Overstaying Your Welcome: Are Guest Blogs an Effective Link-Building Tactic?
Guest blogs from industry professionals would seem, from a user standpoint, to be intuitively excellent PR moves. Much like having a featured speaker at your business’ conference or other event, a guest blog gives everyone involved a chance to flash their networking skills and expertise; it says, “See this reputable industry professional? I know him. We’re in touch. We exchange trade secrets over weekly brunch mimosas.” This chumminess contributes to a sense of security and trust on the part of a potential client browsing your site, who sees that you’re not a lone wolf with questionable credentials. So since guest blogs are so straightforwardly useful for building user confidence in your brand, they must be great for SEO and link building, right?
Give it to me straight, doc.
So R.I.P. Guest Blogging?
Not quite. There’s a sunny side, unless you make a living posting garbage links: if you follow up on Cutts’ opining on the matter after the initial announcement, guest blogging isn’t completely dead. At the end of the day we can at least know that high-quality, authentic guest blogging won’t hurt; it just won’t help you linkbuild, as it’s no longer really a viable means by which to do so. Most companies that employ a search engine optimization strategy know by now to no-follow guest bloggers’ links (that is, use code to instruct bots to ignore them), in order to carefully step around any chance that incautious link-slinging on the part of their authors could be detrimental to them. According to Google’s own John Mueller, you should be fine if you simply practice self-awareness; no-follow links you know full well are there for publicity’s sake, but allow “natural” links to be picked up by bots. Easier said than done, perhaps, but it’s a start.
Where does this leave us when it comes to deciding on whether or not to guest blog? With good ol’-fashioned PR and authenticity. Don’t expect guest blogs to fulfill SEO purposes, and certainly don’t write them as if that were the intention. Create guest content with the end user in mind, rather than bots, and use your blogs as an opportunity to teach and spread industry knowledge and comradery – just as guest blogs originally intended.