For those of you who have a blog you may or may not already be established with tons of advertising requests reaching your inbox. If you are getting lots of enquiries but would happily receive more then this post might give you some ideas on how you can increase those enquiries even further. On the other hand, if you aren’t getting many requests then you perhaps need to understand what it is that marketers are looking for in a blog and then weigh these factors up against your own site.
Firstly let me explain that by referring to ‘marketers’ I am specifically referring to SEOs in this post. An ‘SEO’ is a marketer who’s main priority is usually to gain a link from another website to their own or their client’s website as this helps their site rank higher in Google. Ranking higher in Google can make businesses serious amounts of money which is why SEOs are usually willing to spend the time or money to get other sites to link to them.
Having said that, not all sites have the same value to an SEO, as not every link has equal value in Google’s eyes. Google sees each link as a ‘vote’ for the site it links to but those votes can count for more if they come from a highly reputable site such as the BBC, compared with a site that nobody looks at or hasn’t been updated for years for example.
So what makes a blog have value to an SEO? What makes a blog so special that SEOs are sometimes willing to throw a lot of resources at it just to get a single link from that blog?
Here is a breakdown of some key factors SEOs look for:
You may or may not have heard of PageRank. PageRank is Google’s own rating system which is a number between 0 and 10 with 10 being the highest rating. SEOs look at the PageRank of your blog because it is one indicator of the value your blog can pass to their site if you link to them. If you want to know what a site’s PageRank is, SEOs usually install a browser extension available in Firefox or Chrome. I use the PageRank Status extension for Chrome which displays the PageRank of the website you’re on in the toolbar, like below:
Alternatively you can use sites like this PR Checker. The higher your PageRank, the more likely you are to get requests from SEOs and the more resource they’ll be willing to throw at you to get a link from your blog. I could write tips on how to increase your PageRank but that’s a whole separate post in itself which I should write another day… In short, PageRank will build over time as you add more and more content to your blog, and you gain more visits and links to your blog.
It’s worth mentioning that there are lots of other tools that SEO use that have similar indicators to PageRank. A couple to mention are the Open Site Explorer which gives a Domain Authority and Page Authority, or Majestic SEO Site Explorer which give a Citation Flow and Trust Flow. These tools help SEOs work out the value of a link from your blog.
Probably one of the key things that will attract SEOs, PRs and advertisers to your blog is existing adverts on your site. Existing advertising can cover a range of things such as banners, image adverts or sponsored links in your sidebar, to guest or sponsored posts within your blog. If you already have advertising on your blog then this obviously tells an SEO that you’re willing to advertise other websites.
One way that SEOs usually find this out is actually through looking at which sites their competitors’ sites advertise on. For example, Kiddicare might look to see where Mothercare are advertising and approach the same sites knowing they’re likely to gain the same value as Mothercare do by being there.
Of course, a clear way of letting advertisers know that you’re open to advertising requests is to have an advertising page on your blog that states what sort of adverts you’re willing to include, your visitor numbers and how to contact you. This is actually another way of allowing SEOs to find you as they often search Google to find sites that contain advertising pages by searching for “sponsored post baby blog” for instance.
Most marketers will want to know that your blog is gaining lots of visits, and preferably on a daily basis. Although they can usually gauge this by looking at how often you blog, how many social followers you have or by how many comments you have on your blog posts, they may want to see proof from your analytics. This is why it’s important to install analytics on your website so you know exactly how many visits you get on your blog. Google Analytics is completely free and fairly easy to set up – especially if you use a popular blogging platform like WordPress which has plugins such as the Google Analytics one that makes it even easier. Simply register with Google Analytics, follow the instructions and when you have your unique UA number, paste that into the plugin and you’re done.
Again I could delve into ways to increase your visits but that really is another blog post. Google Analytics is a good place to start though, as it will tell you where you’re existing visitors are coming from (e.g. forums, Twitter, Google) which can help you decide where to spend time attracting more visits.
An important factor that SEOs will check when looking at your blog is whether Google has indexed it. This basically means that Google has crawled your website and placed it into their gigantic list, or index, of all the websites they know about and consider when showing results to a searcher. It’s important for an SEO because if your site hasn’t been indexed by Google, any link from your site will effectively not be valued by Google. To check whether your site has been indexed by Google, it’s simple: go to Google and in the search bar type “site:” before your full website address and search. If your site has been indexed then the results will show lots of pages from your site.
For example, I can type “site:http://www.mummymacaroni.co.uk” into Google and see the below:
If your site isn’t indexed, it’s unlikely that SEOs will approach you. To ensure your site is indexed by Google, make sure you have an XML Sitemap set up – again this is easy with WordPress plugins like Google XML Sitemaps, once you have a sitemap on your site (usually sits at www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml) you should submit this to Google Webmaster Tools… I’ll stop there as I think I’ve found the third blog post I need to write after this one! For anyone who is unsure about this gobbledegook but wants to learn how then feel free to contact me – I’ll happily point you in the right direction!
Many bloggers who want to write for a hobby more than anything do tend to set up a free blog with WordPress, Blogger or Blogspot. However, having a blog that sits on these domains i.e. yourblog.wordpress.com or yourblog.blogspot.com, is not attractive to SEOs simply because a link from your blog may not have much value to them. Remember what I was saying about PageRank and Domain Authority etc? Well if an SEO checks the Domain Authority (DA) of your blog hosted on wordpress.com, they’ll see the DA of wordpress.com, not your unique site.
There are lots of other benefits of having a self-hosted blog such as you being able to have more control over it, less risk if that blogging platform disappears in the future, your own domain which can be valuable to sell on in the future if you do build up a good site and so on. Get help from someone who knows what they’re doing to set up your site as you need to purchase a domain name, and then pay for hosting to get it up and running. Domains usually cost anything from £5 – £15 and hosting can be as cheap as £5-10 a month if you just want to host a blog.
This goes without saying really, blogs that haven’t been updated for over 6 months are not much use to any SEO who wants to see that the blog is going to continue building value by publishing more content and gaining more visits. Blogs that are updated more regularly are more likely to be valued in Google’s eyes too so the more up-to-date you can keep your blog the better. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to change your content or publish something new every day just for the sake of keeping it updated, even posting once a month is enough to make an SEO realise that the blog is still active.
The key thing to remember is to make sure that what you post is relevant so you don’t just publish something of low quality just for the sake of keeping your blog updated. Posting two quality posts a month is better than posting 10 that are unlikely to be read by your readers. This leads me nicely onto the next thing SEOs look for – relevance.
When Google rates a link from one site to another, it also considers the topic or theme of both of those sites by looking at the words on the pages that are linking. This helps Google determine whether that link is ‘relevant’ and therefore whether it should pass any value or not.
With this in mind, SEOs want to gain links from other sites that are relevant to their own, so for example if the SEO is representing a website that sells buggies then they are likely going to want links from mummy blogs as they are relevant. Bearing this in mind, you might want to think carefully about what topics you cover on your blog as this can determine what sort of sites approach you for links. Even if you’re a mummy blogger but have written one random post about home insurance, you might end up attracting an SEO representing a home insurance site.
Many bloggers reach their readers through social networks nowadays whether that be Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Pinterest. It’s all very well having a relevant blog with good posts but if nobody finds or sees them then that blog isn’t so valuable to advertisers. This is why SEOs will tend to look at your social reach such as how many followers you have on Twitter, and gauge what influence you have on what type of people.
A mummy blogger with a following of thousands of other mummy bloggers is going to be valuable to sites like Mothercare as they know that anything you post on your site could potentially reach thousands of mums who may visit your site. The number of followers you have is a good indication that you have an audience but what is also attractive to advertisers is whether you engage with those followers too, so having regular conversations with people as well as posting your latest article is key.
There’s a lot to take in here and as I said, a few things I could expand on to help you improve any of the above factors, but I want want to leave you with the thought that you shouldn’t worry if you think you’re a long way of attracting advertisers to your site. All of these key factors – visits, followers, PageRank etc take time and you have to start somewhere and keep at it.
One thing I should also mention is that you can attract advertisers in the early days of blogging, because some are savvy enough to realise that just because you don’t have thousands of followers yet, that doesn’t mean that you never will. Advertisers also look for bloggers who are likely to build their blog into something much more valuable in the future, and the factors that show this are regular blog posts, a rapidly growing follower base, a continually increasing number of visits and a self hosted website.
I understand that this post may be a bit too technical or confusing or some but I hope it opens your eyes a little and if you need any advice, want to know more or could do with some help setting anything up then please do give me a shout either by contacting me by email, Twitter or the comments below. I’m happy to help anyone out where I can.