There was a time in the not-so-distant past when internet marketers were flooding the internet with “guest blogs.” These articles were comprised of niche-related content stuffed with keywords and often, of little actual substance. Marketers would then use them to fish for backlinks to websites.
Things have changed, but back then there were often massive issues with quality. Some of the articles being published didn’t really fit on the sites that took them, while others were really solid quality-wise, yet were filled with unrelated links.
It didn’t make a ton of sense to the people reading them, let alone Google’s search algorithms. Eventually, they caught on and included some algorithm changes that altered the value of certain types of links.
Does that mean guest blogging is useless now, though?
While those marketers were attempting to game the system, web-savvy business owners got to know the importance of EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) in marketing.
It turns out guest blogging is a whole lot less about the acquisition of backlinks and is now far more focused on creating quality brand partnerships.
So let’s talk about that, shall we?
Guest Blogging and Branding
I’m not discounting the benefits of guest blogging on your SEO efforts; I’m just saying that there’s more to it than keywords and backlinks. You don’t want to write content for just any website, and you really don’t even want just any backlink.
What you really want (need) is networking opportunities. Your goal is to make connections with website owners in both your field of expertise and in related fields.
Networking and guest blogging does require that you make any sort of deal with your direct competitors, either. There are plenty of people in your industry who don’t do the exact same thing you do. This means you will find a lot of opportunity to share information specific to your niche with new audiences, while at the same time welcoming others to share new perspectives on your site. The more you’re able to publish on related sites, the stronger your brand becomes.
Guest Blogging Benefits
There are plenty of reasons (aside from branding) to consider guest blogging. In fact, if you do it right (i.e., network first), it can actually be really beneficial.
What’s not to love?
- Guest blogging on an industry-related site ensures traffic that comes back to your own website is highly targeted.
- You’ll have an opportunity to expand your personal network by connecting with influencers in your field of expertise. This could potentially position you as an influencer in the process.
- Any leads you generate from your guest blogs will essentially be pre-qualified because of the relevancy of the original site to your niche.
- Guest blogging not only sends traffic to your website, but can also boost likes and follows on your social media platforms. This ultimately improves engagement.
- This method of content marketing is extremely cost effective. Building great relationships with other industry experts opens doors for an exchange of content, which means you won’t have to pay top dollar for publication like you would with a traditional ad.
How to Get Started
Ok. So now you know why you need to guest blog and how it benefits you, but now what? It’s time to get the ball rolling.
The very first thing you need to do is make sure your own business site is up to date. Give your entire domain a once-over, not just your blog pages. Niche influencers won’t want to take content from or link back to a website that isn’t clean, informational, and professional in nature. You have to get your own act together before you can approach anyone else.
The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure your social media profiles look good. Your business pages need to be populated with industry-specific posts and information tailored to your company. Your personal page needs to either be rather neutral or locked down to friends-only status.
A good business owner is going to check out your online presence before agreeing to your pitch, and that includes making sure your ideals are aligned with theirs. You might, for example, find that a business with a neutral political standpoint will not want to align itself with a business owner who is very vocal about certain controversial issues.
Have all your ducks in a row? Now you can start looking for potential guest blogging partners. Try asking these questions to find the right connections.
- Is the website somehow related to your niche? Let’s say, for example, you sell light bulbs. You might want to look for energy providers, home builders, and lamp manufacturers.
- Is the audience engaged? Do they already respond well to posts on the blog or participate in chat threads when those posts are shared on social media?
- Can you solve a problem for the site’s audience? You’re going to need to offer something of value or they won’t have any interest in reading your post.
- Does the company update their blog on a consistent basis? This is important. Even if a blog matches your niche, you won’t get much traction if they don’t update on a regular basis.
Once you have a list of businesses and blogs, you need to start networking.
(I bet you thought I’d tell you to start pitching, right? Wrong. Or at least, I won’t say that just yet, anyway.)
Warm up your potential partners by engaging as part of their audience first. Comment on blog posts, follow their social pages, and try to connect with the CEO on LinkedIn. Other site owners will see the content you are putting out there, become more familiar with you and your work, and will ultimately be more receptive to your pitches.
Network first, pitch second. When you are ready to pitch, make sure what you send is personalized — no canned templates. Customize the greeting with a specific name, talk about what you love about their business or site, and ask if they’re open to discussing a guest posting partnership. You might even pitch a few topic suggestions.
Don’t come off as pushy or self-serving. You want to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Your goal isn’t to convince them why you’re great, it’s to convince them how you can benefit each other (the greatness is a side effect).
Guest blogging can be an incredibly effective method for increasing brand awareness, reaching new audiences, growing your email list, and even making sales. The process takes time, though. It isn’t about sending out 100 emails and seeing which ones stick. It’s about taking the time to truly know your own audience and searching for sites with similar interests. Before you know it, you’ll be creating long-term projects.