In 2013, we saw a massive rise in guest posting, to the point where it became the next lucrative avenue in making money fast. Service providers started charging big money to host content on their high profile sites, all for a little link back in return. While the web became inundated with guest posts and content marketing efforts, and Matt Cutts did warn how attempts to abuse this system would be penalized, the fact is that it is still a great method of spreading the reach of your site and receiving great quality inbound links.
While countless articles have been written about how best to approach guest posting and content marketing, one of the best and most in-depth I've read was featured recently on moz.com. Written by Matthew Barby (I do think he's somewhat of a genius) it was a good 12 pages worth of exceptional content marketing insight and awesome tools, links and further reading. I've taken the highlights of his article specifically related to finding the right authors, but I do recommend you read article in full, when you have some time.
His entire article revolves around the premise that guest posting is not dead, it's just the manner in which it's done that needs to change. Instead of trying to appeal to anyone and everyone for guest posting and link opportunities, we should be focussing on trying to work with the best in our respective niches.
In Praise Of The Authors
It's all fine and well saying that you need to work with the best authors in your niche, but how do you connect with them? That's where the brilliance of this young man's research comes into play. He's provided a number of incredible tools that not only do most of the work for you, but they also give you insight into the content that each author has created and how popular it's been.
Authors generally write for a number of different sites, so by making contact with the right ones, formulating a strong bond and ongoing relationship, you could be guaranteeing yourself a great deal of future links from various sites.
The recommended process follows a pattern of:
- Finding hugely popular, relevant content to the niche you're working in
- Pin down the authors of said content
- Do further research into their background, their social influence and authority
- Refine and rank your list of providers
- Reach out and hopefully work with some of the best, benefitting from their social standing and profile
We're going to break down the first three in a little more detail.
Finding Hugely Popular, Relevant Content
One of the easiest ways to find popular, highly shared content is through the use of a tool called BuzzSumo. Still in beta, this tool is nothing short of awesome! You get a handful of searches for free before you're encouraged to sign up, but it's worth it to be notified of any updates on this great piece of software. With it, you can find the most shared content relating to a particular key-phrase or category. Alongside the link to each article, you also get data on Google+ shares, Facebook likes, LinkedIn shares and well as Twitter shares, highlighting with articles have been the most socially relevant to your particular query.
You can also use BuzzSumo to do searches for the key influencers on Twitter talking about your chosen query or key-phrase. It searches for social standings on their profiles, as well as information related to the URL in their Twitter bio. You can export all of this information to start compiling your list of influential authors to get in contact with.
Matching Authors To Content
Taking a step back to the initial use for BuzzSumo, you can also extract all content related information from your search results. While some of the results provide author information, a lot of don't so further work needs to be conducted in order to match authors to your content. This can be done in a few different ways:
- Doing a reverse image search
- Using a piece of XPath - that has proved invaluable - that was initially provided by Richard Baxter and now shared by Matthew Barby
Before going this far, it's important to weed out the content that has few social shares as it won't be worth your time investigating.
Doing A Reverse Image Search
A reverse image search can help you find additional information on the person responsible for the content you're investigating. By going to Google Images and clicking on the little camera next to the search bar, you open yourself up to a whole new method of search. You can either upload an image, drag it into the search area or copy and paste a URL relating to an image. By investigating the detail of the image relating to the content, you will identify all related content that has been linked to that image, including the social accounts of the author responsible for it. Genius.
Once you've exported your list to Excel, there's a handy little piece of code that you can use to further identify the authors of your popular content. In order to use this feature, you need to have the SEO Tools plugin for Excel enabled. Copy this strip of code and place it
=XPathOnUrl(INSERT URL, "//a[@rel='author']")
Where it says "INSERT URL", you'll need to replace it with the URL of your content and apply this to each of the URLs in your list. After a little while, you'll see that it has returned results for some of the author names within your list. Handy, don't you think?
There are a number of other tools that can be used to determine social influence and authorship authority, such as Followerwonk, Social Crawlytics, CircleCount and Virante AuthorRank. Use them! They're all fantastic and easy to use and each one offers a little bit of unique additional information.
Collate all your information into an Excel spreadsheet so that you've got the beginnings of a complete profile for each author.
Getting Contact Information
Obviously you're going to need to contact said authors at some stage if you ever have a hope of working with them, so obtaining the contact information is quite a crucial step. Starting with the authors' Twitter profile, for those whose web URLs you have yet to locate, doing a quick Google search could give you the information you require, as could searching within Twitter. This information could also be located in their author bios.
Once you've got the URL for their website, you can use BuzzStream to locate additional personal information such as their email addresses and listed content numbers. BuzzStream is a paid for service, but you do get a free 30-day trial.
For any author URLs that don't return email addresses or contact details, try running them through FullContact Person API to flesh out your data. Again, this has a limited free portion but is a paid-for service after that. In order for it to work, you'll need either the author's email address, phone number, Facebook URL or Twitter URL.
Now that you've got your comprehensive spreadsheet of A-list authors and you've located their email addresses or contact numbers, the rest is up to how you pitch your proposal to them. Why would they want to work with you? How will you sell them your ideas?
And that, my friends, is another story for another day.