The first place to begin with guest blogging to build links is to get the link building part out of your head and focus on creating link-worthy content. There are two good reasons for that statement:
Due to the overwhelming amount of abuse and link building schemes, Google is actively penalizing those websites and blogs it feels are manipulating the system to gain page rank and offering little or no value to users. Google’s Webmaster Tools help page defines link building abusers as anyone who:
Buys or sells links that pass Page Rank; including exchanges of goods or services
Uses excessive link exchanging practices for the sole purpose of cross-linking
Uses guest posting, blogging, or article marketing to an excessive degree, especially to websites that share no relevance
Using programs or automated services to create links
The criteria for page ranking is increasingly geared toward the creation of content that has value, relevance, and freshness, and that enhances user experience. The Panda algorithm that was released by Google in 2011 uses AI to measure web content on reliability, design, content, speed, and customer experience in order to weed out or diminish the ranking of sites that are considered low in quality. Gaining permanent links from websites that are established and use high-quality content and ethical practices is the surest way to gain credibility and a lasting web presence.
If you use the guest blogging resource correctly and with diligence, quality links will build organically. Here’s how to get started.
Identifying the Right Blogs
The first step to guest posting is to identify blogs that are in your field of interest or expertise, that have a high traffic volume and rank well in the SERPs. Use related keywords that you don’t currently rank for to get a good number of prospects. You can narrow down your search time considerably if you eliminate blogs that don’t accept guest posts. Simply type your keyword in quotes, followed by + “guest post by” or + “guest author”. It doesn’t hurt to check out the blogs of the other guest bloggers for the websites you’re considering. Once you’ve identified a handful of promising blogs, research their stats. There are a few ways to do this.
First, look at their web traffic and social networking statistics. Getting links doesn’t help if you’re linking to the wrong blogs. There are several tools to help you analyze a blog’s stats; you can also use a website’s quality score to determine if it’s worth your time to query. You should avoid websites that use excessive ads, especially in the top half of the page. Not only are these distracting to the viewer, Google frowns upon this practice and will punish it with lower quality scores.
Browse potential blogs to see the types of websites they link to; even on the Internet, you’re often associated with the company you keep. The key to gaining the right kind of exposure, ranking well in the SERPs, and sustaining a high level of traffic is to associate yourself with blogs and websites that offer the same high standards of value and quality.
Before you can approach someone about guest blogging, you should have something to show them. Your previous research should give you a good indication of the blog’s tone and direction. If you’re stuck for topics, you can either brainstorm or do a search for published articles and blog posts on that topic. This will eliminate writing something that’s already been done, or it will inspire you to improve upon what’s already out there and offer a fresh perspective.
Write one or two blogs posts that are unique and timely, yet evergreen, that use current SEO best practices, and that add value to the blog’s current content. Make sure they’re properly formatted for scanability, breaking up the text with subheads and a good mix of text and white space to make them easier to read. Add links back to your blog within the post, using a relevant keyword as anchor text, but don’t use more than one or two links.
The formatting of the guest post should not only consider SEO and content value, it should also be done in such a way that it’s easy for the blog owner to publish. Write the content in Word or a comparable text format that’s easy to assimilate. Don’t embed photos or video in the document, send them as a separate file and indicate their ideal placement in the published work. Also make sure to add any copywrite information or credits for the media you include. Keep in mind that the blog owner will have their own ideas about the formatting and placement of the content on their site, so don’t take minor alterations to heart. Add a one or two sentence byline, briefly stating who your are, the name of your blog or website, and provide a link.
Now that you’ve got your guest blog post ready, it’s time to network.
Making Your Approach
You could add your blog post on your social media platforms, then share it with bloggers you’re interested in connecting with and hope they bite, but the best way to reach out to other bloggers is the direct approach. Most blog owners are happy to get free, high quality content to share with their viewers. Find out who the administrator of the blog is, and send a simple, straightforward message, letting them know who you are, your credentials, and your intentions.
Some authorities suggest sending the blog post itself along with the query, but it’s better to send a message stating that you’ve written a post that you think would fit in well with their blog and its audience, and then offer to send it if they’re interested. Add that you also have several good ideas for future posts, and mention one or two that you think will interest them. Keep track of every blog and website you query, along with information about where they are in the process. For example: track where the blog post was sent, and if it was accepted, pending publication, or published.
Once it’s accepted, send it out, along with a link to your website or blog, and offer to link the post back to your own site upon publication.
Now it’s time to look at your results. Share your guest post with all of your social media platforms, link to the blog on your own website, and establish and list authorship, along with the URL of the blogs you contribute to, on your Google+ account for every guest post you publish. Then add your Google+ URL, along with rel=author tag to your byline or author bio on your guest post. Use an analytics program to track which of your efforts paid off, and keep writing and publishing great content.
Guest blogging is a great way to supplement your overall web marketing strategy. However, link building through guest blogging won’t reap immediate rewards. It’s labor-intensive in the beginning, but when it pays off, the benefits are more prestige, more referrals, a greater web presence, and a higher level of sustainable traffic to your website. The more high-quality sites you can link to, the higher your standing and the more people you reach.