Guest Posting Guidelines

When writing guest posts, there are many factors that attribute to whether it succeeds or fails. Below we have outlined some of the “must haves” in today’s SEO world. Following these guidelines will help each guest post written and published become more beneficial to the SEO being implemented and the likelihood of the post being shared.

Link to Authority Sites

Link out to relevant pages on authority sites once per post in addition to our own link. Linking to authority websites within the client’s industry gives the article more legitimacy. For example, if I were writing a post for a search engine optimization company, I could cite and link to Search Engine Journal.  They are a highly respected source in the SEO/PPC world, have authority with Google and are relevant to my company’s industry. I would of course also link to the client’s site. So in this example there would be a minimum of two links: one to the client’s website and one to the authority site.

Implement Citations

Use citations to make your links look more natural: citations are simply the text that surrounds your link. If search engines such as Google see a particular keyword appear next to your link time after time, it tells them that your site must be about that keyword. For example: I am going to link to Firestarter SEO.

Instead of doing something like this: “For more information on Denver SEO, go to Firestarter’s website.”

Instead I’d do something like this: “For more information on Denver SEO, head on over to firestarterseo.com.”

Since the words “Denver SEO” appear next to the link, it shows search engines that your link must be related to Denver SEO. Overall, make sure you take advantage of citations when inserting links. Use generic, branded, or the URL as anchor text instead of the target keyword and instead complement the generic link with keyword-rich surrounding citations.

Include multiple subheadings

Breaking up content with subheadings is both visually appealing and easier to read. When a visitor lands on a page, they scan it quickly to find out whether it’s relevant to them and if it’s what they are looking for. The first thing they will read is the subheadings. Subheadings also have more weight in the eyes of search engines since they usually end up being h2, h2, or h3 tags instead of regular body copy. With that being said, be sure the main points are included in these subheadings.

Bullet Points & Lists

Like subheadings, bullet points and lists:

  • Make the content easy to skim
  • Are more visually appealing than long blocks of text
  • Are great for “to-dos” or “how-tos”

Engage the Readers

Encourage people to leave comments on your posts. Engaging the reader and encouraging them to do something such as comment, makes the post feel more personal.

Add multimedia

BORING Rubber StampAdding multimedia like images and videos break up the content and make it less intimating and BORING! It also gives the visitor a break from reading and allows them to either listen or look instead.

Post Long & Unique Content

Post long (600+ word) content 100% of the time, no excuses. In fact, the longer the better! However, 600 words is the minimum. Content also needs to be 100% unique, not spun or plagiarized. If you are quoting someone, then of course there is going to be “duplicate content” found. However, if that’s the case, just be sure to cite the person or source in the article. An awesome and free plagiarism tool to check your articles can be found here.

Implementing these seven simple but powerful tips and tricks will transform your guest posts. Oh and one more thing…ENJOY WRITING THEM AND HAVE FUN!!! Articles don’t need to be boring. I mean who wants to read a boring lame article, right?!

We are always open to ideas and feedback, so if you have any regarding guest posting, please feel free to drop us a line!

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What to Look for When Seeking Guest Post Opportunities

Guest posts are an excellent way to spread your knowledge and gain brand recognition and awareness. For the majority of our clients at Firestarter SEO, we produce and publish at least two high quality guest posts a month. However, not all guest posting opportunities are created equal and it takes time, resources and research to find great guest posting gigs. Today, I am here to share with you the process I follow each time I’m on the hunt for a new guest posting opportunity.

Niche

First and foremost, I research blogs and websites that are in the same niche as my client. For example, we work with several companies in the home improvement/construction industry, so I spend a lot of time contacting individuals and companies who own interior design websites, home improvement blogs and DIY blogs. This is not necessarily easy or enjoyable, but it must be done. And don’t be discouraged if a website you contact never contacts you back. It happens more often than not, but you’ll never know until you try! I don’t waste my time contacting non-relevant websites, because just like we talked about back in January in this blog post, co-citation may be the future of SEO. Google is becoming smarter each day and they are beginning to notice whether your article and the site it is published on is relevant to one another. If they are, Google will award you. If not, Google might deem the entire article as garbage, diminish the link juice, and perhaps even punish you. How do you feel about them apples? That’s what I thought, not good. So overall, stick to the client’s niche.

Budget

As my Dad always says, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can help.” Having a large monthly link-building budget is of course helpful in SEO since like any other business, there are costs incurred. When it comes to guest posts, money is allocated to mainly copywriting, managing the project and compensating the blog owner if necessary. However, a large link-building budget is not feasible for all companies, especially for smaller local companies like the ones we often help here in Denver. In this case, the next step I take is weeding through all of my media kits and emails and crossing off the ones that are out of my client’s budget. For example, I once contacted Apartment Therapy, a well known interior decorating website with a PR 7 and over 100,000 unique viewers per day. Talk about awesome, right?! Well, if you have a $10,000 link-building budget then YEAH! Let’s just say that media kit doesn’t get opened too often around here. So obviously budget is a large driving factor and an important element to consider.

Page Statistics

After I have a list of niche blogs within my client’s budget, I take all of them and run them through three SEO tools to acquire specific statistics. First, I record the page rank. I use three separate page rank tools, all stored on my browser toolbar for easy access, to make sure they all agree. If you simply do an internet search for “page rank plugin” you will find plenty of options to install for your particular browser. Second, I run them through MOZ’ Open Site Explorer. This tool is available to the public for free and gives you the URL’s domain authority, page authority, linking root domains, and total links. For each of these metrics, the higher the better.
Finally, I acquire the Alexa traffic rank and any regional data available, from Alexa.com. In this case, the lower the better for the traffic rank score.
As I gather this data, I keep track of it in a spreadsheet. That way I don’t have to repeat the process each time I’m considering that site, saving myself time and sanity. In general it’s wise to have a diverse link portfolio, so every link you acquire doesn’t have to be a PR 5+ with an 80+ page authority and domain authority. Sometimes it’s okay to post on a PR 0 or PR 1, site. However, if this is the case, make sure the site has other things going for it like traffic and esthetics.

Traffic

Posting content to any old website for a backlink in return, is not enough these days. The site you guest post on should be one that people actually read on a daily basis, comment on and share with their friends. Take a quick tour of the site to see what it’s social status appears to be. Use these questions as a guide:

  • If they use Google Friend Connect, how people are following them?
  • What’s the average amount of comments per post?
  • How many times have their posts been tweeted, liked, 1+, and pinned?
  • Do they have sponsors? Are any of them well known?
  • Check out their Facebook and Twitter accounts. How many followers and/or likes do they have?

If you have an account with MOZ, you can also check the total number of Facebook shares, Tweet, and Google 1+’s using their Open Site Explorer tool again. However, this if not offered for free to the general public, you must have an account with them. If the website or blog has legitimate traffic and followers, mark it as a keeper! If the social interaction is slim to none, put it on the back burner.

Esthetics

This portion is somewhat personal because everyone has different tastes and preferences. However, from a general point of view ask yourself, “Does this look like a professional built website?” I usually find that sites with several pages, a decent amount of well written content, images, and no links jammed into the footer or sidebar are decent. Beyond that, I look at the overall look and feel of it. Does it look clean, well-kept (no broken images), and updated on a regular basis? For example, this site once contacted me offering guest posting opportunities at a low price. The minute I saw the URL, it was questionable. The minute I opened the URL, it was out. Why?

  • It has no pages/navigation
  • The images are broken
  • The left sidebar is stuffed with links
  • The URL is: www.poruntrabajodigno.com. Need I say more?
  • The overall look and feel is outdated and ugly

Bad, right? Yeah, I know. Steer clear of sites like these. They are not worth your time, content, links or money.

Once you’ve completed those five steps, you’ve most likely narrowed your list down to the best of the best guest posting opportunities available. Remember to keep track of all your data in a spreadsheet to help you next month when you are again on the hunt. Does anyone else have suggestions or tactics they use when seeking guest posting opportunities? If so, let us know! We’d love to add them to our list.

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Quality Content: To Guest Post or Not to Guest Post?

Recently we asked one of our clients to write an article that could be used for a quality guest posting opportunity we were given. We wanted the article to come from the expert himself, so we asked him to write a 500-1,000 word piece. When he returned the content, it was a 6,000+ word article that was absolutely fantastic! I was blown away by what he had put together.

As I read the post, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Do we really want to put this great content on someone else’s site and not his own?’ And that’s where today’s blog post stems from. When you have high quality content, do you post it on your own site, or do you find a relevant website with a good page rank (PR) and high readership and post it there?

Using it as a Guest Post:

Guest posts are a great way to get high quality backlinks to your website. These types of links look organic to Google and other search engines and are highly valued. From my guest posting experience, bloggers usually allow 1-2 links to be embedded into the content with one being in the body of the content and one being placed in the “about the author” section. Having 2 high quality links pointing to your website is great. However, there is even more value to guest posting than just two backlinks.

Guest posting is also a great opportunity to truly share your expertise knowledge with others on relevant websites with strong readership.  If you write a great guest post, you will find that the blog’s readers will genuinely enjoy the content and want to share it with their friends. They will like, tweet, pin, link to the content on their own blog and more, spreading your work like a wildfire. However, as they spread the love, remember that all these new social signals and links are being built to the guest post, not your own website. And while most people would say, “That sucks, I want all those links”, there is some benefit in having those links go to the guest blog. It’s called link layering. Link layering is essentially building backlinks to your own backlinks. The benefit of this is that as link juice is passed to the guest blog post from external websites linking to it, this link juice continues on to your website via the backlinks embedded in the content. Therefore, all of these external links are not going to waste. They are in fact helping you by giving your site credibility and power in the eyes of search engines, just with an extra layer in between.

Finally, as the content continues to get shared, it will most likely begin to show up in the top ten SERPs for related keywords. When people click on the content to read it, they will likely click through to your site as well. This means a whole lot more traffic for you!

So while some people might say, don’t ever post high quality content anywhere else besides your own site, there are some perks to doing so. However, remember the key to making it worth it: high readership on the guest blog. Without readership, no one will share it, which means goodbye guest posting perks, hello wasted quality content.

Using it on Your Own Website or Blog:

Using high quality content on your own website or blog also has several benefits. First, Google and other search engines always smile upon fresh content. Regularly updated sites are seen as more legitimate, especially if the content is high quality. And while no guaranteed external backlinks will be built to your website, you do have the opportunity to build internal links. Also, with 6,000+ words, you can add a whole lot more than two links within the content. And you can place them wherever your heart desires! A good guide for internal linking is one link for every 300-500 words. Any more than that and it begins to look spammy to search engines and it’s unpleasant to visitors. When crawled by the search engines, these internal links will help define what your site and pages are about, and potentially boost your rankings.

Besides internal linking, you also have complete control over the content, which allows you to properly optimize it. Now is a great time to do some opportunity discovery and find keywords within the content that have traffic behind them and perform on-site SEO for them. You can handpick the title, meta description, headers, bolded/italicized words, and alt text. This optimized page gives you an opportunity to be found online, which is priceless.

Finally, while you may not have the readership behind your website or blog like the guest post would, there is still potential to get your content found and shared. This can be done with a variety of techniques.

  • Organic searches: Since you’ve optimized your content, you can be found organically. If visitors find your content useful, they will most likely share it with others via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, their own blog, etc. Be sure to include social buttons on the page! This makes it a breeze for people to share, and greatly increases the chances of them doing so.
  • Link Building: Put together a link building campaign for this page. Building links to it will help boost your organic rankings, and if placed on relevant sites, will increase referral traffic from click throughs.
  • Social Media: Share the content on all your social media sites, bookmark it, and spread the word. Ask family members, friends, colleagues, and anyone else you can think of to share it for you, too! That’s what friends are for right?

If shared by the right people, at the right time, or on the right site, it can become viral. Of course there is no guarantee that this will happen, but it’s definitely a possibility! And like a guest post with high readership, this will create hundreds of backlinks for you. However, this time, all the backlinks will be pointing to YOUR site directly. Score.

So which one is better? The answer is: it depends. Both options have pro and cons and is a question that must be answered on an individual basis. For our client, we chose the latter option and posted the content on his own website. As a newer site, adding fresh content is key. And with a link building campaign focused around it, we feel confident we can get the content spread!

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