Guest blogging and backlinks work in the same way that citations work in academia. For a person to become a thought leader in the field of psychology research, for instance, it means that other reputable researchers recognize the fact and cite the person’s work in their own research and even often refer to the person’s knowledge in certain cases.
That’s the same reason guest blogging and link building are important in SEO. You cannot be an inbound marketing expert, like Brian Halligan, who is also the founder of HubSpot, unless other experts in the field acknowledge your expertise.
According to Ahref’s free backlink checker, for instance, HubSpot’s marketing blog has attracted nearly 31,000 backlinks from at least 2,757 unique domains.
It’s thus obvious that HubSpot is an established authority in this field.
You can achieve the same status organically (where people recognize insightful posts on your website and link to those pages). For a small and mostly unknown website, this form of growth might not be forthcoming initially.
Hence, you can help yourself by publishing guest posts on high-authority websites with organically placed backlinks.
An organic backlink to your website from a high-authority publication shows that your ideas are worth listening to and improves your own website’s domain authority.
This article covers two critical keys for using guest blogging to obtain organic backlinks: publish on authoritative websites and use your guest posts to deliver value.
1. Publish on Authoritative Websites
The most obvious trick to using guest blogging as an effective link-building tactic is to get your guest posts published on authoritative websites.
Google EAT factors are a thing for a valid reason. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, each factor representing indirect signals that contribute to the operation of Google’s complex ranking algorithm.
Authoritative websites are popular among their target audience and reliable for publishing factual, relevant, and valuable information.
More importantly, they have high domain authority. The domain authority (also known as domain rating or domain strength) is a metric that measures the number of reputable backlinks that a website has.
It then uses that information to analyze how likely the site is to rank on Google SERPs for relevant search queries.
Once you have identified one highly reputable website in your chosen niche for guest blogging, you can use a tool such as Alexa Audience Overlap Tool to find similar websites. Alexa’s tool tries to find websites with audiences that overlap a particular website.
For instance, if your goal is to target business leaders, you may try guest blogging for a platform like Inc. To find similar popular and highly reputable websites, you simply enter inc.com in the Alexa Audience Overlap search box.
A brief audience overlap information is also available from Alexa’s overview of any particular website. The typical Audience Overlap data is presented like this (for Inc.com, in this case)
Try this for any website you are targeting and you would find other relevant platforms where your guest post would reach the desired audience.
2. Deliver Value
Another key to guest blogging is to deliver value.
Guest blogging is not about writing one long boring post filled with links to your website at every instance. That’s basically a quick way to get sanctioned by Google; frankly, no serious editor/publisher would even allow that on their website.
The best kinds of blog posts are those that share insightful knowledge, something that people want to hear, not a long-drawn exploration of boring, clichéd topics.
Even if you must write about a common topic, try to approach it from an innovative angle that offers a thoughtful contribution to the overall subject.
Therefore, in a seemingly paradoxical fashion, the best way to obtain organic backlinks from guest blogging is to not prioritize backlinks. Focus on delivering value. Then insert organic backlinks into the post.
First, the backlinks should be organic in the sense that the anchor text should flow naturally with the rest of the text. The anchor phrase should be part and parcel of the sentence and the context in which it appears. Essentially, it should be contextually innocuous.
Of course, you should use relevant keywords in your anchor texts. This should not encourage keyword stuffing, though; that is another reason Google sanctions websites. Instead, the keywords maintain cohesion with the surrounding text and context.
Secondly, the backlinks should contain relevant information. That is, only use backlinks in instances where additional information or context is required and you make that clear.
That also means that once a reader follows that link, the information they find on your website would be related to the information on the page they are coming from. If not, their exit from your page would be quick and your bounce rate would soar, leading to poorer SEO rankings. In that sense, guest blogging, when not done right, can backfire.
There is no shortage of posts announcing the death of guest blogging. And it is totally understandable. However, what you should recognize is that guest blogging has evolved away from an era when it was just about links.
So, if we are talking about the old approach to guest blogging, where the only focus is to acquire as many links as possible, that is truly dead and buried.
Google keeps refining its algorithm in order to fulfill the ultimate mission of delivering high-quality and the most relevant results for search queries.
Therefore, unless your guest post is delivering qualitative value in terms of inspiring thoughtfulness and meaningful action, you most probably wouldn’t reap the quantitative benefits of attracting organic backlinks that help to propel the authority of your website.