Guest posting is far from new, but it went through a growth spurt after Panda and Penguin’s shockwaves began to shake up the SEO world. SEOs needed an better scale-able strategy that allowed them to gain backlinks on reputable sites. Since “content marketing” was the new buzz word, guest posting (aka guest blogging) seemed like a perfect fit.
Along Came the Mediocre Quality Tactics
However, as happens with many “new” tactics, some people started taking shortcuts and abusing guest blogging. Many simply tried to apply the same mediocre methods to guest blogging that they had used with article directories. In fact, you could accurately say that many SEOs became nothing more than “Guest Post Content Farms”.
Could Guest Posting be a Penalty-Worthy Link Scheme?
Possibly. If your guest blogging efforts are focused on writing a 500 word article to get a keyword relevant link, you’re probably headed down a path that could end in a Google penalty. Why? Google doesn’t want SEOs doing anything that is primarily intended to get a link for SEO purposes. Google wants SEOs to use strategies that first and foremost provide value to the user. That means your guest posts need to focus on reaching and providing value to a relevant group of readers.
There are many guides to guest posting that explain the general idea behind this content marketing strategy, so we’re going to focus on using social metrics to choose which blogs to target with your outreach efforts.
Why use Social Metrics?
Leaving aside the argument over how much Google directly uses social signals in its algorithms, social sharing metrics are a good way to measure the impact a piece of content has on real people. If a piece of content isn’t getting shared socially, it’s probably either a) not reaching a significant audience, or b) readers aren’t very impressed by it.
On the flip side, a piece of content with a lot of social shares is almost certainly reaching and providing value to a relevant audience. This is the type of content Google wants to reward.
As a bonus point, a piece of content that gets shared socially is more likely to get linked to from other sites (meaning it will have more link authority).
3 reasons to use audience and social metrics when choosing guest post opportunities:
- Strong social sharing correlates with content that is impacting an audience, which is the type of content Google wants to reward.
- Google is using social metrics to some extent in its algorithms, and will likely do so more in the future.
- Reaching a larger audience means more brand exposure and traffic from the guest post.
Viewing Social & Audience Metrics Quickly
How do you analyze a blog’s social and audience metrics, without Google Analytics access, and without wasting a lot of time? The key is to use a tool that will give you quick access to information about the social impact of the blog and its individual posts. Once you have the basics, you can pick out a few blogs to manually investigate further.
At-a-glance social metrics:
The simple Blog Social Analyzer grabs data from the RSS feed of any blog and displays:
- Social metrics for the most recent blog posts
- Social metrics for the blog’s homepage
- SEO and Alexa metrics for the the blog’s homepage
For example, if we want to analyze SEJ, we enter in the RSS feed URL (http://feeds.feedburner.com/SearchEngineJournal) and get these results:
At-a-glance traffic metrics:
SimilarWeb is a fairly new addition to the online marketing toolbox. It displays many of the metrics traditionally associated with tools like Alexa such as traffic and demographics data. The biggest advantage is the way it displays the data in an easy to follow format that will give you important social and audience metrics at a glance. This includes a section dedicated to social traffic where you get access to the breakdown of how much of the blog’s traffic comes from social networks and which networks are producing the most traffic.
Keep in mind that much like Alexa data, this data is subject to significant biases. Use this data as a “suggestion” not as precise data.
Manually Investigate for More Metrics
The Blog Social Analyzer along with SimilarWeb will help you speed up the decision making process considerably. However, you should also visit chosen sites manually to do a visual check and look for additional audience metrics. Here are a few more metrics you can look at:
- Some sites may display a badge with a count of their RSS subscribers, which tells you how many committed readers the blog has. If the site doesn’t list the number of subscribers, you can use the Google Reader Feed Search to get an idea of how many Google Reader users subscribe to the blog.
- Browsing a few of the posts on the site will also give you an idea of the number of comments you can expect from particularly compelling content. Just like the social metrics we saw from the Social Analyzer tool, this helps us determine how active the blog’s readers are and the potential the site has to help you generate buzz about your brand.
- Check to see how many likes/followers the blog has on their Facebook page and Twitter profile. Also look for engagement – a high follower count with no engagement suggests that the followers may be fake.
What are your favorite tips for analyzing a blog’s social and audience metrics?
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