If you have a blog, you probably already know that building backlinks is an important part of growing your online business. Search engines see backlinks as a vote of confidence for your site, and will likely rank your pages higher in their results when you have more relevant, high authority links back to your content.
One of the best ways for bloggers to gain backlinks to their site is through guest posting, or offering free content to another site with the intention of gaining a link back to your own site.
Guest posting has been utilized by bloggers looking for backlinks basically since the inception of the internet. It used to be easy to email a fellow blogger, offer them amazing content, and get a link back for your efforts. But today, it’s not so easy.
With the increase in spammy emails from black hat SEO agents posing as bloggers looking for guest posts, the majority of guest post emails are responded to with ad rates or end up in the bin. To avoid this happening to you, we want to show you how to successfully pitch guest posts and keep your email from being sent to the spam folder.
How to Successfully Pitch a Guest Post
If you’re planning to pitch a guest post, or maybe even a few guest posts, you need to prepare properly in advance. One of the most important things to remember is that bloggers often receive dozens of guest posts requests per week and they have to be judicious when accepting them.
Here’s a guest post pitch I receive quite often. In fact, I just received this one today:
Subject: Write For You
I am a blogger and would love to guest post on your website. I have published numerous articles on various websites.
Would you be interested in publishing an article on your wonderful website?
Please feel free to contact me.
It actually sounds too generic to be real, right? There’s no personalized information, which leads me to believe this blogger has just spammed dozens of other bloggers with this request. They don’t know my name, my website, my type of content. They’ve not shared any specifics about what they write or who they’ve written for.
It is highly unlikely that you will ever get a response from this type of guest post pitch.
There are a few things you should always do when pitching a guest post:
- Make yourself known to the blogger in advance. No one likes a cold-call.
- Be sure to properly address the blogger, by name.
- Show you actually know who the blogger is and have done your homework on their site.
- Under no circumstances should you copy and paste names/URLs into a form email and send it to everyone on your list.
- Personalize the email. Show you do not just copy and pasting. Be unique.
- Show you’re capable of producing stellar content. No typos, grammar errors.
- Include previous work you’ve done.
Guest Pitch Example
We think the best way to learn is by example. We’re going to dissect a guest post email I received from Nick Kembel of Spiritual Travels. A while back, Nick emailed me with the headline:
1. Headline: Guest Post Request (from a real travel blogger 🙂
Commentary: To be honest, I now get this ‘real blogger’ line a lot, so it didn’t win me over initially but what did was seeing Nick’s name. I recognised him and his email profile image from our Facebook group. Nick is an active member of Make Traffic Happen.
2. Greeting: Hi Gemma,
Commentary: I get ‘hey Scot’ often because my travel site is called Two Scots Abroad. Nick not only knew my name, but he also spelt it correctly!
3. Opening: You and Laura are my heroes.
Commentary: BOOM, ego boost! AND he showed he genuinely knew who I was.
4. Provide Credentials: He included that he was a published author and professional travel writer and that he makes most of his income from this
Commentary: Adding this highlighted to me that he can write. One of the biggest issues with guest posts is that the guest post can’t actually write a travel post. Poor grammar, spelling and structure are not accepted on my site (please avert your eyes when you come across any of my first posts!)
5. Reason for Guest Posting: Nick identified his goal was to gain more traffic and increase his DA and that he had a post on XYZ that he was about to publish and wanted to build links to. You can read more about SEO abbreviations here.
Commentary: To the point, honest, no shade.
6. Why This Benefits Me: He had trawled through Two Scots Abroad and identified a benefit for me. I had weak content on the destination in question and he asked if he could write a more comprehensive guide for me.
Commentary: I was not insulted here because the post in question was thin, it was written pre-SEO days. Naturally, you need to take this route cautiously, people don’t always like having mistakes pointed out to them. Ego, remember the ego!
7. Make Suggestions: Nick suggested a guest post idea, but if I had keywords in mind he would write around that.
Commentary: BINGO, Nick has shown me he knows SEO. Now I am really interested. I have a problem – thin content and no time to update. Nick brought a solution – the possibility of an optimised SEO post.
8. Provide Examples: Nick backed up his claims with two articles links that he had written.
Commentary: I’m happy with the content so we go ahead and agree.
He closes the email with a polite sign-off and a note that he is about to take a trip to Taiwan with his two kids but will be checking emails in the evening – he’s letting me into his world. He’s showing me he’s a real blogger (and person!) I like Nick a lot by the end of this email and want to buy him a beer.
Next, I create a set of keywords for Nick to include in the post and he wrote the article (a very quick turnaround). He even suggested Get You Guide affiliates links. You can see why I was blown away by his efforts.
Now when other bloggers are looking for content writers to hire I suggest Nick. You can contact him here if you are shopping for solid writers: nickkembel[at]gmail[dot]com.
Thanks for letting us include you in the post, Nick, we wish you every success in your SEO journey. Do keep us updated in the Facebook group.
Writing Your Guest Post
Before you dive into writing or even pitching you need to know what angle you are going to take in your content.
The best way to approach a guest post is to choose a topic you are familiar with, and that you already have content on your site about. However, you don’t want to write the same thing you already have. You want to create supporting content, or go bigger with the topic you are writing about. After all, you don’t want your guest post to outrank the content on your site!
As an example, I have an itinerary guide to Peru which I wanted to build backlinks for, so I pitched a guest post about adventure activities in Peru to Gary from Everything Everywhere (DA 54). It differed enough from the post I was building links to, but was still on topic so I could include a backlink to my article. Gary gladly accepted my guest post idea.
Do Thorough Research
When writing, be sure you’ve thoroughly researched the topic and are offering more in-depth information that can already be found quickly on the internet. Basic information doesn’t cut it these days. Be sure to include authoritative links to support your content. For extra points, you can even throw in a few related links from the blogger’s own content. That always makes me happy.
Another aspect of a great guest post is being sure to include the proper on-page SEO. Check our guide to make sure you’ve included all 8 steps. Just because the post won’t be on your own site doesn’t mean you can skimp on the SEO. Give it your best effort, just as you would for your own site. A high ranking guest post will gain you more referral traffic and boost your brand image.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Be sure you’ve edited and double checked your content for errors. Have someone else proofread it. Put it through Grammarly. Do whatever it takes to be sure you’re delivering 100% clean content.
Positioning The Backlink
Before you write the post, agree with the blogger how many backlinks they are willing to include. I tend to offer one backlink to a post and one to the homepage, plus social media links.
You want to place the backlink close to the top of the post; the higher up the better. The higher up in the content the link appears the more importance is placed on it for SEO purposes. Ask the blogger if they are happy with this, but don’t be pushy. Some bloggers will only allow a single link in the bio at the bottom.
Choosing Good Anchor Text
As mentioned above, your anchor text is the hyperlinked words you add the URL to. Although you do want to use your target keywords as anchor text some of the time, you don’t want to use the exact keywords every time you build a backlink. Choose a variation to keep things natural for Google.
For example, if your keyword phrase is “homemade Halloween costumes for kids”, you might use the anchor text ‘homemade kid’s costumes for Halloween’ or even read about homemade Halloween costumes *here*’ with the anchor text being the words ‘here’. Google is clever. They care about context, so it looks to see what words are surrounding the link. That’s why we don’t recommend only putting your links at the end of a post with no surrounding context.
After You Publish a Guest Post
Once the guest post is published you want to do the following things.
- Share on your own social media channels. This is professional and also helps with brand signals.
- Pin the Pinterest image to your Pinterest board.
- Keep coming back to see if there are any comments on the post and reply to them (if the blog has a comments field). This will help build your authority on the topic.
- Track the post. Go to your Google Analytics > Acquisitions > All Traffic> Channels and then select Referrals from the table. Are you getting traffic from the guest post?
How to Find Guest Post Opportunities
We’ve made life easier for you! Here’s a list of all the bloggers in our Make Traffic Happen Facebook group that accept guest posts. Some have stipulated rules so you don’t have to waste your time pitching if it is not something that they are interested in.
Remember to say that you found their details on Make Traffic Happen, so there is more chance these bloggers will consider your proposal.
Is There Any Point In Gaining No Follow Backlinks?
Once in a while, you will come across a blogger who will only offer a nofollow link to guest posters. Personally, I would not do a guest post or collaboration (group guest post) if the link was nofollow. I want the link juice as well as access to a new audience for my efforts.
Search Engine Land states that “nofollow links definitely help your SEO, although most of the benefits are probably indirect.”
These indirect benefits include exposure (getting your brand in front of another audience’s eyes), direct referral, and improved brand reach. They also confidently say that it is ‘almost undisputed’ that nofollow links help pages get indexed.
Google says that in general, they do not crawl nofollow links or attribute PageRank or “link juice” to nofollow links. Whether you choose to accept the low reward is up to you. There is still some benefit in gaining additional linking domains, even if the links are no follow.
Also to keep in mind: the majority of the time when you gain a backlink from a large media-based website the link will be no follow. Why? Who knows. The blanket answer I received from the Daily Record (Scottish national newspaper) is that’s how links are added.
What are your thoughts on nofollow links in guest posts? Tell us in the comments below.
You need to keep in mind that there are over 200 ranking factors that Google considers, so gaining just one backlink is unlikely to push you to the top of page one of Google. You need to work on a full SEO strategy (and we’ve created one for you, find out more here) to be successful with SEO. Once you start implementing our full strategy you will see success through an increase in organic traffic which can result in an improvement in revenue through ads, affiliates and partnerships. Get paid for your hard work!
Bloggers tend to go for the easy off-page SEO techniques like content exchange and collaborations but remember, the more links in the post, the less link juice for you. Writing guest posts gives you far more control over keywords in the anchor text, placement of the link and the content writing, sure it is more work but ranking on Google is a competitive market.
Final note, please don’t copy anyone’s guest post pitch word for word. Take ideas and put your own stamp on it or you’ll end up in the spam bin and for the love of the industry do not email bloggers telling them they’ve won an award and you want a backlink for it!
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