Finding the right websites to place your external content isn’t as straight forward as it may seem at first. Of the 1 billion + websites on the Internet, a large portion of those are hardly visible. Hidden in the dark corners of Google’s 5th and 6th pages you can be sure they’ll never be read by a decent amount of humans, or offer good SEO value from the backlinks.

So just how do you find websites which are valuable for you and can deliver good results in terms of referral traffic, SEO value, brand awareness and sales?

This post is designed to give a clear understanding on the types of things you should look for when deciding where to place/obtain content externally.

1. Is the website good quality/well designed?

Okay this one’s not rocket science. The first checkpoint is more about feel than analysis. Does it look, feel and flow like a high-quality website which you and the audience can trust?

No brainer things to look out for are good user experience, high-quality images, a nice logo, inviting landing pages which don’t make you want to bounce at first sight.

Does the platform you are considering have good web design? If yes, you’ve got your first tick.

2. Relevant section on the website for your article?

Ideally you want the whole website to be relevant to what your article is about.

Example: If your content is about football, ideally you want the website in question to be about football. Failing that, as long as the website is about sport with a football section, you’re good to go.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. If a big online newspaper which isn’t about football wants to publish an article about your football content, you should be all over it regardless.

3. Will your client/company be happy with it?

Put yourself in the shoes of the client, or your company management for a moment. At the end of the month when you show them what content placements you’ve achieved, will they smile and pat you on the back, or spit their coffee out in disgust?

Make sure you are aiming high and not placing content just for the sake of getting something out there. Take the time to find the right placements. Not only will it keep them happy, but you’ll reap the benefits too (with no coffee in your face).

4. Good data metrics?

Here’s where the web tools and deeper analysis come in.

To really understand if a website is right for your content, first you need to understand what kind of traffic is passing through it, and if that traffic has any value to your company or clients company.

Use tools like Similar Web to analyse potential traffic through the website. Although not 100% accurate, with tools like that you can understand potential volume, bounce rate, time on site and page views for example. These are key metrics to help you make an informed choice.

If traffic, time on site and page views are low, and the bounce rate is high, you can swiftly move on, knowing that the website in question may not have enough value for you in terms of referral traffic and brand awareness.

Whilst it still may pass SEO value with the links to your website, the likelihood is that if the metrics mentioned above are poor, SEO value will likely be poor too. In this age of digital evolution we need to do things for the users, not just for the search engines. SEO analysis is still very important though. That comes later on in the article.

SimilarWeb Website Analysis Screengrab
Analysing a website with SimilarWeb.

5. How many MUVs (monthly unique visitors)?

Many marketers overlook this and focus solely on the SEO value of a website or other things like social media.

But if no one is looking at the website, you’re not going to get any eyeballs on your content or any referral traffic as a result.

Many people measure MUVs just by looking at the number of last month’s unique visitors in Google Analytics, but the fairest way to this is to take the total number of unique visitors from the last 12 months, then divide by 12. Let’s say a website had 433,000 visits in one year, that would give 36,083 MUVs which is a decent amount for a travel blogger for example.

Remember that it is a fairly loose metric and not truly representative of the kind of traffic you might get from a website, but it will help to give you a deeper understanding of the value when bundled with the other checkpoints in this list.

Measuring Data on Google Analytics
Measure the number of monthly unique visitors.

6. Ask for a Media Pack

Other than doing your own data analysis, ask for a media pack so you can really get to understand the website’s audience. Take a look at the demographics and try to understand if the readers are the kind of people you want to target. Gender, age, geo location. All that kind of information should be available to you if you ask for it.

If they don’t have a media pack, ask for screen grabs from Google Analytics. If they don’t want to provide that either, do you really trust it as a valuable website? Until you’ve done deeper analysis, the jury’s out.

7. Check the quality of other articles

This one is regularly missed as a checkpoint. If the quality of the other articles on the website isn’t good, that’s a good indication of what kind of standards you’re dealing with.

The last thing you want is to be associated with a website which is a Panda penalty waiting to happen. Your content would never be seen.

This is also an essential checkpoint if the website owner is going to be writing for you. If they’re a non-native, or just don’t write very well, you might want to have a re-think.

Recommended for you: Find Websites Your Target Audience Visits

8. Check SEO metrics like Domain Authority

Finally, we get down to the juicy part. How much SEO value is the website going to give you?

There are lots of metrics you can measure to understand this, but first of all take a look at the Domain Authority using MozBar.

Ideally you want to aim for content placements on websites which have a higher domain authority than the one you are linking back to. That’s much easier said than done and not always possible, but aim high.

The other thing to consider is whether the links are “dofollow” or “nofollow”. Google stipulates that “nofollow” links don’t pass SEO value, so take that into consideration with regards to the value you might get from a content placement with “dofollow” links as opposed to one with “nofollow” links.

9. Are the links unique?

Have you placed content on the website before? If so, you’re not going to be building unique root domains which is a powerful ranking factor. The more high quality unique root domains you have pointing to your website, the better.

If you can’t remember if you’ve had content on a particular website in the past, one way to quickly find out is to go to Google and search: ‘Website Name + Your Brand Name’. E.g ‘The Verge + Web Vibes’. That will quickly show any results for content you’ve had placed there as long as the brand name was mentioned.

One more thing to consider with regards to uniqueness is the number of linking C blocks to your website. In simple terms, if one blogger owns 10 websites which are all hosted in the same place, it’s likely that all 10 websites will be seen as only one linking C block. On the contrary, if 10 different bloggers each own 1 website each and host them individually, that would be 10 linking C blocks which is more powerful in the eyes of Google.

10. Does the entity have a good social presence?

Now you’re pretty much ready to give the green light and place your content. One final thing I would check is how good the social media presence is for the brand or entity you are aiming to work with.

Check if social sharing will be part of the deal, and if so, how much of a following do they have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The more the merrier right?

11. Do the social channels have good engagement rates?

Lots of followers doesn’t always mean lots of value. I recently stumbled across AutoSports Art Twitter page which is a great example of a large following with next to no engagement: Click to see bad example.

It’s all relative. With organic reach now being stifled by the likes of Facebook, it’s not easy to get social posts seen by the masses without throwing a paid advertising budget behind it. Take a look at the overall number of followers and ask yourself if the engagement levels are likely to bring value to your content if shared there.


Once you’ve found the right website for your content and you’ve had it published, it’s time to promote it:

Why Content Marketing Isn’t Over When You Hit Publish

What other ways do you analyse the quality of a website in terms of content placement? Let us know in the comments below.