the value of your blog posts.

    How to Blog: Write Awesome Articles Always

    how to blogSeems like a given that when learning how to blog, one should do his or her best with every single post. The reason this is highlighted today is because when one writes great posts, others would like to repost them or to syndicate them, which means more recognition for you. Case in point are the articles below. Some are reprints/syndications (with permission) from my blog. Others are reprints/syndications of work that I've done for clients and other blogs. Not only does seeing these articles in publications I may not have heard of before make you warm and fuzzy inside, but each reprint is a vote of approval for your work. That's always good to get, especially if it's tough to get validation for your hard work as it is (I'm a single member LLC. So, unless I ask someone specifically about this, I don't get it)

    Anyway, here's that list I mentioned, in no structured order:

    Tablets Improve Productivity and Work Life Balance, Survey Says - International Business Times New York

    3 Ways to Make Managing Email Easier - My Business Tech Blog

    Tech Tool of the Week: Twitter Landing Pages - Tweeting and Business

    How to Blog: Always Do Good Work. No Matter What - The Big G and Business

    Business Blogging Help: What to Publish - LI and Business

    3 Important Principles in Creating Remarkable Content - FB and Business

    Technology advances - Tools or Toys? - Hampton Roads Business Journal (okay, this one is just a quote rather than a reprint. But, it's still cool when another publication considers you a credible source!)

    Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Recruit New Talent - (this one is a summary of an article that I wrote. Misspellings and other error not mine. I promise.)

    Making the Sale on Point of Sale Software: A Short Guide - SoHo Today

    40% of Mobile Holiday Shoppers are Frustrated: What a Small Biz to Do? - Business Insider

    3 Easy Ways to Prevent Your Data from Being Tracked - HyperStreet

    Subscribe to the News Guru

    How to Blog: Utilizing Internal Links

    internal linksInternal links are links that lead to other web pages on your site. Although internal links aren't as powerful for SEO as inbound links, internal links can definitely help in optimizing your site for certain keywords. It's important that internal links are used correctly in your business blogging and search engine optimization, so those links are useful to you as well as the reader.

    Internal links are great for business blogging, as they can be used to link to related posts, service pages, or even some of your landing pages. Internal links are also completely in your control, so if they don't work, then it's something that your not doing right. The key to making them work is to have the anchor text (the words that are hyperlinked) be those keywords or phrases that you are trying to optimize.

    Internal links also work well when linking to popular pages and when the linking is consistent. This means consistency in the anchor text as well as where the internal links are located. By location, are you going to link in the on page text, in the navigation menu, from blog posts, or a combination thereof. If you're trying to rank for the keyphrase "online marking and promotion," then best thing to do is to create a page around that keyphrase, and then link to that page from other pages using that keyphrase as the anchor text. This ensures that this specific page will rank for that keyphrase.

    Internal links also work best if you try to connect to more than just your home page. You can't expect your home page to rank for every single keyword you wish to optimize. It's better if you create a page to rank for every single keyword or phrase you wish to optimize (page could also mean blog post too), or to find a page that has content that's really relevant to that keyword, and link to that. This way, you can have more pages rank for more keywords, and you can also ensure that the content people find is incredibly relevant.

    Internal links count as a vote for yourself in the eyes of the search engines, so it's a great way to start building your search engine rankings if you don't yet have any inbound links. If done strategically, they can really make a difference with your business blogging and search engine optimization.

    If you aren't sure how your internal links are working, then sign up for our FREE website assessment. This will tell you what's working and what's not, and how you can improve. Click the button below to sign up:


    How to Blog: Why Business Blogging is Great for SEO

    blogging and seoI just had a client tell me that blogging "won't provide much SEO." That statement is so misguided, that I had to stop my playing Words with Friends and write a response pronto. There's no way I could have a content marketing client who is so misinformed. Blogging and SEO go hand in hand. In fact, I'd say that business blogging is SEO, because what SEO do you have without business blogging? Meta descriptions? Backlinks? Business blogging gives you both of those and much more. Here's the response that I've given to said client. I've replaced the actual client with "Company X" for confidentiality:

    blogging is *GREAT* for SEO. Think about it, every blog post is one more chance for you to get found online. Every blog post is a chance to rank for a keyword or phrase. Every blog post puts Company X as a thought leader in online security and privacy. Every blog post is an opportunity for someone to link to it, giving you that backlink. Getting published on other sites is also great for getting backlinks, but it's not the only way to do it, and it's certainly not the most effective way to do it.

    Companies who blog have 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and have a 62% cheaper cost per lead than those that done. Of those companies that do blog, 57% of them have acquired a customer through their company blog. That sounds like what you're after, so how can you say blogging won't do anything for SEO? Blogging *IS* SEO.

    Blog posts give you both rank and traffic, and are better than the articles on Technorati because if someone finds the Technorati article, they find Technorati, not necessarily Company X. Sure, they may see the link, but they might not click on it and go to your page. However, if they click on a blog post, they're finding Company X. They are clicking on your link and giving you traffic. They are connecting with your brand and are learning about Product X from Company X. Not Technorati. Not Blogcritics. Not Allison. Not your competitor. You. After all, you're going to sell them the Product X, not me or Technorati, and certainly not your competitor. Be the one to show them why they need Product X and why they need to get it from you.

    What do you think of this argument? Do you think this would change your mind, or your client's mind? Would there be anything that you have added?

    How to Blog: Including a Photo

    how to blog including a photoIt's one of the easiest things to do when writing a business blog post, but it's one a lot of business blogs don't do. Including a photo, although it has nothing to do with the actual writing of the business blog post, adds visual appeal, an additional SEO opportunity, and makes your post a little less boring. Learning how to blog involves more than writing the post, but in working with the multimedia aspects as well. It seems so obvious, yet many small business aren't taking the time to include a photo with each blog post.

    There's no excuse for this either. With tools like Dreamstime, a small business can easily find free stock photos that can be incorporated into every blog post. Creative Commons is another good choice to finding free photos. Just make sure to give credit where credit to the person who took the photo. Plus, if you end up utilizing a photo for every post, you'll have a great collection of photos to use, and will waste less and less time in the long run looking for relevant photos when you can just pull from the collection.

    Photos are enticing and welcoming to readers, making your post a little more interesting and worth reading than just text does. A photo also acts as one more way to inform the reader of what the article is about, while also conveying emotion. Imagine if our magazines and newspapers didn't come with any photos. We wouldn't want to read them, and your readers will feel the same about your blog if you never have any photos.

    Most importantly, adding a photo (or two or three) is one more opportunity for some SEO. Search engines may not be able to see the photo, but search engines definitely consider captions, titles, and descriptions when performing their crawl. Including a photo gives the search engine one more thing to crawl, and one more way to consider your post or blog relevant to that specific keyword.

    There's essentially no reason why you shouldn't be including photos to your blog posts. There's so much benefit to them, even if they just give the reader something pleasant to look at. Something pleasant to look at is one more reason for a reader to read your post.