If Guest Blogging is Dead, Which Link Building Methods Still Work
All over the blogosphere this week comes the conclusion ‘Guest Blogging is Dead’, largely due to Matt Cutts’ recent post on the matter in which he warns if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Certainly, this does mean that one of the last obvious methods for gaining link traction in a way which wasn’t going to get you imminently penalised has come to an end. For most real online marketers however, the news has neither come as a surprise nor a reason for despair. It’s been quite obvious for a long time that writing an article in five minutes then sticking a thin bio link underneath with a keyword anchor text link in it wasn’t going to make the good people at Google especially happy. Most of these articles were the thinnest excuse for prose anyway and by no means adding value to the web. Nevertheless, for an industry already crouching down in the bunker, this news does appear like the final assault in a very long campaign of attack by Google.
Does SEO have any kind of a future, some people ask? Are there any link building methods left which still work and which won’t risk a penalty?
Guest Blogging has a little Life Left in It Yet
The first thing to say here is that contributing valuable, relevant content to other websites in your niche remains a valuable way to get a link. Certainly if you’re promoting a marketing company and you write an article about gardening, linking in the bio, you’re going to get into trouble. But if you’re writing an article of genuine quality in a similar niche to your own you’re in the right ballpark and, if you watch Matt Cutts videos on the subject, he confirms this. Secondly, if you do choose to link in your bio don’t go for that most obvious tactic of spam: the anchor text link. That’s like waving a red flag under Cutts’ nose and is just a total waste of time. Better to link to your G+ authorship page and your brand by name or as a raw URL link. Even better would be to write an article in which your own website could appear as a contextual link. So if you’re writing about ‘Five Killer Landing Pages’ for example, you can link to one of your own and 4 competitors. This gives you a contextual link in the most natural setting possible, within an article which is a genuine resource. Even in the case of a manual review, this is always going to pass muster.
Other Link Love Still Effective in 2014
Sponsorship Links – Although paid links are basically a no no, it’s hard to argue with a genuine contribution to a needy organisation which results in a link back to source. Working with charities or student organisations remains an excellent way to source a strong high authority link, for a price which needn’t break the bank. Use search terms like keyword inurl:sponsors to find good ones, check DA via Open Site Explorer and make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.
Reviews – If you’re an ecommerce site selling a product, spend some time sourcing the top bloggers in your niche, then hit them all up with samples. Try newspaper and magazine journalists too, making a personable contact and without emphasising you want a link. If you play your cards right you’ll get one anyway.
Contests – For all of those stuck behind a desk and blinking screen contests remain a superb means of distraction and hence often yield traffic spikes and even links from news organisations, industry hubs and competition portals.
Scholarship Listings – If you’re organisation can spare some cash to help a needy student educate themselves, you might get a tax-deductable link in the process. The reason to do this, obviously, is to put a little back into the community and help those less fortunate than ourselves. However, as SEOers let’s not forget that an EDU link remains a desirable commodity and one which sweetens this particular deal quite a bit.
Niche Specific Directories – Dmoz is still a valuable link, as is Best of the Web. Lower down the scale there are a number of relevant and surprisingly authoritative directories to be found in almost any niche. Well worth a bit of research to uncover them!
Forum Links – No, I’m not talking about Xrumer I’m talking about industry specific forums in which you might create a profile and become a valuable community member. Many of these forums allow footer links once a certain number of posts has been reached, making for a valuable backlink.