Compared to directory submissions or outright link buying, link building tactics that conform to Google guidelines and provide the greatest long term benefit can be difficult and time-consuming to implement. Guest blogging is no exception. It's not supposed to be.
Site owners want to serve up the best content for their readers, and Google wants to find the sites who are best at doing that. Just about any link building or guest blogging tactic that does not respect this simple calculus is a risk not worth taking, in my opinion. That being said, white hat work doesn't have to feel like a trip to the gulag.
When you start a guest blogging project with one piece of content to shop, or target a short list of host blogs, or you constrain yourself to a very narrow niche, the work is always going to be hard and slow. Here's how to shift your approach to dramatically increase speed AND quality.
As you may know from project management teaching of the past decade, there are three primary constraints to any project: cost, time and quality. Each of the constraints affects the others in such a way that many people often restate this idea as: Cheap, fast or good, pick two.
The scope of your project usually determines how the constraints can flex. That means if you want a project done on the cheap, you might be able to keep a tight timeline, but you will hurt quality. To deliver a high quality project, you'll probably have to adjust either your spending, or the time it takes to complete it, or both. No matter how you look at it, you only get to control one or two variables, not three.
A lot of hard tasks are like this, in that they are constrained by three variables. To illustrate the point, lets say I have a specific fitness goal of bench pressing 200 pounds. My variables are time, effort and result (how much I can lift). The sooner I want to achieve it, the harder I have to work. If I don't want to work all that hard at it, I have to either string out the time to allow for slow and steady progress, or reduce my fitness goals (change the scope).
The problem with performing well at guest blogging is that you have three constraints, none of which can be adjusted, if you want the scope to stay the same: get the best SEO impact.
The host blog must be an authoritative site with high Pagerank (or whatever measures you like), the content has to be of sufficient quality to be accepted, and the topic should be relevant to both your blog and the host site for the link to matter in regards to your keywords:
You just can't be flexible on any or all of these three variables, without sacrificing the value of your backlink for SEO.
When you're having a hard time guest blogging efficiently, it usually takes the form of one of three scenarios:
1. You REALLY want to get content on a specific blog, and you have to figure out how to pitch a relevant idea, then can you write it?
2. You start with a great idea, but then you have to ensure it fits the niche, and put in the work to write it.
3. You have awesome content in the can, but framing it to be really marketable in the right niche, then finding the right blog for it is a challenge.
Personally, I've encountered all three issues. Then I realized that if I can let all three variables flex at the same time, the job gets easy.
Guest blogging is difficult when you want to control the variables as specifics: I want THAT blog, I want to post THIS piece of content, I want to post something about THIS topic. But you don't need to be concerned with the specifics to be successful, only with keeping your standards for quality content, authoritative sites and relevant topics. Suddenly, you can post all sorts of great stuff all over the place.
Combining The Two
You don't need to pick a blog, or a specific topic, and you dont even need to be able to write the content. If you play it right, all three can come together with very little effort on your part. What's even better, this approach can sometimes yield two, three, or even more article placements, for the same time and effort as getting one post the old fashioned way.
Let's say you decide you want to get some content up on a PR 5 blog that deals with tax issues. First, locate a list of such blogs with Google blog search, blog posts that list great blogs in a niche, blog directories and the like, OR assign the task to someone overseas for $5.00 or less. oDesk got me a quality list of 50 sites for $2.22, to be exact. That gives me a batch of target blogs, quick, easy and cheap.
Next, settle on a topic, but let the crowd do it for you. Select a handful of target blogs and post a writing assignment to Craigslist, or oDesk again. Ask respondents to pitch you their best idea for the blogs they see. The most sophisticated, timely and relevant topic(s) you'll use to pitch the blog owners yourself by email. The winners get to write their own topics and, if accepted by a target blog, they get paid.
Don't think for a second that people won't write on contingency. If you put it in your ad up front, writers who can't cut it rarely bother. What's even better is that the crowd tends to come up with some great stuff. They self-select further after reviewing the blogs and taking a stab at a topic. You filter the candidates by their ideas, not their puffed up resumes. Of course, if you do think a writer did provide great content, then by all means, pay them and shop it around elsewhere, or keep it on your own site!
Supposing you already have an article idea, but not the time or knowledge in the category to write it yourself, you can also go straight to a site like Freelance-Writers.net for good quality work, without the crowd aspect-- they handle all that behind closed doors.
Once again, being flexible on your variables, if you start with a specific piece of content, put it up in the gallery at MyBlogGuest.com or other sites that are built to match guest posts with blog hosts. Let the market decide if it's any good. The longer you leave it out there, more and better sites are likely to ask you if they can post it. The only currency exchange here is content for link juice, which is exactly what you're after.
While it might take a few days to get comfortable with your systems, this approach can greatly expand not only your reach into the blog world, but also the efficiency and speed with which you can gain the links. If you're after the solid SEO returns that guest blogging can get you, this is the way to do it.