Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stop Writing Crappy Content for Guest Posts!

Many people don’t understand why they aren’t getting any traction from their guest blogging efforts. I am going to level with you for a second. One of the biggest reasons is that they don’t write good content. In fact, a lot of people who submit guest posts have written complete garbage. Anyone who is trying to write subpar content is going to need to step their game up if they ever hope to get anything from their efforts.

Many bloggers have complained about the quality of the articles that they have received through guest authors. I used to think that they might have been being a little picky, but I have since changed my tune after I started accepting guest posts on my old website OnlineRookies.com.

I send a pitch to receive guest posts through Blogger LinkUp a couple of months ago. I got a ton of articles submitted to my site. I got a handful of great pieces including a post from Christina Zila of Text Brokers.

Unfortunately, most of the articles I got were very low quality. There are two main reasons that I didn’t like the content:

  • The grammar was very poor
  • The article didn’t add anything of value

I don’t expect everyone who submits an article to my site to be a grammar nazi. I try to write with the best grammar that I can, but I wasn’t an English major and understand that everyone makes some grammatical errors from time to time. I also understand that writing for the web is a bit different than writing in print. Most people disregard a lot of what they have read and write in a more conversational tone when posting on a personal blog.

I understand all that, but your content still needs to be readable. I couldn’t know where to start editing some of these posts because I didn’t even know what they were about. I know of SEO firms that outsource writers from Odesk. I don’t know how they expect publishers to accept that kind of garbage.

About half of the articles that I received were clearly not written by a native English speaker. Some of them still were written by people who had great ideas so I was willing to take the time to edit them a bit. However, most of the articles I received (from both native and foreign speakers) didn’t provide any value at all. A lot of the articles that were submitted to me were very generic topics that I had already covered on my site. Here are some of the posts that were submitted to me:

  • How to Create an Outstanding Blog
  • Best Marketing Tips for 2012 (Apparently they didn’t even read my site’s niche before submitting this)
  • SEO Strategies Everyone Must Use on their Website (I probably received about a dozen submissions with similar titles)
  • 8 Ways to Promote Your Business Over Facebook

I received a number of similar posts that just had a lot of cliché points. Some posts had blatantly scraped lines from other sites across the Internet (did they think I wouldn’t check Copyscape?).

You need to write high quality content if you expect a blogger to publish something. This is partly the reason why many popular websites such as Problogger, Mashable and Copyblogger are no longer accepting unsolicited submissions. You will need to take the time to write something of higher quality if you expect a reputable website to publish it.

Essential Tips to Help You Evaluate Guest Blogging Opportunities

Shrewd bloggers won’t have any trouble finding sites that accept guest posts. There are probably tens of thousands of sites that accept articles from other writers. Unfortunately, finding sites that are worth the time and effort can be much more difficult. You will need to scrutinize the sites that you intend to publish on before taking the time to write an article. Some sites are not going to provide any value for you or your client. Other sites could actually hurt you if you guest post on them frequently.

What Do You Look for When Evaluating a Potential Host?

There are a number of different factors that you should take into consideration when you are looking for a site to guest blog on. Unfortunately, too many bloggers get hung up on their own arbitrary system (such as only publishing on sites with a pagerank of 2 or higher). They end up missing out on lots of great opportunities and may create an unnatural looking website in the process. You will need to look at the site carefully and figure out whether or not it is really worth guest posting on. Here are the factors that you will need to take into consideration.

General Metrics

Metrics shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of guest blogging. However, they are important and should be the first place you start. Here are some factors that you will want to consider:

Google pagerank

 

Pagerank is an important factor for guest bloggers.

Pagerank is an important factor for guest bloggers. Image credit

Pagerank is an algorithm to measure a site’s relative importance based on the incoming links. Pagerank was the most important ranking factor in the early days of Google. Google has placed less emphasis on Pagerank in recent years, but it still remains an important factor to take into consideration when guest blogging.

Mozrank

Many bloggers have complained that the toolbar used to measure Google Pagerank isn’t a reliable way to determine the value of the site. There are a couple of reasons they are placing less emphasis on it.

First of all, a website’s Pagerank is purely based on the number of links coming to a website and their respective Pagerank. Secondly, Google doesn’t update the toolbar very often because they want to discourage spammers (although I feel this is a bit pointless because spammers just end up targeting the wrong sites). SEOMoz has addressed both of these problems by introducing a new algorithm called MozRank. MozRank is updated more frequently and takes into account the trust of the various pages that are linking to it and also places some emphasis on factors such as nofollow links.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is another metric that was created by SEOMoz. Domain authority is a metric that helps predict how well a website will rank in the major search engines. SEOMoz uses a number of different factors to determine a website’s domain authority. Unlike Pagerank and Mozrank, domain authority is a site wide metric. Many bloggers are placing more emphasis on domain authority than other metrics these days.

Social Presence

Always check the website's social media profile.

Always check the website’s social media profile. Image Credit

Google is placing a lot more emphasis on social media as a ranking factor. You will want to know whether or not a website has a good social media presence before you guest post on it. One of the easiest things that you can do is check to see if the site has any social media sharing buttons on it. However, some sites that have an awesome social presence don’t have buttons on them. You will want to dig a little deeper if you don’t see any signs of one. Ann Smarty, the founder of My Blog Guest, recently wrote an excellent article here about the different ways that you can gauge a site’s social presence. You may want to check it out if you haven’t had the opportunity to before.

Traffic

Every guest blogger should find out how much traffic a site is bringing in before posting on it.

Every guest blogger should find out how much traffic a site is bringing in before posting on it. Photo Credit

Many people guest blog solely for the purpose of building backlinks to their site. Don’t get me wrong, backlinks are essential to creating a high quality site. However, you will want to also make sure that you are going to be creating a site that is looked by real people every day. A well-trafficked site is probably ranking well in the search engines as well. I have received several of my best clients directly through guest blog posts that I have written on respected, high-trafficked websites. There are a number of ways that you can estimate the website’s traffic. Here are some tips that you may want to think about:

  • Check the site’s Alexa ranking
  • Check the site’s rankings in Compete.com
  • Read the number of comments and social shares that the site receives
  • Read the site’s statements on its About page or guest blogging guidelines. They often tell you how many people visit their site every month (but you will need to take them with a grain of salt).

You will also want to see whether or not the site is getting reasonable traffic before you submit a guest post there.

Overall Site Quality

Some sites may seem great when you look at their metrics, but they may still be spammy sites that aren’t going to benefit you very much or could even get your site penalized. You want to make sure that you are going to be guest posting on a real site. Here are some factors that you will want to take into consideration.

Does the site appear to be selling links?

Google penalizes websites that buy and sell links. You will want to look the site over and find out if the site seems to be in the link brokering business. You don’t want Google to think that you paid to have a link posted on a suspicious looking site.

Random links on the sidebar or footer are warning signs. An even more obvious giveaway is a website that charges for guest or sponsored posts but doesn’t nofollow the links. I personally wouldn’t want to take the risk of guest posting on any site that seems to be blatantly selling links. I may be more open to accepting guest posts on that site if it is more discreet, but you should always proceed with caution. You will want to try to find out if the site is engaging in link selling before trying to secure guest posts there.

Does the Site Publish High Quality Content

You should take some time to read the content that the site publishes. Ask yourself if you would be willing to post those types of articles under your name. A site that clearly focuses on publishing low-grade content isn’t going to help you benefit you much with the search engines or draw much traffic.

Analyze Sites Carefully

You should always strive to publish guest articles on high quality websites. There are a lot of sites that won’t help you much with either generating more exposure or providing a high quality backlink. Hopefully these tips can help you know what you need to be looking for. Do you have any tips to analyze guest blogging opportunities? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Preparing Your Guest Blogging Strategy for Penguin 2.0

You need to change your guest blogging strategy for Google Penguin 2.0.

You need to change your guest blogging strategy for Google Penguin 2.0.

Article directories and blog comments are no longer viable for building backlinks. Most bloggers and SEO companies have been using guest blogging as a way to build backlinks. This has been a great solution for many of them, but they are probably going to find that things will become more difficult in the future. Google is continually changing its algorithms to make linkbulding more difficult.

Changing Your Guest Blogging Strategy

Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com recently published an interesting post about how the next Google Penguin update will change guest blogging. A lot of what he published is speculation, but he raised some very good points that I think we should all bear in mind. Here are some good tips that Patel raised as well as a few of my own. These plans will both help you improve the quality of your backlinks and your Author Rank at the same time.

Build a Credible Social Network

Social signals have become increasingly important ranking factors for SEO. There are a number of ways that people have tried manipulating their backlinks. They have tried creating a bunch of bogus social media profiles or started paying black hat freelancers to share their content on dummy accounts. Other publishers have manipulated the code on their site so that people would unwittingly share content on their social profiles when they clicked a header.

Google has caught onto many of these strategies and is taking a number of steps to shut them down. You will need to create a real social presence to make the most of your guest blogging strategy. Start engaging with experts in your niche and encourage them to share your content with their followers. This will create more genuine social signals for Google. Of course, you will need to make sure that you write excellent content that will be shareable.

Identify Sites that Will Be Penalized

There are a lot of spammy websites out there that will link to anything. These sites are going to be heavily penalized after the next Google update. Securing a guest post on them may hurt your rankings in the long-term.

You should only look for credible websites that accept guest posts. Unfortunately, some authoritative sites like Problogger have stopped taking unsolicited guest post requests for the time being. You will need to network your way into those circles if you hope to secure a guest post with them at some point.

Here are some factors that could indicate that a site is going to be penalized:

  • They have a bunch of links or ads above the fold.
  • They contain a lot of links with nonsensical keyword anchor texts.
  • They contain links that are completely irrelevant to the topic of the blog.
  • They publish poorly written content.

Google is going to be even tougher on low quality sites or those that look like they are selling links. You will need to look for legitimate websites in your own niche.

Link Wisely

Many websites are still obsessed with using keyword stuffed links. There are a number of reasons why this doesn’t work anymore. You will want to diversify your link text so that you can make your linkbuilding process look more natural.

You should also try to link out to authority sources in your posts. Some publishers are picky about links, but most will have no problem linking to valuable resources for their readers. This will add credibility to your post which will improve the quality of your backlink.

Most bloggers have traditionally placed their links in the author bio, but bio links don’t have as much credibility. You may want to consider linking to your post from the content of the post.

Finally, you will need to start using co-citations in your posts. This means that you will reference your company’s name, but not necessarily linking to your post. This sounds counterintuitive, but it will help make your guest blogging strategy appear more natural to Google. Focus on using guest blogging to build a brand rather than always linking back to your site.

Update Your Guest Blogging Strategy

Google is constantly looking for new ways to penalize sites that try to manipulate their search engine rankings. They know that guest blogging is the most popular linkbuilding strategy these days and are looking for ways to devalue spammy guest blogging practices. Your guest blogging strategy will need to evolve with these changes.

This image was added with permission from PaperPariah.

Coming Up with Ideas for Awesome Guest Blog Posts

Most bloggers and freelancers have heard that guest blogging can be one of the most powerful ways to reach new audiences. Unfortunately, many of them try to write articles on generic topics that have already been covered a million times. These types of posts won’t provide any value for you or your client.

Don’t waste your time rewriting articles that have been published on other sites. I have had so many guest bloggers propose very generic topics for my other website Online Rookies. I will not consider publishing  an article titled “10 Best Marketing Strategies for Your Website.” These topics tend to be boring, lazily written and provide absolutely no value for my readers. I can tell that they are written by someone who just wants to build links to their blog or for a client and every other publisher worth their salt can as well.

You need original, interesting content if you want your guest blogging strategy to be successful. These are the kinds of posts that the best publishers are looking for and Google is most likely to reward. These are the types of content that we strive to provide at Endurance SEO.

So where do you find great topics for your guest posts?

What Topics Are Great for Guest Posts?

I wish there was a formula for writing great guest posts. Unfortunately, every blog is different and there is no uniform process that will work for everybody. However, there are a few rules of ideas that can help you write an excellent guest post that will generate traction on your website.

Trending Topics

One of the best ways to create an informative guest post is to look for newsworthy topics that are worth covering. Most bloggers won’t have the opportunity to cover every major news story in the past month. You can try using Google News, Twitter and news sites in your niche to find interesting news stories. These stories may inspire you to write an awesome guest post that will drive new readers to your website.

New Slants on Existing Topics

You may feel more comfortable writing on an existing topic that has been covered on other websites. You can use these topics as a starting point for a new guest post. You may have read something  on another site that you don’t agree with. You may put another blogger’s tips into practice and found some things worth sharing.

There is always a new way to take a new spin on a topic that has been covered before. The publisher you are guest posting on may be grateful that you took the opportunity to write a fresh perspective on a new topic.

Responses to Common Concerns

Everybody has problems and concerns that they need to address. You may want to find out what questions people are asking and try to answer them. This can be one of the best ways to make a mark for yourself and generate a lot of traction with your guest post. The publisher will be glad that you took the time to understand the needs of their readers and will work harder to promote your post.

Where Do You Come Up With Ideas for New Guest Posts?

There are a lot of different ways to come up with new ideas to reach new audiences. The important thing is to make sure that you find out what type of content people are looking for and write content that matches their needs. Here are some cool ways that you can come up with some awesome ideas for guest blog posts.

Other Blog Posts

Okay, I know most people are already writing articles off of other posts. As I mentioned, this isn’t really the best strategy to create original content. However, there are still some good ways that you can turn other people’s content into something new. You just need to think outside the box.

Here are some ideas that you may want to try:

  • Find an article that you disagree with and write a different point of view. You can even reference the original article in your point. You can do so tactfully or otherwise.
  • Read a few different blog posts on the same topic. Are there any common themes that they call cover? Do the bloggers disagree with each other? What are the different perspectives? Maybe you can write a post on different opinions people have on a topic and speculate why. Use a few different posts as a spring board for your own content.

Comments on Other Blogs

Try reading comments on other blog posts. A popular post may have more information in the comments than the article itself. Read what other people have to say. Do they agree with the post? Why or why not? Do they have extra information that the blogger could have included in the article? Try capitalizing on it.

Blog comments can help you find more ideas for content and give you a sense of how popular your post is likely to be.

Social Networking Sites

You should already be following the most authoritative bloggers and experts in your niche. They will almost always share their most popular content on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. You can get a sense of what types of content is gaining traction and write a new twist on it.

Image-Sharing Sites

There are a number of great image-sharing websites where you can find inspiration for new content. Pinterest and We Heart It are some of the most popular. You can see what types of pictures other people have shared. Pictures can be great ways to communicate stories and find inspiration for new content.

You can write guest blog posts around them without worrying about your articles looking like posts written on other sites. Another benefit of sites like Pinterest and We Heart It is that you can see how many shares each picture has received. This can help you gauge how popular the topic is going to be.

Polls

Consider running polls on Facebook or your own blog. You can find out what people think on a specific topic. Use their feedback as a source for new content.

Always Look for Great Ideas for New Guest Posts

Coming up with original ideas for guest posts can be challenging. However, there are many great ways that you can think outside the box and write something that is entirely new. Follow these ideas and you may be able to create compelling content that can be secured on high quality websites and create a lot of exposure.