Link Building: Quality vs. Quantity - (UPDATED)

High Quality DirectoriesThere are countless SEO companies out there are vying for your business. Many of them offer a variety of monthly packages designed to make you feel as though you’re getting something of value. If I told you I could get you 200 links to your website for just $199 per month, you’re probably thinking that’s a great deal. It is, for the SEO company…at least until they go under for such shady business practices.

Years ago, Google learned how easy it was for people to game the system, getting links in sheer volume to rise above the rest in the results. That’s why investing in any bulk link package seemed like a good idea, and that’s why many less reputable SEO companies could get away with it.

For at least the past five years, Google and other search engines have shifted the focus away from volume to quality. They’d rather your website have 5 links from quality, reputable websites than hundreds of links from random, poor quality websites.

If you see an SEO company advertising X amount of links for $X, guaranteed, you can safely bet they’re using at least some gray hat techniques. There are some directory and bookmark links that can bring a lot of value to your website. However, for $200/month, you are probably not getting these as part of your package. Some of the top directories, such as the Yahoo! and Best of the Web cost between $69.95 to $299 per year. And since that eats up a large portion of your monthly budget, you’re not getting listed in those directories.

What are You Getting?

If you opt to participate in a scenario like this, you’re paying for one of two things. Either you’re paying for an “SEO company” to use submission software to automatically submit your site to hundreds of directories with little to no manual work required. Or, you’re paying for the company to outsource the work to other countries where they can pay pennies on the dollar to get the work done manually.

Why Is This Kind of Link Building Bad for Your Site?

Your site is most likely being submitted to directories that have little to no relevance to your site or have very low quality. This happens because no one is assigned to facilitate the submissions when software is doing it, and if people are doing it, quality is the last thing they are worried about, they just need to meet their quota. In fact, several of these directories could be some part of the 500+ penalized by Google or even worse, part of the 90+ banned by Google (see the full list here). I can tell you right now, link juice from a penalized site is never a good thing.

What Do You Do?

Instead of wasting your money on low quality mass submission links, think about increasing your digital marketing budget and investing in high-quality work. Your return on investment will be much more rewarding, and you will receive high-quality links that will not get you penalized or banned by search engines. For example, with a larger budget, you can receive high-quality links built through legitimate processes such as:

  • Writing quality content on your website that people find interesting and useful and link to on their own sites as references
  • Guest posting on blogs and websites related to your products or services
  • Manually submitting to high-quality directory links from relevant websites
  • Infographics – these are hot with audiences because they are easy to share. There are also a number of directories you can include your infographics in to make it easier for people to find and share them on their own websites.
  • Commenting on articles and posts you enjoy and have insights on
  • Manually submitting to high quality social bookmarking sitesSEO Link Building Tatics

Search Engine Journal offers an updated list of quality web directories to help you get started. Local businesses can also benefit from using other directories, such as Google My Business, Yahoo Local, and Yelp to help build a solid backlink profile.

What if I see Bad Links in My Backlink Profile?

An important part of SEO today is making sure your link profile looks good. Though not common, it’s possible for others to launch negative SEO attacks against you, by building a bunch of spammy backlinks to your website. This can also happen as a result of a hack.

If you see bad backlinks in your profile, don’t panic. You can, and should, take action as soon as possible – especially if you’ve seen a decline in your traffic and think you’ve been penalized.

Start by asking the webmasters at these web addresses to remove the link to your website, if you can find a method of contacting them. Do so politely, and make sure they know you don’t think it’s their fault. Do what you can to show them where the link is on their site, and don’t spam them with an insane number of emails.

Some of them may surprise you and honor your request. But, if there are some whom you never hear from, and there likely will be, don’t give up hope. You can use the Google Disavow Tool (inside the Google Search Console) to tell Google there are links to your website you want them to ignore when they crawl and index your website.

How Can I Find Quality Link Building Opportunities?

This is one of the main things that we help with as part of our SEO strategy for your business. Our experts take a look at your existing link profile, and the link profiles of your main competitors. One of the ways you can outrank them in the search engines is to have more quality links than they do. So yes, quantity matters, but not nearly as much as quality. Our analysis will determine where your competition’s links are coming from so that we can go out and try to earn links from those same places – plus other ones like it – that your competition hasn’t found yet. And we won’t just reach out and ask for a link. We make sure you’ve got a killer piece of content to link to that their audience will enjoy, so they get something of value in return. We handle this for you, so you can focus on other areas of your business – like nurturing your leads and converting them into paying customers.

Save yourself time, money and a huge headache by thinking twice before buying cheap SEO services. Don’t be fooled by all those SEO companies claiming to rank you #1 on Google with directory and social bookmarking links for only $199 per month. It truly can’t be done. We’d love to hear what you have to say about this idea of quality vs. quantity in link building. Leave a comment below or contact us privately.


Questions to Ask When Hiring a Denver SEO Expert

Colorado-SEO-servicesWe take our jobs very seriously here at FirestarterSEO. It’s our goal to provide you serve you as a leading Denver SEO expert. And because of that, we want to equip you with the knowledge to choose the right professional to consult on your SEO needs.

Even if that’s not us.

When you’re evaluate SEO services, you’ll want to ask several questions. There are plenty of frauds out there trying to pass off as an expert.

This list of questions will help you make the right decision and weed out any unqualified consultants. Ready to find a solid Denver SEO expert? Keep these questions close by.

Can I See a List of Current and Past Clients?

A reputable Denver SEO expert should always be open to sharing a brief list of clients and their contact information. If they don’t, run the other way.

These clients will serve as references to check out how effective the prospective consultant is at their job. It will also help you see whether they have held true to their promises and goals in the past. There’s nothing worse than getting into a contract with an ineffective fraud.

How Will You Improve My Search Engine Rankings?

You want someone that has a proven pathway to success. You may not understand all the tactical information they give, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking.

It’s easy to tell by their level of confidence and clarity whether they’ve been able to achieve results with this method in the past. You can also compare their general plan with the pitches of other Denver SEO experts to measure their qualifies.

Do You Care About Content?

Strong content is the foundation of a powerful SEO campaign. Make sure that your expert knows how to generate content that brings results.

Don’t be afraid to ask for writing samples that showcase their abilities, or writing samples of their content development partners.

Are You Experienced at Improving Local Search Results?

Local search is very important if you operate a local small business. You’ll want to have a consultant that is familiar with these tactics and can implement them for your business.

Ask what types of other Denver businesses they have created local SEO campaigns for, and inquire about how successful the campaigns were.

How Do You Measure the Success of SEO Campaigns?

You need to know how things change and fluctuate from month to month.

Always ask the prospective expert whether or not they offer monthly reporting and consultations. A reputable vendor won’t hesitate to share their victories and losses with you every month.

Are you looking for a Denver SEO expert to help you rank on Google? We’d love to help you out. Go ahead and contact us today. We’ll be happy to answer these questions for you, as well as any others you may have.


The Ultimate List of Reasons Why You Need Denver SEO Services

free-seo-tool-resized-600You’ve heard of SEO. Maybe you’re even convinced that it will work for your business. But despite your knowledge, you’re probably as to why it’s so powerful.

That’s why we’re here today.

I want to show you the reasons you need to buy.

An investment in strong Denver SEO services can change your business and your life. As you rise through the ranks on search engines, you’ll see many benefits start to accumulate.

  • Increased search traffic
  • Higher conversions
  • More revenue for your business

And if you need any more reasons that that, then keep reading!

SEO is an Investment, Not a Cost

As a business owner, you must constantly make investment decisions. And if you’re like me, you want to find something that will pay off in the long run.

That’s exactly what SEO does.

In fact, it not only pays off, but solid SEO is an investment with a high return. Don’t consider it just another fee you have to pay. Look at it for what it truly is: an investment you can’t pass up.

SEO Builds and Strengthens Your Brand

When you rank well in search engines, it increases your brand strength. People begin to recognize your business and click through to your website.

It’s a unique opportunity to connect with new people.

We live in an age where people want to connect with the businesses they purchase from. That’s why it’s more important than ever to support your marketing efforts with strong branding. And SEO can help make that happen.

SEO Understands User Intent

Every time a user searches for something on Google, they have an intent. It generally falls into one of four categories:

  • Navigational
  • Informational
  • Transactional
  • Commercial

It’s important to invest in SEO because it provides insight into this intent. That means that you can develop landing pages, blog posts and web pages that convert. Trust me, both the search engine and the user will thank you for it.

SEO Pricing is Variable and Affordable

Not all SEO services are created equal. It depends on your current needs and budget. But the great thing is that you can find a service level that works for you, regardless.

Our monthly SEO services come in three packages. You’ll be able to find exactly the right type of service that fits your needs.

Are you willing to invest in Denver SEO services that will take your business to the next level? If so, contact us today! We’d love to discuss your options and set you up with exactly the right services you need.


23 Reasons to Invest in Monthly SEO Packages

Here at FirestarterSEO, we believe in providing high-quality monthly SEO packages for our clients. These contracts serve as an integral part of your SEO strategy. Without it, you’ll fail to achieve the types of rankings your business needs.

If you want to move forward and dominate search rankings, then you need this kind of service. The search engines don’t stop evolving their algorithm, so businesses can’t afford to halt their SEO strategy.

Consider the following reasons to invest in monthly SEO packages:

  • A qualified professional can always answer your questions.
  • Monthly maintenance keeps you up-to-date with Google updates.
  • Benefits of professional SEO software without the hefty monthly fee.
  • Constantly discover new keyword opportunities for ranking.
  • Take advantage of a monthly strategy meeting to discuss creative SEO strategies.
  • Raise your rankings with frequent web page updating.
  • Access to professional writers to create new fresh blog posts for your business.
  • Increase traffic through targeted, keyword-optimized landing pages.
  • Get every piece of content optimized for better search engine rankings.
  • Interlace your website with strategic internal links for better UX and SEO.
  • Never see a 404 page with proper 301 redirect setup.
  • Make sure Google knows how to crawl with frequent site map submission.
  • Increase rankings through smart link building techniques.
  • Gain access to content distribution networks for a bump in traffic.
  • Have your business featured in top, high-quality web directories.
  • Announce newsworthy items through professional press releases.
  • Build links and brand awareness through strategy content marketing services.
  • Understand monthly progress with a comprehensive ranking report.
  • Know where you’re getting links from around the web with a monthly link analysis.
  • See how many people are visiting your site and how they find it with a traffic analysis.
  • Get a monthly crawl diagnostic to make sure Google is seeing everything right.
  • Receive a grading for each new piece of content based on its SEO value.
  • Know at least 30 days before a Google shift to make preparations for the update.

 

Those are just a few of the reasons that you should make this kind of investment. At the end of the day, it’s all about executing the right monthly tasks to rise in the rankings.
Are you ready to make a difference in your business? Would you like to increase traffic, conversion and revenue? If so, it’s time to take the leap. Contact us today to discuss our powerful monthly SEO packages. We’d love to hear from you!


The SEO Buying Guide: What You Need to Know

You know your website needs SEO. Your competitors, friends and telemarketers tell you about its importance. So, you head to Google and type in SEO Denver Colorado.

It brings up far more results than you expected. And each seem to have its own pricing and services structure. Now you’re even more confused than when you started.

It’s okay. Trust me, you’re not the only one that feels this way.

That’s why I’m creating this guide.

I believe that you should feel informed when making your buying decision. We try to explain things pretty well throughout the site. And this is just one more branch of that educational tree. And, as always, feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions.

Let’s learn about these SEO services and what they mean for your company.

Keyword Research

Keyword research serves as the foundation of a solid SEO strategy. It requires tons of research, deep insight into your company’s goals, and an intuitive understanding of the customer’s experience.

You’ll find Google’s Keyword Planner at the core of the keyword research. But there’s several paid tools that give an even deeper analysis. SEO companies often pay a monthly fee to access these professional tools.

As a small business owner, it’s not feasible for you to pay for these tools. And that’s one reason why you hire people like us.

Monthly Strategy Meetings

Unfortunately, there’s plenty of “SEO professionals” that don’t act like professional at all. They try to scam unassuming business owners. And it’s a shame.

A good SEO company will put you first. That’s certainly what we’re trying to do here at FirestarterSEO. It’s why we write guides like these.

We also show our appreciation through monthly strategy meetings. A monthly service should show monthly progress. And we want you to hold us accountable for that.

In these meetings, we discuss current positions and your overall account. If we have time, we’ll also go into creative brainstorming for ways to improve your rankings and website in the months to come.

Content

Haven’t you heard? Content is king.

Google loves content, because it shows a freshly updated site (an important factor in their ranking algorithm). We give you fresh content in a couple of ways:

  • Rewriting portions of your website pages
  • Creating industry related blog posts
  • Developing keyword-focused landing pages

When it comes to content, you can’t do too much. The bigger your investment, the better.

Content Optimization

It’s not just enough to create content, though. You’ve got to make sure that the high-quality content gets optimized.

A good SEO company will make sure that happens. So, as you compare different services, don’t forget to ask about content development and optimization.

Optimized content on web pages, blog posts and landing pages include:

  • Carefully crafted title tags
  • Keyword-rich meta descriptions
  • Strategic H1, H2 and H3 headings
  • Optimized alt text on image
  • URLs featuring keywords
  • Keywords included 3-5 times in the body

Each piece of content requires this level of optimization. It gets tedious, I’m not gonna lie. But we’re happy to do it for you, because of the impact it makes on your rankings.

Additional On-Site SEO

The SEO doesn’t stop at that. There’s even more that you’ve got to consider. Things like:

  • Internal links to help search engines and humans navigate your site.
  • 301 redirects for any and all URL adjustments.
  • Submitting a sitemap so Google can crawl your site.

In the midst of everything else, it’s easy to neglect these aspects. But a good SEO company won’t. When you’re looking around, keep an eye out for these additional services.

Off-Site SEO: Link Building

You also need to invest in off-site SEO. These things strengthen the foundation you’ve built on your website. It includes doing things like:

  • Anchor-text research
  • Posting content to social media
  • Getting listed in directories
  • Creating press releases
  • Content marketing

Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on link-building. It’s the secret key that helps your rankings soar. Don’t settle for a company that doesn’t provide these services too.

Reporting

And finally, reporting.

An ethical company will want you to hold them accountable for their results. And because of that, they’ll provide you with ample reports to do analysis. Make sure that you SEO company offers reports about:

  • Keyword Ranking
  • Link Analysis
  • Traffic Analysis
  • Crawl Diagnosis

If they don’t, they’re not the company you want.

If you’re tired of feeling overwhelmed when you search Google for things like SEO Denver Colorado, then stop the search. Contact us today to get started with a monthly SEO package.

 


How Monthly SEO Packages Boost Your Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) places your business in the top search results, which builds your traffic. Done right, this can help you acquire customers, increase revenue and reach a new level of success.

How does this happen?

Three words: Monthly SEO Packages.

These retainers boost your business in a powerful way. And the longer you wait to invest, the further you fall behind.

But before you throw money at the situation, business owners like yourself need to understand how monthly SEO packages boost your business. And that’s what we’re here to discuss today.

Access to Expert Advice

Search engines change the algorithms on a regular basis. Most of these go unnoticed, as they just make minute shifts and tweaks.

But other times these updates cause catastrophic effects on local businesses. Penalties sink your rankings, which in turn, destroys traffic numbers and conversions. And for a small business, this could mean the difference between success and failure.

That’s why it’s so important to keep an expert on call.

Having someone manage your SEO sets up a preventative barrier between your business and drastic search engine updates. That alone makes it a worthwhile investment.

Fresh, Relevant Content

Monthly SEO packages frequently include blog posts or articles.

This benefit affects more than just search engine rankings. It strengthens your brand, engages customers and converts leads into buyers. But only when done right.

In terms of SEO rankings, fresh, relevant content shows search engines that you care about the overall success of your site. By updating the content regularly through a blog, it also feeds the search engine new pages that it needs to crawl on a regular basis.

And with content marketing becoming such an integral part of holistic marketing plans, adding more fodder to your content endeavors is always a good thing.

Know Your Position

You need to know where your business stands at all times. It’s imperative that you keep a close eye on things like cash flow, employee morale and client/vendor relations.

The same holds true with SEO.

A vital part of good monthly SEO packages lie in the reporting aspect. Rankings lie at the core of SEO and serve as the best progress indicator. It shows you the effectiveness of your SEO professional and provides insight into the overall value of the investment.

Each month, you should receive a rankings report that outlines your rankings. This gives you a clear path of where you’re at and where you’re going.

Ready for Monthly SEO Packages to Boost Your Business?

Smart business owners understand the dangers of falling behind in SEO. It could leave your website penalized and without traffic.

At the end of the day, you need strong SEO.

Monthly packages can ensure that your website doesn’t fall victim to the next search engine update. It’ll also keep you up-to-date on the rapid developments in this industry.

You can’t afford not to make the investment.


the ultimate guide to google penalties

Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties

The-ultimate-guide-to-google-penaltiesGoogle is constantly refining their ever so secret algorithm to improve the search engine results. As part of this process, they have waged a war on spam. As Google attempts to catch the internet liars and cheaters, innocent companies and websites are sadly affected and hit with manual spam actions and spam filters. As website owners attempt to recover, it becomes critical they begin by understanding what went wrong and how to fix it. Lucky for all of you, Firestarter SEO has put together The Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties: your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about Google penalties. Our goal with putting this together is to save you time on researching the why and how, so you can spend more time implementing the how. Good luck to you all!


Social Media and SEO: Content Distribution

Often I am asked questions like “Does posting on my Facebook page build me links?” Or “Does social media help with SEO?”. These are great questions and the general answer is, yes. However, it is important to understand which social media platforms help the most and how each one assists with search engine optimization. Each social media platform has it’s own benefits and treats content differently. Here are some of the most utilized social media services and a breakdown of their SEO value.

Facebook

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.25.33 AMFacebook is an interesting breed. Does Facebook have a direct impact on SEO? The answer would be, maybe. Part of Facebook is currently blocked from Google’s crawlers, which means a lot of the content on Facebook is not read or indexed by search engines. So it can’t be stored in Google’s virtual filing cabinet. If users have adjusted their privacy setting within their account, Google is completely banned from crawling their personal profiles and information. However, according to Search Engine Journal other Facebook posts seem to be finding their way into the Google index including limited view profiles, Fan Pages and their associated comments and posts, and comments left on third party websites using a Facebook widget or plugin. Also, when an article on your blog is liked or shared on Facebook using a social media add-on, it is highly likely that Google can read this, sending out a social signal. And as it’s been said, higher shares and likes correlate with higher rankings.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.25.06 AM

Twitter

Twitter’s links are tagged with a no-follow, meaning they do not pass any link value. The key with Twitter is having the right people follow you. If an influential person is following you and retweets your content, the likelihood of getting links built to the content within is high. Often when an article we write is tweeted and retweeted by highly influential people, other writers will write blog posts in response to ours and cite our original post as a reference. Overall, the relationships built through Twitter are much more powerful than Twitter itself.
Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.38.11 AM

Google+

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.39.21 AMSharing content on your Google+ page has the largest direct impact on search engine rankings. There are some obvious reasons for this. First, Google is a little biased (aren’t we all) and they are pushing users to utilize this platform. However, there are other reasons Google+ can be valuable from an SEO perspective. Posting on G+ allows your content to be indexed immediately. This was one of the promises given with the Google Buzz product, which has essentially been gobbled up and incorporated into Google+. And as we all know by know, getting your content indexed is key.

Pinterest

Pinterest has the potential to spread content like wildfire. When we pinned a image incorporated into a guest post for one of our clients, it was repinned over 40 times in 30 minutes. Again, like many other social media platforms, Pinterest’s links are nofollow. So the value of the link comes from its ability to be cited in someone elses blog or website, not in the link from Pinterest.com itself.
Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.44.28 AM

LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn. I believe LinkedIn is a golden nugget for business’. I don’t care if Google does or does not crawl it, every business should utilize it. With that said, it is reported that Google loves to crawl LinkedIn Profiles, which makes it a double whammy! Having a LinkedIn profile for your business is a big win. It adds legitimacy to your website and company, it creates another method of entry for your site, and it gives you a link. In fact, I have seen ranking changes simply because a LinkedIn profile was created and linked to the business’ website. The link itself is again a no-follow. However, this may be a good example of co-occurrence, where a legit authoritative site is citing a company or person so Google gives it weight.
Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.45.51 AM

In the end, social media is best used as a tool to distribute content, not build direct links from. In SEO, two things are certain. One, Google loves great content and two, Google likes links. Turns out these two things go hand in hand! Distributing award winning content provides opportunities for earning links. And the more a webpage is shared, liked, tweeted, pinned etc. the more visibility is has, which means the chances of people reading it and building natural, relevant authoritative links to it increases ten fold. I find it no coincidence that shares and links have the highest correlation to website rankings, and neither should you!


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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