Is guest posting dead?
Judging from my spam folder, it’s alive, well, and reproducing like E. coli in a petri dish.
Here’s a guest post pitch in my inbox from “Alyssa Ray:”
Good day and I hope you are doing well!
I am Alyssa Ray, and I work for a digital marketing agency.
We have many clients who are looking to secure guest posts and sponsored content on sites like yours.
If this is something that you are interested in then please fill the details below.
Link Type: Dofollow/Nofollow
You can also fill out the form: https://forms.gle/abcdefghijklmnopq
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks & Regards
(My first red flag was the @gmail.com address – never a good sign in today’s B2B world!)
I receive guest post pitches like this every day. It’s easy to convince myself that I’m a pretty popular person.
And it makes me wonder … is this all guest posting has become? All the gurus say guest posting is critical to your SEO … but do I really have to join the mass-mailing rat race?
This isn’t a new question. Back in 2014, former Google software engineer Matt Cutts wrote an opinion piece called “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.” He claimed, “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”
Was he right? Is guest posting dead?
Why Do Bloggers Care About Guest Posting
People post on guest blogs for three main reasons:
- Generate referral traffic
- Improve domain authority (backlinks)
- Collaborate and build credibility
Whether or not guest posting is dead really depends on what your goal is.
Can Guest Posting Improve Your SEO?
If your goal is to artificially inflate your authority by spreading your URLs around the internet like a garden seeder, then Google is already a step ahead of you.
Google calls this a “link scheme” and you’ll get penalized for it. Here’s one of the five ways Google defines a link scheme: “Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.”
Google is pretty clear that you’re supposed to qualify outbound links from commercial guest posts with a rel attribute like “sponsored” or “nofollow.” PageRank is NOT passed from a sponsored guest post.
Now, there’s no question that link schemes can work. In fact, some blogging gurus build their entire system on the sinking sand foundation that you should focus more on guest posting than on your own content! Popular SEO software like Moz or Ahref make a big to-do out of Domain Authority/Domain Rating, which are metrics largely based on the quantity and quality of site backlinks.
Personally, I’m not sold on the omnipotence of Domain Authority. I have sites with a DA of 50+ that aren’t doing half as well as sites with a DA of less than 10! I’ve had brand new content on a brand new site rank #1 for the main search query within two weeks!
But I’m not an SEO guru, so I’ll hop off this train. I do acknowledge that reputable, relevant backlinks are important. But if what you’re doing feels like a cheating shortcut … then it probably is. I mean, can I really trick Google into thinking I’m a topical authority if I only have, say, 10 posts on the subject?
Plus, Google is getting scarily good at contextualizing links. I wouldn’t be surprised if outbound links in author boxes, for instance, are/will be given different priority compared to in-text links.
Guest posting solely to get dofollow backlinks seems like a lot of work for very little reward. Writing unique content, especially original research and analysis pieces, seems to be the most effective way to earn organic backlinks.
Can Guest Posting Increase Your Traffic?
Yes, guest posting can increase traffic to your blog. If your guest post page receives traffic, then a certain portion of that traffic will pass through to your website. This is called referral traffic.
I actually recommend you read this article on Bloggerjet.com about the real-life data behind guest posting. It’s one of my favorite posts on the topic.
Short answer: Guest posting isn’t great for traffic generation. The average number of referral visits within a week from a guest post was …. wait for it …. 56!
Writing your own content, posting Pinterest Pins, or just paying for Facebook ads is a far more efficient use of your time to obtain leads.
There are other ways to generate inbound traffic besides guest posting to other blogs. I read about one guy who wrote 50,000 words a week – that’s right, a week – for Quora. He answered hundreds of questions within his niche and included in-text links back to relevant content on his website. He generated hundreds of thousands of page views! – that is, until Quora banned him for link spamming. Oops.
But guest posting can be beneficial for other reasons, like building EAT. Let’s talk about that.
Can Guest Posting Improve My E-A-T?
So let’s answer the original question: Is guest posting dead?
Yes, I think guest posting is dead for generating traffic or improving your Domain Authority. It’s just too much work for too little reward.
But if your goal is to collaborate with other creators, showcase your authority and build some credibility, then guest posting is worth its weight in gold.
Yes, I’ve published guest posts on high DA websites. But I didn’t send out 100 emails hoping for a 2% response rate. I emailed sites individually, composing unique messages. I explained who I was, how I knew about their website, and I offered a specific title as a guest post, one that I felt would resonate with their audience. I didn’t mention a backlink or attribution.
This kind of guest posting pitch seems to work. It’s not the easiest strategy. I have to write unique pitches and craft unique articles, but in return, I earn more than a backlink – I earn the site owner’s trust. And that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
About a month ago, I was personally contacted by the managing editor of a website that gets over 3 million visits a month – and they asked me to write for them! (No, they don’t read FlubBlog – they saw another site). My content spoke for itself, and I earned a whole series of backlinks that no amount of money could ever buy.
…But Should I Accept Guest Posts?
This is deserving of an entire article in itself. Basically, no, don’t advertise that you accept guest posts. Otherwise, your site will likely be added to a directory of sites that accept guest posts, and you’ll be spammed out of your mind. Dedicated content creators will reach out to you no matter what your “Write For Us” page says.
How NOT! to Write a Guest Post Pitch
Here’s the thing: I know nobody wants to write for my website for free. They all want something out of it: exposure, money, authority, traffic, etc.
So if you want to publish a guest post on my site, you better be honest about what you want out of it and what I get in return.
So when someone like “Alyssa” sends me a template email about guest posting opportunities, I immediately consign it to my spam folder.
Here’s what was wrong with her pitch:
- I can tell you haven’t actually visited my website. I’m not an idiot – I know computer software can insert_website_URL_here to make it sound like you, the writer, visited that page. Unless you can describe (in detail) what you read and why it piqued your interest, I assume you’ve never even seen my home page.
- I don’t want to work with digital marketers. Let’s see how the logic plays out. The only people who pay marketing agencies to generate guest posting opportunities … are the ones who can’t get them organically … which means their content probably isn’t any good … so why would I want them writing for me? I want to hear requests from the author personally!
- I hate forms. Seriously, did you really ask me to fill out a form?? Let me share with you the advice for Dale Carnegie from How to Win Friends and Influence People: “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” Do you really think I want to spend my time filling out your form? The IRS already makes sure I do that enough!
P.S. If you receive a similar pitch from someone, never accept! Not even if they offer to pay you! That’s the gateway drug to becoming a content farm, and you can quickly lose your authority in the SERPs.
In short, guest posting is kind of like Craigslist. Craigslist was the original Facebook Marketplace, a virtual garage sale where you could buy your neighbor’s gently used tires for $25 so you could pass your vehicle safety inspection. Then the scammers discovered it, and now Craigslist is mostly a haven for used car salesman and ticket scalpers. The scammers ruined a good thing.
Guest posting as a method to collaborate with other creators and establish your online E-A-T is alive, well, and immortal. It will never die. But it’s also a ton of work. And I can’t imagine I would have had any success without at least 30-50 articles on my site.
Guest posting solely to acquire dofollow backlinks is too much work for too little reward. For all the effort it takes to craft the content and communicate with the publisher, I’d rather self-publish the post and keep all the traffic for myself.