Guest blogging was once one of the most useful—and one of the most popular—strategies for SEO. The basic idea behind guest blogging is simple; you pitch an idea to an outside blog or publisher, get work published on their outlet, and reap the benefits of increased visibility and traffic as a result.
Because it was easy, fast, and free (as long as you went about it the right way), it was a no-brainer for search marketers everywhere. But a lot has changed in the world of SEO, especially over the past few years, leaving many to wonder—is guest blogging still an effective strategy?
Guest blogging is relatively simple to get into, though the process may seem intimidating to those unfamiliar with the strategy. All you need to do is identify a publisher or blog that might be a good fit for your industry, reach out with a guest post or post idea, and hope to get published. The wider your network of guest posts and the more authoritative your sources are, the greater effects you’ll see. The benefits are diverse and many.
One of the most immediate benefits of guest blogging is the referral traffic you’ll receive. Assuming you include at least one link pointing back to your root domain on each individual post, you’ll see an increase in referral traffic from those external sources. For example, if your guest post gets 1,000 views and 10 percent of those readers end up clicking on your link, you’ll end up with 100 free visitors to your site. Since those links (and posts) are permanent, your referral traffic will continue to increase and compound over time.
Brand Recognition and Reputation Building
One of the less measurable effects of guest blogging is the increased brand recognition and reputation you’ll receive. As people start seeing your name and your brand popping up on more publication outlets, and as you are seen more consistently, you’ll start to be seen as a greater authority. This, in turn, will attract more people to your site and increase the likelihood that your new site visitors will eventually convert. You can even call attention to the fact that you’ve been published on these external sites on your homepage to strengthen your perceived reputation and credibility.
One of the most popular reasons for guest posting has been the opportunity to build external links. Since its inception, Google’s search algorithm has used the number and quality of backlinks pointing back to domains as a go-to resource for determining that domain’s total authority. In essence, the stronger the backlink profile, the more authoritative the site will be, and the more authoritative a site is, the higher it will rank. Guest posting gives you the perfect opportunity to build high-quality links on external sites, giving you higher search rankings—so the theory goes.
Social Audience Building
Social media marketing is becoming increasingly important as more and more consumers rely on social media platforms for their communication needs. A larger social audience means greater influence, greater search ranks, and greater brand visibility, and including your social links on all your guest posts is a surefire way to increase your following. In a self-perpetuating relationship, a greater number of followers means more traffic for your posts, and greater traffic to your posts means a greater number of followers.
The benefits of guest blogging listed above have served as the justifiers for a guest blogging strategy since its rise in popularity several years ago. However, a number of changes in the market—including Google’s algorithm updates and a shift in consumer preferences—are influencing guest blogs’ effects.
Guest blogging’s popularity has been a burden for those practicing it as an ongoing strategy. Because the demand for content is finite and consistent and the amount of content available is constantly growing, there’s been a slow but measurable oversaturation of guest content getting published. As a result, each guest post published today is slightly less valuable than an equivalent post published three years ago. As time goes on, this effect may become more severe, but for now, as long as you’re posting the best possible material you can, oversaturation can be overcome through sheer quality.
The Slow Death of Link Building
Thanks to Google’s Penguin algorithm and repeated assertions by Google that link building is not an effective strategy, many search marketers are shying away from link building altogether. Fortunately, link building is only a small part of what makes guest posting effective. Instead of using links, rely on brand mentions to pass authority—they’ll build your domain authority just as much, and they don’t carry a risk of penalty. Plus, you can still use links to increase your referral traffic—just use a nofollow tag if you want to mitigate your penalty risk.
Much has changed in the world of SEO over the past few years, but nothing so significant that guest blogging is no longer effective. If implemented correctly, guest blogging is more than just a viable strategy—it’s one of the most reliable strategies you can use to increase your rank. Use it as a fundamental pillar of your SEO campaign, and keep watch for new trends so you can keep your content fresh and original. With consistency and discipline, your guest blogging strategy will take you to new heights in rank, visibility, and traffic.