Matt Cutt’s said a few months ago “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.” And he is probably right, if we are talking about guest blogging for SEO, or as a link building strategy. Like many SEO techniques which were once well respected, it didn’t take long for spammy fake guest bloggers to jump on the bandwagon and use this technique to build links cheaply and give it a bad name.
However it’s not all bad news, guest blogging can still have many benefits if used strategically and if the right amount of effort is put in. Here are 5 steps to help you along the way to finding the right guest blogging opportunities …
Step 1: Define Your Goals
As with anything, success starts with identifying goals. And as discussed previously, a guest posting initiative should be both well executed, but also part of a wider content strategy and not just for link building. With this in mind, goals could be anything from trying to rank a particular keyword, becoming part of new communities, attracting customers from new audiences, or simply increasing your brand awareness in a new niche.
Once these goals are defined you will be in a much better position to outline a focus for your guest posts. Starting with where to focus your efforts, and where to find your targets.
Step 2: Finding Influential People & Websites
There are a number of different strategies you can use to find relevant guest blogging opportunities. First make a list of the top influencers in your field, the key players and most popular, authoritative sites. Read these regularly and engage in meaningful ways. This will not only raise your profile but will give you a good idea of the best content in your field.
A good tool for finding influencers in your niche is ‘Followerwonk’. Simply search your keyword phrase, sort by social authority, and sift through the results to find potential blogging targets who are likely to attract your target audience.
Another way is to simply search your target keyword with various modifiers in Google. This is a good way to find blogs which are likely looking for regular contributors or open to pitches. For example you can search for:
keyword “guest post”
keyword “become a contributor”
keyword “write for us”
keyword “submission guidelines” etc.
The search results will turn up a list of sites which may or may not be good quality, so it’s important for any potential website or blog you find to evaluate whether this is a ‘good’ site for you. Think of this step as the vetting process.
Step 3: Evaluating Your Guest Blogging Targets
It’s time to do a little bit of investigating. Here are some steps you can take to make sure the targets you have found are right for you.
1. Eliminate every site which isn’t in your niche.
2. Eliminate every site which looks spammy or ad-heavy
3. Check the social activity and engagement of the site
4. Check the domain authority and link profile of the site
Don’t vet too hard though as you’ll want as many sites to pitch to as possible… as you will likely get rejected or ignored by around 70% of them.
Step 4: Credibility
So you’ve done the legwork in finding relevant targets. But have you spent time strategically establishing your own credibility? You may want to develop a list of the benefits and value you can add to someone else before pitching your content. Do you have a strong social media presence or a sizeable following on your own blog? Now for the important part, make a great pitch!
Step 5: The Pitch
Here are some steps you can take to make sure you’re giving a killer pitch:
1. Read the blog! Know the topics they cover and the tone of voice they use to interact with their audience.
2. Find ways to be engaged and interact with the community without looking like a creepy stalker.
3. Seemingly stating the obvious, but a mistake many people still make – read and follow the submission guidelines!
4. Open your pitch by showing familiarity with the blog, or even the author/editor if you’ve engaged with them in any way, however indirectly.
5. Get to the point of your pitch and be short and snappy. Most publishers will not have time to read through essays of empty flattery and endless waffle.
6. Communicate all of the highlights of your credibility and value. Keep this to the point too!
7. Last but not least, be ruthless in your editing!
Guest blogging can be a really great way to connect with new audiences, building your brand online, and finding new customers. Your success in this is only limited by how creative you are in developing, pitching and placing your posts. If you put time and effort into this process, then it will be time well spent.