Despite not being a fan of clickbait, I’ll happily admit my hypocrisy given that this post has the clickbaitiest title in history – so before you break out your pitchforks, I’ll do you a deal: here’s a quick TL;DR summary so you can determine if you wanna read on or be on your merry way…
TL;DR: If you’re doing a content audit on a site that’s had guest content published on it, and you decide to remove some of that content, let the original author know if they want to re-publish it on their own site (along with a link to the ‘original’ source).
A few years ago, I wrote a guest post for Point Blank SEO, a site/blog run by veteran link builder Jon Cooper (@joncooperseo). The post was titled “Communitybait – Taking Egobait One Step Further” in which I coined the term communitybait and shared examples of what that was. The post is no longer live (I’ll get to that), but thanks to the Wayback Machine, it can still be read here: https://web.archive.org/web/20161005194750/http://pointblankseo.com/communitybait
Sometime between then and now, Jon must’ve sold the site/domain to Brian Dean (@backlinko), who’s also a veteran link builder. So I was surprised to see Brian miss a link building-oriented trick…
In the fight for SEO, the juicier the links, the better. We all want to get the best links for ourselves and for our clients – which is why we aim high and identify opportunities with high PA (Page Authority) and high DA (Domain Authority) scores. But sometimes we can get carried away and can take it a bit too far…
A while back I worked on an outreach project for a client, trying to help them get links for some pretty cool resources that they’d created. However, after accepting the work, they dropped the bombshell that they only wanted to get links from sources with a DA score of at least 30 out of 100. I pleaded with them to reconsider (making some of the points below) but they wouldn’t budge. Now I’m grateful for the work, and I adore the person who passed the project my way (he might even end up reading this), so I don’t want this to sound like I’m bitching and moaning. But I genuinely think that they shot themselves in the foot by making that decision. Allow me to explain why…
…But before I do:
First off… What is DA?
Domain Authority (DA) is a logarithmic score out of 100. Developed by Moz, it assesses a website’s SEO ‘strength’ from a purely linking point of view. The higher the better, so getting a link from a DA 30 site is good; a link from a DA 50 site is great; and a link from a DA 70+ site is bloody brilliant.
I completely understand why brands only want to get links from the biggest and best sources – those with the highest DA scores. But ironically, when conducting manual link building and outreach, only targeting the biggest sites can actually be counterproductive. Here are five reasons why:
1) “Little acorns”
Every website starts somewhere – usually with a DA 1 (the lowest possible DA score).
When I created and launched CR 25 18 months ago, it too started at DA 1. It was on DA 1 for a while, even post-launch – simply because DA can take a while to update. It got quite a few links from a few different domains (not tons, but a fair few), and despite getting little attention this past year (as it was a one-off project), it’s now sitting at DA 19. That’s not too bad.
Tech Dragons – a brand new news site documenting Welsh tech startups – already has 44 linking root domains pointing to it according to Majestic, and yet it’s DA 1, simply because it’s new. I bet it’s going to jump to DA 20-30 very soon, if not higher.
Heck, even businesswales.gov.wales – the new domain for Business Wales, a Welsh Government-led initiative – is currently DA 1. But I guarantee that getting a link from a site like that is not something that Google’s going to ignore in a hurry.
“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” as the saying goes. Just because a site isn’t DA 30 now, it doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future.
2) It’s harder, as you’re restricting opportunities
On the project I mentioned above, we had a particular niche that we were targeting. What was weird (and frustrating) was that I found lots and lots of easy-to-grab opportunities in the DA 20-30 range – but obviously this didn’t fit the criteria, as we were only targeting opportunities of DA 30 and upwards. This almost felt like a shame, as we were missing out on quite a few that could’ve been worthwhile – especially if we’d gotten a fair few of them sorted.
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).
I’m a big fan of HARO (Help A Reporter Out). I wrote a guide on it on here, and since then I’ve written a guide to repurposing HARO requests over on State of Digital. This is a follow-up to the latter – a quick, head-slappingly, can’t-believe-I-didn’t-think-of-it-sooner follow-up tip.
To be fair, the entirety of this blog post can be summed up in the following six words: record your efforts in a spreadsheet. There you go – you can go now. …Although if you want to keep my ‘average time on site’ stats nice n’ healthy in my Google Analytics, then do please feel free to read on.
The problem with HARO is that it’s very much fast-paced. You get three emails a day – which is overwhelming enough as it is – and then when you find a good potential request, you have a deadline, which is sometimes (although rarely) up to a week or so, although more often than not it’s only a day or two. If you’re answering it yourself (e.g. I do SEO and freelancing ones on behalf of this blog and my own business) then you need to think of something good to say within that timeframe, too. If your client has to answer it (e.g. I like the client to respond – s/he is the expert in their industry, after all – rather than ghost-writing it for them) then not only do they also have to think of something good to say, but they have to do it in time, which can sometimes be a real challenge. Finally you get something sendable, send it across, and that’s it. WHEW. And relax.
The problem with this? There’s very much a ‘send it and forget it’ mentality about the whole thing. Once it’s done it’s done. If it gets picked up then that’s great; if it doesn’t then never mind.
On Thursday 23rd July, I spoke at the 14th Design Stuff Cardiff event. My talk gave SEO advice aimed at the design community, covering SEO basics while advising on the SEO tactics that are most suited to designers: e.g. image SEO and link building tactics such as ‘web design by’ links, showcase websites and by finding non-credited images via reverse image search.
At the end of the talk, Dan (DSC’s main organiser) asked the crowd if they’d learnt something new from my talk and virtually the whole room put their hand up, which was great to see. (Just don’t ask me how the book giveaway went…!)
I shared the stage that night with friend and fellow ICEr Warren Fauvel (@WarrenOF), who did an incredible talk about why design is doomed as it becomes more automated, and the ways that designers can adapt accordingly. I recommend watching it, whether you’re a designer, an SEO or if you work in another related creative/tech sector – it’s one of the best talks I’ve ever seen.
This has been my fourth speaking gig in as many months (actually, I’ve done five talks in four months, as I haven’t counted one smaller, more informal talk), with nothing else lined up now in the near future. To be completely honest though, I’m quite thankful to be taking a bit of a break from it, which will give me chance to concentrate on my SEO consultancy business as well as a few other side-projects that I’d like to work on. Stay tuned for some exciting news coming soon…