In the SEO world, you hear a lot of talk about guest posting as a way to improve your rankings..
A lot of people second guess that at first. Could providing content for other people’s websites really help yours?
Guest posting is one of the best ways to extend your brand reach and get more eyes on your website.
That’s what we’re going to be discussing in this article. We will talk about the what, the where, and the how of guest posting in 2020.
What is Guest Posting and How Does it Help SEO?
Before you can understand how guest posting can help your business establish a foothold in the search engine world, you first have to understand what guest posting is.
Guest posting is the process of writing and publishing a blog article on someone else’s website.
Sometimes, websites don’t want you to submit a full article. That actually makes your job a lot easier. All you have to do is create a short pitch for the article you want to submit. The site can then either accept the pitch or pass on it. This is the most convenient method of pitching a guest post because you don’t actually have to write out a full article in advance.
Remember, you shouldn’t be pitching the same article to every website. What if more than one of them want it? No one wants to publish an article that users can find elsewhere. That’s why every pitch should be tailor-made for the site you’re submitting to. If that site passes on the article and you think it could be a solid fit for another platform, feel free to pitch it in a way that makes sense for that particular site.
Guest posting represents a great opportunity for advanced networking with some of the serious movers and shakers in your industry. You should consider your guest post to be a foot in the door; a handshake that starts off what could turn into a beneficial business relationship.
Remember, when a business agrees to publish your article, they’re doing more than just listing you on their site. Pushing out your content is essentially a seal of approval. It’s an established presence in the industry vouching for your expertise. That can go a long way in convincing prospects that you’re the real deal.
You should also consider this to be an opportunity to impress those same people with your knowledge and expertise. One of the best ways to show off your acumen is through a blog article. It’s a perfect vehicle to showcase why you should be taken seriously. This can improve your standing in the industry and it can make a great impression on potential customers. It’s a win-win.
Now, this next part is really important.
All guest blog articles should contain a link back to your site. That’s the ultimate goal of all guest posts. All websites should allow this. They understand how SEO works and if they refuse to let you include a link, then that might not be a great site for you to post on.
Link building is essential for SEO success. It is one of the most important aspects of modern SEO. It’s also one of the hardest SEO steps to succeed in.
You want a portfolio of high-profile and relevant backlinks. A backlink is when another site links to you.
A link is actually more important than a plain article. While the article might impress customers, links impress Google.
Google wants to know that it is recommending quality content from industry experts to searchers. One of the best ways to see who the industry experts are is by examining the number of sites that are linking to a page. A link is like a letter of recommendation from the sites that agree to let you post.
When you write a guest post with a link back to your site, technically you’re the one linking back to yourself. However, that’s a matter of semantics. As long as the link appears on another site, that site is linking to you.
When you’re linking to your site in a guest post, there’s some strategy involved. You don’t want to jam your links down the reader’s throat. They should be casually placed within the content, so they don’t out as a self-aggrandizing link.
By guest posting, you can solve one of the most important questions that SEO newbies struggle with.
“How the heck am I going to get backlinks?”
Guest posting works a lot better than simply asking another site to link to you. Typically, the site wants something out of the exchange. Providing them with quality content for their users to enjoy is a perfect linking opportunity.
That’s not just an educated guess. There are tangible examples of guest posting success that we can point at to prove this.
Take the story of Gregory Ciotti, for example. His blog, HelpScout, provides content marketing insight to businesses. It has become a popular platform and a lot of that has to do with guest blogging.
Ciotti used his role as a guest blogger to generate 36,733 new email subscribers. That’s a massive number that can’t be overlooked.
Guest blogging has a proven track record of success. If it could work for one person, why not you?
Where to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Now that you know what guest blogging is and what it can do for your business, it’s time to start seeking out posting opportunities.
You can’t just submit everywhere and expect to see results. Your opportunities have to be targeted. If you’re a carpenter and you get a guest post listed on a dental website, that’s not going to do anything for you.
That’s because Google takes relevancy into account.
When SEO was new, a lot of companies jumped on board in an attempt to game the system using tactics that came to be known as black hat SEO. One of the most common black hat tactics was to create dummy websites that contained nothing but a link back to the site they were trying to rank for.
The sad thing about this tactic is that, for a while, it worked marvelously. Google was not the advanced algorithm-driven powerhouse that it is today, and it was fooled by the simple misdirection.
But those days are long since over.
Google understands black hat tactics and has changed its algorithm to specifically combat them. As such, not only do your linking sites have to be real, they also have to be relevant to your industry. Google won’t care what a dentist has to say about carpentry.
A good bet would be to try and find an industry resource page that draws from a similar audience.
It should also be a site that is somewhat well known and popular. When Google already trusts a site and recommends it via its search engine, a link from that site goes farther than a link from a new site without much domain authority.
Apart from the SEO advantages, you want to make sure that the posts you’re writing are being seen, so shoot for websites that have a high readership.
There are other factors that can help make a website a perfect fit for a guest blog: Check to see if the site owner has an active social media presence on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If they’re regularly posting new website content along social channels, it stands to reason that they will push your content as well.
One of the best ways to find sites that are Google approved is to perform a Google search and start combing through the results.
Make sure that you’re using a keyword that is consistent with your industry. If you’re a plumber try typing in “plumbing blog” or “plumbing questions.” Then, to make sure you’re seeing sites that are interested in posting content, use search modifiers like “guest post” or “submit a guest post” to get the best results.
When you perform a search like this, you will usually be taken to a guidelines page or a submission page. We will go more into the specific importance of each site’s submission guidelines in the next section, but make sure you read them in their entirety.
Another good way to find sites that are looking for guest bloggers is to figure out who your competitors are posting with. You can try analyzing competitor backlinks to determine what pages are linking to them. There are specific online tools that let you see who is linking to a competitor site. If they’re posting blogs for your competition, it stands to reason that they are open to receiving content.
Most sites aren’t going to care that you’re a competitor of one of their guest bloggers. They’re looking for as much quality content as they can get. Use that to your advantage as you build up your portfolio.
You could also look through social media platforms to find other guest posters and see where they are getting published. One of the best ways to scour social media for opportunities is to perform a search on Twitter for guest posts that are in line with your industry.
Here’s one thing you need to remember regarding finding guest posting opportunities.
You need to find them yourself.
You can’t just decide that you’re going to guest post and expect a rush of sites to come banging down your door begging you for content.
The truth of it is, guest blogging works and a lot of people know that. As such, sites get inundated with requests for posts. A lot of them close their submissions regularly. That’s why you need to find some regular outlets. Put yourself out there and pitch!
Pitch opportunities can be found anywhere. Be on the lookout for guest posts from other authors, specific advertisements looking for guest posts, or try establishing a social media rapport with a business by retweeting them or mentioning them on your profile. Once a conversation begins, you can ask them if they’re looking for any guest posts.
Remember, most bloggers are writing between one and five guests posts every month, and they get these opportunities by seeking them out.
How to Pitch a Guest Post
Once you’ve determined which sites will be a good fit for your guest posting efforts, you’ll have to devise a pitch strategy.
I wish I could say that there was one definitive, can’t-miss strategy for pitching guest blogs to every site you could encounter.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different websites want different things, and you can’t depend on an old reliable pitch to get you onto every publication.
Think of article pitching as you would apply for a job. You wouldn’t just throw the same cover letter out at every listing. You would personalize every cover letter to the position and the company you’re applying for.
The same can be said of pitching websites for guest posts. Your pitch should differ for every platform that you’re submitting to. You’ll want to tailor every email to the specific person in charge of managing the blog.
Never start an email with something generic like “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern.”
Remember, these people get a ton of guest blog requests. If they think you’re sending them a form pitch that’s going out to every site in the industry, you’ll be deleted and spam filtered instantly.
That’s why it’s important to take your time when submitting articles. It may be time-consuming, but you’ll get far more replies with “Sure, send us a draft this week!” if you put in the work beforehand.
The first thing you should do is figure out who is in charge of the blog you’re targeting. You need to know who you’re speaking to. If you take the time to address the person specifically, you will have a leg up on all the “Sir or Madam” people out there.
Next, poke around on their site and ask yourself, “what kind of audience does this site cater to?”
That will help you determine the expertise level you should be writing at. If the typical audience for a blog is industry experts, you don’t want to bore them by dumbing everything down. If it’s an informational site that is specifically designed for newcomers, you don’t want to submit an article that will confuse them with a lot of industry jargon.
Take some time to read through a lot of the content that’s already on the site. You should be trying to blend in with the type of content that they typically post. Look at what the other guest bloggers are doing and try to come up with a similar format. If they’re publishing this content, they must like something about it.
In your research, you should try to figure out which blog posts are their most popular. You can do this using online services like topsy.com that will help you see how many times a blog post has been tweeted out.
Perhaps the most important aspect of article pitching is to make sure that you have fully read the guest post submission guidelines before reaching out. There is nothing that will stop you dead in your tracks faster than failing to meet the guidelines that these sites set up.
When a blog manager receives a pitch that flies in the face of their guidelines, they immediately think that it was sent in by someone who doesn’t care and is just pitching randomly to hundreds of different sites in the hope that something sticks.
Don’t be that person.
One of the main things to look for is whether or not they want you to submit a full article or just an idea.
If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. My recommendation would actually be to send a pitch (or a few article ideas) to see if they resonate with the blog’s editor. Not only does this increase your chances that one idea will stick, but it also shows that you’re writing specifically for their blog (original content), which is more appealing than a post which no other publication has wanted.
Make sure to give some background information on yourself as well during the pitch. Let the blog manager know why they should be willing to accept your article. If you have any writing accolades, list them at the end of your pitch.
Talk about the subject matter and let them know all about your level of expertise. You’re not just pitching an article; you’re pitching yourself.
Guest blogging is one of the best and easiest ways to generate backlinks and boost your SEO presence. Before you can start posting, though, you need to understand the concept.
Remember, site owners receive requests for guest posting on a daily basis. If you’re not personalizing the request or following their guidelines, your email will be deleted and you will be forgotten.
Take the time to craft the perfect pitch for every guest blogging opportunity. Put time and effort into the post, but also put careful attention into the pitch. That’s the best way to succeed at guest posting in 2020.