There are many questions and uncertainties around incorporating guest blogging in your online marketing strategy, particularly around building backlinks to a website.  And with routine major Google algorithm updates, how do you know if guest blogging is something you should consider for your firm – especially long term?

We will never be privy to Google’s next algorithm update. But here at Hinge, we have seen great success in contributing compelling, high quality guest blog posts and articles to relevant blogs in our niches. This process is known as “blogger outreach.”

Simply put, blogger outreach is a combination of a PR campaign and a linkbuilding campaign. At a high level, you are pitching media outlets (in this case, online outlets) to share your content and expertise in the form of a blog post. But you are also building relationships with bloggers, many of which are influencers in the blogosphere and specific industries. While this may seem like a secondary goal, it is an important one that will benefit a long-term blogger outreach campaign. Thirdly, securing relevant, well-written guest blog posts with a backlink to a website is a natural way of linkbuilding.

What is the secret to running a successful blogger outreach campaign? Where do you begin? We have nailed down the formula to a successful campaign in 7 steps:

Identify the goals. It’s critical to ask yourself why you are beginning blogger outreach in the first place. Do you primarily want to build backlinks to your website? Are you trying to spread the word about a new book, research study, or event? Most likely, it’s a combination of both.  Once you know why you are beginning blogger outreach, you can establish your campaign’s specific goals. Goals may include:

  • Increase backlinks to your homepage or subpages
  • Secure a certain number of guest posts/article placements per month
  • Increase page ranking for specific keywords
  • Drive conversions and email subscriptions
  • Enhance a brand, company, or an individual’s awareness
     

Create a strategy. A blogger outreach campaign without a clear strategy behind it is doomed to fail. There are thousands of blogs in any given industry, how do you know what types of blogs to target? A good rule of thumb is this: the readers of the blog should be, at some level, interested in your content, research or service offerings.

If you are targeting multiple industries (in other words, casting a wide net), decide how many industry-related outreach pitches to send each week, per industry. Don’t be afraid to be specific in your approach.

Build a targeted list. Now that you have identified your target blogger audiences and goals, you are ready to build a list of bloggers. While it can be very time-consuming to start, your list is the foundation for ongoing outreach.

Decide the criteria to select the blogs to include on your list, such as the blog’s niche, domain authority, Alexa ranking, or social following. Narrowing down these requirements will ensure that you create the most targeted blogger list possible.

Begin outreach. No one likes their inbox inundated with impersonal, “templated” guest blogging requests. Here are a few tips to help ensure your outreach email is well-crafted:

  • Write your email pitch in a way that shows the blogger that you researched their blog, the topics they cover, and their readership.
  • Keep is short. State in the first sentence or two exactly why you are writing to them. If they have to read more than few sentences to know why you’re emailing, you most likely will never hear a response.
  • Include a brief outline of what your proposed guest blog post will cover. Include a working title and a few bullet points. Outlines with actionable and data-driven themes will peak bloggers’ interests more than a generic online (or in some cases, too complex).
     

Promote. You’ve spent hours pitching bloggers and writing guest blog posts. Now it’s time to share your hard work across social networks – and ask the blogger to do the same. After all, while sharing a blog post drives traffic to the blogger’s website, readers are likely to click on links within the post, driving referral traffic to your website.  And let’s not forget about the visibility your company and/or author gains from being promoted, shared, and re-tweeted across social networks.

Track results. Keeping track of both your outreach efforts and the results of each guest blog post placement is the only way to know if your strategy is effective. Have you targeted the right blogs? Which blog posts are driving traffic, conversions and social shares? Tracking results is crucial to knowing if it’s time to adjust your strategy.

Repeat. Remember, blogger outreach campaigns include significant ramp-up time. Here at Hinge, we spent four or five weeks reaching out to bloggers before we saw our first guest post placement. Now, it is a seamless operation. Consistently reaching out each week, personalizing outreach emails, following up with bloggers, and making requested edits to articles will make all the difference in a successful blogger outreach campaign versus an incredible waste of time, money, and resources.

Blogger outreach is a cornerstone of an effective online marketing strategy. A consistent, thoughtful outreach campaign with a clear approach will grow your online visibility, naturally increase backlinks to your website, and please Google. And just as importantly, it’ll help you form connections with a wide variety of thoughtful, talented people in your field. With a focused blogger outreach strategy, you’ll ensure that you’re not simply casting your posts into the wide online ocean, but getting your message to the audiences that matter.

For more tips on including blogging into your content marketing plan, download the Content Marketing Guide for Professional Services