There is no hotter form of "content marketing" than guest blogging. The "build great content" drum beat has been relentless for years, now. There's only one "small" problem – just because you build great content, doesn't mean it will rank on Google. Like it or not, that still takes links.
As "luck" would have it, one of the best ways to get links happens to be - guest blogging. If guest blogging is the perfect vehicle for great content and link building, what could possibly go wrong?
For starters, the explosion in guest blogging has led to a proliferation of "made for guest posting" blogs, guest posting networks, and even guest posting matchmaking services. Because of this perceived "abuse", there has been rampant speculation that Google will "crack down" on guest blogging.
What is Google's View on Guest Blogging for Links?
The reality is that Google will continue to crack down on spam, and that includes the poor quality websites that exist for the sole purpose of selling or trading guest posts. That doesn't mean that guest posting is dead. Just like link building, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it.
Because guest posting gets rankings and can improve your position in the SERPs, there is a strong incentive to do it. Done correctly, guest posting will generate great content, get social shares, and drive traffic and attract links. This guide is designed to take you thru the steps of a guest blogging campaign done the right way.
This Isn't Article Syndication
Back in the "good old days", before Panda (BP), "content marketing" started with your favorite keyword tool. The tool generated keyword phrases, which were turned into headlines, and ultimately a series of keyword stuffed articles designed to rank a particular keyword phrase.
The articles were crap. They were published on loads of websites under the guise of SEO and republished on countless article directories. The search engines ate this "content" up and the user experience was awful. In response to this, Panda was born. Incredibly, I still see this same process being used for guest posting.
Contrary to popular belief, content creation is not the first step in a guest posting campaign. Instead, finding relevant high trust / high authority blogs is priority one. There is little point in creating the perfect square peg when our coveted target blog has a big round hole to fill.
Finding the Right Home for Your Guest Post
You need to look for three things.
- Relevance. Is the target blog related to your Niche? This can be tough, as the many closely related blogs are often run by competitors. In those cases you may need to "stretch" the relevance a bit. Instead of the perfect promotional pen blog, you may need to look for Trade Show or other related websites.
- Trust signals. To paraphrase Google Fellow Amit Singhal, do you trust the information presented in this blog? Chances are, if the first three posts are payday loans, acne creams and diet pills, it won't pass the "Trust" test.
- Is the blog getting indexed regularly? We're not looking for any particular PageRank or link juice – we just want some indication that Google sees value in crawling the site.
The tried and true way to find guest posting opportunities is via Google search using the following advanced search queries (among others):
- "write for us" + Keyword
- Keyword "submit a guest post"
- Keyword "guest post"
- Keyword "guest post by"
- Keyword "accepting guest posts"
- Keyword "guest post guidelines"
Just replace the "Keyword" with the actual topic or niche that you are interested in.
Caution: This will return loads of made for guest posting and non-relevant blogs. There is no tool that can tell you if a blog is "real" or exists for the sole purpose of guest posting. Many "professional guest bloggers" make a living publishing posts on blogs that have decent domain and page authority, but have no theme and are not real at all. These blogs are ticking time bombs. Only a manual review can determine if a blog is real.
Better results can sometimes be found using a social search engine like Topsy. You will need to cast a wider net with more generalized search terms, but you can still find high quality related blogs:
Like Topsy, Google can be a gold mine for discovering guest blogging opportunities:
Pitching Your Idea to Gatekeepers
Once you've found a good home for a guest post, it's time to make the pitch. This is by the most critical part of the guest blogging process.
There are lots of great writers, but great writers that possess great outreach skills are a rare breed. The perfect guest blog pitch isn't unlike the perfect link building pitch.
The following is an actual "pitch" that I received:
I am Jane Doe, A Content Manager. I am working with Clueless SEO Company from last 4 years. It's a SEO Company (Registered from US). It provides SEO Services and Web Designing or Development Services to it's client worldwidely. I am doing Guest Post. I need Seo, Tech, Web related sites for guest post. I also searching some General Business, Health, Auto sites for guest article post.
I would like to give you an unique and quality article on your website theme. No duplication or copying of the article is done. I assure you that the article will be published only on your site. Please Show me your sites for article post.
In return I provide you link back or guest posting sites if you want. I have all theme PR sites. Please Send me your all blog lists where you can post my articles.
Add my id for guest post exchange and for the google-talk also Jane Doe
thanks & regards,
My apologies to Jane Doe – I did change the actual writer and company names to protect the guilty. Believe it or not – that's all that I changed.
Anyone who runs a decent (or perhaps indecent) blog gets dozens of emails like this every week. Despite this request being in a class of its own, most aren't much better. When pitches like this hit my inbox, the response is always the same – a stroke of the delete key.
Doing it the Right Way
The "perfect pitch" for a guest post includes:
- A subject line that follows any instructions on the website for submitting guest posts: If there is no guest posting protocol: Get personal and use the bloggers name and details about a recent post in the subject line : Hi Gertrude – loved your apple pie recipe (Notice the words "GUEST POST" don't appear in the subject line.
- Establish credibility: Identify yourself. Let them know what website you represent.
- Show that you care: Go into some details about what you like about their blog – not some generic template nonsense – cite specifics
- Offer a compelling reason for the blogger to accept a guest post: If you are an expert in the field, their readers may be interested in what you have to say.
- Everybody is busy: Ask if there is a topic that the blogger has been meaning to write about, but hasn't had the time. Offer to write that post.
- Make yourself easily accessible: Include phone, Skype, and email contact information in your pitch.
An effective pitch is short and sweet and would look something like this:
To: [email protected]
From: Cindy Price
Subject: Hi Paul - Loved the Firefox 22 review
I'm Cindy Price, owner of the Lego Stop Motion Animation website Brickfilms.com. I'm also an avid user of Firefox and was happy to find a list of new features in the June 27 post. Looks like it's time to update!
I frequently come across your site in Google searches and have stumbled across a number of great Lego Stop Motion Animation posts. I wanted to reach out to see if you would allow me to do a guest post. My initial thought is writing about the top 10 Brickfilms of all times, but if you have a better idea, I'm open to it!
You can reach me any time via email: [email protected] , Skype: brickfilms or phone: 555-555-1212. I look forward to your thoughts
Which email do you think has a better chance of success – Jane's or Cindy's? Once Paul gives the green light, then it's time to create some great content.
Choose Your Title Wisely
Creating a compelling and clickable title is the first step in getting read and having any chance in going viral. Don't underestimate the value of creating the right lead in. Tear a page from the tabloid headlines – these guys have perfected the art of attention grabbing headlines.
Double Your Views Using This Weird Trick
According to the MDG blog, it's all about the images. Content that incorporates compelling images average 94 percent more views than those without. Sports, News and political content seem to benefit most from images. (Like how I applied the clickable headline principal here?)
The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. If a post is greater than 1,500 words, on average, it receives 68.1 percent more tweets and 22.6 percent more Facebook likes, according to QuickSprout.
Finally, there is a direct correlation between length of the content and how many people linked to it, according to Moz.
Websites with video are 50 times more likely to be ranked on Google's first page. Video is 41 percent more likely to get clicked than a text listing, according to Wistia.
- Lists (e.g., top 10) still get the job done. In fact, they draw 200 percent more links than other kinds of posts. (Add images and video for a 567 percent boost in links.)
- Videos get 267 percent more links than normal posts (When combined with link lists they get 333 percent more links than normal posts.)
- The ideal title length size is 10–18 words.
Guest posting will continue to be a highly popular form of content marketing. Google does not "have it in" for guest posting. They will continue their war on spam, which includes blog networks and made for guest posting blogs. When done correctly, guest posts provide a lot of valuable information and a good user experience.
This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) will bring together the industry's leading online marketing practitioners to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, the comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!