Providing great content to authoritative people who are searching for it is a great way to build relationships with important people. Many influencers have busy schedules and rely on finding great sources of content to help them keep content flowing on their blog or website. Offering them a great guest post could be just the thing they are looking for at a time when they are in a big crunch.
Link building has changed. Promotional plans that use only old fashioned link building are flawed in today's SEO environment. A website may build a great link profile, but an optimal website is frequently mentioned in social media and searched for by its brand name.
Publishing your articles on the blogs/websites of a major influencer is a great way to strengthen your brand, which can lead to those kinds of signals being generated.
Coming up with Guest Posting Targets
The best value comes from picking out the top tier targets. Don't waste your time writing articles for lots of blogs that few people will ever read. Blogs that have little authority won't help establish yours, either with the users or search engines.
Here are some ideas on how to brainstorm a list of targets:
- Internal brainstorming: You should always do this first. The key members of your staff probably already know many of the people that it would be interesting to develop relationships with. They may already be reading the blogs of some of these people. Make a list of these blogs operated by influencers to start.
- Use Google: Try some search queries using search terms for your market space. Add some phrases like "news" or "announcement", or "tips" to try and uncover blogs covering the space. For extra credit, append the phrase "guest post" (including the double quotes) to try and uncover sites that have accepted guest posts.
- Use Bing: Bing will provide different results than Google, so you can often get additional ideas by going here to search.
- Use Google Blog Search: This is the same concept, but it will return blog only results.
- Talk to other people to get ideas: You can talk to connections you already have. You can go to conferences and ask people there, or see who is speaking. Or, if you can't go to the conference, see who writes about it or who appears on the agenda as a speaker.
- Use other blog search tools such as Technorati: Diversity is a good thing, so checking out other sites like Technorati can be a good way to get more ideas.
- See who is listed in DMOZ in your category: Some of these sites may be good targets as well.
- Follow the trail of other guest posters: Somewhere along the way you will find someone else who guest posts on related topics. See where else they have published guest posts. Try the query string: ["FirstName LastName" "guest post"] (without the ) to have Google or Bing return that list to you in short order.
These are just some starter ideas, and you can probably come up with many more. If your market space is too much of a niche to have a decent number of influencers, look to those market categories which are supersets of yours. Influencers in those superset areas probably want to provide coverage of your topic occasionally, and that is all you really need.
For example, if you sell chainsaws, and that's all you do, there aren't a lot of chainsaw specific influencers. However, there are lots of people who cover handyman topics, or outdoorsman topics. Many of these would be interested in articles related to chainsaws.
One last step before you finalize your list is to make sure that you verify that they could be interested in a guest post. In some of the suggestions above (such as "Follow the Trail of other Guest Posters"), you will already know that, but in others you won't.
To track this down search on ["guest post" site:targetdomain.com] (without the ). If they have never taken a guest post they are not likely to do so for you, so you might want to give that target site a pass for now. Or at the very least, build a real relationship with the influencer by other means first before broaching the subject.
Determining the Content to Create
This step is pretty straightforward. The major steps are:
- Study the target site. See what they have been posting there. Figure out what will complement recent articles they have written.
- Pay particular attention to what other people have guest posted on the site. This may provide clues to areas of expertise that the site owner likes to get help with.
- Review the expertise that you can bring to bear. No point in proposing an article that you wouldn't be in a position to create!
This last step is important. Given the focus on authoritative sites and influential people, you want to propose something where you can add your own authortitative voice to their site. The whole process only works because you have something of high value to add to the conversation on the influencer's site.
Approaching the Influencer
If you can get an introduction than that is a great place to start. Nothing better than a warm friendly intro.
If an introduction to an influence isn't available to you, then manually do the research to try and find their contact info on the web. Never do this with an automated tool because the results are unpredictable.
It's also a good idea not to write the article in advance. Creating an article and shopping it looks a bit desparate, and actually detracts from your success rate. Decide on one great article that they might be interested in, and pitch that.
Then, put together an email to them. As always, with unsolicited communications, keep it short and respectful. For example, I never waste their time telling them what a great blog they have – be genuine, and if you never looked at their blog before, don't go telling them you love their site. Your email could be structured something like this:
I saw that your site accepts guest posts from authoritative people in the industry from time to time. We have a lot of expertise in [your market area]. We [fill in a few major credentials - places you have been published before, awards, years experience, endorsements, or similar things].
We would be interested in writing a guest post for you on the topic of [fill in the proposed title]. The article would discuss [fill in some details] and would be based on [fill in how your background adds value to the article].
Let me know if you would be interested in the article.
You will get a variety of answers to these requests, so be patient with the process.
Some people will come back to you and be non-commital and say write the article so I can look at it first. That's OK. We always proceed with these articles as our hit rate in getting them accepted is very high.
Others will simple say yes, and that's great!
Others will say no, or not respond at all. Don't argue with them, or re-email the no responses. Continue to treat them with respect. The day may come when you can turn that no into a yes. Don't rush it. You can approach them again at some later date. Who knows? They may see your articles appearing on other people's sites and your credibility may go up with them. Or, you may be able to get a warm introduction at a later date.
The above process works surprisingly well and could get your guest post featured on the website of a major newspaper or authoritative blog. Execute with patience and it can bring you great results.