Guest blogging is a guest post strategy, i.e. articles written for other sites, which help you grow your blog. Here's how.
If you have recently started a blog, you will surely have noticed how difficult it is to generate consistent traffic.
This is because we are in a very, very competitive time and to be able to make good numbers and make money with a blog, it is necessary to create a solid and scalable strategy in the long term.
It is no longer enough, in fact, to create some small article on a blog and wait for people to find us, as it happened about ten years ago.
And it's just guest blogging that I want to talk to you today.
We will see together what guest posting means, how guest blogging works and what its benefits are, how to write an effective guest post and how this technique can increase your visibility, your authority and your blog traffic.
What is a guest post?
A guest post is a piece of content that we write for someone else's blog within our niche, often in exchange for a backlink (a link towards our site) and some degree of public promotion (often you get an author bio as well).
Often one of the biggest mistakes we make with guest posts is believing that we get more referral traffic. My research on guest posting has demonstrated this is not the case.
Writing a guest post to get referral traffic is one of the biggest lies we have been told in marketing.
I wrote in 2019 three guest articles for SearchEngineLand.com and looks at my traffic numbers:
I wrote for SEMRush.com and look at the traffic I got from them:
That said, guest blogging has still lots of benefits, however, they are often non-trackable and not tangible. It helps you build new and stable relationships with bloggers, get your name out there.
The entire strategy of planning, writing, publishing and monitoring guest posts is called guest blogging.
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How does guest blogging work
Although someone has warned us about the negative effects of guest posting for links (and by someone I mean John Mueller in 2020), in reality, this practice is not only still alive and well but also brings excellent results from an SEO perspective.
Someone on Twitter speculated as to whether penalties were coming.
John Mueller tweeted that there was nothing different on the way:
“….there are new people starting on SEO all the time (yay!), but it’s all years old in the meantime & nothing has changed there at all. Unless this storm in a teacup triggers a lot of people to start, I don’t see a need for the webspam team to jump in.”
The important thing, however, is to create a guest blogging strategy in a structured way and not as a mere exchange of links because this could really penalize you - or even make you disappear from Google's search results.
So what does guest blogging mean in a practical sense?
Guest blogging is divided into 5 main steps:
Search for sites
Contact with bloggers
Writing the article
The publication of the article
Monitoring of results.
Let's look at all these points in more detail.
Increase your authority
An authoritative blog definitely has a trustworthy audience. My readers trust what I write. If I let you write a guest post on my blog, I'm telling my audience that they can trust you and your content.
This helps to expand your personal branding, increase your authority and increase your visibility to a new audience.
Another advantage of guest blogging is to get backlinks, i.e. links pointing to your website. Even if you don't get referral traffic, you can still increase your links profile.
A backlink is also important in terms of SEO since being mentioned on another blog, especially if more authoritative than ours, also helps to increase Google's trust.
When you write a guest post, therefore, you can ask them to add a link or two to your blog, perhaps an in-depth article. Usually, the links are inserted within the article or in the author box at the end of the content.
Establish new relationships with bloggers
I'm honest: SEO ok, traffic ok, but the biggest advantage of guest blogging is the relationships you create with other bloggers.
The best collaborations I have had in my life since working in the digital marketing field started with guest posts.
The secret lies in bringing true value to your hosts and their audience, making yourself seen proactive and enthusiastic about creating a relationship even before you want to see your content published.
Very often, if you have written exceptional content, bloggers may ask you to write regularly for them, becoming a full-fledged web writer, or they may propose new projects, introduce you to other colleagues and who knows what comes from it!
Building a good Domain Authority
As explained by Spider-Link:
the Domain Authority is a metric created by MOZ that measures the success of a website, expressing it with a value between 0 and 100.
This score is calculated by measuring multiple parameters, such as the number and quality of domains linking to your site, how long the domain has been active, social signals and other factors.
If you are creating valuable guest posts and building great relationships with other websites, guest blogging helps to greatly increase your Domain Authority.
How to choose the sites for your guest posting
It goes without saying that guest blogging in a structured and strategic way doesn't mean randomly contacting all the bloggers until someone says yes.
That's not quite how it works.
First, therefore, we need to do a targeted search for websites that we can contact and offer them our contribution to their blog. And what features should these websites have?
They must have a blog
They have to target our own niche
They must have a domain authority (DA) as high as possible - or in any case higher than ours.
We will return to this point shortly, which probably needs a little more detailed explanation.
First, create a table in Excel or use the one I have already prepared for you and that you can find here. Then just click on File> Create a copy and you can use the template for your projects.
Now we just have to look for the right sites. Here's how to find the first ones.
Go to SEMRush and create a free account. Don't let the 7-day trial scare you - it just means you can activate the full version for free for a week but you can actually use the limited version for as long as you want, and that's more than enough for now.
(⚠️ I explained everything in detail in my Semrush guide)
Once you have created the account, go to the left menu and click on Domain Analysis> Overview. Now enter the address of your website, select your country and click Search.
Now the complete analysis of your website will appear, such as the keywords for which you are positioned, the main pages and the position changes.
Scrolling down the page, you will find the box "Main organic competitors". Now do a search on them, always in the same way.
Check their traffic estimate, check their Domain Authority (if it's> 50 that's great!), Visit their websites and social media profiles. Also look at the engagement of their content, if they receive comments and if the posts have many shares.
The best sites may be the first to complete the table of sites to contact for a guest post.
Of course, especially if you're just starting out, contacting big news outlets or websites with millions of hits might make little sense. Start with blogs like yours or with numbers just above yours.
How to contact guest bloggers?
Once you have a list of at least 10-20 websites to contact, it's time to send in a little introduction of yourself and your guest post request.
How to contact bloggers?
Very often you can find a page dedicated to guest posts directly on the websites. In this case, be sure to read the guidelines thoroughly before contacting and submitting content.
On some of my blogs, for example, I host guest posts. I usually use a page in which I enclose all the guidelines to follow for drafting the article and an email address or a form with which to send the contents.
A page, however, clearly visible and not hidden in the maze of the web. And regularly people send me emails like "Do you allow guest posts on your blog?".
Yes, I host them.
Other times, you can contact bloggers through the contact form of the site, by email or through social networks, in particular LinkedIn.
An example of an email you can send:
Hi [blogger name],
My name is [your name] and I am [title] of [company / website].
I am contacting you because I found some very interesting content on your site [LINK] and I would like to write an in-depth article for your blog.
The topics I thought I'd cover are:
Are you interested in a guest post? If so, let me know which topic may be most appropriate to your audience and if there are any guidelines I need to adhere to.
See you soon,
The first contact must be a way to enter into communication with the person, to create a relationship with him or her.
Offer something before you demand. Make valuable content available before seeing the opportunity as a mere request for a backlink.
And don't be disheartened if you get some no's at first or if you don't get any answers at all - this is completely normal.
Keep blogging so that you have content to show bloggers you ask to host a guest post and keep contacting them, trying to build authentic and lasting relationships with them.
How to write an effective guest post
I confess to you in all honesty: it is really frustrating when I get emails from people who just want a backlink and in return offer poor content and full of grammatical errors.
If you want to be more likely to be published, make an effective contribution to the blog you want to write for, you really offer added value.
The characteristics of an effective guest post are:
it must be content that is not yet present on the blog hosting you
it must be your best content ever, unedited and original (never copy!)
self-promotion must always be veiled and never explicit
the content must be suitable for your guest's audience both in terms of interest and tone of voice
you need to do keyword research in order to find the right keyword for your content.
Once you have all these elements, propose the content you want to write to the blogger, still leaving room for changes.
Now it's time to write your guest post.
You can ask the blogger to create an editor account on WordPress or Wix where you can publish your content as an author or create the guest post on a Google Drive document that the blogger will then upload to their website.
Always ask what is the preferred method for sending the article.
Whatever the medium, always start by writing an effective title.
Also remember that writing a guest post, from design to final draft, requires many hours of work (for comparison, each guide on this blog was written in an average of 5-9 hours).
It goes without saying that if you took care of all the guest posts you need to prepare, it would become a full-time job and you would no longer have time to bother with your blog or projects.
For this reason, I recommend that you entrust the drafting of the guest posts to an external collaborator so that the guest blogging strategy can proceed uninterrupted.
This practice, called ghost blogging, is much more common than you think. If you are looking for someone to write your content, I, therefore, recommend that you rely on sites like Fiverr where you can request the writing of articles at a more than honest price.
When the content is ready, you can submit it and request feedback, make any changes that are asked of you and wait for publication.
But your job isn't done yet - you also need to track the results of your guest blogging strategy.
Monitor the results of your guest blogging
Your work is finally published and your efforts have paid off. First of all, congratulations! 🎉 Enjoy this moment (and brag to friends!).
But it's not over yet because it is now important to monitor the results you have achieved and the SEO impact that your article has achieved.
Obviously, it is not something that can be done immediately since Google needs some time to notice your content and to position it in the SERP.
There are numerous SEO tools you can use to track your guest posts, such as SEMRush, my favourite, Ahrefs or Moz.
Frequent mistakes with guest blogging
Finally, there are a couple of tips that I would like to share with you, before creating your guest posts and they are the mistakes that are made most frequently.
Always try to avoid them in order to multiply the chances of being published and build stable and lasting relationships with bloggers.
1. Don't know the blog (and the blogger)
A really annoying thing when someone contacts me to write a guest post on my blog is to read an email that starts with something like "Who's in charge of the blog".
If you don't know me, my blog and my audience, I doubt you'll be able to write suitable content.
And therefore, I reject the proposal regardless.
It is therefore important to always know who to contact and write a message that is as personalized as possible. Show that it is not a copy-paste email sent to 2,000 bloggers, that you know the blog you want to write for and that you want to contribute by writing quality content.
2. Don't follow the guidelines for creating the guest post
As we mentioned, many bloggers offer guidelines, often very strict, for writing guest posts. These guidelines are sometimes present on the same website, other times they are sent after agreement on the guest post.
The important thing is always to follow the instructions given to you, such as the minimum number of words, the formatting of the article or the position of the backlink.
3. Propose content already on the blog or not in target with the audience of the blog
Of course, you can't post an article on dog grooming on a blog that talks about auto insurance.
Proposing an article that has already been covered on the blog or a topic that has nothing to do with the site hosting you will result in only a big NO and will probably also preclude the possibility of future collaborations.
So do thorough research on the blog's content and target audience in order to identify the best topic that has not yet been covered.
To do this, you can also use SEMRush by going to the left menu and selecting Gap Analysis> Keyword Gap and see which topics are missing in the host blog that is present in blogs of the same niche.
This is exactly what I did when I wrote a guest post for Search Engine Land (SEL).
Through SEMRush I discovered that SEL had never dealt with the topic of scraping softwares, so I proposed it to them.
They willingly accepted and here is my guest post.
4. Write too general content
If you want to really capture the attention of a new audience who may not have heard of you yet, it is important to write content that answers exactly a specific question, that can solve a specific problem.
So avoid generic or juice-free contents: get straight to the point.
5. Propose non-original content
When we do guest blogging, it may happen that some bloggers will ask for a guest post on the same topic. Obviously, you can't share the same content with everyone.
Even if you will probably find yourself dealing with the same topic several times, especially if you specialize in something specific, you must always be able to tell the same thing in a different way.
Besides the fact that duplicate content will be penalized by Google and this also means less visibility and less traffic for you.
Guest blogging is still a practice that can bring incredible results in terms of both visibility and positioning.
Like any powerful strategy, however, it can have pros and cons. It is up to you to be able to use your guest posts in the best way, so as to add value to the contents on the net without risking being penalized by Google.
And if you have any other questions, doubts or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below.
And if you want to write a guest post for my blog, get in touch with me!