September 18, 2020
If you run a website, you’ve probably wondered what you could be doing to bring more traffic to your site and more customers to your business. Building links to your site from other authoritative websites is one of the best ways to achieve this aim. That’s why, if you don’t have a guest posting strategy yet, it’s time to develop one.
When you write guest posts for other sites, you achieve two things:
- Building backlinks to your site, which improves its ranking in search engine results.
- Establishes you as an authority in your field, showcasing your knowledge to a broader audience.
“But Jess, I don’t have time to do that!” I hear you say. Don’t stress. Read on to learn how to create a guest posting strategy that scales without taking over your life.
First, understand your goals
Before you can develop your strategy, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Without a clear goal, you won’t get very far.
Since you’re planning a guest posting campaign, you presumably want to grow your backlink profile in order to improve your SEO performance and grow your professional reputation. Therefore, before you go any further, I recommend setting a target for how many guest posts you want to achieve. Here’s how to do it:
- First, choose some keywords you want your site to rank for. I recommend aiming for long tail keywords that have a high search volume but low competition. You can check out your chosen keywords, and get ideas for alternatives, using the Keywords Everywhere plugin:
- Once you’ve found some suitable keywords, you can use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer to see how many referring domains you’ll need to rank for those keywords:
As you can see, in this example, the keyword is considered “super hard” and you’d need over 1100 backlinks to rank in the top ten for it. This indicates it’s probably not a good keyword to target as the competition is incredibly high.
- Repeat this process until you find some suitable high-volume, low competition keywords you’d like to rank for. This will give you an idea of how many guest posts to aim for initially.
Once you’ve set your goal, it’s time to land your first few posts.
Landing those all important first posts
Guest posting is hardest when you first start out. This is because you don’t have a backlog of publications that you can use as proof of your ability.
Don’t despair – you just need to land your first few posts, then it’ll get easier.
Follow these steps to do that.
Choose the right sites to target
Backlinks aren’t all the same, and you’ll need to land the right ones for your campaign to be effective. Here are the criteria we use when we’re seeking guest posting opportunities for Launch Space:
- Relevant to our niche.
- Domain Rating of 50 or higher (use Ahrefs’ free authority checker to find any site’s DR).
- 3,000+ monthly visitors.
- Trust Flow of 20 or above (use Majestic to find any site’s TF).
Higher is better, of course. If you’re able to land guest posting spots on sites with a DR of 80+, for example, your content will start to rank much faster.
You’ll need a premium SEO tool for this. Here’s how to get a list of sites to target:
- Find a popular and high-ranking site in your niche, and input its URL into your favored SEO tool
- Export the list and remove any sites that do not meet the criteria specified above (or whatever criteria you are using).
- Remove any sites that are obviously unsuitable, such as Reddit, Wikipedia, and Facebook.
You should be left with anywhere from 100 to 1000+ sites to target.
Find the site owner’s contact information
Many sites will have the editor or owner’s contact information listed. If not, here’s how to find it:
- Enter the name of the website or company into the search bar on LinkedIn. This will bring up a list of everyone who works for that company and has a LinkedIn presence.
- Look for job titles like “Editor” or “Content Manager”.
- Once you’ve found the right person, use an email finder to locate their contact information. I use Voila Norbert for this.
Now you know who to contact, it’s time to get pitching.
Write the perfect outreach email
Your initial email should be short and concise. Here’s how to structure it:
- Write an enticing subject line, using the individual and/or website’s name.
- Give a friendly, personalized greeting.
- Tell them briefly who you are and what you do.
- Say that you’d like to write a guest post for their website and ask if they’d be open to receiving a pitch.
- Thank them for their time and sign off.
Here’s one I wrote recently that worked:
If you have any previous publications, include them. If not, you can always link to your own blog or LinkedIn site to give them an idea of your writing style.
Don’t forget to follow up! Some editors need a nudge or two to remind them to get back to you. Send a polite follow-up email a week after your initial contact if you haven’t heard back. You can streamline this process by using an automated email system to track responses and send follow-ups.
Pitch and write an awesome post
Once an editor has come back and agreed to accept a guest post from you, it’s time to pitch them some relevant ideas. Here are a few tricks to help you come up with those ideas:
- Check out what the site has published before and see if there’s a different angle you can take on a topic. For example, if they’ve written about email marketing for ecommerce, you could write about email marketing for SaaS. And so on.
- See what other popular sites in your niche are covering, and find a logical content gap that your target site hasn’t tackled.
- See what’s trending on social media in your niche. Buzzsumo is a great tool to help you do this.
- Keep a list of all the ideas you have, so that you can refer to it when you need to pitch some topics. I keep mine in a Trello board.
Remember: the trick is not to come up with something completely original, but to come up with a new and relevant angle on an existing subject. Unless the editor expresses a different preference, I like to pitch 3 ideas at once so they can choose the one they like best.
When the editor approves your idea, you need to get writing and deliver what you promised. Here are my top tips for writing a stellar guest post:
- Ask for the style guide. If there isn’t one, pay attention to the style and tone of other content already on the site. A very dry, corporate tone is unlikely to go down well on a site renowned for its playful irreverence!
- Check, double-check, and triple-check your spelling and grammar. Run everything through Grammarly or a similar tool before you submit it.
- Stick to the point and cut the waffle.
- Create an outline and stick to it.
- Start with an introduction and end with a short conclusion.
- Ensure you offer useful information and actionable advice. Always ask yourself, “what value will the reader get out of this post?”
- Resist the temptation to cram your post with backlinks to your site. One is enough, maybe two in the case of a longer piece. Any more will just annoy the editor and look spammy!
Finally, make sure you deliver on time. If you run into problems and need more time, let the editor know. There’s no excuse for missing a deadline without communicating.
And that’s it! Congratulations, you’ve had your first guest post published. Take a moment to celebrate. Then sit back at your desk – it’s time to start scaling your strategy.
Build your network
Networking is everything when it comes to growing your reputation, especially if you run a small business. You must take the time to build and nurture it.
When an editor takes a chance on offering you a guest blogging spot, they’re doing you a huge favor. Make their job as pleasant and easy as possible by being polite, friendly, and delivering what you say you will. These simple courtesies go a long way.
If possible, you should also return the favor when you can. If they ever ask for advice, a bit of your time, or a guest posting spot on your website, say yes if possible. Those who are generous with their time and expertise reap the rewards.
Once you’ve connected and worked with editors, keep in touch. Connecting with them on LinkedIn or following them on Twitter is a great way to do this. By interacting with their posts occasionally, you’ll start developing a working relationship. And you never know who they might know! Making the effort now opens the door for introductions and referrals down the road.
Bring in some help
My job at Launch Space is to assist clients with their guest posting strategies. If you’re struggling to fit everything in, there’s no reason you shouldn’t outsource part or all of your guest posting work.
If you want to do the writing yourself, you can outsource the admin side of the process by hiring a freelancer to do keyword research, find suitable target sites, and send pitch emails. Then all you have to do is actually write the content.
If you want to completely take guest posting off your plate, you should consider hiring a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter will create content on your behalf to be published under your name. Their input is invisible (hence “ghost”). While you could find someone on a content mill site willing to do the job cheaply, I recommend hiring the best writer you can afford. The extra money you’ll spend is more than worth the trade-off of knowing your reputation is safe in their hands.
As your business grows, you can bring in additional people as needed. Before you know it, you might have a whole team working on your guest posting strategy for you!
Opportunities Beget Opportunities
As you start guest posting, you might be surprised at how many opportunities come your way. You’ll build a track record of great articles and get to know other influential people in your industry. There’s no substitute for experience and a great reputation. It’ll take a while to get to this point, but stick with it.
Good luck with landing your first guest posts!
Jess Amy Dixon is a Project Manager at Launch Space, where she helps SaaS clients land guest posts so they can generate links that push their content up the search rankings. She lives in the UK and when she’s not writing you can probably find her knitting, reading, or sipping coffee. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @JessAmyWrites.