Guest posting has many benefits. When you write guest posts for high-quality websites, you build authority and grow your backlink profile. Backlinks improve your SEO and boost your search engine results ranking by telling search engines that those quality sites vouch for your content. If you want to rank highly in the search results, guest posting needs to be part of your strategy.
In this article, I’ll walk you through a simple process that will allow you to ethically scale your guest post outreach and land the best opportunities.
Sizing Up the Competition
Before you start, you need to know how many guest posts to aim for to make a piece of content rank on Google. Follow this simple process to get a ballpark figure.
First, do your keyword research. Check out the established sites that are ranking for your desired keywords. You can use a premium tool like Ahrefs to review keywords and see how many relevant high quality backlinks the ranking content has.
To do this, you’ll need to access Keyword Explorer. At the top of the page you get a ballpark figure for how many guest posts, or links from unique domains, you’ll need to rank on the first page of the search results.
If you scroll a bit further down the page, you can analyze each of the ranking pages. You can then review the referring domains for individual URLs.
When reviewing the domains, count the number of relevant DR 50+ sites per page. You’ll likely need to match or exceed that number to start ranking. Remember that this is not an exact science – other factors go into your search result rankings, too.
You should also check if the links are “follow” or “nofollow”. I recommend you only count the number of DR 50+ domains with “follow” links. Below are the two columns you should focus on.
If your highest ranked competitors have hundreds or thousands of backlinks from DR 50+ sites, you are unlikely to be able to compete with that and might wish to focus on lower competition keywords instead.
Identifying Relevant Sites
Now that you have a target number of posts to aim for, it’s time to identify the sites you’d like to write for. Remember, backlinks are not all created equal.
An easy way to find guest post opportunities is to review the backlink profile of an authority site in your niche. You can use a tool like Ahrefs to export the full list of referring domains.
I then filter for sites that meet these criteria:
- A Domain Rating of 50+
- A trust flow of 20+ (you can use a tool like Majestic SEO to filter for Trust Flow)
- 3000+ visitors per month
- Niche relevant (is the site in a niche relevant to yours)
The best targets meet all of these criteria. Higher DR websites rank better on Google and the links are more valuable. It’s better to try to land a couple of DR 80+ for example than the same number of DR 50 – DR 60. The links are more powerful and will help your content rank faster.
Now that we have our targets, it’s time to search for contact information and start pitching.
Looking For High-Quality Sites
I’ve shown you how to create a list of sites to send guest post requests. Try to contact the site editor or owner by email rather than a contact form if possible. Fortunately, there are many tools to help you find their contact details.
I usually start with LinkedIn. Search for the site’s name. Click on the relevant result, and you’ll see something like this:
Check out the list of employees who work at the publication. A search for a term like “Content Manager” or “Editor” will generally get you the right person. Once you’ve found them, send a connection request.
It’s time to compose your outreach message.
Remember, this is your first message to the website editor. They’re busy people, so don’t waste their time. Your email should be polite and friendly but concise. Briefly introduce yourself, make your pitch, and emphasize the value you can bring to their site and readers. If you have previously published on relevant authority sites, mention this in your email.
Here’s the basic email template I use in my guest post outreach:
I hope you’re having a great day. I’m [YOUR NAME,] and I’m [a few words about what you do.]
I’m interested in writing a guest post for [WEBSITE NAME]. I’m an expert in [YOUR SUBJECT AREA,] and I have a few ideas that I think would be great for your site. Would you be open to considering them?
I’m an experienced writer, so I’m confident I can meet your editorial standards! You can see samples of my published work at [LINK 1] and [LINK 2.]
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to talking to you soon.
All the best,
Feel free to modify this template in whatever way makes sense for your business.
An additional pro tip for you: you’re going to be sending lots of emails, so use an email tracker to see when each one has been opened and make sure you never miss a follow-up.
If you don’t get a response, follow up after a week. If you still don’t hear back, write that site off and move on. Rejections and unanswered emails are all part of the process.
Coming Up With Guest Post Ideas
Congratulations, you’ve received a positive response! Now you need to come up with ideas for your guest post. Any topics you pitch must be relevant to the site’s niche, have not been covered by that site before, and be interesting and engaging.
Here are my usual methods for finding guest post ideas:
- Find keyword gaps using Keyword Planner. Search for topics the site is likely to have covered until you find one that it hasn’t.
- Get inspired by published content. Buzzsumo allows you to check the most popular content in your niche by shares and engagements across different platforms. Don’t copy an idea, but put your spin on it.
- Check out Zest, a fantastic content sharing app. See what content is popular in your niche and use it to inspire your guest post ideas.
Unless they ask for more or fewer, I recommend pitching three ideas to each site.
Writing that Guest Post
The editor has approved one of your guest post ideas. Now it’s time to get writing!
When I’m writing long-form content, I always start with an outline. The outline lets you organize your thoughts, stay on-topic, and ensure you don’t miss anything important.
If the website has a style guide, read it before you start writing. If not, ask the editor for any guidelines. You should always read a few existing pieces on the site before you start to make sure you’ve got the tone right.
Here are a few of my top content writing tips:
- Write to express, not to impress. Convey each idea as clearly as possible, and in the fewest possible words. Avoid those unnecessary highfalutin words (see what I just did there!?)
- Research your topic thoroughly. Fact-check rigorously and ensure your data is current.
- Never plagiarize. If you use someone else’s ideas, always cite your sources.
- Use a mixture of long and short sentences, and keep paragraphs to six lines or under.
When you insert your backlinks, make sure they’re relevant. Include no more than one or two. Irrelevant or spammy backlinks will annoy the editor and won’t make it into the final published piece.
Give yourself plenty of time to write your article and proofread it thoroughly using a grammar checker before you send it. A good first impression is everything.
Scaling Your Guest Post Outreach
As we’ve established, one guest post will not cut it. An ongoing guest posting strategy is essential if you want to grow your authority and ensure your site consistently ranks highly in search engine results. But you’re just one person, and you’re busy!
Don’t stress. It’s time to get some help.
You can hire freelance ghostwriters to help you. In a ghostwriting arrangement, the “ghost” writes the content, but the work is published under your name. Hire the best writer you can afford. Sure, that person on Upwork will write you 3,000 words for $5, but you’ll get the quality you pay for. You can also hire people to help you with the administrative work of guest posting, such as keyword research and outreach.
It will take some practice and tweaking to get a system that works. But once you’ve cracked it, you’ll be scaling your link building and seeing your site climb the search rankings in no time.
Landing Opportunities With Guest Posting
Guest posting works. But you will only reap its benefits if you do it right. This means writing great quality, relevant posts for high DR sites.
Guest posting the right way means being strategic and following a process. You’ll need to undertake rigorous keyword research and competitor analysis, create a shortlist, vet your target websites, and reach out to the right people. And that’s all before you’ve even started writing! Fortunately, there are tools that can help you, and you can hire people to take some of the time-consuming work off your hands. Skilled ghostwriters and a reliable administrative team to handle things for you are worth their weight in gold when it comes to scaling your link building strategy.
Link building through guest posting takes time, but there’s no substitute if you want to build the kind of backlink profile that will propel your site to the first page of Google results. Start putting the work in today – you won’t regret it!
About the Author:
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Right Inbox, an email reminder, and Voila Norbert. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.