Be our guest: The art of guest blogging and how it can benefit your brand
How does a new company evolve from unknown entity to household name?
The popularity and potential of digital marketing mean that it’s much easier to spread their message around the world, but when you’ve yet to establish yourself through a traffic-generating blog, or sensational social media feed, it can be difficult to find the methods you need to magnify your voice.
The good news is that there is a solution out there for new companies who want to improve their credibility and strengthen their appearance on search engine results.
Guest blogging opportunities give your organisation the chance to leverage another company’s pre-existing popularity with a specific niche or audience. While some people claim that guest blogging is no longer as powerful as it once was – many studies show that it’s still one of the most effective link-building strategies around. In fact, well-known company, Buffer used it to attract 100,000 customers.
The trouble is, many businesses continue to shy away from guest posting, unsure how to find guest blogging opportunities and use them to their advantage. With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at how you can access the advantages of posting on relevant websites, and craft a campaign that attracts the attention of popular publications.
What is guest blogging, and why should you care?
In an increasingly saturated marketplace, many companies find themselves struggling to stand out from the crowd. Since 47% of buyers will read up to 5 pieces of content before they engage with a sales rep, it makes sense that you’d want to find as many ways as possible to connect with your audience.
Of course, after you’ve spent the time and effort creating the perfect blog post, you might wonder why you should hand it over to another publisher. Why not simply stick it on your own website instead? Here are a few reasons why you should take advantage of guest blogging opportunities.
1. Guest blogging delivers instant exposure to targeted traffic
Regardless of whether your posts convince people on alternative websites to check out your company, writing about a valuable topic or showing your expertise in a field should be enough to pique the interests of your target community. Remember, marketers that use blogs generally access 67% more leads than those without a content plan.
If you create a top-quality post, then you’ll convince more customers to start moving towards your brand site with pre-existing knowledge about your business. That means you’re not just getting traffic, you’re discovering “leads”.
2. Guest blogging improves your authority
While many companies engage in guest blogging campaigns because they hope that posting on other publications will raise brand awareness, there’s more to guest blogging than generating recognition for your name.
Guest blogging shows that you have in-depth knowledge about a specific industry, making it easier for customers to trust whatever you have to say. The more quality, informative content you distribute into the world, the more people will see the authority of your brand.
3. Guest blogging builds backlinks and SEO
Search engine optimisation is crucial for companies who want to ensure their brand gets as much online attention as possible. While search engines like Google look for many different factors when determining which posts should show up in which search results, many still consider quality backlinks to be an indicator of a website’s authority.
The more relevant backlinks you have from powerful companies in your niche, the more Google will come to respect your position in your chosen marketplace. This means that you’ll start to rank higher for the search terms that are relevant to you.
4. Guest blogging supplements other marketing strategies
Finally, a guest blogging campaign can be a wonderful way to give additional weight to some of the other brand awareness strategies in your repertoire. For instance, most guest blogging opportunities allow you to write a short bio at the end of each post that you can either use to link people directly to your website, or other content like your podcast, videos, or blog.
You can even ask the companies that you write for to share your post on social media, which gives you a new chance to connect with different audiences in your industry.
How to find guest blogging opportunities that suit your brand
While many organisations agree that guest blogging could be a powerful solution for their marketing campaigns, many don’t know how to find guest blogging opportunities. The key thing to remember here is that while it might be tempting to apply for a chance to write for almost any publication, you’ll only see the benefits of guest blogging and SEO if you take the time to find sites relevant to your niche or industry.
To ensure you bring in as many inbound leads as possible for your guest blogging campaign, keep the following factors in mind:
- The blog content should focus on your niche.
- The audience must be interested in the content you produce.
- The website should be authoritative and have an engaged readership.
- The blog owner should be active on social media (for promotional reasons).
Though there’s no pre-set path to discovering the best guest blogging opportunities, here are some ideas on where you can get started.
1. Begin with a Google search
Google is a fantastic place to look when you’re searching for guest blogging opportunities. You can use the keywords relevant to your industry to inform your search, to make sure you’re picking sites that appeal to your target demographic. By way of example, try typing “[keyword] guest post submissions”, or “[keyword] guest post guidelines” into the search bar.
2. Follow popular guest bloggers
The more you learn about guest blogging, the more you’ll discover authors in your industry that already have a significant following. Once you have a couple of names in mind, you can search for a writer on Google and find out where they’ve found opportunities to speak to different audiences. The chances are that the websites you discover will accept guest blogging submissions (in the right circumstances), and should also have a link to your chosen niche or audience.
3. Analyse competitor backlinks
Competitor analysis can be a powerful strategy for brands hoping to grow in their industry. Ask your marketing agency, or brand consultancy, to pull up a list of backlinks for your competitors to inform your SEO campaign. This will also give you a collection of potential companies you can appeal to when you’re searching for guest blogging opportunities.
4. Get social
Finally, many guest blogging experts will share their latest pieces on social media to help boost traffic. Since Twitter is generally the easiest platform to search on, you could try running a search for a hashtag like “#marketingguestpost to see some of the latest blogs in your industry.
The golden rules for pitching a guest blog
Notice how we haven’t jumped directly from finding guest blogging opportunities to writing your post? That’s because one of the most important steps that today’s marketers miss is preparing to “pitch” your piece to a website owner.
Before you can start to reap all the benefits that guest blogging has to offer, you’ll need to convince your chosen publication that you should be allowed to write on their website. After all, if you’re appealing to a particularly popular site, the chances are that you’re competing against countless other brands who want to expand their reach too!
So, how can you increase your chances of being accepted into a guest blogging campaign?
1. Read the guidelines
When it comes to guest blogging opportunities, it’s worth noting that you can’t treat website guidelines the same way you’d treat the terms and conditions of your new Apple product or smartphone. Ignoring the info and just clicking “I accept” at the end of it all won’t cut it in this competitive space.
Before you contact the blog owner, make sure you read the guest posting guidelines carefully. Does the owner want you to pitch an idea first, or submit an entire post? Do they need the content to be delivered in a specific format? Will you need to supply your own photos and illustrations, or will the website do that for you?
2. Make it personal
Guest blogging is a popular strategy for improving brand reach – so there are a lot of companies out there all competing for their chance to show up on the right website. Many blog owners are sick and tired of getting the same copy-pasted pitches from their possible contributors. They want emails that show you’ve really absorbed and understood what they’re searching for from a writer.
Do your research and find a way to personalise your outreach in a way that makes people sit up and take notice.
3. What makes you so special?
As we mentioned above, there’s a lot of competition for spaces on great guest blogs today. For the best chance of an accepted submission, you’ll need to devote some additional time to outlining why the company should choose to work with you.
Consider adding some links to blogs you’ve published elsewhere so that the website can see the quality of your writing. If you’ve had shout-outs from other brands in the past that underline the things that make you unique, then include those testimonials at the bottom of your pitch. By the time they’ve finished reading your email, a website owner should know, without question, that you’ve got value to offer them.
How to be the ultimate guest blogger
Guest blogging can be an incredible resource when used correctly.
A great post can spread your logo around the world, and introduce your audience to your unique tone of voice. But like most marketing strategies, it’s only truly beneficial to those who are willing to put in 110%. If you’re just going to touch on the surface of a topic or waffle on for several pages without providing real value to your readers, then your reputation will suffer.
So, how can you prep for the ultimate guest post?
Step 1: Know your guest blogging goals
Just like any brand awareness campaign, an effective guest blogging campaign begins with a good understanding of your goals. After all, it’s hard to know if you’ve been successful without defining what “success” means to you. Some of the most common goals for guest blogging opportunities include:
- Driving traffic to your website or landing page.
- Improving recognition for your brand, services, or products.
- Improving SEO with inbound links.
- Showcasing the authority of your business.
- Increasing email subscription numbers.
Choosing your goal early will help you to write a bio that’s appropriately framed to drive action from your target audience.
Step 2: Choose an incredible topic
Being approved for a post on the website of your dreams is only the beginning. If you want to inspire brand affinity in your readers, then you need to cover a topic that they’re genuinely interested in. Reading the existing blog posts on the website should give you a foundation to start with. Just make sure that whatever you choose is relevant to your company.
Step 3: Write clearly and conversationally
People don’t want to read boring lists of information. Check out the tone of voice that the guest blog has used in the past for an idea of what your content should sound like. Most companies prefer blogs that are conversational, engaging, and packed full of useful information.
Remember, don’t use terms like “the customer”, instead, speak directly to the people that you want to connect with. If it helps, imagine you’re giving a speech to a crowd of people – usually, your blog will become much more interesting.
Step 4: Get visual
Just because your writing needs to be top notch to make the most of fantastic guest blogging opportunities, doesn’t mean that you should bore your readers with huge and overwhelming blocks of text. Videos and images are a great way to add context to what you’re talking about and make your message more engaging.
If you’re not sure whether you’re explaining something clearly enough, try using a diagram or infographic to show what you mean. On the other hand, you could always include a brief video that walks the reader through your topic in bite-sized chunks.
Just remember that you should never use stock photography unless you absolutely must. Dime-a-dozen pictures of people smiling on your posts don’t look professional – it just seems cheesy.
Step 5: Follow the rules!
Some rules were made to be broken, but that’s not the case with guest blogging opportunities. If you’re lucky enough to get the go-ahead from a website owner to start writing a pre-approved topic, then they’re going to expect you to follow the rules that they’ve laid out for that blog.
Don’t waste your chance by convincing yourself that your creativity can’t be restrained by your guest blogging guidelines. Websites won’t respond positively to the excuse that you “just got carried away” and wrote a 3000-word post when they were looking for something 1000 words or less. Carelessness will ruin your relationship with the website and mean that your blog ends up in the discard pile.
Making the most of your guest blogging opportunities
Ultimately, guest blogging is a marketing opportunity built through collaboration. You work alongside another company in your industry to build the authority of your website, drive traffic towards your company, and expand awareness of your brand.
However, there are good ways to get involved with guest blogging, and bad ways. While one will help your reputation, the other will potentially ruin your ability to connect positively with future customers and investors. For instance, collecting a broad list of low-quality backlinks from inactive websites will simply show Google that you don’t take your business seriously. On the other hand, if you can use your guest blogging campaign to strengthen relationships with authority influencers in your space, you’re sure to see the benefits.
Here are a few final tips to keep in mind before you begin looking for guest blogging opportunities.
1. Be careful where you publish
Guest blogging and SEO go hand-in-hand. The more links you generate from good websites, the more Google begins to recognise your company as an authority in your space. However, guest blogging effectively takes time and effort. You can’t just publish on any site and wait for the leads to roll in.
Instead, be selective about the sites you connect with. Check things like domain authority, and how many social followers the blog has. Choose sites with good metrics, and consider the traffic they get each month. Remember, relevance counts too – you must choose websites that are connected to your industry.
2. Promote yourself
Since writing an incredible guest post is hard work, it can be tempting to think that you can simply leave the promotion part of the other website. However, tier-two link building can give you greater credibility with your audience, and expand your reach at the same time.
When someone links to your website, link back to them in your social media posts, your email newsletters, or your website updates. Encourage your customers to share the post with their friends, or simply give the brand a shout-out to say “thanks” for letting you write on their website. This both gives you scope to reach new customers and also helps to strengthen your relationship with partner companies.
3. Really research whatever you write
Guest blogging is your opportunity to make an impression on a brand-new audience. You can’t afford to take chances with the things you say. Before you even begin to pitch posts, make sure that you look at the previous content published on the website so that you can select a topic that you know will appeal to the readers you want to reach.
For example, if you’re a baking company writing on a recipe website and you know that their most popular blog is about chocolate cake, then you could guess that a blog about chocolate cake decorating tips would be effective too.
When you start writing, make sure that you get the information as accurate as possible too. While there’s nothing wrong with an opinionated piece, make sure that you’re not including statistics and facts unless you can back them up with reference links.
4. Maintain and build relationships
Once you’ve successfully added a new post to your guest blogging campaign, make sure that you don’t simply dump the site you wrote for like yesterday’s newspaper. Maintaining your relationship with authoritative websites can lead to additional posting opportunities in the future, and it may even help you to expand your guest blogging network.
If you start to develop a reputation as a valued, and respectful contributor, then you could find that it’s easier to gain approval for posts on other, more discerning sites in the future. Remember your manners, and keep in touch.
Expanding awareness with guest blogging
Of all the ways you can build your brand potential in the digital world, guest blogging is probably one of the simplest and most effective solutions. Despite obvious benefits of showcasing your authority on industry websites, guest blogging opportunities remain to be one of the most woefully under-utilised strategies in the online world.
However, when used correctly, guest blogging can be a win/win situation for everyone involved. Not only does it develop more attention to your brand, and strengthen your reach, but it also gives industry blogs more diverse and entertaining content to publish.
The key to an amazing guest blogging campaign, of course, is making sure that you have a strategy in mind. While it would be much easier to simply submit your content to anyone who would take it, unlocking the benefits of guest blogging and SEO means taking the time to etch out a plan that will earn you a space on some of the most credible sites in your industry.
The more you get your name out there, the more your authority will grow, ensuring that your target audiences begin to see you as a company they can trust to deliver answers to their most burning questions.
Do you think it’s time to add guest blogging to your content mix?
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