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Working with bloggers

From: SEO: Link Building in Depth

Video: Working with bloggers

In the previous video, I discussed article syndication, and left you with the idea that you could contact bloggers and offer guest articles for them to run. There's an important difference between articles posted into syndication libraries and those posted directly to blogs. The links in blogs are likely to be far more valuable than regular syndication articles. The search engines know the article libraries when they see them and thus don't give links in their pages particularly high value. And even if someone picks up an article from a library and posts it on their site, the search engines may recognize the articles elsewhere and thus give the links relatively low value.

Working with bloggers

In the previous video, I discussed article syndication, and left you with the idea that you could contact bloggers and offer guest articles for them to run. There's an important difference between articles posted into syndication libraries and those posted directly to blogs. The links in blogs are likely to be far more valuable than regular syndication articles. The search engines know the article libraries when they see them and thus don't give links in their pages particularly high value. And even if someone picks up an article from a library and posts it on their site, the search engines may recognize the articles elsewhere and thus give the links relatively low value.

However, unique content on blogs can provide very valuable links back to your site. There are several ways to get links placed on blogs. First, there's the idea of posting links in article comment areas. It's a strategy that's essentially worthless but you'll still find companies selling blog comment services. This is what's known as blog spam, and apart from being obnoxious, essentially polluting people's blogs, it really doesn't work because links and comments are virtually always no follow links. In fact, that's why the rel=nofollow tag was created in the first place to discourage blog spam.

Okay, next is the idea of submitting guest articles to blogs. As I suggested in the last video, if you do this the articles will be posted into the blogs article area and links there are generally follow links. These are good links especially when they come from popular blogs. You can also try to convince bloggers to list your site in their blogroll or their list of links. You'll need to have a site that is worth linking to of course, if for example you're promoting a site that sells a discount snow shoeing gear, you maybe able to get people who blog about snow shoeing to list you as a resource.

Finally, you can also get links from blogs by convincing bloggers to write about your site. Of course, you'll need something to write about a hook that you can hang a story on. Again, links and articles posted on blogs whether written by you or the blogger are generally follow links. A good blog campaign can be very valuable because you get links distributed widely across the Internet and they're the type of links that Google typically likes to see, the real thing. But to make such a campaign work you really do have to have a good story.

There has to be a reason for bloggers to link to your site. I think of a blog link campaign as blog PR. And there's a core concept in public relations that goes back many years. If you want people to write about or talk about you, you have got to have a hook to hang the story on. What I ask my clients is your USP, your Unique Selling Proposition. What makes your site so special? If you can't answer that question, there's probably no reason for bloggers to write about you. If you are just one site in a crowded arena of similar sites, bloggers won't want to write about you.

And in any case you have a bigger problem. How do you hope to compete in any way? Let's assume thought that you can answer that question and that you really do have a good answer. You have the best prices, or the best selection, or the best content, or something that sets you apart. So the first thing to do is find the bloggers who have good prospects for your pitch. You may already know the number of bloggers but you can find more by searching using Google Blog Search for instance. There are various other blog directories too.

And don't forget to follow links in blogrolls or the useful link list within the blogs themselves. You'll soon find a large number of blogs in virtually any subject area. When you find useful blogs, you will want to record some basic information, perhaps in a spreadsheet. The blog name, the URL, the name of the person who owns the blog, a link to the author page. Perhaps the author's email address or other contact method. If one of your goals is to get blogroll links, you will want to record information about that too. One of my clients has a site selling a particular type of handicraft supplies.

And we notice that many blogs contain list of links to useful stores. So he had his staff record whether a blog had such a list, and if so, whether his store was already in the list. Once you've got this sort of information, the hard work begins. Essentially you're going to contact the blogs and offer or suggest various things. You'll want informal chatty context. Don't use some kind of spam looking boiler plate, and don't overwhelm the blogger. I suggest you propose one thing at a time. Very quickly tell them why their readers might be interested in your site.

And remember, just as with PR, it's all about providing something that the readers might be interested in. Then suggest that they add a link to the already existing list of stores or list of useful resources. Perhaps you suggest that they write about your site or maybe you offer to write an article for them. There are other things you can do too, perhaps you hold a contest giving away something of value. If your site is promoting an eBook for instance, you hold a drawing to give away 20 copies and use the blogs to announce the drawing. If you find really popular blogs, you might even offer the blogger's own drawings, exclusive to just his readers and no one else.

This is a very effective technique that many sites have used. I know of a musical instrument company that gives away strings every month and has gone to thousands of links by announcing the drawings in blogs. Also, make friends with the bloggers. Include coupons when you contact them. Offer to provide review copies or whatever you can do to stand out and make them want to write about you. Blog linking campaigns are often overlooked but can be incredibly powerful. If you have a good story to tell, get out there and tell it to the bloggers.

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SEO: Link Building in Depth

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