Guest posting is often the go to method to building backlinks to your blog, or is it? The fact is guest posting doesn’t work like it did several years ago, so why are the experts still recommending it?
Well that may be a bit of a deeper question that needs to be evaluated, it may be wise of you to take a deep dive into the experts and what qualifies them as such.
Today, however, I want to discuss the things that you need to know about guest posting. What benefits can you really see from it? Is it really worth your time?
What The Experts Often Say And Get Wrong
SEO experts and big bloggers that we all follow like to tell us that we need to guest post. The main reason for this is to build backlinks to our blog on other well known websites.
You see how people like to humble brag being featured on well known websites by placing those logos on their sites? This typically means they’ve done a guest post for those sites at some point.
Sometimes its user submitted content on a member platform, sometimes it’s editorial or opinion pieces, and a lot of times the posts aren’t even active on the site anymore. At one point however, they were on those sites.
Back in 2010 I’m sure it was lucrative to guest post for the big name publishers. Search engines like Google would see this and send what’s referred to as link juice to the guest posters website because a bigger publisher saw them as an authority.
Well in 2014 that actually stopped. Google saw loads of bloggers guest posting like crazy on every site they could and said, “ok, you’re gaming the system, this stops now.”
They stopped seeing links in guest posts as authoritative and stopped giving credits or points to the guest posters website.
So why are they still recommending it? Who really knows why?
Guest Posting and SEO
John Mueller is the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. He is pretty much the go to guy when it comes to SEO and Google. Google is the most used – by far – search engine in the world so it’s pretty important to listen to what Google has to say on SEO.
What Google Says
In a recent set of tweets John explained that links inside of guest posts should be nofollow, even if it’s in a byline or even if the link is natural. He also mentioned that this is nothing new, yet SEO’s everywhere seemed stunned by this news.
He also went on to say:
“The other thing is that because this is so old, we have a lot of training data for our algorithms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the largest part of those links are just ignored automatically. If all that work is for ignored links, why not just do something useful instead?”
What Link Schemes Are
Back in the early days of blogging people would do a lot of shady things in order to try to manipulate page rank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.
These things included, but are not the only things:
- Buying or selling links.
- Excessive link exchanges.
- Large scale guest posting campaigns.
- Using automated programs to create links to your site.
- Forum comments with optimized links in the posts or signatures.
These link schemes were popular and would purposely try to trick Googles algorithm to think that the sites being linked to were real authorities when they probably weren’t.
For more on link schemes you can read all about it, direct from Google here.
Even With A Follow You Are Likely Not Gaining Anything
The truth is, Google got smart and trained their algorithm to catch these types of things and ignore the links anyways. So all those guest posts and things that you’ve done are probably not bringing you anything to begin with.
Google isn’t going to waste precious man hours chasing down every single website who participates in link schemes so instead they made it so the algorithm does it for them. The truth is, the algorithm is smart and it sees right through all those things you do for backlinks.
What No Follow Actually Means
Now of course not all is lost. In March of 2020 Google changed the way NoFollow works.
NoFollow used to tell Google not to follow through and crawl the link that was attached. Now nofollow is used as a “hint.”
It works like this, when Google comes to your post and sees a nofollow link, Google may scan the post attached to that link to get hints as to what your post is about. It doesn’t mean that the link or your post are going to get anything from it, it’s just used as a way for Google to help identify the correct places to show your post.
Is All Lost For Building Backlinks Through Guest Posting?
Short answer, no. I personally don’t believe all is lost through guest posting. Google may still rank a guest post for hundreds if not thousands of different reasons.
Additionally, Google is not real life people. The fact is, I as a mommy blogger, will often seek out other peoples experiences and expertise on certain subjects because I know that my audience can benefit from it.
Other bloggers might seek me out knowing that their audience can benefit from my experiences or expertise.
The fact is, Google has ALWAYS wanted us to focus on readers. Follow or nofollow if you are serving your audience that is what matters most to Google and that is what ultimately gets you ranking for searches.
What You Can Gain From Guest Posting
Backlinks, link juice, and better rankings are not all there is to get from guest posting. By far guest posting is one of the better ways to build relationships with other bloggers, sharing in the audience, and possibly getting involved in future collaborations.
If you guest post for another blogger, that blogger gets quite a bit of traffic to her site from that guest post, she might come to you with other collaborations.
These collaborations can be building a product, course, or service together, that makes quite a bit of money. They could be running a podcast together that gets sponsored and makes you both money. It could be a book you two write.
Building relationships with other bloggers is a huge part of building a business and a brand. So backlinks, link juice, and better rankings be gone, there are bigger and more powerful collaborations that can come from guest posting.
Should Guest Posting Be A Part Of Your Strategy?
Yes, I still think guest posting should be a part of your strategy, but less in a hustle and more in a strategic kind of way.
Instead of hustling for those backlinks I think you should be watching what your favorite bloggers are doing, pitch to them, and start building what could be a lucrative business relationship with them.
Find bloggers who resonate with you, who’s personality fits your own, and who share a similar type of audience with you. Those are the bloggers you want to guest post for.
Instead of chasing a high domain authority, go after the great relationship building, audience sharing, expertise finding side of guest blogging.
What If You Have Guest Posts On Your Blog
If you have old guest posts on your blog where the links are follow links, I wouldn’t do anything other than make a list of those posts.
Google doesn’t do anything with those links anyways because they already know they are involved with guest posts. So the reality is you probably don’t need to go back to change the links to no follow.
Making those links no follow isn’t going to hurt your past guest posters because the reality is they were never getting anything from it to begin with and haven’t since 2014. But in case of future action you may want to be aware of which posts have follow links in them.
Having a list of posts that contain follow links may help you if Google ever comes out and says there will be action taken against people who don’t follow this rule. So far, no actions have been taken.
Going forward you want to make sure that links in guest posts are no follow links.
The Backlinks Google Wants To See
Google wants to see what I’m calling natural backlinks. This means they want links that naturally fit into content.
The truth is emailing other bloggers asking them to link to your blog posts is probably not the best way to go about building backlinks. Especially as you are starting out.
The absolute best way to build backlinks is to write authoritative and relative to your audience content. Writing plenty of content, building your brand, and building your following gets you noticed by other publications.
Those publications will link to your authoritative content where it naturally fits into their own content, to further help their own audience. These are the links that Google wants to see and will put the most value to.
Moral Of The Story
There are a few things that should be taken away from all of this. A few final points that you will want to remember when dealing with SEO and Google as a blogger.
You Can’t Game The System
Google is too smart and is constantly making tweaks to their algorithm. There are big updates that we often hear about and sometimes fear, but the truth is their algorithm changes often.
You cannot game the algorithm to work in your favor, so don’t try. Google’s entire job is to show the most relevant responses for what people search for. The best thing you can do is make sure you are writing relevant content to what your audience is searching for.
Google is always learning and always refining to produce the best results for searches. This is why they are the most used search engine with over 80% of people using google over any other search engine.
Get Your Facts From Google
The best thing you can do for your SEO is to listen to Google. Get your SEO information from Google themselves so you do what they want and have a better chance of ranking.
John Mueller is always on Twitter, runs weekly episodes where he answers questions, and is always giving out nuggets of information regarding best current practices for SEO.
On top of this social media presence there is also a lot of information in this helpful guide direct from Google.
Also Search Engine Journal is just one of very few trusted sources in current and up to date practises in SEO. They are a great trusted source for all your SEO needs.
Always Check Dates And Sources On Articles
When you are searching for information on SEO try to find only current information. Check the dates on every article. If the article doesn’t have a date it’s safer to assume that the article is out of date.
Also, make sure that you check for sources on any article dealing with SEO. If it can’t be backed up by what Google is saying or have proof in several tests it’s probably not good information.
Doing these two things alone may save you from a lot of wasted time and work on what you are doing. When in doubt send a tweet to John Mueller to get confirmation. He’s usually pretty good about responding to tweets.
Guest posting is still something that should be done, for the right reasons. Building backlinks through guest posting just isn’t something that happens. Instead you should try to build relationships with bloggers.
Getting guest posting opportunities with bloggers you resonate with will likely be a better way to share an audience. Having guest bloggers who will resonate with your audience will bring more opportunities.
Guest posting isn’t hard when you are writing for an audience that is already open and receptive towards your type of writing. Searching for those opportunities can lead to shared audience and more collaborative opportunities.
Will you continue to guest post? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite blogging boards.
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