Guest blogging has become one of the top strategies in online marketing, due to the number of benefits reaped by the guest poster.
For one, they are given the opportunity to tap on the network of a more diverse audience. Increasing their online visibility, especially if they have successfully posted an article on an authority site, takes them a step towards establishing their reputation as an expert in their niche. Building relationships with readers and experts is also another advantage, as well as getting that all-important link juice.
But with search engines constantly updating their algorithm, it has become imperative for contributors to up the ante of the articles they send out to the World Wide Web. In fact, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, said that the search engine giant favors high-quality articles more than those uploaded only for the sake of getting links.
With that said, the art of guest blogging becomes a tricky process. If you want to produce high-quality content, take a look at the factors you must consider for the next guest post you wish to submit to another website:
1. Choosing the Topic
All guest posts begin with a highly-relevant topic. To achieve that, you have to do the following:
- Ensure that the topic is appropriate for the site you’re going to submit it to. Selecting the topic is critical so that the new post grabs the attention of your readers. As such, this phase must be given much consideration, since pouring effort into the wrong topic will waste both the time of the writer as well as that of your audience. Make sure that the topic you’ve chosen has not been covered yet in the host website.
- Figure out what your audience is looking for. This usually precludes knowing your reader well, keeping in mind the problems and obstacles they are or could be facing. Once these factors are identified, a relevant topic can be chosen. This empathy with your target audience will show in your writing, leading to more engaging articles.
- Write about something that is close to your own interests. This is an extension of the empathy mentioned above. If the topic is something you know well and it matters to you, this passion will manifest in your article, allowing you to connect with your reader.
- Focus is also important. When you already have so much knowledge on a given topic, it becomes easy to stray from the focus of the article and just continue discussing all the related subjects. Stick to one topic per post. Otherwise, you will either lose the reader in your hodgepodge article or leave them guessing what your point is after reading the entire article.
2. Crafting Your Title
First impressions are critical. In writing, this takes the form of your title, the first read item in your article.
For readers who have never read any of your articles before, Google results will be their first exposure to you. In this case, your title is the main highlight of search results. Conversely, even for loyal readers who have subscribed to you via RSS, the title is the first thing they will see. In both cases, the strength of the title will influence whether or not they click on the links and grant you those critical hits.
- Come up with effective titles. The objective of a title is to call loudly to your readers, enough to make it hard for them not to click on your link. Don’t underestimate the power of your titles. Think of it as your first line of defense—it has to be strong and powerful. Problogger.net has provided a timeless source on how to come up with titles that would lure your readers in, which includes using power words, creating a controversy, and many more.
- Most writers think of their titles beforehand. This will enable you to know what you will write about even before you put pen to paper (or in this case, finger to keyboard). This will also provide the added focus needed to pick one subject and adhering to it throughout the piece.
- Alternately, you can also write your title after your article is finished. This hindsight will enable you to encapsulate everything you have written into a succinct handful of words. However, even when using this approach, an established topic and the focus that comes with it are prerequisites.
You must always regard your title as an advertisement for your blog. A good title serves as a hook, drawing upon your reader’s curiosity or desire for self-improvement, or ideally both. If you want your guest post to attract new readers, capturing this interest is key.
3. Writing Your Content
Content is the meat and potatoes of any post. It is essential that the things you write is relevant, contemporary, engaging, and most importantly, original.
- Have something new to offer. In writing, a particular saying goes like this: “Everything that can be written has been written before.” There is a counterpoint to this, however, and one that bears taking to heart: “Make it new.”
This means that the secret to making good, effective articles is by shaking things up a bit, presenting seemingly established ideas in a new light, and making your readers think.
- Do your research. Make sure you read up on the extant content and get a feel of the community before writing, so that you understand just what issues to address and the right buttons to push (and how hard to push them). Researching also gives you possible updates on the topic you’re covering.
- As for the format itself, never forget that online reading is different from print. Readers tend to scan articles as opposed to closely reading. Arranging your content such that the key points are highlighted (e.g. by using bold, italics, underlines) will allow your readers to grasp your ideas much more quickly and easily.
For instance, using a list structure is an efficient method that works for both the writer and the reader—the former will be able to organize his or her thoughts well when writing, while the latter can easily scan the article and have a good grasp of its content.
4. Determining the Right Length
Online readers have short attention spans. This leads to their reading behavior being primarily based on scanning, and, as above, there are ways to address this.
The length of the article depends largely on the type of article you’re writing. While there is no universal rule when it comes to length, a good rule of thumb is to follow the standards of the host site you’re going to submit your article to.
Short articles have the advantage of being read easily, while long articles can cover a comprehensive topic. However, keep in mind that search engines nowadays often consider overly short articles as sub-par, interpreting it as being uploaded for the sake of the links.
Lengthy articles are well and good, especially if the topic calls for it. Always remember the key point, however: stop when it’s time to stop. Provide a comprehensive article appropriate for your topic. Length for its own sake is rarely a good idea.
5. Conducting Proofreading and Layout
Maintaining readability is the single most important aspect of writing. A significant portion of this stems from following the rules of grammar and syntax. Even if your content is original, most of its impact will be lost if it isn’t well-written.
- Add multimedia elements. Elements such as formatting and multimedia (e.g. images, videos, infographs) must be well-placed. These are optimal only if they complement the text, instead of detracting from it. For guest posters in particular, taking a look at the style guide of your host site is essential, and will make your appearance on the blog much more natural.
- Proofread. Needless to say, make sure you have checked the grammar, punctuations, commas, and other mistakes in the text of your post before sending your article. Arrange the main points and subheads properly. Making your post free of any typographical and grammatical errors makes it a good reading experience for your readers.
Remember that link building and site traffic are secondary goals in guest posting. The most tangible benefits of writing a guest post is exposure to another community, cultivating a relationship with more people, and establishing your expertise in your niche. Readers, after all, are the lifeblood of a website. Connecting with these people by creating engaging, thought-provoking articles will engender goodwill and further relations in the future.
Vincent Sevilla is a professional graphic designer and marketing consultant for Affilorama, an affiliate marketing portal which offers affiliate marketing tools and free affiliate marketing lessons.