We all know the theory, and it sounds simple: Google loves authority. How hard could it be to get a few good quality links from authority sites? You just need to make a list of the authority sites in your niche and then approach them for a guest post. Right?

If you’ve tried putting guest posting into practice, then you know that it’s not quite so straightforward. Even if you do manage to get some great opportunities, what is the best way to allocate your budget? We’d all love a dofollow link from Entrepreneur.com, but many of us can’t afford the price tag that comes with those types of links.

At Zadro Web, we live and breathe all things web, which is why we’ve worked so hard on developing and refining our guest posting process for our clients. We’ve learned a couple of hard (and expensive) lessons along the way, and these are the six most important tips that have allowed us to scale up our link building without compromising on results. These tips have increased our success rates, lowered our costs, and allowed us to boost our clients’ rankings, even on a tight budget.

Here are the top six tried and tested (by us) ways to plan your guest post-budget:

Define Your Strategy

To plan your budget effectively and get the best results, you need to have the right information at your fingertips. There’s no point securing guest posts to target your site and hoping that something sticks with the ranking jumps you need. A strategic approach that makes the most of your existing rankings and takes your competitors into account will get you results much faster, and it will be a lot more affordable.

Check Your Rankings

Before you blow your budget trying to rank for random terms, you need to know where the majority of your site traffic is coming from. That means using tracking tools to see what pages are already ranking and reviewing your site stats to see which terms are generating site traffic. At a basic level, Google Search Console and Google Analytics will serve this need; however, we recommend using enterprise SEO tools.

Look at Your Competitors

Planning your budget is depends heavily on where you’re currently ranking and what your competitors are doing. If you’re already in the top ten with only a handful of links, there’s a good chance that a few guest posts combined with some good on-page SEO are enough to get your rankings and traffic up even further. Likewise, you don’t need to blow the budget on guest posts if you’re in a niche where your competitors aren’t actively chasing after guest post opportunities, and a few strategically chosen guest posts will get you the results you need.

Decide What You Can Afford

Rather than trying to rank every page on your site all at once, it makes sense to have a more systematic approach. The best way to do this is to identify the pages where you’re ranking in the top 10 or top 20 for ‘money keywords’ or terms that show buyer intent.

Again, GSC can help with this task. To be clear, you should analyze keywords that are likely to turn into business for your site, whether it’s through lead generation, sales, or referral commissions. 

Once you have identified those terms, slowly start building guest post links to those pages. An example could be to choose five pages that are in the top 20 and build 1-3 links to each page, then measure the results by watching how the sites move up across various KPIs you’re tracking.

Reverse Engineer Top Ranking Sites for Your Niche

This is a quick win that can get you some nice juicy links with minimum effort. Most enterprise SEO tools can pull out a list of the top authority sites that are linking to them. Then, reach out to each of those sites to find out how much a link will cost (and don’t forget tip #5).

This step is also crucial as it gives you an idea of what type of links your competitors are building. Google has shown what type of content and links they are rewarding in your niche, so you want your site to be in line with what they are already rewarding. 

Quality Over Quantity (and less is more)

Google assigns link value based on the referring site’s authority and trust. In other words, the more authority a site has, the more ‘link juice’ you get when they link to you. In terms of the ideal links for your site, this is what you’re looking for:

  • Authority of the linking site
  • Dofollow links (although a mix of both dofollow and nofollow are needed)
  • Partial or exact match anchor text (keeping it natural, of course)
  • Link relevancy
  • Link diversity

You can quickly see how a quality guest post on a related authority site is going to be the holy grail. Unfortunately, the stronger a domain, the more they will want to charge. So, how do you balance quality with price?

First, keep in mind that it’s exponential.

The stronger a domain, the more link juice it is going to pass. That’s obvious. But what you might not know is that it’s exponential. That means a site with an Ahrefs score of 50 is not worth just two links from a site with a score of 25, it’s worth far, far more.

Second, it looks natural to have a spread-out link distribution.

You don’t want Google flagging your link building as suspicious, so you can’t only have authority sites linking to yours; you need a mix. This set of graphs from Moz illustrates the point:

You’ll want to aim for quality sites for guest posting opportunities, balanced out with lower authority links from pillow links like citations and press releases. Need some more clarity about how to find ‘quality’ guest post opportunities? Ahrefs has you covered here and here

Get Creative

The first prize is to get a link from a strong site in your niche. However, depending on what products or services you offer, this isn’t always easy. That’s where you have to get creative.

For example, if you have an online bike store, your competitors who are also selling bike gear aren’t going to link to you, and there are only so many cycling blogs that you can target. But if you spread your net a little wider, you can still get powerful links that are relevant to your offerings.

You could target lifestyle websites (offering an article about how cycling can improve your quality of life) or a parenting blog (with an article about bike trailers).

Additionally, the bonus of this approach is that it will benefit your budget. By targeting a broader range of sites, you can negotiate harder, and you’ll be able to find stronger link prospects.

Negotiate Always

It’s always a surprise when we chat with prospective clients who have been doing their own guest posting without negotiating. It’s basic business logic that there is always room to negotiate because even if your prospect isn’t willing to come down on their initial price, you can still get a guest post at the original price. No harm, no foul.

Put differently- nothing ventured, nothing gained. As a rule of thumb, when we receive a price for a guest post opportunity, we go back with an offer of 50% less and wait for their counteroffer. And, then we’ll usually come to an agreement somewhere in between. Think of it, if you can get even a 25% discount on your guest posts, that’s 25% more than you can put back into your guest post-budget.

Work with an Experienced Guest Posting Team

If you want quick results that come within budget, then your best bet is to work with a guest posting team who can do outreach and find opportunities on your behalf. There are a number of benefits to using this approach, including:

Leveraging an Existing Network

If you’ve already reached out to your contacts, and spent some time doing cold outreach, you might find that you’re running out of prospects. A guest posting team will have an existing network that they can tap into, which has the potential to expedite your results.

Discounted Rates

Because they’ve been building up a network with bloggers and other sites, the team will have negotiated steep discounts that will allow you access to excellent opportunities at a lower rate, and you don’t have to do any of the work yourself.

Technical Hurdles

If you’ve done even a little bit of cold outreach for guest posting opportunities, you know that many of your emails aren’t even getting delivered. Most email providers have strict spam filters that will limit the number of emails that you can send, and will quickly start flagging your outreach emails.

A guest posting team will have already done the hard work that ensures their deliverability rates are good, thus improving their chances of finding the perfect guest posting opportunity for your site.

In Summary

Guest posting is one of those tricky areas because it’s expensive, but it really does deliver huge ranking benefits. It’s also a lot of hard work, requiring many hours of research and, if you’re not careful, can quickly eat up your marketing budget.

These are our top tips for planning your guest post-budget to get the biggest ranking results on a tight budget. Whether you’re doing it in-house or looking to leverage the expertise of a guest posting team, a strategic approach to setting an allocating your guest posting budget is going to help you get the best results at the most affordable price.