An Interview on SEO with Rae Hoffman-Dolan. Great Advice!

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I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with one of the most well known SEOs, Rae Hoffman-Dolan.  Not only is she someone that I think everyone should follow, but she is one of my favorite speakers to listen to and Bloggers to read.  Here is my interview with her and some of the things she had to say about SEO.

1. We all know how you feel about brandable urls vs. keyword rich. When buying a domain, how do you feel about the age of the domain vs. the history of the domain? (What I mean by it is that the history could be redefined and have excellent backlinks but also some bad link farms and it may have been in a different category before, etc… which will need work to repair the reputation and re-categorize it.)

I’m not even going to attempt to lie here. I’m cheap. I hate buying domains simply to have a head start on the aging process. I usually will only buy a pre-existing domain if I A: get a really good deal or B: want the actual traffic, subscribers, or whatever it boasts as an alternate asset (and not simply due to backlinks or age… I’m confident in my ability to rank without a head start with either) or C: if the site does well in traffic but is sorely under-monetized and I think I can make quick improvements. That said, if I AM going to buy a domain solely for its age and backlinks, I will only buy it if the theme fits my needs as tightly as possible. In my experience, 100 links to a domain with the anchor text “oranges” isn’t as valuable as a handful of newer, quality links, with the anchor text “apples” if apples is what you’re trying to rank for and you don’t sell any oranges. That said, an aged site, if tightly themed, often plays by a different set of (more lenient) rules which can be a bonus if you’re in a hurry.

2. What would you say the best way to approach a site or webmaster you’ve never spoken to before if you want to guest blog or guest post? Would you give a couple of article ideas and hope they won’t steal them? Would you ever recommend sending them a few links to see the quality of your writing and guest posts?

I deal with both ends of this spectrum.

I get requests from guest bloggers quite a bit, but I’m super picky about who I’ll let blog on Sugarrae, because it represents my personal brand. Typically, I’ve only allowed it a handful of times. I’m a lot more willing to allow guest blogging for my commercial sites (like AndGeeks or the Speedy Incorporation blog). That said, when people approach me for a guest blog slot, I absolutely want to see a few links to some prior writing they’ve done as well as the topic they want to cover in the initial email. I’m busy and not going to email back and forth six times to figure out if I’m even interested.

From the other end of the spectrum, I still approach folks asking if they’d like guest articles, especially if they’re in a horizontal market (meaning not directly about SEO or affiliate marketing, but are loosely connected, like working from home or targeted towards helping small business owners). It’s a bit easier for me because some folks recognize my name, but I still deal with the same rejection all other bloggers do, especially when I go outside the industry and attempt to get exposure with audiences I’m well aware have zero idea who I am or why they me guest blogging might bring them value. In those instances, I try to be simply be direct. I am ____, I’d love to write an article on ____, you can find some other things I’ve written ____ and I’d be happy to promote the post with my audience as well, which currently stands at over ____. I actually secured a guest post yesterday on a larger blog that I’d contacted hoping to get some exposure on. I’ve said multiple times that I think guest blogging is a great promotional technique – and one I myself am certainly no stranger to using for my personal brand. 😉

3. Mommy Bloggers are some of the most sought after sites out there. Unfortunately they tend to not want to work with or allow guest posts from non Mommy’s and non Women. How would you suggest approaching a Mommy Blogger for a guest posting or cross promotion if you’re not a Mommy and not a female?

Well, first I’ll say I’m not sure how a man can truly relate to being a mom. Just like I’m not sure a woman can truly relate to being a dad. To be fair, I don’t see daddy blogs filled with female authors either. 🙂 I’d say that’s when you need to work on your creativity. Maybe approach the mommy bloggers around Father’s day and offer to do a post from a dad’s point of view on the best Father’s Day gifts. This might work especially well if you truly do have a dad themed site and offer to return the favor on Mother’s Day. Or maybe offer a post around Valentine’s day that lists “six gifts any guy would love to get – without busting your budget.” Or find a successful work at home mom they would love to have an interview from on their site and conduct the interview and shop it around, but insist you retain the bio. You could try and create a cool info-graphic that appeals to Mommy bloggers and the promoting it to them – allowing them to republish the graphic providing they link back to the source. Really, you just need to get creative with your link building strategies for those tough to get links.

4. How do you feel about directories? How about the old school ones like the Yahoo Directory, BOTW and DMOZ vs. smaller more niche ones? Is it worth spending the money on a listing in the old ones?

Yahoo, no. BOTW, yes. Dmoz… I’ve long had a “submit and forget it” rule with them. Niche directories in my opinion have value. That said, I consider directories low hanging fruit and basic link development techniques. I wouldn’t ride my entire strategy on them, especially outside of niche industries.

5. You’re doing a day long session at Affiliate Summit East on SEO. What can people expect from it? Would it be worth it for Merchant’s to attend? Will you have a question and answer?

I’m actually really looking forward to the SEO Training. My ability to do SEO consulting is very limited because I spend so much time working on my own sites. Doing a group training like this allows me to help a larger group of folks really be able to increase the SEO traffic to their site in one big swoop. Additionally, I’ve rarely if ever seen an SEO training course that pays special attention to issues faced by affiliates. Merchants – especially those running datafeed sites – can absolutely expect benefit if they attend. Datafeed merchants and affiliates face a lot of the same challenges. I expect that both will walk away with a ton of actionable information. I’ll also definitely be doing Q&A throughout the day. I want to make sure that I address what’s on the minds of attendees as much as possible.

Thank you again for taking the time to do the interview Rae!

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