The SEO Benefit of Contributing to Open Source – A Case Study

A rarity for me, an SEO post.

I’m going to share a method I got 200 okay backlinks in a period of around 24 hours (or rather 24 hours preparation).

As you all know (and am singing about it again, because I’m so proud of it), I contributed to the WordPress 3.9 release of WordPress. A huge honour which came with a few links of kudos and the like, however I was curious – what was the SEO benefit of me contributing to WordPress?

SEO is still pretty much a links game, and it can help your site by getting a legitimate amount of links. So the first port of call was checking how many sites link to my WordPress.org profile. WordPress – in their release post – links to all contributors’ WordPress.org Profile, so I thought that’d be a good place to start. I fired up Majestic SEO and checked the recently discovered backlinks. I found this:-
new-backlinks-wordpress.org.profile

131! Sure, there were a few spam and scraper sites, but overall there were some gooduns. Now what about one of my properties? Well I checked out the Winwar Media site (which is linked to on the profile), and found this.

new-backlinks-winwar.co.uk

The spike was the day after, but it practically correlates. It is slightly bigger due to the fact that the next day I also published my WordPress 3.9 Feature Guide on the FireCask blog (which links to my site in the footer). But overall, there was an increase in backlinks.

So SEO Agencies, on your developer’s downtime, why not encourage them to contribute to Open Source projects? It could really help grow your profile. If not the backlinks from legitimate sources, but can also provide you with case studies for your blog, and even leads.

In terms of contributing to WordPress, getting links has been the least rewarding thing about it. However I understand that people aren’t necessarily as community focused as me, and may need some pushing to get going. I also know that there are hundreds of Open Source Projects that are crying out for talented developers to contribute.

It’s not a guaranteed result, of course. My code could’ve been cut from the release (it was an edge case, my fix), but what is? PR Pitches don’t get picked up, outreach emails get ignored and internal sites get abandoned. I truly believe that this is quite a legitimate form of building authority for you.

But, best of all, you’re making the internet a better place.