For decades, Internet marketers had a ready supply of back-links through article directories and farms, which accepted hundreds of submissions per day and rarely screened for quality. They were convenient and easy, but it took thousands of articles to wring out some real link juice and the Web quickly became cluttered with spam and stolen content.

Following the Google Panda and Penguin updates, most directories and link farms are a risky proposition at best, leaving webmasters wondering where to turn next. As it happens, Google‘s solutions are the same ones it has always endorsed: building a reputation and helping other bloggers through guest posting.

What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting is the act of writing for a blog that you do not own. It may seem counter-intuitive to provide content for a potential competitor, but establishing relationships is the future of the Web, and it boasts several advantages for both parties. Where article directories rely on many variants of the same article, guest posts are unique, valuable and only posted once. Blogs that have a high, or at least higher, page ranking are preferred because they are given more weight by search engines.

Why Guest Posts are Valuable
If other link building methods can provide hundreds more links in a fraction of the time, you may wonder why you should put so much effort into guest posting. The answer is that links from a well-ranked blog in the same niche are far more valuable than those from a general link farm. Although there are still useful directories out there, they tend to have the same quality standards as blogs, meaning the shift to original content is here to stay no matter where it is posted. Besides the SEO boost, guest posts also expose new, interested readers to your website, which can be just as lucrative.

How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Blog owners want only the best for their site, for obvious reasons. Any blog that consistently posts poorly written or copied information will lose readers and credibility fast. Not all bloggers are open to guest posts, though many are willing to listen to proposals. An SEO professional may have a list of helpful contacts, but otherwise anyone seeking back-links must begin sending out emails. Have a decent post idea to pitch based on each website‘s primary subject. If the blogger is interested, he or she will respond to begin working out details.

Joining the Community
Once a post is published, keep track of it to answer any comments. In time, you may begin accepting contributions on your own blog. This reciprocity helps fellow marketers and, again, widens your own audience through subsequent links to the guest post. Having a few bloggers on hand also fills gaps in posting, such as during a vacation or sudden emergency. Managing guest blogging, including finding new hosts and writing the content, is time-consuming, which is why many webmasters leave it in the hands of experts. It remains, however, one of the most important aspects of modern SEO strategy and cannot be ignored..

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