Guest Posting for Fun and Profit (Or Not)

Since my days lately have been filled with search engine optimization projects, it’s important to understand the concept of guest posting. When I worked in the real estate industry, I was a “contributing author” (aka frequent guest poster) on one of the most active multi-author blogs in the industry, so I have plenty of experience understanding what the benefits and drawbacks are to guest posting.

By the end of this post, you’ll know what guest posting is, what the alleged benefits are, what the real benefits are, what drawbacks there are to guest posting and how to go about guest posting if you so desire. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to make an educated decision on if you should use guest posting as part of your dive center search engine optimization.

What Is Guest Posting

Guest posting is the process of finding relevant websites, typically blogs, and submitting articles to the site owner for them to publish. In the search engine optimization world, this is one of the hottest techniques at the moment to build backlinks to your site, which is one of the important factors in helping your website to improve in the search engine results.

What Are the Alleged Benefits of Guest Posting

Most sites that proactively solicit guest posts, including a few sites in the SCUBA diving industry, promote that you’ll “gain additional exposure”. This is a completely ambiguous and worthless term though. These sites are suggesting that by writing an article for their site you’ll become internet famous. Internet famous means tons of traffic and notoriety. Not really, but it sounds good.

What Are the Real Benefits of Guest Posting

Gaining an additional backlink to your site to help with search engine optimization. That’s really it. Unlike many sites in the SCUBA diving industry, the multi-author blog I wrote for in the real estate industry was setup correctly and allowed contributors their own bio box at the end of their posts. In the bio box, authors were allowed to have links to virtually wherever we wanted with whatever keywords we wanted. That’s important for search engine optimization. Several sites in our industry who are currently working hard to get guest posters don’t even allow this most basic tool, making guest posting almost worthless for the author.

The other main benefit of guest posting is for the site owner, not the guest poster. The site accepting a guest post now has fresh content typically written for free. If the guest post doesn’t have links back to the authors websites, the guest post is completely beneficial to the site owner and 99% worthless to the guest poster.

But what about traffic and fame? When I wrote for the popular real estate site, I had one of the top ranked articles for several weeks. Less than 10 clicks through to my site. Really not worth it. As for fame, I never once had someone come up to me at a conference and say “I read you on Agent Genius!”, but I had plenty of people say “I follow you on Twitter!”. Yes, it made it easier to get other site owners to consider me as a guest author since I’d already proven myself, but that’s about it for fame.

What Are the Drawbacks to Guest Posting

The biggest drawback is time. It takes time to write a guest post, find the sites to submit it to, follow up with the site owner, promote your content and make sure to engage with people commenting. If your goal of guest posting is search engine optimization (which it should be since it’s the only significant benefit), in our niche it would be better suited to take that guest post and put it on your own site. You will get more long-term value from your content by keeping it on your site.

How to Guest Post

If you’ve come this far and are still interested in guest posting, the first step is to find a site you’d like to guest post for. For search engine optimization, you want to find a site that’s somehow relevant to your own websites. So if you own a dive shop in Naples Florida, you’d want to post either on a SCUBA-related website or a Naples Florida-related website.

Look for  sites YOU like because the other articles on the site will shape your tone for your article. Then, check to see if the site has a guest posting policy. If so, read through it carefully, follow the directions, write your article and submit it however they suggest.

If they don’t have a set guest posting policy, find a contact form and send them a message. In the message, show that you understand the overall theme of the site (“I was reading your articles on activities in Naples Florida and I thought I’d suggest another fun thing to do, SCUBA!”) and that you already have a topic idea (“I think your readers would really enjoy learning about day diving excursions.”). If you already have the article, send it too. If you don’t hear back, tell them you plan to publish it elsewhere so they don’t post it.

Especially your first time, it may take a few rounds of back and forth to make sure you have formatting, tone and content that fits the site you’re working with.

Make absolutely sure they provide an author bio box where you can place links back to your site, otherwise you’re writing simply for bragging rights which doesn’t buy lunch.

If Guest Posting is So Bad, Why Does New SCUBA Marketing Allow Guest Posts

It sure sounds like I just shot myself in the foot by asking for guest posts while saying guest posts are worthless. Guest posting here is different for the following reasons:

  • This is a SCUBA-related site, so a link back is helpful in search engine optimization. However, this is a sub-niche of SCUBA therefore it’s a good home to your content that you wouldn’t want to put on your site. Do people looking for information about SCUBA diving in Naples Florida really care about your tests with email marketing? Probably not, but other professionals in the dive industry are, so put that post here.
  • You get links back. I make sure you get a link back to your site and I’ll even make sure you’re using the most valuable anchor keywords for your link. Since we don’t post that frequently, your article and link will stay on the homepage for a while which means you’ll get additional search engine exposure.

Still, I fully understand guest posting is time consuming, doesn’t bring about obvious short term value and this is a unique sub-niche of the SCUBA diving industry, so I don’t expect a flood of guest post submissions 🙂

Should You Guest Post

For my time and effort, the answer is a strong no. It’s better for your business in the long term to control your content. If you want additional search engine benefits, there are better ways to spend your time like setting up a Pro SCUBA Site and posting there with links back to your primary site which will help significantly with search engine optimization.

Do you plan on implementing a guest posting strategy?

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