Guest blogging used to be a favorite among digital marketers and startup owners trying to build a brand. It served both the person writing the article and the blog that will publish it. For the blog, having a marquee name in a published story is like having a special guest star on a local TV show. The star power of their guest lends their blog credibility. For the blogger, it’s another way to cement their status in their community.
However, many SEO practitioners took advantage of this tactic—people began using guest blogging to snag backlinks, writing posts that contributed little to the discussions in their industries, if at all. Guest blogging became nothing more than throwing together a hastily-written article and putting your brand name on it before shipping it off to another website to publish. Consequently, Google now sees guest posts as less valuable than they were.
Despite guest blogging losing its luster, there’s still value in writing high-quality and authoritative posts and having well-known blogs publish these. Keep in mind that you can’t expect link juice from guest posting. What's more, although Google doesn't penalize websites for linking to guest posts, it does result in "unnatural" links that should have the appropriate tags (rel-sponsored or rel-nofollow).
That said, people will still link to you if they find your content relevant, and they will still check out your website if they like your article. Here’s how you can maximize guest posting.
Know Where to Pitch Your Story
It’s better to pitch to a handful of authoritative sites in your niche instead of sending an email to a hundred blogs that aren’t the right fit. If you are in the pet care niche, it’s not a great idea to send a story to a blog about home improvement. Even if you have a well-written story, the audience will probably not click on it.
Also, don’t send your story to just any website in your niche. You have to choose ones that are doing well. Having regular readers who comment on their posts, a good number of followers, and a solid domain rating indicates that the blog is doing well. Also, when you do get a slot for a guest post, make sure you get a byline, headshot, and a link back to your website. Don’t pitch for a place that won’t credit you unless you really want to write for them.
Make Your Pitch Irresistible
Conduct some research before you pitch. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting your time writing to editors or website owners who won’t give you the time of day. First of all, spend time reading articles on the site where you want your story to appear. Which topics do people read the most? Does the blog cover everything about your industry, or are they missing something you can write about? When you can find hidden opportunities like new angles or topics, it’ll be a bit easier for your pitch to stand out.
Also, it’s better to pitch to a person instead of writing “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Editor.” Without a name, the email sounds generic, and the person screening emails will ignore it. Guest blogging is just like other forms of relationship-building online. It needs a personal touch, so finding a contact person and speaking to them about your proposal is the way to go. Tell them about yourself and your blog—just enough to introduce, don’t overshare. People feel more at ease when they have a story to attach to a name.
Study What Works for This Blog
Besides reading the posts on the blog, you should also check out the works of other guest bloggers. Read the stories they wrote for the blog you’re targeting, as well as the ones they wrote for other places. This should also give you an idea of what tones and writing styles align with the blog’s.
Finally, ensure that you follow the guidelines for submitting a pitch. Check if there are standards for formatting the submission, specific times of the day to submit, file types, and platforms to use. If you ignore the guidelines, the editors will automatically delete your pitch.
Make the Audience Want to Read More
It’s tough to write a pitch but writing a successful guest blog is even more challenging. However, it’s possible to write a post that will get people curious enough to check out your website. It starts with knowing what the audience needs. Usually, people don’t read articles online for fun. They are on blogs because they’re trying to get information on something.
A homeowner browsing an interior design blog might be looking for inspiration for their next project. A student on a productivity blog could be interested in maximizing their hours for study. Your first task is to find out what audiences need. Using social listening tools like BuzzSumo and reading comments in recent blog posts will help you identify trending topics in the niche.
Direct Readers to a Call to Action
When you guest post, you’ll usually have a space in the biography section for a URL. Don’t link to your homepage—instead, choose the page you’ll link based on what you want to achieve. Do you want readers to follow your blog, check your gallery, sign up for a newsletter, or purchase from your store? Incorporate that in your bio and link to the appropriate page—funnel readers through your CTA instead of letting them click around aimlessly on your website.
Engage with Commenters on Your Post
Lastly, guest blogging is not about putting your content on another website and then letting it go. You need to nurture your connection to that brand and its audience. When people leave comments on your post, reply to them. Answer their questions, acknowledge comments, and show that you consider their input valuable. When you actively respond to people commenting on your guest posts, you convey warmth and reliability.
Today, guest blogging is a way to build indirect links with new audiences. When your content is well-written and responds to the needs of an audience, the traffic will follow. Although the backlinks won’t come immediately, the long-term brand building you will achieve with a guest post is invaluable.
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