How to research publishing sites for outreach marketing

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Website ResearchAs one of the most prolific content marketing agencies in Bristol, we’ve conducted hundreds of outreach campaigns to help our clients get published on thousands of websites relevant to their particular business niches.

From telecoms to video marketing, ‘Top 100’ law firms to the UK’s leading supplier of stainless steel urinals, we’ve placed exclusive articles on high-quality websites for just about every industry you could imagine, culminating in amazing Digital PR and SEO campaigns for the people we work with.

We’ve gone into great detail about the benefits of this approach to online marketing in our guide to influencer outreach, so we won’t cover the same ground here, but for further insight on how and why it’s so effective, you can read our content marketing case studies.

The key to good outreach is to find the very best, most relevant websites to publish on, which is exactly what we’ll focus on here.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…

Website research 101

First off, you want to nail down your niche. There’s little point in submitting an article about the benefits of fake grass to a website that focuses on electric cars. That may sound like an obvious statement, but there are some very dodgy characters out there who will sell you outreach and link-building services only to publish your work on link farm sites that bear no relation to your product or service, with no tangible audience.

Ultimately, the aim of the game is to publish your thought leadership articles on active sites frequented by your peers and/or potential customers, giving you the very best chance of getting noticed by the right people. Doing so will also send the right signals to Google, indicating that you’re a key player in your sector, resulting in a significant bump up for your search rankings.

Talking of Google, that will inevitably be your first port of call when it comes to finding prospective sites. So if, for example, you’re a purveyor of the finest fake grass in town, gardening websites will be one of your primary targets.

Simply typing in “gardening websites” brings up a whole host of options that could bear fruit. Over 7.5 million search results, in fact.

Gardening websites search results

This is a great starting point, and you’ll no doubt find a fair number of sites that accept guest posts, provided they’re non-advertorial in nature. However, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to refine your search to find the most fertile ground.

For instance, the top search result pictured above, treehugger.com, is an American website, and most of the sites they list in their top 10 are also international. If you operate globally, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re a UK business, it makes sense to stick to UK websites. This is where your target audience is, and the more local you keep your outreach, the more likely you are to benefit from local SEO ‘link juice’. More on that later.

By filtering Google’s search results to UK only results, selecting ‘Tools’ > ‘Any country’ > ‘Country: the UK’, you’ll immediately cut down your list to a more manageable size.

refine the search results

You can also search directly for publishing opportunities, using phrases such as: gardening & “guest blog” or gardening & “write for us”, unveiling sites which may not be on the first page of Google, but are proactively seeking contributions.

Needless to say, you’ll have to vet the quality of such sites, asking yourself whether they have a sizable audience (check social media profiles), if they’re posting high-quality content and if they have editorial integrity (i.e. not letting any old Tom, Dick or Harry get away with publishing poorly-written material, littered with spammy clickbait-style links).

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have to also check their Domain Authority, Trust Flow and Citation Flow – metrics that help determine the quality of websites. We’ve covered this in our Influencer Outreach Guide, but you can get a more in-depth account on reviewing Domain Authority by reading our guide to using the Moz Toolbar.

Essentially, you want to target the most authoritative, most relevant websites with large, active audiences, putting you front and centre in the mind of potential customers while also aiding your SEO in the background; links from highly-authoritative, relevant websites will, theoretically, see some of their authority pass onto you, and this ‘link juice’ helps boost your presence in search engines.

Looking over the fence

Competitor analysis has been always a cornerstone of business success, and there’s much to be learnt from your rivals’ approach to online marketing. Analyse their social profiles to see what content they’re sharing from third-parties, and consider how you might go about getting exposure on the websites they’re sharing articles from.

You can also take to Google to find out where they’re submitting guest articles. For example, searching for “Magnus Linklater Bespoke Digital guest post” brings up a series of articles published in my name, which my competitors might want to use to their advantage, offering content to the same sites, ensuring they’re talking to the same prospective customers and earning the same SEO points (good luck guys).

You can also use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to see where competitors are obtaining their backlinks. By simply entering the URL of their homepage, you can generate a comprehensive list of websites that link to them, as illustrated below:

Open Site Explorer results

This information can present you with a veritable treasure trove of high-quality websites that  accept guest posts and are relevant to your niche. Furthermore, you might find that guest articles aren’t the only source of link your rivals are obtaining.

Earned links, i.e. those which occur naturally rather than being submitted as part of an article, or paid for as part of an advertorial, are the best type of link you could wish for, as they indicate that the quality of your work is so good that people reference you without needing to be prompted. If third-parties are linking back to your rival’s blog within their blog, for instance, you could reach out, tell them how much you enjoyed reading their post and perhaps point them in the direction of closely related content on your own blog, hopefully resulting in them linking back to you in future posts. Read more on this in our Native Advertising vs Content Marketing debate.

Additionally, you should also ask your staff, peers and customers what publications and websites they regularly read, and approach the most relevant ones with offers of unique content – helping to maximise your reach with targeted audiences.

Local focus

As alluded to earlier, obtaining links from local websites helps to elevate you in local search results. Nowadays, search algorithms are incredibly sophisticated, returning the most relevant results not only based on search terms, but also your location. If you search for “content marketing agency” while in Bristol, for example, you should see Bespoke Digital rank highly. Today, we happen to top the ‘Map Pack’ (Google’s quick guide to local results), but this may change day-to-day owing to a variety of search ranking factors.

Google's Map Pack

However, entering the same search term while sat in a café in Cardiff would bring up a list of Cardiff-based content agencies, which makes sense, but is still rather remarkable when you take a moment to think about it.

To increase your local relevance, you should seek to publish content on local, relevant websites, sending the right signals to Google that indicate you’re a big player in your local market, giving you a healthy boost in local rankings.

We’ve recently published Make Bristol a key part of your content marketing on Bristol Media (a local networking organisation), Tech marketing campaigns that put Bristol on the map on TechSPARK (a local community of tech startups) and Digital marketing tips offer key to unlocking online potential on South West Business (a local site for business news). Doing so has seen a marked improvement in our local rankings.

Essentially, if a Cardiff-based business obtains a citation link from another Cardiff-based website, you’ll raise your overall Cardiff-ness in the eyes of the search engine bots, improving their performance for local search queries.

Finalising your list

You should also look for trade shows and review their media partners, as well as membership organisations and trade bodies which have members magazines and associated websites.

It’s wise to share and retweet their content before approaching them, engaging with them in a meaningful way that builds rapport before asking for something in return.

Once you’ve completed your research and have crafted sexy synopses that are guaranteed to charm the pants off your targets, it’s time to start pitching. Read our expert guide to constructing the perfect outreach email for further advice on this next step to content marketing and SEO success.

If you’d like to have a chat about how we can boost your search engine performance by helping you get published on premium websites, give us a buzz on 0117 230 6010 or email enquiries@bespoke-digital.co.uk.