How to Evaluate Guest Blog Post Prospects in Five Easy Steps

SMS Text

A few days ago, we were asked by one of our clients whether it’s worth his time to write a guest post for a blogger who had recently reached out to him via Twitter. Guest blogging is a great way to engage with new audiences, establish yourself as a thought leader, and hopefully acquire a quality inbound link or two. That said, not all blogs are created equal, and with time being a scarce resource — especially for small business owners — it’s important to ensure that you’re getting a positive return on your investment. To make the decision process a bit easier, I wanted to highlight some of the things to look for in a blog when evaluating whether it’s a high-value prospect for a guest post.

Reader Engagement

Are site visitors interacting with the blog posts in a substantive and authentic way? A dearth of comments may be a sign of a weak and inactive community that’s unlikely to help promote your content and provide feedback. Likewise, a comment section overrun with spam and irrelevant remarks throws into question the blog owner’s commitment to maintaining high-quality dialogue. Review the past 10 posts to see whether people are posting meaningful comments.

Social Shares

Are readers helping to promote content via social network sharing buttons? Each blog post should include prominently-displayed sharing buttons, and users should be actively taking advantage of these promotional features. Look at how many people have “liked”, tweeted, and +1’ed the past ten posts to supplement your assessment of the community’s level of engagement.

HubSpot Blog Post; Notice Social Sharing Buttons in the Left Sidebar

Number of Subscribers

A high number of RSS and email subscribers is generally a good proxy for determining whether the blog contains quality, actionable content. You can check how many subscribers the blog has via Google Reader, just search for the blog’s name in the feed URL text field. Note, however, that this number may be an underestimation, as it does not include the people who use RSS readers other than Google Reader. It’s always a fair game to ask the blog owner to provide you with his subscriber count (if it’s high, he’ll be happy to do so).

Backlink Profile

How much are people linking to the main blog homepage, and to individual posts? Again, a high number of inbound links is a good indicator that other people perceive the blog to be a reliable and quality source of information, i.e. exactly the type of blog where you’d want your own content featured. You can check backlink data using SEOmoz’s free Open Site Explorer. The SEOmoz blog, for example, has incoming links from more than 3,500 root domains, i.e. unique websites. Ideally, you should aim to get your post featured on a well-established blog that’s able to attract a high number of natural links. What constitutes “high number” is in the eye of the beholder, but as a point of reference, note that the SEOmoz blog is ranked no. 13 on the Ad Age Power 150 list, a highly authoritative list of marketing blogs.

Post Quality — Do the posts have compelling, clear, and actionable headlines? Are they free of grammar and spelling mistakes? Do they incorporate images, section subheadings to break down chunks of text, and calls to action? For high-quality posts, these features are an absolute must. For a more comprehensive list of what makes a good blog post, see our most recent article on the topic, 10 Elements of a Highly Effective Blog.

Now we want to hear from you: what are some other indicators that you look at when deciding which blog owners you’ll reach out to? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Lukas Pleva
Lukas Pleva is a student at The University of Chicago, blogger, aspiring inbound marketer, and voracious pug lover. He oversees online marketing campaigns for St. Pete Bagel Co., and is looking to break into the digital marketing industry after graduation.Find Lukas on Google+
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Aleena

    Hi Lukas,
    I do agree that all the five steps are quite simple and a blogger can get very effective results after implementing these steps. Good quality content is something a reader wants to read plus it must provide some value to the reader.
    Thanks for sharing such informative post!


  • Laura

    I like guest blogging as I believe it can open new doors for websites and relationships online. I accept blog posts on my website (if they are high quality) and I also write articles for other blogs. The hardest part I have found is finding blogs to accept your articles but by using a new website called My Blog Guest I’ve found it is easier. I definitely think it is worth the time and effort and if a prolific blog owner ever asked me to do a post I wouldn’t hesitate ūüôā

  • Ryan Mendenhall

    Great article! This isn’t really an indicator that goes to the bottom line necessarily, but one that I think is important is to make sure the people that you’ll be working with have a similar philosophy to your own. It’s frustrating for them and for you if the articles you submit are rejected or picked apart too much. The relationship with those on whose site you’ll be posting in an important aspect to me, for more reasons than just getting links or traffic.