The competition for views and shares has never been stiffer. You can no longer write and post about anything on your blog and expect it to land on top of the search results right away. If you want to get anywhere with your content, you need to pay as much attention to getting backlinks as your content. One of the most reliable ways to generate those links is through guest posting.
The underlying idea behind guest posting is to raise the rankings of a piece of content on your site. With more of the right kind of backlinks, the rankings of your content will move up the search rankings. Today, we will walk you through the steps you need to follow to land a guest post spot. Let’s start at the beginning.
How to Prepare For Your Campaign
The way Google works is fundamentally pretty simple. The company wants to provide the best search results to its customers, so they use the platform more. The more people use the platform, the more revenue the company will generate through ads. This is the formula at the heart of this multi-billion dollar company.
Rather logically, if you want to get to position one on Google, you need to create a piece of content that people will find useful for the keyword you’re targeting. This is the most important ranking factor for Google.
So before you start a campaign, check if the content you are producing deserves to rank. You can use a tool called Brightlocal to search for local search results.
Then, check what is ranking in the search results. Pay attention to things like:
- Word count
- What is covered in the article
- The design of the page
Compare the quality of the ranking content against your own. If your content is as good as, if not better than the articles currently ranking, then you are in a good spot. On the other hand, if your content is not as good as the ranking content, then update the content before you start your campaign.
If you need help, this is an excellent resource that covers how to blog. It looks at how to pick relevant keywords for your niche that you can monetize, and how to create a great piece of content.
How to Assess How Many Backlinks You Need
The second thing to do is to review the backlink profile of the ranking content. You can do this for free using Linkody backlink checker. A backlink checker will reveal the number of backlinks and referring domains of a URL. A referring domain counts the number of links you are getting from different websites. The backlink number refers to the total number of backlinks.
Out of the two, referring domains is the more important metric.
With a premium Linkody account, you can view the full list of referring domains. I like to focus on the referring domains that have an Authority of 40+. The more referring domains a site has, the more links from guest posts you need to get your content ranking.
Let’s take the keyword “how to guest post” as an example. The ranking article is a piece by Neil Patel. The article has 960 referring domains. Approximately 350 of them are from websites with an Authority of 40+. That means you’d need around 400 guest posts on Authority 40+ websites to have a chance of ranking for the same search term.
An SEO expert will tell you that this system of reviewing your competitors isn’t perfect, which it’s not. However, it does give you a good idea of how many backlinks you need. You now know how many guest posts you need. It’s time to get into the meat of this article.
How to identify suitable sites for your campaign
In the last section, I touched on the importance of quality backlinks. These are the kind of backlinks that will help your content rank in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
Domain Rating is one SEO metric you can use to assess backlink quality. There are others. These are the SEO metrics I use to shortlist sites to outreach for a guest post campaign:
- Domain Rating: I like to target sites with Authority 40+
- Traffic: Try to target sites with a minimum of 3,000 visitors a month
- Trust Flow: Pick sites with a 15+ Trust Flow
- Relevancy: The site in my niche and relevant
- Traffic: Where are most of the search visitors coming from
Having a checklist in place will help you avoid low-quality backlinks that will harm your SEO.
So now you know what kind of links you’re looking for, the obvious question is, “how to find relevant sites for a guest post campaign?”
Thankfully this is pretty easy.
Choose any of the most successful sites in your niche. For example, in the marketing niche, you might choose Search Engine Journal. Search for their domain using a tool like Linkody.
Export this list of referring domains.
Now remove any sites with a domain rating less than your minimum threshold. I generally then remove any site with Authority 90+, because it’s hard to land guest posts on these sites.
You can then filter these sites according to the other metrics you use.
This strategy will instantly provide you with a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant domains to target. The nice thing about the strategy is it’s repeatable. Once you’ve run out of sites to contact, you can target another popular domain in your niche and repeat the process.
How to pitch a guest post to editors
You now have a list of sites to target. You need to start reaching out to these sites and pitching ideas. It’s hard to find the names, email addresses, or other contact details of the people calling the shots at popular websites. Generic email addresses like “firstname.lastname@example.org” get spammed.
LinkedIn is a useful resource when looking for the content manager or content editor of a specific company. While LinkedIn users often list their email addresses on their profiles, a lot of them don’t keep their profiles updated as they move from one organization to another. You can contact them using LinkedIn InMail, but you should remember that it’s free for only the first thousand or so messages.
Email is a much better way of reaching out to potential guest post hosts. Once you’ve found the name of the editor or content manager you want to reach, you can use an email verification tool like Voila Norbert to search for their contact details. This will reduce bouncing emails or those that get sent to the wrong person.
The scariest part of guest posting is pitching ideas to editors. Most people are scared of annoying the person in charge of content. It’s perfectly normal to be afraid of rejection, especially if you haven’t written a guest post before.
Unfortunately, you will get rejected. Many people will turn down your ideas or not respond to a pitch. Unfortunately, that’s life. However, many people do accept guest posts.
The perfect guest post template
One of the most important parts of landing a guest post is your pitch. When you send an email to the content editor or manager, fluffing up your pitch with stuff like “your website is an inspiration” does absolutely nothing. Ideally, your pitch should be concise and focus on three things:
- Who you are
- What you are asking for
- What you can give them
You should start with an introduction — what you do, the organization you represent, and what your organization does. If you’ve already written guest posts for other sites, you can choose to mention them too.
Second, ask if the site is accepting guest posts at the moment. Note that you don’t need to pitch your article ideas right away since you’re just establishing a connection with the site where you’d like to guest post.
Finally, give them a compelling reason to consider your offer. In marketing language, it’s called your unique selling proposition — the one thing that sets you apart from your competition.
Here is the template I like to use.
It goes without saying that each email should be customized. If you don’t get a response, try one more time, then move on to the next prospect.
Some of the people you message will be open to a guest post and express an interest in your ideas. Now you need to come up with some great ideas to pitch to the editor. I’ll cover how to do this in the following section.
How to come up with guest post ideas
It is difficult to come up with new ideas, especially when pitching an idea to a website that seems to have written about everything. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be writing about the same thing. In fact, the top bloggers are aware that unless they are writing about a newly-discovered asteroid or breaking news about presidential candidates, you’ll rarely find a topic that hasn’t been covered before on some site.
The trick here is not to come up with a groundbreaking idea, but to look at topics from a new angle. The safest way to come up with content ideas is by looking at the website you plan to do guest posts for. The first thing you should do is look at the topics they cover.
I then like to use a tool like Keywords Everywhere to search for keywords that I feel are relevant to the niche. This is a great tool because it will provide you with a list of relevant search terms that interest people.
This will help you create a list of possible keywords for the site. Finally, all you have to do is go on Google, then type the URL of the website and the keyword, just like this.
This will reveal the content that has been written about on the site that contains the keywords you used. If nothing appears, it means you have found a keyword gap. This is a topic that they haven’t written about on the site before.
Another approach is to come up with topics based on what people share on social media. Buzzsumo is a useful tool for this. It aggregates social media engagement for a topic in major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
Searching for “content marketing” will yield the most popular topics and articles in that space. You can take a few titles from the top-performing sites in your search results, and come up with a variation of that content.
At the end of this process, you want to have a list of at least three good content ideas to pitch to the editor. Hopefully, one of these ideas will be accepted.
Write your guest post
Writing a guest blog isn’t really that hard if you know your topic inside out. However, there are some things you should always keep in mind, like knowing how their editors work. To start with, always read the style guide for any website for which you are guest posting.
Secondly, editors easily get ticked off when they get content with random backlinks with no added value. All of the links you place in your article should be relevant and add value to the content.
Don’t be that writer who tries to cram as many links as possible into articles. Instead, keep it to one or two in the main body. Also, the editor may ask you for a byline and a headshot. They will serve as your identity for future guest posts, so you want to have something ready that’s simple and professional.
Writing guest posts for authority websites in your niche is one of the best ways to improve your search results and generate authority in your field. In this guide to guest posting, I’ve tried to lay out a step-by-step strategy you can follow to land guest posts.
Start with identifying the high-authority websites you’d like to be featured in, then reach out to the content manager with a list of possible topics and how your content will add value to their site. Finally, write engaging content that features a couple of relevant backlinks to your site.
It may seem daunting at first, but it becomes easier once you get the hang of it and your site gains credibility. Here’s to your first guest post!
Bio: Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.