Everything You Need to Know About Guest Posting

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Guest posting on someone else’s website is a popular way to market your business and has many benefits. 

But it’s more complex than writing a post and asking someone else to post it. You should approach guest blogging with the same strategy you use for other types of marketing. 

This post will teach you what guest posting is, why you should do it, and how it helps your business.

What is a guest post?

Guest posting or guest blogging is when you write an article for a website or a blog that isn’t your own. Your post should be relevant, high-quality content that adds value to the reader. And you want to write for a site closely related to what you do or that shares the same target audience. Think in terms of complementary businesses. 

For example, let’s say you’re a virtual assistant. You can write a guest post for a web designer who designs websites for online entrepreneurs. You both serve online business owners but offer different services, so you’re not competitors.

Or maybe you’re a wedding photographer. You could write a guest post for a bridal boutique in your community. This gets you in front of your target audience—people planning a wedding. And it also helps you build a relationship with the owner of the bridal store. Now when a bride wants a recommendation for a wedding photographer, you’re going to be top of mind.

Bloggers and business owners have practiced guest posting as a marketing strategy for a long time. And like other marketing techniques, it has evolved. Guest posting is still a good way to build links and bring new visitors to your blog. It just has to be done right.

Guest posting and SEO

According to this statement from John Mueller, Google is anti-guest posting.

Now I’m a rule follower to my core. But if you’ve been in the SEO space for long, you know Google doesn’t always work like they say it does. You have to look at their statements in context.

For a very long time, SEOs used guest posting to build backlinks by creating heaps of spammy content for any website that would accept them. The posts would have zero helpful information for the reader and, nine times out of ten, wouldn’t even be related to the website’s subject.

It makes sense that Google would want to crack down on this because it is only interested in serving relevant, helpful search results. It doesn’t want you to write posts that build unnatural links. Like when you find a link to a check-cashing place in a post about goldfish. That’s unnatural and spammy.

But there are multiple legitimate reasons to have someone write a guest post for your site. If done well, these posts benefit everyone. They don’t result in “unnatural links.”

So, while Google has this blanket statement against guest posting, I don’t buy it. I think it’s something they put out there to discourage people from abusing the system.

Spend a few minutes in any SEO group, and you’ll find multiple examples of legitimate, white-hat SEOs using guest posting to build their clients’ authority with outstanding success. There’s plenty of evidence that guest posting is beneficial.

But let’s assume guest posting doesn’t work for link-building. There are many other benefits to consider.

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What are the benefits of guest posting?

Guest posting benefits you in multiple ways:

Establishes you as an influencer in your industry. The more content you create and the more places you’re seen, the more influence you gain.

Exposes you to your target audience. When you guest post strategically, you’re working with people who have a similar audience to you. That gets you in front of new people who need your products or services.

Increases traffic to your website. Again, if you work strategically, you can use guest posting to drive traffic to your website.

Helps build your email list. When you offer an attractive lead magnet in your guest post bio, you can entice the readers to sign up for your email list. 

It can increase your social media followers. You can ask readers to connect with you on the social media platform where you’re most active.

Increases your exposure as a business. The more places you show up, the more people come to know you and your offerings.

It’s an ideal way to showcase your expertise. When writing guest posts that center on your area of knowledge, you can build trust and show people you’re an expert.

Gives you valuable feedback. You may have a theory about a popular concept in your industry and want to float it in front of others and see how they react. Guest posting is a good way to do that.

It’s cost-effective. Guest posting is definitely cheaper than running ads.

Complements other marketing strategies. Guest posting can complement marketing strategies like content marketing, social media marketing, and paid ads.

Builds relationships with other business owners. Relationship building is the best reason for guest posting. Yes, it takes time to write a post. But the long-term benefits you get from building a relationship with someone in a complementary industry are worth your efforts.

How to find guest posting opportunities?

Finding guest posting opportunities can be challenging. Many business owners automatically send any guest posting request to spam. I think that’s a short-sighted approach, but I’m in the minority. 

So, where should you start if outreach is a tough approach?

Start with easy opportunities.

Let’s say you’re a professional organizer.

What websites or publications do you look to for industry information or inspiration? Do they have blogs? 

Search that site for writing guidelines to see if they accept guest posts. Or Google the name of the website and “guest posting guidelines” or “submission guidelines” to find their requirements.

Next, try searching on Google. Type in “guest posting” + “home organization.” You’ll likely get a list of sites that accept guest posts.

Other search terms might be “home organization” + “write for us.”

“Home organization” + “contributor guidelines.”

“Home organization” + “guest post.”

“Home organization” + “submit a guest post.”

Play around with different search terms to see what you can find.

But focus only on sites that are related to your niche. If you’re a professional organizer, it makes little sense to post on a blog covering refrigerator repair.

Before you reach out to people asking to guest post, there are a few more steps.

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Tips to guest post successfully

Here are some tips on how to guest post effectively.

First, most sites that accept guest posts have their own guidelines. Follow them! 

Not following directions is the number one reason guest posts get rejected. But if a site doesn’t offer guidelines, here are some general tips.

Do your research.

Read the site’s guidelines carefully to understand what kind of post the site is looking for. If they don’t specify the subjects they want to be covered, look to see what they’ve already posted. You want to avoid repeating topics. Look for a viewpoint they haven’t covered. 

And make your content relevant to the site’s audience. What are the problems they face? What can you write about that will be useful to them?

Warm up your prospect.

If you can build a relationship with the site owner first, you increase your chances of success. 

Join their email list. Reply to their emails. Follow them on social media and start a conversation there. Develop a genuine relationship before you ask a favor of them. This might take several months, so remember it’s a long-term investment in relationships.

Personalize your pitch to the site owner and their audience.

Website owners get boatloads of emails every day from people offering to write guest posts. Most get marked as spam.

A site owner doesn’t care that writing a guest post helps your business. They’re only interested in their business. So you need a strong opening showing them how your post will help them.

Show them you’ve done your research and you know what their site is about. Explain how your post will add value to their website and to their customers.

Include a brief statement about who you are and the credentials that support your knowledge. But that should be the only point that’s about you. Your pitch should be all about them and their audience.

Stick with one subject or topic.

This is just part of good writing, but don’t cram everything you know into one post, no matter how helpful your information might be. 

Highlight the most important points and leave the rest out. Remember, you’re trying to share valuable knowledge with the audience. If you overwhelm them with information, you aren’t doing them any favors.

Ensure your guest post is relevant.

Make sure your post applies to the audience you’re writing for. 

Going back to our professional organizer example, what questions are you asked over and over again? Those might be good topics to cover in your guest posts.

Include internal links.

If you want to go all out and impress the site owner, include internal links to other blog posts on their website. It will take extra work since you aren’t familiar with their site. But the owner will appreciate your efforts because it’s good for their SEO.

Remember, this post isn’t just a one-time shot at building a backlink to your site. This post is also about building quality relationships with business owners in your community. Those relationships pay dividends over time. Help someone now, and it will pay off in the future.

Use the right keywords.

Optimize your post to the best of your abilities.

You’re writing about one topic. Use that topic keyword in your headline and some of the h2 and h3 headers. 

Use the keyword in your meta descriptions if you’re writing those. 

And use the keyword in the filename for your photos. For example, guest-posting-example-1.

Make sure your post is original.

I’m sure this is common sense for all of you, but just in case…

Plagiarism is wrong, and site owners will not forgive this offense.

It’s not so much an issue of self-plagiarism as a concern about duplicate content. Your post must be original and not published elsewhere on the internet.

Provide additional value.

Guest posts should provide unique value to the reader.

Your guest post should provide something special to the reader that they couldn’t get from reading other posts on the same topic. Adding value will make your post stand out and increase the likelihood that it’s accepted by the site owner.

Include a call to action at the end.

Discuss this with the site owner. Do they have a specific call to action they’d like you to include?

Do they want comments on the post? Do they want readers to share it on social media? Do they want readers to pin it on Pinterest? Does your post lead naturally to a product or service they sell?

If they don’t have a specific CTA, asking for comments is always a safe option. If you do that, be prepared to respond to those comments. Don’t leave readers hanging. It’s not a good look for you or for the site owner.

Include a link to your site and a short bio.

This is where you promote yourself. Include a link to your site in your bio and invite readers to follow you on social media. You can also include links to relevant articles or blog posts on your site so that your readers can read more from you.

Share your post with your audience.

After your post is published, share it with your audience. The more eyeballs on the post, the better, and the site owner will appreciate your efforts.

Final Thoughts On Guest Posting

Guest posting offers a fantastic opportunity for your business growth. It expands your audience, positions you as an expert, and helps build relationships with other business owners.

If you’ve been reluctant to guest post for others, please try it. You don’t need to over-commit yourself. Aim for one opportunity each quarter. It’s worth it.

Dive Deeper:

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Jennifer Ayling

Jennifer Ayling is a certified content marketer and SEO content writer at The Mulberry Pen. She’s been creating digital content since 2008 and is a regular writer for authority sites like Smart Blogger and Xperiencify. 

An avid bookworm, Jennifer reads 100+ books every year. She lives outside St. Louis, MO, with her husband and their two children. The family’s two dogs rule the household.

It’s my mission to show you how to build and market your business without depending on the whims of social media. There are many other marketing assets you can create. I can help.