When it comes to SEO, link building, and brand exposure, guest blogging has traditionally been one of the go-to strategies. But in 2019, when SEO rules are changing and many of the old methods of doing things are no longer valid, we pose the question: Does guest blogging still work?

What are the issues with guest blogging?

Guest blogging—i.e. the practice of publishing original content on another website in hopes of increasing exposure and/or generating SEO benefits via authoritative backlinks—has been a somewhat controversial topic for a few years now. Google hasn’t been shy about its opinions on the practice and has spoken up on at least a couple of occasions.

Five years ago, Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of web spam, made the ground-breaking statement that guest blogging is done. He went through all of the ways in which guest blogging has devolved into a questionable practice and essentially delivered his own version of a death sentence—telling people to “stick a fork in it.”

“In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well,” Cutts wrote in 2014. “Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”

Then in 2017, Google released a more official warning. In it, the search engine giant scolded users for abusing guest blogging to build links.

“Lately we’ve seen an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts,” Google’s Webmaster Central Blog noted. “These articles are generally written by or in the name of one website, and published on a different one.”

Google then went on to explain which guest blogging practices they consider to be spammy and why they should be avoided.

Yet, here we are in 2019, and guest blogging is still one of the most commonly used and, arguably, most effective elements of modern SEO and content marketing strategies.

“Guest posting is a white hat link building method that has been around for years and remains one of the most valuable ways to build safe, high quality, contextual links back to your site,” Loganix explains. And Loganix isn’t alone in their opinion. Ask almost any digital marketing agency or SEO guru and they’ll be quick to tout the benefits of using guest blogging to generate results.  So what gives?

For starters, it’s important to recognize that Google has never told users notto write guest blog posts. Instead, it’s warned people against using spammy tactics. (All you have to do is study up on what drives Google’s rankings and you’ll notice that high-quality content is one of the most important factors.) So the real focus is on how you’re using guest blogging.

Used appropriately, the answer to the original question is, yes, guest blogging still works. The deciding factor in the debate is how each marketer, blogger, or business chooses to use guest blogging.

How to strategically use guest blogging

The next question we must ask is this: How can you strategically use guest blogging to stay within Google’s guidelines andsimultaneously generate the SEO and marketing benefits you’re seeking? Well, we have a few suggestions:

1. Inform, educate, or bring awareness

In their 2017 update, Google was clear that they don’t discourage guest blog posts when they “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”  So if you’re using guest blogging, make sure it’s to inform, educate, or bring awareness.

2. Write for the user

You run into trouble when you write a guest post and your primary focus is on satisfying search engines. This typically leads to keyword stuffing and other spammy practices that ironically limit your content’s potential. Instead, the focus needs to be on human readers. Google wants to see semantic content that adds value.

3. Diversify your link building

Finally, guest blogging should only be one part of your link building/SEO strategy. It can play a major role, but don’t rely on it exclusively. By diversifying your approach, you show Google that you’re interested in developing an authentic online presence that checks off all the boxes.

Don’t miss out

Don’t let a couple of sensational headlines scare you off. Guest blogging, for all of the scrutiny it receives, is still one of the single most effective SEO/content marketing strategies you can use. Content is what makes the internet go round and smart guest blogging will allow your brand to increase exposure, drive backlinks, improve search rankings, and facilitate conversions. Avoid it at your own risk.

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Larry Alton

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is a freelance tech and computer writer

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