Content marketers use guest posts to secure backlinks to their websites. Rather than writing fresh blogs and articles solely for their own pages, publishers will also offer to create posts for other websites in their industry.
The other company gains new content free of charge, and the writer achieves a backlink to their own website.
Yet done correctly, guest posting is also a powerful networking opportunity. It allows publishers to cultivate a friendly alliance with another brand in their field. This helps build brand awareness and can lead to naturally occurring links.
Guest posting became very popular many years ago. Marketers realized that churning out articles and flinging them across the web was an effective way to grow their inbound link profile.
It seemed at the time that there was finally a simple way to gain new links and traffic for a website. However, it can still be rather significant under the right circumstances.
Read on to learn best practices for incorporating guest article contributions into your link building strategy.
Poorly written articles and pestering outreach emails have earned guest posts a spammy reputation.
This reputation began in 2014 when Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s webspam team, famously declared that guest posting was “too spammy,” that it was done, and it was time to “stick a fork in it.”
Guest blogging has undoubtedly become more challenging as search engines try to curb irresponsible practices.
For example, many sites are built specifically to sell links to eager SEO guest bloggers. These sites, PBNs (Private Blog Networks), manipulate their authority metrics to make the links appear more desirable.
In Google’s eyes, links from those kinds of sites are manipulative and violate Google’s guidelines on best practices.
Google explicitly forbids selling links to protect the integrity of its search results and its user experience.
To avoid penalties and considerable disturbance to search rankings and traffic, guest bloggers should never pay to have their article featured with a backlink.
Black-hat blogs are not the only challenge guest posters face. Another consideration is devious behavior like over-optimized anchor text to manipulate search rankings.
Google’s changing algorithms, and online trends have led to a general decline in blogging, further diminishing opportunities.
Today’s content marketers must exercise caution and creativity to use guest blogging for link building effectively.
How to Create Effective Guest Posts
Despite its recent decline in popularity, high-quality guest posting can still improve SEO. After all, a backlink is a backlink, especially when placed on a reputable site.
Guest posts and backlinks also improve metrics by referring relevant traffic to your website. These links can result in traffic from visitors interested in your niche.
Visitors gained from well-placed guest posts are more likely to click through your website, engage with your content, and ultimately become your customers.
Exceptional guest posting is not just an SEO tool; it’s a marketing and networking tactic that can foster genuine connection and industry alliances.
Finding and writing for good blogs allows marketers to interact with industry thought leaders and engage with enthusiastic audiences.
This relationship-centric approach marks the difference between reputable guest posting and spammy, ineffective speed-blogging.
So how do you take your guest posts to the next level? Follow these three steps:
- Find the Right Blogs
- Offer the Right Content
- Follow Up
In 2014, guest posting was about quantity. Today, it’s about quality.
By following these steps, you can focus your guest blogging efforts to build better relationships and some great backlinks, too.
The first step for effective guest posting can be the most challenging. How does one define a worthy site to post an article in? Who has time to scour the entire internet to find these sites?
Start by narrowing your search criteria. The ideal site will be relevant to your expertise.
Clearly, you should avoid writing for an industry utterly unrelated to your own. So if your company sells boutique pet supplies, you will have more luck pitching to sites and blogs about dog grooming than general lifestyle sites.
The site you choose should also offer you value. Look to metrics for clues about the site’s SEO and traffic-boosting power.
Your target blog should post frequently, and ideally have signals that indicate that it supports an active readership and community. Such signs can be in the form of comments and social media activity.
Finally, ensure the audience will benefit from your insight. Find a blog with a readership that overlaps with your company’s target market.
Don’t try to shoehorn a link to your luxury pet store from a fitness site by pitching an article about jogging with dogs. Fitness and pet stores occupy different areas of the Internet.
Once you’ve profiled your ideal target blog, the search begins. Many writers hunt for guest blogging opportunities using Google search modifiers. Useful search modifiers include:
- [your topic] “write for us”
- [your topic] “guest post”
- [your topic] inurl:contribute
Get creative with your search modifiers and strategies. Explore AllTop.com, which aggregates current headlines from top media sites. You can even investigate your company blog’s commenters to see who may have connections with other publishers in your industry.
As you compile outreach targets, track their contact details and blog metrics using a spreadsheet for easy reference.
Premium content requires thinking like your audience. It’s helpful to understand what your audience wants to accomplish when they visit your site.
Don’t write what you want to write about; write what the audience wants to read, which will vary from blog to blog.
To find your best angle for each site, study their posts that have succeeded in the past. Choose industry-specific, currently trending topics that resonate with the culture of the audience.
Guest blogs should be grammatically correct, well-researched, and entirely original. A startling 73 percent of people merely skim blogs for information, so your titles and introduction should grab the reader’s attention and guide them through your post.
Since your content’s quality is a reflection of your company and your personal expertise, take the time to write well.
Once you’ve written the bones of your content, jazz it up with helpful internal links to other pages on the site. Include relevant images for polish and appeal. A few well-placed links to useful web pages can also help your article succeed.
Remember to include your backlink with anchor text that flows naturally in the context of the article. But avoid using that as an opportunity to hammer home the keyword phrase you want to rank for, as that can cause it to be flagged by Google’s webspam team as an unnatural link.
Alternatively, you can include your backlink in an author’s bio at the bottom or side of the page.
After searching for blogs and toiling over your article, don’t spoil your efforts by failing to promote your work.
Start with social media. Share your guest blog on all of your channels, from LinkedIn to Twitter. Ask your friends and family to share your post, too.
You can also invest in paid curation and discovery tools like Mix.com, which help drive readers to your content for a small fee.
To reach an even wider audience, distribute your post through your company’s next email newsletter.
Next, engage directly with your readers in the comments sections of your blog and social posts. Respond to the feedback you receive with thoughtful advice and gratitude.
Relationship-building is your goal, and even small interactions can lead to future opportunities.
If your article results in an impressive number of shares and retweets, the blog owner may be inclined to offer you a second or third backlink opportunity.
Finally, ensure that your bio is updated and optimized for the audience you’re trying to reach. Don’t simply slap down your go-to sentence about your qualifications—use your bio box to entice readers to your website with customized “learn more” links or even video content.
Guest Posts that Bring Value
Gone are the days when guest posting was a quick and dirty way to gather backlinks. Today’s audiences seek high-quality content, and search engines will not condone paid link schemes. To succeed as a guest blogger, you must be willing to build an authentic connection with your audience.
While the added effort may seem tedious, take heart. Thanks to the high standards of today’s guest blogging community, your strong writing and keen insights will be rewarded.