June 9, 2017
“Is it worth it?”
This is the most important question you can ask when considering a guest blog opportunity.
There are currently more than one billion websites. Even if you only approach sites that are actively looking for contributors, you need to severely limit your outreach.
A high-quality post will take hours to complete. If you’re taking your guest blogging campaign seriously, you will spend even longer promoting your new post. When you’re investing so much time, you need to ensure that every opportunity is worth it.
Manually search for guest blogging opportunities, or leverage existing relationships. This allows you to ensure that guest sites are relevant.
Domain authority, social shares and traffic levels do not take relevance into account.
Relevance is one of the key metrics used by Google when calculating the value of a link. Start your search by looking for websites based on your specific niche and keywords. You can broaden the search to more generic websites, and look for shoulder opportunities – those that are closely related to your niche, but not necessarily the same keywords.
Whether you search Google, use lists of guest blogging opportunities curated from the Internet, or you contact websites and publishers you have dealt with in the past, checking relevance should be your first action.
There is no shortcut to checking relevance. It requires manual searches and checks. Guest blogging returns the best results when you put in the extra effort. Rather than spending extra time writing additional posts, take the time to target relevant and high quality sites.
Checking Domain Authority is another early step in measuring the quality of a guest blog opportunity. It is easy to check, the numerical value means that it is easy to benchmark, and it is a widely-used metric that is favoured by SEOs, website owners and bloggers.
Install the MOZBar and it not only enables you to quickly check the DA and PA of any URL that you visit, it can also populate search engine results with the same information. If you are looking for sites with a minimum DA of 20, you can instantly ignore those sites that fall below this threshold.
If you use scraping software or bookmarklets to create a list of URLs from search results pages, then you won’t be able to use the MOZbar in the same way. However, it is still quicker than manually entering each URL into Open Site Explorer to get the same results.
Setting a minimum DA may mean that you miss out on some excellent opportunities. Up and coming sites, that will eventually have very high authority may fall under your threshold initially. However, ignoring sites with a DA of less than 20, or less than 15 for highly targeted niches, means that you can limit your efforts. Concentrate on the sites that have the greatest authority and that will pass this onto your site.
Sites with a higher DA will be harder to come by and should have more stringent guest blogging guidelines, but it is worth the extra effort to get a relevant and targeted link from an authoritative site.
DA is widely recognized across the industry. It is used by guest bloggers, webmasters and marketers. Whether you have to report to clients, are looking for paid or sponsored posting opportunities, or you are measuring results, this widespread recognition is important.
An Active Community
Guest blogging, especially to high authority sites, shouldn’t be treated solely as an exercise in SEO link building. You can drive direct traffic from your posts too.
It is impossible to accurately predict exactly how many visitors you could potentially gain from a single post. You can measure visitor engagement of the guest post site, however. If the site has an active community of readers that comment on posts and that get involved in discussions on the site, then this usually correlates to traffic conversion.
An active community also enhances the opportunity for you to improve brand awareness and develop your own community. The more you respond, and the more you get involved in discussions on your posts, the more authoritative you will appear to readers.
You can expand your measurement of user engagement to include social metrics too. Check previous posts on a blog to see how often it was shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. See whether content leads to social engagement. If you have your own social accounts, then you could effectively drive likes and connections using your new guest post too.
Social signals are also used by search engines to determine the value of a piece. If your post is shared across a lot of social networks, especially by those who are considered to be influencers, you could see a boost in your organic search position.
You may not have access to the analytics for a guest post site, and you can take some of the figures that websites boast with a grain of salt, but you can estimate the traffic levels that a site receives.
We tend to use ahrefs for this purpose. It calculates an estimated monthly visitor count according to the keywords that a site ranks for, the total monthly search volume these keywords receive, and the position that a site ranks. Using these figures, ahrefs gives a rough guide to monthly traffic.
All other factors being equal, the number of visitors that a site receives will directly influence the number of clicks your link receives. More visitors also means that there is a greater chance of your post being shared on social sites, and an increased chance of you receiving more links and enhancing the power of your guest post.
Another use of ahrefs and average traffic levels is to determine if a site has endured a Google penalty.
If a guest post site has experienced a penalty, this may mean that any link you receive is devalued. It also means that traffic could continue to dip, and the webmaster may choose to concentrate their efforts on other sites.
Look for any sudden drops in traffic levels, using ahrefs traffic stats. See if these coincide with any major Google updates or new penalties.
Matt Jackson is the founder and lead copywriter for Ethical Link Building, providing SEO link building campaigns including press release writing and article marketing services. He provides eCommerce writing services, including the writing or rewriting of production descriptions.