A Detailed Guide: The 101 on Guest Blogging in 2015

August 31, 2015

8:00 am

Before even touching the subject of “guest blogging” it’s important to get something straight—guest blogging is an effective and encouraged practice, despite what most think.

Last year the former Head of Webspam (and essentially the SEO spokesman) of Google Matt Cutts wrote a blog post boasting that guest blogging is dead.

This naturally sent a panic across small business marketers and deemed guest blogging taboo for a short time. Cutts quickly revised his blog post and its title in the wake of this panic, which is what’s important to focus on now in 2015, saying:

“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging […]. Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of [the] post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.”

This is incredibly important to keep in mind as you get started guest blogging. Google still rewards guest blogging and editors out there are OK with blogging and they’re even OK with giving you a backlink for an article you wrote so long as the article and link is relevant to readers. The days of trying to trick editors into giving you a link are over.

It’s all about being relevant now and writing for readers and not bots. If your goal is to gain more visibility for your company through writing and resources that help a targeted audience, guest blogging is a great path.

With that taboo out of the way, that leaves only a few simple questions:

  • Why does guest blogging matter
  • How do you find guest blogging opportunities
  • How can you pitch an editor in 2015?
  • Is all of this work really worth it for all companies?

Why Guest Blogging Matters

The answer to last question above is a resounding yes.

While guest blogging may be more beneficial for certain types of companies (ex: companies aiming to educate) than others (ex: ecommerce companies or directories), the benefits will always be there. It’s the weight of these benefits that may change, so it’s up to you to analyze your company and your resources to see how much guest blogging is really worth it for your business at this time.

Nevertheless, understanding why guest blogging matters is important. Several different reasons to keep in mind include:

Promotion and Visibility

Guest blogging helps get your content in front of the eyes of a targeted but new audience. If you can show off your expertise on a website in your industry, then it will help bring your company name to the forefront. That website where you publish your content has its own audience, social community, etc. that may never have found your blog and content otherwise. Hopefully this will lead to a click and a little bit of research on your website, but if not it’s still giving you visibility that may come back to someone’s mind somewhere down the road if they see your brand somewhere again.

Social Media Growth

You can grow your social media accounts with guest blogging in two ways: First, The more you write, the more opportunities you have to post relevant content on your social media accounts, which may be interesting to those who visit your accounts. This could lead to a follow, which could then lead to more follows, which will then create a domino effect of growth. Second, guest blogging gives you more material for others to post on their own accounts, or share. This helps give your social accounts more visibility, which again should hopefully build more follows and get that domino effect started.

Creating Relationships

Relationship building and networking is crucial when it comes to marketing, and guest blogging is a great way to build these relationships. If you can keep offering quality content to a variety of different blogs, you’ll start to build those relationships and hopefully get more opportunities from those relationships. This will also help you earn more recommendations, natural links, and more.

Linking Opportunities

This is the scary one, but it’s important nonetheless. It is possible to write for readers first and still earn a link back to your company website. Your backlink profile is important for SEO, and guest blogging helps you build up that profile by earning you links on different websites around the web. You have to make sure you’re only offering quality content and you’re up front about hoping for a relevant link, but if all goes well this is a huge benefit. Tracking your efforts is key to understanding the impact of these links on your SEO.

Brand Equity

This point ties in with all of the other points. Through guest blogging you improve your reputation in the industry because you’re showing off your expertise to new audiences, creating more buzz for your brand on social, and creating relationships with influencers. This all helps to tie into a perception of your brand that consumers will start to recognize; thus helping you earn more brand equity.

Again, chances are your business needs at least one or two of the benefits mentioned above. This means guest blogging can be beneficial to you in some capacity, plain and simple.

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

Because of all the benefits guest blogging can offer, finding guest blogging opportunities is becoming increasingly harder. Everyone wants to get a slice of the guest blogging pie, and unfortunately there are only so many authoritative blogs to go around.

This means you may have to start small. Instead of going for the big blogs in your industry that have all the readers, be patient and build up a portfolio with other blogs in your industry that are still publishing quality content (and hey, maybe someday these will be the authoritative blogs and you’ll already have the relationship ready to go).

This then brings about the question of finding opportunities. The authoritative blogs are easy to find; it’s finding these other quality blogs that will accept a guest article that’s tough. Fortunately, there are a few tips that can help get you there:

  •    Do a quick search. You may want to search on Google as well as social networks for blogs in your industry. Type in general terms such as “moving company blogs” and see what pops up. You can then research whatever you find to see if they accept guest blogs or may be open to a relationship.
  •    Setup Google Alerts. Setting up a Google alert for terms like “guest post” as well as keywords is a great way to get an email of what’s being posted on the web. You can then filter by “blog” and see if you find anything that way.
  •    Ask your connections. It never hurts to ask your connections if they know of a blog in your industry that is up and coming. You can also put out a tweet or other social announcement asking if anyone is looking for a guest blogging partnership. This isn’t always the most talked-about practice, but you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find!
  •    Do a lot of reading. Even when you’re reading the more authoritative blogs, always look to see who is guest blogging. That person will almost always have a blog of their own, and saying that you discovered them through their content is a great way to start a conversation with someone who clearly knows the importance of guest blogging.

If these tips don’t work for you, don’t sweat it. These are some of the most popular, but there are many ways to find opportunities and this will differ from industry to industry. The key is to always be on the lookout because opportunities are everywhere.

How Exactly Do You Pitch the Editor?

Finding an opportunity is only half the battle. Your next step is actually pitching the editor and making enough of an impression to create a relationship and publish an article. Below are a few quick suggestions to help you create a great pitch:

  1.     Make sure you’re connected first before even trying to pitch. An editor is going to want to recognize you since there are so many spammers out there. You can do this by connecting on social media, focusing on mutual connections (and introduction is the ideal situation!), and sharing and commenting on the website’s past articles.
  2.     Always try to name-drop people and publications that an editor may recognize. The more you can show that you’re the real deal right away, the better.
  3.     Focus on a great subject line that gets to the point while also being person enough to show that you did not auto-generate the email.
  4.     Mention your timeline so and editor knows that you’re not looking for a one-and-done article. Talk about creating a regular relationship and show that you value the editors time and are ready to work, which brings me to my next point.
  5.     Have story ideas ready to go. This shows that you have taken time to really read and understand the blog and you’re ready to get started and be proactive.
  6.     Follow-up when necessary without being annoying. Wait at least one week before sending a follow-up email and keep it short and sweet. If you don’t get a response the second time, tuck that website in your back pocket and try again in a few months.

Hint: A big theme you can take from these influencers is the idea that they know you want a link, so don’t be afraid to ask for one.

The Takeaway

In the end, guest blogging can be successful if done right. If you take away nothing from this article take away this: As long as your intentions with contributing articles are to help readers and not Google bots, you’re doing it right and you will find success.

Do you have any tips surrounding guest blogging in 2015? Do you have any personal experiences to share either as a writer or an Editor? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

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I am a digital marketing consultant with over 8 years of experience working with companies like Target, Best Buy and the Department of Defense. I also hold a Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Communications.

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