Everything You Need to Know about Guest Blogging

How to Build an Effective Guest Blogging Strategy in 2023

Guest blogging remains one of the most powerful tools in a marketer‘s toolbox heading into 2023 and beyond. When done right, contributing content to other respected publications in your industry provides a number of key benefits:

  • Expanding your brand‘s reach and getting in front of new audiences
  • Building high-quality backlinks to your site that boost your search engine rankings
  • Establishing your company‘s subject matter expertise and thought leadership
  • Driving qualified referral traffic back to your site
  • Generating new leads for your business

However, to reap these benefits, you need a well-planned guest blogging strategy that helps you identify the best opportunities, create content that readers will love, and track your results. Random, scattershot guest posting won‘t move the needle.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll break down everything you need to know to build and execute on an effective guest blogging strategy this year.

Step 1: Set clear goals for your guest blogging efforts

Before you start seeking out guest blogging opportunities, you first need to determine what you‘re trying to achieve. Common goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness and reach
  • Improving search engine rankings for target keywords
  • Driving more referral traffic to your website
  • Generating leads and email newsletter sign-ups
  • Establishing thought leadership and credibility

Your goals will determine the types of publications you target, the topics you write about, how you approach writing your posts, and how you ultimately measure success.

For example, if your primary objective is generating leads, you‘ll want to target publications that will drive the most qualified traffic and include strong calls-to-action in your posts. If you care more about SEO, you‘ll focus on high domain authority sites and aim to include relevant backlinks.

Specific metrics to track could include organic search traffic increases, the number of new referring domains, or leads/email subscribers attributed to guest post referral traffic. The key is tying your efforts back to overarching business KPIs.

Step 2: Identify target publications and guest post opportunities

To get the highest return on your time and effort, you need to carefully research and qualify potential guest blogging targets. While it‘s tempting to shoot for the biggest, most recognizable publications in your space, your pitch will likely get lost in the sea of other guest post requests they receive.

Instead, aim for respected, mid-tier industry blogs and sites where you have a better chance of landing a guest post opportunity. Beyond that, look for these key characteristics in your target publications:

  • The site covers topics that are relevant to your business and expertise
  • Their audience aligns with your target customer demographics
  • The site gets a solid amount of traffic and engagement (comments, social shares)
  • Their domain authority is at least 40+ so backlinks will be valuable for SEO
  • They have high editorial standards and publish only quality, original content
  • Ideally, they have guest post submission guidelines showing they accept outside content

Tools like Alexa, SEMRush and Ahrefs can provide valuable data on a site‘s traffic, audience demographics, domain authority, and top keywords to help with your research.

Take this data and score each opportunity based on relevance, reach, audience, and domain authority. Create a prioritized spreadsheet of sites to pitch, along with key information like editor names and email addresses.

Some effective tactics for finding guest blogging opportunities include:

  • Searching Google for terms like "your industry" + "write for us", "contribute", "guest post", etc.
  • Seeing where influencers and competitors are guest posting using tools like Ahrefs
  • Leveraging existing relationships with influencers/editors who may have connections
  • Monitoring HARO requests from journalists and bloggers looking for sources
  • Attending industry events and conferences to network with editors and site owners

Step 3: Find the right guest post topics for each site

The more you can learn about a publication‘s audience, editorial focus areas, and popular content, the better you‘ll be able to craft guest post topics that will get accepted. Spend time reading through past posts, noting what topics they tend to cover and what writing styles/formats they prefer.

Use keyword research tools to identify searches their audience is making related to topics you could write about. See which of the site‘s existing posts get the most engagement in terms of comments and social shares.

With this intel, make a list of 3-5 potential guest post topics for each site that:

  • Align with the site‘s core content pillars and audience interests
  • Provide unique insights, fresh perspectives or original data/research
  • Tie into your business‘s areas of expertise
  • Aren‘t already extensively covered on their site
  • Include relevant keywords their audience is searching for

When you eventually pitch editors, providing this level of personalized topic suggestions versus a generic, one-size-fits-all idea will set you apart. Editors will appreciate that you‘ve done your homework.

Step 4: Craft effective guest post pitches

With your target sites and topics identified, it‘s time to start pitching editors. Even the best guest post ideas will get rejected if your email pitch is sloppy or lacks a compelling hook.

Follow these best practices to improve your chances of getting a response:

  • Keep your message concise and to-the-point – editors are busy!
  • Personalize the email as much as possible – mention their name and reference a recent post
  • Clearly explain who you are, your credentials and what makes you qualified to write for them
  • Highlight the value you‘ll provide their audience with your proposed guest post topics
  • Link to examples of other guest posts/content you‘ve written to show your style
  • Proofread carefully and don‘t make silly grammar or spelling errors
  • Follow up 2-3 times if you don‘t hear back initially – persistence often pays off

It‘s also worth building a relationship with editors before you pitch a guest post. Engage with them on social media, comment on their posts, and try to provide value any way you can. That way, when your name pops up in their inbox, they‘re more likely to give it a look.

Step 5: Write stand-out guest blog posts

Once an editor gives you the green light on a topic, it‘s time to get writing! Even if you‘re an experienced content creator, writing guest posts requires a bit of a different approach versus publishing on your own site.

Make sure to carefully review any guest author guidelines provided by the editor in terms of tone, word count, links, formatting, etc. If no specifics are provided, look to the site‘s existing posts as a guide and aim to match their typical style.

Some general tips for writing guest posts that perform:

  • Craft an eye-catching, click-worthy headline that clearly conveys the value readers will get
  • Hook the reader with a compelling intro that teases the useful content to come
  • Break up the post using short paragraphs, subheadings, lists, and images for easy skimming
  • Include relevant stats, examples, quotes and case studies to back up your points
  • Add useful, contextual links back to your site and to other authoritative sources
  • Close with a strong call-to-action that tells readers what to do next
  • Provide an author bio that showcases your expertise and drives people back to your site
  • ALWAYS have at least one other person proofread and edit your guest post before submitting

The editors you‘re working with will also likely have valuable feedback before the post goes live. Be open to their suggestions – they know what resonates with their audience far better than you do.

Step 6: Amplify your published guest posts

Many guest bloggers make the mistake of thinking their work is done once they hit "submit." But if you want to squeeze the most value out of your hard work, you can‘t just rely on the publication to drive all the traffic and engagement.

As soon as your post goes live:

  • Share it across all of your brand‘s social media channels
  • Schedule additional social posts to re-share the link over the next few weeks/months
  • Include it in your email newsletter to subscribers
  • Embed click-to-tweet links within the post to encourage more social sharing
  • Engage with any comments the post receives to build relationships with readers
  • Add the link to your website‘s "In the Press" or "Featured On" page
  • Reach out to influencers/thought leaders mentioned in the post and ask them to share
  • Build additional links to the guest post to boost its search visibility

Basically, treat your guest post with the same level of promotion you would give to a post published on your own site. The more eyes you can get on it, the better your results will be in terms of traffic, engagement and lead generation.

Step 7: Measure your guest blogging results

Finally, use the goals and KPIs you set back in step one to gauge the effectiveness of your guest blogging efforts. Check Google Analytics to see how much referral traffic each post is sending to your site and whether those visitors are converting into leads and customers.

Monitor changes in organic search traffic and rankings for the keywords/topics you focused on in your guest posts. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Moz can show you the new inbound links your site has gotten as a result of your guest posting.

If you‘re focused on lead generation, use UTM parameters in your author bio and in-post links to attribute leads back to specific guest posts. See which posts and topics are driving the highest conversions.

Beyond just the quantitative results, make a qualitative assessment of your guest blogging strategy. How much brand awareness and PR have you gotten? Are you building valuable new relationships as a result of your posts? Has it gotten easier to land guest blog spots?

Use the data you gather to refine your approach over time. Double down on the sites and topics that are working, and ditch the tactics that aren‘t delivering sufficient ROI. Guest blogging success requires constant experimentation and iterations.

Helpful guest blogging tools and resources:

  • Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz – SEO and link building tools for researching sites
  • Hunter.io, Voila Norbert – Email lookup tools for finding editor contact info
  • BuzzSumo – Analyzes top performing content on a given domain
  • HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator – Great tool for coming up with guest post topics
  • Grammarly, Hemingway App – Catches grammar/readability issues in your writing
  • Click to Tweet – Makes it easy to add pre-written, shareable tweets to your posts
  • Google Analytics, Databox – Track referral traffic and conversions from guest posts

While the concept of guest blogging has been around for over a decade, it remains one of the most effective ways to expand your reach and grow your business online. Hopefully this guide has given you a solid roadmap for building a successful guest posting strategy in 2023 and beyond!