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What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting or guest blogging is a link building activity where you publish your content on another website to acquire backlinks.
The article, typically including a byline, is authored by a “guest author.”
Guest posting is a favored SEO strategy because it enables authors to link back to their own content or website, improving search engine rankings.
It also aids in increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to your site, and establishing credibility with readers, influencers, and search engines.
Guest posting requires creating high-quality, long-form content optimized for on-page SEO and adhering to the host website’s guest post guidelines.
After publication, it’s beneficial to share your guest post on social media, engage with sharers, and respond to comments to maximize the impact of your guest article.
The Reality of Guest Posting Today
Today, guest posting has become a soulless, transactional endeavor conducted on an industrial scale.
Because backlinks are crucial for ranking and guest posts provide a link back to the author’s site, it’s often the preferred method for link builders.
The process involves sending thousands of emails to potential websites and frequently paying for the privilege to publish your guest post.
It’s a time-consuming or expensive activity that, at its best, greatly aids your rankings and, at its worst, can lead to Google penalties.
The success of guest posting largely depends on the quality of the hosting websites.
Frankly, the value received from guest posting opportunities and the agencies hired for this purpose typically matches the investment.
Google’s Stance on This Practice
Google is strongly opposed to any inorganic link-building methods.
Their algorithm relies on backlinks to rank pages and websites in the SERPs, so they prefer the best content to naturally earn the most backlinks.
However, this ideal is not always met.
Google employees, including John Mueller, head of the Search Relations team, have publicly opposed such practices.
In 2012, Google introduced the Penguin update to tackle unnatural link-building schemes.
While Penguin marked a significant event in SEO history, many of the targeted link-building methods survived with varying degrees of effectiveness to present day.
DIY vs Hiring Freelancers vs Hiring Agencies
If you decide to start building links via guest posting, someone will have to do all the grunt work of reaching out to websites and keeping track of campaigns.
The choice is between DIY, hiring freelancers, and hiring agencies.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:
I advise for every website owner to try the DIY method to begin with just to learn how to do it well and the amount of work it takes.
You’ll want to know these things to properly assess the work of others later on if you decide to outsource the efforts.
Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are full of honest and hard-working freelancers who specialize in link building outreach.
More often than not, they’ll charge you less for the service than agencies because of the inherent overheads of running a business.
My advice is to try out at least several freelancers and analyze their work in order to find the best candidate for long-term work.
The biggest advantage of hiring agencies are their existing contacts with site owners who accept guest posts and standardized processes that produce predictable results.
There’s something to say for the expertise agencies possess in analyzing and maintaining a natural looking backlink profile which is extremely important.
Not all agencies will care or know enough to do that for you, though, so research in advance to pinpoint a good one before hiring.
Ultimately, the choice between DIY, freelancers, or agencies depends on factors such as budget, the scale of the project, the need for specialized expertise, and the level of control and involvement you desire.
Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks, so it’s important to assess your specific needs and resources before making a decision.
Key Criteria for Selecting High Quality Guest Posting Sites
When choosing high-quality guest posting sites, it’s crucial to consider several key criteria, with backlink quality being paramount.
Here are the essential factors to focus on:
High-quality backlinks are essential for SEO success and are the safest way to avoid the risks associated with artificially inflating your backlink profile.
Backlinks from trustworthy and authoritative domains can boost your reputation and credibility among users.
Moreover, quality backlinks can drive relevant traffic to your site, enhancing engagement and conversion rates.
Relevance is critical at multiple levels: content, niche, page, and audience relevance.
Unless you have a substantial budget that allows for a broad-spectrum approach to link building, relevance should be your north star.
Choose relevant websites and prioritize quality over quantity throughout your process, from outreach to content delivery.
Each backlink is a vote of confidence in your website and content.
However, votes from stronger domains carry more weight than those from weaker ones.
Focus on stronger domains, particularly if your domain is already somewhat established.
As a rule of thumb, avoid sites with a Domain Rating (DR) lower than your own, unless the site is 100% relevant to your content.
Otherwise, the benefits will likely be minimal.
Best Way of Finding High Quality Guest Posting Opportunities
I’ll be direct – if a site openly advertises they’re accepting guest posts, they’re not ideal for guest posting in my view.
Such sites often become guest post farms, primarily existing to generate revenue through this activity.
Moreover, the more domains a site links to, the more its ability to pass on link equity or ‘link juice’ is diluted.
Therefore, the expected benefits diminish, and the risk of potential penalties increases if you post on these domains.
But how do you find quality guest posting opportunities?
Let’s explore some strategies.
Analyze Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles
Chances are, your more established competitors have already paved the way for you.
Compile a list of competitors you aspire to rival and use an SEO tool like Semrush to examine their backlink profiles.
You can even utilize a 7-day trial to conduct this research in bulk at no cost.
In Semrush, filter the backlinks to display dofollow links in content, ranking them from highest to lowest quality.
Then, simply review these links to identify guest posts, which should be fairly apparent.
This approach is manual and requires effort, but it’s exceptionally safe and rewarding.
It allows you to acquire the same quality backlinks as your competition, leveling the playing field and narrowing the backlink gap between you.
Search for Prolific Guest Bloggers in Your Industry
This method ties into both the previous strategy and your general competitor analysis research.
It can be broader than that. When you find a guest post, note the author.
Use this info to discover other sites where this author has posted through simple Google searches.
Also, check their social media since authors often share their guest posts to boost engagement and value for their site.
To summarize, compile a list of prolific guest bloggers in your niche and track their contributions to uncover valuable guest posting opportunities.
Join Relevant Online Communities
Networking is an often overlooked activity that can aid you in many ways, including finding guest posting opportunities.
Engage actively in these communities and foster genuine relationships.
Once you’re known and trusted, link posting opportunities will naturally arise.
Website owners, who might generally decline guest posts, could make exceptions for you after establishing a rapport.
Utilize Social Media
This approach is a clever tactic. X is the optimal platform for this.
In the search bar, type “guest post by” or “guest post” and sift through the tweets containing these phrases.
While many posts may be irrelevant, occasionally you’ll find a valuable lead in your niche.
Upon discovering a gem, you simultaneously learn the site owner’s name, the website, and the guest blogger’s identity.
This information is invaluable. Return to the beginning of this section and use what you’ve learned to dig up more opportunities.
Sites Not to Engage With for Guest Posting
I’ve discovered that if it’s too easy to guest post on a site, it’s likely not worth your effort.
While there are exceptions, this holds true in the majority of cases, meaning that quickly disqualifying sites with numerous red flags can save you time and resources in the long run.
Here are some major red flags to watch out for.
Sites with “Advertise” or “Write for Us” Language
These sites may have diluted their domain authority by linking out too frequently and publishing low-quality content, making Google trust them less.
At worst, they might be toxic ‘link farms’ or not legitimate sites at all.
Linking to your website from such sites can alert Google, leading to your site being ignored or even penalized algorithmically, which is a waste of both money and effort.
Using these sites extensively for guest blogging risks manual action penalties from Google, often resulting in significant damage to your website.
Low Authority, Generic Blogs
Link sellers often create networks of generic blogs (PBNs – Private Blog Networks) to sell as many links as possible, pretending to be relevant to various niches.
This is a clear signal to remove a site from your consideration.
However, low authority isn’t always a deal-breaker; niche sites with weaker domain strength can still be valuable. It’s the ‘generic’ aspect that poses the problem.
To differentiate, examine the blog’s content or reach out directly. A response pitching links from their network is a dead giveaway of a PBN.
Sites Irrelevant to Your Niche
Your goal should be to guest blog on sites with domain-wide or at least page-wide relevance to your niche.
Sites without any relevance are not worth your time or resources, as they offer little to no benefit in terms of audience engagement or SEO value.
Outreach Templates for Guest Posting Pitches
I’m an advocate for short, direct outreach emails in this arena.
Sites are inundated with these messages daily, often receiving dozens.
The typical claims of being a “huge fan” and having “learned so much” from their blog no longer impress.
So, be concise and respect the time of the site owners.
If they’re interested, they’ll share their terms in response.
Below are some efficient templates for your consideration.
I strongly suggest A/B testing extensively to find the most effective approach for your specific situation.
Template 1: Straight to the Point
Subject: Guest Post Proposal
I’m [Your Name], also in the [Your Niche] space. I’m reaching out to see if you’re interested in a guest post. I can write on a topic that’s currently missing from your blog or something you plan to cover.
Let me know if this sounds good to you, and we can figure out the details.
Thanks, [Your Name]
Template 2: Direct Offer
Subject: Quick Question on Guest Posting
I’m [Your Name], writing about [Niche]. I’d like to offer a guest post for your site. Got a topic in mind you want covered? I’m happy to contribute.
Best, [Your Name]
Template 3: No-Nonsense Approach
Subject: Content Collaboration?
[Your Name] here. I’m in [Niche] too. Interested in a guest post for [Website Name]? Tell me what you need, and I’ll get to writing.
Cheers, [Your Name]
Tips for Producing Effective Guest Post Content
Even if the process of securing a guest post spot is transactional (you paid for it), aim to maximize its value.
It’s crucial to cover your tracks and avoid leaving large footprints for Google to find.
Organic guest posting, where experts share valuable insights on other platforms, is highly regarded.
Understand the Audience
This means conducting thorough research to understand the interests, preferences, and challenges of the target audience.
By ensuring the content aligns with the host site’s audience, your guest post is more likely to resonate and engage readers, enhancing its success.
This strategy ensures the content is valuable and relevant to the host site’s readership, boosting the guest post’s overall impact.
Create Valuable and Engaging Content
The key to effective guest post content is to provide value with relevant and useful information.
Create content that is informative, actionable, and meets the audience’s needs.
By prioritizing value, your guest post becomes more engaging and memorable, improving the chances of connecting with the audience and broadening your brand exposure.
Optimize for SEO
To extend the reach of your guest posts, optimize them for SEO to enhance their visibility on Google. This includes:
- Matching the search intent
- Using original visuals
- Incorporating relevant keywords in the title and subheadings
- Focusing on readability and user experience
By following these tips, your guest posts are not just about link building but also about gaining audience and brand exposure.
Setting Goals and Measuring Success
For your guest posting strategy to be effective, it’s crucial to set clear goals that align with your business objectives and measure the KPIs based on these goals.
Approaching this task without a clear strategy will lead to sub-par results.
Let’s delve into potential goals for your link building and the KPIs to monitor:
Improving SEO Performance – When aiming to boost SEO, focus on the quantity and quality of ‘Dofollow’ backlinks directed to your homepage.
A key KPI here is your website’s rankings. If your rankings improve with new backlinks, your strategy is working.
Enhancing Brand Awareness – If the goal is to boost brand visibility, pay attention to how your guest posts perform in SERPs and the frequency of social media mentions.
Your primary KPI should be the visibility of your content. For this objective, even ‘Nofollow’ backlinks are beneficial, as they help increase brand awareness.
Generating Leads – When the goal is specific to business performance, like generating leads, the focus should be on referral traffic from those backlinks.
Important KPIs include not only the volume of referral traffic but also the behavior of visitors on your site, with an emphasis on optimizing conversion paths to transform visitors into leads and ultimately, into sales.