Guest blogging requires a commitment of your time – and dedication to producing some of your best content. If you’re going to put yourself in front of someone else’s audience, this is a prerequisite for success.
Guest blogs on Social-Hire are now typically generating 200 – 500 social shares each. The most popular posts have been read 40,000+ times. So we wanted to write a post that would help our guest blog authors – and indeed any guest blog author – figure out how to get the maximum ROI from their time investment.
Looking at our top performing posts, below we share 3 tips for emulating the success those authors have achieved and maximizing the ROI you get from guest blogging on Social-Hire (and guest blogging more generally):
- Writing to get huge volumes of social shares
- Writing to generate long-term search engine traffic
- Taking responsibility for the success of your guest blog posts
If you follow these steps each time you write a guest blog post, you’re maximizing your chances of getting the results you desire from guest blogging.
Guest Blogging ROI Tip 1 – Writing to get huge volumes of social shares
Our experience shows that the majority of social shares are generated not by people clicking share buttons on your website, but rather from re-sharing or retweeting something they have seen in their social media feeds.
Armed with that knowledge, you should be eager to write a guest blog that is going to look as seductive as possible when it appears on social media. It goes without saying that the better the quality of your content, the more likely people are to share it. But over and above that, be sure to:
- Pay attention to your headline. Most posts that we see generating huge volumes of social shares have a headline that is really appealing. Firstly it should be absolutely clear from the headline what the article is about. This maximizes the chances that everyone interested in the topic you are addressing will be enticed to want to click through and explore that article. We often see great articles where the author has tried to use an oddball headline – and in doing so publish something where people don’t know what the article is about and therefore don’t click it or don’t feel comfortable sharing it.
If you’re struggling for ideas in terms of a suitable headline, two formats that we’ve always found to perform well are:
- List headlines (eg. Top 5 Tips To Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile, The 3 Reasons Your Resume Is Being Rejected)
- Headlines that spark curiosity (eg. Here’s Why LinkedIn’s Days Are Numbered, Recruiters Are Searching For Candidates Online – But Not Where You Think)
- Include a fantastic image. Most social sites will extract a small image from an article when it is shared and display this alongside the article in the social stream. Studies have shown that articles displayed with an appealing image significantly outperform articles with no image or with a bland image. So take a moment to source and add a great image to your guest blog before publishing (this is so important that on Social-Hire we’ll add an image to any guest blog that’s missing one before we’ll start sharing it on social media).
- Sell your article in the first few lines of the post. Why should people continue reading? On many social sites, a summary of the first lines of the article will appear when the article is shared, so this is your opportunity to entice readers with what they will discover or learn if they click through to your article. Similarly, when someone first arrives on your guest blog, you have a few seconds to solidify them on taking the time to read the full post rather than click the back button and go in search of someone else’s content. So share early what readers can expect to learn or discover if they take the time to continue reading.
- Research what's worked well for you before! Remove some of the guesswork from this exercise. Take 5 minutes to create a spreadsheet of the last blogs you've written (or indeed those of others you admire or see being shared a lot). Then head over with the links of those articles to BuzzSumo -- where you'll be able to discover how many times your articles were shared and on which social networks.
Securing social shares increases the ROI of your guest blogging activities
Guest Blogging ROI Tip 2 – Writing to generate long-term search engine traffic
What is very interesting when we look at top performing posts on our site is that several of these are recently published posts that have been able to generate mass social sharing and so pulled in a surge of short-term interest. But many others are posts that were published prior to that (even years and years prior) – and that are now pulling in significant search engine traffic in addition to the social sharing they achieved at the time of publication. Since this could generate interest in your content and your profile for many many years to come, it’s clearly something worthwhile trying to incorporate in your guest blog posts.
Many of you will have blogs or websites that aren’t ranked particularly highly – and so writing for search engines isn’t something you’ve had to factor in when writing for your own site. But once you are writing for a website with a high pagerank, you can start to aspire to achieving page 1 listings for your articles.
Here are some pointers on how to write a guest blog that will generate long-term search engine traffic:
- Ensure your content is original. Republishing articles you’ve already published elsewhere will undo your chances of a good search engine listing, unless you do a comprehensive re-write of the post.
- Use tools like Google Trends to write posts that target keywords, topics and phrases that are more likely to generate long-term search engine traffic rather than just an overnight spike of social media interest.
- Write one longer guest blog instead of two shorter guest blogs. Studies now show that articles which are 1,500 to 2,500 words long are much more likely to appear highly in search results than those which are the much shorter guest blog variety of 500-1,000 words. So be more selective about the posts you commit to writing, but then write in more detail for those you do go ahead and write. To put this in context, you should be aiming to write posts that are of similar length to this one. Here's a chart from BuzzSumo that illustrates vividly how longer posts also generate more social shares - so two compelling reasons to write fewer longer posts rather than lots of short ones...
- Ensure your guest blog generates a strong flurry of social shares when it’s published. In recent studies, it’s been shown that the volume and speed of social shares an article secures when published is directly related to the ultimate search engine positioning that that article is able to achieve. Hence it is critical that you guest blog on sites that have a strong pagerank and that are able to generate significant social shares for you when each new piece is published.
Guest Blogging ROI Tip 3 – Taking responsibility for the success of your guest blog posts
Without question, the guest blog authors who have consistently performed the strongest on Social-Hire have been very active themselves in helping to promote their new posts. This is critical for a number of reasons:
- As revealed above, most social shares happen as a result of people seeing an article on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. and then choosing to re-share it. As a result, the more people who “seed” initial sharing of the article on social media – and the more social media sites an article is seeded on – the greater the volume of social shares that will be triggered. Authors can play an important role here – particularly if they have readers or followers whose attention they can draw to the article.
- Most social sites have some form of “trending articles” facility, whereby the content that is generating the most interest in your network is brought to your attention more prominently than anything else. There’s a tipping point here and often the active promotion of the piece by the author as well as by Social-Hire (or the website you’ve published on) can be what takes your article from having strong social sharing to having the explosion of interest that’s caused by becoming a trending article.
- It is thought within the SEO community that gaining Google +1 clicks on an article, or having it shared on Google Plus, produces a particularly strong search engine ranking effect. As many people overlook Google+ at present, it’s particularly important as the author that you take the time to share your post on Google+ to get the ball rolling.
- Links to an article from other websites also help raise the article’s search engine ranking, so if you have your own website or blog, it’s well-worth taking a few seconds to embed a summary of your guest blog post onto your own site with a link back to the full article.
So there you have it, 3 tips for maximizing your ROI from guest blogging. As bonus 4th and 5th tips, we’d also add the importance of being a good storyteller and letting your personality shine through in some of your posts plus making sure your post ends with an "About the Author" section that entices the reader into taking the course of action you'd desire from them. But that’ll be the topic of an entirely new article!