In my career, I’ve found, by accident at first, that quality wins over quantity every time. I’ve found it incredibly easy to build backlinks and to take my clients to the top of the search engines without investing in PPC, in fact, it was so simple, the first couple of times I did it, I even surprised myself.
The secret? Great content and good connections. I see it as Good versus Evil. If you’re essentially honest and genuine in your endeavours, your efforts will be rewarded. If you have no conscience and don’t mind spamming people to get where you want to be, you will reap what you sow eventually.
For those who are overwhelmed with the backlink options on offer, I’ll take you back to the beginning to show a quick step by step guide on how you can build your own backlinks without paying through the nose for someone like me to do it for you.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Blog is Spot On
Before you can pitch to any other website you need to make sure you’ve something to show you’re professional. When applying for guest spots, your new hosts will only consider your application if your own blog is well written and popular (ish).
Some website owners and digital magazines ask to see previously published work aside from your own blog. If you’re just starting out, consider publishing useful articles on LinkedIn, HubPages, or any other free portal to build up your writer’s portfolio.
Quick Tips for a Blog to Show Off
Here are some very quick tips on what your own blog should demonstrate. See my other post on “How to Write a Blog Your Customers will Adore” for more.
- You are an authority in your industry, i.e. you know what you’re talking about and your advice would be invaluable to a reader
- You know how to engage an audience
- You understand basic formatting
- You don’t scatter spam links all over the content
- You use various content such as photographs and text, videos or screenshots
- You have a good grasp of the English language
- You can write without waffle
- You’re likeable
Once you have your own blog and a few other articles in the public domain, we’re off!
N.B. If you don’t like writing, you don’t have the time or are simply no good at it (you’ve a business to run after all!) try to hire someone professional. The better the writer, the better your backlink opportunities. Please don’t fall for the scams that are out there, use copyscape and check feedback (along with their own online presence) before you hire!
Step 2: Find Relevant Guest Spots
Moz has a great tool for finding where competitors have featured to gain their backlinks. You should utilise this to find some relevant guest spots. On top of the MOZ tools it’s also an idea to look for other businesses in your industry.
Of course, you don’t want to approach the competition, so you should look for those accepting guest spots that compliment your business model or reach the same target market as your demographic.
- If you are a comparison site, look for money saving blogs and finance websites.
- If your target market is mums, look for mummy bloggers and parenting sites.
- If you sell fashion designer dresses, reach out to beauty bloggers or trade guest posts with a hairdresser.
- If you sell food, look for the foodie bloggers and recipe websites (in fact, recipe websites are a great way to gain backlinks alongside good content for any food related business).
- If you are a PPC Agency, look for marketing blogs that accept guest posts. The list is endless, I’m sure you understand.
A good way to find sites accepting guest posts is to simply type “guest blogs” or “guest bloggers wanted” into the search engines.
There are also a few journalist sites I use that send me alerts when someone is looking for a guest blogger too. You will need a reasonable background in writing to sign up for these. If you’ve followed step one this won’t be a problem.
Step 3: Create a Spreadsheet
Some copywriters and marketers may consider this to be overkill but I actually use a spreadsheet to keep track of all my guest spots. Not only does this enable me to ensure I always deliver relevant content, my clients love it for tracking the backlinks and seeing the upcoming opportunities. Here’s an example of one here:
Like me, you may also want to add a wish list of the coveted blogs you’d love to feature on. I’ve still a few to tick of the list before it’s complete – I’ve given myself until the end of June!
With a list like this, you can see the progress. You can easily follow up leads and you can look back in a month or so to see where you featured, as once they feature you once, they will again!
Step 4: Research the Sites
Now you need to find out what content is popular on the sites you’re approaching. See what their most popular blogs are and come up with ideas that are similar (but not the same of course) for your own pitch.
Step 5: Pitch Individually
Some people write a plethora of blogs and send these out to those they hope to feature on. In my experience, I find a query email works best first. Send an email with some relevant ideas on the blogs you’d be able to write for their site and ask for their feedback.
When I have sent a blog, it is usually either irrelevant (as the site may be following a different trend that week) or it needs to be changed so much I may as just as well started from scratch anyway!
Step 6: Make it Original
My life would be so easy if I could write one blog and send it to twenty different sites but my career would soon be over. Make sure you send only original content as to do otherwise is rude and will be frowned upon. You won’t only risk your own reputation you could risk the site’s Google ranking if they publish duplicate content unknowingly. Strangely enough, Huffington Post is one of the only blogs I write for that allow articles from other sources. They won’t allow a promotional backlink though so do be careful! Which leads me to …
Step 7: Make Sure the Blog is Advantageous
The sites we want to guest blog on usually have the upper hand throughout this process but we shouldn’t forget the reason we want to be featured. You need that link, whether it’s in a profile or the body of the post (the latter is better) and so you need to know if the site will accept that. Some won’t even entertain a link of any kind (which is odd as outbound links, placed well, can be beneficial too), while others will have rules, such as, “not above the fold.”
Once the post is up it’s time to share. Why? The links on social media will help you in the long ruin while your host will be more willing to accommodate you if they see you sharing it with your network. Now you’ve begun to build your portfolio it’s time to tackle your wish list, remember, the scattergun approach never works, get personal and spend time getting to know the publication before you pitch. These relationships could last a lifetime and if you’re a marketer or a business, you’ll realise the incredible value in this.