Rumor has it that Matt Cutts has taken it out the back and put a bullet in it’s head. Like some kind of mob killing from the 1930s.
Note: Matt Cutts is head of Google’s Web Spam team if you did not know him. His team makes all the changes to Google search (determining who is on top, and who not)
Well I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Matt did not actually shoot guest posting in the head. He only fired a warning shot over the bow of those pesky SEO pirate ships. You know? The ones that are using guest posting as a quick and dirty way to get links!
He even went back and edited his post that caused all the uproar back in 2014, and added some further clarification:
I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
You got it. Guest posting is still alive and kicking, as long as you do it right.
So let’s dive deep into the shady world of SEO and guest blogging, and have a look at why guest blogging still rocks, and what you should and should not be doing to get yourself a guesting posting opportunity.
If you are anything like me (appearing an famous talk shows on TV and so on – only joking) you might get the occasional offer of a guest blog post. In most cases they are just horrible emails offering to give you some half-baked content with a link back to their or their client’s website
I would give you an example of such an email, but I delete them all as soon as I receive them.
These emails make me laugh, and even occasionally send a reply with a lesson on what they should really be doing (which I will get to in a minute). Although in most cases it falls on deaf ears! So I don’t do that anymore.
What is really annoying about these horrible emails is that they clearly show their lack of research, understanding and knowledge of my site:
Perhaps even more frustrating is that I do actually like having guest posters on my site. In fact, I had an awesome one the other day (thanks George, your post rocked) but rarely do such amazing guest posters land in my inbox, or yours I am guessing.
Don’t give up on guest blogging just yet. there are so many reasons why it is still useful for you as a blog owner, or even as a guest poster.
So how should you approach a blog owner to get a guest blogging opportunity?
There are no hard and fast rules about how to approach a website for a guest post, but here is what has worked a lot for me in the last year.
Let’s start off with the cold approach, because the same stuff applies for people you do know (to some extent).
The email should be relatively simple, but keep these main points in it:
What is great about this approach:
It is far better to spend quality time on this kind of approach than just firing off 20 random emails using a template. Not only will your success rate be very high (mine is over 75%) but you will also develop a relationship along the way.
These are the easy wins.
If you want to post on the site of someone you already have a relationship with, it will be a lot easier.
Still treat them with respect, and ask with humility, and a good idea or two, for a post that works for them. But the approach is a little simpler and more likely to succeed.
Be aware that they still need to protect their brand and reputation and that in some cases you still might get a “no thanks”. I have done it myself.
Matt Cutts fired that warning shot at those dodgy SEOs because too many people were posting garbage on the web just to get a link.
Google has said again and again – you should always produce quality content that helps your (or your guest host’s) readers. Content that is unique, useful and shareable.
Yes you are allowed to have links back to your site in the bio, or even in the content if it makes sense. But it is not your god-given right. And please do not mention it in the email. That gets you deleted in my books.
Your goals with guest posting are actually a lot broader than just a link. So let’s have a look at why exactly you would still want to do it, (yes even in 2015!) and what you can get out of it.
Using guest posting as a way of earning links is not what it is all about.
Sure, I use it to earn links for some of my clients. But it is not a scalable or simple method of getting links. So if this is your only approach to link building, you better think again.
So what are the reasons you might want to guest post, other than just getting a link?
Well here are a few that I think you should consider if you are building your brand and expertise online:
Famously, at least to many in the internet marketing game, the Buffer team managed to expand their audience at an insane rate due to guest posting:
Solely through guest blogging we’ve acquired around 100,000 users within the first 9 months of running Buffer
Ok, it is also the epic content that they write. But it was not that way at the beginning. After all…
So they had to get the word out. And when you are nobody, that is tough. That is where guest posting can really help.
By writing blog posts on bigger blogs than yours, you expose yourself to audiences who have never heard of you. And post by post, you get known for your awesome content, and start writing for bigger blogs. And so on…
Your current niche is determined by the content that you write and the audience you have built up. And if you want to change that quickly, or just put yourself in front of people in a slightly different niche, the quickest way is to guest blog on another website.
I would not recommend writing for completely different niches, as that kinda defeats the purpose and also goes outside of what they call “relevance” in SEO. So keep at least on the border of your current niche.
And as they say, a change is as good as a holiday.
One of the bigger benefits of guest blogging is the new audience you get in front of. That I have already mentioned.
However, just putting yourself in front of that audience, and hoping they will follow you, or visit your blog is not the best strategy for building your audience.
What I recommend is offering those readers a related benefit (a guide, checklist etc) that they can get access to on your website. It’s really just an optin bribe as you would use on your own site. Only this time, you have to add it either:
Where exactly it goes is up to your host website owner (and sometimes people will not even allow it). But try to do it if you can. It will bring a new audience permanently to your website.
Example: Here is an example where I did it on Simplicity Small Biz last year. Go right to the bottom of the post.
By writing for an audience other than your own, you are also getting a chance to display your expertise to the world. Sure your audience knows you rock, but who else does not, yet?
In fact, if you write for a blog where your skills are in fact needed (but not yet present on that blog) the effect could be quite amazing. The readers, who are not getting that information on the site you are writing for, will start to come to you for that particular expert information.
So seek out related, but different blogs where your skills are sorely needed.
As I mentioned earlier on in this post, if you approach the website the right way, and get a guest post it’s an awesome feeling. However, you could also end up with a new found friend.
And networking, if you had not already worked it out, is even more important to your success than just one more guest blog post.
So keep that in mind when you approach blogs too. Could this person end up as a partner, a blogging buddy or a friend? If so, then it’s one more reason to spend time developing the relationship before, during and after the guest blogging approach.
Note: I found a similar thing happened with my podcast. By spending over an hour with my guests, I got much closer to people than I would have done otherwise. Many of these people are now good friends.
This one might not be high on your list of priorities, but I thought I would mention it.
When you write for someone else’s website, you also have to change your style, at least a little. That new audience is used to a particular style and quality and you should be conforming to that at least in general.
So by writing for other websites you are also challenging yourself, your writing and improving yourself as a person (ok, that last one was probably not true)
Now take a look back at all of those things on the list above, and think about all of the benefits that apply to you. It will probably be most of them.
So guest posting is not just about link building, and if you take it seriously and create a great post that will impress the host and their audience, you will reap all of those rewards.
If on the other hand, you just aim for a link and deliver some shoddy 500 word rehashed piece of garbage, all you will get is a link. And one that has little authority.
Why? Because the amount of attention a post receives on the hosts site also determines how powerful a link you will receive in the long run. More links to that post, will mean more link juice (aka Google goodness) will pass to the links you got. So it is worth working hard on that post you gave:
So it is not just a simple link in the end now, is it?
Then there is the debate about whether the owner of the blog should even allow dofollow links on their blog anyway. I have posted on a few sites that have nofollowed all links, and it was a little disappointing after the great content I delivered. But it is not all about the links, right?
However, if you want a more detailed write up on the hows, whys and what fors on following or not following links on your site, this is a great post on the topic. The short version is:
I agree with all of the above. And for the posters who get past my guest posting inspection, I allow all links as dofollow. Why? If I did not trust them or approve their post, they would not even be allowed on my blog. So why be so paranoid about it.
Note: Not sure what a no follow or do follow link is, then check out this post for a simple explanation.
The funny thing about this section is that you might expect me to give you a list of places to guest post. But that is kinda pointless in my opinion.
Well, you could go ahead and look at the places where I have posted before, but not all of those opportunities will work for you.
We have different goals, different niches, different connections and different styles. We are different people – full stop.
So instead I will just give you some general ideas of how to find guest blogging opportunities in your niche.
Oh hang on, I already wrote a guest post about that on SEMRush at the end of last year. (That was a guest post, how ironic :>)
And if you don’t want to read it, here is the summary:
Now you understand why guest posting is not as “dead” as it was once claimed.
Yes, it was just a scare tactic used to stop those spammy SEO companies from using it en mass. Google does that with all such techniques – it becomes popular, they fire a warning shot. Done.
So if you are looking to grow your blog, expand your audience, extend your network and maybe also get a nice link as well, why not try guest posting – even here on Mad Lemmings. My standards are high, and so should yours be.
So don’t believe everything you read online, 75% of it is far from reality!
Guest blogging still rocks!
Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).
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