Rich Brown

Rich Brown

Ultimate Guide to Backlinking

16 Steps To Snagging Guest Posts On A Lists Blogs

If you have a website, then you want traffic.

For that, you need back-links and one of the best ways to do that is to guest post.

That sounds like a lot already, but I’m going to show you how, in 16 steps, to secure a guest post on an A-list blog.

Read below to learn how to acquire solid backlinks for your business that will drive a tonne of traffic to your website.

Today, you’ll most likely already know that you’re in the most competitive search engine landscape we’ve ever seen.

Gone are the days of getting by on rubbish content and spammy links (thank goodness!).

In fact, prior to Google’s 2012 roll-out of the Penguin update, black hat SEO was normal practice. It was simply all about linking to ANY kind of website to gain some sort of authority – the more links you had, the higher you would rank.

Guide To Backlinking - Google Penguin

However, over the years, Google’s algorithm changed it got smart! And it worked out that links are great – when they’re relevant, quality and REAL.  

Here’s the thing; Backlinks are the #3 ranking factor when it comes to being at the top of Google’s front page. Link building schemes, however, have been dead for years. Why? Because Google is smarter than us, and it knows the difference between quality links and – let’s be honest – rubbish.  

It’s what’s now referred to as black hat SEO. And if you’ve been in the digital marketing game for more than a minute or two, you’ll know that black hat SEO is a big NO-NO.

Guide To Backlinking - Black Hat SEO Ban

The Black Hat Ban and The White Hat Boom

At TheOnlineCo., we kick it old school. Our core values are; people first, technology second  and this flows through every aspect of our digital marketing outreach – including our backlinking!  

 Here are our top 10 steps to creating a-list blogging and backlinking opportunities

Guide To Backlinking - Educate Yourself

Step 1: Educate yourself

Back-links come in all shapes and sizes.  

Basically, anything that is linking back to your website is classed as a back-link.

Guide To Backlinking - Yellow Pages

Business directories such as My Google Business page, Yelp and the good old Yellow Pages. There are tonnes of business directories on the website that you could potentially be listed on. Before adding a listing, I always check the domain authority and the legitimacy of a website. There are equal amounts of good directories as there are spammy ones. It’s always good to check first.

Business directories are a simple way to provide direct links back to your website whilst providing people with a helpful amount of information about your business.  

Guide To Backlinking - Social Media

  • Then there’s the good old social media channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and one of the largest growing outreach platforms for B2B marketing, LinkedIn. These are great because they allow people to share your content, interact with your posts and create loads of quick and easy backlinks, like your posts and in general, can create loads of backlinks really quickly.  

Guide To Backlinking - Be Relevant

Step 2: Be Relevant

So, we know what back-links look like now, but why are they so important?  

In short, when someone types a question into Google (or these days ask’s Siri or Alexa) Google searches for the BEST and MOST RELEVANT answer it can find.

Guide To Backlinking - Google Search

It also searches for the website that has the most AUTHORITY.

This Authority is deemed by a number of factors, including, you guessed it- the type of back-links. Now if there are two websites offering the same kinds of answers, but one of those websites has spammy links and not a lot else linking to it and the other website has quality content AND quality back-links (ie: other websites linking to it that also have high authority) which website do you think will be at the top-ranking page providing you with your answer? You guessed it – the one with the quality links.

This is just one scenario as to why gaining quality links for your website is SUPER important.

Guide To Backlinking - Providing Quality Content

Step 3: ALWAYS Provide Quality Content

Guest blogging is TWO things. CONTENT and CONNECTIONS. Let’s talk about content.

In 2019, Content was crowned KING.

Guide To Backlinking - Content is King

Guest blogging is TWO things. CONTENT and CONNECTIONS. Let’s talk about content.

In 2019, Content was crowned KING.

SEO became more about the QUALITY of the content on your website than it did about keyword-stuffed pages trying to rank well. In fact, whilst keyword stuffing was a popular SEO practice used in the late ’90s and early ’00s, it is now considered totally black hat practice and you’ll be penalised by Google for using it.

What’s keyword stuffing you ask? Keyword stuffing is the art of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site ranking in Google search results. Usually these keywords appear in a list or a group and are usually completely out of context.

Guide To Backlinking - Keyword Stuffing

So what do we do instead? If we can’t rely on keyword stuffing content? And we want to get our website ranking well, then we need a new approach. Enter guest blogging!

Over the years, guest blogging has become a popular strategy for SEO because it gave website owners a chance to share their knowledge in their chosen industry as well as gaining links back to their website. By either posting a piece of content on a website in their niche or by allowing others in their industry to post on their website. In return, a big juicy high-authority link back to their website.

Guest blogging is a great way to not only secure those quality backlinks we’re after for ranking purposes but also to share content in our chosen industry. There are usually three main reasons for guest blogging – Putting yourself out there as a well-known name in your industry, getting exposure (traffic) to your website, and building backlinks.

With the right kind of content, you can successfully do all of these three things.

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Step 4: Connect With The Person Behind The Screen

This is my favourite part because this in my opinions is THE most overlooked and THE most underutilised part of most backlinking strategies.

Be intentional about making a connection with the person at the other end of your pitch. I’ll talk more about how to pitch later in the article.

But when you’re outreaching remember that behind the computer sits a real person with an opportunity to share your content to a tonne of new people. New people = potential leads!

And even though you think your main goal is to get your blog posted on their site, you would be right, however, it’s also about securing that connection for future opportunities. Because from that connection can also flow a bunch of other opportunities.

Guide To Backlinking - Making Connections

For example, from one connection can come not only one guest blog but listings on business directories, tweets, likes, shares, leads, mentions in articles and a tonne of more potential backlinks if they really like you and are willing to share your content. So it’s worth really making valuable connections with people from the start and not just making the goal about getting a single blog posted.

Step 5: Stick with your Niche

Finding blogs to guest blog on within your niche (industry) is easier than you think.

There are loads of tools online to help you find websites in your industry to blog on. And let me be clear when I stress how important it is to STICK WITH YOUR NICHE.

Guide To Backlinking - Niche Kitchen Company

If you have a kitchen company for example and you have an article – “10 ways to renovate your kitchen on a budget”, sending it to an IT website that accepts guest posts might not be the best choice. In fact, it’s a terrible choice. They will probably laugh at you and write something back that’s not very kind. Knock backs can be brutal, but you also have to use some of your savviness to determine what’s a good fit for your article. In this case, a home improvement website might be more appropriate. And it’s much more likely that they will accept your post.

So once you’ve determined your guest blogging goals and you’ve come up with some ideas of websites in your industry it’s time to start searching.

Step 6: Find Blogs That Want YOUR Content

One of the most effective ways to do this is to start searching in Google for guest posting opportunities. You can use any of the phrases below to get you started, simply replace the “keyword” with a keyword from your industry.

  • keyword “submit a guest post”
  • keyword “guest post”
  • keyword “guest post by”
  • keyword “accepting guest posts”
  • keyword “guest post guidelines”
Guide To Backlinking - Article Submission

You will then find a list of websites that allow guest posting on their website and often it will take you directly to the guest blogging page with a list of submission guidelines. If that strategy isn’t suitable for your particular niche and you find yourself scratching your head, here are a few more sure-fire ways to find websites to outreach to.

  • Social media- let’s not forget the power of connecting with website owners on social media. “Depending on the size of the business you might find yourself even talking with the business owner, this might result an email exchange to send through your article for review.” – Jack, Founder at Vyper
  • Reach out through Facebook, LinkedIn, Facebook Group’s or other channels. Email is becoming saturated and writers need to get more personal and targeted with their pitches. Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Source bottle and Haro – These are great tools for finding websites in your industry who are already looking for content! You can even set up FREE accounts with these websites for daily email alerts.
  • Type into Google “guest posting sites” – You will then have a plethora of websites that have huge lists of websites accepting guest posts. Whilst this takes some of the hard work out of it for you, be careful– these websites CAN have spammy websites that might not be good to link to. Again, always check their domain authority. You can do this in Raven or using a tool like Ahrefs
  • Competitor backlinks – this requires a little more time and effort but can be a great way to check who your competitors are backlinking to. Once you have created a list of your competitors backlinks you can then go through them and find websites in your niche to outreach to. You can also set up a free account for checking competitors backlinks at Moz.
  • Social searches- it’s become quite common practice to share articles and guest posters who usually post their latest blogs on social networks. Twitter is fairly easy to search, simply type into the search bar keyword “Guest post” to get the latest tweets from blogs shared in your industry. Then it’s just a matter of following the links to their website.

Step 7: How To Pitch For A Guest Blog

Why it’s important?

The pitch is probably THE most important part of the process. Why? Because it’s the first impression. If your pitch is terrible – chances are they won’t even bother looking at the rest of what you have to offer.

How to do it well?

In front of you sits a nice long list of websites that accept guest posts and now you’ve got to convince them why your content should be on their website. Writing the perfect pitch is a lot harder than it looks. But the good news is, I’ve done all the hard work for you. I’ve used this method for years now and found it to be THE most successful outreach strategy yet.

At TheOnlineCo. we talk a lot about the sales funnel and the importance of speaking to your customers from where they’re at- James Parnwell, Managing Director says “we have cold, warm and hot customers. Cold customers have never heard of you, and they definitely aren’t ready to buy from you, warm customers have heard of you, but aren’t ready to buy yet, and hot customers have heard of you, they know you and they’re probably ready to buy from you”.

Blog outreach is a lot like that- The more a website owner knows you or has heard of you, the more likely they are to let you post something on their website. The more well-known you are in your industry helps too.

Here is a step by step on how to write a pitch that will get your content published. Remember that every pitch will be completely different. You can use the same structure but using your intuition and savviness will go a long way.

  1. Read their articles. Before you pitch to ANY website, read some of their stuff. This shows you’re actually interested in them.
  2. Comment on some of there blogs. Commenting on a blog post is a really great way to start the relationship with a website owner. It shows you not only like what they’ve written but that you’re prepared to take the time to engage with them. This goes a LONG way.
  3. When you pitch, remind them of the time you commented. This does two things- it jogs their memory of the time you engaged with them and it shows them that you haven’t bombarded them with a pitch straight up.
  4. Be friendly and approachable – you will have to use your smarts here – some websites will call for you to use a formal tonne and others a more relaxed approach will work. (remember to use that intuition).
  5. Get to the point. Keep in mind that most business owners don’t have a lot of time, and if they’re even reading your email, that’s a huge win! So don’t waste their time.
  6. Compliment them. It’s time to reference that article that you really loved again.
    But don’t lie. Don’t say things like “I’ve been a follower for years when you actually haven’t. it’s better to find something genuine that you did like and work with that – if you can’t find something maybe move onto to something else.
  7. Tell them why you think your content would be a good addition to their website.
  8. Make sure you content is original. Check what else has been written on the topic and give a fresh and new angle.
  9. Know that editors will Google you- you don’t need to fill your bio with loads of info. They will find out what they need to if they want more information.
  10. Duplicate content is a big no no and most websites want original content, especially if they’re giving you a free backlink. Sherilyn, Manager at Home Business Mag Says “Editors love exclusive content! Submit a high-quality (and relevant) article in an initial pitch to a blog and there’s a good chance it will be accepted”.
  11. THIS ONE’S REALLY IMPORTANT- Stick to the submission guidelines. IF the website has provided guidelines its important you stick to them. They’re there for a reason and going outside of them will be an instant turn off.
  12. Make sure the title of the article is snappy! And if you’re sending an email, the subject needs to grab their attention. Don’t be boring – this is where you want to grab the attention of whoever you’re sending it to. Make sure your email and article stands out!
  13. And finally, send them the article. Especially if you’re emailing them directly. I have found that by sending the article, it gives them the opportunity to read it while they’re still interested. Chance are if you send the pitch and don’t send the article, they rarely get back to you.
  14. Make sure at the bottom of your article you add your author bio, with a link to your website. Links within the content can be seen as spammy, and are usually frowned upon for guest blogs. It’s always good to attach a headshot too.
  15. DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW UP – This step is really important. You want to be friendly and not pushy, but just check in to see if they got your email. It might prompt them to re-read the initial email you sent. Let’s face it, we all get busy and overlook emails when we’re flat out. Following up is important and don’t assume just because people don’t respond that they aren’t interested. I usually follow up three times.

Here’s what NOT to do.

  • Don’t – send a long-winded pitch. If they can see that your email is lengthy chances are they won’t read it.
  • Don’t – be TOO informal – No “hey dude” or “cheers mate”. Remember they don’t know you, and probably won’t appreciate the informalities.
  • Don’t rush. Remember this is your ONE chance to convince them. Take the time to write the pitch properly.
  • Don’t give them a chance to not post the article. Provide everything they need including images if you think it will help.
  • Don’t be pushy. Give them a week or two before you follow up and always be pleasant even if they respond with a “no thanks”.

Step 8: Honour The Value System

When it comes to guest blogging there is a pretty clear value system.

I give you content in exchange for a backlink.

Make sure that the content you are providing is something of value to them. It might be something they haven’t had published on their site before or some new fresh ideas.

This is a sure-fire way to stand out amongst the rest. Remember, those backlinks from quality sites are worth their weight in gold.

If you’re providing an article for a website with a REALLY high domain authority, take the time to make sure your article is well written and well researched. In SEO terms these backlinks are heavyweights, and you want to make sure your content matches the quality of the backlink they’re willing to give you.

Guide To Backlinking - Broken Links

Another strategy that’s great for outreaching is to check the website you are pitching too for broken links on their website. Find a page that has a broken link and simply provide the content to fill in the gap. Include a link back to your website and chances are you’re have yourself a juicy backlink whilst providing them with some great content.

Step 9: Creating The Right Content

This comes back to knowing the website your pitching to and knowing their audience. It might seem like these strategies all take time- they do! Guest blogging has got to be one of the slowest long-term strategies we have. But I assure you, it’s well worth it.

Once you have the website you are wanting to pitch to, get familiar with it. This helps when it comes to creating the right content for their site. It means adding in industry specific details, sometimes that might even mean the websites products. This will vary from website to website and using some intuition here will go a long way.

Step 10: What If They Don’t Have A Submit Guest Post Page?

Many websites that accept guest posts advertise this and have already provided a submission page with guidelines. If you find a website that looks like a good backlinking opportunity but they don’t have a submissions page, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean they won’t accept guests posts, it just means the process is a little different.

Go to their contact page and look for an email, if they have an email simply reach out this way. It’s just as effective and can be a great way to keep the communication going. If you can, go the extra mile and find out who you’re addressing the email to. Using their name shows you’ve gone the extra effort to make the connection.

Step 11: How to handle knock backs… or worse *crickets*

Knock backs are brutal. Crickets are worse. *the sound of crickets.. get it. Pitching for guest blogs takes time and energy. And often, can be a financial sacrifice too.  

Here’s how I handle knock backs.  

  1. Don’t take it personally. People are busy, and often they don’t mean to overlook your email – even with a snappy subject, we all know how easily things can be overlooked or end up in our junk mail. This is where following up is really important. 
Guide To Backlinking - Junk Mail
  1. When you follow up, keep is short and to the point. Be friendly but remind whoever you’re sending it to that you would love to hear back from them. Its worth asking if there is anything else you can do to make the article a good “fit” for their site.
  2. I usually give each website 3 times to respond before I move on and use the content elsewhere. I also check that the content wasn’t published, this does happen sometimes, and a quick Google will let you know they ended up using the content but just forgot to mention it. (if that’s the case, this is where I would DOUBLE check for the backlink) Unfortunately, some websites just publish the content and don’t give the link.
  3. Move on. Find another great website to publish your article on.

Step 12: Featured snippets and quotes – Expert Round-Ups

If you’re considered a bit of an expert in your industry a really great strategy is expert round ups. These are super easy to find – just Google Expert round up Keyword. You’ll usually find a bunch of websites already writing an article in your niche and all they are usually after is a snippet or a quote about the topic they’re writing about.  These are an excellent way to gain quick backlinks with very little effort.

Step 13: Podcasts

A bit like expert round ups, these are pretty easy to find. Usually, by searching podcasts in your industry you can find upcoming speaking events that might be advertised. You can also contact the hosts of podcasts directly and use a similar approach to guest blog outreach. Just write the pitch in the same way you would a guest blog submission and follow up in the same way.

Step 14: Share, Share, Share

Once you’ve secured a guest blog and its been published, don’t forget to share it! Its all part of the value system and it shows that you’re prepared to continue the relationship with the website. If you can’t share it directly to your own website, make sure you share it on your social media channels. You might find it will, in turn, bring in leads and continue to drive traffic to your website.

Guide To Backlinking - Sharing on Social Media

Step 15: Get your content out there!

A great way to get your content out there that isn’t technically a guest blog but it’s a great way to get free simple backlinks and share your content easily is by posting on forums such as reddit and Quora, I mentioned them before briefly, but you can use these independently as wellYou can easily share your content in your industry categories and people can like and share them on their own pages as many times as they like. A great way to get a tonne of shares really quickly if your providing accurate and quality content.  

 Not to mention gaining a large number of new followers and potential leads and traffic to your website.

Step 16: The icing on the cake

Lastly, if you truly want your blog to do well you need to provide quality imagery. Articles that are filled with stats, images, tutorials and infographics are far more likely to go viral and generate passive backlinks than those without. In fact, posts that include images receive 650% higher engagement than text only posts and content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.

The goal here is to create unique, quality and linkable content.

If you can do that your article is going to be published, liked and shared.

Without a doubt creating leads to your website.

For more great strategies on building backlinks contact the team at TheOnlineCo.

Rich Brown
Rich Brown

Rich is one of the smartest dudes around here – he is our SEO Strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is a learner, he enjoys figuring out how to make things work and is tenacious about getting your SEO sorted. Rich has this ability to implement SEO strategies that help our clients rank for their designated keywords. He is thorough, methodical and highly skilled.

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