A Content Marketer’s Guide to Guest Blogging for SEO in 2022
by Agnes Gaddis
This post will show you everything you need to be successful at guest blogging SEO in 2022.
Many marketers consistently see rank-busting results with guest blogging. Based on a survey of 70 marketers by ReferralRock, 60% of marketers write 1-5 guest posts per month.
Pro blogger Adam Enfroy within a 12 month period wrote over 80 guest posts in 2019. The results were massive. His domain rating shot up from 0 to 76, and organic traffic increased from 0 to 300k. Also his blog started generating $61k in monthly revenue. All through guest blogging. Guest blogging is an underrated marketing tool, as I’ve been able to land high paying clients by writing for websites like GetResponse.
As long as you remain consistent, guest blogging will help you build your brand authority, domain authority, and reputation in 2022. And this article will show you how to do it right.
- What is guest blogging in SEO?
- How to create a guest blogging SEO strategy
- How to do guest posting SEO in 2022
- 1. Find relevant guest blogging opportunities in your niche
- 2. Assess guest blogging opportunities
- 3. Build a relationship from the start – send a good pitch
- 4. Find good headlines and create an outline
- 5. Include relevant internal and external links
- 6. No paid guest posting
- How to write a guest post
- 1. Think like an editor
- 2. Opt for long form content
- 3. Do extensive research to position yourself as an expert
- 4. Don’t over-rely on keywords, don’t neglect searcher intent
- Spammy guest posting practices to avoid in 2022
- Does guest blogging still work in 2022?
What is guest blogging in SEO?
Guest posting or guest blogging is simply when you contribute content to a more popular or authoritative website, usually in your niche. The goal is usually to build traffic, boost domain authority, raise brand awareness or just to build your network.
However, when it comes to quick keyword and organic traffic gains, guest blogging might not be your best bet. You should probably try paid advertising. But there is no organic tactic that will give you significant ranking and traffic results in a jiffy.
So, guest blogging is a long-term SEO tactic and as such should be combined with effective content marketing and whitehat SEO tactics to build domain authority. Overall, 54% of marketers agree that guest blogging is still the most effective way to build links.
I can attest to this. With just 3 guest posts and author bio links on high authority websites, my website DA rose by 800% within a couple months. I’ve not created much content, optimized content or built links any other way so it definitely must be guest blogging.
How to create a guest blogging SEO strategy
1. Define your guest blogging goals
Whenever you set a goal, make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to know which websites to target, how frequently you should write, and what topics on your website should be linked to.
Marketers who do guest blogging usually have one of three goals.
- Establish authority within the industry
- Increase website’s exposure (traffic)
- Create links to their own website
There are other goals you could set. For example, guest blogging is a strategy to get new clients or build industry relationships. But these goals can be difficult to measure. How many new clients did you get through your one guest post?
But for SEO purposes, your goal would usually be to get X number of backlinks from high quality relevant websites with DR in the range of 55+. The goal could also be to improve SERP performance by acquiring links from X relevant, high-quality websites. These are far easier to track.
2. Define criteria for guest blogging sites
The best blogs for achieving your goal of brand awareness or traffic will have a wide and active audience. This may not be that important when you are guest posting for SEO. But your selected blogs for SEO purposes must have strong root domain authority. Websites with high domain authority are more likely to rank well for relevant keywords in the SERPs.
In many cases therefore, a blog with high domain authority also has substantial traffic and can offer brand awareness.
In short, you need to have the following criteria for judging guest posting opportunities if you really want to achieve significant results with guest blogging:
- Content quality. Does the website create high-quality content? This means your own great content wouldn’t go to waste on a website that accepts guest posts from every Tom, Dick and Harry.
- Domain Authority. Is the website authoritative enough? It should at least have a DA of 30.
- Relevance. Is the website relevant to what you do? How many of the keywords it tries to rank for are relevant to your business or industry?
3. Define tracking and social sharing tools.
If you want to track the SEO results of guest blogging, you need to do it over a minimum of a couple of months. Look for patterns in successful guest posts vs donkey guest posts.
An easy way to track your guest posts is to head over to Buzzsumo and do an author search. Instead of a keyword or a website, use your author name in the search box. It will show you a list of places your name has been featured in the author bio plus the social share count of each of your guest posts.
You should also keep track of traffic gained to your website from each guest post. You can track referrals with either Google Analytics or Clicky. If you want to check track of changes in number of backlinks, referring domains, and number of keywords your website ranks for, use Ahrefs.
If you want to build traffic, you can keep a record of the websites you’ve guest posted for and the amount of views they each offered you. This will give you insights on the websites to focus on in the future.
You should also plan for social sharing. How would you market your guest posts? The same channels you use for promoting your own content can also be used to promote guest blog posts. Share your guest posts on social media and mention it in your email marketing newsletter. This is crucial if you want to increase brand awareness.
How to do guest posting SEO in 2022
1. Find relevant guest blogging opportunities in your niche
The first question you should ask when looking for guest blogging opportunities is: Is this website relevant to mine?
That means it is either directly related to your focus industry or complements your industry with its products or services? For example, Getresponse caters to real estate marketers. Getresponse isn’t in the real estate industry but they have a solid base of real estate users and so target real estate professionals with some of their content.
We’ll talk more about eliminating irrelevant websites later. But here are the major ways to find guest blogging opportunities. You want to be sure the website accepts guest posts before sending your pitch.
1. Google Advanced search operators.
See a list of advanced link building search operators here.
Here’s how I do it:
I use some of the highest average monthly search keywords on my Google Keyword Planner (KP) domain search results to create variety.
Then I use any of these strings to build my list
1. (Keyword) intext: “submit a guest post”
2. (Keyword) intext: “is written by”
3. (Keyword) “intext: written by”
4. (Keyword) intext: “is a guest post by”
5. (Keyword) + “guest post”
6. (Keyword) + “write for us”
7. (Keyword) + “guest article”
8. (Keyword) + “become a contributor”
9. (Keyword) + “guest writer”
10. (Keyword) + “contributor guidelines”
2. Google Author search
Check out prolific authors in your niche. Pick up a snippet from their author bio. Search this snippet in Google to build up a list of places they’ve written for.
Here’s how I do it:
View the top 100 authors on a common niche keyword using Ahrefs content explorer
Check under websites to find people that have created content on the topic on 2 or more websites. This is my result for the keyword “guest blogging”
From Ryan Robinson’s Entrepreneur author bio, I got some other websites he has written for.
3. Competitor Backlinks
Check out competitors that have done better than you i.e. they have higher domain authority but will possibly never give you a link. Yet they aren’t that far off. For example, if my website has a DA of 9, checking the backlinks of a DA 60 competitor is probably going to be a waste of time. But if my competitor has a DA of 30 or less, then I should check out domains linking to them.
Here’s how I do it:
For example, for agnesgaddis.com, I’ll check out zengrowth.de, with a DA of 17. The site has about 263 referring domains.
But to make sure I’m not wasting my time, I’ll use these filters:
2. DR: 40-90
3. Backlink type: in content
From 263, I have narrowed down to these four websites.
But I have to make sure they accept guest posts.
You can check using the Google search string:
site:abc.com “guest post” OR “write for us” OR “guest author” OR “contributor article”
This might not be super-important though. When you lead with a good guest post pitch, websites that do not accept guest posts may offer you link exchange opportunities. And this method offers an efficient way to find websites that allow link exchanges.
2. Assess guest blogging opportunities
Next, eliminate blogs that have:
- Lots of low quality content. This means they have a weak editorial process.
- Weak domain authority. Your guest blogging SEO strategy defines what domain authority to target.
- Spam score higher than 3%. You don’t want your links on these sites as they are probably doing shady SEO.
This means you should definitely skim through 1 or 2 of their existing content to judge its quality.
Check out the domain authority. You can also use domain rating, which is Ahrefs’ metric for website strength. You should probably use both.
Domain Rating measures the strength of a target website’s backlink profile on a scale of 1 to 100 in accordance with Ahrefs’ proprietary ranking metric. Domain Authority (DA) is a ranking metric developed by Moz that determines how a website performs in search engine results. The higher both numbers, the better.
Ahrefs would also give you the spam score. I use Keywords Everywhere to assess both domain authority and spam score at the same time.
You might also want to check traffic, social media following and email subscriptions if your goals are brand awareness and increased traffic. Some of this data may be published directly on the website. You can use tools like Ahrefs, Alexa and Semrush to check traffic.
3. Build a relationship from the start – send a good pitch
Editorial staff are constantly busy, so it is essential that their communications are easy to navigate visually. Don’t make your pitch too casual or too formal. You might repel some editors in either case. Fake compliments only make your emails bulky. You should get straight to the point. Don’t waste time following them and dropping comments all around social media too. I used to do this. It’s an ineffective way to scale guest blogging.
“If you are wasting time praising me, it means you hardly have anything valuable to share with me.” – Epictetus, famous Greek philosopher
A guest post is a partnership between you and the editor to publish a post, and yes you should expect your work to be scrutinized. Can you offer value to our audience? This is why I think you should always lead your pitches with personalized value.
Most editors are tired of seeing headlines. Every marketer you know probably does that. You can get the edge by doing a little more.
1. If you’ll be sending over ideas, send over short outlines and a short intro for each topic idea.
2. Offer insights on what themes drive the most traffic for their website and which ideas they might want to pursue next. Then offer to send over headline ideas on these. I’ve had success sending feeler emails in this manner.
3. Research one of their closest competitors to find content ideas that drive the most traffic for them. Then offer to create a better version of this, presenting your own well-baked outline.
4. Research their old articles that were poorly written. Offer to redo one of these, presenting a well-baked outline.
5. Send over a complete, fully edited and optimized article that doesn’t already exist on their website and that their audience would love.
You can also propose a value exchange where you offer to include them in a roundup you’re writing for a big site in exchange for a guest post on their website. The point is, offer something they’d likely want. Some marketers have had success with sending over physical gift cards.
While personalization is great, knowing the right person to reach out to is far more important. You might be barking up the wrong tree literally. Based on my experience, I’ll advise that you pitch a managing editor (if they have one), content director or marketing director. If they have an SEO manager or content manager, then you’re in luck.
4. Find good headlines and create an outline
You already identified some ways to add value to their website. For any headline or keyword you wish to write on, check to see if the website already has content on it. Use the Google string:
Some people prefer starting with keywords. But I believe it’s much better to start with a tentative headline, and then find a high MSV keyword as you go. I use headline generators and swipe files in some cases to make the work faster. Most times I use templates from my own swipe file. if you’re a professional writer, you should probably have some templates that work too.
You should come up with at least 5 headlines per article idea or tentative headline. You can use a tool like Aminstitute to judge how emphatic your headlines are. Shoot for at least 35%.
When writing headlines for SEO guest blogs, you should also consider the following:
1. Check the site to see which headline format has recently become their favorite.
2. According to a study by Conductor, people prefer headlines that contain numbers by a significant margin over all other types.
3. Outbrain and HubSpot conducted a study that found that headlines with odd numbers receive 20% more clicks than headlines with even numbers.
What about outlines? Should you send an outline?
Yes. Use Frase’s free outline generator to generate short outlines for your headlines. Note that these are short AI-generated outlines. You’d still need to do more research. But they help make your work faster and easier.
5. Include relevant internal and external links
What is the ideal number of links to include in your guest post? If the links aren’t relevant, you should include none. But if they are, there isn’t a set number of links so long as they all add value to the post. So, the big question is “how will this link improve my post”? When it doesn’t, ignore it. Else it’ll make your post look spammy, even if the content is super-useful.
Aside from link building, user experience plays a big role if you want the best ranking results. This is why dwell time is critical. One simple way to improve dwell time is to link internally as many times as necessary to other relevant content on the website.
One other thing you should understand about linking in guest posts is that your anchor texts matter. If you’re linking externally, keyword-rich anchor texts violate Google’s guidelines. Anchor texts are still a ranking signal in Google. But over-optimized anchor texts from guest posts can get you penalized. For example, exact-match anchor texts like this:
And after the Penguin update in 2013, many websites using this type of anchors saw their rankings drop significantly. So what’s the best type of anchor to use in your guest posts?
According to Nathan Gotch, branded anchors are the safest anchors (if you have a branded domain). Many of the most popular brand names have a high percentage of links originating from these types of anchors. In any other case, you should be using partial match anchor texts (use a variation of the keyword instead of the exact phrase. For example “guest blogging guide” linking to a page about guest blogging).
6. No paid guest posting
An entire industry exists around paid guest posting. But this is a spammy practice. It’s one of the reasons why former Google employee Matt Cutts declared guest blogging for SEO dead in 2014.
There are two things to be wary of here: guest blogging for the sole purpose of link building (is your post relevant and valuable?), and guest posting on sites that accept guest posts all the time. Websites that have little or no barrier to entry aren’t likely to pass on any authority. Most paid guest blogging sites fall into this category and sadly, no matter the amount you spend, your links will not count.
In fact, it got really messed up that Google asked blog owners who permit guest posts to tag the links from those posts with NOFOLLOW or sponsored. With the prevalence of paid guest posting, this was necessary. When the links are not relevant to the article’s context or when the links are sponsored, the above tags should be added. Understand that no-follow links aren’t entirely useless as they can still drive traffic to your website.
Similarly, you need to pay attention to link velocity. A sudden jump in your link velocity trend may cause Google to suspect algorithm manipulation. On the other hand, if it grows too slowly, your rankings decrease. While there is no absolute right number of links per month per industry, it might be worthwhile to take a look at some of your competitors. This will help you determine an ideal frequency. See their new backlinks per month via Ahrefs.
How to write a guest post
1. Think like an editor
We can separate editors into three categories depending on where they are in the relationship, what they expect from the relationship, and how they can be best catered to. Breanna Alverson, SEO relationship coordinator for Page One Power, writing for Search Engine Journal, identifies 3 stages
- Forming. The start of the relationship. The editor accepts your first article.
- Progressing. You build on the relationship. Thank them for publishing your article. Ask if they’d be interested in another.
- Establishing. At this stage, you are a regular contributor to the publication. If you don’t want to be a regular contributor, that’s fine too.
Brainstorming and initial research
If you were an editor, would you like this idea? Put yourself in their shoes. Would this blog idea be a good fit for their audience? This requires a degree of familiarity with their existing content. Ask yourself these questions before even sending over a topic idea:
1. What are their most popular pieces of content?
2. What types of content do they publish more of?
3. What is their most prominent theme or subject matter?
4. What sort of writing style do they prefer? Are their posts filled with facts and data or just casual, conversational-style articles?
5. What’s the average word count for their posts?
6. What keywords are their competitors targeting that they’re not?
7. Who is their target reader?
When you think like an editor, you instantly recognize what’s a good fit for the site and what’s not. You’ll also get a number of really creative ideas for your pitch during this research phase. This simple guest blogging SEO strategy separates you from the myriads of other guest bloggers.
2. Opt for long form content
Unless it’s a high authority, industry blog or a blog that sees significant traffic, then you should avoid blogs that post less than 1000 words of content. Your content has to remain relevant in the long run if you want higher ROI from guest posting. And long form, compelling content is the way to achieve that. Your content should contain at least 1000 words. If you’ve asked the questions above, you’ll already know what to shoot for.
Writing long form demands that you pay more attention to formatting. Your posts should be scan-able. Use subheadings, lists, bold texts and enough white space in your content. Google Docs’ Outline Tool will help you create better navigation using the right headers (H2, H3, H4, etc.)
Check other posts on the website to ensure you’re not overdoing your formatting. Your post should match the others on the website to make the editor’s work easier. It goes without saying that you should edit your work before submitting it.
3. Do extensive research to position yourself as an expert
Google wants to feature content from experts. But the problem is that the majority of experts aren’t proficient writers. They might even be competent writers but do not have time to write. So, even when I am not an expert on home maintenance topics, for a couple of hours, I can become an expert on the topic through efficient research. I can then let that expertise ooze into my guest post.
Here’s what you want to do to display expertise even when you’re not a full-blown expert:
- Choose topics you are familiar with or genuinely want to learn more about.
- Get stats and data from reputable sources.
- Use quotes from experts and authoritative sources.
- Read the latest articles and watch the best content on the theme or subject.
- Check Twitter and Google news to see recent conversations around the topic.
4. Don’t over-rely on keywords, don’t neglect searcher intent
Here’s a quick way to find topic ideas, instead of searching for keywords – short tail and long tail, use the people also ask section.
This shows you what people are actually searching for on the topic. Then using the questions, see what competitors have created.
Let’s say the post with the most views on my target website is a post on 3D printed homes. I want to see what questions people are asking about the topic. I could also read the article, then pick out a term in the sub-headline. I’ll use this to generate new topics.
Picking any of these questions (the most relevant one), I get these ideas.
Next, I will put my own twist on any of them. This is a quick way to find cool topic ideas for your guest post. See this post for more ways to generate cool topic ideas.
Spammy guest posting practices to avoid in 2022
According to its recent guidelines, Google frowns upon the following tactics when it comes to guest blogging at scale:
- Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles.
- Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on.
- Having articles across different numbers of sites with same or similar content across these articles.
“When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google’s perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking. Sites accepting and publishing such articles should carefully vet them, asking questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?”
Does guest blogging still work in 2022?
When you produce quality and original content for reputable websites, your guest posting SEO strategy will always be successful. However, marketers should know that guest posting doesn’t guarantee short term success. It takes frequency, consistency and an investment of time, effort and money.
Going it alone might not be a wise strategy. An average blog post takes 3.5 hours to write (and that number can soar up to 10+ hours for longer content). You should hire a freelance writer to create the content. And keep these tips in mind:
- Create original content that is well researched and relevant to the target audience
- Find ways to build relevant internal and external links
- Avoid posting content on low-quality or suspicious websites
- Stay away from paid guest posting
- Content should be error-free, readable, and scan-able
So you probably know the right way to find guest writing opportunities. In addition, you understand the precautions to take regarding guest posting SEO in 2022. But unless you are a guest writer, you are probably unaware that guest writing can take a lot of time from writing to outreach to drawn-out editing periods. It’s probably a wise idea to leave it to an expert. If your business operates in the marketing, real estate or home improvement niches, reach out to me. I’ll create and help execute a scalable guest blogging strategy for your business.
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