Lesson Four: Guest Blogging
The final lesson of Module 4 is focused on Guest Blogging.
Guest blogging is the concept of contributing content on someone else’s website in return for them to give you a brand mention and link.
It’s been a very popular way of ‘building links’ for a number of years now and in this SEO training lesson we explain how you can benefit from this technique, but only if you do it properly…
Watch the next lesson: Module 5 – Lesson One: Understanding Analytics
Hello and welcome to Lesson 4 of Module 4.
In this lesson, I’m going to share with you another tried and tested promotional technique that is incredibly powerful, and yet it is almost always done incorrectly in one way or another. It is guest blogging. And you may have heard about this or know what it is.
If you haven’t, guest blogging is writing a blog post but for someone else’s website. It’s where you contribute content to their website as a guest. It’s a promotional technique that has been around for many years now and is widely used in almost every industry that you can think of.
So, why is it so popular and what are the benefits to guest blogging? Well, when it’s done properly, it gives you an additional online platform to talk to an audience that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It gives you the ability to showcase your experience, your expertise, and your knowledge, as well as your services and products, in a way that adds value to the other person’s website and ensures you gain additional exposure online.
Other benefits that come as part of doing guest blogging include increased brand mentions and links to your website. But gaining those links should not be the primary focus and reason for doing guest blogging, and it’s where many people go wrong.
Most businesses and their marketing agencies see guest blogging as a way to generate links first and foremost. They don’t worry if that content is being seen by real people or if it’s adding value to that other third party’s site, or if people are engaging with or are interested in that content. They simply see it as one guest post equals one link to your website.
No, no, no. The number-one priority when it comes to guest blogging is to establish that if you’re going to take the time to craft a great piece of content for another website, you want to be sure that it’s going to be of interest to that website’s audience, that they’re going to engage with it, and it’s going to add value to that website.
Quality guest blogging is about collaborating with websites that you know if you write something and they publish it, then you can be fairly sure that you’re both going to benefit, as you’re adding real value to their website and you’re engaging real users. If this unlikely to happen, then it isn’t worth the time and the effort.
Whenever I do a promotional campaign for one of my agency clients and we acquire some guest blogging features, I wait until they’re published, and once they are I give it a couple of days and then I check Google Analytics to see how much referral traffic is going from the feature to my client’s website. I also keep an eye on how many social shares and how many comments that article is getting and reply accordingly. The link is very much secondary in my mind, as it’s not the primary focus for that feature. And you should have the same mentality when you attempt guest blogging. It should be about the comments, the shares, and the referral traffic before the link.
So, now you know what to do, and crucially what not to do, when it comes to guest blogging. I’m gonna jump onto my computer and show you this process of finding and contacting websites that could potentially be interested in collaborating with you.
Okay, so firstly, just below this lesson you will have this spreadsheet, which is the guest blogging spreadsheet, which you can download and use as we grow through this lesson.
So, you’ve got two tabs. The first one is the guest blogging area where you’re going to list the blogs that we find where there’s a potential that we could collaborate and work together with those site owners.
And the second tab is the search parameters. Now, these search parameters are all around guest blogging and looking for websites that are actively looking for third parties for other people to contribute to their website and add their expertise, their knowledge and their experience.
And you’d be amazed at the amount of websites and industries that are out there that are actively looking for people to contribute and to add their value. Whether they’ve actively looked for that in the past or if they’re still doing it, these kind of parameters that we’re going to search for, and I’m gonna run through a few as an example, these will find those websites in your industry, in your niche. And Google will present them all so that we can cherry-pick the best and we’ll have a great set of websites that we can contact, introduce ourselves and ask if we can contribute a post to those sites.
Now, it’s absolutely fine to reach out cold effectively to these website owners, so long as we have something to offer. So, again, it always, as ever it goes back to having great content. So, approaching guest blogging, you are going to need to write an increased amount of content, because this is not content that’s gonna go on your own website, this is content that you are going to write and produce for someone else. And the time and effort that you have to go to, to do that, is offset by the increased brand visibility, the authority, the link and the brand mention that you’re going to get within that post. And the visibility that post is going to give you by way of referral traffic and all the things that I’ve previously mentioned.
So, it’s going to be really, really important that you personalise your scripts, and also that you don’t do guest blogging on volume. We don’t want to be doing dozens and dozens of guest blogging posts every week or every month because, well, firstly you wouldn’t have time to do that. And if you’re doing anything, basically anything that you do in Google, if you do it on mass, if you do it on volume, all of a certain, all at once it’s a red flag, it just doesn’t look right. So, slow and steady is the order of the day, as it is with most things.
What I’m gonna do is take one of these first strings and as ever I’m gonna hop onto Google. And we’re gonna paste that in. I’m gonna say, for this example, let’s say we’re a landscape gardener or we do gardening of some sort. Now, one of the key things that you’re gonna have to remember to do here, and it is a little bit of trial and error, is define your business into its category, into its niche, into its industry. Because you could look up very specifically, if you’re a landscape gardener you could look up landscape gardening, but you’re going to get far better results if you just look up the more generic category which is, say, gardening.
So, I’m going to just change that keyword for gardening and just put in double quotes, “Guest post.” Now, what this is gonna do is this is gonna look for websites that have content on their website that has been tagged or listed or optimised around or had it in the URL, the page title, guest post. So, you can see, we’ve got gardening websites. You’ve got getbusygardening.com. And then, “Want to write a guest post for us?” You’ve got guest post, guest post, guest post.
You would click through these websites, review them. Are they appropriate? Are they actively looking? Would they be interested? Yes, they are, great. We’d take a note of their website and all their other details and we would fill them in to here. So, their website, their website name, content name, email, etc. etc. So you would work through.
And I’m also going to show you, terms like this, this is one of my favourites, “Write for us,” is one of my favourites. So you would do a similar thing, you would put in the category or the industry that you work in, and they have, “Write for us.”
And you’d be amazed, it always surprises me, the industries that you wouldn’t even think of that would have websites that are actively looking for people to write for them. But look at this, we’ve got gardenfurnitureland.com. They actively have a page on their website where they’re looking for people to write for us. Go Garden Guides. What else have we got? Yard and Garden Guru. Let’s just have a look. I’ve never been on these websites before, let’s just have a quick look. My retargeting banner’s come up there. At least it’s working.
“Write for us. Garden Furniture Land are looking for guest authors to contribute.” Great. And they give you all the information that you need. They’re telling you, they’re actively saying, “Right, this is what we want.” Content length, detail, topics. Often more than not, here’s the email address etc. etc.
Another example. “Write for us. Are you stuck in a dead-end which you can’t get out of.” I don’t know what that’s about. But this is another example of someone that’s actively, potentially … I’m not sure about that actually. Let’s just move on from that one actually.
Write for us. Another one, requirements, same sort of thing. These guys are actively saying, “We’ve got 12,000 likes on Facebook, we’ve got 8,000 followers on Twitter.” Fill in your details, pitch your article, get in contact.
There’s so many sites in all different industries that are actively saying, “Yeah, if you’re an expert, if you’ve got something of value to share, we’d love to hear it, we’d love to help you build your brand awareness and spread your message. So write for us.”
Like we did in the previous lesson, you would work through these and you would try different terms. So, you could try landscape gardening, any different terms that summarise your business or your specialty, your expertise. And you can just work through, look for guest article, guest post opportunities, this is a guest post by.
And then with these ones, and with quite a few of these, you get into strings that are not so much where they’re looking or they actively have a page that’s saying, “We are looking for someone,” but it’s where previously they have had a post or they’ve allowed someone else to contribute and that person has done it. And so somewhere within the post, in the footer or the byline, it’s saying, “This is a guest post by.”
In fact, let’s do that. It’s a very clever way of pinpointing websites where you know they’re open to the idea. You know that they’re potentially interested ’cause they’ve had an example before. So, this is a guest post by Nick Wilson, this is a guest post by Grant … So, we can just see, so I’m just gonna click into these. And so you can see. “Five tips for eco-friendly gardening.”
And we can see that this, somewhere in here, it’s, “This is a guest post by.” So, instantly I’m thinking, “Well, I know that these guys are potentially open to that idea so this would be a great one.” If it was a related site and I’m thinking, “Yeah, I’m the gardening industry, this would be a great site.” It’s a .co.uk site. It’s ticking a lot of boxes for me. It looks very niche, it looks very on-topic, it’s very, very specific. This would be one. I’m gonna record their details, get their contact details, I’m gonna be shooting them off an email and mentioning this post or something similar.
Another one here, what have we got? Guest post. So, you can see they’re actively saying, they’ve got a big banner saying, “This is a guest post.” So, again, you know they’re open to the idea, even though they’re not explicitly saying, “I want you to write for us,” or, “Would you like to write for us?” It’s a very, very clever way. Again, these are all advanced search rings.
So, you see, I’ve included loads and loads for you. So, guest bloggers, guest posts wanted, looking for guest posts, article writers, writers wanted, submit an article, guest … There’s just so, so many. And again like before in Lesson 3, you can localise all of this. So, if you’re a localised business and you only operate within a given area, you, just by adding plus location onto any of these search strings, Google is going to redefine how it’s searching and it’s going to look locally for local websites and local content.
You can just see how this is just an endless stream of amazing opportunities that you can actually not only guest post but build contacts and connections within industry. And this is what I say to clients, and what I actively do for them when I’m emailing is I build those relationships to get to know people. Because often they may let you contribute a post once or several times in their post, but then if you’re sharing stuff on social media, you’re interacting with them, if you’ve then down the line got a new product or a new service to introduce or they have, you can help each other out and it’s a great connection with someone that is running a related website to what your business is.
So, it’s just absolutely brilliant for you from a business standpoint, as well as that initial desire being just, “I want to do a guest post, I want to get some coverage, I want to gain some more visibility by utilising other people’s websites.”
So, like I say, you would work through these and you would combine all different terms. Again, you can do it by your business category or you want break that down further to individual service or individual product. And then you’ll be recording everything in here. So, you’re gonna be recording their blog name, you’re gonna be recording the … The blog URL sorry, so their homepage. Or, what I tend to do actually, is find a related post that is something that I think, “Yeah, this is on a similar vein to what I would write.” I often would have a look through this and find some content which is kind of similar to either what I’ve written or what I’m going to write as a guest post, and then I would record it.
So, I would maybe copy this URL and I would put this in and then I would paste that in here. That would then give me the idea to basically wanna reach out to that person and say, “I know back in-” when is it? – ” … 2013, you wrote a great post on five tips. Well, actually … ” And this is where you tailor your approach ’cause you could say, “I’d love to do something more up to date. I’d love to do 10 top tips or 20 tips.” And bring it right up to date for 2017.
If you do that, of course they’re gonna say yes because you’re just adding huge value to their website. And you make sure within that, that you’re linking to your own website, that you’re giving your brand a mention. You maybe get a little author bio at the bottom which is often quite a popular thing. It doesn’t look like this has got one, but a little author bio where it’s got your name and what you do and your expertise, stuff like that.
So, you can record all of this stuff. Their website name as well, contact name, email, and any other notes as well, anything else that’s relevant. Then once you build up this list, and like I say we’re not looking for hundreds of guest blogging opportunities, again a dozen, 20, I tend to aim for 30, 40, maybe 50 opportunities, I would list them all in here and then … And like I say, you just work through that whole list. Localise them if you want. And then again it comes down to the script. It comes down to the sort of emails that you’re going to write.
So, this is an example, that again this is going to be downloadable below this lesson, this is one that I have used many, many times over the years. I’ve slightly tailored it and tweaked it, and you can just go and have some fun with it.
So, the subject line, and this is a little top tip as well, a really clever way for the subject line is just put in RE and then put in the title of their recent post. It’s a very, very personalised way of instantly getting that person’s attention. Rather than the title of, or the subject of your email being, “Guest post inquiry,” or, “Guest blog inquiry,” or something generic that people see, and they probably get dozens of them every week and they just think, “Delete.”
RE is what you get when you reply to an email. So, instantly it’s as if you’re implying that it’s not the first email. It’s a little trick that I’ve learnt over the years where actually, if you do it, that alone will increase the amount of people that’ll open your email. So, there’s a little top tip for you.
So, name a recently related blog title. For example, I would put something like, “Five tips for eco-friendly gardening,” or something along those lines. You could put that in there or you can go more generic, it really depends. You could just put the name of their website or their post and their website, it’s up to you.
“Hi name. I hope you’re well. Yesterday I read your post on-” you know, the name of the post again, ” … on your website, and I just knew I had to reach out to pass along my compliments on such an excellent, excellent post.” And this is where I would slightly tailor it ’cause I would say, “It’s great basically, but I know that it’s out of date, I know that it’s three or fours years old now. My name is Aaron. I am reaching out on behalf of your-” company name, and then it would be your company name. So, you would change that to your name, should have done that. So, it would be your name. “I’m reaching out on behalf of-” and then it would be your company name. And then this is where you get into your UPS, so what’s your reason, what’s your expertise, your knowledge?
And just quickly on that, there being my name there just proves actually that it is actually one of the scripts that I have just copied over to give to you. So, it is an active script that I’m actually using at the moment currently.
“I was wondering if-” their website name. So, “I wondered if The Garden Village accepts guest posts. In the past, I’ve written on topics related to gardening and X, Y and Z, and currently I’m working on a fantastic title that would be perfect for your audience. Please let me know if you’re interested, I’d love to discuss this with you in more detail.
You can leave it at that, or what I tend to do, and it’s a bit of trial and error, is you can, if you’ve already written some content and you’ve already got four or five posts that you’ve already written and you think, “These would be perfect for other blogs and I wanna do some guest blogging,” then you can include the titles.
And I’ve done scripts, and I’m gonna show you a script in just a couple of minutes, where I actually, in the first email I actually pitched out some titles and said, “I’ve got these three, four, five titles. Would you like one of them?” ‘Cause it instantly gives them that, “Yeah, do you know that? That one really appeals to me. I like the look of that, I like the sound of that one.”
So, you can include the titles. Or, you can be a little bit more of a soft approach and say, “Get back to me if you’re interested.” Something like this, it’s short and sweet but it’s very, very personalised, and if done well and done to related niche websites, you are going to get a good response rate. Then from there, you can start to build out the relationships and really go from there. That’s the key really with this, is it is about building those relationships.
One thing I always recommend doing, once you’ve built out your list and you’ve some sites listed on here, is interact and follow these people on social media. If you do that prior to contacting those website owners, if you’ve just followed them on Twitter, if you’ve liked one of their Facebook posts, if you’ve followed them on Instagram, whatever it is, if you’ve done something along those lines you’re going to get a much higher response rate.
So, make sure that you do that. Then record all of their details in here. You can then send them a script like this. Like I say, that will be downloadable just below this lesson. Then tailor it, make it your own, make it work for your business in your industry. And you can either have some content ready, so you can just pitch it straight out, or you can tailor it to … Often when I’m doing it I will wait for people to get back to me, and then I will see what they’re interested in.
And I’ll have a full-on conversation with them. I’ll say, “What do you think your audience would engage with? What’s really hot for your audience right now? What are people loving?” And they say, “Oh well, actually, there’s something on eco-friendly-” whatever it is, or this, that, whatever the case may be. Great. Then I think up an idea or I work with it, I speak to the client. They say, “Right, what could you write on this?” Or whatever it is. Then we collectively come up with something. We pitch the idea over. If they like it, if they bite to that idea, then we take the time and the energy to put it together.
And often it doesn’t have to be a huge piece. It can be a 5-, 6-, 7-, 800-word article. Get some nice imagery. Take the time to put something together. And you’re adding huge value to their website, you’re building that relationship and it’s a massive win-win ’cause you’re gonna outstand the likelihood of getting in referral traffic from that website. Yes, you’re going to get the link, and you’re just going to get that brand visibility increased within Google ’cause they’re gonna see your brand name and your brand’s website being mentioned on other related, quality websites.
So, that is the process in a nutshell. And I thought it best, as ever, to show you some real current examples of exactly this process. Because the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, I thought what better way than to actually log in to some of my agency clients and actually show you some live emails of campaigns that I’m working on right now.
Here’s one. This is logged into one of my clients email accounts. And you can see, this was my first script. So, I’m just gonna really quickly run over this ’cause it is quite a long, there’s been quite a lot of back and forth. But you can see, my first one was, I didn’t have their name so it was just, “Hey there, hope you’re well. My name’s Aaron. Just reading your article.”
So, again I’m personalising, just read their article on this, on their website, and I actually included the link too that I was talking about in this example. The client is called Speedy Pest Control, they’re a pest control company. So, I say, “I work with people that run this company,” and I didn’t know if you wanted to include … And this was actually a part contribution inquiry guest blog, but also a part of highlighting a new piece of authority content that we just published. So, it was a dual promotional technique this one. And I included the link to it, and then I said, “I think that MRM-” which is the website, ” … would be a great resource. Delighted to hear back.”
So, I then got a reply. She said, “Thanks so much for reaching out. I read your guide and it’d … ” She thought it was great basically. And by having that guide, she read that and thought, “Yeah, these guys are good, they know their stuff.” Instantly, there was that trust.
She then suggested an idea, said if we’d interested to write something specific. So, it kind of turned into a guest blogging opportunity. I then said, “Yeah, it sounds great. Have you any preference on what you’d like to write about it?” Then she said, “Thank you for your response. Unique piece would be amazing. We can always include a link to your guide. We started to be a resource, information that’s helpful.”
I’ll show you the website in just a moment, and this is a really authoritative website. And she’s telling me what she wants. She wants a word count of this, open to ideas. Then I said, “This sounds like a great idea. I’ll set the wheels in motion.” Then I asked, “When do you foresee being able to publish this?” Then the conversation went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. She’s instructing me with what she wants.
And then ultimately you get to the end of the article, the end of the string, and you can see this has taken half a dozen emails back and forth building that relationship. Then she said, “I’ll post probably this Wednesday or Thursday.” This was a few weeks ago now. “Do let me know once it’s live.” She told me when it was gonna be up. And then I then saw the article. “Just a quick note to say thank you. It’s looks great, I checked it out. Many thanks.” She says, “Thank you. Feel free to reach out any time.”
That’s a great relationship that I can re-leverage in the future, and this is now a hugely authoritative website in this industry. It’s all about restaurant management. This pest control company do a lot of commercial pest control, so it’s absolutely on-point in terms of their target customer and people. And people that are on this website, that are going to this website, when they read this kind of article, it’s just spot-on for what they’re gonna see a reference to.
And you can see it’s by Speedy Pest Control, it was published a couple of months ago. It’s got a link you see in the bottom left-hand corner, there are links off to their website. It’s just a great, great example of … And as you can see, I’ve got links down here, links off to their social, LinkedIn, the logo. That is a great example of exactly this process.
I’m gonna show you another example now, which is really good. This is more of a straight-up pitch on exactly what I’ve just covered. Slightly different script, but you get the idea. “Hello, my name’s Aaron.” This is for a watch company that’s one of my agency clients. “I know you’re incredibly.” This was just before Christmas 2016, just before Christmas, and I kind of played on that. I said, ” … incredibly busy before Christmas. I have an article which I’d love to contribute.” And this is where I actually pitched some ideas. I actually said, “These are the titles that the client and I have worked on and we’d love them to work for you.”
He got back. “Thank you for your kind words.” And he instantly said, “Yes, this one, this is interesting to me. I’d love to check this out.” Asked me to check out their terms of service
for having guest bloggers, which I did.
I then went back. “Great to hear … I’ve attached the article. Please let me know what you think.” Again, I said, “Ideally I want this published before the Christmas.” “Thank you, Aaron. The article looks great. We’ll have it up before Christmas.” Then a few days later, happy days, he sent me an email. “Hope this finds you well. We’ve just published your post.” And it’s a fantastic article, look at this, absolutely amazing. He actually sourced the images, 2017 Watch Trends to Expect. On a really gent, men’s blog website, so spot-on target market. Really great piece. Features links off to my client. It’s just absolutely brilliant, great example.
Then there’s another example which I will just log into this account and show you. It’s not gonna let me log in. But a similar thing which was for this client, which was actually for John Tsagaris, which was I reached out, we exchanged the emails back and forth, and then at the end of it we got, this was an article that the client wrote. It was then published and it was all on the benefits of acupuncture for infertility issues. Great piece, great imagery, links off to the client’s website. It’s been shared a bunch of times. Absolutely ticks all the boxes.
So, those are just a couple of examples of guest blogging. It’s very easy to do. And the key is to remember quality over quantity. Always look to make sure the sites that you’re contacting are related. And if you use these strings and combine them with your industry and your business keywords to find great sites, review them, pop them into this spreadsheet, use a script like this, and then remember to work on building that relationship with the email exchange back and forth. If you can be getting one or two guest blog publications live, say, every month, you’re onto a winner. It’s absolutely fantastic stuff.
Fairly easy and straightforward, right? There is a lot of power in guest blogging, so long as it’s done right. It can be especially useful for new businesses and those with relatively little visibility right now. For example, whenever my agency starts working with a brand-new business, I will always perform a guest blogging campaign just to give that business an initial boost and a platform from which they can then build their business online.
Guest blogging is about using other people’s websites’ authority, trust and visibility, to help build your own. Focus on quality and build relationships with these website owners, using social media and email exchanges, and you’ll get your business and your brand in front of a new, varied audience that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Right, we’ve reached the end of Module 4. It’s been quite a learning curve and I hope you have identified a few favourite ways that you can now go out and promote your business.
To quickly recap everything we’ve covered throughout Module 4. Firstly, I talked to you about the principles to understanding good quality promotion. Next, I walked you through content amplification and explained why this is so important for your business. In Lesson 3, I showed you a fantastic way to do promotion using resource and links pages. Then lastly, in this lesson I’ve shown you how to do quality guest blogging.
Best of luck with your promotion. If you have any questions, you know you can email support as ever.
In Module 5, I’m going to share with you some of my advanced techniques around recording and analysing data, which is essential to ensure you get the best ROI on everything done to date throughout SEO Success.
I look forward to seeing you then.