Reflections from writing, editing, and publishing hundreds of guest posts
Have you ever attended a conference with a guest speaker you'd never heard of, only to find yourself inspired by their speech to the point that you followed them on Twitter, downloaded their podcast, and bought their book?
Okay. Maybe you haven't had that exact experience, but you've likely found yourself inspired by a guest speaker at some point, right?
Guest speaking positions are hard to come by for good reason. Guest speakers can use them to grow their audience, promote their brand, and boost their public profile.
Now, we have good news for you. If you aren't a confident public speaker, there is a written alternative to guest speaking — guest posting.
But, what does guest posting look like in practice, and how can you try it? That's what this article is all about. We'll cover the benefits of guest posting, examples of our own successful guest posts, and strategies to help you replicate that success.
Let's jump into it.
What is guest posting?
Broadly, a guest post is a piece of written content you research, write, and edit for another publication, blogger, or brand's website. You produce the post, and someone else publishes it.
For example, Mediaberry’s Founder Mark Quadros wrote this article, “How To Boost Your Sales With Pinterest,” for Ecwid.
This guest post was mutually beneficial for Ecwid and Mediaberry. Ecwid published a high-quality piece of content without producing it in-house, and Mediaberry gained valuable exposure through the post.
Ecwid was also kind enough to allow Mark to include a backlink to Mediaberry's website in the post — something that's a key motivation for many guest bloggers.
Now, before we go any further, you need to understand something vital: all links in guest posts are not created equal.
When websites link to other web pages in their posts, they sometimes add a tag that changes how search engines like Google respond to the link. Some of those tags include:
- The “sponsored” tag. This tag tells the search engine that the link's owner paid for the link (and thus, to ignore it).
- The “UGC” tag. This tag tells search engines that a user left the link (you would expect to see this tag primarily in blog comments sections or on social media).
- The “nofollow” tag. The no-follow tag tells search engines to ignore the link.
The type of link you get from guest blog posting is really important. Though no one outside Google truly knows the secrets of PageRank (Google's search engine sorting system), Google has strongly hinted that your website's backlinks are in the top two elements that help your site rank highly.
So, if a guest post tags a link to your site with one of these tags (especially the no-follow or sponsored one), it won't give you a boost in search engine results.
That's where do-follow links come in.
Do-follow links tell search engine algorithms, “yes, I (website) endorse the content contained in this link, and I wish to promote it as a high-quality source.” In other words, it's a gold stamp of approval.
To get a do-follow link, you need to expressly ask the publisher for permission before you write the guest post.
Be explicit when you ask — for example: “I'd love to write an article on (topic) for you, and in return, I ask that you allow me to place a natural, contextual do-follow link within the article. Would that work for you?
Now, this isn't always easy — hence why brands often partner with agencies like Mediaberry to produce and distribute guest posts for them.
Note: If you'd like more depth on links, read “The 2-Tier Link Building Strategy Every SaaS Brand Needs.”
The benefits of guest posting
Guest posts are a win for brands as they get free content from subject-matter experts. That benefit is your effort. It's not free, fast, or easy to write a guest post.
So what do you get from it? Guest posting:
Builds links organically
There's no shortage of businesses and freelancers offering to spam links to your prized blog posts over every social media platform they can make an account on.
If you've ever seen one of these spammy links, it won't come as a surprise to you that they aren't some hot marketing trick. These spammy links will lightly damage your SERP rankings at best and get you a Google penalty at worst.
Guest posting is backlink-by-spam-bot's superior alternative.
You can insert a link naturally into your guest post organically. As this link actually belongs in the content, people are more likely to click on it, and search engines won't treat it as spam.
Grows brand awareness
Do customers and other brands within your industry know your name and what you do? With guest posting, they could.
When a website publishes your guest post, they usually give you a mini “bio” at the bottom of the page. For reference, here's Mark's bio on the Pinterest-related guest post that Ecwid published:
Your author bio introduces you to readers and puts your name in other people's minds. This exposure is crucial, as next time they think of your niche, your name will come to mind.
Provides opportunities for strategic collaboration
Guest posting isn't all about the backlinks you get out of it!
When you write for a brand, you build the foundations of a prosperous professional relationship. Who knows where that relationship will lead? You might win a new client, score an invitation to an industry event, or get a referral that changes the game for you.
Note: “Strategic” is key here. Those good things can't come from brands with little authority, no industry connections, a poorly-ranking domain, an oversaturation of guest authors, or an audience that's just not interested in you. Choose your desired guest post publishers carefully, and vet them brutally.
Mediaberry, for example, is very selective with our guest articles. We only submit posts to brands with strong domains, industry credibility, and strict editorial standards.
Brings back traffic to your site
Some of the people who read your guest post will enjoy it and move on, but others will get curious. They'll see your passion for your topic and say, “I want to know more.”
Naturally, they'll click on the link to your website and browse your content — boosting your traffic (and subsequently, your SERP rankings and sales).
Acts as a lead generation strategy
Finally, guest posting (especially guest posting about topics within your niche) will get your name in front of people who are interested in your product or have a problem you can solve.
And, because they've read your guest post, you've started the relationship by giving them valuable information that enhances their life. This favor will elevate you over your competitors, and it could very well score you a sale.
5 guest posting strategies to build strong links
Mediaberry has published many great guest articles.
We wrote “Multitasking: Productivity's #1 Killer” for monday.com, “5 Essential Social Media Branding Strategies To Grow Your Business” for Socialbakers, and even “5 Tips For Maintaining Customer Loyalty Beyond Holiday Sales” for Hubspot.
The point is: we've put a lot into guest posting, and it's safe to say we've learned some valuable lessons along the way. Now, in this section, we'd like to share them.
Specifically, we'll dive into five guest posting strategies to build strong links that will benefit you long-term.
Integrate guest posting into your marketing strategy
When you think “marketing strategy,” what comes to mind? Social media? Your blog? Paid-Per-Click (PPC) ads?
These channels are vital ingredients that go into your marketing cake. Guest posts are also an ingredient, and they deserve recognition on the ingredients list.
If you treat guest posting like an afterthought, you'll neglect it in favor of content with strict deadlines and an “urgent” tag. Guest posts may provide long-term benefits, but they aren't something you should push off until later.
Prioritize producing guest posts by scheduling them into your regular marketing calendar.
Make sure you give them a deadline and space in your “to-do” list so you actually finish them.
You don't need to write the whole post at once — break each post down into bite-sized tasks like “read three similar articles” and “write the introduction.” Then, complete a small task every day until you finish the post.
Additionally, hold yourself and your team accountable by setting quality standards for each post. How many words is your average introduction? How many images do you include? Create a standard guest post “style” you can stick to so each post you produce deserves a gold star.
Invest in networking and partnerships
Though the inbox of most blog editors is always open, publications with large amounts of promotional power are usually highly selective of their guest bloggers. They won't say “yes” to every article pitch.
Networking can help resolve his problem.
Your professional contacts can introduce you to blog editors, vouch for you, or even score you a guest post slot on their company's blog.
Naturally, you'd be wise to spend time nurturing those relationships. That could look like attending industry events, participating in discussions on LinkedIn, or chatting to people at virtual summits.
Additionally, learn the names of the most famous and brightest experts, household names, and influencers in your industry. Watch what topics they cover, learn from them, and contribute to industry-wide discussions they start.
Remember — influencers don't have to be Instagram-based. Anyone with a following and the power to impact the buying power of others is an influencer.
Create value-add content that backs your links
The backlinks you get from guest posting are obviously really important, but approaching guest posting with an “I'm doing this for links” approach won't get you good results. Instead, your content will seem shallow and overly promotional (because it is). And, as a result, people won't click your links.
Instead of falling into this trap, aim to create content that adds value to your reader's life.
Make sure you cover relevant topics in the article, thoroughly explain your points, and use examples to give the reader context and an easy way to remember the things you discussed.
You should also supplement your post with value-adding extras like:
- Links to videos that will deepen their knowledge of the topic
- Case studies
- Diagrams and charts
- Quotes and thoughts from experts
- Embedded social media posts
- Statistics and research that backs up your points
- Actionable steps
Don't build your links around these things like they are part of a chore list you need to complete. Instead, combine them to create a natural flow that backs your links.
For example, here's how we spaced out the guest post “Biggest Misconceptions of Remote Work Debunked Using Data” for BambooHR.
Look into your competitor's backlinks
Of all of the pieces of data your competitors put online, their backlinks are some of the most useful.
Analyzing your competitor's backlinks will help you find guest articles from their writers so you can target the same publications. The benefit here is that you can steal their promotional space from under them and introduce potential customers to your brand first.
To find out which websites have featured your competitors, go to Google and search for your competitor's brand name plus “guest post.” That should return a list of guest posts (though you may need to filter through some non-relevant results to find them).
If you search for “Mediaberry guest post,” for example, the first guest post that pops up is this one:
That link takes you to this guest post that Mediaberry wrote for Coschedule:
Or, if you want to know if your competitor has written a post for a specific website, try searching for the website URL plus “:” and your search term. For example, “mediaberry.io: landing pages” will give you this result:
Now, this strategy can be time-consuming, but the payoff is worth it. If you succeed as a guest post blogger on a website that features a competitor AND the website targets your customer base, you can match your competitor's backlinks, reach your mutual audience, and potentially steal leads from your competitor.
Create compelling backlinks
Finally, work hard to create compelling backlinks. Compelling links use keyword-rich anchor text that entices someone to click on the link.
For example, would you be more interested in clicking a link with the anchor “awesome marketing strategy” or the anchor “awesome?”
You can create keyword-rich anchor text by following a few ground rules:
- Don't use a single word anchor
- Add an adjective
- Use two to five words
- Use the primary keyword from the link's article
- Use a phrase that doesn't appear elsewhere within the text
You also can't shove your links anywhere within the article and expect them to look good.
Links need to look and feel natural so they don't set off people's spam alert sensors. Don't crowd your links close together, transition into the link carefully, and give the link a raison d'etre (“reason to be”).
And, of course, before you place a link, ask yourself: “does this add value to the article?” If the answer is “no,” remove the link.
Note: we don't have time to dive into domain relevance and topic relevance in this post, but if you are curious about their role in building strong links, read “Topic Relevance vs Domain Relevance: Which One Is For You?”
Get started with guest posting for SEO
If you work guest posting into your regular marketing strategy, it can pay off big time for your brand. Guest posts with do-follow links help you bring traffic to your website, generate leads, and increase brand awareness.
However, writing and producing good guest posts isn't always easy. Good quality content takes time, resources, and expertise.
So, if you want to try guest posting without the investment, Mediaberry can help. We run a link-building program that allows you to place high-quality do-follow links in guest posts written by trained writers.
We do the research, writing, and link-building for you — using our expertise to ensure your links are clickable.
You can also pitch your own guest post idea to Mediaberry! Click here to review our guidelines.
To learn more about the Mediaberry way, click here.