What if we told you that one of the most effective SEO and digital PR strategies doesn't have anything to do with your website?
Instead, it's about finding ways to spread the word on other websites. Enter guest posting, a strategy that's tailor-made for the preferences of both modern internet users and the ways search engines build and consider website authority.
According to one study, millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites compared to their peers. Meanwhile, 48% of decision-makers say that their purchasing decisions are influenced by thought leadership pieces online, which is probably why 88% of PR specialists agree that digital storytelling is the future.
Strategic guest posting allows you to leverage these trends into sustainable increases in brand awareness, website visits, and credibility. It's become a core component of any modern digital PR strategy. Join us in exploring the nuances of the concept and how you can get started.
At its core, digital PR strategy describes the concerted effort to increase visibility and positive sentiments for your brand online using non-paid (organic) efforts.
And that doesn't just mean search engine optimization, although SEO can certainly be a part of digital PR. Instead, its efforts can spread to blogs, third-party websites, and even social media. The core goal: build your brand's credibility and increase links to your website.
Digital PR is at its most traditional when simply posting your press releases and company news on online sources like PR Newswire. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Effective digital PR strategists go beyond the simple promotion of traditional PR tactics, extending to online interviews, influencer marketing, and guest posting.
Guest posting includes publishing your brand-related content on another website's blog or other types of online outlets. Its goal is to broaden your reach to more audiences, while also building credibility for your brand by attaching a reputable name to it.
Guest posting typically consists of four steps:
At its best, guest posting becomes a consistent strategy in which you regularly seek out credible and brand-relevant websites that can publish your content over time.
If the goal of digital PR is spreading positive brand awareness, every guest post helps you to accomplish that goal. Once it's published, the right content can go a long way to reaching new and wider audiences who visit the publisher but might not have come across your brand otherwise.
At the same time, guest posting allows you to remain in control of your brand story and narrative. You're the author, either as the guest on a podcast or the writer on the website where the blog will be published. The content can be specifically optimized towards your intended keywords and brand value proposition to align closely with anything you publish on your owned channels.
As such, guest posting functions as a type of organic advertising. You own the message on an outlet outside of your control, as would be the case with paid ads. At the same time, you don't have to pay for the exposure or clicks like you would in a traditional ad campaign.
Let's dig a little deeper into the connections between the two, and how guest posting can take a core place in your digital PR strategy. More specifically, guest posting can help your PR strategy in these five ways:
Strategic digital PR is at its best when it builds long-term value. Guest posting has the exact same effect, thanks to its ability to build compounding value over time.
In content marketing, we know evergreen content as blogging or long-form content that doesn't date itself but remains current over long amounts of time. Even years after its original publication, evergreen content remains relevant for fresh audiences. Guest posting is similar in that published content can serve your brand long-term.
That's because a guest posting strategy typically doesn't end with a single blog post. Instead, it's best when content is published across multiple websites and over longer periods of time. When the content quality is high enough, guest posting becomes mutually beneficial for both your brand and the site on which you publish.
In addition to building mutually-beneficial business relationships, guest posting is also relatively timeless. As long as the website hosting your content remains live and online, your brand will continue to reap its rewards. When the content is pitched and published as evergreen, those chances increase even further.
As a result, new guest posts don't replace previous efforts but add to them. Every new opportunity increases your brand's credibility and visibility. Backlinks compound over time, continuing to create brand value in the process.
Unless your brand already has 100% exposure in your target audience through your owned channels (and almost no brand does), guest posting becomes a surefire way to increase brand awareness. Every time your content is published on a new site, new members of your target audience will be exposed to your brand.
That, in turn, makes targeting the right matches for your guest posts absolutely vital. Find the publishers your audience most likely frequents, whether that be an industry podcast or a website like Forbes.com.
From there, building brand awareness is about publishing just the right type of content. Perhaps counterintuitive, building brand awareness is not about heavily pushing your company or products. Instead, it's about building value-adding content for your audience, with a subtle call-out and backlinks to your website where relevant.
Most publications accepting guest posts also include the author's information and background, offering another opportunity for brand mentions and backlinks.
When these mentions and links to your website are subtle and relevant enough, guest posting can even allow you to build a path to lead generation. For example, your guest post can link to gated content, like a trends report you've created for your industry, prompting readers interested enough to follow the link to fill out a sign-up form.
While search engines like Google use hundreds of ranking factors in building their results pages, domain authority is among the most important variables in SEO.
Domain authority, of course, describes the credibility of your website as defined by Google. Links to your website from credible sources are the most important factor in building domain authority. To put it simply, if more credible websites link to your own website, your website's own credibility will increase accordingly and your ranking on relevant keywords may as well.
This is the reason why news websites and resource sites like Wikipedia always rank so highly on Google searches.
Guest posts are among the most direct ways to build those credible backlinks to your site. As long as the website on which you publish the guest post is credible, you are in control of building the backlinks, creating long-term SEO value in the process.
Pro tip: if you are targeting a specific keyword to rank for through your guest posts, use it as anchor text in the backlink to your site. That prompts Google to consider you an authoritative source on the subject, especially if the website on which you publish the guest post is considered highly credible.
If advertising describes specific tactics to promote your brand and its products, organic advertising accomplishes that feat without spending any media budget. In other words, it's the process of promoting your brand and product through unpaid channels despite remaining in control of your message.
That last part is a crucial nuance. PR traditionally relies on earned media's interpretation of your message. Digital PR, especially through guest posting, is more directly related to advertising despite the fact that you don't own the channel. This is because you continue to own the message.
That doesn't mean, of course, that your content should be overtly promotional. In fact, it most likely can't be.
Publishers that offer guest posting opportunities tend to be very strict about the limits of promotional language. Entrepreneur.com, one of the most popular third-party publishers in the U.S., stipulates in its guest blogging guidelines that "Articles are...not a place to promote people, companies, or services."
But that organic, value-adding connection to your brand can still be there. And it makes guest posting a core type of organic advertising, remaining completely free and only requiring your internal resources and expertise for success.
Finally, guest posting can be a vital benefit for your digital PR efforts by building your brand authority in your niche market. Especially if you can find the right sites to which your content will publish, you gain the potential of building and magnifying your credibility in ways that are difficult to replicate in other channels.
A thought-out and well-crafted guest post doesn't just introduce your brand to new audiences on that website. It primarily showcases your expertise in the industry, whether the content discusses current trends or offers tutorials for your potential customers.
All of that happens on a website this audience already trusts. For example, if you guest post about technology on TechCrunch, your audience automatically associates the quality they typically associate with the site's tech news with your brand as well.
The simple fact that your content appears under the TechCrunch banner, in this case, transfers the publisher's credibility to your brand.
That effect is magnified because of the organic nature of guest posting. Because this content is not sponsored or promotional, it won't set off your audience's BS meter. Instead, its topical and audience-related focus builds trust, proving your brand to be an expert in your field.
So far, our discussion of guest posting in digital PR strategy has focused largely on the written word. And sure, most guest posting happens on the blogs and guest sections of third-party publisher websites. But that doesn't mean you need to end there.
In fact, it can pay to play in less crowded spaces as well.
Consider the example of podcasts, which are emerging as an increasingly beneficial opportunity in the digital PR space. After all, more than 60% of the U.S. population now listens to podcasts, a nearly 30% year-over-year growth.
For your listeners, podcasts are almost inevitably connected with credibility. They only follow content creators they trust and value. Imagine being able to tap into that existing credibility and gaining some PR and SEO value as additional benefits.
Most often, that means pitching yourself as a guest on a podcast relevant to your industry and audience. That can take time, considering the care with which hosts tend to build their publishing schedule and episode outlines. But once you get in, the advantages are significant.
Being a guest on a reputable podcast automatically establishes you as an expert in your field. And, even though this is an audio medium, there are SEO benefits as well. You and your brand will likely be featured in the show notes, and the publisher may even create a summary blog post that provides further information about your brand.
Don't limit yourself to the most obvious channels. Alternatives like podcasts show that getting creative on the opportunities for guest posting can go a long way toward building that brand awareness and credibility.
These benefits and nuances only matter when a theoretical discussion of guest posting becomes an actionable part of your digital PR strategy. A few pointers can help you get started in that respect.
Finding credible and authoritative websites is crucial for guest posting designed to build your brand perception and reap the SEO benefits. To get there, use this tool to check the domain authority of the website on which you're considering getting your guest content published.
In our experience, limiting yourself to websites with a domain authority of at least 40 is vital. Don't reach out to any website for guest posts under that benchmark, and use the same number as a tiebreaker when choosing between different sites to which you're looking to pitch your content.
When pitching your blog article, podcast appearance, or similar type of guest content, your counterpart won't be interested in the greatness of your brand or products. Instead, they're looking for two things:
These two variables should guide and dominate your content pitch. The more easily you can show the value your guest post will add to the publisher's audience, the more likely they'll be to partner with you.
Speaking of partnerships, outside of a few select publishing houses that accept masses of guest posts every month, relationships are key to ensuring you can get consistent and reliable placement opportunities for your content.
That means building a relationship with publishers where you can. Consider your main external contacts as part of your digital PR value chain, benefiting from consistent nurturing beyond constant pitches of your content. The more your interactions benefit both parties involved, the better.
Finally, don't assume that you have to go through the process of strategic guest posting on your own. Instead, working with a reliable partner can go a long way toward finding the right publishers, pitching content, writing that content, and building long-term relationships.
That's where Steel Croissant enters the equation. Our digital PR services are tailor-made for this approach, allowing you to leverage the benefits of guest posting for your PR and brand awareness efforts without needing to manage the outreach or writing. We'll work on your behalf to manage both daily activities and the strategic planning necessary to build that guest posting network across channels.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to start the conversation today.
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