Guest posting has become an extremely popular and effective way for businesses and individuals to increase their authority, build backlinks, and drive referral traffic. By publishing articles on reputable and high-traffic sites in your industry, you can tap into an existing audience and significantly grow your own readership and following.
However, getting your guest posts accepted and published is not always easy. Business sites receive numerous guest post pitches every day, and only a small percentage actually get approved and go live on their site. You need to make sure your pitch stands out and convinces the editor that your article will provide value to their readers.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of crafting guest posts that get accepted by business sites, from performing keyword research to outreach and follow-up. By the end, you’ll know exactly what it takes to consistently get your articles published on popular sites in your niche.
Performing Keyword Research for Guest Posts
The very first step when pitching guest posts is identifying high-search-volume keywords and topics that your target websites would be interested in. These should be subjects that are relevant to their audience and that they don’t already have comprehensive content around.
Here are some tips for effective keyword research for guest posting opportunities:
- Use tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner to find keywords related to your industry with high search volume. Look for questions people are asking as well.
- Look through the existing articles on the site you want to guest post for. Make note of popular topics they rank for as well as any gaps where they don’t have content yet.
- Search social media for discussions around your industry. What challenges are people facing? What questions are they asking? These can provide more guest post ideas.
- Check Google Autocomplete and Related Searches for suggestions. Type in a broad keyword like “content marketing” and see what Google recommends people search for.
- Use AnswerThePublic to find questions people are asking around your topics. These make for great guest post headlines and content focuses.
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Prioritize keywords and topics that are frequently searched but that your target site lacks content around currently. These represent opportunities to provide added value to their audience.
Tips for Choosing the Right Keywords
When brainstorming keyword opportunities, keep these tips in mind:
- Aim for a minimum of 1,000 monthly searches. Anything less is unlikely to drive significant traffic. But also don’t go for highly competitive keywords with hundreds of thousands of searches either.
- Opt for long-tail variations. “Content marketing tips” will be much easier to rank for than just “content marketing”.
- Consider search intent. Is someone looking for quick info or to purchase something? Or do they want to deeply research a topic? Match your content’s depth accordingly.
- Review the results. Who ranks for the keyword now? Does your target site show up on the first page? If so, move onto a different keyword.
- Use multiple research tools. Each tool will provide slightly different suggestions, giving you a more complete list.
Thorough keyword research takes time, but it ensures your pitch will be on a topic your target site and its readers truly need content on. This instantly sets you apart from the countless irrelevant pitches they receive.
Crafting a Compelling Guest Post Pitch
With your keyword research completed, it’s time to put together your pitch. Your outreach email needs to convince the editor that your post will be extremely valuable to their site and audience.
Follow these tips for crafting guest post pitches that generate enthusiasm and get accepted:
Capture Attention With a Strong Subject Line
Since editors receive so many pitches, you only have a second or two for your subject line to make an impact. Use these strategies for irresistible subject lines:
- Speak directly to the editor. “Guest post idea for [Site Name]” shows you customized the pitch for them specifically.
- Convey the benefit. “Increasing Blog Traffic with Social Media: A Data-Backed Guide” explains exactly how you’ll help their readers.
- Use numbers. “How to Boost Conversion Rates by 15%” will get them curious what your secret is.
- Pose a question. “What is the Best Time to Publish Blog Posts?” engages them instantly.
- Set expectations. “[Your Site’s Niche] Guest Post Pitch – 1,200 Words” demonstrates professionalism.
With a compelling, benefit-focused subject line, you’ll get your pitch opened every time.
Start Your Email With a Personalized Introduction
Nothing annoys editors more than email pitches that start right in with the pitch without any greeting or personalization. Take two minutes to introduce yourself and customize the opening:
- Mention how you found them. Did you see a post they shared or were referred by a colleague? Including how you discovered their site shows extra effort.
- Compliment their content. Point out one of their articles you enjoyed and say what you liked about it.
- Establish credibility. If you contribute to any major publications or have other qualifications, briefly state your background.
- Be warm and informal. You want to come across as human, not robotic. Phrases like “Hope you’re having a great week!” help with that.
Those small personal touches help form an initial connection and positive impression that will make the editor much more open to your pitch.
Explain Why You Want to Contribute to Their Site
Editors want to understand why you specifically want to publish on their site. Do you genuinely want to provide value to their audience? Or are you just trying to build links?
Address this directly in your pitch:
- Show you know their audience. Mention how you read their site often and know their readers’ pain points.
- Compliment their reputation. Highlight positive things you’ve heard about their site and why it’s an authority in its niche.
- State how they align with your own mission. If your site’s goals overlap with theirs, explain how you share their values.
- Mention any other contributors you admire. Name-dropping respected writers who also publish on the site can help give you added credibility through association.
The editor needs to feel fully assured you know and care about their audience. Taking the time to explicitly address this lends major trust to your pitch.
Include Relevant Links to Your Existing Published Work
One big red flag for editors is contributors pitching guest posts who have no existing online presence or published articles. Including several links to relevant pieces you’ve already published helps in several key ways:
- It proves you actually have industry experience and can deliver quality content.
- The editor can evaluate your writing skills and expertise through examples.
- You establish yourself as an authority worth publishing.
- Your links give credibility through associations with the sites you’ve been featured on previously.
Ideally, link to 2-4 article samples similar to the guest post content you want to create. Choose those that are already ranking well or have generated strong engagement. This provides social proof that you consistently produce compelling content.
Pitch Only One Post Idea at a Time
While it’s tempting to toss out a bunch of ideas in each email, only pitch one post at a time. There are a few key reasons to avoid pitching multiple ideas:
- It’s overwhelming. Even if the editor likes all the ideas, evaluating and responding to each one is time intensive.
- You seem unfocused. Proposing random topic shotgun blasts makes you appear disorganized. Pitch topics deliberately and with purpose.
- It splits focus. Developing and making the case for one truly excellent pitch is far more persuasive.
Stick to just your single strongest post idea. Fleshing it out fully shows the editor you’re strategic and work with intention, not just firing off random thoughts.
Summarize the Post Format, Length, and Topic
Don’t make the editor have to hunt to understand what exactly you’re proposing. Clearly lay out all key details up front:
- Topic focus: Summarize the purpose of your post in 1-2 sentences. What issue will it address? What will readers learn?
- Length: State exactly how many words the post will be so they can plan ahead (e.g. “1,200 words”).
- Format: Mention if it will include elements like subheadings, lists, graphics, etc.
- Sources: Are there specific expert interviews, case studies, or data sources you’ll incorporate?
Being transparent about precisely what you’ll deliver eliminates uncertainty. The editor will have the details needed to evaluate if the post will work for their site.
Expand on the Post’s Value Proposition
Once you’ve summarized the idea clearly, expand on exactly how it provides value to the editor and their readers:
- Highlight the core focus. What underserved question or pain point does it address? Why is this topic so critical right now?
- Share key insights and takeaways. What unique angles and perspectives will you bring that their audience won’t get elsewhere?
- Describe the impact. How will implementing your advice transform the readers’ businesses in measurable ways?
- Support with data. Include any statistics or survey data that back up the importance and timeliness of your topic.
- Set expectations. Will this help establish them as an expert resource on the subject? Will it be highly shareable and linkable for referrals?
Showcase your genuine passion and insight around the topic. The editor needs to be fully convinced of the immense value it will offer readers they care about.
Close With Next Steps and a Thank You
Wrap up your pitch email by clearly stating any requested next steps and thanking the editor for their consideration:
- Reiterate your excitement. Restate how thrilled you are for the opportunity to contribute to their respected site.
- Ask if they need any other details. Offer to provide an outline, samples, or jump on a call if they’d like to discuss further.
- Give a specific timeline. For example, mention you can deliver the full post within five business days of getting the go-ahead.
- Thank them. Express genuine gratitude for their time reviewing your proposal.
Closing professionally and politely leaves a positive last impression and keeps the lines of communication open for their reply.
Optimizing Your Guest Post for Approval
If an editor expresses interest and wants to see a draft post, creating an excellent submission dramatically increases your chances of getting approved and published.
Here are tips for crafting guest posts that get enthusiastically accepted:
Carefully Align With Their Existing Content
Take time to thoroughly analyze the type of articles the site publishes and mirror their style.
- Study their content format. Do they use lots of stats? Bold pull quotes? Short paragraphs?
- Read several of their top posts. Note sentence length, tone, perspective, etc.
- Look at contributor guidelines if they have them. Adhere to all requirements.
- Don’t veer from their established format. Your post should blend seamlessly.
While putting your own unique spin on the content, conform to their patterns as much as possible. This ensures your post complements their brand consistency.
Stay laser Focused on the Approved Topic
It’s easy to get carried away adding extra ideas and sections while writing. But resist the urge go outside the scope the editor approved. Sticking to the agreed-upon topic shows you meet expectations.
Thoroughly Optimize for Their Audience
You’re writing for their readers, not a general audience. Laser target every aspect for their needs:
- Title: Will their readers instantly recognize how the post solves their problems?
- Examples: Are the case studies and expert quotes relevant to their niche?
- References: Do you mention their site and previous content where appropriate?
- Angle: Does your perspective align with their typical viewpoints?
- Media: Any visuals or graphics should match their brand style.
Make it Skimmable with Subheadings and Short Paragraphs
Huge blocks of dense text are hard for readers to digest. Break it up:
- Use H2 and H3 tags for subheads that summarize every few paragraphs.
- Limit paragraphs to 3-5 sentences max.
- Use numbered or bulleted lists when possible to chunk info.
- Include relevant graphs, charts, or other visual elements for quick scanning.
Optimization for skimming helps readers grasp and retain key points on first read.
Link to Reputable External Resources
Links show you’ve done homework to support your assertions:
- Reference research reports, expert interviews, case studies, and reliable statistics.
- Link to other recognized leaders co-aligned with your perspective.
- Include links within the site to their own related content when relevant.
- Don’t overdo it. A few well-chosen links per section are sufficient.
Quality links establish your credibility while also providing value to readers seeking more context. But only link to legitimate resources, not your own sites.
Review Every Sentence for Clarity and Conciseness
verbosity and complex sentences are red flags for editors. Check that:
- Each sentence directly supports the central point.
- You’ve eliminated extraneous words and trimming any fat.
- Paragraphs are direct and skimmable, not long-winded.
Clear, tight writing ensures readers fully grasp your message quickly without losing interest.
Have a Colleague Proofread Before Submitting
A fresh perspective helps catch issues you may have overlooked:
- Ask them to point out anywhere content seems off-topic or self-promotional.
- Have them highlight sentences that seem overly complex or poorly worded.
- Request feedback on sections that seem too sales-y or where your bias seems overly apparent.
Quality control from an objective third party better ensures the piece meets publishable standards.
Submit a Draft Well Before Deadline
Never wait until the last minute to turn in your post. Submit at least 2-3 days before the agreed deadline. This gives you time to finalize the piece together.
By being proactive about revisions, you increase the chances of acceptance exponentially. You come across as a true professional committed to creating an asset for them, not just doing the bare minimum to secure a byline.
Following Up for Guest Post Approval
Submitting a well-crafted draft post is a big step. But getting fully approved and going live still requires proactive follow up:
Request Clear Next Steps if None Provided
After submitting your draft, ask if the editor needs anything else to proceed to the next step. Do they want revisions to the document? Do they need it in a different file format? Explicitly requesting next steps gets things moving forward.
Be Open and Responsive to Any Feedback or Edits
If the editor suggests changes or edits, don’t take it personally. Follow their guidance to align the post with their site’s needs:
- Ask clarifying questions on any edits you’re unsure of.
- Don’t argue or push back on changes. Trust their expertise on their own audience.
- If they request major changes, ask if they’d like to see another draft before finalizing.
- Thank them for the helpful feedback and confirm timelines.
With a collaborative, open attitude, edits and feedback strengthen the piece and relationship.
Check Back If No Response Within 5 Days
It’s possible your email got overlooked in their inbox. Don’t take the editor’s silence personally. After 5 days of no response, follow up:
- Send a quick email checking on the status.
- Restate your excitement about the opportunity.
- Offer to provide any other info needed to proceed.
- If still no reply, consider trying one more follow up before moving on.
Build Rapport for Ongoing Collaboration
Getting your first guest post accepted is just the start. Aim to build an ongoing relationship:
- When it goes live, email the editor to thank them again for the opportunity.
- Share the article on social media and thank their publication and editor by name for publishing you.
- Ask if they’d be open to you contributing again in the future based on the success of this post.
Deliveringresults and appreciation sets you upas a go-to source for more guest contributions.
Avoiding Common Guest Post Rejection Reasons
While rejection is sometimes unavoidable, you can dodge many rejections by sidestepping these common pitfalls:
Pitching with No Authority or Existing Content
To evaluate your expertise, editors review your existing body of work. If you have little or no published articles to your name, you need to build up your portfolio before guest posting.
Contacting with No Personalization
If you blast editors with mass template pitches, they can instantly tell. Putting in the effort to personalize goes a long way.
Pitching Off-Topic or “Buzzword Soup” Posts
Don’t just throw spaghetti at the wall seeing what sticks. Make sure your post aligns with their brand and provides true value.
Submitting Repurposed or Low-Quality Content
Editors look for well-researched posts created specifically for their audience. Anything rewritten or stale gets rejected.
Ignoring Guidelines and Requirements
If they have set contributor guidelines listed, follow them. This shows you pay attention to details.
Link Stuffing or Over-Promotion
Avoid overly linking to your own site or products. Keep the focus on delivering value, not self-promotion.
Skipping Any Mention of SEO Benefits
For authority sites, search visibility is a key goal. Discussing keyword targeting and links shows SEO savviness.
A sales pitch tone immediately raises red flags. Focus on objective advice, not selling.
Not Following Up
Pitches often get lost or overlooked. Following up shows commitment to publishing with them.
Being aware of these missteps can help you avoideasy mistakes holding back approval.