Marketing

Link Building vs. Guest Blogging: A Comprehensive Guide

Link Building vs. Guest Blogging

A successful website strategy means more than clicking a “publish” button and making your site available to the general public. You want people to visit your website. One good way to ensure this happens is to rank on a Google Search Engine Results Page or SERP using link-building strategies.

So, how do you get there?

By developing, and implementing, effective search engine optimization (SEO) plans; tactics that focus on both on-page and off-page SEO efforts. Successful on-page SEO activities should focus on developing relevant, valuable, and compelling content. Meanwhile, the basis of a solid, functional off-page SEO plan should include link-building endeavors and guest-posting pursuits.

The foundation of an effective off-page #SEO plan includes developing earned backlinks and guest blogging. Click To Tweet

On-page vs. off-page

On-page vs. off-page — what’s the difference?

Before diving into links and blogs, let’s first discuss off-page SEO and what it is. And, to do that, let’s backtrack a little further.

A lot of articles out there remind us that Google awards higher SERP results to websites that EAT. In other words, sites with content demonstrating their expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. When your website provides information that answers questions and provides solutions, Google rewards you with a higher search ranking.

That content is an important part of your on-page SEO, allowing you to reach for the SERP brass ring. But you need to get your audience to your website in the first place, which is where a well-thought-out off-page SEO strategy comes in. Off-page SEO encompasses all the background activities necessary to support your on-page SEO.

Putting this another way:

Your on-page SEO strategy is in place to tell search engines that you’re offering viable solutions to user questions and/or problems. Activities include content creation, complete with title tags, meta tags, keyword density, image optimization, and descriptive headers.

Your off-page SEO strategy gets users to your website by showcasing your authority and knowledge in other ways. Adding information on social media platforms to encourage users to visit your site? Off-page SEO strategy. Posting in forums that are in your industry? Showing up as an interview source on a popular podcast? You guessed it – off-page SEO strategies.

While there are many paths to these off-page tactics, two of the most common are link building and guest blogging.

Link building: The off-page SEO strategy foundation

Backlinks are defined as hyperlinks appearing in website content that direct users elsewhere. “Elsewhere” can be on the same site. Or, as is the case with off-page SEO efforts, that backlink should direct the user from another website to yours. For example, this backlink will take you to a ClearVoice blog that, well, discusses backlinks.

Successful backlinks should appear as natural anchor text; highlighted by an underline and different text color. This tells users that clicking on that anchor text will take them to other content.

It’s also important that those backlinks are on websites with a high domain authority (DA). In other words, a website that is highly trusted by users, industry experts, and even other websites.

A link from one or many of these well-regarded sites to yours is Google gold. It means that these websites vouch for you and your content. When you have a lot of these links coming back to your website, it demonstrates to the search crawlers that you are, indeed, a thought leader in your industry. The higher your own expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, the more willing Google is to reward you with a higher search rank.

Now, for the next question: How do you get those valuable backlinks onto those respected, authoritative sites? Here’s what not to do: Don’t buy them. Also, try to avoid participating in a link exchange. These are examples of black hat SEO strategies, which could end up lowering your page ranking or remove you from the ranking index altogether. Instead, focus on white hat SEO strategies, those that comply with search engine guidelines.

One phenomenal white hat SEO strategy is guest blogging.

Guest blogging: Sharing your EAT

Guest blogging: Sharing your EAT

If you have a well-crafted SEO strategy, your website already boasts plenty of content to demonstrate your expertise. As an aside, if you don’t have that content, visit ClearVoice immediately for assistance. You can also take your knowledge and expertise and share it with others as a guest blogger, especially as a guest blogger on a high DA-ranked website.

Taking the guest blogging path offers an array of benefits:

Directs more traffic to your website

Writing blogs on other sites that complement your industry or niche allows you to attract the interest of more users; a new audience that might never have heard of your product or service. This, in turn, directs move them to your site, where they can access (and hopefully share) your problem-solving content.

Boosts your backlinks

As a guest blogger on someone else’s website, your content’s backlinks can drive traffic back to your site. This represents an “earned” backlink, one that shows relevancy and interest, which Google trusts. You should also have the ability to include your profile and other information that can increase an audience’s interest in who you are, and what you have to offer.

Improves your domain authority

Guess what? You, too, can receive a high DA score by providing expert, authoritative, and trustworthy content on other highly trusted websites. As a contributor, you are proving your credibility and expertise, building audience trust in what you’re saying (and what you’re offering). This makes it more likely that your audience will be receptive to your solutions.

Even better news is that there are plenty of opportunities available to guest bloggers. According to a Semrush survey, 76 percent of editors asked indicated they would publish up to 10 guest posts per week. The editors went on to say that they’re publishing this content to generate new ideas and opinions.

Guest blogging tips

But before you start jumping into guest blogging on just any old site, keep the following in mind:

Pitch to the right places

Again, the goal is to contribute to an authoritative, trustworthy site, one that can vouch for you and your credibility. One way to rank such sites is through Moz’s free domain SEO analysis tool. Generally, a high authority site will have thousands of followers and be considered a leader in its industry.

Research before acting

Pitching an idea or article to a website isn’t too different from preparing for a job interview. You need to understand the purpose of the website, what it does, and how your activities will help. To that end, review the editorial guidelines, and follow them. Don’t assume that the rules apply to everyone else except you. And when you pitch, be direct and concise (while listing your own credentials).

Build personal relationships

Many times, pitching an article to a quality website is a hit-or-miss scenario. You might strike out on the first try. Rather than walking away in a huff, contact the editor or publisher, introduce yourself, thank them for their time, and ask if it’s okay for you to stay connected and offer other ideas. When pitching those ideas, make sure they are fresh and interesting, and that they speak to your expertise.

Write great content

While the response to this might be “no, duh,” being a brilliant writer (or illustrator, if that’s the case) is an absolute must once you’ve been given the green light to go ahead. Create a catchy headline, and be sure to proofread your work. Add do follow links to your piece, and be sure it links back to your site. And remember, you’re creating something to answer questions and offer solutions to problems. Be sure not to over-sell or over-promote your brand. Another Semrush statistic: 79% of editors surveyed said that the guest posts they receive are too promotional. Don’t be that person.

Reply to comments on your post

Don’t just post it and forget it. If someone takes the time to reply (whether with glowing praise, sneering criticism, or somewhere in between), respond appropriately. Not to continue hammering away at the subject, but the goal is to demonstrate yourself as a trustworthy authority. Responding to posts demonstrates you’re one who is open to engagement, as well.

Additional best practices

A solid off-page SEO strategy can also include the following activities.

  • Comment on other blogs or articles. Thoughtful commentary and responses on what others write is a good way to demonstrate to readers that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Post in forums. Find a forum or message board that matches your niche and expertise and start a post (watch your grammar and spelling). Again, be careful not to over-promote your brand, but your signature line can include your website.
  • Be active on social media. Social media is a terrific brand booster. It can also be great as part of your off-page SEO efforts to get followers to your website.
  • Focus on digital PR. Scout out podcasts that are looking for guests (but again, be sure that they are reputable podcasts). Or subscribe to sites such as Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to see if writers and journalists might need your expertise as a potential source.

Increasing organic traffic with off-page SEO

Successful content marketing strategies encompass myriad activities, all of which are geared to boosting organic traffic to your website and keeping readers there. Carefully considered on-page SEO efforts help you generate great content that is of relevance to your audience. Paired with effective off-page SEO strategies to get users to your site, you end up with increased brand awareness, more leads, and higher response to your calls to action.

Speaking of calls to action, here’s one. To learn more about adding great content to your successful on-page and off-page SEO efforts, visit us at ClearVoice and sign up for your no-obligation consultation.

The best SEO strategy is a two-part one: On-page SEO (great website content) and off-page SEO (getting the audience to that content). Click To Tweet

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About the author

Amy Sorter

Amy Sorter is an award-winning journalist, copywriter, and principal of The WordSorters. Her work has been published in regional and national business and consumer publications. Amy's focus is on creating customized, highly engageable content in a variety of formats for non-profit organizations, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies.