What Makes A “High Quality” Guest Posting Opportunity?

Guest blogging. You’ve most likely heard the term before if you’re into content marketing and follow any of the major SEO or content marketing blogs like SEOMoz, CopyPress or Copy Blogger. The concept is pretty straightforward: post your article on a related blog in order to leverage their readership into traffic for your blog and valuable “link juice.” Pretty simple, right? The short answer is “yes.” In fact, finding a guest posting opportunity has never been easier with the vast number of tools and other resources dedicated to the task.

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

If you need help finding opportunities, KISSmetrics has an extensive list in their post “The Ultimate Resource Guide to Blogger Outreach and Guest Blogging” and Search Engine Journal has a tutorial on how to use BuzzStream to find guest blogging opportunities. As I said, there are lots of ways to find guest blogging opportunities. For many bloggers, the only hard part of guest blogging is figuring out what makes a “high quality” guest blogging opportunity. 

Quality: What Makes One Guest Posting Opportunity Better than Another?

Before we get into the analytics that you should be looking at to determine which opportunities have the greatest benefit to your website or brand, we need to talk about your objectives. Without a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, interpreting the analytics side of the equation will only go so far.

goodbetterbest2.28What exactly are you trying to achieve? In general, most people want some combination of the following:

1. To establish themselves or their brand as an authority in the market

2. To expand their market reach and drive traffic back to their website

3. To build quality SEO links from relevant sites

Obviously, the top sites in your industry will give you the opportunity to achieve all three. However, knowing your goals will help you filter your opportunities through the proper lens when you are trying to interpret the analytics data we use to categorize an opportunity as “high quality.”

The Quick and Easy Way to Use Analytics to Pick Your Targets

While there are some factors we use that are subjective such as site design, most of our decisions come down to objective factors that we can quickly judge using analytical data.

Things like MozRank, MozTrust, domain authority and the number of linking root domains give us hard data we can use to gauge how much a link from that particular site will be worth. Social metrics such as the average number of shares across the various social networks along with the Alexa rank will give us some idea about the potential reach a good post will have.

You may be asking, “But how do I find all of those things?” There are a lot of different tools out there that give you access to that type of data. My company, RYP Marketing, has created a free tool that combines several of the most important metrics into a simple interface – we call it the Blog Social Analyzer. Take a look at the data the tool shows for CopyPress:

thompson2.28screenshotThese stats allow us to quickly see SEO authority, how many times each post has been shared socially, and traffic level (Alexa rank).

Go In-Depth: 24 Metrics and Factors to Look At

While tools like Blog Social Analyzer can help you see key metrics at a glance, sometimes you want to go more in-depth and/or look at qualitative factors that will help you determine if the target blog will help you reach your goals.

Note: Do NOT make the mistake of only using SEO metrics, even if SEO links is the primary benefit you’re looking for.

SEO metrics:

There are lots to choose from – pick your favorite(s) and use them:

  • Google PageRank: Not up-to-date, but it is a metric direct from Google. Can sometimes be used to detect penalties.
  • MozRank: Similar to Google PageRank, but more up-to-date and based on a much smaller crawl of the web.
  • Moz TrustRank: Measures how far away a site is from a set of known trustworthy sites.
  • SEOMoz Domain Authority: Combines MozRank, TrustRank, and other metrics.
  • Majestic SEO metric: Majestic SEO also offers SEO metrics that are somewhat similar to SEOMoz’s offerings.
  • Inner Google PageRank: If the site’s homepage has high PageRank, but inner pages have low or no PageRank, that’s a potential red flag.
  • Rankings: Does the site’s content rank well on Google for relevant keywords?
  • Sitelinks: When you search for the site by name on Google, does it display with sitelinks? This is potentially a positive quality/authority indicator.

Social & Audience Factors:

socialsharing2.28thompson

  • Facebook likes/shares: In addition to direct benefits, this will impact exposure in Bing’s personalized search.
  • Tweets
  • Google +1’s: In addition to direct benefits, this will impact exposure in Google’s personalized search.
  • LinkedIn shares: According to “New Data: The Correlations Between Social Sharing and Inbound Links” LinkedIn shares correlate most closely with gaining backlinks to a post.
  • Google Reader subscribers: Use Google Reader’s feed discovery to find out how many Google Reader users are subscribed to the blog’s RSS feed.
  • Alexa rank: Provides an estimation of traffic levels. Be aware that traffic levels are biased based on what percentage of the site’s user group has installed the Alexa toolbar.
  • Compete rank: Provides an estimation of traffic levels. Be aware that traffic levels are biased based on what percentage of the site’s user group has installed the toolbar.
  • SimilarWeb traffic data:  Provides more detailed traffic data, although data is also susceptible to biases.
  • Comments per post: Gauge the reader interaction a post on the site generally gets.
  • Authorship: Does the blog use Google+ Authorship markup?

Qualitative Factors:

These factors are largely inspired by Google’s advice regarding what makes high quality content.

  • Does the site look professional? In general, a professional design means that the owner really cares about the site and its readers, and is investing time and money into building a brand. Do keep in mind that there are exceptions – some of the ugliest sites (*cough* Craigslist) have the most loyal users.
  • Does the site have a reasonable number of ads? Not only do too many ads annoy users, they can trigger a negative ranking algorithm in Google.
  • How good are the posts? Does the site provide high quality content with images, videos, graphs, original research, etc? Are the posts written by industry leaders and experts?
  • Does the overall tone and message of the site coincide with your brand’s core values?  How closely does your value proposition match the site site’s content and users? Check out this case study by SocialTriggers which shows how choosing the right place to guest post can lead to actual $$$ and not just more visitors.
  • Is the site transparent? Does the site provide the name of the company/individual who runs the site, contact information, and information on article authors?
  • How prestigious is the site? Blogs that are high quality, popular blogs, and have very stringent editorial guidelines tend to carry a high level of prestige with them. (Because they are very difficult to get published on.) These blogs are often the best targets when branding is your primary goal.

thompson2.28instinctsQuantity vs. Quality

Not all blogs are created equal and some may even do more harm than good. Organize your data mining efforts into a spreadsheet that will help you to quickly analyze and evaluate both the quantitative and qualitative factors you can use to discover the diamonds.

Not all blogs are created equal and some may even do more harm than good. Organize your data mining efforts into a spreadsheet that will help you to quickly analyze and evaluate both the quantitative and qualitative factors you can use to discover the diamonds.

A few well targeted guest posts can lead to more value, both in traffic and SEO rankings, than simply applying the “old” article marketing approach of thousands of links across the web. Quality over quantity has long been Google’s mantra, and 2012 showed that they have now figured out how to enforce that idea in the search rankings. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team even weighed in on how Google views the importance of finding high quality guest blogging opportunities as opposed to just posting on any blog who accepts guest posters. He did so in 2 videos on the Google Webmaster Help YouTube channel:

Definitely food for thought before you go post on just any old site. The quality of the link is going to positively or negatively affect your SEO.

Remember: relevant guest posts on relevant, quality blogs will produce the highest quality visitors, the best SEO links, and maybe even a few sales.

About the author

Adam Thompson

Adam Thompson, founder of RYP Marketing, has 9 years of experience in the SEO industry. He contributes to a variety of industry publications, including SEOmoz and Search Engine Journal.