If you’re a blogger and you’re not completely happy with the level of traffic being driven to your site, you need to ask yourself a simple question – is it worth investing more time in guest posting?
If you’ve got your head screwed on right and you know your stuff, the answer should be a resounding yes.
Despite some speculation about the longevity of this particular inbound marketing strategy (we’ll get to this later), guest posting is still one of the best ways to grow your audience and drive traffic to your site.
So, what is it, how do you do it, and what should you know about it?
The Basics Of Guest Blogging
The basic definition of guest blogging is pretty straightforward – it means posting on another person’s blog as a guest.
You contribute content to someone’s blog and in return you get an external backlink to your own blog and wider exposure.
It’s a simple concept with a clean sounding, win-win logic, but why exactly is guest posting a good idea?
What Does Guest Posting Accomplish?
For a start, what does guest blogging accomplish from the perspective of the guest?
Firstly, guest blogging is about building relationships. You’re networking with other bloggers and making new connections which might prove useful later on down the line.
Bloggers can be influential people and their chatter makes up a large proportion of conversation on the internet.
Through guest posting and getting to know people, you might indirectly end up increasing your influence in the social media world.
Secondly, guest blogging introduces you to a new audience. By essentially tapping into the host blog’s audience you are making a pitch to an already established community ready to hear what you have to say.
If you’re adding value to their reading experience, then they’re likely to head over to your blog to check out your other content. A big focus of guest blogging is on the next, third point, but the effect of actual click throughs to your blog shouldn’t be neglected.
Thirdly, guest blogging is big in the world of SEO (search engine optimisation). This is the context in which it is most often discussed, and guest blogging is indeed an undeniably important way to drive traffic to your blog.
When you post on another person’s site, the one thing you should be adamant about is their inclusion of a link to your own blog.
This might be embedded in the text, or might be included in the author bio. However it’s incorporated, generating these links is one of the main goals of guest blogging.
Being referenced on reputable, quality sites is a big factor in how big search engines decide to rank your blog.
Over time, generating these backlinks will help boost you in the search engine rankings. That’s why people refer to guest blogging as being ‘good for SEO’.
But What Does Guest Posting Do For The Host Site?
Mostly it’s about generating interesting, new content. That’s why you’re guest posts will have to be good, especially if you’re small fry looking to publish on a more reputable platform.
From the perspective of the host, guest blogs are essentially free content, and who doesn’t love free content? Of course, the more prominent the blog, the pickier they can afford to be.
There’s also something of the community vibe to guest blogging lower down in the food chain. Amongst small to medium bloggers, hosting other peoples’ blogs is about helping each other out.
If you’re posting on other blogs, it makes sense for you to offer the same courtesy to others. It’s a win-win strategy, and both of you will benefit from the cooperation.
How To Go About Guest Posting
So, guest posting is good for SEO, it introduces you to a new audience, and it helps you make friends. How do you get started?
First step, you need to find a blog that will host you. There are a few ways you might want to do this. There are some sites out there that actively list blogs which are up for guest posting. However, the links can be unreliable. Moreover, you might not be getting the quality hosting that you’re truly aiming for.
A good old Google search is probably the most obvious thing to try. Just type in ‘top [your industry] blog list’ and see what pops up.
Alternatively, you can try an advanced search, specifying strings of phrases like “write for us”, and “blogging”. This will help you find blogs that are actively looking for guest contributors.
If you’re using the tried and tested search engine method, it’s simply a question of trawling and making a judgement about the blogs you find.
It’s all about balancing a need for quality with the likelihood of the blog in question accepting you.
Ultimately, you just need to shoot off a bunch of emails. Like any application process, it’ll largely be a numbers game and you should expect to be rejected plenty of times.
You might also find good guest blogging hosts by looking for people guest posting on sites that you regularly read. Check the author out and see who else they’re writing for.
Basically, once you have found one good site, pull the thread and follow where it leads – you’re essentially benefiting from the other guest bloggers’ hard work.
You can even search on Google using the author’s name and specifying the search term “guest post”.
Something To Think About When You’re Guest Blogging
The main thing to bear in mind when guest blogging is the nature of the links you incorporate into your text. When you include links in your content, the actual words hyperlinked are called anchor texts. When you link a url, you should make sure it contains words that are useful.
Which words are useful? Google uses anchor texts to assess a page’s relevance, so include keywords in the anchor texts that you link to.
Just make sure not to overdo it, as Google also penalises for spammy links. As with most SEO strategies, the most important thing to do is to do everything you do organically – if that makes sense.
Don’t be too heavy handed or artificial with the links you embed. Most of all, make sure that the links are relevant. And if they’re relevant, they’re likely to include keywords anyway.
But Isn’t Guest Blogging In Decline?
There’s been a lot of hype in the past few years about the decline of guest blogging as an SEO strategy.
When guest blogging first began, getting a post on another site was a mark of accomplishment. Search engines ranked accordingly and backlinks became a signal of quality.
As guest blogging became an established and well known method for boosting SEO, fake bloggers began churning out spam to get backlinks. Thus backlinks in and of themselves are less prominent in the mix when it comes to ranking.
But that doesn’t mean guest blogging is in decline. When Google’s Matt Cutts warned against using guest blogging to boost rankings, he meant that guest blogging shouldn’t be abused.
All this means for you is that you should be careful about what you host on your site, and where you host your material.
No SEO expert actually knows exactly how Google goes about ranking. It is pretty well known however, that Google’s algorithms are great at spotting garbage and discerning quality.
They can tell spam posts and mass produced links from original quality content posted on reputable, flourishing platforms.
So if you’re an honest blogger, seeking to write great content and boost SEO at the same time, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
A Few More Words Of Caution!
Before you go, there are one or two other things you should be cautious of when trying to get your posts out there.
At some point you’ll probably get asked to pay to publish something on a host site. Besides the question of whether this strategy is worth it economically, you also run the risk of getting caught.
Paying for links is actually explicitly against Google’s policy, and if they find you out, you could face a heavy manual reduction in your search engine rankings as a result.
Another thing to watch out for are private networks and dropped domains. These are just expired domains with a link profile. People buy up these old domains, add some cheap content, and sell links.
Not all blogs are what they seem, so it might be worth using a website called the Wayback Machine, which can check out a domain’s history.
Other than that, guest posting is a pretty safe and surefire way to boost your rankings and gain new audiences, so happy hunting!