Winning SERPs with Guest Posts: How to Use Surfer for Better Content & More Link Juice

Ron Stefanski
February 25, 2021

Inside this article:

Guest posting is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies available today. 

According to OptinMonster, 60% of blogs write between 1 to 5 guest posts every month, and 62.96% of readers view blogs with multiple authors as more credible. 

Plus, higher website domains can rank for keywords that your blog or website can’t. If they do, the links you include in your guest post will benefit from link juice flowing to your pages (assuming that they are dofollow, not nofollow links).

And this is just one of the many reasons why guest posting is an effective strategy for building brand awareness and generating leads.

This goes both for those companies who submit guests post to increase their visibility, and those who publish them to get a steady flow of good, diversified content. Just look at how G2 does it:

But not all guest posts help you automatically achieve your marketing goals.

First of all, successful guest posts must provide useful and valuable content to readers. 

Secondly, you have to take care of the SEO aspects: recognize the best domains and develop a proper linking strategy.

Luckily, there are ways to make the most of your guest posts, including tools like Surfer.

In this article, I’ll explain how Surfer helped me elevate my guest posting strategy to achieve incredible results.

Like, for example, getting to position two in SERPs two days after publication.

Read on!

Why writing outstanding guest posts is crucial

If you want a slot on popular and well-ranked blogs and websites (and you do), your posts must be top-notch. Not just to get the “yes” from an editor but also to improve your website’s SEO. 

Let’s take a step back and talk about why you need to create great content for guest posts. 

When you write a guest post, you usually include a link or links to your blog in the content, right? 

Assuming that you’re writing a guest post for a highly authoritative blog (like I’m doing right now for Surfer), your ultimate goal should always be to get that blog post to rank in Google.

Because blog posts that get ranked in Google are more visible and accessible to more people. They are also more authoritative and attractive, SEO-wise. And that makes it more likely that an owner of another website will link to that piece of content. 

Why do you want that? Because this means that each link pointing to the guest post you wrote gives you an indirect benefit. The “link juice” trickles down into the links pointing to your website that you included in your guest post.

And what’s the best, most juicy “link juice,” you ask?

Here’s how Matt Diggity put it:

“If I’m trying to rank number one for best protein powder, what do you think is a better link?
A) A link from, powerful website, super relevant?
B) How about New York Times? One of the biggest seed sites on the Internet?
[Both answers] are wrong. The answer is, the best link is the guy in first place for “best protein powder.” Google already tells you this is the most powerful and relevant website for best protein powder, so these are the best links.”

And you can only turn the heads of such big players if your content is among the big players as well. Guest posting can help you get there.

If this sounds complicated right now, let me assure you: it’s not.

Let’s make an example of this post that you’re reading right now. 

This post on my website is about the best online course platforms that people can use to sell courses. 

Now, if this blog post you’re reading right now gets shared on social and gets linked to from other websites, my post explaining the best online course platforms will get some link juice due to the trickle-down effect. 

Every time you write a guest post, it’s a golden opportunity to get some trickle-down link juice that will help build your blog’s authority.

That’s why it’s important to write excellent, well-researched content. Your guest post will stand out and not only impress the editor, but increase the chances of other people sharing the content.  

Plus, let’s be honest here, securing guest posts in and of itself is a pretty difficult process.  Oftentimes, you have to pull data from different sources, and then you need to find a way to pitch each potential guest post opportunity properly.

Isn’t it worth it to create great content once you finally get the chance?

How I used to guest post

When I first started guest posting, I didn't put a lot of effort into the process. I would simply review the top three guest posts on the website I wanted to post on and then make sure that I had a similar word count and covered the topic from all directions. 

I wouldn’t say the content was “bad,” but I can confidently say I could do better. 

This was already more than many guest bloggers do. But it still wasn't enough to ensure that my posts stood out enough to achieve the rankings necessary to drive high levels of traffic to my website. 

I needed to do more. Which is why I began to search for a more effective way to optimize my guest posts. 

And that's when I found Surfer.

How I found Surfer and changed my approach to guest posting

As you know, optimizing your on-page SEO depends on several factors: 

  • Keywords. You need to choose the right keywords that match search intent. You also need to optimize the location and frequency of the keywords in your content.
  • Links. Your content should have lots of internal links, as well as links to authoritative websites.
  • Images: You must have at least one image with an image alt tag that matches your primary keyword.
  • Word count: There’s a direct correlation between blog post length and a post’s position in the SERPs (search engine results pages). While longer-form content seems to perform the best most of the time, it all depends on your chosen keyword.
  • Snackable content: Content that is scannable and easy to consume (such as list posts) is good for the SERPs and boosts your audience retention and engagement levels. 

Surfer takes all of these factors into consideration. 

Within my first few months of using Surfer, I recorded a significant rise in positions of my guest posts.

I feel that as an SEO tool, Surfer figured out what’s needed to help people, which I can’t say for all other platforms out there. 

I was able to scale on-page optimization and get accurate, data-driven advice easily.

Surfer changed everything for me on my site but also changed how I guest post now. It eliminates human error and helps you make decisions based on accurate data sets instead of doing everything manually with a little bit of guessing, which is what I used to do. 

Consider this: search engines never define value or judge without data, and Surfer breaks everything down and reverse-engineers the top 50 search engine results to provide you with a simple, easy-to-follow recipe to achieve higher rankings. 

In my opinion, there are two key features that make Surfer really worth it:

  • Content Editor that helps me create fast data-driven guidelines for myself and my writers;
  • SERP Analyzer that provides a breakdown of the highest-ranking pages for any keyword.

How I guest post now: Surfer use cases

I could just describe my guest-posting process… But I think it’s better to use examples. Let me show you how I use Surfer to elevate my guest posting with three different use cases.

Use case #1: Creating high-quality content briefs from scratch

One of the best ways to use Surfer is to create a new page for any target keyword using Content Editor. This is absolutely crucial with guest posts. 

Content Editor shows how to make a comprehensive brief that outlines the requirements, making it easy for any staff writer to understand. The guidelines include all the necessary post components, like topics, keywords, word count, and so on.

Content Score customization panel

If you’re wondering why this is at all necessary for guest posting, the answer is simple: 

When done the traditional way, creating a good brief is a lot of work. But Surfer takes away all the hard work out of manually researching your competitors, extracting basic data about keywords, following current SEO best practices, and so on.

And since I want to guest post quite a lot, as you should too, Surfer saves me TONS of time.

Plus, an SEO-optimized text is a win-win situation, both for me and the sites hosting my posts, so the editors usually apprieciate content that's top-notch from the start.

Use Case #2: Optimizing content that already exists

Another use case for this tool is to optimize existing content. If there are any pages on your site that aren't performing well, the Audit tool is exactly what you need to help you boost their rankings. I use this on my site quite a bit and have seen a lot of success. 

Surfer Audit analyzes all the top pages in the SERPs and creates a list of the things you can do to make your content better than those pages in a report form.

This includes everything from word count to content structure, keywords, page speed insights, and even "content gap," which describes any phrases, words, or topics that your competitors have included in their content but aren't found in yours.

The image below is an example of the intuitive dashboard showing a comparison between the page speed of the top sites:

Surfer Audit time to first byte data

Why does it matter to guest posting, you ask? Two things:

  • While I obviously can't fix my work once it has been published on someone else's site... But it helps me learn from my mistakes and pitch even greater content in the future.
  • I can optimize my own site and its content, so that when it gets link juice from guest posts, I know it has ALL the might to rank high, with no on-page factors slowing it down.

Use Case #3: Finding important ranking signals

Surfer can also help you determine which ranking signals matter in your niche and which ones don't. 

The Audit feature described above gives you simple and actionable steps to improve your content and get higher rankings. 

However, the SERP Analyzer gives you deeper insights into over 500 ranking signals. 

An example of such a correlation would be “word count” vs. “ranking,” as in the image below:

data on the correlation between word count and position in search results in Surfer SERP Analyzer

This data helps me find out what matters for content in my niche. If I was to write a guest post about keyword cannibalization, I'd make sure to make it LONG, because length clearly matters for top search results.

Surfer in action: Getting #2 spot in SERP two days after publication

And that's how I use Surfer to produce better, more valuable guest blogging content.  

From my experience, I can say that guest posts optimized with Surfer perform better. 

Don’t believe me? 

Take a look at the example below.

This article, “Public Relations Advice for Startups” reached the number two spot the day after publishing it on MuckRack.  

Two days… and all the data to achieve this result handed to me on a single platter by Surfer. No tiresome SEO-oriented research.


The bottom line is, there’s a lot that you can do with Surfer, much of which is beyond the scope of this article. 

With Surfer taking care of SEO for you, you can devote all your energy to creating killer content. And if you make it just right, you will be able to get the full benefits of trickle-down “link juice."

If you follow my advice, you’re much more likely to make money blogging, and that’s definitely the goal, isn’t it?

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