Write for people, link for people. The idea of optimizing for people is one of the most important shifts in search marketing. Since Google’s Panda update took effect a year ago, guest blogging has become a key link building practice that is based on exchanging worthwhile content for improved rankings and many other perks!
Why guest blog? For:
- Quality backlinks.
- Free traffic to your site.
- Building authority in your niche.
- Building reciprocal relationships with influencers in your industry.
Here are eight steps for honing your guest blogging craft.
Step 1: Target Relevant Blogs
There are several methods for finding the right blogs to target for your guest post. You obviously want them to be relevant to your niche and preferably have a presence in it already.
Not all blogs are created equal. Some of them will be out of your league and many of them don't accept guest posts.
To kick off your blog search, first find out which blogs are guest post friendly.
Start off with a Google search for industry/theme/keyword-related blogs and refine the query by adding in a keyword like “guest blog” and “submit a post”.
You can funnel the results by searching blogs specifically:
Once you’ve pulled up a decent size list, go through each of the blog’s blogrolls and see if you can find more blogs to target. If you’re targeting a province or state, refine your search to include specific cities and municipalities.
Step 2: Determining a Blog's Value
Next is to determine the authority of your target blogs. You can use tools like Open Site Explorer, Blekko, or Google Webmaster Tools to check backlinks, and use the Rank Checker Firefox extension to check the site’s PageRank. Generally, you don't want to contact blogs have less than a PageRank 4.
Once the mechanical metrics are covered, use your human eye to determine the blog’s value:
- Do they have an About section?
- How frequently do they post?
- Is their content consistent?
- Are people commenting on blog posts?
If the blog is supposed to be about interior design but you see a bunch of Forex links in the sidebar, you should consider looking elsewhere because you don't want to be associated with a low quality/spam blog.
Step 3: Reach Out With A Personalized Message
Once you’ve identified who you want to approach, your next challenge will be how to approach them. Here’s where your Homo Sapiens skills will come in real handy. The more transparent and personal you are about your intentions, the more inclined the blogger will be to accept a guest post from you.
Give some background information on what you do so that they have an idea of who they’re connecting with. This will significantly increase your chances of getting your article accepted. Having a digital footprint really helps your blogger outreach strategy as it gives bloggers a way to see who you are, what your web presence is, and your writing style.
Step 4: Have a Unique Value Proposition
Approach your outreach message like you would approach applying for a job. Companies like it when you’ve done your homework and are familiar with their services and culture. By the same token, study the content of their blog and check out the guest posts others have created for it.
Flatter them a little, as if you're applying for a job. Flattery can be an added way to get your foot in the door, so drop a couple of compliments about the blog and state where you could bring value to it. It can be as simple as “Oh, I really like this approach or angle you took with… ” then suggest how you can build on that.
The most influential factor in your outreach approach will be showing them what they and their readers will get out of your guest post.
Ask about their readers and target your article toward the audience. You have to give something to get something back. The more specific you are about what you're going to submit, the more likely they will accept your offer.
Step 5: Follow the Guest Post Requirements
Most blogs have specific requirements for guest posting. They will often require author bios, pictures, and quality, unique content. Investigate the guest post requirements to minimize the amount of back and forth correspondences between you and your target blog.
Step 6: Offer Awesome Content
Create unique, linkworthy and relevant content that is suitable to the target blog’s audience. Remember, you aren’t just doing this for the links. You're doing this to create worthy content that web users will find useful and want to share.
Writing awesome content can drive traffic and conversions to your website exponentially if carried out correctly. Content has to avoid looking sales-pitchy and offer something tangible to those who are being exposed to it.
Note that content is not limited to the written word. Infographics are a fantastic way to approach target blogs.
Find data, research, or studies relevant to your keyword by searching your keyword and adding “research” or “study”, then “file type: pdf ” or “xml”. Then you will have access to all kinds of data that can be transformed into a cool, informative and shareable infographic. Include your anchor text in the embed code when you offer up the inforgraphic.
Add your own short byline to the bottom of the post with a link to your blog. Also add a headshot of yourself to put a face to your name as well as increase your ranking with the new Google Search Plus update.
Step 7: Get A Contextualized Link
You want your posts to land on useful locations, whether it’s your homepage or a specific product page. Links in content are much better than in author bios.
Readers on other sites are not super likely to click bio links. They’re more likely to click on links within the content. A contextualized link is far more relevant when it’s a keyword that’s surrounded by relevant anchor text or paragraphs.
If they won’t allow a link in the post, your author bio is the second best option. It passes some value, but perhaps isn't as valuable as in-content link.
Step 8: Build Relationships
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, some blogs will be out of your league. What that means is that you should be paying close attention to the blogs that are up-and-coming. By building relationships with the B and C list properties, you can gauge which blogs are going to be expanding.
In order to get to the A-list blogs, you have to first make a name for yourself in the B and C properties that are moving up. It’s good for your name and brand to target the up-and-coming blogs because once they expand, and you’ve maintained a reciprocal relationship with them, you open yourself up to many opportunities to write for them on a consistent basis.
You can also get them to post on your site, nurturing that two-way relationship. This is the way the web marketing platform is evolving. Everyone should be striving to achieve that reciprocal online relationship.
Best Practices for Guest Blogging:
In the world of online marketing, we want links, recognition, and exposure. Guest blogging has become the way to get a taste of all those things.
Keep in mind these three important guest blogging practices:
- Have knowledge of what you're going to write about when you contact bloggers. The more expertise you have in a given field, the more interest they’ll show in posting your work.
- Comment on their blog when you contact them. You’ve studied their blog, love their content, and would love to guest post. Being complimentary can definitely sway a blogger’s decision to publish you.
- Provide content that’s awesome and informative. Write for people. Link for people.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!