The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging

Guest PostThe benefits of guest blogging are clear:

1. You land backlinks from authority sites.

2. People look up to you as an expert.

3. Targeted referral traffic floods to your site.

Amazing, right?

The only question is:

How can you get BETTER results from guest posting?

That’s easy: follow my step-by-step guide to guest blogging domination.

Step 1: Find Guest Post Targets

Before you write a single word you need a list of targets to submit your content to.

Here are eight proven strategies to find them.

#1: Google Search Strings

Looking for something besides the typical “keyword” + “write for us”?

I’ve for you covered.

Here are 40-ish search strings you can use to find guest blogging opportunities with ease:

Your Keyword “guest post”Your Keyword “write for us”Your Keyword “guest article”

Your Keyword “guest post opportunities”

Your Keyword “this is a guest post by”

Your Keyword “contributing writer”

Your Keyword “want to write for”

Your Keyword “submit blog post”

Your Keyword “contribute to our site”

Your Keyword “guest column”

Your Keyword “submit content”

Your Keyword “submit your content”

Your Keyword “submit post”

Your Keyword “This post was written by”

Your Keyword “guest post courtesy of ”

Your Keyword “guest posting guidelines”

Your Keyword “suggest a post”

Your Keyword “submit an article”

Your Keyword “contributor guidelines”

Your Keyword “contributing writer”

Your Keyword “submit news”Your Keyword “become a guest blogger”Your Keyword “guest blogger”

Your Keyword “guest posts wanted”

Your Keyword “looking for guest posts”

Your Keyword “guest posts wanted”

Your Keyword “guest poster wanted”

Your Keyword “accepting guest posts”

Your Keyword “writers wanted”

Your Keyword “articles wanted”

Your Keyword “become an author”

Your Keyword “become guest writer”

Your Keyword “become a contributor”

Your Keyword “submit guest post”

Your Keyword “submit an article”

Your Keyword “submit article”

Your Keyword “guest author”

Your Keyword “send a tip”

Your Keyword inurl: “guest blogger”

Your Keyword unurl: “guest post”

allintitle: Your Keyword + guest post

#2: “My Guest Posts” Pages

Some bloggers love to brag about the places that they’ve been published.

And these lists are a gold mine of hard to find guest post targets.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

posts on other blogs

Here’s how to find them:

Your Keyword  “my posts on other blogs”

Your Keyword: “guest post”

Your Keyword  “my guest posts”

Your Keyword “my guest blogs”

Your Keyword  “posts on other blogs”

Your Keyword “I’ve been featured on”

Your Keyword “sites I’ve written for”

#3: Google Reverse Image Search

This is cool:

First, find a competitor that tends to guest post on a lot of high-quality blogs in your niche.

author bio

Then grab the URL of their headshot and pop it into Google reverse image search:

search by image

And you’ll get a list of places they’ve guest posted presented to you on a silver platter:

google image results

#4: Twitter and Google +

You can use most search strings in Twitter and Google+ and get a completely different set of results.

And because Twitter results are fresher than Google’s index you can usually find sites that are actively on the hunt for guest posts.

First, head over to Twitter search and enter your search string:

twitter search

Then sift through the results to find potential guest posting targets:

twitter search results

You can follow a similar process over at Google+.

#5: Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineer your first and second page competition using your backlink tracking tool of choice.

When you do, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of niche-specific guest posting opportunities.

The best part about this strategy is that you can find sites that aren’t openly advertising the fact that they accept guest posts (which can make them hard to find using search strings).

But you CAN find them with reverse engineering.

#6: AllTop.com

If only there was a place that listed the best blogs on the internet, organized by niche.

Oh, wait there is!

It’s called AllTop.com and it’s my secret weapon when I want links from my niche’s cream of the crop.

Just head over to AllTop, enter your keyword and you’ll get a list of the niche’s best sites:

alltop list

Of course, not all of the sites in AllTop accept guest posts. But with enough legwork you can find a few gems that you may have otherwise missed.

#7: Blog Comment Bonanza

This is one of my all-time favorite link building strategies:

If you’re a serial guest poster you’ve probably noticed that other bloggers often comment on your posts:

Blog Comments

Instead of patting yourself on the back, why not reach out to Simon and Dave and ask them if they’d accept a post on their site?

They’ll usually say yes (after all they liked your content enough to comment on it).

Here’s a script that I use:

Hey Simon,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my guest post at Example.com.

I never thought of the fact that (insert something they said in the comment).

That’s a good point.

Anyway, I actually have another guest post idea that would be perfect for your site.

It’s called: “5 Tips X…”

I could have it sent to you this week.

Either way, thanks again for your insights!

Best,

Me

#8: Pre-Made Target Lists

Why spend hours searching for guest posting opportunities when other bloggers have already done the hard work for you?

For example, here’s a fantastic list of guest posting targets for business bloggers from Frugal Entrepreneur:

Frugal Guest Post List

To find them yourself, use these nifty search strings:

Your Keyword “guest posting sites”

Your Keyword “accept guest posts”

Your Keyword “guest post sites”

Step #2: Research Your Targets

Now that you have a decent-sized list it’s time to refine the list and warm up your prospects.

Here’s are four ways to do it:

#1: Separate Winners and Losers

High quality guest post writing is a resource intensive process.

Don’t waste your precious time on sub par blogs.

Go all Darwin on your target list…and weed out weak sites.

In general you want sites that:

  • Have an authoritative link profile
  • Are related to your site
  • Only post high quality content
  • Have a real following
  • Can bring you targeted traffic (use Compete and Alexa)
  • Won’t bury your link in an author bio area far below your content
  • Have a significant amount of Twitter followers and Facebook fans

Of course there’s no objective set of criteria that will tell you “this blog fits the bill” or “this one doesn’t cut the mustard”.

You have to just use your noggin and stick to sites that give you the most bang for your buck.

#2: Warm Up Your Targets

If you’re desperate for a link from a particular site (or if the site gets a lot of guest post submissions) you want to get on the webmaster’s radar screen before your pitch.

That way, when you reach out, they’ll be like “Oh yeah, that’s Jim, the guy who leaves all those awesome comments.”

Because this takes some time I recommend using this strategy ONLY for top-tier blogs in your niche.

Here’s how:

1. Engage on Twitter: One of the fastest ways to get your name etched on a blogger’s brain is to engage them on Twitter.

This is something that Andrew Youderlan of ecommercefuel.com did to get published on Shopify.com:

Shopify Tweet

2. Blog Comment: Take a few minutes to write a legitimately insightful and helpful comment or two on their site and you’ll be their BFF.

3. Email Them: If you’re feeling frisky you can even email the site owner a week or two before your pitch just to tell them how helpful a specific piece of content was to you.

#3: Find The Perfect Guest Post Topic

Now that you’ve warmed up your list, it’s time to find some killer topic ideas.

But an incredible topic isn’t enough:

If you send an article on “10 Health Benefits of Beef” to a vegan blog you’re going to get it tossed back.

So remember this:

You need a topic that fits their site like a glove

Take it from someone that has published over 250 guest posts…

…if you can write content that speaks to their audience you’ll have no problem whatsoever getting your post accepted.

Here’s how to find the perfect topic:

  • Audience Knowledge Level: If you’re hell bent on writing a guest post about SEO, you need to know who you’re writing for before you set pen to paper. If it’s Moz, you can go hog wild with SEO jargon. But if it’s for a small business blog you may need to tone things down a tad.
  • Outdated Information: Check for popular articles on the site that are a bit out of date. Write a similar piece with updated content.
  • Read Published Guest Posts: What have other people posted already? This will give you an idea of what the site owner looks for when vetting posts.
  • Recent Stuff: If they’ve posted about Pinterest twice this week you probably don’t want to send them something Pinterest-related (even if it’s a completely different angle). Keep it fresh.

#4: Guest Post Guidelines

I know you have better things to do with your life than to read a set of boring guest post guidelines.

I get that.

But some bloggers have really, really specific guidelines.

Some are there to standardize their posts.

Others are there to make sure people actually read them.

Either way, it’s important that you take them to heart.

Because there’s nothing worse than writing up a 1200-word masterpiece…only to have it rejected because of a 1000-word limit.

Step#3: The Pitch

Imagine for a second that you’re the owner of a bustling, authority site.

You’ve got posts to write, tweets to tweet, and an overflowing inbox.

How are you going to react when you get a generic email that’s trying to hard sell you?

You got it: hit the delete button as fast as possible.

Here’s a battle-tested email template to use instead:

Hi (name),

I’m a long time reader. You may have noticed my comment on your post on X (awesome article by the way).

I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to Example.com.

I’ve been brainstorming some topics that I think your readers would get a ton of value from:

-Idea #1

-Idea #2

-Idea #3

I’ll make sure the piece overflows with information that can’t be found anywhere else.

To give you an idea of the quality I’ll bring to your site, here’s a link to a guests post that I recently published on Example.com.

Cheers,

Me

Here’s what makes this email template so effective:

  • Starts off with something specific about THEIR SITE
  • Short and sweet (aim for 150 words or less)
  • Gives them specific topics to choose from (less work for them)
  • Soft sell
  • Touches on your experience and published work

Send a Complete Article

If you want to roll the dice you can send over a complete article that’s ready to rock.

I usually only do this with medium-tier blogs. A-list bloggers usually want to work with you through the entire process.

Step #4: The Post

You’ve put in enough digital elbow grease to compile a streamlined target list.

Awesome.

Now you need to actually send them something.

My “2 Tier System”

Look:

There are only so many hours in a day.

You can’t produce a 3000-word masterpiece for every single site in the world.

That’s why you should separate your targets into two tiers:

  • Tier 1: These are the top 25-50 undisputed authority sites in your niche. Sites that you actually visit and learn from.
  • Tier 2: Sites that are acceptable enough to warrant a guest post…but not authoritative enough to spend a day researching, writing and editing.

Tier 1 Content

Content for tier 1 sites should be as good or better than what you post on your own site.

I’m talking mind blowing pillar content that forces the hand of the site owner to hit “publish”.

Content that changes minds, sparks conversation, and spurs action.

Content that could appear on the homepage of Life Hacker or the Huffington Post.

Because if you try to sneak something “meh” onto their site…you’re not going to get very far.

Remember: Authority sites are authorities because they only post quality stuff. Period.

And they’re not going to drop their standards just because you commented on their site a few times…

…you really need to bring it.

Here are some things you should do when writing Tier 1 guest post content:

  • Send a System: If you look at pillar content on any site (including this one) you’ll notice that they have one thing in common: they lay out a complete step-by-step system for reaching a certain outcome. Systems have a much higher perceived value than a generic set of tips.
  • Length is Strength: Longer posts look much better than 400-worders. I shoot for at least 1500-words for tier 1 sites…although I’ve gone as far as banging out 5000-word monsters to help me stand out from the pack.
  • Edit Like a Madman: Show the blogger that you care about their site by editing your post like you have OCD. Hire an editor on Elance if you have to.
  • Custom Screenshots, Flowcharts and Images: Screenshots and other visual tools to illustrate your system adds meaty value to the post.
  • Internal Linking: Imagine the warm and fuzzy feeling your target will get when you link to some of their best content in your guest post. Remember that bloggers are human beings that appreciate these little things.

To give you an idea of what tier 1 guest post content looks like, here are two examples:

Be Everywhere: How I Got 2000+ NEW Visitors To My Site…With A Front Page PowerPoint Presentation on Slideshare

5 Travel Lessons You Can Use at Home

Tier 2 Content

Tier 2 sites deserve some love too.

If they’re on your list, it that they must have something going for them.

While I don’t go hog wild for these sites…I DO send something of value (even if I outsource the writing).

Of course you can always go the extra mile for these sites too…

…but I rather spend that time watching Shark Tank (love that show).

Contextual Links

Pop quiz:

What’s better than a link from an authority site in your niche?

That’s right: a contextual link from an authority site in your niche!

Sure, big G gives author bio backlinks some love…

…but nothing beats a good old fashioned link imbedded inside an article.

I’ve been able to finagle contextual links from tier 1 sites by doing one simple thing: asking.

If you send a 2000-word beast then it’s perfectly reasonable ask for a contextual link in return.

Step #5: Follow Up

You’re almost done.

Here are some things I do to get the most from every guest post:

1. Actively Respond to Comments: Don’t post and run. Take the time to respond to people’s comments as they roll in. In fact, I usually leave a comment to show the blogger that I’m happy to answer comments:

guest post blog comment

2. Promote Using Your Social Media Channels: This is a win-win-win. Your target gets traffic, you look like a published expert and you’ve shared something of value with your community.

3. Send a Thank You Note: I usually send tier 1 sites a quick follow up email letting them know I appreciated the opportunity (this keeps the line open for the next time you want to guest post on their site).

4. Blog Comment Bonanza: As described in Step 1, I’ll sometimes reach out to commenter and see if I can land a guest post opportunity on their site.

Insider Secrets

Just a few golden nuggets I couldn’t find space for in the guide:

1. Send your post in HTML so they can easily copy and paste it into WordPress (If you want to use images you can link to Flikr images or upload them to another photo hosting sites).

2. When you send the post, change the file name so it’s tailored to their site: Backlinko_GuestPost.txt vs. 10SEOTips.txt.

3. If you’re sending over a how-to or tutorial post, consider throwing in a video or .pdf download to compliment the article. This is one of those things that no one does and makes you look like a rock star.

4. Bloggers love posts that inspire debate and conversation. Don’t be afraid to write something controversial or that goes against conventional wisdom.

5. For a better CTR to your site, make your author bio super enticing. Don’t just say “Brian is the proud owner of Backlinko“. Give the reader a reason to click through to your site. Let them know about your free report, an awesome post or just tell them a benefit they’ll get out of visiting your site.

That’s enough from me…now I want to hear from you.

Any shortcuts or tips that I missed here?

Post your thoughts, insights and opinions in the comment box below.

{ 71 comments }
  • Andrii

    Fantastic article! Newbies should remember that writing posts just for backlinks is a bad idea.
    On the Warrior Forum, article marketers like Bill Platt never write unique content for a blog unless it has massive amount of traffic. Also, when sending traffic, don’t forget to put an opt-in form.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks!
      You’re right: I didn’t emphasize traffic enough in the guide. But that’s super-important.
      The best links AREN’T on high PR pages…they’re links that also send you traffic.
      Good call Andrii.

      Reply
  • Jon @ Authority Website Income

    Great article….guest blogging is such a good way to grow a business and I am glad you are sharing with people. I really like the tips on warming up your prospects!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Jon! I tried to emphasize the relationship factor because lots of people overlook that and simply try to force their guest post onto other bloggers.

      Reply
  • Manidip

    Dear Brian,
    Great Post and that is covering an area I have very less knowledge. But found few golden sources.
    Found you from WF and pretty impressed.
    Do you teach SEO?
    Do you offer Customized SEO services?
    Please e-mail me your e-mail address so that I contact you personally too. I tried to PM you at WF but saw that you are not frequent there. Thanks

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for the support. I sent you an email.

      Reply
  • Kingsley Agu

    wooow.. fantastic write up man!
    this is exactly what gurus call “epic stuff”
    nice write up!!!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks, Kingsley! That’s exactly what I set out to do.

      Reply
  • faisal Kaleem

    This is exactly what I was looking. Thanks for sharing this.Ii am going to apply what you suggested and let you know my experience with you.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear you found it helpful. Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  • Adrian S

    Really good article Brian. I found a lot of great tips in this article (and especially in your 17 Untapped Backling Sources article). You are helping me stray away from the “easy” way of building links to the way that actually works. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Adrian! Glad to hear I could help you out. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

      Reply
  • Jonathan Mitnick

    Very definitive, however I’ve come to think of comment marketing as a sought of micro guest blogging opportunity in that the only benefit of guest blogging that you miss out on is reputation building…but even that you can achieve by a great comment. What are your thoughts on this?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Great point, Jonathan. You’re right: some of my blog comments on popular sites bring in MORE traffic than some of my guest posts. It makes me wonder why I waste my time guest blogging. Then I look at my analytics — see the difference in conversions — and start banging out another guest post.

      In my experience, blog comment traffic doesn’t convert nearly as well as guest post referral traffic. And from an SEO point of view, a guest post also gives you a dofollow link…something a blog comment usually can’t do. But I’m glad you brought up blog commenting, because you’re 100% right: blog commenting is an underrated traffic strategy. If you’re the first or second comment on a popular post you can usually get some decent traffic.

      Reply
      • Jonathan Mitnick

        Very well said Brian, I’m thinking of writing a whole new blogpost on the subject.
        PS//I find your titles very captivating and hooking :-)

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          My pleasure, Jonathon. Let me know when you publish that post. I’d love to check it out.

          Reply
  • TJ Philpott

    Brian,
    I’ve seen some tutorials on guest blogging that were for sale and pretty good! The info you shared here ranks right up there with the guides being sold – THANKS for being so comprehensive!
    TJ

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks TJ! I tried to make it the best one on the web :-). Please let me know if you have any questions about the process.

      Reply
  • MIKE SCHWARZ

    unbelivable how deep you go into the theme – even im german part of europe / switzerland, i love to read stuff in english like this. bad, most of the ressources mentioned here are target for english content. you hardly find really good blogs in german :-(

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Mike! I’m moving to Berlin this week so maybe I’ll pick up some German and bang out a German post :-)

      Reply
  • Adam Dukes

    A great guide to guest posting. I just signed up for MBG and used Backlinko as a referral. I am diving into the site now, it look great!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Adam :-) MBG is great!

      Reply
  • Kulwant

    Tweeted, Liked, +1ed. :)

    Such an EPIC article on guest blogging. I have bookmarked this as I was not able to read it completely. So going to read it later.

    Thanks for this awesome guide.

    PS: I am reading “Advance Guide to Link Building” on Quick Sprout and found you. :)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for sharing my guide, Kulwant! Send me an email if you have any questions about guest blogging.

      Reply
      • Praverb

        Great article Brian. I actually read this article and focused primarily on the pitch. I love the way you crafted the email and the brevity that you used. Keep up the good work.

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          Thanks Praverb. You’re right on there: the pitch HUGE for sites that don’t have a “write for us” page. Let me know how it works out for you.

          Reply
  • rambabu

    Thanks Brian, I really want to learn more detailed on this , this is really the one i was looking for to make more effective my guest posting process !

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear that, Rambabu. Let me know how your guest posting goes.

      Reply
      • rambabu

        Hi Brian,
        It goes fine and slow, but I want this to be fast approval , would you suggest any technique or tips. It is also difficult sometime to create a guest post content for webmasters because we really are not in this field or just try to treat all that way to request them.
        ?

        Reply
  • Becky

    Brian,
    Some great tips and definitely some things I have overlooked!
    Becky

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for reading, Becky. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Reply
  • Miss Renfroe

    one of my fav’s is “My Guest Posts” + keyword as a search operator to find awesome guest opportunities. nice list! swiping this for sure!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      That’s definitely an underrated search string, Miss Renfoe (and one of my favorites as well).

      Reply
  • McKenzie

    Great information presented in a way that makes it extremely easy to scan for specific information when checking back. Many articles on this subject make it a real pain to search through for a specific step.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks McKenzie! I tried to make it easy to follow (and to skim!). Let me know if you have any questions about anything in the guide.

      Reply
  • Tom

    Great Post. I have been trying to guest post for a while with limited success, but will have another go using some of your methods.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Tom! This should definitely help you land top quality guest post placements. Keep me posted :-)

      Reply
  • Sameh

    It’s definitely the best Guide I read for Guest Posting so far.

    You may also consider adding “send a tip” to your Search Strings above. I’ve seen many websites use it and quick Google search will prove that.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Really glad to hear that, Sameh. Thanks for the insights, I’ve added your search string to the guide :-)

      Reply
  • Kulwant Nagi

    Brian, I am starting my guest blogging campaign from next months, and you have explained each crucial point in very detailed and smart way.

    I am going to use your tips to get quality blogs for doing guest blogging and going to pitch them as suggested by you.

    Can you please give me link of any scrapebox tutorial where I can do all these search in easy way?

    Thanks a lot for your valuable tips.

    Reply

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Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, the training hub for digital marketing professionals with over 70,000 monthly readers and a popular email newsletter. Continue reading