February 8, 2016
We start the week with a special guest post from Razvan Gavrilas on finding guest post opportunities. Happy reading!
You are most likely familiar with “guest posting”, that is writing and publishing an article on someone else’s website or blog. Yet, why is it such a popular link building strategy, touted by some as one of the most important tactics for expanding your audience? And moreover, how can one take full advantage of this technique by finding the best guest post opportunities?
Guest posting is basically a win-win scenario: the author of the post gains increased notoriety by reaching an audience they wouldn’t normally have access to; the host of the post gets free content and potentially an increased audience (if the guest posters already have a certain fan-base).
Of course, you may also encounter detractors – or at the very least sceptics, Matt Cutts being one of them. But you need to read carefully what they say and extract the right message from their critique. For instance, when Cutts talks about the fall and decay of guest blogging as a strategy to gain links, he’s not really damning the tactic itself, but rather drawing attention to the fact that “over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice”.
So what you really need to remember is that guest posting, like most other white-hat SEO tactics, could quickly turn into spam if you lose focus on the quality of the content or associate yourself with low-quality websites.
There are also posts about websites that welcome guest posts. It makes sense, though: the whole point of guest posting (from your perspective) is that you make yourself known to new audiences. You can’t simply guest post on the same page over and over again, regardless of how well-regarded that page is (or how much authority it holds). So these lists might be a good start. They’re kind of like your leads.
But if you plan on using guest posts in the long run, these lists are a finite resource. You need to constantly be digging for more and more opportunities, preferably of hosts that are from the same industry you’re in.
If you really want to make a splash with guest posting, you will need to be very purposeful about your choices. This means not just finding plenty of websites to host your posts, but also carefully picking the best of them. They say you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. You do get, however, a lot of chances to squander the good faith you may have earned on a first impression.
If your guest post goes on a website with a poor authority effort, that’s wasted effort on your part and a wasted opportunity to capitalize on new content.
So let’s take an example and say you’re really interested in publishing guest posts about music (because that’s largely the industry your website falls under). You can easily use Brand Mentions and go with a very broad initial search of “music + ‘guest post’ “ just to test the waters. Already in the first results you can pick up 3 websites that, from keywords and authority score, might look like good choices.
Needless to say that this kind of research helps you discover not only posting opportunities but can also be a great technique to get links. The unlinked mentions technique is finding brand mentions without links. However, finding these link opportunities isn’t a ride in the park but you can learn from this article on how to convert unlinked brand mentions into links.
If you go into a deeper analysis, you’ll notice that each has its particularities. The first authority pick, for instance, Hyperbot, seems to be the most industry-focused of the 3. It’s mostly about music and often feature guest posts. Coming in second, The Wheeler Center is more about culture in general, with a special section for music, but also seems to address a slightly different audience than Hyperbot (though there could potentially be some overlap between the two). Last but not least, Rethink Music is pretty much exactly what you’d figure: a website centred on the music industry.
Therefore, if your musical interest is, let’s say, instruments, you might have more success with Rethink Music than Hyperbot, even if their authority performance is lower. Hyperbot might still take the lead, though, as it has a fairly significant DIY section as well. The lesson here is that you can cast a wide net (we searched for “music” when we could have gone for something more specific), as long as you don’t lose sight of what you’re actually interested in.
There’s also another way to figure out what best suits you. For this example, when you scroll down to the next 2 rows of results, Hyperbot accounts for half of them and scores a minimum of 40 for Authority every time.
In addition to a qualitative criterion (is it relevant?) there’s also a quantitative one (is it likely to get published?) to take into account.
Of course, there’s a lot more work to be done after the initial Brand Mentions search. Although from the original analysis you could guess that Hyperbot is probably a good fit, you might discover, after looking at the site’s metrics, that for some reason it just doesn’t attract as many visitors as you’d like (or as many as other websites do). There’s also a chance that their social media share buttons don’t really yield any significant shares, which, while not a deal-breaker in itself, might signal towards some bigger problems you need to consider.
However, having direct access to this sources is a goldmine.
Seems like there are 223 mentions containing the keywords we are interested in. And these are the results just for the last week. Needless to say that if I’m interested in other languages or periods of time, i can set that and see results which respond to my specific needs.
Yet, each of these mention can bring hundreds of other article “hosts”. Let’s take for instance one of the mentions. Without too much trouble I can access the article and also find info about its author. The article I am interested in, “A Musician’s Concise Guide to Using Instagram” seems to have a prolific author, as Sophie Chernin has several interesting posts on the website where I found this article. Also, on the same website I can find other articles that might lead to new “hosting” opportunities.
Therefore, this website itself can be a great place for trying your luck with a guest post. But you don’t have to stop here. Although it may sound a bit “stalkerish” we can search for other places Sophie Chernin, the author, has written guest posts. And as her name might be quite common, we can do the search by image.
Image reading and object recognition in images is an important task and challenge that Google seems to have been handling alright for a while now. Therefore, we can take advantage of that and try to find the person we are interested in via this technique. We paste the URL of her photo that we found on the website into Google Image Search and see what other posts has she written and where. All the findings can be of high interest as they can all be translated in other guest posting opportunities.
So how do you go about guest posting in such a way that it remains a legitimate enterprise?
The very first step in every guest posting strategy is finding the right host for your posts. And your initial contact with any potential host is likely going to look like a pitch, where the product you’re “selling” is your post. Here you can find some great outreach examples that you can get inspired from. If you’ve done your research, you’ll probably be able to guess if a certain website will be interested in hosting your guest post or not. But there’s no guarantee to it.
The classic 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, about the lives of four more or less successful estate salesmen, might now be best remembered for the scene-stealing performance of Alec Baldwin as a motivational speaker sent by the management to shake things up at the office. In one tense exchange with one of the salesmen who complains about the leads (names of people who might be interested in a particular real estate item), Baldwin’s character explodes: “The leads are weak?!… You’re weak!” But unlike the salesmen of a few decades ago, you’re not confined to the leads you get – you can find your own.
There are websites which simply advertise their availability for guest posts . These websites will tell you what they’re looking for (hint: it’s usually original content) and also give you some tips on how to best write a post that fits their style. They may even go as far as to give you tips on how to accommodate to your new-found success once your post gets published and new visitors start landing on your page. These are good places to start, but they are not enough (and they’re probably highly competitive as well: if you found them easily, others will too).
Sure, there still remains the whole business of actually writing the post to deal with, but finding the right match for your post sometimes means winning half the fight.
It turns out that Alec Baldwin’s reply still rings true, albeit with a twist: you’re creating your own leads, so if the leads aren’t working, it could mean you’re doing something wrong (or not doing enough). And that’s because there’s plenty of ways to tweak results so that you find the most relevant possible hosts. There is, for instance, a large array of search words to replace “guest post” with such as “post written by”, “write for us”, “submit an article” or “become an author”, just to name a few.
Written by Razvan Gavrilas. Razvan is the Founder & Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO & BrandMentions, tools to help you monitor, research and improve your digital marketing. He has over 15 years of internet marketing experience and has improved the digital marketing strategy for both small businesses and large enterprises.