By now, if you've been reading what I've been posting the last few months, you know that content marketing is the key to current and future search and social success. Businesses who really want to do what sites like Google and Facebook really want them to do will be using high-quality content on their websites as the hub through which they can make their marketing blossom.
This should by no means be interpreted that activities such as link-earning and social signals are not useful. In fact, the core of true content marketing to drive higher search results and stronger social interactions is still based around earning links and generating social engagement. It's for this reason that guest posting is a practice that should be considered if you want to get into more advanced techniques.
First, you have to be able to put high-quality content on your website and/or blog. Guest posting does not replace this. If you are having trouble finding the time to keep your own site active and growing, guest posting is something that you should consider. If you're doing well with your website and/or blog, then guest posting can generate exposure, earn links, and even send direct traffic to your website. As with all things in 2013, it all comes down to quality. I say it a lot, but it cannot be overstated.
Write What You Know
This is simple but it's also important enough to mention here. If you're running the marketing for a car dealership, write about cars. Write about the local area. Write about cars in the local area.
The biggest challenge is that we're often so immersed in "what we know" that we have a hard time identifying what can be interesting enough to get picked up by other blogs or websites. Sometimes the easiest way to fix this issue is to be mindful of what you learn about your industry. Fresh knowledge to you in your industry is likely brand new to others, so identifying "on the fly" can make it easier to find topics.
The second biggest challenge is that we tend to write in some pitching or marketing into our guest posts. At no point should you try to work in your credentials, products, or services into guest posts. You won't be accepted as easily if you do. The value that you receive from guest posting is in the links and the establishment of authority within the industry. Teach and/or entertain with your post, then link to your website either in context (we'll discuss that further later) or at the very least within the author's bio box.
Use Content on Your Website as a Resource
Some blogs and websites won't allow it, but whenever possible you should try to link to an article or piece of content that you've already placed on your own website or blog. Let's say you write an article about preparing an older vehicle for long trips. You can post an article first on your own website about summer maintenance tips, then include a link to it within the context of your guest post. Make sure it's natural and truly fits in.
In the above example, you might have somewhere in the body of your guest post a paragraph like this:
One of the most common times when we go on longer trips is for summer vacations. There are [summer maintenance activities](link) that you can do prior to the trip that can handle much of the preparation you'll need to do before heading to the beach.
As long as the piece you're linking to is informative and not pitchy, most will allow it to fly. One important portion of last year's Penguin update for Google was to devalue footer and resource box links while increasing the value of contextual links. If you can get those contextual links, your guest post will be much more effective, but that doesn't mean that you should bypass guest posting if your target publication only allows resource box links. Both help.
Find the Right Venues
This is the hardest thing to start and the easiest to finish. Once you see your content posted somewhere, it becomes much easier to push forward.
You may think that the only place you'll be able to post is something that is hyper-targeted to your industry. This isn't true. In fact, it's sometimes easier to get a guest post in related industries rather than your specific industry because they likely already have experts in your industry. In other words, a car blog has plenty of car bloggers, so they might not need your car content, but a tech blog who has a bunch of tech bloggers might be interested in seeing interesting technology posts about cars. I know, as I accepted a guest post at our tech blog that was about automotive technology just the other day.
Local news publications are also good targets. They like local writers and with a strong series of content you can even get a regular posting spot. This is good, especially for branding in the local area, but don't get stuck on one site. The more places you can guest post, the better.
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Again, this is not a replacement for putting quality content on your own site. It's an enhancement if you're already putting the content there. Your goal in modern marketing is to use high-quality content to get exposure, links, social shares, and traffic. Guest posting is a tool that should be in your arsenal. Here's a video from last year from Google's Matt Cutts. Notice the importance of quality. Like I said, it can't be stated enough.