The Advanced Guide to Link Building

Written by Neil Patel & Brian Dean

The Advanced Guide to Link Building Download PDF

Advanced Guest Posting

If you're in the market for targeted traffic and powerful backlinks, guest posting should be at the forefront of your mind. And while Google has publicly warned against mass, low-quality guest posting, there's no doubt that it'll remain a link building bedrock for years to come. In this chapter you'll learn how to get the most from this timeless link building strategy.

Find Guest Posting Prospects

Before you write a single word you need to have a list of sites that openly accept guest posts. While you can sometimes schmooze your way to an exclusive guest blogging opportunity, it makes sense to start off with sites that accept guest blogs with open arms.

Getting Organized

Because you'll find so many solid sites, you'll need to stay organized. Set up an Excel spreadsheet that contains the site's homepage PR, guest posting guidelines, and a few other optional metrics, like Twitter followers and comments (more on that later).

Google Search Strings

There are hundreds of search strings that can quickly net you dozens of niche-relevant guest posting opportunities.

Here are a few of the most effective:

  • "Keyword" + “guest post”
  • "keyword+ “write for us”
  • "keyword" + “This post was written by”
  • intitle:guest post guidelines
  • intitle:guest blog guidelines
  • Google Blog Search

You can also use the lesser-known Google Blog Search to uncover a few hidden gems.

Just head over to and use some of the same search strings that you used in "regular" Google. You'll usually get a completely different set of results!

To make sure you're getting fresh results, hit "Search Tools" and choose results from the last month.

The growing social network Google+ is an untapped gold mine for sites that openly accept guest posts. However, because these don't have the same amount of results as the Google index, you usually have to be a bit broader with your search strings.

Click "Most recent."

This one looks promising!

You'll get a mix of results you probably didn't find in Google.

Head to and enter a broad search string.

And you'll see a mix of sites that recently published guest posts or authors that had their published on other sites.

My Blog Guest

MBG is a guest blogger's paradise. Here you'll find webmasters actively seeking out people to guest post on their site. Yes, there are a lot low PR duds on the site. But if you work hard and dig deep, you can find some incredible diamonds in the rough.

First, create an account (free). Then head over to the "Looking for a guest author" section.

Choose a category that fits with your site.

Now it's just a matter of sifting through the results and seeing if the site meets your criteria. You can easily find the site of anyone posting by clicking on the "Topic Blog" link at the top of the page:

Dig Deeper

By now you should have a decent-sized list of related sites that actively accept guest posts. Now you need to drill the list down a bit so that you spend your time on blogs that are going to give you the most SEO and traffic value. Besides obvious metrics like PR and relevancy (which you can learn more about in Chapter 2: The Quest for The Perfect Link), there are a few other things you want to take a look at to determine whether or not a site is worthy of your killer content.


Want to know how much referral traffic to expect from your guest post over the short- and long-term? can give you a glimmer into your guest post's future traffic potential.

Enter the domain name of a site from your guest post list.

While not the most accurate indicator of a site's traffic, the site does give you a general idea of a site's popularity.

Pay attention to the "Traffic Sources" area on the sidebar. When I use SimilarWeb on my own sites, I've found this data to be scarily accurate.

Direct traffic is a solid indicator of the spike you'll get in the days following your guest post's publication. Search tells you how much search engine traffic potential the site has. Search traffic will give you a steady drip of traffic to the guest post (and to your site) over the long-term.

Blog Comments

I've found a direct correlation between blog comments and referral traffic. Also, blog comments are a metric that Google may look at to determine whether or not a site is "real." I like to look at the amount of comments blog posts tend to get.

There's no specific number you should be aiming for. But if the site only tends to get 1-2 blog comments per post (or less), you may want to move on.

Besides the obvious traffic benefit, social signals also help your blog post rank higher in search engines (meaning more referral traffic to your site). Importantly, social signals may also give more value to your link. While your guest post content will largely determine the shareability of your post, a site's history of social sharing is a better predictive metric. You can find that with ease by using the Blog Social Analyzer.

First, find the RSS feed of the site you're considering guest posting at (most sites have their feed at

Then head over to and paste the site's RSS URL.

This will give you the amount of Tweets, Facebook Likes and other shares that the site's most recent posts garnered.

If they tend to get a lot of social shares, chances are yours will as well.

Another way to determine a guest post's traffic and SEO potential is to see the blog's Twitter following and reach. You can find their Twitter followers on their Twitter profile:

And while this can give you an idea of the site's popularity, you can see how influential they are using FollowerWonk. This tool analyzes who follows people. The more influential people that follow the person, the higher their "Social Authority."

Head over to and enter a few words from the user's bio (not their username).

And you'll see their Social Authority.

Try to stick to sites that have a Social Authority of 20 or above.

Write an Amazing Guest Post

Once you've found a blog that openly accepts guest posts and meets your standards, it's time to write a post. The best way to make sure your guest post gets accepted and spreads like wildfire is to see what tends to work for that site. This way you can tailor your post to that site's specific audience.

The easiest way to see which posts garnered the most buzz for a particular site is to check out the popular posts widget that most blog sidebars have. For example, QuickSprout shows the site's all time most popular posts.

If I were to write a post for QuickSprout, I wouldn't write a post about how to get Instagram followers or compile a list of business quotes (already covered). But I could write a post about SEO, small business success, or how to drive traffic with social media.

Most sidebar widgets only show you the top 5-10 posts. If you already have a topic in mind for your post, LinkTally can show you how well that topic performs. Let's say that you wanted to write a post about conversion optimization for QuickSprout. Head over to the site's search bar and put in your topic's keyword:

Copy a URL of the first few results. Paste them into the URL field at

And it will show you the amount of social shares that each post received.

If you see that posts on a particular topic tend to get a ton of social shares, you should go for it.

Open Site Explorer

Another way to determine a topic for your guest post is to see which pages garnered the most backlinks. Surprisingly, articles with a ton of links don't always get a wealth of social shares (and vice versa). So it’s something worth looking at.

Head to and enter the site's homepage URL.

Click on the "Top Pages" tab:

And see which pages have the most Page Authority.

These are also good topics to consider writing a guest post around.

Wrap Up Email

Before taking the time to write something incredible, I sometimes email the site owner with a list of topic ideas, along with links to my published work. This helps drive home the point that your content deserves to be published.

Here's a script that works well.

Subject: Guest Post for (Their Site)

Hey (Their Name),

I just want to start by saying that I'm a huge fan of (Their Site). I'm reaching out to you to offer up a unique and value-packed guest post for you.

I did some research on topics that have performed well for (Their Site). Here are some ideas I had:

-Headline #1

-Headline #2

-Headline #3

You can check out some guest posts that I've already published at (Authority Site) and (Authority Site).

Please let me know how that sounds.


(Your Name)

Writing The Post

Finally, it's time to write something amazing. Topics with the highest acceptance rate are: case studies, long lists and detailed how-to guides. Like any piece of content, the approach you take for writing guest posts should be the same: write an awesome headline, outline your content and produce killer stuff.

First, put the topic you're going to discuss into Google:

And look at the headlines in the top 20 results.

Copy the best ones into Excel.

Spin the titles until you come up with something that's in-line with the titles you found, but is also original.

In this example, I came up with: 12 Ways Market on Pinterest Like a Fortune 500

Next, outline the post in the Wordpress editor by adding the post's subheaders.

Finally, fill in the blanks and you're done!

List Site Guest Posting

An outside-the-box approach to guest posting is to target list sites. List sites are simply sites that post top 10 lists, top 20 lists, etc. These sites accept user-generated content without any fuss. Of course, they hook you up with a link back to your site. Because these sites don't call their user generated content "guest posts" they're invisible to the search strings that most SEOs use to find guest posting opportunities.

  1. Find List Sites

    You can easily find list sites with these search strings:

    • Top 10 lists
    • "submit a list"
    • "top 10" + "submit"

    Once you do, check to see if they have a "Submit a List" page.

    If they don't, you can also look as some of their latest lists. If they're rocking an author bio, then you can probably get your list published there with a simple email.

  2. Read the Guidelines

    Like with standard guest posts, list sites tend to have a fairly stringent set of guidelines. They're usually just related to formatting and aren't too strict. But it's worth giving them a once over before submitting your list.

  3. Write and Submit

    While you can technically write a list about anything, it's best to write a list related to your niche. So if you had a site about weight loss you'd want to write a list along the lines of "Top 10 Diet Controversies of All Time" or "10 Foods That Actually Burn Fat."

    Here are some list sites to submit your lists to:

All these authority guest posts are going to make you and the search engines BFFs!

If you want to learn how to supercharge the PR on any page you want, it's time to head on over to Chapter 11: Funneling PR. See you there!