Welcome to Guest Blogging 101
Guest blogging, also known as “guest posting”, is the practice of writing and publishing an article on someone else’s blog or website in order to build relationships, exposure, authority, and links. Guest Blogging is one of the strategies used by SEO Experts to build links.
Aside from creating an opportunity to share your insights with a vast number of online users, guest blogging also paves the way for sending traffic to your blog and improving your website’s SEO.
This guide takes you to the challenging yet fun process of guest blogging. It covers everything you need to know from tips and tricks on how to find great guest posting opportunities, to sending effective outreach emails that will surely get your engaging articles published.
1 | Guest Blogging
1A | What is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging, also known as “guest posting”, is a popular content marketing strategy for blogs and businesses. It refers to an off-page SEO strategy of writing a content to be published on another blog or website in exchange for a link to your blog, website, or social media page.
Guest posting is an effective way to acquire backlinks, gain exposure, and enhance the author’s popularity. By providing good blog posts for other sites to publish, you can reach a wide audience who can visit your site and help you achieve your goals.
1B | Three Ways Guest Posting Can Help Grow Your Online Audience
1. Guest posting improves your SEO
Guest blogging helps you effectively generate inbound links to your website and boost your site’s link profile. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors in SEO – and guest posting on a top-notch site makes it easy for you to gain high-quality backlinks.You can have your links placed within the body of the article, which is ideal since they’re more likely to be clicked by readers. You can also have it placed on the biographical paragraph (author bio) at the end of the article, which speaks about your background and your company or business.
2. Guest posting helps build authority and branding
If you’re guest posting for your personal brand, your business, or a client’s website, guest blogging can be an effective tool for building authority and increasing brand awareness. The key is to have your guest post published on authority blogs in your niche in order to be known by the right audience.
3. Guest posting leads to high-quality traffic
Are you selling a product or offering a service? Next to increasing awareness, the highly-qualified traffic your brand or business website gets from the links in your guest posts can also lead to conversion.
1C | The Core Goals of Guest Blogging
Before you begin a guest blogging campaign, you need to decide first what your main objective is. Establishing a goal will help you determine the best blogs to submit guest posts to.
There are three main guest blogging goals:
- To build backlinks to your website
- To get exposure or traffic back to your website
- To position yourself as an authoritative brand/personality in the industry
If your goal is to build backlinks to your site and rank in the SERPs, you need to target blogs with high domain authority. If you want to be well-known in the industry and get more exposure back to your site, then you’ll need to find blogs with a large-sized and engaged audience. With the right kind of content on the right blog, you can achieve all three of these things.
2 | Link Prospecting: How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
2A | Finding High-quality Guest Post Targets
Guest blogging isn’t just about putting some quality effort into writing an excellent, buzz-worthy article. For a guest blogging strategy to be successful, you need to be resourceful when looking for high-quality sites to contribute to.
We call it link prospecting, the process of finding relevant backlink targets based on the criteria of high-quality backlink.
Here are 7 proven strategies to prospect the web and find the best guest posting opportunities.
1. Using Google Search Strings
Google is the best place to start link prospecting. A successful Google search string entails a well-curated combination of these three essential elements: keyword, search query, and advanced search operator.
- Keyword – Choose broad keywords that define the industry and/or the market of the client.
- Search query – A search query refers to a specific term or phrase you put into the search box to pull up a list of relevant results.
- Advanced search operator – An advanced search operator is a character or a string of characters used to narrow the focus of your search and give you exactly what you need. Combined with search queries, search operators retrieve more specific and relevant results.
Here are some of the most commonly used search operators.
- inurl: This search operator will allow you to find results that contain a specific keyword in the URL, be it the domain name or the slug.
- intitle: Similarly, the intitle search operator returns results that contain the specific keyword in the title of the page.
- intext: The intext search operator narrows down the results to pages containing the specified term in the text
- inanchor: This search operator limits the results to pages containing the terms you specify in the anchor text in links to the page
- site: The site search operator can be used to specify the organization type.
Examples of Winning Search Strings
For tried and tested search operators and queries that retrieve the best results, you may refer to the following templates:
|Your Keyword + “write for us”||Your Keyword + “submit content”|
|Your Keyword + “guest article”||Your Keyword + “submit your content”|
|Your Keyword + “guest post opportunities”||Your Keyword + “submit post”|
|Your Keyword + “this is a guest post by”||Your Keyword + “This post was written by”|
|Your Keyword + “contributing writer”||Your Keyword + “guest post courtesy of ”|
|Your Keyword + “want to write for”||Your Keyword + “guest posting guidelines”|
|Your Keyword + “submit blog post”||Your Keyword + “submit an article”|
|Your Keyword + “contribute to our site”||Your Keyword + “contributor guidelines”|
|Your Keyword + “guest column”||Your Keyword + “contributing writer”|
|Your Keyword + “become a guest blogger||Your Keyword + “become an author”|
|Your Keyword + “guest blogger”||Your Keyword + “become guest writer”|
|Your Keyword + “guest posts wanted”||Your Keyword + “become a contributor”|
|Your Keyword + “looking for guest posts”||Your Keyword + “submit guest post”|
|Your Keyword + “guest posts wanted”||Your Keyword + “submit an article”|
|Your Keyword + “guest blogger wanted”||Your Keyword + “submit article”|
|Your Keyword + “accepting guest posts”||Your Keyword + “guest author”|
|Your Keyword + “writers wanted”||Your Keyword + inurl: “guest blogger”|
|Your Keyword “articles wanted”||Your Keyword + inurl: “guest post”|
2. Utilizing Guest Posting Software
Another effective way is to search using guest posting directories and networks that keep the most updated, curated database of websites that accept guest posts. These directories are designed to make link prospecting easier for you.
In most cases, you just need to provide the niche or category you’re looking for and the directories will show the best results. You may narrow down the results depending on the websites’ domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), traffic, bounce rate, and location.
Examples of Guest Posting Tools:
1. My Blog Guest
2. Guest Post Engine
3. Guest Post Tracker
4. Big Guest Posting
3. Leveraging Social Media
There are many ways social media can be used to your advantage. Look for guest posting opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Just enter a basic guest post search string such as “keyword + guest post” or “guest posting opportunities”.
You may follow a couple of high-authority blog owners who accept guest posts. You can even join guest blogging communities in social media pages where you can engage with blog owners and writers, sharing similar goals.
4. Looking for Guest Blog Compilations
If you don’t want to spend hours searching for guest posting opportunities in the traditional way, you can use this cheat sheet. Simply type “lists of sites that accept guest posts” along with your keyword, and you’ll find a goldmine of guest blogging sites, collected and curated by other bloggers for you.
5. Reverse Engineering (Finding your Competitor’s Links)
You can look for the competitors’ backlinks and use them to your advantage. First, do a quick competitor analysis. Look for sites that are ranking for a lot of keywords in your niche – these are your competitors.
Take their homepage URL and place it into a good backlink checker to see a list of all their backlinks. You may find that a good chunk of their backlinks came from guest posts.
Examples of Free Backlink Tools:
1. Open Link Profiler
- Know more about Open Link Profiler here: http://openlinkprofiler.org/
2. SEO Review Tools
- Know more about SEO Review Tools here: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/valuable-backlinks-checker/
3. The Hoth
- Know more about The Hoth here: https://www.thehoth.com/backlinks-checker/
4. Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker
- Know more about Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker here: https://smallseotools.com/backlink-checker/
6. Using Google Reverse Image Search
This is one of the advanced strategies you may try.
First, find someone in your niche who writes tons of content online and is likely to contribute to a lot of blogs. Second, grab the URL of the headshot they used for their author bylines. Lastly, place that URL into Google reverse image. You’ll now get to see a list of sites they’ve guest posted on.
7. Social networking with bloggers and webmasters
Build a good relationship and keep in touch with the bloggers and webmasters are working with. Have a good record of their contact details in place. Should you run out of guest posting targets, you may ask them for referrals. You may even be referred to a high-authority site.
2B | Checking the Quality of Your Target Guest Blogs
Knowing the different strategies in seeking guest post targets isn’t enough – you should also know how to separate the winners from the losers. When comparing sites, see if they have the following criteria.
1. It should have the ability to rank in the SERPs
- Domain Authority (DA) – Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by MOZ which aims to predict the ranking strength of a website over time on the search engine result pages (SERPs). The ranking scores are measured by evaluating several factors, such as linking root domains and the number of total inbound and external links.
Use Moz Link Explorer, the best tool for checking the authoritative link profile of a website. Paste their homepage URL on the box to get data including their DA, inbound and outbound links, ranking keywords, and their metrics over time.
2. It needs to have an authoritative link profile
Find out the quality of websites linking to your target guest post site and the ones your target guest post site is linking to.
- Inbound links (backlinks) – An inbound link (backlink) refers to a link from an external website to your site. The backlinks shouldn’t come from paid sites.
- Outbound links – A good website links to authoritative websites and other external websites associated with their niche. You shouldn’t associate with websites that link to sites that promote porn, casinos, pills, and other adult content.
3. It receives high traffic
If you want to obtain traffic, then look for high-traffic sites. While you can’t check their analytics, you can see their sociability levels across the web. See whether they have social media pages and whether they have a significant number of followers.
4. It’s niche-related
See if the site you’re looking into is related to your niche. Ideally, you would love to post your article about hotels and vacation tips on a travel blog, where it can be viewed and shared by travel enthusiasts – not on a blog related to tech and digital marketing.
5. The website publishes engaging content
Check whether the blog provides value to its visitors by publishing high-quality content. Are their articles informative and relevant? Do the blog postings have healthy comments? How do their social shares work?
6. The website is currently active
Make sure the blog is active and is regularly publishing content. If you notice that the site’s most recent post is dated six months ago, look elsewhere. It’ll give you a harder time in your email outreach efforts.
2C | Key Elements of a Successful Link Prospecting Strategy
Link prospecting entails a mix of creativity, experience, and technical understanding. To push your guest blogging campaign forward, your link prospecting strategy needs to have the following key elements:
- Detailed Research – Typing a few keywords into the Google search box and getting the results is never enough. You need to have a blending of knowledge, skills, and patience when finding backlink targets.
- Quality Assurance – Next to finding new, relevant sites, you need to ensure the quality of these sites before any attempt to build links.
- Creativity – From using advanced search operators to leveraging social media, you constantly need to find unique yet effective ways to explore the web and look for new websites.
- Advanced Tools – Link prospecting one of the most time-consuming and challenging aspects of link building. It’s a must to have access to the best SEO tools to save time and deliver great results.
3 | Generating Content: How to Submit a Great Guest Post
What truly makes a great guest post? This is one of the first few questions you may ask. Should you aim for a 1000+ word count? Does it need to have lots of pictures? Do you need to have at least 7 subtopics?
The short answer is, all boils down to the quality of the blog you’re submitting your guest post to. Below are some good tips for making your guest post as great as possible.
3A | Writing a Link-worthy, Share-worthy Guest Post
1. Make it easy and fun to read
Content creation is the most exciting phase of guest blogging. Make sure every article is not only informative but original and interesting as well. It should contain attention-grabbing headlines and subheadings, relevant keywords, and appealing images for a better reading experience.
2. Get to know your target blog’s content
The rule of thumb is to format your guest posts like the ones on the blog you’re submitting to. Pay attention to their formatting, like their use of subheadings, images, and quotes. If the site has lengthy 1000+ word posts with one photo per subtopic, your post should have the similar elements. If it has short 500-word articles with only a featured image, do the same for your content.
2. It should be informative, not promotional
Your guest post should be a valuable source of information – not a promotional article about your business, products, and services. You can, however, place an anchor text within the body of the article but make sure it’s discreet and relevant. Any information about your company should be reserved for the author bio.
3. Include a call to action statement
At the end of your guest post, make sure to add a call to action for comments. A short sentence like, “what can you say about this [topic]? Share your thoughts below” can generate discussion and improve the quality of your guest post.
3B | Crafting a Good Author Bio
You may encounter blogs that only allow one do-follow link and/or the ones that don’t allow links within the content body. In many cases, the author bio is the only place you’re allowed to include self-promotion backlinks to your website, blog, or social media.
Author Bio: Mina Corpuz is one of the lifestyle writers for Aspect Hotel Park West Dublin, a modern hotel, delivering exceptional accommodation in Dublin and dining experiences for leisure and corporate travelers. Writing articles about travel, food, and lifestyle is one thing she finds enjoyable, next to petting her cat.”
Aside from a creative description of who you are as a blogger and what you do, your author bio should include a link back to your site (home page or a specific web page) with your target anchor text. Your anchor text can be the name of your business or a target keyword. If you want to increase social media followers, you may include put “follow me on [insert social media page link]” at the end of your bio.
4 | Email Outreach: How to Send Effective Outreach Emails
Webmasters receive tons of emails every day. Whether you’re pitching an idea or submitting a full guest post, your goal is to make your email stand out, from your subject line to your content title.
4A | Preparing to Pitch a Guest Post
1. Collate prospects in a spreadsheet
Keep a record of all your niche-relevant guest post targets. Look for their email address, which is usually written along with the guidelines, and include it in your spreadsheet. You may also reach the webmaster via their on-site contact form or social media page.
The spreadsheet should include the following: Website name, URL, niche, contact details, and niche. You may even include the DA.
2. Read and understand the writing guidelines
Before contacting the blog owner, read and understand their guest posting policies and craft your content in accordance with the guidelines. Determine their do’s and don’ts, the required word count, and the number of backlinks allowed in the content.
Does the blog owner want you to pitch a content idea first? Or do they want you to submit a full article? What’s their ideal format? Do you have to create an account and submit your article for review via WordPress?
4B | Crafting a Winning Email Outreach
1. Pay attention to your email subject line
Email subject lines matter – it’s the first thing your recipient sees when he checks his inbox. If you feel like your messages are being ignored, chances are your email subjects are overly generic or spammy.
An email subject line should be short, simple yet attention-grabbing – something that will create curiosity and urgency on your recipient’s end. Another tip is to make it personalized by adding the blog name.
Below are some of the winning subjects you may use:
|Guest post proposal for [blog name]||Check out these link-worthy guest post ideas for your [blog name]|
|Guest post inquiry for [blog name]||Hey [blogger name], here’s a great guest post idea for [blog name]|
|Guest post request for [blog name]||New guest post ideas for [blog name]|
|Great content ideas for [blog name]||Add value to your subscribers: content ideas for [blog name]|
|Unique [niche] content ideas for [blog name]||Feed your content-hungry blog: content ideas for [blog name]|
|Review these 3 blog post ideas for [blog name]||You haven’t covered this topic, right?|
|Free high-quality articles for [blog name]||Let’s discuss your new blog post|
|High-quality guest post request for [blog name]||Request: Guest post ideas for [blog name]|
- Don’t use all capital letters and unnecessary exclamation points
- Avoid sugarcoating
- Make sure it doesn’t sound spammy
- Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs
2. Establish a good persona
Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective website administrator. Of course, you’d prefer receiving articles from passionate content writers who are genuinely interested in your blog, instead of publishing spammy, poorly-written promotional articles from random link builders.
When sending an email outreach, send the notion that you’re a friendly, trustworthy, and skilled blogger who is eager to provide valuable content for the blog’s readers. You can present yourself as a regular reader of their blog or someone who randomly stumbled upon their website while researching for something.
3. State why you should be a guest blogger
Your past writing accomplishments can also be used as a selling point. Consider including 1-3 links to your top published articles elsewhere just to give your recipient a gist of your writing style.
4. Personalize your email
Don’t just say, “hi admin” and copy-paste a generic-sounding email. Personalize every email outreach.
When looking for prospects, make sure to determine the name of the administrator. You can find it in their “about us” page. If the name isn’t stated, just put address the blog owner using the name of the blog name + admin (e.g. Hello Tour and Travel Blog Admin)
It would also be smart to mention the blog’s previous works to imply that you’ve been following the blog for quite some time.
5. Keep your email short and precise
Nobody likes to read long, wordy, and boring emails so keep yours short and straightforward. Avoid sugar coating and using unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Make sure to add a clear call-to-action statement or question at the end of the email.
6. Prepare a killer pitch
No matter how good your content topic is, it’s unlikely to be accepted if you don’t package and promote it enough.
Start with a straightforward yet catchy title for your guest post idea. You may also include a short description of what your content is about. You can also include a maximum of three topics. Your pitch should always be centered around the intention of providing benefit to your prospective blog.
Next, briefly state your achievements and guest posts on other popular websites.
Examples of winning email templates:
7. Track your submission with mail trackers
Gone are the days when you send an email and just pray to get a response shortly, without any idea of whether or not it’s delivered successfully. Now, you can use email trackers to check if your message is delivered and opened by its respective receiver. You can even see webmasters who choose to ignore your mail.
Mailtrack is the best tool to start with.
Mailtrack is an email tracking extension for Gmail, that allows you to know If the emails you’ve sent have been read or not. It’s free and unlimited.
- (✓✓) means that your email has been sent, but not opened.
- (✓✓) means that your email has been opened.
It includes “sent with mailtrack” signature. If you want to send emails without the signature, you may upgrade to the paid version, “Mailtrack Pro”. You may also check out other mail trackers including Yesware and Boomerang.
4C | Sending and Monitoring Your Guest Post Article
1. Bring the content idea to life
If a webmaster is interested in any of your content ideas, he/she will ask you to send the article for review. Depending on the quality of your content, you may be asked to revise your article to make it deem fit for the blog.
2. Generate a link-worthy guest post article
Before sending an article in, refer to the blog’s “write for us” page and make sure you comply with the guidelines. The format of your article should be reader-friendly, with short paragraphs and subheadings for dissecting the wordy content, and relevant images for making it look appealing. Listicles, tips and tricks, and how-tos are commonly-used formats.
Ideally, you should include two backlinks in your guest post: one link in your article body and one in your author bio, and make sure to include semantic keywords.
3. Follow up, if necessary
Following up is easier if you have an email tracker. You become aware of why you can’t get a response: it’s either the recipient is inactive or the recipient blatantly ignores your message. The latter implies a lack of interest on the webmaster’s end.
4. Know when to cancel submission
Ideally, you should receive a response within three days. If not, following up once is enough for you to decide whether to push through with your submission or cancel and move forward with a different guest posting blog. If you don’t get a response after the first follow up, it’s time to cancel your submission and move on.
Simply send a short, precise, and polite message, stating your withdrawal due to a lack of response.
4D | Storing your Published Guest Post
1. Checking the published article
Let’s suppose your article has been published. Generally, the webmaster sends a brief email, informing the writer about the successful guest post and the article’s live link.
You can also check the site from time to time to see if the webmaster has published your guest post.
After receiving the good news, review the published article and check if the links you placed are included in the final output.
If not, notify the webmaster right away. If you’re satisfied with the output, send a short “thank you” email to the webmaster.
2. Collate everything in the guest post tracker
Simply copy the link of the published link and paste it on your guest post tracker. Put the final title of the article, the date posted, and the anchor texts placed.
3. Promote your guest post
To boost your published guest post’s reach, webmasters would encourage you to share your post on your social media accounts,
5 | Must-Have Tools for Guest Blogging
Let’s suppose you wanted to start a guest blogging campaign. You’ll find some relevant sites that accept guest posts, compile them, make sure they’re a good fit, look for their contact details, and send a well-crafted, personalized outreach email.
If you plan to target a few sites, you can do all these manually. But if you plan to target a large number of sites and build links efficiently, you need to use professional link prospecting tools.
Link building tools are designed to make your campaign easier every step of the way. Below are three of the best tools professional link builders swear by.
5A | Link Prospector
Link prospector quickly and efficiently looks up relevant link opportunities for guest blogging, niche directories, sponsorships, link pages, and more. It’s designed to help link builders and content marketers search and organize outreach opportunities.
Step One: Choose your report type
Step Two: Enter your keywords or keyphrases
Step Three: Find link opportunities
Know more about Link Prospector here: https://linkprospector.citationlabs.com
5B | Ontolo
Ontolo is another powerful tool you can use to find link prospects you can contact. No need to type advanced search queries on Google, think of other ways you can say “guest post” or “write for us”, and scan pages after pages – ontolo takes care of expanding your prospecting queries.
The tool instantly searches your prospects using advanced queries and narrows down the results depending on how you configure the tool and the type of keywords you provide.
Know more about Ontolo here: https://ontolo.com/
5C | Citation Labs
Citation Labs, the maker of Link Prospector, is an enterprise link building agency. Aside from Link Prospector, they have developed other tools for SEO specialists, link builders, content marketers, and CEOs, including the Broken Link Builder, Co-Citation Tool, Contact Finder, and Zipsprout.
Know more about Citation Labs here: https://citationlabs.com/tools/
6 | Guest Blogging Flow Chart