30 ways you can earn more guest posts & squeeze more value out of them

Guest posting is one of the most effective tactics for earning natural links. Granted, they aren’t literally ‘naturally occurring’ since you are going out and seeking them but we all know that “great content” alone rarely gets links in the volume you need. Guest posting is one of the best methods of putting top-notch content to work by combining it with outreach for editorially earning high numbers of good quality links.

I often get asked though how to earn more guest posts and how to get more value out of the guest posts being placed. Today I want to answer these question with a simple but hopefully useful list of 30 ways you can earn more guest posts (& get more value from them).

#1 – Start a blog

Your blog is likely to be the content engine for your website used as a way to answer client questions, establish yourself as a thought leader and feed your social media channels with engaging stuff to read. It can also be instrumental in securing guest posts as it indicates your interest in developing a community and content beyond just scoring links for short-term ranking boosts (bloggers are tired of hearing from low-rent SEOs pitching ‘article-marketing-level’ junk content). It can also act as evidence for the calibre of content you intend to contribute to host blogs.

#2 – Be more flexible with anchor text

To many site owners, an unwillingness to compromise on things like anchor text can be a real deal-breaker. In many situations, this is completely short-sighted because a link from a trusted website even with ‘just’ a branded anchor text link is really valuable as it will transfer trust, authority and might offer clickthrough traffic. Even if you consider it from a purely SEO perspective it can still help to diversify your anchor text portfolio.

#3 – Have an angle

Targeting everyone is targeting nobody. There are likely opportunities for you to guest post authentically in various areas, but concentrating on one or two specific areas at a time will be more effective. Mindless Googling, Scrapebox trawling or MyBlogGuest browsing isn’t going to be a productive use of your time.

#4 – Commit to top-notch content

I cringe every time an ‘expert’ out there says something like “To rank high you need great content” or they say “Produce linkbait” like it’s a tactic that can just be deployed (you don’t need me to tell you that rarely is it that simple) but bear with me here…

You need to commit to producing the very best content you can if you are going to secure the guest posts you seek. You also need to put the content you create to the best use in your campaign which means producing content of appropriate quality depending on the site (save your very very best stuff for the leading blogs in the field),

#5 – Be a woman

In my recent post on SEOmoz, I proved to some degree that it is better to be a woman when doing outreach or at least assume a female persona for the purposes of outreach ;-). Take a look at the results and some other theories which I put to the test here.

#6 – When pitching content, offer context

One of the reasons we produce content specifically for each website we pitch is because we have seen time and time again that it ensures the post is a much better fit for the site, sounds obvious but trying to pitch a generic article to any old site is much more challenging. We find that pitching content and offering a great deal of context is far more effective. For example, tell the blogger why you feel this post is going to be unmissable and a great addition to their site, perhaps it offers an alternative viewpoint to a previous post of theirs, extends ideas from an article they wrote last week, updates a list they wrote last year or covers a pressing issue which they haven’t had the chance to blog about yet. Whatever it is, make sure they know you haven’t just fired the same email off to a hundred other webmasters.

This process doesn’t have to take you ages either (speed comes with practice) but a quick bit of surfing and you can usually apply one of your planned content themes or topic areas to that specific site.

#7 – Think about timing

This suggestion is two-fold.

1) Timing of your emails is essential, work in the target site’s time zone and think meticulously about the type of site you are reaching out to. In our experience, you are likely to get the best response from hobby sites for example at a weekend when they aren’t at their day job and are giving their pet project a little love. If you are in the UK and want to reach out to an Australian website, you tend to get the best response if you send your email late evening (GMT) so you hit your prospect’s inbox first thing in the morning.

Paddy Moogan produced an excellent post about Boomerang for Gmail which is quite frankly a linkbuilder’s dream come true offering various productivity features, my favourite being the ability to schedule email for a particular time of day.

2) Think very carefully about producing posts around time-sensitive subjects, if you don’t get the post about Valentine’s Day to the site in time then that’s a massive waste.

#8 – Be persistent

In the study that I published on SEOmoz, I revealed how in our experience we discovered that 30% of positive responses were actually received on the second or third outreach/pitch email – massive indication that relentlessness is a key skill if you want to be a successful link builder.

#9 – Source fresh prospects

Our outreach team is always hungry for fresh leads to pursue and we regularly trial and investigate new sources of guest post prospects. If you ‘over-drain’ one ‘well’, it really is only a matter of time before that well runs dry and you’re forced to look elsewhere. Try manual searches in Google, look for opportunities on Twitter, interact in MyBlogGuest, sign up for BloggerLinkUp etc.

#10 – Think laterally

I find it hard to believe you’ve run out of websites to guest post on. There is NEARLY always scope to take your topics to new markets you just have to think laterally and relate the topic areas you want to create content around to another market or industry.

#11 – Think conversion with your intro mail

There really is no excuse for some of the piss-poor pitch emails that I receive fairly regularly from individuals all over the world. Run spell-checker, make your opening paragraph magnetic and close with an offer they can’t refuse. Read my guide on how to create high-conversion outreach emails for more guidance.

#12 – Find names

Sounds so blindingly obvious but believe it or not, people prefer it when you call them by their name. If you can find out the name and specific email address of the right person to contact you stand an infinitely better chance of securing a guest post spot.

Don’t just look on the about page or the contact page, have a quick scan of their author meta details, check out their social profiles and even their Whois data.

#13 – Categorise opportunities

It really pains me to hear the lengths people go to with every guest post opportunity…commenting, social stalking, forumĀ  etc. There really is no need to bother commenting or ‘hitting them up on Facebook’ for two weeks prior to pitching them if a simple email will secure you the spot. You would be far better off investing that time in finding further guest post opportunities or wooing those big name opportunities that do require a little pre-pitch radar work.

#14 – Be bold

High-spec websites will sometimes take contributions and guest posts, you’ve just got to approach them in the right way and be extremely compelling. You’ll want to target the right person as very often emails get lost in big companies. They don’t accept fluffy content and you’ll probably want to pitch something out of this world if you are going to get accepted.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, in fact we recently secured a guest post spot in an online magazine and a feature in the counterpart print magazine – not to mention the fact that the publishing company actually paid us to write the article! A great, highly-relevant link from a trusted source who paid us to publish it – brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘paid links’ :-)

Keep your eye open for that ‘contributors’ page. Take a look at this presentation from Koozai’s Mike Essex on Outreach Mind Control – there’s a lot to be taken from the slides that applies to reaching out to the big names.

#15 – Don’t obsess over the big sites however

There is a tremendous amount of value to be had from smaller sites and niche blogs. Not only are there more of these around, they tend to be slightly more open to pitches and will publish much faster.

I think about it in the same way that lots of long tail rankings can very often deliver far greater benefits that a handful of big head rankings.

#16 – Create something they want/need

AKA creating something that the site owner can’t be bothered to do/doesn’t have the resources to do themselves. Jon Quinton’s presentation at ThinkVis recently reminded me of the quote from James Caan’s autobiography about creating win-win-win situations and this applies very nicely to guest posting. You need to get what you need, the site owner needs to get something out of it and the reader needs to get an enjoyable or useful post.

#17 – Dedicate more time or more resources

Sometimes there is no other remedy, you simply need more time or more resources to dedicate to running a guest posting campaign. One person can only do so much and if you have the right system and processes in place, adding more people to the mix is going to be a phenomenally good decision.

#18 – Don’t get bogged down with the wrong software/tools

I wrote a post recently detailing how you can set yourself up for outreach success by selecting the right tools and software for the job. I have spoken to people who are using a fully-fledged link management system with multiple labels, notes etc when in actual fact a simple spreadsheet would do and vice versa.

Your linkbuilding setup needs to be flexible, agile and above all fit for purpose – too much and you’ll create an overbearing system that means your team spend more time doing admin than they do pitching all those great content ideas they have. Too little organisation and your campaign will descend into chaos.

#19 – Follow site guidelines

Many websites that accept contributions publish guidelines, ignore these at your own peril. If they want your contribution to be an RTF file then make sure it is, if they want images then send them a few to choose from – make their life easier because there is only one thing worse than getting a post rejected and that’s getting a post rejected which was only rejected because you couldn’t follow a simple set of instructions.

#20 – Tell them you’ve followed site guidelines

Any news TV programme will tell you what they are going to tell you, tell you, then tell you what they’ve told you. As humans we are pre-programmed to respond favourably to this kind of thing because we are all busy and sometimes we need to be told more than once.

Make sure you state clearly how you have followed their guest post guidelines so that they know you’ve listened and at least tried your hardest to make their life easy – it often works in your favour.

#21 – Leverage previous guest posts by using them as portfolio when pitching

It is often said that success breeds success and the same is true in guest posting for links. It becomes a great deal easier to secure guest post spots once you have a few under your belt so be sure to show them off – they are your social proof and can give your pitch the edge over other individuals who have emailed the site owner that day.

It is psychologically a lot easier for the blogger to say yes to someone who has guest posted on a blog or website they’ve heard of than it is to give a first-timer the shot.

#22 – Make it happen

Every opportunity is unique and you need to make sure you are doing what it takes (within reason) to make it happen. If you set off with the mindset that each article is going to be this length, have these anchor text links and be published on this date then you are in for some bitter disappointment. You are dealing with people not link vending machines so you’ll have to be prepared to adapt to negotiate a successful outcome for everyone.

#23 – Be ruthless at evaluation stage

Be relentless but don’t be foolish. If they clearly say they don’t accept guest posts or contributions from others then move on. We’ve tried to email folks like this and it rarely ends well, either they’ll flat out reject you or if they do agree to look at your article they are guaranteed to be a pain in your backside in some way during the process.

Save yourself the hassle.

#24 – Open your eyes when you are surfing the net

There really are an abundance of opportunities that you’ll come across in your everyday surfing, be sure to take notes whether they are content ideas or tip-top link opportunities be sure to have Evernote handy or if you use something like Buzzstream or Raven Tools, have their bookmarklet installed to grab the details you need and avoid kicking yourself when you sit back down at your desk and can’t remember what the site was called.

#25 – Ask about other doors they can open

Make use of the contacts you have by asking them about other opportunities. They may have another site that they own or are connected to, we’re not talking splog networks here, but rather a person who owns a number of genuine websites who may be able to secure you a spot on another site.

In some instances where we have produced something really outstanding we have asked for introductions to other relevant site owners and the blogger has willingly obliged – that’s how you turn 1 guest post into 2, 3 or more.

#26 – Try this query in Scrapebox

Once you have found a website which is a perfect fit for the client, try and find similar sites. We have been doing this for sometime manually using Google but it only just occurred to me that Scrapebox could be useful for this. Just enter the query [related:www.vogue.co.uk -www.vogue.co.uk] and thanks to Jon Quinton and his Link Building session at ThinkVis for that nice little time-saver.

#27 – Second-tier link building

Second tier link building, simply described by Ross Hudgens as “Building links to pages which already link to you” is a very effective method for squeezing extra value out of existing guest posts and an advanced way to ‘use up’ link building resources if you are concerned with overcooking things – it makes sense to beef up the authority of your existing links.

Furthermore, if you have found a particular guest post drives conversions for you then be sure to push people to your site via that page by guest posting to that guest post.

#28 – Minimise your footprint

This sounds like we a tactic only applicable to the ‘dreaded’ blackhatters out there ;-) but in reality we all need to be mindful of the footprint we are leaving. If you are going to use a persona, don’t reuse heavily across different projects or industries. Do your best to vary the location of links (author bio or in the article itself), vary the number of links placed (don’t always opt for one to the homepage and one deeplink). All these kinds of things might just count against you if Google recognises a pattern. The links could stop providing as much value or Google may filter them altogether.

Diversity, for me, is one of the most important factors in a link profile and since guest posting for links is probably one of the most natural ways to go about earning some links it makes sense to ensure you are getting the most out of these now and for the future.

#29 – Look at the scrape rate

Jon Cooper from Point Blank SEO devised a new metric to assess how valuable a guest post opportunity is based on the number of times that article gets scraped and reposted by other sites which means more links for the same content. Read more about scrape rate here

How valuable a link from a site that scrapes content actually is, is perhaps questionable but I do feel that there are some very valid points raised by Jon. Scrape rate is an interesting additional metric which might help you decide between pursuing one opportunity over another if your time or budget is perhaps constrained.

#30 – Don’t be afraid of guest posting on the same site more than once

Yes I did just say diversity in a link profile is a good thing, however, there is nothing wrong with guest posting on the same site more than once. Some would argue that one link from a site is about as powerful as two from that same site but I would disagree because initially when a guest post goes live, that link might be sitting on the homepage or the article will certainly be referenced on the homepage but over time the value of that link will diminish slightly as the article falls deeper and deeper into the archive.

You have two choices here, you can “re-juice” (shudder) the links with some second-tier linkbuilding explained above or you could be a guest on that site again. This would give you a further link which again will sit on the homepage for a period of time and who’s to say that a second link doesn’t actually count as a good thing showing that you have a blog which is a fan of your company or website?

Not to mention the fact that many guest post placements are promotional opportunities as well as link opportunities so the second boost in visibility of your brand can only be a good thing.

We recommend leaving it a natural length of time before approaching that site again to guest post unless of course you secured yourself a regular contributors spot, in which case give yourself a pat on the back.

If this all sounds like it falls outside your area of expertise then get the professionals on your side…Hire Skyrocket SEO to do your guest posting for you.

15 Comments

  1. avatar
    Keyword Eye March 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Brilliant post James :) Bookmark added. I find the psychology of how being a woman helps with guest posting and link outreach fascinating. It brings out the gentleman in all of us!

    • avatar
      James Agate March 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      It is certainly fascinating, says a lot about just how weird we as humans are…

    • avatar
      James Agate March 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      And thanks VERY much for the kind words…

  2. avatar
    Cecilia March 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Hi James, this is a brilliant post full of awesome advice (as usual). I try and offer my guest posts like this, following a lot of the tips that you give here, and I wish everyone that offer them to me were like this!!

    There is no many “lowcost SEOs” out there that is difficult to make people see that you are NOT one of them.

    This article goes directly to bookmarks :)

    • avatar
      James Agate March 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi Cecilia,

      Thanks so much for your feedback – I am glad you found the post useful.

      98% of the battle is showing you aren’t the same as the 50 other people that have contacted them today :-)

  3. avatar
    seoteky March 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    When it comes to guest posting – James Agate is the man! Thumbs up James, shared it! I Love the scrapebox thing…haha

    • avatar
      James Agate March 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks – very kind of you to say so

  4. avatar
    Jon Cooper March 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Thanks for mentioning scrape rate James!! Great job with this one :)

    • avatar
      James Agate March 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      No problem at all Jon – really like the metric

  5. avatar
    Joseph Chambers March 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Beautiful – have you seen http://www1.toutapp.com/ which is a great way to keep track of emails, etc. I remember seeing http://justinbriggs.org/talk about it at one point or another. it’s pretty awesome!

    • avatar
      James Agate March 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Joseph – yes I have seen Toutapp- can’t say we have used this yet but spoken with a few people who have said they really like it.

      J

  6. avatar
    Anthony Trollope March 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Great list of tips, James.

    Seek biz-dev deals where you can, you just never know where a bit of guest posting might lead to. It gets you through the door and should open up ample other opportunities down the road. Consider each and opportunity to get more on-going value from…

    • avatar
      James Agate March 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Very interesting Anthony – I think the idea of “link value beyond just search engine benefits” is going to continue to grow in importance

      J

  7. avatar
    JC Carlos July 24, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Great tips James! #5 reminds me of my friend who does this stuff. He called it “pink hat”. Lol!

  8. avatar
    Anthony Gonzales July 30, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    great article! very informative! Yes you are right, never ever be afraid of guest blogging especially when you’ve got great ideas in your head. It is about time for you to share it… thanks for this!

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