The Complete Guide To Guest Blogging In 2014 And Beyond

As good as gold.
As good as gold.

Is guest blogging still gold for online marketing?


Guest blogging didn’t die the day Matt Cutts declared the decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.

The key part of that phrase are the last two words: for SEO

Guest blogging started out as a way for people to build a brand. But at some point it turned into a way to build links that would positively benefit a website’s or blog’s pages and posts in search results.

Links remain important in Google’s algorithm. Online marketers recognize this. Some online marketers, however, saw guest blogging as an opportunity to build links, which is fine, but when links are the first priority you hit a slippery slope. Instead of focusing on the quality of the content in the guest post, the focus shifts to the number of backlinks one can get per guest post and with a number of guest posts.

This is the decay Matt Cutts was referring to in his blog post.

Because of all the spam in guest blogging, Google had to take action. Guest blogging for SEO – specifically for backlinks that pass authority – became a tactic with little result.

But guest blogging remains beneficial. Guest blogging can help you to:

1) Build authority
2) Build an online audience
3) Acquire new customers
4) Have better SEO (in broader terms)

Guest blogging needs to be part of your online marketing strategy. Here are the steps to take to succeed with guest blogging today and beyond.

How To Guest Blog Today And Tomorrow

Blogging Words

Google is cracking down on poor content, which means blog owners are becoming pickier with what’s being published on their site.

This is a good thing. When you do get content published on a popular industry site you know it will be respected by readers. That allows you to become an authority, which leads to a larger audience and more customers.

1. Identify Goals And Setup Tracking

Your overall content marketing strategy has goals. Your guest blogging strategy needs goals that correspond.

As mentioned above, typically businesses guest blog for four reasons:

1) Build authority
2) Build an online audience
3) Acquire new customers
4) Have better SEO (in broader terms)

When you start guest blogging, track the success of these goals by breaking them down into measurable results.

Building authority is fairly vague, but a good indicator of your authority is the size of your social media followings and traffic to your website. These metrics also tell you the size of your online audience.

You can track your new customers directly. Simply keep track of new customers each month. Some businesses can track exactly where new customers come from. If you communicate directly with customers ask them how they found you. Keep track of the number of times they mention your guest post or site you guest posted on.


1) Set goals
2) Setup tracking for social followers, traffic and new customers

2. Find Only The Best Opportunities

The first step to effective guest blogging is identifying your target audience.

Next, identify blogs in your industry that shares your target audience. For example, a residential plumber’s target audience is homeowners. The plumber could identify blogs by others with the same audience like landscapers, electricians, etc.

To find blogs in your industry use the segmenting tools on Technorati and search Alltop. Search on Google using the following phrases:

1) [enter your industry] + blog
2) [enter your industry] + magazine
3) [enter your industry] + news

Take your efforts one step further by finding blogs in your industry that accept guest posts.

Search for:

1) [enter your industry] “submit a guest post”
2) [enter your industry “guest post”
3) [enter your industry “guest”

By the end of your search you’ll have a list of opportunities. From here you start researching each site to determine the type of content they would feel compelled to publish.

3. Researching Content

There are two keys to creating quality guest blog post content.

First, you have to identify what an audience already covets.

Second, you have to create something better than anything that’s been published on the subject.

As a general guest blogging strategy, set up Google Alerts for your industry’s keywords to see what’s trending. Do the same by following your industry’s top blogs, influencers and up and comers.

Keep a running list of the most popular topics in the industry.

Then for each of the blogs identified in the previous step, research the top posts. You can tell what posts are popular by looking at social shares and comments. These aren’t perfect indicators, but usually correlate with topics your audience cares about the most.  A good tool for this is Socialcrawlytics.  It can run a report of all the social shares of all posts on any blog you run it on.  It’s a fantastic resource.

When you begin thinking about content you’ll create as guest posts, go against the grain. Take a new stance on a popular topic and bring in some unusual, yet informative, insight. Include information from other disciplines or industries. Put an old idea into a new perspective.

Humor is a great way to gain attention and to keep your posts sounding conversational. Few people click away from informative, funny posts.

When you have your idea, always check with Google first. What may seem like a groundbreaking perspective might just be another face in the crowd. Don’t waste your time writing something that’s already been written.

4. Submitting Your Guest Post Idea

Research, research, research!
Research, research, research!

Every top blog has a slightly different process for accepting guest post pitches, but most start by asking for blog post ideas. These are either titles or titles with a 2-3 sentence description.

With your research in the previous step you’ll have a list of each blog’s top content. You’ll see trends for the most popular topics and for the most popular headline formula.

One popular blog might have an audience that prefers list headlines while another might have more success with question formulas. Tailor you headline pitches to fit the blog you’re pitching.

For example, if you’re submitting content for the fashion industry you might submit this headline to one blog:

10 Color Trends Every Fashionista Needs To Know

And this headline to another:

Do You Recognize These Hot Fashion Trends?

The topic is the same, but the headline formula is different. This is very important because if you don’t win over the blog owner with your headline pitch you won’t get the opportunity to write and publish your guest post.

Keep your pitch short. If you’re submitting to a popular industry blog the person receiving the post will be busy. They don’t want to read a novel in their inbox.

Thank them for the opportunity. List your 3-5 best title ideas. Ask them to let you know if you’re accepted or if not, what they are looking for instead.

Then hit “Send”.

5. Creating The Post

As we’ve said before, you need to create something better than anything published on the content before. Don’t think of the guest post as a way to build backlinks. Think of it as a way to build your authority. The only way to build your authority is to publish the best content in the industry. This earns respect from peers and trust with your target audience.

Google for the keyword in your title. Find every top piece of content (blog post, guide, video, etc.) and read them all. See what’s out there. Then create your own ideas that go beyond those that have been published. Take a different stance on the topic.

Most blogs will have a word limit for your article, but a good guideline to follow is 1,500 words. This gives you enough room to really provide actionable steps for the audience to follow.

Finally, one trick that will help you win over the blog owner is to include 1-3 internal links to previous posts on their blog. This is a small detail, but one that blog owners notice. They’ll appreciate the effort because most guest bloggers don’t take the time to do it.

I used these strategies for a guest post on KISSmetrics: 17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content

KISSmetrics has a great blog with a high standard for their content. I knew they wouldn’t accept a regular post and I didn’t want to submit a regular post. I researched popular topics and content that had been published on it. Then I went beyond anything out there.

The result was 500+ Likes, 3,000+ Tweets and tons of comments, which is much more than the average number for other posts on KISSmetrics. I was happy with the results and so was KISSmetrics.

6. Creating A Guest Blogging Bio

Your bio is not about the SEO value of any link you include to your website or blog. For SEO purposes, guest blogging is now more about how the engines recognize you and your brand as an authority.

The bio on your guest post has to spark curiosity so readers will want to learn more about you. Here is an example:

Aaron Agius

General Manager at Louder.Online. We help clients build inbound marketing success. Check out the case studies on our website (unless you already have enough customers).

That sparks curiosity. It gets the reader to take action. They can visit your website where they learn more about you and your brand.

Target audiences typically read the same few top industry blogs. As you start getting guest posts on those blogs the same readers will see your content on each site and their recognition in you will grow. That leads to trust. It leads to interest in you and your brand. And it leads to a reader becoming a new customer.

Final Thoughts

Guest blogging is not dead. It’s just getting back to its roots.

Guest blogging will help you build your authority. Your audience will grow and as a result your SEO will improve. The engines recognize brands that have growing authority and they still credit natural links that can come when your target audience shares and links to your guest content.

A lot goes into planning, writing, and pitching guest posts, but the advantages of doing so are worth that extra effort.

Make guest blogging part of your online marketing strategy today. Research your target audience and the blogs they follow, craft an interesting pitch for the top blogs and then create a post that is better than anything published before on the topic.

What is your experience with guest blogging? Has it helped your company’s online presence?

Let me know in the comments!

Image1: Flickr
Image 2: Flickr
Image 3: Research