Guest blogging can be taken advantage of quickly, and can be a great way of establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.
Too often, though, guest blogging is a code for “garbage content”. Think about the number of poor quality “guest posts” you’ve seen on blogs while doing link building research. Posts that are unrelated to the blog, entire blogs composed of nothing but guest posts, guest posts reused on numerous sites – these are the pitfalls you want to avoid in a guest blogging campaign.
But, if done right, guest blogging can help you find high-quality websites, build real relationships and opportunities, and acquire quality inbound links.
There are seven simple guest blogging best practices that can help you:
- Identify your expertise
- Discover related blogs
- Analyze performance metrics
- Inquire and Pitch
- Be Personal
- Use Authorship Markup
- Monitor and Track
We’ll examine each of these in more detail today.
1. Identifying Your Expertise
Knowing what specific niche you are targeting is vital, and making sure that the websites you are contacting are related to your niche is the first step. You will never build relationships through blogging if you continually contact blogs about cooking when you want to write about accounting software.
You should keep yourself in a happy place, and if you know a lot about one thing (like awesome content marketing) then keep writing about that. The more your write about it the more you will learn about it too.
2. Discovering Related Blogs
There’s no magic tool for this step. Often, the most effective way to find the authoritative blogs in your niche is simple exploration. Once you find one blog, it’s almost certain they will link to another related blog in that niche. Keep following the chain, and keep evaluating the sites as you go.
Social media can be a great help in this part of your process. Keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ for mentions of topics related to your targeted niche. Follow the shared links and see who is already an authority and what the scene is like.
Connecting with influential people in your niche is as simple as following them on one of these channels. You can then interact, when appropriate, and build a relationship with them. As you build your credibility, you can approach them with potential guest post topics.
You won’t have access to the Google Analytics account of potential blogs, but you can still assess value from the outside. SEOMoz metrics like Page Authority and Domain Authority can help you rank your targeted blogs. PageRank from
Google (using your browser toolbar add-on) is a decent indicator of how “good” a site is, but don’t trust it entirely.
When using SEOMoz Domain Authority and Page Authority, you must remember what those terms mean. A total spam blog hosted on wordpress.com or blogger.com will have a Domain Authority of 99 – this doesn’t make it a good link.
For these blogs, look more at the Page Authority. For blogs hosted on their own domains, look at both.
There’s no real substitute for your own experience and intuition.
Take a subjective look at the overall appeal of the site. Read a couple blogs posts, and determine whether or not they are well written, along with if the author truly knows the topic you want to cover. Look at the design – is it overfilled with AdSense slots? Does it look credible?
Not all great sites are well-designed. If the content is high quality, and everything seems legit, you might be OK with appearing on a site that isn’t the prettiest in the world.
But if the design screams “spam” to you, take a very hard look at the content to see if the effort is worth it.
4. Inquiry and Pitch
So, what’s next?
Start by reaching out to the editor or owner of the blog and simply asking if you can contribute to their blog. Keep in mind, this will not always work. Be creative, be professional. You might get shot down, but don’t take it personal.
It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. – Theodore Roosevelt
Help the site editors know how they will benefit by allowing your posts. Successful blogs receive many guest post pitches – you need to stand out, and one of the best ways to stand out is by being an expert in the topic you are pitching.
Include a pitch that shows you actually read their site and considered how your work would fit. Cookie cutter pitches aren’t going to be as successful as pitches that really demonstrate you thought this through.
If you already know they allow submissions to the website, make sure you take a look at the article guidelines, so you don’t submit an article that doesn’t adhere to their standards.
5. Be as Personal as Possible
People are more likely to do something for you if they like you – it’s a general principle of life. The sale doesn’t always go to the best deal. It will often go to the best relationship. Guest blogging is no different. The slots will go to the best relationship that also has great content. You need to forge connections with the people you want to publish your posts.
Search for an email address to contact, and include names if you know them. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them if you have that information available to you. If the only option is to fill out a form, you better make sure it’s the best form you ever filled, and treat it professionally and write like a person, not a robot.
Some blog owners can get 100’s of emails a day, so make sure you let them know they are making the right choice by allowing you to publish on their site.
Follow up any unanswered emails – but wait at least a week, not the next day, to give the publisher time for consideration on your request.
Try connecting through social media as appropriate. Follow your targets on Twitter, and participate in community discussion. Show that you know your topic and are engaged in events, and you’ll be more likely to be noticed.
6. Authorship and Bio
If it isn’t worth claiming, then it most likely isn’t worth publishing. Include your Google Authorship in your bio, and don’t skimp on your articles quality. Authorship markup helps protect the hard work that went into finding and creating your guest post.
In the bio describe yourself, who you are, and what you’re interested in but keep it down to a couple sentences. Include the link to your website, don’t be greedy and try to place links all over the content. Keep your links simple and relevant to what you are talking about.
Author markup can help protect your work. By marking up your bio, you provide another way for search engines and users to connect your post to your persona.
Most of your guest blogging experiences will be great – but occasionally, you might have someone try to rip you off. Maybe they strip out the links in your post. If they don’t catch the markup in your bio though, you’ll still see some benefit from your work.
7. Monitor your Posts
The websites your publishing on have a follower base, and if they like your content they will comment on it. Monitor the posts you publish as guest posts and partake in the conversations going on. This will give yourself some authority in your field, and if people like you they will find you through social channels.
This can open the gates for more guest post opportunities. If you drive good traffic with your first post, you’ll likely be invited back again soon. You might also meet another site owner or someone with connections in your comments, and find another site to post on.
Keep the Momentum Going
Great relationships are the core of a great guest blogging campaign. Once you’ve secured a few posts, keep up the communication with the people who owned the sites.
Guest posting is an awesome way of expanding your personal network and if done correctly, establishing your name or brand in your industry. Be careful about crossing the lines of abusing guest posting. For it to be an effective method of link building, you need to do it legitimately. Follow these best practices to start and you’ll be headed down the right road.