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February 27, 2013

Finding and Evaluating Guest Posting Opportunities in 2013

Over the last 12 months, guest posting has become one of the most popular link-building strategies. And, there is a reason for that.

Guest posting is effective. If done well, it can help you to build your image as an expert in your field and present yourself to a wider, highly targeted audience. It can also help you to discover new business opportunities and build meaningful relationships. It gives you control over how you are presented on the web, a hugely important thing from a branding point of view. Not to mention that it also doesn’t take much time to bear fruit.

However, guest posting is not an easy (or quick) way to build links. You have to produce great content, build genuine relationships with other bloggers, be relevant to your audience, provide meaningful advice and more.

Guest posting is also very easy to get wrong. As a technique, it might be a very high end, however, the success or failure of your efforts greatly relate to the execution.

And by that I mean not only what you post but also where.

Finding Guest Posting Opportunities

A most common mistake in guest blogging I see being done these days is trying to scale it. Just like with article directories in the (not so distant) past, which were plaqued with spun and low quality content, only to get it out there fast, guest blogging is often done low key also.

Properly done, guest blogging takes time. From finding sites to post on to writing content, it has to be done well.

In this post, I want to focus on the former.

The first port of call are usually top blogs in your or your clients industry. However, in most cases those sites do not accept guest posts. Or even if they do, they won’t take a post from someone they don’t know. This of course doesn’t mean that you can’t get into them. It just means that you might have to invest a lot of time, energy and resources before you see any results.

In the meantime though, you need to build those links.

Therefore, the other, quite effective way to do so is simply do a proper Google search. However, this is where problems often start.

Not only is the research I see being done poorly, often the choice of sites to post on is questionable.

Let’s look at those two things in detail.

Guest Posting Search Queries

When researching guest posting opportunities, things to pay attention to include the relevance of the site and whether its owner allows guest authors to submit posts.

To do so, use the following queries:

“submit * post” your keyphrase
“submit * guest post” your keyphrase
“submit * blog post” your keyphrase
“add * blog post” your keyphrase
“submit * article” your keyphrase
“write for us” your keyphrase
“become * author” your keyphrase
“become * guest author” your keyphrase
“become * guest writer” your keyphrase
“* posting guidelines” your keyphrase
“your keyphrase” inurl:”submit guest post”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”submit * post”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”submit * guest post”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”submit blog post”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”write for us”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”guest post”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”guest writer”
“your keyphrase” inurl:”posting guidelines”

Analyzing and Evaluating Guest Posting Opportunities

Now let’s tackle the other problem, the quality of sites to
post on.

A natural way to analyze guest posting opportunities is to look
at the usual metrics:

* PageRank
* MozRank
* MozTrust
* Domain Authority

and so on.

However, sometimes these can fail. There are many low quality sites, set primarily to generate links that would pass such a numbers check.

Does that mean that they would be good to post on? It’s questionable and in order to find out, I’d recommend you perform the following checks:

1. Social Media Activity

Look at the site’s social media accounts. How often are new updates posted? Does the site actually have a Twitter or Facebook account? Are all the updates just RSS feeds of posts or does the blogger engage with the audience, retweet and respond to what other people say?

2. Recent Updates

How often is the site updated? Also, when was the last article posted. A stale site might not be a great place to post content (however, there are exceptions).

3. Guest Post vs. Original Author Post Ratio

Does the site use only guest posts? Or does the blogger/bloggers behind the site post regularly too? A predominance of guest posts might be an indication of a purely guest post submission site, something you should stay away from.

4. Quality of the Content

This probably speaks for itself. Does the site provide only thin content or in-depth information to its viewers?

5. Reader Engagement

Check if the site gets any comments at all and what type of comments are posted. Also, review the average number of social media likes and retweets that posts receive.

6. Amount and Placement of Ads

Check out how many ads are on the site. Are pages literally filled with ads or does the content still prevail?

7. About Page

Look at the blogger’s About page. Is it a genuine introduction to the person behind the blog and the site? Or is it just a two liner with very generic info about the topics covered?

8. Contact Page

Does the Contact page provide anything beyond a simple e-mail form? Is there an address, a phone number or any other way to contact the site’s owner?

If only an email form is provided, how basic or advanced is it? Is it only three fields long or does the owner ask for some more information from you? The latter can be an indication that they are more serious about who contacts them.

And while a contact page might not be a serious indicator of a site’s quality, I would still look more favorably on sites which offer other means of contact besides a basic email form.

Pawel Grabowski is the owner of Teapot Digital, a boutique online marketing agency
from Ireland helping small to medium sized enterprises to acquire
more business through digital channels.