In this post, we’re going to talk about something that should be in every content marketer’s playbook: guest blogging.
If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, or simply need a tune-up, this post will cover everything you need to know to get started.
Let’s dive in!
What is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging is simply writing and publishing a blog that appears on a third-party website. It’s a very popular practice, and is seen as an effective way to promote your brand, improve your SEO (through backlinks from high-authority domains), and elevate your thought leadership status. You can think of it like the social currency of the internet.
And it really is a well-used tactic. According to Orbit Media, a whopping 65.5% of bloggers guest post as a regular part of their routine.
Considering there’s an estimated 4.4 million blog posts published every day, that’s a lot of guest posting that’s flying around the web.
But that raises a question: does guest blogging really work?
Let’s talk about that.
Does Guest Blogging work?
In short, yes.
But like most other digital marketing endeavors, there’s a caveat to any blanket statement about the effectiveness of guest blogging. It works when it’s done consistently and correctly, and even then you may not get the results you were hoping for.
Here’s what we mean:
A recent study looked at 239 guest posts that were published across 78 blogs. They collected the amount of referral traffic that each article generated, and found half saw only 10 to 100 referred visitors to the brand’s website.
Which isn’t bad — but it’s not necessarily what we’d call great, either.
So while guest posting is generally seen as an effective best-practice, you have to be strategic about the topic you select, the blog you write for, and how you pitch your company in that post. It’s possible to get a decent amount of traffic, but you have to balance a lot of variables — and even then it’s not a certainty that traffic will come your way.
Case in point — GrooveHQ posted a very insightful article about their guest posting endeavors on some very popular marketing platforms. The results differed greatly based on where they posted.
Think of it this way, though: They still got visitors and leads from these guest posts!
But in reality, answering the question of whether guest blogging works requires looking past some of the obvious metrics, and instead talking about some slightly more intangible benefits of guest blogging — which is what we’re going to discuss next.
Benefits of Guest Blogging
Yes — you do have the opportunity to gain traffic and leads from a targeted audience through guest blogging. But that’s only part of the larger whole.
The rest of the benefits are more focused on intangibles, like creating engaging content that says something helpful in a helpful way, boosting thought leadership, improving your brand awareness, and building relationships with other high-level marketers who share your appreciation for your craft.
You can leverage these relationships and opportunities to gather helpful feedback, insights on what your brand can do better, and fish for future guest posting opportunities.
All of these are desirable — but the benefits don’t stop there. There’s one more important aspect to consider:
If you’re unfamiliar with backlinks, it’s really fairly simple. When a blog post on another website links to yours, that’s considered a backlink. From what SEO experts know, Google views these as a “vote of confidence” in your site, and is thus a major ranking factor in their algorithm. That’s not to say it’s the end-all of SEO factors, but it’s definitely included in the mix.
So how does guest blogging factor into backlinks? Well, depending on where you post your guest article, you can easily acquire a backlink from a high-authority website. Guest posting on the regular is an effective way to build up a beefier backlink profile, which lets Google know you’re worth paying more attention to.
And guest blogging does work for link building. Depending on the type of content you post, a single guest article can boost your link acquisition by anywhere from 40%-110%.
That’s not an insignificant benefit — and it definitely proves that guest blogging is here to stay for marketers.
So with that in mind, let’s discuss how you can get started with your own guest blogging efforts!
How To Become A Guest Blogger
Now that you know why guest blogging is important, let’s talk more about how to get started.
There are plenty of places to start this, but let’s go for the obvious choice: you have to start by writing something! (or by having it written for you)
Having a pre-written post when you start to pitch publications will make things much easier at first. You’ve already put the work in, know the topic, and can send a ready-made article as soon as you get approval.
But writing the content isn’t the final hurdle. You also have to know who to pitch, how to pitch them, and be willing to wade through a lot of rejections.
When it comes to these questions, there are two general approaches:
- Blunt Force/Cold Pitch — This approach is simple: find as many emails as you can from publications you want to guest post with, then send your blog post pitch to them. You may not get many bites, but it’s certainly worth the effort if you haven’t done any guest posting.
- Relationship Building/Warm Pitch — This involves getting to know your pitch a bit first, perhaps even meeting them in person at a conference, local networking event, or through a mutual connection on LinkedIn. Having a common connection can get you in the door, and improves your odds that they’ll consider your blog post.
Here at Verblio, we prefer the second method. One of our favorite ways to reach out these days is through podcasts — and we can sometimes score a guest post to accompany our guest podcast appearance. Not a bad idea, right?
When it comes to what you do though, you’ll have to see what works best! For instance, marketing expert Jeff Bullas recommends a blend of these:
- Write three or four round-up style posts
- Cultivate strong relationships with experts in your industry
- Research the type of blogs they prefer publish
- Ensure your content hits home in key areas: topic, headlines, intros, word count (1,000 words + is our recommendation)
- Reach out to them with your guest post ideas
- Deliver your guest post
- Be a pleasure to work with
That’s some sound advice to live by!
Don’t expect to guest post on high-profile blogs immediately, unless you have some really strong connections in your industry. Guest posting takes time to do correctly, so think about what you want to accomplish and work toward it.
How to Write a Guest Blog Post
So how do you write a guest post?
Well, if we’re honest, you should use the same process as any other blog post. Just do it for your guest’s audience, and do it at a high level.
That means keeping a few guest blogging tips top of mind:
- Select a topic that will resonate
- Do 110% of the keyword research you normally do
- Go through an additional level of editing, including the input of other experts if possible
- Don’t snooze on SEO optimization
- Check out our post on the Anatomy of a Blog Post for a more in-depth look at some of these features.
And last but not least, don’t be afraid to outsource guest blog posts — a process known as ghost blogging (or ghost writing, more commonly).
Guest Blogging + Ghost Blogging
Ghost blogging — or ghost writing — has nothing to do with ghosts… unfortunately.
Rather, it’s the name given to a process wherein you pay someone to write something for you, and then you put your name on it.
I know what you’re thinking. When you read it on paper, ghost blogging sounds a lot like plagiarism — but there’s a few major differences here.
First of all, you (the author) are actively involved in the process. You generate the topic, provide a brief, and weigh in with your expertise in the editorial stages. So in that sense, it’s more of a group project, and you’re handing the writing off to a stronger writer in your group (or one that has more time).
And secondly, it’s a marketing industry-accepted, worldwide practice in business that saves you time, money, and doesn’t equate to a sacrifice in quality. While ghostwriting is eschewed in academic-heavy circles, it’s much more accepted in every other industry.
The key here is to find a ghostwriter that can adequately and accurately portray both your brand and the information you want to share. That means finding a strong writer in your niche, which can add a wrinkle to your efforts.
But think of it this way: when you find a ghostwriter (or multiple writers) that you work well with, you can focus more on trying to find guest blogging opportunities. That’s a significant advantage and a huge timesaver, so it’s worth considering.
Blogs That Accept Guest Posts
There are thousands of websites that accept guest posts, so naming all of them for you would be an exercise in futility.
Instead, we want to highlight a few that we (as content marketing nerds) love — and that can help you build a backlink profile that would make an SEO’s eyes pop. Here are our picks:
We also recommend looking for publications in your industry, as these will have a more relevant audience for your business. And always keep your eyes peeled for guest posting opportunities!
A Guest Blogging Secret that Will Change Your World
Here’s the thing — getting guest posts on a blog is a lot of work.
And if you’re trying to get onto an exclusive blog, you may find yourself under a tight deadline while also on the hook for high-quality content. Oops.
But Verblio can help you change that. If you’re spending most of your time pitching, let our writers handle the content creation. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of (100% custom) articles submitted by our expert writers, and you can focus on building the relationships that get your posts through the door.
If you would like help identifying ghost writers or guest blog writers, let us know how Verblio can help.