Blogging is an effective way to promote a business. The only problem is that you’re stuck building traffic for that new blog, which can be a long, arduous process.
How many times have you created a great post, only to have it read by just a few visitors?
One of the most effective ways to build traffic for your new blog is to start guest blogging for other blogs.
It builds links to your website while giving you a chance to promote your goods, services, or ideas and establish your expertise and authority.
Guest blogging has become very popular over the last several years.
It’s also become a bit controversial because a lot of SEO companies have focused on it as a technique for link-building (see below) and not all have done it in an ethical way.
Some of these less credible companies have taken the approach of posting mass numbers of low-quality articles on sites that will accept posts from anybody (or even sites that are owned by the SEO companies themselves). This doesn’t do a lot for their site’s authority and Google tries not to reward such behavior and warns against it.
But high-quality guest blogging that delivers real value to readers and doesn’t solely focus on gaining back links is a very valuable strategy.
This guide will take you through the basics of what you’ll need to do to start having your content accepted by other blogs.
Why Is Guest Blogging an Effective Form of Inbound Marketing?
Almost 63% of people find a blog to be more credible if they’ve included work from multiple authors.
That is why guest blogging is a win/win situation.
As the author of a guest post, you’re able to gain multiple benefits.
- Industry-related authority.
- Qualified traffic.
- Relevant links.
- Motivated prospects.
- Conversion potential.
At the same time, you’re giving the blog that posts your content an opportunity to gain credibility. That promotes more opportunities to build an engaged audience for that site.
Guest blogging is effective because it puts valuable content right in front of an interested audience. You’re expanding your personal network by creating partnership opportunities within an active community.
And once you get the ball rolling with some good initial guest posts, you’ll have an easier time publishing on that site and others going forward.
“If your post gets a lot of traffic, social shares, and comments,” notes Neil Patel, “the blog owner will most likely accept guest posts from you again. You can use that post as a reference when pitching other blogs as well.”
If you are able to post content through a variety of websites, then you’re introducing what makes your business valuable to people who are already interested in the topic you’ve discussed in the content.
You also benefit by sharpening your content crafting skills. Guest blogging allows you to find the correct voice needed to approach your audience.
Guest Blogging Requires Patience to Find Success
When you’re first starting a business, there are a lot of worries. You want to find customers. You want to create a profitable experience.
When there’s anxiety, there’s a desire to find instant gratification. Succumbing to that desire increases the chances that failure will happen.
Guest blogging, as with many other forms of marketing, is a slow and steady process. It’s rare for a business to find instant results with a marketing effort.
“When you don’t know what really works,” writes Pamela Wilson for CopyBlogger, “every new content marketing technique that comes along is a distraction.”
That includes guest blogging.
You can’t jump from technique to technique when marketing a business, like drivers jump from lane to lane in a traffic jam.
Guest blogging really does need to be set as a top priority if you want to succeed at it and it has to be given a sustained effort. It’s a proven inbound marketing tool to use for business growth. It just requires patience and persistence to be successful.
If you create content that connects with your audience, then publishing opportunities are going to come eventually.
Once you set realistic expectations for your guest blogging experience, you’ll be ready to start setting some goals for your business.
Set Your Guest Blogging Goals
There are three basic goals that a business should have when using guest blogging as a marketing strategy.
- Positioning yourself as an industry expert.
- Creating traffic for your website.
- Building links to your site.
With a well-crafted guest blog, you can accomplish all three basic goals with every post.
But the key point is that it’s well-crafted and has value. Low-quality content isn’t going to help your cause, even if you happen to get it published on a high-authority blog.
“If you take worthless content and move it from worthless sites to sites that aren’t deemed worthless, nothing changes in the long-term,” notes freelance copywriter Don Sturgill. “The search engine robots will sniff you out eventually.”
Once you’ve set your goals, you’ll be ready to start finding the best blogs that accept guest posts for your content.
Guest Blogging: It’s Not All About You
Guest blogging should provide you with more engagement. It should also provide more engagement for the website which is hosting your blog post.
“No company should be accepting guest posts for its blog where the articles don’t provide value for the company,” writes Michael Martinez, “and yet they pass value back to the bloggers through links.”
Your content must be just as valuable to the hosting blog as it is for your business.
That’s why searching for the best guest blogging opportunities must be a planned process. Many blogs will accept guest posts. Not every blog will benefit your business when your content is published.
Your primary goal must be to locate opportunities where the content being published is focused on your industry.
Look for a blog that publishes content within the niche where your business operates.
How to Research Guest Blogging Opportunities
You’ll want to make sure the guest blogging opportunity will be presented to an engaged audience. Look for social media shares and blog comments to ensure the hosting blog has engaged readers.
Double-check the social media presence for the hosting blog owner as well. Not every blog owner will promote guest blogs through the social media.
You won’t find the information you need about the value of a potential host blog from their website alone.
Your first step is to research the primary audience of the website you’re thinking about contacting for a guest blogging opportunity.
The easiest way to do this is to visit Alexa.
You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the search mechanism. Then input the URL of the website you wish to research.
This will allow you to see the overall authority the website has in real-time. Look at the number of daily unique visitors and the number of monthly page views. This will let you know if there is actual traffic coming to the site.
Then take a look at the demographics of the audience for the site. This will help you know if the site reaches a similar audience. It will also help you tailor content to reach specific demographics for your products or services.
Alexa shows you how specific demographics rate versus the internet average of all websites in each category.
If the demographic does not reach the middle line of the graphic, then the site under-performs in that category. You’re looking for opportunities where the website is able to over-perform.
You’ll also want to check out the Domain Authority of the websites you’re considering. Domain Authority is a metric developed by the SEO software company Moz, and it’s a good proxy for how Google values the authority of a site.
On a scale of 1-100, higher DA sites have higher authority. And because of the way Google’s PageRank system works, you’ll get more authority for your site by publishing on higher DA sites and having them link to your site.
Consider a subscription to Moz to use their Link Explorer tool to research sites.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that at least a strong majority of the sites you’re publishing on offer ‘do-follow’ links to contributors’ sites. Do-follow links allow Google’s Page Rank to flow to your site.
Does Google Penalize Guest Posting?
Building links is important for SEO (and site traffic) purposes.
But it cannot be your only goal when guest blogging.
That is, you can’t be spammy about it–if you get lots of low-quality articles published on sites that will accept posts on virtually any topic from anybody, you’re going to end up with a spammy link profile and Google is bound to notice and might consider penalizing you (or just taking away the value of any of those links).
Google’s former head of spam, Matt Cutts, wrote this in 2014:
“If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links… you should probably stop. Why? Because over time, it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging, then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”
While Google officially says don’t build links through guest-posting, you should be alright gaining links this way if you’re writing high-quality posts for relevant, high-quality sites.
How to Pitch a Guest Blog Post Successfully
Once you’ve reached this stage, you’re ready to begin pitching your content ideas to different websites.
You’ll notice that many sites tend to accept one type of guest blogger over another. Take a look at the accepted blog posts which have already been published.
If you don’t relate to the authors, then there is a good chance your business would not be accepted by the site.
Don’t waste your time there.
Then take a look at the blog topics which are typically accepted as guest content. Your pitch will be more successful if it targets subject matters that are important to that site’s audience.
Many posts will count the number of shares and comments that have been received. Look for topics that have received the highest number of shares and comments.
The website may even do this for you. Look for a section that covers the “most commented posts” or the “most shared posts” to see what topics are covered.
It is also helpful to have an established blog presence before pitching a guest blog opportunity. If your blog is blank, then so is your reputation.
Many guest bloggers find it helpful to generate some recognition by site owners when they want to have a post published. Interacting with the blog and their social media for 2-3 weeks before pitching a guest post idea will make you less of a stranger.
Then there are some specific times to watch for that will improve your chances of having a guest post accepted.
- When a blog responds to a comment you’ve left on their site or social media.
- When a blog mentions you in one of their posts or in a status update on social media.
- When there is a specific advertisement for guest posts.
- After a blog publishes a guest post.
To give yourself the best chance at a successful pitch, you’ll need to make sure you are following the site’s pitch guidelines.
Some websites do not have any pitch guidelines at all. Others will have an extensive set of rules they expect you to follow, automatically rejecting anyone who doesn’t keep to their guidelines.
Look to see if an idea is wanted as a pitch instead of a full blog post. Make sure whatever you submit is in the requested format.
If you are unsure of what the requirements may be, then contact the site before submitting a pitch to get the clarity you need. It is always better to ask questions than make assumptions when crafting your first pitch.
Then make the pitch a personal process. Avoid using generic introductions. Direct the pitch to the person who is responsible for reviewing it whenever possible.
Make sure you introduce yourself in a way that generates positive attention. It is not uncommon for websites that accept guest posts to only work with other bloggers. Introducing yourself as a blogger will help you avoid your pitch from being automatically screened out.
Then add a few links within your pitch as a portfolio for the review to see, even if you can only include links to your own blog.
Proving you have quality will bring you one step closer to an accepted proposal.
Take Your Guest Blogging Reputation to the Next Level
Many guest blogging opportunities turn into a one-and-done scenario. This happens because the value of your content does not match the expectation that the site owner has for it.
You cannot control how many unique visitors decide to read your guest post. What you can control is how you interact with the people who do read your content.
If there are comments left on your guest post, then take some time to respond. Try to respond within 24 hours if you’re trying to engage the community.
The same applies to comments left on social media. Use your social media accounts to respond to feedback, both positive and negative, to generate a deeper conversation about what you covered in the post.
It is helpful to promote your guest post to your current audience as well. Bring more unique visitors to a website that posted your content opens new opportunities for guest posts in the future.
As you develop your own blog and social media audience, promoting your guest blog posts will make you a more attractive guest blogger for other sites and continue to make getting published easier.
When you are active after your content is published, you will begin to build more authority for your business.
Then make sure you are tracking the results that your guest blogging work is able to generate. You can do this through most analytics programs.
Look for content that is directly referred to your website from the sites where you have guest content posted. If you’re using Google Analytics, then you can set up to 20 different advanced segments which will track specific data for you.
If you find that your traffic tends to come from a couple of primary sites, then you can focus your guest blogging efforts on that audience.
Or you can see that guest blogging isn’t working like you thought it might, which means you need to go back to the market research element of this marketing tool.