Updated by Lexi Rodrigo
Note: This post was part of the “Marketing That Works” Ideas Contest, showcasing 20 of the most innovative marketing ideas from the blogosphere’s up and coming marketers. We’ve since picked a winner–check out this post for the details! We’ve updated this post, because guest blogging is still an effective strategy, and the process described here makes it fo so much faster. Try it and see for yourself!
Guest blogging works best when it gets you in front of the right audience.
A quality guest post in front of your niche often generates a quick spike in traffic (usually pretty good ones!) or increase in sales, not to mention long-term relevance to your brand.
And, from an SEO standpoint, Google’s algorithm makes that Super Mario extra-life sound every time it sees a quality link pointing to your site from a reputable domain. They are simply some of the best links you can get, and your keyword rankings will increase with an influx of these types of links.
However, if anyone has tried guest blogging, they know that it is an exhausting and time-consuming process.
That is, unless you do it my way…. 😉
The Old-School Way of Guest Blogging
You could spend hours finding targeted websites, harvesting the correct contact info, and then emailing each webmaster or blogger. From my experience, getting five emails off in an hour would be an effective output. Then, you can expect 1 or 2 responses and perhaps one guest blog spot.
All the while you still haven’t created your amazing content, which can tag on another two to three hours, or more!
Although I don’t have a shortcut for writing amazing content (I wish I knew that one as well), I have mastered the most effective way to reach out to guest blog opportunities. I hope you’ll give it a try and see if it works for you, too!
New to guest blogging? Get our free guide!
Getting Started: Use a Link Prospector Tool
First, you will need a link prospector tool. There are plenty of these on the web (simply Google “link prospector tool”), but I haven’t found one better than Citation Labs’ Link Prospecting Tool.
The tool is simple to use. You enter a couple of keyword terms that you are looking for in blog content, and then it searches for relevant blogs.
To give you a better idea of how this works, here’s an example:
In my case, I was optimizing for tech-savvy Apple keywords like bamboo iPhone covers, for one of my personal websites. I knew that my product would appeal to the Apple enthusiast audience, as well as the environmentalist-tech savvy niche (because bamboo is sustainable). So I used these terms for my search: iPhone, apple blog, iPhone case, eco-friendly, bamboo design.
The next day, the report was generated and I exported a list of over 2,000 domains of qualified niche-related websites and blogs. The list isn’t perfect, so I went through and eliminated 300 or so of the domains before I began the prospecting process.
Here’s the Link Prospector in action:
Other Link Prospector Tools:
- SimilarWeb – Use this to find websites similar to yours or the top sites in your niche.
- Make a Google search for “‘write for us’ [keyword]”
Set Up Canned Responses
Next, I created a Gmail account specifically for guest post pitching. I went into the Gmail Labs tab and turned on canned responses to enable a feature to send email templates.
To switch on canned responses in Gmail, go to Settings > Labs, scroll down, then enable Canned Responses:
Here’s the email template we teach our guest posting students, that you can adapt when you create your own canned email to pitch your guest posts.
Then, I simply go down the list of domains on my prospecting list and find the contact information of the webmaster or blogger. Typically, there will be an email address listed on the site, but you might have to resort to using their Twitter handle or web contact form instead of emailing them.
While I’m looking for the correct email address, I make a small observation about their blog and put it in my notes on a master guest blog spreadsheet (to add a personal touch when you email them).
Optional: Use a Contact Finder to Find Email Addresses
You can take the automation a step further and use a contact finder tool that crawls websites for contact information. Most of the contact finders I have seen are paid, and again, I have tested a couple and have found the Citation Labs’ Contact Finder to be the best.
If you do go this route, don’t completely rely on the contact finder tool, or you will overlook hundreds of great opportunities. You still need to validate emails manually.
From my experience, the contact finder tool scraped about one-third of the domains successfully. On the other hand, it can complicate the process, since it crawls every email address it finds on a domain (you know how many email addresses the Boston Herald website has?).
It can be time-consuming to go through and clean out all the extra email addresses. However, this process does save a lot of time as well.
Other Contact Finder Tools:
The Emailing Process (Add a Personal Touch)
Finally, I go down my spreadsheet and email each webmaster or blogger on my list. Since I have the general email template saved inside my email via canned responses, I automatically paste that into the email and I make a quick addition to put a personal touch about their blog (this is where the notes come into play).
I avoid talking them up too much as this often sounds like you’re expecting something in return. Instead, I keep it simple and sincere, like: “Hey, I noticed a lot of your readers are from Canada. Are you from there originally?”
Using these steps, I’m able to reach out and email about 50 guest post prospects an hour. This includes the time spent creating the list, cleaning the list, finding the contact information, and emailing.
Using these techniques, in addition to a contact scraper, my output increased to over 100 guest post pitches an hour; however, the quality of the prospects declines, and the rate of response goes down as well (no personal touch, not the correct email address on domain, etc).
Is This Process Worth My Time?
Using this process, I’ve been able to get my product in front of iPhone audiences, environmentalists, even high-traffic blogs such as ReadWriteWeb. These are ideal platforms for my product to gain momentum.
Brainstorm the news channels or niche blogs where you would love to contribute. What niche or specific audience would be ideal for your brand?
Remember, most blogs won’t let you be over-promotional about your product and service, so be prepared to contribute amazing content in exchange for a brief mention of your service and a link in your author bio.
Guest blogging is still well worth it. If your content is great, people will notice the brand you represent. And from an SEO perspective, a link from a relevant website is a high-quality link.
Summary: Step-by-Step Action Plan
To simplify the strategy, let me break down the process one more time:
- Find a link prospector tool.
- Enter 3-4 search queries in the tool pertaining to your niche or target audience.
- Export results (may take a day to generate a report) to an Excel spreadsheet.
- Filter the results and delete unrelated domains.
- Harvest domain email addresses and make annotations of blogs and websites.
- Optional: Use a contact finder tool to scrape email addresses.
- Email prospects, using a Gmail Canned Responses template.
- Add a personal touch to each email to convert more opportunities.
- Keep track of all your guest post progress on an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs.
- Write amazing content and get published on relevant, quality websites.
- Enjoy exposure for your brand and spikes in your organic keyword traffic.
Hope you enjoyed my “Innovative Marketing” submission. I felt it was worthy to share because this simple, actionable technique has doubled my organic traffic from targeted keywords in two months, and has delivered exposure to my product brand that is very difficult to find elsewhere.
How are you going to implement this strategy for your company? Do you have suggestions on how to guest blog in a way that is more effective?
Get Started With Guest Blogging
Use this handy guide to get started with guest blogging!