Interview with Guest Blogging Expert Ann Smarty

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Recently I caught up with guest blogging expert Ann Smarty. Ann is currently the Community and Brand Manager for Internet Marketing Ninjas and is the former Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Journal. She is also the founder of,  a free community that connects blog Ann Smartyowners to guest authors for mutual benefit. Ann Smarty also writes for some of the top Internet Marketing sites including SEOmoz, Mashable, Social Media Examiner and many more!

This interview is rather long, but is worth the time to read through all of it! Thanks so much to Ann Smarty for spending the time to answer all of my questions! 🙂

Question: How did you begin your career in SEO?

Answer from Ann Smarty: Oh that was a pure coincidence. I had never been keen on marketing or Internet marketing. I was happily learning English philology in Ukraine and was going to start teaching at my native university. Then during my final year I got bored and went to find a part-time job – to challenge myself. That’s when I was hired by an Internet marketing company as a support team member to help English-speaking customers.

After a couple of months of working there I forgot about my dream to become a high school teacher! I was so excited by the whole new world of SEO and website promotion. I loved working there and I loved the people I was working with.

When I got pregnant I had to start working from my home – that’s when my own business became my own business  🙂

Question: You recently left your home in Kharkiv, Ukraine to come work in the US for Internet Marketing Ninjas. What prompted you to move halfway around the world when you work online, which in theory means you can work from anywhere in the world?

Answer from Ann Smarty: IMN wasn’t the first company that invited me to the US. However Jim is always the first! He was the first to invite me about 4 years ago. I was pregnant then and that was the bad timing. However working for a person who actually discovered the world of link building has always been on the back of my mind since then.

About a year ago Jim came to Ukraine and we had a chance to meet. That was fast: “So will you come to blog for us?” – “Sure!” was my reply. It was like we didn’t have to talk more on this. There was nothing to think about. That was done.

To me personally, working for a US company while actually being inside the team is a huge step forward. It’s easy to spend your whole life in front of your laptop never actually trying to move forward, especially when you are already earning a lot. But I like challenging myself and coming to the US is a new experience and a new challenge.

Question: You admit that you built your personal brand mainly through your guest blogging efforts. Why did you decide that guest blogging was the best way to go about things?

Answer from Ann Smarty: That, again, was a coincidence. I started as the way to motivate myself to learn SEO. I quickly realized blogging to myself is not that exciting. So I started looking around, commenting and trying to help people. This quickly attracted some attention to my tiny blog. Then was my very first guest post at Youmoz and guest blogging invites started flowing in! I have no idea how that happened 🙂

Question: You’ve written for some of the biggest Internet marketing blogs around including the SEOMoz blog, Search Engine Journal and the Search Marketing Standard Magazine. What advice do you have for up-and-coming SEO professionals that strive to write for similar publications?

Answer from Ann Smarty: To me it’s easy: I never offer a guest post unless I am 100% satisfied with it and unless I am 99% sure (you can never be 100% sure) that it’s a useful one. You don’t need to re-invent a wheel each time you write something (and pretty much anything has already been blogged), but what you can do is to always focus on what you are best at. I did a quick article about how I manage to write a lot of articles. Hopefully it will get someone inspired!

Question: As former Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Journal you’ve undoubtedly seen your fair share of guest blogging requests. What makes one request stand out and actually get someone a shot at a guest blogging opportunity?

Answer from Ann Smarty: When it starts with my name 🙂

I would delete any pitch that starts with “Dear webmaster”, “Dear sir” or “To whom it may concern”. Come on! That’s a guest blogging pitch – you need to know who you are writing for! I did a video a few months ago about what not to do when you want to guest post for someone.

Other than that, there are no huge tricks. Just be as detailed as you deem required. I usually give a chance to any authentic email asking about a guest posting opportunity.

Question: A lot of content that is created overseas for US companies is written by people who speak/write English as a second language, much like you. Many times this content is poorly written, has major grammatical errors or might even be spun content. How can a company that wants to outsource their content writing overseas ensure they get a great writer like you?

Answer from Ann Smarty: Unfortunately, the only way to go is to hire a native speaker. No matter how much a non-native speaker tries, there will always be clumsy phrases. It is next to impossible to sound natural unless you use the language on a regular basis. I am feeling it right now while I am typing it!

I know many people would be too kind to say that my language knowledge is good but I know English too well not to notice that many of my sentences sound “not right”.

Perfecting English knowledge was yet another reason to come to work in the US by the way!

Question: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen companies make when it comes to guest blogging?

Answer from Ann Smarty: Looking for a cheap easy ways to guest post.

I firmly believe that a company should NOT outsource guest blogging. The whole point of guest blogging is building relationships with bloggers – when you outsource you pay for other people to build those contacts. So just don’t do that. It’s much smarter to hire a good diligent person in house, train him/her and keep that talent (as well as all the valuable blogging relationships you can always use again) within your company. Yes, it’s a longer way to achieve results but it’s much more efficient in the long run.

Question: As a guest blogger, what kind of sites should you NOT submit your content to?

Answer from Ann Smarty: It’s really up to you. My own criteria: community. I don’t care much about PageRank or MozRank but I want to see comments and shares. I want to see a live site with a personality behind it. I prefer blogs with personal brands behind them (someone talking to the readers and listening to them).

Question: Google came out with a lot of game-changing algorithm updates in 2012. Which one do you think has had the biggest impact on SEO?

Answer from Ann Smarty: I actually don’t like speaking about Google Updates. Google is doing them to start fear uncertainty doubt rather than trying to make the results cleaner. Google is smart enough to clear search results without all that fuss around each update: quietly and smartly. With all that data they own they can be much more helpful. What they are trying to do is to scare away more people from even trying to rank. So talking about those updates is like fueling the fire. I prefer playing a fair game and trying to believe that will keep me safe 🙂

Question: Do you think the Google Panda update has done a good job of cleaning up content online?

Answer from Ann Smarty: I want to believe in that but I don’t see organic results behind the low-quality AdWords results which now just stuff the search result pages 🙂

Question: 27,000+ Twitter Followers is no small number! What’s your secret to Twitter success?

Answer from Ann Smarty: In reality I wish I had more time to better utilize Twitter. My community deserves much more than the stream of content I consume (read and produce) daily. I’d love to interact more but I am so busy that I hardly manage.

My main secret is that I am an earlier adopter 🙂

Question: What is the real value in building a social media community?

Answer from Ann Smarty: To me the real value is in branding. Today, no matter which new project I plan I can be sure that my followers will support me. If they know there’s “Ann Smarty” behind a site, they will start discussing it. That’s something you can’t really measure or buy. But I feel that support daily, with every new piece of content I publish or site I launch. It’s priceless!

Question: Time is tight for small business owners. What time management tips can you give to small business owners or overworked marketing managers to help make managing their social media marketing efforts easier?

Answer from Ann Smarty: Oh I have talked about that a lot. In fact I even created my own blog to publish my productivity and self-improvement tips there:
But my most useful and most personal advice is here: It’s about how much I like keeping everything under control (scheduling, planning and creating a new to-do list daily).

Question: What was the inspiration behind

Answer from Ann Smarty: I was often invited to guest post and some people even started approaching me trying to hire me as a guest post contractor (I even didn’t have a “services” page at that time), so I could clearly see the demand. Thus one day I decided to build a forum. It was much later that it grew into something more than a forum with the gallery, PRO plans, etc. In the beginning it was just a forum with not many plans behind it!

Connect with Ann Smarty on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


This non-paid interview is designed to give the Brick Marketing audience insights and different perspectives of SEO, link building, social media and web marketing. Past expert interviews include: Ann Handley, Eric Ward, Mike Moran, Andy Beal, and Jordan Kasteler to name a few.

If you would like to be interviewed by the Brick Marketing team please contact Brick Marketing here:

Categorized in:

Like what you've read? Please share this article

Read What Full Service SEO Clients Say About SEO Firm Brick Marketing

"went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues"

“We hired Brick Marketing to manage our SEO, but they ended up also managing our company blog, social media marketing, helped us launch a pay per click advertising campaign, migrated our website to a new domain and so much more! Our SEO Specialist is always quick to respond whenever we had a question and went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues.”

– Mory Creighton, CEO, Pinpoint Laser Systems

"Brick Marketing is levels above all integral part of my team"

“I have formed an invaluable marketing partnership with Brick Marketing. Nick Stamoulis and the rest of the Brick Marketing team are professional, timely, thorough and take time to, not only succeed at the tasks, but also educate myself and my team on the strategies in the process. Since my first encounter working with Brick, I’ve changed organizations and have taken them along with me…they are that good! In my experience in working with many outside agencies who over-promise and under-communicate, I can truly state that Brick Marketing is levels above all others and vested in our relationship. They are not just an SEO consultant, but an integral part of my team. I highly recommend Brick Marketing for any company looking to significantly increase search engine competitiveness and internet presence.​”

– Jodi Murphy, Marketing Director EUXmedia

"I couldn’t give a stronger recommendation; they are simply great!"

“When we came to Brick Marketing initially, we had a small subset of challenges we didn’t have the bandwidth to tackle in house. Our idea was simply to send out the work and be done with it. A one-shot deal. What we found mid way into the first project, was that Nick Stamoulis and Brick Marketing had a depth of understanding and approach to solving our Search Engine Marketing problems that we had not considered; solutions that dramatically improved our search engine ranking position on terms and improved the overall size of our index listing (by more than 25% in the first two months). In short order we expanded our horizons and enlisted his talents to take on refining and improving ROI on our rather expensive Pay Per Click campaigns, as well as having him consult on microsite projects and blogs. Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing helped us understand what works and why, and helping us maintain our dominant position in the SERPs, despite the markets constant resetting and ever-changing drama. I could not have gotten through this year without Brick Marketing’s assistance and advice. I couldn’t give a stronger recommendation; they are simply great!”

– Connie Childrey, DataDirect Technologies

"traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year"

“When we started working with Brick Marketing, we had just been subjected to a Google algorithm update and our websites both took substantial hits to traffic. Within a few months, Brick has taken both of our websites to pre-algorithm traffic and conversion levels, and for the CallFinder site, the traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year. Their expertise in SEO, responsive design, and content marketing helped us turn the situation around, and we could not be happier with the results we’ve seen in just our first four months of working with them. The team we work with at Brick Marketing is always available for off-the-cuff consultations and are at the ready to provide recommendations and suggestions to improve our site’s appearance and performance. They are truly a hands-on partner, which is immensely valuable to our business.​”

– Jeanne Landau, Director of Marketing |

"cost effective “answer” to creating a viable web presence"

“From the beginning, our new company, AA Global Printing, has provided a superior global service, backed by a solid operations team. What we didn’t have were marketing resources to support the growth of our client base and to build a strong online presence. Fortunately, Brick Marketing has given us a structured website development process/solution and a cost effective “answer” to creating a viable web presence. Moreover, our account rep has been a professional and knowledgeable resource at every turn. Thanks to Nick Stamoulis and the Brick Marketing team, AA Global Printing is marketing with all the right tools ranging from SEO, strong content, a weekly blog, and easy site navigation for our visitors.”

– Adam Gould – Cofounder, AA Global Printing

"Brick Marketing has gotten me results"

“I have been working with Brick Marketing for over 4 years now. Brick Marketing sends me the reports every month, but I don’t need to read them. I already know what he does is extremely effective because of all the web requests I get, phone calls from customers when they see their page come up on the first page of Google! I have worked with many other companies that made promises they could not keep. Brick Marketing has gotten me results and that is why I continue to work with them. I don’t have to micro-manage anything they do. I know that they always do what they say they are going to do. If you are looking for an SEO company, I would say, look no further as you have found the one that will do the job right! In addition to doing an excellent job, Nick Stamoulis is a pleasure to work with.”

– Alan Cline, 1-800-PLUMBING

"Brick Marketing is "solid" when it comes to support for SEO marketing advice"

“I had been impressed for a long time with the content that Brick Marketing was sharing in their informative blog posts and articles. I chatted with Nick Stamoulis a couple times and decided that he was the expert I wanted to work with. I have worked with Brick Marketing for about six months and they have helped us resolve several SEO related issues pertaining to our website. Our account rep is always just an email away with answers to any questions I have and suggestions for how we can improve what we’re doing. Brick Marketing is “solid” when it comes to support for SEO marketing advice. I definitely recommend them if you want to feel more secure about how your website is performing in searches and have the confidence that everything being done to improve your rank is white hat and legit.”

– Paul Rarick,

"We’ve seen unbelievable success & owe much of our online lead generation to Brick Marketing’s efforts"

“I didn’t realize how much we were missing from not having an online presence until I started working with the SEO firm Brick Marketing. The Brick Marketing team took the time to guide us through the SEO process and helped bring our company into the online world. We’ve seen unbelievable success with our new website & owe much of our online lead generation to Brick Marketing’s efforts.”

– George Athanasiadis, CEO, Somerset Industries

"superior knowledge of marketing on the internet"

“I have had the good fortune to work with SEO expert Nick Stamoulis and his team at Brick Marketing and it was clear form the get go that Nick had superior knowledge of marketing on the internet. The SEO campaign and technical writing that Brick Marketing provides has been impressive, where in the past we struggled to find the high levels of competence in these two skill sets. Were only just beginning with Brick Marketing and look forward to growing with their expert guidance. Thank you Nick Stamoulis and the Brick Marketing team!”

– Craig Raubenheimer, President, Roan Solutions, Inc.

"helped propel us forward organically"

“We implemented all the valuable suggestions and together we definitely saw amazing results over time. Other SEO companies may leave you in the dark but Brick Marketing kept us in the loop during the entire time, educating us about ALL the strategies being used that helped propel us forward organically.”

– Maura Statman, Everyone Loves Buttons Inc. ®

"focused on getting you results"

“Brick Marketing is a no nonsense SEO company focused on getting you results. I really appreciate their patience, insight and going the extra mile to help Gold Lasso better understand the intricacies of the SEO discpline and how we can be more successful with our SEO programs. I would recommend Brick Marketing to any of my clients.”

– Elie Ashery, CEO Gold Lasso

"Brick Marketing has been a tremendous resource for our business"

“Brick Marketing has been a tremendous resource for our business. Through their expertise with the ever changing world of SEO, our web presence is as strong as ever. Our working relationship with Nick Stamoulis and Danielle Bachini has been outstanding. In collaboration with web designer Chris Roberts, we were also able to develop the perfect responsive website that truly reflects our business. Thank you Brick Marketing!​”

– Ellen Parlee, Parlee Farms

"Our keyword rankings have improved and traffic has increased"

“The Brick Marketing team, was critical to ensuring that our new Web site is optimized to drive maximum traffic. Our keyword rankings have improved and traffic has increased thanks to her assistance and advice. In addition, they executed a strategic link building program that helped further increase Web traffic.”

– Lauren LaFronz, Director of Marketing, enChoice, Inc.

"our goal for better presence on the internet has been achieved!"

“I had worked with at least three other SEO companies before I was introduced to Brick Marketing. But when I met Nick Stamoulis at Brick Marketing, I knew that I was working with an honest and reputable company that would guide me through the world of SEO. In the six months since working with Brick Marketing, our goal for better presence on the internet has been achieved!”

– Peter Feinmann, Feinmann, Inc.

"Brick Marketing is rock solid and essential in building a strong marketing foundation."

“Brick Marketing is extremely valuable for feedback and advice in many aspects of marketing, not just SEO and I look forward to continuing to work with them over the long term to continually improve our business and increase sales. That’s what it’s all about. Just like their name implies, Brick Marketing is rock solid and essential in building a strong marketing foundation.”

– Jeff Nicholson, President Freely Creative, Inc. /

"Love working with the team at Brick Marketing!"

“Love working with the team at Brick Marketing! They are always available to answer my questions and assist with any concerns. I am very impressed with their thoroughness and ability to stay organized. Their passion and energy is always shown during conversations on our account.”

– Corey Savage, CEO, Suncoast Identification Solutions, LLC

"Brick Marketing helped us meet our goals"

“We turned to Brick Marketing to assist in driving traffic to our website and we weren’t disappointed. The flexible approach of the SEO firm Brick Marketing helped us meet our goals, drive traffic to our website, and increase the number of calls we received regarding our services. Thank you!”

– Ken Burt, Marketing Manager Affiliated Physicians

"highly recommend Brick Marketing to all of my clients"

“After working with many other SEO firms and not being satisfied I finally was introduced to the Brick Marketing President and Founder, Nick Stamoulis. Nick Stamoulis has educated me about SEO and has provided me with a well rounded SEO package, not only does he offer top quality services he also educates his clients and spends the time to explain everything and their SEO pricing is competitive. I will highly recommend Brick Marketing to all of my clients. Brick Marketing is an A+ for SEO services.”

– Mike Cardella, Integrated Computer Services

"When I think of Brick Marketing I think Thank You!!!"

“When I think of Brick Marketing I think Thank You!!! We had previously used another SEO firm and although I think they were doing their job, it never felt right. But we didn’t quite know why. I did a lot of research and was drawn to Brick Marketing because of their customer feedback, white hat philosophy and TRANSPARENCY. Once we started working with Nick I realized that what didn’t feel right about our previous SEO company was that everything was veiled in mystery. We never knew what they were doing, why or when.

Nick walked us through the process in detail, answered all of our questions and educated us on what SEO really is and how it works. Not only that, but he and Katherine provided us with a schedule of actionable items that we could follow along with. At no point were we in the dark.

After our excellent success with SEO (regular on first page for important search terms) we enlisted Brick’s help in creating and running some Adwords campaigns for us as well. The results have been tremendous! Tim helped us launch a new service and we quickly went from perhaps 1-2 organic search leads a week to 5-8 PER DAY.

Brick has become the trusted and efficient digital marketing department our company needed to get to the next plateau. From SEO, to article writing, to social media and Adwords campaigns they literally do it all for us. And honestly, Brick marketing keeps us on track for our marketing goals, not the other way around. We could not be more pleased with the job Brick is doing for us.”

– Adam Reed, Foundation Support Specialists

"I would recommend Brick Marketing to anyone looking to enhance their online business"

“I have been very pleased with the responsiveness, diligent work efforts and creative ideas Brick Marketing has shown me since we started our organic SEO optimization campaign. My account executive has provided great support and has written relevant and timely articles for our website blog. Her willingness to go above and beyond to achieve the best possible results is very evident. I would recommend Brick Marketing to anyone looking to enhance their online business profile.”

– John V. Donovan, Director of Leasing & Marketing, Devionshire

"dependable, professional SEO company"

“Brick Marketing has been a dependable, professional SEO company that has helped us get results. In the last 6 months of using their services, visits to our website have increased by almost 30%. Our dedicated SEO Specialist was pleasant to deal with. Her suggestions for articles and press releases were industry specific. Brick Marketing always answered our phone calls and emails within an hour which made us feel valued as a client. I would recommend Brick Marketing to all businesses to handle their SEO needs.”

– JoAnne Loftus, Archival Designs, Inc.

Contact Us about brick marketing Industries We Serve Case Studies

Need Assistance? Please Contact Us Below: