There’s a good chance you’re interested in guest blogging because you want to build some visibility for your brand and drive traffic back to your site.

Guest blogging has remained consistently popular and a steady addition to most content marketing strategies for those very reasons. While those involved in digital marketing are often divided on its effectiveness and appropriate use, there’s no doubt that the core concept of it is beneficial.

Guest bloggers reap the rewards when they provide value to a target audience.

The idea behind guest blogging is to get your value-packed content in front of a new audience that’s relevant to your product or service, but has yet to discover you.

The results you’ll see bring a lot of benefits including organic link building, a lot more exposure, referral traffic, leads, social growth and more.

Over the years guest blogging has received its fair share of criticism though, specifically around inappropriate link building. The keyword there is “inappropriate”. Content marketing and guest blogging are some of the best ways to generate links, as long as the links lead to relevant content that delivers value to the reader.

Inappropriate link building is stacking link after anchor-text link that all points to sales and opt-in pages which provide no value; that’s what you want to avoid.

Back in 2014 Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, wrote that using guest blogging to generate links and manipulate search was a spammy tactic, and was frowned upon.

In a response to hundreds of comments from concerned marketers, Matt Cutts came back to clarify the intent of his post, including this statement:

“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.) Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”

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If you’re still unsure if guest blogging is beneficial, let’s take a look at some of those reasons why even Matt Cutts recommends guest blogging.

1.  Building exposure for a brand

High quality, 10x content has continued to grow year over year, with content marketing becoming a major part of digital outreach strategies. In fact, 88% of marketers are using content marketing in 2016 which is up 2%  from 2015 and 76% of marketers plan to produce more content this year.

More and more people are getting their news and information online. With consumers looking for reliable sources of info it pays get your brand and identity mentioned in more places. Guest blogging gives you that increase exposure.

From an advertising perspective, research has shown us that a potential consumer needs to be exposed to an ad multiple times before they tie positive feelings or subconscious recognition to a brand.

The same kind of psychology applies to your brand online.

Not only will guest blogging bring you more exposure, but it generates that positive association in the mind of your target audience when they see you more often, in more places.

The increase in exposure can lead to others quoting your work within their own content, which in itself can further improve not only your brand exposure but also your credibility (which I’ll get into more below.)

2. Social reach

When a reader finds content they love, it’s not uncommon for them to want to follow you online not only to look into what else you’ve written but to stay abreast of anything new you publish.

That makes guest blogging an ideal way to expand your social reach and follower base.

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Great content also gets shared out through social channels because people inherently want to provide value to their own followers. Those shares lead to more visibility for you, especially if you’re consistently producing great content on your own site as well as continued guest blogging.

Social shares further enhance the speed of your growth on platforms like Twitter and Facebook while also adding social proof and authority to your content.

3. Generating links

While marketers are divided on whether or not social proof contributes to organic search rank, and Google has stated that social activity around content is not a ranking factor, shared content and guest blogging can improve your link profile and thus – your search rank.

Aside from the links you’ll often get within the original guest post – either within the content itself or in an author box – there are other link opportunities as well.

Those who share your content may decide to curate it to their own audience via blogs and content networks. If some or all of the content is reposted, with links left in place, this can generate additional links back to your website.

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I know I mentioned earlier that Google frowns on link building schemes that involve guest posting, but don’t get that confused with natural, organic links.

A good, quality post doesn’t just link back to an author via targeted anchor text. It also includes other external links to authoritative sites as a means to cite sources, reference data points and support the information contained within.

If your content has a natural variety of internal and external links, and others are linking back to your article (and/or to you) then you don’t have to sweat it.

Google’s search algorithm is capable of determining what is and is not spammy link schemes. Just avoid linking the same anchor text repeatedly for links that point back to you.

One of the best ways successful content marketers generate backlinks is through the use of infographics.  Other sites who post infographics typically link back to the original source organically, greatly expanding their link profile within their industry.

4. Credibility boost

Guest blogging and content marketing in general is typically done to establish thought leadership and drive traffic for the purpose of opt-ins or selling a product/service. However, it can be hard to sell someone if you’re not a credible source.

For those who rely on the information they share as the product, credibility is even more important. Without credibility your audience has no reason to read and follow your actionable insights.

They want content from a reliable, trustworthy, and interesting source.

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Guest blogging provides a positive association with your brand, as the audience sees you aligned with an information source they already know and trust. That builds credibility.

Having content published in authoritative sites like Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc, or even smaller content networks makes you appear to be far more credible and trustworthy than someone who has no reach outside of their own blog.

Getting content accepted in top industry sites takes time, so starting with smaller industry blogs is a smart way to grow your portfolio and helps to gradually build your credibility as a thought leader.

With that credibility boost you may begin to see other guest blogging opportunities.

When others see that you share content elsewhere they may invite you to contribute content for their own audience.

Imagine the benefit of never having to chase guest post opportunities and instead finding offers and invites waiting for you in your email.

Create a Strategy for your Guest Blogging

The act of creating content, sharing it, and promoting is something every marketer should be doing but not without a strategy in place.

A content marketing strategy doesn’t just lay out your plan of action; it defines a number of items including:

  • Your goals (driving traffic to a landing page, improving social reach, getting more subscribers, etc.)
  • The topics you want to cover
  • Who you’re producing content for (your target audience)
  • How often you’re producing content (daily, weekly, a few times a month)
  • How you promote it (only social, via content networks, through apps like quuu.co or contentmarketer.io)
  • Your key performance indicators (KPIs) so you know how to measure success

Your strategy doesn’t need to be a huge, lengthy document but it’s a good idea to create an outlined documented content marketing strategy for your guest blogging.

Only 32% of content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy and because of that as many as 65% don’t know whether the content they’re producing is effective or not. Even a simple, one-page documented strategy will help you stay on course.

Once you’ve got that outlined, it’s time to take the first steps into guest blogging.

Finding Opportunities for Guest Blogging

You may already have one or more places in mind for guest posting. If not, you can generate a list of opportunities fairly quickly by looking for sites and influencers relevant to your niche or industry.

To get your search started, identify some of the keywords relevant to your topic or your industry and perform a few keywords searches like these:

  • keyword “submit a guest post”
  • keyword “guest post”
  • keyword ”guest post by”
  • keyword “accepting guest posts”
  • keyword “guest post guidelines”

These searches should turn up relevant sites with a larger following, and in many cases the specific page for guest post submissions or requests.

Another way to source guest post opportunities is to find influencers, trusted individuals or brands in the industry that match up with your content topics and audience. Reach out to them directly to find out if they accept guest post submissions. Manually finding and connecting with influencers can be a little time consuming, so I recommend using a tool such as NinjaOutreach to find influencers and guest post opportunities in your niche.

Making the Pitch

Every brand, site or influencer you reach out to will have different guidelines for how to request a guest post. Some may want to see a completed piece of content before they say yes. Others way just want a single topic or list of topic ideas.

Before you fire off those topics and content, take some time try to establish a relationship with them. It doesn’t need to be a long-time buddy relationship, but anything counts before submitting your request.

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You can get some recognition with the blog owner by commenting on posts for a week or three, sharing their content and tagging them in social media when it gets shared, and engaging with them on their posts.

All of those give you bonus points that help with getting accepted as a guest blogger.

When you’re ready to make your pitch, follow these tips:

  • Read (and read again) the guidelines to ensure you’re not missing anything and following their request to a T.
  • Personalize your email. They likely get a lot of submissions so make yours stand out among all the other generic requests.
  • Provide an introduction and some details about who you are. If you can, link back to other content you’ve published, a portfolio, or your website.
  • Define your value. Let them know why you should be a guest blogger and the value you’ll bring to their audience.

Conclusion

In virtually every industry there are guest blogging opportunities. Each can potentially bring you the benefit of increased exposure, greater credibility, growth in your social following and natural, organic links back to your site.

Just remember that in order for guest blogging to be effective you need to always aim for providing the best content (content that is 10 times better than what everyone else is producing), with the focus always on value for the reader.

Have you had success with guest blogging, or have questions about how to get started? Leave a comment for me below: