The Guest Blog Post Commodity Trading Game

It’s fair to say I’m an advocate of a good guest blog post – from a personal (and possibly greedy) perspective, I find it extremely rewarding to get my work published on a well-regarded site while I also think that the SEO benefits with regards to backlinks and authority make the process of guest posting well worth it.

It’s a pretty easy process to undertake too – a good hour of research can pull in quite a few leads and pitching your work is an exciting, if slightly nerve-racking, process. Of course, you need good content in the first place but I’ve always found that there’s something about guest posting that forces writers to up their game – like the content equivalent of combing your hair and putting on a nice shirt before meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time.

However, over the past few weeks, I’ve become a bit disillusioned with guest posting, both from an SEO perspective and from a blogging perspective. Principally, this is down to the strange commodity trading market that has been built from the guest blogging process.

I’d like to think that most people are wise enough to know that guest posting isn’t the whiter-than-white process that some would have you believe – the ultimate aim of most guest posts is to achieve a backlink and build authority for a brand, be that a company or themselves. It’s extremely rare that someone will guest post just for the sake of it.

However, the compensation for the site that hosts your post is…well, your post. It’s commonly overlooked (and something I’ve been guilty of in the past) that actually, your post that has been well-crafted and meticulously researched is a commodity in itself. Should it be relevant and well-written, the blog editor has received an excellent piece of work in exchange for relatively little. So the perfect guest post transaction is quality content in exchange for brand and SEO benefits.

However, the current process of pitching a guest post resembles a scene from Wall Street (albeit a dull one with a lot of waiting around for replies to emails), a frantic exchange of bartering and incentive offering. Essentially, bloggers (I’m talking more personal blogs than ‘news sites’) have got wise to how valuable a link from their site could be and are willing to demand plenty for it – money, products, discounts, etc. Somehow, the value of the actual content has got lost, a victim of the link-for-product exchange market.

I’ve seen plenty of examples where SEO companies will offer significant amounts of money along with their post, while some bloggers charge upwards of £200 for a post. If you factor in the cost of the time taken to write a post on top of these payments then you’re looking at an extremely expensive way to secure a backlink – is it worth it?

I also think guest posting on behalf of big brands has contributed significantly too – after all, a guest post can essentially act as free advertising, regardless of the quality of the content. I’ve seen instances where a good friend of mine (and a quite prominent blogger) has been sent guest post offers from companies with marketing budgets in the millions. When faced with this kind of scenario, who wouldn’t try and get something out of it?

This scenario tends to be prevalent in areas where blogs take on a more personal vibe rather than a ‘news authority’ vibe; so a niche like fashion. It’s fair enough really, as hosting content generated on behalf of a business ultimately looking to drive traffic and conversions can be seen as ‘selling out’ and affect the reputation of the blog in question, so it makes sense that bloggers are looking for some sort of compensation to level out the potential detrimental effects a guest post could have on their relationship with their audience.

But nonetheless, it has left guest posting in a position where those with the resources to offer bloggers ‘more’ in exchange for hosting their content are in a significantly better position than those who simply want to offer a good piece of content and to me, that seems pretty unfair.

Is there any remedy to this? I’m not entirely sure. I’d like to think that creating content of value and high quality and offering it free of charge would be enough, but I’m not so sure that we haven’t already gone past the point of no return when it comes to incentives.

However, I do still think guest posting offers a lot to any SEO strategy and should still play a part in an overall content strategy, especially as there are plenty of sites still willing to take on content without asking for the world in return. My only hope is that as guest posting becomes more and more prevalent in SEO, we – and the bloggers and sites we offer our work to – don’t lose sight of the value of good content.

  • Written by on 26th September 2012 at 11:10
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