By Louis Gudema published February 27, 2015

How Guest Blogging Solved My SEO Problem

Gudema-blogging-SEO-coverA year ago, guest blogging was declared dead. No less of a figure than Google’s Matt Cutts wrote: “OK, I’m calling it: If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

Don’t do guest blogging to get links, they said. And don’t use guest bloggers to create content for your site. Just cut it out.

But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of guest blogging has been greatly exaggerated. Over the past year, in working on building the SEO rank for my new company, I’ve learned:

  • Guest blogging is not dead. Google hates repetitive, spammy content, but as long as your guest post is original with good to great quality on a site known for quality content (like this one), Google is fine with it.
  • Getting links from authoritative sites is a great way to raise a domain’s search ranking. (Unless, of course, if the site, like Medium, only provides a no-follow link, then it’s not going to help.) The traffic from the site probably helps, too.
  • Social sharing, especially from popular accounts, is beneficial, too.

Let’s look in more detail at each of these lessons.

1. Guest blogging is not dead

Not just in the marketing space but in business generally, countless high-quality sites use guest bloggers on a daily basis. These include Harvard Business Review (which publishes several guest posts a day), MarketingProfs, HubSpot, Forbes, and on and on.

One of the most important things to remember about guest blogging is that each site has its own rules and guidelines on the type of material it wants. A couple years ago I approached a major publication about doing some guest interviews for them. They declined, as they limited interviews to their staffers because some guest bloggers had used the interviews to promote clients. (My first interview suggestion was a principal at another agency, so clearly that conflict wasn’t the case for me, but the major publication stuck to its rule.) I then approached a major blog and learned the editor had just been talking about wanting to run more interviews. The result was a series of interviews with prominent sales and marketing leaders that I later collected into an eBook.

2. Getting links from authoritative sites is a great way to raise a domain’s search ranking

Upon starting a new company last April I had a search problem. After considering many names, I settled on “revenue + associates.” The name succinctly communicates my focus on helping companies generate more revenue and using a wide range of experienced marketing and sales partners to achieve that end. It’s a lot more memorable than something like Gudema & Associates. At virtually every event I attended, someone, usually fairly senior, would point to my name tag and say, “Revenue and associates! I like that name!” I knew I had made the right choice.

But Google reads my company name as “revenue” and “associates” and that search delivers over 95 million results. My site wasn’t at or close to the top. People who searched for my company by name were unlikely to find me.

I previously suffered this dilemma. In 1998, just a few months after I started a company called Magic Hour Communications, former NBA great Earvin “Magic” Johnson launched a talk show called The Magic Hour. My search rankings sank under a ton of coverage for his show. Fortunately for me, the show was cancelled after only three months, but it still took another 12 to 18 months for that coverage to wither away and Magic Hour Communications to rise high on page one again.

So I had to do something about my new company, revenue + associates. Search engine optimization is important in search rankings, of course. Using appropriate keywords in the page’s title tag, having a search-friendly (rather than merely clever) headline, adding H1 tags, etc., can make a significant difference in a page’s ranking. The more cues to Google the better.

But as the Moz survey of search engine ranking factors shows, far more important than the on-site factors are links to the site and page.

moz-search-engine-ranking-image 1

So I figured that guest blogging would be the fastest way to get links from other authoritative sites, even if Matt Cutts said it was dead. I already had been guest blogging for authoritative sites such as Econsultancy and IDG Connect. Getting links from them to my new revenue + associates site was fairly easy because I just updated the bio information that appears at the end of each post.

louis-gudema-bio-image 2

Around the same time I conducted original research on mid-market companies’ adoption rate of marketing technology. What I discovered in my research was fairly sobering: Outside of the software industry, few companies are using marketing technology. That research created more opportunities for guest blogging on authoritative sites such as TechTarget and VentureBeat.

In the summer I published an eBook that compiled interviews with 10 sales and marketing leaders that I had done over the previous year for IDG Connect and other sites. This gave me the opportunity (and introductions) to not just write guest posts for HubSpot and MarketingProfs, and do a point/counterpoint on, but to gain additional tweets, links, and shares to the eBook from my interview subjects who had tens of thousands of followers.

I found that about 2% of the people who read a particular post (based on the numbers the host sites gave me) clicked on the link on my profile and came to my site (based on my site’s Google Analytics). Google was no doubt aware of this increase in traffic to my site and that must have figured into its rankings for revenue + associates.

3. Social sharing, especially from popular accounts, is helpful, too

The sites for which I was guest blogging usually tweeted about my posts, too. They often used my Twitter handle. (Interestingly, some sites, such as TechTarget, are much better about socially sharing the work of their guest bloggers than others.) And, of course, those social shares led to additional tweets and shares with mentions of me. Some of those people came to my site, too, etc. With Google Analytics on my and virtually all sites, Google is well aware of factors such as social links, traffic to site, etc. It’s all good.

By November, when I wrote a blog post for the Harvard Business Review website, it was icing on the cake: My revenue + associates site was already ranked No. 1 by Google when searching on my company name.

Guest blogging lives. Problem solved.

Want to connect with authoritative content marketing outlets and learn more about great content creation and distribution.  Check out the CMWorld 2014 sessions available through our Video on Demand portal and make plans today to attend Content Marketing World 2015.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Louis Gudema

Louis Gudema is the president of revenue + associates, which helps companies increase revenue through measurable improvements in sales and marketing. He has over 25 years of marketing experience, including 15-plus years of digital marketing experience. Aside from his company site, he blogs on sales and marketing and can be reached through Twitter and LinkedIn.

Other posts by Louis Gudema

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    Great read Louis, agree 100%, Guest-Blogging certainly isn’t dead at all; neither is SEO. As for social sharing – will share this great article on Twitter & you’re more than welcome to Guest-Blog on our new site!

  • Louis Gudema

    Thanks, SEO SERPS – glad you found it valuable. I’ll check out your blog.

  • Joe Arak

    Thanks Louis for telling a great story and sharing your personal
    challenges and what you learned. That name conflict with Magic Johnson
    back in the old days I bet was a surprise bummer, though now it’s just a
    great marketing anecdote. I’m just really getting going as a blogger
    and appreciate your insights and good ideas.

  • Louis Gudema

    Thanks Joe – good luck with it! As I wrote in a post for MarketingProfs, it’s all about consistently pushing on the flywheel, getting it spinning faster and faster.

  • Ricky Shockley

    Hi Louis, good post! I certainly agree that guest posting can help you earn invaluable links for SEO efforts when done correctly, but I really don’t think it should be the core reason behind a guest contribution strategy. As Joe (and many other experts like Seth Godin) always talks about, I believe a real content marketing strategy should be at the core of any guest posting strategy. The primary goal should be to reach and “steal” audience as is often mentioned with native advertising on P&R. The SEO benefits should be secondary to that in my opinion.

  • Ram Babu SEO

    Thanks @louisgudema:disqus Yes, Guest Blogging should not be thought to work for LINKS purposes only. We need to act here smarter to create or present high quality and useful content what our audiences want to engage or interact with.

  • Sany Din

    Great stuff…MOz blog section is best example that supports your all statement.

  • Louis Gudema

    Thanks for your comment, Ricky. Absolutely – guest blogging is an end in itself in terms of gaining attention and “stealing” audience, but in my experience on many blogs (such as those I mentioned in the post) on average about 2% of people who read the post then click over to my site/blog. As I pointed out in the MarketingProfs post, it’s all about pushing on the flywheel and every push gets it moving that much faster.

  • Avnish Gautam

    Guest blogging is really awesome way to promote websites and for this people must choose high traffic websites.
    My blog –

  • urbanplanners

    quite impressive

  • ravi

    i am having a problem posting images on my site..
    i have downloaded some photos from search engines ..and want to post them in my blog..
    but i heard that google adssense wont allow blog which are having copyrighted images…
    how can i overcome this problem…..PLEASE HELP ME……