Crafting the Perfect Guest Post Query
Any SEO worth his salt knows the secret to ranking in the search results is growing a website’s backlink profile. Routinely adding links from high-quality sites in your niche is a necessary evil if you’re planning to snag even a fraction of that ever-so-seductive search traffic.
These days, building links is a tricky proposition at best and downright impossible at worst. During last year’s algo extravaganza – the Penguin update in particular – Google struck down most black hat linkbuilding methods and slapped sites with wayward links from the SERPs left and right. For many site owners (think webmasters who had participated in blog networks, bought or sold links, or unknowingly used some shady SEO services, for example), everything they’d built was gone in an instant.
Flash forward to present day. Now, the most effective above-board linkbuilding strategy is guest posting on high-quality websites in your niche. Hands down. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone got hip to this fact at the same time, and the floodgates opened. Successful website and blog owners (and heck, even those who merely had potential) found their email accounts suddenly inundated with guest post queries on a daily basis.
Why You’re Being Ignored
Hard up for some linking opportunities? You’re not alone – successful webmasters are beginning to use majorly cutthroat criteria when surveying the guest post requests they receive due to sheer volume. Many have evolved to eyeball an email, make a snap judgment, and press the “delete” button within seconds. It’s a matter of survival.
If you commit any big-time no-nos when crafting your guest posts, your chances of making a deal drop to roughly nada. Here’s a good indicator: have you been sending queries like mad only to find yourself empty-handed for your efforts?
That means you’re doing it wrong.
Luckily, a high-profile SEO expert stepped up and offered some very public help for all you discouraged guest post marketers out there. Couple his advice with a few practical community-building strategies, and you’ll have a recipe for guest post opps from one corner of your niche to the other.
How to Get to “Yes”
Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz published a recent Whiteboard Friday video in which he weighed in on his standards for the guest posts that he personally receives. Rand says formal openers are a hardcore deal breaker for him. Salutations like “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Webmaster,” for example, are surefire kisses of death. Instead, take the time to find out the webmaster’s name, interests, and favorite topics before you send your query. Don’t do it cold.
Keep it brief, but don’t mail out a one-liner. The goals, says Rand, are to establish familiarity, ask pointblank for what you want, and always offer something in return. The “giveback,” as he calls it, is vital to your query’s success. After all, you can’t honestly expect to get something for nothing, right? Here’s what Fishkin has to say about the giveback, straight from the video’s transcript on SEOmoz:
Rand also adds this last tidbit – don’t forget to sign your name. Just use your first name, too – it’s more personal. If the webmaster is interested and you neglect to sign your email, then you may not get a response simply because the webmaster was unsure of how to address you.
At LunaWebs, we also have some advice for getting to “yes” in the guest post game. First, comment a few times on each blog you’re interested in, and ensure each is a well-thought out response to the webmaster’s blog post. Use the same name and link on every post so the webmaster will recognize you when you send your query. Webmasters will be far more likely to approve your guest post request if they’re flattered that you’ve taken such an interest in their blogs.
Remember, it’s all about building a community. If you do it right, you shouldn’t have to send guest post queries at all after a while – links will begin flowing in from your peers organically instead. That’s when you’ll know your site’s officially arrived. One word of advice, however. When you’ve made it to the top, watch out for those guest post requests. They’ll drive you nuts.