An essential for any marketing strategy is that it’s future-proof, and that means having a clear idea of where the relevant marketing technique is heading. Linkbuilding is no exception, and one of the most future-proof methods of linkbuilding is guest blogging.
Why Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging offers benefits for everyone involved. The guest blogger gets exposure to a valuable new audience, the owner of the host site gets quality content for free, while the readers get access to a new and informative perspective.
It’s a strategy that feels unforced but gives plenty of opportunity to gain exposure and brand awareness that can be built into your campaigns, while building strong links coupled with well-tailored anchor text.
It’s vital to research the blogs you’re targeting, not only to be sure it’s worth your while writing for them, but also what level of priority to give them. While you obviously want to write quality material for any guest blog, you need to know where to target the pieces that pull out all the stops.
What Are You Trying to Achieve?
SEO should be about marketing goals, not about using Google to best effect — that’s just a tool. Establish what your goals are and build everything around them. Three questions are essential to set goals and strategies for a guest blogging campaign:
• What are my keywords?
• Who is my target client?
• Am I primarily building links or awareness?
A useful approach to establishing your target client is to use the STP process, and this helps identify keywords from the client’s point of view, not simply through metrics:
• Segmentation — separate your clients into appropriate segments.
• Targeting — identify the ideal segment to target.
• Positioning — find out the segment’s needs and what kind of content they respond best to.
You’ll need to find the right blogs to target. This shouldn’t necessarily be the obvious ones for your product or service; one of the aims of guest blogging is to find different audiences. Channels you could use to find blogs that welcome guest posts include:
Choosing the Right Blogs
You’re likely to end up with a long list, so you’ll need to prioritise the best blogs. Things to consider include:
• The likely response — if the blog only occasionally accepts guest posts, it might be better to try others first.
• SEO value — measure the link opportunities with tools like mozRank, Domain Authority and AC Rank, judging issues like the right balance of outbound links, guest posts and ads, and looking at quality as well as quantity. Also consider the site’s design and its following.
• Traffic and conversion potential — look primarily for blogs with good traffic and conversion rates, though even a blog that doesn’t do so well on these may still be good for building brand awareness.
Making Your Pitch
A given blog may be perfect for you to write for, but that doesn’t mean its owner will accept you as an perfect guest blogger. You’ll have to convince them that there are benefits on both sides.
• Anything that makes you more than a cold caller is an advantage. A personal introduction would be ideal, but failing that make it clear that you’re familiar with the blog by linking what you’re offering with previous posts. It can help to have posted comments, though only if you come over as genuine interested in the topics.
• Rather than just offering to write generically on an industry sector, give some specific ideas to help the owner assess your contribution. Look at top competing blogs to see what your target blog is currently missing out on, but don’t forget to make sure the topics tie in with your keywords.
• Focus on pitching specifically to the site owner, rather than generically, and building a long-term relationship. If you approach your pitch as simply “the next on the list”, that’s how it’ll come over.
How to Go About Writing
The level of writing required depends a lot on the quality and status of the blog. The top blogs may want industry advice and thought leadership from a recognised person, so this should come from someone senior in your company — though, depending on their writing skills and experience, it may need proofreading or editing by a professional writer.
For most blogs, though, the aim is simply to produce quality content. It may be more convenient and economical to have this produced by a professional copywriter, whether in-house or freelance.
Whichever the case, someone must have the specific job of liaising with both writer and website owner and following up your guest blogs. This can be done in-house if you have someone with the time and skills, but it’s often better to retain a digital marketing agency for this. Flow Ink offers a full guest blogging service for a number of clients.
Each blog’s audience will be slightly different, so it’s important that the guest post is custom written for that specific audience. A generic blog will be a waste of your investment of time and work.
Ensure your links lead back not just to your site but to the specific pages you want these customers to see. And don’t be too torturous with your anchor text. While anchor text is important, if it seems too artificial it can detract from the whole piece.
Finally, make sure your post is formatted according to the blog’s guidelines, whether that’s in terms of style or how you submit (e.g. a Word file or uploading yourself).
If you just submit your guest blog and move on, you’ve only done half the job. Hopefully it’ll get plenty of comments, and it’s important to reply to these. Not only does it create a poor impression if you don’t, but engaging commenters can be an ideal way to build relationships with people who may be important to your campaign — perhaps owners of blogs you can write for in future.
Find out who shares the link to your article. This can be done through Topsy.com, and following up with these people can create more opportunities to build relationships. And, of course, share the link yourself on social media, ensuring your existing followers see your post. That’s two audiences for the price of one.