The Anatomy of a Great Guest Post

The Anatomy of a Great Guest Post

Guest blogging is arguably one of the best ways to build authority on the Internet.

But if you don’t know how to write a guest post, this strategy can actually do more harm than good.

There are no rules when you’re publishing content on your own website. You’re the boss, so you can do whatever you want. This is not the case when you’re writing a blog to be published elsewhere.

Authoritative Voice

Guest blogging exposes you to an entirely new audience, which is ideal. However, these people may not know who you are or what you do. Why should they listen to what you have to say?

You need to establish authority with your guest posting strategy.

Make sure you sound professional, yet conversational at the same time. Your content should be easy to read while simultaneously conveying your expertise on the subject.

Avoid industry jargon. While some bloggers believe that this makes them sound smarter, it can actually turn readers away if they don’t understand what you’re saying. So make sure your tone matches the audience for whatever website you’re writing for.

Tell a quick story as a way to illustrate your credentials.

Speak with conviction. This is the key to establishing an authoritative voice. Don’t give readers a chance to doubt or second-guess any points that you’re trying to make.

Actionable Advice

The last thing you want to do is write a guest post without a purpose. I’ve read countless blogs online where the writer just talks in circles and doesn’t have any clear sense of direction. Don’t let that happen to you.

Think about why and how a reader landing on a particular page. More often than not, they are trying to find information on how to do something.

Don’t be brief and ambiguous. Telling readers to “use social media more often” is not actionable. Be specific.

“Post on Instagram at least 7-10 times per week. Go live on Instagram every week at the exact same time. Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM is when I get the most engagement, but you can experiment with a few different times to see what’s best for you.”

That’s actionable.

Give step-by-step instructions whenever possible. Markup screenshots, so the directions are easy to follow. Neil Patel is a master of this strategy. Here’s an excerpt from one of his blog posts:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Again, this is actionable. Rather than just saying, “create a pivot table in Excel,” he goes through each step explaining how it’s done.

If your guest posts aren’t actionable, then you aren’t adding any value to the readers or the website that’s publishing your content.

Download Skitch. This is my favorite tool for marking up screenshots on my Mac.

Logical Structure

Your guest post needs to have a logical hierarchy and flow. The exact structure will vary from site to site, but for the most part, the post can be segmented into four main sections:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Body or main content
  • Conclusion

Use H2s and H3s to break up each section. Not only will this improve your structure, but it’s excellent for SEO visibility and makes it easier for readers to navigate.

Follow the format of previously published articles and guest posts for any website you contribute to.

For example, some blogs have introductions that are just two or three sentences, while others have several paragraphs in the intro. Certain websites have straightforward titles, like “How to do XYZ,” and others have complex titles, such as “Topic XYZ: Learning How to Survive in the ABC Industry with XX Simple Steps (Case Study).”

Just think logically. If you’re not used to writing lots of blogs, it’s easy for your ideas to get jumbled. Start simple by defining a particular term or subject. Then expand from there as you continue through the body.


Unless the website you’re contributing to says otherwise, it’s always a great idea to include images in your guest posts.

For starters, images are a great way to break up the text. Nobody wants to read large blocks of text without any space or breathing room. That’s another reason why I recommend H2s and H3s in addition to short paragraphs.

But aside from the aesthetics, visual content is the perfect way to illustrate a point. More than 90% of bloggers use images in a typical blog post.

Typical Blog Post

As you can see from the graph, this is by far the most popular element of a blog post. Readers are used to reading content with visual support.

Ironically (but intentionally), I used this image to demonstrate the importance of adding visual content to your guest post.


Every guest post should include the following types of links:

  • Internal links (to other blogs published on the site you’re writing for)
  • External links (to cite statistics or image references from authority websites)
  • A link to your website

The best guest posts will always use data back up a claim. Don’t just say something without providing supporting evidence. But you’ll need to reference where you took any statistics or information with an external link.

While your guest blogs should never be self-promoting, the editor should allow you to include at least one link to your website within the body.

Your author bio will likely include a link to your homepage. So a link in the body should be for another blog post, guide, or ebook on your website. This will help you build domain authority through guest posting.

Grammatically Sound and SEO Friendly

This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how often these two aspects are overlooked in a guest post.

Websites won’t want to work with you if your content is full of errors and grammar issues. You’ll never be able to become a regular contributor if this is a recurring problem.

I triple check my guest posts for grammar before submitting them to a website. Sometimes I’ll even have an in-house editor review my work to get a second opinion. You can always run your blogs through editing software like Grammarly as well.

Everything you write needs to follow SEO best practices, even if it’s not going on your own website. You want your guest post to perform well and have high visibility in SERPs.

The more traffic your guest post gets, the more exposure and authority it creates for your personal brand.

Final Thoughts

Everyone can benefit from guest posting. To maximize the effectiveness of this strategy, you must understand the anatomy of a high-performing guest blog.

Save this guide and use it as a reference whenever you’re writing a guest post. After a while, these tips and best practices for guest blogging will become second nature.

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