Publishing amazing posts on high authority blogs is an integral component of any content marketing strategy. Do this regularly and it will generate a groundswell of positivity for your brand, enhance reputation and strengthen your brand building efforts.
Also, if you approach it in a street smart fashion, guest blogging can be a fantastic link building tactic.
Yes, if you get it absolutely on the button, guest blogging can create high quality natural links that point towards your website. I know Matt Cutts said it was dead for SEO, but it isn’t really about what Matt Cutts or anybody else says, it’s about how you can maximize its potential. It’s about pushing the envelope and ensuring you are able to reap rich rewards at multiple levels through guest blogging.
Don’t be scared of using guest blogging as a link building tactic. There are people doing it and are quite successful at it.
Bamidele Onibalusi, a professional freelance writer, copy writer and guest blogger discusses a personal case study about a guest blogging experiment he conducted. He wanted to find out if he could attract long term search engine traffic through inbound links generated by his guest posts. He wrote 31 guest blogs, 28 were published on guest blogs with a maximum PageRank of 4.
Post the campaign, the average search engine visitor traffic to his blog was 477 a day, a year after the campaign. This is in contrast to the 139 search engine visitors a day before the guest posting campaign.
Take a look detailed look at his case study here.
If you are looking for an example of a company that optimized the use of guest blogging for improving business visibility, it’s Buffer. The company’s co-founder Leo wrote 150 guest posts over a period of 9 months, when the company began its operations. The rest is history.
Neil Patel’s doing it too! Here’s an example:
He’s got a fantastic guest post published on Search Engine Land about ‘Everything You Need to Know about Google’s New Stance on Mobile‘. It’s an amazing post and once again establishes Neil Patel’s tremendous domain expertise and authority in the world of SEO. But what it also does is act like a link building tactic.
There are links pointing to his personal website, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics from the author bio. These are high quality backlinks from a high authority site.
If others are doing it, why not do it too?
So, how do you actually go ahead and make the most of guest blogging as a link building tactic?
Here are a few things you must keep in mind:
This is really very tricky. How do you convince a blog owner not to remove a link you’ve placed in your post that actually points to another piece of content you’ve written (this could be a guide, eBook, an onsite post, a case study or a white paper). The key here is the post you are pitching the blogger. It needs be really very good, something that is irresistible.
Remember, the blog owner must be convinced the post will deliver extraordinary value to blog readers. And he will only accept the link in your post, if it points to another amazing piece of content, which again provides value to readers. If the blog owners think, readers will appreciate this content, they won’t have any problem with the link.
Of course, their first instinct will always be to remove the link, and you’ll need to convince the blog owner that the link is worth it and its use makes sense. Here’s a conversation that tells you how it’s done:
In this particular case, the blogger really liked the content the link pointed to, and decided to make an exception.
Don’t just create posts; make sure these posts deliver value. What are value driven posts? These are posts that offer answers that target audiences seek. They are solutions driven, actionable, useful, well-written, well-researched and ideally have a very long shelf life.
All posts on Buffer’s blog, HubSpot, KISSmetrics and Moz blog offer tremendous value to their readers. The focus of such posts is on becoming the go to source for information on a particular topic. Take a look this post on Buffer blog. It offers an in-depth look into the research process for Buffer blog posts. It is an epic post on this subject and is as comprehensive as they come.
Now why are such value driven posts an important part of link building? It’s pretty simple really. More and more people link to these posts. I have done it as well. Ahrefs blog is a high authority blog, and there is a link pointing from this blog to the article on Buffer.
Think about it for a second. Most articles on content research will make it a point to mention Buffer’s post; what this post is doing is earning links courtesy the immense value its delivering.
It’s delivering sustainable long term link building value to Buffer.
Guest Blogging for link building is not just about creating great content and publishing it on high authority websites; it is also about interacting with blog owners and engaging with them on a consistent basis. This helps them know you better; over time they trust you and begin seeing you as a credible presence in the niche.
Why is this trust and credibility so important for link building?
Remember, blog owners of the really big sites in a niche get tons of publishing requests daily. While quality and relevance are big determinants of the content they decide to publish on their blogs, they also lay emphasis on the credibility of the person behind this content. This is why relationship building is so important. If they know you, you’ve already got one foot inside the door. They’ll prefer publishing your content over that of somebody they don’t know.
But such meaningful relationships don’t come easy. Here’s what you need to do:
• Identify the blogs with high domain authority in a particular niche. You can do this by using a tool like Site Explorer; filter by domain authority high to low and look for blogs. It’s not very difficult.
• Once you prepare a list of high DA blogs in your niche, check which ones offer a guest posting opportunity.
• Go through these blogs and the articles published on them. Follow them regularly. Also find out who is in charge of the blog.
• Follow the blog owners’ activity on Twitter or go through their Facebook profile; get a clear idea of the kind of things they share/post.
• Connect with them through social media, comment on the blog posts they’ve written, or guest posts published on their site.
• Give sensible feedback, suggestions and praise, and keep at it.
• Once the bloggers start responding, personalize these interactions.
• Connect with them outside the online/social media ecosystem, for e.g. conferences, trade shows, meetups etc.
Building such relationships also encourages reputed bloggers to mention your post, blog, brand, products or services on their blogs, social media accounts etc. That’s a huge benefit.
Google abhors a give and take when it comes to link building. This defeats the whole purpose of earning natural links altogether. But that doesn’t mean quid pro quo is a bad idea, provided you do it intelligently.
Let’s look at a scenario that has two players:
You: A digital marketing company
B: A highly reputed company offering popular social media tools and it has a well-read bog that accepts guest posts.
You want to publish an article on B’s blog and want a do follow link from within the content.
Your first job will be to identify something that is useful for both ‘You’ and ‘B’. Think about an article on your blog, about the ‘How B’s tools can be used to optimize a business’s social media presence’.
The tradeoff would be a post on B’s blog. But remember in both cases, we are talking about really high value content that offers useful information to target readers. This particular subtle quid pro quo can be tweaked to suit your requirements.
And this isn’t reciprocal linking.
What you need to do is find a mutual benefit, pitch it, and implement a tactic that allows both you and the blogger to achieve this benefit.
We’ve already discussed how an awesome post can help insert a link to your content piece. Now let’s discuss this point further. If you want to make a conscious effort to include links to your content in the body of a guest post, how do you go about it?
The first thing you must realize is there is no failsafe method. All you can do is try and hope you succeed. So let’s see how this can be achieved.
Scenario 1: You’ve got a tool; let’s call it ‘Y’. You want to mention this tool in a post that needs to be published on site A.
Solution 1: Find an author, who regularly contributes to A, and ask him to write an article on your behalf that mentions this tool, and publish it on the site. For e.g. 5 Tools Small Businesses must Use Right Now. (High chance of success)
Solution 2: Get the post written in-house, start an outreach process; there is a chance, in case the post is really well-written, that A won’t mind publishing the post that lists tool Y. (chances of success are slim).
Solution 3: Come up with a solutions-driven post that allows you to mention your tool in passing, along with competitor tools. (Moderate chance of success)
Solution 4: A How to Post/Case Study, about how a particular business (your client), achieved strategic growth with a particular strategy that involved making optimum use of tool Y. (high chance of success)
Scenario 2: You want to insert a link to an onsite blog post, in your guest post (you want it to be published on a site with moderate DA/PR.
Solution 1: First make sure that the onsite post is comprehensive in its scope, make valid points, and is original. Secondly, come up with an idea for a guest post that will help you include a point that can substantiated/reinforced by citing the link to your onsite post. (High chance of success)
Solution 2: Create a list of ‘Posts you must read this week’ and include your post in it. Make sure this post offers numerous options. (Moderate chance of success)
Scenario 3: You want to insert a link to your product page in a guest post.
Solution 1: Hire an author to write a post for you, somebody who is a regular contributor on high authority sites, and ensure a link to your product page finds a mention in the post. (High chance of success)
Solution 2: Target smaller sites (DA 25-30); come up with a guest post and pitch it to them. Nine times out of ten, such sites will have no problem if you insert a link to your product page in content body, provided the post is really very good. (High chance of success)
The idea is to try and make sure your post doesn’t look like it’s written purely for the purpose of inserting a link to your content.
The key to optimizing the use of guest blogging for link building is to come up with a shareworthy post. This is the kind of post that is shared by readers with their friends and followers on social media; as it is constantly shared and re-shared, it goes viral. This invariably helps your link building efforts.
How does this happen?
Social shares help your content reach a wider audience; more people become aware of your content and many of them would want to link to it (if it’s good), through their content. The link to your content might also be mentioned on discussions taking place on niche forums and other online sources where people get together.
Your content is essentially earning links!
There is also a chance that a top thought leader or niche influencer will notice your content, and mention it on his/her website or share it. This will actually have a compound effect on the number of shares. A study conducted by BuzzSumo, analyzed share counts of over 100 million articles and proved that even if one influencer shares your post, it will have a big impact on the amount of times your post is shared. As can be imagined, this provides a huge link building benefit.
So create a shareworthy post – this fantastic post tells you how it’s done. You will find if you consistently come up with shareworthy posts, there’ll be links pointing to these posts from high authority sites; that’s because authors will see sense in citing them if they are writing a post that has some relevance to your shareworthy post.
In spite of all the bad press received by guest posting as a link building tactic, you can still use it if you go about doing it in the right manner. The fact is lots of SEOs are successfully using guest blogging to build links, and there is no harm in you doing it too.
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