Link building for bloggers

As your blog grows, the situations you’re dealing with seem to become harder. Whoever says blogging is for the lazy, has not dealt with optimization for search engines, the ever-changing algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, the best practices of Pinterest or the ever dreaded link building.

What is link building?

Link building means, in short, that you’re getting links from other websites to your own blog. It helps your posts to rank. Link building is not an easy task, as you are depending on third parties to link to your website. And not only that, you don’t want a link from every website. Spammy websites or websites that have little to do with your niche, are not valuable at all. I’ve tried link building, the holistic SEO way, and will share my experiences here. If you want to learn more about this, read this article Marieke wrote about link building from a holistic SEO perspective.

Asking for relevant links

To get relevant backlinks, you should know the websites you would like to get a backlink from. Send them a polite email requesting to place a link to your content, if it’s relevant to their audience as well. Please note that often, you will not get a reply at all. To improve your chances of getting a link to your website, your content should really be unique. Trying to get a link for a blogpost that is extremely basic and could’ve been written by anyone, is less likely to succeed than when you provide some very good content: content people can only find on your website. If you, for example, are a planner guru or the nation’s funniest mom blogger, it’s way easier to get a link to your website than if you just started out.

Facebook Groups

Do your hands get sweaty by the idea of having to email your fellow bloggers to ask for links? Fear not! Luckily, there are a lot of Facebook Groups, where bloggers post they might be working on a blog post that, for example, collects the best recipes for Easter, the best bullet journal tips or something different. You can often drop your link in the comments if you’ve written about the topic requested and with a little bit of luck, you’ll be featured in a blog post. It depends on your country which Facebook groups could be suitable, so ask your fellow bloggers or look around on Facebook.

Guest blogging

Another option to get links to your website, is through guest blogging for other blogs. Often, blogs are looking for input from fellow bloggers and in return will let you link to your own content. You’ll not only get a link to your website from a relevant website, you’ll get attention from the readers of that particular blog as well. Visit your favorite blogs and check to see if they accept guest submissions. They’ll usually mention this on their contact page or their collaboration page. Please note that a website could have certain guidelines before they accept your guest blog. It has to be unique content, but it also has to be in line with that website.

Do your thing

Link building for bloggers can be hard. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you’re already working on optimizing your posts, finding your voice and creating original blog posts, you might not want to add another massive project to your list. Because that is what link building is: it is not something you do just once. That’s why I’ve decided to quit my attempts at link building. I find it removes the focus from my blog entirely and turns into a popularity contest, at least in my mind. Not only that, I am not someone who finds it easy to reach out to other bloggers to request links in their content.

Instead, I’ve decided to focus on my own website and on helping others. I’ve found that I’ve received backlinks whenever I give a talk at a conference or after I helped someone with their website. This is not something that I take for granted, but when it happens, I realize why I’ve spent a few hours helping a blogger out with a bug on her website. For me, this means that I stay true to my own beliefs without having to focus on an entire strategy that is not my thing. And I found out that this is a link building strategy in itself: it helps my reputation as a blogger in the Dutch community. Find whatever works for you. And if you are actively building links, could you tell me your strategy?

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Networking for bloggers: why, how and where

As a blogger, you are probably doing your best to grow your audience on a daily basis. You’re optimizing for Google, Pinterest, social media and you do your best to set up and maintain a social media strategy. But, if you want to take your blog to the next level, there’ll come a point you will need the help of your fellow bloggers. In this post, I will explain why you need a network, as well as how and where to build it.

Want to expand your network? YoastCon 2019 is the perfect occasion to grow your network. Meet like-minded people and work on your blog’s SEO at the same time! Don’t worry about going alone, we even have single tables where you can get in touch with fellow bloggers, site owners and Yoast folks easily. See you on February 7 & 8 in Nijmegen! 

Why you need to network as a blogger

We all know that writing is one of the most lonely professions in the world. Although blogging may not seem as lonely at first glance – you engage with your readers on a daily basis – there’s a high chance you work alone.

As a writer, you often live inside your head. Your audience will only ever see your end result: a blog post or social media post. They won’t see the process of you thinking up your idea, killing your darlings or debating whether to write a certain article. You often take those decisions by yourself, or run them by your spouse or best friend.

While this is a valid approach, someone who is not ‘in the business’, can only help to a certain extent. While it’s often worth it to discuss certain ideas with your personal network, you’ll probably only ever touch the surface.

You might, for example, contemplate archiving your entire Instagram profile to start with a clean slate. Your best friend thinks you’re stupid, while you see bloggers around you do this and grow their following rapidly over the course of several months. And you might be left wondering if you’re cut out for this thing called ‘becoming an influencer’. If you’re at this point, you need a network of people who are like-minded.

At Yoast, I have a lot of colleagues to talk to whenever I need help. I know which person I should ask about SEO, which person knows a lot about Google Analytics and who can help me out when I broke my laptop – again. You need that kind of network for your blog as well. It’s very helpful to create a network so you can discuss certain topics: from SEO to developing websites, and from press releases to personal invitations. If you want to grow, you need a network.

How to network as a blogger

Truth be told, we’re in it for us. This means that everyone you’ll meet, is in it to gain something for themselves. This could be knowledge, reputation, information, cash, products or something else.

Knowing this, you’ll understand you can’t just go to someone you don’t know and ask them for that piece of information you want. You might not get an answer or, in the unlikely chance you do get one, it probably is an evasive one. You need to adopt an open source kind of mentality while networking. This means that you’ll share your knowledge with the world and eventually will receive information in return.

I’ll take myself as an example. Although I knew quite a few bloggers online, my network didn’t really grow until I went to a Dutch blog conference last June, to speak about SEO. I told the crowd that I was going to share my secrets with them, and told them, honestly, how weird it felt to do that, because I might very well kill my own blog this way.

Strangely, or perhaps not so strange at all, the opposite happened. My blog took off and with it, my network expanded tremendously. People knew where to find me, how to find me, and, also, that I was willing to help look into issues or questions.

I answered each question I got, because I love helping out. Did I request favors for each question I answered? No. Was I offered help in return for answering questions or solving issues? You bet! Often, I told people not to worry about it, that I loved to help and that I’d be sure to let them know if they could help me out. And I took people up on their offer, twice now. One of them even got me an invite for a press event of the Walt Disney Company – I mean, it’s Disney!

Where to network as a blogger

You might feel very willing to network with your fellow blog colleagues out there, but where to find them? If you’ve been on your own for a very long time, it can be tricky to get started. Don’t worry; there are various places where you can network as a blogger, both offline and online.

Online networking as a blogger

As your blog lives online, the easiest way to create a network is online as well. There are a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers in all sorts of niches and all kinds of languages. They’re created by bloggers like you and me. Try to find the groups where you can help other bloggers. I, myself, am in various groups, where I answer questions about the Yoast SEO plugins, SEO in general, WordPress or technical questions, as these are things I can help others with. In return, people help me when I have questions about Pinterest, Instagram or about certain press events that I’d like to attend.

Offline networking as a blogger

Offline networking is even more important than building a network online. While online it’s perhaps easier to mingle in discussions on forums, Facebook, or in Twitter conversations, the deeper and longer lasting connections will often start offline. Have you considered going to a local WordPress meetup, a WordCamp or a blog event in your city or country? These can be quite valuable – trust me, this is where the good stuff happens! If you’re unsure where to start, let me suggest YoastCon.

YoastCon for offline networking

YoastCon is a conference organized by Yoast. It focuses on SEO for all types of websites. I can guarantee you it will certainly focus on blogs as well! The conference will take place 7 and 8 February 2019 in the Netherlands. You’ll not only learn all there is to know about SEO from the very best in the field, there’s also plenty of networking opportunities.

Value your network!

Networking is not about transactions. It’s about building relationships, about finding the people you wish to work with and affiliate yourself with. It’s extremely valuable to invest in networking and maintaining relationships with your fellow bloggers. You never know when they’ll cross your path again or what you could mean for each other in the future. I would love to hear how you go about this, especially if it’s your fulltime job. And of course, let me know if I’ll see you at YoastCon! I would love to meet and talk in real life.

Read more: Caroline’s Corner: Work on your blog’s foundation »

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How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals

2018 is the year I took my blog to the next level: I started a blog series here on yoast.com about SEO for bloggers, I made goals, achieved a lot and failed a few as well. I tried to plan, failed miserably and tried again, with success. In short: in 2018 I found my love for blogging (again) and experimented a lot. 2019 is approaching fast though and I want to prepare properly. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made this year and I’d like to reach the goals and resolutions I’ve set. So, here’s a plan (for you and me) to kickstart 2019 as a blogger with big goals.

Write down your blogging goals

Whether you want to grow to 50,000 visitors a month, want to launch an eBook, get more collaborations, or all three: write down each and every single one of your goals of 2019. By writing down your goals, you’re already way more committed to them than by just saying them out loud. Take that advantage! Write them down somewhere where you’ll see them regularly, for example on your blog notebook or on a memo board in your office. Seeing goals regularly and thinking about them often, will help you stay on top of them.

Please note that your goal should be realistic. If you want to grow your audience and your blog has 500 visitors now, it might not be entirely achievable to aim for 100,000 visitors by December 2019. Especially, if you’re unsure about how to reach such a growth.

Plan time to work on your goals

The biggest thing we all face, is time. Particularly, if your blog is a hobby – or just not your main source of income – it’s often the first thing you put aside when life throws you a curveball. I didn’t publish blogs for almost two months on my personal blog as I was very busy with other projects, hobbies and making up excuses why I just couldn’t spend time on my blog.

Because I don’t want this to happen again in 2019, I need blog posts written in advance. That’s why I planned a blog weekend in the beginning of January. I’ve done this back in September as well and managed to write over 30 blog posts in just three days. So in January I booked a cottage together with a fellow blogger and we’ll spend our days writing. The goal? To create flow, creativity and content.

Focus on one task at a time

If you’re in a writing flow, you should continue to write, even if your blog post is finished. Do not fall into the trap of finishing your writing to start photographing and scheduling or promoting the blog post. Continue working on other blog posts! If you combine your tasks, you’ll be much more efficient. That could mean that you first write a few blog posts, then start photographing for all blog posts and then schedule or fine-tune them. You’ll switch less between tasks, which makes your focus and the results that much better.

I’ve spoken to bloggers who link certain days to certain tasks. On Mondays they’ll create their images; on Tuesdays they’ll focus on their Pinterest scheduling; on Wednesdays they’ll write new content and so forth. Because you’re focused, you’ll get things done much quicker. You have to find out if this works for you or not, it will help you get the tasks you otherwise wouldn’t do, on your to do list.

Finish your tasks

If you focus on one task at a time, the biggest trap you could fall in is never publishing some of your post. While I was writing in a cottage back in September, the internet was horrible. This meant I couldn’t schedule my posts properly, nor find stock photos if necessary. Now, I’ve only published 12 of the 32 blog posts I’ve written back then. Are the other 20 not worth publishing? No, they definitely are! I just never finished them. I’ve never proofread them, took photos, nor scheduled them. And now, I have an issue with even looking at those blog posts, as it all feels like a waste.

Lock up that critic (or befriend it)

Two of my most popular posts in 2018, were about the inner critic we all have inside of us. The first one was about why you should befriend your inner critic, the second one was why you should quit your blog now. Both got a lot of comments. Some of you were annoyed that I even dared say you should quit your blog and with every right so.

Often our biggest critic, is within us. If we want to grow, we should befriend it and be willing to silence it every once in a while. You can’t write blog posts in advance, if you let your inner critic out too often. You’ll never be able to finish everything, if you let the perfectionist in you speak all the time. Often ‘good enough’ really is good enough.

Find bloggers like yourself

To stay on top of your goals, it’s very helpful to have bloggers to chat to. The last year I met various bloggers like me on blogging conferences. I’ve even become close friends with a few of them. We often message each other for help, tips and the likes. Are you unsure why and if networking is something for you? I’ve written a post on the importance of networking as a blogger!

Reflect each month

Whenever you set your year goals, don’t forget you should set monthly goals and maybe even weekly and daily goals that link to the bigger goals. This way, your goal stays within reach and doesn’t feel like something in the far distance. You’ll make small progress with every step you take. By the end of each month, you need to check if you made progress and if it’s the progress you aimed for. If not, find out why you didn’t reach it. Did you aim too high? Or did you neglect to do what you should’ve done? Whatever the reason is, accept that sometimes you fail. You always have a new month and a new day to try again!

I would love to hear from you what your goals for 2019 are, how you want to reach them and what you would like to learn from me in 2019!

Read on: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

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