When you think about guest blogging, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Being featured on a well-known site? Writing up a remarkably engaging piece of content? For a long time, I’ve been having the same associations. Then I uncovered the whole new world of link building using the strategy I’m going to share in this post.
From that moment on, guest blogging associates me of two things:
- A never-ending flow of pitches that keep landing into my own inbox from people suggesting to write “top-quality content” for our blog.
- Guest blogging providers who are regularly sending my way their lists of high-quality blogs where they could secure links. Well, if you wonder whether those blogs are truly good, the answer is – they’re the worst sites I’ve ever seen in my life.
When I first started getting into the link building game, guest blogging was one of my most commonly used go-to strategies. As time flies, things with link building have changed quite a lot, but guest posting still holds the leading position when it comes to strategies for acquiring high-quality links. This is mainly because high-quality guest posting provides real value that is often gladly rewarded with a link back.
Let’s take our good friends at Learnworlds as an example. Thanks to the guest blogging strategy, they have built over 30 high-quality referring domains back to this page in under 3 months, reaching over 1k organic visitors on a monthly basis:
As the numbers above show, guest posting is a great way of building high-quality links and sending your site straight to the top of Google. But like everything else, guest blogging comes not only with pros but with certain cons as well. In this post, I want to discuss why building links through guest contributions might not be such a great idea after all.
What are the best things about guest blogging?
Let’s start with the good stuff first. Even though I just said that, in some cases, guest blogging might not be as good of a solution as it might seem, there’s no denying that it’s still one of the best and most effective link building strategies. Here’s how you can benefit from it.
Getting your brand in front of your target audience
In business, brand awareness often means more sales that are easier to close. In link building, it means that it’s easier to build links naturally – other people see you as an authority while linking back to you is a way to contribute to the credibility of their own content. But what can you do if your brand is not globally recognizable or you’re just starting out?
If your brand isn’t yet established as a market leader and doesn’t really have a ton of traffic, then guest blogging could be one of the easiest ways to connect with your target audience. Actually, when I just launched my own brand Digital Olympus, one of the biggest reasons why I was writing quite a lot of content on external sites is that it was a shortcut to connect with our audience. We needed to spread the word about Digital Olympus and running a regular column on the SEJ and Moz blogs, which already have an established audience in a niche similar to ours, was much more effective than writing on our own website which was just starting to get traffic.
In fact, no matter whether you’re trying to build your personal brand or looking to make your business more recognizable among your potential clients, guest blogging will make things happen. The more people are aware of your brand the higher are the chances that something like this will be landing to your inbox:
What this email shows is that, just like any other digital marketing activity, guest blogging requires to be done regularly. Consistently is the key to success. Only then will you be able to reap the rewards. The more touches you have with a potential client the keener they will be to hire you.
Helping your brand become a trustworthy source
I strongly believe that being a trustworthy brand is more important than anything else if your goal is to become a market leader. On top of that, if you want to start ranking well in Google, being a brand in the eyes of search engines is crucial. To give you some context, some time ago SEMrush analyzed tons of data and uncovered that among the most influential ranking factors is the direct traffic to your site.
What does this mean? Basically, users coming through direct traffic sources are those who are already aware of your brand – meaning that they know about you and trust you. By the way, guest blogging can definitely help you grow the number of users that are either searching for your brand in Google or visiting your site by typing your domain’s name directly in their browser.
Guest blogging could help you build trust extremely quickly. This especially plays a huge role for those users that haven’t ever heard about your brand and landed through other sources of traffic including your perfectly mastered paid campaign. If you take a look at Tidio’s website below, you can see a line with logos of well-known brands such as Forbes, GetApp, Fox News, Medium, and so on. The fact that it was featured on such famous sites shows to the users that Tidio is a trustworthy brand.
Growing your brand’s presence across social media platforms
Many marketers have a tendency to think that once a post is set live their work is done. However, that’s wrong! After you’ve managed to publish, you also need to invest a good number of hours in your guest post promotion – otherwise, you’ll miss a chance to get the most of your contribution. I always share all my guest contributions across SMM platforms and, thanks to this, we’re growing our social media subscribers and brand visibility.
Here’s a good example that demonstrates exactly how these things work. Some time ago, I delivered a gigantic link building guide on the CXL blog. Shortly after it was published, I shared it across all of my social media accounts and guess what – this post got noticed by Britney Muller (yeah, that super cool lady from Moz!) who commented both on Twitter and underneath my post:
Other than being pretty cool, this definitely helped me get additional attention to my content and my brand!
Still, I have to be honest and admit that doing quality promotion on social media and other platforms requires a solid amount of time. So, in case you need a handy tool to automate your SMM workouts a bit, here’s a good post where you can see the pros and cons of the most popular social media tools. You should be able to find the right tool that will help you speed up the process and focus on other things that need your immediate attention.
Helping you secure other organic guest contributions such as podcasts and webinars
Finally, another hidden benefit known to smart marketers is receiving new organic guest contributions, including webinars and podcasts. I’ve never pitched intentionally to any podcast, but thanks to my guest posts, I’ve been invited a good number of times as a guest on various digital marketing podcasts. Among the most recent ones that I did was a podcast I found about thanks to Garrett Sussman who was kind enough to share such an exciting opportunity with me!
So, guest blogging can be beneficial in several ways – you can use it to get your brand in front of your target audience (even if your website isn’t getting much traffic on its own), build the reputation of a trustworthy brand, grow your brand’s presence across all social media channels, and indirectly secure even more guest contributions organically.
Still, it’s not all roses with guest blogging – there are certain cons to it as well.
What are the best things about guest blogging?
Just like with everything else in life and marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to guest blogging. In other words, while some of you will find it as the best link building strategy out there (maybe even the only one you’ll ever need), the others might realize that maybe their focus should be on other techniques and strategies instead.
To help you make a more informed decision, here are some of the most obvious downsides to using guest blogging for brand awareness.
Writing good copy requires tons of time and/or money
Anyone who’s serious about guest blogging knows that there are a few major tasks that you need to solve if you want to start doing guest posting regularly:
- Searching for new blogs that accept guest contributions and pitching your ideas to them
- Content writing
While the process of uncovering new blogs and pitching to them could be executed by hiring cheap freelancers and then streamlined using the tools like Pitchbox, content writing is what makes it a bit more tricky. Of course, you could hire a copywriter for a few bucks to deliver a piece of content for what you need.
But what can you expect if you decide to hire a cheap copywriter? Best case scenario – this will be a rewrite of a few posts that Google shows on the first page. If you’re not as lucky, you will receive just some words that don’t really make too much sense. As you can guess, this type of content won’t make your brand stand out and will harm the chances of positioning yourself as a true expert. Most probably, you’ll end up hiding those posts from your clients as there’s nothing to brag about.
The majority of brands that are setting foot on guest posting are quite certain that hiring a professional copywriter won’t cost them an arm and leg. But the reality is that a medium quality 2k copy starts from 300 USD while a copy that will be delivered by a real expert starts at 1k USD.
All in all, writing a good piece of content requires either a lot of time and knowledge or a big-fat budget (or even both). And that’s one of the major factors that are making the price per link go through the roof. Moreover, trying to save on copywriters is one of the main reasons why the web is flooded with guest posts that no one cares about – including Google.
Using guest blogging just for the sake of links
Sadly, I know a good number of even well-known brands that write very generic content for the sake of being featured on questionable blogs that we’re generally trying to stay away from. That’s the reason why I always take it with a grain of salt when I hear that a link building campaign is done through guest blogging. I’ve been into link building for quite a long time and I know better than others what kind of blogs link builders are using to get links back to their clients. Here’s a great example of a site that perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about:
Doesn’t really look like the most trustworthy site with quality content, does it?
Of course, to get featured on such blogs, you don’t need to spend days and nights creating a powerful pitch and showcasing your previous in-depth guest posts. But my advice is to think twice before getting published on such websites since it won’t really add credits to your brand awareness. On top of this, the value of such links can be quite questionable from an SEO perspective.
Guest blogging isn’t the best way to generate leads
Most experienced marketers know that guest posts are an educational type of content aimed at building your brand voice and raising brand awareness. Nevertheless, some marketers get this idea wrong and start using guest posts for lead generation. What happens then is that good blogs don’t want to publish such content as it looks too promotional while their readers are looking for something useful that isn’t geared heavily towards a particular service or product.
A good example of how it should be done is my recent post on Moz. In this post, I discussed the economics of link building, while also mentioning our services, comparing ourselves to other agencies. What makes it work is the fact that, in essence, it’s an educational post. Although it includes small promotional bits about our agency services as well, those are not a hard pill to swallow because of all the value provided in the post.
And here’s one more proof that guest blogging is not the right tool to generate leads – studies show that only 39% of respondents are still trying to monetize their guest posts. However, it’s good to note that those people are writing on well-known sites that don’t accept low-quality sales content which means that even excellent posts are only bringing leads in 4 cases out of 10.
If I had to sum up everything I said above, I’d put it this way – if you avoid hiring cheap copywriters to write lame content for your guest posts, don’t post on sites that no one really cares about, and don’t try to sell instead of educating through your content, chances are high that you’ll have success raising your brand awareness through guest blogging!
Before letting you go!
If after carefully reading my post you still feel that you’d love to give guest blogging a try, then I want to share a few extra tips that should make the whole process much smoother:
1. To ease the process of uncovering new guest blogging opportunities, I usually check where other smart marketers are allocating their guest posts. This can be done either via the Ahrefs tool that shows the newly acquired links of a site for which you know that they are using this strategy or by using the author search in BuzzSumo.
If you decide to use Ahrefs, simply open the report called “New Backlinks”. After that, you can add a filter that shows only URLs that include a particular phrase in the vicinity of a link. In my case, I decided to go with “content manager at” and here’s the list of guest posts that my colleague delivered:
In case you decide to go with BuzzSumo, you need to know at least a few authors that are regularly contributing to various blogs. For instance, my good friend Lesley J. Vos from Bid4Papers writes a great number of posts on a monthly basis and thanks to BuzzSumo I can get a list of those sites in just one click:
While Ahrefs and BuzzSumo are my research tools of choice at the moment, there are actually tons of competitor analysis tools similar to those two, so here’s a great post where you could learn more about the other options as well.
2. At all costs, we try to avoid sending cold pitches to editors, as in the majority of cases this does not result in something meaningful. Instead of this, we’re first connecting with an editor through social media platforms and engaging with them by liking and commenting on their posts.
Once we see that the editor has noticed us, we simply ask whether they’re looking for new guest contributions and guess what – in most cases, this results in being featured on their blog. Yes, I know that it’s much easier to send a dozen pitches rather than manually connecting with each and every contact, but it’s also easier to get rejected that way. In fact, I’ve recently published a new chapter of my email outreach guide where I shared more on this topic, so I highly recommend checking it out!
3. When a topic doesn’t really resonate with my expertise I try to find a way to substitute the lack of practical experience. For instance, you might ask your friends that are in the industry as well but have a more in-depth understanding of this topic to leave a quick comment/quote to make your content more actionable. Also, well-delivered custom images will always make your content stand out and increase the chances of getting a green light.
Based on the most recent content marketing trends, videos are the most preferred type of content by most users. While creating a shiny new video might be a bit too expensive exercise, creating some custom-made GIFs is what everyone can afford to do. Actually, I always hire a designer to create at least a few GIFs by slightly tweaking the already existing ones. In fact, I believe such content helps you create your unique brand voice as well!
4. There’s a handy workaround that could help you reduce the cost of your next guest post – content repurposing. It allows you to turn your most recent webinar, podcast, or even a conference speech into a guest post. I always repurpose my conference gigs into a few guest posts as normally the amount of content that I share allows me to split it into a few guest posts.
The biggest plus of content repurposing is that you don’t need to write a detailed post as you’ve already delivered a presentation and some notes, so what you need to ask a copywriter is to create a decent copy based on your quick outline and preso with notes. And that’s where the second hack is coming in – instead of asking a copywriter to write your post from A to Z, you could deliver a quick detailed outline that will help your content stand out. What matters the most is that such a draft could help you dramatically decrease the copywriting cost while still keeping the quality bar far above average.
5. From time to time, even the very best marketers’ guest posts could be rejected. Speaking of me, I was rejected a good number of times. In fact, I still don’t know why my post didn’t resonate well with the CMI blog editor and ended up being declined. Well, I should say that’s not the end of the world at all. Go and pitch the same topic to a new blog but try to avoid telling an editor that this post is already written, instead pretend that you haven’t started working on it yet. This way, no one would be suspicious about the reasons for rejection.
Ok, now it’s time to let you go. I hope that now you have a clearer understanding of when guest blogging might (not) be a good idea if you’re looking to build brand awareness and how you can best use it to this effect. If you decide your brand could benefit from it, make sure to follow the tips I shared above!