Way back in 2014, when Matt Cutts was still the head of Google’s web spam team, he practically said that guest blogging was dead. This got a lot of people awfully worried about the future of search engine optimization, concerned that their sites would plummet down the search rankings into the unknown bowels of the dungeon below.
And yet, guest blogging has survived. It has just taken on a slightly different form with a slightly different objective in mind.
Don’t Hate the Player
As you might remember, if you were around back then, guest blogging was used as one of the tools to “game” the system and to “trick” the Google algorithm into thinking that your website or webpage was that much more important and relevant than the others on the web. It was a way to garner those much valued dofollow backlinks using the most targeted and keyword-rich anchor texts that you could possibly imagine.
If you were to approach the prospect of guest blogging with the same kind of perspective today, you can surely expect to feel the full wrath of the Google smackdown. They not only frown upon this practice; they’ll outwardly punish you for doing it. So don’t do it.
Does this mean that guest blogging no longer has any value in 2017 and you shouldn’t even bother trying? No, not at all. Like I said, you just have to think about it in a different kind of way.
The Relationship Is Paramount
Guest blogging today isn’t so much about the direct search engine optimization benefits that you may have reaped in the past. It’s much more about the natural traffic that flows from actual readers clicking on actual links, rather than hoping the spiders reward you accordingly. This also means that any links in your guest posts should be nofollow. It also means that you should be targeting websites with real readerships and real branding, not just ones that happen to rank well in your niche. It should have a solid reputation, not a site that has been known for selling links and showing spammy ads.
The objective isn’t about getting “quality” links; the objective is to build your brand and develop your audience. What this means, and this will come as a surprise to almost no one at this point, is that guest blogs you submit should provide real value to real readers. Content is still king. If you’re not comfortable posting the article on your own site, guest blogging is not a dumping ground for all your rejected material.
You might even say that some of your better content should be directed as guest blogging, because it could be your one and only chance to get in front of an audience you may not otherwise be able to access. Let your expertise shine. Really impress them with your knowledge and insight and you could gain some real followers for your tribe. This is also why you need to be extra mindful about how you craft your byline and author bio.
What do you want to be known for? How do you want these prospective new readers to find you online? Are you trying to get them to follow you on Twitter and Instagram? Sign up for your newsletter? Read your blog? Make this goal clear, both for yourself and for the prospective reader. The worst thing you can do is stuff your author bio with a million social links.
SEO Is Dead?
Guest blogging can still be a win-win for all parties involved. The guest blogger gains natural exposure to an expanded audience, the blog owner gets high quality content to share with his readers, and the readers are offered a fresh perspective from a new voice. Guest blogging should never be looked upon solely from an SEO perspective anymore. It really is about connecting real people.