Guest blogging is one of the most frequently discussed content marketing topics these days. Almost every internet marketing blog has a few dozen posts on the best ways to approach guest blogging and how to make the most of it.
However, most of these blogs never go into the details of what guest blogging actually is and why it is so important these days.
As a result, you’ll find thousands of bloggers and internet marketers advocating the use of guest blogging for almost every marketing problem without actually knowing how it works.
In this post I’ll try to outline the basics of guest blogging, why it has gained so much popularity in the internet marketing circles and how you can benefit from it.
Guest Blogging – The Basic Concept
Guest blogging, in essence, is posting content as a guest on another blog. In an ideal scenario, both the host blog and the guest blogger benefit from guest blogging.
The host usually gets free content for his blog, although there are a few blogs that pay for guest posts as well, while the guest blogger gets backlinks to his own website and the opportunity to reach new audiences.
If done correctly, guest blogging has the potential to massively boost your website traffic, your online brand image and, eventually, your sales numbers.
However, if you get it wrong you’ll not only end up wasting hours of hard work but might also get penalized by Google in search rankings.
This is why it is extremely important to invest time and effort in guest blogging with a clear objective and strategy.
Here’s a useful infographic that explains the whole process.
Guest Blogging – But Why?
Google search used to be the biggest source of online traffic for most websites (it still is, but now there are other prominent sources as well). Ranking higher for a few high traffic keywords would open the floodgates of visitors to your websites.
Naturally, most bloggers and internet marketers focused solely on getting their websites ranked higher in Google search rankings through different Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.
However, in late 2010, Google started introducing a series of search engine algorithm updates, starting with Google Panda, which completely changed the way rankings worked. The focus shifted from simple SEO to more value driven content.
Factors such as content depth, length, quality backlinks and social proof gained much more significance in ranking higher with Google.
As a result, thousands of websites suffered and their traffic took a nosedive.
This unexpected change of strategy from Google, lead internet marketers to an almost unanimous conclusion, that Google search was not a reliable source of traffic anymore.
Any business that depends primarily on traffic from Google search would ultimately suffer.
Back to the Basics – Community and List Building
Subscription lists have always been considered a key asset for any online business.
However, their significance has magnified ever since Google became an unreliable traffic source.
Even when Google search algorithms changed, businesses that had healthy subscription lists managed to recover quickly and used their subscriber base to build other innovative traffic channels.
But in the post Google Panda scenario, building a loyal community around your business and a healthy subscription list are almost mandatory parts of an online business.
There’s no long term survival without these two elements.
Say Hello to Guest Blogging
As I said earlier, there’s a lot of noise on the internet about guest blogging and how it can work wonders for online businesses.
But for me, the major reasons for guest blogging are list building and brand image. There are many other secondary advantages as well.
And although there’s a lot more to list building than just guest blogging, but using the strength of the more established websites to build your own list (read business) is certainly one of the fastest and most effective ways to move forward.
This is the primary reason why such a large number of internet marketing gurus are now advocating the increased use of guest blogging.
Again, you need to understand that guest blogging, no matter how effective, is just another source of traffic and lead generation (with significantly more advantages, of course).
But it is not the objective itself.
It needs to be used as a part of a bigger business strategy. There needs to be a clear linkage between your efforts.
Is Guest Blogging All About Traffic?
Not at all!
There are a number of other ways to generate traffic as well. But with guest blogging, you get several unique benefits that most other traffic sources don’t offer.
1) Enhanced Brand Image
Guest blogging on other established blogs will give credibility to your band image. Blogs that attract thousands, sometimes even millions, of visitors every month are very cautious about the quality of content they post on their websites.
Getting published on such blogs will not only mean that you’re good enough to feature on an established platform but will also show the world that your advice is followed by thousands of people online.
2) An Effective Networking Channel
Established blogs are followed by some of the most influential people online. These people, mostly entrepreneurs, bloggers and internet marketers, have large followings themselves.
When you guest post on blogs that are followed by influential people, it gives you a huge window of opportunity to get in touch with them and build relationships.
Building relationships is the key to getting more traffic, social shares and, ultimately, more sales online.
3) Quality Backlinks
One of the major benefits of guest blogging is the quality of backlinks that you get from established blogs. Not only do these backlinks help you rank better in Google search results, but also keep sending you tons of traffic even months (and sometimes even years) after your post gets published.
And unlike Google search, the traffic generated from guest posts is much more likely to subscribe to your mailing list and take action on your website, since the urge has already been created in most of the visitors through your guest post.
I am not going to list all the benefits of guest blogging over here, simply because there are just too many, and I’ll certainly need to do a separate post to cover them.
The point that I’m trying to make over here is that guest blogging is a much more comprehensive way to not only get visitors to your website, but also get tons of other benefits associated with it.
The Strategic Part of Guest Blogging
While the benefits of guest blogging are quite obvious for everyone to see, not many people actually follow the right strategy to reap all these benefits.
This is the reason why you’ll find many bloggers complaining about the ineffectiveness of guest blogging and how all their guest blogging efforts have gone in vain.
Guest blogging, like any other marketing technique, will only be effective if it is used with a certain objective in mind. The guest blogging strategy will then be formulated based on the ultimate objective.
This is where most guest bloggers get it wrong.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer like me, and you want to attract freelance writing customers for your business, then what should be the ideal blogs for you to guest post on?
The blogs that your customers visit, of course!
Many freelance writers don’t get writing customers from their guest posts simply because they target other freelance writing blogs.
None of their customers ever visit freelance writing blogs, especially if they’re small business owners.
So your only hope for business is if a more established freelance writer decides to outsource his client work to you. But you certainly won’t be able to connect with the real customers (business owners).
The Right Way to Use Guest Blogging
Naturally, the target customers for Tom’s course are freelance bloggers.
So with this objective and target market in mind, Tom started guest posting on other freelance writing and blogging blogs that most of his customers visit.
That’s the right way to do it.
To sum up all my points, guest blogging is definitely a much more reliable and long term traffic and branding source than search engines.
However, unlike how some internet marketers are promoting it, guest blogging is not a solution for every marketing problem.
You need to have a clear objective and a sound strategy to get anything out of it. There are also certain pre and post guest blogging activities that are necessary to achieve its complete potential.
No marketing activity works well in isolation, and guest blogging is no different.
Note: I’ll be doing detailed posts on each of the points discussed in this post. Make sure you sign up to my mailing list to get all those posts in your inbox.