As a top rated freelance content marketing writer, I’ve worked with leaders in eCommerce and SaaS to learn what it takes for guest blog posts to find permanent homes in the most elite websites and blogs.
Blogging on authority websites is one of the most effective modern backlink and authority building tactics. Here, you will learn how to create guest posts that even the most scrutinizing editors will want to publish.
All Great Blog Posts Start With This
If an editor is still reading, after making it through the introduction of your guest post pitch, it’s time to wow them with an engaging headline that showcases your expertise.
An Engaging Headline Includes the Following Elements:
- A topic relevant to the blog’s target reader.
- It hasn’t been written before on this blog.
- Your authority on the topic can be easily proven.
- It’s clickable.
- The word-length matches the rest of the blog.
So, the first action you need to take, when pitching a topic, is to get to know the target audience. Who reads these blog posts? Find out the readers’ most common pain points and determine whether you know how to solve their problems. Industry-specific forums are a great place to discover commonly-asked questions. From there, write a list of working topics.
HubSpot’s blog topic generator is an excellent tool for ideas.
Next, do a search on the site for existing posts that might already cover these subjects. If an idea has already been written, scratch it off your list. If you end up with at least one idea, hold onto it. You’re nearly ready.
Then, decide how easily you can prove that you have knowledge about the subject you want to write about. If you’re writing about social media, and someone can check out your Facebook page, will the numbers prove that you know what you’re talking about? Remember to include relevant links in your pitch that highlight your experience.
Finally, edit your headline so that it’s clickable and in alignment with the other blog titles on the site. Some blogs only capitalize the first word in their titles, and others capitalize them all. Paying attention to these details will pay off.
When re-working my titles, I like to use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
This tool grades your working topics and helps you write perfect headlines. I require that all of my writing assistants use this tool. At first, some of the more novice writers had difficulty getting into the “green zone,” but there are links within the tool that point users to helpful tips for making headline text more engaging. Eventually, everyone on my team learned to write outstanding headlines with ease, and I didn’t have to spend time training anyone.
The Secrets of Writing Brilliant Body Text
Only after the editor gives you the go-ahead to write a post for them, should you write a draft within their parameters. Oftentimes, you will be asked to make changes to the working topic, approach the subject from a certain angle, or write within a specific word count. All of this will be revealed during the negotiation process. Once you’re ready, follow these tims to create guest posts that authorities will enthusiastically publish.
This is Everything You Need to Know About Subheadings
Not all blogs are the same, and sub-headings do not have a one-size-fits all approach. This is how to determine which type of subheading to use, and how to optimize your word-use for readability.
Which Heading Types Should You Implement?
Some blogs use a few H3 headings to separate body content, and some use everything from H2 through H5 to break text apart. Here’s how to find out which type of sub-headings to use in your post.
- Go to an existing post on your target blog.
- Highlight a sub-heading.
- Right-click on the highlighted text and choose “Inspect” from the drop-down menu.
- Check the table that appears on the right side of the screen to see which sub-heading is used.
The highlighted code should show a variation of, “<hX>With the Headline Sandwiched Here</hX>,” signaling the heading type used. Employ the inspect tool to learn the style of posts and ensure that your sub-headings are ready-formatted for your editor.
Sometimes, knowing the heading type won’t be necessary – when the blog editor is in charge of formatting. The reason I format my own posts is that it makes a blogger’s job much easier and saves time. We’re working in a fast-paced field, and anything that increases productivity is appreciated.
How to Optimize Your Subheadings for Readability
People don’t necessarily read online content – they scan. As readers scroll through your post, they look to the subheadings to decide whether or not to read more. From a psychological perspective, your subheadings should leave page visitors with a reason to keep reading.
You can accomplish this by leaving a question unanswered. Each subheading should let the reader know what is to follow without including the explanation. Learn to craft subheadings that entice readers to explore what lies beneath.
What is the Significance of Bulleted & Numbered Lists?
From a readability perspective, bulleted and numbered lists are critical to modern blog posts. Yoast SEO plugin grades posts and pages as having low readability when no lists are included in the body text. However, some blogs don’t use them.
The only time you should leave lists out of your posts is when you’ve pitched to a site that doesn’t use them. Even then, at your own discretion, consider adding at least one bulleted or numbered list; longer posts should include more.
Expert bloggers Leverage This Hidden Tactic
Some bloggers seem to be born with an innate gift of supernatural wordsmithing. In some cases, that may actually be the case. Most of the time, though, it isn’t. Here’s what your favorite bloggers know that you don’t: Hiring an editor is worth the investment.
No editing checklist can replace the expertise that someone gains editing blog posts every day. There is a reason that editors often remove up to ¼ of the words in a book or article – much of what you write isn’t necessary. An editor knows what to remove.
When you can’t hire an editor, remember these facts.
- Your language tense (past, present, future) should flow.
- Wordy sentences can undoubtedly be improved.
- Commas matter.
- Each word counts.
- These words are boring: important, every, big, small, almost, stuff, things, got.
Effective Link-Building Methods for Your Guest Posts
One of the main reasons to post on authority blogs is to build your brand. The scope of brand-building online includes backlinks to your website. In many cases, you will be limited to one text link to your website’s homepage in your author bio. In the cases that you’re not, here’s how you can generate referral traffic and build SEO for your content.
How to Avoid Spam Links
If you’re writing an article just to link to one of your pages, it will be obvious. The content you share should be helpful and relevant. Otherwise, you’re just spamming readers. Most authority sites that allow guest posts specifically ask writers to avoid spam links. This means that you shouldn’t include blatant links to your own content or that of your organization unless it’s outrageously helpful.
These are scenarios when it’s acceptable to link to your own content:
- You’ve conducted an internal study, and sharing your research findings would help readers.
- You link to a related article to emphasize a point.
- The site on which you’re writing for has specifically expressed permission for your to include a link to your own content.
Even if you follow these guidelines, there is a chance that the editor will ask you to remove your link(s). Be prepared to do so.
How to Anchor Your Text Links
Anchor text is the visible part of a hyperlink.
For SEO, anchor text to any URL should be relevant to the linked-to content. Using terms like “click here” and “source” as anchor text isn’t as efficient as using a relevant phrase. Let me give you an example.
Imagine that you’ve written an article about raw feeding for dogs on your own blog. You then decide to write an article for an authority pet blog about crucial exercise and nutrition for pets. If you want to include a link to your article in the guest post, it’s best to use a variant of the words “raw feeding” or “raw dog food” as your anchor text. This let’s search engines know which search terms your article relates to.
Apply the same instructions for internal links to other pages on the blog you’re writing for.
Always Conclude With This Formula
Blog posts should include a call to action (CTA). Writing CTAs for someone else’s blog is different from writing for your own – you don’t just automatically know what action the blogger wants viewers to take next. So, you need to find out.
If you remember to, ask the blog editor what CTA you should include at the end of your post. When that isn’t possible, or you forget, examine the blog. What CTAs are other writers using? Is there a subscription or download form on the sidebar or a comments section or share buttons below the blog posts? What lead generation tools is the blogger using?
Use the insights gained to craft an actionable, helpful CTA for the blogger.
What other writing strategies have you used to get your articles featured on authority blogs? Tell us about it in the comments.
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