by Jeremy Merkle, Director of Digital Marketing, Truth Tree
From helping you increase your SEO to adding value for your visitors, there’s no question that your private school should be blogging. However, not all of your blogging efforts should be on your own published pages.
Guest blogging could be the content marketing hack that sets you apart and establishes your school as an authority on a variety of subjects.
Not sure where to start? You’re in luck.
Follow along to discover what you need to know about guest blogging for independent schools and how to utilize this powerful backlink content to your advantage.
What is Guest Posting and Why Should You Do it?
Before we jump into the process of guest blogging, let’s be clear on what this content marketing strategy is (and isn’t).
A guest blog is a piece of content written for the sole purpose of being published on an external site. This means that your post is not written about your school and how awesome it is.
Most guest posts are written to provide helpful information. In your case, that would likely be parents.
So how exactly does writing for someone else benefit your traffic?
Guest blogging is a technique that has been used for years to gain backlinks from reputable sites and steer more organic traffic to your website. This works in two primary ways.
First, search engines, like Google, will notice that a high-authority website has linked to one of your pages. This will send a message to Google that you are a trustworthy source for the topic they’ve linked to you on. Google’s new “stamp of approval” then raises your school’s rank for those keywords and increases your chances of being found by users asking the questions you’ve so expertly answered.
Second, by putting yourself in front of a new audience and subtly linking back to your own page, you open yourself up to draw traffic from the host’s audience. Since this audience is obviously interested in the topics you can help with, you’ll start the process of becoming an authority on the subject and possibly future subjects.
Your Guest Blogging Guide for Success
So how can you, as a private school, leverage this technique to grow your own reach?
Pretty easily actually!
Here are 4 steps to get your guest blog out there and help your school’s digital brand presence.
Step 1: Source a Host
First, search for a website or websites that may be interested in publishing your content.
For private schools, we suggest starting with a more localized approach. The closer you are to the website’s sphere of influence, the more likely they’ll consider your piece.
You’ll want to choose blogging sites that your target audience is already reading and that you can add value to. At the end of the day, there’s not much point in sending off articles to a site that barely matches your target audience.
The easiest way to find viable sites is to Google terms like:
- family blog in [town/city/region]
- mom/dad blog in [town/city/region]
- parent resource in [town/city/region]
You’ll then have a prime list of candidates to send a pitch to.
Step 2: Making Your Pitch
Some websites allow you to create an account and self-publish.
If this is not an option, you’ll need to pitch your post to the editor.
When you reach out to the editor, there are three main strategies to use.
Completed Post Approach
If you choose to do this, you’ll want to be careful your post isn’t exactly the same as a blog that’s already on your site. While it may have valuable information, posting duplicate content is not good for SEO and will result in a penalty for both you and the host blog.
To improve the success rate of this approach, take some time to research the target blog’s requirements. They are likely posted on their ‘write for us’ page and often contain helpful tips that you can apply to your own content marketing strategy as well.
And finally, optimize the length of your post to make an impact without dragging on for ages. Guest posts between 500-1200 words are typically the most successful.
Alternatively, you can approach the editor of the blog with an idea.
This is a great strategy for saving time on blog writing as your original idea may not be right for every host. When it comes to your pitch, keep it brief and specific. Editors don’t have a lot of time so don’t spend too long trying to ‘talk them into’ your article.
Give your suggested title and a paragraph or two that summarizes what you will cover.
Once approved, you can then write the post with their specific audience and requirements in mind to ensure it makes it onto the site. And of course, if you have any particular requests, make sure you have them clarified upfront before launching into your writing.
A third option is to contact the site editor and ask what topics would be of interest to their readers. Take their ideas back to your community and see if there are any experts who would be willing to contribute to or write the content.
When I say community, go beyond your teachers and staff: students, parents, and alumni may want to showcase their knowledge. Plus, it’s a great way to engage your constituents and increase the bond you have with them.
Step 3: Optimize Your Post for SEO
Now that you’re in, you’ll need to ensure your post is optimized for SEO. You may be thinking, ‘why would I want to boost another site’s SEO?’ The answer is simple.
The better your post performs on the host site, the higher your chances are of benefiting from it.
Some simple ways to ensure your post is SEO-friendly include:
Keyword Research and Placement
Just like your own blogs, you’ll need to invest some time in keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the right audience. Fortunately, you’ll have an entire backlog of content to refer to right on your host’s website!
When it comes to placement, be sure you aren’t overusing your keyword or fitting it in awkwardly. This is called keyword stuffing and Google is more than aware of the blackhat technique.
Instead, use your primary keyword strategically by placing it in your title, at least one heading/subheading, in your introduction, and in your conclusion. You can then fit any secondary keywords in wherever they sound natural. (kind of like what we did in this blog 🙂
Your guest post should link back to your website, but not exclusively. It is important to include one or two other external links somewhere in the post. This reduces the chances of your content looking spammy or salesy to both the search engine and potential readers.
Regarding your link, be sure to choose a landing page that is directly related to what you are talking about. We suggest steering clear of linking to a homepage and sending readers to one of your blogs or even a course guide.
This is a much more reputable way to build backlink content in a natural and flowy way.
Structure your post in a fashion that will draw the reader’s eye through your content and lead them to your target link.
Be sure to include detailed headings and subheadings and avoid essay-style writing by breaking your post into small, digestible paragraphs.
Ideally, each paragraph should be between 1-3 lines and each heading should have no more than 300 words under it. This will keep your post from looking like an intimidating wall of text and encourage higher read rates.
Choose an anchor text that captures attention without being overly obvious.
This is not only for your readers but also for Google’s algorithm. Google bots will use the anchor text as a ‘hint’ to what the linked content is about. This provides an excellent opportunity to boost your own SEO!
Think of your anchor text like a keyword and be strategic about the phrases you choose.
Step 4: Promote Your Post
Once your content is written and approved, help it make an impact. While the host site already has a built-in audience, the more eyes you can get on the piece, the better it will perform.
To promote your content, consider writing another, short post for your own page with a link to the featured article. Because the post is written from the host’s perspective, it will look like you’ve just received some awesome press!
You could also share the post to your social media channels, and include a snippet and the link in your email marketing.
Guest Blogging for Private Schools
Now that you know the trick to guest blogging, we’re confident you’ll see great results from finding the right sites to publish on to the dos and don’ts of this content marketing strategy!
Still unsure of where to start with guest blogging for private schools? Get in touch with us today to discover how we can help you master your content marketing for schools and make an impact online.