Every month, bloggers publish 70 million new posts on WordPress, which are read by 409 million people. That translates to around 2.75 million new posts every single day. There’s a lot of competition out there in the blogging world. This means you need to be strategic when it comes to getting your blog the exposure it deserves.
Link building is one proven way to drive traffic to your blog. Link building refers to the process of getting other websites to link back to your blog. The most common method of building links is guest blogging or writing posts for other sites, which include a link back to yours.
Guest blogging achieves two key things:
- It establishes your blog as an authority on your chosen subject, showcasing your knowledge to a wider audience.
- Backlinks, especially from high-authority websites, help drive your website higher in search engine rankings.
While some unscrupulous bloggers have paid for backlinks in the past, Google now discourages this kind of behavior. Nothing beats real, relevant content as a source of backlinks. Today, we will discuss how you can approach link-building strategically for maximum results.
Is guest posting the right strategy for you?
There are, as we’ve established, great reasons for guest posting. You can do guest posts to establish authority in your niche. Most site owners do guest posts to improve their SEO ranking.
Does it work, though? Here’s an example of a backlink profile for an evergreen page that discusses “how to create a professional email address.” It’s a comprehensive article that covers anything someone making a search on Google will want to know about the topic.
Google assesses a lot of variables to reach a decision regarding where a piece of content should rank in the SERPs. One variable Google will assess the authority of a page, measured in part by the number of relevant backlinks. This article has links from 29 unique domains. That’s not a huge number.
Let’s look at the top search results for “professional email address”:
The article is in the fourth spot in the SERPs. The articles that are higher in the SERPs have more relevant, high-quality backlinks. Hopefully, I’ve made my point as to the importance of backlinking.
The question now is not, “should I do guest blogging?” It is, “how do I guest post at scale?” Let’s get started.
Size up the competition
Some people blog just for fun, of course. But many do it because they wish to make money blogging. We’ll assume you already have a sizable amount of keyword-focused content on your blog. If you don’t have this yet, get some quality articles published before you focus your attention on guest blogging.
The next thing you need to do is assess the competition. This can be accomplished with a short Google search and Ahrefs backlink checker. Let’s say you want to rank for the key phrase “how to cite a website.”
You can see in this example that the top-ranked site for this keyword has 42 referring domains. Fifteen of these domains have a DR 50+. Using the rough formula below, you can calculate approximately the number of backlinks you’ll need to at least be on the first page of the search results:
(# of sites with DR higher than 50) + (1/4 # of sites with DR lower than 50) = Number of guest posts to rank.
This isn’t a scientific formula for SEO. It’s more like a back of the napkin business plan.
So that’s how you assess how many links you need to get a piece of content ranking. With most keywords, it’s going to take time to build sufficient links. Treat your link building campaign as an ongoing project that could take months to complete.
Identify your target sites
Now you know roughly how many links you need, you have to secure them. You should secure links from authoritative sites. Below is the criteria I use to choose sites for guest posting opportunities:
- Relevant to my niche
- DR of 50 or higher
- 3,000 or more visitors a month
- Trust Flow of 20+
These are the bare minimum metrics. Higher is always better! If you are lucky enough to land a guest spot on a website that has a DR of 90+, for example, your content will rank a lot faster.
To generate a list of domains, you should head over to Ahrefs. Search for a popular site in your niche, and export the backlink profile.
Remove sites with a DRs of less than fifty. This will give you several hundred sites that you could pitch to. Hold on to that list, because we’ll be using it in a bit. But first, you’ll need to do some outreach.
Pitch your guest post
Now you have a list of sites to contact; you need to figure out who to contact. There are two main methods I use to contact editors; Linkedin and email.
LinkedIn makes it easy to find who is in charge of content at a particular site. Run a search for the website name and “Editor” or other writers. Make a note of their name and send a request to connect with them. Once you’re connected, you can send your pitch via LinkedIn.
If your targets are not on LinkedIn or are not responsive to your message, using an email finding tool can help. You’ll need the domain and the name of the person. Once you’ve found the correct email address, it’s time to send your guest post pitches.
Whether you’re contacting your prospects via LinkedIn or email, a great pitch will greatly improve your chances of getting a response. Your pitch needs to cover three basic things:
- Who you are
- What you can offer
- What you’d like in return
Here’s a sample email template:
Hi [their name],
I’m [your name] from [your blog]. Are you accepting guest posts at this time? I have a few ideas for content that you might want to cover on your site.
I’ve recently written for [names of sites you’ve written for], and I’m particularly proud of this piece I wrote on [subject]: [link]. I think it reflects the kind of quality I can produce for you. Let me know if you’d be interested in hearing my guest post ideas.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to talk to you soon,
If you don’t get a response, use a gmail reminder to send a follow-up. Send up to three follow-ups, but then assume the answer is no and move on to the next prospect.
How to come up with guest post ideas
The best way to land guest blogging spots is to pitch great ideas. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds! After all, you’re already blogging – you know your niche, and you have things to say.
You also don’t need to worry about coming up with ideas that are completely original. You’ll need to produce original content, of course, but there are few (if any) truly original ideas left. There is nothing wrong with taking an old idea and rehashing it for a new audience. The trick is to make that idea relevant to your target site’s readers.
If you’re stuck, BuzzSumo is a great way of finding ideas for guest posts. This tool shows you the total social media engagement numbers for blog posts around a topic. You can sort according to total engagement, letting you find the most popular topics.
“I’ve always found Buzzsumo is a great source of inspiration for content ideas. Other relevant resources I suggest you check out include Keywords Everywhere, and Zest.”
James Johnson, Small-Bizsense
When you’ve got your idea, check the site hasn’t covered it already. The easiest way to do this is to create a list of keywords, then go to Google and use the following search string:
If you get something relevant to your keyword in the search results, move on to the next keyword until you come across a keyword with no relevant results.
Write your guest post.
Did someone accept your pitch? Great job! Now the real work begins – writing a great post. Writing a strong article begins by organizing your thoughts and ideas. I suggest you start with an outline, including potential sub-headings.
Before you start writing, read the site’s style guide (ask the editor for one if you can’t find it online). Read a few posts on the site to get an idea of the tone. Is it formal, playful, humorous, or serious? Take note of the little things, such as usage of the Oxford comma.
Remember that the point of this exercise is to get backlinks. Make these relevant to your readers. If you just throw in links at random, you’ll annoy the editor and turn off the reader. Use links in moderation. One backlink is good; two is pushing it but possibly okay in a longer article. Three is too many.
Hire others to do the link building for you
If you are serious about scaling your guest posting and backlinks, and your blog is already making money, you can think about hiring someone to guest post. The first step is finding a great writer. You can use a freelancer marketplace to find a writer who will produce content cheaply on a per-article basis. However, you get what you pay for. You’ll get better results if you hire a professional with experience.
Another, perhaps less risky, option is to hire someone to do the admin side of things such as keyword research and sending pitch emails. You can negotiate payment per task or on an hourly basis. This then frees up your valuable time to do the important things – like actually writing those articles!
Nurture your network
Remember: when you pitch for a guest blogging spot, you are asking for a favor. Building and nurturing your network will serve you well. Getting to know editors and others working in your niche establishes you as a credible source but also lays the foundation for a friendship.
You can also nurture your network by helping others. If someone asks for advice, half an hour of your time, or even a guest posting spot on your own website, say yes if you can. All of this will pay off for you many times over in the long run. It’s essentially the same principle as good customer service.
Once an editor agrees to do that favor for you by allowing you to post on their site, you must treasure and nurture that relationship. Communicate clearly and often, deliver on what you promised, and never miss a deadline. Failing to meet these basic standards will destroy your credibility, and that editor will never trust you again.
Steady and Strategic Wins the Race
Link building is more complex than just writing a blog entry and sending it to a random editor. It takes time, and there are no quick cheat substitutes for hard work. You will only succeed if you approach guest blogging strategically.
So remember the process we’ve laid out, and follow the steps in order:
- Check out the competition in your niche.
- Identify target sites.
- Find the correct contact information.
- Come up with great article ideas.
- Send a killer pitch.
- Write a great article.
- Deliver what you promised, and deliver on time.
Writing a guest post might feel more difficult than writing for your own blog. Guest blogging means you are following someone else’s rules, tone, and style guide. You also probably don’t know that site’s audience as well as you know your own.
But taking the time to become a great guest blogger will pay dividends. Choosing the right backlinks, and placing them on high authority sites, will grow your credibility and build your blog’s reputation.
Once you have settled into the process and started to establish yourself as a valuable guest blogger in your niche, you can consider outsourcing your link building process to expand your reach even further.
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