Guest blogging is definitely one of the most abused forms of link building. People do all sorts of weird things and besides comment spam, guest blogging for links is definitely one of the easiest ways for people to try to “Win Links”. Now the question is – “Is Guest blogging for SEO worth it? Is guest blogging good for SEO? Should you be posting guest blogs on your website from external writers or should you be posting as a guest blogger on another site you would like to win a link from?
Just say No to guest blogging on your own website. More than 95% of the guest bloggers do not produce high-quality content. They either get it outsourced from a content farm or a content mill, hire cheap, low-quality writers or purchase articles from article bank directories. Then, they will insert their links into the article and send it to random websites, to win links for free.
You don’t want these articles on your website, which is low quality and provides no original value. You don’t want to link to an external website if you don’t trust them. There is nothing in it for you to post a low-quality article from a random guy whose sole intention is to win a backlink from your website. We strongly recommend you not allow guest posts on your blog or website.
There could be some exceptions though, but it rarely happens. In the last 10 years of my career, I have seen it happen once or twice where the guest blogger wrote a really informative article with original research. His article was really long, well written, had original insights and value, and I was very happy to post the guest article on one of my other websites and link to him (dofollow link).
But in most cases, most of the guest submissions are low quality in nature, with no original value. I simply delete these emails and do not encourage low-quality article submissions on any of my sites which I own.
Google’s View on Guest Blogging For Links
In the following video, Matt Cutts clearly reflects the above-stated principles.
Here is what Matt says
This is one of those questions where there are a couple of ways to interpret it. One is really high-quality guest blogging and whether that is worthwhile. And I think it is, in some cases. And the other case is, what if it goes to extremes and what if you take it too far. If you are a high-quality writer e.g Lisa Barone and she wants to do a guest blog on a website, that blog should be happy to have her. These people bring a lot of insights, a lot of knowledge and a lot of value. This is totally fine, it can be a good win for the person who hosts that content. It is also beneficial for someone who writes really really well but is not as well known.
Don’t accept low-quality guest posts on your site and don’t do low-quality posts on another site, just to win a link. These links do not count. Don’t go to extremes, doing hundreds of guest posts on random sites, winning links and thinking these links will help you with better search rankings. In contrast, these links won’t help and will sometimes hurt your site’s rankings, you may be hit with al algorithmic penalty for suspicious links and other worse things could happen.
Read Matt Cutt’s detailed post on Guest blogging for links.
How Can I Guest Blog Without It Looking Like I am Paying For Links
In the following video, Matt explains guest blogging should be done in moderation, it should be high quality and it should be occasional. It shouldn’t be a full-time job where you sent emails in bulk to different website owners or outsource it to an external agency to get as many links as possible. These links do not count and Google is pretty good in understanding which links are organic and which ones aren’t.
Whenever we get a spam report and we dig into it in the manual webspam team, usually there is a pretty clear distinction between an occasional guest blog vs someone who is going a large scale pay for links kinds of stuff. If you are paying for links, it is most likely it is coming from an off-topic, irrelevant blog post, doesn’t really match the subject of the blog itself. It is more likely you will see keyword rich anchor text spam – that sort of thing.
However if it’s a guest blog, it usually comes from someone who is an expert, there is usually a paragraph which tells who this person is, why you invited them on your blog, hopefully, the guest blogger isn’t dropping keywords in their anchor text nearly as much as these other methods of using keywords in anchor text for generating links. In all of these cases, you can see a spectrum of quality. There has been a growth of low-quality guest blogging recently. We look into these criteria when we try to distinguish genuine links, whether something is organic or not, whether it deserves to be high quality or whether it deserves to be spam. I would advise – a lot of people may think guest blogging as the fad of the month, they send out emails to random website owners, spin the articles – that’s not the best way to build links to your website. These links do not count at all.
Guest blogging should be done in moderation, it shouldn’t be your full-time job going around and finding opportunities to guest blog on any website you find with a low quality 300 word or 500-word article with your links or keywords in it.
10 Things To Know If You Are Allowing Guest Blogs On Your Website
If you are allowing guest blogs on your own website, there are a few things which we would recommend
- Nofollow links in the author bio of the guest blogger. The author’s bio is generally the most abused section by guest bloggers. They will often use keyword-rich anchor text and link to their sites which may not relate to the content of the article. This is not healthy and if the site you are linking to is not good, it will hurt your website’s authority and reputation too. So nofollow those author bio links, at the very least.
- Do not link to sites that violate Google webmaster quality guidelines. Do some background check on the site which is requesting the guest blog on your site. Do they have content which violates Google webmaster quality guidelines? If yes, you should stay away.
- Make sure the article is unique and not plagiarized. You don’t want plagiarized content on your site or spun content which would create duplicate content issues.
- Make sure the article offers genuine value. I can write 2000 words on any topic and offer no real value to the reader. That’s not good and you should not encourage such behavior on your own site.
- Make sure the article is well written. Grammar, presentation, styling and overall representation should be good. High-quality content is generally something that is well written, you can feel that the author has sweated over it, put in enough time and attention to it before submitting the guest blog. A low-quality article is often 500 words long, contains no subheadings, no imagery, no unique insight and feels as if it was written in less than half an hour.
- Do not allow guest blogs from the same author again and again. If the content is high quality, you can go ahead with publishing it on your website. But make sure, it is not repeated over and over again. It should not become a pattern. This means, you should not allow the same person to write multiple guest blogs at their own wish – it should be controlled.
- Restrict the number of external links. Let’s face it, most guest bloggers write content to win free backlinks. There is nothing wrong with this approach if the content is of high quality and provides enough value. However, if you see an article that is stuffed with 10 external links to different websites, there is a high chance it is spam. Don’t allow such practices.
- Make sure the content and the external links are relevant to the context of the article. If you have a website on digital marketing, make sure the guest blogger is writing content on digital marketing or similar topics. Also, make sure the links are related to digital marketing and not “Insurance plans” or “Payday Loans”.
- Guest Blogging should be done occasionally, and should not become a routine. You should allow guest blogs only occasionally and not make it a routine. When you make it a routine, that is when people will start abusing and gaming the system. One guest blog every 4 months or 5 months is fine but 10 guest blogs every month is not okay.
- Do a background check on the guest blogger. Is this person well known? Is he an expert in his field? Do you know him personally? Do you think he has enough value to add to your site through a guest blog? Can he give you exclusive content which you can’t get otherwise? What’s in it for you to get a guest blog from him? What’s his online reputation and brand equity?
10 Things to Know if You are Doing Guest Blogging For SEO On Other Websites
If you want to do guest blogging on other websites, to increase your website’s reach and get showcased to an audience, here are a few things you should know
- Don’t guest blog just to win links. If you are doing it routinely on random websites, these links do not count at all. There is no point in getting all these links because sooner than later, Google will figure out that these links are not organic and hence will not be considered in measuring the authority of your website for a topic or keyword.
- Do guest blog for showcasing your website to an audience. If your intention is to showcase your blog to a unique audience, then, by all means, guest blogging is a good way to promote your brand. For example, if you have a business on camera accessories and you found a really cool blog on Photography and want to showcase your website to that audience, guest blogging can be a good way to do that. But your intention should be to showcase your website to the audience and not win links through specific keyword-rich anchor texts.
- Create high-quality original content which has substantial value. Don’t hire cheap writers or outsource content creation to cheap article banks or hire unreliable freelancers from Fiverr. Don’t do that. Instead, spend your time and energy in creating really really good content which offers enough value to the website where you would be posting your content. If the content is high quality, there is a high chance your article will go through all the filters and people will like reading that content, will share it with friends and everything else will fall in its place.
- Don’t spam anchor texts or practice keyword stuffing. Stay miles away from black hat seo techniques. Don’t spam anchor texts. Don’t stuff all the keywords and phrases in your article just for the sake of it. Don’t do all the black hat stuff which will put the source website in trouble. Be original, be legitimate and be fair!
- Do it once in a while and don’t make it your full-time job to do guest blogs. A guest blog on an authority website should be done occasionally. It shouldn’t be your full-time job, hunting as many opportunities for guest blogging as possible. One guest blog on a really credible website is better than hundreds of blogs on low-quality websites, so pay attention to quality and do it only occasionally.
- Don’t outsource Content to cheap, low-quality writers. Pay attention to presentation and styling. If you want to get the piece written from someone else, only work with high-quality writers. If needed, hire high-quality writers and pay them the fee they deserve for creating high-quality work. Don’t go to Fiverr and other Freelancer platforms and order 200 guest blogs in bulk for $1000. Instead, if you have a budget of $1000, hire two or three writers and pay each $300 to create a really high-quality post of 5000 words each and then take that piece and approach credible websites who allow guest blogs. Your chances of success are far more in the latter case with less quantity and high quality, compared to the former with mass market and low quality work.
- Only approach Credible, authority websites. You don’t want to post a guest blog on a website that is spammy, low quality or does not have enough authority. Only approach high-quality sites for guest blogging, ignore the mass. It’s okay to face rejection, it will only help you get better with your content and approach until you see success.
- Only approach websites that are related to your niche. If you have a website on health and fitness, you should only approach websites that are related to the content and context of your website e.g health, fitness, yoga and not something related to Technology, Insurance, Finance and so forth. Getting a backlink from a contextually related website is far more valuable than a linkback from a completely unrelated website, so choose your targets wisely and filter them often on the quality and authority scale.
- Stay away from Article directories, review sites, user-generated content portals. In practice, I have seen that the websites who have a lot of content, a lot of pages, a lot of user-generated content are not the best places to do guest blogs. Instead, you should approach those websites who have a unique personality, a unique audience, a unique voice and a unique appeal.
- Don’t try to game the system. You are not smarter than Google, accept it and play it fair. Don’t try to game the system, thinking you can get by. You won’t. You will get caught, sooner than later. Keep it fair and keep it simple – there is no need to overcomplicate things in hope of quick results. What takes time, takes time. So give that time and effort in building a really informative website, give that time and effort to create really good guest posts and only then approach other websites for guest blogging.
Have you seen any results with guest blogging and did it really help in your website’s SEO? Let us know in the comments below