However, as we know, Google is now better than ever at detecting “spammy” links, putting a halt to link-building strategies that simply take an “I’ll take whatever I can get” type of approach.
With these two factors carrying so much weight in today’s world of SEO, our content marketing team has been working closely with many of our clients to develop in-depth guest blogging strategies.
The core benefits of guest blogging (in no particular order) are:
- Establishing an authoritative voice in a given industry
- Building relationships within the industry
- Earning quality backlinks
- Driving visits back to the site
With a little hard work and a process in place, achieving all of these benefits are possible but there are five steps in the process. Here is the five step outline we use when setting up a guest blogging initiative.
1. Determine the Goals of the Program
Like starting on any new endeavor, before you begin executing on a guest blogging strategy, you will want to identify what it is you’re looking to get from it.
If you are looking to strictly increase visits to your site, you will want to focus on publications that have large audiences and are active on social media. Buzzsumo is one of my favorite tools to leverage when analyzing a site’s audience reach.
Here’s a snapshot of what Buzzsumo’s interface looks like. Simply enter a site’s URL to view the most popular content (from a social-sharing perspective).
If the guest blogging strategy will be more focused on earning quality backlinks than eyeballs, you will likely have to do a little bit more heavy lifting and take a deeper dive for opportunities.
2. Identify Opportunities
When we help our clients identify guest blogging opportunities that will drive a quality link, we typically turn to Moz’s “Domain Authority” as our copilot. Domain Authority is a score (1-100) that displays a website’s “strength” and how well it will likely rank on search engines (visit this page for more info).
Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) tool allows us to enter a URL and view its link profile. While it’s nice to look at your own website to see your top referring domains, the real opportunity lies within the weeds of the competition. Take time to identify 3-5 competitor websites and plug each into OSE. Once you’ve done this, export the data for each competitor into a spreadsheet with Domain Authorities included.
Being able to filter competitor referring domains by authority will allow you to see how you stack up against the competition. Do you see a strong domain that fits your target audience under a competitor’s column? Visit that site and search for the competitor’s name to see what type of content they produced, make a note to yourself, and move on down the list.
Another way to identify quality opportunities is to leverage good old search engines. Most websites that accept guest blog posts will use common phrases directly related to writing for their site.
The following search queries represent a very useful way to identify sites related to your industry (simply replace “keyword” with topics or areas of focus closely related to your niche).
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword “submit article”
- Keyword “submit post”
- Keyword “write for us”
- Keyword “writing guidelines”
The results returned from these searches, as seen in the image above, should lead you to a page with contact information.
3. Pitch the Publication
The guidelines on the pages you land on for any given link opportunity should always be adhered to when reaching out to the listed contact. Pitching a topic or format that doesn’t fit in with the site’s guidelines will get your relationship off to a rocky start.
You should also remember to make the message you are crafting personal. If you are reaching out to an editor and their name is clearly listed on the contact page, take the time to address them by their name. If you are looking for a template to use when drafting pitches, consider the following elements at a bare minimum:
- Your name / company / brief company description
- Specific areas of your organization’s expertise that align with the publication (include a link to your relevant content)
- Politely ask if they would be willing to accept contributed content
- List contact information
4. Identify the Right Content Style
Depending on the publication and their guidelines, it may be necessary to do this step prior to the pitch. If they specifically ask for a topic and/or draft upon the initial connection, it is critical take this step seriously. What works or has been written on your own company’s blog may not necessarily align with the publication’s tone or style. Remember, you are the guest here.
While the guidelines page on the publication’s site will likely give you a good idea of the format that should be followed (word count, images, examples, etc.), spend some time getting familiar with content that has performed well on their site (Buzzsumo would be a helpful tool again here).
5. Track the Results
Once you’ve (hopefully) made a connection with the contact at the site you’re pitching and the post is live, it’s time to realize and track the results. If you’re tracking visits, use Google Analytics to see what type of audience your post has sent to your site. If you’re looking to build links, while this may sound silly, be sure the site included the link back to your site.
After all these steps have been taken, rinse, lather, repeat. When guest posting, always remember you are the guest and your contribution should offer value, not come off as a sales pitch.
What kinds of tactics do you employ to get the most out of your guest blogging strategy? Get the conversation started by dropping a line in the comments section or connecting with me on Twitter!