Still holding on to guest posting as part of your link building strategy? Whether it’s free or paid guest posts, there are more things you should know about it other than the tip of the iceberg.
In the last article, we talked about the basics of guest posting. It discussed what it is, how the whole thing works, and its pros and cons.
This time, let’s compare the two types of guest posting and learn about Google’s new link attributions and how you can find the needle in a haystack – in other words, how to choose the right website you should guest post for.
Free Guest Posts vs. Paid Guest Posts
Guest posting has two types: free and paid.
What is free guest posting?
Free guest posts refer to guest posts contributed to a website without monetary exchange. What you will get out of it though is a backlink or two from their website to yours.
What is paid guest posting?
On the other hand, paid guest posts or sponsored blog posts refer to posts contributed to a website with monetary charge in exchange for quality backlinks.
What is the difference between free and paid guest posting?
The difference between the two is the authority of the website.
Some free guest posting websites don’t have much authority, thus the backlinks you may get from them won’t affect your numbers very much. That said, paid guest posting websites have good stats in ranking and authority, thus giving you valuable and impactful backlinks that help boost your website.
Google’s Policy on Paid Guest Posting
As always, Google wants to provide people with a good search experience. This means that the content it shows in the search results should be able to answer the question it receives.
The thing is, when websites pay for backlinks, they tend to be spammy links that provide little to no value to the reader, which don’t align with Google’s intention.
That said, KM Wade explains that Google’s link policy “prohibits buying and selling links, excessive link exchanges and large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.”
In an article published in 2020 by Search Engine Journal, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, said that guest posting for links leads to unnatural links, thus Google devalues guest posting.
According to Mueller, all links should be nofollow (paid or not) and that such links can potentially pass signals.
Here’s What You Can Do: New Link Attributions
Link attributes are a little piece of code that you can add to any link. By default, all links are “follow” – which helps a page rank better. On the other hand, “nofollow” signals search engines that you only want to link to a page but not endorse it.
To address problems related to potential spammy backlinks and accepting payments for guest posts or backlinks regardless of adding value to an audience, Google has announced two new link attributes complementing the existing ‘follow’ and ‘no follow’ attributes.
These are the sponsored attribute and the user-generated content (UGC) attribute, which is rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”, respectively.
Use the sponsored attribute to identify links that you were paid to place on your website (e.g. advertisements, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, etc).
Use the UGC attribute for user-generated content and links within it that are generated by a website’s users (e.g. comments and forum posts).
You may also use multiple attributes on the same link such as rel=”ugc sponsored” and rel=”nofollow sponsored”.
These attributes serve as hints for Google to determine whether or not the links should be used to influence search rankings. They will be considered along with other signals before deciding how to use the links within its systems.
How to Choose Websites to Write Guest Posts For
Before you jump onto a website you’re going to write for, it’s only fair to see what the marketiers think. A huge chunk of the marketing population considers these 5 things as relevant factors in making a decision:
- High domain authority
- Site’s authority or expertise in the given topic
- Site’s Published Content
- Similar audience
- In the same niche but not a competitor
Let’s break them down one by one.
High Domain Authority
If a website has a high DA, it means they have a strong SEO reputation and having a backlink in your guest post published on their website have high chances of helping you boost your website.
As a marketer, you should be more confident to write for a website that has expertise on the subject you’re writing about. With this in mind, your content published on their website will seem authoritative, too. This makes it easier for readers to trust you and your brand.
Site’s Published Content
Before deciding on a website, you should also check out the content they have already published. If they publish high-quality content that answers a reader’s question, you know you’re in good hands.
Now that you’ve checked their DA, expertise, and content, it’s time to learn about their audience. Who are they? What are their problems? Are they similar to your audience?
If yes, that’s a good sign that your guest post has high chances of doing well if published on their website.
Same Niche, But Not a Competitor
To sum it all up, you have to make sure that the website you’re guest posting for is one that is not a competitor. For example, you’re a fashion graduate trying to start your own line. You can guest post for bloggers whose content is focused on helping others find their own style.
They’re in the same niche, which is fashion and style but the fashion graduate is an entrepreneur with his/her own brand while the blogger is a content creator.
Sponsoed posting is not advised for linking building, however it is good for brand awareness. If you want to acquire valuable and effective backlinks, make sure to publish quality content that solves the target market’s problems. Provide value and you’ll see long term results with link-building as an added bonus.