Essential Guest Blog Strategy: Get the most from your guest post!

Posted on Posted in Blogging and SEO, Web Design Business, Website Sales and Marketing

You have hammered the emails, done your follow-ups, and now you have finally found the perfect blog that agreed to accept your guest post.

Congratulations!

Guest blogging is a great way to show the world your expertise, gain new clients, and build authority for your brand. The link back to your website can also be a great source of new leads and traffic.

It takes a lot of work to get through to a popular authority website and get your post accepted. It also takes a lot of work to write a great blog post. But guess what.

You’re only halfway finished!

To maximize the benefit of your guest post you have to get it out there an share it with the world.

First, we are going to give you a quick review of what your guest post should contain, just to make sure you are creating the best possible content. Then we will give you a list of steps to make sure your guest posts delivers the maximum benefit.  Bonus: Along the way, I will also explain and demonstrate some basic HTML tags.

TL;DR It’s hard to get a good guest post. Make the most of it. Check to make sure your post is great, then promote it to maximize the benefit.

 

Before you submit your guest post.

 

Blog Post Quality Checklist

Make sure you have covered all your bases. You only have one chance to make a first impression, popular blogs get inundated with requests for guest blogging. Make sure the content you submit is of the highest quality.

Review these best practices and avoid red flags.

 

Make it Informative.

Your article should contain some real information, and something more than just the obvious. If you want someone to spend their time reading your article, you need put in a little research. Readers should come away having learned something. Facts and statistics are always good. Adding your personal experience or an anecdote that coincides with a fact helps solidify your points.

If you are demonstrating a trend or some complex information try adding a chart or graph. People love data, especially when its presented visually and in an interesting way. Use clear and concise sentences, and avoid overloading it with adjectives.

In audio (and information theory) this is commonly known as “signal to noise” ratio. Write all facts and you end up with a boring textbook, write all adjectives and you have a lot of nothing. Finding the right balance is what makes for great content.

Avoid Red Flags: If I read two paragraphs and still have no idea what your post is about, that is a red flag. If I can tell you are obviously no expert because you supply no real facts, this is a red flag. Is this article actually going to appeal to my readers?

Wordcount

A good blog post should be a minimum of 400 words. A more informative post is usually over 1100 words, and a “deep dive” can easily be over 2000. One of my most popular articles is over 3000 words.  The key here is that you are adding information and real value, not just stuffing words for the sake of filler. Make sure you keep the readers attention.

Most blogs will have a mix of different content length.

Avoid Red Flags: Make sure you are not too short or too long. Be like Goldilocks, just right.

How long is a typical blog post

 

Headers, Sections, and Paragraphs

Break your article up into cohesive parts. It should have an introduction and clear content that illustrates your points. Finally, end with some kind of summary or conclusion. The flow of the article is important. Make sure your articles have a good structure.

The HTML markup is important, even though you may not be the one formatting it. HTML has elements that are used to help organize content into sections. This breaks up the article and makes it easier to digest and understand. The HTML gets parsed and presented to the user as paragraphs and headlines. Search engines read the markup (HTML source code) and use it to help classify and categorize the content in the search engine index.

 

HTML Heading Tag

One of the most critical HTML tags for a blog post is the heading tag. The HTML heading is written as the letter h followed by a number from 1 to 6, with 1 being the largest headline (and therefore the most important). WordPress and other CMS systems allow you to highlight your text and select the heading style, so you probably don’t need to worry about writing HTML.

format blog post with html headings
Break up your post into sections using HTML heading tags.

If you are curious, a heading tag looks like this in HTML:

<h2> My Big Blog Headline </h2>

Normally the title is the H1 or main heading, and there is only one. Then your subsections are broken up by H2 headings, and subsections get H3 and so on. Browsers automatically reduce the size of the heading tag, or the web designer can control this with CSS style tags.

Avoid Red Flags: No headers or clear indications where sections end and begin can make it difficult to read.

Readability

Proper grammar and sentence structure are essential for a good reading experience. There are many components to writing a great article, and I am not going to try and cover them here. There are numerous great articles crafted by much better writers that cover the topic in great detail.

A good gauge for readability is the Flesch Reading Ease Score. This is an algorithm that determines the grade level and readability of text based on the ratio of sentences, words, and syllables. There are free services online that will analyze your article copy and give you a readability score.

An easy way to keep an eye on your writings score is to use the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.  The Yoast plugin analyzes your post as you write them. It gives your post a Flesch rating that rates your text based on education level using the Flesch-Kincaid algorithm.

Just remember, the Flesch algorithm does not check grammar or spelling. Make sure you proofread your article. But again the web offers free services that can check your article for grammar errors.

Avoid Red Flags: Does it reads clunky? Does it make sense? Obvious grammar and spelling errors are giant red flags.

Uniqueness

Good artists copy, great artists steal” – Picasso

This may be true for artists, but not for writers. Plagiarism is a serious issue on the web. Besides being unethical and illegal, it can also get you a Google penalty for duplicate content.

Article spinners try to “re-write” articles by substituting words via thesaurus substitution algorithms. They never sound natural, and even if they did, it’s still essentially stealing (Real stealing, not the “stealing” that Picasso meant in that quote).

There are easy ways to make sure your content is unique, one popular website for checking content is Copyscape. I use their service to make sure all guests posts submitted here are original.

Avoid Red Flags: I search google and find the article you submitted on another website! That red flag will get you on the permanent ban list.

Links To Sources

Make sure you cite your sources. This gives your information credibility. When you cite the source of information with a link, you give the reader a path to additional related information. Your readers will appreciate it and so will the search engines. Google uses the links on your site as a ranking signal to help determine the quality of your content. Make sure you link to good authority sites and other related pages that support your premise.

Sometimes the site you are posting on will not want you to add any links. They may have their own copy editor that decides what to do. When in doubt ask. Personally, I prefer to have my guest bloggers (and writers I hire) supply good relevant links within the content.

Again, here the ratio is critical. A decent rule of thumb is one link for every 200 words. There is a lot of information out there and studies, but just figure a 600-word article can probably use about 3 or 4 external links in the content.

*This information is related to external links, or links to other websites. The blog editor will most likely go in and add internal links (links to other content on the same website) in the body of your post where it seems relevant.

Avoid Red Flags: Don’t put too many links in, and make sure the links are to quality related content. Spammy links are a major red flag.

This brings us to most guest bloggers favorite part:

blog post readability analysis
An example of the Yoast SEO plugin content analysis.

Links back to your website

Most blogs allow you, the author, to include a backlink to your website. This usually appears in the author byline section (normally at the end) of the article. Most new guest bloggers will be tempted to use some exact match anchor text in their link to get ranking.

Fight that urge!

“But, wait just a minute,” you say! “All this work! This is a prominent, authority website. This is a very valuable link! Doesn’t Google use anchor text to rank websites”

This is all essentially true, but exact match keyword links can easily lead you to a penalty and make your link worthless.

In fact, exact match anchor text is much less of a ranking factor now compared to the previous decade. It is much more likely to get you a penalty than to help your ranking. Or worse, it could help your ranking for a short time, then the penalty kicks in and you lose all that work.

It is much better to use branded, generic or naked URL anchor text in your guest post links. Then you never have to worry about changing them, or that they will give you a penalty.

Your onsite SEO and internal linking on your own website is a much stronger indication of what your content is about. You will see many guests posts using exact match anchor text, it is a shortcut and it could give you a quick win, but in the long run, it doesn’t pay.

Anchor Text and HTML Anchor Tags

Just to clarify: The anchor text is the text that is actually clickable. It is usually is a different color or underlined. When you click the link it takes you to a new page (on the same website this is internal, on a different website it’s external). In HTML this tag is known as an Anchor, most of the world just thinks of it as a link. An anchor tag is written as an A with an HREF attribute that contains the URL to open when clicked. The words between the open and close anchor tag are the anchor text. 

It looks like this in HTML: <a href=”https://www.google.com/”>Click this anchor text</a>

Different Types of Links

So what is the difference between branded, generic, naked and exact match anchor text?

I’m glad you asked!

Let’s say you are Sam Smith and you have a website for your freelance writing business. Your website URL is SamSmithWrites .com and your business is called Samtastic Words.

When you submit your guest post, you write a little byline that talks about how you love Huskies and have been writing for three years. You love to write about dogs, technology, and European cuisine.

Here is what the four types of link anchor text might look like:

  • Exact Match Anchor Text: Freelance Article Writer
  • Branded Anchor Text: Samtastic Words
  • Generic Anchor Text: Click Here
  • Naked Anchor Text: www. SamSmithWrites .com

Use too many exact match links and you may incur the wrath of the Penguin. Holy Smokes Batman! Nope – not Batman, this is the Google Penguin!  The Google algorithm update that penalizes sites for trying to artificially manipulate search engine result pages (SERPs) by creating too many exact match links.

One more item before we move to the next section.

What is domain authority and why do I care?

You may have seen this term used on SEO and marketing sites. It’s important for guest bloggers because the site you are posting on should be trusted. You can actually hurt your rankings by putting links on sites that have been flagged as spam or are low quality.

It’s not always easy to tell how popular a website is if it is an authority site, or how much it is trusted. This is where domain authority comes in. This is basically a measurement of the sites link profile and other metrics. There are several ways to check out the authority of a site, but Ahrefs and Moz are the most popular and they both offer free tools.

Now you should be ready to submit your post.

Ok, that concludes part 1. Hopefully, you have applied all these best practices to your content and you are submitting a great guest post. Next, the post get’s published, and this is where you can really maximize the benefit of your post!

 

Once your guest post is published.

Picture this: The editor that you are working with (you know, the one who said they would publish your guest post) is reviewing their blog statistics and traffic. They notice that out of the five guest post they published over the past month, one of them is doing much better than the others.

Look at how popular this guest post is! Look at all these hits and shares. We have to get this writer back to do another post!

You want to be this writer.

So how do you make your guest post stand out?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Get out there and promote your post.

 

Share it on social media

The get the most out of our post, you need to share it with the world.  Don’t rely on the popularity or authority of the host site to promote your article, this is the internet! You want people to read your wonderful new article and share it with their friends and colleagues. So go ahead and post it to your favorite Facebook Group.

You probably have a LinkedIn profile. Showing a published article is a great addition to your LinkedIn profile. Share it and build up your resume. There are a ton of great ways to promote your post on social media, these are just a few.

Digg, Pintrest, Reddit and other social sharing sites can give a giant boost to traffic if they spark some interest.

What other obvious ones did I miss?

Let me know in the comments below.

Keep up with Comments

You want to encourage dialogue with your readers. Start out by adding a comment to your post – say – Hi – I’m the author- ask me anything!

Then keep an eye on it and make sure you respond to every comment. Encourage participation and don’t feed the trolls!

Look for questions

A great way to promote your post is to look for questions out there that your post can answer. Think of a subject related to your article and try searching Quora for relevant questions. There are many question and answer websites out there, try searching your question or check out this list.

When you answer the question, cite your article as the source!

Blog about it!

Say what? You probably have a blog right?

I should hope so if you are a guest blogger!

A great way to promote your guest post is to link to it the next time you post on a similar subject. Plus it is a great way to show the readers of your blog that your work appears on other sites.

This helps establish your credibility as an expert in your field.

Feature it on your website.

It looks great in your bio or your “about us” page to show articles. You should have a page on your site that shows off your work, a prominent guest posts help establish credibility in your industry. If you don’t have a profile with your articles, it may be time to redesign your website.

 

Conclusion

So that about covers everything I wanted to talk about in this article.

Bottom line is this:

It’s a lot of work getting a guest blog post published, but to really get the most benefit out of it, you need to promote that content. If you walk away after it’s published you are wasting a great opportunity.

A single guest post with the right promotion is worth ten that don’t get noticed!

Thanks for reading to the end. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did please consider sharing it with your own readers. And be sure to leave me a comment.

How would you like your own article to appear here on Web Design Central? Well then go ahead and submit a guest post.

The Author

About the Author:  Wesley E. Warren – I have been in the web design and development business since Independence Day was in theaters! That’s so last century! I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I am a CTO and run the engineering department of a Cloud SaaS company. I also run several websites (like this one) and a community art studio gallery with my wife and partner Jessica Warren.

 

 

Additional Sources:

Blogging Statistics and Trends: The 2017 Survey of 1000+ Bloggers

Search Engine Watch: How to check your domain authority.

Study on human perception related to charts and graphs.

Information Theory Signal to Noise Ratio

Looking for more places to submit guest posts? Try this list and this one or this one.

Copyright 2018 W. Warren – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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