5 Common SEO Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

Successful website auditor Alan Schill recently wrote on areas of SEO that he’s noticed the majority of website owners neglecting to their own detriment. These are low-hanging fruits that you may even be ignoring as you strategize ways to optimize your site for the search engines. Take a look.

1. How heavily do you pepper your content with keywords?

Keyword stuffing is an archaic SEO trick that people still fall back on out of habit. It’s only a matter of time before Google penalizes these sites for being spammy. Google’s goal will forever be to favor high-quality websites over the ones that try to take the back door to the top of the rankings. If your website is about lawn care and you strive to populate your blog with lawn care related how-tos as well as stay on topic in all your other web copy, your keywords will appear naturally throughout your text. The result will be a website that looks natural to Google while relevant and informative to your guests.

2. Are your blog images at the top of your posts?

Because people like visual aids, blogs do better when there are images attached to them. And they do even better when those images are at the top of the post, not sprinkled around in the middle. Don’t neglect this simple technique to draw the eyes of your visitors to your posts.

3. Who’s Your Audience—Google or Your Web Visitor?

This one ties in perfectly with question #1. Think about it: why would an SEO professional write content for the search engine instead of the visitor? To game the search engines and get to the top of the rankings, of course. Why would they want to do that? Well, to make a pay check, because unless that SEO has stock in the company they’re SEOing for, they may not care what happens after the target audience clicks on the link. This should bother you. This should bother you a lot.

Remember, Google doesn’t like to be played and every algorithm change is designed to make it more and more difficult to play them. Your objective should be to educate your target audience and offer them valuable content and products. Do this, write for them, and you will begin to see conversions in the areas that matter—sales.

4. Are you linking to websites that Google likes?

If you’re making an effort to create a high quality site, don’t waste your outbound links on sites that Google would view as spammy or low quality. Your site is better than that and you don’t want to be tainted by association. It’s considered good practice to link out to at least one respected website per piece of content on your site. Links to sources count.

5. Are you interlinking between blog posts?

If you’re writing content relevant to your industry and target audience, your blog topics are going to relate and you will have plenty of opportunities to interlink between them. This gives an SEO boost to newly created pages, lowers bounce rates by keeping your readers exploring between pages, and increases the chances that those visitors will convert.If you haven’t done this, it’s not too late to go back to your old posts and find which ones flow naturally into each other.

What now?

How many of these errors sound familiar? Hopefully we’ve given you a good start on critically analyzing your current SEO methods and beginning the process of improvement. Good luck!

Schill, Alan. “SEO 101: 18 Search Rankings & Engagement Factors You Can’t Ignore.”http://www.searchenginejournal.com/18-search-rankings-engagement-factors-you-cant-ignore/119638/. November 21, 2014.

How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer

As a writer, being new to the online writing game is overwhelming. The Internet churns out content on a constant basis—bad, good, and great—and figuring how to insert our voices and where (and then get paid for it) seems like a colossal and intimidating task.

Finding success in writing online will require networking, contributing to and drawing from writing communities like Free Guest Post, and ultimately becoming prolific in what you do. Writers characteristically exist in their earliest stages within a shell of insecurities and inhibitions; we all need to undergo the process of de-shelling to begin contributing our art to the world.

To start, we have to detach our sensitivity from our art and let it become second nature. Writing must become to us what music is to the skilled musician: simply an outpouring of fluid notes, well-versed, well-practiced, and precise. It’s not just our art, but our marketable skill, as easily uncorked and accessible as a singer’s voice.

One way to learn how to do this is to listen to the stories of others who have done it, hear about their pitfalls and successes, and to mimic what worked for them.

Things to Remember as a Freelance Writer

Here are a few practical tips offered in a condensed version of a Q&A session with Billfold contributor, Nicole Dieker, who recently answered fan questions about freelancing processes and best practices.

  1. Your pitch should fit the publication. Smaller publications will have individual submission guidelines that you’ll simply follow. You’ll want to have your piece finished beforehand. Larger publications will require more formality. A query letter will be more appropriate in this situation.
  2. These days, finding the resources for work as an online freelance writer (blog writing, copy editing, and more) is a simple Google search away. Other writers are already doing exactly what you’re setting out to do, and they’re writing about how to do it. Just do some research and use the Internet for the purpose it was intended. To get you started, Dieker provides these two links: a.) Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing, b.) Make a Living Writing.
  3. Ghostwriting comes in two sets: long-form and short-form. Long-form encompasses pieces like book and speeches, and the ghostwriter is credited for the work in the fine print. Short-form covers blog posts and similar pieces for another person’s brand and is published on their name. In this situation, the ghostwriter receives no credit, only compensation for the work. Generally, short-form ghostwriting is not a desirable or lucrative final destination. It should always be thought of as temporary. Seek out situations that allow you to use your own byline and receive credit for your work.
  4. When trying to find a balance between writing for work and writing for pleasure, consider your bliss. Are you enjoying what you’re doing? What’s compelling you to write at all? Both sets will demand to be written in one way or another, and if you can seek out work-writing that you actually enjoy, even better!
  5. Be pleasant. I was about to write professional, but the connotations with that word can mean stiff or formal, so I redacted. You can be fun and engaging, witty and controversial, without being unpleasant to work with. Understanding that healthy networking is key to your success, don’t use social media irresponsibly. Watch your writer’s tongue, which we all know craves the taste of sarcasm, and don’t burn bridges.

To the Keyboard!

The main trick to making it as a writer is to write. A lot. Be prolific, hone your craft, and let the words flow.

What resources have you found that have helped you the most as a freelance writer?


Dieker, Nicole. “Advice to New Freelance Writers: How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living.”http://thebillfold.com/2014/06/advice-to-new-freelance-writers-how-a-freelance-writer-makes-a-living/. (December 9, 2014.)

What it Takes to Be a Freelance Writer

Freelance writing isn’t for everyone, but it can be for you if you’re willing to hone specific skillsets that will allow you to succeed. It all depends on how much you want it.

That’s the first thing you need to do: ask yourself what your motivations actually are in becoming a freelance writer and if they’re sufficient to getting the job done.

So do you want it? If you do, the important thing to remember is that it’s possible; it’s not a field that bars entry arbitrarily. There aren’t tests to pass, certifications to purchase, or even degrees to earn in order to become a qualified freelance writer.

In fact, a degree isn’t necessary at all. It’s nice to have, especially when you’re trying to make your resume look as attractive as possible, but your potential clients are going to be paying more attention to your work portfolio, reputation, and recommendations than where you went to school and what you studied.

So What Do You Need?

We’ve covered what you don’t need: formal writing certifications. Now let’s discuss the four must-have qualities every successful freelance writer does need.

  1. Writing skills
  2. Self-editing skills
  3. Quick turnaround
  4. Job satisfaction

Writing Skills

Yeah, you’re gonna need these if you want to become a writer. Writing skills can be honed with practice, as with any type of skill, but if written communication has always been a struggle for you, you should probably ask yourself why you want to be a writer. The main thing is that you enjoy it; if you do, write prolifically, be receptive to feedback and criticism, capitalize on opportunities to write for others, and ultimately do what you need to do in order to improve your desired craft.

Remember that your clients will only be your clients if they are satisfied with your work. They will expect their freelance writer to write well.

Self-Editing Skills

As a freelance writer, you’re a writing department unto yourself. Quality Assurance is your responsibility. How good are you at proofreading your own work? This depends on how strong a grasp you have of grammar rules. You will need to be a proficient self-editor if you want to be a successful freelance writer; you cannot expect your clients to do this for you.

It’s always hard to see mistakes in a piece of work you’ve just finished, so manage your deadline schedule in such a way that you finish your writing projects with enough time before the deadline for you to revisit and revise the text with fresh eyes.

Quick Turnaround

Remember, there’s no shortage of freelance writers and anything that gives you an edge is a good thing. Oftentimes, this will be your turnaround speed. If you can write well and fast, you will become invaluable to your clients, especially the ones that often have strict, last-minute deadlines.

Luckily, this is also a skill that can be improved with practice. Whether your issue is with typing speed, inspiration, or simply writing flow, there are exercises you can do to type faster, generate creative and original ideas, and ultimately start and finish your projects quickly—all while maintaining a peerless level of quality.

Job Satisfaction

You need to like what you do. Can you do it full-time and still be satisfied? As a freelance writer, that is all you will be doing. It’s up to you to create some variety in the projects you take on, but the fact remains that you will be writing, writing, writing. If you don’t enjoy it at a root level, freelance writing may not be for you.


Have you found any other qualities to be essential as you’ve established yourself as a freelance writer? Share your experiences in the comments!


Hamill, Kate. “So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer.”https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2014/09/10/how-to-start-freelance-writer/. (January 14, 2015.)

How to Optimize your Blog Posts for SEO

SEO for Blogging

When you have a website or blog that represents your brand and business, optimizing it for SEO, also known as search engine optimization is highly recommended to find success online. Search engine optimization helps to improve your website’s overall visibility within search engines such as Yahoo!, Bing and even Google to increase the number of visitors and page views your sit receives on a regular basis. Optimizing your blog for SEO purposes allows you to appear more professional while expanding your current viewing audience and potential followers or customers.

Using a CMS (Content Management System)

Launching a blog may seem overwhelming, especially when you are not familiar with programming or even coding in basic HTML and CSS. Using a free CMS (content management system) such as WordPress, Joomla or even Drupal is a way for you to create a professional website that can easily be optimized for SEO purposes. Systems such as WordPress are ideal for both individual bloggers as well as those who are looking to launch a website to represent a corporate business or entity. WordPress is highly-developed to incorporate SEO already, allowing you to launch any type of blog that can rise in the search engine rankings much quicker than a hand-coded website.

Selecting the Right Keywords

Conducting market research to find the most important and trending keywords in your industry is highly recommended before you begin to format your blog, add new posts or edit any titles and meta tags you choose to include. Understanding the most popular keywords in your niche and industry will help you with the format of your blog and the type of content you produce to attract a specific market of potential virtual followers and online consumers.

Proper Sub-Headings

Using sub-headings and bold headlines when you publish content including relevant keywords and phrases for your industry will help search engines to discover your website while adding your pages into the search engines themselves automatically. The more relevant your content is to the entire purpose of your website and its name, the easier it will become for others to locate your site when searching for the information you have published and posted.

Avoid Spamming Keywords

When you are attempting to optimize your blog for SEO purposes, avoid using the same keywords repeatedly within the content you publish. Adding keywords too frequently within a post can ultimately lead to getting “blacklisted”, or removed entirely from well-known search engines, ridding all potential traffic that could have been generated from the search engines’ results. Be sure to add keywords into your articles sparingly and only when they fit.

Meta Descriptions, Tags and Titles

It is also important to properly title your blog along with each piece of content you plan to publish online. Adding in meta descriptions, tags and titles can be done within the header file of your blog to ensure that your website is properly named and can be searched for using keywords you deem the most fitting. Implementing tags, keywords and titles can be done within minutes and will change how search engines pick up on your site.


Guest Posting 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Guest Post Help

Whether you are starting a new blog or looking to boost traffic for your existing blog, guest blogging is a valuable tool. Guest blogging is when a writer is allowed to post an article or story on a host’s website. It’s a mutually beneficial opportunity that allows the guest blogger to gain exposure and possibly take advantage of the host blog’s traffic to create links back to their own blog. It also allows the host blog to take a break from posting content, gain a unique perspective and possibly even benefit from the future growth of the guest blogger’s own blog.

Here are some essential tips for those looking to get started with guest blogging.

Identify Blogs Accepting Guest Blogging

If you are writing for a niche or specific topic, you might want to identify some of the well-known or high-traffic blogs in that area. This could be as simple as entering appropriate keywords in a search engine and seeing what blogs are returned high in the results. High SEO ranking is likely reserved to the high-traffic blogs. These would be your targets for guest blogging as they would provide you with the greatest exposure and back linking traffic.

You could also refer to directories that provide lists of sites accepting guest blogs. One such directory is BloggersPassion. There are others out there. It’s better to first confirm that a host blog is seeking submittals before wasting too much of your time and theirs contacting them.

Pitch Your Blog via Direct Emails

It’s important when emailing the blogger that you demonstrate an understanding of their content or niche. You should also make the request personable. If it seems like a canned or spam-like request, it will likely not be accepted and could wind up in their spam folder. Do a little homework in advance and come up with several possible topics that the blogger can choose from that would fit well. Make sure you are not duplicating content that’s already on the blog. Remember they want a unique perspective. When soliciting a guest blogging opportunity, you should also provide samples or links to some of your past work for the host blogger to reference so they can see your writing style.

Write Quality Posts

This may go without saying but the guest blogging strategy will not work unless you are producing unique, valuable, quality content that both readers and the host bloggers will appreciate. As mentioned earlier, much of the value in guest blogging will come from your unique perspective. Additionally, providing top-notch posts will result in having to exert much less effort in marketing your guest blogs in the future. Blog owners will welcome and possibly even solicit your articles if they prove to be of high-quality and demonstrate an ability to generate a lot of traffic for the host sites.

Be Sure to Provide Links Back to Your Own Site or Blog

Guest blogging will provide valuable back linking opportunities that will boost your traffic and also your SEO. Search engines look for the kind of organic traffic that will come from any readers who click on your link from the guest blog to your site. It will boost your ranking and possibly provide new subscribers to your blog or website.

Guest blogging is a mutually beneficial opportunity when executed properly. The readers win by getting your valuable content, the host blog gets free valuable content and you get exposure and hopefully increased traffic.


Most Common Blog Formatting Mistakes You Should Avoid

Blogging can be a great way to continually engage customers and keep them up to date with product changes or promotional sales. But in order to make your blog easy to read and a good experience for your followers and for any potential readers, you need to avoid several formatting blunders that can make you lose the reader. These errors include:

Tiny Font Size

Nothing will keep readers away like an excessively small font. If your blog is written with a font that is too small, it can cause readers to squint and focus hard to read it. This is uncomfortable and can cause them headaches and eye strain. No one’s going to become a regular reader if they have to continually lean in to figure out what you’re writing. In order to keep your readers, make sure your font is large enough to comfortably read. Make sure you test it on several different browsers to troubleshoot. Stick with a basic font as well – some computers and browsers can’t process different font types.

Lack of Paragraphs

Another common blog formatting blunder is lack of paragraphs. This is where the entire blog or a very large portion of it is just a chunk of text with no spaces. This is tedious and difficult to read, and many readers will lose interest in reading something formatted like this. Paragraphs with spaces between them are needed to help keep the interest of readers and to make the overall look of the website better. Studies have shown that most people skim what they find online and don’t actually read the entire article – so breaking your piece up with subheadings, bulleted or numbered lists and paragraphs will help them find exactly what they need quickly.

Way Too Many Formatting Types

When your blog is full of underlined text, italics, and bold text in almost every sentence, it can give your blog a choppy, ugly look. Doing this can really muddle the tone and mood of your article, and it’s hard for readers to smoothly read. To keep your readers and attract more, make sure to use italics, bold, and underlined text sparingly.

Overuse of Caps Lock

When blogging, it’s common for people to express their emotions or opinions on a matter in a strong way. A lot of bloggers may be tempted to overuse caps lock when trying to express themselves. This is not a good idea. Paragraphs full of uppercase letters take a lot longer to read, and reading a blog full of uppercase letters can even exasperate people as some of the anger or energy of the blog are unfortunately transferred to the reader. You can easily express yourself in any way without having to overuse caps lock.

Poor Choice of Text Color

Blogging is an enjoyable experience, and you should make sure reading the blog is just as enjoyable. Your readers don’t need to be attacked by a bright, neon color as bright as the sun. Don’t make your blog’s background any excessively bright colors, and don’t have text a bright or neon color, either. Moreover, text and background color need to work well together instead of fighting each other. For instance, avoid having white text on a bright yellow background; that will be almost impossible to read, and it’ll look unattractive as well.

Your blog should be a place where you can express yourself and connect with readers. In order to make their experience enjoyable and to keep more readers, avoid these common formatting blunders.

How to Create A Content Publishing Schedule

Creating a content publishing schedule is fast, easy and a flat-out smart move. When most new bloggers, vloggers and other content distributors start producing, they aren’t familiar with the ebb and flow of Internet traffic. They don’t realize that even though the Internet is active at every hour of every day, traffic is likely to come at specific times. What’s more is that a publishing schedule allows a clear window for planning and preparation while simultaneously persuading viewers to check for new content. The power of habit is far more likely to create regular viewers than erratic, sporadic and wishy washy uploads. Creating a schedule takes much of the uncertainty out of updates for the end-user, and the process of doing so couldn’t be more simple.

Decide When and How Often to Upload

The first step in creating a successful content strategy is to develop a baseline schedule for uploads. This schedule does not have to be tailored to viewers preferences or traffic spikes, but it does need to be strict. Some writers, bloggers and vloggers will pick two or three days out of the week, while others will simply upload content on a daily basis. It’s good to have a specific time in mind as well, as this helps with setting goals, staying on task and creating an eager fan base. This also helps you avoid writers block.

Carefully Manage and Watch the Success of Content

Once a basic schedule has been created, it’s time to start tinkering with it in order to better suit the viewers. If analytic data shows that peak traffic happens between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., be sure to have the content ready before then.

Always consider how much time it will take to keep up with the new content publishing schedule. If each article, video or other form of content takes between four and six hours to produce, a three-per-week schedule demands 12 to 18 hours of time. This is the hidden side of content production; most people do not realize that it is as demanding as any part time job. It must be properly managed if it is going to produce any worthwhile results.

It’s also important to consider what viewers prefer to see. If most viewers are watching vlogs and few are reading written material, it’s probably a wise decision to invest more time in video production and less in writing.

Make Small Adjustments to Distribution Schedule

Once a new schedule is squared away, the process of creating the content publishing system is about as done as it can be for the time being. What’s crucial at this point is to pay careful attention to notable trends, sharp drops or spikes in regular traffic and common requests made by viewers. At this stage, the majority of work towards the schedule itself should merely be focused on fine-tuning all content to better fit the needs of regular traffic. This will create an optimum experience for the user, and that means more viewers will be likely to stick around for the long haul and become free word-of-mouth advertising. Long-term subscribers are one of the cornerstones of many online success stories.

How to Create a Blog Management Strategy


Come Up With a System That Works For You

Blogs serve a multitude of purposes, and each one has a specific audience that needs to be engaged and hooked into visiting over the course of time. Managing blogs requires a lot of hands-on attention as well as a serious time commitment. Many blogs fail because they are not consistently updated, content becomes stale or advertising and marketing strategies become annoyances to the reader.

There is no single approach to managing blogs that will work for everyone, and it is important to develop a strategy that is based on your preferences and expectations. However, considering some basic principles can be very helpful as you develop a strategy that will work best for you and your overall goals.

Purpose, Focus and Consistency

Examining the purpose of any blog is the first step towards creating a personalized system that will promote success. Readers tend to visit blogs because they contain information about a particular niche. Readers tend to become followers when content is relevant, engaging, informative and interesting.

Develop a posting schedule that readers can follow. Consistent updates can add to the credibility and authority of a blog while also building a loyal following. You can write, obtain or prepare content in advance and schedule them to be posted at a particular time in the future. This will help you to manage your time effectively while also ensuring that your blog is always fresh and predictable.

Pay Attention to Stats

Statistics contain a wealth of information that can help tailor a blog to match the interests of the audience. Note the days and times when more people are visiting, and look at what posts generate more views or comments. This will help you to tailor your blog around the habits and interests of the readers.

Monitoring the performance of your blog will help you to focus your time and effort in more productive and efficient ways. Giving readers more of what they want can only serve to improve the quality and effectiveness of the blog while reducing the amount of time that you spend on preparing content.

Quality Control Is Important

Quality control is an essential component to effective blog management. Reviewing feedback, testing widgets and other extras to ensure they are not causing problems or annoying readers is essential. Blogs that are slow to load, frequently crash or overwhelm visitors with advertisements and banners can be counterproductive.

Keeping an eye on quality will help you to give the reader what they want while also serving your purposes as well. Choose extras that are easy to work with and manage, but make sure that you are incorporating features into the blog that users will appreciate and value.

Your blog must be continually nurtured and tweaked in order to give readers what they want while accomplishing your goals as well. Consistency, quality and viewer engagement are all essential components to effective blog management. Make a schedule, be organized and remember that some trial and error is necessary in order to crate the ideal system that will work for you.

Creative Ways to Improve Your Content

If you were to ask yourself whether or not your favorite blog frequently has boring or dull content, the answer would probably be a resounding “no.” Instead, your favorite blogs are your favorites because they consistently put forth interesting and memorable content.

It may seem frustrating to be told to put forth more interesting content but not have a clear concept of how to do this. To help you improve your blog’s content – and thereby improve its readership – here are some creative ways to improve your content.


Look at What’s Trending

We aren’t saying that you should steal titles and write an article that fits. In fact, this usually looks like a cheap ploy to get views, and that’s typically exactly what it is. Instead, look at trending topics on Yahoo! or Google. Without looking at what any other bloggers have chosen to write about within these topics, instead take the trending topic and create a completely and original article about it. This ensures that you are not only hitting a popular keyword and topic, but adding something completely unique and original to the overall conversation.

Relationships with Other Bloggers Matter

You might already understand that relationships with other bloggers are essential for trading links and the like, but you might not understand how relationships with other bloggers can be useful for creating creative content. One of the best ways to create unique content is to request that your blogger friends do a guest post for your blog. This is a brilliant way to add something unique – something that will be out of the ordinary for your regular readers. Naturally, it is customary to write a guest post for your friend’s blog in exchange for theirs.

Create Something Worth Sharing

Next time you’re on Facebook or Twitter, really look at the articles that your friends are sharing. The most popular articles – as in, the ones that get shared the most – are the lists and the posts that contain image macros. Don’t think that putting up a few blogs like this will turn you into a cliché. Find a unique way to make the concept of creating these lists unique. For example, if you run a website about gourmet cooking, toss up a post on the top ten non-gourmet foods that even the most snobby foodies love, accompanied by some funny pictures of kittens in a kitchen. You’ll find that people are eager to share these types of posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Take a cue from professional writers and comedians and always have a notepad with you to scribble down ideas for posts when you’re on the go. Your most inspired ideas will rarely come to you when you’re sitting down to write a new article or blog post. The most important thing to remember, besides being original, is to be consistent. Every single post you put on your blog won’t be legendary, but if you keep at it, more and more will start to be.

What is My Ideal Blog Posting Frequency?

It may seem like finding an ideal publishing schedule for your blog posts is a problem that only new bloggers have. In fact, many seasoned bloggers still struggle with balancing their posting schedules. Often bloggers will attempt to hold themselves to an impossible goal, then find themselves feeling burned out and guilty when they can’t keep up with their own high standards.

So how do you find that posting sweet spot? How often you post will depend on your niche, your audience, your schedule, and your abilities.

Think About Yourself

Bloggers who first start out have tons of ideas for topics to write about. That’s great! But eventually, your ideas will come less smoothly. You might find yourself fighting writer’s block. Even if you’re churning out tons of great posts, pace yourself!

Many bloggers think that they should post every day. In fact, unless you are a news source, there is no reason why you should have to post daily. Think about it – do your readers even have time to read your blog every single day? Probably not. Even if you have the time to write and publish posts daily now, will you have the time in the future? Experienced bloggers generally say that they feel burned out if they try to post daily.

So if you are able to write posts every day right now, save some of those posts for later. Concentrate instead on promoting old posts rather than creating new content.

Think About Your Audience

We’ve already said that it’s unlikely that your readers will be able to visit your blog daily. Try to predict how often they might return. Ask the people you know personally when they are able to read your posts – do they read them as soon as you notify your fans on social media that you published something new? Do they save the post for their morning commute, lunch break, or the quiet time before bed? Do they randomly check in with your blog when they realize that they haven’t heard from you in a while?

Checking your blog’s analytics and when you receive comments could also give you some insight on when your readers visit your blog, how long they stay, and how many posts they read at once. For instance, if you know readers visit multiple pages in one sitting, you probably don’t need to post more frequently than you are currently. If readers come from social media and only read one post, it is unlikely you will overwhelm them with content, though you should also concentrate on making each post as engaging as possible.

This may also depend on the kinds of posts you’re publishing. Recipes, for example, can be posted more frequently than a how-to tutorial on creating something more complicated. A long, serious post that makes your reader think on a deeper level should be posted more sparingly than short, light-hearted posts. You can definitely burn out yourself trying to write too many posts, but you can also exhaust your reader.

What posting methods have brought you the best response from your readers?