On the Spin Sucks Facebook page yesterday, we had a conversation about the people who email, asking for links.
It goes something like this:
Dear Spin Sucks:
I noticed you wrote about Instagram and it was really good!
Recently, I put together the ultimate guide on how to use Instagram for photos. Would you be willing to link to it?
And then, when you don’t respond, you receive a series of emails that end with an insult.
Something along the lines of:
You haven’t responded, so I guess you’re not interested. It’s common courtesy to respond just to let me know.
You know what else is common courtesy? Checking out our guest blogging guidelines and following that process, if you want something to appear on Spin Sucks.
And I know we are not the only blog or media outlet that has guidelines for pitching us.
The general consensus in our Facebook conversation was everyone gets these emails, and no one responds to them.
One would think, if the results are so poor, people would stop pitching that way.
The Line Between SEO and Communications is One
The line between search engine optimization experts and communicators is definitely blurring.
You see, they’ve figured something out that we still haven’t grasped: the very best way to get a link back to your site is to do earned media (or media relations or publicity or whatever the heck you want to call it).
To gain organic page one search results for your priority keywords, you have to have links to your site from other domains.
The SEO experts used to buy links in guides and other massive publications to help with search rankings.
But Google put the kibosh on that. Now, the only way to do it is through contributed content (or insulting a blogger or journalist so they’ll add your link to an already existing article).
And guess who is better at media relations—and placing bylined articles—than anyone?
I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the SEO experts.
Yet, in some cases, they’re eating our lunch. The good news is, the “best practice” for pitching journalists and bloggers is to send emails exactly as I described above.
And we all know that does not work.
The time is ripe for communicators to step up and start gaining organic first page search results for the organizations in which we work.
Are you ready to do that?
To do so, it takes a little time and some elbow grease, but it’s far more effective than sending a bunch of emails, asking for the link.
Instead, we’re going to do some research, relationship building, media relations, and content development.
Guest Blogging Research
The first thing to do is make sure your priority keyword is viable.
Go to the Moz keyword tool and figure out how your content can compete for search rankings.
For instance, my keyword for this blog post is “guest blogging.”
When I use the keyword tool, I discover the phrase has 201-500 monthly searches and the difficulty level is not high.
It also offers me some alternatives, such as “guest blogging guidelines,” “benefits of guest blogging,” and “guest blogging tips.”
Once you know you have a viable keyword, you have to create a media list.
You will not use a media database for this.
My favorite way to create a list of publications and blogs I want to pitch is to do a simple Google search.
If my priority keyword is “guest blogging,” I’m going to stick that into a search.
When I do that, I see many sites that have covered guest blogging, such as Kissmetrics, Convince & Convert, Neil Patel, Huffington Post, and HubSpot.
Note what the domain authority (noted by DA) is for each of those sites.
In my case, it’s 83, 78, 76, 97, and 89 respectively.
The Spin Sucks domain authority is 65, which means I want to pitch any site with a score of 66 or higher.
The five listed above allow me to do that.
Guest Blogging and Relationships
Now it’s time to build those relationships—something communicators already know how to do and do better than any other marketing discipline.
First things first, go to the social networks and find the journalists and bloggers there.
Twitter is the best place to do this as it’s open and you can follow and engage without sending an invite request.
Also go to each of the sites—in my case, there are only five—and look up their guest blogging guidelines and editorial calendars.
I already know two of the five are going to be easy for me because I have relationships there.
Another two don’t typically take contributed content, but they do on occassion and I know, if the topic fits what they’re working on, I can get results.
And the Huffington Post stopped their contributor network, so that one will be a little more difficult. Not impossible, but not easy, either.
Now start sharing, commenting, and engaging.
You are going to be building relationships with human beings (if they don’t already exist) and that takes time.
You can’t retweet one of their articles and call it a day.
Rather, retweet their content, add an intelligent comment when you share it with your network, and visit the page. If they allow comments, leave a respectful and smart one.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
If you do this consistently (I’d even say daily), after about a month, you’ll have their attention.
Then you can pitch your contributed content.
Guest Blogging and Pitching
Because you have been sharing and commenting on their content for at least a month, you know what they do and don’t like.
Use that to your advantage.
Send an email and refer back to a Twitter conversation or comment thread you had—and how it’s helped you formulate an idea for content for their site.
Then pitch the idea.
Make sure they know it’s content you will produce and provide them for publication.
We all need great content (Spin Sucks included, so don’t be shy about pitching us, but DO follow our guidelines) and, if it’s pitched well (and later written well), you have secured yourself an ongoing relationship.
Provide an outline, some key points or lessons you’ll provide, and a deadline.
And then deliver on or before the deadline.
There is nothing worse than being on the blogger’s side of things and having to chase down the content that was promised a week ago.
Deliver on time.
Guest Blogging and Content
Now it’s time to work your magic.
The content should be informational, valuable, and educational.
It should not be sales-y or talk about how great your organization is.
When you finish, go back through it and add links.
You should have one link to your site—in the example we’ve been using, I’d use “guest blogging” as my anchor text and link to this article you’re reading right now.
Also include a link or two from the site you’re pitching in the article. They always appreciate that.
And then include a few links to other sites that help prove your hypothesis or provide the reader more information.
Once the content is accepted and you are given a publication date, make sure you have some open time on your calendar.
This is so you can share, and engage with the blog’s community.
We require guest bloggers respond to every commenter. If they don’t, we don’t invite them back.
Repurpose that Baby
Once your article has lived on the internet for about a month, run it on your own site.
Do make sure it’s OK that you do that—and that you ask how long you have to wait.
We require our guest authors wait 30 days before they repurpose it on their site.
And we require them to include a canonical link and a line at the bottom that says, “This first appeared on Spin Sucks” with a link to the original piece.
Both of these things help the search engines understand it’s repurposed content and not duplicate content that is scraped from robots.
And, now that you have a link from a higher domain authority site, Google gives you a gold star.
Pretty soon, you’ll start to appear on the first page of results for your priority keyword—and now have the honor of receiving the same crappy emails that asks for links.