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Check out this video made by Google about how search engines work.
When I see someone ask for tips on increasing traffic to a newer blog, there is always a host of people crying “do SEO.” As though SEO is something that you do. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a strategy comprised of many techniques involving the formatting of your page, the text used on your site, backlinks, and internal links just to name a few. There are on page techniques like optimizing keywords to acquire your target audience, and off page SEO techniques like social media marketing. Saying “do SEO” tells a new website operator absolutely nothing. It is an unhelpful tip parroted by people who don’t know any better because it’s the only advice they got when starting out. Let’s see if we can help lay out some of the strategies involved in “doing SEO.”
Just using the right keywords and headers isn’t enough to get ranked highly on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). There is so much more to it than that. Search engines are getting smarter, not like AI take over the world getting smarter, but they are being consistently updated to give users the best experiences possible. Google for instance wants to continue to be the most used search engine. The only way they can do that is to continuously improve the user experience. That is why tactics previously used for search ranking, like invisible text, and keyword stuffing no longer work. Google wants to ensure that when a user performs a search that they only receive truly relevant results. Search engines are now being programmed to read and translate the text on a page and rank its value to the search performed. Then that is taken into account along with roughly 200 other things to weigh your placement on SERPs. One of those things is your sites’ DA (Domain Authority) which is of course effected by backlinks.
Off Page SEO
Off page or off site SEO is by its most basic definition actions off of, or outside of your site taken to acquire “mentions”, or backlinks from reputable sources. That’s the gist of it. Google can read a mention even without a link. So if someone writes “I really love The Ragged Writer” but doesn’t backlink to anywhere on the site, google still recognizes that. It does not carry as much weight as a link however. Any time another site voluntarily links back (backlink) to your site without the rel=no follow tag, they are “vouching” for its authority. To simplify this post, or to not complicate it further, we are going to assume all backlinks are “do follow” links.
Just to clarify we are talking mainly about naturally acquired backlinks. By voluntarily I mean not compelled to in any way. Not payed for links, or link for link exchanges. No transactional interactions that may be considered “Black Hat.” Links that are payed for often end up on sites with a large number of outgoing links, and without any real value to the end user. These sites are classified as spammy, and links to them actually penalize your site rather than boost its authority. Excessive link exchanges are considered “link schemes” by google and will also penalize your site. They never clarify exactly what is considered excessive, or how the penalty is applied. If you participate in only a single link exchange, but partner with someone whom has engineered over a hundred, do you get caught up in their link scheming? Please use caution when exchanging links.
Social Media Marketing
So how do you get organic backlinks or brand mentions? I’m sure you have heard the phrase “content is king.” You have to create quality content that adds value to the end user. Plainly put, you have to write good stuff. For someone to share, cite or reference your page, it has to equal or surpass their standards, be relevant to their audience, and they have to like it.
Once you have created your well written work of art, the next step is to market it. Just plastering links over Facebook again and again isn’t what we are talking about here. Link building through social media requires deliberate and targeted marketing techniques. The idea is exposure to website/blog owners relative to or within your niche that may reference or cite your material. This is different from using social media to build your audience. Use Facebooks targeted advertising and twitter searches to get your posts in front of the right eyes.
When thinking of off page SEO techniques guest posting or guest blogging is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately most people use guest blogging incorrectly. Let me explain. One of the factors used to determine DA is domain age. As a website ages its DA increases in what google calls an “expected pattern.” One of the expectations of growth is acquiring backlinks over a timeline. If you go on a guest posting campaign to build links, then you will acquire too many too fast, and be judged as trying to manipulate the system. Google does not look kindly on attempts to manipulate the algorithm. Keyword stuffing and low quality backlinks are examples of attempts to manipulate the system. The latter was the cause for Google’s Penguin update. Which addressed link spam and put more emphasis on the quality of backlinks rather than the quantity.
Guest blogging just for the link is falling back into transactional interactions. There it is. There is the moment that you think to yourself “This guy is an idiot, then what is the point of guest blogging?” Exposure. You do it for exposure. I can see the hair on the neck of all you freelancers standing straight up. “We don’t work for free.” In most cases I agree, but this isn’t writing for someone else. Link building is a dying strategy. Google puts much more weight on links earned through valuable content. Google can tell the difference between a link built on and inserted into a post on yourwebsite.com (self-built link) vs (natural link) one built on forbes.com for example. Link earning is slowly taking over as the top off site SEO technique, and you earn links by creating great content. Am I saying that you should not include a backlink in a guest post if offered the opportunity? Absolutely not. I am saying that that backlink does not carry as much authority as one earned editorially, and links should not be your motivation for guest blogging.
Within the strategy of link earning, the point of guest blogging is to put quality work in front of a new audience that will result in added traffic back to your site, and backlinks from related sites. When you are starting out getting a post on a site with 500-1000 visitors a day is a pretty big deal. Hell, I’m 6 months in and it’s still a pretty big deal to me.
How do you get approved for guest posts?
Look for sites or articles related to your site, topic, or niche. Backlinks from completely unrelated sites carry very little weight and are often spammy. Check their guest post policies, the stricter the better. Stricter policies indicate they are trying to avoid spam posts and likely have higher quality content, and higher authority backlinks. After identifying your target spend some time cultivating a relationship. Leave comments on blog posts or Facebook pages. Follow their site or tweet their posts. If you tweet their post make sure you @username the site operator. Read their posts to identify their audience, voice, and what kind of posts they are looking for. Once you’ve done your research, email your pitch. Since you have been interacting with them they will recognize your name and be more susceptible to your ideas.
When you get approved to submit a post do not include affiliate links or self-advertisements. Only place a backlink in the body of the text if previously agreed upon and it fits. Don’t just shove your link in there, it looks tacky and unprofessional. Be prepared to promote your work. Sometimes so many Facebook or Twitter posts are part of the deal. Check back on your post a couple time a week for a few weeks and respond to comments just like you would on your own site. It shows you’re genuinely interested in keeping the professional relationship and could attract more opportunities.
If you have been here before you have probably noticed all sorts of mistakes and inconsistencies in this site. I stated from the beginning that I was going to allow this site to be a road-map of the mistakes I make building this site so you can use it to avoid them. My onsite SEO practices up to now have been atrocious, but they are improving. One of the things I am not doing is going back and fixing mistakes as I learn the correct practices. I want to be sure that you can learn from my mistakes as I have.
Sites That Are Offering Guest Posting Opportunities
When I was gathering the information for this post I asked around for any sites that accepted guest posts and wanted to be linked on my page. Surprisingly only a few cared enough to actually follow directions.
Website- Adventures of Southern Motherhood
Niche: Motherhood & Lifestyle
Basic description: I am a Motherhood and lifestyle blogger who loves to help other bloggers with their blogs.
Guidelines for guest writers: 400+ words, must promote on social media, no vulgar language.
Website- The Frugal Mom Guide
Niche: Parenting, Frugal Living & Blogging Resources
Basic Description: I help moms (and dads) with parenting hacks, frugal
living tips and money-management in general. I also share my info on my
Guidelines for Guest Bloggers: Posts must fall within one of the above
niches (parenting/frugal living/blogging)
Website- SIM Tourist
The site includes general travel content / tech reviews, and guest posts are wide open – so long as it is something that might interest our readers. We are particularly interested in content relating to France.
Guest posts must be at least 600 words long, and of course original!
Website – Tech Shout Us
Niche- blogging & SEO
Description- Tech Shout Us is a Blog for Bloggers which helps you to become a better blogger. Tech Shout Us comes to rescue by helping you with quality and easy to follow Tips, Tricks and Tutorials to make a successful Money Making blog.
Guidelines for guest writers- minimum 600 words of post. With unique article.
2 dofollow link within article.