Let’s face it, things changed when the pandas and the penguins showed up. Guest posting is now the go to method for most link builders. Though more labor intensive and time consuming, white hat editorial links are now the safe bet within Google’s best practices and therefore don’t run the risk of getting your site penalized or de-indexed (at least until Matt Cutts changes his mind and releases the Platypus Update). While this increase in popularity is a good thing for the web as a whole, it has lead to a decrease in the overall quality of guest posting requests and because of this more and more bloggers are getting pissed off.
For this very reason I published an article titled: 4 Tips for Improving Your Outreach a few months back. Unfortunately, it now seems 4 tips simply aren’t enough. Guest Posting is time consuming, it’s difficult, but it is also powerful and proven, and when you do it right you’re not going to piss people off.
The following is a list of tips that are sure to make Guest Posting life a little easier for both you and the bloggers, from targeting all the way to publishing.
Let’s start from the very beginning: You have a client, and you identify their niche. The object now is to find sites in that niche that will publish your content and your links on their blog.
So, how do you go about finding these targets?
The most intuitive way to get started is to simply head to Google. Not surprisingly, queries like ‘Top [NICHE] Blog’ can yield decent results. But if you really know how to search you can drastically improve your results with advanced queries such as:
[NICHE] intitle:“Submit an article” or [NICHE] intitle:“Submit a guest post”
Advanced queries refine your results by finding targets that are not only within your niche but are known to accept the guest posts you so desperately desire. This technique works but it is slow, cumbersome, and just feels archaic, anyone can type in queries and comb through Google’s SERPs.
Instead, here are two ways I do it:
This method is simple and effective. Alltop is more or less a blog directory, it’s just a really good one. Check out their site and you’ll find hundreds of great leads in just about any area you’re looking for. But the perks don’t end there, Alltop is also great because you can submit listings to their site. Should you get approved, connect your RSS feed and watch the traffic climb!
Step1: Identify your client’s main keywords
Step2: Head over to Serpiq.com and use the Competition Analyzer to identify the heavy hitters for that keyword (ie. your competition)
Step3: Take those competitors to Open Site Explorer
Peruse their backlink profile and download a CSV with all of this valuable information. Here is what that will look like: http://goo.gl/SPOUy
Step4: Upload that CSV to Link Detective.
They will break down that information and allow you to filter those results by link type. In other words, it’ll give you a long list of links that you know come from blogs within your niche – perfect targets! That will end up looking like: http://goo.gl/ot5Ww
Using these tools you’ve collected a solid list of quality targets. They have a good Domain Authority, a strong audience, and you know for a fact that they’ve linked to sites similar to your client’s site; thus, they should be open to linking to yours.
Once that list is compiled it’s time for outreach. But before you start sending out emails you need to consider your target’s perspective. SEO’s have a bad rap on the web (as Darren Rowse recently suggested on G+), we’re pegged as the guys who throw garbage content around and will do almost anything for a link. Thus, when Samantha at blahblah.com see’s an email in her inbox from a firstname.lastname@example.org she’s most likely going to pop over to higherclick.com to check me out, at which point she’ll see that I work for a SEO company, and that alone will drastically lower my outreach return rate. Fortunately, sidestepping this issue is pretty simple. Talk to your clients, and ask the for a company email address. This way, when a blogger uses your email to check you out, they see a member of the niche community and a resource instead of simply a marketer. With this new email address, set up a G+ account, a twitter, a gravatar, and in 10 minutes you will have created a way to show yourself under another light that will exponentially increase your chances of receiving replies.
Now, we’re ready for outreach.
In my last post, I discussed the benefits of tools like boomerang and rapportive, while they remain great resources they’re attached to a system that I no longer find to be the most efficient for outreach. That outdated system is Gmail. Taking a long list of prospects and plugging them into gmail one at a time is time consuming and unnecessary. Instead there exists a new tool that streamlines this process.
That tool is Buzzstream.
Buzzstream is a web-based software that helps to simplify the whole Guest Posting process. Their platform offers a multitude of services, but really hits home on two fronts. The first actually takes us back a step to OSE & Link Detective, once you’ve found a valuable target buzz stream’s ‘Link Buzzmarker’ function allows you to pull that site’s info, including contact emails, and store it in a specific file dedicated within buzzstream to your client. After buzzing all your targets into that folder you have a clean list of targets and their corresponding emails. At this point it’s time to shift buzzstream into the next gear and utilize their best feature, outreach.
Buzzstream sets themselves apart from Gmail in a few ways with outreach. The first being that you can grab your entire list of targets, select a pre existing template you’ve crafted, and send out personalized (buzz stream pulls the bloggers name/email address and places it exactly where you want it automatically) emails with the click of a button. This allows you to outreach an enormous list of targets within a few minutes. I don’t, however, recommend this tactic. As I mentioned in my last post, massive outreach with templates yields a very thin return and pisses off bloggers!
Instead, this is how I do outreach with Buzzstream:
Ok, so i’m against blasting off templates to a large number of targets, it just doesn’t work. But Buzzstream’s template system does have a trick up its sleeve. They have recently installed a program that keeps track of each template’s response rate. This way, I can clearly see that template 1 has a return rate of 9% whereas template 2 has a return rate of 16%. This provides me with invaluable data, allowing me to analyze my return rate and decipher what works and what doesn’t. I try one thing, track it, and try another. AB test, repeat, succeed. This labor has yielded some serious fruit. I now have a much larger idea of what works and what doesn’t, and here’s what i’ve determined:
Templates, no matter how clever or well worded, are impersonal.
Template 1 and template 2 may bring back decent results but they are nowhere close to what they could be. Instead, it is template 3 that really rakes in the Guest Posts. Except, of course, that template 3 isn’t much of a template, instead it looks something like this:
Let me know if that sparks your interest, like I said, I’d love to contribute!
You see, the key is to utilize the information in front of you. When you know where the enemy is you don’t carpet bomb an entire city, you take out a single house. The same is true with outreach, you need to focus your attack specifically for each target. That means writing something unique each time. Now, the overall structure of the email can be the same, as you can see above. But you need to fill in the middle with something catered specifically towards each site. Whether that be complimenting a recent blog post, referencing a specific tweet, or commenting on a common interest, an outreach email’s return rate skyrockets when you put in that little bit extra.
Along with personalization, AB testing has confirmed three other techniques as effective. Firstly, keep your emails short and to the point. Don’t dance around your objective, be clear, forthcoming, and appreciate brevity. Secondly, include potential headlines within your email. Bloggers like when you have a clear cut idea and can back it up. Thirdly, be genuine, be real! But don’t be afraid to be a little over enthusiastic. I’m talking exclamation points, words like magnificent, awesome, phenomenal; tickle that ego and reap the rewards!
Using Buzzstream in these ways, allows you to group your targets, get their contact info, track template success, and outreach many targets in the most effective and time conserving way. As long as you remember to get personal, keep it short and sweet, and lighten their day with some overthetop adjectives and punctuation.
The End Result
Utilizing these tools and techniques will not only increase your response rate and get you more published guest posts for your client, but will initiate the beginning of a real-ationship. Lets face it, targeting and outreach are tedious and time consuming, if you want to Guest Post like a Boss you won’t allow the attention to detail in your opening email to die off once a blogger agrees to a post. Instead you’ll add them on linkedin, follow them on twitter, and comment on their blog. You’ll keep in touch, and this will allow you to contact them again should you need to publish another article.
Like I said in my last post, the real players in this industry don’t have to deal with cold outreach. They have compiled a long list of sites they regularly contribute to and can contact at any time. The real bosses can throw up multiple guest posts in a day instead of waiting a week for responses that may never come.
If you’re interested in getting more guest posts done for your campaign, feel free to check our new Guest posting service.