Why guest blogging is the worst link building strategy
Five years ago, I decided to link to my personal site, and my weapon of choice was guest blogging.
I was only looking for high quality links and only submitted my articles to top blogs like Moz, CXL, Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur and other big stars.
Fortunately, my efforts were not in vain and I even had my own chronicles as a contributor.
But the more guest content I wrote, the more I realized that guest blogging had nothing to do with link building — even though that was why I started writing guest posts.
I learned my lesson. But I still see this misconception floating around that guest content helps acquire more links.
Let me explain why you shouldn’t blindly trust guest blogging as a link building strategy.
When done right, guest blogging is expensive
Guest blogging, in the proper understanding of this concept, is an expensive affair.
Just to give you some context, a well-delivered column in the B2B niche costs around $400-$500 on Upwork.
Here’s the problem: the best copy should introduce something unique, but not all guest posts live up to that expectation.
I have noticed that only a real expert can share something really valuable instead of rewriting what has already been shared and is currently ranking remarkably well in the SERPs.
Ideally, a decent blog post is delivered by an expert in the field and then polished by an experienced writer.
This is exactly how I write my articles. I don’t have time to perfect every sentence, but I always make a detailed plan.
And, of course, the more time an expert spends writing copy, the more it costs.
For example, I need four hours to a few days (depending on the topic) to write something solid.
The more time I spend on an item, the higher its final price.
In a perfect world, guest blogging is done by contributors who really know their stuff and can write something truly unique. But while this copy is helpful and insightful, it’s also incredibly expensive to produce.
Top industry blogs won’t link to your strategic pages
I don’t want to completely cancel guest blogging. But if you’re considering using this strategy for link building, be prepared for possible rejection.
Most high quality industry blogs don’t allow you to link to your most important pages.
I’m talking about your pages for commercial purposes; those who present your services or products.
These pages are strategic for your business, but they bring almost no value to the readers of the blog that published your article.
For them, these pages are less informative and do not provide in-depth information on a particular topic. They are transactional and non-informative.
Now, you may disagree and believe that you should be able to link to such pages as a reward for contributing content.
However, I’ll side with a potential reader, even though I’m a link builder by day (and a dressage champ by night).
Why is my stance on linking to business pages via guest blogging so strict?
Such links alter the intent of the guest post.
When I work on a column, I do my best to deliver something meaningful.
But if I link to my agency’s service page in my post, that means I should start talking about our offerings. As a result, my copy changes from an educational copy to a commercial copy.
Sure, there are blog posts that are about selling a product, but guest blogging is rarely about that.
If I add a link to one of my strategic pages, it will hardly help my brand stand out and my message will prove to be a hard sell.
Large-scale guest blogging leads to poor quality links
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on guest blogging too much.
The thing is, the more link building guest posts you write, the lower quality they will be.
Here’s why. There are many link building agencies that use guest blogging as a referral strategy to build links.
The cost per guest post can vary, but they are usually quite affordable. For example, The Hoth offers guest blogging services for around $400, which is quite reasonable.
All link building agencies use the same logic – the client selects the metrics of a site they want to guest post on (domain authority, organic traffic, etc.). After that, you sit back and wait for the agency to do all the work for you.
On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with building links through new content on a seemingly trustworthy website, but it doesn’t work that way.
Link building agencies are looking for quick ways to post content, and the sites they work with may not care about the quality of guest contributions.
Another issue is that most of the sites that partner with link building agencies that have large scale guest posts are either content farms used only by link builders or private blog networks that exist primarily to manipulate search engine rankings.
There’s no way to know for sure that it’s not a private blog network, and if your link lands on the content farm site, consider yourself lucky.
In short: trash inside, trash outside.
If your link ends up on a dodgy website, you may be hurting your SEO rather than helping it.
This may be the price you will have to pay if you decide to do guest blogging on a large scale. In reality, posting content on a great website takes a lot of time and effort.
Unfortunately, you can’t solve this problem either by creating in-house guest blogs.
Even if you guest post yourself, you won’t be able to immediately target blogs with high editorial standards. You’ll end up looking for handy fruit just to get started and end up with the same low quality links anyway.
So the lesson here is that mass producing guest posts can bring in a lot of unnecessary links.
If a website gives backlinks easily, Google devalues their priority. As a result, all your link building efforts and hard work on guest content will go to waste.
Google recommends adding “Nofollow” to all links in guest posts
Here’s another problem – Google doesn’t like link building.
The general recommendation is to add the ‘nofollow’ attribute to all links in guest posts. And links with this tag do not provide any benefit or authority.
Google does not penalize a website for guest posts. However, Google’s algorithms are trained to identify and devalue guest post links.
Therefore, these links do not contribute to improving the position of the site in search results.
What’s the point of writing guest posts?
I understand if you’re confused right now, because everything I’ve told you so far suggests that guest blogging has no real value.
However, guest posting is an important part of brand awareness.
Such content helps illustrate your authority in the niche.
Additionally, if your guest content displays quality and expertise, it impacts how Google rates your brand and whether it deserves to rank higher in the SERPs.
Don’t dismiss guest blogging altogether.
Keep in mind that your guest blogging activity should not cause Google to associate your brand with low-quality posts on shady websites.
Consider guest blogging part of your PR strategy and only post guest posts on resources your audience trusts.
And don’t skimp on quality by blogging en masse!
Instead, be more picky and only aim to post your content only on trusted resources.
Guest blogging is more about social proof than link building
To recap, guest blogging can be expensive whether you write the content yourself or enlist the help of a writer.
Getting a link to a strategic page in your guest post is next to impossible; no decent website will ever want to publish it.
On top of that, the more guest posts you write for the purpose of building links, the lower the quality of links you will get.
And, Google isn’t a fan of guest blogging either.
So why even try to write guest posts?
For social proof and brand awareness.
Guest blogging works well as a PR strategy and can help you rank higher in search results because it proves your brand’s authority.
But it’s not the ideal way to build links.
Image selected by author
All screenshots taken by author, February 2021