Do you want to generate consistent traffic to your website and build a great brand online?
Of course, you do, who doesn’t?
One of the best ways to do it is by getting your message across to bigger audiences on other websites?
If you’ve tried social media and you’re not satisfied with the results, you’d want to pay attention to guest blogging.
Guest blogging works. GrooveHQ reached their first 1 million site visitors through guest blogging.
And there are countless case studies and success stories of how online marketers leveraged guest blogging to link building, getting clients, and increasing revenue.
For instance, Sean Si of SEO Hacker said that guest blogging is by far his most effective link building strategy. Expert writer, Claire Emerson agrees that guest blogging is a strategy she used to gain more backlinks, website visitors, and leads.
However, the beauty of guest blogging is that it goes beyond just building links. Guest blogging is also vital to brand building.
Whether you own a business, or you’re just a freelancer, you need to build your brand to thrive online.
What’s Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging is simply the process of writing posts or articles for other websites. These are usually websites that are related to your website or have a higher authority than your website.
This gives you access to a bigger audience. You can tackle important topics that are closely tied to your main niche. In return, you attract people from your guest posts to check out your website.
If you’re struggling with SEO, guest blogging can help you to generate trusted backlinks and authority to improve your search visibility, as it did for Louis Gudema.
It’s normal to link to your website or a specific page from within your guest post or in the author bio.
Better yet, you should send the visitors from your guest post to a landing page where you can capture their contact information and later convert them to customers.
Now you see why guest blogging should be a part of your strategy if your goal is to build brand awareness and gain authoritative backlinks?
Was guest blogging ever dead?
In 2014, former head of WebSpam at Google, Matt Cutts, declared that guest blogging was dead. As you’d expect, this was bad news to many who depended on guest blogging as their primary strategy for link building.
Trust me, I see Matt’s statement as a half-truth. If you produce poor content and publish on poor websites just to gain backlinks, then guest blogging was and is still dead.
However, if you produce great content and publish on authoritative websites to provide value to your audience, then guest blogging is not dead and NEVER will.
Whether it’s for driving traffic, building an email list, or gaining those trusted inbound links, you can’t possibly fail with guest blogging if you do it the right way.
Gregory Ciotti used guest blogging to gain over 6,000 email subscribers.
But despite these benefits, 50% of respondents in a survey send between 1 to 10 pitches monthly.
As a matter of fact, guest blogging is alive and still effective for businesses doing it right. Talking about doing it right:
How Do You Find Great Guest Blogging Opportunities?
One of the first steps in your guest blogging strategy is to find the right websites to submit your guest posts.
Bad news: Not all great websites accept guest posts.
The good news, though, is that you’ll find enough authoritative websites that want your guest posts.
In most cases, you should generally post on authoritative websites with high domain authority and Alexa rank.
If possible, having these authoritative websites in your niche even make things better. You can reach an audience closest to your ideal audience here.
If you’re ready to produce compelling guest posts that provide value, let’s check out some ways you can find websites that will happily host you.
1. Using Google search operators
Can I be straight up with you?
See, there’s a reason Google is one of the largest internet companies. You can use it to find lots of hidden opportunities to catapult your online business.
And for your guest posts prospecting, you’ll need this search engine to find many trusted, relevant, and good websites.
You can use Google search operators to dig up websites you never knew existed, which also accepts guest contributions from other website owners and authors.
One of the basic formats is to use a search term similar to these:
[industry] + “write for us”
[industry] + “guest post opportunities”
[industry] + “guest post guidelines”
[industry] + “guest blog submission”
[industry] + “guest column”
[industry] + “contribute to our site”
For instance, if you’re looking for guest blogging opportunities in the digital marketing niche, you can use the following search operators:
Digital marketing + “write for us”
Digital marketing + “guest post opportunities”
Digital marketing + “guest post guidelines”
Digital marketing + “guest blog submission”
Digital marketing + “guest column”
Digital marketing + “contribute to our site”
You’ll find many websites that accept guest posts in your industry.
You might even find a page with a list of websites that accept guest posts in other shoulder niches. For example, if you’re a project manager and you’re looking for blogs in your industry that are specific to product management.
Well, in addition to finding those blogs, you should also capitalize on shoulder niches such as productivity blogs, marketing blogs, etc.
But these are only the basic ways of finding guest post opportunities. You can even dive deeper when you use Google search operators to uncover more opportunities. And we’ll get into that in a moment.
If you don’t get a satisfactory number of websites you want, there are even more ways to get better results:
1). Site search
If there’s an authoritative website you want to feature on, you can use the site search to know whether they accept guest posts or not.
If they accept guest posts, you can also visit their guest post page to see their requirements for a guest post.
For instance, if you want to write a guest post for Search Engine Journal, you can use this operator to find out if they accept guest posts. For most websites that accept guest posts, they’ll have a guest post guidelines page.
To use the site search operator, enter the following search string:
site:example.com search term
Remember that some blogs that accept guest contributions don’t have a dedicated page where they have their guidelines. If that’s the case, you can use the ‘contact form’ to pitch the blog owner.
This works really well if you have a relationship with them. Hence, building a relationship is paramount for a successful guest blogging strategy.
Apart from using the ‘site search’ method to find out if your target website accepts guest posts, you can also use it to research the guest post you want to send.
If you send a guest post about a topic that has been covered multiple times, then you’ll likely get a rejection for your pitch.
But do you scroll all the pages of a website to ensure they don’t have a post similar to your guest post idea? That will be a waste of time. You can use the site operator to search for the topic you want to write about.
For instance, if you want to write about Link Building for the Search Engine Journal blog, you can use the site search to find their posts about link building.
This approach is the best way you can avoid pitching a title that has already been covered before.
Ideally, you can also find a different angle to the content they have on that topic.
The site operator helps you to get more details about a website you want to pitch your guest post ideas to.
2). Inurl search
In most cases, websites include important keywords in their URL. If you’re looking for a guest posting page, common words you’ll find in the URLs are “write for us.”
Of course, not all websites will use this. But you’ll find a number of websites with these keywords in their URLs.
Below is an example of such an operator for a search:
To use the ‘inurl’ search operator, enter the search string:
inurl: “write for us”
You can replace those words with words you think websites are likely to use in their guest post page URL. This is one way to find websites with guest post guidelines page.
3). Intitle search
You can use this search string to find pages that have a specific keyword in a title. This can be applicable if you’re searching for websites that accept guest posts in a particular niche.
You can use the search string: intitle: “write for us” or coupled with other keywords to implement this operator.
When using this operator, you might want to use both the niche and guest post or any of its variations. This will make your search more effective as you’ll find the pages you’re looking for.
Check out an example of this operator below:
You can also combine these operators together to even streamline your results further.
For instance, you can combine the intitle and inurl operators to get more accurate results.
In the example below, the niche is searched in the title and “write for us” is searched in the URL.
4). The exact match search
You can use this to search for pages where a specific phrase appears. To use this search operator, this search string is all you need:
Google will show you results in which these words appear according to how you arranged them in your search results.
5). The OR operator
Just as “OR” works in logic, you can also use it in your Google search. This will check whether one term or another appears. Pages where both terms appear, will also show up in the search query.
To use this operator, you can either use the word OR in your search query or the pipe symbol | to filter the results.
For instance, your search term could be:
Guest post guideline OR Write for us
Guest post guideline | Write for us
This is important as there’s no universal term that every website uses when they’re writing about guest blogging.
You can search for 2 phrases so that you’ll be able to find relevant pages not using the same term.
Note: Using “or” in the lower case will not perform this operation. Google will see it as part of your search term. Only use “OR” in CAPITAL LETTERS.
This is an example of such a search below:
You can also combine this operator with other operators mentioned earlier.
For instance, you can use this operator with the site operator if you want to search a particular website and you’re not sure which words they used for the guest post page.
6). The tilde (~) operator
You can use this operator to search for the word you put in a search query. Likewise, Google will search for terms that are similar to the specific term you put in the search box.
To use this operator, use the search string:
For instance, if you search “~guest post,” you’ll see results of terms similar to the guest post.
7). Reverse image search
Another way you can find websites to send your guest post pitch to is to find an influencer that regularly writes guest posts in your industry.
When you find this influencer, you can then copy their image URL in the author bio of one of their guest posts.
Here’s a good example:
Next, place the image URL in the Google image search bar.
This will show you websites where these images appear.
You’ll find that these are guest posts the influencer has published.
Of course, SEO celebrity like Brian Dean will be referenced and interviewed on many places that is not his guest post, so you will have to do a little bit of research.
But this extremely powerful method can quickly help you find all the places where influencers in your industry have published their guest posts.
The reality is that most people use a single image in their profiles online to maintain consistency.
When you do this for 2 or 3 influencers in your niche, you’ll have a list of websites you can pitch.
2. Using Ahrefs Content Explorer
The Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a big database of articles online. This tool has about a billion pages in its database and the list is updated with new pages daily.
With this number of pages, you can find a pool of pages for any topic you want.
For instance, if you search for the topic “digital marketing” on Content Explorer, you get over 981 thousand pages that match that keyword.
That’s a huge list that you don’t even want to explore. Because you don’t need hundreds of thousands of pages to rank higher in Google.
You can reduce this number of pages when you apply other filters.
For instance, if you only search for the word “digital marketing” in the page titles, then this number goes down to about 154,000.
But since you’re looking for digital marketing blogs to pitch your idea, you need to further strip down the results to get websites that deal with this topic.
To do that, you can apply the “one article per domain” filter so that only a single domain page for that topic will show up.
When you do that for this keyword, the number of results go down to about 34,000 pages.
You can export this list of websites to see domains that are suitable for your guest blogging efforts.
Of course, not all these domains will be useful as some domains that post about digital marketing are not in that niche. You might want to target websites in the niche before entertaining other options.
One thing you’ll find is that this provides a much larger list that you’ll get if you have to search Google manually.
When it comes to the issue of gaining backlinks through guest blogging, some are wary because of spammy websites with unhelpful and dangerous backlinks.
This means people want to sort websites based on the websites’ authority. Apart from the popular domain authority (DA), Ahrefs also has its metric which is the domain rating (DR).
In most cases, you want to target websites with higher domain ratings as they tend to give you backlinks with the highest power.
But it really depends on the stage you are with your guest blogging. If you’re just beginning, then you don’t need to target the pages with the highest domain ratings as your probability of success will be lower.
You can send your guest posts to websites with low domain ratings but with high-quality content. These websites have the possibility of increasing their domain rating over time and thereby increasing the value of your backlink.
Ahrefs also allows you to sort your results based on the domain ratings.
They suggest to group blogs in 3 groups based on Domain Ratings. For example, you can group websites of domain rating 0 to 20, 21 to 70, and those that are 71 and above.
With keywords like “digital marketing”, you may have to niche down to get fewer results. However, if you’re searching in a narrow niche, you may get very few results and you’ll have to broaden your search.
For instance, if your search for “link building” doesn’t yield enough results, you can search for a term like “SEO” that will yield more results.
Apart from helping you to find websites to prospect, Ahrefs content explorer also helps you to find article ideas.
Finding websites is difficult. But finding creative topics to write about is even more difficult. In most cases, websites will reject your guest post if it has a bland title.
So you need to get creative with your titles. However, this is easier said than done. Many people will tell you creativity is a combination of many great ideas to form an original one. And I agree with that.
All I’m trying to say is that you can get topic ideas from reputable websites in your niche. These websites have high authority because they produce high-quality content regularly. You can check their titles and get ideas to create yours.
To do this, you can use content explorer to filter for websites with domain ratings of 71 or higher. These are the websites with the biggest authority in whatever niche you are. From here, you can compile a list of these websites.
After doing that, you can then pick a website and input it into content explorer.
This will show you their most popular pages based on organic traffic, backlinks, and social shares.
Here, you can see topics you have knowledge about that you can reform into a unique topic.
When you do this, you can then submit this post idea to a blog with lower domain authority. This will increase your chances of getting your guest post accepted as you’re using proven ideas.
By carrying out research about his target blogs and other strategies, Tom Hunt was able to land guest posts on top blogs like HubSpot and Jeff Bullas.
3. Reverse engineering backlinks from other sites that build guest post links
When you’re looking for guest post opportunities and ideas, one of the places to look is your competitors.
If you have a much bigger competitor, then you can be sure they’ve gone through this process to attain the authority they currently have.
So how do you use this fact to help you find guest posting opportunities? You reverse engineer their backlinks.
What does this even mean?
You look for authoritative websites or a competitor in your niche and see which sites provide backlinks to them.
You’ll find that many of these backlinks are a result of a guest post on those websites.
So let’s say your competitor produces similar content as you do have been published on 15 industry blogs in the past. There’s a high chance you can have your guest posts on those blogs too if they still accept guest posts.
This is a way of using competitive analysis to find guest posting opportunities. The first step is to find websites that are similar to yours.
You already know some of these websites but you can also use a tool like Alexa to find them.
If you want to see websites that only have similar traffic to yours, you can select that option.
You can also find the Alexa rank, page views, and the number of unique visitors that your competitor website has.
Another metric you can find is the audience overlap. The higher the number, the higher the audience overlap between both websites.
For any of these websites you want to analyze, you can run the website analysis to compare with yours.
This will give you the results of important metrics about these websites.
After going through these checks, you can use backlink tools like majestic, A
If your competitor’s website is a big one, then not all websites are linking in through guest posts, so you will have to manually check backlinks and select those that fit your requirements.
What you’re looking for are those backlinks from guest posts.
When you identify these guest posts your competitors published, you can check their guest post guidelines and the guest post your competitor published with them.
Another opportunity you’re looking for is to find keyword gaps. These are topics that competitors have covered that your target website hasn’t.
You can create content for this topic and pitch them with this unique idea. Although it needs to be said that you should be careful with this.
If a blog is avoiding a topic intentionally, then it’ll be a bad idea to pitch them with ideas on that topic. Again, make sure to check their guest post guidelines or write for us page to see if they are avoiding some topics.
You can go to their backlinks tab to see where these websites get their backlinks from. These are places you should aim to get backlinks too.
You’ll find that some of these backlinks are through guest posts. You should prospect these websites too.
4. Finding them on Social Media Websites
Social media is the place where people go to interact with other people. This could be their friends, business brands or other forms of interaction.
As a platform with over 3 billion users, you’re bound to find different opportunities in people’s interactions.
What’s important to us here about social media is that most websites use these platforms as their primary source of content promotion.
This means guest posts will also be publicized on social media. How do you use this to find guest post opportunities?
One of the most popular platforms you can use to find guest posts is Twitter. Most websites today share their content on Twitter.
The beauty of it is that when they share their content, they always indicate when it’s a guest post.
It’s common to see a tweet with the line: “Guest post by” on this platform. If a website promotes a guest post, it means they accept guest posts.
What if this website is an authoritative website in your niche? Then it means you have an opportunity to send your guest post pitch.
To use Twitter search, you can use the search string: [topic] guest post
This will show you guest posts in your niche. Below is an example of such a search for the topic “digital marketing.” You can see the search below:
In the results, you can see websites that have published guest posts on this topic.
These are websites you can explore to see if they’re a good fit for your guest blogging needs.
You can find more opportunities with terms like “blog for us,” “Write for us” and other similar terms that are related to guest blogging.
Another edge you get with a social media platform like Twitter is that you can use it to connect with the website owner before you send your guest post request.
When you have a relationship with people, the chance of them accepting your guest post becomes higher.
Building relationships may sometimes be as important as the backlink you get with your guest post. Because these people may help you to get even more guest posts on other big platforms or other opportunities.
LinkedIn is another option you can exploit for your guest posts. Even though LinkedIn might not be as easy to find a guest post opportunity, it’s an opportunity to connect with many influential people in your industry.
You can also see their updates when they need posts on their blogs. With your relationship through LinkedIn, you can always exploit opportunities like these.
Apart from doing this manually, you can also use a tool called Awario.
This tool is mainly used for social media monitoring and influencer research. With this type of tool, you can set up alert and you’ll be able to see any opportunity that comes up on social media.
How do you use this tool? First of all, this tool monitor 7 sources including social media sites, websites, and blogs. These platforms are:
To exploit the uses of this tool, especially for guest blogging, you have to set up alerts for the keyword you want to monitor.
Check out the tool dashboard below:
You can use a search string like “keyword + guest post” to find guest post opportunities. To set up an alert on this tool, click on the plus icon on the dashboard.
After that, you can enter the topic you want to create an alert for.
Click on “Go.”
However, if you want to include more options for your alert, click on “More options” to set up additional settings.
In the additional settings, you can set up alerts for mentions in a particular website, select countries, and languages to be monitored, add negative keywords and other options.
These options will help to make your results better.
You’ll have fewer results to go through and find better results that will translate to guest post opportunities.
If these options are not enough and you want to add more filters to your alerts, you can use the Boolean search which will provide results that fit more into your specifications.
After setting up your alerts, you can wait for a few days to allow the tool to gather enough data you can work on.
In the tool, you’ll have access to the mention statistics.
You’ll see the websites and social media users with the highest number of mentions of your keyword.
When you go through these statistics, you can identify social media accounts with huge followings and high engagement.
In most cases, these are connected to websites you can pitch to have your guest post.
Check out the example below about digital marketing:
On the Neal Cole Twitter account, you can see that the account is connected to a website.
You can check this website to see if it’s a good fit for a guest post.
You can also go through the Influencers report to find people talking about your target keyword.
You can find hidden opportunities here. You can also go deeper into these results to find more opportunities.
This tool is not free though. Its starter plan goes for $29 per month or $290 per year and you can create 3 alerts, get 30,000 new mentions, and 3,000 stored mentions for alerts you set.
There are other plans with additional features like Pro which goes for $89 monthly and Enterprise which goes for $299 monthly.
Guest blogging is a vital activity to carry out to build backlinks and brand awareness. But it doesn’t come to you on a platter of gold.
The first step of getting your guest blogging game right is to find the right websites to prospect. And after this, you must be able to send attractive topics you want to blog about to them.
This guide has explained important tips you need to find the right website through Google search, Ahrefs Content Explorer, Competitors’ Backlinks research, and Social Media research.
Trust me, if you follow this approach and implement the simple tasks, you’ll have a huge list of authoritative blogs that will accept your guest posts and send targeted traffic and inbound links to your website.
If you are interested in the process of ranking on top of search engines and want to learn more about SEO & content marketing read our Ultimate Guide to SEO for SaaS.