The competition for page views has never been higher. While great content is still king when it comes to attracting website visitors, you will also need to develop a link building strategy if you want to reach your goals.
Guest posting for high authority sites is an effective and ethical method of growing your backlink profile. This, in turn, will improve your search rankings and drive traffic to your site.
Read on to learn how to get those guest posting opportunities.
Know where you are
A good SEO and link building strategy starts with understanding your baseline and competition. Checking your site’s performance and how it compares to other sites in your niche will give you an indication of what you’ll need to do to start ranking highly.
Begin by selecting the keywords you want to rank for, and use a Google search to discover the top ranking sites for those keywords. Compare your content with theirs. If their content is substantially better than yours, you might want to revise your content strategy before you focus on link building.
Assuming you’re happy with your content’s quality, the next step is to find related keywords that you could also rank for. Google Keyword Planner will give you useful keyword suggestions. Here’s an example using the keyword “viral marketing”:
Next, use a keyword checker tool like Ahrefs to discover the number of referring domains your site will need in order to rank on the first page of Google search results. Here’s where to find it:
In this case, Ahrefs indicates you will need around 51 backlinks from high-authority sites to be in the top 10 results. That’s quite a lot, but not impossible! Use this figure to set an initial target number of guest posts.
Next, it’s time to start looking for websites to target.
Choose your target sites for guest posts
All backlinks do not have the same value. In fact, some can even harm your search rankings. You need to choose the right sites if you want your efforts to pay off.
Here are the criteria I use when I choose sites to target for guest posts:
- Must be relevant to my industry/niche.
- More than 3,000 visitors a month.
- A Trust Flow score of 15 or higher
- A Domain Authority (DR) score of 50 or higher.
To find these sites, choose a high-ranking site similar to yours and use the Ahrefs backlink checker to review its backlink profile. You will get an exportable list like this:
Download the list, and then remove any sites that don’t meet the criteria listed above. You should also remove sites that are unsuitable for guest posts, like Facebook, Reddit, and Wikipedia. After all this filtering, you should still have several hundred sites to target.
Send cold emails to people in charge of content
The next step is to find the right person to contact for each site and introduce yourself.
If you don’t know who’s in charge of content for a specific site, go to LinkedIn and search for the company. You can then filter the people affiliated with that company according to their position. Search for job titles like “content manager”, “marketing manager”, or “editor”.
Many LinkedIn users list their email address in their profile. If the person you’re targeting doesn’t, you can use an email lookup tool like Voila Norbert or FindEmails.
Once you’ve found the contact details, you can start sending outreach emails. Don’t get hung up on the fear of rejection – it’s an inevitable part of the process. In the next section, we’ll look at how to craft the perfect outreach email.
Write inviting subject lines
Website editors receive hundreds of emails each day. Therefore, you need to catch their attention with a subject line that entices them to open and read your email.
Here are some useful tips for great subject lines:
- Keep it simple and brief.
- Use the editor’s or website’s name. Personalization boosts open rate to around 21%, up from the 14% for non-personalized emails.
- Use emojis (they can boost your open rate by up to 56%!)
Subject lines aren’t an exact science, so try out a few different combinations until you find one or two that work for you.
Use engaging email outreach templates
Your email should be polite and friendly, but brief and to the point.
Skip the flattery about how amazing you think their work is. It’s really transparent and it doesn’t work. Instead, treat your outreach email like a business proposal – which it is!
Here’s a simple formula for a guest post outreach email:
- A friendly greeting using their name.
- Introduce yourself, your business, and what you do.
- Let them know what you’re asking for (a guest post spot on their site).
- Make your offer (free high-quality content).
- Thank them for their time and use a friendly sign-off.
If you’ve already published guest posts elsewhere or are recognized as an expert in your niche, say so. Social proof is a useful currency when it comes to establishing a digital presence.
If you don’t hear back from them after a few days, send a polite follow-up email. If you still don’t get a response, you could safely assume they’re not interested, cross them off your list, and move on.
Once an editor replies and says that they are open to guest posts, it’s time to come up with and pitch some specific article ideas.
Create a list of guest post topics
Let me tell you a secret that many writers forget: there is nothing truly original to write about, unless you’re sharing cutting-edge research or breaking news. Don’t be afraid of covering topics that have been written about before.
The secret is perspective. You can always find a new angle from which to approach the subject. For example, if the blog has already covered viral marketing for big business, you might offer to write about viral marketing for nonprofits. As long as your angle is relevant to the site’s audience, go ahead and pitch it.
Short on inspiration? Do a Google search for your subject area and use the content you find as inspiration. You can also use the Keywords Everywhere browser plug-in, which gives you keyword suggestions related to your desired topic:
Choose a few keywords from the list, then use the search string “site:sitename.com keyword” to check whether your target site already has content about the topic:
If the site has already published content about the topic, either come up with a sufficiently new angle or move on to your next idea.
If you want to see how other sites have approached a topic, use BuzzSumo. This useful tool will show you the top content for your chosen keyword based on social media engagement:
Check out the trending content, then look to see whether your target site has already published something similar. If not, put that idea on your list.
Zest is another useful app you can use to find the freshest content in your niche. Zest rates articles sends you daily recommended content according to the interests you specify:
Doing your research will pay off. Send 2 – 3 well-researched topic suggestions to the editor within 48 hours of receiving their initial reply.
If they don’t accept any of your ideas, don’t despair – it’s not the end! Instead, take it as a cue to take a second look at the website and align your new ideas more closely with its topics and tone. Most editors will give you a second chance to pitch, so don’t give up.
Write your guest post content
Did the editor approve your pitch? If so, congratulations! Now the real work begins. You need to create a fantastic piece of content that delivers the value you promised. v
Here are my top tops for writing an awesome guest post:
- Create an outline of the content before you start writing.
- Follow the website’s style guide, if they have one. If not, read other posts on the site and match your tone and vocabulary with them.
- Fact-check everything rigorously.
- Check for typos and grammatical errors. A tool like Grammarly will catch any issues.
- Ensure you’re providing relevant information and actionable advice in every section.
- Never plagiarize content. If you use someone else’s data or ideas, always cite your sources.
Since you’re doing guest posts to build links to your site, add one or two relevant links within your content. Resist the temptation to cram in as many backlinks as you can! This will annoy the editor and come across as spammy.
If the editor gives you a deadline for your guest post, deliver it on time or early. If you need more time, let them know as soon as possible. Most editors will happily grant an extension, but they will be annoyed if you don’t give them as much warning as you can.
One more tip: when you deliver your post, thank the editor for the opportunity. There is more to guest posting than just backlink building. It’s also a great way to build relationships with other people in your industry. Politeness goes a long way.
Drive traffic to your site through guest posts
The success of your site depends on your search result rankings. If your site ranks highly for the right keywords, your target audience will find you.
Building links from authority sites is the best way to improve your search result rankings. Guest posting will help you get the links you need and reach a broader audience. Guest posts are an essential part of a robust content marketing strategy.
Remember the most important rules of guest posting:
- Target sites in your niche that have a high domain authority, strong trust flow, and large number of visitors.
- Send a compelling, brief, and courteous email to the site owner or editor.
- Choose topics that are relevant to your niche and the website audience. Offer a fresh perspective.
- Write readable and informative content that offers value to the reader.
As you publish more guest posts, your site’s ranking will improve. In addition, a track record of publication means that more opportunities will open up. If you’re struggling to write all those guest posts yourself, consider hiring a freelance writer or working with a content generation company.
As with all marketing efforts, you need to be strategic with your guest posting campaign. You’ll need to work hard and be patient, as it’s not an overnight winner. But as long as you persevere, you’ll start seeing the results. Wishing you the best of luck with your guest posting campaign!