In 2014, guest blogging was getting a bad rap. Matt Cutts, then head of Google’s web spam team, declared the “decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”
With an increasing number of businesses abusing the practice to gain as many links as possible back to their websites, guest blogging’s reputation was morphing. Once thought of as a respectable outreach activity through which subject matter experts and thought leaders shared high-quality, meaningful content, it was becoming infested by unethical SEO practitioners trying to place spammy, subpar articles on other business websites to gain backlinks.
Fortunately, the rotten apples haven’t ruined the whole barrel of opportunity for individuals and companies that approach guest blogging as a way to build their brands via providing value to readers.
Google has ways of telling the difference between spammy guest blog posts and those that deliver substance and quality. Moreover, many publishing sites use Google’s guidelines as the basis of their guest blog acceptance policies. For example, to get published on this blog, contributors must submit original content that includes only two links to other sites.
The heightened level of scrutiny by Google and publishers is a good thing. It weeds out the problem for guest bloggers and provides opportunities for legit contributors to gain a powerful PR punch and SEO benefits.
4 Ways Guest Blogging Helps SEO
1. Enhances your link profile
When high-authority sites publish your guest posts, it helps build your own website’s online authority.
Most publishing sites allow the author bio to include a link back to the contributor’s business website. Some publishers will allow links back to relevant blog posts on the contributor’s site, as well.
2. Exposes your brand to a targeted audience
When you choose to submit content to reputable websites that are related to your industry and cater to your target customers, you increase the likelihood that those readers will have an interest in visiting your site.
3. Boosts your online authority
When high-authority, well-respected industry websites publish your articles, you get an instant credibility boost. It sends the message to your target audience that you’re a reliable source of information.
Consider seeking publishers that accept articles regularly from a group of contributors for whom they’ve created a permanent profile on their site. Becoming a featured author will give you an ongoing opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, build trust and generate traffic to your website.
4. Increases social media shares and following
While it appears social signals have limited impact on search rankings, it stands to reason that a correlation exists. If a publisher has a robust social media presence, naturally, more people will see your guest blog post. The more social exposure your content gets, the better your chances will be of drawing more followers to your own social channels and generating traffic back to your website from those channels.
Tips for Writing Guest Posts That Make the Cut
Editors of high-authority websites get continuously bombarded with pitches from bloggers, so they’re often picky about what they will accept. Even if you submit a topic that piques their interest, they may reject your article after you submit it. Some provide reasons why, but sometimes you won’t receive any feedback at all.
Long story short, you must put forth your best effort when writing your guest posts. I’ve listed several tips below to help you write articles that will make the cut.
1. Make sure you understand the audience’s needs.
Before you can make a successful pitch to a publisher, you must have a firm grasp on who reads the blog and what type of topics resonate with that target audience. Review blog articles on the site to familiarize yourself with the content. Identify if the publisher seems to prefer specific types of articles (e.g., listicles, how-tos, etc.) or that contain specific elements (such as industry statistics, real-world examples, etc.).
2. Make a precise pitch.
When proposing topics to blog editors, craft a compelling title. Follow it with an abstract of two to four sentences that will provide a sense of what you will include in the post and why it will be relevant to readers. A publisher needs to envision how your article will serve its readers before giving you the green light to submit it.
3. Read and abide by the website’s contributor guidelines.
Do not neglect this step, as it may instantly disqualify your article.
Comply with requirements for:
- Article length: Some might want 600-800 words, others might accept nothing less than 1,500 words.
- Quantity, type and placement of links: If publishers allow backlinks to the contributor’s website, they may restrict them to the bio only. Some publishers may set a limit on how many in-article links they will allow to other sources. Occasionally, publishers will request a certain number of links to other blog posts on their site.
- Capitalization of heading and sub-headings: Some publishers prefer that the first letter of all words in a title or heading be capitalized; others may want only major words (such as nouns, pronouns and verbs) in capital letters; or other heading style preferences might apply.
These are just a sampling of the rules you might need to follow. Also, regardless of whether the publisher’s guidelines call it out, plan to write content that flows well and is void of spelling and grammar errors. After writing your draft, review and fine-tune your content. I recommend also having a second (and third) set of eyes peruse it to pick up on any mistakes you might have missed.
4. Follow through on what you promised.
If an editor accepts your pitch and requests to see your article, commit to delivering it by a mutually agreeable deadline. Do not miss that deadline. Doing so will throw off the publisher’s editorial schedule and ruin your chances of getting published in the future.
Also, make sure your article covers what you told the editor it would. For example, if I told SEO Success Tips that I would write a guest post about “8 On-Page SEO Tips” but instead delivered the one you’re reading now, the editor might have rejected this article.
5. Behave like a professional — whether your guest post is accepted or rejected.
When a publisher accepts and publishes your guest post, do your part to raise awareness of the article across your social media channels and to your email list. That act of goodwill is a win-win for you, the publishing website and everyone who will learn from your content. Make sure you tag the website’s account in your page update or tweet so that the publisher knows you are actively sharing the post.
What if the publisher rejects your article? Don’t take it personally! Respectfully, thank the editor for the opportunity to submit your guest post, and ask for the reason why it wasn’t up to snuff.
- Was it missing something?
- Did it have too much of something?
- Did it fail to meet the editorial guidelines?
- Was it too similar to another article on the site?
- Was it inappropriate for the audience?
That insight can help you do better in future guest posts if you intend to submit articles to that publisher again.
You might not get an explanation — not all editors will take the time to give one — but it won’t hurt to ask.
Be Their Guest
Back to the burning question: Is guest blogging still good for SEO?
As part of an overarching content marketing strategy that employs SEO best practices in its owned media and outreach tactics, guest blogging can expand brand awareness, improve online authority, improve ranking in online searches and generate qualified traffic to your website.