Guest blogging and contributing content to external websites, in general, have received a bad reputation over the past 18 months.
Like directory links before them, guest posts have become another underappreciated and unloved brand and expertise building tactic, and that needs to change.
This three-step guide to guest blogging will provide you with a rejuvenated approach toward placing contributed content on external websites that will fuel your digital marketing.
The Negative Press Behind Guest Posts
In May 2017, Google issued a warning to reinforce the dangers of low quality and spammy approaches to guest blogging.
Some of the characteristics to take note of when creating guest posts in line with Google best practice include:
- Avoiding excessive use of keywords, notably within link anchor text.
- Ensuring content is unique and written by an expert in the field.
- Staying clear of thin content placement (often driven by scraping and repurposing the same posts).
- Limiting the volumes of followed links (including to single domains).
The impact of the Google’s warning was twofold:
- People spent less time creating content for placement on external websites.
- Website owners removed “write for us” sections and made it harder for guest contributors to easily submit content; many started adding new contributors only by invitation.
Today’s Guest Blogging Opportunity
Whenever Google cautions us about using a previously prolific tactic for digital marketing (and SEO specifically), you can also view it as an opportunity.
Google scared a lot of people off this tactic.
That means less people are actively guest posting.
Even fewer people are doing guest posting effectively.
But for those who dare to do it (and do it the right way), guest blogging has many advantages. This will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
Providing expert content contribution supports:
- Your professional exposure, brand, and credibility.
- Associating related and relevant content for easy discovery.
- Business, brand, and services visibility within niche audiences.
- Social PR and reputation management.
- SEO through mentions, link building, and website trust/authority.
- Remaining present in your active community.
Ready to find your competitive advantage?
Here’s your three-step guide to guest posts.
Tip 1: Set Clear Guest Post Objectives
Generating content for use on external websites can sometimes seem like a thankless task.
You may not receive any referral traffic to your website for some posts, your social following may not change with each post placed, and you may start to feel disillusioned by static search performance despite numerous content placements.
A key factor often fueling the above is neglecting to set clear guest blog goals and objectives.
Here are some of the more common guest blogging goals:
- Increase the volume of referring domains: This also requires categorization related to quality and opportunity analysis including; domain rating/relevancy and likely domain type (e.g., .org, .edu sites).
- Generate more referral traffic: Take a current and historical benchmark of the number of referring sites and traffic from referral traffic as a source/medium and use this to set realistic targets.
- Improve SEO performance: This may be organic search traffic, rankings, impressions or other areas. Please ensure that you consider a broader link building strategy for SEO and do not rely on any one tactic for SEO gains, as this can be damaging.
- Increase social media following: Be clear about the key accounts and the justification for increasing follower levels, as ultimately just having greater reach will not in isolation increase other core business success measurements (like traffic or revenue).
- Building brand credibility: This may be business or personal brand credibility (and likely a combination of both). Increasing credibility can support customer retention as well as point of sale / new business wins.
Tip 2: Create an Aspirational List of Placement Sites
The single largest failure for expert writers who are looking to place content on external websites is that they fall into the trap of writing for everyone that asks.
This leads to writers being swamped with unrealistic writing commitments and restricts them from expanding their writing horizons and being present on the sites they set out to.
The solution to this is creating and revisiting aspirational content placement and contribution sites.
Creating and revisiting your list of aspirational guest content sites does two things:
- Sets a high benchmark. Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve with the content you create. This helps focus your efforts and will ensure that you stay well clear of any low-quality, spammy, or volume-based guest posting approaches doomed to fail.
- Refine, revisit, and nurture your content contribution. This may be based on achieving your aspirational website goals or raising the bar if, upon reflection, you set your sites too modest at the outset
How to Create Your Aspirational List of Guest Blogging Sites
- Include sites you enjoy reading that are relevant.
- Look for award-winning sites that match your writing style and approach.
- Target sites that are authorities within the industry and niche.
- Ask people where their go-to sites are for keeping on top of industry change and knowledge discovery.
- Research websites that are frequently cited as trusted resources within top/best lists.
- Don’t forget to include up and coming sites which may have limited historical value, but are doing cool things rights now, and are getting lots of social buzz and sharing.
Tip 3: Focus on Quality Above Everything Else
There are many traits that define quality content as well as authoritative/quality and relevant websites.
By keeping quality at the forefront of your mind with your guest posting you will spend more time creating the content (depth, insight, types, value) that you set out to, and support greater returns for your resource and time investment.
Quick Tips for Creating Quality Content
- Write about your passions.
- Research the topic thoroughly.
- Cultivate your own writing style.
- Interview others.
- Have an awareness of latest trends.
- Ask for feedback at first draft stage.
- Have an opinion.
- Write from personal experience.
- Tell a story.
- Group brainstorm.
Quick Tips for Identifying Authoritative Websites
Authority and quality can be subjective, but keep these tips in mind to select higher quality websites:
- Limited presence of ads.
- Longer form content.
- Web-ready content (cross-device/usability signals present).
- High level of social sharing and engagement.
- Unique insights.
- Spelling/grammar and readability levels are high.
- Higher domain rating and longer date established.
- Mixed content types.
- Larger volumes of content.
- Fast loading content.
Guest posts remain a credible tactic for brand and personal brand exposure as well as traditional goals including SEO, site visibility, social shares and engagement, plus revenue (when approached correctly).
The three core factors to support effective guest posting are:
- Setting clear objectives.
- Implementing aspirational posting sites.
- Focusing on quality first.
More Guest Posting Resources:
- HuffPo Kills Contributor Program: What’s the Future of Guest Blogging?
- 4 Easy Steps to Effective Guest Blogging That Will Make Google Happy
- How to Identify High-Quality Guest Blogging Opportunities
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