February 15, 2017

How to Build a Guest Blogging Strategy for Lead Generation

If you want to succeed at lead generation, you need to grow brand awareness and build authority online. Guest blogging as part of your larger inbound strategy can boost reach in your target market and help you secure much needed backlinks to your site.

Guest blogging — the practice of writing articles for publication on another site — is alive and well in the B2B space because of its power to amplify reach. Good guest posts can earn you anywhere from 10-20 percent in new readership, and some writers have reported double or triple traffic to their site during guest blogging campaigns.

If you play your cards right, all of those readers can result in new leads for your sales team. By targeting other blogs and writers in your niche for guest blogging opportunities, you can fill the top of your funnel with fresh leads.

But don’t undertake guest blogging for lead generation without a plan. This article will take you through the benefits and best practices of guest blogging with lead generation as your primary goal.

Benefits of Guest Blogging for Lead Generation

Authority: If other brands trust you to post on their site, that means they trust you to say something worthwhile. Guest blogging is a great way to build your authority as an expert in your field. 

Link building: Link building and the resulting “link juice” (juice as in power, not as in pomegranate) comprises a major part of how search engines value your site within the greater context of the internet. The more authoritative sites that link to your site, the more power your site gains from them.

Audience building: This benefit is two-fold, because different people can make up social audiences and blog subscriber groups. You can target both audiences and hopefully convert a percentage into leads. 

Subscriptions: Guest blogging exposes your writing to the other blog’s subscribers, and when you share your post to your own followers, you expose them to the other site. This increases the chances of subscription conversions for both parties.

Fresh leads: A wider audience and more subscriptions means more leads to pass to your sales team. Building data capture into your email sign-up forms will help your teams segment those TOFU readers into lead categories before you pass them on or nurture them.

Build your Guest Blog Strategy

1. Find Sources

Research thought leaders in your field and follow them around the internet. Where do they post? What blogs do you read, and do they accept guest contributions? This Backlinko post gives some helpful advice on doing a reverse image search for authors, which will help you find the blogs where that image can be found, which will show you every blog for which they’ve written. The post also also suggests using AllTop — a tool for finding the most popular blogs on any topic and the sorts of posts that do well on those sites.

2. Continued Research

Do your research

Once you’ve found a couple of blogs and authors you’d like to work with, figure out what kind of posts the audience reads. Kissmetrics has a couple of links to help you search the social shares on links, including Twitter and Digg posts. For example, as a B2B marketer, you’ll want to rule out blogs that focus on B2C content. Or if you’re focused on manufacturing, expanding your reach into HR or IT security software isn’t going to be especially helpful for building an audience that eventually turns into leads.

Use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to check the site’s domain authority (DA), as well as the number and quality of backlinks it has. You can check audience size by looking at social followers, but remember that size doesn’t equal reach or engagement. No one knows the real size of another site’s audience without access to their Google Analytics data.

3. Engage

engage your blogging prospectsWhen you find a blog that you like in terms of topics, DA, and engagement, start interacting with them. Before you reach out to an editor or author, try to gauge interest and responsiveness by adding comments on blogs and interacting on social media. Make sure these interactions add value — meaning they say more than “Hey! Great post!”  The blog is more likely to accept your pitch if you’re visible on their site before you pitch.

4. Show up with Something to Offer

trash emails get trash

After all of that, you’re ready to ask about guest blogging. When you send that pitch email, show that you’ve done your research. Some helpful points:

  • Include the contact’s name.
  • Suggest possible topics and post titles.
  • Give specific examples from their blog that correspond to your ideas. 

Remember that not everyone has the same level of knowledge as you do about the value of guest blogging, so be prepared to (kindly) educate.

5. Choose Your Backlinks Carefully

At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to just link back to your homepage, but you can do better than that. Personalize your site backlinks for each article to the niche of the blog and the subject of your article. Also: 

  • Link to a page on your site that points readers toward conversion, whether to download a whitepaper or subscribe to the email list. Offer immediate value to the new reader.
  • Your landing page should align with the subject of your article. If your article is a guide for writing whitepapers, don’t link to your Pinterest strategies page. Make a new landing page for whitepapers if you have to.

6. Keep Records

This probably goes without saying, but keep a spreadsheet or kanban board that tracks your progress. Whatever organizational system you choose, following your progress can help you remember who you’ve contacted, who still needs to respond, and who you might work with again in the future. Other metrics to track:

  • Pitch methods to A/B test
  • Responses and follow-ups
  • Acceptances with links, total shares, traffic updates

After They Accept Your Post

celebrate your guest blogging success

Yes, celebrate, and then sit down and write your post. Pitch acceptance doesn’t mean they’ll post your article, so you need to put as much attention into writing as you do into pitching topics.

Authorship: Authorship used to be a big deal with Google, allowing the search engine to track you around the web, but as Google said in June of 2016, they don’t track the rel=author markup anymore. Still, you should include your site or a relevant link in your author bio. If you know how to use UTM parameters, add them to your link. This may be the only followed link in your post, so make sure it’s a good one.

Follow-up: Once they publish your article, check to make sure your link is included somewhere. You’ll also want to make sure they didn’t “nofollow” your link, because that’s a vote of no confidence for your site, cutting off a lot of that potential link juice at the source.

What Not to Do

What not to do in guest blogging

Matt Cutts (formerly of Google, and now at the US Digital Services) said in 2014 to stop guest blogging. Basically, people have been paying for link juice, or accepting payments for ranking boosts related to backlinking.

That’s why, as Cutts says, “we can’t have nice things in SEO.” What Cutts didn’t say, however, and what we should take from his post, is that strong, original content specifically designed for the site that posts it can still perform well. That content ranks well and boosts site traffic because it passes all the rest of Google’s tests.

Just don’t do these things:

  • Pay for links: It’s a sketchy practice that Google specifically bans. Don’t do it.
  • Put spammy links in your submitted article: Want to lose the trust of your blogging partners? Go ahead and fill your content with spam. Other than breaking the agreement you’ve made with the host blog, you’ll also get both your sites penalized. 
  • Work with people you haven’t properly vetted: If you don’t know them and don’t know their reputation, you open yourself up to bigger problems. Build relationships with reputable blogs and authoritative bloggers.
  • Post for the referral links: You’re probably only going to get a small number of referrals from your blog posts. If you do it for the immediate clicks, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. Louis Gudema only attributes two percent of his traffic to guest blog referrals, even though he posts a lot of guest blogs. On the other hand, he gets a ranking boost, which is a net gain. 

* * *

Lead generation campaigns can benefit from a guest blogging strategy that is part of a larger content marketing effort. Just keep in mind, writing great content for other sites while ignoring the major pillars of your own site will only disappoint readers. Don’t be that brand. Grow your own blog first, and then use guest blogging to further your outreach.

Build a plan that increases your authority, reach, and awareness, and you’ll see a rise in rankings, site visits, and, eventually, leads. The abundance of blogs out there focused on the B2B market means the time is right.

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