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Get Your Guest Blogging Program Off the Ground and Running

By Amanda Record

Old Skool vs. The New School

When one refers to guest blogging, most think of a campaign where you’re going out there and asking a website or blog to publish a guest post that you’ve written especially for their site. If you’re able to convince the website owner to add your guest post, then you and your anchor text (define) are set! You’ve got link(s) from their site to yours with your strategically placed keywords ensuring you get an extra vote with the search engines.

Likewise, writing a genius pitch and guest post for a website/blog that you’ve never been in touch with before (aka the web equivalent of cold calling) can land a home run… but I guarantee that (like most things in the link building world) it will be time intensive.

But it’s okay because there’s a different way to approach guest blogging.

Let’s switch everything around.

Invite bloggers (with well established blogs) to write a guest post for your blog on a topic that’s relevant to your product. You can insert links to the appropriate information pages on your website (nice internal linkage) in their guest post . To make your guest blogger happy insert a “guest blogger bio” at the end of the article and make sure to include a link to the guest bloggers blog or website. Often times, since they have their own blog, the guest blogger will let their readers know about the guest post they wrote for your site. I refer to this as a blog mention.

Guest blogging has the potential to generate not only an inbound link (from a relevant and authoritative site), but it can also help spread awareness of your product/company to an entirely new audience that cares. Lastly, quality guest bloggers write quality posts which usually leads to increased engagement on your website too. I’m not really seeing a downside here? So let’s get into the nuts and bolts of getting a guest blogging program started.

How can I find people to Guest Blog for me?

1) Plain Old Google Search

2) Search using Advanced Search Operators.
Here’s some advanced search operators that I use:

  • Niche term Allinanchor:keyword
  • Niche term Related: enterwebsiteurl
  • Niche term Site: (ex-amandarecord.com)
  • Niche term “keyword”

3) Backlink Analysis.
Go to OpenSite Explorer  enter in the url for a website/blog that you found using method 1 or 2.

Filter the results by these settings (see image below)

  1. show “followed + 301”
  2. link from “only external” pages
  3. pages on “this root domain”
  4. group by “root domain”

open site explorer blogger backlink analysis

4) Look at your Potential Guest Bloggers Community
Use method 3, but enter in a target website (ex-bayareafoodieblog.com) for the url. See “Kitchen Chick” there. She’s got a 4.53 MOZrank (define) and gives you her email address on her homepage. I’d get to know this woman.

Tip: Popular bloggers are busy and thus they take longer to respond to email outreach, but if you can get one of their loyal subscribers to guest post for you in the meantime, there’s a really great chance they’ll be more inclined to join the good company when they do get around to your email.

Blogger Community Outreach - SF Foodie Blog Example

5) Niche Forums & Community Sites
I think these website types get a bad rap when it comes to link building. I use forums (and blog comments) for relationship building. Keep it niche and target forums/communities that are relevant to your product. Here’s an example. I did a search for <San Francisco Foodie Blogger “Forum”> and found DeepDishing.com. I would then create a user profile (adding links to my site) and participate where it makes sense.

6) Guest Blogging Specific Community Websites – MyBlogGuest
I have heard good things about this site. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a good enough response from my manual outreach that I haven’t had to use MyBlogGuest yet. Identifying a good website partner from a great one SEO by nature is pretty quantitative. We like having page metrics that show us the value of a link. When looking up solid stats like MozRank or Moz Authority I rely on Raven’s Quality Analyzer tool.

Aside from the numbers there are other things that can make a blogger with a slimmer backlink profile a better contact than someone with better web stats.

  • Are they easy to manage and a self-starter?
  • How much hand holding are you doing in coordinating their guest posts?
  • How much time are you spending on editing grammar or spelling errors on their guest posts?
  • Pay attention to the number of comments they receive per blog post. If their readers are engaged then that’s valuable!
  • Content relevance of their guest posts (to your products) above everything else!

Tip: I’ve found that smaller blogs (where the blogger doesn’t look at their blog as a business maybe) are more likely to give out blog mentions and social media shout outs freely.

Outreach Letter Tips

Some of these tips are basic link building 101. We’ve all gotten a spammy link request letter where the person calls us “sir or madam” and immediately find themselves in the trash bin. You’re not a lawyer so don’t write like one.

Keep it conversation and informal
Try to sound like you are a human being. I swear the more informal I write my outreach letter the higher response rate.

Short & Sweet  (2 Paragraphs max)
2 paragraphs should suffice. Introduce your company and what it is that you do in the 1st paragraph. Ask your contact if they are open to guest blogging in the 2nd paragraph. Keep in mind that people scan emails!

Pay attention to your email signature
If you have active social media profiles include links to those. Mainly Twitter and Facebook. This can help prove that you’re legit to new contacts.

Subject lines are critical
My background in email marketing makes me bias but don’t underestimate the value of a subject line that begs interest. Test different subject lines!

Use a internal email address
The email address that you use for outreach has the same domain as the company that you are doing outreach for. Ex- Amanda@thebestsfeats.com

Create a Guest Blogger specific email outreach template
Have 2 to 3 places where you’ll update the template with information that’s specific to the blogger that you’re contacting.

Tip: Bencken’s tips for Infographic Outreach can be applied to most outreach. Note his “what works” section. I don’t agree on putting the person’s name in your greeting (ex – Hey Chris). I think complimenting a past blog post is more impressive than knowing someone’s first name.

The Pitch

Start broad and then go narrow. It’s not necessary to tell your guest blogging hopeful exactly what you want them to write about out of the gate. More often then not I’ll approach new contacts about being open to the possibility of working with my site in the guest blogging capacity. Are you willing to guest blog? Yes? Okay now what do you want to write about?

Subject line:
V1 – Invitation to Contribute on insert client name” blog on “keyword”
V2 – Bringing more awareness to “keyword” via “insert client name” blog

Body:
Hey there,
I’m reaching out in regards to your blog (insert blog link here). I’m the Online Community Engagement Coordinator for insert company name, insert brief company description. Right now I’m on the look out for San Francisco Lifestyle Bloggers that we might be able to work with in order to share some of the more quirky places that tourists can eat at in San Francisco I’m very impressed with the content in your postings and if you’re willing to work with us then I really think your knowledge about the foodie scene in San Francisco could really help some of our site users in increasing the odds that they enjoying all of their SF eating. Please take a moment to check out us out and let me know if you would be interested in partnering with our website (insert your website link)in spreading the word about some of the hidden foodie gems of San Francisco.

Email Signature:
First and Last Name
Position Title
Contact email address
Facebook, Twitter and/or website link

Note: Be aware that it’s completely possible for one of your contacts to re-post you’re outreach email on their blog. Which can be a good or bad thing depending on how much effort you put into your letter.

Types of Guest Posts

Spotlight
If your contact has a product or cause offer to bring attention to it very a guest post where they right about their interest. Mention “awareness” in your outreach. I’m into what you’re about and I want to bring more awareness to your efforts.

Interview
This is a good one for more established bloggers. Congratulate your contact on their blogging success and ask if they’d be willing to answer some questions. You can frame it as you want to introduce their blog as inspiration to your following. Create a word doc with a separate place for your questions and their answers.

Expert/Resource
This is probably going to be the default guest post type that makes up the bulk of your guest blogging program. It’s where your contact already blogs about something that is relevant to your website. An example of this would be an addiction blogger that writes guest posts for a rehab treatment center.

Use Social Media Activity to Supplement Outreach
So as I’m out there browsing for the guest blogger of my dreams say I come across someone that fits the bill of what I’m looking for. On the potential guest bloggers website/blog I see that they are on Twitter.

  1. I log into either a company twitter account or a twitter account created especially for supporting my linkbuilding outreach
  2. (ex – twitter.com/companyname_outreach)
  3. I follow my new contact on Twitter
  4. I create a Twitter list for all my guest bloggers or a Twitter list for a group of guest bloggers that have a theme in come. Let’s say a group of contacts all blog about living in San Francisco. I’d create a Twitter list called “SFBloggers”. This helps you keep in touch with your potentials and RT’ing or doing an @reply can only help convince them that they want to like you. In a way it’s showing them goodwill that you’re willing to help promote the causes that are important to them.

Example of a Blogger Specific Twitter List

Promoting Guest Posts

Things You Do on your website

  • Create a banner ad that invites others to guest blog for you. Link the ad to the email address for the person that handles your outreach/linkbuilding
  • When tweeting send out at least 2 tweets for the guest post
  • Create “guestblog” or “guest” tags and/or category types in your blog admin so that people can easily find all of your guest posts.
  • For on-going guest bloggers, create a custom tag for the guest bloggers name (ex – deniseburke) and make sure that tag is added to all of Denise’s guest posts. Send your guest blogger this link (ex – yoursite.com/tag/guestbloggername) so they can easily share it with their readers.

Things that you beg of your guest blogger

  • RT or repost any social media activity that you’ve already posted on your account with their account.
  • Ask them if they would be willing to share their guest post via a special post on their blog (aka blog mention) that invites their readers to check out their guest post on your website.
  • For ongoing guest bloggers, ask them if they would be willing to add a “featured guest blogger” banner ad (created by you) that links to their guest posts on your site.