Neil Patel

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Make the Most of Guest Blogging: Second-Tier Link Building

Link building is the website promotional strategy for acquiring direct inbound links to your site. It’s an important driver that helps your website rank higher in the search engines. Second-tier link building is a bit more complex: it’s an often ignored strategy for where you acquire links to webpages outside your domain that link to your pages.

In other words:

Link building Second-tier link building
You build link to… Your web pages and sites you own Someone else’s web pages that link to your properties

Second-tier link building is not a new topic; basically, it’s about promoting your promoters (linking to pages that link to you). While I understand that this tactic may sound too familiar to many fellow SEOs, let’s start with the disclaimer: this guide has nothing to do with the grey-hat approach to “tired” link building that’s about dominating top ten results using various low-quality profile pages and thus creating link wheels.

Instead, this is about bringing up your brand-relevant content that is hosted outside your domain.

How Second-Tier Link Building Relates to Guest Blogging

In my opinion, guest blogging has always been more of a relationship-building tactic than a link-profile-building method. That’s the main reason I prefer guest blogging over any other link building methods: Guest blogging is more about building relationships than links – and second-tier link building has been one of my ways to make it work.

Now that we have that covered, let’s get into the nitty-gritty!

Linking *TO* Your Guest Posts: Basics

extra link love

A guest post is a piece of content you write for someone else’s blog to be featured there and get your word out. A guest post contains an “About author” section where you can link back to your sites and projects. In exchange for the free content you provide to the blogger, you get increased visibility from his/her blog audience.

By linking *TO* your guest posts from your own available resources, you can achieve two important goals:

  1. Get appreciated by the blog owner (whose page you are thus promoting for free)
  2. Build a more powerful (“linked-to”) page that links to you from the byline

Let’s discuss these two goals in more detail:

1. Get Appreciated = Make the Most of Your Guest Blogging Contact

I’ve always said that a blogging contact is the most important benefit you get from your guest post:

  • Numerous contacts with website publishers are what will one day allow you to stop building links, because links will flow on their own.
  • Besides, bringing up your old guest blogging contacts will let you kick-start any of your new projects or get the word out for any of your business news.

Linking to your guest posts is one of the most effective ways to get blogger love and fond remembrance. That’s what I’ve been doing for ages, and the effort has been noticed:

linking to your guest post

So here’s what I do:

I keep a record of all my guest posts in our internal link-tracking tool and whenever I am writing a new guest post, I make sure to link to something I did previously (provided that makes sense). Since I usually blog on similar (or at least neighboring) topics, that’s fairly easy to do.

The good thing is that most bloggers will see and recognize that backlink via their WordPress pingback tracking tool, and most of them will appreciate and remember that! This means you will always be welcome at those blogs whenever you want to guest post again (or get some PR help).

2. Get Linked = Create a More Powerful Backlink Source

For all “proper” link builders who were not convinced with #1: Yes, by linking to your guest post, you bring it up in search engines and make it a more powerful link source for your own page (as it promotes your properties in the byline).

There is one thing to bear in mind here, though (and one that I usually see misunderstood): Avoid your guest posts competing with your own site in search results.

guest blogging warning

When writing a guest post, don’t include your most important keywords in its title. –> Don’t target the same terms in your guest post that you are targeting for your own sites. Simply put, don’t write about selling green apples if you are selling green apples. Instead, brainstorm guest posts – listing best recipes for cooking apples, apps to help you grow apples in your garden, health benefits of apples, etc.

Linking *FROM* Your Guest Posts

linking from your guest post

There’s another way guest blogging can be utilized for second-tier link building. When providing a guest post, you don’t want to link to your domain too much. Excessive self-linking makes you look link-greedy and may spoil your contacts instead of building them.

However, by utilizing second-tier link building, you can add a couple of additional links to your brand-relevant pages outside your domain. (You still don’t want to overdo this, of course.)

For reputation management, I may use the guest post byline section to link to:

  • My website third-party reviews;
  • My professional and personal social media accounts (Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, etc.).

I occasionally utilize in-content links to bring up my older articles and guest posts as well (provided the links add to the value of the guest post).

Of course, the above should be done only if your guest post is huge and useful enough for all of those links so that it looks OK. Throwing together a quick 400-word guest post and adding all kinds of self-serving links won’t do.

Useful Tools

The tool How to use it for second-tier link building and guest blogging
Google Analytics Identify your most efficient guest posts in terms of the amount of traffic they refer to you. These are your best targets for second-tier links (here’s how I do that).
Rank Checker Don’t go nuts about keyword-optimizing your second-tier links, but it may be a good idea to use the rank checker to find out how well your guest post is already doing for some obvious terms.
Spreadsheets Spreadsheets are great for organizing your backlinks. Make sure to add a separate column for title and description to more easily find which guest posts to link to by a simple CTRL+F5 search

Are you utilizing guest blogging for second-tier link building? Please share your thoughts!

About the Author: Ann Smarty is the serial guest blogger running My Blog Guest, the free guest blogging and content sharing platform. Ann is also a proud branding and community manager for Internet Marketing Ninjas founded by Jim Boykin and based in Clifton Park.

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