Guest blogging is one of the most effective but overused link building techniques today, but many people struggle with the practical part of the guest posting process.
Guest blogging has helped many companies and bloggers increase their brand visibility online and attract loyal visitors and potential clients/customers back to their website.
In today’s post, I’ll be sharing to you the white hat SEO guest blogging process that I have been implementing for our past and our current clients with great success.
What You Will Learn
- The truth about guest blogging
- How guest blogging really works
- How to prospect for high quality blogs
- How to qualify blogs based on standard metrics
- How to do outreach that gets results
- How to create guest posting content that attract natural links
- Why relationship building is a continuous task in guest blogging
Is Guest Blogging Dead?
When Matt Cutts published a post on the decay and fall of guest blogging, many internet marketers and SEOs started to ask the question, is guest blogging dead?
Though you will see a lot of answers and discussions on this topic (most of which are contributions from industry experts), the mystery answer to that question is still in search.
All I know for sure is when done right, guest blogging is a highly effective traffic, branding & SEO strategy.
Guest Blogging Is Alive & Kicking – When Done Right
Guest blogging is still alive. But the road trip to striking success with this method is not the same as it used to be.
Today, you need to spend time planning a strategic approach (from prospecting to outreach phase) that will stand the test of time and will deliver great results for your brand.
The Benefits Of Guest Posting In 2016
- It’s one of the easiest ways to get in touch with industry bloggers/webmasters to build authentic relationships with them.
- It is a powerful tool to build a slow momentum of exposure and branding for startup companies or newly-built blogs.
- Getting consistent daily/monthly visitors if the campaign is targeted to high tier blogs that have active and engaged community of readers.
- Links from relevant blogs can help move up rankings for branded keywords, which will intensify the chances of getting press and interview opportunities.
- Contextual links from relevant and high quality blogs can help improve the site’s search ranking potential.
Guest blogging still works. It is a practice I pursue with all of my/clients site, take a look at this example from the SEO niche-
And this example that follows the exact same process in the relationship/dating niche-
When you do guest blogging right – the benefits are tremendous. It takes a bit of time & effort but that is time & effort that is very well spent.
The 5 Steps Of White Hat Guest Blogging
It is really easy to break the process down into 5 simple to follow steps-
- Blog qualification
- Content creation
- Relationship building
This new guest blogging approach is the updated version of the process that I created 8 months ago.
I have refind the process to make it quicker, easier and most importantly to protect against Google changes during that time.
Step 1 – Prospecting
The first thing we need to do is find a list of potential prospects that we might want to publish a guest post on.
All we need to do is head over to Google and search for potential prospects. Here are a few examples of search queries you can use-
- “write for us” “industry”
- “write for us” “keyword”
- “guest post” “industry”
- “guest post” “keyword”
I’ve been using above queries for two years now and they’re still giving me some good list of quality blogs.
Once you have a list of potential prospects you need to start thinking about contextual relevancy.
Contextual relevancy is the principle of finding industries that are horizontally and vertically relevant to your brand.
This allows you to see new thematic link opportunities that you haven’t thought of from the start (Pro tip: This approach also applies to other link building tactics).
Why Is Contextual Relevancy Important?
This is something many people running guest blogging campaigns skip over but there are a number of reasons we need to look at contextual relevancy-
- It extends your capability of targeting blogs from other industries that are also relevant to your niche, which might also bring new ready to buy customers/clients to your brand.
- It helps build your list of targets both horizontally and vertically in your niche so you never run out of potential prospects
- Opens new partnerships from other brands in other niches that will help increase exposure for your brand (e.g. new partnered suppliers or manufacturers).
Contextual Relevancy Made Easy
So with that said how do we actually apply contextual relevancy to our guest posting campaign?
Let’s say you own a running and corporate shoes company and you want to gain visibility online and hopefully attract potential customers through guest blogging.
To get started, you need to list down all industries that you think are relevant to your brand.
Using our above example (running and corporate shoes company), here are niches that are worth consider adding to your list:
- Fitness blogs
- Corporate blogs
- Student blogs
- Running blogs
With that list of industries, you can now start prospecting for guest blogging opportunities using both free and premium link search tools. Chose any of the following products.
These tools have good features that will help you find high quality blogs where you want your best content to be placed on.
It will help you search for linking sites that have high domain authority and are capable of passing quality link juice to your website.
Reverse engineer your main competitors and list down all blogs that linked to them.
This can populate your list up to hundreds of guest blog opportunities.
Aside from common guest blogging searches like “write for us” and “guest post”, there is one search query that I failed to take advantage of when prospecting for content contribution opportunities.
That is – the related advanced search function of Google.
If you think you’ve already pulled off all guest blog opportunities in Google, then use related search query to add more sites to your spreadsheet.
Instead of just following the footprints of your competitors, you can now create your own footprint by acquiring links from blogs where contents of your competitors may’ve not been placed on.
This is one of my favourite content searching tools because it has filters that can help you narrow down search results to very specific content types.
Simply type in your keyword/phrase in Buzzsumo’s search bar, then click search.
Once done, you can filter the results by “Guest Posts” (simply check the filter option at the left side of the screen).
You can also sort the results from highest to lowest social shares (can be in total/general or your preferred social sharing site).
You may also want to export the list straight from Buzzsumo to have a database for guest blogs prospected from Buzzsumo.
Alltop is an easy tool to find high quality and community-oriented blogs.
Because Alltop has strict editorial guidelines when accepting blog directory submissions, you’ll rest assured that the blogs that you’ll find have high quality contents.
One thing to consider in Alltop search is its suggested niches/topics that will pop up after typing a keyword/phrase in its search bar.
You can find more relevant blogs when you click on those suggested topics.
Step 2 – Blog qualification
Qualifying your guest blog targets based on specific minimum standards can help you filter out low quality sites that’ll not contribute to the success of your brand’s guest blogging campaign.
Here is my own set of qualifiers to separate the chaff from churns (among my list of guest blogs):
- Domain authority (metric used by Moz)
- Trustflow (metric used by MajesticSEO)
- Number of referring link domains
- Placement of content
- Niche-specific / multiple-categories
- Panda-proof content
Domain authority (Moz’s metric) and trustflow (MajesticSEO’s metric) are initial qualifiers to identify the authority of a site/page.
Domain and page authorities are numbers that you can easily see in Chrome extensions which can help you quickly determine if the blog in your list is good to go or not.
Another qualifier you can consider is the number of linking root domains pointing to a specific blog.
This metric doesn’t only give you numbers in your spreadsheet but it helps you determine if the blog managed to earn contextual links through its valuable contents (check if backlinks from linking pages are mostly in-content).
When top heavy update was announced by Google, many websites with so many ads that buried down the contents in their homepages were penalized by the said search engine.
In that case, when you’re looking for a blog to target for distributed content, you’ll have to see if multiple ads (of whatever type) are pushing down the contents in the page. If you find one, then remove that to your list of guest blogs.
You should do the same if the content is not readable or poorly written.
Relevancy should be the top priority when prospecting for link targets for your site.
In guest blogging, you can look at the site’s categories to see if they’re tapping too many niches and industry communities.
Filter out blogs with multiple categories across many niches since relevancy of those domains are mostly diluted and they tend to focus on several groups of readers without any emphasis on which industry they can build authority on.
Another consideration you should take on is the health of that specific guest blog. Was it hit by an algorithmic penalty (e.g. Panda)?
Use SEMRush to see the historical data of the site particularly on its organic search data.
Then refer to this Google algorithm change guide on Moz to check if the site was hit by a content/link-based penalty on a specific date/month.
Those blog qualifiers I mentioned above can help you refine you list of blog targets so you can get the best results out of your guest blogging efforts.
Let’s move on to outreach.
Step 3 – Outreach
Outreach is the phase in guest blogging where you can actually engage with the guest blog target whether you are applying for a regular content contributor or as a one-time guest blogger.
This stage starts with finding the contact information (i.e. name and email address) of the person you’d like to connect with.
Here are some ways on how you can look for the contact details of your guest blog target:
- Check out the blog’s branded pages (About me, Our Team, Contact us).
- Get the possible corporate email of your link prospect by using VoilaNorbert.
- Use RankCracker (Matt’s free tool) to extract possible email addresses found in a list of URL’s.
Once you’ve identified the email addresses of your guest blog targets, it’s time to send them a guest blogging pitch.
When pitching to guest blog targets, it’s very important to personalize your email towards the interests of your recipient.
You can download a free copy of my outreach template below. It also includes the template I use to followup with people if they don’t response within a week.
Feel free to edit & use those templates in your own campaigns!
When you get a positive response – accepting you to become the blog’s regular content contributor or a guest blogger, you may now proceed to the content creation phase.
Step 4 – Content creation
Creating content is a common work for search professionals these days.
However, there’re still some marketers who are not producing great content output for the reason that they don’t have a simple process to follow.
In our link building team, we use this simple content creation process for all of our clients’ guest blogging campaign-
- Create an outline for a specific article and guest blog, which will include the URL pointing to the blog’s guest blogging guidelines, writing instructions, voice and tone of the article, pages of the client needed to be linked to and deadline of completion.
- Submit the outline to the in-house writer or you can outsource it if you don’t have full time writers.
- Let the content writer finish the article within the expected turnaround time.
- Send the draft to the blog manager and to client (optional) for feedback and approval.
- Edit the content if necessary, which will depend on the discretion of the blog manager/client.
- Submit the proofread article to the guest blog target and ask for feedback.
- Follow up after one week if the bloggers/webmaster didn’t respond.
Pro tip: Use Trello to easily manage your content creation process.
Once the content is published, you don’t want to leave your post behind. Start engaging with the community readers of the guest blog.
Step 5 – Relationship building
It is very essential to solidify your connections with your guest blogging prospects to build an alliance that’ll benefit both parties (in terms of promoting other brand’s content, absorbing blog readers and social followers for both sides and attracting more contextual links – but not in a reciprocal way).
Here are some tips to make relationship marketing works for your guest blogging campaign:
- Participate in discussions in the comment section of your guest post (there might be some questions needed to be answered).
- Share new content assets (blog posts) of your guest blog target.
- Link to high quality content of your guest blog from your site’s internal content (when both pages are relevant to each other).
You can read these useful resources if you want to learn more about relationship marketing:
- Relationship Building: The “Free Method” to Get High Quality Links
- How To Find & Engage Your Target Audience Online For Profit
- Relationship-based link building on Quicksprout
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it – an effective and easy to follow guest posting process to help drive your site to success.
This guest blogging process will not only help your website earn links consistently every month but it will also guarantee that it will improve your site’s branding presence online while building traffic.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments!