Finding & Analysing Guest Posting Opportunities

Guest posting has seen some major criticisms and changes during the past few months. Now more than ever you need to be extra careful where you consider pitching a guest post, especially since Google have started to give manual penalties to websites and communities associated with guest blogging – and not just those which are blatant spam either. At least one well respected blog has received a manual penalty as a result of one single slightly off topic guest post being published on their blog.

So, how do you stay safe when guest blogging?

First of all you need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you are guest blogging purely to build links to your website then you can almost certainly expect a penalty from Google sometime in the not-too-distant future, or at the least, expect any weight that was passed from those links to be removed and subsequently your SERPs dropping.

Guest posting is not a link building strategy, and treating it as such will bring unfavourable results. However, guest blogging properly will bring you some incredible results. To name just a few:

  • Instantly reach large audiences who may be interested in what you have to offer
  • Increase exposure for yourself or your brand (or both)
  • Establish yourself or your brand as an authority within your niche
  • Tap into potentially huge referral traffic
  • Promote your message to new audiences
  • Increase your social engagement

If you are used to guest blogging purely for backlinks, then it’s likely that you have never seen any of the above results from your efforts. But trust me, the results are well worth the extra time and effort involved in blogging for all of the benefits rather than simply blogging for a backlink.

What’s the problem with guest posting for links?

The main problem which comes with guest posting for links is low quality and reproduced content, AKA spam. This post demonstrates the differences between low quality guest posts (purely for link building) and high quality guest posts (focusing on the benefits I outlined earlier).

People who are using guest blogging as a way to build links often don’t care one iota about the quality of the blog they are publishing on.

All they are looking for is a high Google PageRank and a high Moz DomainAuthority. As a result of this, they are happy to post on spammy network blogs, which are often built on dropped domains (domains which have previously expired and still hold some PR / DA weight from the previous owner’s efforts), which have been purchased for use in a blog network. These blogs have no real audience, and as such, you can be sure that any posts published on a blog like this will not be read or appreciated by anybody. The only value that they might have is that of the keyword rich backlink included in the post. This is exactly the type of guest blogging which Matt Cutts recently slated.

Guest posting with the right approach – what you should be looking for

When your goals are aligned with the list of benefits I outlined above, you should find that your criteria for the blogs you’re searching for have changed. Instead of just looking at the Google PageRank and Moz DomainAuthority, you should find yourself looking at more useful information:

  • Is the blog active? How often is it updated?
  • Does the blog have a real and active audience?
    • Are there comments on the posts?
    • Are the posts being shared via social networks?
  • Are the majority of posts on the blog guest posts, or is the majority of the content produced by editors at the blog?
  • Does the blog have social accounts with a good following?
  • Is the blog active on their social profiles, updating them on a regular basis?
  • Does the blog have an RSS feed? How many people are registered?
  • What is the typical audience of the blog? Does that audience coincide with your target audience? Would they be interested in what you’re offering?
  • Can I add something of value to this blog and its readers?

How do you find the best blogs?

There are already a few great posts out there which walk you through some awesome ways to find suitable blogs for needs, so I won’t waste time going over them all again here. One thing I will say is that in light of recent events you should avoid using guest blogging communities such as MyBlogGuest, because if these communities get penalized by Google, you could be risking a penalty just by association.

Typically I find that Google is the best place to find blogs. A simple search for “[niche] blog” will bring back countless results, offering plenty of blogs for you to analyse and contribute to.

How do you know if it’s a blog you should consider contributing to?

Simple. Will a guest post on the blog fulfill the benefits / goals which I mentioned earlier in this post? If it would, then go for it! If not, then leave it alone. A couple of sections up I noted some of the most important questions you should be asking yourself when you’re considering contributing to a blog.

RED FLAGS: Things to watch out for and steer clear of

There are far more blogs that I wouldn’t contribute to, than there are blogs I would contribute to. So you have to be particularly cautious when you’re evaluating any opportunity. However, there are a few red flags which you can easily spot from a mile away. These types of blogs should be avoided at all costs:

  • Any blog that is made up entirely of guest posts
    These blogs are easy to spot, they often have lots of unrelated content, and every single post has at least one commercial link in the content or the author bio (usually with a keyword rich anchor text)
  • Any  blog that shows no signs of life
    No social profiles and no feedback on the posts (via comments or social shares) usually means that there is no real audience reading the posts on that blog
  • Dropped domains
    If the domain name doesn’t suit the topic of the blog then it’s more than likely a dropped domain name which is now part of a blog network

I hope you have found this post useful, and I wish you all the best of luck as you move forward with your content marketing efforts! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below, or catch me on G+ or Twitter!