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Why Guest Posting is Still Worth Doing (Even If It Doesn’t Help With SEO)

Updated June 30, 2022

Marketers often resort to guest blogging as a “get rich quick” SEO tactic to secure backlinks that help their content rank better in search.

As far back as 2014, then-head of Google’s web spam team Matt Cutts disavowed this practice, saying: “(S)tick a fork in it: Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

In the earlier version of this article (which ran with the headline Why Guest Posting Isn’t the Answer in 2020), I set out to show that guest posting wouldn’t fix SEO woes.

That article ended up kicking off a lively discussion (which you can still read in the comments) about all the non-SEO reasons guest posting makes sense.

I stand by my position that guest blogging shouldn’t be your primary strategy for a quick SEO boost. But I agree it’s still worth doing – as long as you focus on long-term growth. I submitted this article to the Content Marketing Institute rather than publishing it on my own channels, after all.

So, let’s review the reasons “old school” guest posting is (still) out. Then I’ll explain how to approach this marketing strategy the right way in 2022 and beyond.

Occasional guest posting doesn’t help SEO

It can be tricky to keep up with evolving search algorithms, but not much has changed in the murky world of link-building over the last decade.

In 2012, Google introduced the Penguin update to stamp out black-hat link-building tactics. The move led people to conclude that backlinks must contribute positively to a site’s ranking profile. They viewed links as demonstrating that their websites must be significant enough to be referenced 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 research from Backlinko reveals, writing a guest post here won’t provide the same boost to your search ranking or your online visibility.

As this chart shows, content that gets the top positions on SERPs earns many different referring root domains. Even a No. 10 ranking features multiple links from different domains. So, even if your guest post results in a backlink, a single probably won’t be enough to boost your content’s page rank.

Top ranking pages have more referring domains than lower ranking pages when excluding URLs with zero backlinks.

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.

Website quality matters

Not all backlinks are created equal. There’s no point in guest blogging on a site no one has heard of.

Check sites’ domain authority when identifying publications to which you want to submit an article. That’s 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.

A screenshot of 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):

A screenshot of Moz's Link Explorer used to check out page authority (PA).

If you’re going to invest in writing or outsourcing guest posts, make sure you properly vet the hosting domain first.

Many publishers use “nofollow” links (or no link)

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 link 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 highly relevant, those visitors may be low quality – they don’t stay on your site, visit other pages, convert, etc.

Focus on high-quality native content, influencer marketing, and a robust social media strategy to secure more valuable referral traffic.

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.”

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 later 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.

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

All tools mentioned in this article were suggested by the author. If you’d like to suggest a tool, share the article on social media with a comment.

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HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Guest Blogging: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute