The regular changes that Google’s been making to its search algorithms recently to clamp down on poor quality links or content has started to change the focus of many website’s link building strategies. Outsourcing link building to agencies that use bulk link techniques on dubious sites has never worked that well, but now more than ever, an effective link building program should be focused on ‘relationship building’ rather than simple link building.
One of the popular ways to go about relationship building is by being a guest blogger on a reputable blog. This has always been an incredibly effective means of generating high quality links from popular and relevant web pages, but more recently the over-use and poor implementation of this technique has resulted in many bloggers cringing at inboxes full of poorly written, self-serving pitch requests, and ultimately ignoring the vast majority of would be ‘guest posts’. In the same way that numerous linking request emails started to flood into mailboxes several years ago, the same is now true for guest blog requests, so that a number of blogs are now closing their doors to guest post submissions.
Furthermore, according to Matt Cutts – the head of Google’s webspam team – “Google is willing to take action if they see spammy, or low quality guest blogging…which is basically putting low quality articles with embedded links on that site”. He goes on to say that “article-spinning, or low quality syndication are the areas in which Google are going to take an interest”. You can hear more about his comments in a video here.
Guest blogging still works however, and works well, but it has to be done effectively as genuine relationship building, rather than blatant link building. The links will come by building real relationships with the people running the sites so that a level of trust and respect is developed and the guest blog posts add to the quality and tone of the original blog.
Here are some useful tips on the best practice for guest blogging:
- #1 Research potential link sources well: Research sources through social media channels, especially Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Seek out high quality blogs and get to know the blog first, before making contact.
- #2 Don’t be too direct: The first time you contact a blogger, don’t pitch to them – instead, get to know them. If you are targeting a larger blog with multiple writers, then you might want to go by the way of an introduction. Most bloggers are happy to help out people they like with a link, but the only way to get that is to focus on the relationship before the link.
- #3 Approach through social media: Better yet, skip email altogether for the first contact. Instead, make contact through social channels, where you are much more likely to get a response. Twitter is one of the best social networks for finding and connecting with bloggers and should be the first point of contact. Start by following, then tweet directly to them, but don’t ask for a link on the first tweet.
- #4 Personalise the pitch: What if you don’t know enough about the blogger to make it personal? Then it’s probably too soon to be pitching for a link! Nothing will get your guest post denied quicker than sending a generic pitch.
- #5 Offer value: The best way to get what you want is to give something back. The primary value you should be offering is excellent content to the blog, so create valuable, unique content to submit to the blogger. Also, offer to promote and share their content on your social networks, bring technical issues to their attention, such as dead links or broken forms, and leave good quality comments and participate in discussions.
- #6 Maintain the relationship: Often when guest bloggers manage to get a link placement, they don’t continue the relationship with the blog’s owner. So follow up with the blog owner / editor to see if they have any feedback, positive or otherwise. If your content is good, the blogger will be eager to publish more of your submissions in the future. This is particularly useful for agencies that can leverage these relationships with multiple clients.
As outlined above, the process of guest blogging can be time consuming but should reflect the natural process of relationship building rather than a quick link request. If you would like more information about how guest blogging can improve your relationship building (and links), please contact us now for more details.