In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about guest blogging. From identifying sites to guest post on to making a successful outreach pitch. We’ll look into whether you should consider accepting guest posts on your blog too. Let’s get started.
What is guest blogging?
Guest blogging is one of the popular marketing tactics for driving targeted traffic, increasing brand awareness and boosting search engine rankings. The idea is to identify a bigger site that already attracts the audience you are hoping to introduce yourself to and post some great content on that site linking back to yourself.
There are many benefits to guest blogging. Particularly in the early days or if you’re trying to reach a new and different mass audience for your new project or product. Or if you’re trying to do some link building in order to strengthen your blog in the eyes of Google.
- When guest blogging you get exposure in front of a targeted audience and you build your brand and influence within the field
- You get link(s) from a relevant quality site that can help you rank better in search engines, get more traffic, and new followers to your social media profiles
- You get comments and feedback that can help you improve and you establish relationships with other writers and creators
- You stand a higher chance of your content going viral thanks to the authority of the site you’re guest blogging on
Some bloggers are skeptical about giving away their content to other blogs. They believe the best use of their time is to create content for their own blog. I agree with them.
Working on building your blog and your content is the priority. You want your best content to live on your blog. That will give you the biggest benefits regarding traffic, links, brand awareness and authority in the long run. You won’t need to give up any of these benefits to anyone else as you might do when guest posting.
But it’s still worth exploring guest blogging. It’s one of the best ways to introduce yourself to the audience you’re trying to attract.
What you should NOT do when guest blogging
There is a lot of spam in guest blogging. Businesses have realized the benefits and have started to use guest posting as an SEO tool. Many guest posts are no longer being written authentically by real people wanting to share their experience.
The whole process is outsourced to freelancers who are getting paid by businesses to pitch influencers and then include links to different products and services within weak posts.
Google and other search engines have reacted to this trend by giving less value to these spammy links and making them ineffective for search engine optimization. This is what Google published in May 2017:
You don’t want to be put in that “spam guest posting” box:
- Don’t automate the whole process and don’t use teams of outsourced writers
- Don’t scale it to scores of posts on any sites that will accept you
- Don’t do it solely for the acquisition of links and don’t just post any throwaway content that you’d never consider posting on your blog
- Don’t include spammy links and don’t pay anyone to host your guest posts
In other words, be involved in the process, and keep the quality control standards at a high level both in terms of places you guest post on and content that you post on them.
A list of questions to evaluate a site
Now that you are clear on the benefits of guest blogging, and on what you should not be doing, let us take a look at how you can identify sites you could contribute to.
You want to post on a website that has the attention of audience you want to attract
Look through the about section and the content to find out what type of content they post, what topics they cover. Think how does this fit with the audience you are trying to reach.
You’re looking to find sites that are related to your topic and sites that attract an audience that is similar to the audience you’re looking to attract.
- Does the domain name indicate its purpose?
- Is there a descriptive and relevant tagline that states what the page is about?
- Is it immediately clear for first time visitors what the page is about and what its purpose is?
- Is it clear who the author of the site is?
- What are the qualifications and/or credentials of the author?
- Does the site or the author have an active and thriving social media presence?
You want to post on quality sites only
The website you’re looking to pitch should post content that people love to engage with and share with their networks. Sites that are authoritative in their fields and that have regular contributors that publish great articles and that don’t rely on guest posts.
Many sites have become content farms for low quality guest posts from companies selling a lot of dubious products. You should stay away from those sites.
- Does the site offer original content that is not available elsewhere?
- Is the content reliable, accurate and objective?
- Is the content free of grammar and spelling errors?
- How comprehensive and in-depth is the content?
- Is the content that is provided outdated?
- Are the links working?
- Are the links relevant and the anchor text descriptive?
- Is the content the primary focus of the site and not overshadowed by ads?
- How intrusive are the advertisements and other banners for the readers?
You want to post on sites with a large and active audience
After all, you do want to spread the word about yourself to wider audience. You should look for places that have many social media followers and shares on their posts.
- What are the top referral sources of traffic?
- What are the top keyword phrases visitors have found the content within search engines?
- What type of content is the most visited and the most shared in social media?
Look also for sites that have very active comment areas as comments area is an important area. This is where a creator can get feedback from the audience and connect to them deeper.
- Are comments moderated and spam comments filtered out?
- Is there a commenting policy?
- Is the author responding to comments and forming a sense of community?
- What are the most commented posts?
Does the author accept guest blogging at all?
Look on the “about page” or in the “contact us” section. Is the contact info or contact form accessible? Sometimes they have a “Write for us” or a “Contribute” page.
Sometimes you will see posts written by different authors which means there’s a good chance they accept content from contributors. One way to find potential sites to guest post on is to Google for “write for us + your topic”.
How to pitch your guest post
Build a rapport to make yourself noticed
Don’t just contact the site out of the blue. You are more likely to get your post accepted if the creator already knows you and has a relationship with you.
Become a part of the community, comment on posts and reference the site in your own content.
Get in touch on Twitter too by tweeting their link with your own comment and adding @mention. These actions are appreciated and remembered.
Find your guest post angle
Think of a relevant and complementary topic to something you have read on the site you want to guest post on. It can be an article that goes more in depth, answers some reader questions, or a follow up to something they have already posted about.
Have something important, useful, valuable and original to say in your article. No one will feature your article if they do not believe that your article creates value to their audience.
Make the pitch
You did your research, you’ve built the relationship with the influencer. You have a good idea that you think fits perfectly for their site.
Contact the person and “sell” your article and the idea of it being featured. Explain why it’s a great fit and how it will help their audience. Keep it brief and show that you respect their time.
Pitch email example
This is an email I successfully used when posting on one of the biggest sites in my field. Note how I submitted my post directly within the pitch.
You don’t necessary have to do this, but can pitch the idea only and only upon acceptance work on creating the article.
I have written an article which can be used as a continuation of the video tip at URL.
When reaching out to potential advertisers, it is very useful to prepare kind of a media kit of your own site, to be able to easier sell it to the advertiser. The full article is below.
Let me know if you are interested in having this article on your blog as a guest article. I can easily amend/add to the article if you needed me to incorporate your earlier tip into it.
If you don’t hear anything, follow up in about a week. Gently ask them if they had a chance to have a look at your email.
If the response is negative, there is nothing you can do. Your guest posting road will be full of rejections so get comfortable with them and don’t take them personally. You tried, you did your best but it was not the right time.
You have nothing to lose by asking, so keep trying with other sites that you find appropriate. Gone with The Wind was rejected by 38 publishers AND won a Pulitzer.
I’m not saying that you should be blind to the flaws in your own work because rejections do tell you something.
If they do have time to give you constructive feedback, take it with both hands and examine it with the cold efficiency you don’t really possess to see what you’re going to absorb into the development of your work.
Realise that your writing isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea.
Some website owners will feature you over and over because they connect with your way of storytelling or dig your content, and others won’t because it doesn’t speak to them.
Things to do after your pitch gets accepted
Your post pitch has been accepted? That’s great news, congratulations! But what do you do now
Deliver on your pitch by providing a quality article
Approach the article creation the same way you approach creating great content. Submit a thrilling piece of content that has great potential in getting spread in social media.
Provide value to the audience you are writing for. Make sure that you create a great headline.
Look at the format they normally post and the structure of posts they use and follow it as much as you can. You will be able to get the feel of how the posts are actually written.
Every audience is different; some audience loves personal posts, some like education resources. Use the most appropriate format of the post for the audience you are writing to.
Make sure your post is unique
All articles submitted as guest posts have to be unique, and written exclusively for the site in question. Never try to reuse and recycle some content that has already been published somewhere else.
People want unique and original content, so does Google. In some cases, Google may penalize sites that post duplicate content.
Create an attractive signature for the end of your guest post
Add your name and a link back to be placed at the end of your guest post. Mention what your site is about and state a good reason for visiting it.
Keep it brief and be direct. Include a link to one of your relevant and catchy posts that you’d like them to read next. Consider including a link to your Twitter profile when relevant.
Include another relevant link in the content itself
This is an important step as it could give you more clicks and another strong link to your search engine rankings. Many sites won’t accept links within the content but it is worth a try if it helps tell a better story.
Things to do after your guest post gets published
So after all this hard work, your guest post has finally been featured on another blog. You already start seeing the visitor coming in. Here’s what you need to do in order to get the most out of your guest post.
Promote the post through your own social media channels
Tag or @mention the author that featured you where possible to raise awareness of your content being featured.
Respond to the comments
Your guest post will receive comments and social media mentions. Track them and do take some time to respond to each and every comment you find.
The person that featured your content can see that you are participating in the development of the conversation in his or her community.
This will help drive even more traffic to your site as people will notice you responding to their comment and will be inclined to visit you.
Welcome the new visitors on your content
Make sure that your site features good content and good presentation to keep the new visitors interested enough to browse around, read some of your other articles and subscribe or follow you in social media.
Make a note about you being featured on a big industry site and welcome the new visitors with a list of your best posts and an option to subscribe.
Track the data and analyze the performance of your guest blogging
Identify how many people found you through the guest post.
- Which of the links within your guest post did they click on the most.
- What did they do on your site, how long time did they spend on it.
- Did you see an increase in newsletter subscribers or social media followers.
Analyzing data will help you make better decisions when submitting future guest posts on the same or other sites.
Should or shouldn’t you accept guest posts on your own site?
After you start your own site and you create some great content and get an audience, people start contacting you asking to write guest posts for you.
Offers like these are great to get and they are the proof that your audience is becoming attractive for others to write for in order to get a link and visitors. But should you be accepting guest posts from other authors on your site?
Pros of accepting guest authors
- Less work to do as you get others to produce content for you
- It helps you keep a regular schedule
- It allows you more time for promotion and other activities
- It helps you take a break from creating new content once in a while
- It gives your audience a different point of view and a fresh perspective
- It helps build relationships with other content creators
Cons of accepting guest authors
- You don’t necessary keep the high-quality standard that you expect from your own articles
- You might have to spend a lot of time proofreading and spellchecking
- You might be featuring inappropriate links to companies or products you cannot vouch for
- Your visitors might miss your personal touch if you publish guest posts too frequently
If you do it well and manage it carefully the above cons will not affect you and can make featuring occasional guest post a good step forward.
Beware of guest blogging spam from SEO’s
There is an alarming trend in guest posting that you should be aware of.
When guest posting started becoming a popular marketing tactic, the posts were almost exclusively written by individuals who created some great content in hope of attracting visitors thanks to the link in the signature of the post.
These days a growing amount of guest posts are no longer written by people wanting to promote their sites.
Sites that accept guest posts are now a target of SEO companies and their link building campaigns where the aim is to try to boost their clients’ search engine rankings by buying links from sites that are doing well.
Guest posts are increasingly written by outsourced freelancers who are getting paid to write with the sole intention of including links to companies and products in order to boost their search engine optimization.
I receive a large number of messages from people selling the idea of giving me some quality content to use but linking to a wide range of irrelevant and dubious websites promoting email marketing tools, security software, financial services and others.
They tell you they love your site, they tell you how great their content is, they tell you how big their social media audience is and how they will promote you on their profiles as long as you publish some free quality content from them.
They pitch these as “unique” articles but most of the time they are poorly written, full of grammatical mistakes and they are saying something by taking some 500 words but without really saying anything special or useful to the reader.
More and more of the requests now pitch infographics, some even want to create videos for you… all for free but very shallow content with no thought behind it and no purpose at all other than getting that link back.
Some even offer to pay you to feature their posts.
All this content can be described as throwaway content and it is easy and cheap to outsource this kind of content creation and featuring it can end up hurting you.
Google is against this as links are a part of their search results ranking formula and they may penalize you in their search results if you accept guest posts that link to dubious products or if you accept money for placing links.
Steps to quality control the submitted guest posts
Have very strict quality control
Ask yourself is this post valuable, will it teach my audience anything new? Ask the same questions that you ask yourself when creating content that thrills. Don’t publish anything that you cannot answer with a yes.
Review the author
You want to only feature quality authors. Google their name, check if this is a reputable author in your industry.
How is his or her social media following? What about their main site? Do they write on many other sites with poor quality content?
Review links within the content
Are the links the writer included in the guest post pointing to reputable and relevant sites or do they have very spammy and over optimized links?
You don’t want to link to some financial services site that is completely irrelevant to your topic.
Is the guest post unique?
Search engines don’t like duplicate content. You only want to publish content that has been created uniquely for you.
Copy/paste some of the paragraphs from the post and search for it in Google. If Google doesn’t find it, the chances are it is a unique piece of content.
Link only from the signature
Don’t feature links in the body of the post itself. Make this clear in your guest post guidelines or when discussing a guest post with someone.
If links to unrelated websites or some dubious companies are included in the post either remove them or do not accept the post.
Link only to personal sites created and run by the author
Don’t link to anything that is not relevant to the post and not created by the author. Irrelevant links are a sign that the author could have been paid to include them.
Edit and style the post so it fits your format
Make a branded image and add it to the post, create a better headline, add internal links to some of your older content that is relevant to the topic.
Do not publish too many guest posts
Mix them up in your content calendar with your own posts. It is important not to make them daily occurrences as your readers might miss your personal touch.
Following the advice above will make you say no to the majority of pitches you get but it will keep the standard of the content you publish on a high level. This should ensure that Google and your visitors stay happy with your site even though you may accept an occasional guest post.
Things to do to get the most out guest posts you feature
These are the things you should do to make sure you get the most out of the guest posting:
Have a “Write For Us” page
Include full guidelines on what you are looking for in a guest post. Instruct people how to submit a post to you and include a contact form. Put this page in your navigation menu to give it more prominence.
Put a call-to-action to submit guest posts
You can do this on all posts or on all the guest posts only. Having a prominent call-to-action, somewhere near the signature of the guest poster perhaps, will get more people aware of this opportunity.
Create contributor accounts
Do this for each of your regular guest posters in order to show their name in the post byline.
Contact the author when the post is published
Include the link to the post and ask the author to share it with his or her audience. This could help get you more visitors.
Regularly check for broken links
If you have accepted many guest posts over a longer period of time it is very probable that many of those links are now broken. Run Broken Link Checker regularly and make sure to remove those broken links.