If you have a robust marketing strategy, you might be familiar with blogging, but what is guest blogging? In essence, you’re creating content for a different blog’s audience and in exchange borrowing some of their authority and introducing new people to your expertise. Guest blogging allows you to build authority, generate new contacts, and increase your authority.
Guest Blogging and Link Building
Link building is crucial to SEO and remains a primary ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. Rather than waiting for someone to link to your content, guest blogging allows you to proactively pursue links by writing on blogs that produce similar content.
An additional benefit of guest blogging is that it establishes you as a strong authority in your field. If readers are interested in your topic and see your articles on multiple websites and blogs, that naturally leads them to see you as an authority in your field.
Why Links are Crucial to Search Engine Optimization
Data continually shows that external links (links from outside sources pointing back to your website) are one of the most important factors for attaining and maintaining high rankings on search engines.
The reason it’s valued so highly is that it’s believed to be one of the hardest things to manipulate – meaning it’s one of the most authentic ways to determine how popular your webpage is. While other early search engines have capitalized on this theory, Google has boiled it down to a science.
Part of what makes Google such a great search engine is their algorithm that works to bring you the best search results. This algorithm was developed by Larry Page and is called PageRank. PageRank looks at a bunch of different factors when deciding where to rank a page in its search results, but one of the strongest indicators is the number of hyperlinks pointing to a particular page. Those links are counted and considered “popular votes”.
The more popular a page, the more likely it is to rank #1 for a particular query. While the algorithm has grown, changed, and progressed, external links continue to be a valuable ranking factor.
Is Guest Blogging in Decay?
Matt Cutts, former head of webspam at Google, declared that guest blogging was in decay and dying as a way to generate external links in 2014. His point was that guest blogging had become increasingly spammy and that the trustworthiness of the links coming from guest blogs was in decline.
While Matt’s prediction has not been proven to be true, his article still highlights an important point: the quality of blogs that you pursue matters. It isn’t enough to just get a post out on a blog. The blog’s audience needs to be similar to your own, and the publication needs to have authority and quality. Guest blogging on inferior pages can actually be harmful to your website and make you look less authoritative.
How to Find Possible Publishers
There are two main ways to find guest blogging opportunities:
- Organic Search (via Google, social media, mine resource lists, etc.)
- Niche websites that connect publishers and bloggers
Both of these strategies should be pursued to bring in the most opportunities. Not every publisher or blog you reach out to will want to publish your content, meaning that it is helpful to have a long list of targets and leads.
Below are some ways to search for the best opportunities:
1. Search for Lists of Top Blogs in Your Field
There are websites that compile lists of the top blogs in your field. The first step you should take when looking for guest blogging opportunities is to simply search “top blogs in [insert your topic here]”.
Those lists are easy ways to find opportunities, but be warned – not every blog will be willing to accept posts from other writers. Check each blog to make sure that they accept guest blogs and that you’d like your content featured on their website.
2. Advanced Search with Search Strings
Searching for the list of top blogs will help you find those top layer opportunities. To get to the next level, it can sometimes be helpful to use advanced search techniques with search strings designed to unearth new opportunities.
A few example search strings:
- Use “inurl:” searches looking for “contributors”, “authors” or your specific keyword.
- Example – “air conditioning” inurl:contributors
- Search for “guest author” or “guest post” with your keywords
- Example – “home remodeling” guest posts
- Search “intitle:guest post” with your keywords
- Example – intitle:guest post “search engine optimization”
Feel free to combine the above examples, or come up with your own unique strings. There are endless combinations that can help you uncover new opportunities.
3. Follow People or Companies who Actively Guest Blog
Many times the top influencers in your industry are also top guest bloggers. Become familiar with their content and the platforms they’re featured on the most. While you don’t want to copy their content or style and voice, you may find new opportunities with platforms you were previously unfamiliar with.
Additionally, following people and companies that are leading your industry is a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s important in your industry. You can start to see what is being talked about and how it’s viewed. Use that knowledge to create unique pieces of content that give your perspective on the topics everyone is talking about, or highlight something people may be completely missing.
4. Find Blogging Profiles Via Popular Hashtags
Hashtags can be a great way to find people who are speaking about your topic on social media. Try searching for different hashtags that contain your industry’s top keywords on top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You should be able to find influencers in your field of expertise.
Use Websites that Connect Publishers and Bloggers
There are several companies that will connect you with publishers looking to post particular content. HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects reporters with people who have expertise in a variety of fields. The requests can be varied depending on the reporter and their story.
Whether or not you get featured through these resources can be very hit or miss. Often it’s better to search the internet looking for people who are already talking about your industry and have a history of featuring guest posts and then sending them a personal email with your pitch for a blog topic.
Guidelines for Reaching Out
Once you have a list of target blogs, it’s time to start reaching out. While every blog or publisher is going to have different requirements, there are some important guidelines that apply regardless of the publication or blog.
- Create Content for the Other Blog’s Audience – Chances are the blog that you’re writing for is going to have a slightly different audience than yours. They may be similar, but take the time to look at other articles. What are their tone and voice? How can you emulate that while still providing a unique perspective?
- Make Sure that the Content You Submit is Unique – Publishers want unique content on their websites, not something identical to what you have already written. Make sure you’re not recycling an old piece of content – give them something new to use.
- Look for Outlets That Accept Writers In Non-Sponsored Ways – If you don’t want to pay for opportunities to guest blog, look for ways to generate non-sponsored posts. Not only does this make your article seem more authoritative, but it furthers your marketing budget.
Request Email Template
Blogs get bombarded with marketing emails every day. The more clear you convey what you can provide for them, the easier it is for them to say yes to you.
- Make Your Email Personal – Take the time to do a little digging through their About or Team page and LinkedIn profiles to find a name. Introduce who you are and who you represent.
- Reference Something Specific About Why You Love Them– Make them feel special! Does this blog have a unique point of view? What made you want to reach out to them over other blogs?
- Position Yourself as an Industry Leader – Ask if they are open to featuring a guest blog and explain why you are a good fit. Reference visitor stats, industry experience, etc.
- Be Prepared With Pitches – Sometimes it can be helpful to also include 1-3 proposed topics or titles to show you’ve done your research and know what their audience wants to read.
Rinse & Repeat – Don’t Give Up
Guest blogging and link building is a long-term strategy. Be prepared for a lot of misses, you may get a straight “no” or never hear anything, but don’t get discouraged! The links you will win are going to be valuable and bring you awareness that you didn’t have before.
Link building has sort of a snowball effect, the more links you build to your content, the more authority you have when you make future requests – meaning that the job gets easier as you go. Start small and stay persistent, your efforts will be rewarded with increased traffic, exposure, and authority – all things that have positive benefits to your bottom line. Good luck!