*Disclaimer: I do not advocate guest posting as an effective link building strategy. This is intended as a guide on “best practice” and to clean up a lot of the bad information which is currently out there. Bad practice & dodgy link-building is bad for everyone.
Does Guest Posting Work?
Yes. Because it should, Google wants it to work, and so does everybody else.
For example: If there is an awesome person within an industry (lets say Matt Cutts) who is regarded as an expert in regards to web spam, and you had a blog about SEO, it would be totally awesome for him to write a guest post for you. Matt asked Vanessa Fox to do a guest post for him for example.
Unfortunately most of us are not as high up at Google, or as influential as Mr Cutts, but the same applies at any level. If it makes sense to do a guest post, then it makes sense.
So over a year ago, guest posting was declared dead.
So I just googled it to check… and there are thousands (I mean thousands) of guides and blogs on the subject being published right now on the best ways to do it (Hang on… isn’t this one of those?)
That aside, there are also countless companies offering do “guest posting” for you, for a price. (Fatjoe.co being an example)
Why are there companies built upon an old SEO practice, which is supposedly dead?
Tell me more about guest posting…
What actually counts as guest posting in 2016? Essentially, its submitting a piece of content to a site you do not own, and getting it published – preferably with a link back to your site within the article.
No matter how you look at it, with a basic knowledge of SEO, this has to be good.
Problem being is that, as discussed, this strategy has been abused so much, you can categorise sites really easily like so:
A) Sites which accept content easily. They generally have a contact form, and you can find these sites by using an advanced search modifier such as: telecoms intitle: write for us (try it for your industry now)
If its a popular industry, you can bet that blog is getting A LOT of low quality articles being sent to them. Getting your article on there will be challenging, and pointless.
How these sites are useful: They are rarely useful, as if they do accept even a small % of content sent to them, they are filling their sites with low quality content, with outbound links on every article. These generally have zero SEO value as google has used its slapping stick on them
B) Sites which accept content, but not easily: These generally do not have a “write for us” page, but there will always be a way to contact a site owner/admin/author.
These sites can be useful, IF your content is useful. These sites generally have a genuine organic readership created by a core group of writers and they will occasionally accept content from third parties. Because of this, they are only going to accept something which contributes positively towards their website.
C) Sites which very rarely accept content, and even when they do, they don’t tell you if they are going to no-follow the links, or even take the links out.
These are the best. They want you to write for them, because they think you can contribute something valuable to their site which their readers will find useful/enjoy.
Guest Posting in 2016 – What Doesn’t Work
Advanced Search Modifiers
There are a ton of sites (and btw… I mean reputable sites!) which have “how to guides” on using advanced search modifiers to easily find sites that you can submit guest posts to in your industry. For example:
keyword + intitle: “write for us”
keyword + intitle: “submit an article”
keyword + intitle “send us a guest post”
Don’t do this. Just don’t. Maybe you think you will be clever and do it anyway, and just see if there are any worthwhile sites. Just, Don’t do that…
These will be low quality sites, which have a low quality threshold, and even if they appear genuine, they are very likely not.
Write content 500-700 words in length
This is another one of those bits of advice I see frequently. There is no magic number, a blog post should be exactly how long it needs to be.
There is a correlation between long form content and rankings, but I like to think this is down to the effort put into the content rather than the actual length.
Guest Posting – What does work
Define your goals
Why are you looking to guest post?
A) I want more people to read my content, and I want some extra exposure for my website in the form of traffic from my guest post
B) I want people in my industry to recognise me. I want to be well known and influential within my space
C) I want lot’s of links – it will make me look good to my boss
If your answer is A or B, cool. If its C, I would advise looking to my link building post.
Create Good Content!!!
Luckily, we see this stated everywhere. Unfortunately, a lot of “guides” barely touch on it. They mention it once, then move onto how to outreaach to bloggers/get content published etc, when really that journey starts at the content. Luckily, I wrote you a whole blog post about it entitled: Start Thinking About How You Create Content In 2015 – it has a cool slideshow at the end with some really interesting statistics. Its free, and we don’t spam anybody, ever.
People don’t want to read about how to create good content, as they assume if they write it well, it’s “good” – it has to look good, make a point, and have a reason for people to actually read it all, share it, link to it, tell their friends about it.
Example: PMC Telecoms blog. The content is well written, but it looks awful. I have done my best to make it look a bit better, and more readable, and it certainly is, but it doesn’t look readable enough. Consider the user experience of your readers.
Become familiar with places you are likely to want to guest blog
You can greatly increase your chances of being accepted as a guest blogger by forming a connection with a potential blog owner first.
Now a lot of “guides” explain how you should “create a relationship” with a blog owner, buy them a coffee, make friends, have a sleepover, and then ask if you can guest post for them.
I’m exaggerating a bit, but essentially this is the strategy people advise, which if successful, where does that leave you? Up-keeping the relationship, while you go ahead and start forming a new one? There is no need for all that. Its not natural.
Instead you want to ensure they are familiar with you, for reading your content. You can user Twitter, Linked in + Google Plus to form loose connections, and as long as you post good content regularly, they are going to see it, so when they do eventually get your outreach email, they will know who you are without having to worry about what pyjamas to bring to your sleepover.
Advanced Search Modifiers
These can still be useful, if you are happy to learn to use Google better, and forget about coming up with a bread and butter technique to gain backlinks.
keyword “guest post by”
keyword “guest post written by”
keyword “todays guest author”
This way you can find who is blogging in what and why. You will find spam, but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which are the genuine ones.
You will find a far higher % of high quality sites which introduce a guest blogger (or at least clearly state its a guest post) – these sites can be reputable brands.
My SEO apprentice recently was lucky enough to guest author for Dell. The topic was related to our industry really closely, and the topic was genuinely interesting to him, myself, and (hopefully) the readers of the site.
Write for the site you are writing for
Obviously? Not so much. Remember the audience of the site you are guest posting on will always be different to your personal one.
I write these articles with the assumption my readers have basic SEO knowledge, so when I refer to Domain Authority I don’t accompany that with an explanation. If I was invited to write on a non SEO blog, about SEO, I would simplify things and make it as interesting as possible. If moz on the other-hand asked me to write for them, id make it as technical as I wanted.
Its important to remember to adjust your tone slightly when writing for a different audience.
Also, check out what categories the sites are writing about. Good sites “silo” their content, and stick to topics. Make sure you don’t go off topic.
Finally, ideally you should be familar with the site you are writing for and have read some of their past content. In which case im sure they have something awesome and relevant
Pitch your guest post at the right time
Opportunities to get your post on an influential blog in your industry may never crop up, but being prepared for such a sitiation is a really good advantage for you to have. If you are regularly publishing content on your own platform, and you are sharing it via LI, G+, Twitter etc you would hope at some point one of the following may happen:
- They mention you on their social media
- Their blog links to you
- Their blog mentions you**
** If a blog does mention you though, its very like to be a better idea to use a different link building technique: 3 Step Reverse Link Building With Mentions
If you havn’t already, check out: Is Guest Posting Dead? and hear Matt Cutts view on it