Wondering if guest blogging is really worth the effort?
I know the feeling.
When I started my other company (RazorSocial) I wondered the exact same thing.
It was difficult because I was busy creating content on my own site and then I had to create content for other people’s sites.
But I persisted and I was rewarded.
As a new website, you need to build authority both in the eyes of your audience and in the eyes of Google.
Both are equally important.
To achieve authority with your audience you need to provide amazing, relevant content that they are hungry for.
But you also need them to believe that you are an authority or expert on the topic you’re writing about. Guest blogging on more authoritative sites in your domain helps you achieve that authority.
It also helps build Google authority because you get valuable links back to your site. Plus, you’ll attract new audiences and increase brand exposure in the process.
This guide is the only guide to guest blogging best practices you’ll ever need.
So here’s what we’re covering:
- Finding the best websites for guest blogging
- Guest blogging and SEO
- Outreach tactics that deliver great results
- Tips for writing a quality guest post
- How to get more traffic from guest posts
- Track your results
What is guest posting?
Just in case….
It’s writing blog posts on sites that are not your own.
It helps you build links, increase authority, and drive awareness of your brand and your products or services.
1. Finding the best websites for guest blogging
The first thing you need to do is find the right guest posting opportunities. I suggest you take a quality over quantity approach to guest blogging and target only websites that are highly relevant to your niche.
By creating a smaller list of quality websites that you know you can add value to with your posts, you’ll get far better results than if you pitch to any website looking for free content.
Here are some of the methods you can use to find good guest posting opportunities:
Research the top websites in your niche
This is the quickest and easiest way of finding guest posting opportunities.
Make a list of the top websites in your niche.
Do a research to see which of the websites publish guest posts.
Do research on Google
If you are new to your niche and you don’t know the top sites, you can do some research on Google.
You will search Google using the keywords that are most relevant to your niche plus search terms that are likely to appear when websites are accepting guest posts.
Let’s take health niche as an example. When I type ‘Submit guest post + health’ in the search box, Google returns the following results:
I’m not only getting a list of health sites that have the words ‘Submit guest post’ in them, but also blog articles listing health sites that accept guest posts.
Here are some of the key phrases you can include in your search:
- Submit guest post
- Accept guest post
- Guidelines for guest posts
- Submit content
- Contribute to our site
- Writers wanted
- Become guest writer
- Become guest author
- Guest post by
- Contributing author
Another thing you can do is search for guest posts written by influencers in your niche. Some of them will share a list of blogs that they write for which will give you a good number of quality blogs you can add to your list.
A simple search formula you can use for this is Author Name + “guest post.”
A research like this will take a lot of time, but you will end up with a good list of relevant websites.
Once you have your initial list ready, you’ll also want to make sure the websites on it are a high authority. See next section…
Research on Social Media
Many influential bloggers in your niche will share their latest guest posts on social media. Popular blogs will also highlight guest posts when they share them on social. But how do you find these posts?
Easy. Let’s take Twitter for example. Run a search on Twitter for your niche keyword + “guest post” and you’ll get the latest tweets about the guest post in your niche. Then all you need to do is click on the links and see which sites are accepting guest posts.
Here are the results I got on Twitter when I searched for ‘health guest post:’
Follow the same process on Facebook, Google+, and other relevant social media sites to cast a wider net. You’d be surprised to see that the same search query on different social networks can deliver completely different results.
Find influential people engaging with your content
When someone shares or comments on your content it means they liked it.
If they liked your content, then maybe they’ll like it on their website, too!
Track influencers sharing your content and reach out to them about guest posting opportunities.
AgoraPulse is an awesome social media management tool that allows you to filter your audience to find influencers.
You can see who among your followers has the biggest audience and engages with your content the most. These are the people who are likely to have influential websites.
2. Narrowing down your list
When you build a list of websites you’ll want to narrow it down to the most relevant blogs that have high authority. You want to attract some of their audience to you so ideally, you are targeting the same people.
The best way of understanding authority is using the domain authority calculation from Moz…….
A key metric that you need to look at is website’s Domain Authority or DA. It’s also the metric you want to improve your own website, and one of the ways you’ll achieve this is through guest blogging on high-authority sites in your niche.
Domain Authority, or DA, is a metric created by the SEO company Moz. It estimates how well a website will rank on Google by measuring 40 different factors, including the number and quality of backlinks.
A Domain Authority score is measured on a scale from 1 to 100. The higher the domain authority, the more influential the website is.
Websites with a very large number of high-quality external links generally have very high DA, while sites with fewer backlinks may have a much lower DA score.
There are other companies, like Ahrefs, that provide a similar authority score and that you can also use.
How to Check a Website’s Domain Authority
Moz offers an SEO toolbar that you can install on your Chrome browser for free. When you install it and search for something on Google, the Mozbar will display a number of SEO metrics for all the web pages listed in the search results. One of the metrics is Domain Authority.
By performing a simple search, you’ll be able to quickly filter out the sites with low DA score and add only those with high authority to your list.
Another way to check if a website has a good DA score or not is with Open Site Explorer. The free tool lets you check the domain authority of up to 3 websites a day.
When you enter a website address into the tool, you’ll get the following metrics:
After checking the DA, it becomes easy to identify the best targets for guest blogging.
In the example below, the second site listed is much more appealing because of a higher domain authority.
Links from your guest post
When you write a guest post, make sure that the content of the post is related to an article on your website you wish to rank for. This gives you a good excuse to link back to this article.
A link in your bio that leads to your website is ok, but having a link within the article is much more beneficial.
Links to your guest post
When you create a guest post you should consider linking to it from related articles on your blog. This will increase the authority of that page, giving more value to the backlink you’re getting.
3. Research and interact before outreach
When you are outreaching to people you want to personalize the emails as much as possible. That’s why it’s important to use an email outreach tool like OutreachPlus that helps with advanced personalization.
- Track the people on social media channels and look for opportunities to interact with them
- Set up a monitoring tool (e.g. Brand24) to track mentions of these people. You’re looking for interesting news about them that you can share in your outreach email.
- Comment on their blog, review their book, share their content – You want to get noticed
This is often something people miss out on. The more work you put in, in advance, the higher your conversion rate.
4. Doing the outreach!
Now that you have a list of websites and more knowledge of people behind the websites it’s time to reach out.
Lazy people = no guest post opportunities.
Here’s a bad example of an outreach email I received through a contact form on my website.
The first thing about this email that screams “lazy” is that they don’t mention my name. They open the email with “hello,” which is the same to me as if they wrote “to whom it may concern.”
This makes me think they are probably sending out hundreds of these emails and hoping to get a couple of responses. These are not the type of people that will guest post on my site!
Another sign of laziness is asking if we allow people to guest post on our site. That’s easy to find out by doing a bit of research on our website.
The sender is lazy, and I don’t respond to lazy people.
Here’s an example of a good guest blog request email:
I love this.
- It says the message is going to be brief and it is
- It sparks my curiosity because I want to know about those keywords they have found
- I think they’ve done some research
- It’s personalized
- It has social proof (e.g. I’ve written for…)
- It’s complimentary (fan of your blog – note: this doesn’t work if I don’t believe the rest of the email)
My answer to this email was yes.
I get guest post inquiries every day and I’d say I respond to less than 5%.
So let’s work out the stats (very roughly…).
Less than 5% of all people make the effort with email outreach.
For the 5% that do…well….their conversion rates are very high.
Don’t be Lazy. Be Successful!
Hey <first name>,
< Your request e.g. you want to guest blog>
< Your appreciation for the blogger in question>
< Why you want to guest blog on this site – demonstrated your knowledge/research>
< Proof that I should listen to you – authority, other guest posts on other relevant authority sites, etc>
<Signature with links to website/Linkedin>
Getting a refusal is not necessarily the last step in the process. If you get a refusal you need to consider what type of refusal it was. For example, “never contact us again” is different than “not now.” You need to mark the relevant status in your Outreach tool so you can send an appropriate follow-up in the future.
5. Creating the content
Your main goal for guest blogging is to write high-quality content for high authority sites.
You want to provide a lot of value in your content.
So much value that you get invited back to guest post again!
You want to impress the audience.
You want to get more shares and links than any other guest blogger on the site.
And you want to ensure you have a link back to the content on your site.
Here’s the process I follow after I find the most relevant guest posting opportunities.
- Find an article on your site that I want to move up the Google search rankings.
- Come up with a related topic to post on a third party site with high authority.
- Read the guest post guidelines. When you submit guest posts, you don’t want to get an email back saying your submission doesn’t meet the guidelines. Read them in advance!
- Link back from the guest posts to the article I identified at the beginning of the process.
- Link to other people (their websites) mentioned in my guest post that I want to build a relationship with or get links from.
- Link to at least one article on the publisher’s website.
- Include a call to action for comments. Engagement will help increase the visibility of your guest post!
- Respond to comments and feedback on social media.
- Promote the content. You see, when you promote the content more people will link to it. This means the value of the link from the guest post to your website increases. I’ll promote my guest posts on social media, through my email list, and I’ll also write outreach emails to the people I reference in the article.
- Send a thank you note to the website owner after the post has been published. If the post did really well, then include some stats in it e.g. “delighted it was popular, I see you got x links, x shares, etc.”
- Get invited back. I always get invited back to write again because I put more effort in than anyone else.
- Republish a variation of the article on your site. Most websites allow you to republish the article on your website at a later phase. I prefer to rewrite at least 50% of the article and then publish it on my site so Google sees it as a new article. It’s very easy to rewrite an article when you’re keeping a similar structure to it.
If you put the work in for this post it will be so much easier to post here again or post on other sites.
Note: On some websites, I wrote 3,000-word guest posts and on others, I wrote shorter posts. Most of the time, the article length is related to the authority of the site. For super high authority sites, I’ll write very detailed posts if they allow it. Some major sites will have restrictions on length (e.g. Forbes only allows guest posts that are less than 1,000 words long).
6. Promoting the content
This post is just as important as content on your site.
- Link to it from content on your site to give it a boost
- Share it on social media channels
- Reach out to people mentioned in the post so they will promote it
- Promote it to your email list
I’ve often been disappointed about the amount of traffic from a guest post but….
…it’s not just about traffic.
You are building your authority in your industry.
You are building links to your website.
You are getting your content shared by a new audience.
But if you do want to generate more traffic give people a good incentive to visit your website. For example, agree with the site owner that you can provide a more detailed guide on your site in relation to the content that was provided. This can drive good relevant visitors and also build optins.
7. Track your results
Some guest posts will lead to lots of traffic and others won’t. You need to analyze the content to see which posts drove the most traffic to your site.
You can set up a new segment in Google Analytics to filter out the traffic from a particular domain (i.e. the website that published your guest post) so you can efficiently track the results.
How many referrals did the guest post bring to your site?
What is the quality of visitors? You’ll know this by looking at the Bounce Rate, Time One Site, etc.
Having this knowledge will help you decide whether it makes sense to guest post on that site again in the future.
Guest blogging example
Check out this short video which shows a high-quality guest post.
Guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to grow your website or blog. However, it’s not a short-term game, but a long-term strategy that you need to work on very carefully to get the results you’re expecting.
The steps that we talked about in this guide will help you build a guest blogging strategy that will bring more than just short-lived results.
You’ll see links, traffic, and your domain authority grow over time. More people will recognize you as an expert in your field which will lead to more opportunities.
If you ever get stuck in the process, just refer back to this guide and you’ll be alright!
Are you guest posting to grow your website? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!