Five years ago, I decided to build some links back to my personal site, and my weapon of choice was guest blogging.
I was only looking for high-quality links and pitched my posts only to top-level blogs like Moz, CXL, Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, and other big stars.
Luckily, my efforts weren’t in vain, and I even got my own columns as a contributor.
But the more I wrote guest content, the more I realized that guest blogging has nothing to do with link building — even though it was the reason 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 right understanding of this concept, is a costly affair.
Just to provide you with some context, a well-delivered column in the B2B niche costs around $400-$500 on Upwork.
Here’s the thing: the best copy is expected to introduce something unique, but not every guest post lives up to that expectation.
I noticed that only a real expert can share something truly valuable instead of rewriting what has already been shared and currently ranking remarkably well in the SERPs.
Ideally, a decent blog post is delivered by a specialist in the field and then tweaked by an experienced copywriter.
That’s exactly how I write my posts. I don’t have time to perfect every sentence, but I always do an extensive outline.
And, of course, the more time an expert spends writing a copy, the more it costs.
For instance, I need from four hours to a few days (depending on the topic) to write something solid.
The more time I spend on a post, the higher the final price for it.
In a perfect world, guest blogging is done by the contributors who really know their stuff and can write something truly unique. But as much as this copy is useful and insightful, it’s also incredibly expensive to produce.
The Best Industry Blogs Won’t Link Back to Your Strategic Pages
I don’t want to write off guest blogging completely. But if you plan to use this strategy for link building, be ready for possible rejection.
Most high-quality industry blogs won’t let you insert any links to your most important pages.
I’m talking about your pages with commercial intent; the ones showcasing 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 post.
For them, such pages are less informative and don’t provide in-depth insights into a particular topic. They’re transactional, not informational.
Now, you may disagree and believe that you should be able to build links to such pages as a reward for your content contribution.
However, I’ll side with a potential reader, even though I’m a link builder by day (and a dressage champion by night).
Why is my position on building links to commercial pages via guest blogging so strict?
Such links change the intent of the guest post.
When I’m working on a column, I’m doing my best to deliver something meaningful.
But if I link back to my agency’s service page in my post, that means I should start talking about our offers. As a result, my copy turns from an educational one into a commercial one.
Of course, there are blog posts that aim to sell a product, but guest blogging is rarely about that.
If I add a link to one of my strategic pages, it will barely help my brand stand out and my post will turn out to be a hard sell.
Guest Blogging at Scale Leads to Low-Quality Links
Unfortunately, you cannot rely on guest blogging too much.
The thing is, the more guest posts you write to build links, the poorer quality they’ll end up having.
Here’s why. There are plenty of link-building agencies that use guest blogging as their go-to strategy to build links.
The cost per guest post might vary, but they are usually quite affordable. For instance, The Hoth offers guest blogging services for around 400 bucks, which is quite reasonable.
All link-building agencies use the same logic – the client selects the metrics for a site where they want to publish a guest post (domain authority, organic traffic, etc.). After that, you just sit and wait for the agency to do all the work for you.
At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with building links through fresh content on a seemingly trustworthy website, but it doesn’t work like that.
Link-building agencies are looking for quick ways to publish content, and the sites they are working with may not care about the quality of guest contributions.
Another problem is that most sites that partner with link-building agencies who do guest posting to scale are either content farms used only by link builders or private blog networks that exist primarily for manipulating search engine rankings.
There’s no way you can know for sure that it’s not a private blog network, and if your link ends up on the content farm site, consider yourself lucky.
To cut a long story short: garbage in, garbage out.
If your link ends up on a shady website, you can hurt your SEO rather than helping.
That may be the price you have to pay if you decide to do guest blogging at scale. In reality, publishing content on a truly good website takes a lot of time and effort.
Unfortunately, you cannot overcome this issue by doing guest blogging in-house either.
Even if you do guest posts by yourself, you won’t be able to target blogs with high editorial standards right away. You’ll end up looking for low-hanging fruits just to get started and end up with the same low-quality links anyway.
So, the lesson here is that producing guest posts in bulk may bring a lot of useless links.
If a website easily gives away backlinks, Google devalues their priority. As a result, all your link-building efforts and hard work on the guest content will go down the drain.
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 don’t deliver benefit or authority.
Google doesn’t penalize a website for guest posts. However, Google algorithms are trained to identify and devalue guest post links.
As a result, such links don’t contribute to improving the site’s position in search results.
What’s the Point in Writing Guest Posts?
I get it if you’re confused right now since everything I’ve told you so far suggests that guest blogging has no real value.
However, publishing guest posts is an important part of building brand awareness.
Such content helps illustrate your authority in the niche.
Moreover, if your guest content displays quality and expertise, it impacts how Google evaluates your brand and if it deserves to rank higher in SERPs.
Don’t dismiss guest blogging completely.
Keep in mind that your guest blogging activity shouldn’t cause Google to associate your brand with low-quality posts on shady websites.
Consider guest blogging a part of your PR strategy, and contribute guest posts only to those resources trusted by your audience.
And don’t skimp on quality by guest blogging in bulk!
Instead, be more picky and only aim at publishing your content only on trustworthy resources.
Guest Blogging Is More About Social Proof Than Building Links
To recap, guest blogging can be expensive whether you’re writing the content yourself or enlisting the help of a writer.
Getting a link to a strategic page in your guest post is near impossible; no decent website will ever want to post it.
On top of that, the more guest posts you write for the purpose of link building, the lower the quality of links you’ll get.
And, Google isn’t a fan of guest blogging either.
So, why even try writing 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 hardly the perfect way to build links.
- How to Do Guest Posting Today: Your 3-Step Guide
- 50 Types of Links You Want & How to Build Them
- How to Use Guest Blogging for Natural Link Building
Featured image by author
All screenshots taken by author, February 2021