One of the best ways to build your online brand is to guest blog on authority web sites.
The benefits are numerous.
You may be after back links, new audience, authority, referral traffic, relationship with established bloggers or brands.
Whatever the motive maybe guest blogging has its perks. Just to be clear, we are talking strategic guest blogging on quality sites with great content.
I am not an expert guest blogger like Neil Patel neither am I as prolific as he is.
When I first started guest blogging I did NOT know what the rules are and I had to learn the ropes from experts like Zac Johnson of BloggingTips.com so I put together a simple guest blogging checklist to keep you on track.
To date I have guest blogged on 15 authority sites with 30 live guest posts and counting. Two of the biggest authority sites that I never dreamed of appearing are: Business2Community.com and SocialMediaToday.com
You may be wondering how many links I should include to my site. What anchor text is best? Should I internally link any posts from the site that is going to publish my post? We’ve got you covered.
Please note this is a checklist to keep you on track and you should always check the guest posting guidelines on individual sites.
Cherry Pick Guest Posting Opportunities
1 – Carefully Choose Guest Blogging Site. Focus on Site Quality.
One of my criteria for guest blogging is a ‘do-follow’ backlink and yours might be different. I also focus on the site quality and check their Domain Authority. I look for DA above 30 as a minimum and at times look for sites with DA 40 and over. I used to look at Google Page Rank which is now defunct.
I also check how many social shares a recent post has achieved, how often the site posts new content. You want to contribute to a site which at least posts twice a month as a minimum. Is it worth contributing to a site that has DA 27? It depends, on how quickly the site is growing and how long will your post stay in the blog home page.
2 – Ensure the Guest Blogging Site is in Your Niche.
You want to attract the right kind of visitors and also get links from sites in your niche. Links from authority sites in the same industry carry more weight. If your blog specializes in social media you want to target blogs in the same niche. You can also target some neighbouring niches – for example blogging and SEO. How is it going to help if you guest blog on a health related blog?
Guest Post Creation
3 – Make Sure Your Subject Matches the Audience Needs.
If the authority site specialises in WordPress an appropriate topic would be WordPress Speed Optimization or WordPress SEO Tips. Most sites ask for topic ideas upfront and if your topic does not match the audience your guest post application will be rejected. You also want to keep the audience engaged so a topic that helps is very important otherwise you will not get many social media action or referral traffic.
4 – Ensure Your Headline Engages the Readers.
Once you have a topic that matches what the audience needs, it’s time to make sure your title attracts clicks. If you need help check out CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer or Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
5 – Get Your Facts Straight. Be Well Informed.
I guess this applies where ever you blog but it is very important when you are a guest blogger in an authority site. You don’t want to look like a fool in front of industry experts and influencers.
One of the best practices you could follow is to link to source materials that back up your claims or statistics. Remember, if you pick a high authority site to guest blog and you don’t back up your argument it is a mere opinion.
Opinions can be challenged and taken to shreds by experts if they are ill-conceived!
6 – Ensure Your Post is Grammatically Sound. Proof-read more than Once.
When guest blogging most often than not, someone like an editor or the blog owner will review your post, but this does not mean you can drop the ball when it comes to details like grammar and spelling. Observe heading (use of h2 or h3 tags), text formatting on the host site and replicate them. Your job is to make sure the reviewer’s job is as easy as possible.
7 – Be Mindful of Your Style, Tone and Language. Don’t Offend Anyone.
In your blog you dictate the style and tone but when you are guest at somebody else’s house you want to be very careful. Be mindful of the tone and language of the host blog. It is also a good idea to read a few blog posts on the host blog to get a feel for the tone they use. For example, this could be casual or formal and it really depends on the audience. A business blog will be more formal so observe these unwritten rules.
8 – Don’t Include Too Many Keywords or Spend Too Much Time on them.
You are in an authority site so you don’t have to worry too much about keywords as they tend to take care of themselves.
“Adding ‘keywords’ to a blog post is an outmoded SEO tactic. Don’t concern yourself with keyword density ratio or the right mix of semantic keywords. In today’s SEO climate, keywords will take care of themselves. The only danger surrounding keywords is adding too many.” – Neil Patel
9 – Don’t Be Self-Promotional. Focus on the Reader.
Let the content talk for itself; there is no need for self-promotion or exaggeration! Remember, if you picked an authority site the readers can spot talent where it exists. Be sure to think about the user and their experience. Deliver the content with a purpose and make sure it flows from start to finish without any distractions.
10 – Make Sure Your Post is Unique from Start to Finish. No Components Should be Published Elsewhere.
If you are writing a guest post or even a post on your site – it has to be unique, no copy-catting either. You can fool newbies but not experts. You don’t have to provide an expert opinion but you could simply produce lessons learned. This of course depends on the host blog and its audience. Duplicate content will hurt your brand and will adversely affect the host site.
11 – Do Not Promote Your Product, Service or Company.
Not only you should be avoiding self-promotion but you should also avoid promoting your product, service or company. In fact, some authority sites will ask you to disclose any relationship with any product or service you might review as part of your guest post. In simple terms – let your content speak for itself.
12 – Spread Your Guest Posting Efforts Evenly Over Time. Going on a Guest Posting Spree is Dangerous.
When you go on a guest posting spree, you will accumulate a bunch of links in a very short time span and this raises alarm bells at Google headquarters. So be warned, everything in life has to be done in bite sized chunks and collect those links slowly over time. Just make sure to spread your guest posting efforts.
Natural looking link profile
Unnatural looking link profile
Images and Word Count
13 – Adhere to Guidelines like Number of Images and Word Count.
There is no denying the fact that any decent site will want to keep their reputation intact. One of the quickest ways of doing that is to put a restriction on the word count so you can wade off the unwanted spammers and black-hat link builders. Respect the blogs decision and only approach the blog if you are happy with their guidelines.
14 – Check the Image Use Policy. Make Sure You have Permission to Use the Images.
Most blogs will ask you to provide images to go with your guest post. Some sites might not ask you to do so; they may like to use their own image or they may not use any images at all. So do check the image use policy. If you are providing images, make sure you have the rights to use the images. This may be finding creative commons zero (CC0) images or providing an attribution link to the image source. Some sites will ask you only provide CC0 images and you can check out this visual guide to finding free images.
15 – Link to Your Site Only Where Appropriate.
This is an unwritten golden rule when it comes to guest blogging. Most bloggers want a link back to their blogs but always remember the user experience of the host blog; you want your link where it naturally fits into the content otherwise you can get a link from the author bio.
Some big sites actually ‘no-follow’ all links within the content and only provide a link within the author profile.
16 – Use One Link back to Your Site. Don’t Go Overboard with Links.
Another interesting question new bloggers have is how many links can I have within my guest post. Most often than not this depends on the content length. Most blogs will be willing to give a link for every 750 words or so. Again, this is just a guide but the important point to remember is you should be more than happy with 1 link back to your blog from an authoritative site. Links have to be natural and they should NOT appear for the sake of having a back link. Many links within a small post looks unnatural, spammy and self-promotional.
Tip: Each new link from a new domain gives you more link juice (SEO benefit) than multiple links from the same domain.
17 – Include Links to Other Sites. External Links that are Relevant are Important.
If your guest post only links to your site then it might not be a quality post as you have not referenced any material that may be deemed authoritative in the industry. We will have to exempt influencers and also infographic guest posts as they tend to have all the references in the graphic itself.
18 – Internally Link to Other Popular Posts within the Guest Blogging Site.
Internal links are a great content marketing tactic and you should employ it regardless of whether you follow this on your blog. In fact, most big bloggers would ask you to internally link to at least 2 or 3 posts within their site when you guest post for them. If you don’t know what to link to in the host site then do a quick search on the site.
19 – Don’t Use Keyword Rich Anchor Text. Use Branded Anchor Text.
When it comes to link building in general you would want to build keyword rich backlinks. But when it comes to guest posting it is better to use branded anchor text such as “YourEscapeFrom9to5.com” Do not use ‘here’ and ‘this’ as your anchor text since this is hard to interpret for both users and search engine bots.
20 – Tailor the Author Bio to fit the Site.
Most bloggers (myself included) use the same author bio across many sites that they post in. There is a good chance of some common viewers between sites. Each site may also focus on different core topics for example, one site might target SEO and another might target social media. So to get the best of many worlds, it makes sense to tailor your author bio. If you have been simply copy pasting your author bio maybe it is time to go back and make it unique and appealing for each site.
21 – Include Your Social Profiles in the Author Profile.
Most blogs will give you a guest author profile where you can create your content and also have access to the author profile settings. Make sure you include your social profiles so the audience can connect with you. Increasing your brands reach and social following should be part of your strategic guest blogging strategy.
PS – Most big sites will not give you a contributing author account for your 1st guest post. In fact, unless you intend to regularly guest post don’t expect an author account for your post.
After You Publish
22 – Socially Share Your Post.
Most sites won’t tell you this but it is always good to give something back to the host site. So share your guest post with your social followers at the least you will be building up credibility and reputation.
Tip: Don’t ever include an affiliate link on a guest blog.
23 – Reply to All Comments.
This is not a must do in most sites but again it is a thank you gesture and a way to connect with the viewers in the host blog. Some sites will even send you an email when a new comment is posted on your guest post.
Tip: Don’t forget to send a thank you note to the blogger who published your guest post.
Follow this checklist to keep you on track with your guest post. The more you write for authority sites the sooner you will become an influencer. This does not mean you sprinkle many links to your site within your guest post. As always check each sites policy in regards to guest posting but this checklist should give the heads-up.
Further Reading: How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities – INFOGRAPHIC