3 Great Safe Alternatives to Guest Blogging

Guest blogging for SEO purposes started its downfall recently, especially with Google penalizing MyBlogGuest, and before that it was Google finding and penalizing advertorials. And before that, it was paid links in general. It’s not that Google’s against those advertising vehicles, it’s that they don’t want SEOs and website owners manipulating their algorithm, gaming the system so to speak, and “buying links that pass PageRank“. And now, if it’s paid, we all know that it’s not just Google’s problem: the United States FTC has also spoken up.

So, what’s the next best thing to guest blogging? What are the alternatives if you don’t want to participate in Guest Blogging? There are lots of them, but I decided to pick three that I really like right now. These aren’t necessarily in order of importance.

Alternative One: Paid Media
Generate content, great content. Write an article, publish a study, do some research that no one else in your industry is going to do. Something that shows or proves that something does or does not work. The publish the results. If the results are like to said thought they were going to be, then great. Publish it. If not, then publish it. Either way, you’ll have content on your site that you’ll be able to promote.

Once you’ve published the content on your site, you can collect leads using it. Publish the data in a .PDF and then provide a useful amount of the results: let people pay for the full report or ask them to fill out a contact form to download. Or, just give it all away for free, and let the publicity from it naturally garner you fresh, natural, organic links to your website.

Use Paid Media to get the content noticed. A PPC ad is great, but also Twitter and Facebook ads will help really well.

You can also use sites like Outbrain.com to push traffic directly to your content. Outbrain.com traffic can convert really well as long as you have well-written headlines.

Alternative Two: Media Outreach
Start becoming your own PR (public relations) person and start pitching to the media. Create a list of 10 possible article ideas, come up with your own summaries for each, and narrow down the list to the best one or two. Start pitching those articles directly to the press, media, journalists, reporters. Before you pitch a story idea, ask yourself, “why do I care?”. Many journalists will ask themselves this same question when reading your pitch: if you cannot answer it properly, then go onto another article idea.

Use sites like PitchBox.com to find media outlets and sites that are on-target for your possible story idea.

Another alternative, which is not as proactive, though, is to use HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to answer their queries when they need a contact or to interview someone.

Alternative Three: Guest Authorship
A third alternative, which is much closer to Guest Blogging but safer (as of right now), is Guest Authorship. You can create great content on your site, place it on your site, and get a guest author, someone who has verified Google Authorship, to author the article or content that’s on your website. If the author is well known and has enough social media friends and followers, they will naturally get “their own” content promoted, driving traffic to your site. The jury is still out as of this post, but Google is working on AuthorRank or something similar to it, rewarding certain authors’ content where it appears on sites.

One option is to reach out directly to the thought leaders in your industry and ask them to guest author an article or content on your blog or website. An alternative is to use a service like AuthPost, which connects you to those who have verified authorship and have a good following on social media sites. Authors who have a good social media presence can apply to be an approved AuthPost author. Links in all the content are typically nofollowed and comply with all FTC and Google Webmaster Guidelines. The idea being that the traffic gained and the overall Author’s notoriety is worth something: and as Google leans more towards notable authors in the organic search results, there will be some value there, as well. And as a disclaimer, I founded the AuthPost.com service. UPDATE: Since Google has removed Google Authorship, AuthPost no longer exists.

So, even though guest blogging has been declared dead several times and then others have said guest blogging is not dead, well, with these three alternatives, there shouldn’t be any issues with penalties or manual actions from Google.

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  1. Chris Turner says


    Great post, as always my friend. I have to question the last suggestion though. I may be the only one out here still advocating for guest blogging, but the point of authorship and associated AuthorRank is to help with authenticity. If an author has achieved a good AR and user following, then genuine guest blogging is still valid. So the question, why attach another author on your site and content if the guest author didn’t write it? I do like the idea of pursuing the author to post on “your” site versus traditional posting articles on other sites.

  2. says

    You’re right, Chris. If you’ve built up your Authorship and AuthorRank then there might not be a need to have guest authors with Authorship contribute to your site: but why stop there? Search Engine Land wouldn’t be SEL without guest authors and NY Times wouldn’t be the NY Times without editorials or the occasional guest authors on their sites.

    For the 1 percent of sites that need the additional credibility (potentially, if that’s a ranking factor in the future?), then why not allow a verified author to post quality content on your site, playing “by the rules”, that includes nofollow links if the post is sponsored. You’re “renting an author” so to speak.

    The other option is to get one of those verified authors to write a great post about your products or services (or mention you) on their site where they’ve verified authorship. The content is on someone else’s site.

  3. Kari Rippetoe says

    Bill, there are definitely some good ideas in this post, and media outreach can be very effective. I’m wondering, though – when you say “if the post is sponsored” what do you mean? Actual money changed hands for the credible author to write a post for your website? What about if no money changes hands and a blog simply publishes a guest post from a credible source for free? Is that still considered “sponsored” in your opinion?

    What I feel like the big issue with guest blogging is that Google doesn’t like link building tactics that can be scaled. I don’t see how they would be able to penalize every site out there that had a quality guest post published on an industry-relevant blog, especially if there weren’t an over-abundance of links back to the author’s site in that post. If it were done only once in a while (when an author had a particularly good article to publish) and there were maybe 1 or 2 links in the post, what’s the problem?

  4. Bobby says

    Guest Authorship? You mean accept guest post. What’s the difference? You’re still participating in the whole guest blog mess.

  5. says

    I can appreciate how you see that it’s similar. But, technically “guest blogging” is different than what you’re calling “guest authorship”. Guest blogging usually implies that there is a “do follow” link or links (or the links don’t contain nofollow attributes) in the post. Google doesn’t have a problem with guest blogging as long as the links include the nofollow attribute. There are rare cases where guest blog posts follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

    As you’re referring to “guest authorship”, if there are links they are nofollowed, they’re marked as sponsored if necessary, and the person writing the post has verified Google Authorship.

  6. Miranda Miller says

    I like your suggestions, Bill, but I disagree with the premise of the post. “Guest blogging for SEO purposes started its downfall recently,” and in a comment, “Google doesn’t have a problem with guest blogging as long as the links include the nofollow attribute.” – not true.

    Gerald Weber wrote a great post today about Google’s attack on guest blogging in general. Then you have guys like Doc Sheldon getting a site-wide manual penalty for a guest post about social media marketing for a Hispanic audience because Google’s spam team didn’t think it was relevant to Doc’s audience. Doc… who has blogged there about marketing for years… and lives in Mexico… Hispanic marketing guest blog not relevant… ugh.

    I’m all for looking at alternatives, but let’s not pretend Google is only punishing people who publish on other sites for SEO purposes or to manipulate the algorithm.

  7. says

    Guest blogging started its downfall when those who game Google started using guest posts to “game Google”, try to manipulate the search results. As long as you aren’t trying to game the system so to speak (best way is to add a nofollow to links on a guest post), then fine.

    I haven’t done an in-depth analysis of Doc Sheldon’s site, and haven’t seen the actual message(s) he received in Google Webmaster Tools. But, I bet there was more than one blog post about social media marketing on the site that Google had a problem with; they might have pointed that one post out as an example. For some reason I don’t think we’re hearing the full story.