It was more than three years ago that Matt Cutts, a former Head of Webspam at Google, heralded “the decay and fall of guest blogging”. Unfortunately for his field authority, the practice is still alive and well. Come 2018, guest blogging will remain just as opportunistic and effective as it always was.
It is, after all, too good to be killed.
Also referred to as guest posting, guest blogging has become much more than a marketing norm. To publish your content on another’s platform is not only to obtain a steady stream of referral traffic to your website; more importantly, it is to contribute value, to build relationships, and to gain trust.
Traditionally deemed as an SEO tactic potent enough to trick Google, guest blogging is today a clever strategy that ensures positive results for all parties – while contributors get to rank their websites higher on Google, publishers get to provide more relevant content to their audience.
Authority and growth are guaranteed to both.
Here’s how to approach it, and where to find appropriate guest posting blogs.
Pre-Step: Identify Your Niche
Let’s get one thing straight from the very start – guest blogging might be the most potent SEO tactic around, but Google’s algorithm still cannot be tricked. It does, however, rank websites by analysing their content and links (among other factors that are yet unrevealed), meaning that the first has to be top-quality, and with the latter, you have to play by the book.
The main rule here is relevance, and the content’s relevance is determined by its context. For example, if you publish a post on a wellness blog, but link it back to your website that sells kitchen tiles, your guest blogging strategy will fail for more than one reason. First, the backlink will be completely irrelevant to the blog’s target audience, and second, Google’s algorithm will frown upon it.
Your website will either remain unvisited, or will immediately be labelled as spammy and therefore excluded from the search results. Not even those interested in kitchen tiles will be able to find you.
That’s why discovering relevant opportunities is so important. For guest blogging to make any sense, both the content and the backlink have to match the blog’s audience’s interests and needs, so always look for those platforms that are within yours or a similar niche. Complementary fields may even be better, since not all competitors are willing to help you backlink and grow on their account.
- Use Search Operators in Google
One of the reasons why Google continues to slay other search engines is its refined, intuitive, and all-around smart Penguin algorithm. You can type words in without any meaning or order, and it will still find a way to read your thoughts and offer you the most relevant results.
Now, imagine the depths it can go to if you use a proper string of search operators.
This is arguably the simplest, yet very effective way of researching your guest posting opportunities. You’ll need a good keyword to make it work, though, so start with “guest post opportunities”, “contributing writer”, “write for us”, “submit blog post”, or “guest posts wanted”, for instance.
The operator you’ll need are quotes, since they will help you find the exact phrase you’re looking for. Then, you can introduce plus or minus, thus manipulating the query and narrowing down your search even further. For kitchen tiles, google “guest post opportunities” + “kitchen design ideas”.
- Spy on Your Competitors’ Guest Posts
Online espionage is another way of doing the same, and search operators can help you with this tactic as well. There’s nothing immoral or shady about it either; everyone researches their competition on Google, so don’t read too much into it. Simply type in their name, and see where it leads you.
The blogs your competition already guest posts on are more likely to accept your content, simply because they already have the audience for your niche. Your contribution will help them grow, while you’ll get to tap into a yet unexplored pool of prospects and confront your rivals head-on.
That way, the quality of content will determine the winner.
- Search for Their Guest Posts Pages
If you’re lucky, your main competitor is one of those bloggers who really love to brag about their published work. Research their name under the quotes, plus a keyword phrase “I’ve been featured on” or “my guest blogs”, and you’ll find out your luck shortly. Hopefully, the search results page will bring you a complete list of relevant niche platforms you can use to beat down your competition.
- Google Their Headshot
You can spy on your competitors by using a reverse image search. Find them on Google, grab the URL of their headshot, drag it to the “search by image” box, and drop it there. It may seem slightly creepy at first, but it’s very effective all the same.
- Find Niche Bloggers in the Comments Sections
Remember, guest posting is not solely about building links. It provides relationship-building opportunities too, thus opening doors for fruitful collaboration with other bloggers from your niche. Sometimes, you can find them commenting on blog posts relevant to your field, so feel free to contact them and pitch the idea of you two working together. You might stumble upon someone who has a high-authority blog of their own, and is interested in publishing your work there.
- Comb Through Pre-Made Lists
There’s a myriad of ready-made guest blogging lists online, so why not research them as well? Type in “guest posting sites” or “guest posting blogs”, and you’ll find a goldmine of relevant results.
- Stay Alert on Social Media
Since Google will always equip you with more or less the same results, don’t forget to repeat all of these tactics on social media. Go to Twitter or Google+ to search for the same keyword strings, or simply follow your competitors on Facebook and LinkedIn. Sooner or later, they’ll share a published guest post of their own on one of their networks, thus guiding you in the right direction.
Post-Step: Evaluate Your Blogs
The third part of a guest posting strategy is evaluation. You’ll find dozens of relevant blogs to publish your content on, but that still doesn’t mean that all of them will be equally authoritative and able to drive more traffic to your site. If the blog’s own rankings are low, it’s simply of little use to you.
So, check them all out for two criterions – domain authority and quality of content. The first you can identify by using one of many website authority checkers, while for the latter you’ll have to rely on your own experience and expertise. Stay away from blogs with the domain authority lower than 25 if you are a beginner, but feel free to shoot for those with DAs higher than 50 if your site is already well ranked.
From there on, guest posting is all about creating stellar content and making the best pitch. Be patient, but stubborn and determined. If poorly executed, this practice can be a wrong investment of your time and effort. But, if you examine all of your options with care and choose only the most relevant and highly ranked guest posting blogs, it’ll do wonders for both your website and you.