Guest posting has been a way that many people have been building backlinks for a long time. You can get links inside the body of an article, you can build a following from writing quality content and you can grow your social following. If your following does actually like what you write and what you post on your own site, they G+, Tweet and Share your posts or site which helps you to set off even more social triggers. This shows Google and the other Search Engines that count social triggers that you have quality content or a page that solves an issue for people for a certain topic or product. Although guest posting on other blogs is a great thing to do, it can now start to hurt your SEO if you are not careful. Here are 5 things you want to be cautious of when using guest posting as a way to build backlinks for your site’s SEO.
1. Do the site publicly advertise that they allow guest posting?
Google is probably aware of this, especially for the larger and more authoritative sites. If you advertise that you accept guest posts from other Bloggers and site owners, your links can end up getting less authority to pass. If a majority of your links are coming from these sites that publicly advertise you can post and get backlinks, even from reviews, Google can map this and it can eventually cause your site to get pushed out of the rankings. What you’ve basically shown the Search Engines is that sites don’t link to you unless they allow guest posting. This also means that you are probably the one doing the guest posts.
It’s a common practice to guest blog on these sites because it is easy to get a post live, but if you don’t have quality backlinks from other sites that don’t advertise guest posting, you could end up losing all of your rankings in the long run. Relying on sites that allow guest posting is easy, but not a good strategy if you want to keep your rankings for the long run. Instead you want to also have more links that aren’t from sites that advertise you can guest post. Having numerous authors link to you from these sites doesn’t hurt either because that could add relevance since the Authors’ bios are different and point to different sites.
2. Are your posts coming in from or going through a guest posting service?
The other day someone was showing me a service which is starting to get popular for writing guest posts on other peoples’ sites. Although it sounds great at first, when I dug into the tool I noticed that there was only one site with a PR of 5, a decent amount of PR4, but the quality was much lower on many of them. The way the service works is the blog owner sets what you can and cannot do. They have word count restrictions, rules on backlinks (how many and where they can appear) and also quality and content restrictions on topics. The site owner can accept or reject the posts as well. Although services like this sound great, there are also issues.
If these services do not have a ton of sites and if you are using the same ones over, and someone else is following your pattern, you could get mapped and the value of the links can drop and your sites will get a larger penalization. This is even more likely when I dug further into the tool and saw the percentage of posts from this tool vs. posts that weren’t. If you are in a specific niche and going after these sites, which does look like a good idea, you can easily get mapped if you are following the word counts, link amounts, etc… all of the posts will look about the same, have the same patterns, links, etc… and your site could eventually get penalized. This is even more risky if other Bloggers and site owners are using the same sites with the same guidelines, etc… Google can and will find this and see the same backlink pattern to other sites which will eventually devalue all of them and potentially hurt the sites giving these links away.
3. Where do your links appear in the posts?
If your goal is to get a backlink for yourself or your clients, you need to find out where your backlink is going to appear. Is it in the body of the post, the top or the bottom of the post, is it only in the author’s bio or is it only going to appear when your bio appears which can be in the post or on a dedicated page to you as an author. Each site is different and the position of the link will make a huge difference on the quality of it, how much it will count for for your site or your client’s site and if it is even worth posting.
4. What is the main topic of the site and where will your post be?
You need to think about the relevance of the website to your site. If it is a general website but has a section for food and your client is a food store, being in the food category can be good for you. If the site has a ton of authority, but no relevant sections, the link can be good, but it also may not be as good for you as a site with less authority but is more relevant for the content of your site. The best sites for you are ones that are about the same topic, industry or category as the site you are building backlinks to. After you find those sites within your niche and the most authoritative ones out of them, then you know where to go and who to write for. You do need a mix of sites and authorities, so set up a link building schedule for yourself so that you don’t go after everything at once. That will show the search engines that you are trying to game them. You also want to make sure that you also aren’t 100% focused on the same category but also have sites that have similar topics, a similar audience and also a few that are more general.
5. What are the terms you are linking off of and are they actually necessary?
When you’re building your backlinks, you may not actually want to use keyword rich anchor text. If the entire article is about product X, and the keywords around the link to your site are all relevant to the ones you want to rank for, you may just want to link off your stores name instead of the keywords. If you are already ranking for certain terms and keywords, a more natural way to link is from a store or site name instead of a keyword. The search engines will know the keywords around the link and associate them with your site. Because you linked off your site name instead of the keywords, the link looks more natural than an anchor text link, especially if it isn’t off of a product name linking to a product page. Think about the site you are guest blogging on, the topic of the paragraph and the keywords around your link and then think about if you actually need to link off of the keyword or if the quality of the post, topic and keywords are enough to let the search engines know what your site is about and will rank you without the keyword rich backlink.
Guest blogging is a great way to build backlinks; however the search engines are getting smarter and starting to realize that guest blogging is a way that a lot of Bloggers and SEOs are trying to get backlinks from other sites without having to add quality to their own sites, pages and posts. Although guest blogging will continue to happen, be smart about it. Look and see if they allow others to guest blog. Think about the main topics of the site and if they are relevant to you. How many of the posts are actually written by the site auhtors or by guest bloggers and if they actually show that number by tagging things with Guest Post or other tags and also think about the quantity of posts from a specific guest blogger. You should also think about if the other Bloggers are also blogging on the other sites you’ll want to be on. This could cause Google to map you and begin to hurt both your site and the other person’s site. Guest blogging is not a black hat practice in my opinion and one that can be really good to build a following. You just have to make sure it is not your main backlinking strategy or a huge part of it and that it is not the main focus of your SEO efforts.