3 Limitations on Guest Posting's Scalability for Link Building

This is a guest post from Jennifer Van Iderstyne of Search Slingshot.

You know what’s all the rage right now? Guest Posting. It’s like when the government made charitable donations tax deductible. Everyone discovered that doing something seemingly unselfish actually had financial benefits! Duh, Winning!

Guest posting is kind of the same, you do something good for someone else, and get something useful in return. But the reality is that writing guest posts isn’t quite the panacea of link building we’d like to imagine it is. There are still plenty of challenges that need to be met in order for it to work, especially at larger and consistent scale...

1) Quality Control

The biggest stopping block in guest posting I think, is constantly creating content that reaches the level of quality necessary to make guest posts a success. People spend a lot of time and effort building up their blog communities, and creating valuable posts themselves. It’s highly unlikely anyone who has put blood sweat and tears into their blog is going to publish a bunch of half-assed crap. So if your guest posting strategy was going to involve ordering a bunch of articles from a web content company and pitching it to any blog with a “Submit a Post” page, you may be disappointed.

Anyone who advertises about accepting blog posts usually has a list of reasons they reject would-be writers. I suggest paying close attention to that because it will save you time and help you refrain from wasting a contact. Many people also suggest you send in your “best work”. Well as much as we like to horde our awesomeness for our own sites and blogs, in order for guest posting to work you need to be able to look at your finished product with some level of pride. If you wouldn’t publish it on your own blog, why should you expect someone else to post it and damage their integrity?

2) Subject Matter

Not every blogger taking contributors is going to be a perfectly relevant subject for you. In fact you may find, and very frustratingly, that the perfectly on-topic blogs belong to competitors. You can try to get a guest post there, sure, but when they see who you are linking to there’s a good chance they may suddenly “not like” the post as much anymore. So that means you may find yourself trying to fit a square peg into a round hole more often than not. There is little chance a blog about web design wants to publish your post about “How to Book Cheap Hotel Rooms Online”. However, they may be interested in “7 Wordpress Themes that Capture Paris”. It’s not the obvious choice for either the web design blog or the hotel booking site. But it is a middle ground for both sites that is relevant to each party.

That’s the kind of compromise that need to be made on subject matter in order to make guest posting work. The fact is guest posting isn’t about getting what you want from someone else, it’s about giving them smething they can value and getting a link in return. If you insist on making it all about you, you’re pretty much doomed from the start.

3) Volume

If you want 1000 links a month, guest posting probably isn’t for you. Even if you want 50 links a month, without a staff of SEO savvy journalists you may be out of luck. And I say journalists because going back to the quality part of the equation, not just any “writer” will work. Being ABLE to write isn’t as important as being able to write WELL. So it’s not enough just to have writers, or access to writers. Unfortunately guest posting is something that works best in small doses. When you focus on creating a few great pieces for a few powerful blogs, you may not find yourself topping the rankings in a matter of weeks. But over time the effort does add up. And if you care to focus on anything but Search Engines which frankly, you should, you may see some surprising and unexpected benefits.

Gauging the success of guest posting isn’t just about refreshing your ranking checker with a vengeance. Look at the referring sites in your analytics; see how many of your guest posts are skipping the middle man and sending you direct traffic. You can watch the posts themselves and if you chose your hosts well you may see them acquiring comments or even back links. You may find that your site’s reputation and your writer’s public image as an expert are improving. All of these things combine to make a handful of guest post more valuable than 100 random blog comments. But because there are so many places the guest posting train can de-rail in the process, without a large group of trained guest posters, you need set realistic expectations on volume.

The Wrap

So is guest posting a great way to promote a site? Absolutely. It’s one of the best I‘ve found actually. But it’s not a short cut by any means. It is a time consuming, mind-engaging process that has plenty of limitations. If someone says “Write for us” you can expect that they want you to write something great that is more relevant to their site than yours. If you are in need of a massive quantity of links, guest posting probably isn’t going to get you there, at least not immediately. But if you’re patient, and committed to doing great work in an unselfish way, then with that attitude, the potential of guest posing is unlimited.

About the Author:

Jennifer Van Iderstyne is the Online Marketing Director for Search Slingshot, an SEO reporting & consulting company.

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