Using Guest Posting to Boost Traffic – 5 Guidelines for Success

An often-repeated truism of SEO and online marketing is that content is king. The higher the quality of your content, the better your site will rank, and the more easily your traffic will convert into sales. If this is the case, why would anyone go to the trouble and expense of developing great content, only to post it on someone else’s website?

People take part in guest blogging because, when it’s done properly, this marketing technique is a winner for everyone concerned. The guest poster increases exposure for their site and brand, the host site gains fresh content (and maybe a payment too), and the reader enjoys the benefit of well-written, useful information. There’s one factor that shouldn’t be a part of the equation, however.

It’s No Longer About Links

Not so long ago, guest posting was an activity carried out mainly by SEOs. The aim was to gain links from highly valued sites, and so boost the ranking of the target site. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the darker reaches of the online marketing world, the technique was widely abused. In January 2014, Google advised guest bloggers to “stick a fork in it,” as “guest posting for links is done.”

The search engine giant duly followed through on this warning by handing out penalties to huge numbers of the sites most deeply involved in the practice. For many online marketers, the technique was officially dead and buried, with a piece of cutlery marking the grave.

Think of the Traffic

That’s far from the end of the story. If you approach guest posting with the right mindset, treating it as a way of generating exposure, branding, and traffic, rather than for the acquisition of paid-for links, it still can be a highly effective tactic. Here are five essential guidelines on how to do it to best effect.

1) Target the Right Sites

It bears repeating that you shouldn’t be targeting host sites for the amount of link equity they could pass on. Instead, aim for a high readership in a niche related to your site, so that the traffic that’s sent your way is relevant and useful. Other metrics to look for include high numbers of comments, along with social media shares and likes. These all indicate that the consumers of your content will be highly engaged and therefore potentially valuable.

2) Don’t Ignore Ranking

There’s no reason to completely ignore the search engine ranking enjoyed by the host site. Although you’re not aiming to gain rank-boosting links, if your content is published on a site that the search engines love, a welcome side effect may be that some of this appreciation could be passed your way. However, ensure that any links to your site are marked with the no-follow attribute to remove any risk of penalties.

3) Use Quality Content

You must use high-quality content in your guest-posting campaigns. The whole point is to generate valuable traffic and boost your brand’s reputation, and this is unlikely to happen if you publish second-rate material. What’s more, poor-quality content is much less likely to be accepted by reputable host sites in any case.

4) Don’t Give Away the Farm

You want to give readers a reason to click through to your own site, so don’t give away the farm by publishing your most comprehensive content that leaves no room for elaboration. The best material will answer a reader’s immediate need, pique their interest, and gently lead them to your site to read more on the topic.

5) Target a Popular Niche

Lastly, although your guest content needs to be relevant to both your site’s topic and that of the host, you still need to aim for material with wide appeal. The broader the potential interested readership, the more exposure your post can receive, and the more impact it will have on your traffic and brand. If your site is focused on a tight niche, try giving your post an interesting twist on a broader topic rather than sticking rigidly to your core subject.

In Conclusion…

There’s no doubt that guest posting has taken a severe hit to its reputation since Google voiced disapproval of it as a link-building tactic. However, the swapping of content for exposure is a trade as old as marketing itself, and if you approach it with the right aims in mind, it can still provide extremely powerful results.

Peter Swift
About Peter Swift
Peter is one of Sandstorm's brilliant freelance copywriters. He's been working in writing, content development, and online business for over 15 years, of which a decade was spent as content and marketing manager for a credit brokerage. His writing experience covers diverse topics including finance, marketing, business, travel, and health.
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