SEO On-Air: Do Guest Posts Really Help?
Senthil: Hey everyone, it’s me, Senthil, VP of digital marketing at Stan Ventures.
Haroon: Hello everyone, this is Haroon, head of digital marketing at Stan Ventures.
Senthil: Great. So, me and Haroon were just having a conversation earlier today. We’ve been in the industry for over 10 years, and we just thought about where the SEO industry is headed because when we began our careers at that time, somewhere around 2007 and 08, there were a lot of articles that surfaced about how SEO is dead. We are in 2020, and people are still talking about how SEO is dead.
We thought maybe in 2025 or 2030, people would still be talking about it. The real game is that SEO is not dead, it’s just enhancing further. So, one of the conversations that we also had was about Guest Posts. It’s been talked about a lot in the industry. Everybody’s on it. All the top agencies in the US are on it. And we just thought, you know, “where is it headed?”
My friend Haroon came in with a lot of questions, so I just thought, hey, why don’t we record it as a podcast and release it to the SEO community so that it could also help them out.
Timestamp: 01:15 – 02:57
Senthil: Haroon, so you had a lot of questions, right? Please, can you go ahead and ask? Maybe I’ll try my best to answer that.
Haroon: Thanks Senthil, and first of all, thanks for taking this opportunity to educate the SEO community about guest posts, which is one of the most important topics being discussed in almost all the forums that we see. So my first question to you would be, “do guest posts really help in the year 2020?”
Senthil: A big definitive yes, Haroon. The thing is, yes, the name might sound a bit spammy because there’s a lot of providers out there who just make guest posting sound too spammy.
The core thing about guest posting- it’s very, very healthy. Because without guest posts, probably an entrepreneur magazine or Huffington post would all sound the same way. There will be multiple people that need to contribute to multiple different topics, multiple different viewpoints, and it’s not just limited to journalists.
So, everybody has a story to tell. And that’s what guest posting is. As they always do in the SEO industry, when something is working well, everybody is going to turn the tide on it, every single company on every single street out there is going to pitch it, and they’re going to sell it as a service.
So I think that was when the whole guest posts started looking a bit spammy. But the real core is helping the industry. It, in fact, helps Google to index more relevant content. It’s also helping webmasters get more organic traffic to their site because a lot of good quality content is posted.
So, yeah, definitely. I see a very healthy future for guest posting services. The name might change here and there, but it’s definitely healthy.
Timestamp: 03:00 – 04:10
Haroon: Okay, thank you. Now, how do you see these guest posts compared to social influencers? What role does guest posting play in the SEO industry?
Senthil: Yeah, that’s a really good question. So, guest posts have been in existence for over a decade now. The social influencers were something after Instagram came in, and Instagram became really hot from 2014. Something called influencers, and influencer outreach started bubbling up, and it became a hot topic.
Whether you go to restaurants or not, the waiters are a bit afraid whether this guy is an influencer or not because he’s gonna ask for a discount on the bill or maybe he’ll ask for free food.
So it’s just everywhere. Everyone talks about influencers. The thing is, in the SEO industry, guest posts are the influencer outreach. To get your post featured on various different blogs out there, it’s definitely helping a lot. I would say, yes, what influencer outreach is for social media, definitely guest posts are for the SEO world.
Timestamp: 04:12 – 05:01
Haroon: Okay, great. So the next question I have for you is, does Google actually index all the links that we post on the websites? What’s your take on this one?
Senthil: Yes, Haroon. So, with regard to that, there are two things which people have to make a note of. So the first thing is whether the guest posting site is no following it or no indexing it. If it’s no indexing the particular post, then obviously, Google is not going to index it. But if it’s just going to add a nofollow link, then it’s still fine because Google has the capability.
They are still indexing the nofollow links even though they say the link juice is not getting flowed because of nofollow links. The link flow or the signals that Google uses to understand the brand, it’s definitely there. It definitely works.
Timestamp: 05:03 – 05:33
Haroon: Okay, so what you’re saying is if it’s a nofollow or dofollow, we still should go for that guest posting and provide content on that website.
Senthil: Absolutely, unless or until it’s a noindex, I think it’s pretty much safe on that angle. I think it’s pretty healthy. If you’re just going to have every link out there as a dofollow link, that itself gives a mixed signal to Google. So I think a healthy mix of nofollow and dofollow links is definitely very good for any SEO campaign.
Timestamp: 05:35 – 08:32
Haroon: Okay, great. Thanks for that, Senthil. The next question I’m asking is about the relevancy. Let’s take an example of a website that is multi-niche and let us take our example of Stan Ventures, which we’re into core SEO fulfillment services.
So if I get a link from a multi-niche website or a CBD-related website where we highlight SEO case studies, would that be more beneficial or getting a link from Search Engine Journal on the other hand, which is focused on the SEO topic itself. What is more beneficial to us?
Senthil: Sure, definitely, the topical relevance is highly important, Haroon. For example, we work with quite a lot of CBD-related clients, so if a client wants to link out to us, maybe if we are having a partnership with them, then that’s perfectly fine as long as the content that’s surrounding the link talks about a particular niche, I think it should be fine.
But if it’s an overall context, if you see that there are tons of links built from a particular site, which is completely irrelevant to our niche, then it becomes a problem. For example, if we’re blogging about the same topic, guest posting if it works in 2020, if we’re posting it on Search Engine Land, then definitely that has much more value compared to what a CBD site would have talked about.
Even if it had one content talking about SEO, it’s completely weird because what is SEO or marketing being blogged about in a CBD website where they would rather speak about CBD supplements? So, definitely, if a website is accepting guest posts on any topic, then you have to stay away from it.
If any good webmaster is there who really cares about his website, he would be wary about what types of topics he’s accepting on his blog. So that itself is a good sign. If a website is rejecting posts, that’s a good sign. So maybe they are looking at the quality and the relevancy.
It’s always better to look for quality sites where your guest posts are being done rather than going after sites that just accept any guest posts without any guidelines, just like that. In fact, some ask for money to post as well. Of course, 70-80% of the sites out there ask for money.
That’s the reason why guest posts were tagged as a spammy tactic before. But to be honest, it’s not a spammy tactic; it’s actually a healthy thing in the industry. It’s just that some people misused it by buying links, and because of that, it appeared to be spammy, but it’s not.
Timestamp: 08:35 – 11:22
Haroon: Okay. Thanks. Your answer itself compelled me to ask this next question that I have. When we’re writing or approaching, let us take, for example, the Search Engine Journal to allow us to post our content. What is it that they’re looking for? What value is it that they’re looking for? Why would they accept our request to post on their website? So can you please shed some light on this because I’m sure the SEO community would benefit from this one.
Senthil: Sure, Haroon. So first of all, when we’re pitching to a site like Search Engine Journal, we first look at the audience that’s going to consume that content. And the 2nd most important thing, look at the last 20 topics that the site has covered.
Take Search Engine Journal, they are more like the news breakers- they want to first cover about the Google algo update, they want to cover about the new happenings. In fact, if you search for Google algorithm update, beyond Search Engine Land, our blog comes into the picture. How we pulled it off was that we kept updating the industry with the relevant keyword and relevant content, and we dominated that keyword.
Coming back to the original question, how Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Land, if they accept a post, there are 2 things- One is who the guy behind that content is, whether he is a relevant authority in the industry is, not like some regular person shedding light about the same old topic or content. It doesn’t give any new benefit to the people. So that is something very crucial. 2nd thing is the topic and what you intend to cover on that topic. It might be a new hack, or it might be something new that you discovered on Google Analytics, or it might be something related to how we improve traffic or what new things that you’ve tried.
So it’s all about trying new things and then creating a case study around it and sending it to Search Engine Journal so others can learn from it. So if you provide such value, then definitely people will accept the guest post. But if you’re going to build something just because you’ll get featured on Search Engine Journal, if the intention is that the editors are experienced people, they know clearly who’s trying to add value and who’s trying to build a link.
If your intention is to build links, they will defo reject it. But if the intention is to provide value and back it up with good content as well as really good data, they will definitely accept it.
Timestamp: 11:23 – End
Haroon: All right. That’s really interesting. So the key here is to add value to the audience of Search Engine Journal and, in return, get an opportunity to highlight our own company on authoritative websites.
Senthil: Absolutely, that’s what the key difference is here. In fact, when I was mentioning the way SEO is transforming itself, guest posts are also transforming through real blogger outreach. Three to four years back, people were going hard on the keywords; they only wanted links for their keywords. But now, it’s more important to get your brand mentioned on the blogs. That’s more important than trying to get a link for the keywords.
In fact, there’s one algorithm update where Google penalized sites that were heavily optimizing links for keywords. So it’s all there, it’s all happening. Google is doing the best it can to ensure that people are using less spammy tactics and focusing on providing value. And that’s really good for the SEO industry and the audience itself.
Haroon: Great. Thank you so much, Senthil, for your valuable insight. I’m sure the audience here would have got tons of information related to guest posting, what it is, what it means, what is the relevancy, and how we should pitch to authoritative websites, and get an opportunity to highlight our company in those sites.