In this article we are going to be answering some of your top questions about guest blogging. What is guest blogging? Why you should be doing it for your business and how exactly to get a guest blogging strategy in place.
What is guest blogging?
Just as the name suggests guest blogging is writing blog articles as a guest writer on other peoples’ websites.
This is an extended form of content marketing. I’ve covered elsewhere why you should be using content marketing for business. Guest blogging is an extended strategy where we take our valuable content and offer it to other websites.
Why is guest blogging important?
You might be wondering why are you, a business owner, should be producing content for other peoples’ websites. Perhaps even producing content for your competitors!
It’s very important to realise that guest blogging is powerful strategy for you and your business and not just for the website you are writing for.
Guest blogging is particularly powerful for new businesses that have very little online presence. By guest blogging we can effectively piggyback on the back of larger businesses and their websites.
We are doing them a favour by producing content for their website but at the same time this content will help to promote our business.
Is guest blogging good for SEO?
The main reason we use guest blogging is for SEO (search engine optimisation AKA getting to the top of Google). The mechanism that provides SEO juice to our website is called back-linking.
If you look at another website’s data (as per a blog article I wrote on checking website traffic) You’ll be able to see all the other websites that link to that particular website.
Why is this important?
When Google is assessing the importance and popularity of a website it doesn’t just look at what is on the site but also which other websites link to it.
Google uses the number (and size) of other websites linked into it as a proxy for its popularity online.
For instance, an awful lot of people will link to the New York Times (for example) on their websites and social media. By doing so they are creating linkages between their website and the the New York Times’ website. These are “backlinks”.
The more backlinks there are the more Google will tend to see this as an important destination online. Because so many people link to the New York Times’ website Google knows that the New York Times’ website must be important.
Guest blogging to build backlinks
We can use guest blogging to jumpstart this process. By writing content (blog articles) for other websites we can make sure that they link back to us. This secures a backlink to our website.
There is an implicit agreement when guest blogging for another website. They will always attribute you and your website for producing the content. Part of this attribution is a link back to your website. It is this link that Google will be able to see and will use to assess how important your website is.
By securing links on important websites (for example BuzzFeed, Huffington Post or Wired) you are giving a gigantic neon flashing signal to Google that your website is worthwhile.
Because of this Google will start to rank your website higher and higher in its search results.
This is the main reason why people use guest blogging: to build backlinks in order to increase the search engine ranking. It’s a vital component of SEO (search engine optimisation)
Guest blogging for business
If you are building a business online this SEO component is obviously very important. The higher Google ranks you the more traffic it will send your way and the more sales you will be able to make. Simple.
This is true of all websites. Being visible on Google gets us seen.
However for you as a business owner there are additional benefits to guest blogging. Sure the SEO is very important. But guest blogging will also allows you to make contact with other people in your industry in order to grow your professional and business network.
Converting competitors into collaborators
When researching your niche you would have identified competitors. These are other companies and individuals who are operating in your niche, selling products and generating revenue.
If you are equipped with a growth mindset you will hopefully not see these people as many competitors but also potential collaborators and business partners.
Just because they are serving the same audience as you does not mean you cannot work together. Sure, if you think that the market is limited and that you’re all scrabbling for the limited amount of cash available in the market and it will be hard to collaborate. If instead you possess a growth mindset you’ll believe that the market can be grown together. Suddenly competitors can become potential allies.
Guest blogging gives you a perfect “in” for beginning to talk with your competitors.
Guest blogging gives you a way to provide value to them and their business whilst at the same time supporting your own SEO. It’s a tried and tested, widely accepted form of marketing. As a result it’s a nice soft “entrance” towards potentially working together.
Sending a request to guest blog for their business is a great way to open a relationship. Its value based, non-competitive and shows your willingness to work with rather than against your competitors.
Sure, they may be initially suspicious! And that’s why you’re going to write them an absolutely killer guest blog, provide massive value to them and their customers and break down those walls of distrust.
As such guest blogging is a powerful weapon for any online business owner. Its primary purpose of gaining traction with Google is extremely valid. You can build back links using guest blogging quickly, efficiently and cheaply. At the same time however if we are smart we can also use guest blogging to build relationships with others within our market.
How to do guest blogging
By now you are hopefully asking how to actually do guest blogging.
The simple answer here is you just reach out to various websites in your niche and offer to write a guest post for them. That’s really all of the process!
However, as business owners, we need to be smart and scalable. We are not full time bloggers so we need to use our time efficiently and effectively.
First we need a lot of guest blogging opportunities in our niche.
We need to then make sure that the websites we target are worthwhile.
We then need a system of contacting large numbers of websites and keeping track of who has got back to us.
Finally we need to ensure that the content we get to them is top-notch.
Step 1: How to find guest blogging opportunities
The first step is to find guest blogging opportunities. The basic process here is to research many websites and then filter down to those the most match our requirements.
Hopefully you’ve already done some competitor research. All of the competitors in this research should be potential targets for your guest blogging outreach.
However, we should bolster this list with other websites and publications that may take our guest blog. Ideally we want to have a mixture of large, highly trafficked websites as well as smaller, more niche, lower traffic website.
The reason for this is that whilst it is fantastic to land big publications we will do so less often than with smaller website. We can have a steady flow of smaller website whilst we are chasing the big targets.
So whilst you may have your sights set on the Huffington Post website you should be realistic and also be chasing smaller, more niche, publications and websites.
Here are three ways I like to initially expand my list of guest blogging opportunities.
First, do a simple Google search. Plug in your “niche + guest blogging” as a search term in Google.
For example “tennis training + guest blogging”
You will receive a number of results of websites that accept guest blogs in your particular niche. Very simple, yes, but people forget to do this when starting to search.
Also do this with the search terms “write for us” and “blog submissions” to find more potential opportunities.
Lists of Blogs
Second, also on Google, plug in “niche + top blogs“. This will turn out some of the largest and most popular blog is in your particular niche. They may or may not be competitors depending on whether they are commercial. As such this is a good way of bolstering our competitive research with non-commercial blogs too.
Third, take all of these websites you’ve got so far and plug them into a tool like SimilarWeb. This will again allow you to recursively expand your search and dig out more potential targets.
If all of this sounds too time-consuming to you you can always hire someone on Fiverr.com to run this research for you. Either give them the instructions above or look specifically for a guest blogging research service. With these paid-for services you will always receive better results if you provide them with an initial list of targets from which they can expand.
Do not expect them to be able to hone in on your niche single-handedly but instead give them a jumping off point and your final results will be far more suitable.
Step 2: Filtering and Sense Check
Once you have a long-list of prospects the second step is to narrow and prioritise into an outreach list.
Yes, you could go ahead and contact every.single.person on your long list. But this is a time-consuming process.
This is especially true if many of them agree to you guest blogging and then you’ll find you are on the hook for tens if not hundreds of guest blogs. This is certainly a good problem to have but a problem nonetheless!
As a result of this we first want to filter and prioritise our list.
Filter and Sort
First up we would like to find out which of these websites have the most traffic.
I produced a blog article on checking another website’s traffic. That’s a good place to start this process.
However, because of the sheer number of websites you’ll be checking very likely you need to use a paid service like Ahrefs. The subscription costs are pretty chunky so you’re probably better off outsourcing this on Fiverr or Upwork.
As well as the traffic numbers you want to find out the domain authority (DA). This again can be done on Ahrefs or via Moz.com.
Very roughly, without going into technical detail, the domain authority gives you a benchmark of the “strength” of a particular website online. Domain authority of 100 will be one of the top websites online, let’s say a Google.com.
However if you can get a guest blog on any site with the domain authority over 50 you’re still looking at a very strong website that will help your SEO.
Use this research to put your websites in a sorted order by traffic and/or domain authority. Chances are they’ll overlap. Don’t fret massively over the exact order because we still have a few more filtering steps.
Second, we need to sense check the long list against our business priorities. This can be quite time-consuming and manual process but it’s worth it.
Go through your list, starting with the most highly trafficked and highest domain authority websites, and start manually removing those which make no sense for your business.
What does this mean? We are looking for websites that speak to your particular audience and customers. We want to make links with these website because then Google is more likely to send the same people our way. And remember we’re also building business ties with our competitors so building relationships with relevant websites makes more sense.
Gauging whether these particular websites caters to your audience it’s going to be art as well as science. You need to manually check who they are speaking to, where these people are located and whether they seem like your customers. Obviously knowing your customer avatar and your market well will allow you to do this more efficiently. There are data based tools available for doing this – ie. Facebook Audience Insights – but that is beyond the scope of this particular article.
By the end of this process you should have a shortlist of opportunities that you wish to reach out to.
Step 3: Outreach
The third step is to begin the outreach process, whilst keeping on top of your active enquiries and following up in a professional manner.
Even if you winnow downn your long list to, say, 100 blogs that you wish to reach out to this is still a lot of organisational burden. Keep communications tight with 100 contacts is a big task.
Guest Blog Outreach Template
First up, make sure that you have a template for reaching out. Unless the prospect is particularly exciting there is simply no way you can write personalised emails to each and everyone of these websites. Remember you are a business owner!
Instead, put together a simple, straight to the point and short template offering to write a guest blog for them.
Ideally it should exhibit some knowledge of their work as well as an indication of what type of valuable content you can write for their audience. The key here is the value that you provide for them. Yes yes, we will also be benefiting from the relationship but in our first opening email focus on the value you are providing them.
Find email addresses for guest blogging
Second and extremely importantly you’re going to need the best email addresses to contact these people.
If you have a list of websites I would recommend simply hiring someone on at Upwork.com or Fiverr.com to search out the best contact email addresses for each website.
Do this after you have prioritised and filtered your list so that you are not collecting email addresses for companies that you do not expect to communicate with!
If you want to do this yourself there are email discovery tools like hunter.io which can help in the search. Just google “find any email” and you’ll get a slew of different tools that can help you here.
You can also, obviously, go to each of the websites and find the contact email address. I wouldn’t recommend this because it is very time-consuming.
CRM for Guest Blogging
Third, you’re going to need some sort of basic CRM (customer relationship management system) in order to track who you have contacted, whether they have responded, and at what stage of the process you are at.
You could do all of this in a simple Excel or Google sheet but it could become quite complex especially if the number of websites have reached out to is very large.
For this reason investing a bit of time into setting up a CRM will pay dividends further down the road. For this particular purpose of this blog outreach I would recommend Streak. It’s a very simple Gmail based CRM then that will do everything you need and more directly from your Gmail inbox. Obviously this is only if you run your company email out of G-suite.
Bonus Step 4: Content Creation for Guest Blogging
The fourth step is actually producing content for those websites and publications that are receptive to your guest blogging.
Once you have created a long list, cut it down to a shortlist and then reached out you’ll start to receive responses. As soon as this happens make sure you to get their content done ASAP.
How you produce content for them will be exactly the same as how are you produce content for your own business.
This is why guest blogging is an extension of your own blogging and content strategy. You need to have this nailed down before you start offering it to others!
If you like your own blog articles I recommend you do so for your guest posting as well. If anything you want the quality of your guest blogs to be even higher than those on your website!
Use freelance writers? If you use writers to produce your content marketing then this will simply be a matter of having them check out the guest blog website and prepare content for that audience. They can be briefed that the content should be similar to that which they produced for your own business because the tone of voice and style should be consistent. Therefore it shouldn’t be too far out of their existing wheelhouse.
One additional tip; send your guest blog off to professional proofreader. Sending a manuscript full of typos is the best way to sour an early stage professional relationship. Don’t expect them to have to correct your mistakes!
Instead invest a little to get your work checked professionally so you can make the best first impression.
Guest Blogging : Summary
Guest blogging is a powerful tool for your online business and should be an extension of your current content strategy.
You can use guest blogging to build backlinks to improve your site’s SEO.
At the same time guest blogging is a great way to make connections within your industry.
Follow the basic 4 step plan above to get started with guest blogging for your business.
First generate a long list of guest blogging opportunities.
Second, sort and filter the list to those that will be most beneficial for your business.
Third, use a systematic and organised outreach strategy to keep on top of guest blogging opportunities.
Fourth, nail the content you create for them .
Do this and you’ll build more reputation, awareness and traffic in your niche by working alongside your competitors.