This post is the second in a series by James McAllister on Guest Blogging. If you haven’t read the first installment, we recommend you start with Guest Blogging Part 1: How To Get In The Guest Blogging Game. 

And now, please enjoy the second half of McAllister’s in-depth look at guest blogging: 

There are many reasons that a marketer might consider including guest posting as part of their digital marketing strategy, but quite often it is to strengthen the authority of their website. In light of the numerous vague references to follow and no-follow links and their uses published by Google, many bloggers and influencers are understandably over cautious when it comes to linking, so it’s worth performing a brief back link analysis to determine whether or not they allow follow links (links that allow authority to be passed from one domain to another) on their blog.

To do this follow these steps below:

Step one:

Find a number of recent blog posts published on the site.

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 Step two:

Find an external link, right click on it, and then click inspect element. 

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 Step three:

The highlighted section is the HTML code for the link. Check for a rel=“nofollow” tag in the link’s code. If there isn’t one, then the link will pass authority.

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Alternatively, services such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer can perform a similar function that analyses a site’s full link profile, and shows if they pass authority or not.

This is not to say that rel=“nofollow” links don’t serve a purpose. When used correctly they can provide your business with a great source of traffic. But in terms of developing your site’s page rank, it’s recommended that you look for relevant domains that allow authority to be passed through their links.

Do they offer paid posts?

A site openly offering links in return for money is a sure signal to Google that the site is in breach of their terms and conditions. If Google does penalize a site for selling links, then there is a good chance that any sites that are deemed to have paid for links on this domain could also be penalized.

Matt Cutts has previously spoken on the subject stating:

Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If a link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute). Google — and other search engines — do take action which can include demoting sites that sell links that pass PageRank, for example.”

So there are instances where paying for links is acceptable, however the relationship between the domains requires full disclosure and the use of a rel=“nofollow” tag.

A website will usually indicate in their guest post guidelines whether or not they accept payment for links. But, if this is the case, it’s recommended that you look for a link elsewhere.

What is the authority of the site?

Domain authority is another factor that you need to take into consideration when deciding who to contact. Sites with lower authority may be easier to contact and more relaxed about the content they accept, but these links, at best, won’t make a huge amount of difference to your site’s authority, and at worst could actually be counter productive.

Moz is one of the most common tools used to measure DA. Much like Klout score for social authority, Moz does a reasonably accurate job at determining the authority of a domain by frequently crawling the web, in a similar fashion to Google. Obviously, Moz’s resources are more limited when compared to Google’s, so this domain authority figure can only function as a guideline.

To quickly find the authority of a domain, all you have to do is install Moz’s toolbar.

Some other ways that you can assess the authority of a site is by searching for their brand name – in this case we look at Digital Sherpa.

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If the site doesn’t rank towards the top of SERPs (search engine result pages) for their own brand name, it may be an indication that Google has penalized the site at some point. This means that working with this site will not provide any benefit, and could even negatively impact your own domain.

If a brand appears within the top rankings for its social media profiles as well as its website, then this is a good indication that the site is influential and can offer good quality links.

How strict are their guest post guidelines?

Another potential indicator that a website may be lacking in good quality content is the absence of guest posting guidelines. If this is the case, then there is chance that the overall quality of the site may also be compromised, meaning any links that they provide will do little in the way of benefitting your own domain.

Outreach is always easier when a website accepts guest post contributions with open arms, however there are benefits of having strict gate keeping in place. Not only can this guarantee a higher quality of content, but also indicate a good quality website, and therefore, a good quality link.

When executed properly, guest posting can be a powerful weapon in a digital marketer’s arsenal, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a numbers game. Placing a lot of links may make for impressive stats at your next marketing meeting, but it will have little effect in terms of increasing your website’s page rank. Remember, the number one rule for guest posting is always quality over quantity.

Author bio: This article was written by James McAllister an online marketer and small business specialist for Make It Cheaper. If you’re looking for more online marketing or small business tips, make sure you follow James on Twitter or Google+.


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About Sarah Mincher

Sarah Mincher is the Content Marketing Manager and (more importantly) the resident Grumpy Cat authority at DigitalSherpa. Sarah graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs in 2011. In her free time, Sarah enjoys riding her horse, reading and googling Ryan Gosling.