The blue pill tips

Use plain, natural-sounding emails when doing outreach

Finding potential influencers and referring domains is meaningless if you don’t have an outreach plan. For sites that accept guest posts, sometimes you only need to fill up a form and wait for their response. But for most prospective influencers and referring domains, you’ll need to contact them via email. If you recently got your hands on an email marketing platform with well-designed templates, do yourself a favor — ignore them. Instead, craft personalized, plain text emails. It may seem counterintuitive, especially if you want to make your brand look more legit. However, there are several reasons — and evidence — as to why plain text emails are better:

  • HTML emails reduce open rates — Split tests conducted by HubSpot show that emails with fancy HTML elements have lower open rates than plain text emails. The more HTML elements are present, the lower the open rate gets.
  • HTML emails get lower click-throughs — Let’s face it, HTML emails often look more salesy and promotional than plain text emails. If you want subscribers to believe your message and take action, your email must feel genuine and personal.
  • Plain text emails are more suited for mobile — Statistics show that 66 percent of emails are now being opened on mobile devices. Since most email templates are designed with computers in mind, they could inadvertently worsen the reading experience of mobile users. The reasons I’ve stated above are why I don’t bloat my emails with HTML elements myself. At times, I include a screenshot or two to convey certain points. But more often than not, the emails you’ll get from me will look like this: And, yes — I also use plain text emails when conducting outreach. To know more about the exact process of writing believable emails, read my guest blogging guide.

Utilize a backlink checker to identify your competitors’ backlink sources

Finding websites that accept guest contributions for link building isn’t exactly difficult. At most, you’re looking at an hour or two done on research — plus two minutes crafting an outreach email. But what if I tell you that you can turn two hours of research into a couple of minutes with a backlink checker? SEMrush, for instance, can provide quick insights on any website’s backlink profile. Simply load up their “Backlink Analytics” tool and enter your competitor’s domain or page URL and click ‘Check it.’ Suppose you’re a big-time blogger yourself and your competitor is Backlinko. After entering their domain and loading the results, switch to the “Referring Domains” tab. That’s where you can view the list of domains that link to Backlinko. Just remember to use the “Authority Score” filter to see the most relevant referring domains first. With a list of potential backlink sources in hand, you’re now ready to launch your email outreach campaign.

Use a guest contributor’s bio to find other sites that accept guest posts

Another strategy I use to find websites that accept guest posts is to use the author bio of popular contributors. I just copy at least two sentences from their bio and enter it on Google. Why does this work? Simple: because a lot of bloggers can’t be bothered to write unique bios for every site they contribute to. If they do, chances are the wordings are so similar that search engines will still identify the blogger without fail. Let’s see this in action. On HuffPost, we can see blogger Raelyn Tan’s bio in full display. To look for other websites where she contributed, copy the first two sentences of her bio. Next, head to Google, paste what you’ve copied, and click ‘Google Search.’ Within seconds, Google should reveal other sites where he may have contributed. In some cases, you should see two or three more sites where the blogger submits guest posts. If you find a competitor who’s particularly active in guest blogging, expect to see several of these sites.

Find websites that accept guest posts with Google

If you’re looking for websites that accept guest posts, Google would be an excellent starting point. What you need to do is use relevant keywords along with “guest blogging footprints.” These are phrases of text that are present in sites that openly invite guest post submissions. For example, let’s say you’re in the “home improvement” niche. To find sites that accept guest posts, enter any keyword and add “guest post by” as the guest blogging footprint. Don’t forget to use the quotation mark operator around your guest blogging footprint. This will prompt Google to find pages with those words in the exact same sequence. You should be able to find several websites that accept guest posts from Google’s first page alone.

Write content for other websites

Writing an article for your blog may seem easy at first. However, it won’t be long before you realize that consistently producing quality content can be mentally and physically draining. With that said, why on earth would you spend your energy to write content or “guest posts” for another blog? There are actually several good reasons for this:

  • Free Backlinks — When publishing guest posts, most blogs allow contributors to include a link to your own website. Links can be inserted within the content’s body or in your author bio.
  • More Exposure — Guest blogging lets you leverage the established reach of the blog you’re contributing to. That should be enough motivation for you to create top-notch pieces for your guest posts.
  • Build Your Network — For new bloggers, landing your first-ever guest blogging arrangement can be tough. But as you write more guest posts, it’ll be easier to convince other brands to accept your guest blogging proposals. Interested in guest blogging? Then you definitely need to read my ultimate guest blogging guide.

Write keyword-optimized meta descriptions for your post

It’s verified time and time again that meta descriptions don’t directly affect a post’s search engine rankings. So, why do SEO experts still recommend writing keyword-optimized meta descriptions? Two words: higher CTR. CTR, short for click-through rate, measures the likelihood of your post to get clicks in search engine results. This is largely affected by your post’s meta description, which is the snippet of text displayed below your post’s title. The steps in changing your post’s meta description depend on the blogging platform you use. Wix users, for instance, can edit it directly from the ‘SEO (Google)’ section of the settings page. For WordPress users, the easiest approach is to use the Yoast SEO plugin. When activated, click ‘Snippet Preview’ on the Yoast SEO panel. This will load up the “Snippet preview” window where you can directly modify how your post appears in search results. Other than the post’s meta description, you can also change its SEO title and URL slug.

Use the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

One of the main reasons why many bloggers should choose WordPress is its compatibility with a range of useful plugins. Yoast SEO, in particular, is so important that it probably comes pre-installed in your WordPress ecosystem. Its main function is to monitor your content for on-page SEO factors as you edit them. For example, as you write content, Yoast SEO evaluates readability factors like subheading distribution, sentence length, and paragraph length. It also checks on-page optimization factors like image alt text tags, inbound links, and focus keyword usage. The more you try to follow the plugin’s recommendations, the easier it is to do. In fact, I often create drafts that Yoast already deems good in terms of readability and SEO from the start.

Optimize all your visual assets

Going back to your blog’s visuals, there are a few more steps you need to take apart from image compression. Let’s go through all of them quickly:

  • Use Keyword-Optimized File Names — Operating systems have a nasty habit of giving incomprehensible names to images. Rather than something like “IMG_0735.png,” use meaningful names like “simple-vegan-carrot-cake.png” or “SEMrush-backlink-analyzer-interface.png.”
  • Add “Alt Text” Tags to Images — The “alt text” tag of an image is displayed whenever an image fails to load on the user’s browser. You should also use keywords here, but it’s more important for alt text tags to be descriptive.
  • Choose the PNG Format Whenever Possible — When saving images for your blog, opt to use the “PNG” format to maximize quality. The only acceptable reason to use the “JPG” format is when you’re uploading large, high-resolution images.
  • Scale Your Images to a Set Size — A lot of image compression tools also give you the option to scale them up or down to a specific size. When doing this, make them all the same width so they line up perfectly when added to your post.

Write longer posts

Earlier in this post, I encouraged the practice of adding a subheading after every 300 words in your posts. This begs the question: how long should your blog posts be, anyway? If you want your content to rank highly in search engines, then you should aim for at least 1,890 words. A study by Backlinko revealed that this is the average word count of content on Google’s first page. It may sound tedious to produce 1,890 words every single time. But if you care about the value you can provide to your users, then this shouldn’t be a big deal. I, myself, consistently smash through this objective by producing content over 3,000 words — oftentimes more.

Learn to block out distractions at home

Distractions can turn even the best bloggers into the laziest writers. The worst part is, distractions are everywhere. They can come from your smartphone, your surroundings, and even your work computer. The good news is, blocking out distractions at home doesn’t need to involve complicated steps. Designating an official, private work area in your home is a step in the right direction. If you’re bombarded by noise that breaks your flow of thought, use headphones and fire up noise generators like Noisli. To use Noisli, just move the volume controls under the type of noise you want to play. This will help make you feel as if you’re working in a café, train, forest, or while it’s raining. You can also play white, pink, and brown noises which are proven to have varying effects on a person’s focus. Play around with different sound combinations to find the one that suits you — it’s completely free.