Guide to Effective Guest Posting for Insurance Agents
If you have a blog (or follow them), you may have heard the phrase "guest posting". While it seems like a straightforward concept, guest blogging can lead to big trouble on Google if done incorrectly. However, if executed correctly, it can have huge benefits for your insurance agency. Below, we'll walk through what guest posting is, how it can benefit your insurance agency (or you as an individual broker), how to get started, and some best practices to follow to ensure that your guest posts provide value to your readers and increase your reach, exposure, and SEO!
What is Guest Posting?
Guest Posting refers to writing and publishing your content on another person's blog or website. While there are many reasons why a writer would publish their content on someone else's website, the goal of the tactic is generally focused on increased exposure and more traffic.
Since early 2014, there has been a lot of hype around guest posting; whether it is beneficial or detrimental, good or bad for SEO, or helpful in building reputations and relationships.
When done correctly, guest posting can be one of the most effective growth strategies for any blog. If you approach guest blogging the right way, you can reap the benefits of increased exposure and more traffic - without worrying about Google's penalties.
Benefits of Guest Posting
Increased Exposure and Reach
The most obvious reason to guest blog is to gain more online exposure and reach a larger audience. By posting on other blogs related to the insurance industry, you gain access to a community that is already established and ready to read your content. Connecting with and providing value to a new audience will help you establish and grow your own audience, driving more traffic and gaining more followers than ever before!
Guest Posting is an excellent strategy to build relationships in the insurance industry. Guest posting allows you to enter a pre-established community, helping your message reach a new audience and helping you be present alongside the thought leaders of the community. Building relationships via guest blogging takes time and patience, but if you consistently add value to your new community, you will see benefits in the long run!
Guest Blogging is a great SEO tactic for several reasons. First, by becoming visible on other websites or blogs related to your industry, you are helping the search engines better categorize your blog, website, or even your brand.
Second, since your posts will be related to your industry, it can help drive relevant traffic to your site/blog. The more relevant the traffic to your landing pages, the higher the probability of the visitor taking the desired action (conversion). For example, if you have an insurance site and guest post on a home building company's blog, the users who will read your guest content are likely going to be interested in discovering what else your site has to offer.
The last and most important SEO factor is the link from your guest post back to your website. Search engines view links as recommendations from other websites, and if a credible, high quality site is linked to your site, search engines will view you as credible and high-quality also.
Learn more about local SEO for Insurance Agents
Similarly to guest posting for relationship building, writing guest posts can have huge positive effects for branding strategies. Becoming a leader and a valued member in the insurance community will establish your agency as authoritative, credible, and helpful. Guest blogging helps your agency gain more exposure from an audience you would not otherwise have available to you, boosting brand recognition and helping the community remember your brand when it comes time for readers to convert.
Where to Start
Establish Goals for Your Guest Posts
Having clear goals for your guest posting strategy is critical to success. Common goals include:
- Positioning your insurance agency as a valuable, authoritative, and well-known resource within your community
- Getting more traffic to your website
- Building backlinks to your website
Research, Research, Research
Before you begin writing, you should do thorough industry research to determine where to post and which topics will be the most effective. While this research often takes more time than writing the content itself, it will be the most beneficial step in helping you maximize your guest blogging efforts.
The best place to begin your research is Google itself. Search the insurance community using keywords that are core to your agency's website/blog. Searching for something like "insurance agent" "submit a guest post" (make sure to include the quotes in your phrases; these will help ensure you're searching for your full phrase so you don't end up with unrelated results like "insurance policy guests photos". More on search operators here.) Do a few searches with varying keywords, then create a spreadsheet of the results.
Once you determine which sites you'd like to guest post on and create a spreadsheet of the results, you must now determine if the sites you've chosen are high quality, trustworthy, and truly relevant to the goals of your guest posting strategy.
Perform a back link analysis of your competitors' blog. By searching for blogs that your competitors have posted on, you'll discover opportunities that you already know will be related to you, as well as find blogs that you know accept blog posts from guests.
When scoping out a potential insurance blog to guest post for, ask yourself:
Do I trust the information on this agency's website? Is this blog one I would visit regularly?
If yes, great. If no, move on. There are plenty of other more trustworthy, relevant websites that will benefit you more.
Is this site spammy in any way?
If yes, take them off the list. If a site comes off as spammy to you as a user, it will almost certainly come off as spammy in the eyes of Google.
Is this an authoratative, trusted and popular site?
Visit Facebook and Twitter and use analysis tools like Open Site Explorer to determine domain authority, page rank, and social reach. Obviously, guest posting on sites with a large following and high quality metrics will be most beneficial.
Create an Effective Pitch
Now that you've created a list of potential sites to guest post for, it's time to reach out and pitch your content. Prepare a pitch customized to each site to avoid sounding generic. Create a great subject line, keeping it short, sweet, and related to what the email contains. Your message should be short and to the point as well. For example,
Subject: Example Post Topic for Awesome Example Blog,
Hi Example Site Owner's Name,
I/my company would like to contribute an article about Example Post Topic. Is this something you'd be interested in sharing with your readers?
Proofread Before Sending
Obviously, the first impression a potential blog will have with your writing will come from your email. Make sure your email is clean, relevant, proofread, and to the point. Read your email out loud to yourself before sending to ensure natural, not sales-y communication.
Where Not To Post
Guest Posting on poor quality and spammy sites is an easy way to be seen as poor quality and spammy also, both to search engines and to the insurance community you belong to. Most of the hype around "the death" of guest posting and Google cracking down on guest posters is centered around spammy guest posting only for the sake of link building. This is why researching the credibility and quality of potential blogs is critical to benefiting from guest posting. Simply create high quality, trustworthy content that provides value to the reader and follows SEO best practices, ensure that the sites you're guest posting on do the same, and you won't be affected by Google penalties.
How Do I Know A Site Is Spammy?
There are several factors that can determine a site to be either "spammy" or trustworthy. High quality blogs that allow guest posting will usually have editorial guidelines for guest posts that must be followed to be visible. Guidelines can include posting only original content, having a certain domain authority, or requiring a profile sign-in (such as with disquis, google+, etc). By having these editorial requirements in place, these high quality blogs and sites can control what gets posted, helping them remain high quality themselves.
Low quality sites like link farms, blogging networks, and article directory blogs tend to avoid editorial guidelines, allow for any type of content or link to be posted, don't require logging into an account, have a numerous amount of ads, or may include redirects. For example, ezinearticles.com used to gain regular traffic from syndicated blog content. The image below shows a severe traffic drop off after they received Google Penalty.
While this site is still active, its homepage is filled with links, ads, and a spammy appearance, and is a great example of what your agency should avoid when guest posting!
More on Types of Link Spam to Avoid here
Google has gone through a lot of back and forth about optimizing content and using specific tags for Google Author Authority, but one fact remains certain: establishing yourself as an authoritative, well-known author is a lot like establishing yourself as an authoritative, well-known brand or agency. Ensure that your agency has a well-optimized Google+ profile that regularly features relevant content, is active on Facebook and Twitter, and that you brand yourself as a helpful resource in your community. Having a personal brand as a broker will make you appear more trustworthy and increase your exposure!
Only reach out to sites and brands that are similar to your site and your agency. This helps tell the search engines who you are and what your site is about. If you write for and/or link to sites and brands that have nothing in common with you, you will be seen as unfocused, irrelevant, and possibly even spammy to the search engines, which can harm your SEO rankings.
High Quality, Trustworthy Sites
Only Research each potential blog or site to ensure that your content is featured on high quality, trustworthy sites only.
High Quality, Trustworthy Content
Only Make sure that you are only submitting unique, original content for your guest posts. Research your topic, include references to helpful documents or sources, and make sure that you are providing the user with value.
When linking to other content, insurance agencies, or sites, don't link too often or only to your content. Ideally, you should link to other large, well-known brands in the insurance industry and/or other content on the blog you're guest posting for. Linking to their content, not to your own, establishes you as helpful and trustworthy, not sales-focused or spammy. Use varying, keyword-rich anchor text when linking.
Images are integral to getting as much engagement on your post as possible. Posts with images tend to be shared more often, and help engage the user once they are on your post. Only use photos and images that you have created or have permission to use, either by paying for stock photos or finding free options, such as Canva, Pixabay, StockSnap, Unsplash, or Morgue File.
Grammar and Formatting
Lastly, it's imperative that proper grammar and formatting is used. Reading a post out loud or reading it in a different font can help ensure that phrasing sounds natural and sentence structure is correct. Ask if the host blog prefers a specific type of formatting.
Guest posting can be an extremely beneficial online marketing strategy, increasing your agency's exposure and reach, encouraging social engagement from your readers, building links to your site, and establishing a high quality reputation for your name or agency online.