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Think Beyond the Link

AKA Choosing Guest Blogging Opportunities

For a couple of years now guest blogging has been a great way to get relevant links back to your site, it has been a win-win-win situation.

    • The blog owner gets fresh content to keep their site updated without having to do too much work.
    • The blog readers get more regular content, often with the added benefit of having a different opinion or style to the content usually provided by the blog.
    • The content writer gets exposure on a different platform, with a different readership and with the added bonus of a link back to their site.

Mr B hates spam guest blog requests

However, as with most things in SEO, the tactic has started to be abused. Blog owners are inundated with irrelevant offers of content that will “be of great interest with your readers and all I is do ask is for anchor text riches link to my carrot selling site for your goodness”

Choosing the right sites for guest posting opportunities has never been more important and (as with most things in SEO) if you want to use it as a sustainable tactic for the future you need to think beyond the link.

Look at what guest posting can offer you and your business, think quality over quantity, think branding over anchor text and set your goals high.

Ask yourself whether you would want a couple of dozen posts on blogs that are never read by more than 3 people or whether you want a couple of posts on industry leading blogs that will give your brand more exposure.

So how do you got about finding the best possible sites for you to guest post on? Here are some quick tips for finding the guest blogging opportunities that will give your site the best exposure beyond that little link that you are chasing.


This may sound daft, but in a post-Penguin world you need to make sure that the guest posts that you land are as topical as possible. Would it make sense for you to guest post on this site, or is it a general site that accepts posts from everyone and his dog?

dogs like guest posting too!

Don’t be pulled in by the promise of a link if the blog just doesn’t feel right. You are going to need to future proof your guest blogging strategy – aim high and stay topical – stay away from the sites that are little more than a thinly disguised article marketing site.

Link Metrics

Yeah, yeah…I know we are meant to be looking beyond the link, but link metrics are still an important indicator of the trust of the site – just make sure you are not looking at them in isolation.

Things to look out for:

PageRank – We all know that PageRank is the MacGuffin of SEO; we all know that it should be taken with a pinch of salt; we all know that it’s almost certainly out of date. Does that mean that you should be ignoring it? Probably not. As a quick metric for getting an idea of how Google views the importance of a site you should keep an eye on the PageRank of a site that you are looking at. At the end of the day it should be one of a couple of link metrics that you should be looking at.

MozMetrics – Taking into account the MozMetrics of any given site will allow you to get a bigger picture of the trust of the site. And viewing these in tandem with PageRank will give you a better understanding of the overall trust of the site that you are looking to guest post on.

Remember we are looking beyond the actual value of the link here, we want to know how trustworthy the site is – is it worth investigating further? For example a site that is 10 years old with good MozMetrics but no PageRank would tell you that something may be wrong with this site. Whereas a site that is only 6 months old that has no PageRank but good MozRank could still be worth taking the time to investigate further.

If you need a primer on the different MozMetrics, then check out the helpful little definitions and guides that SEOmoz provides:

What is Domain Authority?
What is Page Authority?
What is MozRank?
What is MozTrust?

MajesticSEO Metrics – If you are still feeling a little unsure you can always have a quick look at the metrics that MajesticSEO provide as well – Citation Flow and Trust Flow – to get even more data about the trustworthiness of the site.

Now you don’t really want to be checking all these metrics from multiple sources so you can add the Link Building Toolbar to your browser to get all three metrics at a quick glance. By the way the Link Building Toolbar is a great tool for helping you keep track of the sites that you have already got links on in the past (but that is another post) in the meantime find out more here and here.

link building toolbar

 Now you have an idea of the trustworthiness of the site where should you be looking next?

Social Validation

Has the blog been featured on other big sites? Have they won awards? These are good indications that the site will have a solid readership, that it will have its own good inbound links and that it is worthy of moving higher up your must-contact list.

social validation - best blogs

social validation 2 - who has the blog written for

Look for names that you recognise (and if you are working in a niche that you are new to – make sure that you visit the sites in question!).

Social Activity

If a blog has good social activity around it, the odds are good that you will be able to push your brand further, and that your post/brand will reach a bigger audience. When you are thinking beyond the link social activity should be high on your list. What should you be looking out for?

Comments – Comments are a good indicator of the popularity of the blog, how strongly the community believe in the blog and how much they are willing to participate. Make sure not to scan the numbers and actually have a dig around and see how much depth the comments have – 10 comment with “nice site. I was looking for this information in a day and age and you have posted it to my thanks” isn’t going to cut the mustard. Have a look at this post from Anthony Pensabene and the comments that people have left. That is engagement, and engagement is crucial when choosing the best blogs.

looking for comments to find the best guest blogging opportunities

Tweets, Likes, +1’s and all that Jazz – If you are thinking beyond the link you need to be looking for sites that will allow your content (and ergo your brand/site) to spread further. You need to find sites that have a decent amount of social activity around them. The more social activity the blog gets, the more chance you will have for mentions, traffic to your site and hopefully more links.

has the blog got lots of social shares

Use a tool like Social Crawlytics to figure out how many social shares each post is getting on average, helping you make considered decisions on which sites to post on.

social crawlytics for seeing how pages get shared

social crawlytics 2

Dig out the hubs within your niche; don’t head over to Google and search for {keyword} “write for us” – learn where the action happens and spend some time figuring out the kind of posts that get the most traction on that site. Find where users or customers would expect to see stories about your industry and try and leverage relationships there. Think less about the amount of links that you need to get to do well in the search results and more about what you need to do to improve your brand visibility online.

Less sites? Less links? More Authority?

As I was coming to a close on this post I was pointed in the direction of this post that was published yesterday (30th July) by Eric Enge on SearchEngineWatch. Eric makes some fine points about the evolution of guest posting, AuthorRank and using anchor text in your guest blogging. I heartily suggest that you head over there and have a little read – it will be well worth your time.

To sum up, I’ll leave you with a quote from the post and from Matt Cutts:

‘If you think about the implications of rel=author, you may want to start thinking about getting regular posting privileges on major, authoritative, sites. Instead of a focus on domain diversity, you may want to focus more on signals related to trustworthiness and authority. In the Matt Cutts interview, he notes:

“By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity. Those are the signals we want to find and value the most anyway.”

Without question, a regular column in a major journal does more for your reputation than one post per domain on 50 low quality sites. Certainly, it has more of an impact on the average end user, because they are unlikely to visit all of those lower quality sites.’


Wayne Barker

Wayne Barker

Wayne has been at Boom since like forever and specialises in SEO, Content and Outreach. An accidental entry into the world of SEO has left him with little spare time. When not at work or with his family, you can find him amidst a pile of records.View Author posts

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