Your content marketing strategy needs more than great writing to take off. Even if you’re blogging regularly, building thorough keyword lists, and promoting posts via social media, you may not be boosting your web traffic levels or rankings in search. That may be because you’re missing inbound links.
Links to your website are incredibly powerful — just as powerful as your keywords and content coverage. Under the hood, they’re a cue to search engines that you’re a reputable and authoritative source of information. Inbound links tell Google that real people are valuing your information and sharing what you have to say. Think about it — you link to websites when you trust and value the content they’re promoting. That message ultimately reaches potential customers, trickles back to search engines, and influences SEO.
So what’s the best way to start generating inbound links? Do more of what you're already doing — blogging. But, start contributing content to other sites through guest blogging opportunities. With a consistent guest posting strategy, you’ll quickly see a ripple effect in your traffic and rankings in search.
Here’s what you should do to get started.
Guest posting is time-intensive. It takes time to pitch partner blogs, develop content, and maneuver through the editorial process. Much of it will be a waiting game. It may even take several months before you start to see your content accepted and published. Don't let that discourage you. As long as you are offering real valuable content and partnering with the right blog owners, you will get published.
From the get-go, you need to go after the ‘big win’ blogs with established subscribers, followers, and traffic streams, as well as up-and-comers. Otherwise, your strategy will fall flat. When it comes to building an audience, numbers are your lifeblood — it’s better to write for one blog with an audience of 500,000 active readers than 10 blogs with only a few hundred. Sometimes however, you may need to build up to this point. Guest blogging is a long-term growth strategy, rarely is there an instant-win.
When evaluating guest posting opportunities, look for important audience cues. Look for a large subscriber count, a significant Alexa and Pagerank. And look through posts to better understand the site’s community. Are readers actively commenting? Do they seem engaged, or does the blog look like a total ghost town? Is there social media sharing and engagement?
There are countless quality blogs online, but only a handful of them matter to you. When researching opportunities, look for platforms that already attract the audiences you’re trying to reach. What blogs do you personally read?
If you’re looking to connect with small business owners, for instance, target blogs that specialize in small business interests. If you’re trying to reach a more local audience, Houston based consumers for example, try to find blogs with a local readership (Houston marketers, food lovers, etc.).
The best guest posting opportunities are rarely advertised — so stop treating the process like a job hunt. Instead, look for strategic partnership opportunities with fellow brands. Look for top industry blogs that are seeking regular contributors. Who’s in charge of the blog? What value can you offer this person or organization?
Guest blogging is a form of networking, so be sure to come to the table with a strong value proposition. ‘Free content’ isn’t strong enough. Beyond contributing articles, you should aim to boost the core user experience of your target partner’s community.
The value you’re getting back is invaluable — backlinks, free traffic, industry authority and exposure to potential customers.
Believe it or not, there are still plenty of shady SEO agencies looking to exchange links for the sake of passing pagerank — and that shouldn’t be your strategy. Your focus should be on reaching new audiences by providing value. Connect with prospects who are interested in your brand. Person to person. Human to human. The SEO effects will follow as a natural byproduct of the solid relationships you’ll build.