Guest posting is a common technique for building backlinks to a website. It’s been a tried-and-true method for increasing search results since the beginning of search engines, but recently it has come under fire and may not be the search engine optimization (SEO) panacea that it once was. The reason for this is that search engines (Google in particular) have become much more conscientious of filtering out what they consider “low-quality” backlinks.
The practice of guest posting starts when a blog or website owner reaches out to others to write something thematically and contextually relevant. For example: A men’s health care blog might reach out to a blogger who writes about the fine art of men’s wet-shaving and invite that blogger to write a guest post on their website. The site normally doesn’t write about shaving, but they do sell men’s shaving products, so it’s relevant. The blogger brings his expertise and quality content to the men’s health care blog, and in that blog post, he can link back to his own blog. In return, he can post about his content on his own site, linking back to the health care blog. It’s a mutual back-scratch.
As good as it sounds, it might not be the best thing for your website, though. There can be some downsides…
Downside To Guest Posting
One of the worst things you can do for your site is to allow a low-quality writer to post something. You don’t want to publish something that really doesn’t have much to do with your content or subject matter and is stuffed with keywords that reek of SEO desperation. Having obviously out-of-place content on your site can turn off search engines, but it can also turn off your valuable human readers. You never want to get into a situation where a community member on your site mentions the lack of quality on a guest post, saying something like “Why the heck am I reading this on here?”
You also need to be aware of who your guest posters are. If the post they gave you is the same post they submitted to several other blogs, that’s a very big red flag. Make sure your guest poster is relevant in their field, an expert in the subject matter and has written original content specifically for your site.
Poor Backlink Quality
One of the newest things Google has started looking at is backlink quality. It’s not just enough to have backlinks to your site any more; if you have a guest poster who writes poorly or just stuffs a post full of keywords, then finishes with a link to their site that has some obviously SEO-wrought anchor text, Google could actually punish both sites for that.
One of the things the SEO world is currently talking about is patterns in anchor text for backlinks. The current best practice is to leave the anchor text up to the blog you’re guest posting for, never asking to insert your own anchor text.
The Right Way to Guest Post
This is definitely not a situation in which we should all be immediately scratching guest posts off our content calendars. There are still plenty of benefits to quality guest posts. Backlinks are still critical, and besides that, the social queues that come from engaged readers connecting with your content through a blog that they read and trust are invaluable. You may just gain a new community member through a guest blog post, and that is extremely useful (particularly when paired with social share buttons!)
The key is having high-quality guest posts from high-quality writers. If you are solicited out of the blue from someone in an email who just wants to write about any random subject for your site in exchange for a simple link, that’s something you probably don’t want on your site. If, however, a prolific blogger in your field sends you an email with a detailed reason for wanting to write a guest post, it may be worth pursuing.
As with all things in the SEO world, following current trends in the content and search discussion can be tremendously valuable. Search providers are ever pushing towards their mission of providing the most relevant search results to their users, and the most important thing will always remain high-quality content that is genuine and natural. Backlinks are important too — but make sure they’re good ones!
What is your view of guest blogging? Do you think it is still good, or have you gone off the idea? Please let us know your opinions by leaving a comment below!