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Guest Blogging on Steroids — What Even the Best Guides Forget to Mention

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29 Apr 2020

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For years now, horse riding has been one of my greatest passions, especially the dressage discipline.

In this sport, my horse is my partner. It’s a team game in which all my failures and successes are heavily dependent on my horse.

Guest blogging is similar in a way.

It’s just that there are three players involved: you, blog editors, and the Google Almighty.

Just like my horse doesn’t always listen to me, you’re often not in control of the other two players here.

That’s the reason why scaling guest blogging does not always result in mind-blowing results (e.g., an endless flow of high-quality links and substantial growth of organic traffic).

That’s also the reason why most businesses that choose guest blogging as their primary link-building strategy eventually come to face a situation when they need to make a tough decision: quality vs. quantity?

From what I’ve seen happening when our partners step into the guest blogging world, the majority join “team quantity.”

The first thing that they do is hire a cheap copywriter to produce tons of guest posts.

While you might think that hiring a 30-buck copywriter could hurt no one, try reading the copy below:

Bad Content

The issue here is that even if you fix the grammar, it’s not going to matter much, because the flow is horrible.

Poorly written and loosely structured guest posts are a bulletproof way to get rejected by editors of blogs where you’re trying to get published.

Your content needs to be flawless, not flow-less.

Of course, for those who have unlimited budgets and are ready to pay up to 500 bucks per piece of copy (or have an internal team of well-trained copywriters), all of this probably doesn’t ring a bell.

But let’s face it, it’s much more likely that you’re not among them (and neither are we!).

In this post, I want to share exactly how we ended up with 10+ guest posts (without losing quality metrics), scaling it to up to 100 links per month.

As I can already hear some of you saying “Alex, the part about 100 quality links per month is just lame sales copy,” I’ll share some numbers with you.

Below is the trend of the historical growth of referring domains that was delivered by our good friends from Moosend.

They started to build links back to their site in 2018 and had slightly more than 1k referring domains.

Currently, the number of sites that are referring to them is more than 3k.

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
Ahrefs BacklinksOf course, the good people at Moosend could never have done this if we weren’t able to find and take advantage of quality guest post opportunities.

Here’s how you can do it too.

Finding guest post opportunities

It’s easy to pick up a $20 bill from the ground when someone points their finger at it, isn’t it?

But actually finding it on the street… not so much.

The most challenging part of guest blogging is identifying the actual guest post opportunities.

Here’s an in-depth breakdown of 3 proven strategies that can land you some amazing opportunities.

3 tried-and-tested ways of uncovering guest post opportunities

While writing this post, I stumbled upon a couple of those ridiculously long lists of strategies for finding guest posting opportunities. but the fact is that most of those methods are either outdated or highly ineffective.

So, instead of piling up as many useless tips as possible, I’ve decided to present you with three strategies that actually work (remember the quality vs. quantity dilemma from the beginning?).

Let’s dig in.

Scraping SERPs

Probably the best-known option for finding sites that accept guest posts is scraping SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

The first thing you need to do is create a list of phrases that include terms relevant to your industry and keywords such as “write for us”, “submit a guest post”, “contribute an article”, “become a contributor”.

Also, don’t forget to specify precisely where you want to search Google for your search terms.

The best way to do so is by using the intitle or inurl operators. Intitle will show all the pages that have your search terms in their title, while inurl will show all the URLs that contain your search queries.

For instance, if I want to find sites that accept guest posts in a content marketing niche, then my search query will look like this:

“content marketing” intitle: “write for us” 

The Google SERP screenshot below shows many relevant content marketing blogs where you can pitch your guest post ideas:
Guest Post SERPOr if you’re an Artificial Intelligence (AI) writer looking for guest post opportunities, you could search for:

“artificial intelligence” intitle: “write for us”

(and don’t worry, AI won’t replace us anytime soon). Anyways, you get the gist.

The next thing you need to do is to scrape the SERPs.

You can accomplish this easily with the help of the SEOquake plugin.

Or you could even do it manually, but who would want to spend their Friday afternoon working on such a tedious and time-consuming task?

Make sure to adjust your search settings before exporting the results:
Search SettingsOnce you adjust your search settings, you can export up to 100 pages at once.
Guest Post SERPOf course, you’ll always get some low-quality results. So, you need to filter out those sites that aren’t really worth your time and effort.

Here I would recommend using the Ahrefs Batch Analysis to filter out sites that haven’t yet reached a decent DR and organic traffic:
Ahrefs Batch AnalysisAs a rule of thumb, I usually don’t consider sites with DR lower than 50 as blogs worthy of a contribution.

So, my advice is to look for guest blogging opportunities on DR 50+ websites.

By looking at the DR, you’re actually performing an ad hoc backlink profile review.

If you want to learn more about conducting a backlink audit and how to deliver it, here’s a detailed post on this topic.

Reviewing your competitors’ guest contributions

While scraping SERPs is a good starting point for those who aren’t really into link-building, it’s definitely a time-consuming process.

That’s the reason why I prefer to go with strategies that can be executed within a few minutes.

One of the strategies I found most rewarding is checking what your competitors are working on.

First of all, for this strategy to work, your competitors need to be actively guest blogging.

Otherwise, there’s no way to take advantage of it, right?

Second, you need to find out what sites your rivals are contributing to.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to Ahrefs and generate a report called “New Backlinks”. Make sure to select a solid time frame (like three months).
New BacklinksAfter this, go to the list of referring pages, and find out which among them are guest posts.

For example, I searched in the column “anchor text” for the query “at LearnWorlds”:
Anchor TextGuest authors almost invariably include a bio stating their affiliation with a particular company or blog, either as an employee or as a CEO/founder.

This is an easy way to identify guest posts.

2. Once you know who is contributing on behalf of the company, you can easily expand your initial list. Simply go to BuzzSumo and search for their names:
BuzzSumo 2This way, you’ll be able to find all the websites where a particular guest author is contributing.

Discover where smart link-builders contribute in your niche

Aspiring link-builders, worry not!

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

What you need to do is to spot those who are already the best of the best (I call them smart link-builders) and observe what they do.

When I say “smart link-builders”, I certainly don’t mean those that are sending emails like this one I recently received:
Polly OutreachI’m doing great, Polly — thanks for asking — but I think something went terribly wrong with you and your link-building approach…

LOL.

Just to provide some context, in this email, Polly asked me to add a link to their agency’s main page on this category page on our blog:
Digital Olympus BlogHere’s my answer to Polly:

Nope GIFFoolish outreach emails aside, the important question is where can you find link-builders who aren’t like Polly and who really build links rather than making your spam folder feel less lonely?

The easiest way to do this is by joining industry groups related to content promotion and link-building.

For instance, this B2B blogger boost group is an endless source of inspiration, as I keep seeing various marketers sharing that they’re working on a new guest post.

To help get you started, here’s a list of 101+ best Facebook groups for people in business, marketing, SaaS, and more.

I’m confident this list will be your go-to source for numerous link-building opportunities.

And it will help you to not be like Polly.

Simply scroll through the newsfeed of one of these groups and collect the names of users who share that they’re contributing to XYZ blog:
B2B Bloggers BoostOnce you have a list of names, you can go back to BuzzSumo and search for them.

And voila, there’s a list of blogs the posters contribute to.

More importantly, this also creates a list of blogs where you can go and pitch your post:
BuzzSumo 1Whether you decide to scrape SERPs in order to find high-authority niche blogs that accept guest posts, spy on your competitors to see where they contribute (so you can do it too), or copy what has already been working for the best-in-class link-builders, there’s one thing that can boost your efforts even more — link-building partnerships.

Establishing a community of link-building partners

I feel that many companies that are genuinely into guest blogging are getting it a bit wrong.

They use guest posts only to build links back to their own websites, and that’s the reason why the price per link goes through the roof (if we’re talking about well-written posts on quality sites).

To dramatically reduce cost per the link, you need to start utilizing guest posts as a tool to expand your link-building circles.

Remember — building links is a good start, but building relationships is what gives you an edge.

Remember the smart link-builders from a moment ago?

What they often do is link back to their partners in their guest contributions. And that’s what you need to be doing as well.

This way, thanks to one guest post, you could get up ten links back to your sites.

How so?

Well, if you’ve linked to ten partner posts in your guest post, you can expect to receive ten backlinks after the guest post is published.

Neat, isn’t it?

With this approach to guest blogging, you could do only a few guest articles per month and end up building up to 30 links back to your sites.

Here’s how to find your link-building partners:

  • Join industry groups that are geared heavily towards content promotion. I’ve already mentioned the B2B Bloggers Facebook group. Joining such a group gains you access to the list of all the members.Connect with group members on LinkedIn by sending a short message like this one:
  • Analyze the guest posts of members actively building links currently.There’s a decent chance that among the sites they’re referring to, there will be companies interested in partnering up with you as well.To speed up the process of extracting URLs from guest posts, you could use this tool.As you can see from the screenshot below, URL Extractor allows you to get the list of all external links and then export this data into a spreadsheet:
    URL Extractor
  • Review your current circles that include clients, partners, social media followers, and so on. In most cases, you’ll find a good number of sites that are looking to improve their SEO performance, and as a result, highly interested in acquiring quality links.The cornerstone of this strategy is good outreach. Sending a gazillion emails only to build a couple of links is not the way to go. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, learned my lessons the hard way, and created a detailed guide on email outreach for you to discover the easy way.The goal of your current efforts is to have at least 5-6 partners before you start writing your first guest post. There are ways to make this process faster and easier.
  • You can use a tool called CoMention that helps you find link-building partners. It allows you to track the keywords, mentions, and URLs. For example, it lets you copy and paste an article in progress, click on the “Find keywords” button, and see all the potential opportunities where you can link back to your partners.

Nailing the content production process

The very foundation of successful guest blogging lies in quality content.

You can’t have guest blogging on steroids if your content isn’t working out (pun intended).

If you start without quality content, all the guest blogging strategies become super difficult to put into practice.

What you need to focus on:

  • Quality and length of your posts. If you want to add at least 6-8 links back to your partner’s pages, then your posts should be quite lengthy. Otherwise, editors will use their sixth sense to detect that you’re simply trying to take advantage of their blog to accumulate backlinks.
  • Adding real stories from your partners and well-known companies. This will help you integrate their links more naturally within your content and, just as important, bring additional value to a reader.
  • Try to stay away from topics that you’re not really familiar with. Your content should always share something exciting. Mediocre content, in most cases, will result in you losing at least some of the external links. Provide top-notch content, and editors will feel it’s only fair that you refer to the sources and links that you’d love to include.(Editor’s note: 100% agree with Alex on this point and I’ve left all of her external links intact 😉

Hint: Expert round-up posts can be a handy way to score a good number of links if you know influencers in your niche.

You can always send out a short survey asking them to fill it out for a chance to be featured (and maybe get a link back to their site) in your post.

A while ago, I helped my link-building partners put together one such round-up post.

I believe it perfectly complements this post as it includes a dozen great tips from well-known experts on the topic of link-building, including my take on what I see as the most effective link-building tactic.

Conclusion

As you could see from the examples above, guest blogging is a viable link-building strategy that takes time and effort.

Still, the smartest link-builders have found ways to blog less while getting more links.

In this post, I showed you how to uncover great link-building opportunities and scale your game up to 100+ links per month by teaming up with link-building partners.

Now, it’s your turn to put it into practice.

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ALEXANDRA TACHALOVAAlexandra is a frequent speaker and founder of the digital marketing conference, DigitalOlympus.net. She also helps clients with digital PR, content marketing, and link-building. Besides that, she regularly contributes to leading digital marketing blogs, including Moz, SEJ, Salesforce, SMExaminer, and many others.

13 Comments

Fahad

That’s one impressive guest blogging guides i’ve ever read. Quick question, the facebook groups you mentioned, do these have people doing gust blogging in other niches? Or are they specifically related to marketing, SEO, business, SaaS etc…?

    Alexandra

    Hi Fahad, glad that you liked my post! It depends but from time to time I meet people in those FB groups that are doing link building across various niches. For instance, we work with IT and educational niches as well.

Tim

Alexandra – great post and guide.

Problem is that this all takes time , effort, experience and specialist knowledge.

How does a blogger get help in designing a plan for their website?

Regards,

    Alexandra

    Tim, thanks for your comment. I know tons of marketers that started their link building journey with near to zero experience and knowledge. Actually, I’m a big believer that the only way to succeed in the link building is through old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears. There are no magic tips and tricks as well as secrets strategies that will help you secure hundreds of links.

    So, here’s your plan:
    – Join the industry groups that will help you connect with content marketers/link builders
    – Find blogs that are accepting guest posts and secure your first guest contribution
    – Share in those groups are planning to a guest post on the XYZ site and searching for link building partners.

Parveen

Hello Alex, Nice Post!
It is really a useful post with amazing insights and resources.

Alex, I have some ideas that can help us both… Can I get your mail so we can talk further?

Thanks

Erez Shemesh

Hi Alex
Why do you think it is wise to add few links to my site in a guest post. The is a theory that when Google find several links to one domain in a single page,or post.
It might cause suspicious that the post is not written in regular human way. More like for backlink purpose in SEO way

The suggestion I received is not to add more than one link in a guest post. Many two.
What do you think

Also do you write a unique post for ever single site
Erez

    Alexandra Tachalova

    H Erez, I’m not entirely sure that we’re on the same page here. We write not only unique content, but we also write posts that are extremely in-depth and have over 2k words. We even hire quite expensive editors and copywriters that are improving our content flow and so on.

Konstantine Gegeshidze

It’s a GOLDEN post. I loved to see, how you emphasized one of the key FACTORs for success “Partnerships”. And also showed how you can build up.

Thanks, Alexandra.

    Alexandra Tachalova

    Hi Konstantine, you’re too kind! But I HUGELY appreciate your kind words.

Lasse Kristiansen

Great read, Alexandra.

Note that you are using the intitle operator wrong. No spaces allowed after it and the colon is lacking.

Wrong:

“content marketing” intitle “write for us”

Right:

“content marketing” intitle:“write for us”

Cheers, Lasse

    Alexandra Tachalova

    Hi Lasse, ouch! Thanks for spotting a mistake! And I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed my post 🙂

    Sean Shuter

    Thanks for picking up that typo, Lasse. I’ve fixed it in the post 😉

shrea kuile

Thanks for posting such type of post.

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