Matt Cutts, Google's Head of Webspam, made big waves in the content marketing community last week when he published a new blog post titled "The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO," as you've likely already heard. Marketers are up in arms and basically panicking, wondering if all the time they've invested in guest blogging will be wasted. Professional SEOs, along with people that make livings building links and influence, are crying out that Matt Cutts is wrong (Side note: that part makes me laugh. Whether he's technically right or wrong, when it comes to Google SEO and spam, he's right).
I can't help but feel the urge to shout, "Settle down, everyone!" But I haven't because: 1. You all live inside my computer, which doesn't have a microphone, and 2. While everyone's fear and outrage isn't entirely misplaced, they aren't looking at the big picture.
This outlook, that the point of guest blogging is to boost SEO, is one of the reasons Matt Cutts said in that post that "we can't have nice things in the SEO space" (excellent way of putting it, Matty). SEOs wearing black hats and marketers looking to cut corners are so wholly focused on this one benefit that it's what drives their content and SEO strategies. They're approaching guest blogging thinking only about backlinks.
There's more to guest blogging than backlinks, and that's what you should be focusing on. Click to tweet this
Let's not forget that. SEO is only one of dozens of reasons to guest blog. Even the post title says "guest blogging for SEO," not guest blogging in general. The next time Matt Cutts posts a blog post or video on the subject (which he's been talking/ranting about since at least 2012), remember that you also guest blog, too:
1. Build Traffic (Tweet this reason)
While guest blogging may soon do nothing to boost your website's organic traffic, don't forget that people actually click the links in posts - you don't just put them there for search engines. Whether it's in your author bio or in the body of the post, that's a link that interested readers can click. You never know which of those readers will turn into your next social media follower, blog subscriber, or even your next customer.
Any link on the web has the chance of bringing you referral traffic, and if your website is well-designed, informative, user-friendly, and filled with great content, you have a great chance of turning that one click into a repeat visitor.
2. Build Influence (Tweet this reason)
Writing content for your own company or website will create a community of readers over time, but it can be hard to draw in new devoted readers. By posting on another blog with its own devoted audience, you're putting your thoughts, opinions, and expertise in front of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. What's more, since they already trust the publication you're guest blogging for, they inherently already trust you a little bit. If they know that a certain blog writes high-quality content and is trustworthy, the fact that the blog has deemed you worthy enough to contribute content says something to its readers.
3. Build Relationships (Tweet this reason)
Guest posts can be a great networking tool. The foundation of a great professional relationship is two people being able to help each other when help is needed. And do you know what most websites need? Content. Blog posts. Expertise. Whatever you want to call it, marketers can never have enough content, as long as it's good. Help out a peer by contributing great content to their blog when they need a hand. Through the process, you'll get to know each other better, you're gaining more experience in writing and content creation, you get all of the non-SEO benefits of guest blogging, and they'll likely be willing to help you with something in the future.
4. Build a Social Following (Tweet this reason)
Let's say Matt Cutts' opinions influence a new Google algorithm, and guest blogging eventually has no SEO benefit. That can actually be seen as a great opportunity. The guest bloggers currently linking to their companies' homepages or new feature landing pages can now take a chance to promote other areas of their online presence, instead. A company may have an amazing LinkedIn page just waiting to convert visitors into customers or new hires, but they're not spreading the link to that around the blogosphere. Try promoting some of your other properties, rather than your main one, and see if you get results beyond a higher ranking.
5. Build Experience (Tweet this reason)
Many people (rightfully) say that the best way to become a better writer is to write more. Write more, write differently, write about new things. The more you write, the better you get. I doubt there's a single person who can look at the first blog post they ever wrote and think, "Nope, I couldn't do better than that today." Guest posting is a great way to broaden your horizons. You can write about topics that would be out of place on you or your company's blog, write in different formats, and use a different voice. All of this will help you improve your writing.
I could go on for a lot longer. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of reasons to guest blog, none of which have to do with a higher ranking on Google. What are your reasons for guest blogging, or accepting guest posts? Share below in the comments!