25 Point Checklist for a Quality Guest Post Service

Digital marketing has a lot of moving parts. High-quality backlinks are still one of the most effective ways to boost your search engine ranking, but organic links rarely happen without help. White hat link building takes time, effort, and expertise. Fortunately, you can outsource this time-consuming task to a guest blog post service.

What is Guest Posting?

Before we get into guest posting service providers, let’s talk about what a guest post is and why it is valuable. When you, or someone working on your behalf, writes a blog post or article that is posted on another website, that is called a guest post. Usually, it will be informational and contain content links to your site and other informational sources. Guest posting is also called link-building or outreach.

In most cases, the process of guest posting involves asking an established author or editor for a guest post placement. The author will submit the article, and the editorial team will look it over to make sure it is engaging content that meets their publishing guidelines. The editor may ask for revisions before publishing.

How to Find the Best Guest Post Service

While plenty of companies offer guest posting services, the results can vary wildly. Quality guest post blog services offer start-to-finish research, writing, editing, and publishing. If you’re also interested in SEO services, plenty of SEO agencies offer guest posting services in their offerings.

The results are often dramatic. If you choose the right service, not only your domain authority increases due to the backlinks, but with proper anchor text strategy and distribution, rank for converting keywords dramatically increases as well.

Choose the wrong service, and you could find yourself on the wrong side of Google’s algorithm changes.

Your content marketing strategy should include quality link-building techniques, and guest posts are an excellent way to build a backlink profile. Before you start looking for a guest post outreach service, get your ducks in a row. Do some homework and know what to expect.

1. Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Improving your Google rank is one of many reasons to guest post. You may want to look at success from other angles as well. Other potential benefits include increased organic traffic, unsolicited backlinks to the same content (aka ‘naturally given links’), new leads or subscribers, and increased overall online presence.

Examples KPIs for the links you are acquiring:

  • Traffic of the domain
  • Authority of the domain
  • Age of the domain
  • Keyword value of the domain’s rank in Google

Examples KPIs for your site after links are acquired:

  • Rank increase for the target pages
  • Rank increase for the target keyword phrases
  • Link velocity of your domain
  • Link diversity of your domain
  • Increase in authority score (AHREFS, SEMRush, MOZ) over time
  • Naturally given links from very high authority sites or extremely trusted sites at news organizations

Many of our existing clients receive inbound queries from journalists at major news organizations (such as the LA Times, SF Chronicle, and Chicago Tribune) due to their exposure from our guest post services. This is a follow-on effect of increased rank and mentions at already reputable sites.

Below are live examples of a client using Scalefluence guest post services. This client is now receiving inbound requests from journalists at a regular clip; for free.

This is what we mean by “reputable sites”.

  • Average AHREFS.com authority is 79.5
  • Average AHREFS estimated traffic is 6.7 million visits per month
Results of a Quality Guest Post Service

2. Set Realistic Goals

Look at case studies on your top competitors to see what’s possible. Then dial back your expectations a bit and extend the time horizon to see the effect of quality links.

It would be wonderful to jump to number one on Google listings and reap a 10% increase in profits, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. Implement your link-building strategy with your eyes open and attainable goals in sight. SEO is a long-term goal with lasting rewards when done properly. Our recommendation for clients is to build a 3 to 6-month budget (and ensuing plan) and be prepared for the wait.

3. Select your Target URLs

You may want to link to your home page, to a service page, to a blog page, a survey results page, or a product page. Because backlinks are equally valuable for any page on your website, the target URL can be any part of the site.  For guest post links, consider choosing a web page with a great deal of valuable information over a product or service page.

Links to information pages (aka blog content) are required to get links from the most trusted domains on the internet.

However, using Scalefluence’s link-building service with (lower authority domains found in our marketplace) can result in links to higher-converting pages (such as eCommerce category pages or service pages) and anchor text strategies aimed at more competitive keywords.

4. Find Your Primary Keyword

The best guest post services offer keyword research and anchor text selection development. Some even offer opposition keyword research. They will analyze your competitors’ sites for the keywords that boost their search ranking. Have the keywords you want picked out, and be prepared to have an open mind after keyword analysis. The most obvious keyword does not always have the best chance of success.

5. Identify your Target Audience

Who is your ideal customer? If your industry is B2B financial technology, for example, you’ll want your article written to appeal to their level of education and published on a relevant blog your target customers are more likely to read.

Picking a Guest Blog Post Service

Before you spend significant money on a guest posting campaign that might result in the exact opposite of what you want, here’s what to look for:

6. Accepted topics

Most services will shy away from certain topics, like gambling or adult subjects, and some specialize in specific topics due to their publisher needs.. Before investing time investigating a service, make sure your website and topics are a good fit.

7. Good Reviews

Any reputable site will offer customer reviews you can use to gauge customer satisfaction. Naturally, you want a service that offers excellent customer service. You can also check comparison and review sites to find out how the service is evaluated by professional reviewers. A reputable review site can also give you a starting place for finding the best guest post service.

8. Case studies

The results of past successes are a good indication of how well they will perform for your business. If they cannot provide case studies, it may be because they don’t track performance, which might be a red flag. However, this should not be a make-or-break decision. Scalefluence does not have case studies either (since our clients expect privacy in their link-building efforts).

9. Optimized Anchor Text

Are you expected to do your own keyword research, or does the guest blogging service do that? Most services expect you to provide your own keywords and preferred anchor text.

Only a few SEO outreach services offer additional services, like providing competitor anchor text analysis to ensure that your anchor text selections are effective, enticing, and SEO-friendly. The Scalefluence team will perform domain-level link analysis for free if you request it.

10. Content Creation

Who is responsible for content creation? Most good services have guest posting experts who provide quality backlink profiles content for their clients, but not all. If you’re looking to save money and have a talented in-house team of bloggers, you may be able to provide your own quality articles. However, since publishers can be picky, it’s usually better to use the content creation provided by the service.

11. Writing quality

Quality is the most important aspect of link building. Ask to see samples of writing. Articles should be written in easily readable language by native writers with no spelling or grammar errors. Beware of cheap services that outsource to non-native writers. Grammar in a second language is tricky, and if it sounds wrong, it is a dead giveaway to inauthentic content. Contextual backlinks should be woven into the content naturally.

Each piece of content should be unique, original, and not written in the same repetitive formula. While some article styles are more popular with online readers, the guest posting package you choose should include various compelling content styles to appeal to a broader audience.

Publishers set the rules for link placement on their sites. While no type of link can ever be guaranteed to be permanent backlinks (because the publisher may reorganize their site or remove outdated articles, for example), the most high-quality links remain online for a long time.

Optimally, you’ll target do-follow links, but to be clear, no-follow links are also valuable and should not be excluded when acquiring links from publications with millions of visits.

13. Average Turnaround Time

Generally speaking, the turnaround time for each blog post to publish takes about 3-6 weeks. On larger authoritative websites, delivery time could take even longer. If you’re just looking for a smaller niche relevant to your industry or local blog placement, expect shorter turnaround times.

14. Can you approve the domains before publishing?

Although most guest posting service providers will offer a list of websites they publish to, not all allow you to approve the domains where your content will be published. If you’re looking for industry-specific business niche blogs, find a service that lists the websites where you want to be published. For instance, there are a number of blogs that cater to restaurant professionals. If your ideal customer owns a restaurant, publishing on authoritative blogs like Fast Casual or Modern Restaurant Magazine makes sense. However, do not expect that link placements are guaranteed on high authority domains just because they are on a list.

15. Domain Authority

High-quality websites are measured by Domain Authority (DA) based on traffic, search engine rank, and other factors. Popular blogs with huge numbers of organic visitors like the New York Times and Forbes have a Domain Authority score of over 95, where a niche blog with a good readership might have a DA of 25 – 30.

Also, examine the rank of the domain you are acquiring links from. There are many ways to trick AHREFS and MOZ into displaying a high authority score when, in fact, the site is simply a purchased domain from years past and does not pass the link juice you think it might.

Here’s an example:

  • On the surface, the authority of this site appears to be very strong using AHREFS Domain Rating Metric
AHREFs DR Manipuation
  • On the next page in AHREFS you can sort the domain’s rank by URL for its top-ranking pages per keyword. 
AHREFs ranking keyword figure
  • Now look at the domain itself. You’ll notice the content is all over the place. Google has explicitly stated irrelevant content will penalize a site. 
Example of Irrelevant Content

Placing high-quality links on high authority sites (that are not tricking AHREFS and MOZ) is challenging – and expensive.

An efficient outreach strategy includes a mix of sites, ranging from low/medium to high DA websites, to reach a larger audience at affordable prices. You should value lower-authority blogs that offer real value to readers.

Here’s an example of a “Lower DA” site that would be included in our guest post services. A site that actually ranks for the terms you want to rank for.  The domain is a health focused site, and actually ranks for health-related KWs. This link will be immune to future algorithm changes.

16. Competitive Prices

Pricing varies wildly based on the quality of the work and the quality of websites where the guest blog posting service has publishing access. Some go article by article, and others offer a guest post package price you can customize by choosing a number of articles placed on sites with varying domain authority.

In that case, you might pick a few articles on 55 + DA blogs, and a few industry-specific relevant websites with lower 25-35 DA. Compare packages when you’ve narrowed your selection down to a few top contenders to get fair prices.

17. Money-back guarantee

Most reputable guest blogging services offer a money-back guarantee. If they cannot get your article posted as promised, they will refund your money. If there’s no guarantee, cross the service off your shortlist. If you decide to use Scalefluence link-building services, we have a 1-year guarantee on all links placed.

18. Reporting and tracking

Look for an affordable guest posting service that allows you to generate reports to manage your link history over time. Once your guest posting strategy is rolling and you have several high-quality content pieces placed on an assortment of websites, you should start seeing results, including more organic traffic from higher search engine ranking, more visitors per month overall, and higher conversion rates and leads. Eventually, your guest post links will also result in a higher domain rating. You’ll be able to track it all in real-time to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

19. Do they promote on social media?

As part of their services, some guest post outreach services will promote your content across their social media accounts to help ensure higher readership. Promotion helps your content get seen and shared, and helps the author maintain a good relationship with their publisher.

Practices to Avoid

Here’s the cautionary part of the checklist. Shady link-building practices can and will hurt your business. Watch for these red flags:

Instead of writing and publishing brand-new content relevant to your topic, some services simply edit a backlink to your website into existing content. It’s risky and obvious, and most reputable websites do not allow it. Our experience concludes that bloggers simply sell links on any article and, over time, link juice is siphoned away, leaving the domain in shambles with near zero rank.

Here’s an example of what happens to a site that allows too many links, to too many irrelevant sources over time.

PBN penalized for too many guest post

21. Private blog networks (PBN)

Private blog networks are usually lower DA sites, all owned and run by the company or partners, and they exist solely for guest posting. They generally have low editorial standards and random content, limiting backlinks’ value. Going through a service that uses a PBN may be cheaper, but it’s far more likely they will be punished, and so will your website. You will notice the above screenshot applies to PBNs as well. At the time of acquiring links, the site may have rank, but many months later, the domain is algorithmically punished by Google.

22. “Write for Us” pages

Websites that invite random writers to supply free content with “write for us” pages are usually abused by tons of websites seeking backlinks and have little to no quality control. Your content will be placed alongside posts irrelevant to your topic or industry, and your link will look spammy. These kinds of sites often accept content links from questionable sites most publishers won’t touch. Reputable link-building services blacklist PBNs and sites that actively solicit free content.

23. Lack of Documented Quality Control

Reputable services have a documented quality control process they can share with you. It should be thorough and easy to understand. If it doesn’t exist, cross them off your list.

24. You Get What You Pay For

Don’t cheap out. If the price sounds too low, chances are the service employs shady tactics or doesn’t deliver as promised. Stick with white hat link-building and avoid future penalties.


25. Evaluate the Success of your Outreach Strategy

The ultimate success metric is how well you’re doing against your competitors. Use Ahrefs or Semrush to find out if your website has moved up in the rankings for your target keyword. Look at your competitors and see how you stack up against their ranking. If your site is not performing as well as expected, look at their backlink profiles. Find out how many backlinks they have and how many are do-follow and no-follow.

If your number of backlinks are similar, check the origin sites where their backlinks are published. Competitor research will help you figure out how to tweak your strategy. More links overall? More do-follow links? Higher-quality guest post blogs?  Traffic of the domain?  Rank value of the domains?  Remember the KPI bullet points we pointed to at the beginning of the article, this will be your guide to acquiring guest post links that add value for years.

Done well, a solid content marketing strategy that includes high-quality SEO content (and white hat backlinks from authoritative websites) can help you dominate search engine results and keep you out of trouble when new updates are published. If you do it right from the beginning, you won’t have to spend time and money reversing bad choices of years past.

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