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Guest Blog Posting Mistakes: Here’s Why You’re Doing it Wrong

I quite enjoy seeing some of the back and forth (ie: controversy) surrounding a topic as broad as ‘guest posting’ (and by extension, the entirety of white hat link building)

On the one hand, you have Amine Rahal on Forbes describing Guest posting as one of the best methods for scoring backlinks.

On the other, Google’s John Mueller recently  stated on Twitter that Google “not only frowns on guest posting for links” but has in fact “been devaluing them for the past several years.”

While Rahal is correct in that generic guest blog posting will result in ‘backlinks’, I think it’s safe to say that what we truly want are effective backlinks that increase our likelihood of ranking in the search engines.

This is to say, those backlinks which are earned and largely editorial – guest post derived or otherwise.

So how do we get these?

Mistake #1: You Don’t Have Anything Worth Linking To

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the key to great, editorial (or editorial looking) links has everything to do with your brand’s content strategy and less to do with your outbound / link building efforts.

In order to gain those ‘juicy’ editorial links you need to be talking about something truly unique and not really being discussed elsewhere. Your destination content needs to be compelling / interesting / unique and worthy of a link.

The Misguided example:

Keeping it within the SEO sphere, let’s assume that we want to write an article for our own website titled ‘Why your business needs SEO’.

Popping over to the Googs, a search for this exact term brings up 13,000 results, the first page filled with high authority sites and articles. Competitive, and thoroughly covered, I’m sure you would agree.

In 2020 do we have anything groundbreaking or truly worthwhile to say about this topic? More specifically, do we have anything to say about it that may be worthy of linking to?

The Better Example:

Now let’s search for something much more specific but still with the digital marketing realm – something a little more topical and niche like “cannabis paid advertising“.

A walloping 7 results.

Here, we find Adster atop the search results, and we can also see that this article has been linked editorially by at least 2 ‘real’ websites (along with the usual junk) citing our blog as a reference:



At the time, there was very little information on cannabis advertising available. Thus, when a fellow writer went to Google to cite an article to be published on their own website, they had a high probability of finding and citing Adster.

This is your first key to getting content marketing right: you must create truly unique content that ranks independently and subsequently matches how a user will find and cite their own writing.

Mistake #2: You’re Getting Greedy.

Here, your lust for links is tipping your hand.

This speaks directly to the transparency of what I assume Mueller referred to when he answered the Tweet “How can Google understand that a post is Guest Blogging?” with the answer “Usually it’s pretty obvious.”

What’s making your guest posting obvious?

  • Forcing in keyword heavy anchor text
  • Getting greedy by linking to a home page / ‘commercial’ page in the guest post
  • Submitting to sites clearly built for the purposes of guest posting

Ultimately what I see here is an ignorance of the natural editorial linking process mentioned above.

Think about it, why would an otherwise reputable, trustworthy website publish a mediocre article that drops keyword rich anchor text linking to a small businesses home page?

It’s unnatural.

Admittedly, those sites that do are some of the easiest / cheapest to acquire, but are also the easiest for Google to spot and most likely to be discounted.

Effective Link Building Starts with YOU!

If you truly want to maximize the effectiveness of your content marketing and are considering guest posting as part of your strategy, consider the approach below:

  1. Pick a niche topic that no one is talking about and get it on your client site – one of my favorites is to start with a broad keyword search in google, then drill into the suggested searches until this phrase has little to no competition (ie: cannabis example above)
  2. Make sure that this article is well referenced, interesting to read, and as engaging as possible (think multiple images, charts, video, etc). Be useful for Pete’s sake!
  3. Wait a few days to a few weeks, or until a Google search for the exact(ish) title of your article reveals your site among the first few results.
  4. Now that we have an article that has ‘earned’ a reason to be cited in an organic way, we can begin our guest post outreach!

Remember – don’t get greedy! Keep your anchor text varied and ensure your outreach is dedicated to linking only to your ‘citation worthy’ pages. Give sites you are thinking about pitching to the ‘sniff’ test – are they real, editorially controlled assets with social communities, genuine purpose and traffic or hobbled together junk looking for a quick buck?

If you are an agency, this is what your clients pay you for, no?

If you need help with creating killer content and a strategy to amplify this content to gain links & traffic, give us a shout!