Some important figures say that we should stop guest blogging.
It all goes back to an announcement from Google’s Matt Cutts about how the links that you acquire through guest blogging will no longer be all that useful and could, in some cases, actually do some harm to your blog’s SEO practices.
Since then we’ve seen guest blogging change to the point where a lot of new bloggers feel like it’s too risky to do any guest posts at all.
I myself have opted out of things like “expert roundups” where a bunch of quotes are collected to make a big post about a certain topic, each person with a link back to her or his site (I’ll talk about that more below).
Let’s take a look at whether or not guest posting is still a valuable strategy, and how bloggers should approach it without getting stung.
What is guest blogging?
If you’re new to blogging it might be good to do a little introduction to the idea of guest blogging or guest posting and how the whole things works.
Basically this is where you ask or are invited to write a blog post on another blog, usually in the same niche/industry as your own.
As you can see in the little graphic below, you write a bunch of posts that link to your blog which then take readers to a landing page that sells a product or promotes a mailing list.
Initially guest posting sprung up as a way to get new content on your site; you’d invite an expert to write about a topic that you didn’t fully understand and as such your readers would get new perspective.
This was a very organic and honest set up and, along with great new content, you, as the blogger, would often acquire a new audience as your guest author shared the post that they did on your site with their own followers.
So where did guest blogging all go wrong?
My own feeling is that guest blogging all started to go wrong when bloggers figured out that they could get backlinks from these posts and, as such, cause their Google rankings to become artificially inflated.
For a little while it was as simple as landing a guest post on a relevant site, including a link with rich anchor text in the article and then, after a while, you’d start ranking for the keywords in that anchor text.
It was rife with manipulation.
And the problem really became obvious when entire industries popped up around the idea of paying for links in posts. I remember back in college my friend and I would stay up late on a site called PayPerPost (I don’t want to link to it) and dig around for opportunities where some company would pay you $10-$100 for a 500-word article on your site that contained at least one (and often more) backlink to a site that was only barely relevant to yours.
Google then went and absolutely crushed that industry back in 2007 by removing page rank for a lot of pay per post bloggers and, since then, everyone has been making more and more algorithm changes to determine whether or not guest posts are allowable, valuable, or even ethical.
Here is the video with Matt Cutts mentioned at the top of this post:
Of course bloggers didn’t stop guest posting. In fact, if you look at statistics about the number of blog posts in the world I am confident that it would be bigger and bigger every year as more people started blogging and more people look for promotional methods.
So what’s the situation now?
Should we stop guest blogging altogether?
Guest blogging is not even close to dead.
In the last couple of months I’ve done a guest post on Bluehost and one over on the Jeff Goins blog about how Artificial Intelligence might change our online careers over the next few years.
But there is one qualification: it’s not about building links anymore.
When I think about a guest blogging opportunity I am always thinking about tapping in to a new audience that I think might benefit from encountering the content on Blog Tyrant.
So, really, what guest blogging is about now is getting more quality email subscribers on your mailing list.
While there are some very smart bloggers who like to call Google’s bluff on the whole links issue, even they are being very clever and careful about how the acquire those links and, generally speaking, a guest post is a pretty obvious flag to a search engine robot.
Of course link building is still important, but the old way of landing guest posts (or paying for them…) and then adding some rich anchor text is probably a little bit too dangerous to be useful from an SEO point of view.
How to successfully guest blog in to the future
I encourage everyone reading this post to continue to try and land as many relevant guest blogging opportunities as possible as they are a fantastic way to find new, relevant traffic. Here are a few tips on how to approach guest posting in the future:
- Keep it relevant
As Google’s algorithms get more and more sophisticated I think one of the things we’ll see is more frequent penalties for things that aren’t relevant. When you really consider it, it’s irrelevant materials that looks like spam. So, if you’re a finance blog doing guest posts on dog training websites I think you’ll expect that those links will be useless at some point.
- Make sure it’s all unique
Another major signal for Google is that guest posts are unique and useful. The idea here is that you should really be only writing about a topic on a guest site if you can offer some sort of unique perspective that the owner cannot. This helps to show that it’s not at all a paid arrangement, which is part of where I think the expert roundups start to look a bit suspect.
- Consider using nofollow links
If you are really concerned about some links in your guest posts you can always ask the site owner to make sure the nofollow tag is included on them. This is a pretty safe signal to Google that you aren’t doing the posts for SEO purposes but they will still, of course, send through all the traffic.
- Have a wide variety of platforms
It’s also a good idea to not just do guest posts to other blogs in your industry. You can also get featured on things like podcasts, videos, slide shares, Facebook posts, and so on. Some of these are “safer” from an SEO point of view and also teach you valuable marketing lessons about finding traffic from new sources and how those relationships work.
- Link to different properties
Another important concept to experiment with is the idea of linking to more than just a few posts on your blog. Of course, you can link to your root domain, but why not also link to your own podcast and social pages, or directly to a tool or video that you’ve made and see if you can send that viral.
- Monitor results closely
Lastly, you want to make sure you track all of these results in Webmaster Tools and elsewhere to ensure that they are having the right effect and traffic is going up over time. There are also dozens of tools that you can use to see whether you might be doing some SEO damage.
The main thing with all of this type of activity is to keep reading and then testing to see whether the information you have is working for your blog.
Sometimes there is a really big lag on these types of things and as such you have to be quite careful about how you monitor it. Sites like Moz and Ahrefs and Backlinko are all good places to start.
How is your guest blogging going?
Do you spend a lot of time and energy on your guest blogging efforts? I’d really love to know how it’s going for you and whether any of these concerns have been popping up on your radar. Feel free to leave a comment below and we can all have a big chat about it.
Top photo © Intararit
75 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
Thanks for this post, Ramsay, really important issue. From what I understand, the only backlinks Google wants to see are ones where there is no quid pro quo, where the content was linked to simply because it was good content. Links from guest posting clearly fall outside that definition.
I think that is the “safe” way to play it. That being said, a lot of people still do have luck with those links. It just depends on how you play it. For example, if you get a guest posting spot on a site that rarely does them then those links are still going to look natural.
Hope it helps.
Nice article Ramsay.
When I try to submit a guest post on another site, they do not reply at all. What should I do in this situation?
Any tip to publish the guest post on relevant and popular blogs.
As the market is really flooded these days, it’s super important to build some kind of relationship with the site owners first. This might start by linking to their blogs on your own, interacting on social media, etc.
It’s very rare to just cold pitch a site a guest post and get it, unfortunately.
Thanks, Ramsay. I ll try this.
Great article man, and completely relevant to recent trends.
I’ve been using guest blogging to increase organic traffic from few thousands per month, all the way to 150k+ in a single month. Nowadays, I get around 70k visitors monthly, with a rising trend. Hopefully, things will get back.
And here is what I’ve learned during these years.
Organic traffic is worth only if you are doing something with it. Build your e-mail list, sell a product, include some affiliate offers with discounts where appropriate…
My point here is to say that before you even start considering backlinks, first find a topic that is worth investing into. Hint – pursue both trending and evergreen topics. I made a mistake of optimizing for popular/trending keywords only, and my traffic halved.
Once you diversify your topics, go and get some exposure. I love how Ramsey talks about guest posts as if they are not the only way of getting backlinks. Which is 100% right! Exposure means having a YouTube channel, appearing in certain quality directories, submitting articles to some of the last remaining bastions of quality user-generated-content platforms.
Relevance is the key.
Forget about do-follow and no-follow links, just get exposure. I’ve run a single experiment of getting 10 links from Medium posts (all of them no-follow) and additional 10 from blog commenting. Guess what? A swift change in rankings. The reason? They were all highly relevant.
So while guest posting is useful, being proactive and ensuring link opportunities left and right is even more so. Being everywhere (as Pat Flynn loves to say) is very important (think about Medium, YouTube, Instructibles, Quora, and content submission publications like BuzzFeed). Reaching out to guest posting opportunities should be an ongoing process and part of the marketing, nothing more, and nothing less. Especially when locating guest opportunities now takes more effort than ever before.
Love this! Can we just make this the post?
Sure! Just link to my root domain 😀 hahaha
*boom – and no single guest posting outreach was being made today! 🙂
Ha ha! Love it.
Thanks for a good insight Ramsay and better explanation Slavko.
I have written 3 guest posts and have four currently on my site.
I use nofollow so I am guessing that’s ok? I get nervous when I hear about what you can do or should do because I wonder if I can remember it all. If I were to guest post say on this site, you would add nofollow to just links to my page or any I have in the content?
Sheri – http://www.abusybeeslife.com/
I’m sure you’re fine! Just try to make sure it’s all useful and unique in some way.
At first I thought I was not going to like this article, but your real point is absolutely true. Guest blogging is not about link building. It’s about getting seen, connecting with targeted potential clients, and building an email list that is about quality connections, not numbers.
Ramsay I’m reading everything i can of your posts etc. You are clearer about blogging than anyone else I’ve come across.
I have no idea what you’re talking about most of the time…but i will soon!!
Thank you. I think. Ha.
It really is all about that annoyingly oft quoted term: Quality isn’t it?
I think we need to look at the whole deal in the same way guest journalists used to work in the good old days of mass-media 20th Century journals, magazines, and newspapers.
Having a good writer, or practitioner of some specialized skill area, someone who truly offers value to readers, someone who actually knows what they are talking about – well there’s a concept to ponder.
I think there are still lots of people who don’t seem to get this surface level call fro quality work- they still try gaming the system, discovering ‘black hat’ or clever shortcuts.
I hate to sound like a ‘goody goody’ but I am loving this demand for quality, it just makes sense to me!
That is a really, really good point. Sometimes the “game” is just the work.
Yes I believe now the focus of guest blogging is about finding a new audience.Better to do it carefully.
Excellent post. But let’s be brutal honest – people do guest posts to build links. After days of hard work perfecting that guest article, anyone would obviously desire to put a link or two, back to their own website in an attempt to drive traffic and reap the SEO benefits. They have put in their hours of hard work in creating that post, and it’s quite natural for them to gain recognition among the readers by linking back to their own work/website.
In my opinion, links are still as much valuable as they used to be. You HAVE TO make links at-least during the initial phase of your blogging journey because without building links no one will ever know that you also co-exist in the industry, no matter how great you are at writing and presenting the content. I espouse guest blogging as one of the best and ethical ways to build quality links!
Yeah, good points. It’s hard not to do it.
Thanks for your post.
It reminds me of an article Tim Soulo wrote where he analysed the ROI of guest posts using data from 500 bloggers. The article was quite a great read inc an excel spreadsheet: http://bloggerjet.com/guest-post/
I personally think blogger outreach/guest posting is great for building relationships with other bloggers, which you can’t measure in ROI terms.
Also there are other things you can master to get traffic i.e. Podcasts like you mentioned and Forum marketing (Quora) to name a few.
Such a great article. So much work went into that.
I’ve never done a guest post, and probably never will for two reasons. One – based on the following post by Tim Soulo from Ahrefs, it would seem that it’s largely a waste of time (in terms of trying to get new readers):
The second reason is that as a reader, I loathe guest posts. I’ve come across a lot of them over the last few years, and only one or two have inspired me to read the whole post and check out the writer’s site. Don’t get me wrong, the posts are usually written well. But they almost always share information that other bloggers in the industry have written about multiple times. In other words, they add nothing new to the discussion.
I understand the temptation of established blog owners. You get new content on your site for free, and you only need to put in minimal work (or no work if you have an editor). But when I come back to a blog I enjoy, I’m interested in hearing from the blog owner, not some writer I’ve never heard of. And I’m certainly not interested in the same old advice.
As an example, (and I think I’ve commented about this here before) I love Problogger. And the reason I love Problogger is because of it’s creator, Darren Rowse. So when I click on a link on Facebook or Twitter to it, I’m hoping/expecting the post to be written by Darren. But more often than not, it’s written by someone I’ve never heard of. And it contains information that I’ve come across multiple times. (In Darren’s defense, he seems to be getting back to writing posts again.)
Having said all that, there is one method of guest blogger I’m okay with. And it’s what I call the Pat Flynn method. This is where the vast majority of your posts are written by you, but every once in a while you have a guest post. But this post isn’t written by a newbie blogger. It’s written by an expert that most of your readers know and respect. In Pat’s case, someone like Brian Dean of Backlinko or Glenn Allsopp of Viperchill/Gaps/Detailed. And they share information that you haven’t seen a dozen times before.
Yeah I think the first person I heard of doing that method was Tim Ferris of the 4 Hour Work Week. He said that he didn’t let anyone write on his site unless they were an expert and Tim himself couldn’t cover it.
Great blog post!
I like your perspective on the topic and your advises.
And as always it comes down to making great content.
Great read! I like to think of guest blogging as a way to get quality traffic to my website. Getting links from the guest post is just a bonus to me.
Thanks Darius. Good perspective.
I agree with all the things you mentioned that we need to give the unique content and not work just for the links….
But isn’t the no-follow links have zero value? and for ranking, we need the links from big sites…I mean then how can we acquire the high quality do follow links, Ramsay?
Nope, nofollow links also count. Don’t worry. 😉
Your tips on how to successfully guest blog are great. This is something I’m interested in getting involved with. I have a very, very small audience and am wondering at what point other bloggers might be interested in doing a guest post on my site, or vice versa. Does it have more to do with audience size or relevant content?
Hi Angie. I really think it’s about relationships. All of the guest posts I have done came about through some connection I made with the person beforehand.
I once hated giving out my articles to be posted in another blog. But the few guest posts I have done, it has really helped my blog.
How did it help?
Guest blogging one of the best way to get a good amount of visitors in a short time. Even Getting backlinks is good but if we are doing anything in excess can dangerous, and some artificial intelligence is getting into the way.
And Yes, I spend the time to write guest posts to get more exposure, and accidentally guest blogging is working for me.
Thanks for the share.
Glad it’s working for you!
Ah Ramsay, you always seem to publish content at the right time. I’m currently working on a guest blogging strategy for my website, and I’ve definitely seen some results.
I think if you’re always chasing the next link and the next guest blog, you start to accept/reach out to low-quality sites, which is never good.
I think for a lot of small businesses, guest blogging isn’t valuable and won’t provide enough of a return to justify it, but if you want to start blogging for a living, it’s essential!
Can I ask why you don’t think it will be valuable for the small business types?
What I meant by that is it takes a lot of time to outreach, write content and build those relationships, and most small businesses are probably better off focusing on their own content strategy.
Welp, and here I was preparing guest posts (will still finish them) haha. Great read as the others already mentioned and I will try to focus on other SEO related things than guest posts, especially onpage SEO since mobile seems to be the big than right now.
Mobile is where it’s at!
I disagree with guest blogs not being good – I just think you’re ranking on insane ‘moon shots’ because your gifted. And you’re probably up against mega smart SEO Titans. Luckily I’m against people who buy SEO or automate it and they don’t know jack shit about good SEO.
They will always rank below me for building this track record. But it’s a 1000+ person company who buys Google ads religiously. A double dip because they cheated to earn organic traffic for nearly a decade. Lol / to me. I see business opportunity. I’m not impressed. I’m out to destroy.
If you’re just starting out. Micro blogs and guest posts will be the only way to catch up the 99% of the people cheating to rank. Most chest to rank, and pretend to be authority – nearly every major site – good business opportunities if you can figure out the solution around their terrible SEO strategies.
People cheat to rank so much, then umbrella Corp the companies that they can spam links on, or outsource it – botch it – and open the door for fake companies to build invisible PBNs and spam win the same fake strategies as the others. They funnel engagements. Pretending to be local. It’s a broken system right now. Mostly fake businesses. Fail proof they are thousands of miles away and own 10 more they are going to spam to rank once a few engagements fail.
I think it’s not about who did it first. But who did it best. If others had that mentality in ranking, then maybe people would mark others for spam and build blogs about people cheating to bring awareness. And dominate people with guest blogs.
I think guest blogging is the only way for most avg business owners to break free from people illegally ranking.
Because Google doesn’t really seem to care about link spam marks – my experience tells me they don’t care – I’ve seen businesses build billion + win fake links from guest blogs built automated – algorithm isn’t really capturing that. I’ve marked enough companies for spam to know that Google doesn’t care.
Maybe for your niche, being a super star. Hehe. I hope I have a day where building guest blogs is a waste of time 😉
Not to rant. I’m excited as more fake business come up, more projects fail and more customers come my way – been consulting for a decade so it’s easy to look good when no one else can even figure out how to use data highlighter to show off their testimony customer comments. Yet I’m ranking below them with comments from Kroger, GoPro, Tableau, hahaha I’ll wait Google algorithm. I’ll wait.
This is a very interesting comment and maybe aligns with ViperChill’s view a little bit more than my own, but mostly because I’m too scared to be too aggressive with link building because my assets aren’t diverse enough. But, I agree, that if you’re starting out and need to compete then it’s probably likely that you need to go pretty hard at it to get anywhere.
Loved this post as I’d been feeling guilty about not doing enough guest blogging recently #aintgotnotimeforthatrightnow.
But when I started my blogs 2010 and 2013 I did lots of guest blogging everywhere I could (thanks to Jon Morrow’s prompting mostly) and the links certainly helped my ranking back then. Now, as you say, not so much.
Guest blogging I’ve done more recently hasn’t really brought in a great number of new readers or subscribers and I’m just wondering if the market is so saturated these days that reading a post is all anyone has time for – no extra time to click through to the author’s blog.
Also agree that we have to be all over everything, not just guest blogging, to stay relevant and noticeable. The blogging landscape changes so rapidly too.
I enjoy having guest posters on my site if they have something relevant and new to say – but accepting paid posts which just add to the internet noise in a sketchy way just isn’t on.
Deep down I think that writing great content that people want to talk about and share is the best way to get traffic and links.
Back in the day, someone said to me – “Be chatworthy.”
What I am glad about is that the black hat linking practices are going out of fashion. No doubt people will always try to manipulate the system though – oops, I think I’m sounding a bit negative!
Great post – got me thinking 🙂 (Oh and I think it’s chatworthy – I’ll share it, of course)
Glad you enjoyed the post. Unfortunately I don’t think those black hat things are going out of fashion – it’s worse than ever from what I can tell. But I think more people are also saying that they won’t participate, which is probably good.
I opened up my blog for guest blogging months ago, as I was excited to have people helping out and writing good news articles. I wasn’t aware what I did back then…
After about 5-10 articles, I started to realise that this is just spam and spam. By then, it was sort of too late and I found my site has been linked in lots of sites as a “site that accepts guest postings” a.k.a spammable site
Sad, really. And I thought I could take a break every now and then and let my “readers” write 1 or 2 articles
That sounds super annoying. 🙁
Your post is very good. I constantly read your posts, they are all good.
Thanks for sharing this nice information
While I don’t do a lot of guest posts, I try to do 2-3 per month. So far so good. Like you, I don’t focus on the backlinks.
Instead, I focus on building a relationship with the blogger and hopefully capturing some emails from my guest post.
I hadn’t thought about linking to my other properties inside the guest post. I’ll have to consider doing that the next time that I submit a new guest post.
Thanks for sharing these tips, I agree, guest posting is not dead.
Have a great day 🙂
How do your guest posts seem to convert? More traffic?
Not all my guest posts bring a lot of traffic. I just had one go live yesterday on a blog that is bigger than most of the blogs I’ve guest posted on in the past. (at least I think it’s bigger?)
That guest post brought in more traffic than the other guest posts I’ve done before in the past.
Now I can see why people say that it can make a difference depending on which blog you guest post.
Overall, I’m just happy that people are giving me the opportunity to guest post, considering I haven’t been blogging for a year yet.
Hi Ramsey, I do contributor posts ( similar, right?) for 2 other sites now and it does help get my name out there more and build traffic to my own site.
I also use contributors at my blog which brings in new people, helps give me a little more time for promoting and writing more.
I think overall it is a win-win. I was gun shy a while after hearing Matt’s video and talk about SEO hits from guest posting but if done right I think it is a win-win!
Sounds good to me!
Love the advice here.
I have published over 1000 guest posts – over 300 on the Huffington Post and Blogging Tips alone – and have seen sweet benefits from sharing helpful content in targeted spots.
Really, guest posting works best when you think less about links and more about making friends. When you focus on connecting with and serving top bloggers, wow does the guest posting thing work incredibly well for growing your blogging business.
Thanks for sharing.
Ever had a lot of traffic come from any one in particular?
My guest post on Positively Positive generated a ton of subscribers and a high volume of traffic too. 80,000 member email list and 2.5 million Facebook Fans over there.
Thanks for sharing this nice post.
I totally agree with your points here. Your article is very helpful for every blogger. These points are very important and we should always keep in mind while doing the guest post blogging.
Glad you enjoyed it!
I plan to use this strategy on my site. This post fell like gloves on time. Thanks for your relevant content, as always!
This strategy need much time but im not sure work or not, will give a try! Thanks for the great article!
Best of luck on the guest blogging.
Its a wonderful post and very helpful, thanks for all this information. You are including better information regarding this topic in an effective way.Thank you so much
Thanks for this information. I’m new to blogging, so this information is very useful for me.
I plan to use this strategy on my blog.
Guest blogging helps in sharing our content or knowledge on another blog and getting backlinks from them in return…its is a mutual benefit it which both are in profit…great post Ramsay.!!
Thank you! Your blog has been so helpful to me now that I’m starting a healthy-lifestyle blog (in Spanish)
I used Wix as my host, I find it so much easier than WordPress, but I see that you recommend WordPress all the time. What are your thoughts on Wix… could you maybe write a blog about it? Thanks so much!
Thanks for the post Ramsay.
Guest posting can also be used as a brand building strategy. People will start knowing you and your brand if you guest post are on blogs that have relevant traffic.
If done right this traffic can convert as well.
Important information on guest posting … it is becoming a tougher game to be in, that’s for sure!
You’ve outdone yourself this point.
This is really the best, most concise detailed guide.
Guest posting is good method to earn backlinks. Sometimes it can be fail. Maybe I think before post anything, a DA and PA research is good way to find how the quality of the blog.
Anyway thank you for the great article.
Very informative post over here 🙂
Indeed Guest Blogging can’t be dead. Its is one of the most trusted ways to establish a relationship among two people.
The one who offers a person to write on his web site and other person who write down. This also help to generate a good
flow of traffic on both the people blogs as both readers to go out to read that blog post.
Guest blogging is all about getting seen in the over crowded market, connecting with new people which do really help in the
long run. To grow our e-mail list largely do matter but to grow a quality number of connection matters a lot rather than just
by increasing the numbers.
I haven’t tried guest posting till date but I would surely look forward and try to connect people who can gave me the opportunity
to get published on their blogs.
Thanks for the share.
Well… I think that guest blogging is really a very helpful tool for increasing your reach and it is one of the most profound methods doing that. We, ourselves have been doing so for a considerable time in the past and have seen good results for ourselves.