The Insider’s Guide to Guest Blogging

How to Build a Backlinking Strategy to Grow Your Business

For years, content has shown marketers and businesses why it is the king of digital marketing. It offers an improved reputation to companies, more traffic, higher domain authority, and increased conversion potential. Plenty of strategies exists to help brands achieve all this and more. A high-standard guest blogging campaign is one such integral element of any successful digital marketing tactic.

This insider’s guide provides all you need to know about guest blogging and how to find success with it.

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging, or guest posting, involves creating content and publishing it on an external website. Typically, your business will fall within the same industry as the external site for added relevancy. The main aims of guest blogging are to:

  • Entice traffic back to your website.
  • Utilize external backlinks to boost domain authority.
  • Enhance brand awareness and credibility.
  • Establish relationships with industry peers.

For your business, you hope to achieve all of the above points. The website benefits from valuable content for its audience in return, keeping them in Google’s favor. When you factor in how this is a win-win for both the guest and the host, it makes sense for you to feature guest posts on your site.

How does guest blogging impact SEO?

It’s an excellent tool for growing your domain authority, which helps you move up the search engine rankings and acquire more organic traffic as long as you’re careful with your guest blogging efforts. A Google employee touched upon this in 2014. Matt Cutts, the former head of webspam, made the following remark about guest blogging: “I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.” Stating that guest blogging had become too spammy didn’t stop digital marketers from continuing, as guest blogging still held (and still does) many benefits. However, it made one thing clear: low-quality content was no longer welcome in the SEO sphere.

You must craft high-value guest posts and post these on legitimate websites. Posting low-quality content on an external website with the aid of a bribe isn’t going to help your business. It may contain a backlink to your site, but Google won’t view the content in a favorable light.

If your high-quality content generates other shares, likes, comments, and backlinks, this will naturally improve its Google PageRank. The result: your website could show up on the first page of search results for relevant keywords.

Another advantage gained is you can establish yourself as an authority in your sector. Produce regular, original content both on your blog and as a guest to become a leading voice for your industry. Also, it could lead to you cultivating an audience that will want to follow and read your latest musings.

Getting started with guest blogging

This marketing tactic isn’t something you can run into without any preparation. There are two key steps to help you prepare and ensure that your guest blogging is successful from the get-go.

Step #1: Define your goals

The first move is to be clear about what you want to gain from your guest blogging experience. Think carefully about why you plan to run this project and what lasting impact you want it to have on your business.

Some common goals other businesses choose include:

  • Become an authority and well-known name in your industry.
  • Gain exposure online and build awareness of your product/service.
  • Drive traffic to your site.
  • Develop relationships with bloggers and other websites.
  • Increase email subscribers.
  • Increase social media followers.
  • Build backlinks to your website.

Step #2: Conduct thorough research

Along with finding the right platforms to post your content, you have to ensure you post content with value. Produce well-researched content that offers something original for readers to consume. Then, consider keywords and search terms that have gained traction with your target audience to enhance the piece. Tools like SEMrush can help you achieve this.

Using SEMrush to find keywords

SEMrush helps you discover all the possible variants of the keyword you have. The tool, Keyword Magic, brings up relevant words to your industry, content, products that your ideal customers have used, even if they are not directly related to your current term. Although it may not seem relevant to you, it is to those customers typing in these search terms. This means an audience is potentially waiting for you to swoop in and guide them through the next step of their search action.

Type in your domain to see what keywords your website currently ranks for, as this is a great starting point. If you don’t rank for any keywords yet, make a list of categories that you want to focus on. Spend time forming this initial list by brainstorming with your team or searching online, as it can help you determine what it is you want to rank for on the SERP.

Look at the monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, competitiveness, and current ranking if you rank for some keywords already. Then, scroll down to the “Top Organic Keywords” section to see the available variations.

To see what people are searching for, click “Search Queries.” Then, find and compare the keywords that best suit your content, business, and audience this way. Use the filter options to narrow down your search. For example, if you don’t want to see branded keywords, preferring to see the long-tail keywords, click to exclude the branded terms.

Implement your Guest Blogging Strategy

Complete these two preparation steps above. Then, when ready, move onto implementing your strategy. Read on for all the insider tips and tricks you need!

Step #1: Finding the right guest blogging opportunities

With around 400 million active websites, you have plenty to choose from, but it does matter that you pick the right ones. Consider two keys things when looking for guest blogging opportunities:

  • Relevancy: Aiming for a website with a similar audience to yours helps increase your chance of gaining more followers. Also, it shows Google that they shouldn’t view your content as spam.
  • PageRank presence: A willing blog could accept your content for free and include a backlink as requested, but this means little if they have no standing with Google.

With these two aspects in mind, start to locate your guest blogging opportunities. You need a valuable list of potential blogs to contact. The good news is there are various ways to find websites that are willing to accept your guest posts.

Below are the main tried-and-tested methods for unearthing websites to target.

·         Google search

This is perhaps the easiest and most used method to find blogging opportunities. While success levels can vary, it’s possible to find better results by utilizing search strings.

Google Search

Below is a list of search string examples that usually deliver results:

  • [Keyword] “guest post”
  • [Keyword] “guest article”
  • [Keyword] “submit blog post”
  • [Keyword] “write for us”
  • [Keyword] “guest column”
  • [Keyword] “contribute to our site”
  • [Keyword] “become an author”
  • [Keyword] “submit an article”

As an example, for a custom t-shirt printing business, your keyword could be “t-shirt printing.” Combine this with one of the search strings listed above to produce a list of viable blogs to target with your content marketing strategy.

Google Result

Do numerous manual search queries to gather the results, remove the inevitable duplicates, and analyze the SEO metrics of each one. Even though it’s a laborious process, it is ultimately an effective one.

·         Content Explorer

If you want to gather data, but you want to cut down on the length of time, it could be wise to utilize Content Explorer.

Content Explorer

Content Explorer is a paid software solution provided by Ahrefs that has a database of over one billion web pages. It allows you to discover specific web content with a significant degree of accuracy and efficiency. Plus, it supplies the chance to search for a particular keyword.

Bring up a large number of relevant web pages for your industry within a matter of seconds. Narrow it down to websites with individual blogs and those with a specific number of unique backlinks featured. Then, take advantage of the “Domain Rating” filter – this allows you to only focus on high-value sites.

·         Twitter search

Social media platforms are an untapped goldmine when finding guest blogging opportunities. Perhaps the best of the lot in that regard is Twitter.

Finding opportunities via Twitter is much the same as with Google. Take your keyword, add a search string, and input this into the Twitter search function. Twitter is quicker off the mark when indexing posts and finding those specific websites searching for guest posts.

Twitter Search

As the example above shows, when searching for “book guest post,” results were posted just a few minutes ago.

·         Use author bios to your advantage

First, start by finding a popular, prolific guest author within your niche. In the digital marketing world, one of your first choices would be Neil Patel.

Author Bios

So, how can you use this bio to your advantage? Use one of two methods. First, take Neil’s profile picture and do a reverse image search. Right-click the image and press “Search Google for image.” If this option isn’t available with your web browser, copy the image URL and paste it into Google’s “Search by image” section.

Search by image

The alternative method would be to take a snippet of Neil’s bio text. Grab the first few words from his bio, wrap this with quotations, and hit the “Enter” button on Google.

Whether you go the image or text route, this will produce several places where Neil has guest posted before.

·         Reverse engineer competitor backlinks

By utilizing the hard work of your competition, quickly uncover a large selection of guest blogging opportunities. This is made possible by reverse-engineering the backlinks of a competitor’s website to see where they are gaining theirs.

Not all of these backlinks will be from guest posts, but it is highly likely a sizeable quantity of them feature in blogs, especially if they’re leading the Google search rankings for multiple keywords in your niche.

There are numerous techniques available to perform backlink checks. One free software option is SEO SpyGlass. Add the URL of your competitor into their backlink analysis and management software to discover blogging opportunities.

Step #2: Build Your List

Next, you have to filter the list of potential websites that you’ll contact. The length of this list will differ depending on what stage you’re at with your business and digital marketing in general. For example, for those starting in your digital marketing efforts, target blogs that are not too popular as they will be more inclined to accept your guest posts. However, if you already have some standing in your niche, going after more popular websites makes sense.

Whichever position you are in, there are still a few rules to follow when picking which platforms to guest post on. You only want to select websites that fit the following criteria:

  • It is within your industry (or a related industry).
  • It boasts an authoritative link profile.
  • It has a history of posting high-quality content.
  • It can deliver targeted traffic.
  • It won’t restrict your backlink to being in an author bio.

Once you have a definitive list of websites, you shouldn’t throw out your pitch too early. Instead, get on the radar of whichever site you’re targeting. By doing this, the site owner will already have familiarity with your presence. They will know you’re a fan of their work and not just some randomer who pops up out of the blue.

There are a few ways to warm up a target effectively. Share their content on social media, comment on their blog posts, or even send them an email. Regarding the latter point, this could be a message about how a piece of advice they gave helped you and your business. By building up a rapport with a site owner, the motivation to work with you in the future is already there.

Step #3: Find topics that deliver

Find topics that do two things. You want them to deliver you results, and two, they need to appeal to website owners. Start by seeing what posts are most popular on a site. You’ll often see these displayed on a blog’s sidebar. If there isn’t a sidebar option, use tools to discover which posts have received the most engagement.

SEMrush Traffic Analytics provides all the stats you need to know in that regard. Learn which topics generate traffic, comments, and shares. This is valuable information to possess when coming up with topic ideas for your content.

top pages

Don’t stop there with your research. Search for trending topics within your industry. After all, bloggers don’t want to be publishing content that is outdated and lacking originality. They want to cover hot, trending subjects which will appeal to their audience.

To find trending topics, simply visit BuzzSumo. Via their free search tool, unearth current subjects gaining engagement within a specific niche. Just add a keyword that matches your intended topic of choice, and you can learn about what’s working right now in terms of content.

Note: If you want to gain even more juicy information from BuzzSumo, you need to sign up for a paid plan.

Link building

Before you decide a specific topic is suitable, ensure you review the posting guidelines of your targeted website. By reading the guidelines, you avoid any potential slipups when producing content. Don’t lose a great opportunity by not creating the type of content they want.

Step #4: Send your pitch

Send Pitch

If you’re proposing high-quality, relevant content for free, surely a site owner is going to accept that offer? Unfortunately, this might not be the case. If someone owns an authority site growing in stature, they are busy doing their own thing. They’ve got their posts to write, their own social media posts to create, their research to conduct, etc. They likely have an overflowing inbox with multiple guest blogging requests.

Now imagine this same site owner receives some generic email pitch from you. Instead of accounting for what you have to say, they are likely to send your email to the trash bin without delay.

As a result, construct your email with plenty of care and attention. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Grab the attention of the reader immediately with an impactful subject line.
  • Open with a specific mention about something relating to their website.
  • Keep it short and sweet, less than 150 words ideally.
  • Suggest multiple topic ideas for your guest post.
  • Highlight your experience and previously published work.
  • Go with the soft sell.

Step #5: Produce your guest post

When a website accepts your pitch to publish your content and incorporate your backlink as requested, that’s a giant step towards achieving your guest blogging goal. Now you have to send over your content.

Produce Guest Post

A website will not accept your work if it’s poorly written, full of grammar mistakes, and has an apparent lack of research. Fortunately, you can take two main paths to ensure your blog post hits the necessary heights:

Route 1: On your own

If you decide to write a blog post, you must have confidence in your ability to deliver compelling and grammatically correct content. While you might be able to get away with less-than-stellar work on lower-ranked blogs, this isn’t the case with high authority ones – aka your primary target. They have standards they need to keep, which means they’ll reject your blog if it misses the quality mark.

Factor several points in when writing a guest post.

  • Follow the guidelines

Make sure you check what the posting guidelines are for your host website. If they only want posts under 1,500 words and where paragraphs can only have a maximum of two sentences, these are rules you’ll have to adhere to when producing your content.

  • Demonstrate professionalism

Grammatically correct content, free from spelling mistakes, demonstrates a level of professionalism. This ensures readers are not taken out of the moment as they’re reading your written words.

  • Think about the word count

Assuming a limit isn’t placed according to the guidelines, consider the word count. Google likes long-form content, but they don’t like fluff. So while you should aim for a high word count – anything over 2,500 words is golden – you don’t want to add filler content for the sake of filler. Always pack your post with statistics, quotes, and well-researched facts. Do that, and you will naturally reach your desired word count without artificial inflation.

When thinking about the word count, consider the authority of the website you’re targeting. If you’re pursuing multiple sites and going it alone with the content creation, it isn’t feasible to produce 3,000-word guides for everyone. You have to pick and choose who receives your top-tier blog posts.

Therefore, separate your target websites into two separate lists. One list should include the most prominent authority sites in your niche, within the top 10-15 in Google rankings. Their high standards and stringent requirements mean it is generally required you deliver top-of-the-line content.

The other list should be every other site you have shortlisted for blogging opportunities. They still have an exceptional level of authority, which means high-quality content remains a necessity. However, these sites are not large enough where it warrants you spending a week crafting mind-blowing 3000-word pieces of content.

Time is an essential element of any guest blogging campaign. Yes, you want to generate as many backlinks as possible for your website. You want to become an authority within your industry. Yet there’s only so much time in the day. Prioritizing your targets and delegating a set amount of time for each is necessary.

  • Structure

You don’t want to just slap down a load of written words onto a page. The attention of readers can quickly drift away when faced with an endless stream of paragraphs. Make sure you break up the content sufficiently. Look at this guide as an example. The images, subheadings, bullet-point lists, internal links, etc., are all used to retain the reader and pull them back in while scrolling down the page.

Route 2: Hiring a writing specialist

If you don’t possess the natural ability to create high-quality blog posts, get a specialist to do it for you. You have options here. Turn to someone in your company talented enough to do the work or reach out externally for a solution.

Plenty of writers online can produce quality work with a fast turnaround. Some work as freelancers; others are from agencies that dedicate their entire business to content writing. Take some time to consider your best option:

Working with freelancers

One benefit stands out for selecting this option: a freelancer will usually be easier on your wallet. Find a freelancer with the exact skills and knowledge you need to get the best experience. There are many platforms where you can find a freelancer writer. These include:

  • People Per Hour
  • Guru
  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • com

Of course, you don’t want to hire the first freelancer you come across. You must do the correct background checks to ensure that they are the right person for the job. Working with freelancers still means it is a partnership between you and them, and you need to confirm your two styles sync perfectly.

Look at their past feedback from clients. Request that you see some of their previous work that is similar to your project. Ultimately, the last thing you want to do is hire a freelance writer that has oversold their ability. All you’ll end up with is a substandard blog post and less money in your bank account. If this is your first time working with freelancers, start small and don’t give them all your projects at once. A trial run might benefit all involved.

Working with an agency

Going the agency route typically guarantees you’ll receive the work to a certain standard but is likely more expensive. Chances are, turning to an agency means there are more people available to work on turning your projects around faster than relying on one freelancer. The skillset in one agency might be more than the one freelancer, and it is easier to find past work for an agency.

Regardless of which option you choose, outline any project in detail, have meetings and communicate well for the best results.

Step #6: Following up

Once you send your content to the website, follow up to maximize the impact of your work. When following up, here are a few points to remember:

  • Respond to comments: If your blog post is fortunate enough to generate comments, don’t run off and ignore these. Always set aside enough time to respond to comments left by people. By being active in the comment section, you can do everything from answer inquiries to thanking people for reading your content. This type of courteous, engaged approach will help to leave a lasting impression on those who comment.
  • Utilize social media: Don’t leave all the promotional efforts to the blog host. Take the initiative and promote this through your social media channels. By sharing it on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, you’ll drive traffic to the website while sharing something worthwhile with your community. It’s a win-win.
  • Build up contacts: Check your comments on your website and social media to see if these commenters have websites and publish blog content. If they do, make sure to reach out and ask if you can make posts on their site. Find more opportunities for future campaigns with your existing ones.
  • Thank them: Show your appreciation to the host website by sending a thank you note to the owner. This helps leave the door open if you want to guest post again on their platform — something you’ll want to do when looking at the impact it made.

Step #7: Measure the results

Lastly, measure the results of your blogging exploits. What you monitor may depend on the original goal you set back in the preparation stage. However, we recommend gaining as much data as possible so that you can see the success of the guest post. It enables you to have confidence in the next campaign you do.

If it wasn’t successful, measuring the results and understanding them enables you to improve it. Monitor several aspects, including:

  • On-page and off-page engagement

Has your guest posting boosted your domain authority with Google? Maybe you have had a considerable number of social media shares and followers since the post. Have you had meaningful blog comments and more interactions with your audience since the post? Finding out these and more can be great for seeing how well the audience received the article.

  • Brand mentions

Since you have posted the content, have you noticed a rise in the number of brand mentions? For brands that had the goal of expanding their online presence, monitor your brand mentions. Take note of who is saying what about you and where. Tools such as and Google Alerts help you keep track of this.

  • Traffic

Split traffic measurement into several subcategories. First, think about how many visitors you are gaining from people clicking those backlinks. Then, look at what type of audience you have achieved for your site blog. Consider whether the effects of this guest posting have led to more leads? You may find that you gained more traffic, but your leads didn’t increase. Once you uncover this and dive deeper, discovering why this is the case, you can build upon this for next time.

By monitoring the traffic results and seeing it’s producing significant differences in your traffic volume, you may decide to dedicate more resources to this marketing tactic. SEMrush can help you check your traffic.

Final thoughts

Guest blogging provides plenty of benefits to those who implement a solid strategy. By following the above guide, taking note of finding appropriate websites to target, remembering the importance of excellent quality content, and measuring the results, find success in no time with this digital marketing technique. Become the champion of guest blogging, combine it with other SEO tactics, and soar above the rest of the competition.

To discover the other SEO tactics you need to implement, get in touch with our team today.