If you’re doing SEO, you’re probably doing link building, and if you’re doing link building, you might be doing guest blogging as a tactic. Despite Google saying that it’s done as a tactic a while back, I think it’s still a good, viable strategy – if you’re doing it properly, of course.
When it comes to comments sections, the issue with guest blogging is that you’re relying on someone else to manage and administrate the comments for you. On your own blog, you may choose not to have comments on blog posts at all, but if you do, you’ll probably check them and approve/deny them before they go live – and even so, you’d probably get a notification if a new comment is pending. If it’s a guest blog post then you’re leaving that process in the hands of someone else. Some of them actually notify you as the author (e.g. I get notified of comments against my posts on State of Digital), but not always…
I had a heart attack when a client’s guest post had a negative ‘troll’ comment against it. For six months. Neither me, the client nor the blog owner spotted it until I happened to check something on the post and caught it then.
The nightmare moment
Ironically, I discovered the troll comment because I was contacting another blog about a guest posting opportunity and they wanted to see other examples of the writer’s work, so I went onto the site to dig it out. It was only then that I discovered the offending comment (…and obviously I didn’t share it with the person who wanted to see examples – for obvious reasons, heh).
As bloggers, we often get very fixated and carried away with our blogs: making sure that the content that we produce, the blog’s design, etc. are all absolutely perfect. SEO often enters the mix as well (in a do-it-yourself capacity), but it’s not simply a case of adding the WordPress SEO plugin – which is, admittedly, great – to your blog and thinking that that’s all you need to do on the SEO front…
On the contrary… On the link building (a.k.a. off-site SEO) side of things, the possibilities are endless and the fun never ends. It’s not a quantity game, but the more high quality, relevant and natural links that you get pointing to your website (or your blog, as is the case here), the better that it’ll perform from an SEO standpoint, resulting in a likely increase in visibility from organic search – i.e. when people are Googling content relevant to your blog, they might stand more of a chance of finding it, resulting in more traffic to it. So while you can tinker and tweak your site’s internal workings to improve its on-site SEO, you can also improve its off-site SEO by acquiring inbound links.
But how do you go about getting links? Where do you start?
As an SEO who’s also a keen blogger, here are a few ways of getting links back to your blog that have worked for me:
1) Guest blogging
Although this tactic has lost some of its impact due to people spamming it too much (although it’s not all bad – you can read my views here), there might still be some good opportunities to guest blog on other bloggers’ websites in your niche, so it’s worth looking into. In addition to the link back to your blog, the hosting blogger is likely to promote it via their social media profiles, too.
It’s worked for me. Beyond recently becoming a regular contributor on State Of Digital, I have also written posts for Moz, SEMrush and other industry blogs. In addition to getting some good industry exposure, getting links from such high profile websites to my blog has helped with its SEO.
Going to local blogger meet-ups simply to get to know other local bloggers and to offer advice can be a good way to get links. I’ve seen people get links because someone’s published a write-up of the event and they’ve included links to all the bloggers that they met there. I’ve even been added to a few bloggers’ blogrolls simply due to taking the time to get to know them.
Cardiff Blogs used to be the big player a few years back, but they run less events now than they used to. Despite this, there are a few blogging-related events that seem to crop up every now and again in the South Wales area – so it’s worth keeping an eye out.
Whether you call yourself a freelancer, a solo/independent consultant, a solopreneur or maybe even something else entirely, one of the biggest challenges that we face as one-person bands is the ability to balance our workloads effectively – in particular by keeping the sales pipeline filling up while we’re busy working on other projects.
And I can speak about this from recent personal experience…
I have a confession to make…
I dropped the ball on the sales front earlier this year. After a busy Q4 in 2014 (resulting in December being my most successful month income-wise to date at the time) and a very busy January running CR 25 single-handedly, followed by two large one-off projects in Feb-Mar (which both overran), I was simply too busy to fit sales into the mix.
Then in April: quiet. Well… I had enough to keep me going, but things were a lot quieter than I was used to. It was my quietest period since my first three months in business (way back in the summer of 2013) and therefore in over 18 months. Yikes.
Things have picked up rather nicely since then, but I wanted to take the time to blog about some of the ways that I went about drumming up new business during that quiet spell. And while working on this list of sales tactics for freelancers, I just kept adding more and more ideas to it and ended up with 20 different ways…! For the record though, you might not see some tactics that you’re expecting to see… For example, I don’t condone cold-calling, door-to-door sales or any other type of ‘interruptive’ marketing like that, so that won’t be in the list below. I’m also not keen on freelancer marketplace websites (e.g. PeoplePerHour) – I’m not saying that they don’t work, they’re just not for me, and I’m sure that there are other freelancers who feel the same way.
…So what else can you do?
A slight disclaimer: some of these are probably really obvious, but if fellow freelancers (SEO or otherwise) browse the list, see 2 or 3 points and think to themselves: “damn, why didn’t I think of that?” then that’ll do for me…! 🙂
First things first…
1) Remove any “I’m not available” type messages from your blog/website
If you’re in a position to network and drive leads and enquiries your way, the last thing that you’ll want to do is to put people off with a message on your site that says “I’m unavailable at the moment” or “I’m unavailable until [future date]”… It’s all well and good to have this on the site when you are full-up capacity-wise, but be sure to remove it when you aren’t and when you’re actively seeking work. While this might seem really obvious, it’s crucial that you make sure to remember to remove the message everywhere and anywhere it’s featured: is it on your Contact page / your Hire Me page / site-wide? For me, it was on this very blog’s Hire Me page and my freelance site‘s Contact page, but it could be disasterous if I only remembered to remove it off one of the pages and not the other – so be sure to remember to do it…!
As an aside… Some people swear off using these type of messages entirely, which is fair enough (after all, what if a dream enquirer sees it and it puts them off from enquiring?), but @ChrisLDyson of Triple SEO raised a good point that it usually still brings in the more serious enquiries while putting off the “can I just get a quote?” types. Besides, they might not read it anyway and just get in touch regardless.
Right, got that sorted? Good. Onto the next one…
Leveraging existing business relationships
2) Touch base with old clients
If you work with clients directly and you’ve already done work for somebody – maybe on a one-off basis – and you left things on good terms, then it makes sense to touch base and catch up on their current situation. Maybe they’re in need of more of your assistance?
I did some one-off consulting for two companies in the past year and decided to email them asking how things were going. Both of them said that my timing was perfect, that they’d be keen to reconvene things – and I’ve already been to see one of them (the other one is still keen but they’re going to leave it another month or two). Nice and easy.
Obviously this only really works in certain circumstances – for example, if you stopped working with a client because their budget ran out/got cut, or they’ve gone ahead with another supplier, or they’ve brought the service in-house instead, then you may want to give those ones a miss. But think back to all your old clients and get in touch with those who loved what you did for them and might need more of the same.
3) Touch base with your main referral partners (e.g. agencies)
Who usually passes you work? In my case, as an SEO, I get a fair bit of work from web design agencies and PR agencies. Similar to the point above, get in touch with those that you’ve worked with before and find out if any of their clients currently need help with anything.
“Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”
As expected, the SEO industy went nuts on Twitter (I have to admit that a lot of the responses were actually prettyfunny). In the 12-ish hours or so that have passed since the announcement, there have already been some great response posts by SEO greats including Joost de Valk and Ann Smarty (to name just a few). Given that I’m a strong advocate of guest blogging, I wanted to chip in, too.
My immediate thought was this: the statement is intended to scare the spammers. People who spam guest blogging will (hopefully) be put off. But people who do guest blogging properly aren’t (or shouldn’t) suddenly be thinking of stopping everything. That would be crazy.
Here are some other thoughts…
Matt specifically mentions paid guest blogging
In Matt’s post, he complains about some guest blogging outreach that he received, especially the fact that they offered him money if they published it:
“If you ignore the bad spacing and read the parts that I bolded, someone sent me a spam email offering money to get links that pass PageRank. That’s a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.”
I’m curious to know if Matt would’ve made such a fuss if they didn’t offer him money. Granted, it was still a lousy outreach attempt (and of all the people to target…!), but it’s true: money shouldn’t be involved in a conversation about guest blogging (more on this below).
Not all guest posting is spammy
My concern is that people will suddenly think: “oh no, guest blogging… eee!” and run for the hills. But Stephen Kenwright makes a cracking point:
YouMoz, man! I challenge anyone to read YouMoz and find one post where someone’s blatantly only done it for the SEO-ness. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for YouMoz 6 times (2 of which were promoted onto the main blog), and not once did I think: “this is gonna boost my SEOz” – if anything, it’s an added bonus.
I finish my coursework at the end of this month, after which I’ll finally get on with the site redesign. I’m serious. I’m not kidding! I’ve been talking about it for well over a year, so it’s about bloody time I got it sorted. Seriously though, I’m marking it as a priority from September, even at the expense of writing less content until I get it done.
Speaking of content, I have some great posts lined up. I’m in the process of asking for people’s comments for a post relating to online marketing for live music, which will probably end up being one of my next posts. I also have half a dozen or so ideas for content – it’s just having the time write them that’s the issue!
Oh and I have a new job! I started my new role as an SEO Strategist for Box UK in July, as part of their new Digital Marketing division. Exciting stuff!
Guest blog posts
Not really guest posts per se, but 4 new posts on other sites…
Before leaving Liberty, I wrote a two-parter titled ‘What Is Keyword Research?’ The first part covers what it is, why it’s important and how to go about it. The second part covers a few common mistakes people make when conducting keyword research. I was supposed to have another post about PPC appear on a well-known PPC blog on behalf of Liberty, but I don’t think they ever published it unfortunately.
I also have another YouMoz post in the works, which I submitted back in June. I wrote my first one a year ago, which seemed to go down well, so I’m very excited to have another post pending publication. Fingers-crossed this one makes it onto the main SEOmoz blog – I’d be absolutely delighted if that were to happen!