The Hard and Fast Rule of Guest Blogging

My girlfriend is a professional athlete and trainer working from a Gym near my home in London. Though she doesn’t know a thing about SEO (amazingly I’ve resisted the temptation to even discuss the mechanics of what SEO is), I do think she’s a naturally clever marketer.

Take a look at this guest post, written on the 6th January for Greenwich Mums. Greenwich Mums is a resource, review, jobs and loyalty site for local families in the Greenwich area. They have sound editorial policy and it’s a well thought of site in our local area.

Is there a link to my girlfriend’s website in this post?


Nope. Doesn’t mention it. Not once. Not even on her author page.

But it has been very positive for her enquiries, introducing new people to the first stage of her funnel – a one to one consultation, and several new clients.

I find this such a refreshing concept. Put simply, this marketing works. It’s helpful, transparent and it’s obviously perfectly targeted. And, it’s working perfectly well without a link. When a new enquiry comes in, the enquirer is simply asked  “how did you hear about us?”.

What I’ve spent time thinking about is this. Am I brave enough to guest post without asking for a link?

It’s the acid test for my targeting. Am I delivering the right message to the right person in the right format at the right time? Do I get sales from my work regardless of the SEO implications of the coverage?

If we don’t link, what else can we do except pray?

Stop being so narrow minded. What does this chart show?


It’s followerwonk follower count data for my Twitter profile.

Follower growth is measurable. So is Facebook Fan Page growth, so are Slideshare subscriber numbers, so are connections on LinkedIn, so are so many KPI’s we use to assess the efficacy of our marketing efforts on a daily basis.

The hard and fast rule of guest blogging

Would it measurably benefit your business without a link?

What if your guest blogging activity was focused on growing your Twitter followers, or getting email enquiries for new leads?

I think your SEO would be quite safe from a penalty.

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19 thoughts on “The Hard and Fast Rule of Guest Blogging

  1. 3Leaps says:

    what about not guest blogging at all :P

  2. Chirag Parekh says:

    Guest blog can’t be ignored and One thing is pretty clear here… Google still heavily rely upon links in judging relevancy. But at this time SEO can’t play with their clients’ online business. They have to focus on content marketing that can earn link bait even if it is low budget domain.

  3. I think what you’re saying Chirag is that there’s a risk to businesses in the current climate – if they’re choosing an SEO agency badly, they could experience a drop in their visibility or a penalty. I agree!

  4. Marc says:



  5. Ryan says:

    My problem with this take especially coming from someone with a data driven background like you Richard is that it goes against what we know about CRO.

    Readers are lazy you need to make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step so for them to have to search you out without being able to simply click through at the end of the article is going to crush click through and conversion rates.

  6. Sean says:

    Good post Richard. A simple concept that will probably go over most online marketers heads. I like this idea though as it truly revolves around 1- Writing in the right places and 2- Being able to write something interesting and engaging.

    And… if you really can’t let go of your old fashioned ways then maybe, just maybe mention your brand but not as a link.

  7. @Ryan – maybe. But if you’ve *really* thought about the implications of this idea, you’ll already know that I’m trying to instill a sense that brand marketing is a much more 3 dimensional concept (and a known brand wins trust = better conversion, just so we’re clear). You see – I think SEO’er can be a touch on the overly focused on links side of things – and yes, I know good links are important, we build a lot of those, but other KPIs are cool too – what about a guest blogging campaign to raise awareness of an idea, or to grow followers on a twitter profile, or people searching for a brand name? These are all important features of a established brand and that’s why I’m keen to press the idea that a campaign plan reaches far wider than simply building links.

    @marc – I know you’re joking :D

    @Sean – right on!

  8. Jake says:

    Ehh. You can still link, just use the no-follow attribution. There’s no reason to leave links off completely.

  9. Tim Aldiss says:

    I know people who’ve stopped blogging at all but are instead posting their articles into Facebook which is where all the commenting and sharing is happening. Facebook search is in it’s infancy and it’s safe to say that you should be archiving your content somewhere else, but if your goal is to grow brand it’s not a bad place to do it.

  10. Mike Schinkel says:

    Funny, for someone who is not a professional SEO (but who understands the basics and has created top ranking sites) the point of this post is obvious; spend your effort on reaching your target audience and write content that resonates with them. Sad that SEO pros are so link-focused you even have to spell it out for them…

  11. Joe says:

    Or publishing on LinkedIn?

  12. Leslie Nicole says:

    Can you flesh out your last sentence about your SEO being safe from penalty for those of us new to the party?

    To me, it seems insane to do a guest blog and not have any link to your own site. (p.s. About to do a blog post and suddenly seeing posts everywhere about guest blogging being dead.)

  13. Hey Leslie – it was part inspired by the industry’s response to Matt Cutt’s position in guest blogging for SEO purposes:

    And part inspired by my better half who really is growing her business beautifully without link building!

    Hope that helps and thanks for commenting.


  14. Tim Aldiss says:

    Leslie is right – it is ‘insane’.

    Hyerlinking your references as a form of citation is as old as the web.

  15. Leslie Nicole says:

    Thanks, Richard – It sounds like this is referring to do guest blogging on a site just for the links? I’m about to do a guest blog post for a Photoshop plug-in maker. I use their plug-in all the time, I blog about it all the time. Doing a guest blog post in my niche for a vendor that I know seems like a good move for me. I think I will take that link to my site though, thank you very much!

    I would be more leery of a request for a site that I know nothing about. (Just had a request today for one.)

    So, my first question was regarding penalties. It doesn’t make sense to me that Google would penalize valid links? As @Tim says, links are a part of the internet. If nothing else, it makes it easier for the reader. Sure, you can use a search engine to look for something, but people are distracted easily. They may think: “I’ll check that out later” and forget.

    Related side note: These days when I run across something interesting, my first thought is “Can I pin this?” (Maybe there should be an article on “are bookmarks dead?”) I’d much rather pin something.

  16. Valid links on High Quality sites, no. Take a look at this statement:

    It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

    I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.

    I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.

    That was here: (which is what started the whole industry debate)

    Hope that helps :D

  17. Sarah says:

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs in googles eyes about links in guest blogs, the example you’ve shown is idiotic and akin to placing an advert in a magazine and not putting any contact details?!

  18. @Sarah – the email address (and name!) was in the footer of the post. I’m not completely daft, you know!

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