Guest blogs are like eggs: they serve many purposes, they’re delicious (when done right), and the world seems to go back and forth about whether they’re actually good for you. Just last year, for example, Google honcho Matt Cutts made no attempt to sugar-coat his assessment of guest blogging’s place—or lack thereof—in the modern marketing tool box: “...stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done,” he wrote on his blog. Fast-forward to 2015, when marketing guru Louis Gudema declared that guest blogging is not only alive and well, but also an extremely lucrative part of any business’s menu of SEO plays. (And, much to the delight of omelet-lovers everywhere, the federal government’s 2015 dietary guidelines gave eggs the nutritional green-light they’ve always deserved. Yay for redemption!)
So, now that you’ve got a handle on blogging for your own website, it’s time to expand your content horizons. After all, you’ll only get so much exposure from your own blog, and it might take a while for you to gain enough traction to get real visibility and amass a loyal following. But contributed content opportunities offer a potential fast-pass to getting your writing—and thus, your knowledge and expertise—in front of a much larger audience. Here are a few tips for laying golden blogging eggs:
1. Make sure the link juice is worth the squeeze.
When you submit content to outside web outlets, they’ll often include a link back to your clinic’s website within the body of your post or the accompanying bio—especially if they don’t provide you with any other type of compensation for your work. Those links add SEO value to your site—meaning they can boost your rankings in search engines like Google and Bing. And the bigger and more prominent the referring site is, the bigger your resulting SEO boost. So, it behooves you to put more effort (i.e., “squeeze”) into securing guest blogging opportunities for sites with greater authority—and thus, stronger linking power (i.e., “link juice”).
That said, remember that you don’t have to write for a major national outlet to reap the juicy benefits of inbound links. In fact, if you’re relatively new to the whole blogging thing, landing a spot on the New York Times—or even a specialized publication like Runner’s World—will prove somewhat of a longshot. But writing for local or regional publications—including those with niche audiences—can have a substantial impact on your site’s local SEO performance. For instance:
- Does your community newspaper have a fitness/recreation section? Ask if you could write a monthly exercise column.
- Is there a running club in your city? See if you could contribute an injury prevention article for an upcoming email newsletter.
- Does your local gym or health club have a blog or a news page? Offer to provide weekly wellness tips.
2. Pitch with a plan.
Once you’ve compiled a list of websites and publications that are in tune with your voice, subject-matter expertise, and audience, take some time to dig through their existing content library and pinpoint some of the areas where you could add value. Then, put together a detailed summary of how you’d like to contribute—and why you think readers would be interested in what you have to say. That way, you’ll be good and ready to clearly articulate your vision when the time comes. If you really want to show you have your ducks in a row, come to the table with a list of possible blog topics or even a ready-to-publish sample post. Proving your writing prowess right off the bat will make it much more difficult for content gatekeepers to turn you down.
3. Take off your sales hat.
Okay—you’ve worked out a deal to publish your content on a large, venerable site with an extensive readership. But while you’re probably drooling over the prospect of having your work seen—and noticed—by so many new sets of eyes, you must resist the urge to take an overly sales-pitchy tone. Readers will see right through your shameless self-promotion, and once they do, they’ll turn the page (or click the back button) without a second thought. Instead, put yourself in their shoes and figure out what topics, advice, and content formats (e.g., written pieces or video segments) will deliver them the most value. Your goal isn’t to sell your audience on your services; it’s to sell them on your expertise. That way, if they ever find themselves in need of rehab therapy, they’ll naturally think of you first.
4. Put away the scissors and glue.
If you already write blogs for your clinic website, you might be tempted to simply pluck an old post from your archives and reuse it as a guest piece. But while a cut-and-paste strategy certainly will save you time now, it’ll end up hurting you in the long run. Why? Well, reusing a previous article word-for-word will decrease the SEO value of the post, because search engines deprioritize duplicate content. Furthermore, the post likely won’t cater specifically to your new audience of readers, which in their eyes, makes it less valuable—and less memorable. Basically, giving a new group of readers a post that wasn’t written with them in mind is like re-gifting a random sci-fi novel to a friend who’s never seen an episode of Star Trek. This is someone you should know fairly well—well enough, anyway, that you can come up with a somewhat-personalized gift idea. The same goes for your guest-post audience. You should have done enough preliminary research to get a feel for their unique interests. That way, you can craft a post that they’ll not only appreciate, but also remember—and in any marketing endeavor, sticking in the minds of your prospects is key. Now, that’s not to say you can’t use an existing post as the foundation for a fresh piece of content. Just make sure your rewrite is different enough to pass Google’s—and your readers’—test.
5. Apply an extra coat of polish.
Editors, publishers, and content managers are some seriously time-pressed people. They’re slaves to deadlines—which means that, given the choice between a publish-ready piece of writing and an article that still needs a bit of literary TLC, they’ll almost always go with the less labor-intensive option. And if that option is your post, they’ll not only be grateful to you; they’ll also be more likely to save space for you in the future, because they’ll know they can depend on you to fill it with meaningful, well-written copy. So, give yourself a leg-up in the competition for page space: deliver content that is clean, accurate, engaging, and error-free. If you aren’t super confident in your spelling and grammar skills—after all, you’re a therapist, not a novelist—run your contributed articles by a writing-inclined friend, colleague, or family member before you hit “send.”
While I can’t speak to the ultimate fate of the incredible, edible egg, I am confident in my prediction that guest blogging will maintain its marketing value for many years to come. So, if it’s not already on your plate, grab a hefty helping, and watch your website’s SEO grow big and strong.