Guest posts as an SEO strategy may get a bad reputation these days. However, if done right, they can be an essential, respectable piece of your digital marketing plan. As long as you are providing value to readers and aren’t doing anything black-hat, there’s much to be gained. Here’s how to get the most out of your guest post outreach.

Finding The Right Sites

Before reaching out to prospects, it’s good to brainstorm opportunities in your niche. Think about all of the topical angles you can play up, as well as any connections you may have. For example, Marci has a green dog grooming business. Topically, she can hit up sites about pet care, green living and general lifestyle. She’s also a member of her local Humane Society and ASPCA – two other places she can pitch her posts. The next step is to do some good ol’ detective work via Google to determine who she should reach out to.

One way to do this is through search operators that can narrow down your Google search by topic and the word “guest”, for example “dog grooming +guest post”. While these can be helpful, keep in mind that some sites may be trending away from “guest post” language for fear of drawing Google’s ire. However, guest posts – whatever you call them – have been around since newspapers (remember the columns section?) and won’t be going away anytime soon. Some sites call them contributors now or get more creative in their nomenclature, but if it’s a writer’s work featured on another site, it’s a guest post.

Screening A Site

When I first check out a site to see if it’s a good candidate for a guest post, I look at the quality of the site as well as the Domain Authority. There’s no magic number for the right domain authority, but if you look at your own and those of your competitor sites, you’ll get an idea of which sites can help you raise your reputation. (Think of it like Hollywood – if you’re a D-list actor, you’ll have a lot to gain by being associated with an A-lister.)

Some sites love having contributors, while others may not be accepting guest posts at this time. In addition to finding this out, also confirm whether the link(s) are follow or nofollow. You want followed links, or those lacking the “rel=nofollow” tag. This can be found out by using the Inspect Element tool on your browser, viewing a page’s source code or using a plugin.

Reaching Out

When reaching out, keep it short and sweet while remaining polite and professional. Content coordinators are busy people and they just want to know what’s in it for their publication and what makes you so special. Help this along with providing writing samples and any pertinent credentials. Also have a clear idea of what you’re pitching – either in the form of a few well thought-out topic ideas or one really well thought-out idea with a paragraph including which points you plan on hitting. A lot of this is trial and error and finding something that works with your style – once you get into a rhythm, you’ll have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.

One last important thing – don’t mention getting a link in your initial outreach. You can look at their site and confirm whether it’s something they do for their writers, but don’t just flat-out ask for a link right out of the gate. Not only could you be unwittingly violating Google guidelines, it’s also just kinda icky.

Your Post

Make sure your post is completely free of spelling and grammar errors. Use a tool such as Grammarly or have somebody else read your post with a fresh pair of eyes. Be sure you are writing something useful to your readers, something that only someone with your level of expertise could provide. If readers can find your information with a quick Google search, try to dig deeper or find another angle. Don’t forget to include your link in a byline or bio!

Final Thoughts

Guest post outreach can feel like a bear when you’re first starting out. Pace yourself in a way that matches your available resources. If that means just getting one good piece published a month, that’s great! Remember that SEO is a long game, and consistent measures are what count.