Link Building 101: 9 "Reach Metrics" for Evaluating Guest Publishing Opportunities

We have built a great deal of our brand and reputation through guest posting on tens of authority sites and blogs in the SEO industry, with more in the works all the time. So yes, you could say we are fans of guest posting ;) Here are a number of suggested metrics for evaluating a guest post opportunity, with a special emphasis on REACH - that is, the approximate audience you will be in front of.

1) Relevance to Your Target Market
Relevance IS a reach metric. And this is a stern admonition that you ONLY seek guest publishing opportunities on sites that inform, delight, and enrich the lives of your target audience. That is, sites that are highly relevant to your audience's interests.

2) Number of Hostname Mentions on Twitter
Backtweets.com is an excellent way of measuring the relative reach that a site has via Twitter. Simply paste in the url and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will see a number that shows how many times that site's hostname has appeared on Twitter. For example, here is SEL vs. SEJ. Is there something like this for Facebook? Please tell me if you know of something.

3) Number of Blog Subscribers
Often this number is available with just a bit of poking around. This gives you an idea of how eager the audience is to keep hearing more from this site. With the growing interest in guest posting, there are a number of brand new sites emerging that will publish all this free content. Go for reach and authority whenever possible!

4) Number of Comments on an Average Post
This will give you a sense of whether or not there's an audience. Further it will show the quality of their thought.

5) Recognizable "Name-Brand" Backlinks
Do a quick check on the hostname in Yahoo Site Explorer. Are there any notable name brands in there? Anyone you recognize or read regularly yourself? This will give you a sense of who else in your market thinks this site is worth linking to. This could also give you some outreach targets for when you pubish content on your site.

6) Number of Email Newsletter Subscribers
This number usually isn't shared on the site, but it's worth asking after as you explore your options. A large subscriber list is a great sign, and it should be considered a strong selling point when determining where to publish your content. If possible ask for open and click through rates too - you probably won't get it, but this tells you how savvy the publisher is, and how well they meet the needs and interests of their audience.

7) Is the Owner a Participant on Niche Content Sharing Site?
In other words, is the content likely to go hot in your industry's Digg clone? Going hot on Digg or any niche social news site is very tough (so long as the site is worth submitting to ;). If your target publisher is an active participant, and they're willing to promote your work by asking their audience for votes, then you've got a real gem of a publisher!

8) Number of Rankings for Your Targeted Terms
Does this publisher have any rankings for your targeted terms? How about other terms relevant to your business? If so, then you should consider publishing with them and looking for ways to rank your content on their site using your targeted terms. If your content delivers a great reader experience and has a good call to action in the author byline then publishing with "rankers" can help you earn search traffic from your publisher.

9) Do Your Colleagues Publish there Consistently?
Tracking where your colleagues (competitors and otherwise) publish can lead you to a wealth of publishing opportunities. SEOs looking for guest publishing opportunities would be wise to check out where Ann Smarty's been publishing consistently, for example ;) It never hurts to ask colleagues about their guest publishing experiences as well...

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