Below is a guest post from Brian Burt, the founder of WebRev Marketing and Design in Chicago. Full bio below.
Unless you’ve been marketing from under a rock, you know full well that guest blogging is important for your company’s rankings and rep.
But there remains some mystery around the best way to get an opportunity. Just how does one convince a website owner to lend their precious web space to a stranger whom they suspect just wants a little link juice?
Well, I’ll go ahead and bust your bubble upfront and tell you that it’s not easy and it’s certainly not quick. But that’s kind of the point – guest blogs are legitimately valuable…and not in the same way that haphazardly posted links used to be valuable. No, the value of a guest blog link is forever, because it’s completely white hat.
In our own extensive efforts to find great guest blogging opportunities for ourselves and our clients, we’ve discovered a few simple strategies that help set your pitch apart from the masses.
But First Know This
You can’t successfully do any kind of guest blogging outreach if you don’t fully appreciate the perspective of the people you’re writing to. The first thing you have to understand is that owners of popular websites with high page ranks and domain authorities get boatloads of guest blog pitches every single day.
The bright side? Most of them suck.
Fortunately for you, the vast majority of guest blog pitches that website owners receive are simply terrible and barely receive a cursory glance before ending up in the electronic trash pile. Your comprehension of that fact alone will help put you in the right mindset to craft your unique and engaging pitch.
- Straight to the Point
Stop pretending you’re trying to be the website editor’s new best friend because they know what you want. Sure, be friendly but don’t waste a bunch of time talking about how much you loved their last article or how greatly you admire their site. In this case, flattery will get you not very far. We know, we’ve tested it.
The evidence shows that skipping the compliments and getting right to the point actually results in more responses. Why? Probably because they appreciate the fact that you’re not wasting their time with B.S. praise that’s immediately followed up with a request for a guest blog. A pleasant and humble tone is quite sufficient in communicating your respect.
- Being Upfront
The best kind of guest blog is a free guest blog – if you have to pay for it, it’s not a guest blog, it’s an advertisement. And you will get many responses from sites who would be happy to take your money in exchange for publishing your article, but you don’t want to go that route. There are enough good sites that will do it for free if you’re actually providing good content.
It’s best to make your intentions very clear in your first e-mail so that no one wastes their time on correspondence that ends up going nowhere. So, if you know that you (or your client) is a great writer who will actually add value to their site, say it! And if you’re going to want a link in your guest author bio, say it!
This is no time to play coy. State clearly what you can offer and what you expect in return and I can promise you that website owners will respect you for your candor. This boost in respect could be the difference between them hitting the “reply” button instead of the “trash” one.
- Short & Sweet
Imagine the website owners you’re writing to as real, flesh-and-blood people who spend hours going through the aforementioned boatloads of guest blog pitches. If you do this, you’ll quickly realize that the shorter your e-mail, the better. How do you feel when you get a novel-esque e-mail from a perfect stranger? Annoyed, bored and incredibly tempted to trash it before you even get to the second paragraph.
Make it a goal to get your entire message in one screen shot. If the recipient can read the whole thing without scrolling, it will make it a whole lot less daunting to read. And be sure to break it up into several short paragraphs with a blank line in between each one. The way an e-mail looks has a big impact on the chances that it will actually be read. A relatively short block of text with lots of white space looks less scary and exhausting than one long, dense paragraph.
- Colorful Language
Again, remember the actual human being on the other end of your pitch e-mail. To some extent, you want to inform and entertain them in the same way that you inform and entertain the readers of your blogs. So, keep the language interesting; make a little joke or two; throw in some colloquialisms and rhetorical questions and you’ll seem like a real person too. After all, no one wants to write back to a soulless blog bot.
And don’t forget to play to your audience. Though it can be tempting to use a single template to copy and paste to everyone, it’s important to change the tone and content of your pitch to match the recipient. If you’re contacting a young, irreverent site aimed at Millennials, your tone and word choice should be more casual than when you write to a blog for well-established business owners.
- The No-Follow
With everyone and their mother trying to nab a guest blog to help their rankings, many site owners are worried about what Google will think of all of these author bio links to commercial businesses. For this reason alone, many people are wary about accepting guest blogs, even good ones. So, if you’re having trouble getting opportunities, one way to interest the sites you pitch is to say upfront that you’d be OK with a no-follow link in your bio.
Though they don’t offer the kind of SEO value that a do-follow link does, no-follow links still bring organic traffic to your website in the form of people who read the article and want to know more about its author. Also, Google likes to see a good diversity of links – having some no-follow ones in the mix help ensure that your inbound links appear natural.
When it comes to standing out and raising the interest and curiosity of a website owner, it’s all about the little things. The tons of pitches they get are all going to have a certain amount of things in common, but you can make yours much more interesting and worthy of a response if you put some thought into how it was be perceived by the human behind the website.
Brian Burt is the founder of WebRev Marketing and Design in Chicago, a boutique firm that provides SEO, custom web design, marketing and social media services to small and medium sized businesses. For Brian, spare time doesn’t exist – when he’s not working for his clients, he’s voraciously learning new strategies and contributing to online marketing publications. For more, visit http://www.webrevmarketing.com and follow Brian on Google+.