A Year without Guest Blogging

by Jason Acidre on January 14, 2014 · 30 comments · Content, Search


First off, sorry for the misleading title, because it’s not entirely true, since I’ve published 3 guest blog posts last year (2 for Moz and 1 for Hit Reach).

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I’m not saying that guest blogging doesn’t work, because it really does (when getting published on the right places)!

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Although, I’ve handled other sites last year that didn’t really rely on guest blogging (as a link building and traffic generation method) – you can see the full case study here.

case study

Guest blogging, as a marketing method, can add so much value to a campaign. Some of the factors that make it a very tempting process to be integrated to any type of online marketing campaign (when done right) are:

  • It helps you build relationships with other content publishers.
  • It can build brand exposure and improve site discovery, especially if you’re getting published on popular websites in your space that are capable of ranking for keywords that you’re also targeting (which often creates a traffic funnel that can consistently refer visitors back to your site).
  • It allows you to build links (signals) that can help better shape web entities (as well as authorship) and improve domain authority (which eventually impacts a site’s search ranking ability).

The benefits of being active on guest blogging sounds really good, but the reality is many are relying and focusing so much on it, and tend to forget the other important aspects of marketing a business over the web.

A guest blogging campaign involves a very exhausting process – such as prospecting, outreach, content development and tracking – in which most of the available resources are more often than not invested in to these efforts, just because everyone’s overdoing it.

If 50% or more of your current marketing activities are put into guest blogging, then you might want to rethink your campaign this year.

Internally, my focus for this year (on marketing my own sites as well as some of our clients’ sites) will only revolve around 3 simple processes:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content development and promotion
  • Taking advantage of existing (and proven effective) traffic sources (through Analytics data)

Continuous content development

As I’ve mentioned on my post on Moz a month ago, content development has been the driving force of my entire campaign last year. And it has proven itself to be very effective.

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One of my clients’ has been very successful with this approach as well, wherein he didn’t even bother building new links to his website after the first 3 months of full-scale on-site optimization we did for his website.

He just focused on consistently providing new content to his site’s steadily growing readership.

I believe that this approach is far more exciting, given that it’s like running your own magazine/publishing company – particularly in ensuring that every content you come up with is of high quality and targeted.

One valuable content can drive links, social shares, rankings, traffic, and conversions – but having ton of them can certainly tell a lot about your brand.

Things I suggest you start doing:

  • Regularly brainstorm for content ideas. Determine what your target audience wants.
  • Create a content calendar – and strictly follow them.
  • Align your content ideation/planning with keyword research.
  • Invest on other content formats (videos, images, interactive pages, etc…).
  • Always think of or project how your content will affect your branding and conversions.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO and content marketing is a deadly combination, seeing that the more useful pages you continuously add to your website, the more you’re able to build searchable web pages (which increases your search traffic).

Common best practices of technical search optimization:

  • Optimizing title tags – and making sure that the title of your pages match the content/information it provides (optimizing for keyword and topic relevance as well as long-click).
  • Only serving content that’s important and useful to your target visitors, by disallowing access (or using the “noindex” tag) on pages that have poor/thin content or duplicates.
  • Improving site’s speed.
  • Using structured data (schema/microdata) for search engines to better understand your site and its pages.
  • Optimizing the site’s structure and making it easier for users to navigate and use the site (particularly in finding the pages they’re looking for).
  • Proper use of internal links to increase site usage/engagement and for search crawlers to easily find and index deeper pages of the website.
  • Fixing site errors (404s, unnecessary redirects, canonicalization, and other site crawling/indexing issues).

Build on effective traffic sources

One of the best ways to succeed in online marketing is to take advantage of existing traffic channels that are already doing well. It’s just like knowing what your strengths are and focusing on getting even better with them.

Having a diversified traffic source is very crucial these days, and you can never rely on just search (or just social traffic).

It’s imperative to identify which channels are sending traffic and conversions to your website, and to continuously improve them to stay on the top of the game.

As the more traffic you consistently get from the channels that have proven to be effective for your site, the more you can ensure that people will find and be able to consume your future content.

traffic sources

Invest more on what’s already working for you. These traffic funnels and brand assets may come in form of:

  • Keyword rankings and/or landing pages – identify which content assets are constantly sending traffic and conversions to your site. Try to enhance them more (optimize for UX or conversions), so that they can maintain or further improve their search rankings, or for them to become more linkable/shareable.
  • Linking websites/pages – check the list of top domains/external pages referring visitors to your website, as they are considerably assets that you somehow have control of. Take advantage of them by building more brand visibility (getting more links) from them, or building 2nd-tier links to high-traffic pages linking back to you.
  • Online communities – Contribute and provide more value on other niche communities or social platforms that are sending quality traffic to your site (forums, groups, social networks, etc…).
  • Email list – continuously grow and strengthen your email list by sending high-value content to your subscribers on a regular basis. Because loyal visitors are as much as important as your site’s new traffic.

Personal thoughts on Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a very effective branding tool, but it’s a tedious process. I’d rather focus on the 3 areas of online marketing I’ve mentioned above instead of landing 10 new guest posts every month.

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Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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