Perhaps you have been doing guest posting for a while. Regardless of what you may have read about the next major release of Google's Penguin algo, fundamentally, guest posting remains a sound concept. In fact, link building is still legal (the referenced post was +1'ed by Google's John Mueller), you just have to go about it the right way.
This may mean you need to make some changes. If you've been guest posting solely to obtain links, without regard to any other benefit, here's how to make the shift into a high value content marketing campaign.
1. Aim High
You can keep guest posting, honest you can. But, you may need to pick your targets differently.
Major media/blog sites are always hungry for content. Some of these sites do accept guest posting content. It is easy to check to see if they do, with a search query such as: [site:nytimes.com "guest post"] (without the ):
The big key to this is to find sites where the editorial policy is highly respected and the search engine trust for the site is likely to be very high. If you historically pursued guest posts solely for purposes of getting links, most probably with rich anchor text, than chances are that the sites you posted on don't have that high a level of trust with the search engines.
In fact, rejoice when you find a site that won't allow rich anchor text in the post or the attribution. This by itself is a decent signal of a strong editorial policy.
2. Think About a Column
If you are locked into the world of PageRank and rich anchor text, chances are that you would view publishing multiple articles with the same site as a waste of time. Classical PageRank thinking would lead one to believe that repeat posts at the same site would have diminishing value. However, it is time to invert that thinking.
Let's get human for a minute. Imagine I told you I got an article published in the New York Times (I haven't, but that is why I said "imagine"). You would be impressed, right? Now, imagine I told you I had a column with the New York Times. Which one impresses you more? No question that it is the column that creates the greatest human impression.
Let's draw the analogy out a little further. Imagine I told you that I had published articles in 15 different newspapers, including one in the New York Times, and one in the Washington Post, along with 13 other decent quality sites. Which impresses you (as a human) more, this shotgun blast approach, or the idea that I had a New York Times column.
I still vote for the column, as it is a much stronger indicator of a very high level of trust to hae a column than to get one placement. And, trust me (pun intended), the search engines are likely to look at it the same way as they want to understand how people value things as a basis for their algos.
Oh, and if you have a column in the New York Times, it's probably far easier to get other people on other sites interested in publishing your articles than if you don't.
3. Establish Authority
Where you publish is one component of this, but the other major component is what you publish. It has to be new and interesting and help people understand something they didn't understand before.
In general, you won't become famous for writing a new article on "mortage tips":
However, the topic doesn't always need to be totally new. Suze Orman has made a career of making information that has been published thousands of times before more digestable and understandable for the many. But, she still achieved prominence through unique packaging of the content and her personality.
How can you measure your progress in developing authority? Here are a few metrics to look at:
- Where are you publishing and how often? This is one of the reasons to Aim High and Think About a Column.
- Are you getting the tweets/+1s/shares/Likes/comments? I don't believe that any of these metrics is the "new link", but, they provide an excellent way to for measuring audience engagement, and hence the authority of an author.
- Are you getting speaking engagements? This may not seem like a search engine measurable metric, but you can measure it, and you should. Do people want to hear what you have to say? If they do, then the social sharing and high quality writing opportunities will likely follow.
4. Build Strong Social Media Presences
This is just basic common sense PR. Sharing your published content through your social channels can provide a beautiful virtuous circle like this one:
Many people think that the size of your social channel is another way you can measure the development of your authority over time. Don't try to artificially inflate your followings though, as that is a false indicator.
Any social media site or search engine can see the number of interactions you get per follower, or measure the ratio of you many followers to following you have. Strong social media presences are more about the engagement that takes place with your content than it is the volume of followers and friends.
5. Influence Influencers
Relationships with influencers can add a great deal to your overall content marketing campaign. For one thing, they act as accelerators for the virtuous circle we spoke of in the previous point:
The key here is to do more than just meet them, you have to bring enough to the table so they see value in the communication with you. Perhaps like Suze Orman you simplify complex concepts. Or, you may be valued for your analytical skills, or you may conduct groundbreaking research.
It is particularly useful if you can help them solve problems that the influencers have. These may be simple questions they ask in their blog articles or on social media, but anything you can do to attract their attention is great.
One you get to the point where you begin to help or influence them, your social share rate by them is likely to increase. Be aware that these relationships require maintenance. You need to keep influencing them, and if that influence fades, so does their response.
It is great to work on developing your connections with influencers, but there has to be more to it and than that. You have to help others. To use a Twitter example, someone with 600 followers may not be a major influencer, but the community will notice if you help them out, and you will create a very powerful fan in the process.
Your efforts shouldn't only be about you or about the influencers (though both are important), but how you play a role in the larger community. Find a way to relate to the community as a whole, and this is a sure way to grow your overall authority.
There is a lot more that goes into a fully built out content marketing strategy, but there are the major foundation components. From an SEO perspective, all this work relates to making yourself an organic link magnet. As an authority, with great visibility, and publishing great content, you will get links.
Your content will be the stuff that everyone wants to reference, and these are the type of links that Google wants you to get. Organic. Citations. Pure as gold.
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