Despite recent changes in the way Google handle over-optimisation particularly relating to links, quality guest blogging for me, is still a viable link building technique. Like any link building technique, it can be abused and done wrong. However if you’re doing good quality guest blogging as a result of building relationships, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. In terms of building relationships, BuzzStream is certainly my tool of choice for a bunch of reasons. In this post I’ll be talking through various processes and techniques for using BuzzStream to drive your guest blogging.
Like some of my previous BuzzStream posts, this one is pretty long and detailed. So here is a quick summary so you can skip to certain sections easily.
Building a Database of Guest Bloggers
One of the key features of BuzzStream is it’s ability to act like a searchable database of link opportunities. Over time, you can use it as your little black book of contacts who you can use for link building. This is particularly useful if you work on multiple websites or work at an agency.
To use BuzzStream like this, you will need to make a couple of simple changes to the default way BuzzStream is setup. We’ll be creating new projects and folders to keep things organised and we’ll be using the custom fields feature to help us categorise link opportunities as guest bloggers.
Setting up a new project and folder
An important aspect of having a database is keeping it as organised as possible, particularly if you have a large team of people working within the same BuzzStream account.
What we’re doing here is creating a folder which can contain a number of projects which we can refer back to later. Here is a view of what we have after adding a couple more types of lists:
The end goal here is to get yourself setup to efficiently build a list of guest blogging opportunities which you can use now and in the future. So when you start a new project, you can search this master database and look for quick wins to copy into your new project. Next, let’s look at getting opportunities into our master list.
As part of our database, we’ll need to keep link opportunities categorised so we can easily find them later. So we’ll need to make sure that guest post opportunities are added to the database and tagged in the appropriate way. The easiest way to do this within BuzzStream is to create some custom fields. To setup custom fields, follow these steps:
Click on customize fields:
Scroll down to Custom Fields for Link Partners and click on New Custom Field:
Fill in the options that appear next:
It is that simple. Now let’s see how this looks on the front end when we add guest blogging opportunities to the database.
Adding guest blogging opportunities to your database
It is important to make sure you integrate BuzzStream into your guest posting process so that it makes you more efficient. Below I’ll outline a few examples processes and how BuzzStream fits in. There are three core ways to add link opportunities to BuzzStream:
- Using the BuzzMarker
- Using the import CSV function
- Using the link prospector
Using advanced search queries
By far one of the most effective ways of finding guest post opportunities is to use advanced search queries. If you are unfamiliar with them, checkout this full guide from SEOmoz and this guide to using them for guest blogging from Distilled. Here is an example to get us started though.
Say we worked in the gadgets niche and wanted to do some guest blogging, we’d probably use a query such as this one:
This will return a set of search results which should be more relevant than just searching for “gadget blogs” on it’s own. We have a couple of options here on how to get the results into BuzzStream. Let’s first look at adding one website at a time.
Using the BuzzMarker
From your Google search results, click through to the site that offers guest posting opportunities and spend a bit of time making sure it is a good quality site. Once you’re happy, you can use the BuzzMarker to add this site to BuzzStream by following these steps.
You should have seen the instructions for adding the BuzzMarker to your browser when you first got started with BuzzStream, but just in case, here are some instructions.
When you are on the website you want to add, hit the BuzzMarker button in your browser which should bring up the input window where you can fill in all the details you need about that contact. The important bit to bear in mind here is the custom field we created earlier:
You can go ahead and fill in the rest of the details and hit save. Then when you go back into BuzzStream, you should see this opportunity appear in your interface.
Now this is a good method to use and once you get into a routine, you can add websites very quickly using the BuzzMarker. But there is a quicker way to add larger numbers of potential link opportunities into BuzzStream using the import function.
Using the import function
There is a great feature within BuzzStream which allows you to quickly import lots of link opportunities using a CSV file. Once you’ve imported them, BuzzStream will go and gather domain metrics such as MozRank and PageRank automatically. It will also go and try to find contact details.
We’ll need to get our Google search results into a CSV quickly, to do that, we’re going to use a nifty little Chrome extension called Scrape Similar. This will allow us to grab Google search results very quickly and easily rather than going through them one by one.
Let’s take a look at the process you can use here.
Step one will be the same as before and starting with an advanced search query such as this one:
Next, right click on the URL of the first result and click Scrape Similar:
This should give you something like this:
From here you can either export to Google Docs and then save a CSV file, or you can copy and paste the URLs straight into Excel and save it as a CSV.
Importing these contacts into BuzzStream
Now that you have a CSV file of link targets, you need to get them into your BuzzStream project.
Click on Import Contacts and you’re done! It will take BuzzStream a minute or so to do the import, you’ll get an email when it is done.
So once you’ve imported these contacts, BuzzStream will start to gather domain metrics. More importantly for us, it will try and find contact details. I usually give it a bit of time to do this and then go through and start adding them. You can do this by sorting by the contact information column and adding email addresses:
If I’m filtering through lots and lots of targets, I’ll tend to remove opportunities where no email address was found. I know that I may lose the odd website because of this, but you need to aggressively filter and cut out websites at this point because you will not have unlimited time.
I’ll also sort by domain metrics such as PageRank and Domain Authority and cut out very low scores. Typically, I’d get rid of any websites below PR1 and below DA30:
At this point, you’re ready to go through these sites manually and start thinking about outreach.
Use the BuzzStream link prospector
Above, I’ve outlined a process for finding guest post opportunities which is a bit manual. I’m a bit fan of learning the workings of processes before letting a tool do the work for you. So I’d still advise going through the manual process. But for after this, there is a nice feature of BuzzStream called the link prospector which we’ll go through now.
We’re going to use the same example again and imagine we’re trying to find guest post opportunities related to gadgets. This time though, instead of using our advanced search query in Google, we’re going to get BuzzStream to do the searching for us.
Next you need to fill in the following details to define the prospecting searches:
Hit save, and BuzzStream will go off and start searching for link opportunities. It is usually no more than a few minutes before BuzzStream is done. At which point you can click on the link in the email you receive to open up the list of opportunities.
This particular search has returned 60 potential targets for me. Again, BuzzStream will go and automatically start gathering domain metrics and trying to find contact information. So after a few minutes, you will see this starting to populate within BuzzStream.
The first thing I tend to do is sort by PageRank and Domain Authority, then reject the ones below PR1 and DA30. This is super easy to do within the link prospector by using these buttons:
These options are to Approve, Reject or Blacklist. Blacklisting will stop BuzzStream suggesting this site in the future whilst reject should be used if it is a good site but not quite relevant for this particular project.
I’ll then sort by discovered contact info and reject sites where an email address hasn’t been found automatically:
I’ll then do a quick sense check of the remaining URLs do make sure I reject or blacklist any others that don’t look right. For example I once managed to get Matt Cutts’ blog on my list and with respect to Matt, I don’t think I’d like to ask for a guest post there!
This leaves me with a nice targeted list of sites that I can take a closer look at and start outreaching to. Overall, this process is probably quicker than doing this manually but you still need that manual review of sites to ensure quality standards are kept high.
Outreaching to the contacts
Now that we have our list, we need to start outreach. There is an outreach module within BuzzStream which allows you to scale outreach easily without spamming people. You work from a single template and have the opportunity to personalise the email as much as you want before hitting send and moving onto the next contact.
Writing your template
BuzzStream allows you to create templates for your outreach. When doing guest blogging, this can work very well because most of the email can be templated without compromising the quality. When doing guest blogging, I tend to pitch three or four content ideas within the first email and ask for the website owners feedback. I’ll ask if they like any of the ideas I’ve proposed or would like to suggest a topic for me to write about.
To create a template, follow these steps.
Sending the emails
You should now see the following split screen where you can send your outreach email from. You can use the various bits of information on the left hand side to customise your email even more. See the example below.
That’s it! You can quickly go through a decent sized list of contacts whilst making the emails personalised and not spammy.