Guest blogging may seem like a time-consuming gamble with a small potential return, but HubSpot reports that 60% of the highest-quality leads come from blog posts. That’s precisely why millions of freelancers and businesses are writing these pro-bono pieces.
But how do guest posts result in leads? You might think that one more guest blog would get lost in the infinite abyss of content, but in almost every case, a solid piece of branded journalism has a bunch of benefits, including:
- Being recognized a badass influencer
- Generating quality leads who already understand your value
- Growing an avid audience that wants to know more
- Increasing search authority for your personal brand
- Being referred by trusted sources to people who haven’t heard of you yet
Where Can I Guest Post?
Because your content is essentially being vetted by another authority, your opinions and research are often regarded as more credible when you’re published somewhere other than your own website. Although it can be time-consuming, reaching out to sites in a similar market to your own is the best way to find guest posting opportunities. That said, you have to know where to begin the search for publications that allow submissions. Start by contacting:
- Business News Magazines (Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company)
- “How-To” Publications (How Stuff Works, EHow, WikiHow)
- Affiliates’ Websites (In Relevant Verticals)
- Industry-centric Periodicals (Industry Today, PCMag, Psychology Today)
- Local Business Associations (Local Chamber, Tech Council, Coworking Spaces)
- Industry Influencers and Content Creators
While reaching out to different affiliate websites, publications, and scholarly journals, be sure to ask about their backlink policy. Although writing an authoritative article is valuable in and of itself, it’s far more beneficial if you can earn an incoming hyperlink—especially because they’re directly related to higher search authority.
In fact, Backlinko recently completed a study on one million Google search results and found that backlinks have the highest correlation with successfully ranking websites than any other factor. Furthermore, Moz found that 99.2% of the top 50 search results for about 15,000 keywords had at least one external link pointing to their website. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to earn backlinks if you want to organically rank well in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can track the success of a backlink through tools like Google Search Console, Moz, and Majestic. By monitoring the incoming traffic from a specific backlink, you can glean valuable insights about how your posts are performing. And you’ll know which websites to contact again for another guest post opportunity.
When possible, try submitting posts to publications that have a broader audience than your own website. Although web traffic generally follows the “quality over quantity” principle, it can be helpful to get your brand’s message in front of a wider audience. Plus, broader readership means more opportunities for readers to discover you or refer you to a friend via links.
In the case of SEO, backlinks are generally beneficial to search authority. However, you should be careful not to submit articles to online publications that are likely to be flagged as spam. Moz even released a “spam score” to help you determine whether Google could flag your site or possible affiliates. Some signs of a spammy website include:
- External links in the navigation
- Large number of external links
- Large site with few links
- No contact information
- Small proportion of branded links
- Thin, lame, or disinteresting content
Ultimately, backlinks from websites with poor domain authority can diminish (rather than help) your search authority. So, you should only create content for publications in good standing with Google and other search engines.
Oftentimes you won’t have the option to change how/where your backlink appears, or to change the anchor text. Side note: If you’re unfamiliar with the term, anchor text, it’s the hyperlinked phrase which, when clicked, directs a reader to a new URL. When these contextual links are relevant to the target page, the SEO benefits are significantly greater than a basic URL link.
So before you submit a guest post, find out the publication’s policy on contextual links. Moz found that when creating anchor text, it should be:
- Relevant to the destination page
- Free of too many keywords
- Not generic (e.g. don’t link, “and this thing”)
Shared and New Audiences
According to HubSpot, 63% of businesses say their biggest marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Because it’s doubtful your audience matches another website exactly, it’s more than likely that you’ll earn new readership. If you are able to place backlinks in your guest post, it’s also probable that a few of these new readers will click on an interesting source and happen upon your website as well.
It’s challenging to grow your audience when you’re only posting content on your own website. This problem is especially common amongst freelancers as they often lack the connections to partners and affiliates they way full blown businesses do. Consequently, when you don’t guest blogging you’re effectively damning your own website’s content to the depths of Google’s SERPs.
In fact, MOZ found that only .8% of websites without backlinks appear in the first 50 results. If you compare these finding with Chitika’s Value of Google Result Position report, you’ll see that by page two, your average traffic share dwindles to 1.0% or less. All this is to say, if you’re not guest blogging, your audience probably consists of your significant other, some sketchy MLM connection from LinkedIn, and your mom (who is still blown away by the fact that you built your own website).
Be Seen as an Authority Figure
A Cision study found that audiences regard earned media as the most authentic form of marketing. Of all potential earned media, guest blogging is considered uniquely effective and more credible than traditional, rigid, formal content like TV interviews and published news articles.
This also means readers trust—and even form a relationship with—the sites that they read most frequently. They come back because they appreciate the content. By guest posting, your content shares in the credibility of the trusted source in which it’s published. Some of their glow rubs off on you.
As a guest blogger, it doesn’t necessarily matter how many followers you have on your website. You can still position yourself among awesome people in your field. And the more frequently targeted readers see your name, the more authority and respect you earn. In fact, according to Pam Moore of Marketing Nut, you only need five to seven impressions before someone will start to remember your name or brand. (Radius CoWork, Radius CoWork, Radius CoWork… ;))
Guest blogging boosts lead generation. 61% of consumers will make a purchase based on an article according to Tech Client. Even if there isn’t an immediate transaction, readers may still subscribe to your posts or sign up to receive a newsletter or ebook, which means they’re still potential customers down the road.
Not convinced? HubSpot found that 53% of marketers say their top priority is to create pieces for lead generation. Furthermore, 60% of the highest-quality leads come from inbound techniques such as branded journalism. You offer up your wisdoms as evidence that you know how to provide something of value.
Whether you have a new or well-established business, increasing your brand awareness should always be a goal. One of the most effective ways to do so is by guest blogging on websites with a larger audience than your own.
Brand awareness is located inside the minds of the customers. What they see is what your image becomes. You may think you are providing high-quality content that matches your brand, but your customers may see it completely differently. Without keeping brand awareness in mind, your business could be seen in a negative light without you even noticing until it’s too late.
Start Guest Blogging
If you’re a member or partner of Radius and you have a unique perspective, valuable insights from experience, or unique technical understanding to share, reach out to us with your idea and we’ll consider you for a guest blog.
Whether submitting an idea to us or to anyone anywhere on the whole world wide web, we have a few basic guidelines you should get in the practice of following:
- Tailor it for the host’s audience
- Be bold, poetic, and intellectually interesting
- Use cogent arguments with compelling prose
- Use contextually relevant backlinks
- Support claims with trusted sources
- Don’t write an advertisement
- Send 3-5 pics for the post
- Prepare for suggested edits
- 800 words minimum (there are exceptions)