3 articles Tag SEO

How to Increase Your Income as a Blogger #SEOYourBlog

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

When I started blogging nine years ago, I started off very much from scratch. I didn’t know anyone who blogged and had no idea that there was a whole blogging community out there. I started my blog on a free WordPress URL and just started writing. I didn’t discover for quite some time that it was possible to monetise a blog, and never knew quite how many ways there were to do it.

One way to optimise your exposure is by including PPC links into your posts through an agency like Click Consult – advertisers use space on your blog and in return you’re paid a fee every time someone clicks on the advert. It’s a great example of what we call “passive income”, essentially something that ticks over in the background, earning you money, and doesn’t need you to do anything beyond adding a little bit of code to your blog.

One of the most important skills to learn as a blogger is SEO, or search engine optimisation, to those who don’t already know. SEO, according to Moz, is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”. Using good SEO practices within your posts allows them to be found by Google and means that your blog will show higher up in search results when someone searches for a keyword you use. There are lots of plugins which can help with SEO, making your life a whole lot easier!

There are many other ways to make money through blogging, such as sponsored posts, brand partnerships and even branching out as a freelance copywriter, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you may need to register as self employed and start filling in a tax return if your earning exceed a certain amount.

If you’re new to blogging and are interesting in other ways to make money from your writing, leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you and help you to get started.

How Poor SEO Approaches Can Damage a Brand and the Implication if That “Brand” is a Leading Cancer Charity

I don’t want this blog to turn into a long list of posts where I moan about SEOs, but I had an approach yesterday that had me bashing my head against a wall.

It started well –

“Hope you’re well. I just wanted to get in touch to ask about your policy on guest posting on Mum’s the Word. I’m working with Cancer Research UK, to build awareness of the breast cancer help and resources offered on their site. We’re doing this chiefly by putting together some informative articles on related topics and working with bloggers like yourself to publish them on selected sites around the web, and I was wondering if you’d be open to running such a post?”

Then took a rapid turn for the worse –

“I do appreciate that it’s a difficult topic, and that it’s not the sort of subject matter that you’ve typically covered on Mum’s the Word, but it’d be great to work with you on this if you would be willing to consider publishing the piece.”

See, if this SEO guy had done even a modicum of research then he’d have realised that this is EXACTLY the sort of post I publish on my blog, in fact I already have several on this very topic.

If he’d used the tiniest amount of initiative or imagination, he might’ve typed the word ‘cancer’ into the very simple and prominently placed search bar at the side of the page and come up with no less than a dozen posts around the subject.

If he’d thought to engage his, no doubt, elite search skills he’d have realised that in 2011, my Stepmum lost her battle with cancer and I spent a long time trying to get my head around it, trying to work out how to process it, how to guide my infant daughter through it all and how to get our lives back on track afterwards. He’d have seen that I now run Race for Life every year in Lorraine’s memory and that I do as much for Cancer Research as I can.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with poor marketing from this particular charity and I can’t help but wonder who makes the decisions regarding their marketing budget, given that they’re using aggressive telephone sales people and insensitive SEOs.

The sad part is, (as my friend Ruth mentioned after I shared with some blogger friends how sad I was about all of this) if they were to be a bit more sensible and use what would probably equate to a minute portion  of their marketing budget to employ bloggers to help them with their blogger outreach programme I’m 100% certain that they’d be a lot more successful and would circumvent the very real risk of alienating a lot of people.

As I pointed out in my reply to this person, just off of the top of my head I know one blogger who’s child is battling leukemia, one who’s Mum has beaten breast cancer and several others who lost friends or family to this horrible disease and I hope to goodness he hasn’t used the same approach with them that he did with me.

Over to you, Cancer Research

(I’m including follow links to the Cancer Research page in this post. Despite me criticising their approach, I think they’re a great charity and support them wholeheartedly)

S.E.O – O.M.G!

I started blogging in 2010, a Golden Age of not long ago when bloggers could make money from their sites in a number of ways. Sponsored posts, sidebar adverts, paid-for links, it was all gravy. Then belts got tightened, laws were passed and it got harder for us to make a buck from our sites.

Google got wise to companies who were buying their way up the search results and decided to crack down on it – you all know about the Interflora scandal right? And I bet you all know a blogger who’s had their page rank stripped because of these types of links?

The rules are simple:

1. Paid for links MUST be no-follow

2. Advertising of ALL FORMS (so, if anyone has paid you to add a link in any form) must be declared as such and explicitly so.

The first rule is decreed by Google. Kings of T’Interwebs. It’s not ‘The Law’, but it’s their way of saying “If you value your site, don’t fuck with our algorithms”. I get it, I mean it’s not fair to consumers who are innocently Googling something and the first link they find is not the most popular, just the one that’s splashed the most cash about (a bit like Google’s own sponsored links at the top of any search…*ahem*).

The second rule was decreed by the Advertising Standards Agency and as such IS THE LAW. You can be penalised with fines or prosecution and call me a harbinger of doom if you like, but these guys have already started to make examples of people so no-one is immune.

The problem is this – SEO companies don’t like these rules. People who ‘do’ SEO have an agenda and that’s to get their client to the top of those search results. Don’t confuse them with PR people – these guys tend to use their noggin a bit more and come up with creative ways to get bloggers writing about stuff.

I get a lot of emails from SEO companies, some of whom are happy with full disclosure and no-follow links as they just want their client’s name in as many posts as possible. Many, however, are trying to baffle bloggers with bullshit to get their way. This is a snippet of an email I received from an undisclosed source, after I informed them that I would have to disclose the post as paid-for:

“Thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately I cannot allow this, as paying for links is actually against googles terms, therefore if google came across a post on your site marked in this way, then your site could get penalised, as would the brand.

I could allow this to be marked as ‘guest’ ‘feature’ or an ‘associated’ post, but ‘sponsored’ is something that google has picked up on, therefore risks you losing your page rank.
Let me know whether this would be possible at all, as I couldn’t agree to it otherwise.”
My response:
That’s not quite accurate –  It is not Google that stipulate whether something can be labelled, they only give guidelines on follow and no follow. In terms of labeling, the law states that all paid-for content must be labelled or I could be prosecuted.
If you need any further info, I’ve found this very useful: GO HERE
Let me know how you wish to proceed.
Their response back to me:
Would it be possible for you to label this as featured or guest post? It isn’t actually advertising that we are looking for – it is SEO. This is why we request that the links are very subtle and discreet, as if not, google can penalize blogs, in a similar way to what happened with the Interflora situation. This may be helpful to you – http://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/interflora-penalty/

I just want to let you know that what we require is for a link to look natural, as if you have placed it without being asked, as I wouldn’t ever want your website to get penalised.

My last email:

The whole point is that Google require paid-for links to be explicitly labelled and no-follow, otherwise I stand to lose my page rank so I’m not quite sure how you’re trying to help me to not get into trouble.
The other, bigger issue (because although I love my blog, I value my freedom and finances more highly) is that the ASA could prosecute me for placing PAID FOR links, which are advertising regardless of how you gussy-up the language, without letting my readers know that I am endorsing a product or site for money.
The ‘natural’ links you talk about are exactly the problem and while I don’t want to be personal, this is exactly the problem that bloggers are facing when dealing with SEO companies at the moment because you dangle cash in the hope that it’ll blind us to the jargon you use.
I’m not a millionaire, I could use an extra few quid here and there like the best of us, but I’m not willing to lose my blog or get into serious trouble for the sake of cash.
Thanks again.
Do you know what I think gets me the most? The fact that these people are willing to lie to us to get their way and the assumption that I’m stupid enough to go along with it. I think I was very patient to begin with but how can I go on communication with someone who clearly lacks scruples?
Enough is enough.
(As a footnote, I want to add that I make no judgement of people who accept posts containing follow-links etc., I know that times are hard and people want to make some extra money and that’s the personal decision of each individual to make, so please don’t think I’m attacking other bloggers for their choices.)