Evan Prokop

Guest Blogging: Stop Thinking Link Building, Start Thinking Relationship Building – #SESCHI

Evan Prokop     Online Marketing

Guest BloggingAnother update live from SES Chicago.  Erin Everhart and Katherine Watier  gave a highly entertaining and informative presentation about link building through guest blogging.

Guest Blogging Works, But You Have to do it Right

It’s a scenario that’s far too typical in the SEO world.  An awesome new tactic is discovered, word gets out, and it gets done to death, resulting in it not working anymore (sorry, but it’s true).

Link building through guest blogging has definitely suffered this fate.  Starting out as an incredibly effective means of generating high quality white hat links, over-use and poor implementation have resulted in bloggers cringing at inboxes full of poorly written, self-serving pitch requests, and ultimately ignoring the vast majority of would be guest posts.

However, guest blogging still works, and it works well, but it has to be done right.  The key is to stop thinking about it as link building, and start thinking relationship building.  Build real relationships with the real people running the sites, and the links will come.

Follow these six tips to make your guest posting more effective than you ever thought possible:

#1 Upgrade Your Research

The old way to find potential link sources was a simple Google search for the kind of blog you want a link from.  While this technically still works, this is exactly what your competition is doing, and you want to stand out from the crowd.

A much better way to research sources is through social media channels, especially Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  Try searching using relevant keywords with modifiers like:

  • Blog
  • Blogger
  • Editor
  • Critic
  • Etc.

#2 Don’t be Too Direct

The underlying themes to most unsuccessful guest blog pitch attempts are desperation and laziness.

Something along the lines of:

Hi Blogger,

Here is some content.  Give me a link.



Maybe that’s an oversimplification, but far too many guest outreach emails follow this format, and it almost never works.  Remember that you are reaching out to a real person, and it’s a huge turnoff when you immediately demand something.

The first time you contact a blogger, don’t pitch to them; get to know them.  Most bloggers are happy to help out people they like, but the only way to get there is to focus on the relationship before the link.

#3 Approach Through Social Media

Better yet, skip email altogether for the first contact.  Instead, reach out through social channels, where you are much more likely to get a response.

Twitter is one of the best social networks for finding and connecting with bloggers, and should be your first step in reaching out.  Start by following, then tweet directly to them, but don’t ask for a link on the first tweet.

#4 Personalize the pitch

Nothing will get your guest post denied quicker than sending a generic pitch.  Taking the time to personalize each pitch to the person you are sending it to will greatly increase your success rate, and is well worth the five extra minutes.

What if you don’t know enough about the blogger to make it personal?  Then it’s too soon to be pitching!

#5 Offer Value

The best way to get what you want is to give something back.  The primary value you should be offering is excellent content, but don’t stop there.

Some other great ways you can bring value:

  • Promote and share their content on your social networks.
  • Bring technical issues to their attention, such as dead links or broken forms.
  • Leave comments and participate in discussions.

#6 Maintain the Relationship

Oftentimes when guest bloggers manage to get a placement, they pat themselves on the back, take the link, and are never heard from again.

You’ve put the effort into getting that link, but that’s just the beginning of the potential benefits you can gain from maintaining good relations.  If your content plays well, the blogger will be eager to publish more of your submissions in the future.  This is particularly good advice for agencies, who can leverage these relationships with multiple clients.

The key to effective guest blogging is to stop thinking in terms of links, and start thinking in terms of relationships.  Stop treating guest blogging as a numbers game, and the links will roll in.


TopRank will be live blogging all week at SES Chicago, so tune in to get the latest news, tips and commentary as it happens.  I’ll also be tweeting from @eprokop1, #seschi.

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  1. I get multiple pitches a day that are almost exclusively impersonal, template emails from people who don’t have a chance of writing for us. Besides their horrible pitch, they don’t demonstrate to me that they know my audience at all.

    So, that would be my number one piece of advice when writing a pitch . . . knowing the blog’s audience and personalizing the pitch that specific blog using examples.

    • Agreed, impersonal and lazy pitching goes nowhere. That’s a great point about sending content examples that speak to the blog audience as well.

    • Even i receive a lot of mails daily, which seems to be just a push then a real interest. One cannot be granted a work-relationship unless there is something well for co-ordination. Most of these people just go through copy-paste pitches without realizing the core importance of subject.

  2. Great tips love to learn more from you, keep up the good work

  3. Great post .

  4. I like to develop some rapport with a person before pitching them for a guest blog post. It can a couple of Twitter exchanges, a few Google plus-ones, a few blog comments, etc. To get those really high quality guest posts, you also have to develop a reputation as an expert in your niche, and that takes time. Someone like Aaron Wall or Rand probably don’t need to do much if they wanted to guest post in your blog since they have that credibility.

    • Very true, reputation can go a long way in getting your pitch accepted. That said, I think it’s possible to get high quality placements even if you’re not a well known expert, but it does take a bit more work.

  5. Avatar superior marketingllc says

    Now we should Start Thinking on Relationship Building.
    We agreed & Impressed by your post

  6. Avatar delighted2write says

    Evan, excellent post! My colleague, Adam Price, met you at the Pardot
    conference and I’m glad he forwarded this to me. I wholeheartedly agree
    about building relationships first.

  7. Avatar Pete Stevens says

    This is a lesson I’m learning fast. If content is king then queen is probably relationships because a) as you point out Evan “Build real relationships with the real people running the sites, and the links will come.” but also b) As it doesn’t matter how regal your content is if there is no one to read it.

  8. Avatar Chandler Bryson says

    Very nice & effective post Evan, It is really necessary to build a relationship, we should expand our presence over web, this helps in increasing author rank and in near future author rank is going to play a major role in SEO.

  9. One thing that we always forget. Relationship is everything in this world. Internet is not about technology, rather it is about relationship. Your topic can be applied to any business area, especially in business networking.

    We need to be farmers rather than hunters in doing business networking. Same goes to be guest bloggers. As you told, we need to focus in building relationship rather than focus on link building. And if we focus on building relationship when we are guest bloggers, than we need to ask ourselves (when we create content) – “How can my blog post help the blog owner?”. This is a big question to build genuine relationship.