Guest posting is a tried-and-true technique for boosting your online presence and improving your SEO. As such, it’s also a great tool for managing your online reputation.
Here’s everything you need to know about strengthening your online reputation through guest posting, including how it works, what’s involved, and what best practices you should follow.
How guest blogging improves your online reputation
Guest posting puts you in control of how others see you. The topics you choose to write about, the writing style you use, and which websites your articles appear on all influence your online image. Most importantly, guest posting increases your credibility by:
- Generating authority and trust—Websites give an implicit stamp of approval to every article they publish. As such, when one of your articles appears on a well-known website, some of that website’s authority transfers to you, thus making you look more knowledgeable and trustworthy. Therefore, by consistently guest blog on numerous quality sites, you will eventually garner a reputation as an expert in your niche.
- Suppressing negative search results—Google thinks your blog posts are good answers to searches for your name. Therefore, it ranks them higher in your search results. This pushes your negative results down onto subsequent pages, where only 7% of searchers ever look. As a result, your negative items become practically invisible. This means that when people search for your name, the majority of what they find is controlled by you.
- Building up your social media presence—Publishing articles on popular websites can help you significantly expand your audience. If what you post is valuable or entertaining to these new readers, they will follow you on social media, especially if you include your profile information in your author bio. Once you have a large enough follower count, which is the ultimate social proof of your expertise, you will attract even more followers.
“It somehow happened without me trying too much. I started blogging and was invited to guest post at Search Engine Journal. I didn’t even know what a guest post was and was too humble to even include an “About author” page. Then guest posting invites kept coming. I saw traffic and more people recognizing me as an expert.”—Ann Smarty, brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and founder of MyBlogU.com and ViralContentBee.com.
Ways to find good blogging opportunities
To gain recognition as a thought leader, you’ll need to identify sites that accept guest posts. Then, you’ll need to decide if these sites are worth writing for.
Find which sites accept guest posts
- Search social media for topics or influencers in your niche to find websites that cater to your audience. These won’t all accept guest posts. However, doing this search will give you an idea of which sites are the most popular.
- Search Twitter for your topic and the words “guest post.” This will bring up a list of people who have written guest posts in your niche, and more importantly, which websites published them.
- Search the Web for sites that contain your keyword and have “guest post” or similar wording in their URLs. Your keyword is the topic you want to write about. For example:
“keyword inurl: guest-post”
“keyword inurl: guest-article”
“keyword inurl: become-a-contributor”
“keyword inurl: guest-post-opportunities”
“keyword inurl: write-for-us”
“keyword inurl: guest-post-guidelines”
“keyword inurl: submit-an-article”
- Do a Google search for “lists of websites that accept blog posts.” The most recent ones will often be the most accurate. Some of them even offer advice on how to submit your post to each site and provide statistics like a site’s domain authority (DA). DA scores range from 1 to 100 and predict how well a site will rank in the search results. The higher the score, the better the odds are of ranking highly.
Verify that a website is a good opportunity
- Make sure the audience matches your own. Read all the articles published in the last month. Study the tone, subject matter, format, and opinions in the articles to ensure the target audience aligns with your own.
- Make sure the site has many social media followers or subscribers. Occasionally, a site will display these on its homepage. If not, check these numbers on the site’s social profile. Writing for a site that only has a few thousand followers isn’t going to boost your reputation.
- Check for lots of engagement. Is the site posting lots of articles on social media? Do they receive a significant number of likes, comments, and shares?
- Make sure every article features an author’s bio. There’s no point in submitting an article if you won’t get the credit for it.
Some things to watch out for
There are several factors that indicate a low-quality site.
If you see these things, run!
- An outdated or hard-to-use website design
- Requires payment from authors to publish posts
- Too many ads at the top of the page
- No stated review/editing process
- A DA less than 25
- No writer requirements listed
How to write a winning pitch
The next step in getting someone else to publish your content is to craft an impressive guest post pitch. Most site editors get about 10 pitches per day, so you need to make sure yours stands out to have a chance of being accepted.
- Before you start writing your email, you need to connect in some way with the people at your target site. This will make you more memorable when the site owner or editor eventually reads your email.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Look up and interact with the site editors on social media.
- Leave an intelligent comment on a few of the site’s articles to engage the writers.
- Share articles from the site, along with some insightful comments, on your social media profiles.
- A week or so before you intend to send your pitch, send the site owner or editor an email asking him or her a question or thanking them for something he or she posted.
- Write your pitch email as follows:
- Begin by mentioning something specific about the website.
- Don’t sound desperate or salesy.
- Limit yourself to 150 words.
- Offer three unique topics you are prepared to write about.
- Talk about your experience.
- Link to your published work.
Here’s a good example pitch from SEO expert Brian Dean.
Tips for writing a quality blog post
Guest posting won’t do you any good—and might even harm your online reputation—if your articles are poorly written or otherwise of little value to your readers. To ensure you create high-quality content, follow these tips:
- Use correct grammar and spelling—Obviously, not reviewing your guest post for correct spelling and grammar will have a negative effect on your credibility. How can readers trust you as an expert in anything if you’ve failed to master the English language?
- Create a catchy headline—Your headline is as important as your article, if not more so. In fact, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will read your article. To grab a reader’s attention, your headline should be useful, unique, and contain specific numbers and data.
- Stick to what you know—You won’t sound like an authority if you don’t know what you are talking about. Readers can tell if you haven’t done exhaustive research on your topic or don’t have any personal experience with it.
- Follow the site’s guidelines—If the site limits articles to 1000 words, don’t write 1,400 and expect an editor to work out which parts to cut. Remember, you want to establish a friendly working relationship with the site.
- Know what your audience expects—Read through all the articles the site has published during the past month. What format are most of them in? Listicles? Long-form opinion pieces? How-to guides? What tone do most writers use? Conversational? Academic? Give your audience what they have come to the site to find.
- Make it easy to read—People will quickly click away if it looks like a chore to read your whole article. To keep them reading, break up long blocks of text into shorter paragraphs, use lots of images and graphics, and organize your content with informative section headings.
- Create original content—Make every guest post unique and tailored to each specific site. Also, don’t spin articles by taking an already written one and changing certain words and phrases to make it appear new.
- In your text, be sure to link to at least one of the site’s previous articles—This will help increase the site’s authority and drive additional traffic to it. As such, it will cement your reputation as a valuable contributor in the eyes of the site owner.
- At the end of your article, ask readers to leave a comment—The more comments and shares your blog post gets, the more likely your post is to rank highly in an online search.
- Write a great bio/byline—This is your chance to tell your story the way you want it to be told. Make it short (100 words or less) and be sure to include a high-resolution headshot and a link to your website and social channels (if the site allows links).
What not to do when guest posting
Now that you’ve learned the “do’s” of guest posting, it’s time to hear about the “don’ts.”
- Don’t submit the same article to everyone: It looks unprofessional to mass-market the same guest post to hundreds of sites. Instead, you should write a new article for each site.
- Don’t post on low-quality websites: Publishing your guest posts on spammy-looking websites will make you look like an amateur who’s desperate to get published, thereby ruining your online reputation.
- Don’t stuff your article with links: Save your link for your bio. Google strongly discourages writers from overfilling their guest posts with links to their own websites. Not only is this distastefully self-promotional, but it reduces the quality of the content, and thus your value as a writer and subject-matter expert.
Your job isn’t done once a website approves and publishes your guest post. To ensure that your writing boosts your online reputation, you need to promote it on your social media networks.
This tactic is a win for everyone: The site that published your content will appreciate the free advertising you are providing, and you will attract even more readers.
If you need help
If you have any questions about building and maintaining a positive online reputation, please call us for a free consultation. We are happy to give you advice about your unique situation.
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