If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that guest blogging has been producing great returns, in terms of traffic, backlinks, and email subscribers, for me. But how do you figure out what sites present the best guest blogging opportunities? How do you find the best places to guest blog?
To get the best results, you want to guest blog on sites that your audience reads, accept guest posts, and will give you a lot of traffic in both the short term and long-term. But how do you figure out what sites meet those criteria?
This post covers a five step strategy for determining the best places for you to guest blog:
1. Who are your customers?
You can’t know where to guest blog unless you know who you’re trying to reach. For an early stage startup, it may take some testing and hypothesizing to determine who that is exactly…
Here are a couple questions I like to ask to start determining what the target customer segment(s) might be: Who is most severely affected by the problem your content is solving? Who would absolutely love to read your article? Think very specifically.
For example, people who might find this post, about guest blogging opportunities, valuable include beginner to immediate bloggers concerned with getting more traffic and backlinks and boosting SEO. Another would be early stage software entrepreneurs who are using content marketing to acquire customers.
2. What do your customers read?
The next step, after figuring out who your customers are, is to go where they go. As it pertains to guest blogging, you want to get published on the sites that they are already reading. It will be a lot easier to attract customers if you get in where they already are (instead of trying to pull them to you).
You want to figure out what sites your customers read, and are relevant to the product, service, and/or content you provide. Here are a few ways to figure out what your customers are reading:
a. Customer development interviews
Customer development can be used beyond just validating business ideas. Yay! Asking your customers what they read is a great way to figure out where to guest blog.
Here are some customer development questions I have asked to figure out what people read: What are your favorite blogs? What are your favorite news sites? What sites do you read for news and educational content related to your industry?
Sometimes it’s as simple as just asking your customers
b. Search on Google
Search for the words your customers are likely to be searching for. For example, if your customers are content marketers, you could search “content marketing”, or “content marketing blog” to make sure you are finding sites that are blogs. You could also search for the specific topic(s) of your article, such as guest blogging, email marketing, public relations, etc..
Before you search, make sure you’re searching the right terms — the terms that are being searched by your audience. You might be surprised by what you find. I thought that “startup ideas” would be a common search term, but it turned out that “business ideas” was about 10x more common.
Start with google keyword planner to determine what those common search keywords and phrases even are. Enter in some ideas and the tool will show you how much search volume it gets and make suggestions for other relevant and popular search terms.
c. Audience intelligence tools
If you have an email list and/or social following you can learn more about your audience and what they read. There are some very powerful, and expensive, audience intelligence tools that can tell you a lot about who your customers are. I’m cheap, so I don’t have a lot of experience with those, but I have gotten a lot of value from a couple of other free tools.
One simply, free, and easy to use audience intelligence tool is analytics.twitter.com. Go to the “followers” tab. There you can see what your audience’s interests are and who they are commonly following. This can give you an idea of what kinds sites, and some specific site you might be able to find similar people.
As you can see, there are a few blogs on my list. And maybe the individuals on the list have blogs of their own. Those could be great sites for me to guest blog on.
Another tool is Followerwonk, where you can search Twitter bios by your target keywords, rank people by their influence, then see if they have blogs that accept guest posts.
Using this strategy, make sure your followers are within your target customer segment (not always true because there is so much spam on Twitter hah.), and still do some qualitative due diligence on the sites you find.
3. What sites accept guest posts?
It’s important to find not just any sites, but sites that actually accept guest posts. Not all sites accept guest or contributor posts. Here are two ways you can determine if a site accepts guest posts:
a. Look for a “contact” page or “contribute” page. Look at the top headings or at the bottom footer of the websites.
b. Search the site name + write for us. For example, for http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/. I searched “Social Media Explorer write for us” and found this http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/how-to-pitch-sme/. You can also try searching “site name + contribute.” For example, “Social Media Explorer contribute”
Take note of their policies on how to pitch, what to pitch, etc.. We’ll come back to that later.
4. What sites have the best reach?
You might find a site that’s completely relevant to your topic and your audience, and accepts guest post, but if they are too small, they might not provide a good return on investment. To qualify potential places to guest post, there are a fey metrics you can look at:
a. Page rank. The higher the better. Better back links for you. plus the post itself will rank higher on Google than the equivalent post on a lower page ranking site. Also, a higher page ranking site is likely to have more traffic, landing you more reads and potentially click throughs to your website. To sites you can use to check a site’s authority are Moz’s open site explorer and CheckPageRank.net
b. Email subscribers. Not all sites disclose this publicly, some don’t even disclose this privately. But the larger a site’s email list, the more views your post is likely to get.
c. Social following. How many Twitter followers, Facebook likes, etc. do they have? I know some sites get a significant amount of their traffic from their social channels, so if they have a large social following, guest posting there can get more traffic to the guest post because they will almost definitely share it on their social channels.
d. Reputation. One benefit of being published on big sites is that it can improve your reputation. What are your customers perception of the site? If you are a B2B software company, publishing on Buzzfeed might not be viewed as favorably by your customers as being published on a site like The Wall Street Journal.
5. Pitch and see
To briefly summarize, you want a site that is read by your target audience, has a lot of traffic and high page rank, and will accept your guest post. You can never know for sure which sites will accept or produce the best results. Like so many other aspects of business, it requires testing.
That’s why the next and final step is simply to pitch and see what sites accept and what produce the best outcomes for you. After you’ve found some sites that meet the above criteria, see which ones will accept your content, and which produce the best results.
I certainly haven’t been published by 100% of the sites I’ve pitched to. I probably haven’t even been published by 50% of the sites I’ve sites I’ve pitched to. Some of my guest posts have landed me a lot of traffic, email subscribers, and juicy backlinks, and some haven’t. But by testing and interpreting I can now double down on what’s working.
To increase your chances of being accepted by top site, create awesome content, and follow the instructions the site gives on how they preferred to be pitched. If the big sites aren’t accepting your guest posts, you can start with smaller, but still relevant, sites and climb your way up.