This post originally appeared on Searchenginewatch.com
Google’s Matt Cutts declared guest blogging (and other tactics) as a way of generating SEO inbound links as a “spammy practice” that was dead and gone, way back in 2014. It was a statement that generated plenty of response, both defending and arguing against Cutts’ assessment of the practice.
Five years later, guest blogging — or guest posting if you prefer — hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.
Now as far as flooding your site with poor content that relies on tricking people with the anchor text, yes, those days are mostly behind us. Search engine algorithms have really wised up in recent years and the value of the inbound link hasn’t gone away. It’s only changed.
Before starting your link-building journey, it’s important to understand the primary objectives:
Value and quality take top priority
A guest post can be a great way to bring in new traffic and boost your SEO, but there’s a catch. It has to contain relative information that offers something of value to the audience. The choices on the internet are endless and in an age where everyone knows how to explore the internet, a clickbait guest blogging strategy doesn’t hold up for long.
As for what goes into that content, longer content tends to do better than the shorter stuff. This isn’t to say that an effective guest post needs to be 4,000 words. You don’t necessarily want to test the limits of your audience’s attention span, but the 125-word blurb isn’t likely to result in a lot of traffic.
The main focus is to provide value to the readers with the information and give them a reason to finish and share the content. Generally, the most successful guest posts tend to fall in the sweet spot of 300 to 1,600 words.
Grammar and voice of the content are also of importance. If you were writing a guest post for a medical journal, you would probably use a less conversational style than if you’re writing for “Parents Magazine”.
Don’t go crazy with the keyword stuffing
Just because you have access to all the words, that doesn’t mean you need to use all the words. Throwing as many keywords into your post and finding a way to cram them into every sentence simply isn’t going to do much good in the long run. Google’s algorithms are going to pick up on this and if you really overdo it, the article could get marked as spam. Then all that hard work was for nothing.
It goes back to what we touched on earlier about adding value to the audience. Yes, keywords matter, but keyword stuffing is a frowned upon blackhat technique that works against your link goals.
So how do you know when your content is in danger of falling under the keyword stuffing label? Say you’re working on a post and want to rank for “best gardening hose” and wrote something like this:
“If you’re looking for the best gardening hose the Acme Aqua 2000 is the best gardening hose on the market today and will meet all your needs. More people think it’s the best gardening hose than all the others and tell their friends that it’s the best gardening hose on the market today.”
Yikes! Not only will Google spot this as spam but your savvy readers will too. If you’re still unsure about how to recognize if you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, you may want to brush up on why it’s bad for SEO.
Target websites with a higher domain than yours
Just like we mentioned earlier in regards to content, quality counts as well when building in those links. The internet is a battlefield and websites are constantly vying for power in the form of higher search rankings. By guest posting for websites with higher domain authority, you’ll be giving yourself a leg up and getting the most value out of those blogging efforts — from an SEO perspective, of course.
Google cares not just about the number of links, but the quality of those backlinks. As to what makes a high-quality link in 2019, there are a few must-haves.
Consistent traffic flow is important because it shows that it’s active. Authority is also of importance and by that, we mean domain authority. Websites with a low domain authority as ranked by Moz, tend to have a low ranking of 0-20. They may be new or simply not very active. Whereas a website with a domain authority ranking of 60+ is going to be a well-established one that has a steady flow of traffic and is regarded for high-quality content.
All links are not created equal, so think critically about who you want to link to and who you want linking to you. Now that we understand this, it’s time to start on with link-building:
Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links
So how to go about guest blogging with a strategy that actually works for you rather than throwing chance to the wind? Obviously, you need to find some places that would welcome a contribution to your knowledge.
1. Target keyword phrases
A Google search for a keyword phrase as simple as “write for us” or “become a contributor” is one way to go about it, but that approach can be a little tedious. A great way to hone in on potential places for guest posts is to check out relevant industry sites and competitor sites. Looking at where their inbound links are coming from can provide a valuable springboard to start with.
2. Use guest blogging platforms
If writing isn’t your forte or you don’t have the time, you can still use guest blogging as a viable means of high-authority link building. There are multiple outlets such as DFY Links that offer a variety of guest blogging campaigns with high-quality backlinks.
3. Build an authority content piece
Pitching a blogger for a backlink is a lot easier when it’s to a long-form resource page. Rather than just pitching a topical article to a blogger, focus on selling your existing authority content. Many bloggers have a “resource” section and are looking to populate it with the “right” content.
4. Provide a testimonial
Testimonial link building is a win-win scenario. On the one hand, this is a perfect way for them to build customer trust. Testimonials have an associated level of credibility that garners customer trust. Additionally, these mentions also include a rare backlink of high value that will pay dividends in your SEO strategy for years to come. Finally, some clients also find that these specific backlinks provide a steady stream of click-through traffic which augments their current SEO and paid ad efforts.
5. Using SERPs to find sites that accept guest posts
The internet is replete with a multitude of link building opportunities. Forums, blogs and millions of websites all host backlinks but one must be judicious in selecting which avenue to explore. After generating your list of potential opportunities, it’s time to start filtering by:
- Domain Authority
- Domain Rating
- Referring Domains
- Spam Score (Moz)
By targeting sites of high domain authority and ones with low spam scores, you can develop a sound SEO strategy. Strong SEO strategies tend to remain relatively unaffected by search engine algorithm changes that may arise in the future.
A few search operations that I typically use
- [target keyword] + “Become a Contributor”
- [target keyword] + “Become a Guest Blogger”
- [target keyword] + “Contribute”
- [target keyword] + “Submit a Guest Post”
- [target keyword] + inurl:guest-posts
- [target keyword] + inurl:write-for-us
When it comes down to it, you should consider every link, both inbound and outbound as a potential place to establish a connection when building an effective guest posting SEO strategy.
The SEO shortcuts of just a few years ago are becoming a thing of the past. Trust and authority are more valued by today’s search engine algorithms. Thankfully, guest posting as an effective strategy for link building is still alive and well in 2019 and the years to come. It’s all about how one goes about it that determines its effectiveness.
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