Guest posts are a great SEO and marketing tool – if used correctly, of course. After the demise of article directories and changes in the search ranking algorithms that made many other ways of getting backlinks obsolete, guest posting on reputable sites remains one of the best ways to make your site visible to the world (and search engines).
Basically, the benefits from guest posts are two. First, you get free exposure in front of a new audience (i.e. the audience of the blog you are guest posting to) and second, you get a backlink or two to your site. If you post on a really popular blog, you can get substantial amounts of direct traffic to your site and in the ideal case, when your product is of interest to the visitors from the other blog, you can make sales.
The second advantage – the backlink – is the main reason why guest posters submit content for free to other blogs. If the site is a high ranking one and it is in your niche, then this backlink is especially valuable.
One of the reasons why some people are skeptical to the power of guest posts is that they believe this is just the good old article marketing. While there are some similarities between the two, guest posting is very different from article marketing. When you are guest posting, you are submitting to blogs in a niche, while when you submit to article directories that generally cover all topics, the links and traffic you get are less relevant.
With guest posts, you can't submit hundreds of posts a month simply because there aren't that many good blogs where you could submit content, so article spamming is harder to do with guest posting, if you are doing it right. You pick only relevant, high quality blogs for submission and as a result, the backlinks you get are valuable even after the Google Panda update.
With article directories you can have automated submissions that blast your article with dozens of directories at once but with guest posting this doesn't happen – you write an article exclusively for one blog, contact each blog owner in advance and only after he or she approves your post, it goes live. Very often you can publish only 5 or even fewer posts a month simply because not all suitable blogs in your niche are interested in publishing stuff from other bloggers.
One of the key moments for the successful use of guest posts is to find good blogs to post on. The first you can do is search with Google for “guest post” “your keyword” to find blogs in your niche that accept guest posts.
After you find a couple of blogs in your niche that accept guest posts, the next step is to filter the good ones only. You do this with the help of the various ranking services. After the blog passes this test – i.e. it has good parameters according to the criteria of ranking services, you still need to browse through the blog to see if it is a quality one or full or crap because it is quite possible that a site has good metrics but its content isn't something you would like to be affiliated with.
Alternatively, you may search for lists of sites that accept guest posts or join MyBlogGuest.com (a site where bloggers looking for guest posts and authors of guest posts get together) but still the ranking check and the manual content check is to be done by you. You may also want to check if a site is blacklisted by guest posters because there are many dishonest Web masters, who simply steal your content – remove your links or change the byline, which virtually renders your guest post useless for SEO and promotion purposes.
After you have found some good blogs you'd like to guest post to, the next step is to write the post. Usually blogs that accept guest posts have their guidelines, so make sure you check them before you submit the post. When you write the post, don't forget to include the allowed amount of backlinks in the byline, or even better – in the post itself.
When the article is ready, don't submit it right away even if their guidelines say so. Many blogs that say they accept guest posts don't answer at all, so when you submit the article with them, it is practically blocked from submitting elsewhere (because if you do, you risk having it published on two or more sites, and this will make bloggers furious because of the duplicate content penalty). This is why it is best if you first pitch and only if you get an answer that the blogger is interested in your post, submit the article itself.
After submission, check the site daily till the article gets published because bloggers not always email you when the article is live and if you don't check regularly, you might miss it. If there are readers' comments, answer them.
If you decide to guest post on a regular basis, it is best to keep a file with all the links to your guest posts and check them at least once a month for new comments or simply to make sure the post hasn't been deleted. Sometimes bloggers will delete guest posts for one reason or another and if this happens to you, you will hardly be happy. However, the good news is that after some time, when the deleted post is cleared from the indexes of search engines, you can submit it elsewhere and still make a good use of it.
Guest posting is a very powerful tool, so if you haven't used it so far to promote your blog and to get backlinks, consider giving it a try. And remember, as with many things in life, it is quality, not quantity that matters, so don't aim to publish dozens of guest posts a month on crappy blogs. Focus on high quality blogs and only then you will see good results.