Bird and Co Interview Ann Smarty
Posted on Jul. 23rd, 2012 in Marketing
Ann Smarty is a pretty big deal in the world of SEO. Her knowledge and expertise helps marketers and businesses propel their companies to Internet infamy. Champion of quality content, blogger outreach, and guest blogging; Ann created My Blog Guest.
The community driven platform allows bloggers to pick up quality content from guest posters, and share their knowledge all over the web. We’re always looking for the best ways to help you market your business, and we LOVE MBG.
We caught up with the lovely lady herself to talk blogging, Penguin, and the future for SEO:
Hi Ann! Thanks so much for taking your time to answer our questions.
No, thank YOU for having me and for your patience with me! Summer is a hectic time for me!
Tell us the story behind My Blog Guest? When did you launch it, why?
My Blog Guest was launched in 2009 with not many plans behind it. I was busy blogging and raising my baby then, so I wasn’t planning any major project. I was an active blogger then and I was frequently invited to guest post.
That resulted in an idea that it might be fun to give people a place to find bloggers in various niches to exchange great articles. It made perfect sense.
So I did that. It was made as a forum because, again, I didn’t plan much. Just a small community.
But what followed then was a surprise! MyBlogGuest grew and grew: people started requesting features. I wasn’t able to moderate it by my own. So I hired a team and we started growing it together. It’s one of those examples when a project grows on its own and we can’t stop it.
What is the biggest benefit of guest blogging for an author, and for a publisher?
It’s quite easy: the publisher gets free content and the author gets free exposure (ugh.. links). Speaking of the latter, I really hope guest blogging (and MyBlogGuest) will once grow beyond that link building benefit and people will start seeing the real power of guest blogging: which is building influence.
What would you say are the ‘secrets’ to a great blog post?
These can’t be “secrets” because I keep repeating them again and again.
The only secret is: you need to “love” your own guest post for it to be received well. When you are authentic in your objectives (which should be providing real quality) you will be welcomed on any blog. Don’t be afraid to show your own style or add your personal touch: your guest post should be the best of what you can do!
Content creation is something many people, especially those without a journalistic background, can suffer with. What are your top tips for generating great, unique content regularly?
- Think what is trendy now (track hot trends)
- Find your own sources of inspiration (here are mine)
- Read a lot of blogs in your niche
Some businesses may dismiss guest blogging because they are ‘too niche’. How could a small, local niche business use guest blogging, for example a lawn cutting business in Birmingham that services clients in a 5 mile radius of their premises?
The power of content re-focusing. There are no boring niches! Your content marketing is boring, not your niche.
Again, when you brainstorm content and find a content idea, think if it will be interesting to read to you (in the first place) as well as the average web surfer (who is often looking for some cool content).
Do you think guest blogging is a better way of promoting a business compared to traditional article marketing or using online press releases?
Yes, absolutely. The beauty of guest blogging (in its purest form) is that it aims at providing “unique” and “original content (which makes the web better). It’s not about refurbishing the same article again and again.
Content has always been the most efficient marketing technique and I strongly believe that it only works when it adds value!
Here’s also guest blogging versus articles marketing comparison.
How should authors go about pitching their posts to guest blogs, especially if they’re a ‘big’ blog in the industry? What are your top 5 tips for success?
- Personalize as much as you can (possibly mention your common contact)
- Mention how your article adds value to the blog
- Link to a couple of your previous articles
- Give it at least one week before following up
- Follow up using a different / alternative method (Twitter, LinkedIn, MyBlogGuest PMs, etc)
How has the world of SEO changed since you began in the field, and are these changes for the better?
It’s funny because when I began, the most efficient link building method was “Donations” pages. Then followed the link-buying phenomenon, then articles marketing… I am happy to be involved in a much more mature SEO now where only quality works!
What do you think the future is for SEO and link building?
The past, the present and the future of SEO has always been the same: it’s about providing value while making it easy to access for search crawlers. The evolution of SEO is in number of people who actually *get it*.
Is social media becoming more important, why/why not?
Social media is extremely important: even if you shy away from using it for business purposes, you should at least try getting involved on a personal level. Simply in order to understand how the web works and what’s the future of it.
Social media is everywhere now: it helps power search and advertising campaigns. It’s something you can’t get away from.
What do you think are the most valuable tools in a link building strategy?
Your head? On a serious note, here are a few I am using:
- Google Spreadsheets for tracking and real-time reporting;
- Our own link tracking (we used to have it internally and we are now launching it as a public tool)
- Another one for daily tracking: Cyfe
Google’s latest algorithm update, Penguin, has had disastrous effects for thousands of webmasters and SEO’s. What advice would you give to anyone who’s felt the full force of these algorithms? What ways would you suggest for recovery?
A lot has been written about penalty recovery already. I have nothing new to add. The only thing: don’t take immediate and drastic actions – think first, then act very carefully! I hate seeing many website owners rushing to nofollow all their external links or sending copyright infringement notices for link removal. Act with dignity.
You run a weekly Twitter chat with the users of My Blog Guest. What are some of the most interesting things to come out of these chats? Would you say this kind of networking is a great way for bloggers and publishers to share posts?
It has been an awesome experience for me: a great opportunity to hear back from the community. We have been able to meet our most loyal followers that way and of course, that was a great way to discover cool useful tools.
- Twitter chats are hard to control (with people following at different pace and asking questions whenever they want)
- Twitter chats work great for turning your community members into friends
- It’s hard to turn a Twitter chat into a habit, but that’s an ultimate aim.
I love the support our Twitter chat participants are sharing with us. That’s what keeps us going!
You can join us and Ann in the #myblogguest Twitter chat, Thursday’s at 4pm. Simply add ‘#myblogguest’ to your tweets, and make sure you’re tracking the chat.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Ann, for giving up her time to answer all our questions. If you’d like to find out more about MBG, click the banner below.