Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. Why guest blogging is bad for SEO...

    Manchester SEO Specialist

     

    Ummm what now?! What are you talking about? Guest blogging to build links is one of the first things you teach Pamela so why are you saying this now?!

    Because it’s true. Guest blogging purely for building links is bad for SEO. Quite simply because Google knows when link building is artificial. It knows when you’ve been artificial and it won’t do you any favours. John Mueller (one of the honchos at Google) has been quoted as saying “if you are guest blogging for links, you had better no follow those links” - and that is because Google wants link building to be natural, not artificial.

    I’ve been really encouraging my SEO membership group to get active with blogging and guest blogging, and it’s been great to see them enthusiastically exchanging details and looking to exchange content. What I need to emphasise even more though is that the quality of the content that they are producing is of upmost importance, and that merely exchanging a few hundred words with a few links thrown in will not actually help them.

    So now you are thinking should I carry on guest blogging for my SEO then?

    Guest blogging for SEO, when you focus on high quality content with natural link references can be a great tool for building up content and authority on your website. You have to think about a number of things however to actually get the benefit of doing this type of SEO activity which all centre on producing high quality content:

    • The structure of the content
    • The volume of the content
    • The relevance of the content
    • The natural references
    • The value add for your audience


    In this post I’ll go into each of these in a bit more detail to help you understand more about guest blogging for SEO, and how if you are careful and considered, focussing on creating high quality content, it can be a benefit for your website ranking.

    guest blogging bad for SEO

    Guest blogging for SEO tip number one - The structure of the content is important

    Poorly written guest blog posts which have very little structure and that are hard to read will not fair well, and you are better off not doing them. This is where you need to be selective about who you choose to collaborate with. If they are producing guest blogs purely to advertise their business rather than add value to your audience, say no. If they are looking to guest blog to generate high quality information which will add to the user experience for your audience, then you can wholeheartedly say yes to this.

    Well structured guest blogs will have a clear outline in their introduction, they will have organised information with relevant headings, sub headings and a good summary to conclude. The information will be clearly laid out and there will be images and graphics to accompany the piece.

    Guest blogging for SEO tip number two - The volume of content really matters.

    I’ll start to sound like a broken record here, but fundamentally if you are blogging for the sake of it just to build links, you would be better off doing something else with your time. If you want to guest blog to produce valuable content to increase your audience then creating a post which actually is useful and comprehensive will take time and effort. I’m often asked how long should a blog post be - well the reality is that pages that rank on the first page of google on average have between 1200-1800 words, and Hubspot say that a blog post should be at least 2000 words! Yes I said 2000. There is an irony to this because if you google "how long should a blog post be?" the rich snippet is from Yoast which says 300 words - which prettty much says everything you need to know about the yoast plugin.

    So do I literally have to write an essay every time I blog I hear you say? Well, if you are serious about creating blog posts that are going to be seen, you’ll need to write something that is pretty comprehensive, yes. The next question is how do I find something to write that much about? The answer to this lies with you, and how much you can go into detail about your topic. The more detail you can go into your topic and give thorough explanations, the more the post will be recognised as a quality post.

     

    Guest blogging for SEO tip number three - the relevance of the content is essential

    Broken record time - blogging for the sake of it and just to build links is useless and could actually be damaging for your SEO because it could get flagged as being Spam if you have loads of low quality blogs with dodgy links which are obviously there just to advertise.

    Being careful and considered when choosing who to partner with when guest blogging is really important, because you want to make sure that the content you produce is going to be relevant to that website and the audience. This is why I always encourage people to collaborate with others in their niche or industry, or at least related industry so that the content they produce is both relevant to the audience and has more likelihood of being interesting to that audience! The moral of the story here - if your business is in finance, there is not a lot of relevance to guest blog on a cake makers website if you are writing about a finance topic.

     

    Guest blogging for SEO tip number four - natural references not artificial link building is the aim of the game

    Stuffing keywords and stuffing links is about as old fashioned as my Aunt Mildred’s wardrobe and should be avoided at all costs (a bit like Aunt Mildred’s wardrobe!). In order for links to be of any use to you for building page authority, you need to make them natural and relevant to the post you are writing.

    Linking to further information on a topic is a good thing for SEO. Linking to a relevant product you’ve been describing is a good thing for SEO. Linking to evidence on something you are discussing is a great thing for SEO. What is not great for SEO:

    • Listing links
    • Links which have no context to the text
    • Links which don’t add value to the text

    Natural references, evidence building and further information are the way to go with incorporating links into your guest blogs to make them effective for SEO.

    There was an interesting statistic from Hubspot which indicated that 43% of blog posts are only skim read, which means that links have to stand out and be interesting to a reader to make them click on them. Links to videos or other dynamic content also stand a better chance of being clicked on.

     

    Guest blogging for SEO tip number 5 - You have to focus on adding value to your audience

    Wait for it - blogging for the sake of it just to build links is not worth it. Spend the time working on your social media or upping your meta description game instead. Because honestly, unless you want to add value to the audience you are writing for, with well structured, thorough, detailed content with good natural references, you are not going to glean the results from blogging or guest blogging.

    But people don’t actually read blog posts anymore do they? They do if they are interested in the content! It’s true that people want quick answers to questions nowadays which is why featured snippets have become a popular trend, but at the end of the day people want answers to their search terms, and they want to be entertained. This gives you opportunities to solve those problems or satisfy those desires (I had to get that in or Aunt Mildred would have been unimpressed). For example, you’ve read this post! There are a number of reasons why you have probably read this post: 

    • The headline shocked you because it goes against what you think I’ve been telling you
    • Because you are interested in understanding if guest blogging is worth it
    • You were also probably wondering if you have been doing it wrong and looking for the answers on how to do it right (which I hope that this post is doing!).

    If you focus on adding value to your intended audience then actually you can get your content noticed. This works especially for guest blogging. It’s bad manners to create a guest blog for someone that you haven’t put a lot of time and effort into - and that won’t be of interest to their audience. Really consider the topics you are selecting when you are providing guest blogs, and be really selective about who you choose to publish guest content on on your website.

    So what have we covered in this post? We’ve established that poor quality content (ie blogging for the sake of blogging) and artificial link building is about as useful for your SEO as putting your TV remote in the fridge. We have explored the reasons why - that google can identify low quality and spammy like activity and we’ve made it clear that google is looking for high quality, relevant, thorough and accurate information to give searchers the answers to their search terms. We have dissected the elements of quality content production and discussed whether people even actually read blog posts anymore. After all that, I think we need a cup of tea/Diet Coke/wine! Who’s with me?!

    PRW Wine

  2. Guest Blog - How interior design can affect your productivity in your business

    office image credit NAB Brisbane by Woods Bagot

    A guest blog by Angela Bamforth, Founder of Three Interiors Design

    Whether we work in an office solo or with a large team, we all want a healthy, happy workspace. The modern office has gone through significant changes over the past 20 years. In the past decade, workplaces have seen a decline in cubicles and the rise of creative ideas on the office floor. While the trends keep on changing, the one thing that will remain permanent is the impact of the environment on the performance of an employee.

    So how does interior design benefit office employees?

    Companies have now realized the significance of office workplace design and are aware that interior design is more than just fabric and furniture! By incorporating the right office design, you can enhance employee experience and overall productivity.

    Given employees spend almost 50% of their time at work, it’s important to create an environment that fosters productivity and encourages engagement.

    Examples of how good interior design promotes employee productivity in the workplace:

    1. Promotes Human Interaction

    Humans are social animals, so it is natural for us to follow our instincts and interact with our fellow colleagues. Interaction leads to a sense of community as we work towards finding a solution to the same problem, therefore meaningful interactions in the workplace allow us to work better and accomplish more.

    Steve Jobs, for example, placed bathrooms on the middle floor of the Pixar headquarters in the hope of creating as many interactions between the employees as possible. A Norwegian company by the name of Telenor saw an increase of 20% in sales after they changed the placement of the coffee machine! Central staircases also create an area where people will interact, with large landings a good place to catch up and have a chat with colleagues.

    2.      Provides Natural Light

    Humans need exposure to natural light in order to regulate mood, to experience feelings of happiness and to sleep well. A 2014 study found that workers in areas of the office without windows scored lower on quality life measures related to health problems and vitality. The workers that had none to little exposure to natural light slept on average 46 minutes less than those that had exposure. The study also found that workers without exposure to natural light had poorer outcomes in measures of sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disruption and daytime dysfunction.

    Good interior design will incorporate lots of natural light in the form of large windows and furniture placement to maximise exposure.

    Office image credit Nurus

    3. Gives pleasant distraction from work

    A distraction at work isn't actually a bad thing. Especially not if the distraction is good interior design incorporating art. In fact, it's quite the opposite; the art and decor of a workspace can boost productivity.

    Dr. Craig Knight, who has studied the psychology of workspaces for over 12 years at the University of Exeter says, “if you enrich a space people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art”.

    According to a survey conducted by the Business Committee for the Arts, 82% of employees said art was important in the work environment, and 73% percent said their view of the company would change if the art were removed.

    By eliciting positive emotions, stimulating ideas and giving employees something visually appealing to look at while they work, art can make a huge difference in employee satisfaction, wellbeing, and productivity. This is true for the overall interior design – offices don’t need to be dowdy, grey spaces. They can be stimulating, fun and follow the company’s brand through furniture and furnishings. Introducing breakout areas with comfy seating and a café culture is becoming more and more popular.

    4.      Inspires creativity

    Creativity is important to any business, no matter what you do. It really just means ‘new ideas’ and interior design can create the environment to foster creative thinking

    Good workplace design can reduce the strain on employees, freeing up their brains to do their thing, whilst properly designed spaces can enable collaboration, aiding the creative process.

    How interior design can affect you as a small business owner.

    As a small business it be really challenging when your office is also your home. The idllyic pictures of entrepreneuers working in their gardens and beautiful summer houses can be a far cry from the reality of trying to finsd space at the end of a dining table which is already home to a pile of ironing and the kids homework. Here are a few tips to creating a productive space for your small business at home:

    • Have a dedicated area. However small, if you are wanting to take your business seriosuly then you should look to have a dedicated work space that allows you to store yoru important equipment and materials to run your business. 
    • Minimise distractions. If one of the reasons for having a home office is so that you can also look after the children and maintain the home then try to maintain an area that gives you the room to work, and then focus on your other responsibilities. Look into time management techniques such as time blocking that will help you to create routine and structure. Sometimes doing this can feel impossible because your children are very young or have additional needs, but finding dedicated time will allow you to be "in the moment" when you are focussing on tasks.
    • Clear the clutter. You do not need to go fully Marie Kondo to achieve this, but find another place for the pile of ironing, and make the children clear away the homework (or your other half if they are sharing the space too). Consider everyone having a dedicated storage box to put their things in when their tasks are finished if you can't have a full on office to yourself. It's called making your own ideal and it can really work!
    • Provide something for yourself that will lift the senses. This could be an uplifting piece of art or a motivational quote poster; or it could be a scented reed diffuser that helps to calm your mind. These small gestures while you are working can make a real difference to your productiveity and motivation.

     

    Andrea Bamforth is an experienced interior design consultant, and the owner of leading Cheshire interior studio Three Interiors Design. Specialising in creating authentic spaces for home and office, Andrea has a wealth of knowledge and skill in designing bespoke solutions for those looking for style and functionality.