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The New Writer’s Guide to Evaluating Websites for Guest Posting Opportunities

This guest post is by Traian of Pitstop Media Inc.

Almost every article written after the infamous Panda and Penguin updates has suggested guest posting as a viable and effective technique to increase authority with search engines, improve organic search visibility, generate leads, and build authorship.

As you can see, there are quite a few benefits to guest posting, but you have to do it right—start small and then grow big.

What most people don’t realize is that it’s almost as easy to go wrong with guest posting as it is with any other content marketing technique. There is no guarantee that just because a website is accepting guest posts, it is reputable or credible.

It’s also now evident that Google has no love for low-quality sites and inbound links from them.

So, when it comes to guest posting, you have to ensure that you associate your name and brand with authority, or at least quality, sites only.

If you want to guest post the right way, you need to know from the beginning that it’s a time- and resource-consuming process. But it’s also one of the best investments you can make to build your reputation online.

Evaluating guest posting opportunities

Finding the most valuable guest blogging opportunities on high-authority sites takes time. You have to nurture a relationship with the blog owner, and that means human interaction, not automated emails.

But if you’ve just started building your reputation, you can’t approach authoritative bloggers yet, because you’ll have no evidence of what you can write about, or how well. If you approach them at this stage, you will probably get a low response rate.

Instead, focus on blogs with small and medium levels of influence (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, likes, +’s and so on).

Contrary to what many believe, finding such guest posting opportunities does not have to involve hours of research. When approaching small blogs, you don’t have to put yourself through the cumbersome process of pitching your guest posts to famous bloggers in niche-related blogs. You will get refused, but it won’t hurt as much as being refused by an online influencer.

Once you build a bit of a reputation and learn from your mistakes and feedback, you can gradually approach the bigger players.

For the lowest hanging fruit, register on popular sites like MyBlogGuest and BloggerLinkup that offer members a platform to announce niche-specific guest posting opportunities and to solicit proposals. Keep in mind that these are also populated by offers that are not worth considering.

Once you have shortlisted a few guest posting opportunities with influence, the next step is to make sure that the site you agree to write for is credible.

The following checklist will help you determine their standing.

Check the site’s integrity

While you cannot guarantee that a website will always stay online, or that a link from it will never be de-valued, there are precautions that you can take to minimize the chances of those things happening.

Integrity checklist

  • Check the website’s PageRank. Don’t automatically dismiss lower PR sites. Sites with low PageRank (below 3) should be checked for other metrics. Dismiss anything that’s not ranked, has a PR of 0, or gray PR on the toolbar.
  • Ensure the website is backed or owned by an organization/individual with a physical address.
  • Ensure the website has clearly stated editorial or business objectives.
  • Ensure the website has a clear design and a sitemap.
  • Ensure that the About page clearly states who the owner is.
  • Check site:sitename.com in Google to see if the site is banned from the SERPs (no results means a Google ban).
  • Check for the site/business name. If it’s not showing, there’s a problem.
  • Ensure that the website is not a blog network. Blog networks don’t usually have contact details and viable About pages.

Look for social signals

Check for the website’s presence on social media sites. For instance, it should have an active Facebook page with a decent number of Likes, and the owner should have a respectable number of Followers on Twitter and/or G+, and/or have an active LinkedIn profile.

Of course, these are no guarantees of credibility, but they can certainly be considered points in the website’s favor.

Find the number of RSS subscribers

To accomplish this, either refrence the data displayed on the blog, or identify the number of subscribers using Google Reader (this is not as accurate a method, though).

To use Google Reader: login, go to Browse for Stuff, and then Search:

rss

For an in-depth article on how to find this number you can read the article Using Blog Subscriber Metrics for Better Outreach Decision Making.

Check content quality

A look at the top two to three posts hosted on the website will give you an idea of the blog’s quality. If most of the posts look spammy, are badly structured, or are just generally low quality, you should be wary.

Also, if you see more ads than content on the website, it’s a good idea to give the site a miss.

Check competitive data sources

Try Compete, Quantcast and Alexa, but be aware that none offer completely accurate data. Look for absolute numbers, but also for trends.

This alone will give you a lot of information and help you decide whether or not the website is worth guest posting on.

Checking Alexa rank

Trending shows that this site is growing (wonderful, that’s our site J)

Alexa.com reveals metrics like:

  • Social Reputation: the number of inbound links a site has
  • Time spent: how long visitors stay on the website, and how many pages they view
  • Demographics: the profile of visitors that frequent the website
  • Keywords: the list of keywords that people have used to search for the website.

The demographic and keyword information will help you decide if a particular site’s visitor base matches your blog’s target market profile.

Visitor time investment and social reputation will give you further clues about the quality of the website.

It’s worth the time

Putting every potential guest posting opportunity through the full checklist might sound like a lot of work. But, in practical terms, all you’ll have to do is this:

  1. Enter the website name +Facebook/Twitter/G+/LinkedIn to check social signals.
  2. Check if the website has a working About page and a contact address.
  3. Spend five minutes reading through the website’s content.
  4. Enter the website URL into Alexa.

The whole process won’t take too long. In any case, it’s better to spend ten minutes on the checklist, than to waste hours writing for a website that is penalized or banned, or doesn’t have an audience.

Keep records

This comes last on the list, but it’s actually critical. Every interaction with a site owner has to be recorded for future reference. Nowadays I use Buzzstream to keep track of my guest blogging initiatives. I used to use Excel but things get very complicated very quickly.

This article is just the tip of the iceberg for guest blogging, but it should at least provide a quick checklist for selecting the right guest blogging partners.

Writing the content to win them is the other part of the story and one that’s been covered here at ProBlogger many times.

Traian is Director of SEO and co-founder of Pitstop Media Inc, a Canadian company that provides top rated SEO services to businesses across North America.

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This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. Craig Martin says:

    Great piece on this topic. The whole concept of link building shouldn’t be focused on quantity, but quality. Obviously, we should be flexible when it comes to this criteria, but walk away from those banned sites.

    Thanks for the insight!

    • TraiaN says:

      Glad you found the article useful. Quality should be a concern but at some point (depending on your ability to write great articles) one might ran out of good opportunities. But that’s totally fine, because you will then just nee to be less stringent with your approach.

  2. Great post Traian.

    I am spending a lot of effort of guest posting at the moment and it is a constant battle to find the best opportunities and weed out the worst ones. There are certainly more and more low quality, guest-post filled blogs springing up (especially on MBG and BLU).

    There are of course plenty of great opportunities too, for anyone who puts in the effort to find them!

    • TraiaN says:

      Mark, finding best opportunity is actually not the toughest part (even though it takes us at least two levels of quality assurance). The hardest is to write great content for them.

  3. Samuel says:

    Guest blogging will give you results only if you do your research :)

    Study the blogs you want to guest post and give a good try to guest post on them!

  4. Ravi says:

    Great Tips regarding Evaluating Blogs for Guest Posting rather than PR. But when Google crawls Blog, do they Prioritize the Backlinks? Means the Links in the author Bio are Given more Priority for PR juice than Comments?

    • TraiaN says:

      It depends of the blog they craw, but most of the blogging platforms will automatically nofollow every link in the comment section, while the links in the author BIO will be followed. So, you can say the link in the pass will pass some SEO value.

  5. Starting a business and becoming successful is often part of the American Dream. But there is a difference between starting a business and building a successful business. Many businesses fail within the first few years of existence due to the lack of planning for the long-term. There is not enough vision and there is not enough done to strengthen the business properly from the ground up.

  6. Rahul says:

    very nice tutorial guest posting is very important by this we can build our social networks and links thanks for sharing…

  7. Matt Brennan says:

    Some good tips here. Guest posting is a lot of work, so it’s good to know where you’re posting!

  8. Clare says:

    Thanks for the great post, and tips about guest posting.

    When looking for blogs to submit a guest post to, I think it’s important to check the how much interaction is going on at the blog. I like to look at how many comments the posts get to get a good idea of how effective my guest post will be.

  9. Great comprehensive article that is good for evaluating any website or a blog however I personally think it’s an overkill. Example is problogger.net. You find the website that you want to guest blog for only to find out that they don’t accept unsolicited blogging. Having said that, great collection of tips!

    • TraiaN says:

      Dario, actually the best value comes from exactly those sites which don’t publicly promote guest blogging on their sites. Their main concern is quality, so if you approach them with a good piece, chances are you might get published.

  10. Jan says:

    I agree with the commenters expressing frustration with the tremendous amount of work guest posting requires. The question is this: Is there a “real”, acceptable, professional data about ROI for gust posts?

  11. TraiaN says:

    Clare, you raised a great point. Interaction is also important – I call that Blog Engagement Rate. Cheers!

  12. Jeff Cox says:

    Thanks for posting this. This has been one of the most informative articles I’ve found on how to get started with guest blogging. I’ll bookmark this post, and return to explore all the references you’ve included. Thanks for supplying all this information. Cheers.

  13. Clap! Clap! My blog, Money Soldiers passes this checklist. I’d like to add though, that this checklist is not always conclusive. For example, sometimes you may encounter a blog with relatively few comments – for all you know, maybe the readers are just too shy to comment or content to just read.

    • TraiaN says:

      Money Soldiers, you are partially right. Sometimes I am surprised to find very good blogs and articles with no comments at all. That is why is important to quickly look at different metrics to evaluate opportunities.

  14. “Spend five minutes reading through the website’s content.” Seriously? Just five minutes? That’s all it takes to learn what the site’s about and what the readers are looking for? Oh, that’s right. You’re assuming they’re submitting to a small blog, not an “authoritative” site so there’s probably not much there worth reading, right?

    And this – “But if you’ve just started building your reputation, you can’t approach authoritative bloggers yet, because you’ll have no evidence of what you can write about, or how well.” Did you ever hear of writing samples? You’re assuming that just because someone doesn’t yet have an online presence they can’t possibly be good enough to be published on an authoritative blog.

    Honestly, to tell someone they “can’t” do something is… unbelievably arrogant.

    And this is even more unbelievably arrogant – “When approaching small blogs, you don’t have to put yourself through the cumbersome process of pitching your guest posts to famous bloggers in niche-related blogs. You will get refused, but it won’t hurt as much as being refused by an online influencer.”

    Why would being refused by an “online influencer” possibly hurt someone? They’re not gods. They’re just bloggers who’ve been at it longer than most.

    Maybe the reason new writers get refused so much, at least the new writers YOU know about, is because they’re following YOUR bad advice. Go ahead. Spend just five minutes reading my blog and I guarantee you you won’t be able to submit a post I’d accept. And I’m a “small blog”, so according to you I should be willing to accept just about anything.

    Man, your generalizations are just blowing my mind. And to think – this is posted on ProBlogger.

    Did you ever hear of the power of positive thinking? Have you ever wanted something so badly you were willing to overcome any obstacle to get it? You’re telling new writers that their lack of online reputation makes it impossible for them to achieve something but I’ve proven time and time again that when you want something bad enough – even if it’s online – all it takes is a little hard work and you can get it.

  15. TraiaN says:

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks for your comment. Maybe you had a bad day, but labeling someone “arrogant” just based on reading an article and without knowing him/her in person is not appreciated. If you were to know me, you will find that I eat humble pie and don’t like arrogance either.

    “Spend five minutes reading through the website’s content.” – yes, you really don’t need more than five minutes to qualify if a blog is a)real b)related to your niche and c) you could write for it. Once you found a match and plan to approach, then you should spend more time on it, but as a quick qualifier, 5 minutes is more than enough. Lots of people I know or work with sift through hundreds of blogs a day to find good ones and you won’t believe the amount of fake blog that are out there. Good like reading articles their articles for 2 hours just to find out when you try to contact them there is no real person behind the site, just scrapped content.

    Since you are a guest blogger yourself you are probably be aware that the vast majority of bloggers who accept guest authors have guidelines and require sample work. And that is what I am trying to say here. Also,keep in mind that I am not “telling” anyone, anything. I am not here to give commands, but my thoughts only. Learn something if you think is good, or leave a comment if you have something to say, pro or against it.

    “And I’m a “small blog”, so according to you I should be willing to accept just about anything.” – can you please show me where in this article I said one should accept anything?

    Positive thinking has nothing to do with qualifying blogs – that’s purely based on facts such as the ones discussed above in this comment. First, first a blog, then use your will and positive thinking as much as you can/want to get published there.