Everyone seems to have a different opinion about guest blogging. Some marketers swear by it and claim this is the best way to ethically build high-quality backlinks. Others argue that guest blogging is like shopping during Black Friday – you may grab some good deals, but end up completely draining your budget.
Should you invest in guest blogging? Perhaps. The post below will guide you towards the right decision and help you understand the pros and the cons of guest blogging.
What Is Guest Blogging?
In short, guest blogging is pitching and publishing content on a third-party platform to promote your company. You search and outreach to the popular publishers in your niche, develop relationships with them, pitch content ideas, work on a kick-ass copy and finally when your post is up – pat yourself on the back and enjoy the benefits.
Guest blogging should be differentiated from an online PR campaign. The latter assumes financial compensation for a placement and featured exposure of your brand. Guest posting, on the contrary, is a more subtle form of brand promotion. Your story should bring value to the publisher’s audience first, and a mention of your company as a side-note. Many guest posts get rejected because marketers shamelessly promote their offerings or submit mediocre content for the sake of obtaining link juice.
Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, pointed out that:
“Guest blogging seems like it’s a fad as we hear a lot of people complaining about tons of people just spraying and praying. Sometimes they are spinning their guest blogs, and not even writing unique content for each blog and I don’t think this is the best way to build links to your site.”
When Matt talks, we listen. Your guest blogging campaign should dwell on the pillar of relationship building, rather than just the SEO benefits. If you want your outreach to be successful you should think like the recipient, suggest meaningful and relevant content and focus on advantages of guest blogging beyond acquiring links.
The Benefits of Guest Blogging
Allocating the time and the budgets for guest blogging is hard when you don't have a strong reasoning to back up the case. After all, why should you supply someone else with free content, when the rewards are murky?
Glad you’ve asked. Strategic guest posting can generate the following benefits for your business.
- Brand Exposure. Getting published on a more popular blog offers you access to new audiences, who might have never heard of your company or your offerings. Apart from increased visibility, this can lead to multiple indirect opportunities ranging from speaking and book deals to new partnership offers.
- Increased Credibility. Being mentioned by a top industry influencer or a large publisher is an instant seal of approval for customers. Up to 66% of people trust consumer opinions posted online and 66% as well trust the editorial content, such as newspaper articles according to Nielsen. Adding those “As seen on” logos to your homepage can boost your conversion rates by 400%.
- Referral & Second-Hand Traffic. If your guest blog strikes a chord with the audience, prepare for the traffic inflow. Depending on the publisher and link placement, the numbers can vary drastically though. But the good news is that in time your guest post will start ranking in search results for relevant terms and result in an additional evergreen stream of traffic to your website.
- Expanded Personal Network. Connecting with influencers can be daunting, but guest blogging can be a clever shortcut to opening more email boxes. Some publishers encourage guest authors to connect and collaborate on new content. Others don’t foster comradery, but contributing to the same website can be a nice opener to start a conversation online.
- Email Subscribers. Email marketing pays off. It is reported that for each dollar spent you can earn up to $44 in return. Guest posting can help you get relevant warm leads on your list. Create a complimentary offering for your guest blog and exchange it for the visitor's email. You can also place a link to a dedicated landing page in your bio so that curious prospects click through and learn more about you before opting in.
- Strong Link Profile. Search engines will reward your efforts with better rankings as long as you are targeting genuine, high-quality publishers, and not making friends with the “naughty kids” on Matt Cutts's list.
The Cons of Guest Blogging
Let’s keep things real – guest posting isn’t just all traffic and leads. It’s also long and dire cold emailing, hours spent on writing and tweaking the copy and the disappointment of having your post rejected or your links removed.
Some marketers tend to spend their budgets elsewhere for the following reasons:
- Low Referral Traffic. The average referral traffic from a guest post can be between 50-100 visits according to a massive research study done by Tim Soulo. Most websites will get more hits from publishing on their own blog. Initially, the referral traffic can be scarce. Yet in the long run, you can benefit from the second-hand traffic as your guest posts start ranking in search results. Also, apart from the general website SEO metrics, study the publisher’s individual metrics per post (number of views, comments, shares, links) etc. to get a better picture of how engaged their audience is. Finally, remember that getting published on larger websites does not always mean more exposure. Your guest blog may have to compete with dozens of other daily posts. Getting published on a smaller niche blog often means that you will have the undivided readers' attention at least for a few days or even weeks.
- Reduced Control Over the Content. You are at the mercy of the editor. Their word is final and you have to abide by it. In most cases, you have little to no say on when the story will go live (in two days or in two months), how many rounds of edits are expected or whether or not your links to certain pages will get accepted. You will also have to frame your story in a manner appealing to the publisher, your visions of a good story may not always correspond. So stock up on patience.
- Time and Budgets. Refining the list of targeted publishers, making introductions, engaging and pitching guest post ideas will take a lot of time and effort. Doing high-quality guest posting at scale is challenging and requires both the team and the budgets to spend. Some companies outsource the job to professionals; others create a dedicated in-house outreach team to handle all the chores. The payoff of guest blogging will be proportional to your efforts spent on it.
- Guest Blogging Is Not Suitable for All Niches. Fashion, business, tech, lifestyle blogs and industry publishers are ubiquitous. Dental, pest control or construction blogs – not so much. In certain cases, it makes more sense to cultivate your own blog, instead of pursuing placements on websites mildly relevant to your niche.
Ultimately, your decision to implement guest blogging should align with your current marketing goals and KPIs. Consider the impact of a guest blog versus another marketing activity e.g. investing in content marketing or securing sponsored placements on blogs. Start small and try pitching your first guest blog to develop a better idea of the process, analyze the results, rinse and repeat if necessary.