A while back I wrote a post called rules for guest blogging – I think it’s a really useful post and that everyone who does guest posting or lets other people contribute to their blog should read it. The short version is don’t be a jerk and genuinely try to help other people. I’ve still been getting a lot of questions about guest posting and while there are a lot of existing guides to guest blogging or posts about how to do guest posting, there aren’t really any that are a no bull approach to guest posting and hit on everything that I think is important. I wanted to come up with something more tactical for you guys so this post is on how to do guest blogging. There are five topics I’m going to touch on:
- Finding Prospects
- Qualifying Prospects
- Outreach Emails
- Tracking Your Outreach
- Writing Content & Links
Finding Guest Posting Prospects
This part of the process can be very laborious as there is no one way to find guest posting prospects AND what works for one vertical might not work well for another. There are 3 tactics that I use:
Advanced Search Queries
I usually start with advanced search queries for guest posting. The concept is pretty simple, you’re searching for the topic you want to write about and then combining it with common phrases that people use to offer guest posting opportunities on their blog. Below are several examples of advanced search queries to use to find guest blogging opportunities:
keyword intitle:”write for us”
keyword intitle:”write for me”
Keyword intitle:”contribute to”
Keyword intitle:”submit” + inurl:blog
Keyword “submit a guest post”
Keyword “guest post”
Keyword “guest post by”
Keyword “accepting guest posts”
Keyword “guest post guidelines”
Keyword “guest author”
Keyword “guest article”
Keyword “guest column”
Keyword “become a contributor”
inpostauthor:”guest blog” keyword
inpostauthor:”guest post” keyword
You know who your competitors are right? And you hopefully keep tabs on what they’re doing to market themselves, so make a list of the ones that are leveraging guest posting. If you don’t know which ones are, that’s ok, you can apply the steps below to all your competitors.
With your list of competitors who guest post in hand, go to OSE (or Majestic, or Ahrefs) and pull up their links. Now start going through their links looking for guest posts they’ve written. When you find their guest posts, put them in an Excel document along with the accompanying bios.
Most people are pretty lazy so they will re-use their blog bios when they are guest posting. You can exploit this to easily find a lot of the sites your competitors have guest posted on. To do this, take each different bio that you find, put it in quotes and search for it in Google. This will give you a list of every site your competitor has guest posted on using that bio which will often turn up more sites than OSE (or your favorite backlink tool) will show you.
My Blog Guest & Similar Sites
While you can find a few good prospects on sites like My Blog Guest and Blogger Link Up, there are a ton of low quality sites you have to sift through. The upside is that most of these sites are pretty good about putting your post up and many aren’t picky about the anchor text you use. Despite these upsides, these sites are usually my last resource that I go to.
Throughout each step of this prospecting process (advanced search queries, competitor research, and MBG), you should be putting each prospect you come across into a spreadsheet to keep track of.
Qualifying Guest Posting Prospects
Once you have your list of potential prospects from the list above, you have to decide which ones to reach out to and which ones aren’t worth your time. I do this qualitatively and quantitatively.
Qualitatively Qualifying Prospects
My first pass through the list of prospects is to determine if the blogs in question are legit blogs, that people actually read (and come back to) or if it’s a low quality site that has no real value. While I know a lot of people are ok with just getting the link, I think that guest posts should provide value even if the link is nofollowed. Another way of stating this is that the post should inherently provide value by exposing your brand to a new or different audience rather than only providing link equity.
A second component of making qualifying a prospective site is relevance. Everything needs to be relevant. The content that you end up pitching needs to be relevant and useful to the site you are pitching. The link back to your site needs to be relevant to the content. Because of this, you inherently need to be at least somewhat relevant or related to the sites you’re going to reach out to. For example, if you wanted to promote a page about watching NFL redzone, you would want to reach out to sites about TV, entertainment, sports, etc rather than blogs about something like online marketing.
Quantitatively Qualifying Prospects
This is a lot easier than the qualitative part. I go through and I pull the Domain Authority, mozTrust for all my remaining prospects. For most industries, I like to see a Domain Authority score of 35 or higher. In some industries though, this doesn’t happen and you have to rely more on the gut test of does this feel like a real blog that would provide value if I post here.
A note on Domain Authority – For subdomain blogs on Blogspot and WordPress.com, I usually take the Page Authority score of the homepage and subtract 5-10 points (depending on the current moz index). I’ve found that usually the Domain Authority of a site is about 5-10 points lower than the homepage Page Authority. Using this modified metric for Blogspot and WordPress.com subdomains gives you a more accurate Domain Authority metric.
I like to use mozTrust to add a second level of verification to Domain Authority scores. If the DA is high, but the mozTrust is pretty low (ex: DA 50, mT: 1.8), it is indicative that the site is a bit spammy and you probably want to pass on a post there.
Guest Post Outreach Emails
Again, not too tough. Be genuine and try to offer value. The burden is on you to provide proof that you can add value – bloggers get tons of guest posting requests every day, your pitch needs to stand out. Here is an overview of what I like to include in my emails:
- Compliment – tell them something you liked about a post. Be specific and look at a couple posts back, not the most recent one
- Topic suggestions – give a couple suggestions for what you could write about, don’t ask them to come up with a topic
- Flexibility – while you should suggest a topic, let them know that you’re flexible and are willing to change if they don’t think it’s a great fit
- Call to action – always ask them to respond in someway!
Whatever you do, don’t send a template email where you paste in someone’s name and their URL. This is super obvious, especially when it gets messed up and the wrong site or name gets emailed out!
Instead, take some time and write a personable email. If you’re having a bit of trouble, this trick helps me: I pretend that the site is one of my friends and I write it like my friend is going to be the one reading it.
Tracking Your Outreach
Again, this is pretty simple; there are a lot of different tactics from spreadsheets to outreach CRM software such as BuzzStream. I’ve used and like BuzzStream and it’s great if you have a team. If it’s just you, you can get away with a spreadsheet. I have a Google doc spreadsheet that I use to track my efforts. You can check it out here, just make a copy for yourself to use.
Writing Content & Links
The content that you provide bloggers with needs to be exceptional; the quality that you would put on your blog. There are a few reasons for this. First, this is an opportunity to expose your brand to a new market – you want to make the best impression possible. Your content needs to top notch and you need to deliver a lot of value to the blog and their readers in order for the community to want to take the step to learn more about you and your company.
Second, bloggers get a ton of crappy content (and you want to stand out right). I’ve had people send me crappy content and usually my first reaction is “I can’t put this on my site”. You should be giving the bloggers content that leaves them saying “wow, this is great” not “wow, I would need to edit this a lot”. If your piece needs a lot of editing, it’s not going to see the light of day. Guaranteed. No one has time to edit your post for you.
This means that you can’t hire someone for 10 cents a word, you need to either write good content yourself or you need to hire a good copywriter – one that has English as their first language. You should expect to pay a good copywriter $100 – $300 per post depending on the length and amount of research needed.
This is where a lot of people get in trouble – they get greedy and go after exact match anchor text. This creates two problems. First, most bloggers don’t like this and will either simply remove your link or reject your post. Either way you lose. Second, if you are able to get your exact match anchor text live on a lot of sites, you can run into some algorithmic problems with Google. When you have a lot of exact match anchor text, you run the risk of tripping an over optimization filter at Google. If this happens, all your work is out the window.
Instead, I like to focus on building brand name anchor text, focus on building up the raw authority of the site and let the on-page optimization do the keyword targeting for you. Occasionally, if I find an exceptional blog, I will use phrase match anchor text. This is using part of your primary keyword phrase instead of the whole exact match phrase.