What Is Guest Blogging?
The concept is simple – you find a site that accepts articles (blog posts) by guest writers, offer up your work, they publish it, and then you bask in the reflected glory. Anyway, that’s the concept.
As we know, content marketing is the hottest topic in the online world, and “guest-blogging” is currently its favourite child. It has been popularized as a reliable source of links to your own website. Why? Search engines are the judges in a worldwide competition, a beauty contest between the competitor websites. Other websites are also casting votes by way of links. And the more links to your site, the higher its ranking. This is called “link popularity”.
Search engines listen to the opinion of other websites in order to form an opinion about yours. If lots of sites link to your page, that tells the search engine your site is important. So what you want are inbound links, the more the better, though the quality of those links is critically important. When you have an article published on another site, your authorship creates a link back to your own website, for instance “Written by Geoffrey Winn at MatureMedia”. Depending on the rules attached to the home blog of the article, there may also be opportunities to link back to your website in the body of the post.
However, as we will see later in this post, this theory may no longer be as relevant to guest posting if it is only to gain links.
Guest Blogging Spam
Before Google began its “animal” updates, guest blogging was sometimes a source of search engine spam. You found appropriate keywords for your firm, wrote a guest post that emphasised those keywords without regard to their relevance or context to the readers of the target website, and reaped the rewards in extra traffic. Changes to Google have made this a far less attractive proposition.
Nowadays you need to look for opportunities that emphasise relevance (is the target blog relevant to your firm’s business e.g. a superannuation blog that has a similar readership to your clients), quality (is the target blog a high quality site), and opportunity (does the target site get the attention of Google).
Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
So how do you find relevant opportunities for guest blogging? First, use one or all of a series of search phrases (and grammatical variations of each) that relate to guest blogging, e.g:
- “submit a guest post”
- “guest post”
- “we accept guest posts”
- “write for us”
Combine each of these with keywords that are important to your clients. So, for instance, if you are an accountant and you want to attract retirees for investment advice, you might put some of the following in the Google search box:
- “superannuation retirement” “submit a guest post”
- “retirement investment accountant” “guest post”
- “how to retire” “we accept guest posts”
- “long term investments” “write for us”
You will get many results. Read some, decide which website you might want to write for (e.g. do you want a site in your city?), and then check their guest blogging guidelines, which can sometimes be onerous. I recently considered a submission to a well trafficked website, but was shocked at the stringent conditions attached to each submission. Although I understand that popular sites must be choosy, at the end of the day it was not worth the effort.
How To Pitch A Guest Blog Post
If not well written, you can be certain the email that pitches your guest blog post will be quickly discarded. So if it is not grammatically correct, reasonably discursive and intelligent, don’t even bother. Make sure your “pitch” has at least the following:
- Has diligently follow the guest posting guidelines of the website
- A well thought-out and carefully crafted subject line for the email
- A very short bio for your firm, including your expertise
- Share something about their blog and what you like about it
- Why their readers will be interested in the topic – include a short summary
- ALL your personal contact details – don’t make them go through a switchboard and leave a message
Latest Google Guidelines About Guest Blogging
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team (and a really well known SEO commentator to whom everyone listens) had the following to say in January 2014:
Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company… Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.”… There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.
Get it? If you want to guest post to largely gain traffic, the effort is misplaced. As Cutts writes, “I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes”. So if you want to write for a blog or website that is respected in your professional field, and you hope to attract some of its readers to your site, than that’s great. And well worth the effort.
According to search optimisation genius Nail Patel, “…if you use it to help build up your brand, referral traffic, and overall sales, it will continue to be a great strategy”.
This is an evolving subject. I’ll keep you posted as this pans out.
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