“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done… “
Those were the words used by Matt Cutts, head of web spam for Google. In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), people are always looking for ways to rank higher. For a while, contributing to “Ezines” was a popular tactic – until Google cracked down. Then there were large blog networks like "Build My Rank,” until Google de-indexed them too. More recently, guest blogging has become one of the SEO community’s favorite tactics. The primary goal is to obtain back links. Creating value for the audience is considered secondary, if it is considered at all. Not surprisingly, Google has now cracked down on those kind of guest bloggers as well.
But guest blogging was not always just about the links. Before anyone was thinking of the SEO benefits of guest blogging, it was used to build audiences and develop brands. Even Matt Cutts later stated that there are, in fact, many good reasons to guest blog: “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”
Here’s a closer look at some of those (non-SEO) benefits:
- Branding: Guest blogging can be a great way to leverage other brands’ credibility. When you post on a reputable website, it’s another indication that you are an authority in your industry.
- Exposure: Guest posts can gain you exposure to a larger audience. Most people who blog don’t have a huge existing audience, especially if they are just starting out. Guest blogging on a larger, more popular website can expose you to a much larger readership and drive (lots of) traffic back to your website. Write interesting, valuable content, and that audience will be drawn to your own website.
- Networking: Guest blogging can open the door to valuable networking opportunities (think joint venture relationships!) and offer an opportunity to trade posts with other trusted authorities in your industry. This will allow you to provide more valuable content to your readership, giving your readers yet another reason to come back to your website.
- Authority: When you tap into a new audience with relevant, useful information, you are directly growing your perceived expertise among this new audience – and anyone they choose to share your advice with. By establishing your authority as an expert on the topic, you satisfy readers’ needs and curiosity and establish credibility for when they need more answers in the future.
- Writing Development: Because guest blogging is something of a competitive landscape, it’s important to submit well-developed, well-written material. Guest blogging will almost force you to be critical of your own work, from honing your message to painstakingly editing for flow and style. The whole process will make you a better writer and in turn, earn you a larger readership in the long run.
So how should you start?
First, make sure you are guest blogging for the reasons mentioned above. Find websites that share a similar (but larger) audience. Link back to your own website. If there is online content that will help your reader, link to that too.
When guest blogging, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. That means carefully crafting your content to provide valuable information and an entertaining read. Since it will be many readers’ first exposure to your material, you need to make it count. Whether or not they visit your blog, subscribe to your mailing list and add your content to their RSS feeds will all depend on their initial impression of your writing. This is your first and best chance to establish your expertise to a new audience.
Pitching to a guest blog is similar to pitching an article to a magazine. It’s important to have a well crafted, unique idea for your piece, a snappy, enticing headline and a short bio explaining who you are and what you have to offer. But just as important is knowing whom you are pitching to. Rapport goes a long way, and that means you should be familiar with the blog you want to guest post on, interact with the writers and editors on Twitter, and be friendly and personal in your communication with them (in your pitch and otherwise).
If you haven’t done your homework and are simply sending impersonal, stock pitches to every blog you can find, the writers and editors will delete your email without a second thought. If you’re genuine, however, and can present a great idea that fits with their audience (and show that you understand just who that audience is), you’re more likely to catch their attention and form a real rapport and relationship. There are plenty of pieces to consider here, but putting them all in place will make or break your success as a guest blogger.
When done correctly (and in the right places), guest posting can help your build your audience, brand and sales in a massive way.
Charles E. Gaudet II is a leading marketing consultant and speaker providing advanced marketing strategies to small business owners. He’s the author of “The Predictable Profits Playbook.” His advice appears in worldwide media including Forbes, Inc. and Fox Business. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesGaudet or at his blog at http://www.PredictableProfits.com
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.