Is guest blogging dead or alive? SEO benefits, backlinks, Google PageRank and More!

Guest bloggingGuest blogging is one of the best investments you can make towards promoting your online business. But why invest time, money, and effort into coming up with quality content for another person’s blog if you can spend it on your own? The idea of guest blogging may seem counter-intuitive to the way many have been brought up, but it is not.

Guest blogging can create substantial direct Internet Traffic from backlinks.

Location! Location! Location! This concept is the easiest for everyone to understand. Getting more foot traffic can equal more customers and more customers can equal higher sales. Think of how the placement of a company in a busy mall can help sales. Hence the location of your business is critical when it comes to sales. In fact, when entrepreneurs locate a company in busy economic areas, they have a better chance to get sales.  Therefore placing a good blog post on a busy blog will get your company noticed.  And, if the post includes a link that sends quality traffic to your website that can be a huge bonus.

Links can give you PageRank. What is PageRank and why does it matter?

For those who are new to PageRank, it is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites. Google named PageRank after Larry Page, one of Google’s founders. PageRank is one way to measure the importance of website pages. Google counts the number and quality of links and citations to a page to determine the significance of a website. The assumption is that high-quality sites are likely to receive more links and excerpts from other websites.

Since Lawrence Page invented PageRank (PR) in 1998, millions have focused on getting it.  This obsession is especially real for publishers and retailers who have adopted the Internet as their sole method for getting sales. Therefore if your business depends on the Internet for sales, you had better pay attention to PageRank.

For this reason, link building has been the focus of SEO efforts. And guest blogging has been one of the more successful approaches to link building.

Getting backlinks from websites using guest blogging.

The basic idea of guest blogging is to enter into a mutually-beneficial agreement with another webmaster. You provide quality content in exchange for a link back to your website. This trade is the basic idea of guest blogging in a nutshell. However, it gets more complicated because not all links have the same value. Furthermore, Google has expressed disapproval with large-scale guest blogging strategies as you will see.

“Do follow” backlinks matter most.

Because it easy to create links, search engines came up with a way to stop people from manipulating search results. Google created a special “no follow” tag that needed to be part of the link when the link is a paid or non-editorial link. Google felt that only citation links or links that are part of the editorial content of a website matter for PageRank. Therefore the “no follow” tag told Google that the backlink had no authority and should not transfer PageRank.

Natural links pass PageRank.

Guest blogging links are typically not ordinary backlinks! We’re talking about a high-quality, “do follow” editorial backlink from an authority website. Bloggers can create backlinks that are an intricate part of the subject matter.   In fact, backlinks are best when they support sticking points, facts or logical reasoning in a helpful blog post. They should not be part of some unnatural link building scheme or link exchange.

The placement and intent of backlinks are essential.

Natural backlinks are typically part of the main content in the primary area of a blog post. They are not some sidebar or a footer link. As most  SEO experts will agree, backlinks placed somewhere towards the center of content are the best quality backlinks.  Furthermore thinks that are in the navigation or sidebar of a website are placed in the same position on every page of a website. The odds of it being an advertisement or a paid link or are high.

Websites with the most quality back-links have the most authority and pass the most PageRank value.

This SEO value of backlinks is especially helpful if the domain they’re coming from has a lot of authority with search engines. The total number and quality of links that point to that website make up its authority value. Websites transfer that power to other sites when they link to them.

Keyword anchor text sends both PageRank and meaning.

When webmasters place a link on a website, it usually includes a word in the description. Words like read more or click here are unhelpful. We are talking about the keywords that people search for to find your business. More often called a targeted keyword because we use them to describe or identify something. Therefore when webmasters or editors use keywords as the anchor, it tells search engines that the website to which you are linking is about that word.

Google has taken an active position against direct link exchange programs, and this can include Guest Blogging.

Guest blogging, if done correctly, can be one of the most effective SEO strategies. The wrong approach can lead to opposite results. In some cases, Google will even go so far as to take action against your website if it has reason to believe you are running a link building scheme. Therefore you need to be careful not to promote a link exchange as a benefit to guest blogging.

Google expressly prohibits large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.

Start by reading Google’s official position on guest blogging.  Does this mean that small-scale article marketing or guest post campaigns are ok? What about links without keyword-rich anchor text? At what scale do guest blog posts become a link scheme.  Google will not answer these questions because it will give too much information to spammers.   The take away here is that Google leaves open options for Guest blogging on a limited scale.  Therefore smart webmasters will want to take advantage of this opportunity.

Google’s algorithm can identify patterns of behavior that can make guest blogging qualify as a link building scheme.

Google is vigilant at identifying link schemes. If Google defines a pattern of behavior showing that you are exchanging links for something of value you will run into trouble. This situation will result in both your website and that of your guest bloggers will get penalized.

Why is Google against guest blogging?

Back in 2014, Google’s SEO Executive Matt Cutts made a considerable post encouraging webmasters to stop using guest blogging as a means of getting backlinks.

The real reason why Cutts started an anti guest blogging campaign is that there were just too many spammy, automated type of guest blogging requests that found their way into the webmasters’ inboxes. The problem with this is that these were mailed out on a massive scale without any personalization whatsoever.

The auto-approve types of websites are even worse in the big picture. They are willing to accept all kinds of content, regardless of its (lack of) quality, and the backlinks are often pointing towards spammy affiliate websites with zero added value to the visitor. Now, it’s probably much easier to see why Google wasn’t exactly fond of it.

If a guest post was detrimental to SEO, why are so many webmasters still doing it and why are established websites still accepting guest posts?

Simply put, Google isn’t against guest blogging per se, but they are against low-quality content and spamming. Some writers even tried to push this to the extreme by writing a single piece of material, then used various word spinners to mass produce variations of the same article that used different synonyms and trying to appear unique to the search engines. That way, they were able to game the system and only do the work once, gathering a ton of backlinks from their efforts. We strongly discourage this approach as it will lead to failure because Google is just too good at detecting these patterns of behavior.

Clean your house first before you start Guest blogging.

Before you consider starting a Guest blogging, it is important to have substantial quality content and an attractive website. Thus you will want to focus on getting your website up to date and in good working order. If you write an excellent article for a highly trafficked site, they may hesitate to give you a backlink. After all, they will be sending their customers your way and, who wants to visit a poorly designed website with old outdated content and broken links? Furthermore, bloggers are looking for high-quality sites to place content. If your website does not look promising, then the return regarding direct traffic might not be worth the time investment.

Can guest blogging help me without a backlink?

One way to prevent your website from getting into a link exchange penalty is to Guest blog in exchange for a company citation. Google is now using references to your NAP (Name Address and Phone Number) as part of its algorithm for ranking websites. While it is not as powerful as a link, the number of times your company name, address and phone number are listed online will have an impact on both organic and local SEO.

Furthermore, as a guest blogger, you are promoting a brand. By getting your name and company cited as the author at the end of your article, you are relating the content to you and your company. Furthermore writing great articles will help you build an excellent reputation for you and your business.

Thus, if you’ve managed to pique the readers’ interest, they’ll be naturally inclined to find your website to learn more about your business. Therefore, guest blogging has some immediate traffic benefits, with or without the link to your website. Furthermore, if you’re guest blogging on the right websites, it’s also going to consist of highly-targeted individuals.

Don’t just give your guest blogger a link, find relevant blog posts on their website that can enhance your user’s experience and cite them.

The way this can work is to have the blogger you are donating content to review your blog posts. If they find content that will enrich an article or inspire a new blog post, then they can use your website as a reference instead of making a direct link exchange. This approach shows Google that it was not a link exchange. Instead, your blogging partner reads an article on your website, and it helps inspire or provided facts needed for a topic they are covering.

The agreement can be, you will create content for a blogger. In return, they can spend some time reviewing content on your site. The goal of the review is to find articles to reference with an eye on improving the quality of both websites. Hence there is no direct link exchange or scheme involved in linking to your content. The purpose is to enhance the experience for visitors, and this is what Google wants webmasters to do most. Hence there is no clear profit motive for linking to your content.

Evaluate every guest blogging opportunity with the same vigor as you would if you were taking full-time employment.

Google’s guidelines are vague, but one thing is clear you need to go slow. Don’t jump into every guest blogging opportunity that comes around. If you do so, it could be part of an automated link scheme getting you in trouble. Learn more about your guest blog partner before you work with them. And only accept content from reputable sources. This reason is why the cleaning house step above needs to come first. If a website is worth your time investment, they should be doing the same evaluation of your site as you are theirs.

Start with the following tasks in evaluating possible guest blog opportunities:

– Review the content of sites you intend on being a guest blogger for and make sure they have nothing but quality content.
– Put their content through automated testing tools like Grammarly to see if there are excessive grammar or spelling issues
– Identify other backlinks to their content online and make sure they are on reputable websites.
– Make sure they are not stuffing content with too many redundant keywords

These procedures will prevent future problems with guest blogging.

The evaluation described above is not done once and forgotten. After you agree to guest blog, you have entered into a long-term partnership. Future changes to your partner’s website and approach can impact your website. Therefore both websites need to continue to follow similar guidelines:

– Take great care in the way both sites are linking
– Don’t overstuff articles with links.
– Keep links organic and use quality sources.
– Avoid repetitive keyword anchor text links.
– Include some links without keyword-rich anchor text
– Don’t guest blog with websites in which you are not familiar.
– Check spelling and grammar, if there are a lot of mistakes you may want to pass.
– Place links in different places, not always at the end of posts and not on the same blogs. Differentiate and mix it up.
– Only work with blog partners that are relevant to your industry and write articles covering topics that are related to your website

How much traffic and business can I expect from Guest Blogging?

Of course, the amount of traffic you’re going to get by piggybacking on other people’s websites depends on the daily amount of visitors they’re getting. If you’re going to be posting your articles on a relatively smaller niche blog, you can’t expect miraculous results. But it will undoubtedly help you in some way. Bear in mind that a small amount of high-quality traffic is always better than a heap-load of non-quality traffic.

Optimize your website for conversions

For your efforts to bear fruit, it’s important to optimize all of your landing pages for conversion. That way, you can ensure that the maximum number of visitors will decide to become your customers and set yourself up for the best chances of success.

On branding and getting authority

It’s probably not hard to guess that not every webmaster out there is going to be willing to accept your submission. This fact is especially true if you’re an unknown entity in your niche. Don’t let this discourage you from trying to get your articles published if you believe you’re genuinely doing your best to produce something worthy of reading.

More than anything else, it’s a numbers game. But don’t start spamming webmasters’ inboxes in hopes of getting a “yes.” It’s just not going to happen. Instead, you should take things slowly and message them one by one. Take the needed time to review their websites and structuring a coherent personalized proposal.

After a while, after your brand becomes recognized in the industry, you’re going to have an easier time getting approved. You may also see other people coming to you and asking you to be a guest blogger for them. Hence it’s easy to get things running after you’ve made a name for yourself in a given industry, although – admittedly – this can take quite a while to achieve.

How to find guest blogging opportunities

You can use specialized search engines built for that purpose, or simply use the one you probably know best: Google! Using a simple formula such as the ones we’re going to outline, you can quickly and easily identify guest blogging opportunities in the important niches:

“[keyword]” + “write for us”
“[keyword]” + “guest blogging”
“[keyword]” + “contribute”
“[keyword]” + “writing opportunities”

And so on. You get the idea.

Conclusion

So no, guest blogging isn’t dead, at least not if you’re trying to generate authentic, well-researched, and high-quality content. If anything, it’s a triple win: you get a backlink or citation from an authority website, the webmaster gets excellent free content, and the search engines can index another article that’s designed to answer the search queries of their users. By doing it right, everyone wins.

Guest blogging, if done right, is as strong as ever. Why not start your own guest blogging efforts to get quality backlinks for your website.   After all, quality guest bloggers are a positive force in the search engine ecosystem, and there’s no reason why this would change.

If you don’t have a blog yet or need some help getting started contact one of our marketing consultants at 978-851-9077.  We are happy to help.  You might also want to read this blogging guide: How to make a successful blog – 7 helpful Tips for first time bloggers