I'm often asked about the best ways to go about link building. And my first response (because it's a technique that absolutely anyone can use) is usually guest blogging.
Not only because it helps build links, but when done on the right blogs, it can also bring traffic, exposure and send the various other signals search engines use in today's ranking algorithms.
Now you'll often hear people advising on the best way to *get* guest blogging opportunities, but rarely do they discuss what you should be blogging *about* when you do.
So how do you (successfully) utilize guest blogging as a promotional (and link building) vehicle?
You're blogging, not advertising
The biggest mistake I see when folks attempt to guest blog is that they think it's all about them. They'll write what could double as a press release for their company or website and then wonder why they can't find any blogs that want to publish it. If you're looking to get good guest blogging spots, you need to remember that guest blogging is about helping the audience you're writing for *first* and getting a link to and mention of your service or website *second*.
Sometimes, especially depending on the visibility of the blog, you may only be able to have a link(s) in your bio line. But many blogs will allow linking within the content as well – providing it makes sense and the primary goal is serving their audience and not your self promotional needs.
For instance, when I did a guest post on Rosalind Gardener's blog about SEO myths, I didn't spend the entire time telling her readers how awesome my blog was or mentioning my SEO audit services. I wrote an article that offered folks information on what I felt were common myths, linking to plenty of outside resources on the topic, including a few various pages on my own site. The same goes for the beginner basics of affiliate marketing post I wrote for 5 Star Affiliate Programs. My intent was to educate users first and link to my own site within the article when relevant to the topic at hand second.
So what types of articles should you be writing to get people to actually want to publish your content? I'll pretend for a moment that I am a the owner of a website that sells instructional yoga videos (full disclosure that I've never done yoga, don't want to and know no one who owns a site like this). How can I use guest blogging to promote my site?
Vertical guest blogging
The obvious choice is to write guest posts for health, fitness and weight loss blogs. You can write articles that discuss the benefits of yoga that only mention instructional videos as an *option* to learn yoga – as well as discussing how to find good yoga studios, what to look for in a one on one trainer and so forth. You can also write articles that mention various popular fitness techniques like spin classes, pool aerobics and include yoga – with a mention of your instructional videos – as a way to learn yoga as one of the suggested techniques.
Horizontal guest blogging
Recently I was contacted by someone about the topic of guest blogging. The person claimed he saw a “ceiling” when it came to guest blogging. “There are only so many [his topic here] blogs I can write on.” And that's where what I refer to as “horizontal guest blogging” comes in. Horizontal guest blogging is finding topics that aren't about your topic directly, but are topics that you can indirectly relate your product or website to. Using our instructional yoga video site as an example, you could guest blog for:
- New mom blogs: Articles about ways to lose the baby weight, including yoga (with a mention of your videos) as an option.
- Celebrity blogs: Articles that feature a list of stars that swear by yoga, and a listing of ways interested people can get in on the craze, including the use of instructional videos.
- Budgeting blogs: Articles that offer tips for saving money on your fitness routine, including ditching the expensive gym membership and opting for walks, inexpensive home exercise equipment and using instructional videos to replace the various classes taught by gym instructors.
- Green blogs: Articles that mention how to create green fitness routines, mentioning using instructional videos to prevent all that driving to and from the gym as one option, along with buying organic active wear, etc, for making your fitness regimen more environmentally friendly.
- Senior living blogs: Articles that discuss how seniors can get in on the yoga craze, with tips on the best – and safest – positions seniors can use to get started, mentioning your instructional videos as a way active seniors can learn the moves safely from the privacy of their own home.
If you put your thinking cap on, the opportunities for horizontal guest blogging are wide and numerous and can help you reach various audiences, acquire linking opportunities and potential sales that you wouldn't reach through vertical guest blogging alone.
There are tons of ways to go about finding and securing guest blogging spots and standard “musts” you need before pitching, like making sure you have samples to show potentials, as well as a title/concept you can pitch them when approaching them.
However, be sure that linking within the content of the blog is allowed and that you have the right to approve any edits before the post goes live. This way you can be sure that if the receiving blog decides to strip the post of links, you can decide to not allow them to publish the post – and find another blog that is willing to post it as is.
To up the chances that your post doesn't appear too promotional in nature, be sure to link out to other non competing resources in your post. In that guest post on going green with your fitness routine, be sure to link to your instructional video site along with places that offer organic workout wear and eco-friendly exercise equipment as well.