SEO

Are you using guest blogging as part of your SEO strategy? Take a moment because there are some things you should know.

Despite some powerful messages from Google over the past few years, guest blogging is still a popular link building technique and has been proven to get results. The question that we’re ultimately looking to answer, is whether guest blogging is still good for SEO.

For those unfamiliar with guest blogging, here’s some background. Way back in 2014 Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of web spam, made a bold announcement claiming that guest blogging is done. This was followed by a warning issued by Google in 2017 about abusing guest blogging to build links.

Matt Cutts on Guest Blogging in 2014

 

Google's warning on guest posts for link building

What Is Guest Blogging?

Briefly, guest blogging means publishing content on other websites. It’s a common practice in digital marketing and it can work very well as a tool for SEO because (on occasion) you can include a link back to your website. In turn, this can have a positive influence on your search engine rankings.

What’s Wrong with Guest Blogging?

Within Google’s guidelines, there’s nothing wrong with guest blogging. According to HubSpot, 53% of marketers say blog creation is their top inbound marketing priority. So it would take a pretty blunt announcement from Google before we can safely say guest blogging is a no-go.

The issues stem from bad practice and misuse. Because of the potential SEO benefit of guest blogs, people have overly used the technique. This means that Google has voiced their concerns to the community on more than one occasion to make it clear on what they consider to be good practice.

In his statement back in 2014, Matt Cutts said that guest blogging had become “overused by a bunch of low-quality, spammy sites”. He clearly criticised guest posts that are written purely for quick links to manipulate Google’s algorithm to drive rankings, rather than for writing for people and adding value.

Meanwhile, Google’s warning in 2017 didn’t suggest stopping writing guest posts altogether. You can benefit significantly from publishing high-quality content that reaches out to readers, not just search engines. It’s imperative to follow Google’s webmaster guidelines on link schemes and not abuse the system.

How to Ethically Approach Guest Blogging

The most important thing to remember when creating content for other sites is that you are doing it for more than a link. You are aiming to educate and add value to your target audience. That should be the primary objective of guest blogging. A link back and any clicks from the blog to your site should be secondary. Taking this approach will help keep you in the realms of ethical practice and within Google’s guidelines. I mean, why would you want to contribute a quality guest blog to a terrible site that doesn’t receive any traffic?

Here are a few tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow with guest blogging.

1. Only Write for Trustworthy and Relevant Sites

On the surface, look for sites that are easy to use, with lots of well-written content already on them. It’s also important to look under the hood before submitting a guest post: think traffic, links, and visibility.

Use SEMrush to see a good estimate of how much traffic a guest blogging website receives. Good websites get lots of traffic. While you’re there, look at the backlink profile. Moz’s Domain Authority metric can be deceiving, so don’t solely rely on it to determine whether the guest posting site website is quality. So, check out the backlink profile using Ahrefs or Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Finally, is the guest blogging website visible in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages)? Use search operator site:domain.com in Google to find out for yourself. If Google hasn’t indexed the website, there’s a reason for that; so avoid them.

In addition to the above, make sure that the sites you write for focus on a similar topic or industry to yours. This will ensure relevance and means that you’re also reaching the right audience with your content.

So, where can you find quality guest blogging opportunities? The first point of call is your page one competitors. Use backlink auditor tools such as Ahrefs to identify links from guest blogs that have contributed to helping them climb to page one of Google. From there, use Google search operators such as keyword “contribute” and use Buzzstream’s prospecting tool to scan for opportunities.

Take the time to look at this definitive guide to guest blogging from Backlinko!

2. Only Write for Sites Where Content Is Curated

This could fall under the point above, but it’s important enough to warrant its own. Much like adding listings to online directories, make sure that humans moderate guest blog content. If websites allow you to upload content with no questions asked, that’s a big red flag. Only write for websites where you know content is carefully reviewed before publication, to ensure it’s quality. Look out for clearly displayed contact details too, as this is a good indication that the business is legitimate.

3. Don’t Abuse Anchor Text

Avoid using exact match keywords as your anchor text for every link you get from guest posts. While anchor text still has a direct influence on rankings, it’s important to maintain a natural and varied anchor text profile from external links.

For example, if you’ve relied on guest blogging too much and this has resulted in a high proportion of exact match anchor text such as “paint suppliers”, you could be in trouble. Use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush to get a handle on your anchor text profile and maintain a balanced anchor text ratio of a combination of branded and commercial.

4. Don’t Keyword Stuff and Keep Your Audience in Mind

Write for people, not search engine bots! Set out to provide truly useful information to readers. This also means Google won’t see your content as unnatural and written specifically to dodge their guidelines.

5. Don’t Mass Produce, and Repurpose Content with Caution

Google’s warning in 2017 specifically targeted large-scale article campaigns. This ties in with a spammy tactic called article spinning. This process involves tweaking and editing parts of a post in an effort to have it published on multiple sites. While repurposing content you have written previously for a different audience is fine, it’s not to take that piece of content and rewrite it over, and over again. It’s safer and likely to get you sustainable results if you write original guest blog content that adds value to your target audience.

6. Use Guest Blogging as One Piece of Your Link Building Strategy

an image to show the importance of local link buildingGoogle looks at the quality of links you have pointing to your site as an indicator of trust. Your link profile could end up looking unnatural in the eyes of Google if all your links are from guest blogs. So, be sure to take a diverse approach to building links. There are countless link building techniques you can take up, in addition to guest blogging and editorial, including:

    • Earn your links with rich content pieces such as infographics, interactive tools, guides, eBooks, whitepapers, quizzes, calendars
    • Link reclamation through native and competitor broken links, and brand mentions
    • Research your competitors: where have they obtained quality links?
    • Sponsor local sports teams
    • Run a competition
    • Suppliers and partners
    • Offer discounts and offers
    • Contribute to charities
    • Attend events
    • High-quality online directories: both national and industry-specific

Broaden your horizons and don’t let guest blogging become the beginning and the end of your link building activity.

So, Is Guest Blogging Still Good for SEO?

In short, the answer is yes. Guest blogging within Google’s guidelines is still good for SEO. Publishing useful content on high quality, relevant websites can benefit your search engine rankings greatly, and ultimately bring more traffic to your site.

But like any other SEO tactic; it can be abused, and it will go very wrong for you if your tactics fall outside of Google’s webmaster guidelines. The best piece of advice you can take from this, is don’t rely on guest blogging to build links. Certainly don’t link back a single poor quality guest blog to you on a large scale either. This is what ultimately triggered Google’s warning in 2017 and it won’t be their last.

What are your thoughts on guest blogging for SEO? Does it have a future? We’d love to hear from you.

14 responses to “Guest Blogging: Is It Still Good for SEO and Link Building?”

  1. Darren McCowan says:

    Great article Jannike. Your readers may well be asking “Where should I look for guest blogging opportunities” – Well, they could start here: http://raventools.com/blog/9-gold-mines-guest-blogging-opportunities/

  2. Pete Austin says:

    Birds of A Feather Flock Together

    So guest blogging on good sites with good content (or allowing good guest posts) == you look good to Google.

    Guest blogging on spam sites with spam content (or allowing spam guest posts) == you look like a spammer to Google.

  3. Somya Rao says:

    Good one. It’s a good start up guide for newbies to blogging. those who have no prior experience. very detailed and easy to follow along.

  4. kamal says:

    Thanks for sharing useful information…..

  5. I’d say if you’re posting quality content on reputable websites with a relevant audience then guest posting still has a lot of value even beyond the direct seo benefits. It’s also an opportunity to show that you’re an authority to a new audience. I’m glad Google is trying to curb spam ( although they can always do a better job ) but guest posts still have a place.

  6. vipul says:

    very good article sir..

    thanks for sharing

  7. Jamie says:

    Hi Tom, great article.

    I think it’s hard to argue against the power a guest posting, I’ve seen people ranking from everything from payday loans to weight loss, purely on guest posts. This is obviously why Google fires out a warning shot every now and then.

    https://www.SearchEngineJournal.com/google-issues-warning-guest-posting-build-links/200038/

    However as long as links equal ranking I can’t see how this technique will ever stop working.

    I mean places like BigGuestPosting.com have a 50k website database accepting guests posts, if this isn’t a sign of how popular and undiminishing this SEO technique is then I don’t know what is.

    People want to sell guest posts (links) and people want to buy guests posts (links).

    And it’s very easy to see why https://SearchEngineLand.com/8-major-google-ranking-signals-2017-278450

    One of the few constants in SEO for the last 10 years 😉

    But you know what they say…

    ”if you can’t beat them…join them as part of a diverse backlink profile”.

    Good up the good work,
    Jamie

  8. Hello Tom, indeed it is a great article to read. Guest bogging plays an important role in SEO. This blog is also helpful for the guest bloggers as well. It provides in-detail information about guest posting services.

  9. Hi Tom,
    Good article, just answered my doubt. I have a question about this topic. If I find any new blogs with less content and traffic, should i go about writing guest posts for them or find only high traffic ones. These days big blogs are not accepting guest posts. So what is the solution?

  10. Jamie says:

    As someone who owns what I believe to be the biggest index of guest posting websites on the web (50,000) I feel qualified to add a very quick comment here.

    You would not believe the amount of people trying to pass off PBN’s as real websites offering real guest posts. So much so I had to specifically add a domain history check into my application.

    It can be pretty dangerous out there people so do your homework, check the domain history and backlink profile and quality of content! 🙂

  11. Don’t see anything wrong with guest blogging as I have been doing that and it hasn’t given me problem but to be on the safe side you need to read and adapt some of the tips this blog has.

  12. Great article. Guest blogging is beneficial to both, I don’t see why Google would ever end this.

  13. Al Gomez says:

    Hi Tom,

    Guest blogging is still good for SEO but your goal still matters. If the purpose is just to leave links, it is definitely bad for link building campaign. I do agree that you must share informative and value-added content. It is also space where you can share your ideas and showcase your expertise. And it is nice that you have shared some tips on how to ethically approach guest blogging.

  14. Sapna Desai says:

    Great post. Thanks for providing a detailed article. It clearly eliminated all my doubts about guest blogging. On the other hand, I’ll try to implement your mentioned tips and see how well it works for me.

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