There are four things the Google algorithms consider when determining whether or not your content is worthy of ranking on the first page of search results. They are:

• relevance to the rest of the content on your site;
• social shares of that content (which also proves relevance);
• backlinks; and
• the backend items, such as meta description, alt tags, title tags, and rich snippets.

It also places some significance on the author and his or her expertise on the topic.

The first two are fairly self-explanatory. Produce consistently valuable content that your audience is compelled to share, and you have those two down pat.

The backend items can be self-taught by reading Moz, Andy Crestodina, or other search experts. Or you can hire a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, if you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself.

The backlinks, though, are a little tricky. At one point, SEO experts could buy links, which meant they would pay to have other websites link to your website. But Google has disallowed this practice.

Today, you have to earn those backlinks, just like you would a story in the paper, your industry publications, on television, in magazines, on the radio, or on blogs.

The good news is, it’s done fairly well through guest blogging, and you kill two birds with one stone: Grow your network by posting your content on someone’s blog, and get that valuable backlink from a high authority site.

Here’s how:

1. Go to OpenSiteExplorer, and start looking up the page authority for the blogs where you would like to guest blog. If their authority number is between 50 and 70, they’re a good target. Anything above a 70 is probably going to require a communication professional’s help.

2. Create a spreadsheet. Across the top, you will have things such as: Blog name, URL, page authority, guest blog topic, pitch date, and comments. Then you will fill in the columns. Read a few blog posts for each target, and figure out where you have expertise that fits.

3. Begin pitching. It’s fairly easy to pitch bloggers because they’re accustomed to email communication. Be sure to personalize your pitch, and provide a couple of different ideas about where you think you can lend some expertise.

4. Write the piece, and include a link to your website, a piece of content, or a blog post. This is the all-important backlink that Google wants you to have. If the blog’s owner doesn’t want to include your link, go on to the next.

5. Share the blog post with your networks. The blog’s owner will appreciate the new audience, just as much as you’ll enjoy the extended reach with their networks.

It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it does take some time. If you keep it organized, you’ll have an easier time of it.