Welcome to the second installment of our Guest Blogging series. In this article we’ll discuss:
- How to define your niche and know what types of sites to target
- The best way to build a list of guest blogging opportunities
- What the best qualities are to look for in a guest blogging site.
After you’re done digesting this article, check out the additional articles in this series where we talk about getting approved at a guest blog site, creating engaging content, as well as how to convert readers of your guest blog article into an audience of your own.
Know Your Voice
It’s no secret that guest blogging can bring a lot of value to your blog or website. Since it can be very rewarding when done right, there is a lot of content and experienced writers out there to compete with. To compete effectively, you’ll need to create engaging content with a highly focused approach in order to target a niche that is relevant to you. Consider what your core competency is as a business. This isn’t just the day to day tasks that you perform, its the ones that you do exceptionally well and that set you apart from your competitors.
Get a good list of your best qualities as a business going and try not to over-analyze. You want your thoughts to be organic and not forced. Also try to be specific in your thoughts. For example, instead of saying, “We’re the best online technology store.” you could say, “We sell the latest tech products and deliver them faster than our competition.”. Once you have some ideas, look back through them and pick 3 to 5 of the ones you feel the strongest about. Consider these options carefully and start fleshing the thoughts out further. To do this, you might try asking yourself some questions on each one:
- If I were to explain my core competency to another person, how would I do it?
- What are the primary reasons that I consider this to be my business’s main strength?
- Do I receive regular feedback from my customers that affirm this belief?
- Are there specific customers or experiences that I can reference that showcase this competency?
- How important is this aspect of my business to my customer base?
These questions are just to get you started. Think of more on your own and keep answering them. In the end, you should start seeing differences between the ideas that you wrote down. The ideas with the most merit will be the ones that you were able to answer clearly, concisely, and confidently. Of course, you may find that you have more than one front runner, and that’s great! You can either use both to frame your thinking as we proceed, try to combine them, or just choose one to keep in mind and save the others for later.
The next step will be to figure out who you’ll be speaking to. If you’ve already been writing for a while, you probably have a pretty good idea about what your audience likes. But there might be other groups that are interested as well. Think about what your readers’ interests are and what they do in their spare time. Continuing with our example from earlier, if you were trying to get traffic to your tech store’s website, you might target people who are interested in web design, software, or high end luggage since many people in the tech industry travel a lot. Jot some notes down so you can keep track of related topics, or do a quick Google search to get the juices flowing. Once you have another good set of information about your audience, its time to start the search for guest blogging opportunities.
Find a Guest Blogging Opportunity
So now you know what kind of content you’re going to write, as well as who you’ll be writing for. It’s finally time to find some guest blogging sites. The first place that we recommend starting is Google. Start doing some general searches that are along the lines of ‘guest blogging opportunities about BLANK’ where the blank is one of your audience’s interests or your core competency. See if you can find any good opportunities this way. The great thing about using Google, is that it’s easy to tell which guest blogs are the most popular. The one’s that are on the first page are the ones that will have the best traffic for the term that you searched. If you notice one or two sites that are on the first page as you continue to search different interests, then those sites are even more relevant for you. Record any sites that pop up consistently or seem like a good match.
You can also use some Google search tricks to help narrow your search. For example, try searching in the following format, replacing ‘Keyword’ with one of the interests of your audience:
Keyword + “guest blogging opportunity”, or Keyword + “become a contributor”.
tech travel luggage “guest blogging opportunity”, or tech travel luggage “become a contributor”.
Try some different variations of this and don’t forget to record your results. For sites that you didn’t find using a search operator, you can confirm that they are offering guest blogging opportunities by using the following search format, replacing the word ‘domain’ within ‘site:domain’ with the URL of the website you’re targeting using this format:
site:domain + “guest blogging”, or site:domain + “apply to guest blog”.
site:yoursiteworks.com + “guest blogging”, or site:yoursiteworks.com + “apply to guest blog”.
Feel free to experiment with the operators to get different results. Make sure to record the ones that seem like the best fits, making note of the specific interest or niche audience that each one targets. You should also spend some time looking around the sites that are your favorite for instructions on how to apply. Make note of that as well.
You can also find some guest blogging sites by using industry community-type websites, or forums. Start by again performing a Google search, and then instead of searching for guest blogging opportunities within a certain interest group, try searching for online forums and discussion boards. These websites may have opportunities themselves, but mostly they are a great way to get in touch with others in a similar field and ask for recommendations. Post a note or start a thread on some of the more popular topics that are relevant to you and ask the folks already on the forum for input on where the best guest blogging opportunities within your niche are. If you clearly describe your target audience and core competency to the forum, they should have no problem recommending some sites. Then, use the same methods that we outlined above to vet the sites further.
Other Things to Consider
You’ll recall from the previous article that one of the big benefits of guest blogging is that it can create a valuable internet backlink to your website from a trusted source, which helps improve your own SEO value. With this in mind, there is one last thing to consider when looking up writing opportunities, and that is whether or not the site offers a backlink, and whether or not it is a ‘follow’ or ‘nofollow’ link. If a link is set to ‘nofollow’, then even though it does point to your webpage, it does not carry any actual SEO value, and is essentially ignored by the search engines.
To test this, visit the blogging sites you’ve listed and pull up an article by a contributor. Look around the page and see if there is a link back to their website. Then, right click on the actual text that links back to their site, and select the option that says ‘Inspect Element’ (or similar wording, depending on the browser that you’re using). A panel should appear on a portion of your screen with some HTML code and other information. As you hover over the text that you right clicked, a specific piece of code should also be selected as well. The code should look something like this:
<a href=”www.yoursiteworks.com” rel=”nofollow”>
If you see an attribute that says rel=”nofollow” anywhere within the <a > tag, then the site is not passing along any SEO value. Mark this accordingly on your tracking sheet, these are sites can still help you get your name out, but should be treated as a lower priority versus the ones that do not have the tag.
Review Your Options
By now you should have a lot of valuable information that will help you find some great guest blogging opportunities. Review the information that you wrote down and clarify any points that don’t make sense. After you’ve finalized all of the information, its time to plan your next step: applying and getting approved. In our next post, we’ll discuss how to effectively present yourself to a guest blog opportunity while maximizing your chances for approval. Click below to continue!