Guest blogging is when a contributor writes a post for another blogger’s site. Some blogs have an open invitation for guest submissions. Others have featured authors who are invited to guest post. Either way, guest blogging – when used correctly – can be a great way to expand your audience. When your guest post provides exceptional value for that host blog’s audience, there is a good chance that the host blog’s readers will check out your site.
A Word of Caution
In 2014, Google took a firm stance on people who were guest blogging purely to build backlinks. If your main objective with a guest post is to get a link back to your own site, you may be putting your site in danger of a Google penalty. Protect yourself by following these tips:
- Don’t over-optimize anchor text in your posts.
- Don’t fret if you get a nofollow link.
- Always share great content with host blogs. If you wouldn’t put it on your own blog, don’t put it on someone else’s either.
- Don’t put your content on blogs that aren’t relevant to your business nor those that are just not very well written.
- Always check in on the latest from Google. Visit Google’s Link Schemes documentation to learn more about “bad linking” practices.
When approached carefully and thoughtfully, guest blogging can potentially improve the SEO of your own blog. If you publish a guest post on a blog that gets a great deal of traffic, the link back to your blog is can be very valuable. A “follow” link from a high authority, popular website tells search engines that your own site is credible, high-quality and worth sending traffic to.
How Guest Blogging Works
When approaching guest blogging, your first aim should be to add value to – not just siphon traffic from – the blog where you would like to publish your post. Look for a good blog on the same or a similar topic as yours, and ensure it gets a great deal of traffic and has plenty of readers. Pitch the blog owner with an idea about a post you could write for them. Be sure to explain how your post will bring additional value or a new perspective to the site’s readers. You could also send your finished article, which can be edited later to meet the site’s editorial requirements. Not everyone will yes, but not everyone will say no. It can be worth the effort to ask.
Guest blogging is definitely more time consuming than posting on social media. You have to work harder to build relationships, and you will do double duty on writing blog content. With that said, you can get a great deal of traffic from the effort. You can also gain a whole new audience from your guest blogging, and you may even gain a new joint venture partner if the host blog owner sees that your post is popular.
Another way to benefit from guest blogging is by inviting or allowing guests to post on your site. If the writer already has a name and following, you will get some traffic by publishing their work. They will promote their post, which gives you traffic to your site.
Guest Blogging Best Practices
The first step you need to take before approaching a blog about guest posting is get to know the site and its audience. This helps you craft the right pitch. You will know what kind of content the blog owner and his or her audience expects. Read the blog’s past posts and try to find a topic that hasn’t been covered yet or a new angle or updated information on a topic that has been covered in the past.
Relevance and value are the keys to guest blogging success. Your post must be important and meaningful to the blog’s audience. It needs to be appropriate for the host blog and relevant to your own blog.
Request that your bio has a link to your blog. You aren’t hard selling your site – just a simple link to your own site. This is important because when people read your post and want more, this is the link that takes them to your blog. If the host blog will only give you a nofollow link, take it! Even though it may not have the SEO benefit of a follow link, you are still gaining exposure with a new audience and generating referral traffic.
When your guest post is published, subscribe to comments and respond to all comments (all that aren’t spam anyway), or at least as many as you can. At the very least, thank the commenter for reading. If someone raises a question or brings up a good point, take time to write an insightful response. Don’t promote your blog here. This is a time and place purely for engaging with readers.
To get the most out of guest blogging, it should be an ongoing effort. Set a goal for yourself each month, make a list of sites where you can post, and stay on a regular schedule. Your guest blogging will bring a potentially big spike in traffic that will taper off as new content is posted on the host blog. Keep at it with regular posting on good blogs, and you can sustain this traffic.
Forums and Discussion Groups Can Give Your Site Exposure
Online forums generally garner less traffic than social media or guest blogging, but maintaining a presence on an online forum with a link to your site is a very easy thing to do that can bring a small stream of traffic. Of course, depending on the forum, its members, and the way you work it, it could be more like a rushing torrent.
Online forums and groups are hubs for people with common interests. Forums and groups are typically not for promotion, although some forums do some have promotional sections. Sharing your latest blog post as part of a forum’s community isn’t typically seen as “promotion” as such if you are taking time to comment and using the post in a way that adds value to conversations. It really just depends on the forum.
The best way to leverage forums and groups for traffic is by putting your link in your profile and in your sig file (signature file, or the place at the bottom of your posts that has your name and other information). You will likely get some traffic passively to your blog by if you are regularly posting helpful comments or questions on the forum.
Some forums have sections for members to share their latest blog posts. Use this section to provide a brief summary about your post and tell other members why should check it out.
The best forums, obviously, are the ones where your potential readers and customers are. Take time to check out each forum you are considering. See what kinds of posts there are and review the posting rules. Are other members advertising their blog posts? If so, you’ve found a potentially good forum for sharing your posts.
Another consideration when choosing a forum to participate in is size. A small forum with only a few members, or a dead forum, won’t bring you much traffic. With that said, a smaller forum with a lot of the right people can be a hidden gem. Just do your homework before settling into a specific group.
Once you have spent a little time participating in a forum, start monitoring your traffic from that forum. If you’ve been thoughtfully participating and sharing in a forum but see no traffic or in-forum engagement, drop it and find another that is better suited to your objectives.
Blog Commenting – Not Blog Spamming
Blog commenting can be a quick and easy way to drive traffic to your blog. This is another tactic that you need to be careful not to abuse. If you aren’t interested in giving relevant feedback and insightful comments, don’t bother with this effort.
Blog commenting involves reading and commenting on other people’s/companies’ blogs. Often times when you comment, you are given the option to add a link to your website in your profile. This makes your profile icon or avatar clickable. When you add value to the comment thread, people will be inclined to click on your profile to learn more about you.
To use blog commenting to your advantage, you need to participate on blogs that are related to your niche, widely read, and that allows you to include a link somewhere (usually in your profile).
Blog comments are notoriously swamped with spam. Don’t be a spammer. Follow these do & don’t guidelines for successful blog commenting:
DO leave a comment that is interesting, helpful or insightful, and relevant to the content of the article.
DON’T put a link to your blog directly in the comment unless the blog owner allows it. This may cause your comment to be marked as spam.
DO subscribe to comments and check back so that you can respond to follow-up comments or questions.
DON’T be self promotional in your comment. “By the way, check out my blog!” will probably get your comment marked as spam. People who are interested in hearing more from you will click your profile.
DO make it a regular habit to read and comment on a few blogs daily.
DON’T leave a comment if you have nothing valid or valuable to say. “Good post” won’t gain you any traffic.
DO subscribe to your favorite blogs and read them as soon as they’re updated so that you can be an early commenter. If you post your comment early, your comment is more likely to be seen by others who make comments.
DO fill out your profile completely with an image and link to your website or blog. This shows that you’re a real person and not a spam bot. And, of course, it’s the main way people will discover your blog!
Make notes on the steps you’ll take to build traffic to your blog through blog comments, guest blogs, and forums.