The Truth About Guest Posting SEO that Everyone’s Missing

58 Intelligent Opinions

guest posting seo

Guest posting is dead!

At least that’s what everyone has been saying since Google’s web-ninja, Matt Cutts (and others), talked about how links in guest posts should no longer pass SEO juice.

Since then some of the biggest and best bloggers have been talking about whether or not guest posting is still a viable option for your SEO tactics. The best of these posts was written by Glen at ViperChill right here.

But the thing that people have been missing (even Glen) is that guest posting SEO is about more than just your rankings.

Ah… what?

You heard right. Let me explain.

How guest posting SEO works/worked

If you’re not very familiar with SEO you might want to go back and read my old post on beginner SEO for blogs. That will help get you across some of the terms. For everyone else just read on.

So, we all know that for the most part good Google rankings come from getting backlinks.

Some people think it’s more important to have high quality links from reputable sources, other people prefer to have a lot of links. Some people want both!

Either way, it was/is about links.

For most of SEO history bloggers and SEOs have been trying to build backlinks with their keywords in the anchor text. For example, if you were trying to rank for the phrase “beginner SEO for blogs” you might use that as the anchor text (as I did above).

That worked fine until a few years ago when Google decided that too many people were building links in an unnatural way and “gaming” the system. The latest progression in this dilemma is that Google wants you to no-follow any links that you use in guest posts.

Hmmmm…

What people are missing

As mentioned, Glen wrote a really good post about the history of all this and whether or not you should follow Matt’s advice and un-follow all of the links that you put in your guest blogging from here on in.

I highly suggest you read that post, and anything else Glen writes.

But what I think is missing from a lot of the discussion around the web on this issue is the fact that guest posting SEO tactics should not be just about getting posts on your blog ranked.

That is a very narrow strategy.

Rather, you should be using guest posts to form an overarching strategy for your own blog’s promotion. It’s about getting relevant traffic to your site and then funnelling those visitors to an outcome.

If you think about it like this, you’ll start to see guest posting SEO as an exercise in getting strategic content ranked – even if it isn’t on your site.

As we all know, Google is now (perhaps unfairly?) giving greater weight to websites that have a large amount of perceived authority even when their articles aren’t the best ones on particular topics that you’re searching for.

Well, why not take advantage of that?

If you search for “get more email subscribers” you’ll probably see my article somewhere near the top. Except it’s one of my articles for Copyblogger, not Blog Tyrant.

copyblogger

When I wrote that I was really trying to rank for keywords around how to get more email subscribers and growing a mailing list so that people would sign up for my mailing list – which was about that topic. But the competition was so fierce I knew I couldn’t rank a new site’s posts in any quick way.

So I decided to use a website with a lot of authority.

That post will stay there forever because Copyblogger is going to be around forever. I now have a few posts sneaking up to it in the SERPs but that original post I did over there has and will hopefully continue to send me traffic for the near future.

Does it matter whether the links I include in there are follow or nofollow?

Not so much. Because we’re trying to promote for relevant traffic, not rank our own articles.

(Note: They are follow links in that example. It was still cool back then. I’m a bit more conservative with linking these days and try to play it safe.)

Not really SEO?

I’m sure a lot of people are going to tell me that what I’m talking about is not really SEO. Maybe that’s true. It’s certainly not “traditional” SEO and I know a lot of experts out there who will hate the idea of ranking a post on an authority site for keywords that you yourself want to rank for.

But that’s the climate we’re working in now.

And if you’re blogging in a super-competitive niche and trying to build an authority site yourself then you are probably being a little bit more conservative with your link building than you were three years ago.

As Glen mentioned in his post, not everyone is going to be nofollowing all of their guest posting links. People are still going to successfully use guest posting and clever anchor text to get their articles to rank.

Good.

But I just wanted to make people aware that you can do your guest posting SEO differently if you are perhaps too afraid to risk linking like that. And instead of getting upset at the authority-based Google results that now dominate, you can start working with them.

As a final word, make sure any guest posts you do are always high quality to the point of being better than what you’d put on your own blog. I often spend two or three days researching and writing the posts I do to make sure it’s good for all aspects of guest posting – SEO being a very small one, in reality.

What do you think?

I’d be really interested to hear how you all use guest posting. Do you think about the SEO implications or are you just trying to get traffic back directly from the site’s readers? Has Matt Cutts’ announcement affected you?

Ramsay WROTE THIS

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58 Comments... Leave yours.

  • Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I just want to kick off the comments by saying that I myself am really conservative with this stuff. Especially with a site like Blog Tyrant. Not everyone agrees but I always think that if you have doubts, don’t do it. Play it safe with Google. You don’t NEED them but it’s sure easier when you’re doing well there.

    Also, I wrote and published this post at 1:20am my time so I’m expected I made some errors and/or got my thoughts muddled somewhere!

    1. Brian February 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I think if you post quality content on reputable sites, then you don’t have anything to worry about. I think it’s also ok to post on newer sites, as long as they are doing the right things and have quality standards.

      Google is a machine (mostly) and can’t algorithmically differentiate between a guest post and a regular post (not all guest posts have the words “guest post” in it and regular posts often link out to other sites). But sites that accept low quality guest posts will be linking out to a lot of low quality sites – I think that will be the giveaway.

      1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

        Good point about the accepting sites being the giveaway as opposed to the posts themselves.

    2. Hadi Nugraha February 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      I hardly to play safe with google.
      I need to stay on top as fast as I can.
      Often, I see many of my competitors doing spammy comments, put links in no relevancy and get low quality backlinks from low authority, but still they can beat me (I’m still conservative).

  • Jerod Morris February 6, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I just want to say thank you for your work in optimizing Copyblogger for relevant email marketing keywords. :-)

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Stop that you’re ruining my point. Ha ha.

      Thanks for dropping in, Jerod!

  • Chris February 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I thought google created authored pages to make guest posts more legitimate. I don’t read anything Matt says cause it’s all disinformation. can’t do this can’t do that bollocks guest posting, expired domains, paid links, it all works.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:16 am

      A lot of people feel like that nowadays it seems. I always pay attention to what he says but I think if you’re blogging honestly then most of it is common sense.

      1. chris February 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

        It’s not so much what he says but what he doesn’t say and what can be inferred. He can’t show all their cards, so like a good card player, you need to look at other signs.

  • Rahat February 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Forget guest posting, I’m still seeing people rank for competitive keywords with tons of backlinks with the same anchor text from 1 domain.

    If Google are having problems with figuring out spammy sites and ranking them high, how on earth would they know how to find sites that are using crappy content on guest posts?

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Good point.

      There is one guy in a keyword I would like to rank for that has a 4 month-old site with over 8,000 links. Ranks number one. Can’t be legit.

  • Josh Cahill February 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I think people should stop freaking out so much! Content was and always will be the key =) It’s 2:12am in Melbourne and I should go to sleep! Really good article though!

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Yep, you and me both. A few comments and I’m lights out! Thanks for sticking around so late!

  • Marc February 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’m not really too worried about the issue and I will continue to write posts for other blogs, although I am a little more selective about the blogs that I’ll write for than I would have been in the past. In Matt Cutts’ post he gives a specific example of someone that wanted to guest post for SEO purposes to get a link for their client. There’s a pretty clear distinction between SEOs who use guest posts in much the same way article directories were used several years ago, and people who write high quality guest posts on established blogs.

    I have a small niche blog where I’ve published guest posts for a couple of years and I get tons of submissions and requests to submit guest posts. Most of them are written on behalf of a client rather than being written by someone who is writing to get a link for their own site. I had to stop taking guest posts because the quality was very mixed, and this is really the situation that Google doesn’t like.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Yep, I think that was Matt’s main concern – so much “guest blogging” is just crappy SEO agencies trying to get cheap links using the same article over and over again. We clearly aren’t doing that here.

  • Greg February 6, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Stoked to be first like 10th and have a few ideas on this late night post (great job!)

    First off – just because Google said it, doesn’t mean do it now. Let things marinate for a bit. Glen’s (other) point from his mail – Do what you want to do, because Google owe you nothing and you owe them nothing – has a lot of validity.

    1) If you’ve got a blog with PR1-2, keep it. Don’t transfer everything. You might want that link juice later on.

    2) If you can interview, network or otherwise beg your way into a writing position with a big site, you’re “in”.

    3) Ramsay’s point is awesome for a lot of reasons. We should always be working to get readers on the list, then add value, and promote shares through there with useful stuff.

    Okay…cool.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

      How are ya Greg? Good to see you here.

      I love Glen’s point about not owing Google except I can’t personally make myself agree with it. Without Google I highly doubt I’d be able to work from home and avoid ending up in an office. So much of my sites’ popularity is because of that search engine.

      So, in a lot of ways I really do owe them. That’s not to say they don’t make money by indexing good sites. But I still feel some debt to them.

      It’s late.. Ha.

      1. Greg February 20, 2014 at 6:26 am

        Solid m8. In Bombay India now getting some sun. More like getting lots of Starbucks and dosas and made fun of :)

        Yeah true. Can’t exactly complain when something awesome exists without us doing anything. And when things like the keywords tool changes…whadya do. I just wish they hired us bloggers to keep a keener eye over their empire of tools. We’re the best market researches afterall.

        Love the pace you’re going here. Sorry to be long to write.

  • Debra Lloyd February 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Well said Ramsay, guest posting should not and is not just about ranking and SEO. There’s a big element of chicken and egg going on with this too. There’s huge value just in gaining exposure to an authority site’s audience. It’s up to guest poster’s to contribute something so compelling that readers want to go find more great stuff on your own blog. That’s exactly how I discovered you and it may even have been from that same CopyBlogger post.

    To me guest posting should always be approached like a “casting call” where we need to give our best performance to ensure a call-back. Google may give you the Oscar but you have to give a stellar performance that warrants nomination first. The rest of the world will go in search of your contribution simply because you got the nod.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I love this. Really well put Debra. Glad you found the site!

      1. liz@lifedreaming February 7, 2014 at 4:01 am

        Hi Debra

        You make a lot of very good sense.

        SEO does my head in so I work from the premise of ‘Do your best and give your best’ whether I’m writing on my own site or guest posting.

        I’ve decided this year to write less often but in a lot more depth with research authority and practical actions for my readers.

        It is about quality.

        Liz

        1. Debra Lloyd February 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

          Absolutely agree Liz – quality trumps quantity all day, every day.

  • chris February 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I remember the early days of e-zine directories and writing content for those directories…and filling my site with google adsense ads. Glad those days are over.

    Guest post because you want to help a community on another site. Readers will see your efforts and visit your site. Print magazines are filled with guest posts – it’s called free-lance writing. They’ve been doing it for decades.

    Love readers, no matter where your content is posted, and they will love you back.

    The real flip of this is for sites hosting guest posts. A site that posts crappy guest posts is a crappy site. And who likes a crappy site?

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Yeah that’s a good point. Best not to allow too many guest posts nowadays. I’ve always thought it diluted the brand anyway.

  • Brandy February 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for bringing some light into the “other side” of this topic. I have a hard time talking with others because I feel lately people are either 1) totally against guest posting like it’s a disease or 2) all for it. Love the points you mentioned here, great post to open discussion for those who have been scared away from guest posting!

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      I’m still all for it! Thanks Brandy.

  • James Bogash, DC February 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    For me, the challenge with guest posting is the time. I have so much content to post on my own blog that any guest posting will take away from that. But’s it seems to be a catch-22 for increasing my visibility. I think it would also be important for me to find sites directly rather than using generic sites like FuzzNiche, where I don’t know where the content is going.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Never heard of Fuzz Niche. I’ll check it out. But yes, I think it’s about relationships with the right sites.

  • Patricia February 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Thank you so much. It puts it in perspective for me. Sometimes I just want to shut out all the noise of the forever changing should and should not do on the internet and focus on moving forward in ways that are valuable. The SEO stuff can be paralyzing and even interfere with the natural flow of things. Thank you for reminding me to look at it in a more balanced way : )

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Patricia.

  • Glen Allsopp February 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Good post buddy :)

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      There’s more than one way to skin a chicken.

  • George February 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Great post Ramsay couldn’t agree with you more,people should view guest blogging as an opportunity to build their brand as well as establish authority.

    Focus on offering great value.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Agreed.

  • Richard February 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Personally I’ve been using guest posting quite extensively to build deep links to a number of my blogs. Each time I publish a post I then write a handful of related articles that naturally *lead* to my latest article.

    I’ve then had these published as a way to not only build deep links (that has worked very well for me) but also to attract new readers.

    Overall my strategy is going to change in two ways…

    Firstly, I’m guest posting *less* so as to not “over do” it in Google’s eyes. Instead I’m focusing on other link-building techniques (yes, white-hat of course).

    Secondly I’m now looking at guest posting on blogs with more traffic than I did in the past. While click-throughs were a nice bonus, they were always the icing. At the moment I’m working on turning that on it’s head and turning the traffic influx into the main focus of my content submissions.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      I’ll be interested to hear how that goes with those new changes. Sounds like it could be a little slower burning than the old way?

  • Brooklynn February 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Guest blogging is great for the reader and for SEO. I feel if you have guest blogs that are insightful, interesting, and informative, it can keep readers returning. Find guest bloggers that have good comments and feedback on their own sites, and they may have comparable success on yours.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      I’m still not ready to have them here. :-)

      1. liz@lifedreaming February 7, 2014 at 4:05 am

        I like that you don’t have guest posts Ramsay. It’s your voice and insights I want to read.

        I think it depends on the site whether guest posting works.

        In my niche [which I actually really don't know what it is!] big sites like Tiny Buddha have a lot of guest posts and I like that because it’s not really identified with a person.

        I stopped reading some of the big sites in your niche Ramsay because there only seemed to be guest posts and the brand person did become diluted with posts from them being rarer than hens teeth.

        Keep up the fab writing.

  • Scott Kindred | SafeHouse Web February 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Liked the image you used for this post. It said one of two things to me:

    1) Complimented your post title; there’s only one guy really looking up and perhaps not missing the truth about guest posting. Everyone else in the pic isn’t seeing the same thing he is.

    2) The guy looking up is Chicken Little. And he thinks the sky is falling [SEO, in a proverbial sense].

    Good day.

    1. Ramsay February 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Glad you got it! I took that photo in Barcelona.

  • Daniel Jevons February 7, 2014 at 4:51 am

    SEO is such a mine field of what you should and shouldn’t be doing, so thanks for some more clarity on it. Is Google really the only people who set the SEO standards? What we should and shouldn’t do with SEO?

    Thanks.

    1. Ramsay February 10, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      I guess they are, yes, because all the other search engines are irrelevant compared to the traffic they send. So really they can do what they want.

  • Marek February 7, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Great idea to have a photo of yourself looking to the title in serp :D :D coolest SEO i heave seen :D

    1. Ramsay February 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Ha ha. Glad someone noticed!

  • Bek February 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I think what gets me thinking in these kinds of situations are “where’s the strategy?” Following Google videos and seeking out advice on how to improve ranking is one thing, running your entire blogging or business strategy based on what Google does or doesn’t change is another thing entirely. If you need Google to guide your online marketing decisions all the time, you shouldn’t be in online marketing, search or content creation.

    The issue isn’t SEO. It’s a lack of strategy on the part of the person with the blog, and a lack of understanding of basic audience and marketing principles on the part of the people doing the approaches (whether that’s as a spammer, an agency or an individual). In the race to appease the Google gods,the basic idea of “will this work with my audience?” has been lost. We put a hell of a lot of work into our blogs and we should protect that from poor decision making. But we should also be brave enough to take on the advice that works and ignore the stuff that doesn’t for our own personal circumstance.

    If you chase the new shiny stuff that comes past and kowtow to feedback from everyone on the outside all the time, you should (in my opinion) get out of business and blogging and go work for someone who will tell you what to do.

    Plus, the missing piece is that Google doesn’t merely respond to issues with scamming. They design their search around growing customer needs and their changing behaviours. So if you want guest blogging to stay a part of the mix, it’s stay as part of the mix as long as it isn’t some two bit panhandler approach to it. Show how it can be done well and with integrity, and Google will probably work out some way to sift the chaff from the hay just as it did with keyword stuffing vs long tail, search terms vs natural search questions, dodgy backlinks versus shared linkage.

    1. Ramsay February 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      This in awesome comment. It’s almost like a poem! Strategy first.

  • Paul Back February 9, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Hey Ramsey

    I agree with you, guest blogging shouldn’t be viewed just as an exercise in link building.

    I personally see guest posting as fantastic opportunity to deliver your message in front of an already established audience.

    I always put my best material when I choose to guest post as it really is a privilege to be able to promote your content to a expansive and loyal following.

    When a popular blogger trusts you enough to let you write to their audience they are taking a risk and its on you to make sure you deliver – or you wont get another chance.

    In that situation SEO is the last thing I am thinking about, I am much more concerned I am creating the best post I can make, on which adds value, is interesting and is custom fit to their followers.

    I only recently discovered blog tyrant and I just wanted to say you do an amazing job with it and have an incredible group of follower – its good to see a fellow aussie take on the blogging world :)

    My own blog is in a similar niche to yours so hopefully we get to rub shoulders in the future.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Paul Back

    1. Ramsay February 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words Paul. Really enjoy the input.

  • Jordan February 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    You made some excellent points about guest blogging. Choosing a good blog is important – I avoid article directories, etc. Also, I agree that the quality should be even better than your own blog and provide real value to the reader. The face of guest blogging is changing but not necessarily dead.

    1. Ramsay February 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Well said Jordan. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stuart Walker February 13, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    “But what I think is missing from a lot of the discussion around the web on this issue is the fact that guest posting SEO tactics should not be just about getting posts on your blog ranked.”

    I never used guest posting for SEO. I

    used it to build authority in my niche and to get my name / content / site in front of my target audience.

    Sure you can build an audience from scratch but it’s much easier to leverage other peoples audiences.

    1. Ramsay February 16, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Perfect.

  • Vinny Polston February 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Great stuff Ramsay! That’s a really unique perspective on this whole ‘guest blogging’ thing.

    I wouldn’t have thought of using other blogs authority to get articles ranked to draw targeted traffic. So genius. That’s why BlogTyrant just rocks!

    1. Ramsay February 16, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks Vinny. Glad you enjoyed it!

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