Guest Blogging For Links: Does It Still Work?

Guest blogging is generally considered to be a white hat method of building links and authority, but with conflicting information now coming from google, does it still work?

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I was reading an interesting article last night by Stephen Kenright on branded3.com about the death of links in guest posts. Have a read for yourself, but the crux of it is that (in his opinion/interpretation) we should now all be adding rel=nofollow to any links in our guest posts, including those in the bio. Basically the only link that will do you any good going forward is the authorship link to your google+ profile.

The article was triggered by a video interview with googler John Mueller, and specific comments he made on the topic of links within guest posts, which are summarised as:-

“It is best you nofollow links in stories you write, especially when those stories are guest blog posts for the purpose of link building.

“In general, that is Google’s advice. If you link to something with the intent that it should help your Google rankings – then nofollow the link. If you write something without that intent and the link is really natural, then there is no reason to nofollow the link.”

You can read more about the interview on searchengineland.

Firstly, I will say that I am a big advocate of guest posting, particularly for new blog sites, as it is a great way to get yourself in front of a wider audience. Yes, like all things on the net it gets abused, but when done correctly I think it is a great way to build real relationships with other bloggers, generate interest and traffic for your site and grow your following.

And, being honest, aside from the direct traffic, I did/do believe that guest posting was one of the few remaining ways to proactively build ‘clean’ links to your site and build up your authority.

While your main focus should always be creating great content on your site, promoting it well and obtaining natural, editorial links – a few well placed guest posts are a good way to get the ball rolling link wise and start a drip of search engine traffic coming in which will get your fantastic posts in front of more eyeballs (leading to more links/shares).

So, is Stephen right and are bio links from guest posts dead? Well, according to Ann Smarty, founder of myblogguest, definitely not and rumours of their demise may be greatly exaggerated.

I put the question to Ann in the weekly #myblogguest twitter chat this afternoon. You can read the whole conversation here, but I’ve included the key tweets below.

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I pointed to Stephen’s article, which Ann had not read, but she was well aware of the theory and her response was strong: –

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To clarify (and not to be accused of sensationalist editing!), there were other tweets in between this, but Ann’s opinion on the matter is clear: –

  • no way should we be adding rel=nofollow to bio links
  • these links will continue to pass authority when guest blogging is done the right way and you are creating high quality content for trusted sites

This made sense to me, as the concept of nofollowing a (branded) link to your own site seems a strange one. It’s like saying you don’t trust yourself.

Note: a branded link would look like <a href=”…”>Your Site Name</a> or <a href=”…”>www.yoursitename.com</a> Using your keywords in your bio, i.e. <a href=”…”>Your spammy keywords</a> is asking for trouble and a big no no.

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So, who is right and are bio links in guest posts really dead?

Guest Blogging Links: My Opinion

It is difficult to say with any certainty what google will do in the future and certainly spammy guest posts and links from same have to be addressed. There are a litany of blog sites now which are just basically article directories dressed up in a dinner jacket and tie and have no direction or editorial voice.

I think, on balance, I am with Ann. If you use guest posting as a strategy to build your sites authority and focus on a select number of high quality posts from sites in your niche that already have an engaged audience, then branded bio links will continue to help with your rankings. Going for volume, poor quality sites or keyword links will probably get you in trouble – if not now, then almost certainly at some point in the near future.

So, what makes a good host site for your guest post? Well the following are good questions to ask yourself before choosing where to approach to publish your (exceptional quality) post: –

  • Is the site an authority in your niche?
  • Does the site have a strong, engaged following?
  • Is the site/blogger active on social media?
  • Does the site have a strong editorial voice?
  • Is there a clear topic for the site?
  • Are all the articles high quality?

If the answer is yes to the majority of these questions then I believe it will be a link worth having and will help your site to rank.

BTW, if you’re looking to up your hit rate from guest post outreach, check out this blogger outreach guide from NoHatDigital,or this one from Ahrefs.

Google+ Authorship

The other view in Stephen’s article is one that I firmly agree with – that to be successful on the internet going forward, you have to start linking everything you write to your google+ profile and claiming authorship.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you don’t have authorship set up, do it now – it should be your number 1 priority! Setting it up will take you all of 5 minutes, so boil the kettle and by the time it’s ready you will have authorship set up and can relax with a nice cup of tea and a jaffa cake.

Of course the other aspect is to start connecting on google+ and building up your ‘circles’. I am ashamed to say that this is something I have neglected and I am currently in a pitifully small number. I will be working to rectify this over the coming weeks, so if you have enjoyed reading this article, then please add me to your circles here!

What Do You Think?

So what do you think? Are google about to clamp down on guest posting as a way of building your sites authority, or will those that do it well (and for the right reasons) continue to see the benefits? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please drop a comment below!

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About the Author

I'm a web developer, programmer, blogger and SEO expert from Glasgow, Scotland, with over 15 years experience in the industry. When I'm not writing about marketing and SEO you'll find me strumming the guitar in my band or listening to Revolver on repeat. Follow me on twitter, connect with me on google+ and add us on facebook to keep up with all the latest trends in SEO and online marketing.

Leave a Reply 7 comments

Stephen Kenwright - July 12, 2013 Reply

Hi David, really liked hearing your opinion. To clarify I do agree with Ann and yourself that you SHOULD be able to link to your site in an author bio and pass link equity, it just seems that Google disagrees. I also think that people who are genuinely looking to do guest posting properly and aren’t just after backlinks will probably get caught out unfairly.

Just trying to comment that what Google is suggesting ties into their strategy for Google+ (getting rid of things that provide an alternative way into Google’s good graces).

    David McSweeney - July 12, 2013 Reply

    will be very interesting to watch this over the next 6 months or so and see what happens – either through google coming out with definitive guidelines, or just by updating their algorithm and driving the SEO world into a spin once again as rankings crash overnight.

    As usual, yes, it’s the collateral damage that will be the worst factor if this happens, those who have been using guest blogging in the way it should be used being penalised unfairly.

    I definitely agree with you that, at the end of the day, google will do what is best for google and yes, clearly G+ is a top priority.

Frank Gainsford - July 12, 2013 Reply

The real issue is user experience. if the link adds value to the user experience then ensure that it is followed. If the link is an advert ensure that it has the no follow attribute. it is that simple…

In other words if the link keeps to the theme and expands on the post ensure it is followed. if the link goes to an off topic page ensure that the no follow attribute is present.

Google is looking at the user experience, and does not want to have adverts included in the links, as that is their business ADVERTISING

avoid advertising and keep on topic and you will get the credit.

David McSweeney - July 12, 2013 Reply

Thanks for your input Frank. I agree that for links within the body, then yes these should be completely on topic and adding to the post, otherwise they shouldn’t be there.

For links in the bio though, assuming you are writing about a topic which has a relevance to your site (why wouldn’t you be?) then do you think it would follow that a branded link to the author’s site is adding to the user experience? If the reader has enjoyed the post could it be argued that they may want to find out more about the author and could be frustrated if they can’t click though to their site? Maybe google would counter this with that’s what the author’s google+ profile is for!

Tom Jamieson - July 13, 2013 Reply

Good word here David. I agree that using guest posting the right way can still bring you an advantage. Like you, I have been lacking in my use and acceptance of G+, but am starting to get on the band wagon. I also recently setup authorship, so hopefully that will help as well. Thanks for sharing your insight.

    David McSweeney - July 14, 2013 Reply

    Thanks Tom. Yeah we’re all going to have to get using google+ as it’s looking like it’s going to be one of the keys to ranking in the future. I’ve just added a google+ circles follow badge to my sidebar, so hopefully that will improve my terrible circles count!

Gerald Weber - January 25, 2014 Reply

I personally find the idea of no following byline links very silly.

The reason being is the links ARE in fact editorial. Your posts has to pass the editor of that blog and it is up to the blog owner/editor to decide whether or not they want your article (and bio link) on their site.

So if you are being accepted by the editor it IS an editorial link.

So why should that be no followed?

simple answer is it shouldn’t be.

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