Guest Blogging for Links in a Post-Penguin World
They say behind every great man, there’s great woman. Well, behind every great SEO plan, there is a great natural link building campaign that finds ways to build links. Link building is the process of building quality, relevant links on external websites back to your website—whether it is a car dealership, gym, HVAC, e-commerce, or a doctor’s website. This is an important part of off-page SEO optimization, which refers to all the things you can do directly off your website to help you rank higher on search engines. The head of the Google spam and quality control team, Matt Cutts, has stated that links will remain an important ranking signal for the foreseeable future.
If Matt thinks quality links are important for rankings, we think you should have a strategy to build quality links to your site!
Build Links Naturally Through Guest Blogging
On-page optimization tactics do not carry the same level of importance they once did (not to say they aren’t still highly important). Google has become highly sophisticated in terms of identifying blatant on-page SEO tricks, including keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and excessive internal link building. The recent Google Penguin update penalized websites that rely on such black hat SEO techniques (in addition to overly aggressive offsite SEO).
Guest blogging is the submission of a blog post or article to some external website, which will hopefully be featured on the site. Some websites have formal guest blogging programs and requirements with clearly articulated policies regarding things like topic, word count, linking, etc. Others are more informal. A typical guest post should include at least one link back to your website – often a link to your company in the author byline, but other times a reference within your post. It is not advisable to submit your posts to just any website.
You want to guest blog on websites that are:
- Relevant to your business – either because they focus on your geographic area or industry (or both)
- Authoritative (quality sites with quality human-edited content)
- Popular (frequently read by your target customers)
Cutts recently discussed his position on guest blogging as one of the ways to build links. Take a look.
There are two major takeaways from Cutts’ discussion on guest blogging (which reinforce our recommendations above). First, the submitted content should be original, engaging, and of high quality. Article “spinning,” or article rewriting, must be avoided at all costs. Second, the submitted content should go beyond the “bare minimum” of 300 words. The content marketing specialists here at Blue Corona have years of experience producing high-quality, original content that goes beyond any “bare minimum” described by Cutts—just something to keep in mind!
Benefits of Links and Ways to Build Links on External Websites
There are several benefits of building links through guest blogging:
- Links within guest posts help drive traffic to your website, especially when these links appear on blogs that boast a large following. This makes sense—the more people reading your guest posts featured on external websites, the more traffic your website receives because of those links. This demonstrates why link building is an important component of any effective inbound marketing campaign.
- The placement of quality links on external websites back to your website will boost your search engine rankings.
- The link building process paves the way for the creation of lasting professional relationships between you and other webmasters.
- Building links through guest blogging is an excellent way to get your name out there in a specific industry.
One of the better ways to build links is by searching the following on Google: KEYWORD + intitle:“write for us”. Replace “KEYWORD” here with your target niche. If you manage an e-commerce website that sells jewelry, for example, search the following on Google to find potential guest blogging opportunities: Jewelry + intitle:“write for us”
Ways to Build Links Outside Your Direct Niche on External Websites
Building links through guest blogging already requires you to step out of your comfort zone by submitting content to external websites, but what if we took it one step further? What if I told you to successfully find ways to build links on external websites that belong to different niches than your own? Why would you even want to do this? You’d do it to stay ahead of your competitors. While you want to focus much of your guest blogging efforts on sites related to your business, don’t forget to target websites that are popular with your target customers.
Let’s say you’re engaging in a link building campaign for an auto dealership website. There are only so many auto enthusiast blogs or mechanical blogs you can successfully target for links. There are, however, an incredible number of parenting blogs available on the Internet. How about submitting a guest blog post to a parenting blog that discusses the top five child safety seats available on the market today? Here’s another idea—write a blog post that discusses healthy food ideas for kids on long road trips. Of course, make sure you write a high-quality post!
Let’s refer back to that example of an e-commerce website that sells jewelry. A great blog post idea to pitch to the webmaster of a parenting blog may be sweet 16 jewelry gift ideas for girls. I refer to this technique as SEO niche expansion, one of the ways to build links in a diverse manner. The key is brainstorming a win-win blog post topic—one that is relevant to your website as well as the external blog you intend to target. This can be viewed as a sort of symbiotic SEO technique since both webmasters win at the end of the day. You win because you were able to create quality inbound links to your website, and the other webmaster wins by receiving great, free content, which generally translates to greater traffic to his or her website. Creating outstanding content is key here. Many webmasters will promote guest posts through social media, which further magnifies the value of inbound links you can create.
Strong Link Builders Find Ways to Build Links
There are several moving parts involved in the link building process. A quality link builder possesses some important traits:
- Organizational skills: The ability to stay organized in the link building process is very important. Quality link builders should create detailed spreadsheets that outline exactly where inbound links have been created, anchor text (the clickable text in a hyperlink) used, and the location of the link back to your website (links back to a specific page weigh more than a link back to the homepage).
- Persistence: Good link builders must also work as persistent salespeople. They have to craft compelling emails to webmasters of external websites and engage in a back-and-forth dialogue with them.
- Creativity: Being creative is perhaps the most important trait link builders should possess. It really takes some thought—and sometimes a few beers—to brainstorm those win-win topic ideas for external websites as part of symbiotic SEO. Quality link builders even tap into LinkedIn and social networking profiles to better understand the psyche of webmasters—this helps in crafting highly targeted emails when requesting guest post submissions. This is an important component in the hunt to find ways to build links. Check back soon for a Blue Corona blog post on how to write a compelling guest blogging pitch email!
- Broad background: Quality link builders can easily write on any number of topics—whether it is cars, parenting, or jewelry. The more topics one is familiar with, the better chances he or she has to find multiple ways to build links.
- Data-driven mind: Great link builders must be able to use data to determine which websites are worth targeting for guest blogging purposes.
There’s a reason major companies such as eBay have recently listed job openings for experienced link builders who can find creative ways to build links. As Cutts stated, link building is here to stay—it just has to be done correctly.
Please contact us to learn more about how we can help your website through both on-page and off-page optimization techniques. Remember, a thousand guest blog submissions to external websites won’t matter if your own website isn’t packed with engaging, quality content. Also, if you think your website may have been penalized by Google, check out our new website penalty recovery services.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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