What I’ve Learned About SEO After Writing Over 1000 Guest Posts
Guest posting is still a useful strategy for improving your rankings in 2020. In fact, publishing on other people’s blogs is one of the most important off-page SEO techniques you can master. After writing over 1000 guest posts, here are the most important lessons I’ve taken away from the experience.
- Guest Blogging Is Still Worthwhile
Google’s Matt Cutts threw the blogging world into a tailspin when he told the internet to stop guest posting for links. Guest posting has never quite recovered its image since Cutts denounced it. But the practice isn’t dead, whatever you might read to the contrary. Google’s recent algorithm updates have made the search engine much better at weeding spam and low-quality content out of results. As a result, many of the webmasters and marketers who used black-hat guest posting techniques pre-2019 have seen a drop in rankings. As long as you are publishing high-quality guest posts on authoritative sites, you have nothing to worry about. Guest posting is a good way to build some links and drive referral traffic.
- Guest Posting Boosts Referrals and Link Juice — Sometimes
First things first: guest posting is often a great way to earn links. That’s still true today, though not as true as it used to be. But it’s important to keep your expectations reasonable.
You won’t always get a backlink from writing a guest post. Some sites don’t allow outgoing links at all. Others use nofollow links. Posting your work on a site that doesn’t pass any link equity isn’t necessarily a waste of time, especially if it’s an authority site and you’re trying to build your brand. You also need a mix of followed and unfollowed links leading to your site, or search engines will get suspicious. But if earning link juice is a major motivation for you, you’ll probably want to focus your efforts on sites that give you following links.
You can check whether a link is followed by looking at the website’s source code in your browser. On a PC, you can see this by hitting Ctrl + U; on a Mac, press Option + Command + U. Start by looking in the <head> tag to make sure the code content=”nofollow” does not appear there. If it does, none of the links on the entire site are followed. If you don’t see that, press Ctrl + F and paste in the URL you want to investigate. Look for the code rel=”nofollow.” If you don’t see this code inside the link’s opening and closing <a> tags, the link is followed (and thus counts for SEO).
Guest posting can bring you steady referral traffic, whether your backlinks are followed or not. Focus on posting evergreen, widely applicable or useful content on sites that have a reader base you’d like to tap into. Tailoring your writing to the readers of different sites can be an effective way to get the attention of people who would never hear of your brand otherwise.
- Social Media Use Benefits SEO
Promoting your guest posts on social media can do good things for your SEO. It’s true that your social activity doesn’t directly impact your rankings, but staying engaged with your audience — whether you first connected with them on your own blog or someone else’s — should be a vitally important part of your off-page SEO strategy. Publishing guest posts regularly gives you a reason to update your accounts regularly and interact with a wider-than-usual circle of readers.
- Create a Wide Backlink Profile to Move the SEO Needle
It takes more time and backlinks than you might think to see an improvement in your rankings. Make the most of your efforts by posting on a variety of sites. Of course, if you want to maintain a presence on a respected industry blog, it’s fine to guest post on the same site repeatedly, but this shouldn’t be your only strategy.
Why? It comes down to link equity. Search engines favor sites that have lots of different domains linking to them — it’s a sign that the site is trustworthy. Having lots of links from just one or two sites isn’t always an accurate predictor of whether a site’s content is good.
Publishing on a variety of sites also increases your odds of getting followed backlinks. This can help you indirectly strengthen your backlink profile when you land a guest posting opportunity that doesn’t earn you a link. Even if a blog doesn’t allow you to link to your own site, they might let you link to one of your other guest posts, especially if it’s on an authority site. If that post contains a following link back to your site, linking your new guest post to it will funnel some link equity back to you.
- Quality Is King
Although a cliché phrase in the industry, it really is true. Publishing high-quality writing is still the best way to impress Google and get your content ranked better. This has been true for years now, and it isn’t going to change any time soon. So it’s a good idea to take a quality-first approach to all your blogging, whether you’re writing for your own site or someone else’s. Submitting only your best work will help you get featured on more respected sites and earn more referral traffic.
Another important consideration: the quality of the sites you choose for guest posting. Not every post you write has to end up on Forbes or Huffington Post, but it’s important to vet the sites you want to write for. Don’t be tempted to post on blogs that are obviously short on quality, even for practice, because Google’s algorithm counts links from sketchy sites against you. Earning a handful of good links is a better investment of your time than obtaining dozens of low-quality links.
Guest posting isn’t a quick or easy way to the top of SERPs. But if you go about it thoughtfully, it is a good way to increase your visibility and build up your brand’s reputation. Be picky about where you publish, promote your guest posts like your own blog posts, and remember that consistency is the key to getting good results with blogging and SEO. With time and patience, you might find that guest posting becomes one of the most useful tools in your SEO toolbox.
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor in chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all-things digital marketing, both as a ghost writer, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!