Guest blogging is not a new concept in the online marketing world. In fact, the principles behind guest blogging have been around as long as the printed word - the collaboration and sharing of ideas.
So why is it that so many marketers get it so horribly wrong? The simple reason is that they lose sight of why they're doing it in the first place.
In this post I am going to give you an overview of what your motivation for guest posting should be, the best places to publish content and how to get the most out of it.
Why Do We Guest Blog?
If you think the only reason for guest posting is to secure lots of lovely link juice then this section is for you. Sure, it's a nice bonus to get your post on a site with plenty of authority, but what should be at the forefront of your mind before creating that content?
Leverage Existing Communities
One of the most valuable rewards from a successful guest blogging strategy is gaining access to a previously untapped customer base. By publishing content on a well-trafficked blog within your industry (we'll come on to identifying the right blogs to post on shortly) you will be exposing your brand and your expertise to a brand new audience - all of whom have the potential to become customers.
Get Involved with the Conversation
Even the most mundane of industries have some form of debate going on, and by guest blogging on an industry relevant site with some well argued content on the latest hot topic you can put your business right at the centre of the conversation.
This is great for brand exposure as well as gaining loads of natural back links as key figures within your industry debate and discuss your content.
Where Should We Guest Blog?
As I've already mentioned, the PageRank, Page Authority and Domain Authority of a site is really the last thing you should look at when deciding where to publish your guest blogs. So what should you look out for?
1. Signs of a strong user base
It is essential that wherever you choose to post your content is well-trafficked. After all, no readers = no potential conversions.
Look out for mention of the website's social media profiles, as well as for strong social signals and comments on previous pieces of content for an indication of readership and engagement.
Some bloggers who offer advertising will even share analytics information to demonstrate just how many visitors the site receives on a monthly basis.
2. Previous content is of high quality
Take a moment to read over some of the previous posts on the site. If they are full of spelling and grammatical errors, the information is simply incorrect or it looks as though it has been created using content spinning software (see below), it is unlikely that the blog is well read. When looking for a suitable website within your industry think to yourself "is this a resource I would spend my time reading?"
Not a website you're going to spend much time on.
3. Good website design and usability
How the blog looks isn't as important as the other factors we've discussed, however a poorly designed site can still be an indicator of the quality of the content and the size of its readership.
Usability is more important, as lots of broken links or an awkwardly designed navigation bar will dissuade users from sticking around or returning in the future.
4. Website relevance
Last but by no means least, you should only ever publish content on websites that are relevant to your industry. This doesn't just mean not posting on a health and beauty blog when you work in sheet metal production, but also avoiding 'general' sites that cover a broad range of topics.
Not only do these sites rarely offer much in the way of SEO benefit, but you are also very unlikely to reach your target market.
Should a website without any of these four factors be considered as a guest blogging opportunity simply on the basis of a great PageRank? The truth is a blog that has poor content, no traffic and an underwhelming design will often struggle to maintain a good PageRank that has likely been inflated through black hat SEO tactics. Fortunately, when a blog fulfils the above criteria a strong level of authority will often follow.
How To Make The Most Of It
So you've managed to locate the perfect site for you to publish your guest blog - now you need to create the content worthy of it. This is one of the hardest aspects of guest posting and requires more than simply knowing your industry and having an interesting subject.
With 17% of internet page views lasting less than four seconds it is clear that you don't have much time to gain the interest of a reader, which is why layout is so important.
Human beings respond a lot better to images rather than large chunks of text, while headings are a useful way of breaking up the content as well. Essentially you want to trick the user's brain into believing the post is 'easier' to read.
You also want to encourage as much engagement with your post as possible, so invite the readers to put forward their point of view in the comments section.
The key point to remember is that you want to make your post the definitive resource on the subject - certainly not a rehash of the opinions of others.
Like with all things that are done well, effective guest blogging strategy is not something that is easy to get right. However, by adhering to these basic guest blogging tenants you can give yourself the best possible chance of producing quality content that will help your marketing campaign make the jump to light speed.
John Rooney is a Content Marketing and PR Executive for UK-based legal services provider. In this role, John is responsible for conceiving and executing content marketing campaigns as well as supporting with PR initiatives. He also blogs about movies and films over at Think Outside the Box