Guest blogging was once the centerpiece of every link building strategy.

Most brands at that time would create content with a link to the body of the post (if not on the author bio) to their site and get it published on sites with high Page Rank.

As with most popular link building tactics, lots of inexperienced marketers run the strategy down the ground. They don’t observe the proper etiquette and best practices when getting guest posts publishing for the purpose of acquiring backlinks. As a result, since the focus was just obtaining a backlink from the site, the actual content suffered. Not to mention, site owners didn’t mean this as last because they were at least getting free content to publish.

Because of this, the guest blogging initiative was dealt with a heavy hand. Matt Cutts even made a formal announcement on his blog of bidding farewell to guest posting as a link building technique. There are also casualties in this war against guest blogging. Sites like MyBlogGuest that connects publishers to site owners took the brunt of the punishment as members received manual penalties.

You’d think that this is the end of guest blogging as an SEO tactic. However, if anything, the slap on the wrist by Google was a way to weed out newbie marketers from implementing this technique. It was a blessing in disguise for guest bloggers because it cleared the path for them so they can operate again behind closed doors and without the scrutiny of the world’s largest search engine.

The right way of doing guest blogging for link building

So what got Googles’s attention towards guest blogging in the first place?

The answer is poor content.

As mentioned earlier, people created guest posts for the sake of building links. They are not concerned with the quality and value of the post to be published. As long as the link remains intact within the content, they are happy with it.

However, this mentality prevailed with most guest blogging practitioners. Aside from producing spammy content, they were content with writing posts that simply regurgitate information from those that came before it. The posts did not present any compelling data or thought-provoking ideas. It reached a point where the quality of content was bordering on content farm territory. Google was forced to do something to stop people from creating terrible content online.

Therefore, if you are serious about guest blogging, then you need to learn how to create content that offers value to your audience. You need to satisfy your intended readers, not search engines, with your content you will post. To help you get started, you can read my post about on-page SEO, which details the different best practices that you should observe when developing your content. By following the guide, you will be able to publish content that both readers and search engines will love!

But what about Google warning us against guest blogging?

At the bottom of Matt Cutt’s blog post, he did clarify that Google is targeting “spammy attempts to do guest blogging.” The spirit of guest blogging has existed even before it became cool, with sites like Boing Boing publishing content from guest authors. That’s why creating better content is the first step away from low-quality guest blogging so you won’t feel the wrath of Google.

At the same time, you need to approach guest blogging with a strategy or framework in mind. You can’t email websites offering your posts for free but with a blatant link to your site. You need to gather data first and plan your next moves so you can effectively reap the benefits of guest blogging for SEO.

The process of guest blogging for SEO

At the very heart of guest blogging for link building, as with most effective SEO tactics, is building trust and relationships.SEO has come a long way since online directories and listings. In order to sustain your rankings on organic search, you need to build genuine relationships with people who can help you achieve this. I’m talking about striking

SEO has come a long way since online directories and listings. In order to sustain your rankings on organic search, you need to build genuine relationships with people who can help you achieve this. I’m talking about striking friendships with site owners and webmasters who will help get your content published.

Ideally, this is what you want to achieve through guest blogging, but it doesn’t have to end like this all the time. As long as there is a way for you to constantly find authoritative sites where you can publish your post, you should be able to rinse and repeat this process so you can obtain more links.

Below is the step-by-step process on how you should develop your guest blogging strategy for more backlinks.

Look for sites that accept guest posts

What you want to do first is find sites that readily accept guest posts. These sites normally have a page with a contact form that you fill out to express your interest in writing for their site or blog.

What we want to do here is find those exact pages with a contact form.

Go to Google and enter the following search query:

“keyword” + inurl:write-for-us

The “keyword” should be the niche of the sites where you want to publish your post. For example, if you have a business site and want to write for other sites in the same niche, you should type this in the search bar:

“business” inurl:write-for-us

The search operator “inurl” will help us extract pages from the search index that contains the word you will enter. In this case, we want pages with the character “write-for-us” in the URL. This is normally the “Write for Us” page of sites that accept guest post. Here’s an example from Travelicious:

Travelicious Write for Us

While the page doesn’t have a contact form, it does offer directions on how to sign up for an account to write for the site.

You want to get as many pages like this so you write for those sites and place a backlink from the content or your author bio. It is important that you find “Write for Us” pages related to your niche. Assuming that your site is narrowed down to a particular niche, you’d want to write content for sites that discuss the same topic. It also allows you to increase your influence in your niche by sharing your unique knowledge about the subject.

Export data using SEOQuake

Once you enter the search query above to find business sites where you can sign up as a guest blogger, you should be able to see these results on Google:

Google search results

The results should have pages with “write-for-us” in their URL.

Right now, we want to extract all the results from Google. However, opening them one by one would be too time-consuming. Therefore, you want to export all results in the fastest and easiest way possible.

For this, you want to download SEOQuake Chrome extension or Firefox add-on. It’s a tool for your browser that helps you analyze a page based on the different factors. For SERPs, it allows you to download all results, so you don’t have to open them to copy the link and paste it into a spreadsheet.

After downloading and activating SEOQuake, you will see this section on SERPs:

SEOQuake

Click on the “Export CSV” button to download all the results. Make sure to show 100 results from your search settings, which is the maximum number of results on Google Chrome.

Rank sites according to factors

Once you have the list, you need to rank them according to the different metrics used to determine a site’s authority.

One of the metrics that most marketers look for in a site is Domain Authority (DA). It is an aggregate measure developed by Moz to figure out how authoritative a site is. The higher the DA, the more authoritative the site is.

There are other factors that people look into such as Majestic’s Trust and Citation Flow, Alexa Global and Local Ranking, and others. However, for simplicity’s sake, let’s stick to finding out a site’s DA first.

You can find a site’s DA by heading to Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Enter the URL from the spreadsheet to see the aggregate score of the site.

open site explorer

Again, doing this one by one for hundreds of URLs is time-consuming. Instead, you can use a tool like Netpeak Spider to find the DA score of each URL automatically. The tool allows you to perform a comprehensive SEO audit of URLs to help you research for a backlink profile of a specific page and evaluate competitors.

For this purpose, however, all we want to do is find the DA of each page from your list.

netpeak_checker_3

Upon installing the tool on your device, adjust the settings so you can correctly extract the DA from each URL. From here, you will be able to identify the site according to their DA score. If the sites have identical DA scores, you can compare them using other metrics like Majestic and Alexa so you can see which site is better.

Visualizing your tiers

The concept of tier sites originated from private blog networks (PBNs) and web 2.0 properties. Some marketers develop blogs from expired domains with reasonably good metrics. Once they have acquired the domain and set up the blogs for each, they will create content that explicitly links to a page on their site. Since the domain has established metrics, the site passes link juice to your site which helps increase your ranking for your target keyword.

Here’s a simple diagram of how tiered link building works:

tiered link building

In the illustration above, you have three levels of tiers that strategically link to your money site. You don’t want all sites to link to a single page because it will inform Google who can then penalize your site for gaming the system. Instead, you naturally funnel the links down from one tier to another, developing a more potent link juice to be passed down to your money site.

Tiered link building belongs to the gray hat SEO practice. It goes against Google guidelines, but there are still people doing it to great effect so far.

Just to be clear, we won’t be doing tiered link building. What we are doing is taking the concept of tiered link building and applying it on guest blogging.

This is different for one reason: you don’t own the sites. Getting your content with your link within it published is up to the editor of each site. You have no control whether your article will be posted on not. This makes your guest blogging journey much difficult, but if it’s easy getting published on high-quality sites, then everybody should be doing it. At the same time, you need to up your content game if you truly want to acquire a link from these sites.

Organize the sites for your tier

Taking the illustration above, what you should do is assign different sites for the spots on each tier.

Before anything else, identify the page on your site that you want to build links for. The page you will choose must be related to the sites on your list. For example’s sake, let’s choose the post I recently wrote, “The Ultimate Guide To Writing 10x Content.”

After running your list using Netpeak Checker, you need to choose down the sites with the highest DA. You can easily filter the sites from your spreadsheet for a quick view of each site’s DA from highest to lowest.

organizing sites for tiers

I have highlighted three sites from the list to help build our tiers. For this example, let’s build two tiers with one site on the first tier and two sites on the second.

From here, we should put the site with the highest DA on the first tier while the other two occupy the second tier.

Here’s an illustration of our current tier:

Organizing tiers for guest blogging

Before assigning the sites for each tier, make sure that you read the editorial guidelines for guest blogging on each site, so you know what and what not to do.

Once you’ve read and understood the guidelines, it’s time to come up with a title for the content that you will submit to the site.

The best way to proceed with this is to choose a topic from the post you want to link from your site. For example, in the post “The Ultimate Guide To Writing 10x Content,” I mentioned ways to promote your content to greater shares, but I never went in depth with the topic. I could write more about content promotions in great detail for my first tier. In the content’s body, I can link to the guide I wrote on my blog and the editors won’t remove it because it is relevant and contextual to the article.

For the other two sites, we can further expand the topic of content promotions by discussing social media promotions. I could discuss how to promote on Facebook on one site and LinkedIn on the other. At the same time, you can easily link to the article you will write on the first tier because it is a natural extension of that topic.

Here’s a illustration of how the tier will look like:

Organizing tiers for guest blogging with titles

It’s up to you to craft the headlines for each content. The point is that you want to start with a broad topic at your first-level tiers so you can gt more specific with the article topics for the lower tiers. This allows you to actually link the content to each others and generate a more potent link juice to your money page that is guaranteed to increase rankings.

Next steps (and conclusion)

You can expand your tiers so you can strengthen the link juice that will fall on your site.  You need to start writing guest posts from the top tier and work your way down to the bottom. If, for some reason, the editor declines your article, then you can adjust the sites in your tiers, just as long as the top tiers have the best DA.

Signing up to become a guest author is pretty straightforward. Since they have a page where you can sign up, you don’t have to come up with persuasive tactics to get them to accept your content. They actually want people like to you write for them. Of course, make sure that you’re qualified enough to send them a guest post. Don’t got way over your head an pitch content if you don’t meet their requirements.

Lastly, this strategy will take time to implement. Some sites may take forever to publish while others will request you to edit or even remove your link. This is why you should submit the best kind of content possible to increase the chances of the sites publishing your articles. As long as you provide value to your content while observing their guidelines, you should be fine.

Let me know what you think of this post by commenting below.