Don’t Slam Guest Posting, Do it Right
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The guest post has become such a popular SEO strategy that it is starting to become a staple for many of the companies in the industry. With popularity comes mediocrity, and this in turn has led some to start slamming the guest posting strategy as a waste of time or a road to diminishing returns.
Some of the criticisms are legitimate. Here are a few things that can be less than ideal when it comes to guest posting.
The more popular it becomes, the more often webmasters are receiving template emails asking for guest posting opportunities, saturating the market and causing site owners to get fatigued over the whole idea.
There are only so many prominent sites in any given niche. You may eventually find yourself chasing after scraps from no-name sites that offer little value.
Sites that readily accept guest posts often lose value over time as they increasingly lower content standards as a result of fatigue or a need for more content
There is a fine line between a guest posting strategy and “article marketing” where spun and regurgitated content is the norm and penalties await.
Focusing too much on guest posting means snuffing out more creative link building opportunities which may present far better opportunities for the amount of work involved
All of this makes it clear that by no means should guest posting be your only strategy, nor should it necessarily be your first choice in all circumstances. That said, it is still an incredibly valuable strategy when done correctly.
Getting it Right
The key to a successful guest posting strategy is understanding when you start facing diminishing returns. You can view the project as a series of “levels,” each of which starts to lose its value after a certain amount of time.
1. Keyword Niche Sites – Start with the sites that revolve around a prominent keyword that is relevant to your site. Generally, you will want to focus on sites that have targeted a keyword phrase that is only one or two words long. Sites chasing long tail keywords generally won’t offer a lot of value.
Seek out the sites that receive a decent number of (non spam) comments or social shares. If none exist (surprisingly common in some niches) just look for sites that have clearly done their research and approach the work like a journalist.
Stop when you run out of sites like this. When the content starts looking regurgitated and the engagement falls through the floor, single guest posts will become a waste of time. The only way to scrape value out of the remaining sites would be to get links from large numbers of them, a strategy that only pays off if you automate, which of course only hurts you in the long run.
2. Mid-Level Industry Blogs – The next step is to move past sites targeting relevant keywords, and instead focus on sites within the relevant industry. This is an important change and it can start to become more difficult to persuade site owners to consider your articles. This is where the six principles of persuasion we recently talked about start to come into play.
Continue chasing these blogs until you once again find yourself with only obscure sites remaining, and you start to see referral traffic approaching zero.
3. Non-Related Industry Blogs – At this point it is time to start looking for less relevant blogs. This may sound like you’re already finding yourself in diminishing returns, but this isn’t true if you raise your standards. The lowest quality blogs you should be chasing at this level should resemble the highest quality blogs you went after in your own industry. How can you get guest posts from low-relevancy sites? It takes a bit of creativity. Consider titles like this:
(For a health blog) The Health Benefits of Owning a Hot Tub
(For an auto blog) Can You Use Your Auto Skills to Supe Up Your Hot Tub?
(For a relationship blog) Using a Hot Tub to Make Your Move
Get it? You can plug away at this for quite some time before you start running out of blogs with high quality levels.
4. Massive Traffic Sites – When you start facing diminishing returns with the above strategy, you can start to experiment with contacting massive sites with broad appeal. These would be sites like Cracked, Huffington Post, Forbes, and so on. At this point, you may be considered an “industry expert” worth hearing from, especially on newsworthy events.
Remember, the key to a guest posting strategy is recognizing when it’s time to move on. Once what you’re doing starts to get easy, it’s generally time to move up a level and start looking for opportunities with more referral traffic and higher standards.
How do you feel about guest posting? What does your strategy look like?