I have not fully explored the outside blog functionality for myself but Brad gives a lot of great information to help you optimize your outside blog.
ActiveRain Outside Blogs offer members the opportunity to have a "stand alone" presence outside the network and they are included with the rainmaker memberships. I still get many questions on how to set these up and the most common question is "How do you customize it so it's not like anyone elses blog?"
Here are my top 10 best practices and tips for those Rainer's wanting to maximize their outside blogs.
1. Select a theme that works best for you, your brand, your company and target audience.
2. Utilize all the features and tools available form the dashboard toolbar. (you must be logged in)
3. To customize the CSS formatting, colors, backgrounds etc. and if you're a techy, use the Chameleon theme.
I like it because I can make sure my blog won't ever look like anyone elses.
Maximize your SEO, analytics, and widgets by implementing the tools made available.
4. I highly recommend the "Google Search" which magnetically draws the Google spiders to your site. Since this is a Google product and tool, I can assure you that they follow its placement and use very diligently. Make sure you have plenty of content on your site first, you don't want to draw Google attention to your site if you only have 3 or 4 posts there.
5. Adding the "Analytics" tool helps so you know what's working best, and tracking your visitors and target audience couldn't be made any easier. You can't add the Google analytics to your ActiveRain blogs, but you can add it to your outside blogs.
6. Each of these tools available adds additional value to your outside blogs but it's your content that matters the most. Great content on ANY blog will garner traffic and create business opportunities. Allow those that find you the chance to get notified via email every time you post something by adding the "feedburner" widget. Let people subscribe to your blog.
Note: MyBlogLog and Retaggr are no longer services that are available on the web.
7. Give your outside blog a Kick-Arse custom domain name (it's included) making it easy to search for your site, find your site, and easy for you and clients/targets to remember. What's in a name? Everything, so try to incorporate the most important aspects of your blog in the title to get the most impact and results. Including Hyper-local if you can is always a good thing.
Note: The "Internal" URL is your back-end dashboard, the "Custom Domain" is the public view.
8. Adding good "links" and using great anchor text for "calls to action" is a key traffic generator and lead capture opportunity that often times gets over-looked and most often under-utilized. Think about what would make someone absolutely have to click on these links and trust me, they will. I can prove this by just having you create a link similar to this one that says something like... "DON'T CLICK HERE!" haha~
Adding links is easy: Just paste the URL in the Link box, and place the anchor text in the Title box.
BTW - Did you click on the DON'T CLICK HERE link? lol~
9. The last thing you should know is that the SEO (search engine optimization) on outside blogs carries a great deal of weight in the SERPS (search engine results page) which is great for your ROI (return on investment) since ultimately the people you are trying to reach and get in front of are the ones that will find you when searching the Internet.
Google search results DO matter, and where you land on the page makes all the difference in the world.
10. All of these tips and best practices are to help you do one thing: create content that cultivates traffic/visitors which allows you to capture contacts and convert them to clients right? There are really ONLY two types of people out on the web and searching Google: Those that know you, and those that don't. Which audience is your target? Exactly! :-)
ActiveRain outside blogs are one of the best and most powerful tools that I think ActiveRain offers its members, but then on the other side of that coin, the greatest tools and power of ActiveRain IS IT's MEMBERS!!
Stop by anytime and check out my ActiveRain Outside Blog at http://ActiveBradsBlog.com