In the past the benefits of guest posting for backlinks were clear – write content for a range of vaguely relevant sources in return for a ‘dofollow’ link to your site and watch the SERP rankings grow.
Fast forward to 2017 however, and this method of fast-tracking links is met with frowns of disapproval from SEO specialists and Google alike.
While links continue to be one of the top ranking factors considered by Google’s algorithm – matched only by content quality – multiple updates to the algorithms and a crackdown on link spam have tainted guest posting. This has left marketers in fear of penalties from unnatural or poor quality backlinks.
Many sites that previously accepted guest posts have now revoked these privileges, leaving online marketers in search of new, best-practise methods to build quality link profiles.
We have looked at four of the best below.
Use content that already exists
Two methods of creating links from existing content frequently get overlooked in favour of trying to make them from scratch.
The first has been coined the Moving Man Technique by Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, a guru of white-hat SEO strategies. This method involves finding sites in your niche that have moved, changed names or closed entirely.
A quick Google search for ‘rebrands’ or ‘page no longer exists’ in your area of business can pull up a collection of companies who have relocated or closed. From here, put the URL of this old page or site into a backlink checker to find the sites with inbound links to the now-useless URL.
Then, it’s a matter of contacting these sites and explaining they have outdated links (which no site manager wants) while casually mentioning your own brand as a replacement or addition to the page. Because you have played the protagonist by bringing their attention to a bad link, you have a better shot of getting a link to your relevant services or content.
The second method involves locating unlinked mentions on the web. Using a tool like Mention or BuzzSumo, you can set up alerts for your brand name or campaign. They will generate reports of mentions of your business on the web that may not have links attached to them. With this information, you can contact the site owners and ask them to add the links.
Add citations to local business directories
For businesses with location-based services, directories are still a major avenue for gaining inbound links to your site.
Spend time each week getting your business listed on top online business directories like Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, as well as respectable local and niche directories. For instance, if you run a plumbing business in Manchester, you could easily find directories by completing a keyword search like ‘Manchester directory’ or ‘UK plumber’s directory’. You can simply add or claim your business on the relevant site.
It’s important to ensure all of your business information is listed correctly on as many of these citation sites as possible. Discrepancies like misspellings, incorrect phone numbers, etc. can confuse Google and come back to bite you. If the Googlebots aren’t sure which information is correct, they may display the incorrect version or skip showing you in results altogether.
Let others write reputable articles about your services
Instead of talking about yourself in a guest blog (which generally gets your post rejected or is obnoxiously transparent), encourage bloggers or journalists to write about you.
If you have a product or service to leverage, reach out to the blogger community and ask them to review it. Generally, even if the blogger discloses that a product was sent to them for free per Google’s guidelines, the post can still result in natural backlinks as others read about your products, try them out and write reviews of their own.
Journalists are another outlet, as they generally have content deadlines and quotas to meet so are always on the lookout for new topics to cover. Compile a spreadsheet of writers who have written about similar services in the past, send a concise email explaining your offerings and keep track of the results.
Create a viral digital PR campaign
As the shift toward useful, readable content that adds value continues, quick tricks and corner-cutting methods for building link profiles just won’t work.
Instead, invest time that previously would’ve gone into guest posting for brainstorming and creating highly interactive, versatile and interesting PR campaigns. For example, this case study for CruiseDeals.co.uk showed why living on a cruise ship is actually cheaper than living in London.
The intriguing headline got people clicking and resulted in over 200 publications worldwide sharing the story. Of all the methods described, creating content that engages and interests readers will benefit your business most.
How to start building your new, improved link strategy
While guest blogging shouldn’t be completely erased from your link building strategy, moving to these new tactics ensures a well-rounded, high-quality link profile. Carve time into your workflow to focus on this important aspect of your overall search engine marketing strategy, or contact a knowledgeable and reputable SEO agency to help create lasting impacts from your link building efforts.
Ad-Rank Media is an award-winning SEO agency based in Norwich and London