Guest Blogging - Ultimate Guide
In this blog, I will share with you my experience with Guest blogging.
You will know how to start and how to scale your guest blogging strategy to grow massive organic traffic.
To make it clear from the beginning, I will go through only high-quality guest blogging. Spammy guest posts won’t bring anything and are easily identified by Google these days.
- Identify Guest blog targets
- Which sites are worth your time?
- Guest blog outreach
- Write Guest blogs
- Get your blog live and establish a relationship
- Common Guest blogging tips and mistakes
There are hundreds of ways to get backlinks. I outlined them in another blog. From outreach to directories, from competitors research to skyscraper technique – every blogger and creator has his own way of getting links.
Guest posting is one of my favorite and most effective ways to get high quality referring domains to your site.
Here is proof of Guest post traffic growth.
And here is a Google Analytics screenshot, from one of my projects, where I reached 100K sessions per month (in about 15 months). This is a 100% free traffic, with 85%+ coming from Google organic. With an active guest posting campaign.
And here is a screenshot from another project (only organic traffic, in a span of a year) – with good quality content, but no link building, no guest post campaigns. There is some growth, but this is not what you are aiming for after a year of hard work.
So, Guest posts matter a lot.
How to find Guest post targets?
There are many ways, I start from Google.
1. Research lists of sites, that accept guest posts
If you type “keyword guest posts” – first results in Google, in general, would be blogs-lists, that accept guest posts.
Why spending time doing research, when someone already did it and provides this info for free?
Here are some lists of high-quality sites, which accept guest posts.
125+ websites that accept guest posts (from ConstantlyStriving)
One downside of this method is that the majority of sites in these lists are of very high standard. Therefore, they have super high requirements for your guest post to be accepted: 1500+ words, amazing content, visuals, infographics, original data, case study material, etc.
Frankly, when I start a blog in a new niche – it is quite hard to get accepted on these sites.
2. Google footprints
Here are some Google footprints to identify sites in your niche, which accept guest posts.
Head over to Google and start entering the following search queries (one by one):
- Keyword “guest post”
- Keyword intitle:“write for us”
- Keyword inurl:”write for us”
- Keyword “submit a guest post”
- Keyword “submit” AROUND(4) “guest post”
- Keyword “guest post by”
- Keyword “accepting guest posts”
- Keyword “guest post guidelines”
- Keyword “submit blog post”
- Keyword “contribute to our site”
- Keyword “submit article”
- Keyword “guest author”
- Keyword inurl:“guest post”
- Inpostauthor: “guest + post” Keyword
- Inpostauthor: “guest + blog” Keyword
I will go in more detail later about what to do with the list.
Just one point, don’t aim for top sites in the beginning. You have much more chances for your guest post to get accepted in a bit lower ranking, niche sites, and blogs.
You can spend a month for a blog, which will be accepted by the content team of a major publication. It is not worth it in the beginning, but you should definitely try when your blog is a bit more mature and has some traction.
3. Twitter research
On Twitter, you can find some of the most amazing guest posting opportunities. Some of them you would never find on Google – because some blogs just don’t have a “guest post” page.
And these results are much fresher, than on Google – you will find people who are actively looking for guest posts.
Just type in Twitter search – “keyword” guest post.
Also, Twitter is a great place to DM or tweet to influencers, blogs asking for a guest post. It is a much higher response rate compared to sending an email to “email@example.com”.
4. Social media groups
There is plenty of guest posting groups on mostly Facebook and Linkedin nowadays.
Join these and look for guest posting opportunities.
Also, there some Guest posting subreddits, where you can find something.
One downside of finding guest post opportunities in social media groups is their low quality. There are too many scammers, low-quality sites, on which you shouldn’t spend your time.
5. Ask Influencers for a guest post
I mentioned it already, but you should always be hunting for a guest posting opportunity, especially from influencers or just other bloggers in your niche.
Any tool is good for it: Twitter, Instagram, Messenger, Linkedin, etc.
There are a lot of positive responses because with a non-promotional guest post you are offering some value.
6. Reverse engineer competitors guest posts
Analyze a backlink profile of your competitor sites (you can use Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz or another tool).
Among all other types of links, you can easily distinguish guest posts.
Reach out to these sites and ask for a guest post opportunity for you.
7. Use AllTop.com
AllTop.com lists top blogs and publishers in your niche. That is a perfect outreach list for guest posts.
8. Reverse competitor search
Find some popular blogger in your niche, who tends to post a lot of guest blogs.
Try to reverse engineer their guest blogs:
type in Google – guest blog by Neil Patel or contributed by Neil Patel, etc.
If there is an author image attached, you are lucky! As you can paste that image in Google search and discover all guest blogs, where it appeared (idea from Brian Dean).
Which sites to target?
Before you start writing a guest post for the desired site, you need to identify if they will be worth your time.
There is no point to write a 2000 unique content piece for PBN (it means “Private Blogging Network” or in simpler words “spammy”) site, with 10 visitors per month. In fact, it can even hurt your site.
Generally, I use these metrics to identify the quality of a site:
- Estimate traffic (all and organic)
- Domain rating or Moz DA
- Number of ranking keyword
- Number of referring domains
Of course, you should also aim for sites, which:
- Are in your niche
- Post only high-quality content
- Can bring you referral traffic
- Can give you a proper do-follow link in the article body (not just bio section)
- Have a significant social media following
The best backlinks for Google are those which people use.
In an ideal scenario, you should target websites with both high traffic and powerful domain.
Personally, I prefer traffic over a strong domain. There are plenty of scammy websites with strong domains but zero traffic.
You can use SimilarWeb to estimate all traffic or Ahrefs – only for organic traffic.
Also, domain rating in Ahrefs or Moz DA should be at least 10-15 points. When your blog is starting to get more Google traffic and rankings, you should lift the bar to at least 20-25. With powerful blogs – aim for guest postings on 35+ sites.
Here are metrics from Ahrefs dashboard, which you should look at.
In overall, a site just needs to be ok: high traffic, good domain rating, ranking keywords, good backlinks, nice design, etc. Only then it is worth your guest posting effort.
Also, what I noticed if you do outreach to sites from Google search (technique #2), your backlinks can be more valuable. Because Google is already ranking these sites = they are “ok quality” according to Google.
If you do guest posts and link building on random sites from Facebook groups, without an additional check – these backlinks can be worth nothing. I proved that by a hard way – on my own experience and mistakes. 😅 I don’t recommend you to repeat these mistakes. 😀
Also, it is a good practice to put your guest post targets into 2-3 main groups – e.g. Tier 1, Tier 2 And Tier 3.
Tier 1 – are top sites in your niche, which are open to guest posts. They have hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of visitors per month and super high authority. One backlink from such site can be worth thousands of dollars. Of course, they will require top quality content – at least 2000 words, original content with the specific writing style, some specific personal case studies, visuals and so on.
With Tier 1 always consider if one guest blog is worth 1-2 weeks of hard work and research.
Tier 2 is also high-quality sites, but with less traffic and authority – therefore less picky. Good quality 1500 words content will do.
Tier 3 is medium quality niche sites. These are sites from 2-4 pages of Google. There can be some beginner or regional blogs in your niche, but which have good fundamentals for growth. 800-1000 words original (maybe outsourced) content will be ok.
In reality, if you just started a blog, most commonly you will end up getting your guest posts live on Tier 3 sites. It’s ok, try to get more of these, when you are just starting out.
Your top guest post content will end up on Tier 2.
I wouldn’t recommend spending weeks to get one backlink from Tier 1 site in the beginning, but as your blog grows – you should definitely aim for it.
Guest blog outreach
Guest blogging works well if you have established a connection and a professional relationship with your target.
Before sending a guest post pitch, try to warm up your targets, even before you send a pitch.
Guest blogging works well if you have established a connection and a professional relationship with your target.
- Actually, read a few of their blogs.
- Share their articles on social media and @tag.
- Follow on social.
- Comment on their articles.
- Send a “thank you e-mail”.
Research best guest post topics
Go to your target website and look for “Most popular topics” sidebar or something like that. Try to match your guest post topic with one of those.
Also, with the help of Ahrefs or Buzzsumo, you can easily identify the most shared content on any site or most searched.
You can also find top shared or searched content in your niche.
Here is popular content for “Yoga” with some cool topic ideas.
If you send cool topic ideas – there is a much higher chance to get noticed.
Another important element of guest post outreach is carefully reading through guidelines.
- How many words?
- Which type of content?
- Do they accept backlinks, how many, follow or nofollow?
Some bloggers have really, really specific guidelines.
Now it is time to send your pitch.
Imagine yourself as an owner of the fast-growing site, which accepts guest posts. Guess what? You receive dozens, if not hundreds guest post requests per day. If even your email title doesn’t stand out – email will be deleted.
Here is a nice guest post outreach template.
I’m a long time reader of your blog. Maybe you noticed my comment on your post about […].
I want to contribute a guest post on [Website].
My blog – [link to your blog] – covers mainly [explain your niche].
For example, check out my post about … [link to your cool blog post]
Currently, I have these topics in mind, which will bring a ton of value to your audience:
– topic 1
– topic 2
– topic 3
Would you be interested in this or any other content, relevant to [your niche]? I provide only original, high quality and 1000+ words content.
Here is an example of my previous guest post [Link].
I will include one link to [link to your blog] in the body of the article.
Looking forward to your reply.
- provides some value first, before asking for a guest post;
- starts with something specific about their website;
- gives an example of your previous work;
- suggests 3 topics – it simplifies the process a lot.
The outreach process itself can also be tricky. I use Buzzstream.
For me, Buzzstream solves the main problems with Outreach:
- extracting contact information from sites (email, social media, contact page URL, etc)
- sending emails
- adding followups (via sequence)
- bulk sending emails
- collecting influencers in one place
- influencer research
- and many more.
Check out my in-detail overview of Buzzstream Outreach.
So, for a start, you need to create a new project.
Click on “All contacts” -> New project.
In the next popup, you can customize which members to include in the project, either to enable link monitoring and to send backlink reports.
After that, you need to add a list of websites to the project.
You can also use a Buzzmaker Chrome extension.
After you added websites, Buzzstream will export contact information.
You will see:
- Social media info
- Domain authority (if site worth pursuing?)
- Overall rating
After that, I sort discovered contacts by E-mail (just by clicking on the menu) and start with E-mail outreach.
You need to use Sequences.
Sequence or follow up emails are really effective with outreach. Usually, I send 2 follow-ups: 4 and 7 days after the previous email, if there is no reply.
Here is an example of one of my Sequences for SEO guest posts.
Select required sites and click “Outreach” and “Send individually” or “Bulk send” (available with more expensive plan).
Here is how your Outreach process can look like.
After you are finished with E-mail outreach, continue with Social outreach.
Buzzstream gets all social media handles.
Tweet to your contacts, message them on Facebook, @mention influencers in your posts, etc.
Writing a Guest post
As I mentioned earlier, you should divide your Guest post targets into several tiers – super high quality sites, good sites and medium sites.
Content for Tier 1 (best ones) should be as good as on your own site. Read all the guidelines. If there is no word-limit requirement, aim for at least 1500-2000 words.
Send a concrete case study or example. Nobody is interested in mediocre generic posts e.g. “Top 5 tips for Solo Travelers”, which in most cases are $5 articles from Fiverr, already spun few times.
Show what and how you did, results which you achieved. Show some case study, numbers, data, stats, etc.
Also, try to include some visuals. Pixabay or Unsplash images won’t always work. At least try to add some design in Canva. Ideally, present screenshots, visual flows from your projects, which prove what you describe. For example, you describing a traffic increase? Include proof from Google Analytics.
Also, in a guest post include internal links to the target site. Site owners LOVE IT.
Content for Tier 2 or 3 shouldn’t be as good as above. Try to outsource this content. But, of course, you have to show at least something.
Bonus Guest blogging tips
1. Aim for contextual links. Backlinks to your site in the bio section can be easily identified by Google. And there is a lot of evidence, that Google neglects links from guest posts in bio sections.
2. Still, make your bio section really outstanding. Most of the bios are super boring and spammy – nobody reads and clicks on them. Create something eye-catching.
3. Accept guest posts on your site very carefully. Especially check out external links the guest author wants to include. If the website is spammy – immediately reject the offer, even if it is 2000+ words content. Site, which links to e.g. gambling, spammy site – is an instant red signal for Google.
Bottom line with Guest posting
Guest posts are all about establishing a professional connection with other bloggers, influencers, startups, companies in your niche.
Don’t think only of short term things – e.g. “a backlink”, try to establish a long-term relationship, which might be really fruitful. Sometimes, your guest post targets can become your best-paying customers in the future.
Also, Guest posting works only if it is of high quality.
To sum it up
So, that’s my step-by-step guide to guest blogging.
What works for you?
Leave suggestions in comments below!