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Using Guest Posts to Build Links for SEO

Guest blogging is an effective way to build inbound links and improve your website's SEO performance.

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Link building is one of the most difficult aspects of search engine optimization (SEO). Yet to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to acquire quality links from trusted websites since inbound links are a significant ranking factor.

Link building can be even more difficult if your business is on the mundane side, since companies that sell interesting services or products have an easier time getting talked about and mentioned by bloggers and online journalists.  For example, a company that sells guided road bike trips through Europe's most storied and romantic regions is potentially more interesting to write about than, say, a local car insurance provider.

However, if you're that auto insurance company, or a company in a similarly humdrum niche, you still need links to compete in the SERPs. Fear not, there's one strategy you can use to build links regardless of your industry: guest blogging.

How Does Guest Posting Build Links?

Guest posting on blogs is, in effect, trading content for links. You give publishers free content--in the form of articles or blog posts you've written--and in return they allow you to add a link back to your company website in the "About the Author" bio section of the guest post.

Besides building links, guest posting has other benefits as well, which include:

  • Generating more brand awareness by exposing your company to new audiences
  • Positioning you or someone in your organization as a thought leader on a particular subject
  • Creating new traffic channels via referred visits

However, for the purposes of this article, we'll focus on guest posting to build links.

How to Find Guest Blog Posting Opportunities

Now, there are some really excellent guest post services out there that will handle the process from end to end, from writing the guest article to getting it published on an authoritative and relevant website. However, if you've got the time, guest blogging is definitely something you can do yourself. So let's look at some really effective tips to locate guest blogging opportunities.

Advanced Query Operators

One of my favorite ways to locate websites that accept guest articles is to use advanced search query operators. An advanced query operator let's you really refine and qualify your searches in Google. For example, say I'm looking for a guest posting opportunity for a company that specializes in Web application security, I would probably use the following advanced search query operator:

"Web applications" intext:"write for us" OR intext:"write for me"

That query operator produces these results in Google and more than two million results for sites that meet my criteria. I can further refine that query and get even more specific by using the "intitle" query operator, such as:

intitle:"Web applications" intext:"write for us" OR intext:"write for me"

This further refines the results to only websites with "Web applications" in the "title tag" and produces almost 6,000 Google results.

Now, those are just a few examples of advanced query operators you can use and just replace the term "Web applications" with your companies target keyword(s), industry, service, product or niche.

Some other helpful advanced query operators you can use include:

[your keywords] "become a contributor"
[your keywords] "contribute to this site"
[your keywords] "submit a guest post"
[your keywords] "submit a blog post"
[your keywords] "submit an article"
[your keywords] "send a guest post"
[your keywords] "write for us"
[your keywords] "become an author"
[your keywords] "guest bloggers wanted"
[your keywords] "contribute to our site"
[your keywords] "become a contributor"
[your keywords] "submit a guest post"
[your keywords] inurl:contributors
[your keywords] inurl:guest-post
[your keywords] inurl:guest*post
[your keywords] inurl:guest-posts
[your keywords] inurl:guest*posts
[your keywords] inurl:guest-blogger

NOTE: Hat tip goes out to link luminary Garrett French for many of these examples.

Guest Blogger Community

In addition to advanced query operators there's a guest blogging community run by Ann Smarty called My Blog Guest that I would highly recommend. My Blog Guest is a forum that connects guest bloggers with website owners and publishers who are looking for guest post content. It's fantastic because the forum is organized into specific niches, which allows you to drill down into any topic, from healthcare to Forex trading, to find guest blogging opportunities in any industry.

How to Qualify Guest Post Opportunities

Not all guest blogging opportunities are created equal. Once you've found websites that accept guest posts, the next step is to qualify those sites, so that you're getting the best return on your contributed content investment. When appraising a guest posting prospect, I look at a range of factors that include:

Do they allow you to link back to your website? This is the million dollar question. Most websites that accept guest posts have a policy page that spells out whether or not they allow links and how many links you can include in a guest post. If they don't permit outbound links, then cross them off your list.

Can you to use keyword anchor text links? Some publishers only allow a hyperlinked URL, like http://www.yourwebsite.com/. Many times this is explained on the guest posting policy page. If not, take a peek at the bios of other guest bloggers to see what you can and can't do with links. For SEO purposes, you really want to build keyword-rich anchor text links vs a hyperlinked URL.

Do they "nofollow" links? Careful here. More and more publishers are slapping a rel="nofollow" tag on author bio links, which tells Google to ignore the link and extinguishes the SEO value of that link to your website. You can use a free plugin like SEO for Firefox to determine whether or not links are tagged nofollow.

Are older posts still in Google's index? Articles on many websites disappear from Google's search index as they age and fall further into the website's archive. When this happens, links on those pages no longer pass SEO value. To uncover any indexation issues, find a few guest posts that are six months to a year old, grab the URL, plug it into the Google search box and run a query? Do the URLs show up in a Google search? If not, cross the site off your list.

Getting Your Guest Post Published


The final step in the guest blogging process is to get your article published. After you've found sites that accept guest articles and you've qualified them, you can contact the website owner and submit your guest article for review. Once your guest article is accepted, it may take time to run since the majority of websites have busy editorial calendars. When your guest article does go live, I recommend emailing the editor and nice note to say thanks. That way, you're building a relationship with the editor, so you can improve your chances for publishing more guest articles on that site in the future.

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