Although Google’s former Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts declared guest blogging “dead” in 2014, it’s honestly more alive than ever today.
Modern marketers understand the benefits of using guest blogging to accomplish business goals. These benefits include things like:
- Reaching a new (usually highly targeted) audience.
- Building authority in your field.
- Increasing your domain authority through high-quality/relevant backlinks.
- Creating inbound sales and/or business opportunities.
There are also many benefits for the publications that accept guest posts, such as:
- New, high-quality content when you’re running low on topics.
- New perspectives and/or new topics.
- New audience (this is mutually beneficial).
- Opportunity for backlinks to your website from the guest blogger.
Note that there are also SEO benefits to guest blogging, but take care not to abuse them, unless you want to risk the wrath of Google.
These benefits are assuming both high-quality guest posting opportunities, as well as high-quality guest posters. The same benefits don’t hold true if either end can’t claim to be high-quality.
Quality vs. Quantity
Guest blogging is about producing quality content while implementing good SEO practices. In the past, guest blogging was more focused on quantity, as was used primarily as an SEO tactic to get links, comment spam, or to keyword stuff.
We know content and links account for two-thirds of Google’s top 3 ranking signals. While it’s great to have quality content on your own website that can help your visitors in addition to boosting your SEO, it’s just as important to put in the work required to get links.
Many people understand the benefits of guest blogging, and as a result, many of them pitch to different websites and publications in hopes of creating content for those audiences.
Even though guest blogging usually doesn’t result in the exchange of money for content, you still have to take it as seriously as you would a paid assignment. Think of it in terms of a marketing opportunity that you want to maximize. As such, you want to make sure that you’re trying to write guest posts for outlets that will help you to achieve a great ROI on your efforts.
Here’s how you find high-quality guest blogging opportunities.
Identify Your Niche
You want your content to attract the right audience.
Defining your niche will allow you to more easily focus your guest blogging pitch (and writing) efforts.
Google also pays attention to the kind of websites that link to your website.
The more closely related a guest blogging opportunity is to your niche, the better the backlink it will be for your SEO efforts.
How to Identify High-Quality Sites
When it comes to high-quality guest blogging opportunities, look specifically for:
- Websites that operate in the same (or a similar) industry or niche.
- An audience that, in many (or all) ways, matches your target customer.
- Signs of high engagement (e.g., a multitude of comments on posts or high social share counts of articles).
- A strong content distribution strategy that ensures multiple eyeballs on content.
Metrics to Identify a High-Quality Guest Blogging Opportunity
There are a number of relevant metrics to consider when it comes to identifying a high-quality guest blogging opportunity, including things like:
Guest Blogging SEO Metrics
- Ranking for relevant industry keywords. SEMRush is an excellent tool for determining the SERP positions for keywords across competitive websites.
- Backlink portfolio. Monitor Backlinks offers a free solution for checking into a website’s backlink portfolio.
- Domain Authority (DA). Moz uses this metric to predict how a site will rank.
DA is a metric many guest bloggers use to assess the value of a potential website. In theory, the closer a website’s DA score is to 100, the more traffic and better ranking it should expect.
Consider looking for guest posting opportunities on blogs with a domain authority over 30 to help your website to quickly gain rank. You can use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool to check a site’s DA: the higher the better, especially if you’re doing a comprehensive guest post without compensation.
Social & Audience Factors
- Facebook likes & shares
- LinkedIn shares
- Alexa Rank
- Comments per post (though quality is perhaps more important than quantity)
Though social media doesn’t have a direct effect on SEO, it can still assist efforts in content promotion. As such, it’s important to consider social and audience factors when it comes to qualifying a potential guest posting opportunity. Likes, comments, and shares are all important actions for giving content additional reach.
Bad Guest Posting Factors
Though the aforementioned metrics focus more so on quantitative factors, there are a number of quantitative factors to consider when it comes to identifying high-quality guest blogging opportunities, such as:
- Too many ads above the fold
- An outdated/poor website design
- Poor information architecture
- A lack of a review/editing process
- No posted writer requirements
- DA under 25
- Payment required to post
Here are two more important factors to consider when trying to identify high-quality guest blogging opportunities:
- Exclusivity: Does the website accept everyone or just those with good ideas and reputations? You can check that by doing a search on the website you’re eyeing and “stalking” their contributors.
- Linking: Does the website nofollow links from guest writers? Today it’s much harder to get a followed link, especially from larger publications or any website or blog that maintains high editorial standards. While a nofollow link shouldn’t be your top motivation for guest blogging, for some people this still is extremely important. If this is you, then you can prioritize blogs that give followed links. Just know that these sites may be smaller and have less authority, so it’s debatable how much it will help your SEO efforts.
Pitching to High-Quality Guest Blogging Opportunities
Once you’ve created a list of high-quality guest blogging opportunities, it’s time to start thinking about the pitches you’ll be sending out.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t send a generic pitch letter — it will get ignored.
- Personalize each pitch letter with something you like or admire about the publication you’re pitching.
- Introduce yourself and tell them why you want to guest blog, and what you can do for them (not how you expect the opportunity to benefit you). Include some sample links to posts you’ve published, especially those that can demonstrate good numbers and engagement.
When you pitch a guest post idea, remember — it isn’t about your product, service, or business. Instead, it’s about establishing yourself as a thought leader.
To increase your chances of getting approved, avoid bad pitches and guest blogging practices. Note that some companies prioritize submissions from prolific guest posters so if you can, try working your way up the ranks by starting to pitch to “smaller” sites.
To show an example, let’s say I’m pitching Search Engine Journal to publish my article, this one, about How to Identify High-Quality Guest Posting Opportunities.Here’s an example of an email I might send to the editor:
Hello [editor’s name],
My name is Maddy Osman, and I write for [a few relevant publications in the digital marketing industry]. I’m an active reader of [name the publication] and enjoyed your recent story about [recent story topic]. In an effort to become more actively involved with your publication, I’d like to pitch a topic that I think would be of interest to your readers. Here are the details:
[A few sentences summarizing the topic and why it’s relevant to this audience] (bonus points if you provide a few subheadings and bullet points to flesh it out a bit more)
What do you think, [editor name]? Would that be of interest?
Thanks for your time,
The more you can show your interest in the publication and how you can benefit them, the more likely your pitch is to be accepted.
Think about it from the perspective of the editor whose thinking, “What’s in it for me?” If you focus only on the benefits you’ll get from being published on a certain blog, the editor won’t even bother with you.
How to Identify High-Quality Guest Blogging Opportunities
Although guest blogging has been attacked by many including Google, it still manages to thrive as a smart digital marketing activity because of the numerous (mutual) benefits it can bring to the guest poster and blog they’re posting on.
While this tactic has been abused in the past, you can still use it now to improve your SEO strategy – as long as your focus is on creating high-quality posts.
by Maddy Osman