If you’re serious about building your brand, driving traffic to your website, and increasing your blog’s readership, guest blogging should be of continuous focus for your business.
Major brands have used guest blogging for years, long before it was a buzzword in content marketing. Today, guest posting an article on a popular blog continues to be a high quality approach to reaching new audiences and building backlinks. The legitimate promotion that guest posts provide make it a powerful component to your online marketing strategy.
Let’s take a look at what guest blogging is, how it’s done, and how to get the best results.
What is guest posting?
If you are not familiar with guest posting, it’s a form of content marketing that expands your online presence by using the established audiences of other websites to your advantage. By producing quality blog content, you can submit those blog posts as guest contributions to authority sites in your niche. If approved, most blog owners will happily publish your article on their blog and provide a backlink to your website. They get top quality content and in exchange, you get exposure and free promotion. Guest posts can even be videos, infographics or other content that’s valuable and in high demand.
Guest posts are generally offered to website owners through email. It’s a traditional form of communication that works very well for getting in contact with sites in your industry. Most blogs have a contact form or email address that you can use to make your pitch.
Why should you guest post?
First and foremost, you have to be guest blogging for the right reasons.
If you are only interested in backlinks and increasing your search engine rankings, then you have already been misled. Guest posting on authority blogs can provide direct traffic and even sales but most importantly, it builds your brand. It’s real promotion that’s targeted and the results will last for years. It’s not something you do for quick gains or search engine manipulation.
- Drive targeted traffic to your website
- Build your brand and become an authority in your industry
- Build quality backlinks with content that attracts links of its own naturally
Now that you know what your objective is, you can begin to explore where you should be guest posting.
What makes a good target site?
Targeting blogs with authority and a large audience is important to your success.
You can determine a website’s authority through a variety of different metrics but nothing is set in stone. If there is a particular blog that you are interested in, you don’t have to pass it up because it’s lacking in Domain Authority, you should always trust your instinct. However, metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority, Alexa Rating, Trust Flow, Citation Flow and others help you gauge the quality of a potential site. The goal is to get your content in front of as many people as possible. By targeting niche specific blogs, their audience is targeted to your products or services and will be much more likely to have an interest in your website.
You can use the SEOmoz toolbar to check for Domain Authority and Page Authority. Trust Flow and Citation Flow can be checked by searching the domain on Majestic.com.
How to find targets for guest blogging
Before you can publish a guest post, you have to find somewhere worthy of your content. You spent time or money producing the article, so it’s important not to let your efforts go to waste.
- Does the blog have content relevant to your niche / industry?
- Does the blog appear to have traffic? (Check for comments, Alexa Rating, etc.)
- Does the blog have shares on social networks? Particularly the blog articles.
- Will the audience be interested in your website?
- Does it have Domain Authority, Trust Flow and Citation Flow?
This is the criteria for evaluating a blog once you have found one. Below, you will find several ideas for locating blogs that accept guest posts.
1. Search for guest post forms/guideline pages
Blogs will often be upfront about their acceptance of guest posts. It’s good content for their blog and they don’t have to write it. It’s not hard to find a blog that will at least consider your post.
Here are some ideas for searching for guest post opportunities on Google:
- “your niche here” “guest post guidelines”
- “your niche here” “submit a guest post”
- “your niche here” “guest post submission”
- “your niche here” “accepting guest posts”
- allintitle:guest post submission form
These are potential searches you could make to locate sites that have publically announced their acceptance of guest posts. Not all blogs do this. In fact, only a small minority will. If you are not having any luck using this approach, you are better off skipping this.
2. Search on Google
Don’t forget that simply searching Google for blogs in your niche can be a great way to find sites to guest post on. You can search your primary keywords or even long-tails and question related searches.
Typically the sites at the top of the results will have the most authority. You can navigate to the second page or beyond to find sites that still have authority and are more likely to accept your guest post.
These sites aren’t guaranteed to allow guest posting, since they don’t have a guest post submission form or guest blogging guidelines page, but most blog owners know that quality content is good for their site.
3. Find top blogs from blog aggregators
You can use blog aggregators like AllTop.com for finding top blogs in your niche.
These are blogs with very high authority and you will need one hell of an article and a great website to get approved for a guest post on most of the blogs you will find here. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to find blogs that can be added to your ultimate list of targets.
4. Follow authors and other guest bloggers
There are big names in every industry and more than likely, those big names will be using guest blogging to their advantage.
You can search for their name on Google to locate guest posts that they have published on other websites. By doing this, you can find blogs that you already know have accepted guest posts. These blogs will be much more likely to approve your post compared to random blogs that you find online.
Remember to place the author’s name in quotation marks when searching on Google. This will ensure that the results displayed are an exact match to what you searched for.
5. Monitor your competitors
If you know of a competitor or two that’s using guest posts to get links, you can evaluate their backlink profile and find blogs that are prime guest post targets.
However, if the site you are evaluating has a high number of links, it can become tedious to weed out the guest posts from the other link types.
Tools like MajesticSEO allow you to export entire link profiles, but to do this for free you have to verify that you have ownership of the website.
6. Use guest blogging communities – but at your own risk!
Communities for guest blogging do exist and they can be effective at securing the long-hanging-fruit in guest post opportunities.
However, Google has actively expressed their disagreement with these communities and they even deindexed the biggest guest blogging network at one point, MyBlogGuest, making it no longer rank for their own branded terms.
That’s not to say these communities should be avoided entirely but if you use them, it’s at your own risk.
Google only targets things that work, so obviously MyBlogGuest was working and making it really easy for bloggers to secure quality links. Google felt it violated their webmaster guidelines and they deindexed the site to express their feelings on the matter and discourage the comunity from using it.
To clarify, it’s not that Google is against guest posting, they are just against link networks. This is essentially what guest blogging communities became. Over time, they stopped focusing on the promotion and exposure (legitimate reasons to guest post) and became more about the backlinks. The second they did that, they put a target on their back and it’s no surprise that Google took action against them, just as they did blog networks years ago.
Other guest blogging communities include Guestr, Guest Crew and Blogger Linkup.
7. Use the Buzzsumo or Topsy content marketing tools
Buzzsumo and Topsy allow you to search for the most shared content on social media sites. By entering your niche/keywords, you can view hundreds of articles from blogs with authority in your industry. It’s great for coming up with content ideas for an upcoming blog post and it’s also effective for finding blogs to guest post on.
Blogs with content that is highly shared on social media networks are ideal places for guest blogging. This is a strong indication of authority and securing a guest post could mean massive exposure and a significant enhancement to your brand.
8. Use social networks
Social networks can be used to secure guest posts in a variety of ways. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn, social media provides a powerful medium for guest blogging.
- Contact blogs and pitch a guest post directly.
- Search for guest post opportunities (especially on Twitter) by using keyword searches like “hiring writers” “guest post” or “blog for us.”
- Network and build relationships within your niche. You can use relationship building to secure guest posting opportunities. This is particularly useful on LinkedIn.
Niche related forums can be great places to get in touch with blog owners.
Forums are actively used and always have a private messaging system for contacting members directly. If you can find a niche related forum where webmasters hangout and discuss ideas, you can leverage the community for guest posting.
You may have to explain the concept and go into more detail than you would elsewhere, as in some niches the blog owners you come across on forums may be unfamiliar with guest blogging.
There are also forums like DigitalPoint, WarriorForum, TrafficPlanet and BlackHatWorld, which are internet marketing forums and nesting grounds for all types of webmasters.
10. Blog Comments
Monitoring the comments of your own guest posts can sometimes open up new guest blogging opportunities. You never know when a blog owner will come across a guest post of yours and want similar content for their blog. One of the best ways to reach you is through a comment, but you have to be active and monitor your guest posts for that to work.
You can also post comments on other blogs. If a visitor or the website owner likes what you said, they may just contact you in request of a guest post. You can use blog comments to pitch guest posts too, but you have to do this carefully and in a non-promotional way. Be sure to contribute to the discussion and provide something meaningful with your comment.
Evaluate big targets beforehand
Blogs with a lot of authority are not going to approve a guest post with little value. The bigger the website is, the more important it is to produce content that is catered to the blog.
Provide higher quality content for authority sites
- Familiarize yourself with the types of content the blog publishes. Who are they writing to, what type of content do they produce, and what style of content has performed the best on their blog?
- Find other guest posts on the blog and take note of their writing style, topic and how they leave their link. Contextual links are generally not allowed and you may have to use an author resource section to get a backlink.
- Know what types of guest bloggers the website has content from. If you are a business that sells a product or service that is competitive with the blog you are attempting to guest post on, chances are your post won’t be appreciated like it could be on another website.
Making the pitch
Guest blogging is generally facilitated through email and how you pitch the guest post can make a big difference in your response rate. Below you will find best practices and important considerations to make when crafting your pitch.
1. Personalize your email
A generic email that lacks personal touch will probably get you nowhere. Be sure to address the owner of the blog and do everything you can to make the email appear like it took time to put together.
2. Know their guidelines
Blogs will sometimes publish guidelines and rules for guest posting on their site. If they have a page like this, make absolutely certain that you review it. Pitching a guest post before reading the guidelines is a sure-shot way to get denied.
3. Introduce yourself
Don’t forget to introduce who you are and why you should be given the opportunity to guest post on their website. This adds another personal element to the pitch and it can earn you sympathy points.
4. Do not ask for a link
It is not a good idea to state anything about a link in your initial pitch. Once the guest post is approved and ready for publication you can ask to include an author bio with a backlink. The pitch shouldn’t mention anything about links or it may discourage the owner from working with you. Blogs don’t want posts from search engine optimization companies; they want posts from legitimate authors.
5. Include samples of your work
You can link to articles on your own blog or previous guest posts that you have published on other websites. Including samples of your work is important to showcasing your writing style and displaying confidence in yourself as an author.
6. Decide whether to include the article or just the title
There are two ways to pitch a guest post; you can either include the article in the proposal or you can just provide the title of the article.
If you decide not to include the article, your response rate will probably be lower but you remove the risk that the blog owner could steal your content. The chances of this happening are quite low, especially if you are targeting high authority blogs, but it is a risk you have to evaluate for yourself.
Tips for submitting a great guest post
The quality of your guest post should depend on the quality of the blog you are submitting it to. You can use the content already published on the blog as an indication of how much effort your blog post needs.
If you are guest posting on a blog with 500-700 word posts and 1-2 images in each post, writing an elaborate high quality guest post would not only be unnecessary, but it wouldn’t do you much good. Those types of blogs rarely have large readerships and are not ideal targets.
1. Do not self promote
Blogs do not want content with affiliate links or content that promotes your products, services or brand. Do not self promote in your articles. It’s a very bad practice that will only lead to disappointment when your content is rejected. Think of it as content you would write if you wanted to provide a guide, tutorial, or teach a subject in the best way you can to an audience.
2. Search engine optimize the post
Use the Google Keyword Planner to quickly find targeted keywords for your guest posts. You can optimize the posts for these keywords and later promote the articles to increase the exposure of your own content.
3. Format as the owner would expect
Check the other posts on their blog and format your content similarly to those. If your guest post is formatted correctly, it is much more likely to get approved and this reduces back and forth communication.
4. Add internal links to score extra points
Internally linking to other blog posts and pages on the blog’s website is a great way to score extra points with the owner. Internal links are an important component to search engine optimization. It doesn’t require much effort and it makes the post considerably more valuable.
5. Add your link correctly
If other guest posts on the blog link back through an author bio, this is how you should add your link. Do not try to sneak past a contextual link without the owner seeing and instead, write a good bio with a compelling, non-promotional call to action.
6. Add sources if necessary
Source your article if you feel it’s necessary. The owner of the blog will appreciate it as it protects them by limiting liability.
7. Include a call to action
You can encourage comments by including a call to action at the end of the article. Creating discussion and engagement with your audience can draw more attention to the content.
8. Create a guest bio
Guest bios are generally 2-5 sentences and are placed at the end of your article. Your guest bio should include a call to action that is compelling and non-promotional. It is generally acceptable to leave one contextual link in the guest bio and sometimes blog owners will be comfortable with additional links to your social media profiles.
Be sure to track the search engine rankings of your guest posts using software like SERPBook and monitor your traffic through Google Analytics.
Analytics allows you to check the exact referral on traffic arriving from other websites. Use this to check which guest posts are performing the best.
You can promote your guest posts through link building, social media shares, and content marketing. We have many other marketing guides that can help with promotion. Promoting a guest post is exactly the same as promoting an article or page on your own website.
Software can often help you build tier 2 blog links to your guest posts and increase their SEO value. Provided you supply these tools with quality content that is worth sharing, this can be a great promotional method.