If you’re looking to grow your website traffic, you’ve probably got a few questions. How do you get eyes on your content and let everyone know about your business? Guest posting is one of the most powerful and effective methods. When done well, it leads to significant increases in organic traffic, backlinks, and domain authority.
The first step of guest posting is creating your content. You might write a blog post, article, or interview. It should showcase your expertise and engage readers. Next, you need to find the right website to guest post on. Take time to identify a website that will be a good home for your content and then contact them to request that they post it.
We’ll go into more detail on these steps below and review some tactics you can use to guest post with the best of them.
Why does guest posting matter?
Google’s most recent search algorithm changes place a greater focus on page authority. The more high-quality and authoritative the information on a page is, the higher that page ranks. This can work to your advantage when guest posting.
According to Moz’s Rand Fishkin, guest posting can be a way to build the most powerful kind of links: those inside the main content of a page. Google’s current algorithm appears to give more weight to links in that area, as opposed to the sidebars or footer. Guest posting can get your site valuable backlinks in the main content of another page with very high authority.
That’s what makes guest posting so great for people who are just starting out. You may have something compelling to say, but chances are that Google won’t rank your page as highly as one that’s been around for a few years. By guest posting to a page in your niche with established authority, you can get a leg up. And they get great content in exchange.
As entrepreneur Michael Alexis put it:
So many people are selfish about their guest posts… but guest posts are actually really easy to turn into multiple win scenarios. The ‘win-win-win’ kinda thing where EVERYONE comes out ahead.
12 Smart Guest Posting Tips
Guest posting is more than just writing something and trying to get people to post it. There are ways to do it effectively that work to the benefit of both you and the person whose site you’re posting on.
1. Guest Post on High-Authority Sites that Your Target Audience Visits
This sounds simple, but it takes some effort to figure out the best sites in a certain space. Post on a site that consistently runs engaging, relevant content instead of keyword-stuffed clickbait. That authority will get passed on to you.
Plus, once readers click over to your site, they’ll be more likely to find more content they love if they’re already reading a site in your niche. That means “stickier” traffic for your site, and people that could end up becoming long-term readers.
It might be tempting to take a scattershot approach to submitting pitches, just to get it out there. But submitting to sites in your niche will be better for you in the long run than any temporary spike in traffic you’d get from an unrelated site.
2. Avoid Duplicates
Your guest post should be original content that’s designed to post on another site. Avoid submitting anything you’ve already posted on your blog or site in the past. The people who run high-quality sites don’t want recycled content, even if it’s engaging. They take pride in providing original posts for their readers.
Unless the blog or site you’re submitting to explicitly states that they’re okay with running previously published work (and some of them are), you should only submit original content for guest posts.
Recycling posts on other sites can also lead to duplicate content. This has the potential to damage your site’s Google ranking, which is what determines your site’s placement in Google’s search results.
Often, sites will tell you exactly what they’re looking for in a guest post by publishing contributor guidelines. They’ll also occasionally put out the call for people to pitch them work. Good places to find these include social media, especially Twitter, and the classic Google search.
3. Spend Time on Your Guest Post
Make sure the post you’re submitting represents your best work. Write it well and make sure it’s free of typographical and grammatical errors. Demonstrate an actual knowledge of the topic, not a blog post stuffed with keywords and backlinks to your site.
People can tell the difference between a blog post that’s been thrown together and one that’s well-researched. Make something that you can not only be proud of, but that the owner of the site you’re posting on can feel good about. If your post is poorly written and unlikely to boost the authority of a site, they’ll likely reject it.
To make sure the post is as good as it can be, you should have someone else read it after you’ve edited it. This will help you find any errors you missed and clarify any sections that might be confusing to readers. Make sure you choose someone whose opinion you trust to help you proofread.
4. Make Sure You’ve Followed the Contributor Guidelines
Site owners don’t have a lot of free time to correct, reformat, or edit posts. If you submit content that doesn’t follow a site’s contributor guidelines, it will likely be rejected point blank, even if it’s well-written.
The person you’re submitting your guest post to is doing you a favor by reviewing it, so be sure to make their job as easy as possible. This will give you the best shot at getting your post accepted.
5. Use Advanced Search to Find High-Quality Sites for Your Post
There are a few tricks you can use in Google search to narrow down the results it brings you. When looking for a home for your guest post, try using modifiers like “inurl:guest-post,” which shows you sites that have the words “guest post” in their URLs. This can also work for the term “write for us,” which will show you sites looking for contributors.
This is a perfectly valid method, but a lot of other writers use it. This means that you’re likely to find sites with steep competition for guest posters. Luckily, there’s another method you can use to dig up less likely locations for guest posts: a targeted keyword search. Try terms like:
- [keyword] “guest post by”
- [keyword] “guest post written by”
- [keyword] “guest article”
Terms like these will target guest articles and posts on sites that don’t necessarily advertise for guest posts, but still accept them.
6. Use Plugins Like TextExpander to Streamline Your Pitching
For sites with contact forms, it can be tedious to fill out the same information again and again. Plugins like TextExpander can help. TextExpander is a Chrome extension that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts to fill in text.
For example, if you created the shortcut @contact for contact forms and set it to replace that command with your pitch, you could fill out forms much more quickly than by typing everything in one field at a time.
However, you should still personalize each pitch to some degree. Include details like the person’s name you’re trying to reach and show that you’re familiar with the site.
7. Establish a Rapport Before You Pitch
For small blogs and websites, learn a little about them before you pitch. Engage with their content on social media. Start a conversation or two to show them that you’re an actual human being. The reason? Aside from possibly making new contacts in your field, small bloggers want to know you aren’t just going to use their sites to promote spam.
Small blogs are usually a one-person operation. They’re trying to get traffic, just like you. With the increasing importance of authority in search results, they need to protect the reputation of their page. A small blog owner could be more likely to say yes to your pitch and link back to your work if they know you’re legitimate.
Larger blogs tend not to work this way. They’re run by people who get a lot of pitches, so you need to get right to the point. They’ll appreciate your respect for their time and be more likely to work with you.
8. Time Your Submission Well
This tip is for blogs you’re already following. You read them regularly, so you have a good idea of the types of articles they run. You can also see if there are any big events coming up that could take up time for the person running the site. Maybe they’re headed to a writing convention soon or going on vacation.
As these events approach, pitch your well-thought-out article. Since people who run blogs are always looking for good content, especially when they’ll be away from the site for a while, your pitch could arrive at the perfect time to help them out.
9. Show The Editor You Know What Works for Their Audience
Following the blog you’re trying to write for, or at least regularly reading it, is the best way to figure out what you should pitch to them. If you want to really impress them, figure out which posts perform the best on the site, and emulate that style in your work. Showing you understand a site’s audience will give you a massive leg up.
Tools like BuzzSumo can show you the numbers. They can show you which piece of content was shared the most, or had the most links back to it. You can even filter the results to show you guest posts. This will allow you to see which topics were most successful.
10. Write a Compelling Author Bio
Keep your author bio short and to the point. Make sure it has a clear call to action that persuades readers to check out the rest of your work.
Consider creating a special landing page just for guest posts. Instead of just linking to your homepage, you can use the opportunity to let readers know what you’re about. Welcome them, thank them for clicking over from the guest post, and give them a few choice pieces of your best writing to browse. This will get readers into your work without overwhelming them.
11. Use Search Operators to Find Out What Non-Niche Sites Post on Your Topic
Oftentimes, you’ll be guest posting on a larger site that covers your topic, but isn’t completely focused on it. Maybe you run a vegan cooking blog, and your content would fit in on a larger food website on healthy eating.
To find sites like these, try using the operator “site:domain.” All you have to do is pair your niche with this operator, specifying the site to search. For example: vegan recipes site: bonappetit.com. The “site” operator tells Google to search only that website for the keyword, and lets you know if there’s any relevant content there.
12. Find Out Where the Best Guest Posters Are Writing
One effective way to find out where your content will get the most traction is to find out where the biggest names in your niche are posting. All you have to do is search the bios of your favorite contributors and you’ll have a solid list of options in no time.
You can either do this with someone you already follow or use content tools to figure out who is writing the most popular posts and go from there. Once you’ve got an author in mind, copy/paste their bio into a Google search. That should show you places on the web where that exact block of text pops up.
From there it’s simply a matter of cataloging the sites they’ve written for and deciding which ones you’d like to pitch to.
The Takeaway On Guest Posting
Try these tips out for yourself and see which ones work best for you. Submit the best quality content you can, and make sure your post is featured on a site whose audience will be interested in your subject matter. Come with your A game, respect the site owner’s time, follow the contributor guidelines, and you’ll be getting high-ranking guest posts in no time.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer John Bogna.