Here at KISSmetrics, we’ve discussed how you can build authority in your industry through blogging. If you’re a fan of Social Media Examiner, you might have read about major brands that have benefited from guest blogging. So today, we are going to look at exactly how you can get guest blogging opportunities and make the most out of them.
Determine Your Guest Blogging Goals
Before we begin, your first task is to decide what your goal for guest blogging is. Knowing this goal ahead of time is key in determining the right kind of blogs to submit guest posts to. Typically there are three main goals for guest blogging.
- Positioning yourself as an authority and well-known name in the industry.
- Getting exposure (traffic) back to your website.
- Building backlinks to your website.
With the right kind of content on the top blogs, you can do all three of these things. If you are trying to accomplish either #1 or #2, then you will want to find blogs that have a good sized and engaged audience. If you are just trying to accomplish #3, then you need to pinpoint blogs with strong root domain authority. You can check this for free using the SEOmoz toolbar. Knowing your goals in advance will help you in determining which blogs will be the best for you to submit guest posts to.
How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
The first thing you will want to do is find guest post opportunities. When looking for places to guest post, your main goal is to find sites relevant to your niche or industry. You are looking for blogs that fit the following criteria:
- The content is focused on your niche / industry.
- The audience of the blog will be interested in your industry.
- The blog has engaged readership (posts have been shared socially and commented upon).
- The blog owner is active on social media (so you know that they will be promoting your work on their site).
So if you are selling seeds, you will want to find gardening blogs with an engaged audience of gardeners. The following should help you find the right kind of guest post opportunities.
Google is a great place to start in the search for guest posting opportunities. You can use any of the following keyword searches to find blogs that accept guest posts. Just replace keyword with keywords from your industry.
- keyword “submit a guest post”
- keyword “guest post”
- keyword “guest post by”
- keyword “accepting guest posts”
- keyword “guest post guidelines”
These searches should lead you to a blog’s guest post guidelines page, guest post submission page, or actual guest posts by other writers.
Prolific Guest Bloggers
Know of any prolific guest bloggers in your industry? If you read enough blogs in your industry (which you should), these will be the names you see over and over writing content for others. For online marketers, that list includes Gregory Ciotti, Danny Iny, Leo Widrich, Neil Patel, Marcus Sheridan, and many others. Using Google search, search for the name of prolific guest bloggers in your industry plus the phrase “guest post by”. This will reveal all of the sites that these guest bloggers have posted upon. They should be good places for you to guest post upon as well. A bonus would be if you actually know a guest blogger in your industry that can make an introduction for you to the owners of blogs they have guest posted upon.
If you (or your online marketing agency) has ever pulled up a backlink analysis of a competitor while working on your SEO campaign, chances are one or more of your competitors have backlinks from guest posts they have done. If you have access to tools like Open Site Explorer, you can look at the backlinks of your competitors and spot any blogs they have written for. If you don’t, you can do a Google search for link:domain.com -domain.com “guest post” (replacing domain.com with your competitor’s domain) which should reveal sites that a competitor has written for.
A lot of bloggers and guest posters will share their latest guest posts on social networks. Since the easiest one to search is Twitter, you should try running a Twitter search for keyword “guest post” to get the latest tweets about guest posts in your industry. Just follow the links to see which blogs are accepting the guest posts.
600+ Guest Blogging Opportunities
Need more keyword search ideas or a just a list with lots of different guest posting opportunities? Check out this post on Buzz Blogger with 500 places to syndicate content and this one by Brian Keith May with 100 sites to submit guest posts.
Last, but definitely not least, is My Blog Guest, a community of guest bloggers. Sign up for free and search for blogs which are accepting guest posts. Better yet, post your own information to say that you are looking to write guest posts on a particular topic so blog owners can find you!
Preparing to Pitch a Guest Post
Notice that we don’t just jump from finding guest blogging opportunities to contacting the blogs. That’s because there are a few things you need to do before you propose a guest post for a site you’ve just found.
Get to Know the Blog’s Content
Getting to know your target blog’s content is key. Sure you know they have content about the keyword you searched for while looking for guest post opportunities. But you need to know even more about that content such as…
- What level of audience are they writing for (beginners, intermediate, advanced)?
- What type of audience are they writing for? If your business is B2B, then you will want the blog audience for your guest post to be businesses, not general consumers.
- What type of content do they write? Is it mostly general concepts or specific, detailed tutorials? Do they like lists?
See How Other Guest Posts Do
While a blog may have guest posts, the question is do the guest bloggers do well? Do guest blog posts on the site get as much comments and social sharing as blog posts by the owner? Some sites might accept guest posts, but if the audience is only tuning in for the blog owner, then you won’t do so well if your goal is to build authority or get traffic back to your website.
See Who the Guest Bloggers Are
Some blog owners are more likely to accept guest posts by certain types of people over others. Peruse a few guest blogger bios on the blog to see if they are fellow bloggers, freelancers, consultants, business owners, and so forth. This will be important when you introduce yourself to the blog owner for your pitch. You can read more about the success rates of guest posting outreach in this study on SEOmoz.
Find Out What Posts Do the Best
To ensure that your guest post gets accepted, you will want to pitch the blog owner with topics that will do well with their audience. To get some good ideas of topics that will work with the blog’s audience, use the following sites to see what posts have been popular on social media. Just replace domain.com with the blog’s domain.
- http://topsy.com/s?q=domain.com – This will show you the number of times blog posts have been tweeted. Click on the number if you want to see who has tweeted the post and learn more about the blog’s audience.
- http://plus.topsy.com/s/domain.com – This will show you the number of times blog posts have been shared on Google+. Chances are, blog posts that have been shared on Google+ a lot will also have a lot of +1’s which might mean better search visibility.
- http://delicious.com/search?p=domain.com&jtf=E&partial_type=B – This will show you the number of times blog posts have been saved on Delicious.
- http://digg.com/search?q=site:domain.com – This will show you the posts on a blog that have received the most amount of Digg votes.
Become a Familiar Face in the Blog Community
To increase your chances of getting accepted as a guest blogger, you will want to get some recognition from the blog owner first. The best way to do this is to take a week or two and comment on their latest posts. You’ll get bonus points for sharing those posts on Twitter too – just be sure to include the blog owner’s @username on Twitter. This way, when you pitch your guest post, you won’t be a complete stranger.
The Best Times to Pitch a Guest Post
You won’t always have a golden opportunity to pitch a guest post, but there are certain things to take advantage of when they arise. These include the following.
- When blog mentions you in one of their posts or on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.).
- When the blog lists you, your business, or your product in one of their posts.
- When the blog specifically advertises they are looking for guest posts.
- When the blog publishes another guest post.
Basic Pitch Best Practices
The following are absolute musts when pitching a guest blog post to another blog owner.
Read the Guidelines
The last thing you need to do before contacting the blog owner is read the guest posting guidelines, if applicable, and follow them closely. Does the blog owner want you to pitch an idea or actually submit a full post? What format do they want it in? Do they want you to create an account and enter it into WordPress? These are all things to know ahead of time before you contact the blog owner.
Personalize Your Email
As a blogger who receives daily guest post pitches, nothing turns me off of an email more than ones starting with Dear Sir or Madam, Dear Webmaster, To the owner of Kikolani.com, or simply Hi. Somewhere on the blog you are about to contact will be the name of the blog owner. You might have to ferret around for it on the about page or on one of the blog’s social media accounts, but it is more than likely out there. Find it, and use it to start the email.
Who Are You
Remember the part about seeing who guest bloggers are on your target blog? Some blog owners are particular about only allowing other bloggers to submit guest posts on their sites. If you noticed that most guest bloggers are bloggers themselves, then you might want to introduce yourself as a blogger at (insert your personal or business blog here). You can always be a business owner on the side – just focus on your blogging skills first.
Why You Should Be a Guest Blogger
Be sure to include why you should be a guest blogger. Add a few links to posts you have published elsewhere, including your own blog. Preferably go with posts that have a good bit of social engagement so the blog owner will see your potential value with their audience.
How to Pitch a Guest Post Idea
If the guest post guidelines ask you to submit a topic idea, then (based on your research of previously popular posts), pitch a few different ideas so the blog owner has some to choose from.
How to Submit a Great Guest Post
One of the common questions about guest blogging is whether you should be using your best content for your own blog or for your guest posting. It really depends on the quality of the blog you are submitting your content to. If the blog has nothing but 900+ word posts with lots of screenshots, then your post should be similar. If the blog has nothing but posts with 500 words or less with only one image, then your posts (again) should be similar. The following are other good tips for making your guest post as awesome as possible.
It’s Not About You
The first thing to remember about a great guest post is that it is not about your business, your products, or your services. Guest posts should be valuable sources of information – not advertisements! Any information about your business and related items should be reserved for the author bio. Occasional mentions, stories, or examples are OK to illustrate a point, but the majority of the post should be focused on something other than your business.
Format Posts Like the Ones on the Site
Take a look at posts on your target blog. Do they use lots of headers, bolded text, images, quotes, or other special formatting? Make sure that your post has similar elements to match other posts on the site.
Include Internal and Source Links
Show the blog owner that you know their content by including a few internal links back to some of their posts. The easiest way to do this is to do a Google search for site:domain.com intitle:keyword. This will get you their top posts on a particular keyword so you can link that post to the keyword in your post. Also, if you mention any specific products, books, etc., be sure to link to those too (assuming it’s not self-promotional).
Include a Call to Action for Comments
At the end of your amazing guest post, be sure to include a call to action for comments. The more discussion your post generates, the better!
How to Craft a Great Guest Bio
The most important part of guest blogging (for you) will likely be your guest post bio. This is usually the only place you should include self-promotion links back to your website, blog, product, service, book, etc. What you write in this section will depend on your guest blogging goals.
- If your goal is to get good backlinks, just make sure your bio includes a link back to your website with your target anchor text and you are all set.
- If your goal is to get traffic back to your website, then you might want to consider where you want that traffic to go. Depending on the subject of your guest post and the audience of the blog you place it upon, you might want to send traffic to a custom landing page or page about a specific product / service.
- If your goal is to increase followers to your social accounts, do this by adding a line to the end of your bio that says “Follow me on (insert your top social network and link here).”
How to Be the Best Guest Blogger
If you’re aiming to become a regular contributor to a blog, or simply want the blog owner to brag about what a great guest blogger you are, then be sure to do your best to promote your post to popularity through your own audience. The blog owner will love it if you send new readers their way. Also, be sure to reply to your comments. That will go a long way if you are working to build authority in your industry.
Tracking Your Results
When the goal is traffic, the results of your guest blogging should definitely be measured. The best way to do this is to create an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics. You can learn how to set up an Advanced Segment in this post on how to find out which online marketing strategy drives the best traffic. All you need is one segment using the source dimension with multiple statements for each domain that you have guest blogged for – you can have up to 20 or statements per Advanced Segment. Mine looks like this…
Using this, you can view all of your Google Analytics data based on referrals from your guest posts. This can help you determine the success of your overall guest blogging strategy in terms of getting traffic and making conversions. If you’re not sure how to track conversions, see this post on getting actionable data to learn how to set up goals.
How to Get Guest Bloggers for Your Blog
Finally, don’t forget that guest blogging can be a two way street. It’s tough to maintain your own blog content while guest posting on a lot of other blogs. So be sure to open an invitation for guest bloggers to write on your own blog. This way, you can keep fresh content on your own blog, add a new perspective for your audience, and hopefully get new readers from your guest blogger’s community. It’s a win-win situation!
Do you use guest blogging as part of your online marketing strategy? What other things would you suggest for a business looking to increase their guest blogging success?
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.