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5 Pillars of a Guest Blogging SEO Strategy

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guest blogging SEO

If you want to increase your guest blogging SEO value, this is the guide for you. I’m a huge supporter of guest blogging as an SEO tactic. It’s not only a significant part of the organic content marketing strategy for my own business, but my clients as well. 

Link building can be used to increase the authority and SEO value of your website, but it’s easy to do it wrong—causing more harm than good. You need a strategic and targeted plan to make the most of your guest blogging SEO efforts.

Here are five strategies (plus examples) that I use to optimize the SEO value of my guest blogging programs. 

How to Use Guest Posting to Build Thought Leadership

1. Natural Keyword Use

Ideally, when you write a contributed article for an external publication, you want to link to resource pages or blog posts on your website. An easy way to drive additional SEO value to the pages you link to is by effectively using the keyword from that page in your anchor text. I’m not talking about early 2000’s keyword use, with 2-3 word anchor text that (I.E. “HR software” or “call center software”—yes, that’s how I did it at my first job!). 

If you’ve taken the time to keyword optimize that page, the keyword can be found in the title of the page or blog post—and that’s what you want to link to, allowing you to hit two key SEO value points:

  • Providing Google (and readers) with text that’s clear about where visitors are going. 
  • Further ranking for that particular keyword, without using spam practices.

Most importantly, this looks natural and can even drive more readers to click through because you’re not “hiding” the link. Look at my guest post for PPC Hero where I linked to my backlink strategy article: 

2. High-Quality Placement Sites

The goal of link building is to secure a link to your website within the article, but not just any site is worthy of linking to your great content. While some organic back linking will drive low-quality backlinks (think: republishing sites, bloggers referencing your work, etc.), when being intentional guest posting, you need to be picky about the placement sites you choose. The higher the SEO value of your placement site, the more “link juice” passed to your site.  

To practice good guest blogging SEO, keep these factors in mind when securing placements that link back to your site: 

  • Domain Authority (DA): 40+ is the DA goal for all placement sites I target for my website and my clients’.  If the site has a higher DA than your own, you’re in good shape! 
  • Regular posts: Ensure the blog consistently publishes new content, either weekly or monthly. This means their SEO value is likely always increasing, which means your link will continue to grow in SEO value as well.
  • Value-driven content: Read a few of the site’s other posts. Make sure they’re content is high quality, which means that they’re more likely to be seen favorably in Google’s eyes.
  • High caliber guest authors: Take a look at their other authors. Are they professionals or leaders like yourself? Make sure the site authors prioritize author value in addition to content value. This relates back to E-A-T, which we’ll talk about next.

Want to learn more about finding good placements? Check out my CMI Twitter Chat.

3. Author E.A.T

Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, (a guide that explains how they judge content to rank for SERPs), emphasizes the E-A-T of content and the author. This stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Ian Booth, SEO executive at Wolfgang Digital, explains this concept well in his article for Moz: “Google doesn’t just care about delivering the most relevant information—they also want to deliver the correct information.”

Booth explains that this allows them to protect searchers from “low-quality content that has the potential to be detrimental.” What this means for guest blogging SEO strategy: one factor in making sure your article ranks as well as possible—and therefore drives the most possible link juice back to your site—the content creator (you) must be an expert. More importantly, the more targeted you are with site choice, the more likely you are to build your authority in your space. 

To establish your E-A-T for yourself as a guest author, take the following steps: 

  • Focus on your strengths: Only guest blog about topics that you have professional and personal experience with. (More on this in #5). 
  • Appropriately source your content: Support your claims with data, reports, or other expert advice. (For detailed instructions on how to do this, hop over to our blog research guide). 
  • Author profile: Explain your professional background with links that further define your E-A-T. For example, refer to my author profile for SmartBrief
  • Explain your background in the article: When relevant, you can also include your own proprietary data, or link to your other value-driven guest posts, to further demonstrate subject expertise. Notice in my Business Insider article, I explained my background directly in the title, I.E., why I’m qualified to write about that. 

4. Placement Link Planning

Once you’ve secured a placement, you need to do more than just write an article and link to any old page on your website. You need to have a plan to maximize the SEO value of that link. When developing this strategy, keep a few details in mind:

  • The links you include need to be value-based, resource links. Not sales pages, but blog posts, guides, reports, case studies and free downloads. 
  • Choose links that provide value to your business. Think: a high-converting CTA, a download form, a subscriber signup, etc. That way, you can cash in on the increased traffic from that link and get those new site visitors into your funnel. 
  • Choose links that are properly SEO-optimized. 

Solidify your linking strategy by compiling a list of pages that you’ll focus on when writing guest posts. This will guide which sites you reach out to and what topics you pitch, so get this figured out first and foremost.

If you want more help connecting with the right websites, read my article How to Win More Guest Post Opportunities With Great Pitching.

5. Niche Placement Focus

It’s easy to get placements with “low-hanging fruit.” Just because a website owner or editor welcomes guest posts because they want free content, doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for your brand. Links from irrelevant, low-quality websites don’t look good for your SEO and can actually hurt your rankings in the long run. 

What’s more, you want to drive relevant traffic to your site. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, and you write a guest post on a low-quality lifestyle site, when those readers click and land on your site, there’s a good chance they’ll bounce. Non-targeted site visitors and high bounce rates will hurt your SEO more than help. 

Even if it’s hard, stick within your niche. This requires patience in finding those sites and regular outreach to the sites you find, weekly, preferably, and then following up after seven days to get through the noise of the inbox.

Structure Your Guest Blogging SEO Strategy 

SEO is not just for your website. Develop a guest blogging SEO strategy to ensure that your link building efforts are effective in driving backlinks, building thought leadership and turning readers into brand advocates. 

Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, a content marketing agency. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications, including Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

5 Pillars of a Guest Blogging SEO Strategy

By: Jessica Thiefels Time to Read: 5 min