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Small Business Advice for Guest Posting

If you are a small business that has recently been mentioned in an article or online blog or similar, this post is for you. Or, if you have an upcoming opportunity to be mentioned, this post is also for you.

Getting mentioned in a local newspaper, blog or national publication is a great accomplishment. Thinking back to my first time getting mentioned, it was in the NY Post, I was so pumped-up that the energy from just being mentioned drove me for days.

Here is a quick checklist that will help you maximize the opportunity.

Pick Your words strategically

When a publisher contacts you, they often have a deadline to hit. So they leverage that “rush” mentality to get you to give them, what they need–ASAP. The excitement of being approached and being published in said publication often takes over, therefore, you promptly just word vomit to give the publisher what they need.  What you are missing here is that this is actually a sales tactic. It’s called leverage. They are leveraging time (deadline) and then often leverage other opportunities with similar companies to yours (fear of missing out) to create urgency. This leads to most people just giving in and settling for a quote or a paragraph often guided and then edited by said publisher to accomplish their goals.

The objective is to share content that works well with your brand, business etc. More importantly, and here is the key, submit content that not only answers the publisher inquiry but also provides keyword triggers that will help you deep link (I’ll explain that next) so that you get the most bang for your buck. So, think of your business mission statement. Or, if you do not have one, consider the product or service that you enjoy and profit from most.

Write the sentence/phrase/paragraph as a narrative, meaning share a story. For example;

We began by offering website development services, but soon realized that we could also offer real insight to help small business owners develop a complete digital marketing strategy.

This might seem trivial at first but follow me. When you deep-link you need to link correctly. It seems silly, but it really does create a circle of influence. From content-to-context to the rank of the website your link is placed on, all have a role to play. Getting this part done correctly will place a quality link back your website that will benefit your business, so take your time and apply some strategic thought to make sure this backlink has the ‘muscle’ it needs to work well.

Create a No-follow Link Back to the Article

The next step is to link back to the original article you were mentioned in. If you have been mentioned in more than one publication, or plan on getting mentioned again in the future, it might be a good idea to create a section on your website for Media Mentions. This can be done by simply creating a blog category and then assigning each new post to that specific category. When writing the post that will link back to the article, be sure to explain a little background information, such as how the publisher found you, why they felt you were a good fit and then provide some additional information on the topic that did not make it into the article. This is especially helpful when there are more than once sources being mentioned in the article as that can lead to short blurbs or quotes–and these types of mentions can be short, allowing for little room to expand on the topic you are being asked to speak about.

Once the post is created, include a small snippet at the bottom of the post with a link to read the full article. Next, place the link to the article at the end of the snippet. This is where the no-follow part comes in. You’ll want to apply what is known as a ‘no-follow’ HTML tag:

nofollow link HTML tag, which looks like this: <a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a> The nofollow tag is basically a notice sign for search engines saying “don’t count this.

Applying this tag will reduce the amount of outbound links your website has. Outbound links can often weaken the overall search engine rank of a website by indicating that the content on the website is not as valuable as the links to which they point.

We will cover outbound links and backlinking strategies in another upcoming post.


Tactic for Small Business Content Marketing Development

In 2009 I was hired as a digital marketing consultant and brought on to augment the digital product platform for a $6 billion dollar corporation.

We had over 340,000 small business customers and a very aggressive sales force. Our fulfillment department pushed out roughly 17 websites a day.

Needless to say the key to all of this being successful was how efficient we could be.

What we quickly learned was that the longest part of the process was the design. With so many clients, we could not afford to go the template route; that would mean that two competitive businesses could end up with very similar websites.

The development end of things actually went pretty smooth. We developed every website on WordPress and packaged up groups of plugins to meet the needs of each business category we served.

We were providing a premium product with an Open Source software and lowering the cost to manage a website, effectively. Still, the issue was we were taking too long to design each site.

Naturally, the websites became more minimal, more content focused. We filled in the white space with words instead of pictures.

We were Forced to Tell a Story.

To get the proper amount of content, and to keep it original we found ourselves interviewing the businesses we served. We developed a questionnaire for each business to complete; a template that helped organize the content creation process.

It felt like we were interviewing people. In fact, I started to explain the job as more of a journalism opportunity rather than a marketing or advertising gig. It seemed to attract a more intelligent employee too, which was great.

We’d basically take an order, drop off the questionnaire, schedule an Interview and get started with the site build, almost immediately.

Efficient and a Much Quicker Process than Expected

What’s funny is the performance of the websites exceeded our expectations. We looked into this and discovered that we were ahead of our time in terms of organic local SEO. We were providing far more content than the local competition in almost every industry, and our clients were climbing to the top of SERPS.

That was when we started paying heavy attention to content marketing.

I tell this story for a reason. The best digital media — edit or ads — is organic, built from the ground up, not bolted or welded to the side of something old – Lewis DVorkin, Forbes Staff

At the time, PPC advertising was still the default way to “do Internet Marketing”. We met with small businesses that allocated thousands each month for PPC.

The campaigns they ran were slow bleeds of revenue, money wasted on paid media that would have been better spent on creating content.

It was actually kind of sad.

However, when we explained this to people, the response we received was unusual. Most businesses were scared to change and furthermore, looked at creating content like a job, a chore.

Instead of adopting a publishing mindset and following a native advertising approach, they continued to throw money away.

OF course, not everyone felt that way. Some businesses loved the idea of becoming an industry thought leader, and they saw the investment of spending time creating content.

Those were the ones that crushed it.

They consistently produced quality, authoritative content at a pace they could handle. My favorite example is Neal’s, an Interior Design & Home Remodeling company in Cincinnati Ohio.

They shared expertise through content by producing blog posts, videos and images of the showroom; helpful how-to and remodeling advice that people loved. Subsequently, it was shared on social media, particularly Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

As a reward, Neal’s remains at the top of SERPS for the most important keywords in their industry, and are in contention on a National scale for some very competitive search phrases.

The effort they began back in 2009 has snowballed and has continued to make them a dominate player in their industry today.

Fast forward a few years, the web marketing world moves through a design metamorphosis. Evolving from gaudy “Web 2.0” design and into a more minimal approach.

We found new ways to bend the code and present the content, but all-in-all, things stayed pretty minimal. We instead focused on simple website design that focused on content.

The content consultation was productive with clients and soon, more and more of our clients were getting it. The real issue for most was finding time to brainstorm and publish quality stuff.

So we started a process that is similar to what we did during my consulting days at the giant corporate level. We developed a journalism approach and began interviewing clients.

Content Extraction is the process of outlining, finding, collecting, organizing, editing and publishing of content.

It’s actually a really cool process. We build an outline that serves as a table of content for your expertise. We then schedule a series of interviews on each specific topic of expertise and build content assets to sell your products and services.

Clients loved it. They felt like celebrities.

It also gave us time to interact with our clients because it’s fun & collaborative.

Some people even find the process therapeutic, and began articulating features and benefits that were not previously discovered.

Lightbulbs went off.

The effort then became second nature, like answering the phone.

Those are the ones that really crush it.

They realize that THEY are the industry natives with a knowledge base that consumers crave to acquire. Once this is realized, clients begin cranking out content and actually quite enjoy it.

Long story short, they develop individuality, share expertise and become trusted.

Those are fundamental goals to have as a thought leader.

The overarching goal as a business owner is to dial-in on what your native abilities are, then develop content. Is it a product, service or point of view?

Whatever it is, finding that and leveraging it to focus your marketing will be the greatest investment you can make.

When you’re native to something, people recognize it and they value your opinion more–because they’ve seen you live it.

Then it’s no longer advertising or marketing, it’s education, and it’s fun.