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How I Increased My Search Traffic by 200% in 6 Months

This guest post is by Bamidele Onibalusi of YoungPrePro.com.

Guest blogging is currently among the most popular marketing tactics, and you can be sure find guides on guest blogging almost anywhere you go online.

The problem with guest blogging is that it is being used by so many people today that if you donít have a solid plan your blog will hardly benefit.

What do you want from guest blogging?

Imagine I ask the question, “What exactly do you want from guest blogging? How do you want guest blogging to contribute to the success of your blog?” What would be your answer?

I’m sure a lot of us will answer along the lines of, “I want to score a guest post on ProBlogger and get hundreds of visitors back to my blog as a result.” Or “I want to score a guest post on {insert top blog’s name} and bring my blog to limelight.”

The reality, though, is that while following the above approach might sound like a smart thing to do, it is hardly very effective. A guest post on a big blog in your niche won’t make your blog popular; ten guest posts on big blogs won’t, either.

I’ve written hundreds of guest posts for my blog in the past two years, a good portion of which were published on big blogs. I’ve even had a guest post published that sent me 1,000 visitors in a day, and another one that sent me around 1,500 visitors in one week. You’d expect these to be some of my most effective guest posts ever, but unfortunately, they weren’t.

The best guest posts I’ve ever written, in terms of results, were written in one week, and they were submitted to blogs youíve probably never heard of. I wrote 31 guest posts, and I submitted them all in one week.

Together, all of those guest posts sent me less than 150 visitors in total referral traffic. But, those 31 guest posts I wrote in one week have resulted in over 60,000 additional visitors in search engine traffic over the past six months.

Re-read the above paragraph; that was 31 guest posts in one week, submitted to very small blogs that sent little or no traffic, but which lead to over 60,000 visitors in six months.

If we do the math, that’s like an additional 10,000 visitors in a month, for just one week of work. It’s an average of 1935 visitors per guest post. (It’s actually more, because the real number was around 64,000 visitors, but I rounded it down for the purposes of this discussion. Another thing worth noting is that around 26 of those guest posts were published, but let’s leave it at the number written—31—for the sake of this article).

You’re probably thinking, “How did he do it?” I’ll answer that question in this article, but before I do so, I’ll try to convince you as to why this approach is better than just focusing on writing hit-and-miss guest posts for big blogs in your niche.

So you see clearly what I mean, here are screenshots of my search traffic before and after the challenge.

Six months of traffic before the challenge:

Six months of traffic after the challenge:

You’ll notice a huge increase in traffic in just six months with these screenshots. It’s like a 200% increase in traffic, even though I never did anything to increase my SEO traffic after the challenge.

I know a lot of factors count when it comes to SEO, so the stats above are to some extent subjective, but I’m certain the search engine traffic increase is hugely influenced by those 31 guest posts I talked about earlier. To prove this, I wrote a post just ten days after the challenge, since I’d already started noticing an additional 100+ search engine visitors. You can read the post to read more about my experience.

Why you should write guest posts for SEO instead of instant traffic

It’s more effective in the long run

If you’ve written a number of guest posts on big blogs before, you will notice the traffic you get hardly lasts. Depending on the quality of your guest post and content on your blog, you’ll be lucky to retain 10% of the visitors you got from a big guest post (you can retain more, of course, if you focus your efforts on getting subscribers).

With this in mind, even guest posts that sent me thousands of visitors only do that in the week or month of the guest post being published; after that, the traffic dies down and I hardly get any more traffic from those guest posts.

With guest blogging for SEO, however, the effect of a single guest post can last for months. Search engines take time to recognize and calculate links, but you can start seeing effects a few weeks after gaining a link.

The difference between writing guest posts for traffic and for SEO is that traffic dies down as your guest post gets buried on the blog where it was published, while traffic increases from the search engines as time goes on; in other words, the value of your linked guest post increases with time.

It’s easier to do

If you want a huge spike in traffic from your guest posts, you have to choose the very best blogs in your niche, and, to be honest, it takes time and effort to get published on them. In contrast, writing for links is easier with smaller blogs.

In other words, you can write, say, three guest posts for smaller blogs in the time it will take you to write one post for a bigger blog, and if you do things right you will be able to get results from the guest post on the smaller blogs in no time.

You get targeted traffic

Let’s be honest: when you write for a blog that publishes a host of topic, the traffic you will get will only be targeted to an extent, no matter how targeted your guest post is.

However, by focusing on SEO ,you’ll get more closely targeted traffic. People only use the search engines when searching for something specific, so they’re more likely to subscribe to your blog or buy your product if they come from the search engines (or at least, if they come through targeted keyword results).

It’s a passive, long-term strategy

A few guest posts can have an effect for years. Traffic doesn’t die down like it does when you experience a spike in traffic from a recently published guest post—with search-optimized posts, your traffic keeps increasing for years.

What’s more, you keep on getting more traffic without doing anything. For example, since I completed the 31 guest post challenge, I haven’t done anything to improve my SEO. Yet my search traffic keeps increasing.

SEO is very competitive, though, so depending on your field you might need to keep building links actively. But you’ll also get great results from doing that, and it will be more cost-effective than paying for ads.

What kinds of blogs did I submit my guest posts to?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of writing guest posts to improve your SEO, let’s talk about the kinds of blogs you can write for. While my recommendation in this section reflects what I did, note that the better the blog, the better your results.

Here some metrics you can use when trying to select a blog to write for.

Alexa rank

Alexa ranks websites based on the number of people who visit the website with the Alexa toolbar installed. Even though this is subjective to an extent, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective measurement. In my own experience, blogs with good Alexa ranking have some authority in the search engines, so getting a link from them can be very effective.

During the challenge, I only wrote for blogs with an Alexa ranking below 400,000. Yep, you read that right. These kinds of blogs are very easy to find (in fact, you can find hundreds of them in a few hours), so getting published on them probably won’t be much of a problem.

You can check the Alexa ranking of any website by installing the Alexa toolbar.

Google Pagerank

Google Pagerank is still as effective as it used to be, and it is an actual sign of how much trust Google places in a website. For the challenge, I used blogs with a Pagerank of 2 or more.

The thing, however, is that I either used Pagerank or Alexa rank to assess the sites—rarely both. So if a blog has an Alexa ranking of 400k or less, I don’t care about its Pagerank. If a blog has a Pagerank of 2 or more, I don’t care about its Alexa ranking.

You can check the Pagerank of any website by installing the Google Toolbar, for Firefox, or the Pagerank Status add-on for Chrome.

Mozrank

The Mozrank of a blog is another important factor when determining whether to write a guest post for it or not. I didn’t know much about how Mozrank worked when I started the challenge, but it seems more accurate than Google Pagerank and Alexa ranking, so any blog with a Mozrank of 3 or more is a good fit irrespective of its Pagerank or Alexa rank.

You can check the Mozrank of any website by using the tool at Moonsy.com.

Customrank

This seems to be the best metric at the moment. It uses a combination of a blog’s Alexa rank, Mozrank, and other metrics to calculate the blog’s worth. Any blog with a Customrank score higher than 30 is a good place to start.

You can check the Customrank score of any website by visiting Customrank.com.

How to find blogs based on these metrics

While the above metrics give you an idea of what kinds of blogs you can write for to get good results, actually finding a blog to write for is another thing.

I’ve published the ultimate guide to guest blogging on my blog, and it contains practical and extensive tips on almost every aspect of guest blogging that this article won’t be able to cover. Check it out if you want a better idea of guest blogging and how to find blogs. However, here’s a short guide to finding blogs for guest blogging in any niche:

  • Technorati: Technorati.com is the biggest blog directory available online, with a lot of quality blogs in various niches. You can find blogs on almost any topic you want by searching for the keyword of that topic using the Technorati search box on top of the page; one thing you should note about the search box, though, is that there are two options. There is an option to search for posts, and there is an option to search for blogs. Make sure you select the “blog” option when typing in your keyword. Also, make sure the keyword you’re searching for isn’t too generic or too specific. For example, don’t search for “health” if you’re in the health niche, and don’t search for “the major dangers of health” either. The first keyword is too generic, and the other is too specific. Instead, search for something slightly specific like “family health,” or “health blog.”
  • Alltop: Alltop is like a more sophisticated and more organized version of Technorati. Unlike Technorati, it contains more quality blogs and is neatly organized by niche. Blogs in Alltop are also manually reviewed, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll find a blog in the wrong category. A disadvantage Alltop has in contrast to Technorati, though, is that it doesn’t list as many blogs. So while you will find quality blogs, you will find fewer of them than you will on Technorati.
  • Google: You can find relevant blogs that accept guest posts in Google by using the following ideas:

    {niche} + write for us

    {niche} + submit guest post

    {niche} + guest blogging

    {niche} + submit post

    {niche} + guest blogger needed

    {niche} + contribute

    You can also try changing the terms to keywords you think people in need of guest posts will use. Make sure you replace “{niche}” with your niche, but let the plus sign remain. E.g. in the blogging niche I’ll search for something like “blogging + write for us” (of course, without the quotes).

You will find a lot of blogs using the methods I outlined in this section, but you can’t use all of them. Make sure you gauge any blog you write for with the metrics we discussed above.

Content, tags, and relevance: what kinds of guest posts did I submit?

One major question that comes up a lot when it comes to SEO and link building is that of relevancy. A lot of people are confused as to how effective it is to write a guest post for a non-relevant blog, or how relevant the post’s title should be.

My blog is a writing blog, but I didn’t write a single guest post for a related writing blog during the challenge, so I guess that answers your question about relevancy! I only wrote for blogs in the technology, blogging, and make-money-online niches, and the impact on the results I got was still significant.

One thing to note, however, was that I didn’t write irrelevant posts for these blogs. For example, I didn’t write a post about the latest Apple iPhone for a tech blog and link it back to my writing blog.

Every guest post I wrote was in some way related to my blog, and to the blog I contributed to. For example, a guest post on a blogging tips blog might be on how to write better blog posts. A guest post for a technology blog might be a post on top writing apps I have on my Blackberry (and I do have a Blackberry!). A guest post on a make-money-online blog might be a post on how to make money writing. You can see how those posts tied the topic of my blog to that of the host blog.

One major myth you’ll hear about using guest blogging as a link building strategy is that the quality of the content doesn’t matter; it does, so make sure you put extra effort into your content if you want to get good results from this tactic.

In a nutshell, there are two things to remember when writing guest posts for link building purposes:

  • Relevance isn’t that important: By “relevance,” I’m referring to the relevance of the blog you’re submitting a guest post to, as compared to yours. Instead, focus on writing thematically relevant content for the blogs you guest post on. This means your content should tie the topic of your blog to that of the host blog. If you were to focus only on blogs in your niche, your approach will be limited. But if you can bridge the topic between your blog and that of your host, you will significantly increase your chances of getting good results.
  • Use your keywords in your article: One thing I haven’t talked about is using keywords in your articles. With my challenge, I tried to use the keyword I want to rank for in every article at least twice, and I think this had a significant impact on the value of the links I got.

Using anchor text

As you read this article, you might come to the conclusion that this tactic isn’t effective with bigger blogs. The fact is, it is; in fact, the bigger the blog, the better your results.

The problem most people have when it comes to writing for big blogs, though, is that they don’t use anchor text, and that alone costs the author a lot of potential traffic.

What makes this whole approach worthwhile is your use of anchor text. The anchor text is the keyword you use to link back to any page on your blog—it’s a vote of authority for your site, and it tells the search engines what the page you link to is all about.

You have to use caution when using anchor text, though. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Use variations: Don’t just keep using the same anchor text in your guest post bio. Use something different, but related to the same keyword. If you want to rank for “blogging tips,” don’t keep using that key phrase alone as the anchor text in every guest post. Some variations you might use are: blogging, blogging tips, blog, blog marketing, blogger, etc. All these keywords hint at the same thing, and over time you will end up ranking for your main keywords—and more.
  • Don’t always use anchor text: Aside from using anchor text variations, one other thing you should consider is to not always use anchor text. If you think about it, not everyone will link to your blog using a keyword. Some will tell their readers to “click here” to read the article. And some will paste the direct link into their post. That’s exactly how you should approach your campaign, too—just make sure the majority of your links contain anchor text. A good approach is to use anchor text in a ratio of 1 to 10—don’t use keyword-rich anchor text for every ten keyword-rich anchor text links you create.
  • Don’t focus on ranking just one page: The real key to success as far as SEO is concerned is relevancy; in other words, your efforts should be directed at pages that achieve or support a specific goal for your blog. Don’t make the mistake of linking to just the homepage—or just one page, for that matter. Focusing on optimizing a single page that isn’t popular will look unnatural; focusing on five or more different pages on your blog will look more natural. By focusing on a single page, you can also be affected should you stop ranking for that keyword, but focusing on several pages will more likely leave you unaffected.

I’m not saying you should link to all pages in your guest post; a guest post should link to just one or two pages. This means the success of your campaign will depend on the volume of the guest posts you can write.

What effort has it taken to keep the traffic? Was it really worth it?

The final, and most important question is, What effort has it taken to keep the traffic this challenge generated? Was it worth it? Was it a good return on the investment of my time and effort? You can bet it was worth it, as those 31 guest posts have attracted tens of thousands of additional visitors to my blog from the search engines. And they’re just the ones I could count—of course, a percentage of those visitors will share my posts, a percentage of those visitors will subscribe, and a percentage of those visitors will tell their friends too.

I haven’t tried using ads to grow my traffic before, but I know that the one week of effort I put into this challenge was more profitable than any ad could be. I generated free, targeted traffic I couldn’t get elsewhere, and it only continues to grow as time goes on.

I was so impressed with the results of the challenge that I’m planning to make guest blogging for links an integral part of my marketing approach going forward.

How are you using guest blogging for your business?

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a blog or a business owner, guest blogging can be a smart way to grow your traffic and improve your search engine rankings. Is this idea entirely new to you? How are you using guest blogging to grow your business? Tell us in the comments.

Would you like to take your business to the next level with smart guest blogging? If so, hire me and letís discuss how I can help take your business to the next level. Also, if youíre interested in cutting edge tips and techniques on how to use your writing to grow your business, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter by downloading my free eBook, The Writerís Handbook: How to Write for Traffic and Money.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. Cory says:

    “Why you should write guest posts for SEO instead of instant traffic”

    This is the kind of statement that makes strategies like these front & center in Google’s future algorithm updates.

    Yes, guest blogging is effective for promoting your website, but if your intent is entirely SEO and you’re not looking to get traffic from the sites you’re posting on, ultimately you’re walking a slippery slope. It use to be directory submissions, then article directories, then content spinning & social bookmarking, link wheels, etc.

    How many of those strategies which were “for SEO” are still working after Panda & Penguin?

    Guest blogging is effective for expanding your audience and increasing your search visibility, but a short-sighted focus on SEO alone is foolish IMHO.

    • Sonia Simone says:

      Anything short-sighted is foolish with SEO, but I think this is a very sound strategy. The posts have to be good, but frankly, if they aren’t good, the blog isn’t going to publish them anyway. Keeping an eye on the long-term SEO benefits of guest blogging is very smart, IMO.

      This isn’t like directory submission or content spinning, which are ways to try to get out of creating real content that works for human beings. This *is* creating real content, for real readers, and that’s the content Google wants to rank well.

  2. Okay, let me just say, this is awesome. I do guest posts, but not consistent enough to see results such as yours. However, after reading this, I am going to make time in my schedule to get down to business with guest blogging. Simply amazing… Now, I know what the hype has been all about.

    Thanks for the fantastic post!

  3. Nice post, Bamidele.

    Great idea about posting on smaller blogs and bringing in search engine traffic. I’ve also read before that even big blogs don’t send over huge amounts of traffic.

    I’d maybe add something which I think is the most important aspect of all. Maybe you don’t realize since it doesn’t apply to your blog, but people have to make sure they have TOP QUALITY content on their own blogs.

    There is no point in any guest post traffic if someone is going to click through to your site and leave straight away. There’s no point spending 10 hours perfecting a guest post if all the articles on your site are a bunch of crap that’s taken you 30 minutes each.

  4. Oni, i have been your fan for quite some time, thanks for the weekly email guidance and this post has open up new stategy for blog growth.

  5. This is a very timely post for me. I often read about guest posting and host many guest posts on my own blog but I’m only now getting around to wanting to write some myself. I’ve set a goal for myself to write several guest posts this summer. Good to know that you may benefit even if you don’t blog for the most popular sites.

  6. Thanks for the tips, I think guests posts in general will help your SEO and I believe SEO is a great source of traffic. The problem is that you can’t just rely on it because if the majority of your traffic comes from search and they change the algorithm you can lose all of your hard work. Guest posts on big blogs seems to be another way we can get people to visit my site other than through search engines.

  7. Mike says:

    Great points. I fail at guest posting a lot but I can see the potential if someone used it quite well. I’ll definitely be looking into these a lot more!

  8. Hi Oni,

    Excellent! Your post proves that the targeted nature of a guest posting campaign trumps sheer numbers. You want interested people to digest your content. Submitting more guest posts to smaller sites – boosting your SEO traffic – is an intelligent approach.

    Not a numbers game. Nope. It’s an energy game. You want to connect with people who are interested in your blog. Potential readers. If you continue to connect with interested readers using an effective strategy, your blog will expand by word of mouth marketing, and you will likely improve your SEO too, as you remain on topic.

    I like the idea of a content blitzkrieg too. When a creative surge hits, honor it. Not to reach certain numbers but to simply churn out helpful, usable content, and to disseminate the content across multiple blogs, to expand your presence on the web. Meet people. From your niche. Continue meeting people. Create value, share to a targeted market, become valuable and generate a ton more search engine traffic, passive traffic, buying traffic.

    Posting on massive sites like PB has its benefits. Continue submitting here, for sure. Just don’t attach to the site. Churn out posts for smaller niche blogs to expand your presence into a targeted market. And as you note, sites need not be 100% relevant. One mistake bloggers make is to pick and choose all day, wasting time looking for *perfect fits* while they ignore actually writing the dang guest post and sharing value. Write. Post. Repeat.

    Thanks for sharing a powerful post Oni!

    Ryan

  9. Wee Birdy says:

    Hi there, very interesting post – there are quite a few things here that I hadn’t considered regarding the benefits of guest posting. In fact, I didn’t even know my Alexa score until now. So thank you!

    However, when I tried to install the Google toolbar for Firefox, the page said it had been discontinued: https://www.google.com/intl/en/toolbar/ff/index.html. Is there any other way I can find out what my Google page rank is using Firebox?

    Also, I tried to find out my Mozrank but it’s not working at the moment, either.

    Any further advice re. Mozrank and Google page ranks?

  10. Fantastic article! Taught me so many things I didn’t know before about guest posting! Thanks SO much!

  11. Oni,
    Is there a difference in the link to your website you get for guest blogging and the one you get for comments to another blog post? How is the one link different from the other?
    Tony

  12. How helpful! THanks! From the suggested ways to look at a site’s rank, I learned that my own site isn’t in DMOZ, which apparently makes a difference. So thanks for helping lead me to that discovery! Also, I didn’t quite realize the impact that guest posting can have in the long-term — good to know!

  13. Max West says:

    Interesting post. I hadn’t thought of the idea of guest blogging myself – to be honest, I perceive others view me as being a “nobody”. Does it make a difference if you’re not necessary some kind of celebrity if you want to guest blog?

  14. arsie says:

    I totally agree on how you lay out the benefits of guest posting, unfortunately I haven’t really started it yet because I am so busy with my day job and I have 2 blog sites where I post my own articles. But seeing the success, I think I might need to find time. Thanks again.

  15. Jeni says:

    Guest posting is without any doubt best strategy to pull audience and build quality backlinks. Great post!

  16. Ankit J says:

    Do reputed blogger allow other bloggers to write guest post for their Blog? If yes then I am willing to write one.

  17. Matt Green says:

    Your completely right. So many people focus on getting the referral traffic but another very important factor of the guest post is the backlink.

  18. Kevin says:

    Always looking for new ways to get traffic to my blog. I’ve heard of guest blogging but I had no clue about the best way to go about doing it, especially because I’m relatively new at this. Now I have a place to start and a plan.

  19. Dean says:

    Interesting idea. I always thought that writing for new/smaller blogs wouldn’t really be worth it due to the lack of traffic that they receive. Definitely something to think about.

  20. IT Support says:

    It is very true that PR rank is still very important. Also the anchor text is crucial in our experience. Thank you for bringing this to point because many people are saying contradictory things.

  21. Technica says:

    The trick given for searching Google to get niche related blogs for submitting Guest Posts is awesome. I am surly going to try it.

    Also I never considered MOZrank before submitting Guest Post to any blog, but in future after reading this post, I will make sure all criteria for a blog are satisfied before I submit my Guest Post to it.

  22. The following time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I imply, I do know it was my choice to learn, but I really thought youd have something attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you may repair for those who werent too busy on the lookout for attention.