Guest posting is still one of the greatest online marketing strategies around. It passes domain authority to your site and helps increase your ranks in major search engines. It builds your brand recognition and generates more interest in your content campaign. But the most immediate benefit is that guest posts generate direct referral traffic, sending people to your site from wherever you originally posted.
This referral traffic is invaluable, especially when you’re first starting an offsite content campaign. Because search ranks and brand authority take months to build and the spike in referral traffic is instantaneous, you’ll start enjoying predictable returns from every post you submit.
Increasing this volume of referral traffic is tricky, but certainly possible with these three strategies:
Your first job is to select better sources for your guest posts. Rather than choosing the types of sources that are most convenient for you, or becoming reliant on the sources you’ve built partnerships with, start looking for higher-profile sources that will generate more traffic to your site.
There are two ways to think about the quality of your guest post sources. The first is fairly obvious: higher-profile sources have bigger audiences. For example, let’s say five percent of your readers end up clicking a link that leads back to your site. On a low-profile source that gets 100 new readers a week, one post might get you 5 new site visitors. On a higher-profile source that gets 10,000 new readers a week, one post could get you 500 new site visitors. Considering you’ll put the same amount of effort in when creating that one post, the higher-profile source is an instant and obvious win.
The second way to think about guest post source quality is in terms of the type of audience they receive. Raw volume of readers won’t matter if those readers aren’t often interested in what you’re selling. Your guest posting strategy may be naturally inclined to select sources that fall in line with your industry, but it’s easy to deviate when you’re chasing after a new potential opportunity. Keep your guest posts confined to the most relevant sources you can, and make sure you’re writing to please your audience; the audiences of different publishers have different expectations when it comes to content.
Tracking down these sources should be relatively straightforward; since they have large audiences, they should be easy to find. However, getting published on these platforms for the first time can be a bit of a challenge. They have a high reputation and a large audience, so they’re usually pretty picky about the types of content they pick up, especially from newcomers.
There are a few different ways you can embed links into your articles, and each one has a different effect on the reader. For example, citation links are pretty common; when you make reference to a statistic or fact that was originally published by someone else, you include a link to the original source as a courtesy. These type of links aren’t often clicked because the important information is already present in the article.
In a similar way, links that are embedded in swatches of text throughout the article see very little traffic because users aren’t aware of any benefit to clicking. Bio links are also rarely clicked because most readers are more interested in the article than the author.
Instead, make the majority of your links “recommended reading” links. These are typically introduced via a phrase like “if you’re looking for more information, be sure to read,” which suggests the reader has something significant to gain by checking out your other article. Include more of these types of links in your articles and you should notice your referral traffic climb accordingly.
It’s also worth mentioning that if referral traffic is your top priority, as opposed to search rankings, you should try using “nofollow” links whenever possible. These links will lead traffic back to your site, but won’t ever increase your chances of getting penalized by Google.
When you land your first high-profile guest spot, it can be tempting to push as much content through that channel as possible, but that isn’t always the best strategy. Instead, it’s better to hedge your bets by using as many different sources as possible—and yes, that includes lower-authority sources and lower-relevance sources for the sole sake of wider audience exposure.
You’ll also need to take your guest posts and promote the heck out of them. Push them out on your social profiles. Host them on social bookmarking sites. Link to them from your onsite blog and other guest posting opportunities. It’s your job to generate as much attention as possible for your work, and get the greatest number of eyes on your words. The wider your audience, the more chances you’ll have to earn referral traffic, and the more interested people will become in your brand.
In the grand scheme of things, referral traffic is only a fraction of the benefits that guest blog posts can offer. However, if you can maximize that benefit, you’ll gain an instant and consistent stream of visitors to your site. From there, all you have to do is optimize your website for user experience and conversions. With a sufficient stream of traffic and a high conversion ratio, your guest posting strategy will become an online money-making machine.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.