Guest posting could rightly be called the black sheep of SEO strategies.
Its very name conjures up images of black hats and spammy link tactics the industry has long left behind.
Does this mean guest posting should be trashed?
In my experience, guest posting has created dozens of business opportunities and leads my company has been able to exploit for profit.
Instead of focusing on guest posting as a link-building strategy, we need to shift our focus to a brand-building strategy.
In this article, you’ll learn guest posting tips to not only provide your site SEO value but to help build your brand, too.
Benefits of Guest Posting: Is It Still Worth It?
SEO practitioners have been “beating a dead horse” for so long that they should rank #1 for the term.
However, like link building and all of the other things in SEO we think are dead, guest posting is still a viable opportunity for thought leadership and awareness PR.
While links from guest posting are largely treated as nofollow links, I find that the business opportunities and brand exposure from posting on sites like SEJ and other prominent blogs are sufficient to warrant the effort.
I would list the benefits of guest posting as follows:
- Increased brand awareness.
- Viable backlinking opportunities (even if they are nofollow).
- Thought leadership.
- Increased site traffic.
- Increased leads and business opportunities.
Furthermore, having your authorship spread across different publications develops your trust and authority more than a hyperlink back to your blog on someone else’s website.
Of course, if you want to engage in guest posting, you need to have the proper focus and expectations in place.
That’s why I’ve listed 15 tips to maximize your guest posting campaign and increase your brand awareness.
1. Stick To Your Niche & Exploit Your Expertise
If you’re a digital marketer that focuses on content in your business, write about content.
Exclusive to video marketing? Offer guest content about video marketing.
True experts have a narrow focus and tend to stay in their lane.
The key to expertise is pretty simple: You should actually be an expert in whatever you are writing about.
If you write professionally about multiple subjects, you risk muddying your brand and confusing search engine evaluation of your content.
For example, my main focuses for guest posting are content creation (such as this post), productivity, and time management.
I’m also an editor for a popular motorcycle publication, but I don’t guest post in that industry.
That’s a different story because it’s like being a staff writer at Search Engine Journal. You likely won’t find full-time staffers guest posting on other digital marketing publications.
There may be certain circumstances where you’ll write about something that’s not your full focus.
The odd exception is OK. But in general, stick to your area of expertise when guest posting.
2. Create All The Evergreen Content You Can
You want your work to stick around for as long as possible, so focus on creating evergreen content.
Experts are often approached for opinions about newsworthy items.
Don’t deny those opportunities, but remember that guest posting is different. You aren’t necessarily going for a big splash, but longevity.
Create content that will have the same relevancy 10 years from now as it does today.
That may be challenging for ever-changing industries such as technology – but try to create as much evergreen content as possible.
Because I mostly write about creating content and productivity, much of my content can remain evergreen.
My personal rule is to aim for guest post content that is 90% evergreen and 10% newsworthy or trending.
3. Target Relevant, Strong Websites
Many SEO professionals focus on the domain authority (DA) of a website. But that single element doesn’t tell the entire story of a website’s strength.
You’ll still see a lot of websites with higher DAs but thin web page copy. These may be loaded with external links that are irrelevant to the core focus of the website.
Mistaking a high DA for a good, relevant website can derail your guest posting efforts.
Don’t chase just a strong DA.
Look for high-quality websites loaded with reputable content written by experts.
Two things to ask upfront are for traffic metrics and whether the site buys links (or “exchanges” them for money, as the case may be).
You should check their link profile or have an SEO pro do this for you before even pitching to a publication.
If the website links to irrelevant domains with unworthy content, save your energy and move on to the next target website.
Remember, once again, to concentrate on brand building first and link acquisition second.
If it’s not good for your brand, keep moving.
This will save you much energy as you wade through the web, searching for the best online outlet to amplify your content.
If you suspect anything scammy, especially with link building, let your fingers run and find you another prospective website.
4. Build Your Relationship With Good Publications
When you find a strong website and your guest posts resonate with its audience, do as much as possible for that website.
Some SEO professionals don’t like this idea due to the diminishing value of more links.
Most guest posts only feature a link (make sure it’s followed!) in the bio to the contributor’s home page.
This typically means that the first link is the strongest, and each one afterward has a diminishing return on value.
However, if the publication is strong and you’re influencing its audience, forget about the link value. Focus on building your brand here instead.
Many have this backward, and they end up providing invaluable content that doesn’t resonate well with the audience just to get a link.
5. Optimize Your Bio
Many websites will restrict your ability to link to personal websites throughout your blog, so focus on making your bio as strong as possible.
Most bios allow for a standard headshot, a link to your website, and a one to two-sentence description.
Use your bio to link to a website that will benefit most from it and will be most relevant to your audience. Then, create a description that best captures your brand and appeals to that audience.
You may not realize it, but your bio will often be the thing people click on when they want to learn more about you, so do your best to maximize its potential.
6. Never Forget About SEO
Some guest contributors forget about SEO when creating a guest post (even those within the digital marketing space).
I’ve written multiple articles here about SEO writing if you want to dig in, but the absolute basics include:
- Target one or two keywords per guest blog.
- Use target keywords in an approximately 55-character title.
- Use numbers; headlines with numbers are typically popular with readers.
- Use of brackets or parentheses in the title; Research by HubSpot and Outbrain showed that headlines with bracketed clarifications performed 38% better than those without them.
- Use target keywords in meta descriptions of about 150 characters, with a marketing message and clear call to action (CTA).
- Use related keywords naturally infused into the content.
- Properly use header tags with keywords (related keywords work nicely here).
- Use bold, italics, and bullet points judiciously to make reading easier, improving UX and increasing on-page reading time.
- Offer internal/external linking recommendations.
Again, don’t forget about SEO.
You don’t want to sabotage the chances of that guest post actually being discovered.
7. Go Long And Mention Other Relevant & Link-Worthy Sources
Don’t skimp on length.
Search engines want to represent articles with serious value, and it’s much easier to provide value with longer posts.
That doesn’t mean anything fluffy, but well thought out and written.
Our in-house evaluation of clients’ blog content (Disclosure: I’m the founder of ContentMender) showed that a minimum word count of 1,200 words was required, though most guest posts we do are around 1,500 words.
I recommend going even longer at 2,500 words per piece, which is, on average, what I do here at Search Engine Journal.
Quote other experts within your article, especially if they write for the publication where you’re guest posting.
Want to get even better results?
Try to get a direct, unique quote from an author or expert within your industry.
8. Remember To Amplify
Like writing without SEO in mind, not exploiting a guest post is another huge problem.
Once a story goes live, push it out on all of your social channels and try to influence others to share further. Make sure to tag the publication and every person mentioned.
Another tactic that works well is linking to the article on your main website. I do this through an “In The Media” page on my WordPress website that uses a Nooz plugin.
Beyond this, I recommend fairly traditional strategies, even sharing posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and appropriate Reddit communities that could benefit.
9. Refer To Your Other Published Guest Posts
If you have more than one guest post published in the same niche, try to link to the other articles as much as possible.
Sometimes the publications won’t allow links, especially if they are directed toward a competitor, but most times, you will get them linked.
This creates synergy between all of your guest posts across the web and helps search engines connect all of your guest posting efforts.
10. Find Guest Post Opportunities & Perfect Your Pitch
Finding opportunities online is easy.
Simply Google the following, preceded by your industry keyword (e.g., “SEO guest post guidelines”):
- Guest post submissions.
- Accepting guest posts.
- Guest post guidelines.
- Submit a guest post.
Once you find the ideal publication, the next challenge is the pitch.
Here are a few points to consider when pitching as a guest poster:
- Make each pitch personal. Find out who the managing person is and call them by their first name. Research that person to get a feel of their language. Do they use big words? Small words? Hobbies? Etc.
- Talk informally. You do not want them to feel like they are reading a script.
- Keep your initial email short and to the point.
- Provide a list of topics you are proposing.
- Provide some credentials of work you had published online (the more relevant to the publication, the better).
- Let them know you understand how to create search-friendly content.
- If a previous post is ranking highly on Google for a target keyword, share that info within the pitch. Say something like, “If you search Google for content writing trends 2021, you’ll see how my latest guest post is doing.”
Though I don’t see the author tag becoming a relevant ranking factor , the more mentions you have online, the stronger your brand and associated businesses will grow.
Remember, links are the added benefit to the work of guest posting – so make sure you’ve also planned a proper link building strategy by focusing on higher return on investment (ROI) pages on your website(s).
11. Protect Your Guest Posts
Guest posting is a portion of an overall awareness PR strategy that should also involve other means of brand exposure.
Remember that although you have contributed the guest post, you don’t own that asset.
Publications can fold or change their content marketing strategies quickly, and poof – your work can disappear.
The solution is two-fold.
First, always keep a final copy of your guest posts saved somewhere.
I did work for a publication over a decade ago and found out a few years ago that the publication ran out of funds and disappeared from the web. Thankfully, I had all of my original stories and was able to refresh and reuse them without the penalty of duplicate content.
Make sure you search the article to ensure it wasn’t scraped and used on other websites.
Secondly, put more effort into your “home base” content. This is content you own that is published on your own platforms: books, ebooks, and your web pages/blogs.
12. Engage With Posts
Cultivate greater engagement on your posts by reacting to comments on the post itself and on social media.
Similar to reviews, be sure to track your posts across social media and engage with all comments to generate a buzz.
Even though that post is being used on another person’s website, it’s your brand that is getting most of the recognition.
13. Track Your Posts
Tracking your guest posts can be a helpful way to organize your project management and see what leads and results you are getting.
SEMrush provides a Post Tracking tool that tracks social media engagement, links, and keyword rankings of various guest posts.
It’s never a bad idea to link to posts you’ve written on other sites on your own blog – or other sites!
Creating a flourishing ecosystem and breadcrumb trail of thought leadership will help you develop your brand and authority.
14. Stay On The Right Side Of Google’s Guidelines
One word of caution: Google released some guidelines to be aware of when contributing content to other online publications.
Here’s what Google is against:
- Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles.
- Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing about.
- Using the same or similar content across these articles.
- Duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical,” in addition to rel=”nofollow,” is advised).
Search Engine Journal’s Roger Montti wrote a great piece about Google penalizing websites that accept guest posts, which has some insight into why you must do your due diligence before pitching content to a publication.
Adam Riemer has also written about when you should mark guest posts as sponsored. In short, if you are paying for a guest post spot, you probably should.
Do your homework!
15. Continue To Leverage Guest Posting
With that said, I recommend improving your guest posting strategy by doing it more frequently.
The more publications you can spread your authorship to, the more awareness you’ll generate.
Implement consistent guest posting into your marketing strategy to increase your thought leadership and site traffic.
Guest posts can offer great value to your link-building and branding strategies if you are willing to invest the time.
While the links may not be that valuable from an SEO perspective, they are invaluable from an overall marketing and brand perspective.
Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock