Back in January 2014, Matt Cutts, a former Google engineer made a statement that shook the SEO world.
“….Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general, I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”
Many people didn’t fully understand the spirit of what he was saying. He wasn’t saying that guest posting was bad or wrong, but simply that it had been abused by spammy, black-hat marketers for far too long.
In other words, guest blogging was still a practical strategy for ethical marketers who wanted to write and promote high-quality content.
In light of this, this post will look at how you can STILL succeed with guest posting in 2017.
What is Guest Posting?
Guest posting, also known as guest blogging is the practice of contributing a post to another person’s blog in order to build relationships, exposure, authority, and links. It establishes a relationship with the blogger hosting your post, taps into their audience for additional exposure, and helps you establish authority among an audience.
The more people you have talking about your post, the more likely your website is going to rank higher up on Google’s ranking pages as it is deemed highly informative by Google’s algorithm. No doubt, it is still beneficial to us. You just have to know exactly what you are doing when guest blogging.
How To Pick The Right Blog
So now you’ve decided that you want to start guest posting. Do you just randomly pick a random blog and post things on it?
Here a few criterias for you to refer when it comes to picking the right blog.
1) Blog’s Quality
Is it high ranking? Does it have high quality content?
This is the most important part of this process. You need to find one blog that has tons of readers, high domain authority, and awesome social signals. You don’t run around through different blogs writing for them and wasting your time (or their time), just to grab a spot in the high page rank.
Take your time on this step. Do a thorough research.
2) Similar Niche
The next thing you should identify is if you can offer that blog’s audience something of value. It’s useless for us to write an article on handphone manufacturing for a pet care blog. Likewise, you need to make sure your blog’s niche is relatively the same as the other blog so you have something to offer the readers of the other blog.
3) Check for Engagement
You also want to make sure you’ve qualified this guest-blogging opportunity on the social side. What kind of engagement does the blog get? What does the community look like? What is its reach? Always make sure the blog can drive qualified traffic that has genuine subscribers.
General Tips For Writing A Guest Post
If you’ve determined that writing blogs present a good opportunity for you, then it’s time to create your guest blog. Let’s cover the basics of how to get it done.
#1. Read the Guidelines
Quite simply, you guest post has the best chance of being accepted if it adheres to all the guidelines set forth by the editor. Like every other time, you should read the guidelines before you even pitch or agree to something. Guidelines usually include rules about :
- Author biography and headshot
- How many links you are permitted to include in the post
- Word Count
- Tone, style, and level of formality
If you are still unclear on certain rules and regulations, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
#2. Let It Flow
When it comes to keeping the reader engaged, flow is what makes your post stick. Each tip or idea should connect to the next, and if it’s a how-to post (like this one), the order of the steps should make perfect sense.
#3. Apply Search Engine Friendly Structure
Google prefers a certain structure for blog posts. Best practices are as follows:
- Do not use H1 header tags except for the post title – use H2, H3s and so on to neatly organize your post.
- Use short, clear paragraphs
- Bullet point for clarity
- Number your how-to instructions when appropriate
This also saves your editor’s time. If they can copy and paste your formatting, it makes their job much easier.
#4. Focus Keyword
While many copywriters tend to write for “keyword density”, you’ll find a more natural inclusion of a desired keyword occurs if you strive to use a focus keyword. Use your focus keyword in your:
- Post Title
- First Paragraph
- Body Copy ( A couple of times)
- Meta Description
If you’re writing for a general keyword, consider using a more specific long-tail keyword as well. For example, this post focuses on “Guest Posting” ( A very general, high competition keyword) and “How You Can Succeed With Guest Posting” (A specific question or search phrase)
#5. Add Appropriate Backlinks
While you want to put a link back to your own site, don’t forget to link to other authoritative sites, especially those with a high domain authority. Chances are you know some reliable sources on your choice of topic, and including credited statistics and other citations with links back to those sites will be of major help.
It’s also a good practice to include an internal link, that is, a link to another blog post or page on the website for which you’re creating the post.
#6. Include Images
When guest bloggers provide visuals, it helps their copy stand out and shows they put some extra time into their writing. Furthermore, it creates less work for the editor (as long as the images work in their approved format or layout, and come with all necessary permissions_
Ideally, you should have a “visual break” every 300 words or less. That can mean a custom image, a stock photo, a click-to-tweet, or an embedded audio or video.
#7. Proofread Your Work
Editors will look over your copy before it goes live, but you can prevent embarrassing mistakes and increase your chances of acceptance by proofreading your work. Aside from checking for spelling and grammar, a good edit also analyzes flow and also checks all the links in the post.
#8. Include Call To Action (CTA)
At the end of the post, tell your reader what they should do. Are there more on-site resources for them? A place where they can learn more about your services?
It’s always safe to ask your readers to comment on their thoughts, as that will drive engagement and please the editor. But if you do this, make sure to follow up and respond to the comments on the blog.
Benefits of Guest Posting
Up until here, you should know that guest blogging offers many major benefits – both for your company and you, personally. Here are the top 6 benefits of guest posting:
#1. Get Quality Traffic
One of the best reasons to employ guest blogging is also the most obvious. You can easily pull in loads of traffic by branching out and broadcasting your message in other forums aside from your own. A solid guest post can generate a substantial number of email newsletter sign-ups and click-through rates if you play your cards right.
#2. Diversify Your Readership
In terms of marketing, blogs should always stick to certain topics. Otherwise, they might jeopardize their rankings and alienate their loyal readers. Nevertheless, some of the websites have a chance to cover numerous topics.
For example, if you have a baby website, it wouldn’t be wrong to write articles about baby jerseys. Even though you can stick to pregnancy and motherhood/fatherhood as the main topic, you can still add some baby product posts here and there.
To do so, you will require some method to promote the rest of the content right? And what better way than guest posting?
#3. Improves Your SEO
Guest blogging is still a match made in heaven in terms of SEO. This is true as long as the guest post shared is of quality and the links included in your content are not spammy.
Google will also not downgrade the importance of those links as long as you are not pursuing them on a massive scale. Guest blogging in 2017 is still a common topic. However, make sure not to overdo it as guest post links should represent a minor part of your link profile.
The main thing you have to know about guest blogging is that this method should always be performed in strict moderation. Otherwise, you will risk the chance of being penalized by Google.
#4. Helps Build Your Brand
Another great advantage of guest posting for others is that it increases your exposure while at the same time helping you build your brand. For example, let’s say you wrote a guest post on a blog with 10,000 visitors daily, and your guest post was viewed 3,500 times. Even though you might not get more than 200 visitors to your blog from that post, your name has just been exposed to 3,500 more people.
In the long run, you will start seeing more people visit your blog because they have seen your name online enough to make them curious about what you have to offer them.
#5. Build Your Social Media Profile
I don’t know about you, but maybe all you care about is having a strong Twitter follower or Facebook fan base. Then, guest posting is a really great and effective way to build your social media presence online. Of course, there have been stories of people including a link to follow them on Facebook only to get as much as 200 followers per day.
#6. Helps Create Bonds With Other Bloggers
Links and social mentions can make or break your website. Some people constantly create great content but are unable to push their website to that next level.
Simply put, they haven’t manage to build meaningful bonds with other bloggers and persuade them to share their content.
Guest posting is a big step in the right direction.
Not only will it build relationships, it will also force other bloggers to pay more attention to your website. Imagine other bloggers reading one of your guest articles only to realize: “Hey, I know this guy! Might as well link to his/her blog post”.
After You Submit?
1) Be Patient
Some writer’s guidelines will say precisely how long you can expect to wait to hear on your submission. Other’s won’t. Either way, bear in mind that editors are juggling many responsibilities, including submissions from their current writers. So, it will probably take some extra time for them to review your post and respond to you.
2) Don’t Take Revision Requests Personally
Editors want your post to be as best as it can be, both for their site and your sake as a writer. So do not take it personally when editors tell you it needs some extra tweaking here and there.
They may be making suggestions that will make the post better suited for their site’s audience. If editors are asking you to revise, it means there is a high possibility they want to be able to use the post. Do understand that it is a good sign.
3) Be A Good Participant Once Your Post Goes Live
Many writers these days see guests posts as a free form of PR, working their best to submit their guest post but disappearing once their post goes live. Writers who really stand out in an editor’s mind are those who take an active role in the conversation around their post when it’s published.
Subscribe to the comments and be sure to respond and get the conversation going. Editors like writers who produce great content, but they love writers who also help spread the word about that content. Don’t be a hit-and-run guest post. It gives off an insincere feeling, don’t you feel so? Go the extra mile and don’t stop when the publish button is clicked.
No matter what Google says, guest posting is still a valid strategy. It is also a powerful way of getting links from relevant and highly authoritative domains. In the end, you still have to build links through other methods, not just via guest posting. Diversification is the key to having a natural looking link profile.
Until then, Happy Guest Blogging!
I’d be really interested to hear how you all normally use guest posting. Do you think about the SEO implications or are you just trying to get traffic back directly from the site’s readers? Has Matt Cutts’ announcement affected you in any way?