Content Marketing

Guest Blogging: Why It’s so Difficult and How to Overcome the Challenge

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It’s amazing how fast people start getting headaches when the subject of getting backlinks comes up. Who’s going to do it? How long will it take? How sure are we that investing time into this pays off?

All these questions and more start pounding away, and the process of finding new guest-blogging opportunities starts giving the impression of a looming monster ready to eat up all our time and productivity.

While the process of finding guest-blogging opportunities and acquiring new backlinks is a bit complicated, it is far from impossible to achieve. With the right organization and plan, it can be done with very little time wasted.

We are going to explain each part of the process so you can get a clear picture about the complexity of this kind of project.

Goals Determine Your Direction

While the process of finding, reaching out to, and publishing on various blogs is similar for all niches, each individual guest-blogging campaign has its own goals and will move in different directions. In other words, the philosophy with which we approach the process is the same, but the devil is in the details.

One of the most common mistakes with guest-blogging campaigns is going for any and all links you can acquire. The cornerstone for a quality guest-posting campaign is finding links that help you get associated with the right type of content and audience. Links that are irrelevant to your niche are far less effective and even confuse search engines about how to categorize and rank your website.

In extreme cases, getting links from bad places to point to your website can get you penalized by search engines. There is a whole list of link types and link-building techniques that will immediately get you penalized, so steer clear of guest-blogging approaches that offer a lot of links in no time at all — they might be able to deliver them, but you’ll regret ever getting them.

Finding opportunities that suit your needs is crucial for the effectiveness of your guest-blogging campaign. Most campaigns have these three primary goals:

  1. Creating new backlinks for the target website.
  2. Attracting new traffic the target website.
  3. Positioning the website or individual as a niche authority.

None of these goals can be achieved with haphazard link building. Depending on which one of these you want to focus on primarily, you may choose your target blogs differently.

If your goal is getting recognized as an industry expert and driving traffic, you will focus on getting backlinks on websites that have a lot of traffic, active social media accounts, good community with a developed commenting culture and an audience that is relevant to you. If your goal is metric-oriented you will prioritize blogs with good root domain authority to get that all-important link juice.

Whatever the case may be, you will still need to focus on finding links from relevant sources. If you are running a blog focused on writing, for example, and you manage to get a lot of links from cooking websites with a lot of traffic and with big root domain authority, you will still get underwhelming results.

Due to the fact that you provide no value for most of their traffic and that the link coming from a cooking site is irrelevant as a reference for an authority blog on writing, so yeah, it isn’t going to do too much for you.

How to Get Guest Blogging Opportunities

The thing you should be aware of is that you don’t have to find a 100% match between the guest posting opportunity and your website. It is enough that they are in a related niche and that the audience is at least partially interested in what you have to offer.

Let’s continue with our example from before, the writing blog. Good opportunities for guest blogging for this type of blog would be content marketing blogs, social media blogs, digital marketing, SEO blogs, blogs about blogs and blogging, writing tips blogs, how-to-make-money-online blogs etc. Most of these don’t specifically focus on writing, but are related to your primary subject matter and therefore you can provide value to their traffic with the content on your website and vice versa.

Now that we have a general idea about what kind of websites we are looking for, let’s focus on how to find them.

Google

The simplest and most obvious way to find new guest posting opportunities is Googling for them. There are some specific keywords you can include in your query to help you find the right blogs. Some of these are:

  1. Guest post
  2. Submit a guest post
  3. Guest post guidelines
  4. Contribute to our blog
  5. Accepting guest posts
  6. Contribution guidelines
  7. Guest post by

Now, these generic keywords are here to help you find websites that accept contributions from other blogs, but they should be used in combination with your niche keywords to find optimal websites.

Niche keywords are something you need to figure out yourself, but this shouldn’t be too hard since, well, it’s your niche.

The format of the query should look something like this:

niche keyword “guest post keyword from the list”

Niche keyword isn’t going under quotations because you want to find websites generally related to the keyword. The submission keywords go under quotations since we are looking for exact matches for these lines on those websites.

Competition Research

Another way to go about discovering new opportunities is to check out what you competitors are doing. You can do a backlink analysis of your competitiors’ websites and identify which links are a result of guest posting campaigns. This can be done by using a tool called Open Site Explorer, but if you don’t have access to this tool there is another way to go about that.

Google is your friend here again and this is the query you should be focusing on:

link:domain.com -domain.com “guest post”

You should replace the domain.com keyword with the domain name of your competitor. This query should reveal your competitions guest posts and you can add these results to your guest posting list.

Niche Experts and Other Bloggers

Each niche has its fair share of influencers who are considered to be trend setters and thought leaders for a particular subject matter. You probably know some of them based on the research you did, since they tend to pop up quite often. You can also search for lists with industry experts and pull names from there.

Once you have identified the experts, you can search for their name in combination with the phrase “Guest post by” and you will get results with their guest posts.

In the vast majority of cases these websites will be a great match for your situation as well. If you happen to be in contact with one of these niche experts, you could even go as far as to ask for an introduction which can speed up your guest posting process.

Social Media

What’s the point of getting a guest post if you’re not going to brag about it? Anyone with a bit of common sense is going to share the guest post as soon as they notice it’s live. You get more traffic, bigger exposure, the officials of the websites you’ve posted on see your effort and so on.

By searching for “guest post” on social media (we recommend Twitter since it has the best search), you can find posts with articles on websites who accept guest posts.

Online Lists and Unsolicited Lists

There are literally thousands of articles with lists of websites that accept contributions. The problem with these lists is that they are public, anybody can access them and in most cases they are populated with websites that are designed to serve one purpose only, provide links for guest posts.

This means that these websites are usually penalized and that a link from them will not do you or your reputation much good. In a lot of cases they will do quite the opposite. We don’t recommend relying on these lists.

From time to time you might get an unsolicited list in an email from an individual or company that offer guest posting campaign. In a lot of cases you can integrate these lists into your own in order to find the websites that suit your needs.

Be careful though, not every list will be high quality and you should definitely go through them and check each individual website before you decide to make it one of the targets for your guest posting campaign.

How to Pitch Like a Pro

No, don’t start filling out that contact form just yet. Before we can get in contact with a desired target blog we need to go through a couple of things.

Content Analysis

The first thing we need to do is see what kind of content this website publishes on a regular basis. While you may be familiar with a couple of their posts from your search efforts, you need to answer a few crucial questions before you can pitch to them.

You need to know what kind of audience are they writing for so that you can adapt your content. You won’t be writing the same content for an entry level audience and expert level audience – identifying their level of proficiency related to the subject matter will help you tailor the content to their needs and ensure that it’s accepted.

Another important distinction is writing for a B2B (Business to Business) audience or general consumers. The tone and the angle are quite different  for these two situations.

Last but not least, you need to identify their formating, their favorite style of content and other content-related details. You don’t want to pitch a general piece to a website that is focused on writing tutorials. You will be rejected and they won’t even tell you because nobody has time for unsolicited pitches that don’t even match the blog’s style.

So, pay attention to detail so as to avoid wasting your time and the time of the blog’s editorial team.

Other Guest Posts and Guest Posters

After you have done the general analysis of your desired blog’s content it would be a good idea to see who the guest posters who got published there previously are and what kind of content they’ve published.

The rules for a blog’s regular contributors don’t always apply to guest posts. It is always a good idea to see what a published guest post looks like before you pitch your own. Furthermore, some blogs don’t share guest posts on social media, nor do they expose the content to their audience in any other way.

In some cases they no-follow all the links and even give the page a no-index tag, which prevents it from coming up in SERPs. If this is the case, what’s the point of even wasting time on publishing the content?

Check out Their Top Content

If an approach is working why change it, right? Find out which posts got the most traffic, shares and comments on the website you want to post on. There are a lot of tools out there that can help you with this.

When you find out which posts have the best results you can pitch a piece that either has a similar title structure or handles a particular subject with a similar approach.

Become a Part of their Community

Sure, not everyone has the time to do this, we understand. Still, if a place is particularly difficult to publish on, being a familiar face can increase your chances of getting published.

Check their Guidelines

The guidelines will help identify those nit-picky details the editors want you to pay attention to. They will also tell you exactly how the pitching procedure works and what to expect once you’ve submitted your pitch.

The Contact

Usually the guidelines tell you about all the information the editors expect to see from their guest contributors. On the other hand, sometimes you just get a contact form and you’re on your own. In these cases, you should approach the situation as follows.

Always personalize your email if you can find the information about who will receive it. This way you will send a message that you actually took the time to see how things work on their blog. Introduce yourself and your previous work.

Avoid sending word documents as samples of your work, since this is considered bad manners. Send live links as your portfolio. This will give the editors an opportunity to get familiar with your style of writing, as well as your researching capabilities.

Don’t just send one title idea! Come up with at least 3-4 topics so the editor can have a choice. Furthermore, with more titles you are actually increasing the probability of getting contacted and even getting advice on how to improve your pitch.

Outline why you think that you should be published on their blog and how your contribution will provide value to them and their audience.

When submitting a complete piece you should avoid going over the top to impress. Sure, you can submit a 2000+ words piece to a blog that regularly publishes 500 word articles to get the editor’s attention, but usually blogs that publish short pieces do so for a reason. Match their style and ensure that your post fits into their publishing practices.

Make sure you include non-promotional external links, as well as a couple of internal links and match the formatting of the blog to make the editor’s job a bit easier. Perfect grammar goes without saying. Professionals who submit work that is ready to publish as is get published more often and with less hustle.

Creating a Great Bio

In most cases your link will go into the author bio you will be providing along with your content, or after your content has been approved. The text itself is up to you and will depend on how you want to promote yourself.

The link included may vary based on your goals. If you are after link juice, you will simply link your root domain. If you are after traffic, you will link a specific landing page. If you want social media followers, you will add a link to your primary social media profile.

We hope that we’ve successfully explained the process of finding and applying for guest posts. It is a process that takes time and patience – it won’t happen overnight and not every contact you make will be a successful one.

Take your time and build a quality list of guest posting target websites before you actually start contacting people. Make sure not to lose track of where you’ve submitted what, since the answer to your guest posting inquiries may not arrive within a couple of days. Actually, it might take months, so you should find a way to keep track of everything. Good luck!

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