Last February, bloggers published 70 million new posts on WordPress. That’s 2.75 million new posts per day. With over 400 million global readers each month, blogging has become a highly competitive industry.
Regardless of your niche, the competition is fierce. Link building is a tried and tested way of generating more traffic to your blog.
When you get other websites to link back to you, your search ranking rises accordingly.
You need to acquire backlinks, but you need to do so ethically so you avoid getting penalised by Google.
But what does this mean in practice?
Why you should do guest posts
Guest posting is the most common ethical source of backlinks. By writing guest blogs, you accomplish the following goals:
- You reinforce your blog’s reputation as a trusted source for information by making your knowledge available to more readers.
- You drive your blog higher up the search results by backlinking from high-authority sites.
That second point is the most important for most people. But does it really work?
Here’s an example of a backlink profile for a post on Voila Norbert about networking email subject lines. The article has links from 19 referring domains.
The article is targeting a keyword with a low difficulty score. This means you don’t need many backlinks for the content to rank.
If you head over to Google you’ll see that the page ranks in the first position for the relevant keyword.
There’s obviously a lot more to SEO than just throwing backlinks to a page until the article ranks. However, there is a clear correlation between the number of backlinks a page has and where it ranks on Google.
With that in mind, let’s get on with this guide to ethically scaling your guest posting.
Identify your target sites
If you want to use guest posting as a method to improve your search rankings, you need to understand a bit about how Google works, and specifically how they assess backlink quality.
There are a couple of variables that most SEO experts would agree is important.
- Power of the website, most often expressed as Domain Rating or Domain Authority
- The relevance of the backlink. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce store about surfing it would be weird if you got lots of backlinks from a lingerie site
- Trust flow. This is a measure of the trustworthiness of a website
- Visitor numbers. The more traffic, the higher the chance that a person would click on a link in your guest post
When running your outreach campaign, you need to be contacting relevant sites that have high authority, a good trust flow, and good visitor numbers.
So how do you find those kinds of websites?
The easiest way to create a relevant list of websites is to review the backlink profile of a powerful domain in your niche.
For example, if you’re in the marketing niche, you might look at the backlink profile of a site like Hubspot.
You can export the backlinks of any site.
Now, authoritative domains will usually have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of domains.
You want to remove the sites that won’t help your content rank. Start by removing all of the sites with a Domain Rating of less than 50.
That should leave you with a couple of hundred sites. You can then assess their relevance to your niche, and review things like Trust Flow, and visitor numbers.
You can create a list of at least 100 websites to pitch to using this method.
Now that you have a long list of sites you could pitch to, it’s time to come up with relevant guest post ideas.
Pitch your guest post
Once you’ve identified the websites you’d like to pitch, you need to find out who to contact.
Using LinkedIn, you can easily find who’s in charge of content for specific websites.
Just search for the website name and “editor” or “content manager”.
Once you’ve requested to connect with them, you can send your pitches through LinkedIn’s messaging tool.
Not everyone will respond to LinkedIn messages. If you find yourself unable to reach someone through LinkedIn, you can use an email verification tool to find their email address.
You just need the name of the contact person and the domain name of the website.
Once you have the correct email address, send an outreach email. Your email should be polite, friendly and to the point.
Tell them who you are, what you’re asking for, and why they should work with you.
Here’s a sample email template that you could use for outreach:
Hi [their name],
I’m [your name] from [your blog]. I’d like to know if you’re open to guest posts at this time? I have a few ideas for articles that may be of interest to you.
I’m sure you receive a lot of pitches, so here are some of my recent articles:
[Links to 2-3 articles from other sites, or your blog as applicable]
I have [X] years of experience in [niche,] and my particular areas of expertise are [details.] Looking forward to hearing back from you.
Talk to you soon,
Don’t worry too much if you don’t get a response right away. Send a polite follow-up one week later.
If you still don’t hear back, follow up once more then move on. I usually email around 100 editors per month or 25 per week.
If I have a success rate of 20%, that’s already 20 guest posts for the month. Not bad at all!
Make a list of guest post ideas
If you’re thinking about scaling your link building, you probably already have experience with thinking of guest post ideas and pitching them to editors and site owners.
However, to succeed, you need to increase your efficiency.
You don’t need to come up with completely original ideas all the time. You need to produce original content, of course, but there are very few completely original ideas.
What matters more in content marketing is the ability to find new angles for ideas and make them relevant to your readers.
Follow these steps to do just that:
Find relevant keywords to target
If you already have a list of keywords for your niche, the first thing you need to do is to find those that your target sites have not yet covered.
The simplest way to do this is to Google the following search string:
If you have an exhaustive list of keywords, you’re bound to find one that doesn’t have any relevant results for your target website.
Take note of the keyword and website and put that information in a spreadsheet. You’ll use it in the next step.
Repeat this process until you’ve run out of keywords and target sites. This will take some time, but it will pay off.
Use BuzzSumo to find the most popular topics in your niche
To find guest post ideas for specific keywords, use BuzzSumo to check the most popular articles for related topics.
BuzzSumo shows you the total social media engagement for individual competitor pages and breaks it down according to platform.
With BuzzSumo, you can assemble a list of titles from relevant high-authority sites.
This should give you plenty of ideas to play with.
Write your guest post
Your work really starts when your pitch is accepted. You now have to write your blog post.
Before you start writing, check the site’s style guide (ask the editor if they haven’t published one).
Different sites have different standards. Read other posts on the site extensively to get a sense of their tone and style.
Remember why you’re writing a guest post: to create backlinks to your own website.
However, be conservative with the number of backlinks, too. One is fine, two is okay, but three is pushing it.
You may be able to add another link to your author bio, but get the editor’s permission first.
Following these tips above will result in a happy editor. Not following them might get you blacklisted from the site.
Twenty guest posts a month can be a challenge, especially if your content is very technical. If you want to scale your link building even further, consider hiring someone to help out.
It pays to be selective when hiring a writer. Some bloggers just take the cheapest person Advertising on a freelancing site and pay them by the article.
However, this is unlikely to offer a consistent voice or high-quality content. It’s much more effective to pay someone who has a strong portfolio, even if they are more expensive.
You can also choose to outsource the non-creative aspects, such as keyword analysis or sending outreach emails, while maintaining control of the actual content yourself.
Link building is not as simple as it looks. It involves choosing appropriate target sites, coming up with strong ideas, sending relevant pitches, and writing content that fits the host site.
We cannot overstate the importance of effective backlinking.
Random links don’t work – they should be relevant to the content, related to the anchor text, and add genuine value to the post.
Taking care of your backlinks will help boost your blog’s search rankings and your reputation as a content creator.
It takes time and effort to scale your link building the right way, but there is really no shortcut to getting your website the Google search ranking it deserves.