Most marketers know that writing guest posts is a great way to build personal brand equity by sharing practical, data-backed expertise that helps the whole industry move forward. However, in terms of return on investment, most guest articles do not bring huge amounts of referral traffic or grow your email list significantly.

So, how can you optimize your content to get the most traffic and collect the most emails?

In this article you will learn two techniques:

  1. The Content Upgrade (coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko)
  2. The Expanded Guest Post (coined by Bryan Harris of Videofruit)

It’s a clever combination of advanced content marketing techniques that will help you get more out of each guest post opportunity.

What Is A Content Upgrade?

A content upgrade is when you create a specific resource to give away at the end of an article instead of using a generic opt in for email subscription (e.g. your usual newsletter sign up box).

We know the importance of building an email list, but what many do not realize is that most people do not want to sign up for ‘updates’. rather, they want to know precisely what they’ll be getting in return for giving you permission to market to them.

Eli Overbey recently published a guest post on Noah Kagan’s The article detailed his experience auditing Kissmetrics’ SEO strategy.

At the top of the article he let users know that a bonus resource could be found at the end of the post that would provide a downloadable 24-point list to perform their own SEO audit, just as he had done for Kissmetrics:

Content Upgrade

At the bottom of the post rests a visually appealing graphical call to action (CTA):

Content Upgrade CTA

When you click on the image, this popup appears:

Content Upgrade Popup

Note the article-specific email opt in for the bonus resource, not a generic one that won’t convert. The value proposition is reiterated on the pop-up, instead of asking to subscribe to email updates from his blog.

The reader has spent 15 minutes reading about the value of SEO audits. At the end of the article, the reader is given the choice to download an actionable resource that immediately lets them put their new knowledge into practice.

This is the value shift: People want the content upgrade, not your newsletter.

What Is an Expanded Guest Post?

Most of the high authority media outlets you’d like to write guest posts for will not let you build a form or install a pop up as seen in the previous example. So, the best option is to link back to a gated landing page on your own website that requires an email submission to access the content.

The are three reasons why this is actually a better option than the popup.

  1. The reader learns your domain name, sees your logo and you build brand equity.
  2. Once the visitor submits their email address, you can redirect them to a bespoke thank you page where you remind them to check their inbox for the ‘Please confirm your email address’ email you just sent them. This will effectively improve the quality of your email nurturing list.
  3. You can split test and segment your traffic from different referral sources to further optimize and increase your email capture from just one guest post. Now we are getting smart!

How To Create Your Landing Page

Landing pages can be tricky to design and landing page optimization is even harder. There are a number of key things to remember when creating your landing page.

  • Message match – Make sure the wording you use in your call to action at the end of the guest post matches the title and bullet points on your landing page.
  • No bait and switch – Give people what you promised them. Do not change the resource or send traffic to a generic landing page. Respect your readers and their time.
  • Bonus: add in a surprise – People like surprises and they like to be treated. So adding in something extra you didn’t mention in your CTA can really create value for the reader.
  • Remove navigation – Remove your core navigation from the landing page so users have fewer options to click.

Example Landing Page

Here is a call to action template and landing page wireframe for your next guest post landing page.

CTA Template:

In this article we discussed (X) ways you can (subject of article). At (name of your agency or brand) we use 10 primary strategies to (value/outcome of the strategy).

If you’d like to learn step by step how to implement all 10 primary strategies, click the link below to access the bonus guide.

[graphic CTA]

Landing page wireframe

Expanded Guest Post Landing Page Wirefram

Landing page design example

Expanded Guest Post Landing PageNotice that we removed the navigation, added social proof (testimonials) showing how useful the content is and included a supporting image. We also carried the message from the call to action over to the landing page title, subtitle and button.


Writing guest posts takes time and money. Make sure you are maximizing the return on investment from your opportunities by employing the Content Upgrade and Expanded Guest Post techniques.

Here is the strategy in bullet points:

  1. Secure a guest post opportunity using email outreach.
  2. Create high-quality content that wows readers.
  3. Offer a free resource that’s unique to the article and digs deeper into, or supplements, the points already discussed.
  4. Direct the call to action link to a landing page on your website and add some bonus material to further delight your reader.
  5. Remind readers to check their inbox for the confirmation email once they sign up by redirecting them to a thank you page.
  6. Don’t forget that customer service begins after the transaction; treat your new email lead by occasionally sending them offers for more great content and useful free resources.


Our publication contributors combine decades of experience with unique insights into the content promotion and distribution industry.

Chad Pollitts Co-Founder Relevance
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Brianne Carlon Rushs Content Director Kuno Creative
Arnie Kuenns CEO Vertical Measures
Pam Didners Global Content Marketing Strategist & Author
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Chirag Ahujas Head of Marketing WorkflowMax
Erik Deckerss Professional Writer Pro Blog Service
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Bernie Borgess CEO Find and Convert
Michael Ferraris Online Marketing Consultant Pen Cap Online Marketing
Larry Altons Freelance Writer and Editor
David Tiles Founder & Director Nimble Media
Dan Steiners Co-Founder & CEO Elite Legal Marketing
Jonah Blisss Founder CMO ContentIntent
Andrea Lehrs Promotions Supervisor Fractl
Fernando Labastidas Co-Founder Content Propulsion
Dan Moyles Creative Dir. Marketing AmeriFirst
Dennis Yus Chief Technology Officer BlitzMetrics
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