Marketers have frequently turned to guest posts to acquire backlinks and bolster brand authority, all with the overall goal of increased Google rankings. In the past, securing a guest posting opportunity played a significant role in generating referral traffic, growing brand awareness, and boosting domain authority.
But now, the view of guest blogging has shifted.
With changes to Google algorithms that rank search engine placement, marketers are instead focusing on publishing high-quality content on sites that generate higher user engagement rather than mass-produced guest blogs on randomly chosen, low-quality sites.
This begs the questions: with differing ideas around guest posting and the continual changes in the content marketing field, why do guest posts continue to hold such a place in digital marketing? Should you use guest posts in your marketing strategy to gain customers and generate leads?
To better understand whether or not you should be guest posting, we took a deep dive into the goals for guest posting and what to consider if you decide to go that route.
Guest Posting 101
In short, a single guest post is written content that is posted on another website. But a guest blogging strategy is more than just posting to another company’s or brand’s website.
Used by content marketers as a method to draw traffic to their site, a guest blog post will include backlinks and critical mentions. The published content will speak to a similar audience or targeted market niche as the publisher, so the content has high relevance to a targeted viewership.
Your goal is that the blog will attract traffic to your website and boost your domain authority and search engine ranking position (SERP). Other goals might include building brand awareness, building topical authority, and eventually growing into a thought leadership position.
Guest posting usually involves one company reaching out to another to request a guest post. Once a guest post is secured, then the guest company will provide the content and the hosting company will post it, listing the guest name and company name as the author.
Ideally, your target partnership will be with a website with higher engagement in the way of comments and shares—as well as higher domain authority. It’s also important to distinguish that while the blog content is highly relevant, the brand that is hosting the blog post is not a direct competitor to the brand writing the guest post. That hosting brand should be a company that offers services or products that supports the guest poster’s goals, services, and products, but does not directly compete with them.
When you secure a guest blog posting spot with a company that complements (but does not compete) with your brand, your brand and content are exposed to new but relatable audiences. This is beneficial because your brand becomes familiar to your new audience as a way of solving a related pain point, and they may seek your services or products in the future.
With these boxes checked, more readers are exposed to your brand as being reliable since your brand is also being trusted by a brand that they already trust.
Key Characteristics of Guest Posting
As with all content that you produce, you should consider guest posting content to reflect your company positively since it is a reflection of the type of content that your company supports. If the content is a hastily-written, keyword-stuffed piece, then it might be received adversely, and actually generate a negative image of your company.
No matter what the actual topic is, the guest blog post should be written by someone comfortable writing in that style. Ideally, they are an industry expert (you or your best content writer) and the content writing style must be helpful, informative, and well-put-together.
Be confident in your content quality. If you can’t do this yourself, then consider hiring professional content writers to properly convey your brand message, voice, and goals.
As a content marketer, you must decide what you ultimately want to get out of guest posting:
- Brand Authority: For example, if you want to boost your brand authority on a given subject, then your aim is to find a website or blog in a relevant niche with moderate domain authority. You then write in-depth about a top-of-mind or current industry issue.
- Traffic via Backlinking: Backlinking traffic is one way to stealthily grow your brand awareness and secure leads. If you want to secure backlinks, you must instead prioritize a website with high domain authority (you can check via MozBar, SEMrush, or SmallSEOTools), preferably one that is over 60. High backlinking strategies won’t focus as much on promoting your brand name or addressing a targeted pain point but instead will provide general value and secure traffic through trustworthy backlinks.
- Leads Gen: Again, if your goal is to get leads, then your strategy would change. You would then be looking for a brand audience with distinct pain points so that your content informs them of the solutions that your brand can provide. The goals of the content would focus on CTAs and getting audience members to visit your website for a distinct purpose.
- Brand Recognition/Awareness: If you have a goal of recognition and an overall increase in traffic and new leads, finding a site with a combination of relatable pain points and a higher domain authority is the way to go. This goal might be good for a company that is still growing and interested in getting their name out there.
Ideally, your guest post will be shared on social media sites (such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), which creates backlinks and brand recognition for your company. So be sure that you want this content to be linkable, clickable, and shareable. It is important to keep in mind that a viral post is not always easy to achieve, and it is not the main goal that you should be striving for.
SEO Benefits of Regular Guest Posting
Your SEO strategy should then aim to write guest posts somewhat frequently (4-6 times a year) on high lead gen potential and high domain authority websites.
In the over 200 factors of Google’s ranking algorithm, you will find many different elements that are part of how you can get your website noticed. An occasional guest post spot will not boost your search ranking or authority in any meaningful or long-lasting way. Your online visibility and position in the SERPs will only increase with frequent guest posts.
By keeping your name top-of-mind, and staying consistent at guest blogging, Google will begin to recognize your brand name and reward you for your positive contributions to the field. Online marketing guides suggest that in order to optimize your ranking in the SERPs, you need to be building links with other sites. And, funny enough, guest posts have long been the best way of nurturing these backlinks.
Occasional posts will do nothing for link building to your site, as your post(s) will be forgotten amongst a litany of other search queries. For your best ROI, secure a bi-monthly (every two months) or quarterly published guest post to a complimentary website combined with a guest posting strategy.
Keep in mind that if your guest posting frequency goes up too high, then your search engine ranking, brand respect, and site visits might go down.
The use of ‘spammy’ guest posts inundated with keywords, having zero substance, published on multiple low-quality websites in the hope that you will bolster your website will cause Google to recognize you as spam.
Um… no thank you!
Increase Your Brand URL’s Google Ranking Through Guest Posting—If That’s Your Goal
Google says that the best steps for a Google-friendly site are high-quality content on your homepage and natural links to your website. This means that you can use guest posts in your marketing strategy, but you also can’t just rely on guest post spots to create a backlink vertical to your site.
So if you really wanted to boost your Google ranking, then we suggest guest posting with SEO in mind. An excellent marketing strategist employs a mix of different techniques in order to improve the search engine readability of their website.
The use of an informative guest posting opportunity on a high-quality website paired with any number of the following methods will only prove lucrative for your brand growth.
Keep Content Relevant
Relevant, high-quality, and unique content is the single most important element in your search for optimization.
The best way to publish relevant content is to understand your buyers’ intent(s); delving into the buyer’s intent also suggests the keywords and style of keywords that you will be targeting.
Relevance is also based on the personalities of your buyer(s), so be sure to create your buyer persona. A buyer persona, also known as an avatar, is a person or a “type” of person that will strongly consider your brand, will intend to buy your product or service because it will solve a previously unsolved pain point or one who has purchased your product or service in the past.
Keep in mind that users typically use the following 3 types of search queries:
- A commercial search: Do something online, like “Buy a guitar online”
- An informational search: Know something online, like “Electric guitar reviews 2020”
- A navigational search: Go somewhere online, like a specific website, “Gibson website”
Long-tail keywords are easy to draw traffic and rank. For instance, a generic search of “guitars” will have lots of competition on search engines, but the use of long-tail keywords like “electric guitars for sale nearby” will standout.
To develop your target topic and hopefully long-tail keywords, it is important to put yourself in your buyer’s metaphorical shoes:
What problem(s) are you trying to solve for your target customer?
What value are you selling?
Why do you offer that value?
Be mindful that your content must be written for the user, but be readable by the search engine. And now, Google is looking for clear readability, as well as relevance, uniqueness, and high-quality content.
Your SEO is impacted by metadata because it is indexed by Google. Therefore, it is important to develop your metadata to be keyword-laden and conversion-oriented.
Your website’s metadata builds a link between your audience, your brand, and your search mechanisms. With the right metadata, content becomes more searchable and discoverable. And leveraged properly, meta expands engagement on the content of your website and click-through rates (CTRs).
Your website URL, alt (alternative text description) tags, title tags, and headings (like H1) all have an effect on your rankings.
The use of a powerful call to action (CTA), for example, and keywords in your meta description can positively affect your CTR, which then affects your overall ranking. And coupled with high-quality content, you will see high volume traffic with low bounce rates. Add this to the use of descriptive alt tags, which allows search engines to locate your page, and you’ll see overall more opportunities for web visitors and future customers.
On-page SEO also looks at the links on your page. The links on your website should be substantive and relevant to your content. This means your links should be explicitly written out as a link to the destination rather than a ‘click here’ link. Descriptive links that are filled with keywords improve SEO and the readability of your brand’s website.
These are the only places on your website where it is permissible to strategically load keywords, and doing so will increase traffic to your site.
Not only are descriptive links and alt tags great for SEO, but it will make your site more accessible and encourage readers with disabilities to feel included and more willing to engage with your content!
The skyscraper technique turns ‘content into high-quality backlinks’. Like Brian Dean of Backlinko, the skyscraping technique builds your website linking strategy into an effective marketing tool.
The skyscraper technique is just three simple steps:
Step 1: Find link-worthy content
Step 2: Make something even better
Step 3: Reach out to the right people
With in-depth research into trends, hot topics, newly developed opportunities, and successful content in your field, you can create your own content that delivers a similar message as the already published content that you have researched. Nevertheless, your content should be more up to date, more visually appealing, or feature more specific facts than the previous piece(s) from which you are researching. You should also provide a new and unique value to your readers.
The next step is to create a list of desirable distribution prospects, and once you have produced your own distinctive content, you can reach out to these websites that have already linked the related content and ask for your own link.
Keep an eye on your own content so that your work stays relevant. Update if necessary, so that your piece of content is the most up to date. This way, your target audience will rely on you, your brand, and your content to provide the best and most current content in your industry.
Keep Your Content Current
As with your skyscraper posts, being the leading edge in your field is crucial to your website and brand success. Therefore in addition to actively updating your current content, you also want to link to old posts and include updates on past issues in new content. Keep circling back to your content so that viewers see that you stay on top of trends.
Additionally, search engines will see these changes after every update and reposition your ranking. You should also consider manually indexing with Google Search Console so your site is updated immediately.
To update your written content or on-page SEO does not necessarily mean to just add on to it. Again, search engines (and your audience) look for high-quality content. You should keep your content factual by updating statistics, dates, prices, trends, topics, and other relevant information that easily becomes outdated, and remove or retract outdated information.
okwrite’s Bottom Line
The final verdict is that guest posting still works, but…it has to be good, and it can’t be your only marketing tactic.
In order to be successful, a guest post must be longer in length, thoroughly planned and researched, and consist of high-quality content. And it must be published in conjunction with a marketing strategy. By doing all this, you will be able to improve your ranking in the SERPs.
When your well-written guest post content is published on a high-quality, reputable website that solves a similar, but not exact problem as yours, it is beneficial to both you and the publisher. The publishing site is getting well-written (and refreshing) content on their site, and your brand will be given the chance to speak to a potentially new audience. As your brand becomes more familiar with new audience markets, it will be recognized as an authoritative voice in your subject matter or field.
Furthermore, a well-crafted marketing strategy that uses a combination of the above marketing techniques to increase your ranking position further solidifies your website as an authoritative figure in your subject matter when new traffic is driven to your site.
Be the best marketer in your industry by creating a mix of guest posts, backlinks, and marketing techniques to draw referral traffic with new customers, engagement, and leads so that you are the brand authority in your field.