The Ultimate Guest Blogger’s Guide for 2013


Let’s start with some perspective: Guest blogging works, if you know how to do it.

Like any marketing tactic, guest blogging is but one choice among many. Will it provide your business the kind of results you need to meet your own particular objectives? That’s a complex question to answer, and no less worth your consideration than whether tactics like PPC, display ads, press releases, email campaigns, affiliate programs, or any other marketing choices will help your business.

Each tactic requires certain steps to be taken and best practices to be followed in order to bear fruit. You can’t fake guest blogging any more than you can fake-grow a plant. Think about it like this: A farmer can’t take serious shortcuts, ignoring the biological requirements of her crops, then proclaim that farming “doesn’t work.”

The fact is, guest blogging can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for sending search engines (and prospects) signals about your credibility, relevance, and value, if you are willing to recognize what the process requires, rather than trying to shortcut it.

Luckily, guest blogging isn’t complicated. It really only requires two things:

  1. Effective outreach to build relationships
  2. High-quality content that site owners want to publish

Sounds simple enough, and in many respects it is. However, most content marketers and SEOs admit to doing less of it than they’d prefer. Why? Because simple isn’t the same as easy.

The Guest Blogging Landscape

Guest blogging has seen significant growth over the past few years, partly due to changes in SEO, and partly causing them, too. The trend of sharing original articles on other relevant websites is likely to continue, because it’s a solid, cost-effective way to market with content.


While Google Trends can’t tell us how many guest posts are published on a regular basis, it can tell us a lot about searcher intent, and it seems like more and more people intend to guest blog or to host them. We also know that it fights right into the middle of content strategy in general, and most B2B marketers, at least, intend to produce more content in 2013, specifically on blogs and “articles on other websites.”

But it takes more than brute-force effort to yield results in guest blogging. It takes insight.

Guest Blogging is Not Article Submission

When done properly, guest blogging is white hat SEO at it’s finest. When done poorly, it’s inefficient spam. Once upon a time, article directories made sense as an SEO tactic, until clumsy link builders turned them into a wasteland, filled with “keyword content,” not articles people actually wanted to read.

As a pure link building tactic used to replace a host of other unsavory methods, many still approach guest blogging with amateurish abandon—spamming blogs with lousy article pitches, writing content no one wants to read, and including irrelevant links to thin websites. Such uncouth behavior leaves a bad taste in the mouths of host blogs and would-be guest bloggers alike, leading some to declare it ineffective.

If you can’t figure out how to add value to the sites you pitch with content, don’t even start. Dumbing down your output for the sake of scaling up productivity is a false dichotomy, and it doesn’t work.

Beware of the BINOs

When you’re trying to crack into a specific niche, it can be hard to find places to guest post, especially when you’re an SEO and you’re guest blogging for image017clients. While any good blogger is going to exercise editorial discretion over guest posts, some bloggers simply do not.

We call these “blogs in name only” because they are not actually blogs at all—they’re just another version of article directories. How to know you found a BINO:

  • “Submit a Guest Post” is prominent on the home page
  • Most articles are submitted by different people
  • Articles span a wide array of topics
  • Articles show generally poor grammar, readability and depth
  • Outbound links are excessive and unrelated to the content
  • Little or no social sharing or comments

Keep in mind, not everyone runs a stellar blog, and it’s entirely possible that you’re just looking at a bad (or new) blog, not one that’s designed to game search algorithms. And some reputable blogs are built on guest post contributions across a wide array of content (e.g., That being said, if the site exhibits three or more of the above characteristics, it’s probably a BINO, and your content doesn’t belong there.

SEO is Growing Up

Google has caused a great deal of turmoil over the last two years, forcing SEO to grow up fast. The aftermath of Google’s updates has taught us that all internet marketing strategies must diversify beyond SEO, because Google doesn’t owe you a living. But it’s not just that you shouldn’t subject your business to the whims of search engine algorithm updates (or mistakes, or competitor antics). It’s also because SEO is becoming more about doing things that aren’t solely about SEO. Guest blogging gets you those things.

By publishing worthwhile content on a variety of other sites, you can construct a durable online footprint that is trustworthy, authoritative and relevant to actual people. Good SEO is about adding value. When Matt Cutts says it, I suggest you listen:

By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity. Those are the signals we want to find and value the most anyway.

Hire Professional Writing Help If You Need To

No one thinks twice about hiring a pro to design a website or an ad. Do-it-yourself websites look like it, which is to say, unprofessional. Website copy and blog posts are no different. And the words you use are much more important to your SEO (and your reputation) than your graphics.

If you’re the one commissioning the content, you’re the one providing value to readers. So don’t commoditize your writing help and seek out the lowest price just to get the job done cheap. Good blogs won’t publish that stuff because readers won’t read it. (See above: guest blogging is not article submission, and BINOs don’t help you.)

Again, I direct you to the delightful musings of Mr. Cutts:

Quality guest blogging (just like regular blogging!) delivers value to host blogs and their readers, giving signals to search engines that your site is worth visiting. Ah. Just what online marketing should be. Now here’s how you do it.

1. Respect Bloggers

Online real estate is valuable, content is not. You read that right. The ol’ “content is king” marketing trope is still true, though terribly misleading. This is not to say that you shouldn’t write good articles. On the contrary. Good articles are available in abundance, so any given article is therefore less valuable to a blogger. In other words, bloggers don’t need your content, but you need their sites. With more good writers than worthwhile blogs on which to post, competition is fierce.

Bloggers are tired of being pitched, and even more tired of being let down. As a blogger, I know I am! I respond to most requests to post, welcoming anyone to try (call me an optimist). Amazingly, most of them don’t even write back. When they do, it’s usually some weak piece of content I can’t use. Either way, it’s useless for everyone involved. You’ve got to respect the blogs that have the audience and authority you’re after. If you’re going to treat blogs like commodities, you can forget about them publishing your content or even responding to your pitches in the first place.

Be like the guest bringing a great side dish to a dinner party. Do some research, make the host’s job easier by suggesting clear ideas, then following through with an article they’ll love, and ask for feedback once you share it.Spell check your work, use subheadings and images when you can. Have good manners. Be warm and friendly. It’s not your house, after all. Then, after the party is over…

Send a thank you note! Nothing says “I don’t care about the relationship, just the link,” like never talking to the blogger again. I do get excited when new guests arrive bearing gifts, but when they don’t respect that my site is of value to them, I’m not likely to care much about their needs. Relationships matter.

2. Don’t Pitch to Strangers

The first step in respecting bloggers, of course, is to know a little something about them and what they’re trying to do.

image007You’ve heard all about how to get to know influencers in your niche and to make a personal connection by following them on social media and sharing their stuff, engaging in their communities with worthwhile comments on their blogs, and even sharing news or resources with them that they may not have heard about. This all has to be done without being obtuse about wanting links.

Kind of sounds like you need to become a stalker and hide your motives, doesn’t it? You don’t. It’s easier than that, and more honest, too. All small business owners know that offline business networking is vitally important, yet online business owners seem to forget about that part.

Websites are businesses, and businesses are run by people, so treat them like real people! In an episode of his always entertaining and educational “Whiteboard Friday” video series, Rand Fishkin explains what separates a good outreach email from a great one. I completely agree with his assessment, because letters like that get my attention, too.

But we’ll keep it really simple for you with one rule of thumb:

Pitch like you would if you met the blogger in person. Consider whether the blogger would smile and shake your hand or run from you, based on how you approached him or her. A normal conversational tone shouldn’t elicit the fight or flight response. Treat your outreach like offline networking, and you’ll do a lot better with it.

Just because you can blast out impersonal emails doesn’t mean you should. At the very least, take some time to judge whether you really could contribute to their site in a useful way, and if so, explain what you have to offer, as in real topic ideas. Free, original content is not enough, nor is a reciprocal link. Bloggers should understand who you are, what you’re about and how you can help, and not feel like you’re just another stranger who wants something.

Mike Sobol
Mike likes to make businesses grow, and he's been doing just that since 1999. He co-founded Guest Blog Genius to help marketers find more opportunities to publish, and for bloggers to find fresh new content. Great content, after all, makes the online world go 'round.
Mike Sobol

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22 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guest Blogger’s Guide for 2013

  1. Great summary Mike – we’re certainly finding that guest blogging is becoming an increasingly powerful tool. However, when we guest blog on behalf of some clients, particularly those in very competitive sectors such as insurance, finance, property etc we’re finding that many of the bigger, more relevant blogs are charging for inclusion of posts – would be interested to hear you thoughts on that. For example, how long before Google starts to penalise blogs that charge for inclusion or are paid guest blogs going to become part of the content marketing package?

    1. Hi Derryck. Free markets have a way of putting a value on anything, and it’s no wonder site owners want to monetize more than just their ad space. But just because you can buy or sell something doesn’t mean you should. To answer your question: Google actively discounts the links and sometimes penalizes sites for paid inclusion that manipulate PageRank. But that doesn’t stop blogs from asking for those fees, or SEOs from paying them, because not all of them will be found out.

      While there’s nothing “illegal” about getting link juice from paid links (yes, paid inclusion posts are the same as paid links, they just have more text wrapped around them), Google doesn’t like it, because it’s their prerogative to deliver their users the best search results possible. They’ve been clear on this for a long time: Paid posts that include links with a nofollow attribute, however, are fine. Those are totally appropriate if your goal is to reach a new audience and gain referral traffic, not for an SEO boost.

      A very competitive niche may force you into becoming a serious content publisher (both on-site and off), targeting traffic from other related keyword sets (on other blogs that don’t address your client’s niche as directly as others), and weighing the value of marketing tactics beyond SEO.

  2. Great summary of guest blogging Mike. We own websites in various verticals, which we use to write editorial content to aid clients back link profile. All the content is written by researchers and copywriters who are journalists or have that style of writing, but the content is written in the style the client wishes to have it written in. A key issues for business owners is time, so although they understand that they need to become more socially active online, they simply don’t have the time. They use us to do this for them and make their sites more visible via search but also on social networks. Would love to know peoples opinions on what we do and how we use guest blogging on a larger scale.

    1. Owain, generally, well-written content that delivers value to readers is always a good idea. Since you aren’t filling your sites with spam content, you’re headed in the right direction. However, whenever links aren’t an actual editorial decision voluntarily made by the host blog, things start to get “gray” in terms of SEO.

      If you’re going through the trouble of producing great content, why not pitch the articles to completely independent sites that likely have more traffic, social activity, authority and link juice to give?

  3. I love blogging, however guest blogging is a real time issue for me. I get about two maybe three posts a week. Would love to find the time to write for others. Two kids and another on the way! Man, time is precious!

    1. I’d suggest that instead of thinking about guest blogging as an addition to your current blogging burden, simply share more of your articles as guest posts, rather than publishing them on your own site. The benefits of an expanded readership and improved SEO often outweigh the value of keeping each post to yourself. Of course, you can always “riff” on your guest posts right on your own blog, getting more mileage from each article.

  4. Thanks for the great guide Mike. Thanks a lot for your invaluable insights. Thanks for the list of links to platforms which can help seo’s for guest blogging outreach. Guest blogging certainly helps a brand to get more visibility, helps in creating brand awareness, and benefits of link juice or authority passed by backlinks, but all these mainly depends on the authority and relevancy of the sites on which a guest post has been done.

  5. Mike, this is a very thorough article. 2013 is definitely going to be the year of guest blogging. SEOmoz featured an ultimate guide to guest blogging on their site yesterday! This one is better though :)

    I am curious to see what comes of guest blogging platforms and to see how they mature and grow over the next few years. Several years ago I tried MyBlogGuest and was disappointed by the lack of quality articles available. I would imagine that this is beginning to change. The proliferation of guest blogging platforms shows that there is a greater supply and demand. I believe the platform that rises above the rest will be the one that connects bloggers and blogs in a way that adds the most value for both. It should be easy for both parties to find quality.

    I will have to check out your platform. I wish you the best of luck. Have you seen a similar challenge in the guest blogging platform arena? Or am I missing a more crucial differentiation point between the platforms?

    1. You’re being nice Adam, but thank you. Pratik’s post connects every last dot when it comes to the details of guest blogging. Seriously, no details left unsaid. It a great resource:

      I do believe you’re right about the rise of platforms being a sign of the demand. If anything’s worth doing, the internet tells you it ought to be done at scale! Guest blogging, however, does require quality. That’s certainly the hard part.

  6. Very interesting and thorough article Mike. Thanks for it.

    The majority of guest bloggers are done by professionals in the field. Because like you’ve mentioned, guest blogging does take a great deal of effort and it certainly does require a certain level of quality. This makes guest blogging a very important concept to online marketing as it filters out the lazy ones from the pros.

    1. Totally right. We have clients with very thin new sites ask us to get “placements” on blogs that are way out of their league. Why would a highly respected blog do that?

      On the other hand, there are tens of millions of bloggers just trying to get their sites rolling and gain readership. As long as the guest content does provide value to readers, they’re headed in the right direction. So in that respect, guest blogging is about finding synergy with your peers. The good news for newer, smaller site owners is that there are millions of blogs who will want your content. You haven’t yet earned a spot on a name-brand blog, but those less authoritative blogs who need your content haven’t yet earned the authority to get guest posts from well known contributors! Everyone can find a friend, and over time, the activity, experience and connections earns you better blog real estate.

  7. I really like what you have to say on respecting bloggers. I have had a number of guest bloggers pitch me on ideas which I accept and then they send me an article which is not unique or is so poorly written I cannot publish it. One of the other things that drives me nuts is when they do not link correctly and then ask me to fix them. I have had success with listing my site on and a new site, so I recommend writers trying them both out.

    1. I haven’t seen yet, thanks for the tip. As a general rule, as a blogger, I respond to all requests to guest post if only for the meta aspect of seeing what people say and do. I’m always amazed at how many solicitations don’t even go on to share an article!

  8. Great article, Mike. You cover a lot of points about guest posting.

    Thanks for listing those 9 blogging networks. I’ll go and have a good look at them. I also liked your mention of Google authorship and how it will become more important.


  9. Hi Derryck.

    Actually I was seeking for the guest blogging and just got you at the and i read out throughout the blog from first paragraph to last paragraph. I am really very impress with this material and its beneficial for me and also for those guys who are working with this industry.
    As per the Google update the guest blogging is only option to get the positive and good SERPs.

  10. Hi Mike

    First off, great article. There are a lot of bloggers that can/should use this advice. Second, thanks for mentioning Business 2 Community. The site has come a long way since it started as my personal blog three years ago. One of the best decisions that I made was opening it up to others to contribute and I have learned a lot as a result. Anyone is welcome to contribute and hopefully they will have read your article first.

    Thanks again,

  11. Nice Indeed. But can you share some of the great resources to test guest bloggers content.

    Like if guest blogger comes with the new content to publish on my website, who can I make sure that it’s perfectly unique content and not just copy pasted from somewhere else. WordPress tool will be really appreciate.


      1. Thanks Mike Sobol…!

        But this is the tool which start monitoring after we publish content on our website. RIGHT?
        So is’t there any tool which can just come back with the results without first publish the content on our website?

  12. It does both, Rajesh. You can copy and paste any block of text into the tool and it’ll show you exactly what portions of the text are duplicate (if any).