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Guest Posting: How to Win at SEO and Establish Your Brand

Guest Posting: How to Win at SEO and Establish Your Brand

Becoming an industry thought leader should be a goal for every brand regardless of their industry or target audience. 

According to a recent New York Times survey, the market opportunity for brands to showcase thought leadership has never been more significant. Some 70% of respondents believed that brands are as capable of being thought leaders as individuals, and as much as 77% answered no to the question, ‘Does a thought leader need to have a large social media following?’

This data suggests that brands can build thought leadership without relying on influencers or the challenge of leveraging a significant social media presence. 

Financial Times data suggests that 78% of thought leadership consumers and producers agree they’re more likely to trust a company if it produces intelligent thought leadership. 

Today, the most effective means of establishing your brand as a thought leader is through quality content and a guest posting strategy that appeals directly to your target audience in an engaging and relevant manner. 

But how can brands generate higher volumes of leads and enhance their conversion rates through their guest posting strategy? Let’s take a deeper look at how to utilise SEO to become a thought leader in your niche: 

Identify Your Audience

Target Market Vs Audience

Marketing to the right audience is essential to secure value for money regarding cost-per-click and maximum influencer engagement. Still, Marketo data suggests that 56% of consumers believe that brands need a deeper understanding of their needs. 

This makes identifying and appealing directly to your target audience crucial in establishing your brand as an industry thought leader. 

Here, a little research goes a long way. Whether you provide surveys as part of order confirmation emails to gain a better understanding of who your customers are or utilise Google Analytics and other analytical tools to build your insights into customer needs and online behaviours, this can go some way in identifying who you’re appealing to in your guest posting strategy. 

Conducting social listening can also be a great solution, and searching for brand mentions on different social media platforms means you can gauge sentiment across networks with varying user demographics. 

Use Keyword Analysis to Identify Opportunities

Now you know who your guest posts will be targeting, it’s time to look at how to reach them through your content. 

By conducting keyword research, you can optimise your content to become more discoverable on search engines for your leads. 

But how can you identify the most effective keywords in your industry? Utilising the proper keyword analysis tools can help you to understand where your best keyword prospects are. 

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Keyword Analysis Ahrefs

Many great keyword analysis tools are available, but for this example, let’s look at Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. While you can add any term to the Keywords Explorer to gain an understanding of its Keyword Difficulty (a metric that assesses how hard it would be to rank in Google’s top 10 SERPs), it’s also possible to take a closer look at queries that have high search volumes and low difficulty. 

Looking at the screenshot above, we can see how this works for a hypothetical fitness brand. In sorting keywords by the lowest difficulty and customising the traffic potential of results, we can gain a clear view of what users search on Google that our brand could directly access by creating optimised content. 

With terms like ‘What is Apple Fitness +’ and ‘How much does Apple Fitness cost?’ offering a traffic potential of 18,000 visitors each, our hypothetical fitness brand could create a thought piece that analyses fitness apps like Apple Fitness+ and compares it to its products.

Our brand could also utilise the term ‘Why is fitness important for everyone’ as a subheading in an article that breaks down the science behind an effective fitness plan. 

With the right keyword analysis tool, you’ll not only be able to bolster your SEO. Still, you will have access to an adequate flow of guest post inspiration that could secure higher traffic volumes to both your host website and your landing pages with the help of a strong enough backlink. 

However, this is provided that your content quality is up to scratch. So, how can you write the perfect guest post?

Anatomy of the Perfect Guest Post

Perfect Blog Post Content Website Redesigning

How long is the perfect guest post? From an SEO perspective, 2,250 to 2,500 words are the sweet spot for reaching the front page of Google’s SERPs. Long-form content has consistently achieved higher results than its shorter counterparts, and this plays into the hands of establishing thought leadership.

In building a guest post that strengthens your position as a thought leader, you’ll need to use your copy to showcase your expertise entertaining and informatively. 

Be sure to take relevant topics and add your perspective on them. If you can add an accurate and refreshing perspective or a well-researched counterpoint to industry practices, you’re more likely to resonate with your audience and earn their trust. 

As well as keyword research, it’s worth conducting some social listening here to see what industry topics your target audience is discussing online. This can help you to understand sentiment and craft content that can engage and challenge your audience. 

Additionally, ensuring that you’ve established sufficient exposure for your brand within the guest post is essential. Because it will be published on a host website, you can access your audience and earn traffic through well-positioned backlinks. Avoid shoehorning mentions of your company for the sake of it, but make sure you add a bio to your content that highlights your experience and value to the reader. 

This can help from a networking perspective while ensuring you’re easy to find online should your readers want more information.

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This process can be time-consuming for many startups or SMEs when resources are focused on meeting other organisational demands. However, it’s possible to use a specialist SEO agency with in-house journalists and creative writers to create optimised content and undertake manual outreach to take control of the entire publishing process.

Discovering Host Websites

Now that you understand your target audience and how to create SEO content that suits their wants and needs, we must focus on discovering the host websites for your guest post content. 

Identifying the perfect host website requires brands to find a relevant platform willing to publish their content to a broader audience. 

So, where can these host websites be found? Many well-known platforms, such as Hackernoon, Mashable, and HubSpot, publish quality content online. Still, with the right level of research, it’s possible to broaden your reach and discover many great host websites that suit your specific niche. 

Let’s check back on our hypothetical fitness brand to do this. Using Ahrefs’ Backlinks tool, exploring the links built by industry-leading websites is possible. For our guest posting strategy, this is a great way to identify which websites have already accepted guest posts or can be seen to publish content that’s relevant to our brand.

Ahrefs Backlink Tool Guest Posting

In this example, we can use Healthline as a top website directly linked to the fitness industry and spot its best backlinks for opportunities to pitch our content to host websites. 

To improve the quality of your results, it’s worth filtering only dofollow links and ensuring that the language is set to English for your results. 

Ahrefs’ tool allows us to sort backlink results using host websites' Domain Reputation (DR). This metric is the perceived reputation of a website based on the quality of its backlinks. A backlink from a high DR website can work wonders for your on-site SEO and secure a high volume of monthly visitors to your pages. 

However, publishing guest posts on high-DR websites can be challenging, so setting up a pitch to its editors can take time and effort. Let’s look at how to conduct effective outreach to ensure your posts earn the backlinks they deserve. 

Crafting the Perfect Outreach

Once you’ve identified your perfect host website, you must contact the appropriate editor to send them a suitable pitch. 

Outreach Strategy For Guest Posting

Email prospects can be discovered using platforms like Hunter.io, which crawls pages to identify staff emails. However, combining these engines with your research is best to prevent mistakes in determining current staff members and their roles. 

Some websites have mastheads with embedded editor emails, while others can feature editor emails as part of their profiles, accessible through their blog pages. 

Creating a sense of urgency or using superlatives to grab attention can be tempting for your pitch. Still, often, it’s worth avoiding tricking your recipient into opening your email. Specify that you’re offering them a guest post and explain why it could be relevant to their audience. Or offer article suggestions based on their existing website content

The internet is competitive, and there are no right or wrong ways to craft a guest post pitch. So, it’s worth experimenting with your approach and building on the strategies that give you the best results. 

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As you seek to position yourself as a thought leader, add your credentials and explain why your insight adds value to the piece you’re pitching.

At this stage, it’s also important to state that you shouldn’t expect a response for any of your outreach emails. Attaining an email open rate of between 25-38% is considered good when pitching guest posts, and with this in mind, blending quality and quantity for your pitches is the most sustainable course of action. Identify your prospects and pitch to all of them, then refine your content based on the prospects that reply. 

Building a Sustainable Guest Posting Strategy

Based on industry trends and Google’s crawler guidelines, guest posting strategies can evolve. With this in mind, it’s always worth reviewing your processes to stamp out emerging inefficiencies before they damage your approach. 

You should also monitor the traffic you receive from your guest posts by checking for any spikes in visitors around when your content is published or by setting up a separate landing page to monitor the traffic flow. 

By creating a strategy that can be maintained consistently, you can build your SEO credentials and welcome a higher volume of leads to your website in a sustainable manner. 

In establishing yourself as a thought leader through authoritative content, your brand can earn more audience trust and secure a greater volume of conversions, all through a cost-effective guest posting strategy that allows you to share your expertise with all of your leads on a larger scale. 

FAQs

What’s guest posting?

Guest posting means to write and publish an article or blog on someone else’s website. In other words, you create content that will be published on a relevant and authoritative site in your industry.

Why is it important for SEO?

You can improve your website’s SEO by earning backlinks from high-quality sites through guest posting. These links inform search engines that your website is an authority in the field; hence, it can boost your rankings on SERPs (search engine result pages).

How does it help establish my brand?

Indeed, sharing posts via popular, well-known websites of one’s niche enhances the visibility of their brands. This also allows them to reach out to more people who could become interested in what they do or sell. Regularly contributing excellent quality articles as guests can additionally position an individual or their business as leaders within particular areas.

How can I find good guest posting opportunities?

First, identify popular authoritative blogs or websites that accept submissions from guests within your industry. Look for those with higher domain authorities, relevant readerships and active engagements. You might utilise search engines such as Google while still having directories explicitly designed to find places to post as a guest.

What makes a successful guest post?

A successful guest post should be informative, engaging and well-researched. It needs to provide value for readers of the hosting site while adhering to its content guidelines and editorial standards. Additionally, it must have appropriate internal and external links plus a compelling author bio.

How do I pitch a guest post idea?

When pitching an idea for such a contribution, consider what types of things are discussed on these platforms. What interests them most? What are some current trends within this space that make good topics? Craft something compelling around these points, then include proposed word count details alongside any relevant experience credentials, etc.

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Should I include links in my guest posts?

You are generally encouraged to include links in your posts as long as they are relevant. However, you should follow the site's guidelines regarding linking and prioritise the reader’s benefit over self-promotion.

How can I get the most out of guest posting for SEO?

To maximise its potential for search engine optimisation purposes, publish content on high-quality, authoritative sites related to your niche. Focus keywords strategically throughout all posts and use contextual links towards specific pages or websites that need ranking. Consistently producing excellent pieces may eventually establish one’s website as an authority in any field.

Can guest posting lead to other opportunities?

Yes. Guest posting can be a doorway into more speaking engagements, collaborative work like partnerships among businesses; job offers for freelancers, etcetera. By sharing knowledge through this method, people start seeing you as an expert, which may lure them into wanting further association with you professionally or even personally, thus creating such chances.

What are some common mistakes with guest posting?

Some common mistakes include low-quality research and content production, excessive self-promotion, ignoring audience or site guidelines, bad link practices (such as no-following), and ignoring best practices for attributing others’ work (giving credit where it’s due). Also, the same piece posted on different platforms is considered duplicate material; thus, detrimental effects on one's SEO efforts should be avoided at all costs.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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