We’ve already talked about how to guest blog for your small business, and put together an infographic on the benefits of guest blogging, but today we want to go a step further.

If you’ve followed our advice and landed a guest blog placement on an authoritative website that’s in your niche, well done. You’re already half way there.

Now, you need to write your guest blog and make sure it’s up to scratch – and put it through the submissions process and hope for the best.

To give you the best possible chances of having your content published, and the highest chances of your guest blog spawning backlinks, referral traffic and customers back to your website, we’ve rounded up a six-point checklist.

Answer these questions before you press ‘send’ on your guest blog submission, and you’ll be on to a winner.

Is this my best work?

Writing a guest blog for another website is a completely different kettle of fish to writing a piece for your own website.

And, when you guest blog on other websites, your attitude is likely to sway one of two ways.

Either, you’ll be keen to impress and spend more time on writing and revising content to ensure you get it just right, or you will take a more relaxed attitude to writing as the content won’t be appearing on your own site.

Aim for the former.

Ask yourself these questions to determine whether you’re truly happy with your content, or whether you’ve adopted a “that’ll do” attitude to guest blogging:

  • Would I publish this guest blog on my own website?
  • Would I read this content if I found it on another website?
  • Does it offer genuine value to the reader?

If this is how you react when you read your post, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Every piece of content that you submit to another website should be of high-quality, well researched and valuable to the website’s readers.

You should take time to get to know the audience and produce something unique, that hasn’t appeared on the website before, in your niche or area of expertise.

If you don’t think that you’re capable of writing something valuable and unique for the audience, you’re probably pitching to the wrong websites, or you need to go back to the drawing board.

Does this content fit with other posts on the site?

Some websites welcome varying styles and ideas, but the best approach is to stick to the way the website currently writes.

Before you begin your pitch, check out the site’s content and make sure that you can write in a similar style.

Mimic the layout – so, if they break their ideas up into small, bite-sized chunks, be prepared to do the same. This way, you’ll be more likely to impress the website’s content manager and get them to approve your contribution.

Another good idea is to link back to other posts on their website. So, if you’re writing about why business owners should pay for catering at events, link back to other articles on food, event management or running a business.

Doing so will allow you to boost your article’s relevance and value and improve the chances of your article ranking (internal linking is valuable for SEO).

Most websites that accept guest blogs have procedures in place that allow for reviews and feedback.

Make sure that you take feedback on board; even if you don’t necessarily agree with the comments, it could make the difference as to whether or not you’re accepted as a contributor.

Always think about the end goal when working with other website owners – you want to raise your profile and earn valuable links back to your website.

Have I followed the blogger’s guidelines?

Never submit a piece of content to a website before carefully reading the guest blogging guidelines of the website.

Every site takes a different approach when it comes to policing and monitoring the quality of content submissions, and generally, the stricter the guidelines are, the higher the quality the website is.

Check out HubSpot’s guest blogging guidelines as an example – their guidelines aren’t particularly strict, but they’re specific, and not following them could lead to an instant dismissal from future proposals and submissions. 

Even if you don’t agree with the website’s guest blogger guidelines, follow them or look elsewhere.

The key to following guidelines is to not be lazy. Be respectful of webmasters and their own rules – after all, it’s their website, and they’re giving you a chance to promote your business and get a backlink for free.

It takes only a couple of minutes to read over the rules of the website, and it can make the difference between being posted and being blacklisted.

And, if you don’t understand a particular rule, just reach out to them.

Did I add a natural link back to my website?

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to build links back to your website. And, when built correctly, these links can boost your website’s domain authority and increase referral traffic back to your website.

Therefore, it’s important that you think about the wider aims of your guest blogging strategy before you start reaching out to websites willy nilly with proposals.

Now that you’ve finished writing your blog post for a particular website, think about your links.

Of course, you should link to relevant, authoritative sources to back up your points and source statistics, but you should also include a link to your website where appropriate. 

So, if you’re blogging about events in the local area, fit in a link and mention of your business and its presence at an event.

A natural approach to link building is the most effective and least likely to be penalised by search engines.

Avoid exact match keyword linking or promotional links (for example, “London accountants”), as this won’t flow within the article, which could lead to your guest blog being rejected or even flagged by Google.

And, if you can’t find a way to link back to your website in naturally, then don’t worry – you can always earn a powerful link in your author biography at the bottom of the page.

What should I include in my author bio?

Unless you have thousands of followers and have built a name for yourself in your industry, the chances are that readers of your guest blog won’t know who you are.

And isn’t the whole point of guest blogging to raise your profile and introduce your business to new readers and potential customers?

That’s why your author biography is so important.

There’s a lot you need to think about if you want to show off your business (or yourself) in the best possible manner and encourage people to click through to your own blog.

Your guest blog author biography should be written in the third person and should tell the reader why you’re a relevant and authoritative source within your industry.

Feel free to include mentions of awards that you have won or accomplishments for extra brownie points, but don’t big yourself up so much that people won’t want to click through to your website.

Own your accomplishments, but don’t brag.

Then, you should explain who you are and what you do. If you’re the managing director, then own your job title.

Finally, you should include a call to action and a link back to your business website or blog. This is your one chance to tell readers why they should be interested in what you have to say, so make the most of it.

If you’re still struggling for ideas, check out guest blogging biographies of bloggers you look up to. 

And, if you just can’t stand the thought of boasting about yourself or writing in the third person, then ask a friend or colleague to do it for you instead.

How will I follow up this post?

It’s a common myth that the hard work stops once your guest blog has been published and approved. As soon as you’ve built a link, there’s nothing more you need to do, right? Wrong. 

Any good guest blogger will be on hand to answer comments and feedback from readers of the blog, so turn on email notifications and check back to your blog post every couple of days to make sure you’re up to date. 

Sharing your new content on social media is also important. Bake your new guest blog into your social media marketing strategy and treat it like any other blog post you’ve published.

Of course, you’re promoting another website instead of your own, but doing so shows that you’re confident in your product and writing ability, and opens up your post to more eyes.

Once you’ve shared the post on social media and responded to comments, you should send a thank you email to the website, and follow up with them in a few months with proposals for another post if you want to become a regular contributor.

Even if you’re happy with your one-off post and link, it’s good to maintain a relationship with the website in case anything changes or you want to submit another piece of content in the future. 

And, don’t waste the opportunity to guest blog on other websites.

Every commenter on your guest blog is a potential guest blog “host”, so reach out to them with a proposal and see whether they’d be up for a guest post on their website.

It’s an ongoing cycle that, if exploited sensibly, can open you up to hundreds of guest blogging opportunities and a chance to build links and put your business in the eyes of hundreds of new customers.

Wrapping up

Guest blogging takes time and patience, and you can’t expect to score links and placements from high-authority websites without putting in the hard work. Make sure that you answer the six questions we’ve asked in this blog post, and take our advice on board to boost the effectiveness of your guest posts and chances of scoring new opportunities in the future.