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Does Guest Posting Still Work in 2019?

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If you look through online marketing guides about how to improve your SEO, you’ll see "link building" at the top of the list - getting other websites to link back to yours. One way to build high quality links is by guest posting, or blogging for those sites.

But does guest posting still work in 2019?

There have been tons of large changes to search engine ranking algorithms over the years, and besides, writing guest content takes a lot of work! Is blogging for other websites still a good way to get your own site to rank higher?

I'm going to break that down for you in this quick guide.

Why are backlinks important?

Search engines like Google use over 200 ranking factors to determine which page should rank where in online search results. You know what one of the most important factors is? 

Inbound links.

Inbound links are hyperlinks from pages on other websites that send people to pages on your website.

How Inbound Links Affect SEO

PC: Backlinko

The worldwide web is practically built on these links, and Google uses them as an important ranking signal. If a lot of other reputable websites link back to yours, your website must be reputable, too. And you'll rank higher in search results accordingly.

In fact, Google itself says they're super important - “Make sure that other sites link to yours." But all backlinks are not created equal.

What goes into a "high quality link"?

According to Search Engine Journal, six things work together to create high quality backlinks - links that really help your website rank higher. The site or page linking to yours should:

  • Have a consistent readership or traffic flow
  • Use an editorial staff to review content before publishing (e.g. not just anyone can publish, you have to stand out)
  • Rank high for valuable, relevant keywords in its industry or niche
  • Offer a lot value to visitors, either through service or thought leadership
  • Be considered an authority in your industry.
  • Be relevant to the page on your website that it's linking to

That's a lot that has to line up to create a high quality link! Is guest posting still a good strategy for getting those links?

How do you create standout content, or find good sites that will let you contribute? Is there a better way to earn backlinks? Let's keep digging.

How does Google view guest posting?

To understand how guest posting can work for your marketing goals, it’s important to consider Google’s recommendations - especially this one from the Webmaster Central Blog in 2017: A reminder about links in large-scale article campaigns.

Two major takeaways that are just as relevant today:

1. Be careful with keyword stuffing.

"Keyword stuffing" is packing your article full of the same targeted keywords over and over in an attempt to make your page rank higher for that keyword. It also doesn't work. Why?

Google is pretty smart. When you stuff keywords, they can tell you're trying to game their system, so they mark you as spam. 

Search engines like Google want you to add value to viewers. Backlinks need to be inserted naturally, within context. It’s the link that matters, not necessarily the text it's linked to.

2. Create unique content.

Publishing the same (or very similar) content across several websites is not something you should be doing. Google doesn’t like plagiarism. Each post you create needs to provide unique value, probably to different audiences dealing with different things.

The reason there is so much discussion and debate around whether guest blogging works is because so many people online create a lot of spammy content for a lot of spammy sites. They don't follow the six necessities of a high quality link given above.

Is guest blogging worth the effort?

It really depends on what your needs are (and there are plenty of options to choose from).

If you need lots of referral traffic, writing for other websites is proven to be a bust. But if you need only a little, very specific traffic, guest posting can be a great way to strut your stuff in front of a new audience and bring in clients or customers.

The same goes for selling things. Unless people go to that site with an intent to find products, it's not going to be worth the effort. But there are a couple of situations that do make sense.

Guest posting is a tremendous way to build clout for:

  • You
  • Your brand
  • And your search traffic or domain authority

It creates a (normally) permanent place where your expertise is shared that you can reference to earn future gigs on guest posts, podcasts, conferences, client relationships, and more. Plus, guest posting is often necessary to building high quality links that help your site rank higher (and bring in more traffic, sales, etc.).

So, does guest posting work?

Drum roll, please... 🥁 Yes! Guest blogging still works in 2019.

Bottom line is that guest posting does work.

The facts speak for itself and show that it is still a relevant way to gain high-quality links. But guest posting effectively in 2019 is very different than it was even a few short years ago.

What's different today, and how should you handle those changes? Let me show you.

5 Steps to SEO Success through Guest Content

1. Add more meat to your posts.

Here’s what the latest data tells us: long-form content works better than short-form content.

When you start pitching and writing for other sites, you'll notice they all have their own guest post requirements. You should follow them if you want to get published, but you should also use this data to inform your writing.

Longer posts that mix in different elements are going to be more engaging. Those will be your most successful articles.

(Creating long-form content for your own site will also help you earn more backlinks naturally.)

Backlinko analyzed 912 million blog posts and found that:

  • Long-form content earns more social media shares
  • Long articles get over 77% more backlinks than short articles

So what’s the ideal length?

It's difficult to say, because the main focus should always be to add value to readers. But the most successful blog posts tend to have 1,000-2,000 words.

Try writing articles longer than 1000 words, but don't exaggerate or add fluff just to fill space. You should follow a websites guidelines and shoot for as high a word count they allow.

2. Only target high-quality sites.

When you start searching for websites you could write for, make sure they are highly reputable. It’s best to choose sites that are relevant to your industry, so you can naturally infuse the links. This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to your industry, though.

If, for example, you’re trying to promote an agency that offers team building services to businesses, you can post on sites that target those businesses.

Find Sites to Guest Post On

Make sure you read a site's guidelines before pitching them to post. The email you send them should also make it clear that you've read their guidelines. Pitch them a few titles and then go from there.

But how do you estimate the authority of a website to know if it's worth targeting?

Simple: See how it ranks when you make a relevant search on Google. Or, you can use tools like SEMrush and Moz’s Moz bar to understand the website’s domain authority.

Domain authority between 40 and 50 is considered average, between 50 and 60 is considered good and over 60 is considered excellent. So look for blogs that have a DA between 40 and above. You want to make sure you get the biggest punch for your efforts!

3. Only include links relevant to the post.

So you think you can write for a healthy food website, use the keyword “avocado recipes” as an anchor and include a link to a face cream? No! That’s not how this works.

That's Not How This Works

The anchor text has to be relevant to the post, and the link must be relevant to the anchor. It must fit in, so it will provide more value for the people who click. Otherwise, high-quality websites will not feature your articles, so you’ll fail to meet the first and most important criterion about guest posting.

(And if that bad link does somehow make it through, Google will view it as spam.)

4. Mind the headline.

In their Guest Posting in 2018 report, State of Digital found that guest post headlines with eight words (40-60 characters) boosted the average "link acquisition" by 110%!

That may sound weird, but that's usually all it takes to tell potential readers exactly what value they're going to get from your article. The headline, after all, is what prompts people to read your post in the first place.

To create a great headline:

  • Use specific numbers or data (e.g. "6 Steps to..." "How to get 127% return...")
  • Tell people what they'll get (steps, strategies, principles, etc.)
  • Make it actionable ("...to earn more traffic," "...to create thrilling sales calls," etc.)
  • OR, state the question people are asking "Does Guest Posting Still Work in 2019")

5. Build lasting connections with editors.

You benefit from guest posts that include links to your website. But this relationship works both ways. If you start accepting high-quality posts (or links) on your website, you’ll have piece to boost your website's authority and bring in traffic.

But be careful - you shouldn’t accept spammy links. Make sure the links included in those posts are highly relevant and add great value to your readers. Pay attention to grammar and spelling, and edit them if you have to.

Remember: Quality is the main ranking factor for content and links!

It’s not about the backlinks, specifically. It’s about the domain authority they help you build. Your guest posting strategy will be beneficial only if it’s based on high-quality content. That’s the main tip to keep in mind.

How to get started.

The best thing to do is search for blogs that have content specific to your brand or expertise. The best way to do this is to just search google like: “blogs about (topic)”. After you select a blog, search for a “write for us” or “contact editor” button.

If you can’t find these links, search google like: “write for (website name)”, and that should bring up the correct information.

Be sure to be professional and give them a reason why your content will be good and relevant to their audience. The easier you make the editor's job, the more likely you'll be to get a published post and high quality link.

Related: 7 Ways to Get High Quality Backlinks from Top Websites