Episode #024: Rebecca Reynoso, Guest Post Program Manager at G2
There's only so much content a team can produce. So how can you drive more organic traffic through content with limited resources? Enter: guest blogging.
In this episode, we chat with Rebecca Reynoso, Guest Post Program Manager at G2. She has more than five years of content marketing experience. She’s driven a steady track of 550,000 website sessions with 80 percent of traffic from organic.
We’re talking about the value of a guest blog program, how to get writers to participate in your guest blog program, the importance of consistency in content marketing efforts, the best times to publish your content, and so much more.
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Stephanie Cox: Welcome to Real Marketers, where we hear from marketers who move fast, ask forgiveness, not permission, obsess about driving results, and are filled to the brim with crazy ideas and the guts to implement them. This is not a fireside chat and there's absolutely no bullshit allowed here. I'm your host, Stephanie Cox. I have more than 15 years of marketing experience and I've pretty much done about everything in my career. I believe speed is better than perfection, I use the Oxford comma, I love Coca- Cola, have exceptionally high standards and surround myself with people who get shit done. On this show, my guests and I will push boundaries and share the real truths about marketing, and empower you to become a real marketer. Content marketing, we all know how important it is, and we know one of the limiting factors is how many people you have on your team. There's only so much content a small team can produce, and even a large team. An individual can only write so much content each week. So what do you do when you want to drive more organic traffic through content and you're a team with limited resources? That's where this idea of a guest blog program comes in, and today's guest has driven remarkable results with what they've done with guest blogging. In fact, they've actually had months where they've had over 90 guest blogs posted in a single month. That's 90 blog posts that weren't created by anyone on their team. So we're going to talk all about how she did it. So in this episode, we're chatting with Rebecca Reynoso, guest post program manager at G2. She has more than five years of content marketing experience and has driven a steady track of over a half million website sessions, with 80% of that coming from organic. We're talking about the value of the guest blog program, how to get writers to actually participate in it, the importance of consistency in your marketing efforts with content, the best times to publish your content, and so much more. So first question, tell me something about yourself that few people know.
Rebecca Reynoso: So this is always a fun one for me. So something that few people know, unless they know me personally or have known me growing up, is that I am half- Mexican. Visually, I don't give off any... I have dark hair, dark eyes. But yeah, my dad is from Mexico, born and raised there, and I'm half- Mexican. I am not fluent in Spanish, but I can read, and when I hear it spoken, I can understand a lot. But when it comes to talking, I just kind of freeze up, so yeah.
Stephanie Cox: Perfect. I will tell you, quasi good at Spanish. I took Spanish for a long time, but it's been a few years now since I've really used it, and so what I find myself is, when I have to think about it, it's a little bit rusty, but if you give me like two glasses of wine, I just, a totally different scenario.
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah, definitely can have some confidence there.
Stephanie Cox: Exactly. You just don't think about it as much. But what we're here to talk about today is really all the things that you've been able to do at G2. I'm really excited to talk about the guest post program that you created and were able to grow tremendously. So can you talk to me a little bit about why guest posting, you felt like is a good idea for businesses to consider as part of their content marketing strategy?
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah, definitely. So our guest post program has gone through a couple of iterations. With full disclosure, I didn't create it, but I did spearhead what it is today, and I can definitely talk about that in a little bit more detail. But it's really great for content marketing teams, whether it's a small or a larger content marketing team, because it gives you the ability to have more content created that isn't basically weighing on the shoulders of your in- house content team. There are some content teams that are really small, might just be one or two writers, and they might not be able to produce as much content that a larger team would be able to do. So using guest posting as a way to get more content produced is definitely something valuable for... Basically you're going to be able to get more content produced under whatever guidelines and standards that you're using from a larger group of people that aren't your in- house content team.
Stephanie Cox: So when you think about starting a program like this, or maybe taking over the reins, how do you really find people to write content for you? Because I think we've all probably been in a situation where I get emails I swear every single day, that's like," I'd like to write a post for you," by someone that I've never heard of that is clearly sending the same email to probably like 100 people at three o'clock in the morning. So how do you create a program that people actually want to submit content to, and you're getting the quality of content that you want for your site and your brand?
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah, that's a good question. So earlier on, back when we were still sourcing more people, still growing it, I would say early to mid 2019, something that I would do personally is I would post to my LinkedIn recruiting people saying like," Hey, if you're interested in writing, reach out," blah blah blah blah blah. And after maybe like two or three months of semi- regular posting encouraging people if they were an expert in their field to reach out and stuff, everything blew up. And that's when we created the landing page for our guidelines, which on that page basically lays out every small to large requirement that we have. So, the content that we accept, word counts, any type of G2 specific things that we require. And for that, we're able to be discerning about who actually writes for us in the sense that I still get those pitches all the time where you can tell it's a canned email. They just swap out the website name. Like," Hey, I want to write for, insert website name here." But the ones that actually take the time to read our guidelines, which are super easily accessible on our learning hub blog page, they take the time and they send a really well- crafted email with all of the things on that landing page, it literally tells you like," Hey, I need these five things from you in your pitch. Send that over." And that's how I know that somebody is really serious about writing for us and not just somebody, whether it's somebody who has too much time on their hands or somebody whose intentions aren't quite honest or" pure", I guess you'd say, trying to get some links for some weird website. Like I've gotten a lot of pitches for casino websites and gambling websites. So yeah, when somebody actually reads through the guidelines and adheres to the couple of small things that we ask for them when they're submitting a pitch, I think that's how we're able to get such quality writers for the blog.
Stephanie Cox: So now that you've been through the process of getting this all set up and out and running and getting the quality writers that you want, what are a couple of things that you wish you would have known at the beginning of the process, or as you were working to really scale this initiative? What's some things that only the going through it part can teach you that maybe you can share for our audience?
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah. So, earlier on in 2019, I was more just pulled on to the, you edit and get them ready for publishing part, rather than all of the communication and coordination and stuff that I do now. But at that point, our metrics were a lot different. We had different content management and with previous content management, the idea or goal was publish as many guest posts as possible. So it was all a quantity game. We had an intern who helped with some of the editing. I'd say maybe about like 20, 30% of the editing, that by October 2019, we ended up publishing 98 guest posts that month, which if you think about-
Stephanie Cox: It's crazy.
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you just think about a regular in- house content team, unless you're some gigantic enterprise company with multiple content teams or something like that, that's nuts, especially for a start- up sized company. And that was just guest posts alone. So we were shooting for the wrong thing basically. It was all a volume game rather than a quality game, and it didn't pan out well. Granted, I wasn't able to make those higher level decisions at that time, but it just didn't work out well. We had a lot of low quality writing that at this point, especially if they were low quality articles with high volume keywords, some of those things are up to be rewritten now because it's been more than 12 months. But at the time we just ate up really valuable keywords that could have been saved for somebody who had more expertise, better quality writers, instead of just," Yeah, we'll give it to you because you're able to produce a piece of content really quickly."
Stephanie Cox: So thinking about how you coordinate all this communication, do you do any... I mean, obviously there's the stuff that comes in, but do you guys also reach out to people that you'd like to see write as well, or has it been more relying on people just to come into the process?
Rebecca Reynoso: So we have... and this isn't an initiative I undertake. We actually have a link building manager who, he coordinates, we have a couple of in- house writers who their only job is to write external guest posts and they coordinate relationships with companies. So where they might be able to source a guest post for G2 to write for another company. Typically it's half and half. Sometimes they'll just write a one- off guest post and that's the end of it. And other times the company they're communicating with is interested in writing for us as well. At that point, my colleagues will get me involved with the process and be like," Hey, we've sourced this guest post," or this guest poster rather," who wants to write for G2," but in terms of am I sending emails to people asking them to write for us? No. Even with everything scaled back, even with the extremely high standards, we have such high volume of people reaching out wanting to write for us that there is absolutely no need and no time really to reach out to people. And if I'm thinking about it, just from a personal perspective, there's nobody on my radar where it's like, I need this person to write for us because I've had so many wonderful, super, highly skilled people just reach out on their own that it's not like we're starving for any one big name person to write for G2.
Stephanie Cox: So when you're thinking about the impact this program has had, can you talk to me a little bit about, so what are some of the numbers that you've seen of what type of volume of traffic this effort and just your content effort in general drive for the website and the impact that has on the business?
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah. So it fluctuates month to month, but over the course of the last 12 months, I actually just pulled these numbers the other day, we see 550, 000 sessions just from guest posts alone in a calendar year, which is really exciting for me. I know a lot of blogs, especially smaller blogs and stuff, might hit 102, 000 sessions for their entire blog in a year, but guest posts alone. So if you take that away, you're losing over 500,000 sessions per year. And it ranges from anywhere from like 40 to 60,000 sessions a month. You have to consider, the guest post program hasn't even been a thing for two full years yet. It's coming up to two years in March. That's not even two years down the line. And over the last calendar year, that's been the traffic flow and it's pretty solid. We can consistently expect, like I said, in the range of 40 to 60,000 monthly sessions from guest traffic alone.
Stephanie Cox: One of things I thought was interesting, you just mentioned that the program hasn't been live for two years. And I think one of the things a lot of times that people forget about content, especially related to SEO, is that it takes a while. It takes months after you write a piece of content to really start to see good repeatable traffic from that. So was there ever a time where you're investing so much time and resources into a program like this and you've had that like, oh crap, is this going to work moment? How did you know it was going to work?
Rebecca Reynoso: So we have had a lot of fluctuations even within the last calendar year that I would say... I'm trying to think back. A couple of months ago, I think it was maybe August of 2020, by the end or the middle of August, I was really worried because the traffic numbers weren't what I was expecting them to be. They were about 15, 000 less for the month at the time, that I was anticipating. And I talked to our data analytics gal, and she talked me through the projection process and everything like that. And we projected forward the next 12 months. She was just like," Let's just monitor it and see if there are any changes." Turns out that two more weeks pass and then we were on track again. So I think it just depends, like you said, traffic's going to fluctuate. It takes a couple of months, depending on the topic that you're writing about, the content that you're publishing and when you're publishing it in the year as well, for it to rank necessarily. And the method that we use for our guest posts, we aren't shooting for those super high volume, super high traffic searches. Keywords. We have a standard of that. The volume for the keywords for guest posts are 1000 or less per month. Reason being, we want those really high volume keywords to stay with our in- house writers. So, when you have something where, 1000 is pretty solid, but if you have something that's maybe 300 monthly search volume, it's not going to necessarily spike your traffic. It's something that could take some time, and that definitely happened with us in the end of last summer, and it was definitely a worrisome moment like," Oh, okay, these numbers are off." And then just wait a little bit and the numbers are going to change.
Stephanie Cox: So I think that's a really interesting point of how you think about segmenting based on search volume, what your in- house team does versus what you have the guest post team do. What if someone comes in and wants to write something that has more than 1000 in search volume, how do you handle those types of situations?
Rebecca Reynoso: So, it depends what the topic is, because sometimes we will have really niche category needs that our in- house writers aren't writing on. All of the writers that we have at G2 focus on a specific topic area. And under that topic area, they have different keywords that they're assigned to write per month. So, we have an HR persona and a marketing persona. So those types of topics we'll stick with our writers, but say somebody comes in and pitches something that's pretty high volume within marketing. That's something that I and the other content leaders discuss to see, hey, is our in- house writer going to be crafting something on this topic? If it's a yes, I find a new keyword for our guest writer to write on something that's parallel to whatever they pitched originally. And if it's a no, then it's free for them to use. So basically it's just a lot of confirming with our in- house writers, that team, their managers, to make sure that this isn't something we want them to write, or it's something that we feel comfortable letting a guest poster write instead.
Stephanie Cox: I know one of the things that you mentioned earlier was having almost 100 pieces of guests content created every single month, as an example. How do you get through, I know you mentioned you had an intern, but how do you get through editing those and how do you really balance editing for right grammar, clarity, but then also editing for quality? Because I mean, you could probably spend hours on a single guest post making it better every time. So how do you really try and balance that situation?
Rebecca Reynoso: Yeah. So obviously we don't have that kind of volume anymore. What I publish in a month is anywhere from 15 to 25 pieces of content. So, on average 20 a month, which would be five per week, which is really doable, especially with all the other things. I edit our in- house content as well, but the in- house content and the guest content have different standards and tone of voice and stuff like that. So there's, I guess, different amount of editing that needs to be done for G2 writers versus non G2 writers. And I would say for the most part, the quality that comes through is pretty high, that it's not something that I have to sit on, like to change to make sure that the language is correct, to make sure that the grammar is right. Obviously there are those discrepancies here and there, but I'd say for the most part the people that are coming through have a pretty high grasp of what SEO is, how to write in English, whether or not they're a native speaker and where there are more minor changes that I need to make in the overall text, fixing for punctuation, sometimes spelling, sometimes grammar. A lot of it is formatting based, I would say. Everybody has their own way that they approach writing a piece of SEO content. I'd be happy to show you some time, but in our outline brief that I've created, I have pretty straightforward explanations of the tone of voice that we use, the formatting that we use, the structure. And sometimes people read through it, send me over something that looks like one of our writers wrote it. Other times, it won't be. One small specific thing that we do at G2 is that all of our headers in our content are sentence case, not title case. And that's definitely a preference based choice that some places are definitely going to use title case for all of their headers. And that's a minor change, but that's a formatting thing. So I'd say we've been really fortunate that with these high standards and these really strict guidelines that the people coming through already have that knowledge of how to write content and what SEO is and how to produce something that looks like it should live on a B2B marketing blog.
Stephanie Cox: So overall, when you just think about content strategy, what are some of the things that you think are so important that marketers overlook when they're starting to plan out what their content should look like for, let's say the next quarter?
Rebecca Reynoso: I would say consistency and regularity of posting is one of the things that people overlook a lot. I've noticed with smaller blogs especially, they might post maybe one to two pieces of content a month and then let it sit and figure that's sufficient. And maybe one of those two pieces of content are something company specific, maybe a promotional for a launch of a product or something like that, but not having any regular consistent publishing. Even if you have a small team, once a week publishing something, maybe you could only afford to write a short form blog, something sub 1000 words, that's fine, but you need to have some kind of regularity in the frequency that you're publishing that it's not like, hey, I have this one piece of content and it needs to go live at some point, but I don't have any set timeline or deadline for myself for when the content needs to go live. I think making sure that you have a plan. I'm a big planner anyway, so I guess this whole industry and managing an editorial calendar is up my alley anyway, because I'm a big planner. I like to make sure things are planned well in advance. And you need to do that. It can't be January and you're trying to figure out what to publish for January. You would have needed to figure that out back in November. When I have people reaching out wanting to publish for us, I always schedule their content rather like a month out. So people that are reaching out now, I would say it's between mid to end January at the time that we're chatting, that I'm not scheduling anything to be published on our site until mid to late February. So it's not something that I'm going to let sit in the queue and publish it in June, like, oh, let me get around to it. But it's also not something I'm going to turn around next week either. So basically just having a consistent schedule, planning things out in advance and making sure that you publish, I would say the best frequency even for a small team is once per week at minimum.
Stephanie Cox: Do you think about consistency in terms of the day of the week or just once a week and more frequency and consistency in terms of a weekly thing versus if you're going to do it, do it on Mondays and always do it on Mondays. Anything around time of the week?
Rebecca Reynoso: I used to feel more strongly about this than I do now. And reason being, sometimes I will publish all of the week's content on a Thursday or a Friday. And previously I used to be really against that. And the reason I changed is because I realized that even if I'm publishing something on a Friday, you might have some people on the weekend take a look at it. And when you come back on Monday, you're going to promote it on your social media. So you already have... It's not the end of the world if you publish something on a Friday. You just promote it at the beginning of the next week. I would say day of the week doesn't really matter, but if you want eyes on it during that same week, I'd say publish it no later than Wednesday. Sometimes Thursdays are the new Friday and Fridays are a hit or miss. So your best bet is a Monday through Wednesday if you really want eyes on it in the same calendar week. If you don't care about that, publish whenever and just promote at the beginning of the following week.
Stephanie Cox: Hopefully this episode has gotten you fired up about the idea of creating a guest blog program, because I know that's exactly what happened to me after I talked to Rebecca. All I thought of was, why isn't everyone doing this? So I think that's my challenge to you right now is think about whether or not a guest blog program could work for your business. And if so, put in the effort to get one started. What's the worst thing that can happen? You launch it out into the world and only a few people respond and the content's subpar. What have you really lost? Absolutely nothing. But you have a ton to gain. You've been listening to Real Marketers. If you love what you've heard, make sure to subscribe, rate and review our podcast. And don't forget to tell a friend. All of this marketing goodness shouldn't be kept a secret.