There have been several blog posts written regarding an algorithm that would have the ability to rank websites without links. Although this sounds like an interesting topic, in my opinion it would almost be nearly impossible. Another topic that has been discussed to replace links is co-citations and co-occurrences and they present valid points. However If you are an SEO or link builder I would not hang my hat on either tactic just yet.
The Penguin algorithm update did not hit websites with clean backlink profiles but it did drop the hammer and website with crappy links pointing to them. I have worked on a few clean up campaigns and I don’t blame Google for hitting those websites. The majority of the backlinks were on very low quality directories, blogspot blog comments, free article directories, forums, and other bad neighborhoods.
So what is the best way to building links post Penguin? Answer, content marketing with a combination of guest blogging, public relations/outreach and as Will Reynolds likes to call it, “real company shit”. Find out what is newsworthy about your company or your business and let the media know about it. Before I go any further, I would like to let everyone know that public relations consists of more than sending out press releases. Although building links using these tactics is more time-consuming and costly; it will help you avoid future Penguin update penalties.
How to Find Destinations that Accept Content
Link Building Outreach via Editorial Calendars
Finding destinations that accept guest content contributions can be a little hard if you do not know exactly how do it or what you are looking for. Having a public relations background, I know that every single magazine whether it’s print or digital has a content calendar. These calendars are posted twice per year in which they layout the topics that will be covered every month. There are three ways you can find these opportunities.
- Identify the websites you would like to earn a link from and look for the editorial calendar.
- Email the editor or one of the staff members for a copy.
- Perform a manual search on Google. Example website name or niche+editorial+calendar
Link Building via Guest Blogging
Although there are some SEOs that claim that building links using guest blogging will get your website penalized, I tend to disagree to a certain extent. There are many great blogs that offer guest blogging opportunities. I have never heard of a website being penalized for having links from Search Engine Journal, MOZ, or any other quality website. You will get penalized if you are guest blogging on PBNs or low quality blogs.
Have no fear as long as you steer clear of bad neighborhoods there is nothing to worry about. Finding these types of link opportunities is not difficult at all. Here are a few ways to find these destinations.
Buzzstream – this tools allows you to find the destinations you are looking for, manage the entire outreach process, pulls in contact information that includes social media profiles and ranks websites based on several factors. I personally do not like it. I have used it in the past and I can find similar results using manual searches and I manage the outreach process using Google DOCs. The main reason I don’t like it is that it pulls in irrelevant resources and it can be slow. I can find almost every single source that BuzzStream provides manually although the process can be time consuming but not if you have a scrapper like mine.
Ninja Outreach – I just begun using Ninja Outreach for outreach link building and after using BuzzStream for over a year. I prefer this tool over BuzzStream. Ninja Outreach seems to provide better data for destinations where you want to submit content to and for research when I am looking for bloggers to ask them to contribute guest content. It is easy to build custom lists from scratch or import them manually. You can also export contact lists to make room and have the ability to add new contacts without exceeding the contact limit. Other items I like over the competition are:
- Lower monthly cost
- Sort By Tactic (guest post, sponsored post, competition, product review)
- Alexa Rank
- Average Comment and Social Shares per Post
- Domain Age
- Filtering for social, SEO and Influencer metrics
Manual Searches – As I said earlier performing searches using this tactic can take a little longer but, in my opinion it’s just as effective as using BuzzStream. Plus there are several blogs that have put together awesome lists of blogs that accept guest content for several industries.
Examples of manual searches for outreach link building:
This search will return blogs that have put together a list of blogs that accept guest content.
These searches will return results based on the area of interest you used.
Area of interest + “contribute to our website”
Area of interest + “contribute content”
Area of interest + “write an article”
Area of interest + “looking for writers”
Area of interest + “guidelines for contributors”
Area of interest + “contribute an article”
Area of interest + “submit an article”
Area of interest + “notes for contributors”
Area of interest +”submit white paper”
How to Analyze Best Destinations
Now that you have assembled your lists of destinations to perform outreach and earn backlinks comes the analysis of the destinations. First they have to pass the eye test, if it looks like garbage; that’s what it is. If the website you want to earn links for is about real estate you do not want to guest blog on a blog that has real estate topics and well as auto repair, pharmaceuticals, etc.
The Moz Bar
Using this Chrome Extension will give you a quick summary including, Page and Domain Authority, MOZ Rank and Trust as well as social shares of every website and/or blog you are interested in submitting content to. Or you can use Social Analytics another Chrome Extension to get social media engagements.
Link Discovery Tools
If you truly want to take a deep dive at the types of website that this website you are interested in submitting content to is getting links from and linking out to; you can use Screaming Frog, AHrefs, Majestic SEO or MOZ. The last three will provide richer data as far as the types of links that are going out and inbound. Screaming from will give you every inbound and outbound link but no analytics or type of links.
Manual Check for Indexing
Another thing that I like to do is perform a manual search to see if the website is indexed by Google. This does not take long and seems to work. Example: site:domain.com
This one I use as well and will include as a bonus. Example: site:domain.com “Latest Blog Post Title”
Link Building Outreach Approaches
The outreach can be done via email, phone calls, social media, or any method you can think of. In my opinion there is no wrong or right way as long as it is effective. My preferred method is email. For me it has garnered good results. That is the reason I am always looking for ways to improve my outreach tactics. As I just mentioned, I prefer email. So I have three approaches, email with no attachment, email with teaser content and email with everything the person receiving the email will need to publish the content in less than 20 minutes.
Outreach Email with no Content
Sending out an outreach email with no content can be one of the hardest ways to get the editors or blog owner’s attention. Therefore you must be as persuasive as possible. Include how the readers will benefit from the content you are providing. Suggest a possible topic or ask them if there is a particular topic they would like for you to write about. I always like to either read a handful of posts on the website or blog to figure out what kind of content they publish and during a brainstorming session come up with a few topic ideas to suggest.
Outreach Email with Teasers Content
This type of email requires that you have already done your search and either written the entire post or at least the intro. As stated in the previous paragraph do your research to find out the type of content being published and provide reasons why your content will solve a problem that exists or will provide answers that their readers have. Before you hit the send button, make sure your teaser content is going to leave the reader wanting more and has them Jonesing for the rest of the post. If you are able to pull it off you will get a yes the majority of the time.
If you are going to use either these two tactics make sure you deliver the content at least a day or two before the deadline in case the editor or blog owner wants you to make edits. This will give you plenty of time to meet the target deadline.
Outreach Email with Content
This last approach has produce good results, send the email with these four items full blog post marked up in HTML, bio, headshot and images for the post. By providing the person who will approve with all these assets all they have to do is copy, paste and upload your images. This approach goes back to keeping it simple and easy.
Before you begin sending outreach emails be sure to read the blogs guidelines for guest posts so you do not start the relationship on the wrong foot. There are websites that will want you pitch the idea before the post, while others will ask for you to send the full post. So read the guidelines to reduce mistakes and increase your outreach link building success rate.
Link Building is not dead, so disregard all blog posts that mention ranking without links for now until Google implements it as part of their algorithm. There is nothing wrong with building links, as long as you do it in a natural manner and outreach link building is as natural as it gets. Using this link building approach is not just going to increase your organic rank but also will help you establish relationships with editors and other bloggers in your industry and community.