Guest posting has long been a tool in the content marketer’s arsenal. But it’s still one of the more misunderstood tactics, with unscrupulous SEOs sending out poorly written content and breaking the rules for links.
When done right, guest posting still has a lot of value. So we’re going to talk about what it is, and how you can get started.
What is Guest Posting?
A guest post is a blog post that you write to be posted on someone else’s website.
There are several benefits to writing guests posts:
Get your name exposed to a new audience
Connect with other industry professionals
Establish yourself as an industry leader
Some guest posting advocates also say that it is a useful way to get more backlinks to your website, thus helping your SEO efforts. But Google doesn’t agree — at least not if you’re only after the backlink.
Some marketers have used spammy tactics in the past, flooding sites with crummy guest posts just for the link. That’s not helpful to users, so Google often penalizes sites who do it — both the site hosting the post and the site that the post is linking to.
To avoid this problem, make sure you’re writing unique, valuable content. Great guest posts aren’t a 500-word rehash of topics already on the web. They’re often long-form, original works like case studies or thorough how-to guides.
If you treat the guest post as a piece of important information regardless of the link, you should be just fine.
The Rules for Guest Posting
Google’s goal first and foremost is great user experience. So they’ve set up some best practices for blogging that you should be aware of.
First, as mentioned above — content must be unique and interesting. That’s the #1 rule of ALL content marketing efforts, so it bears repeating.
Second, if the guest post is paid or sponsored in any way, the writer must disclose it somewhere in the piece. That’s why we often see words like Sponsored or In partnership with at the top of blog posts. Bloggers also must disclose if they’re an affiliate for any of the products they recommend.
Finally, if any money changes hands for your post or for a link, Google’s rules require a nofollow tag. This means you won’t get any backlink “juice” for that link. And we should all be grateful for this rule — otherwise, every word and image on the internet would be a paid spam link!
How to Pitch Guest Posts
While some big-deal bloggers and writers are turning away guest posting opportunities, most of us have to seek them out. But first, you have to decide who you want to approach.
A good way to start is by figuring out what industries are “parallel” to yours, rather than competing with you. A wedding photographer, for example, probably won’t have much luck trying to get guest posts on other photographer sites. But a DJ or event venue may be happy to publish a guest post by a photographer since they’re in a related — but not competing — niche.
If you want to pitch large, nationwide sites, give them the attention they deserve. Some people treat guest post requests as a numbers game, bombarding site owners with generic pitches. It’s not very successful.
Instead, do some homework on the sites you’d like to write for. Study their niche and their style. Research which of their posts have done well and received the most comments and social shares. Then come up with a few ideas that you think would do really well on their site, and that they haven’t covered before.
Reach out to the blog owner or site manager, and make it personal. Tell them what you like about their site and share your pitch ideas. These folks get dozens or even hundreds of generic copy and paste pitch requests each month. So yours has to stand out.
Writing the Guest Post
If you’re going to dedicate time to a guest post strategy, you need to do it well. This should be some of your best content, for three reasons.
First, you want the site owner to invite you to contribute again. So your initial attempt needs to be a winner. Second, you’ll want to use this successful guest post as an example in future pitches for other sites. Think of it as the start of your guest post portfolio.
And finally, the guest post will introduce your name and writing to a new audience. And we all know the value of first impressions.
Once the post is up, help it along. Promote it on your own website and social media for maximum views and shares. And not just once — push that post several times. Ask your friends to post it, too. And encourage engagement by responding to every single comment.
Guest Posting — A Worthy Investment
Sounds like a lot of work? It is.
But just like all content marketing, the rewards come to those who put in the effort. Greater visibility, a new audience, and industry authority can all be yours with a little ingenuity and industry.
Plus, people who practice successful guest posting get to promote themselves “As seen in” well-known publications. How’s that for establishing authority?