To begin with, it is important to note that link acquisition is a time consuming and often expensive process.
However, with backlinks being one of the most important ranking factors in terms of SEO in 2019, it is a process that simply cannot be ignored.
Why is link acquisition important?
It is also imperative that these websites are contextually relevant to your own – for example it wouldn’t be hugely helpful having a link from a car-related website pointing to cosmetic company's website with no clear relationship. The quality of the content you pitch to the external website will also have a factor, as they are unlikely to publish poorly written content.
Factors to consider for the website where you post your content
There are several metrics to pay attention to with regards to the prospective external website that may link to you and there are many SEO tools available to help you do so. These are:
Low-risk backlink profile
Analyse the backlink profile using this free tool. If a prospective website has a high number of low-quality links (links with a low ‘domain score’ below 20) then it should be avoided.
Good visibility index
Essentially this is a score that represents the organic visibility of a website – i.e. its success on the results pages. Avoid low scores below ~30 (dependent on industry see this article). You can use this free tool to get a visibility index score.
Low spam score
Spam score assesses the quality of external backlinks pointing to the domain. Anything below 30% is a good spam score. This free tool will provide you with a value.
Allow deep links
Some domains only allow links to your homepage. While this may be okay in some cases, you want to ensure that you are building links to your important pages on the website – not just the homepage.
You must not only pay attention to being mentioned in industry-related websites but on websites with a semantic relationship between the content of your project and the content and visibility of the prospects.
High trust flow and citation flow
Trust flow informs how trustworthy the sites are pointing towards a particular domain. Citation flow informs how influential a website may be, based on the number of other websites linking to it. This article explains the metrics very well. This free tool will provide you scores on both.
Certain websites can be incredibly expensive in terms of the cost of having an article posted on their website with a link pointing back to your own, as webmasters are generally well aware of the value that backlinks provide from an organic standpoint. This said, the price is often negotiable and in rare cases some websites may even post your article (link included) for free – provided the quality of the content is high.
How do I find these guest posting websites?
One method to find these websites is to check the backlinks of some competitors using the aforementioned backlink checker tool and seeing which websites have included links to them. These websites are therefore more likely to link to you as you have a similar website/business. Another very common way to search for websites that accept guest posts is through Google searches. Use search terms such as those identified below. For instance, if you were an arts university, you'd replacing ‘keyword’ with relevant terms such as ‘undergraduate’, ‘art’, or ‘education’.
- Keyword “submit a guest post”
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword “guest post by”
- Keyword “accepting guest posts”
- Keyword “guest post guidelines”
NB: “Quotation marks” ensure that exact match is used in your search, so the words within the quotation marks must appear in that order.
I’ve found a website, what now?
Once you have selected a website to post your content on, you need to write the article itself. The quality of the article is less important from an SEO point of view as it will not sit on your own domain. However, you are likely to be able to negotiate a cheaper price (or perhaps even remove any cost in some instances) with a higher quality article.
This article should be highly relevant to a specific element of the website. I.e. writing an article about what to do after university should point to postgraduate pages. Furthermore, the anchor text (i.e. the blue clickable link like this) should use a keyword relevant to the page that you are linking to. Taking the aforementioned case of the postgraduate page, you should use anchor text with a relevant keyword, such as ‘fine art postgraduate’ or ‘masters in art’.
The content is live – are we done now!?
Unfortunately, SEO is never done! Once you have agreed on a price with a website and they have posted your content, it is important to keep a record of all the places where you have content posted and monitor these periodically to ensure that links are not removed or pages deleted, etc.
Here's Sergio with more on link acquisition strategies for 2020.