Why is guest blogging so popular anyway? Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when search engines were just becoming a thing, SEO sprang up to take advantage of these listings. In these days, it was the wild west and anything went. You could keyword stuff to your heart’s content and fear no backlash for it. Generating high rankings wasn’t too difficult.
But Google and other major search engines caught on to these spammy tactics and realized that users don’t want to see websites that utilize this approach. These companies wanted to provide quality results anytime someone typed in a search term, so they updated their algorithms (and continue to do so) to combat spammy SEO tactics.
Keywords and backlinks still represent an important part of the ranking algorithm, but they’re not as easy to game anymore. That is where guest blogging came in. Before, you could post your link to “link farms” and see improvements in rankings. Now, posting to a link farm is a huge red flag to search engines and can end up hurting your site. Guest blogs became a way to build quality links back to your site.
In theory, you are supposed to write a high quality, relevant article for another blog. Let’s say you are a recipe blog, and to get your name out there (and some backlinks) you offer to write an article for cooking blog. The cooking blog posts your article and now you have some exposure and a backlink or two.
The problem is that people were taking advantage of using guest blogging purely for SEO purposes. This resulted in low quality posts and sites that would accept any old article. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, wrote an article on his website called “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO“.
In the article, he talks about companies, sites, and individuals going around offering money for links. He said,
“Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking ‘guest post outsourcing’ and writing articles about ‘how to automate guest blogging.'”
And he’s right. Guest blogging has become too spammy, as have almost all SEO tactics out there. “Gaming the system” in SEO is not a viable strategy, and it will always be thwarted by Google, Bing, and others.
So does that mean guest blogging is dead? For pure SEO and link building purposes, sort of. But for those looking to get exposure, I would say no. What do I mean by “sort of”? I mean that you shouldn’t be outsourcing your blog writing, keyword stuffing, or writing low-quality articles for guest blogging just to get backlinks. This will backfire! The right way to guest blog is to do your research, write great content, and make it useful to the audience. Only then will guest blogging work to your advantage. It will help you get exposure as well as a backlink or two.
If you are selling athletic water bottles and want to get your name out there in the fitness community, guest blogging is an excellent strategy. You can write a quality article about something related to fitness like trail running, and in your author bio mention your product and website. But don’t write an article all about your water bottle and keyword stuff it with things like “This is a great fitness water bottle that is the perfect workout gear for athletes.” Write something you would actually sit down and spend the time to read.
What should you be doing when you’re guest blogging for purposed other than SEO?
– Write high quality, relevant, unique content
– Don’t keyword stuff
– Write to engage/entertain the audience
– Don’t spin (Don’t take an article used in one place, change it around a little and send it somewhere else)
– Spend time researching the target audience of the website, make sure the topic hasn’t been discussed before
Here are some useful resources
The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging – Kissmetrics
The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging – Backlinko
How Guest Blogging Solved My SEO Problem – Content Marketing Institute