Guest posting is, undoubtedly, one of the most promising SEO and content promotion methods – it is a prime source of high-quality traffic, a viable way to attract new customers and subscribers. Yes, it isn’t very straightforward and requires some time to get the hang of – but once you do so, the possibilities are limitless.
Luckily for you, we at Luckyposting have already suffered our share of bumps and bruises while learning the ins and outs of this craft, and now have enough expertise to help, direct and advise.
This guide is aimed both at complete newbies and those who have already dipped a toe in the water of guest posting – we hope that with its help you will be able to move in the right direction from the get go, without making unnecessary detours and wasting your time and money on approaches that don’t work.
Step 1: Setting Priorities
Before you start drawing out your guest blogging strategy, you have to decide what you want to get from it. Usually, guest posting pursues the following goals:
- Establishing yourself as an authoritative name in your industry;
- Drawing traffic;
- Building backlinks;
- Getting newsletter subscribers.
No less important is the fact that reaching out to other bloggers builds up your relationships with them, making you known not only to the general public but to the blogging community as well.
Step 2: Finding and Picking Websites
Not every site you may be interested in accepts guest posts. Try this to find websites that will be amenable to your offers:
- Google search (your keyword + “write for us”, “contribute”, “guest post”, etc.). Nowadays, however, this method isn’t as effective as it used to be.
- Research other guest bloggers. Search for their posts by names (blogger’s name + “guest post by”), fragments of their bios, running their photos through Google reverse image search. Some especially prolific guest bloggers often mention the websites they contributed to on their own blogs (your keyword + “my guest posts”, “my posts on other blogs”);
- Search in social media. Guest bloggers often mention their particularly successful posts on Facebook or Twitter. Search them, e.g., your keyword + “guest post”. This will help you single out websites that are especially effective guest post targets for your industry;
- Use tools:
- like SERP Tool or Buzzstream Prospecting Module to search for quality niche sites;
- like SEMrush or MOZ Open Site Explorer to analyze backlinks to your competitors’ websites;
Step 3: Researching the Target Site
Before you start preparing your post and sales pitch, you have to thoroughly research the website to a) find out if it is worth the effort, and b) increase the likelihood of your contribution getting accepted. This is what you have to do:
- Check if its topic is relevant to your niche. Firstly, you want your post to be seen by people who are likely to get interested and click your backlink. Secondly, according to an ex-Googler, relevance is as SEO-important as website’s PageRank;
- Study the blog’s content (topics, quality, and quantity of posts, frequency of updates);
- Analyze the blog’s essential metrics. Guest posts on low ranking blogs might certainly bring you some benefits, but posting on high-quality websites is much more effective, no matter what your reason for guest posting is. The correlation between link authority and Google rating isn’t clear, but there is certainly a connection:
- Domain Authority (DA). DA is a score developed by MOZ to predict how high the website will rank on search engine result pages. It is the most important metric (especially if your primary purpose is link building): according to Kristina Kledzik, writing for websites with DA below 25 is almost completely futile. Can be assessed via MOZ bar;
- Page Authority (PA). PA is a score developed by MOZ to predict how high a particular page will rank on search engine result pages. Can be assessed via MOZ bar;
- Traffic. The number of visits to the website can be measured by a number of tools (Alexa, Compete, Google Trends, Doubleclick, Quantcast). However, none of them give precise information, so to gain a better estimate you should compare their results.
- Check if the website gives authors credit and provides quality external links (SEO-wise, a backlink inside the body of the article is much better than the one on the bio);
- Check if links on the website are no-follow or do-follow. No-follow value has been specifically designed for such links not to influence the target website’s search engine’s index, and you don’t want to find out it is what you get after the fact. Although no-follow links might bring some visitors and improve your website’s reputation, they are mostly useless from SEO standpoint. On the other hand, SEO expert Eric Ward recently suggested that search engines still probably give credit to no-follow links it considers good enough, the keyword here is “probably”.
Step 4: Planning the Post
To increase the likelihood of landing a guest post you have to carefully prepare before contacting the website’s editor:
- Analyze the level of blog’s content and topics it covers, its audience and general tone. Is it aimed at newbies or experts? Is its tone formal or informal? Does it accept humorous articles? Can you write in a way that will be appropriate here and provide valuable information for its target audience?
- Run keyword analysis to define the most suitable topics for a post. See what’s been trending there recently – perhaps you can write an interesting follow-up to some recent article?
- See which posts in this blog are most popular with its audience – it will give you a clue what they want to see;
- Decide upon the right format for your post taking into account the website’s policies and your own goals. According to a study by Steve Rayson, the most shareable posts are lists, quizzes, “why” posts and “how to” posts. However, the reason for this is that people often share them without having read them first, and many such posts get hundreds of shares and no links.
- Check the website for popular yet outdated articles and sketch a similar post with more current content;
- Use topics that are trending in your niche as ideas for blog posts. Tools like BuzzSumo and Google Trend Visualizer can help – their general idea is to show you what your target audience is sharing currently, which often helps you ride the wave of a topic’s popularity;
- If you suffer from writer’s block, try out some tools specifically aimed at boosting content ideation.
Step 5: Composing the Article
- Study the guidelines and decide if you are OK with the site’s requirements. By the way, the very presence of guidelines is a good sign – it means that the site accepts guest posts at a fairly regular rate;
- Do a thorough research of the topic, study the older posts on the website to see if an identical or similar topic has been covered before. Ask yourself if you can add content of sufficient value to what has already been written;
- Come up with a proper outline;
- Write the post;
- Revise it, cut everything insubstantial or repetitive, check once more if it meets all the requirements (length, style, topic, etc.).
We all understand that in the long run, the article exists for the sole purpose of containing your links – but it is your task to make them look natural. The owner of the blog you write for won’t like it if they look spammy and blatantly promotional.
Here are the tips about making your link look natural:
- Don’t force anchor texts (“Why kitchen design by Swedish experts is so popular today?”);
- Don’t use misleading anchor texts. The reader should know where he is going, or the bounce off rate will mark the link as useless;
- Connect links to content useful for the reader;
- Intersperse your links with external links to high-profile websites. Linking the article only to your own website is too obvious;
- Add in interlinking to other posts from the blog you write for;
- Mention well-known authorities and industry influencers (bloggers, journalists, business owners) to show you know your way around the topic and participate in meta-discussion on it.
Different blogs have different standards of quality. Some will accept a short generic article of “5 Best Ways to Lose Weight” type, but if you intend to write for serious players, you will have to write a high-quality, original and useful post, which requires a lot of time and effort spent on research, writing, and editing. But don’t worry – this is going to be time spent well because one post on a popular blog can be worth a few dozen posts on third-rate blogs.
Step 6: Reaching out to the Editor
Reaching out to an editor of a high-profile website may be a prolonged and involved endeavor, but again – if you manage to land a post eventually, the return on investment will be tenfold.
- Find editor’s contacts. Messages sent via website’s contact form are often ignored, and you may have to be a little more determined and straightforward:
- Search the website for emails;
- If you cannot locate one manually, try hunter.io – this tool finds all the email addresses associated with the domain.
- Build up positive relations with the editor. Rand Fishkin recommends at least a month of interaction with an editor before you pitch your idea:
- Follow/friend him on social media;
- Actively participate in comment section of his blog (but make sure you say something interesting and useful and don’t comment for the sake of commenting. It can annoy the editor instead);
- Sign up for the newsletter.
However, such a prolonged approach is more relevant when you try to reach out to well-known bloggers – small fry is usually not worth spending this much time on.
- Write a persuasive pitch letter. Pay special attention to it – if you fail here the rest of your effort will go down the drain as well. Use every trick up your sleeve to get a response:
- Personalize your letter. Editors, like all people, despite obvious templates. Using one is a surefire way to get a rejection, especially from the big fish;
- Stick to the sweet spot between too formal and too chummy;
- Keep it short and simple, but not too short. Cut everything that isn’t necessary, but keep everything you need to explain your idea. Good examples of pitch letters can be found here.
- If you don’t receive an answer in a few days, it isn’t a reason to give up. The editor might have been too busy, missed your letter or forgot about it, so don’t hesitate to write a follow-up:
- Remind about yourself and your offer;
- Be polite and friendly, don’t assign blame;
- Keep it even shorter than the first letter;
- If you don’t receive an answer this time as well, you may try using a different contact medium, but if you are systematically ignored, you should probably try your luck elsewhere.
Step 7: What to Do Next
After your post is accepted and published, your work on it is far from finished:
- Track how it is doing. Pay special attention to shares, traffic, and attention from community, but don’t forget about other factors as well. Advanced Segment in Google Analytics is a good tool for this;
- Promote the post using all available channels: your blog, social media, probably even side projects if they are relevant;
- Keep track of the comments section and respond to them regularly and quickly. In addition to building up your authority among the community, engaging with the audience can get you acquainted with industry influencers and experienced guest bloggers. These tools can come in handy for tracking comments from multiple posts;
- If both you and the website editor are satisfied with the overall results, offer to write more guest posts;
- Invite guest bloggers to contribute to your own website.
21 years ago, Bill Gates said: “Content is King”. Today this statement is truer than ever: no matter what business you are in, providing quality content is a must if you want to be at the top of your niche.
Guest posting should occupy a rightful place in your content strategy. Yes, it is demanding, but the results are well worth it. It is an incredibly versatile tool that, if properly used, that provides more benefits than almost any other method taken separately. It brings relevant visitors who are likely to get interested in what your website has to offer, high-quality traffic with high conversion rate, boosts both your DA and PA, builds up your reputation within the community, gets you in touch with industry influencers and much, much more.
We hope that now you are inspired enough to launch your own guest posting effort (or start over if you’ve abandoned it). But once you get started, don’t forget that guest posting isn’t a quick fix – it is a complex tool that takes time to master and even more time to get visible results. So if you don’t see instant progress, it is not a reason to stop – all too often people give up when a few more weeks of concerted effort would have brought home the bacon.