Branding isn't just about making your website rank better. SEO still rocks -- but building a strong brand is better.
The main purpose of guest posting for your brand is to get yourself noticed in your specialty.
Itching to start your branding outreach?
Start with your blog. Yes, yours. Before you check out other bloggers, you might want to publish your posts first to build credibility. Concentrate on writing material that is closely-related to your niche. Rants and ramblings can wait.
Google me this, Google me that. Who's afraid of the Big G? Here are some advanced search queries to look for guest posts and also this one powerful query by Yaniv Kimefield shared in SEP. Afterwards, it's wise to select prospects using metrics that you can trust to lessen the workload. I gather prospects based on their Google Page Rank and the Domain Authority provided by SEOMoz'sMozBar. You can download the search engine results by saving it as a .CSV while using Firefox as your web browser.
Use connections.The Blue Bird has a lot to tweet about guest posting. You can find numerous guest posting opportunities just by "stalking" several people. If you know some people who work in the same industry, rub shoulders with them! Follow them, retweet their posts, comment on their blogs, and inspire some of your work from theirs.
Here are 2 simple ways to track tweets without doing that much work
Easy to understand and implement. All tweets relevant to your recipe can be send straight to your email. Where recipe can be hashes, @mentions, related text etc.
[Ed.: for a simple effective workaround of the forced removal of Twitter triggers on IFTTT, check out IFTTT Will Be Removing Twitter Triggers, But Here Is A Workaround ]
2. Twitter API for feeds + Google Reader
[Ed.: can't find the RSS feeds Twitter has hidden? Check out How To Still Use Twitter Search to Track Your Brand Mentions via RSS ]
Manage resources. There are a lot of resources that could make your branding outreach as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here are good websites you might want to check out: BlogDash, Bloggerlinkup.com, MyBlogGuest.com, and BlogEngage.com.
Set up a professional email. Ditch that firstname.lastname@example.org. It's high time you use an email address that will always ring a bell. That way, you won't look like some ordinary spammer begging for links.
Create a personal template for different but relevant niches. It would consume too much time if you're going to start an email from scratch. Despite the popular demand of doing so, creating a personal, flexible template would help speed up your branding outreach. Sooner or later, you'll change the contents of your template into something more relevant to the blogger you're pitching.
Add authorship on your profile. This authorship will help Google differentiate high quality content to low quality junkies. Learn more about future proofing guest posting in this post by Patrick Hathaway. In order to setup your authorship mark up, here's a guide made by Rick Dejarnette in SearchEngineLand .
2. Engaging Your Target Prospects
Five words from branding expert Martin Lindstrom: "Be 100% transparent. Nothing less."
I know it's pretty clich, but one major faux pas committed by guest bloggers is fake authenticity. Aiming for a guest post does not simply imply you are asking for links back to our site. The moment of engagement starts with the click on the Send button on that email.
"Thou shalt not be another stranger asking for guest posts!" Properly establish rapport with your prospect as you must have researched:
who he is, (better search for his name, or the chief editor's)
his interests, and (what category he caters)
how the way things roll in his blog. (Top lists? Press releases? SEO-focused? Gossips?)
There are different channels of communication that you can use if you're ready to pitch your wonderful idea for a guest post. Peruse through his blog and seek for his preferred means of communication.
Sugar coating is good, but the blog's interest still comes in first. Pitch in ideas that are:
high value, (trending or evergreen topics)
remarkable, (something that either solves a problem or answers a question)
and a worthy post for the blogger's web space (self-explanatory.)
Of course, top it off and write down a high-quality, compelling content that generates leads and does not primarily aim to get links.
Five takeaways for your oh-so compelling content:
If you're writing about your product, make sure that "all your endorsements and testimonials must be real - don't fake them," as suggested by Lindstrom.
Never sell yourself. Never insist that they should buy your product or service; make them buy it by telling them how it could solve their problem.
Make sure to cook up a great content! Remember, first impressions last!
Prior to writing your content, check if your ideas were already posted before. If yes, focus on a different angle. Creativity = unique, compelling content!
Writing about a booooring topic? Keep your paragraphs thin, but thick with ideas. Don't clump in too many ideas in a paragraph; information overload kills interest!
Clich: Write for the audience before you do some optimization. People need to know what your brand can offer for them. They're actually not interested in your accomplishments, unless it's notable.
Before you end your discussion with your blog prospect, ask if he has something to suggest about the topic idea. It's hard to open up to a complete stranger; break the barrier! Make your new-found friend comfortable in these following ways:
Address the blogger on a first name basis; however, it helps if you know where they are in the world. There are bloggers who prefer to be called by their first name; others would like to be addressed by their surname.
Don't be so stiff unless you're approaching a serious type of niche. If you're talking to moms, then be light-toned. If you're talking to businessmen or organizations, it pays to be serious.
Introduce yourself. I find it more effective to pitch in the idea first, then introduce myself later. It pays to have some samples of contributed content, especially coming from reputable sites. It makes pitching articles a lot easier.
Always thank everyone! I once had an experience that my post caught the attention of an almost-forgotten prospect; he even replied saying my previous post reminded him that I inquired for a guest post opportunity. How sweet is that.
If you contact each other regularly, you might want to ask if he's following an editorial calendar. Asking him would lessen the pain of waiting in vain for a post to be published.
3. Relationship Building
Hey Casanova; this isn't a one-night stand. It's time to strengthen the bonds of friendship among yourselves.
While your post is on moderation:
Sit. Stay. Don't bother your friend if he hasn't replied to your email. Normally, follow up emails are done if the recipient hasn't sent any reply about your guest post. I suggest you use Boomerang to minimize the efforts of reminding him.
If you're a pro at guest blogging, then you might want to take precautions especially if he is indeed following an editorial calendar. No need to bug him with senseless emails. Nonetheless, you could send him an email near the publishing date; a timely reminder won't hurt.
While waiting for your post to go live (or to be rejected, *chuckles*), share some love and like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, read through their blog, and you might even want to prepare fresh ideas for a return-post.
Additionally, if you're doing outreach on a regular basis, be friendly and not scary . It pays to point out some errors on his website and relay it to him once you spotted it. It makes him feel like his welfare is valuable to you, and that escalates trust pretty quickly.
Hooray! After the long wait, your post is live on his blog space! High-five!
Ask the blogger if he'll be sending you an email if the post goes live. Once you receive that email, go check out your post. Sometimes, they might have some problems with formatting and HTML markups.
Thank him! But don't overdo it! You can send him a reply that you saw the post and how this could be the start of a regular contribution relationship. Also, include in your reply any comments or suggestions related to the published post.
Log in to your social media accounts, and start bragging! Share it to your friends, family, acquaintances, and even enemies! You might want to share it via the blog's social sharing plugin somewhere in the page. It'll be a lot easier to share; plus, your new friend would be glad of the figures slowly rising up from your post.
Keep on sharing your content every now and then. It helps that you could continue building your brand's exposure at the same time, helping your blogger friend get some traffic.
Don't just stop there- study the effect of your outreach to his website. Did it reach your targeted audience? Did it help you gain traffic from the other website as well? Was the article so cool, that it even got several mentions after it was published? It's a big spider web after one another.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy What is Branding (and How Do You Do It?)
Jayson Bagio is the lead strategist behind SEOteky.com. An inbound marketing startup from the Philippines. He has been in SEO for 3 years and currently works as a consultant for MartinLindstrom - international branding expert; author of brandwashed and buyology. Follow him on twitter @seoteky