Everyone wants to be #1 on Google.
The objective is always to rank as highly as you can as this will drive exponentially more traffic to your site, which ultimately means more sales and reaching your target audience.
One of the top ways to boost your search engine optimization (SEO) and Google rankings is through guest blogging and this has been a strategy used for many years now.
Getting guest bloggers and using backlinks from high authority websites is a way in which you could move up through the Google ranks and show your own site to be authoritative and was using legitimate strategies for link building.
Google Sends Businesses into Meltdown Over Guest Blogging
Back in 2014, Matt Cutts, the former Head of Web Spam at Google said that “guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy’.
This sent many businesses into a panic.
Would their website be affected by this type of update if they previously featured guest bloggers?
You never know when the next Google algorithm update is going to come along and set back all your SEO hard work!
Although this was said back in 2014, now as we are heading into 2021, is guest blogging dead? The objective of guest blogging has always been about backlinks. This is still fundamental to Google’s algorithm on how it assesses the authoritativeness of a website. If you are faced with a competitor who has lots of high authority backlinks and you have none, chances are they are going to beat you in the rankings for the best targeted keywords!
This means that anyone with a website has had to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their own guest blogging and achieving backlinks.
So, is guest blogging dead?
The answer, overall, is no.
However, there are specific rules to adhere to if you want to ensure that your guest blogging backlinks help your ranking and don’t hinder them.
The Basics of Guest Blogging
Before we go on, it’s important to establish the basics of guest blogging.
Essentially, a guest post is, is written content which is published on a third-party website with the author’s name. Alongside the author’s name, there is normally a line of two of information about who the author is and a link to their website, which is the backlink. In a guest blogging piece, the backlinks are also often included throughout the main body of the content.
This type of strategy to get authoritative bank links on your website is one of the most popular, although there are still other options available.
Now, you may be asking yourself, what is the problem with this method of obtaining backlinks? It appears great! The problem is that when an SEO technique is popular and widely used, it can be abused. Furthermore, Google catches on to this popularity and will look to weed out the spammy content that is bad practice. While bad content is targeted, it could still end up affecting your good content which is, of course, not what any website owner wants.
What Guest Blogging Content Does Google Punish?
There are a number of ways in which Google will penalize guest blogging content. These are some of the bad practices that you should avoid.
Content with No Value
If you are publishing guest blogging content that has no value, or very, very little value, then Google will recognize this and punish you for it. If a guest content piece is purely being written just to include a backlink and does not contain any helpful information, you can be sure this won’t help with your rankings. When creating guest blogging content, at the forefront should always be informing your readers with valuable information. This will then, subsequently, help your SEO.
If you are thinking about creating one piece of content and then just simply editing it a little to create more backlinks – don’t! When you republish content and spin it a little in order to post it on another website for extra backlinks, Google will recognize this and punish you for it.
Overloading Content with Backlinks
Many sites that accept guest posts make the mistake of cramming in as many backlinks as possible into an article, however, this is a big mistake. Google will be able to pick this up immediately and see that you are trying to cheat the system and you will be penalized for it.
Don’t Go Crazy with Anchor Text Keywords
Another common error that is made with guest blogging content is using overloading the backlink anchor text with a tonne of keywords. This isn’t natural and makes your backlink and article appear spammier. To be clear, less than 1% of your anchor text should be exact match, according to Ahrefs.
Using Low Authority Guest Blog Sites
A big no no when it comes to backlinks and guest blogging is publishing content on low authority sites. You’ll know exactly the types of sites that we are talking about such as the news sites that are very low-quality and look like spam articles. These sorts of sites use very poor content and simply a way to make quick money. In the long run, this will only damage your SEO efforts using these types of websites.
Repeatedly Using the Same Websites
Guest blogging can be extremely time consuming and so it seems easier just to repeatedly use the same handful of sites that you are on good terms with. However, this is wrong as it can, again, appear like spam. Instead, you need to take the time and effort to build relationships with a wide range of different sites and do blogger outreach.
Not Knowing the Subject You’re Writing On
If you want a piece of content to appear reputable, knowledgeable and authoritative, then it has to be written by someone who knows about the subject you are writing on. This ensures that your content provides value to the audience it is intended for and will rank better.
As you can see, many people have been abusing this SEO service strategy, which has given guest blogging a bad name! However, this isn’t really the case and when you are considered with it, it can be very beneficial in your overall optimization strategy.
What You SHOULD Do When Guest Blogging
The best type of guest blog is one that doesn’t look like spam. It really is as easy as that! If your content is original, high-quality and linked to good websites, then it will no doubt benefit your SEO strategy. This can then lead to more traffic to your site, new audiences reached, and another fantastic added benefit is that it will help you to increase your brand awareness.
When you provide guest blogs, it is absolutely vital that you follow best practices and don’t go down the dangerous route of it appearing like spam.
Write Original Content
Whenever you are publishing a piece of content, it has to be original. Don’t get lazy and start slightly re-writing bits of content to try and pass it off as new as this just won’t work. All content has to be unique and if it isn’t, then it won’t be worth publishing.
Check Backlink Domain
It is crucial that you know how authoritative a website is before using it as your backlink. This is usually referred to on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. There are lots of different software tools that you can use to determine this and if it shows the website as being under 30 on the Domain Authority score, then it’s a pass. The higher the score is, the better the backlink from it will be, however, this does come at a cost.
Ensure Main Body Backlinks are Relevant
Whenever you are linking within the main body of an article, you have to ensure that these links are relevant to the subject that you are talking about. The links should provide more information on the topic in discussion and give the reader further insight. This should also be limited to just a few high-quality links.
Don’t Think About it as Just SEO
Many make the mistake when guest blogging of putting SEO at the forefront, which can ultimately be detrimental to your goals. When guest posting, the aim is to appear as knowledgeable and as an authoritative source on the subject you are talking about. The article should be designed to educate whoever is reading it and highlight you as a go-to source. Then, any good backlinks are a bonus rather than just the sole focus.
Why Are Follow vs Nofollow Backlinks Important?
Lastly, when you are ensuring that your guest blogging is going to help with your SEO, rather than hinder it, you will need to know about follow and nofollow links.
- Follow – Follow backlinks are used when you want to build up your SEO as the pass on link equity.
- Nofollow – Nofollow backlinks don’t pass on any link equity and therefore Google recognizes little to no SEO value of these links.
This means that if you solely use nofollow links in your link building you won’t see much gain. However, by ensuring that the links in both the main body and the author byline are follow links, your website will benefit from that SEO value. Keep in mind, a natural link profile should include a healthy mixture of both dofollow and nofollow. Don’t hold religiously to only dofollow links.
In fact, recent guidance also indicates all (or most) legitimate guest posts should be marked rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored”.
Do You Need to Use Backlinks when Guest Blogging?
If you are still worried about being penalized for backlinks when guest blogging, there is another option. Instead of a backlink, you can get a company citation instead. Google is constantly updating their algorithms, and now, not only will it recognize backlinks, but it will also recognize references to your name, address and phone number when ranking websites on its algorithm. Backlinks are still the best option as they are more valued but the more your company details are listed on other websites, the bigger the impact it will have on two types of SEO – local and organic.
What’s more, if your guest blogging is high-quality, it will automatically drive-up traffic to your site as people will see you as an authoritative source and visit your website. This helps you build a fantastic reputation for your business and people will automatically want to learn more. It also helps to write articles on the right types of websites as this means you are reaching a more targeted audience. Writing on a more general website means piquing the interest of fewer readers and less traffic headed your way.
To Sum Up
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is good news for guest blogging as an SEO strategy as it is far from dead! Really, what Matt Cutts was referring to was spam and mislabeling it as guest blogging. In reality, it has nothing to do with guest blogging. So, to sum things up:
- Don’t publish spammy content on another website as it can affect your own SEO.
- Don’t accept spammy content from other guest bloggers and publish it on your website as it can affect your SEO.
- Don’t be associated with authors and websites who are publishing spammy content as this can, again, affect your own SEO.
As long as you follow all the tips and advice that we have provided for you, then you can implement very successful SEO services using guest blogging and increase your rankings. Building up your backlinks over a period of time from sites with a high-ranking domain authority will help your site to be seen as an authoritative source and, over time, you can expect more traffic and higher sales. Plus, despite what Google has said in the past, this will definitely help to keep you in their good books!
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