The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging

The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging Featured Image

Guest blogging is an integral part of any successful SEO strategy. It will help increase your exposure, build your authority, and help new people discover your expertise. And there’s more good news: There’s currently a very healthy appetite for quality guest blogs.

Of course, I’m not talking about sketchy guest blogging where affiliate links dominate the copy. I’m talking about serious content you write for respectable publishers in your niche.

*Disclosure: We only feature services and products we honestly believe in and our perspectives are genuinely our own expert perspective. This post may contain affiliate links from which we earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Rest easy though, we’re focused on providing you valuable information first, not affiliate links like the aforementioned sketchy guest bloggers!

In other words, aim high. Blogs with good pedigree are likely to get greater exposure via search and help boost your reputation.

Let’s back up for a moment though … 


What Is Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging is the process of having your article published on a blog or publication you do not own or regularly contribute to, often with the expectation of building your brand, increasing your exposure, or building backlinks.

The key advantage to guest blogging lies in the fact that you can leverage the influence and reach of a blog much bigger and more authoritative than yours to increase your reach and authority online. For example, while your website currently only gets ten visitors monthly, you could have the opportunity to guest post on a blog that is read by 100,000 people monthly, instantly giving you a chance to create significant awareness for your brand or increase your domain authority.


How Guest Blogging Has Evolved

Did you know that the first banner ad ever used on the Web was clicked by 44 percent of the people who saw it? In contrast, the average banner ad online today has a click-through rate of 0.05 percent, which means less than 1 in 1,000 people will click it.

This is due to something called “banner blindness.” Over the years, banners have become so ubiquitous that people hardly notice them, even if they don’t have an ad blocker installed.

The evolution of guest blogging is similar to that of banner ads. Guest blogging used to be very effective no matter your approach, and even people who weren’t brilliant writers were reporting massive success from guest blogging. Things have changed drastically though, and it’s no longer as easy to earn thousands of views. More effort now needs to be put into guest blogging to see results.

The same principle applies to guest blogging to build backlinks. It used to be that you could write simple guest posts on low-quality sites to boost your rankings and you would notice a very rapid increase in keyword rankings and organic search traffic to your site. These days you need to write top-notch content and get it placed on high-quality websites for it to move the SEO needle.

While guest blogging is not as it used to be, it is still very much alive; smart individuals and businesses are still getting impressive results from implementing the right guest blogging strategy. 


Why Your Business Should Be Link Building: Powerful Guest Blogging Case Studies

Speaking of impressive results, check out how link building (primarily through guest blogging), helped these two clients: 

B2C Guest Blogging

When a new consumer industry hit the ground running, our client started an aggregator website, cataloging locations and industry information. Their business model relied on owning those top spots on the search engine results pages (SERPs), but soon the market became saturated with entrepreneurs, who were fighting for the same three priority keywords.  

We got to work on creating custom content for highly-targeted sites that pointed back to their highest converting pages with keyword-rich (but natural and varied) anchor text.

In just one and a half months we put them back on the first page and even as far up as positions three and one for the most competitive keywords!

B2B SaaS Guest Blogging

In preparation for an acquisition that involved many site migrations and redirects, our client, a B2B SaaS solution for sales and marketing professionals, stopped all SEO efforts, except link building.

We developed relevant, valuable guest blog posts for niche sites that linked back to their three highest converting pages, with the keywords we identified as prime targets as the anchor text.   

Our hard work paid off. Not only did we see an increase in keyword rankings and traffic, we saw conversions go up! For the homepage by 12%, for the product page by 200% and for a targeted blog by 500%

The above are good examples of effective guest blogging, and they show that it’s still a valid method. The majority of those who fail, do so because they don’t do it right.

CTA to fill out a form to speak with Digital Current about link building

Some Common Guest Blogging Mistakes

If you’re like many other content marketers, there’s a chance that you’re struggling with guest blogging; most marketers use the wrong approach towards guest blogging and, often don’t see significant results.

You can get results from guest posts by outsourcing it to a qualified organization that understands the process, like Digital Current, or by mastering the right way to do it.

Here are some quick signs that you’re bound to fail:

You’re targeting a lot of low-quality backlinks. More links are not always better; websites with tens or hundreds of qualified links can easily outrank sites with thousands or tens of thousands of crappy links. To get results, focusing just on volume won’t do the trick. Indeed, you sometimes have to consider quantity too, but this shouldn’t be at the detriment of quality; fewer high authoritative links are usually better than lots of low-quality links. We’ll get into how to detect quality shortly. 

Your website conversion structure is flawed. If you run an online business, you’re probably not guest blogging just to improve your traffic and visitor count, but to boost your conversion rate too. Unfortunately, no amount of guest blogging will help you if your e-commerce site isn’t already well optimized to capitalize on that increased traffic.

You don’t understand how guest blogging works. This encapsulates a host of other reasons, and as we noted earlier in this article, guest blogging has changed over the years; if you’re not in tune with these changes, or if don’t understand how it works, you can be assured of failure.


How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

Top publishers aren’t going to line up at your digital door when you announce you’re available to guest blog. You have to find good opportunities to guest blog.

Ask most people what their guest blogging process is and they will say something like: “I look for a blog I like, submit an article to it, and wait for the results.” That seems like a very simple way to go about it. Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing, the activities that deliver strong results aren’t always that simple.

The key to guest blogging success lies in the preparation and research stage; most people who fail at guest posting fail because they simply aren’t aware of this stage, or because they don’t go through it.


The Preparation Stage

To succeed at guest blogging, you must first view it as a part of your overall marketing strategy; in other words, there has to be a reason behind it. Guest blogging shouldn’t be something you “just do.”

The guest blogging preparation stage can be broken down into three different steps:

1. Identify Your Target Audience 

Whether we’re talking emails or an out-of-home display, your target audience must always be at the center of your marketing. Guest blogs are no exception.

Related: 9 Steps to Finding Your Target Audience.

If you haven’t taken the time to develop buyer personas, we highly recommend reading this comprehensive guide to creating target audience profiles, personas and buyer’s journeys

Data about potential customers may come from numerous places, including your normal website analytics and social media analytics, much of which is available for free. 

As one example, Facebook Page Insights offers you detailed demographic data in the “People” tab, helping you track performance and get to know your target audience better. The Overview shows you how well individual content pieces resonate, and how their reach breaks down day to day.

Ultimately your goal should be to develop a three-dimensional fictional person that you know as well as you know your best friend. 

2. Identify Your Goals

What’s your key reason for using guest blogging as a marketing tactic?

For example, if your aim is to get a massive surge in signups to your newsletter every time you guest post, your approach will be significantly different than someone looking to earn high-quality backlinks. The kind of content you write will be different, the page you link to on your site will be different and the kind of blog you target will be different.

If instead, your goal is to build your website’s authority through backlinks, you’ll want to focus a bit more on quantity (but never sacrifice quality) and get placements on sites with a wide range of DAs. This helps create a natural-looking backlink profile for the search engines. 

Once you have determined what you wish to get out of guest blogging, you can identify your tactics.

3. Identify Your Tactics

Your approach to guest blogging will vary depending on your goal. There are two main ways to go about guest blogging, and they are:

  • Quantity
  • Quality

Now, of course, it’s possible to go for BOTH quantity and quality but most people generally fall into one of these two camps; it’s very important to note that “quantity” does not necessary denote “low quality”; it simply means that you are willing to forego some of the attributes that define the best guest posts.


The Research Stage

The research stage mainly involves three steps, and they are:

1. Finding Blogs and Publications That Will Accept Your Guest Posts

Here are the tried and true methods: 

a) Google and other search engines: You can find sites that accept guest posts in Google with a slew of guest blogging-related terms. Start with one of your niche keywords and adding phrases one of the following phrases.

Related: 6 Smart Ways to Find Niche Keywords to Earn High Search Rankings

  • “guest blogging + {niche}”
  • “guest post + {niche}”
  • “submit guest post + {niche}”
  • “write for us + {niche}”
  • “contribute article + {niche}”
  • “submit article + {niche}”
  • “guest blogging guidelines + {niche}”
  • “guest post submissions + {niche}”
  • “contributor guidelines + {niche}”

b) Blog directories and aggregators: Below are some very good blog directories that can help you locate relevant blogs to publish on:

c) List of publications that accept guest posts: Below are some valuable lists of blogs that accept guest posts:

d) Similar blogs to publications of your choice: Another tactic that you can use is to find blogs similar to blogs you want to contribute to. You can find similar sites with the following sites:

What to Do When There Are Few Blogs in Your Niche

It isn’t unusual to find niches with very few blogs, or a low concentration of relevant/targeted blogs; if you happen to fall into this category, all hope is not lost. There are three ways to go about this:

Identify the umbrella category of your niche and look for blogs in this niche: For example, if you offer a solution for kids suffering from sleeping disorders, you can easily cater to several umbrella categories. You can target blogs on sleeping disorders, you can target mom blogs, and you can target parenting blogs.

Write for mainstream publications: When you think of big publications like The Huffington Post, you know that they cover every topic imaginable; there’s a high probability that they will publish an article about your niche. In fact, the more unique your niche is, the higher chances you have of getting published on these publications. Look for publications of this nature and focus on them.

Bridge two different niches: Going back to knowing your target audience, if there’s something else they’d also be interested in, even if not directly related, you can bridge the two topics together. 


2. Vetting Blogs For Quality 

Based on years of experience guest blogging, we’ve had individual guest posts on some blogs beat 20 guest posts on 20 different blogs, combined. This underscores the importance of finding the right blogs for your guest posts.

You need to vet the sites first for quality — and we’re not just talking Domain Authority (DA). There are too many sites masquerading as high-DA. When you pull back the curtains and look at other factors like organic traffic and guest post ratio, you see what Google sees: a lie. 

At Digital Current, we’ve created a proprietary tool that sifts out the good from the bad, but if you’re going at this alone, you may want to invest in a tool like SEMRush that can provide various metrics to help you piece it together. 

This is an extremely important step because If you guest post on the wrong site, it may end up hurting you a lot more than helping you. 


3. Analyzing Blogs You’ve Found to See What Kind of Content They Can’t Resist

Finding blogs and publications and vetting their quality is just half the battle; once you’ve found these publications, there’s still no guarantee that they will accept your article.

You can significantly increase the chances of publication by carefully analyzing each blog. Most publications can’t resist articles that fall into the following categories:

  • Articles modeled after a format they’re using with their most recent articles
  • Articles modeled after their most popular articles
  • Articles modeled after their most common articles

Analyze the blogs of your choice to see what kind of articles they are publishing a lot lately:

If you notice a common trend with their recent articles, perhaps there is a change in their editorial policy leading towards that trend. Key in on this aspect to get published.

If you notice a common trend with their popular articles, there’s a good reason articles following that format keep becoming popular on this particular blog. You can be sure that their editors aren’t oblivious to this fact, so key in on this to get published.

If you notice that they commonly publish a certain kind of content (maybe list articles, or maybe in-depth guides), then there’s a good chance they’ll accept something modeled after that kind of content.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to provide a unique angle. No one wants to publish the same content twice. 


How to Come Up With Content Ideas for Your Guest Posts

If you show a blogger that you care about his readers, he will treat you royally. A good way to get content ideas for your guest posts is to pay special attention to comments on the blog you’re trying to get published on; if you notice a recurring theme in the questions asked, write an article that addresses this. Better still, let the blogger know that you got the idea by seeing the question repeatedly asked in his blog’s comments section.

And depending on your goals, there are a few more content types that perform (get click throughs and build brand awareness) better: 

Case studies. Blogs love case studies, and a case study testifies to the efficacy of what you teach. This will make readers of your guest post more interested in your advice and visiting your website.

Success stories. People love success stories, and since a success story is about what you were able to achieve, readers will develop an interest in you before they finish reading it; this will make them more likely to visit your website and sign up.

Resources. Resources posts are usually big hits, and the fact they usually get 10 or 20 times more traffic than the average blog post will work in your favor.


How to Craft Irresistible Guest Blog Pitches That Guarantee Acceptance

There are several factors that will determine how successful you will be at guest blogging, but the power of a pitch should never be underestimated. More often than not, a pitch will make or break your guest post. 

The worst possible approach is a simple, “I’d like to guest post on your blog.” That puts the work on the publisher who has no motivation to chase you down for more details when they have dozens of detailed pitches in their inboxes. 

Here are some tips to help you craft irresistible pitches:

  1. Pay special attention to your headline. Most editors will decide whether your guest post idea is worth it or not based on your headline; the more irresistible your headline is, the higher the chance your blog post will be accepted.
  2. Include an article outline in your pitch. Don’t just send your pitch with the headline of your proposed guest post; that does little to let the editor know what you really want to write about. Instead, include a short but descriptive article outline. Include your key points, and highlight special case studies and research you plan to include in your guest post. This gives editors more insight into what you’ll be writing, thus making it easy for them to consider you and to be sure what you want to submit is relevant to them and their audience.
  3. Include multiple article ideas in your pitch. To boost your chances of being accepted, give the editor more options by including two or more article ideas in your pitch. This way, if the editor doesn’t like a particular idea he can easily move to the second or third one. Each idea you present has a chance, so three ideas have three chances; at the same time, you don’t want to include so many ideas that the editor starts to feel overwhelmed, so limit the number to three to five pitches at the most.
  4. Ensure your pitch has a personal touch. One of the sure-fire ways to guarantee rejection is to start your email with “Hi Admin” or “Hi Editor.” Instead, make sure your pitch has a personal touch by emailing the right person, and by addressing the person by name. If the editor publicly revealed something personal, maybe their location or health condition, you can reference it and inquire about it. This shows them that you know about them and their blog, and people are more likely to be receptive to someone they know than to someone they don’t know. This is one of the huge benefits of working with an agency that has been doing this for over 17 years. We’ve developed relationships to leverage on your behalf. 
  5. Show the editor that you want to make things easy and are ready to cooperate. Offer to send the article in any format the editor wants; that will make it easy to use your guest post. Also let the editor know that you are willing to make necessary changes that will help your guest post look good on their blog.

Here’s an example of an effective guest post pitch:

How to Optimize Your Guest Post for Maximum Results

You got a bite from a publisher! Congratulations! Now you better get to work. 

Ultimately, your purpose for guest blogging is to achieve certain goals for your business, and it’s pointless to guest blog if your guest blogging efforts do not aid these goals; below are a few steps you can take to optimize your guest post for maximum results.

Link to your website. This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re writing up your piece, fresh with excitement from getting a “yes!” you may forget to include the coveted link in the body of the piece. Better yet, make your anchor text a search term you’re trying to rank better for. That’s not to say you should force it in — natural language is important both for your readers and search engines alike (they are so much smarter now).

Incorporate a strong call to action. If you are guest blogging to get referral traffic, it’s important not to just rely on your bio. If possible, try to get readers to act right inside your guest post, especially before they reach the concluding part.

Gregory Ciotti reports getting better results by using an “article closing strategy” that basically puts a focus on the resource he is offering readers of his guest posts. According to him, readers of blogs that regularly accept guest posts have developed “byline blindness,” a condition where they pay little attention to who actually wrote the content.

Another tactic is to offer a content-specific upgrade in your guest post. Create a relevant bonus to accompany each of your guest posts and offer it as a bonus right inside the content of your guest post, either in the body or after the conclusion before you get to your bio, and watch your signups dramatically improve.

Talk to your target audience. Yes, yes we are bringing your target audience up again because it’s that important! When you write your post, imagine you’re writing a letter directly to your persona. If you’ve gone through the steps to build them out, they’ll feel like a real person that you can have a one-on-one conversation with.


Need help creating an effective guest blogging strategy?

With our proprietary Link Spam Score tool, our 17 years of experience and relationships and our excellent on-staff strategists and writers, we can help you develop and execute a winning guest blogging strategy that builds the authority, links and social signals needed to rank your website at the top.

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