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What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging refers to the practice of writing blogs for websites other than your own.

What Is Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging is when an article is written by one person and posted on another person’s blog. This practice is used to build relationships, authority, exposure, and links. When a blog article is written according to the requirements of a certain blogger, the original author is rewarded with a backlink. 

However, these guest posts must be high-quality content to help increase authority for a website. According to the Google Search Quality Ratings Guidelines, high-quality content consists of strong levels of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT). These three indicators determine a website’s value, including the content that lives on that website. EAT can have an impact on how search engines perceive articles, which in turn could affect rankings. 

The guidelines also state that webpages that have no beneficial use to readers, or mean to cause harm or misinform them, should receive the lowest quality rating. That means content that isn’t unique, specific, or doesn’t create a good user experience could be cause for search engines to penalize sites. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s webspam team, created awareness about sites using low-quality content to secure backlinks, which made many sites wary of guest blogging. Though his article helped combat the use of black hat SEO strategies that try to build links through guest blogging, it also created many misconceptions about guest blogging.

What Are the Benefits of Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging not only benefits the writer, but it can also benefit the websites hosting the content. This strategy can help websites gain exposure while also creating more authority, a search engine optimization (SEO) goal that many webmasters aim for.

When it is used correctly, and keeps with Google’s guidelines, guest posting can bring a website many benefits and is a legitimate and effective way to earn links.

Expanded Audiences

Guest blogging can increase online influence by reaching more people. The hosting websites can combine their audience with the guest author’s, which can be a faster way of expanding their audience than if they were writing content on their own. This also helps with exposure and brand awareness, while building subscriber bases on both websites and social media.

Increased Backlink Profile

Backlinks are an essential part of the architecture of the web and have been a key ranking factor as long as search has existed. As such, an effective SEO strategy involves actively building and earning backlinks. These links act as votes, crediting a site with authority. The more backlinks a site has, the more votes it has for authority. Backlinks are important for SEO because they help search engines determine how authoritative and relevant a site is on a certain topic, which in turn can help its rankings in the search engine result pages (SERPs). 

High-quality links are important because they work like a citation. For example, Medium and Reddit are built on hosting guest authors’ content and are highly trusted by Google. Users cite sources by citing links, which shows that link building and guest blogging go hand in hand. Backlinks work the same way. When a site has many high-quality backlinks, it shows search engines that the site is a quality citation, and deserves to rank higher in the SERPs. 

However, the links must be contextual and relevant, or it will not bode well for search. If a site is using black hat strategies — such as posting as many links on as many sites as possible without regard to relevance and user experience — search engines could penalize sites. This doesn’t mean that guest blogging is the problem — it means that the quality of the content comes first, and links must fit around it. If the links are too advertorial, over-optimized for keywords, or forced, then guest blogging becomes controversial.

Qualified Leads

Used correctly, guest blogging can help websites find qualified leads, which can lead to better conversion rates and sales. By picking the correct author in the right niche industry, a website could gain traffic from an untapped audience that is more likely to buy their product. Getting traffic is one thing — qualified leads that may convert into sales is another. Guest blogging helps speed up this process.

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White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

As stated before, guest blogging, when done incorrectly, is frowned upon in the SEO world. SEO Techniques that are used to break search engine rules and game results are called “black hat.” In contrast to black hat SEO, white hat SEO refers to SEO tactics that are approved by the major search engines and compliant with their terms and conditions, such as creating quality content. 

Ultimately, this means that there are no shortcuts when it comes to guest posting and practicing white hat SEO. Using black hat SEO techniques could result in websites being de-indexed and essentially banned from search results. 

Black Hat SEO Techniques

Instead of investing time into organic, white hat practices, some webmasters wish to speed up the process in order to gain quick rankings in the SERPs. However, this can have negative consequences. 

Keyword Stuffing

According to Google, keyword stuffing is the practice of putting as many keywords as possible onto a webpage. Examples include keywords in a list or in a group out of context. This makes content hard to read and causes users to leave sites, harming a site’s ranking.

Private Blog Networks/Link Farms

Private blog networks (PBNs) are a network of websites used to build links to a single website. This spams a search engine’s index with the number of links without actually providing valuable signals about relevance or content quality. While they used to be a common way to gain authority, they are now associated with black hat tactics, and can result in a loss in rankings or penalties. These links are not high-quality links, and therefore do not help with the authority of the overall page.

Hidden Texts and Links

Hiding texts and links in content can be seen as deceptive, which is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Keywords can be hidden this way, but this tactic can also include using CSS to create off-screen text and linking a small character instead of the whole phrase or word. 

How Google’s Panda Update Affects Guest Blogging

Over the years, Google has updated its algorithm to favor sites that are more useful to searchers. The Panda update was created to reward websites with high-quality content, and diminish the presence of sites in the SERPs with low-quality content. It looks for: 

  • Thin content with little relevant text and sources;
  • Duplicate content;
  • Low-quality content that provides little value;
  • Lack of authority;
  • Content farming, which is a website that employs writers to make dozens of short articles that satisfy user queries but lack authority;
  • Low-quality user-generated content;
  • Low-quality content surrounding affiliate links;
  • Websites blocked by users;
  • Content that doesn’t deliver answers;
  • And a high ad-to-content ratio.

Some websites noticed a dip in traffic since the update. Before the update, the approval process for guest blogging was easier and faster, since many sites wanted links of any kind to build authority and rank higher in the SERPs. By taking credit away from low-quality content links, webmasters were made aware of the importance of creating, distributing, and receiving links to and from pieces of high-quality content.

Many people deleted guest posts from their site in the hopes it would increase their rankings. However, by overhauling content and making sure that it matches user queries, webmasters can rebuild their traffic if they were hit by the Google update. Through high-quality content that meets the reader’s needs, guest blogging can be a great strategy to utilize when trying to increase rankings.

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