The Essentials of Guest-Blogging Strategy for SEO, Traffic, and Audience-Building

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This is the seventh post in the Content Connections series.

You know how we feel about digital sharecropping — we’ve strongly cautioned you about not building your business on rented land.

So why do we also tell you that guest blogging is one of the most effective strategies to build your audience?

Odd though it may seem, it’s because providing smart, well-written content on someone else’s site is a great way to efficiently hit a number of audience-growing strategies at the same time.

It’s also robust: unlike certain other strategies, guest blogging will stay strong despite what Google or other titans may do.

And if you tackle it strategically, guest blogging drives traffic (and other benefits) back to your site and builds your audience.

For your consideration today, here are four ways that guest blogging can grow your audience … which means growing your business.

First: How to avoid digital sharecropping

Guest posting takes a lot of work, mental energy, and time. So it’s smart to think about how you can get the most bang for your buck. The more strategically you think when you’re planning out your guest blogging program, the more you’re going to get out of it.

You need to hold two things in your head at the same time — how this post will benefit the host blog, and how it’s going to benefit your own business.

There will be times when you write a guest post to get a single one of the benefits outlined below — maybe to strengthen a relationship with an important content publisher.

But as often as you can, try to include every benefit in this post.

Pro Tip: Before you write a post, make sure you’ll be able to include at least one relevant link to your own content in the body of the post, as well as an audience-friendly call to action in your bio.

1. Guest blogging enhances your authority

When you’re getting started with content marketing, you may be incredibly knowledgeable about your topic — but you have little authority, because no one knows you yet.

Placing posts on other blogs helps your potential audience start to associate your name with high-quality information. And a bit of the authority of your host blog will transfer itself to you.

The more readers see your work, the more authority you will generate. It’s a cumulative process, but one that can happen quickly if you have the ability to put a lot of work in over a short period.

Pro Tip: If your topic is so competitive that you’re having trouble placing guest posts, look for lateral opportunities with content publishers who have the audience you want.

2. Guest blogging brings in an audience, not just traffic

Anyone can buy traffic using pay-per-click or other forms of advertising. And that can be a good strategy. But what you’re buying is just that … traffic.

Traffic from a guest post, on the other hand, is already an audience. In other words, it’s already a group of people interested in your topic who are also intrigued by what you have to say.

You’ll still need to convert those visitors into a longer-term relationship, by using smart content marketing strategies. But with a guest post, you’ve already taken the first few steps in that process.

Pro Tip: In the bio for your post, send traffic to a landing page you set up just for readers of that blog. Use a strong, clear call to action and remember that the content there needs to benefit the reader.

You’ll be able to add, refresh, or update content to your page as your business evolves, without having to ask the host blog to update a link.

3. Guest blogging builds your publisher network

How do little content publishers grow up to become big content publishers?

They make connections. They develop a healthy network of publishers (large and small) who will help them get the word out.

A tweet or link from a big enough publisher (one with a passionate, responsive audience) can get you well on your way to the minimum viable audience that can support your business.

You probably won’t start out by writing for the biggest names in your topic. And you don’t need to. Most successful content producers build their networks by writing for sites with slightly bigger audiences than their own, then gradually working up to sites that have more and more readers.

Pro Tip: Writing one post for a blog is nice, but writing multiple times for the same blog will bring in much greater rewards. Create a relationship with the blogs you write for, and contribute as regularly as you can. Once a month is often a good rhythm.

4. Guest blogging is superb for natural SEO

Building high-quality links is one of the trickiest elements of effective SEO. Guest posting allows you to get a relevant, natural link, using the anchor text of your choice, on a site that has excellent search engine authority.

Just remember: as always with SEO copywriting, keep things natural and audience-friendly. Write for the readers first, and search engines a distant second.

Pro Tip: Don’t stuff your guest posts with links back to your own material. One or two highly relevant links will do you more good. Include a few links to your host blog’s cornerstone content in your post as well.

OK, so how do I do it?

It’s one thing to know you want to place some guest posts … and another thing to actually place them.

Because guest blogging is such an important strategy, we’ve written about it often here on Copyblogger. I’ve also included some resources on other sites that will help you write great content and get it placed on high-quality sites.

This is part seven of the Content Connections series

This post is part of a series on making connections with other web publishers — the kinds of connections that will serve your business.

It’s the other half of content marketing — what happens after you’ve created something worth reading.

You can read the first six posts here:

  1. What Michael Phelps’ 19th Olympic Medal can Teach You About Smarter Online Marketing
  2. Score More Traffic, Subscribers, and Buyers by Discovering Your Second Customer
  3. How to Win a Zero-Sum Game: What to Do if Competitors Won’t Link to You
  4. The Granola-Munching Hippie’s Guide to All-Natural SEO
  5. A 10-Point Plan for Connecting with Online Influencers
  6. Need More Links and Social Shares? Try Making More Enemies
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Reader Comments (64)

  1. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Some very useful guest blogging tips and thank you very much for those!

    Guest blogging is by no doubt a very powerful audience builder, probably
    one of the most important in 2012 and looking forward.

    I will take these tips and implement them in my own guest blogging strategy.

    Daniel @ ForgetMeNutz

  2. says

    Although I have been accepting guest posts on my blog for a couple of years I have only recently started to think about writing guest posts myself. Posts like this will certainly help me understand a bit better about why I should be doing guest posts. :)

  3. says

    Couldn’t agree more with your 4 points. Guest blogging, provided you work to get on quality sites with actual readers, is a huge boon to SEO. It’s important to remember that it can take a lot of time to work your way up to being a guest author on a popular blog, so you just have to keep at it!

  4. says

    Hi Sonia,
    Thanks for this helpful post. With reference to your advice that the writer of a guest post should “include at least one relevant link to your own content in the body of the post, as well as an audience-friendly call to action in your bio,” I’ve come across a blog owner who insisted he would accept only a link to one’s blog placed in the bio, never in the body of the post. He also directed prospective writers of guest posts to simply state their site and what they do…and never to tell the readers to visit for a particular action.
    Would you advise writing a guest post for such a blog owner?

    • says

      A relevant link is the “pay” the host blog gives you for your hard work & good content. Blog owners do this because they’ve seen too many posts that are stuffed to the gills with links, which you shouldn’t do either. But to disallow even one relevant link strikes me as unreasonable.

      Now you may have a strongly compelling reason to do the post that outweighs the benefit of that link — only you can decide that.

    • says

      Each blog owner has his own rules. The rule may be unreasonable for us but I guess still having a link in your bio is good enough for a start. That could still get you somewhere especially if your article was really great. We have smart readers here.

  5. says

    Thanks for the point about publisher networks – I had never thought of guest blogging like this. I’m seeing more and more the importance of building an audience. From someone who comes from more of a technical SEO background, I’ll admit that I lost sight of the need for platform building.

    Thanks for the insight!

  6. says

    Great post, Sonia. I’m really enjoying this series, so thanks for all the time you’re putting into writing these posts.
    I think your most important point in this post is #3. I’ve come to believe that it’s the relationships of a publishing network that set apart the people who reach phenomenal levels of success vs. those who don’t see much traction at all.

  7. says

    Okay, Sonia, I’m still relatively new to blogging with only 22 posts since April of this year. When I’m happy with something I’ve written, I tend to want to keep it to myself to increase the content on my site.
    However, I ultimately find disappointment because my audience is still very small and therefore the engagement is limited. Fortunately, this has not yet curbed my enthusiasm for writing, but it doesn’t do much for motivation either.
    How many posts should be on my site before I begin submitting for guest posts? I’m sure there’s not a magic number, but would love to know your thoughts.

    • says

      I would say start writing guest posts when you feel good about the experience a new reader will have on your site. If there’s enough there to keep new audience members reasonably interested, you’re ready to promote your own blog, and guest posting is a very good way to do that.

  8. says

    This is definitely the way forward now Google is penalizing sites using low quality manipulative link building practices. One argument I often hear related to guest blogging is that you are investing time to create great content for other people that’s taking time away from your own site and helping them out. To me this holds very little weight if you think about guest blogging as creating strategic partnerships that help both site owners out. End of argument!

  9. says

    Thanx a lot for this nice and helpful tips.

    I have a question concerning the blogs we should target. How do you choose them in order to target the ones with enough traffic but not to much to get accepted?

    Thanx in advance ; )


  10. says

    Hi there Sonia, these are some true golden nuggets you have right here. I am very new to the IM world and in fact only uploaded my blog this week. So guest blogging for me is going to be a really cool way to get some targeted readers back to my blog and hear what I have to say.

    Thanks very much for the advice and I’m now off to read some of your other posts.


  11. Ronny Bedrosian says

    I tried approaching some of the bigger blogs that accept guest post applications through blogsynergy, but i got rejected by every single one of them.
    My own blog has a page rank of 3 and I read in other articles that it is important to guest blog on blogs with a higher rank. Don’t get me wrong, I am not only about page rank but I also don’t want to hurt it. Any ways, I also get the idea that I need to start small and get my way up. I think I will start looking for smaller blogs and hopefully use their connections to get to the bigger ones.
    Thanks for the tips.

  12. says

    I don’t know I have been blogging for about a month. I am a self-taught programmer so I created my own platform. I have reached success in the first four months. My blog is inside the 4 millionth most trafficked sites in just one month. However, I have had a problem finding people to guestblog on my site. It is Would you say it is harder to find people to guestblog as apposed to finding somebody to guestblog on your site? I went to and they have been no help to me whatsoever.

  13. says

    Thanks for a great article. Never done any guest posting anywhere but after reading the article and the informative comments, it seems the way to go. Going to give it a try!

  14. says

    I’ve just started guest blogging in earnest this year. Previously I was single-mindedly focused on my own blog. However, it just seemed right to spread my knowledge around the web. Especially in a community much larger than my own.

    Now that I’ve read this post I have a stronger sense of this being a smart move and one I’ll continue to do. Thanks for the Pro tips. I hadn’t even thought to include a relevant anchor link in my guest posts back to my site! I certainly will do so in the future.

  15. says

    I really love the post. I didn’t have such an idea about guest blogging and I think it will sounds much crucial if I start guest blogging in my site. Indeed this sounds so inspiring and educative. Keep it up!

  16. says

    Another great post on guest blogging. I think the most important take away from this article is to write content that will benefit the host blog as well as your own business. I’ve worked with many people who only think about how it will help their own business and they end up getting their posts denied frequently.

  17. says

    I’m finding that getting connected to bloggers in my niche is pretty easy. With social media its easy to reach out to bloggers. All it takes is creating conversation and then keeping up with those conversations. You have to stand out from the hundreds of others who are commenting on the blogger’s website.

    What I find hard is the writing aspect. The fear of creating something that is junk in the eyes of a ‘popular’ blogger. Love Jon Morrow’s course for this reason! Helps with gaining the writing ability and how to approach bloggers for guest post.

  18. says

    Great stuff. This article opened up my mind. But I find that it is easier to find a guest to write on my blog than to guest blog on other sites.

  19. says

    Still working to find good partners in my niche. Any ideas for directories or blog networks that help with guest posting? Thanks!

  20. says

    Hi Sonia :) I’m really moved by your point number #2 – ‘ Guest blogging attracts an audience not just traffic’
    But there’s one doubt – Is it worthy to write a guest post for a non-relevant blog? For example – if i am under photography niche, will it be worthy if i write a guest article for a tech blog? I would love to have your advice on this :)

    • says

      What I usually tell people is to get your content in front of the audience you want. So if you were going to write for a tech blog, it might be about how to take unbelievable photos with your phone. If you wrote for a parenting blog, it might be about how to take better pictures of family get-togethers. That way you’ll find the overlap between their audience and yours.

      If it’s a really off-the-wall connection, you might not get tons of SEO benefit, but you may still find that audience-expanding benefit if there truly is an overlap in audience.

  21. says

    I have seen an extremely dramatic increase not only in SERP rankings and new visitors, however ever since solely focusing on guest blogging as a means for driving traffic to my niche sites that the average time on page has sky rocketed to over 13 minutes and the bounce rate hits (on the high side) 2.7%. I have to agree about bringing in a new audience, and it’s great!

  22. says

    I agree with everything you said, this is a great article for others learning about SEO or for clients wondering if guest posts are worth it. I will be linking to this a lot to show potential clients that are interested in guest posting services. Thanks for the great article.

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