What makes some links better than others? Why would people who work in SEO often pay lots of money to get a link from a certain article but at the same time, not pay attention to the blogs that offer it for free? The same questions could be asked from a bloggers point of view: Why is my blog not popular enough? In this article, I’ll focus on some aspects of SEO that really matter when it comes to link building and can help both SEO producers with choosing the right target site and bloggers to become a better partner for guest posters. Some bloggers send a media kit with details about the popularity of their site (like traffic, audience engagement, etc), while others are still asking for $400 for a guest post, even though they only have 5 fans on Facebook and zero backlinks.
So how do you know what to look for? Here are 5 things to take note of, whether you’re an SEO professional looking for a good site, or the owner of that site who’s trying to attract guest bloggers.
1. Professional design of a website
This is not 2006, when just having a website was enough. These days, design is a significant element of your online strategy. People love to look at pretty things.
The good news is that having a well-designed website is less expensive than it was before, thanks to sites like: themeforest.net, themetrust.com, elegantthemes.com and many more that offer ready-made themes and templates you can review and buy easily. I can promise that this will help you to succeed faster than a poor html site.
The last reason why a good looking website has much more chance to be noticed by an SEO professional is very simple. When sending a link building report to a client, you’ll often get questioned by the client if a website looks poor and outdated. Check out the article Does Good Web Design Really Matter? by Joseph Putnam for more explanation on why web design matters so much.
2. Backlinks from Majestic
This is a super obvious point. You can always check backlinks very easily thanks to a Majestic plugin to Google Chrome. I always check if there’s not a big difference in numbers for Trust Flow and Citation Flow. The Trust Flow to Citation Flow ratio that is ideal is 1 (eg. 40:40), however sites that can achieve it are in minority, in my experience. Closer to this number is better for you, and the limit that I don’t never go beyond is a ratio of 0.5 (eg. 40:20). That means that a website has a big number of links (very often sitewide links), but, these are from low quality pages. Understanding the Trust Flow, Citation flow and ratio between them can help you save lots of time. You can get more insights about Trust Flow from Dixon Jones in his article REALLY Understanding Topical Trust Flow.
I also check the ‘anchors’ section. If it’s a website of a plumber from the UK and it has Chinese characters in the anchors, something is wrong!
A great example is this link profile for an European website that was hacked and got a number of spammy backlinks:
3. SEO visibility of target site
This tactic is slightly similar to point 2 , but is better at showing websites in their natural habitat. At the same time, this is an answer to a question I often get asked: how can you tell if a website is valuable enough to post a guest post on? I always follow the same rule as I would if I were checking a competitor – find out if they rank high in Google search results for the titles of articles on their page.
Choose an article that’s more than a month old and copy part of the title (containing keywords) into Google. Try to choose the keywords that are of medium competitiveness. If your target page is not in the top 10, it means that Google may not like it that much and will probably not pass too much love to your article either.
4. Audience engagement
Here we come to the discussion of what will happen to our guest post besides the SEO juice that we will get from the link. Some influencers have better audiences than others. It’s difficult to answer why, but it does happen. Imagine a DIY blog, where an influencer posts an article about how to build a dog house. People go crazy for it. They know the author would not share something he hasn’t checked first himself, so they follow the instructions and build their own dog house. Then they comment and put up photos of their work, share it on Facebook and Twitter, link to it on forums, send the links to their friends. They even try to add new elements or upgrade the process for free. Would you like that to happen to your article? Of course. But it not only depends on the quality of the article, it also depends on what kind of people will read it.
There are always several ways to check this before you make a decision. I start with looking at comments, which is easy to check, and lots of blogs have a ‘Last comments’ section. Check when the last comment was published and what is the average number of comments below every article. Also take a look at social media signals: how many likes and shares do they have?
To go even further I check their Fan Page and look at the social engagement there. Often that’s the place where most audience discussion takes place. If you want to know the estimated organic traffic to the website, you can check SEMrush, which will help you determine if the website has any visitors at all.
All of the aspects above are very important because they will help to create a buzz around your brand quickly, and can bring potential customers to you easily.
5. Relevancy (aka will I get leads from this?)
Last but not least: relevancy. Google cares more and more about this, and their algorithm is getting smarter at determining it (more about that here). Look at the relevance of the article itself, along with the audience, and the reputation of the blog. If the owner of the blog is well known influencer in the industry, and has grown a trusting audience, you can be sure that audience will check out your post and probably use the information from it. This is the best possible outcome for your guest post. If people click through your links in the article, this is a good signal for Google that it’s relevant.
Choose the best sites to leverage your online strategy
Guest posting still is (and probably always will be) a great channel for promoting your business. While the number of new blogs is increasing every month, with the right research you can choose the best ones for your clients and use them to help leverage your online strategy. I hope this guide is also useful for bloggers to determine how to get the most out of their site and to understand what marketing professionals are looking for.
Jaroslaw started his career in SEO 8 years ago and since then, has been a part of the evolving tactics required to get success online. Now focusing on Content Marketing and Link-building strategies, he always keeps in mind that quality is more effective than quantity. As a Senior SEO producer at Web Profits, Jaroslaw provides clients with custom campaigns to increase their online profile.
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