What Is Guest Blogging? And How Can You Use It to Help Your Business?
Guest blogging can help you accomplish so many marketing goals at once. Any business interested in improving their branding, visibility, SEO, lead generation, trust building and so much more can succeed in all of it when they incorporate guest blogging into their content marketing strategy.
So what exactly is guest blogging? It’s when you or a resident company expert contribute articles to an established, respected publication site. Contributing content to a visible, high-traffic space puts your business name in front of thousands—sometimes hundreds of thousands—of consumers and potential clients. You get to position yourself as a thought leader while stoking curiosity about what your business can offer.
A successful guest blog post can boost traffic from search engines by 20 percent. It also has a net positive effect on your website’s domain authority, a factor search engines weigh heavily when deciding who ranks first.
You also throw your company name into the ring of public opinion, which makes you feel like a more established and trustworthy business that has a strong presence within important conversations.
Have we got your attention yet? Good! To help you get started on guest blogging, we’ll outline a step-by-step process along with some tips that can help you blog your way into fame and, hopefully, success.
Step 1: Determine Your Goals for Guest Blogging
As we mentioned before, guest blogging can be quite effective at accomplishing several goals at once. These goals include:
- Lead generation
- Improved SEO ranking
- Increased search traffic
- Fostering brand awareness
- Enhancing your business’s visibility
- Positioning yourself as a thought leader to build trust
- Sending out a particular PR message
A single great guest blog could, in theory, accomplish all of these at once, but you are almost always better off selecting one or two goals as your main focus. Otherwise, your guest blog can come across as disjointed or overly promotional.
Your top priority when earning a guest blog publication is quality, after all. Staying focused is key.
For instance, you could have a difficult time explicitly promoting a new campaign or product while also trying to write generally on a topic.
As a loose rule, the more objective and opinion-based your article is, the less appropriate it will be to heavily refer to your services in the post. However, if your goal is to provide advice or give examples from the perspective of your company, you can provide value to readers while not-so-subtly promoting your services in the process.
You must also prepare your additional marketing tools to support the goals of your guest post. For instance, you may want to improve the conversion potential for your landing page before creating a post intended to encourage site traffic.
You may also want to roll out a steady content calendar targeting specific keywords before your guest post publishes, if your goal is SEO.
Prioritize a goal, determine a way your blog subject and structure can fit within that goal and then strategically align other marketing strategies so that your goal will be easier to accomplish.
Step 2: Define Your Audience Using Buyer Personas
People don’t consider writing “great” just because it uses nice-sounding sentences and solid information. Writing gets praised when it speaks well to its particular audience.
“Your audience decides what content it will consume, when it wants to consume it, and where,” the Content Marketing Institute reminds us. “Your brand should be ready for them with the right content at the right time and in the right place.”
If you aim to contribute a guest blog to an industry-specific site that examines subjects in-depth, your “Content Marketing Basics” post might never see the light of day. However, if you want to contribute to a blog for small business owners, that post might be very well received!
The reverse is true, too. A post about “Google’s Evolving Use of Structured Data Exemplifies Why Every Business Owner Must Be Literate in HTML” might cause the casual reader to scratch their head but the industry veteran to nod vigorously.
Having a particular type of audience in mind is therefore essential for writing the proper style of content and publishing it on a venue best-suited to your goals.
You can define your audience using personas. SEO site Ahrefs defines a persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer.” What you’re basically doing is boiling down your most loyal and lucrative customer groups into their most basic traits.
Examples of questions to ask when defining a persona include:
- What information and ideas do they consider useful?
- How do their day-to-day needs motivate them to read certain types of content over others?
- What vocabulary and style do they respond to positively?
- How do they process information compared to the average person? Are they more analytical, for instance, or do they just want the basics?
Using these traits, you can imagine a typical reader persona you want to write for. Then, decide the topics and writing style most likely to get them to take action that supports your marketing goals.
Step 3: Research Publishing Venues Your Audience Personas Will Read
You want your audience to find your guest blog naturally on sites and publication venues they already like to read.
Finding out what these venues are requires a little bit of research. Social media is one great tool to use. By looking at the profiles and activities of target audiences, you can see the sites they regularly read, comment on and share.
Reading some of the most popular blogs can also give you a sense of whether their typical style of content would be something that appeals to your target audience. Go ahead and read through several of their posts. Bookmark or print out the ones you think most closely match your intended style and format for your upcoming guest post.
Once you’ve identified some potential publication venues, you can download what’s called a “media kit” to see facts about their readership and general prestige. Media kits also frequently describe the publisher’s editorial calendar, helping you determine what topics they’re more likely to publish.
After doing a little research, review the publication’s guidelines for submission.
Step 4: Reach Out to the Editors (and Be Convincing!)
This step is like auditioning for a big role or applying for a competitive job. Most editors receive hundreds—if not thousands—of article pitches every month. They’re often burnt out on hearing bad ideas and can spot them from a million miles away.
The best way to catch their attention is to be creative and to-the-point, and have an idea of what they’re already looking for. Reading the outlet’s most popular posts and upcoming editorial calendar is one of the easiest methods for increasing your chances of getting published.
When you’re ready to reach out, double-check the publisher’s preferred contact method. Then, create an email (or whatever their preferred communication method is) with a creative subject line that teases the idea of your article.
In the body of your message, focus as much as you can on why your article offers value and why the venue’s readers will be likely to read it. Be specific, and don’t hesitate to play up your existing credentials.
Also, be brief! Editors read enough during their week as it is. If you can condense what makes your article unique and appealing in just a paragraph or two, you have a better chance at being heard and sticking out as memorable to the publishing gatekeeper.
Step 5: Prepare Your Website, Blog and Other Marketing Channels Before the Guest Blogging Publication Date
Naturally, the next step is to write the approved article based as closely on your proposal as possible. Be highly receptive to editorial feedback. They know what their readers like, and they won’t roll over and let you publish the article unless it’s up to those standards.
But writing an article isn’t the only thing you need to do before you get published. You also want your other marketing channels to be ready to support the article’s publication. For instance, your social media accounts should be putting the article “on blast.”
Remember that algorithms on Facebook and other social networks prioritize newness over everything else. “Slow starters get buried,” observes Convince and Convert.
You also want your company blog’s editorial calendar to reflect other subjects similar to the guest blog content you plan on publishing. “If you liked that post, here’s a bunch more!” is the ideal pitch to convert readers to website visitors.
You may even want to create a few premium assets, like e-books or white papers, that dive more in-depth into the subject you’re speaking on. Examples and case studies tend to work extremely well.
Or, you may even create a special offer related to your topic. An article about “Improving CyberSecurity for Your eCommerce Operation” could be accompanied by a free audit, for example.
Preparation is key during all stages, especially in the run up to your publishing date. You want all cylinders firing for the maximum effect!