I bet you've read headlines, again and again, about how guest posting is dead. I think that I have heard this for the better part of my entire writing career. That's five years, folks. Five years of hearing the same thing, the thing that helps me get real online marketing results, being called dead. At this point, it's almost comical. If your manager has gotten wind of this false headline it's a good bet that you're having a hard time showing your manager the value of guest posting.
Here, in my second guest post for Search Engine People, I will show statistics, real results, and first-hand experiences that will show your manager that guest posting works. If your manager is not excited about guest posting by the end of this article, they're in the wrong business.
Some Raw Statistics On Guest Posting
If there is one thing that every manager understands it is statistics. Raw numbers, such as click through rates, traffic increases, and more conversions are what managers want to see. One of the easiest pieces of information to track from guest posting is direct referral traffic. Ryan Robinson recently shared a spreadsheet with me of his results for referral traffic due to guest posting:
As you can see in the spreadsheet above, Ryan enjoyed over 1000 referrals from just one guest post. The other interesting thing here is that this all happened within the first 72 hours of the post going up.
1000 visitors is 1000 visitors. They are great to have, but what are they doing? The second thing that you always need to look at with direct referral traffic is whether or not they are doing any sort of conversion beyond just showing up on your website. In the example above, Ryan chose to track new email subscribers.
In the first row you can see you that Ryan had a conversion rate of 50.96%. That represented 555 new email subscribers. He is now able to connect with these subscribers for as long as they are on his email list, and now guest posting can be in integral aspect of his email marketing strategy.
This is a very simple conversion metric to track, and one which can show your results from guest posting well. Other goals that you can consider tracking are:
- Secondary clicks to any page on your website.
- Secondary clicks to specific pages on your website, such as landing pages for sales.
- How much money they spend on average.
- The amount of time they spend on your website.
The actual statistics that you will track from your direct referral traffic will depend upon your goals. This can change from post to post.
For one last look at statistics and direct referral traffic, let's look at a small website I manage. This website has never had huge traffic numbers, as it is a small niche website that obtains specific traffic. Here is one week in its referral traffic results:
Numbers four, six, nine, and 10, are guest posts. All four of these posts are steady traffic referrers for this website, week in and week out, nonstop. In the life of this niche website every click accounts. What's more, these clicks are coming from other websites which are also in the same niche. The traffic referred is highly valuable, highly targeted, and highly likely to convert.
The statistics that we have looked at here have not blown the roof off. This is only looking at direct referral traffic. There is still much more that guest posting can do, I will look at it now.
One Other Traffic Signal To Watch For
Referral traffic is, of course, not the only piece of traffic which can be sent your way thanks to a guest post. Another important piece of traffic which can be sent your way is branded searches. This is when people reading your guest posts discover your brand, and do direct searches for your brand name in Google.
Let's look at some data on this. The graph below shows the number of people searching for a unique brand name for a website I help manage. As you can see, it was generally pretty steady for 3 months:
Until you see what happens in early October of this year. What you see there is a traffic spike in people searching for the unique branded name. Why is this happening? Because I had three guest posts go live at that time in early October. People read one of those posts, remembered the name of the brand, and did research on it later. Isn't that act, brand recognition, the goal of pretty much every bit of advertising ever done?
Be sure to watch for any spikes in searches for your brand’s name immediately after a guest post is published. This is a very good indication that people have found out about you thanks to your guest post. Instead of clicking a link right away, they chose to do a search on you. Monitor your Google analytics and watch for this, and be sure to include it in your results for traffic gains via guest posting.
The Benefits Of Guest Posting On Social Media Marketing
Guest posting can have direct impact on your social media marketing. You won't have to look around Twitter for very long to see someone posting a guest post and tagging the person who wrote it. Here is the first example which came along in my timeline:
As you can see in the example above, there is one very obvious benefit of guest posting which directly impacts your social media marketing: A free @mention from another account. It’s the best kind of Twitter advertising: Free!
This, of course, does not just apply to Twitter. It can help you on any social media platform. Seeing your guest posts shared on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform will have similar results.
There are a number of things which you can do to extend this impact:
- Incorporate your guest posts into a larger social media campaign.
- Make one of your hashtags an integral part of the guest post.
- Add replies and comments to the publisher’s social posting so that you can more directly engage with their audience.
- Share the social post from the publisher, this can help further establish a connection, and valuable engagement, between your two accounts.
- Ask your own followers to comment on the publishers social post, further showing them the benefit of working with you.
Everything which you want to do on social media, such as getting more shares, followers, and engagement, can be accomplished through guest posting. Don't forget that when you share it, and tag the publisher, that they will be more prone to sharing your post.
Combining Social And Influencer Marketing
One final note on guest posting and social media is that it can be the final step in an influencer marketing campaign. After months of social engagement, with little to no results from the influencer on social media, one guest post can get the social influence that you have been looking for. I can say from my own personal experience that guest posting has been my only choice for getting certain social media accounts to mention our company.
One such personal example is our attempts to be mentioned by Ahrefs. It is no easy task as it is a very popular Twitter account. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at engaging on Twitter, a guest post was proposed. The results speak for themselves:
We got the social influencer marketing that we were hoping for, and it was all thanks to the guest post. We have continued to engage since then, and it never would've started if we hadn't worked on a guest post together.
The impact guest posting has on your social media marketing has many different aspects. You must factor these into your decision on whether or not to begin guest posting. It is not all about links and search traffic.
My First Hand Experience Becoming A Genre Authority
I remember about five years ago when I first got into the online marketing business. I was a nobody. I had an online certificate from a noted University, 6 months of experience with a respected online marketing firm, and little else. Guest posting is how I built my name in a number of ways.
For starters, I have been mentioned by a number of notable accounts on Twitter:
I can also put on my resume that I have been published by:
- Search Engine People
I even wound up working as a paid employee of Social Media Today, all thanks to a guest post. My strategy was for each post with a smaller publisher to build up to a post with a larger publisher. I did not start out getting posted on Moz. I had to build myself up, post by post, until I become somewhat of an authority within the genre.
Any person, or any brand, can do the exact same thing. All you need to do it is some skill, some patience, the ability to write a kind email, and then some more patience. This definitely did not happen for me overnight, and is the result of consistent work over a number of years.
The hidden benefit of guest posting that no one gets to see is my incredible email contact list. Seriously, it's huge after the years I have spent building it. I would estimated it at at least 250 different contacts. These contacts help me in a number of ways:
- Sometimes they come back to me asking questions.
- Sometimes they ask if I would like to work with them again.
- Sometimes I contact them in order to get some information from them.
- Sometimes we just catch up and chat!
It's not just about establishing connections to exploit links or traffic, it's also about finding new resources that can be reciprocal. After guest posting with them, I have gone back to speak with Socialbakers a number of times for access to their excellent data. I wasn't aware of how great a resource they were until I had worked with them.
Guest posting is an exciting networking opportunity. Nearly everyone that I have met in the industry has started through guest posting. I have made this even more beneficial by deliberately cultivating contacts from within my industry.
I am not going to say that guest posting has turned me into a notorious person within the online marketing community. But it has taken me a long, long way from the nobody with six months of experience, no job, and an online certificate. My network has grown exponentially thanks to guest posting. The same thing can happen to anyone in any genre, including brands who wish to expand their online influence.
The Elephant In The Room: SEO
If you aren’t already aware of this, Google owns the online world. Yes, I know, that only applies to search traffic. I also know that organic search traffic can account for as much as 90% of traffic going through some websites which I have managed. If you make Google angry, your website traffic will suffer.
This lead many who used guest posting to panic when Matt Cutts of Google famously said:
“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
Take a close look at that sentence. This was from 2014. In the two years since he said this have I stopped guest posting? Well, think about what I'm doing right now here on Search Engine People…
What people failed to realize were the nuances in what he was saying. Spam focused tactics, in which links are artificially inserted within articles, or even worse in author bios, are done. From personal experience I can tell you that you are not going to get very much in the way of SEO benefit from them.
In fact, it will be the opposite. I recently had to fight off a Google Manual Action Penalty due to an excessive number of similar links in author bios obtained through guest posting. These were old links which were built in 2013 before Matt made this quote. I heard what he said and altered my guest posting at that time in 2014, and have had no issues. If you do the same, you will not have any issues either.
There is no way in this world that Google can go and track how you obtain every single link that you have, nor would they want to. If you keep your focus on:
- Writing quality content
- Creating links which are useful
- Working with websites within your industry
- Eliminating your use of repeated anchor text
You will not have any SEO problems from guest posting. Out of the five most powerful links pointing towards Devumi, three of them were obtained by guest posting. This trend repeats itself with a number of other sites which I help manage. And, if you do it right, and the way that Google wants you to do it, you too can obtain similar results.
Is Your Manager Excited About Guest Posting Yet?
If your manager is not yet excited about guest posting they are clearly working in the wrong business. That business being anything at all to do with online marketing. I have shown you how guest posting can impact your:
- Direct referral traffic
- Branded search traffic
- Number of social media followers
- Influencer marketing
- Position as an authority
- Networking opportunities
In short, guest posting can impact every single aspect of your online marketing. I have not been doing this for the past 4+ years because I like reading the words that I write. I do it because of the real, tangible benefits which I obtain from it.
And, also, because I love reading my byline.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com