As an Internet marketer in Vancouver trying to help my clients gain exposure on the web, I am often surprised by the responses I get when I try to set up guest blogging opportunities for my clients by contacting other blog owners. I usually get one of these responses:
A) I get no response (could this be an indication the site owner does not want to help their own marketing?)
B) I get asked to pay to be able to guest blog for the site owner (even though we would be providing free, valuable, unique content, which if anything, they should be the ones paying for).
The above two, I feel, are a loss of opportunity to the site owners, which I will explain later. The third response is reasonable, but sometimes sets the tone for the wrong expectations:
C) I get asked how the guest blogger can promote the company of the site they want to guest blog on.
I’ve come to realize that most site owners have no idea how beneficial guest blogging can be, and how the ‘pros’ use blogging as a means of traffic generation, community building, rapport increasing and overall becoming a great quality site.
I am not talking about blatant cross marketing of companies on blogs, as you will see. There is always a great benefit in exchanging valuable, advice-driven blog posts with another site, or even in just publishing an article on your site, from another blogger. It can help both sides a lot. Let me explain:
1) Publish a guest post for someone else, and it will have SEO and traffic generation benefits for you.
If you look at this graphic from Search Engine Land, it explains that content is one of the most important factors that related to search engine ranking: http://searchengineland.com/seotable. I have a friend who is paid at least $50 an hour (if no more) to blog for prominent industry blogs in the SEO world. They pay him hundreds per one post he writes because they see, and know from experience, that content is what generates traffic to their web sites. They produce several blogs per week, so imagine how much that costs them. He told me how he did the math, comparing the cost of paying for one blog post that gets sharing value to generate traffic, as opposed to paying for Google Adwords, and the pay off for publishing good sharable content had a remarkably better return on investment. Actually, if you ever get the chance, there is a video on AppSumo called “Blogging for Startups” where Hiten Shaw, the co-owner of Kiss Metrics explains how he got to 1 million visitors in a few short months just by blogging.
Going back to my friend, when he posts his blogs on these sites, he gets link backs to his site (since he’s mentioned as the author, transparently), which also helps his own ranking and traffic. It is a win-win for everyone – especially the company who pays him to write for them (notice they don’t charge him to post his blogs on their sites – they are smarter than that in how they generate income. The idea is to generate traffic, and have a small percentage of that turn into customers for their actual product).
So what you want to do is, at the end of the guest post, have a small bio, author name, maybe even a photo, and a link back to the site of the author who wrote the article. That’s how it helps both of your SEO efforts. For you, it gives you content, which is a ranking factor. For the author, it gives them a link back to their site, which is also a ranking factor.
My point in all this is that if a guest blogger approaches you for a guest blogging opportunity, they would be providing you with content that is worth a lot, will give you traffic opportunities, will be sharable content for social networks, and will have SEO value, but would cost you nothing, except a link back to their own site. Professional SEOs pay hundreds for this content, and provide the backlink anyway.
I know some sites out there charge to post articles for other people, or to do reviews of products, but this directly violates Google’s quality guidelines (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356), which is why I prefer to stick to finding good partnerships of sites that want to post quality blogs as guest posts for each other, as recommended also by Hiten Shaw from Kiss Metrics. Don’t just do link exchanges, which are a ‘cheap and dirty’ way to do SEO (or lack thereof). The idea is to focus on providing good content that is useful for readers, and find more creative ways to link in that way.
2) Get published as a guest blogger on someone else’s site, and you gain exposure AND search engine optimization benefits for yourself
While the company site or blog you would post your own guest article on may not be your direct audience, it is still a lot of exposure for you, but more importantly, there is SEO and traffic value for you to have a link leading back to your site. Let me explain more fully:
Good quality links surrounded by good quality, related content is a factor in SEO ranking, bar none. So there is already value for you in having a link of this type leading to your site. You would be writing about content related to your site, in a non-spammy way, and the site owner would be legitimately linking to your site with a keyword optimized hyperlink, which will help even more in getting you to rank for keywords your want your site to rank for overall.
Good links are hard to find these days, so I don’t know why anyone would pass up an opportunity for some SEO help in this regard. If for example, you are in the travel industry, there is no harm in trying to get published on a kid’s education site. Write about how travelling can help kids learn, and give examples of the best learning sites in a particular touristic city. If you get creative, there are lots of ways you can find a fit to guest blog on external sites. Make the content beneficial to you AND to them. Don’t just expect to only get featured on travel sites because you are in the travel industry. Diversify – it will help your reach, especially since people willing to cooperate and who see the benefits in guest blogging are going to be easier to reach than major industry media outlets.
To give an example of how to make guest blogging work…
In the example scenario above, you and another guest blogger would be writing about a particular topic that opens up your industry to a market of say, homeschoolers, who can learn about the educational benefits of travelling. They are a great market for you as a travel site to guest blog for because they are not obligated to live or be in one place all the time. If their kids are free to be home schooled, they can be home schooled in almost any part of the world while travelling.
Meanwhile, the education site owner can also post an article on your travel site about a similar, but different topic. BUT – and this is key – the article should not promote a company – it should only promote, or give advice on travel while homeschooling. Likewise, you would be posting about your industry in how it relates to the education audience.
In the above scenario, the promotion of the topic would benefit you entirely. Both the education site and your site would be promoting travel, and helping people prepare and plan for travel – a valuable resource to your readers.
Not only that, the education site you arrange a guest blog exchange with may be in a city where you don’t have a lot of reach yet. You may also start getting traffic to your own site by virtue of readers in that city reading the article on the education site, since Google does take into consideration location factors.
3) You will get on each other’s e-mail lists!
In addition to the above points, you also can gain exposure to a large list of subscribers who get a company’s newsletter almost every month. You can ask for a link to the blog in there. If you read the famous blogger John Chow’s advice, he will say that he learned the money in blogging is in the list (he makes $40,000 a month from his blog, I wrote about it here: https://www.joycegrace.ca/2012/09/what-would-john-chow-teach-a-bunch-of-internet-marketers/). He calculated that each subscriber was worth $10 to him. So if in each other’s newsletter you each say “check out this post we wrote for ____ web site”, and people land there, and on the sidebar you have a newsletter offer or a way to get subscribers, then you would get value just from that, in addition to not having to pay for the content. You also will be exposed to a new set of subscribers.
There is a lot of value in guest blogging, in more ways than one. In a sense, you could say that the blogger who approached you for a guest blogging opportunity is not in your industry’s target market, but as an SEO and Internet marketer, I would specifically seek out sites in other industries to be able to publish an article that would widen the scope of exposure, and also to generate SEO value.
4) You will get on each other’s social media networks!
No doubt when content is published on a blog, the site owner will want to spread the word on their social networks. If you are the author of a blog post the site owner is sharing to their own social network, your author bio will appear in the post, as well as al ink to your site. They may even tag you in their Facebook posts and @ mention you in their Twitter posts. This way, you will generate even more exposure for each other, while not just saying “hey check this company out” – you will be saying, “look at this great valuable piece of advice this person wrote! You could really use this and if you want more expertise, you should contact them!” See the difference in value to the audience? People don’t want to be marketed at, they want value to what matters to them.
5) You will establish yourself as an expert online and offline
Getting featured as an author on external blogs, after gaining exposure to new audiences, will also establish you as an expert in your own industry. Let’s say you are an electrician, and you frequently guest blog on a home renovation designer’s site or realtor’s site about good plumbing techniques to look out for (notice you aim for guest blogging on sites where the owners have mutual customers but are not competitors). All of the home inspector’s and realtor’s customers and site visitors will see that and think, “this buy must be good – his advice is coming from someone’s site who I trust.”
You don’t have to worry about giving away too much. You just want to show that you know your stuff. It is not that people will read your advice on how to fix an electric wire and will want to do it themselves. They just want to see that you know what you are talking about, and if they need help, they will call you. Get your name out there this way. Become memorable to people. And what better way than to guest blog and accept others guest posts for mutual benefit?
A concluding word about guest blogging
So in conclusion we have learned the following:
- You should not refuse a guest blogging opportunity and should always respond to people who want to set up a guest blog on your site, or visa versa.
- You should not try to charge people to post their unique content on your site. You should be paying for good content silly. Don’t be greedy. Turn it into something mutually beneficial for both of you.
- Guest blogging is good for SEO and will widen your exposure to diverse markets.
- Find sites to guest blog on that have the same audience base as your company, but are not your competition.
- Write about something that will creatively be an attraction to the audience the post will be delivered to, while showing your expertise in that niche.
- Don’t promote your companies while doing a guest blog exchange. Give yourselves bios and a link back to each other’s web sites instead, so your home pages can do the selling work.
- Remember to negotiate the blog posts being mentioned in each other’s newsletters and social media networks.
- Try to attract subscribers to your list by offering something of value in the link that people click on when they see your bio at the bottom of the article.