Google wants less spam and more quality content on the web. And you need more links for your website. Guest blogging is the perfect solution to both Google’s wants and your needs. It is the marriage of content development and link building.
Here’s how you can get the most out of guest blogging and link building to drive more traffic to your website:
Step #1: Building your content portfolio
Whenever you are contacting blog owners or editors for guest posting opportunities, you will need to provide some of your content for them to review. If you are just starting out, then make your own blog your quality content portfolio.
If you own additional websites where you write or have the opportunity to contribute to other blogs, make sure you do. When presenting yourself as a potential guest blogger, provide as many quality content samples as you can. The more quality samples you can provide, the higher your chances of getting your guest post accepted will be.
So, what kind of quality should you be aiming for when it comes to your content? That depends on the sites you want to get a guest posting spot on. For example, if the main sites you want to guestpost on have posts in excess of 1,000 words, then your content samples need to be the same length. This is especially important for sites like Social Media Examiner, who want you to submit your top three content pieces before considering a post from you.
Step #2: Finding the best guest blogging gigs
There are many ways you can find great guest posting opportunities. For example:
- Google Search – Try variations of your niche keyword plus guest post, guest post by, guest blogging, guest bloggers, and write for us. Also, if you know someone in your niche that does a lot of guest blogging, search for that name with guest post or guest post by added to that name.
- Twitter Search – Use the same keywords suggested above but search them on Twitter search instead.
- Check Backlinks – Do you know of a website in your niche that gets a lot of links through guest blogging? Run the website through Open Site Explorer and look at its backlinks to find some blogs that are accepting guest posts.
Remember that all guest blogging opportunities are not created equal, especially if you are looking to get some good links. As a link builder, you probably know what to look for in terms of PageRank and domain authority. Once you get past that, there are some sites that will give you more link juice than others. Here are some things to look for beyond the main blog stats:
- Blogs that place the Author Bio (and link) before the content – The higher up on the page your link is, the more link value it will have. While an author box at the end of the post is still better than being in the comments, a link at the top of the post would be ideal.
- Blogs that offer an Author Bio (and link) on the post itself versus a link on the Author Page – When it comes to getting clicks from readers to your website, a blog that offers a bio on the post itself will get a lot more CTR compared to blogs where the visitor has to click on your name to get to your Author Bio page.
- Blogs that offer more than one link in the Author Bio – If you’re building links to more than one site or you want to include homepage and internal page links, finding blogs that allow you more than one link would be the best. This way you can include a link for SEO purposes and a link to entice clicks, e.g., a link to your free report or top post.
- Blogs that offer links to your social profiles in addition to your website link – If you can’t get people to click through to your website, getting them to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ is the next best thing.
- Blogs that mark Author Bio links as nofollow – The last thing you want to do is spend time crafting a great guest post, submit it, and then find out that the link back to your website has been nofollowed and will not count towards your back link profile.
Step #3: Organizing your guest blogging opportunities
As you find new opportunities, you want to record them along with your guest posting efforts. Why? Because you might need to use them for additional projects down the road. Maybe someone says that he is not looking now but will be in a few months. Maybe someone else says she would want you to write more posts for her in the future. Keeping track of these responses will give you a database of opportunities to refer back to. You’ll also want to keep track of every guest post you publish!
What I would suggest is having a spreadsheet with two tabs. The first tab is for opportunities. Record the following information there:
- Blog Domain – Just the base URL to keep track of.
- PageRank – Google’s authority ranking of a domain. To find out a domain’s PageRank, use toolbars like SEO Site Tools for Chrome or SEOquake for Firefox, Safari and Opera. You can also use PR Checker.
- Domain Authority – The strength of a domain as measured by SEOmoz Toolbar for Firefox or Chrome.
- Subscribers – Subscribers are people who follow the site. Keep a column for Twitter followers, Facebook fans and RSS subscribers. If a site doesn’t display its RSS subscribers but uses Feedburner, you might be able to find out the subscriber count by taking its RSS URL and adding ~fc to the link, like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~fc/TechCrunch/.
- Traffic – There are several ways you can judge the traffic of a blog. You could record the blog’s Alexa rank by going to http://alexa.com/siteinfo/domain.com. Blogs with a lower number have the most traffic. Or you can estimate visitor numbers by looking up the domain on Google Ad Planner.
- Guidelines – Paste a link to the blog’s guest posting guidelines.
- Contact – Paste a link to the blog’s contact form or blog owner’s/editor’s email address.
- Name – Record the name of the person you need to contact about guest blogging opportunities.
- Response – Once you get a response, be sure to record it in this column for future reference.
The second tab is for published guest posts. Record the following information here:
- Title – The title of your blog post.
- URL – The direct link to your blog post.
- Link – The link you included in your Author Bio.
- Anchor Text – The anchor text for the link you included in your Author Bio.
- Link 2 – The second link you included in your Author Bio.
- Anchor Text 2 – The second anchor text for the link you included in your Author Bio.
- Tweets – The number of tweets your post received in a specific timeframe. You can make the cut off point for this metric at about one to two weeks after the post goes live.
- Likes – The number of Facebook likes your post received in a specific timeframe.
- +1’s – The number of Google +1’s your post received in a specific timeframe.
- Comments – The number of comments your post received in a specific timeframe.
Keeping track of the analytics related to your guest blog post will help you determine which topics work best for a blog’s audience. This will especially be helpful if you are going to become a regular contributor to a blog.
Step #4: Getting to know the blog owner or editor
Once you’ve lined up some potential guest blogging opportunities, your next job will be getting to know the blog owner or editor. This doesn’t have to be time consuming. Just start by following and interacting with that person on social media sites. Twitter is usually the easiest. Show interest in his blog by commenting and tweeting on posts. Be sure to tweet the posts with the blog’s main Twitter handle in the tweet so they notice too!
You can also try to get an introduction through a previous guest poster. If you know someone who has written for the blog before, ask her if she could introduce you to her contact. This could make a huge difference between your name being just another solicitor in the inbox vs. someone the blog owner or editor will be on the lookout for.
Another great way to get guest blogging gigs is through networking events. When you meet someone, get his business card and find out what his blog is. Then, after you get back to your home or office, check out his blog to see if it is a good fit. If you decide to contact your new contact, tactfully remind him where you met and of your conversation. The fact that your prospect will recognize you personally, and not see you as a complete stranger, will help you in getting your post accepted.
Step #5: Learning the ropes
Before you make contact about a guest post, be sure to fully review the guest blogging guidelines for that site. Every site has its own requirements. In particular, pay attention to…
- What to Submit – The requests will vary from writing samples to one or more topic ideas to full posts.
- Submission Format – Check the guidelines on how to submit a guest post. Some blogs will want you to send it via email in a specific format (Word, Text file or Google Doc). Others will want you to attach it to a comment form on the blog. And still others will want you to create an account on their blog and submit it through the dashboard, fully formatted.
- Topics – Just because you want to write about something doesn’t mean your hosts will want you to write about it. Be sure to stick to the topics that the blog specifies. If they don’t specify, take a look through their archives to note topics and level of posts (beginner, intermediate or advanced information).
- Length – You don’t want to submit a 600-word post to a blog that typically publishes 1,000-word (or longer) articles or vice versa.
- Links – Some blogs allow you to include one or two self-serving links within your blog post, while others want you to steer clear of anything with your name on it outside of the author box. Also, watch out for blogs that might not allow you to have links to your site at all, even in your author box.
Also be on the lookout for sites that allow you to submit content on a personal blog which has the potential to be moved up to the main blog. SEOmoz is a great example of this. You submit your blog post to YouMoz, and if the post gets good reception (comments, likes and social shares), it will get moved to the main SEOmoz blog.
With sites like these, you will want to publish great content and promote it so that it makes it to the main audience!
Step #6: Submitting the perfect guest post
How do you submit the perfect guest post? Once you fully understand the guidelines, be sure to include extra touches that really customize the post to the blog. Some things to include are:
- Links to related posts – Not one of yours, of course, but theirs. The easiest way to do this is to subscribe to their blog via RSS, then scan through the list of post titles until you find one that matches a keyword or phrase in your post.
- Familiar formatting elements – If you get the chance to format your guest post, be sure to do it to fit the blog’s style. This means using the same headers, quotes, calls to action at the end of the post, images, and so on. If you make the post feel like the blog owner wrote it himself, he is much more likely to accept it.
- Current resources – If the blog seems open to link love, include current resources that support your guest post. There’s nothing worse than when someone links to a post that is out of date.
Step #7: Writing the perfect Author Bio for conversions & link building
Now it’s time to get to the important part for you…the Author Bio. Once you’ve crafted the ultimate guest post, you will want to craft the ultimate Author Bio to go along with it. The best way to do it is to look at a few guest posts by others on the blog and see what their Author Bios look like. Try to make yours match in word count and, of course, in number of links.
You will want your Author Bio to really click with the blog’s readers. If you are an online marketing guru and you are posting on a blog dedicated to Facebook, then you will want your Author Bio to focus on your Facebook services vs. your general online marketing services.
For example, let’s say you want to link to your blog about pets in a guest post on a blog all about cats.
You could go with your standard Author Bio of “Jane Smith is the author of Pets Anonymous, a blog dedicated to pet lovers everywhere.” Or you could go with “Jane Smith is the author of Pets Anonymous, a blog featuring the cutest cats you’ve ever seen!” Guess which one will appeal to the blog audience you are writing for and therefore get more clicks?
When it comes to your links themselves, you might be tempted to always go with keyword anchor text. But with Google going after over-optimization, you might want to consider mixing it up with non-keyword-based anchor text. Link to your website, blog or business name, or link to your own name. Another thing to consider is not always linking to your homepage. Think about the audience you are writing for in your guest post, choose an internal page on your site (preferably a piece of content) and link to that instead.
Also, try different approaches to guest posting. Instead of just doing it for links, do it for conversions. Link to a page on your website offering a free report or an eBook in exchange for subscribing to your mailing list. This way, you can get your guest post readers directly into your sales funnel!
Now you are ready to start guest blogging and building up your link profile. To get you started, here are some links to the guest post guidelines on popular blogs in the online marketing industry that you might want to start writing for:
- KISSmetrics – Topics include web analytics, conversion optimization, A/B testing, social media, online marketing and case studies involving KISSmetrics products.
- Smashing Magazine – It has mostly design-related topics but does include posts on CMS, e-commerce, usability, copywriting and content strategy.
- Copyblogger – Topics include copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, landing pages, Internet marketing and SEO.
- ProBlogger – Topics include anything that benefits bloggers including blogging tips, social media strategies and SEO.
- Social Media Examiner – If you are an established authority on anything social media related, submit writing samples here.
- YouMoz – Become a member of the SEOmoz community and submit posts to YouMoz. If your post gets enough positive response, it could get boosted to the main site.
So, what results have you seen with guest blogging for links?
P.S. If you don’t have time to guest post, you should check out this guest blogging service.