I can almost hear you thinking:
“Guest posting—again? For crying out loud, will you give it a rest? Isn’t it in the SEO grave already?”
In a nutshell: No, it isn’t.
But it depends on how you use it and what you expect from it.
Gone are the days when link builders generated tons of mediocre content with exact-match anchor texts all over the place.
After a few penalties, we’re all a lot smarter now.
Now, the aim is to build natural link profiles for websites.
And what can be more natural than a backlink from high-quality content published on a relevant and authoritative site?
But the more guest posts with backlinks you publish, the more you start to wonder:
There’s gotta be a catch somewhere about here.
And you’re right.
Something is rotten with the state of guest post link building today.
3 Reasons Why Now Is the Worst Time for Building Links with Guest Posts
1. Guest Posting Is Not About Link Building
Of course, you already know that you do guest blogging to build awareness, authority and trust. You need it to network with influencers and niche experts; to grow your reputation and make a spam-free image of your brand…
Blah blah blah.
You’ve heard it all before. Been there, done that.
That’s all well and good.
But as an SEO, you need links. More links. More high-quality, natural links. Relevant links giving lots of link juice. Links that’ll help your website top the SERPs.
Guest posting alone won’t help you here.
Today, when most websites with DA 70+ make guest post links no-follow, when top media outlets practice the tactic of #fakelinks on a regular basis, and when blog hosts refuse to publish content from no-names…
…You better have far more effective tactics than guest blogging up your sleeve if you want more search engine and referral traffic.
Unless you’re working on growing your personal brand. This is where guest posting as a strategy can really shine.
Cases in point:
- Jon Morrow (Smart Blogger): Managed to get 13,000 subscribers before his website had even been launched. What he did was write high-quality (it matters!) guest posts for relevant (it matters too!) publications with high traffic and active subscribers.
- Danny Iny (Mirasee): Wrote over 80 guests posts for top websites to go from zero to 23,000 monthly pageviews.
- Alex Turnbull (Groove): Reached more than 1 million people through guest blogging alone.
- Aaron Orendorff (IconiContent): Built a personal brand with guest blogging for the big dogs like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Business Insider and others.
- Leo Widrich (Buffer): Acquired 100,000 of Buffer’s first customers by publishing 150 guest posts in 9 months.
So what do we have here?
Guest blogging is for building your brand, credibility, email subscribers and social media followers, networking…
Everything but links, actually.
According to Stefan Debois, CEO of Survey Anyplace:
“Traditional guest blogging for link building is becoming less effective because Google is able to detect links to your domain in articles authored by you.
A better tactic is to link to a variety of sources and to realize that every outbound link is an opportunity to start a relationship with the author of the article you’re linking to.”
Yes, relationships. Again.
2. Guest Posting Doesn’t Bring Referral Traffic
At least, not as much as an SEO might expect.
Two years ago, Tim Soulo from Ahrefs asked 500+ bloggers (me included) about the ROI of their guest posts.
The results were disappointing.
Tim collected the traffic data behind 239 guest posts published on 78 blogs in the marketing niche, just to find out these 239 posts brought the average referral traffic of…
Just over 50 visits from 200+ guest articles?
Show me an SEO in their right mind who would spend time and budget on such a result.
Sure enough, the result of your guest blogging endeavors depends on many factors: the size of the website your post is published on, its traffic quality, your anchor text, the resource you want to backlink, etc.
Tim mentions these aspects in the article too and leaves open the possibility of getting more referral traffic from guest articles.
But there are many variables at play, with no guarantees that they’ll work like a charm.
First, you have to find relevant publications to reach out to about a guest post, then spend more time examining each one to better understand what content they need, what guidelines they have for guest contributors, and whom to reach out to with a pitch.
Then you have to craft personalized outreach emails, brainstorm creative article ideas they’d want to consider for publishing, research and outline before (finally!) writing that damned article with a backlink.
How long do you think that would take?
But wait, that’s not all.
Often, you then go on to send the completed guest post and wait for feedback just to find out that you need to revise it a bit “to fit our style better,” or that you need to wait (a week, a month, sometimes six months) for the editor to get around to checking your post and deciding if they want to publish it.
Or, they agree to publish your guest post but can’t backlink to your resource because “it doesn’t meet our policy, sorry for the inconvenience.”
Even once your guest post goes live, the blog host may still forget to include your link or suddenly decide to make it no-follow.
And if the link is okay, are there any guarantees that readers will click on it?
Let’s face it, who clicks all the links in an article they’re reading?
You see my point.
3. Guest Posting Is Not for Immediate Results
Guest blogging for nothing but links is not guest blogging.
More than that, this strategy is not for you if you’re looking for quick results from your SEO.
For others, ready to play the long game, here are a few tips on guest posting like a boss:
Pitch Relevant and High-Quality Sites
Quality over quantity is what matters for stellar guest posting.
- Say no to websites with DA <30: Backlinks from weak sites like this won’t hurt, but hardly give a significant SEO effect either.
- Take a closer look at websites with DA 31-70: If it’s relevant to your niche, spam-free, has good traffic and an active audience, pitch your guest post to them! Just remember that the higher the DA, the more challenging it’ll be to meet their editorial guidelines.
- Crave websites with DA 70+: These are the big names, the best ones in your niche. Backlinks from them will influence both SEO metrics and your ego.
Be Cool, Bring Value
Why do you think some cool websites have stopped accepting contributions?
Because they’re fed up with spammy guest post requests.
Others aren’t that black and white, but they’ve made it clear that to get published on their blog, you need to be a heavy hitter.
You have to understand their audience, tap into their goals and pains to stand out with your guest posting there.
According to Ben Johnson, Head of Content at Proof, you should:
“Think of guest posting not just about getting a post on a site for a link.
You should be thinking about how you can contribute to the best experience for the reader on the web.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Dig through their top content and look at the comments. Learn their obsessions, find out their desires and fears, and produce fantastic content that goes beyond the surface topics.
Link to Your Other Guest Posts
A headache of most SEOs practicing guest posting is that blog owners hate when you link to your own website.
- They’re afraid of Google penalties for linking to too many “bad” resources.
- They believe they’ll rank higher with fewer outbound links.
But at the same time, blog owners are typically ok with you linking to other websites that aren’t your own.
So, if you have live guest posts on other websites, why not link to them from other guest posts to make those links even stronger?
It’s all about the PageRank concept: The more links to a page, the stronger the links from that page become.
So, No More Guest Posts for the Sake of Links
Guest blogging for SEO isn’t bad. But guest blogging for nothing but SEO is.
Aggressive guest post link building has been buried with the tons of other outdated SEO tactics.
Today, guest blogging is about building the authority and trust of your website in the eyes of both search engines and people.
To make the most out of this instrument and improve your rankings:
- Post on relevant blogs only.
- Avoid keyword-rich anchor text, consider longtail and branded keywords too.
- Link to appropriate content.
It’s quite simple:
Provide value through your guest posts, and Google will love you.
Lesley Vos is a professional copywriter and guest contributor, currently blogging at Bid4Papers.com. Specializing in data research, web text writing and content promotion, she is in love with words, non-fiction literature and jazz. Feel free to check out her portfolio or follow her on Twitter @LesleyVos to say hi.