An Attorney’s Guide to Guest Blogging
Chris Dreyer | November 05, 2013
Producing content is a key part of building your practice up as an authority online. It is also a great vehicle for building inbound links to your website; an element crucial for ranking well in search. Guest blogging is an effective method for both building links and staying “top of mind” with your prospects and clients. Lawyers should keep in mind that for all the great opportunities to collaborate with other professionals online, there are equally as many bad choices for content placement.
If you are about to try your hand at guest blogging1 or perhaps have someone poised to do it for you, use the following tips to help guide your strategy.
Determine Your Goals
Typically there are two main goals for guest blogging but you may come up with other strategies2 as well. Lawyers can either to gain inbound links to their site or to get some publicity (or both). You may have many other reasons for writing blog posts on another website and that is fine.
Whatever your motivations are, figure out your overall goal. This is important because the targets you select will be based on your goals. For instance if all you are trying to do is get a few inbound links, you are not going to dump a bunch of time into contacting people or building relationships. Conversely, if your goal is to get a well-written post onto a popular legal website, your strategy will involve many more personal touches and perhaps traditional outreach like phone calls.
If you plan on getting noticed on a website, it helps to check out the comments of posts already on the blog you are targeting. Do people tend to reference the author in their comments or the site owner? Are authors acknowledged and made prominent? If so the time investment for outreach is probably worth it. If not, look for other opportunities.
Look for websites that are relevant to your practice area and your industry in general. You don’t have to find something that is an exact match but it should relate to your firm, practice area or the law in some way. The idea here is that the content you submit for a post will be relevant to visitors to that website. For example a personal injury lawyer might look for automotive safety related blogs to submit guest posts to.
There might be blogs or websites you like but that does not mean they will be popular. Look for sites that have a large subscriber base. This will typically be published in RSS feeds3 somewhere on the site. Alexa4 is another tool lawyers can use to see how popular a website is. If the site has a large subscriber base, all of those people will see your writing once it is posted.
Who has been allowed to contribute to the site? What kind of content have they written? What do the comments look like on those posts? Are there a lot of spam comments? What does the community on the site look like? These are all questions you should be asking yourself as you look through the pages of a potential site to guest post on. In general you want to look for:
• A strong sense of community: A clear indication that people come to the site to get good information. They add value to the site by using the comment system to have a conversation or add useful points. Sites with lots of recent comments on posts are good targets to pursue.
• Good moderation: The difference between legitimate comments and those posted by a machine or a person who is looking to promote their own interests is like night and day. If the site appears to have little or no moderation of comments, move on.
• High PageRank: If your goal is to get links from a site, make sure it has a decent PageRank. Typically anything 3 and up is good. If the PR is low and you have to work really hard to get a guest post on the site, you might want to move on. Use a PageRank checker5 to see what the PR of a site is.
• Exclusivity: Good websites do not just allow any person to put whatever they want on their pages. If it is clear that all you have to do is write something, slap in a name, email and captcha and you are good to go, pick a different target.
• Social: Look for sites with an active social presence. It is even better if they have sharing functions built into their post pages. This will help your content get in front of even more eyes than just those that come to the site.
Non-Guest Posting Sites
In your search for viable guest posting targets, you will find sites that are setup specifically for this purpose and have no other content but guest posts. In general there is not anything inherently wrong with this however it is more common for spammy or illegitimate sites to be guest-post-only type models. Give sites with this model more scrutiny. It is ok to go after low hanging fruit but just make sure that submitting a post will not result in a bad link to your site.
Analyze the Site’s Links
You don not have to do a full-blown audit6 but you should check out some of the entities linking to the site you want to post on. Check out the site’s backlink profile and make sure there is not anything fishy going on. You do not want to link your site to one that is doing things it should not be. For example lawyers should avoid sites that have a lot of links from low quality sites pointing at them.
If the site ranks well for a particular keyword, try and work that into your post. Of course do not do it at the expense of good writing. In this way you can potentially leverage the site’s good standing in search without all the leg work.
Look for Quality over Quantity
In your search for blogs to target, you should start out with the best legal blogs on the web. Look for sites that have won awards or that have been mentioned in different circles as being very popular or high quality. This will work well for both links and notoriety. It is ok if you cannot land a guest post on a top site but you should set your bar high to begin with.
For attorneys, reputation is especially important. When you elect to tie your reputation to another blog or website online, you have to be careful who you choose. For the most part the process just takes a dose of common sense. Do not guest blog on websites run by individuals or companies who you would not want to be associated with in any other way. Remember that guest blogging also takes time. Do not get discouraged or distracted if you have only landed one or two guest posts in a month. Keep at it, develop relationships and write good stuff. You will see that over time, your presence in search will become more and more enhanced.