Often times, media publications, industry journals and blogs invite experts to contribute knowledge to their site and I have recently had some success building links this way.
The expert guest contributor link building strategy is about leveraging experts within your client’s organization and adding real value to an appropriate site or online publication.
This strategy has pushed me to step up my usual guest post game. I have realized that if I want high quality links from respected industry publications I can’t pay a webmaster $25, have a freelancer write an article about how to blow out a candle and see success. I mean really, anyone could do that.
I think the keys to success with this strategy are to:
1. Be a real person with a real expert on hand.
2. Do your research.
I will walk you through a 10 step process for this strategy using a hypothetical example. Here we go…
The Client: Software Development
The Expert: Focuses her efforts on business intelligence
Step 1: The Search Query
Business intelligence inurl:guest contributors
Step 2: SERP Scanning
I take a look at the SERPs and recognize an opportunity like the Tech Republic one you see below.
Step 3: Qualify the Opportunity
I find a guest piece. I check for followed links in the article which can be done extremely easily if you download the SEO moz bar extension for Chrome. I scroll to the bottom of the article and see if there is a boilerplate with a followed link. I am a huge fan of boilerplate links because they are completely non-intrusive and much less likely to freak out an editor that has “anchortexphobia.”
A boilerplate will look something like this:
Step 4. Educated Pitching
If what I am reading makes absolutely no sense to me, I am not ready to reach out to this publication. The expert contributor strategy will not work well for me if I not understand my client’s industry and where they fit into it.
However, with a solid understanding of the aforementioned, I will be able to read through a publication and recognize opportunities for my client to contribute.
My target site,Tech Republic, has a mobile development section on their site and I found this little gem below. Considering my hypothetical client is in the software development space and my expert focuses on business intelligence, I might pitch a high level topic around building dashboards for the mobile mining of big data.
Step 5. Identify Contact
I need to figure out who I am going to build a relationship with. I will go to the contact us page first and browse through the editorial staff. I know the editor in chief might not be my best bet because they are the most busy. I will go for the editor of a particular section of the site or a staff writer. Below is an example of a staff writer for whom I found contact information focused on mobile development. I go to an article, click on the author’s name and land on a page with his biography.
I might pick up the phone and make friends with whoever answers. The goal is to get a name and contact info for the proper contact person. Hint, you will never get the right contact information if you are not honest with the person on the other end of the phone. Be careful not to sound like you want to do something promotional or you will end up a big fat referral to the advertising department. Nobody wants that! We are paying the publication in knowledge, not money.
Step 6. Craft Message (Craft: Noun. Skill in Planning, Making or Executing.)
I begin my e-mail and make sure I can answer the following question with “yes”. “Is this a genuine e-mail and do I honestly think I can contribute value to the site?” If I can, I continue.
Here is an example of an outreach that worked.
Of course it is not that easy. I received this back:
Ah, interesting and common. Highly respected industry publications often understand link building. They see my gmail signage, see that I am an SEO and assume that what I have to offer them is crap. NO FAIR! Well, life isn't fair so take action and correct the thinking, respectfully.
Although I did not do so in the outreach above, pointing to proof of expertise can be extremely effective and prove that your expert is real. I will have my expert set up a Google+ page and provide a link to the author’s bio on their own company blog. Another added benefit of having these set up is that my experts can get authorship in the SERPs.
Step 7. Secure Topic
Once I get the green light, I will offer my contact an article abstract or synopsis for review and approval. Doing this ensures that my client and the publication are on the same page.
Step 6. Realize that what you need is not the most important thing going on.
I want to make it easy for my client to get information from the expert. I will educate them as to why building high authority links is important for their SEO campaign. If the competitors who are beating them have experts contributing to industry publications, I will point to a few examples.
I will help my client put a strategy in place for borrowing some of the expert’s time. Recommend that a member of the marketing team sit down with the expert for 20 minutes and let the expert talk while they transcribe. Remember, the expert’s main job in the organization is probably not to write. In fact, many people actually get intimidated when they have to write something. Have the expert’s insight passed along to copywriter and turned into a comprehensive piece.
Step 8. Send the final article to your contact with a thank you e-card or your own version of an appreciative gesture.
Step 9. Don’t be a one and done-er.
I always follow up with my contact for future opportunities.
Step 10. Wallow in your new link building win.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Send writer guidelines to the client so they know how long the article should be and are aware of any specifications or restrictions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for your link. EDUCATE the editors. Explain that in order to send a signal to the search engines, there must be a link.
- If you cannot get exact match anchor text, that is okay. Hyperlink the company name and try to surround it with some keywords for co-citation purposes.
Now you are ready to go out and try the expert guest contribution link building strategy. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter @AFreezee