Here’s the deal: Inbound links are the lifeblood your online business.

Without high-quality links, you can’t successfully rank your best content pages in the Google—and consequently, your business will suffer.

The good news is, guest blogging is powerful enough to help you acquire backlinks the most-relevant and user-friendly links.

Sure, it’s true that Matt Cutts said that guest blogging is dead but if you know how to do it the right way—that Google loves—you can build quality backlinks to improve your website’s search rankings.

According to a survey by Ahrefs, the majority of marketers, bloggers, and SEO agencies like ours still use guest blogging to build backlinks.

do you use guest blogging in your link building campaigns responses on ahrefs

The truth is, guest blogging is not dead rather guest blogging has changed a lot over the years.

This guide will show you how to earn your first 100 links through guest blogging:

Setting goals and objectives

Not all guest blogging campaigns are created equal. You have to set clear goals for your SEO campaign for franchises or any other business.

Guest posts can help you achieve several things such as backlinks, networking opportunities, referral traffic, authority, engagement, list building, social engagement, etc.

You need to be clear upfront as to what you actually want to achieve from guest posts. In this case, we are interested in earning 100 backlinks. When your primary priority is getting backlinks, you have to choose host blogs that are relevant, have high domain authority, and will essentially give you dofollow backlinks.

You also have to look at the health of the domain in terms of its domain authority, page authority, link type, trust flow, citation, and average outbound links per page.

I’ll discuss all these later in the guide, so stick around. But for now, just realize the importance of setting objectives for your guest blogging SEO campaign.

If on the other hand, you’re interested in driving targeted traffic to your blog, you don’t really have to look at the metricinstead your primary focus should be daily traffic of the host blog, how targeted the traffic will be, how long your post will stay on the homepage, how many comments a post gets, and similar factors.

Buffer is a perfect example that used guest blogging to take its subscribers from 0 to 100K in 9 months with the help of 150 guest posts on authoritative blogs. Buffer’s SEO visibility also grew in US and UK.

SEO visibility growth for Blogger in 9 months

The founders of Buffer knew exactly what they wanted to achieve with guest blogging and they achieved the same in less than a year.

When you know what your goals are, no matter how challenging the path may be, you can somehow manage to do it because you expect a certain outcome at the end of the journey.

The first step is to set clear SEO goals for your guest blogging campaign.

Most of the times, the outcomes are correlated and depend on several factors. For instance, if you’re aiming to get backlinks with the help of guest blogging (as our Jacksonville SEO department will discuss in this guide), it is obvious that you’ll drive traffic and will build relationships with fellow bloggers. These are by-products.

But your main focus should be on backlinks that will boost your website’s ranking in search engines.

While getting ready to earn 100 quality backlinks through guest blogging, let’s take a peek at the mindset of a guest blogger.

The mindset of a guest blogger

Refer to Buffer’s guest blogging case I discussed above.

The founders, Leo Widrich and Joel Gascoigne, pitched their app to several media websites for consideration like Mashable and TechCrunch. But these blogs denied covering their app. After posting several guest posts on different types of blogs, the same high-tech blogs covered their app.

Why did it happen?

Why did the high authority tech blogs that were once not willing to write on their app changed their minds?

This is what guest blogging does.

You don’t just earn backlinks but it helps you build authority, social activity, and most importantly, networks. This is what persuades other bloggers to visit your website and get in touch with you.

When you’re trying to get a backlink from a blog, you don’t just get a backlink but you build a relationship with the blog owner. These networks are at the heart of real white hat guest blogging. This should be your mindset.

photo of the word mindset

As a guest blogger who is trying to earn 100 links, you have to have the right mindset. Think of and focus on building relationships with fellow bloggers.

Danny Iny managed to have his first guest post published on Copyblogger. Do you think getting your guest post published on a high-authority blog like Copyblogger is easy?

No, it’s not.

Don’t trust me, try reaching out to them and you’ll be disappointed.

The only way you can reach out to such a trusted blog for a guest post and get accepted is to know the blogger or the editor. If the editor knows you, he will be more interested in posting your guest post as opposed to if you send an email out of the blue.

This is what exactly happened with Danny Iny. Buffer achieved it after posting several guest posts on smaller blogs and then it ultimately reached to TechCrunch and Mashable because, by that time, the editors knew Buffer.

Guest blogging is all about building relationships even if your primary goal is to earn backlinks. You’ll be able to earn more backlinks and with half the effort if you’ll start focusing on building relationships.

According to Evan Prokop, you should stop thinking about link building instead start thinking relationship building with guest blogging.

Think backlinks but build relationships. This is what your mindset should be like.

I know it can be hard to develop this type of mindset because you’ve always been told (and have read) that a single guest post gives you a single backlink and that’s it.

This is nothing but one of the many guest blogging myths. Let’s briefly discuss it.

Guest blogging myths

There are several guest blogging myths that stop you from developing the right mindset that focuses on building relationships instead of focusing on backlinks.

Let’s debunk those myths so that you can have your focus right.

Myth #1: Guest blogging is a one-to-one content marketing technique

Yes, you’ve been deceived that a single guest post will only give you a single backlink. No, it won’t.

Unless you’re posting religiously on PBNs, guest blogging has never been a one-to-one content marketing technique for franchises or other type of businesses.

If you’re posting on high-traffic, credible, and relevant sites, a single article can be syndicated on several authority sites. Your article might get picked by several sites and you get several backlinks.

Let me share an example.

The following article was published on Entrepreneur by Allen Moon.

how to start a business online graphic

The same article has been syndicated on several sites. According to Google, the first exact sentence of the article was found 1850 times.

Article found 1850 times

The majority of these sites link back to the original article. The author earns several additional free backlinks from sites that republish the full article.

This is what exactly happens when you publish on high-authority sites. You get additional links from several other sites at no additional cost.

Besides, if your guest post is published on authority sites like Moz, Search Engine Land, The Next Web, Inc, Forbes, and the like, your article might get picked by a top news site or any other authority site.

You can’t deny this fact that a single guest post on an authority site doesn’t always mean a single guest post. It has a multiplier effect and it can earn several backlinks for you.

Myth #2: Guest blogging is not fruitful

When you’re new to guest blogging, it might not be as fruitful and you won’t be able to see results quickly but it starts showing results over time.

Guest blogging is a long-term strategy.

Gregory Ciotti took 14 months to grow an email list for HelpScout to over 36K subscribers. You don’t have to stop after the first month just because it didn’t do the trick.

This is what exactly happened to Danny Iny.

When Danny Iny published his first post on Copyblogger, he noticed that the audience started losing their attention soon after the post was removed from the homepage.

audience attention on first guest post

He didn’t stop. He started posting continuously and posted as much as 80 guest posts in 2 months.

Audience attention on multiple posts

If you give it time and take it as a serious strategy, it will deliver results.

Nothing will happen overnight.

This leads us to the next myth.

Myth #3: Guest posting needs a lot of time

Contributing to other blogs is a great way to generate quality leads. Of course, posting guest posts month after month is a lot of work.

But remember that when you’re dealing with popular sites in your industry, you don’t need to do a lot of work.

A single post from an authority site can turn the tables.

Four backlinks from authoritative sites changed the fate of a marketing site forever.

Growth from one post

The site saw a major increase in organic traffic.

Growth results

Guest posting isn’t always time-consuming. At times, a single link from a top news site can push your website to the first page from nowhere.

Myth #4: Nofollow backlinks are no good

If your primary goal of guest posting is to improve SERPs, then nofollow link might not be a good idea but it is not a bad deal nonetheless.

For instance, the following article on The Next Web has nofollow backlinks but it has 111 shares in 16 hours.

Tools to hack conversions article

The same article has been syndicated on several tech websites and blogs already. Google shows 158 results.

Results on google search

Not a bad deal.

Think in terms of exposure, reputation, authority, and networking. Nofollow is not a great metric to measure the strength of a guest post.

Finding guest blogging opportunities

It’s time to forget the guest posting myths and get straight to work.

The first step is finding guest blogging opportunities.

The first thing that you have to look for is relevancy. A relevant link is better than 100 irrelevant backlinks. To find relevant guest blogging opportunities, you have to be clear upfront about your niche.

If your website is about dieting, only links from dieting blogs and sites are most relevant. Everything else is not as relevant and won’t be valued as much.

Here are a few ways to find relevant blogs that will accept your guest posts.

a). Use Google: Start your search from Google using one of the following search strings:

Keyword + “guest blogging”

Keyword + “write for us”

Keyword + “contribute”

You can find different search strings here.

Prepare an Excel sheet and copy all the URLs in the sheet. I’ll tell you in a moment what to do with the sheet.

b). Find bloggers: Majority of the bloggers and webmasters guest blog. You can find more guest blogging opportunities via these bloggers.

Most of the bloggers share their published guest posts’ links on to build authority. Here’s an example page:

example of posts on other blogs

These pages give you instant access to several relevant blogs that accept guest posts. Your job is to find these types of pages. Here are a few queries that can help you to find these pages.

Keyword + my posts on other blogs

Keyword + my guest posts

Keyword + featured on

You get the idea.

Copy the URLs on the same excel sheet.

c). Competitor search: This is my favorite technique to find highly-relevant guest blogging opportunities. When you know where your competitors are guest posting, you can reach out to the same blogs as well.

Scan your competitor’s backlinks with the help of Ahrefs or Majestic. Find a few guest posts, copy the URL of the headshot that your competitor use, and run a Google Image search for the same image.

example of image search

Here’s a list of all the blogs that will willingly accept your guest post too.

Example results from google image search

d). Use Twitter: Twitter is a great place to find some of the best and rare guest blogging opportunities. Searching for the right terms in Twitter will reveal several useful opportunities.

The primary search string is:

Keyword + guest post

This will show you tweets that have the keyword and the term guest post in them. Blogs and bloggers tweet about their guest posts and this is a nice technique to find them.

e) Screen blogs: The blogging opportunities you’ll find with these methods have to be screened. You can’t pitch to every blog. There are certain metrics that you should check before finalizing an opportunity.

These include:

  • Is it relevant to your website’s niche? This is the most important metric. Any blog that’s irrelevant should be eliminated.
  • Is it a real site with real social accounts? Backlinks from PBNs are risky.
  • Does the blog post high-quality content?
  • It must have decent domain authority. You can check domain authority here. Domain authority above 25 is acceptable.
  • The blog should have a decent Alexa ranking.

Ahrefs is a decent tool that helps a lot in screening blogs. It shows backlink profile, referring domains, estimated traffic, organic keywords, paid keywords, top performing content, and several other details about the host blog.

example ahrefs results

Screen blogs and only choose the ones that have decent traffic, followers, and appropriate domain authority. Enter all the details in the Excel sheet so that you can easily target them in the next step.

Engage with the blog

Before you reach out and send your pitch to the blog, you have to engage with the blog.

An email from a person you don’t know have the least probability of getting read as compared to an email from someone you know.

You have to ensure that when you contact the blog for a guest post, your name shouldn’t be new or sound strange. This will increase response rate significantly.

Here are a few effective SEO techniques to engage with the blogs you selected in the last step:

  • Follow the blog owner and the blog on social networks.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed and newsletter.
  • Leave a comment on a few recent posts.
  • Send at least one general email to the blogger. Appreciate one of the posts or talk about something they have recently done on the blog. This email shouldn’t ask about any kind of guest posting. This is just to make your name familiar.

This initial engagement will help build a relationship with the blogger, which is the ultimate purpose of guest blogging, and it will also help you understand what types of topics they’re more likely to accept as guest posts.

Unfortunately, this engagement is missing in most of the cases. What bloggers do is that they send the same old template to every blog that accepts guest posts. This is, unfortunately, not going to work.

You cannot do well if you don’t engage with the blogger prior to the pitch.

The pitch

Only pitch after 7 days of your first contact with the blog.

You have to realize that blogs that accept guest posts receive hundreds of emails on a daily basis and anything ordinary won’t impress them.

example link to become a blog contributor

If you have subscribed to the blog and you’re following them for a week, you already know the type of content they post and which content format their audience loves.

Follow these steps to pitch like a pro.

1. Read guest posting guidelines: This should be the first thing you should read. Every blog that accepts guest post will have some rules that you should stick to.

Read the guidelines and based on your previous interaction with the blog, create a killer article title and a brief outline.

There are two types of blogs.

a). Blogs that ask you to submit the complete article.

example blog guidelines asking for complete article

b). Blogs that ask for a title and outline first.

Stick to the guidelines. If you’re asked to submit a unique article, write a killer post, and send it over for review.

Here is a nice tip from Chelsea Baldwin that will help you in creating better guest posts:

“Pitch topics that tie back to your site’s main offer. If you won’t do it, you won’t get any subscribers.”

Baldwin shares her own case study where she posted a guest post that generated 120 comments but she only received one-fourth subscribers.

Why?

Because she wrote a guest post on traffic generation technique and on her blog, she had copywriting advice – not traffic generation techniques. This turned the visitors away.

Make sure you choose a title that is relevant to your blog’s main offer.

Blogs that don’t ask for anything, a better approach is to send a title and an outline for review.

If you stick to the guidelines and follow them strictly, your chances of getting accepted will increase significantly because most bloggers don’t bother to read them, and this makes your email stand out from the crowd.

2. Preparing the pitch: This is another step where most bloggers go wrong, again.

Don’t use templates especially ones that are published on famous blogs such as Backlinko because they have been used so many times that they do more harm than good.

If you’re planning to send this type of email, don’t expect a reply because Tim Soulo calls it spam.

example of a poor quality email outreach

When you’re preparing your email, don’t use any template because it hurts your reputation. This is where your engagement will come handy.

Write a unique email that should describe your engagement with the blog and why you think the guest post you’re contributing should be accepted.

This is the best approach to getting your guest post accepted. Otherwise, you’ll not stand a chance especially with top blogs in your niche. They don’t have the time to respond to copy-paste templates which they receive several times every day.

Create content archetypes that get links

“Send your best piece for guest posting.”

There is a reason why top blogs like Evernote and Buffer post their case studies and success stories on other blogs. I mean they could have posted their own success stories on their blog, but they choose a different approach.

Because they wanted to drive targeted traffic from other people’s blogs.

It also earns more links and is visible to more eyeballs if your site is still new and don’t get as much traffic.

This is what exactly CJG Digital Marketing did when it posted its infographic on Business 2 Community, instead of posting it on their own blog. It has been shared 940 times already.

example of successful post

Not bad, right?

Here is the deal.

Great blogs don’t accept substandard guest posts. You have to create killer content so that they cannot say no to you. When your best content is published on an authority site, your article will get natural backlinks.

You need to get your guest posts ranked well in search engine results pages (SERPs) so that you get traffic to them. A guest post on an authority site will get lost if you don’t promote it.

Make sure your post stays alive and the best way to do so is to have killer content that attracts links naturally.

Here are a few content type ideas that will work best for guest posts:

  • Infographics
  • Reports
  • Case studies
  • Marketing reports
  • Surveys
  • Whitepapers
  • Exclusive interviews
  • Expert roundups
  • Tips
  • List articles
  • Step-by-step guides
  • Common mistakes
  • Statistics

These types of content have the natural potential to engage readers and acquire backlinks naturally. This will eventually help you get more from every single guest post.

It’s also critical for you to create evergreen guest posts. An evergreen article is one that is always of interest to readers such as weight loss, marketing tips, WordPress themes, best fruits to improve eyesight, etc.

These are the types of articles that will never go out of business and people will keep searching for these types of articles for years to come.

Content that is timely, related to an event or any content that has short life shouldn’t be used for guest posting.

For instance, best marketing tools for 2017, Brexit, local elections, etc., are the types of topics that people won’t search for or read after a specific time period.

Here’s a list of 10 types of evergreen content, according to Graham Charlton.

  1. How-to guides
  2. Beginner’s guides
  3. FAQs
  4. Case studies
  5. Definitions
  6. Best practices
  7. Checklists
  8. Stats
  9. Secrets
  10. Tips and tricks

This type of content will never go out of business and you’ll keep getting backlinks and shares to your guest posts naturally for the rest of your life.

Maximize your guest post reach

This is an advanced stage of guest posting that will help you increase the reach of your guest posts. Not all the guest posts have this potential to earn backlinks and shares naturally.

Just as you have to promote your website no matter how great it is, you have to go an extra step in promoting your guest posts to reach a wider audience.

Follow these steps to increase your guest post’s reach:

  • Share it on your social networks as soon as it is published.
  • Add it to your monthly newsletter.
  • Share it with fellow bloggers, partners, and people you know.
  • Respond to comments religiously.
  • Link to it from your blog and from other guest posts that you post on other blogs.

This is something that most of the bloggers do. Here’s an awesome approach to take your guest posts to the next level.

Build links to your guest posts especially to your best guest posts like infographics, data, statistics, case studies, and guides. You can find contributors who will naturally link to your guest posts for a small fee ($50 to $200).

Since you’re asking them to link to your high-quality guest post naturally and they’re getting paid for it, they will happily do it.

You can find such contributors on the same sites where you guest blog. For instance, The Next Web has a contributor section on their home page. You can contact contributors easily.

contributors page

Similarly, you can find contributors on several other sites.

This technique might cost you a few additional bucks but it pays off big time because you’re promoting your best content.

Track results

So you think you don’t have to track your guest posts?

Not really.

Whether your goal is to drive traffic, engagement, earn backlinks, or increase subscribers, you have to track the results of each and every guest post.

This is the only way possible way to scale your efforts.

Tracking results from guest posts are easy and there are several ways to do it.

You can use Bitly or a tracking tool to track traffic from every guest post.

Or, you can use Advanced Segment in Google Analytics to track traffic from every guest post in your Google Analytics account. This guide will help you do it.

Without tracking results, there is no way to decide whether a guest post was a success or a failure.

Guest posting tools

Guest posting, especially today, is not possible without tools. Everything that I have discussed so far will become a piece of cake if you have access to the right tools.

Here’s a list of must-have tools to supercharge guest blogging:

1. BuzzStream

If there is one tool that a guest blogger cannot live without, it’s BuzzStream. It is a combination of several tools that will come handy throughout your guest blogging campaign.

buzzstream tool

Some of the best tools and features include:

  • Link building query generator
  • Email research tool
  • Outreach lists
  • Conversion tracking

2. Ninja Outreach

Ninja Outreach is a similar tool like BuzzStream but it has a few interesting features such as lead generation, cold emailing, influencer marketing, Instagram prospecting, finding podcast guests, and more.

ninja outreach tool

3. MozBar

MozBar is one of the best tools that will help you quickly scan the health of any domain. Instead of pasting every URL in Open Site Explorer to check its domain authority, spam score, and other metrics, MozBar will show you everything instantly.

4. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a multi-purpose tool that helps a lot when it comes to inspecting blogs in depth where you intend to publish your content.

ahrefs tool

You can quickly scan how well a blog is doing in search and what types of sites link to it.

This definitely helps a lot in getting backlinks from healthy sites that Google loves.

5. SEMRush

It’s an awesome tool that helps you find most shared content on any given keyword, brand monitoring, checking backlinks, and checking the backlink profile of host blogs.

sem rush tool

Conclusion

There you have it, the proven guide to guest blogging that will help you earn 100 high-quality links to improve your organic search rankings.

These links are the beginning of a new start. Don’t forget the blog once your guest post has been published.

Instead, you should nurture your relationships with the bloggers so that you can emerge as an influencer and authority in your niche.

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO

Alex Membrillo

Founder and CEO

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal also recently earned him the honor of being selected as a 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year (Rising Star), and the 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).