Wow! I have to say that this year’s Bad Ass SEO Guest Blogging Contest REALLY lived up to its name. Not only was the sponsorship level greater this year (a whopping $2700 in cash), but the talent level took a big leap forward as well. I am honored to have so much talent on my blog!
Now, without further ado, the moment you have all been waiting for. The winners are:
1st Place – $1000 + a Lifetime Premium Membership to MyBlogGuest.com:
How to Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles for SEO by Kristi Hines
2nd Place – $500 + 1 Year Membership to The SEO Training Dojo:
3rd Place – $350 + Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise License:
4th Place – $250 + 3 Month Subscription to SEMRush.com:
Have You Claimed Your Local Business Listing on These 21 Sites? by Kaila Strong
5th Place – $225:
6th Place – $125:
The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts by Andrew Nattan
7th Place – $100:
Panda, Panda, Panda by Amanda King $100
8th Place – $75
Secret 4 Step Affiliate System by Ben Jackson
9th Place – $75
Social Media Suffocation: Why I’ve Had Enough Of Networking Online by Lewis Austin
Now for a brief explanation of how we can up with our winners:
We had 4 independent judges who scored each post on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). The judging factors included style, creativity and usefulness. We then averaged the scores from all 4 judges. You can click here to see the Excel spreadsheet with the scoring.
This year, Kristi absolutely dominated the top spot! Not only was her guest post published on Sphinn and mentioned in SEOMoz’s newsletter, but it has received:
1000 Facebook Likes
224 Google Pluses
Over 200 Comments
Places 2 and 3 were also clear winners. However, places 4 through 8 all tied with each other. As a result, we had to use social engagement factors to determine those winners.
The way our social engagement scoring works is 1 point for each tweet, +1, Facebook Like, Stumble or comment. Also, we looked at social engagement on blokube and blogengage. Additionally, we didn’t count meaningless or ambiguous comments like “Great post thanks.” By calculating these totals, we were able to determine who won spots 4 through 8.
Everyone who won, please email me your Paypal email at gweber at sem-group dot net so I can hook you up with your cashola and non-cash prizes!
Once again, I want to thank all the sponsors, contestants and judges who donated their time. Without all of your help, this contest wouldn’t be possible. You all rock!
We’ll see you all next year when the donkey starts misbehaving again!
If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:
“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…
We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”
To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.
The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.
But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine…
Would you recommend something like this instead?
Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?
But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?
Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.
* GASP! *
That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.
Wait... isn't that SPAM?
That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:
No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.
Which brings us to the million-dollar question…
What is the right way to hide content?
Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.
So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.
A Perfect Example of Hidden Content
If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.
Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!
- Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
- What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?
Download the Hidden Content Example
The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.
It’s easy to get hung up on the words you write. As a top blogger, you’d be foolish to not at least consider them. After all, words, sentences and paragraphs are your bread and butter.
But once you’ve worked out what to say and the tone in which to say it, do you take the time to consider the format?
Because if the layout of your copy isn’t readable, nobody’s going to stick around to see what you’ve written. And that renders all your well-chosen words redundant.
So read on and learn the secrets that are going to ensure your target audience is going to read all the way to the end.
The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts
Master the Art of the Paragraph
We all remember when we’re obliged to start a new paragraph. When you change topic, change time or change place. That’s what your teacher told you at school, so you just keep ploughing on with the same rambling paragraph until you’ve exhausted the topic, run out of time, or moved to sunny Tijuana.
You credulous buffoon. Why on earth did you think your teacher was right?
Here’s the one time you need to change paragraph. Doesn’t matter if time, topic and place are still the same, there’s one point when you need to hit that return key.
When dramatic effect demands it.
A quick, single sentence paragraph is visual shorthand for “this bit is important”. So make use of them when you’re sharing something groundbreaking. And watch as your reader starts to scroll down looking for the next one.
Or for something just as arresting…
Hit ‘em With a Hail of Bullet (Points)
What have great bloggers and successful gangsters got in common? Other than a penchant for whisky cocktails and jaunty hats?
That’s right – they both know how to fire bullet points with deadly accuracy.
Why are bullet points so effective?
- Visually arresting – a bullet point hits you like, well, a bullet between the eyes. You can’t ignore it. You stop and read.
- Clear and concise – it’s impossible to ramble on a bullet point. You’re throwing out pure, distilled information
- Breaks up blocks – people won’t read a wall of text. Liberally scatter your bullets, and your layout remains fresh and interesting.
Stop Skimmers by Sprinkling in Subheadings
Skim readers love subheadings. It’s pretty much all they’ll stop for.
And you want a skim reader to stop, because if they don’t, they’re scrolling all the way to the bottom, off the page and out of your life.
So unleash a few content speedbumps to slow them down. Enticing and enlightening subheadings help your readers to find the content they find most useful or interesting – so they’ll make a bee-line straight for it.
And then they’ll read it.
And if they’ve slowed down long enough to read a whole subsection, they’ve slowed down long enough to write a comment, hammer out a tweet, or buy your eBook.
Not bad for a bit of bolded text.
The Internet Can’t Say No to a Funny Picture
By now, the reader’s concentration is beginning to flag. All the typographical tricks are keeping them on the page, but you need to cut them some slack.
So throw in an illustration or two.
Preferably one that backs up your points – and don’t forget to add an amusing caption, just to re-enforce your message. Because long after they’ve forgotten the exact wording of your advice, they’ll remember that the funny monkey told them just how to keep people reading.
Beef Up Arguments With Block Quotes
By now, you’re coming around to my way of thinking. You’re plotting sublime subheaders, and coming up with cunning captions.
But something’s nagging at the back of your mind. Wouldn’t this post be truly, completely irresistible if you could just see a second opinion?
Block quotes are a great way of providing a second opinion. As they’re generally from another authority on your subject of choice, they carry weight.
And because they’re visually interesting, they fulfill the same role as bullets points and subheaders – they force the reader to slow down and pay attention!
Mr603 – Outspoken Member of the Twitterati
Yeah. That’ll just about cover it.
Think About Your Font
I can say with some certainty that you’re probably not going to have a clue. Which is frankly ridiculous if you want to create a truly irresistible post.
The art of font creation is a huge subject that I don’t have space to get into here. But prove the power of the font to yourself. Copy this post into a word processor.
Now set the font to Comic Sans or Vivaldi.
I think that proves my point. Don’t you?
Follow the six secret steps, and you’ll have framed your content in an absolutely irresistible way. But don’t rest on your laurels yet, dear blogger.
Because you’ve still got a final chance to throw it all away. By irritating your readers and driving them from your site, never to return.
Irritating blog quirks could fill a whole post to themselves, but there are two content killers that you’ll need to avoid at all costs:
- Pop Ups: I know you want your reader to sign up to your mailing list. But please don’t hurl a pop-up at them after they’ve just started to read. It’ll break their concentration and raise their hackles. Just don’t take the risk.
- Pagination: We’ve all got mouse wheels. So don’t split your post into seven chapters across seven pages. Because a blog reader will scroll for miles and miles to read your content. Just don’t expect them to click.
So there you have it. The seven secret steps to making your blog’s content truly irresistible. You don’t need to use all seven techniques in everything you post, but keep all of these techniques in your locker, and you’ll find your audience to be far more responsive.
And who can blame them? You’re totally irresistible.
This is way for affiliate marketers to get paid while building a list. A major complaint of affiliates is that they don’t get a relationship with buyers. They do all the grunt work and only get the sale, no email afterwards, nothing. This system gets over that problem.
Rather than tell you I’m some online guru millionaire I thought it would be better to listen to last year’s “Bad Ass Guest Blogging” winner and be transparent. You can take any part of this system and apply to your current or projects, or you can follow step-by-step. Please share any insights you have along the way.
The Secret Exposed:
You make affiliate sales AND build a targeted email list without a website or cost
How does it Work?
• You find a product with recurring payments
• Aweber hosts a webform for you for free
• The “thank you” page takes subscribers to the sales page with your affiliate link
• You rank for low competition keywords to get targeted traffic to the web form
Why it’s Cool:
• You make immediate affiliate sales
• You build a list for follow-up emails and sales
• You don’t need a website or ANY investment beyond Aweber
• You can create new sales funnels quickly and easily
It’s a complete affiliate strategy that newbies and veterans can benefit from using. So without further ado, let’s get into the specifics…
Step 1: Killer Product Selection
You need a product to promote and as you’ve probably guessed, we’re going to use Clickbank.
I avoid highly saturated niches like weight loss and marketing. There are a lot of less competitive niches that are still profitable. You’ll be getting your traffic from the SERPs and these niches will provide more low competition keywords to rank for.
What to look for:
Reoccurring Payments: This will allow you to earn more every month that you employ this strategy. You’ll continue to stack up these payments as you make more sales.
Forget about gravity: You don’t need to promote the most popular, trending info products. In fact, the somewhat obscure ones are better as they are often very targeted and specific. You want everything from the beginning to the end of the sales funnel to be targeted.
Email Follow-ups Ready: Some products already have a series of emails prepared for you to use on prospects. You can find these by going to the affiliate page that the vendor has setup on their site.
There’s no need to be super picky here. Any product in a less competitive niche with recurring payments and a decent looking sales page will be a good fit.
Step 2: The Opt-in Form Creation
With your product selected it’s time to create your free hosted webpage. If you’re not already using Aweber you’ll have to sign up. It’s just $19 a month and is the only cost necessary for this affiliate system.
Part I: Making the Web form
Aweber has a bunch of different web form designs that you can choose from, but usually a very simple template is best. You’re going to stretch out the web form and use it like it’s an entire webpage rather than just a form.
Visit the sales page for the product you’re promoting and take a couple headlines, bullet points, etc. that you like and paste them into your web form. They already did a lot of research on the target market and paid a lot for an experienced copywriting, so why try to do better? They won’t have a problem with you using the copy either because you’ll be getting them more sales.
Part II: Redirecting with your Affiliate Link
Next you’ll head to step 2 in Aweber: “settings”. There’s an option for your “thank you” page URL. Enter your affiliate link here. This way you will capture emails for your list and also send them to the sales page with your affiliate link. Read more >>
Sometimes you find something that you enjoy so thoroughly (or that helps you escape so well) that it robs you of your time and poisons your relationships. For some, it’s drugs, alcohol. For me, it was World of Warcraft. This isn’t a “MMOs are Satan” post, so don’t close the page. After about a year of being “off the stuff,” I’ve had some time to sit down and really think about WoW and its effect on my life. This post is a rational look at how playing the game the way I did made me into a good SEO. In fact, the hardcore WoW raiding environment could almost be a training ground for potential SEOs, assuming they’re good at breaking meth addictions.I suppose in a way, this is a cathartic exercise for me, as I can’t recall hardly any positive memories from this time period, and this is some way of extracting some benefit from it. Either way, the principles still apply.
So why on earth would wasting life playing a video game make you a good SEO? There are several parallels that legitimately surprised me when I investigated them.
It all started with an ability to network. A lot of people can play World of Warcraft casually and reap marginal rewards and be just fine with that. I can’t. And, in order to get into the higher-tier guilds, you have to know people. No, seriously. You HAVE to know somebody, or you’ve got no shot.
As is symptomatic of nearly every situation where skill is involved (video game teams, jobs, sports teams, etc), in WoW, you had to prove you were already good/well-equipped before you’d even be considered. These requirements/expectations only increased as the game developed. So how do you get into a high-end guild that requires high-end equipment before you’re in a high-end guild? Know people.
WoW taught me to network; you’ve got to know the right people to get what you need. You have to reach out to them and pursue a real relationship. If people get the impression that you’re using them to further your own goals (gold beggars, people pleading for dungeon runs, cold-call link requests, etc), they’ll quickly abandon any semblance of a relationship that you may have had.
Analytics and Testing
High-end raiding in World of Warcraft turned me into an analytics machine. I grew a passion for analytics when I found the addon that monitored my DPS (damage per second). Suddenly, I had real, concrete results to refer to that I could use to quantify my performance. I did everything I could to see those numbers go up, and the higher I progressed in the available content, the more important monitoring these statistics became.
I started testing ways that I could improve those precious numbers. I would spend hours (yes, really) reading theoretical musings on message boards, playing with talent calculators, experimenting with sequences of abilities, maximizing my character in every way possible. I talked with several people who could not understand my fascination with this: “You’re doing math about a video game? You spend HOW much time on it?!” But I did, I really did.
And I loved it.
Eventually, I not only had to know what worked, but I had to be able to infer what would work based on upcoming changes. I had to be able to change my character to match my personal situation and not just build on the templates you’d find online. I had to outperform those around me to keep my spot in the raid. Sound familiar?
As you move up in the SEO game, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain what you’ve got: rankings, traffic, relationships, social profiles, whatever you’ve got. So by being almost required to know virtually everything there was to know about the game, I was exceptionally prepared to enter the wide and ever-changing world of SEO. Every algorithm change is a new patch, every website is a boss, every potential customer or social media contact is a character. I reveled in testing new ideas, button placements, color schemes, ad texts, page layouts, and publish times. I loved reaching out to new people, building my social networks and watching engagement rise with my backlink profile.
Big Picture Through Tedious Tasks
A major portion of World of Warcraft was doing minor, tedious tasks that never really took up much time individually, but together made a huge heap of daily errands that would suck most of the day away. But I did them, almost every day. Why? I had to keep up these grinds to get the prizes waiting for me at the end of the day.
Read more >>
This post is meant to simply update you on a couple of things regarding the contest. However if you are interested in participating in this contest please be sure to read the official Bad Ass SEO Guest Blogging contest post for complete details on rules etc.
The first change is the due date to submit your post. This has been changed to October 12, 2011. We did this because last week was pretty much spent generating sponsors and awareness and we really didn’t get any contest entries last week.
OK now for the awesome news. Since we had such great sponsorship participation we are able to offer some really nice prizes. We have structures this in such a manner that if you really kick ass, you can really WIN BIG. But even if you do really well you can still win some nice loot and other non cash SEO related prizes.
With no further ado… here’s what you can win!
- 1st place: $1000. Cash + a Lifetime “PREMIUM membership” to MyBlogGuest.com
- 2nd place: $500. Cash + a full years membership at The SEO training Dojo.
- 3rd Place: $350. cash + Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise (max. functionality license)
- 4th Place: $250. cash + 3 month subscription to SEMRush.com
- 5th place: $175. cash + 3 month subscription to Raven Internet marketing tools
- 6th Place: $100. cash
- 7th place: $75. cash
- 8th place: $50. cash
- 9th place: $50. cash
Keep in mind these numbers could get bigger depending on how many new sponsors we get, however they won’t get any smaller!
Now check out all the kick ass sponsors that made all these prizes possible!
Contest Media Partner
RankPop.com Affordable SEO
Daniel McGonagle Link Building
SEO-Peace.com Professional link building SEO Company
Hesham Zebida Thesis Skins
Scott Bradley Simple Weight Loss Tips For Entrepreneurs
Milan Matchev Health Directory
Jacob Share JobMob Job Search Tips
Ileane Smith Blogging Tips
John Britsios www.SEOWorkers.com
Doc Sheldon’s Clinic Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO
Vertical Measures Internet Marketing Services
Whitney Michael Segura Greenhouses for Sale
Butch Segura Wholesale Greenhouses by EarthCare
Whitney “WeedyP” Segura Internet Marketing Blog by Whitney Segura
Ernest Segura Greenhouse Supplies @ OurCrazyDeals.com
Raxa Design Houston Internet marketing
Ana Hoffman – Traffic Generation Cafe Web Traffic
James Brown James Brown
Anwar Barake Wholesale Herbal Incense
Understand Technology with TechFume
The Tech Blog TechnoZeast
Wilderness Aware Rafting Colorado White Water Rafting
Sales Nexus online CRM
SEO Prize Sponsors
David Harry A full years membership at SEO Dojo, a value of $250.SEO Training Dojo
Lifetime membership to: My Blog Guest. MyBlogGuest.com is the free guest post exchange community where users meet to exchange guest posts and network.
Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise (max. functionality license) SEO tools
SEMrush.com – the best tool to spy on your competitors ($210 value) www.semrush.com
3 month Pro subscription to Raven Internet Marketing Tools ($297 value) Raven Internet Marketing Tools
That’s all the contest updates for now. If there is anything significant worth knowing at any point in the contest I will be posting additional updates to keep everyone informed.