Why You Shouldn’t Write Guest Posts for SEO

by Henneke Duistermaat

Last updated on November 28th, 2017

You’re smart.

You know SEO has changed.

You don’t spin articles. You build a natural link profile. And you write proper guest posts to build links to your website.

But do you know you might be missing a huuuge opportunity if you guest blog for links alone?

Guest blogging is not just an SEO tactic. Guest blogging is a marketing tool:

  • Develop relationships with key influencers
  • Build authority
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate leads

Smart marketers use guest blogging to drive company growth. For instance: BufferApp (B2C) acquired their first 100,000 customers through a strong guest blogging strategy. HelpScout (B2B) used guest posting to grow their business consistently despite having a much smaller marketing budget than their competitors.

Would you like to do the same? Below follow the essential tips to help you grow your business through guest posting.

How to select target blogs for guest posting

Guest blogging for SEO means evaluating a blog based on the value of a link.

In contrast, guest blogging as a marketing tool means reviewing the audience of a blog. How many of its readers could become your customers? Is your buyer persona likely to read this blog?

As a marketer you want to raise awareness of your company and products with your target audience. You want to drive relevant traffic to your website. You don’t just want a link.

Imagine you’re launching an app that’s especially useful for freelance writers. Where would you go for guest blogging? Look for blogs that are read by freelancer writers, like Make a Living Writing or general freelance blogs such as FreelanceSwitch or Freelance Folder.

Now, let’s say you’re a freelance writer looking for new clients. From an SEO perspective, blogging for a site about freelance writing may be a good idea. But the problem is that you’re just writing for other freelance writers, so it won’t bring you any business.

You might want to pitch your copywriting services to start-up companies, so you need to look at blogs that are read by start-up founders. Consider blogs such as Unbounce, KISSmetrics, or CrazyEgg (of course!).

Don’t think about the value of a guest post link. Instead, consider the value of a blog’s audience.

How to pitch a guest post

Do you know the magic lines to get a guest post idea accepted?

Just like in dating, magic doesn’t exist.

To get an idea accepted you need to do two things in your pitch email:

  • You must prove that your post will be popular with a blog’s audience. To prepare your pitch email, research a blog. Read the most popular posts. Check out the comments, so you know what questions readers raise and what problems they’re struggling with. Get to know the audience so well that you are certain your guest post will get tons of shares and comments.
  • You need to demonstrate that you’re a good writer. Your email needs to be engaging and spotless—no grammar or spelling errors, please. And if you’ve already published a post on a popular blog, provide a link to your guest post to raise your credibility.

Check out this template of a pitch email Neil Patel uses. Or read this pitch that was accepted by Spin Sucks.

Think about an editor receiving your pitch—how can you persuade her that your post will be popular with her audience? Consider mentioning similar posts that gained a truckload of comments or a ton of social shares. Show her you care as much about her audience as she does.

At all cost, avoid sounding like an SEO guy looking to build links, because that’s the quickest way to get your email deleted from the filled-to-the-brim inbox of an overworked editor.

Don’t sound sleazy. Don’t sound rushed. Don’t use a scattergun approach. Treat your pitch email as the start of a conversation, the beginning of a valuable relationship.

How to write a popular guest post

Guest posting is not an upgraded form of article spinning.

Don’t recycle an existing post for a different blog. Make sure you add value:

  • Don’t write what you want to write. Write what a blog’s audience wants to read.
  • Maintain a consistent tone of voice that matches your brand and speaks strongly to your audience.
  • Only publish guest posts that raise the profile of your brand. Only write posts you can be proud of.
  • Know your stuff. Be incredibly helpful.

Use your guest posts to strengthen your brand, to position your company as an authority, and to connect with potential clients.

Just like you don’t want an embarrassingly bad advert in your local newspaper, you don’t want a poorly written guest post to undermine your company’s brand.

How to generate good leads

To turn a guest-post reader into a lead, you need to seduce them to join your email list. Consider offering a free trial, a free bonus, or weekly tips by email. Think about your buyer persona. What would entice them to sign up?

On a guest post, your author bio is your main call-to-action. Optimize your chances of people clicking through:

  • Explain who you are, which company you’re working for, and what your mission is. Leo Widrich starts his bio with: Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of Buffer, a smarter way to post Tweets and Facebook posts.
  • Consider offering an incentive to encourage people to click through: Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout ends a bio with: Get more from Greg by checking out our free resource on providing good customer service.
  • Don’t make your bio corporate and boring. Try to add a dash of personality. This is Peter Sandeen’s bio: Right now, Peter Sandeen is dodging icebergs while sailing with his wife and dogs on the Finnish coast. But you can download the short ebook that shows you how to get 100+ subscribers from every guest post you write.

Your author bio is not a shortened version of your CV. Entice a reader to click through by offering a clear benefit.

The truth about guest blogging

Stop worrying so much about Google. Stop second-guessing the next algorithm update. Instead, write guest posts that solve readers’ problems.

Develop your brand with authoritative content. That’s how you build your audience and gain links. And that’s why Google will send you more traffic, more leads, and more business.

Understand your audience. Know how to fulfill their wishes and desires. Be incredibly helpful.

And above all: have fun. Let your passion shine through.



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Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke Duistermaat is a marketer and copywriter, who's on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make faceless companies charming. To receive her free copywriting and content marketing tips, sign up at Enchanting Marketing.


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  1. Autumn Carter says:
    May 30, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Great tips on guest posting

  2. Mark Sorensen says:
    December 21, 2016 at 11:19 am

    SEO should be the least thing on your mind when you do guest blogging. What’s more important is the branding side of this marketing strategy.

  3. Sylvia Johnson says:
    June 26, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Very informative post. Like it. Thanks for your guidance.

  4. Lanie mice says:
    May 12, 2015 at 5:07 am

    It help’s.. But we need to thinlk about what is the output for you, if it is a great thing to do with it..

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

      True. Guest blogging is a collaboration. It should be good for you and for the site you’re writing for.

  5. rishab panchal says:
    June 26, 2014 at 8:35 am

    i think that the guest post is the most ethical way to get more exposure and get audience for the blog. it has 2 benifit,first is building online reputapion as a wrtter,promotion and traffic for blog and second is backlink as well. so i think we should go on writting guest post.thanks for sharing your views.

    • Neil Patel says:
      June 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Rishab, glad we could help. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  6. Phill Jason says:
    March 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    very useful post ,while writing my blog i have made many mistakes as you have pointed in your blog,i use long phrase keywords in my blog thanks for sharing such an inspiring tips of writing blogs.

  7. Karan Singh says:
    March 3, 2014 at 8:15 am

    When I was reading your article then find that I make very big mistake in articles, when I am writing. I generally use long handing and so many keywords in the article. But now I know all about how to write for seo. I think your idea really going to help me.

  8. Plm Fashion says:
    February 15, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Very Nice article,
    Thank you

  9. peter zmijewski says:
    January 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I liked the way you put together everything, there is certainly no need to go any further to look for any additional information. You mentioned each and everything in this blog related to SEO.

  10. Tamar says:
    December 11, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Great tips on guest posting, thank you Henneke
    I’m doing guest blogging for my blog so it was interesting to read your article

    • Henneke says:
      December 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      You’re welcome. Glad to hear you found it useful 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:
    December 10, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Ive never understood the need to guest post on other peoples sites?
    Surely you are helping other sites rather than your own? Would it not just be better to create a new site based on said niche and then post on your own platform? Maybe open a few such sites?

    You would surely then gather your own natural following and then have a lot more influence on funneling these people into your main product page(s) ?

  12. Cayenne Red says:
    December 6, 2013 at 11:25 am

    It’s true guest blogging shouldn’t just be about links! There is definitely room for guest blogs to be used for both SEO tactical reasons and simply to generate leads, increase your authority and spread the brand name and message to a new customer base! The trick is really to treat all guest blogs like you are writing them to reach new customers. If you can/do put backlinks into a post it should still be as good as the ones in which you do not put links in. So many people who are focusing on SEO end up writing awful blog posts with links unceremoniously thrown in which just makes them look awkward and obviously focused on links.

    At the end of the day, SEO is a string on the Digital MARKETING bow…everything you do is about marketing your brand so quality is everything!

    • Henneke says:
      December 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I fully agree. Unfortunately, too many guest posters put quantity above quality.

    • Maria Galloway says:
      December 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      QUALITY is the only way to go if you want sustainability and longevity in your site today! You don’t have to learn the hard way, by buying all these backlinks etc…Listen to all that have sites that are remaining in the top ranking and emulate what they do and say to do. It’s really easier to do it the ‘white hat’ way then the ‘black hat’ way. Love and Peace…..:)

  13. Maria Galloway says:
    December 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Henneke,

    Love your name! Thank you for your post, great info and filled with value, which today is sometimes very hard to find, don’t you agree. Not sayin’ anything ugly, just always looking to read a value filled post and it’s not always the case with a lot of them out there. So, again thank you Henneke and I agree with your post also! Love and Peace….

    • Henneke says:
      December 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Glad you agree, Maria.

  14. Ajith Edassery says:
    December 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Excellent tips on guest posting. As you rightly said, the times of guest posts passing targetted anchor keyword based PR juice is almost gone. People are now talking about natural linkings with alternate anchor texts. Moreover, now guest posts are more for great brand building, visibility and authority of the guest poster than SEO.

    I have seen that most webistes with huge number of guest posters are suffering at the hands of Google too. Having a panel of reguar writers is a better option.

    • Henneke says:
      December 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Yes, have a limited number of guest posters who uphold your quality standards, or get a good editor to ensure content quality remains high.

  15. December 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Great tips on guest posting. I have done a few, but seems I could improve for sure

  16. December 3, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Really nice post, I will have to try these techniques.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. Greg says:
    December 3, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Hi Henneke,

    You’re 100% right. How many people who do this is another question. I think also the key here is not to go overboard with many guests posts. I do a few a week and rarely write for the sake of back links. Your article adds value and therefore is worthwhile of a commentary. Nicely explained. SEO people out there, you need to read this article and apply it!

    • Henneke says:
      December 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

      I tend to write a few each month, but back links aren’t the main purpose – some blogs don’t even allow them. That doesn’t stop me from guest posting for them as long has they have the right target audience for me.

      Thank you for stopping by, Greg.

  18. Riyad says:
    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Really Nice Article…Thank you very much.
    Best Regards,

  19. Ashley says:
    December 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Hi Henneke,
    Great tips on guest posting. I have done a few, but seems I could improve for sure. I think I have my target blogs down, nice-wise that is, but a better call to action in the bio is certainly something I should have done.
    You live and learn

    • Henneke says:
      December 3, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Yes, I need to take my own medicine, too and review my bio 🙂

      Thank you, Ashley.

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