Guest blogging is a useful promotion and SEO tool to get you more traffic—if you know how to do it right. If you’re wondering what guest blogging is and why you should bother, then this article is for you. Today, I discuss what guest blogging is, why it’s worth doing, and how to do guest blogging the right way.
You’ve probably read it in a famous blog while you’re researching your latest article for your blog.
“Guest post by ___”
You’ve probably wondered how to get one of your articles published on a popular blog in your niche. Kind of like the New York Times of your niche; or maybe the Huffington Post of your niche.
Well, wonder no more because in today’s article, I’m going to explain what guest blogging is, why you should do it, and how to do guest blogging.
Quite simply, guest blogging is when a blogger writes an article that gets posted on another blog (I’ll call this the host blog to avoid confusion). Both the guest and host blogs are usually in the same industry or the same niche. Guest blogging benefits both parties involved. Host blogs win because they get high-quality content for free, and guest bloggers win because they get more exposure.
So that’s all well and good, but why should you do it? Here’s a rundown of why guest blogging is worth the time and effort.
Guest blogging is a simple way to get high-quality links from other websites to your blog (called backlinks). Backlinks to your blog are a quality signal to search engines; the more backlinks your blog has from reputable sites, the higher your content is valued by search engines.
If you manage to score a guest post on a high-ranking, high-profile website, that will increase the value of your blog to search engines.
Having a high-ranking site publish your post doesn’t just benefit your search engine rankings, it also adds to how you are perceived by readers. Top websites don’t let just anyone post to their blogs. Finding your content being published by top websites establishes your blog’s authority in your niche. You can even place “as seen in” badges on your website to show visitors which sites have published your content.
Seeking out your blogs with the same topic and target audience as yours and getting your content in front of people who are interested in what you’re writing makes it more likely for them to check out your blog.
Different blogs have different standards, and some of these standards might be hugely different from your own. Applying a new style of writing to your usual style can help enhance your writing skills.
In the process of looking for blogs to guest submit your articles, you get to read a lot of their content. Knowing more about your niche is always good because you get to have more knowledge to share with your readers.
By posting quality content to other blogs in your niche, you can build great relationships with other bloggers. Making friends with other bloggers can grow your influence, which in turn can lead to more visitors and subscribers. This is a mutual thing too; your readers get introduced to their blogs, and they get to be in front of a new audience.
Guest blogging also allows you to speak to, and eventually be a part of, an established community. Connecting with new audiences, especially if you have shared interests, can always benefit you, as long as you’re genuinely helpful and not just pushing your own agenda.
Adding value to the discussion allows you to gain more readers, and hopefully subscribers. The good thing is that they don’t have to abandon the blog they were originally reading; their reading list just expanded to include your blog.
Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced of the benefits of guest blogging, you’re ready to learn how to guest blog. Here’s how to do guest blogging the right way.
When you reach out to blog owners of your target host blogs, the first thing they’ll do is check out your blog. Same thing will happen when your guest article becomes published on your host blog. You want them to be impressed by your blog at first glance, so here are some pointers so you can wow them.
You’ll want to find blogs and websites that have high rankings on search engines, decent amount of traffic, and an engaged audience. With that in mind, start looking for blogs to write guest posts for. Here are some simple strategies to find the best blogs to write for:
If you haven’t the faintest idea where to start, Google Search is your best friend. Simply search for “[niche] blog” where [niche] is your niche. Bear in mind, though, that not all of these blogs accept guest posts.
You can also go straight to searching blogs in your niche that accept guest posts. Search for phrases like:
Many bloggers list the blogs that have published their guest posts (something you should do, too, but I’ll talk about that later). Find these lists and you can find blogs that are likely accepting guest posts. You can search for these lists using the following search terms:
Another way you can go about doing it is if you already have a competitor in mind and want to find out where their posts have been featured, you can try to search for the following:
where “theirdomain.com” is your competitor’s domain name or blog URL. This probably looks some arcane Google language to you, but what it does is pull up pages that have links to their blog (link:theirdomain.com) apart from their blog (-theirdomain.com) that has the text “guest post,” “guest blogger,” or “featured.”
Aside from posting about it on their blogs, your competitors and host blogs that published their content are likely to promote the posts on social media. The easiest, and often the freshest, platform to search is Twitter. Simply go to Twitter search and search for “[keyword] guest post” to get the latest tweets about guest posts in your niche.
By now, you should have a list of potential host blogs that are accepting guest posts. You can now refine this list to include only blogs that have a high potential of getting you traffic. After all, creating a high-quality article is hard work, and you’ll want to maximize that hard work.
You want blogs that meet the following criteria:
It’s going to take some time and effort, but finding excellent blogs to write for will be worth it.
At this point, you should already have a shortlist of promising host blogs. I would suggest that you do the steps here for each of the blogs on your shortlist one at a time; that is, don’t aim to create guest posts for multiple blogs at the same time. Do guest posting for one blog at a time.
These are the things you should know about your target blog:
Popular bloggers receive pitches for guest posts all the time. One way you can stand out is to get on your target blogger’s radar even before you send your pitch.
You can do that by interacting through their social media. You can reply to their tweet or comment on their Facebook post (follow them first!).
Another way to get them to notice you is by commenting on some of their recent posts. Write something valuable and insightful that adds to the discussion.
Finally, if you’re feeling a bit confident, you can also email them about how helpful a specific article on their blog was for you. Be as detailed as you can as to how exactly that article helped you.
It took us long enough to get to this point, didn’t it? But all the previous steps got you ready to finally pitch your guest article. Here’s some guidelines on how to compose an email that will get your target host to notice your pitch.
First of all, address the blog owner by name. While you were doing your research, you should have been able to find their name or whatever they want to be called. Starting an email with something impersonal like “To whom it may concern” or “To the blog owner of __” or “Dear Sir/Madam” screams “EMAIL TEMPLATE” and will likely get your pitch straight to the Trash or Spam folder without them even reading past the salutation.
Introduce yourself briefly and then mention something specific about their blog. You can mention a particular post that you’ve commented on or one that helped you with a specific problem. If you’ve engaged with your target blogger effectively prior to sending this pitch, they should be able to recall your awesome comments on their posts.
After that brief introduction, go straight to the purpose of your email: that you’d like to contribute a high-quality piece of content to their blog, and that you’ve brainstormed some topics that their readers would benefit from.
Focus on the benefit to the host blogger and their readers. If you’ve done your research well, you’ll know what topics their audience would like to read about.
Highlight the fact that you’ve gone through their guidelines without directly stating it. For example, if one of their guidelines is that it has a 1,200-word limit, say that “I’d like to contribute a 1,200-word piece on any one of the following topics.” This clearly indicates that you’ve done your research and read their guidelines without using too many words.
Say something like, “To give you an idea of the quality of my work, here’s a link to my blog [link to your blog] and my latest post [link to your latest post].” This is why you needed to first ensure that you’re giving a great first impression. If they get this far, that means they’re at least interested. When they click the link to your blog, it helps to have great content waiting for them.
150 words would probably be enough to convey your message. Unlike your actual blog post, being long-winded won’t do you any favors here.
So you’ve sent in your pitch, and you get an email back from your target host blog saying they want to work with you. Hooray!
Now it’s time to create a great post. Following the guidelines on how to create great content should be a given, but here are some more tips to make sure that your guest post gets accepted for publication.
The main thing to remember about a great guest post is that it’s not about you or your blog. Reserve any information about yourself for the author bio, unless you’re telling your story to make a relevant point about the topic.
It’s tempting to merely revise and reformat an existing post you have, turn that in, and call it a day. However, Google doesn’t like duplicate content and will likely penalize your post and worse, your host blog. That’s a quick way to ruin the goodwill you’ve worked hard to accomplish, so don’t even try it.
If your host blog already has a previous post that’s related to your article, include a link to it. The evident research you did and the additional traffic back to their blog will be appreciated by your host blogger.
If you can’t include an internal link to your host blog for some reason, just make sure that you’re linking to reputable blogs and websites.
Remember, what you’re doing is showing your content to new audiences. You’ll want to show off your best work.
Just because you’re a guest blogger doesn’t mean you should take liberties with the look of your post, particularly the formatting. Even if your host blogger doesn’t indicate it in their guest post guidelines, conform to the general appearance of the posts in your host blog.
This seems like a common-sense piece of advice, but it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself to check your work for grammar and spelling errors. If you need to have it edited by a second set of eyes, do it.
The more your post is commented on, the more discussion it generates and the more engagement it gets. Of course, this was the whole point of guest blogging, so make sure you encourage readers to speak up.
Your author bio is usually the only place where you can link back to your blog, so it’s on you to make this count. Since your goal is to funnel traffic back to your blog, write a clear, concise description of yourself and what you write about on your blog.
End it with a link to your blog using a keyword you want to rank for as the anchor text of your link.
So your host blog just published your post. Yay!
That’s not the end of it. There’s still some work to do to make the most of your guest blogging experience.
You want to build a relationship, and good manners go a long way to ensure a great relationship and future collaborations with that blogger. It only takes a quick email thanking them for the opportunity.
You invited readers to comment, and they showed up. Don’t leave them hanging. Take the time to respond to the comments when they come in.
Tweet about it, post it on Facebook and Google+, or even pin it on Pinterest. It’s going to send traffic back to your host blog, yes, but that’s a win for you if your host blog is a popular one. It leaves a nice impression on your audience. Plus, if your post is high-quality (as it should be if you followed my tips), then you’ve shared something valuable to the community.
It’s also a good idea to spread the word to your email list, if you have one. Again, it’s a high-value post that can benefit your audience. Plus, the more people view the post, the more engagement and traffic it gets, which sends a signal to search engines that your post is a high-value one and should be high up in the rankings.
Lastly, you can create a post on your own blog to promote your guest post. This is another gesture of goodwill that will bring traffic to your host blog, which is another way to say “thanks” for the guest blogging opportunity. Plus, you can add to this post as you do more guest posts for other blogs. You can even create a page eventually with a list of links to the guest posts you’ve done.
Before you go ahead and look for blogs to pitch your guest post, here’s a recap of the steps on how to do guest blogging:
Here are some final thoughts on guest blogging.
You can’t just slap some words together and expect the top blogs in your niche to accept your guest post. It’s tempting to not do your best effort because you want to save your energy for creating posts for your own blog, but if you don’t make an awesome guest post, then it’s wasted effort.
I’ve mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s really important. Don’t be blinded by the high rankings and the number of visitors. If what you normally write about doesn’t align with what your target’s audience wants, you’ll have trouble having your pitch approved.
If by some miracle your post passed publication standards, you’ll have trouble gaining repeat visitors out of your guest post. Sure, readers will click on the link in your author bio to check out your blog and see what you’re all about. But if the topic isn’t appealing to them, they’ll quickly lose interest and bounce out of your blog.
It’s not how many blogs you do guest blogging, it’s how high-quality they are. Guest blogging for a single authority site in your niche will likely yield more results than guest blogging for a lot of lower-tier blogs.
Are you planning to try guest blogging to get traffic to your blog? Or do you already do guest blogging as part of your traffic strategy? Do you have more tips for those who are just starting? Share it in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.