By Aaron Agius published May 27, 2020 Est Read Time: 6 min

Why Guest Posting Isn’t the Answer

Marketers often turn to guest blogging to build brand authority and to secure backlinks to help their content’s Google ranking.

But do guest posts work? As far back as 2014, then-head of Google’s web spam team Matt Cutts said, “(S)tick a fork in it: Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

In 2020, Matt’s advice remains solid. Guest blogging should not be the star in your content marketing mix. You can use more effective ways to boost your SEO and achieve online growth. Let me explain.

1. Occasional guest posting doesn’t help SEO

Though it can be tricky to keep up with evolving SEO algorithms, not a great deal has changed principally in the murky world of link building over the last few years.

In 2012, Google introduced its Penguin update to stamp out some black-hat link-building tactics. The move led people to conclude that backlinks must be a positive contributor to a site’s ranking profile. They viewed links as demonstrating that their sites must be important enough to be referred to by other sources, thus showing search engines (and humans) that the site is an authoritative source.

In the words of Google, “Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors.”

But as this research from Backlinko reveals, writing a guest post here and here – no matter how authoritative the target domain – will do little to nothing to boost your search ranking or your online visibility.

Image source

As you can see, to rise to the top positions on search engine results pages requires hundreds of referring domains. Even a No. 10 ranking averages almost 50 referring domains.

2. Many sites aren’t that helpful

Not all backlinks are created equal. There’s no point to guest blogging on a bunch of blogs no one ever heard of.

There’s no point to guest #blogging on a bunch of blogs no one ever heard of, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

When identifying sites to guest write for, check their domain authority – a good indicator of the publishing site’s quality. You can use MozBar, a Chrome extension, to find the domain authority and an overview of the website’s metrics to see if the site is even worth your guest blogging time.

You could also use Moz’s link explorer to check out page authority (PA):

3. Quality traffic doesn’t come from most guest posts

Even a well-known (i.e., high domain authority) site may not be a valuable place for your guest post. Not all of them grant a referral link in guest posts. Some allow links but code them as “nofollow,” which lets visitors click on the hyperlink but tells Google that the site isn’t worth considering in its search algorithm.

Guest blog referral traffic is usually minimal compared to your overall traffic. And unless the referring site and guest blog topic are extremely relevant, those visitors may be low quality – they don’t stay on your site, visit other pages, convert, etc.

#Guestpost referral visitors usually don’t stay on your site, visit other pages, or convert, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

You should spend your time securing more valuable referral traffic by focusing on high-quality native content, influencer marketing, and a robust social media strategy.

4. B2C brands find less success

Here’s the deal: Building an impactful backlink profile solely from guest blogging is not likely to work for a B2C company. As Neil Patel, who has written more than a thousand guest articles, says: “If you’re in the B2C niche … chances are it’s not worth it.

“The amount of traffic you can get from these sites and the amount of business it generates for the consumer niche is so small you will not generate enough revenue.”

If you are in a #B2C niche, chances are #guestblogging is not worth it, says @NeilPatel via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

5. Guest posting doesn’t lead to short-term success

Neil also explains in the video above how he attacked guest blogging – he started with one or two guest articles a week. He ramped up to add a guest-blogging team to manage his process and he was writing a 700- to 1,000-word article every day of the week.

But Neil only began to see business materialize a year after he began, when his guest articles on sites like Entrepreneur and Inc. began to rank high in Google search results.

Ultimately, Neil advises, don’t expect to see a big return on investment for at least two years.

Don’t expect to see a big return on investment for at least two years, says @NeilPatel via @cmicontent. #guestpost Click To Tweet

In short, the more quality content you publish over time, the better the cumulative effect is. If you think of guest blogging as an overnight tactic, don’t do it.

6. Guest posting removes your control of the headline

A strong headline makes a proven difference in an article’s click-through rate. When your potential readers see a title that speaks to them, they’re more likely to click on and read it.

While you can draft a great, concise headline (40 to 60 characters) and include a best practice tactic such as a number, data, or questions, the publishing site isn’t required to use it. Perhaps the site already published another article that week with the same number in the headline. Or it never prints questioning headlines. The point is that you don’t know the big-picture circumstances so even a great headline suggestion might not work for the publishing site.

Without a strong headline, all the work of your guest post may bear little fruit as your intended audience won’t be attracted to read the article.

Forgoing guest blogging

Guest blogging in 2020 looks different than it did in 2010. It’s no longer about mass producing content to publish across multiple sites in exchange for a bunch of backlinks to bump up your SEO.

That’s why guest blogging in 2020 isn’t really the answer, especially if you’re a B2C company. It really isn’t remunerative enough to make it worth your while. Before you invest any time and resources into a guest-blogging project, focus on other more cost-effective strategies first.

Editor’s note: All tools referenced come from the author. If you would like to suggest a related tool, please include in the comments.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Aaron Agius

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online.

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