Develop a detailed understanding of key social media specialisms including content marketing, and platforms on which you can promote your content.
When Head of Google WebSpam, Matt Cutts declared guest blogging as “dead” the SEO world gasped. Some declared that it had been dead long ago but many kept writing and recognizing its value. Business to Business Community decided to weigh in on the debate and asked some of the web’s most prolific bloggers for their opinions. The sentiment? Guest blogging is still very much alive and beating.
Whether you’re looking to drive traffic to your business’ website or would like to enhance your personal brand, you can benefit from a strategic guest blogging approach. Below we discuss the how and why of guest posting. In 2015 isn’t about building links – it is, however, about fostering powerful relationships, establishing yourself as a thought leader and getting your brand in front of the right audience.
Guest Blogging is Still Alive – Here’s Why:
Larry Kim, founder of top PPC company WordStream spoke to Business to Community about his views on guest blogging. He said: “We do quite a bit of guest posting and in 2015, I hope to double down on those efforts. While no longer a SEO tactic per se, I’ve found that being a columnist for various well known publications has dramatically increased metrics like social media following and visibility.”
The Still-Very-Much-There Benefits of Guest Posting:
- Branding and recognition
- Authority building
- Brand exposure and website traffic
- Social media following and visibility
- Quality audience reach
Guest Blogging Guide: Phase 1 – Planning
1. Determine Your Guest Blogging Goals & Audience
Chances are if you’ve decided to guest blog you’re going to have a fair idea of at least one or two blogs you’d like to approach for your niche industry. But hold on – not so fast! First you need to ensure that you take the right approach that can maximise your return on investment (your valuable time). Yep, that means defining your goals first and then your target audience. We’ll show you how to master both below.
Get Clear About Your Goals:
- Identify what the core focus is for the business. For example, is there a certain product you’d like to drive visibility for?
- Decide how you will track your goal’s success (will you use Goal Tracking on Google Analytics for example?)
Know the Audience You Want to Reach:
- Identify quality sites with a similar target audience to your own.
- Understand where your target audience resides online (target those who may not have otherwise been exposed to your brand).
- Ensure that the audience is engaged with the site/blog’s content (do they share content and/or comment on blog posts? – the more engaged the audience are the more likely they are to read your article).
- Does the audience suit the specifics of your goal (for example if you’re trying to drive visibility to a product/service- would they use your it and do they need it?)
- Create a list of suitable outreach targets on a spreadsheet.
2. Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
Sure, a quick search on Google will bring up a few suggestions but if you are going to take guest blogging seriously you’ll need to know what to look out for in a potential opportunity. Things like domain authority, social media following and topic performance, for example, are key to your guest blogging strategy’s success.
But you don’t have to spend forever on your quest for handpicking the right sites to approach. Here are some of our favorite tools that will save you time and help you achieve your goals:
Determine Domain Authority: Moz Toolbar
Bookmark it for: It is important to identify blogs with a strong root domain authority (a good indication of how a website will perform in search engine rankings). You can do so using a tool like Moz Toolbar. Moz’s video (below) explains how they calculate domain authority for their Toolbar and other products:
Track Competitor Backlinks: Open Site Explorer
Bookmark it for: Take a sneaky peak at the sites which your competitors have been guest blogging on using Open Site Explorer. A quick (and cheeky) backlink analysis will help you make an informed decision as to whether you would like to approach the same sites or select your own unique ones.
Identify Popular Topics & Authors:BuzzSumo
Bookmark it for: BuzzSumo helps you to identify what content perform best in terms of topic, content length etc. You can also use this nifty tool to find out which authors have had particular success on your target website.
3. Stop! Prepare Before You Pitch
Before you approach your potential blog prospects it’s important to conduct thorough research and prepare a powerful and succinct pitch. Remember that the most popular blogs might get hundreds or thousands of wannabe guest bloggers pitching to them every day.
Mark Scully, Inbound Marketing Specialist for the Digital Marketing Institute advises:
‘Learn what kind of messaging they use, what their brand guidelines are and demonstrate to them that you actually care about their company/website and that you’re simply not after a link. It’s really obvious when an SEO is the person sending out the outreach email as it’s a template. “Hey, I’m a regular reader of your blog and I’d love to write ‘x’ for it.”
Mark adds, “A soft approach is to build a relationship with the better performing authors so you can get some inside tips about the best outreach approach to take. Obviously these authors are guest contributors and not just members of staff of your target website.”
A soft approach is to build a relationship with the better performing authors so you can get some inside tips about the best outreach approach to take. Obviously these authors are guest contributors and not just members of staff of your target website.
Additional Tips for Pitching:
- Personalise your email – for your pitch to be taken seriously you must find the name of the blog owner rather than addressing it to Sir/Madam.
- Say who you are – talk about your involvement with content or blogging rather than your business credentials.
- Explain (in a few words) why you should be a guest blogger – this is a good opportunity to highlight successful (and relevant) content from your own website to showcase your writing ability and to prove that you’re a good match for their website.
Phase 2 – Crafting
4. Write Your Post
Chances are your post will have to compete with a tonne of other guest posting authors trying to grab your readers’ attention. To ensure that your post stands out the amongst the content noise there are a few things that you absolutely must do:
- Re-read the website’s guest blogging guidelines before you begin writing.
- Focus on providing value for the customer and not pushing a sales message.
- Make your tone engaging to help it stand out amongst the over-crowded content space.
- Ensure your content is 100% original – don’t be tempted to duplicate articles or paragraphs from your own blog.
- Include internal and source links.
- Keep the format of your posts consistent with others on the site (their formula works for a reason).
- Include a call to action for comments (this will help you get engaged with your target audience and may even open an opportunity for new business).
5. Master Your Bio
Writing your bio is your one chance to be self-promotional and to drive traffic to your website or product launch. Let’s help you make the most of it:
- Keep your bio short, sharp and to the point (no-one wants to read an essay).
- Include a link back to your website (make sure this is tagged so you can track any traffic gained on your Google Analytics account).
- If you want to draw attention to a particular product or service create a landing page and drive your traffic there (instead of to your homepage).
- If your goal is to increase your social media followers include a call to action for readers to follow a particular channel (choose one only).
Phase 3 – Tracking
6. Analyse Your Results
You should place equal importance on analyzing your results as you do for planning, pitching and creating your content. It’s best to select your analysis method at the start when you’re defining your goals. You can decide whether to create an advanced segment in Google Analytics, for example.
The most important part of analyzing your results, however, is to be honest about whether the time you invested was worth the outcome you received. If it wasn’t? You’ll need to re-iterate your strategy and isolate the element you need to change. For example, was your content weak or was it the wrong site you approached?
One final thought from Mark Scully, Inbound Marketing Specialist for the Digital Marketing Institute:
“Google can never take away the relationships you build with industry influencers. They can penalize you for publishing content on terrible websites though!”