Guest posting or guest blogging may seem like an old-school marketing technique. Some even argue it’ll become an obsolete practice. To this day, though, guest posting remains one of the best ways to build links and boost brand awareness.
Up to the moment you succeed with guest posting and get to enjoy its benefits, it might seem like you’re trying to reach a mountain’s highest peaks. Some people get tired and give up. Raise your hand if you’ve never had to overcome outreach fatigue!
Still, poor results of guest posting results often come from a lack of best practices or a lack of perseverance with these best practices.
Here’s a helpful round-up of insider tips on our guest posting strategy and what you should steer clear of to boost your successful guest post opportunities.
Step 1 – How We Look for The Right Guest Post Opportunities
Before delving into the “how”, you need to know “where” and to “whom” you should send your pitch. Sometimes, the most accessible “targets” are right there in front of you. For instance, the people you follow on Twitter could be a good fit. If you also comment on their blogs and sign up for their newsletter, even better! Site owners are more likely to accept guest posts from people they already know.
If you’re representing a client (this is also our case), our strategy implies:
- Finding opportunities on Google and typing searches like:
- “[ keyword]” + “this is a guest post by”
- “[keyword]” + “this is a guest contribution”
- “[ keyword]” + “guest column/post”
- “[ keyword]” + “contributing writer/author”
This is an easy way we find blogs ‘unofficially’ open to guest post opportunities. That means most of them don’t have a ‘Write for us’ page; but if they’ve accepted guest authors in the past, chances are they still do.
2. Using SemRush:
One method is to go to ‘Domain analytics’ and find our client’s organic competitors.
The other one focuses on the Backlink Analytics feature, where we use the Link Building Tool to find some good opportunities for each of our clients. We set up Link Building based on target keywords and competitors, and it provides lists of outreach prospects.
There’s one disclaimer here: it’s not a perfect tactic; you have to manually look through each web page and see if they’re the right fit.
If you’re wondering what makes ‘the right fit’, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. We do look at sites with good DA (domain authority) with scores over 50, which means they rank well in Google’s SERP. Yet, this isn’t necessarily always the most suitable metric.
Sometimes, websites with a DA below 50 or even 40 could be a good opportunity; some companies are successful and well-known in their industry, but they’ve recently started building their blog. Naturally, this blog has a poor DA. But in a few months, as the blog gets more traffic and visitors, the DA will improve too.
So, we have a bird’s eye view and analyze the potential of a guest post opportunity from different angles, not only the obvious SEO metrics.
Step 2 – Thorough Research of the Blog and Its Audience
Before we craft and send our pitch email, we make sure we can handle writing about a familiar topic that’s also valuable and appealing to the site’s readers.
Then, we check if the website has a detailed guideline about how you should approach a guest post, article format style, word limit, etc. It’s always best that we follow these rules religiously if we want to have our guest posts accepted.
Additionally, we inspect the site owner’s web copy details like:
- titles and articles style and length
- the tone of voice
- social media posts and comments
We also look up the site owners, read their posts, understand what they like and what they don’t like. Sometimes they mention their site readers’ issues or needs, and it’s a sure way to grab topic ideas.
Step 3 – How We Find Email Addresses
Now that we’ve found the right websites for our potential guest posts, the next step is to send outreach emails. But you’ll have to find the correct email address first.
This has probably happened to you too: you look on the company’s website, but you only find a general email address. But you want to email directly to the blog owner/manager or webmaster to make sure your message actually gets to them.
LinkedIn is one of the first places we check – some people list their email addresses on their profiles. Speaking of social media, one alternative is to message them on Twitter. This is mainly a last resort tactic; it could be risky as some recipients might find it unprofessional.
Apart from that, we use these resources to find contact email addresses:
Once you have the email address, it’s time for some creativity with the email text and message.
Step 4: – How We Prepare The Outreach Email
Catch The Attention From the Subject Line
To start with the basics, everyone knows you need a strong subject line instead of simply stating ‘guest pitch’ or ‘request for the guest post’.
Some examples of subject lines we’ve been using:
- [Person] (CEO / Founder) wants to write for you;
*Disclaimer: This works only if the person is a well-known name in the industry.
2. Collaboration with [name of the company we’re representing]
3. Anything with “RE”( yes, the spammy tactic that mimics a fake reply)
This may also look unprofessional, and some recipients may not appreciate it. But for us, it worked several times.
4. A question related to an intriguing topic you know for sure it’ll spark the recipient’s attention (that’s also directly connected to the topic of your guest post);
As an example, here’s a potentially ‘good’ question that has a high chance of getting a reply from a person who runs a blog about online privacy: ‘What is the no.1 solution to avoid being a cyberstalking victim?’
Clear and Compelling Email Message
Next, we continue to make the message as personal as possible. One of the golden rules is always to use the site owner’s name in the greeting. Then, we reference something from their site or projects to show them we’ve done our homework and our email isn’t just part of a long media outreach list.
Here are the main reasons why personalized emails always work better:
- 62% of emails are opened thanks to a personalized subject line
- Personalized emails get an almost 14% higher CTR and 10% higher conversion rate
Overall, we do our best to keep it short and sweet. Why ‘short?’Let’s face it; we know what we’re dealing with these days. People have better things to do. Apart from that, based on the latest research, people and goldfish have this thing in common: their attention span lasts 9 seconds! And as years go by, people’s attention span can go even lower. Can you imagine?
Sometimes, it can be a struggle, but we focus our effort, so the first two phrases are really catchy and attention-grabbing.
In some cases, we improvise with a nice joke, like the example below:
Other times, we express appreciation for an aspect related to their work (without overdoing it and sounding too sensational).
Word of advice: don’t just write ‘I really appreciate your work!’ That literally says nothing. Be as specific as possible; it can be useful information or advice you read on their site and how you explicitly applied it in your work or personal life.
Here’s an example we used:
Showcase Relevant Examples of Published Articles
This is optional and more on a case-by-case basis. But if we believe this will increase our chances of being accepted as guest blogger, we simply do it!
By the end of the email, we leave links to articles written by the person we’re representing or promoting.
Here’s one as an example:
*Extra tip: Research shows Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send emails, so you might take that into account with your guest blogging outreach!
Before We Press ‘Send’
Edit, double-check grammar, and edit again!
It’s highly important not to miss this step and have a complete check of all the written email text. We use only one style of formatting for one email – otherwise it looks like a collage of templates.
When it comes to grammar and typos in outreach, any small mistake is associated with spam, so we always take the time and don’t rush into sending emails immediately after writing them.
Our Follow Up Strategy
There are entire debates about the magical number that works best with follow-up emails. We try to keep a balance between being too persistent and giving up too fast.
Our email follow-up best practice is once per week and up to five follow-ups. We’ve settled on the idea that less than five can be a missed opportunity.
5 became our magic number because we noticed that many of the people we’ve reached out to replied only after 3+ follow-ups, while some even replied after 5 follow-ups. After that, we stop and focus on newer follow-ups.
Once you’ve reached this step, comes the most important part: writing the guest post!
Carefully Craft Our Guest Post
In fairness, writing the article in itself isn’t a difficult endeavor as long as we diligently follow the required guidelines, keep in mind SEO optimization, and all the essential details we regularly take into account when writing any content piece.
But, naturally, we’re more nervous than usual when we know we’re writing a guest post. The reason is simple: we want everything to be perfect, successful, and hopefully, the beginning of a nice and lasting collaboration.
Attach Images and Infographics to The Content Piece
It may sound obvious, but we feel the need to stress this idea as it can be overlooked. We were on the verge of making this mistake a few times.
Having your guest post published is almost the same as publishing an article on your blog regarding the copy and design details. That means you need to include images, infographics, embedded Tweets, and any other detail you’d normally include in one of your articles.
For instance, graphics are relevant for case studies the same way product or app screenshots are essential for technical articles.
Make the blog editor’s life as easier as possible. Avoid any potential back-and-forth emails where the blog owner would request additional missing details.
Showing you’re a professional from the beginning will make your life easier too, and you get more chances to be accepted for other guest posts in the future.
The Big DONT’s in Guest Posting
What we can say we NEVER do, and what we advise you not to are the following:
Never Focus Outreach Efforts Only on Huge, Notorious Sites
This theory comes from the following logical argument: big and famous websites get dozens of cold and outreach emails every day because everybody targets them. They don’t have time to read all of them, and they filter emails to the limit. Even if you’ve got a high-quality, relevant piece for the site’s audience, there’s a high chance your email will never get noticed.
This is especially helpful advice if you’re a small website or you’ve recently started to build content for your blog – most webmasters don’t take the risk of associating themselves with an unknown name or brand.
What we do: focus most of our efforts on small, niche websites! First, we have a higher chance of having our guest post offers accepted. Second, it proved that these niche website visitors were more likely to engage with our posts and our clients received many promising leads.
Never Duplicate Older, Published Blog Posts
Duplicates are a big no-no! Google doesn’t like them, and the site owner will certainly not appreciate them. You’re not doing yourself any favors either, even though it may seem like it does.
Whether it’s educational or informational, you need to come up with an original and captivating piece of content. That said, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
What we do: sometimes we use one older blog posts as inspiration. But we revamp it, give it a new, fresher perspective, and twist that perfectly aligns with the audience’s needs.
We stick around the same topic but repurpose it and make significant changes to it. For instance, a topic like ‘Top 10 Tips to Boost Your Customer Success Strategy’ can turn into ‘7 Essential Questions Every Customer Success Manager Should Ask’.
Additional advice: don’t send the exact same guest post to several sites!
Following the same rationale with the duplicated blog posts, you don’t want to have the exact, same article on multiple blogs. Site owners want unique, original content, but this is also an important aspect related to your image and reputation as well as the site owners’. This would be a lose-lose situation.
Never Include Promotional Links
It’s true that the entire idea of guest posting is so you can post and build links. Still, you need to know and remember that no blog owner likes and accepts promotional links from other sites. Blog owners are not interested in helping you make a sale; they’re really interested in offering their readers useful info, even with the help of a guest author. So, don’t include links to your website’s homepage or one of your landing pages.
Here’s our strategy with links that usually works:
We add one link to the blog article, but only if it fits the topic; we always make sure the anchor text fits the same idea with the page we’re linking.
We’ve settled on this practice even if the webmaster or guest posting guidelines mention zero acceptance of any internal links. That’s because many times they accepted to leave our links because they were genuinely relevant.
Bottom line, include relevant links! If the blog owner decides to scrape them, at least you tried. Additionally, links that are always accepted are the ones to a bio page.
Guest Post Published – Job’s Not Over
That’s right! This isn’t the end of the guest posting process. In fact, if you never look back and forget about your published guest post, it’s almost the equivalent of a failed project. Apart from promoting it on social media, we keep the readers of the post as engaged as possible, reply to their comments. Sometimes, we ask them questions to find out their needs, and get inspired on future article topics.
Conclusion – Hold on To a Clear and Genuine Guest Posting Process
That’s our guest posting strategy in a nutshell. Hope you’ve found some useful tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in your guest posting process. Now, you’re left with developing these three main habits:
- tough rigor and discipline
Most of all, don’t get discouraged by rejections; they’re an important part of improving your writing skills. Reflect and understand the unique value that you can bring to a blog or website and if they’re the right fit for your writing style and technique.
Don’t regard guest posting as a ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ scheme. As long as you keep up with an authentic and sincere guest post and outreach strategy, high, expected results will come along.
Best of luck!