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At Guest Blog Genius, I talk to a lot of SEOs and site owners about their guest blogging needs. Naturally, a lot of folks believe that the subject matter of their guest blog posts should strongly endorse their specific product or service. More often than not, this is a bad idea.

Of course you should be proud to talk about your offerings, and in some cases, where the client’s business is interesting, and the category is broad enough, this tactic can work. The product or service may be a topic worth discussing on an independent blog. But in most cases, the marketer’s offerings are just too boring or narrow to be an interesting topic that is relevant to a significant number of readers.

Don’t Sell Them. Teach Them.

To kick ass at guest blogging, you’ve got to be a maven, not a salesman, in the eyes of your broader audience. This means you’ve got to offer blogs the kind of informative content that their readers will enjoy. Don’t sell them. Teach them. No one cares what you sell. In fact, if they do know what you sell, sometimes they can become cynical about your advice. All the more reason to steer clear of any direct mention of your product or service, and focus instead on sharing your insights that they would find useful.

It’s Not About You, It’s About The Readers

One client of ours (we’ll call him Jim) is in the business of selling discount ink toner cartridges. In the process of setting up his campaign, he encouraged us to write articles about ways to save money on ink and toner cartridges. I told him that wasn’t going to work because no one cares to read entire articles that are specifically about saving money on ink and toner. Instead, I advised him to cater to the wider audience of small business owners who buy ink toner frequently, and offer up articles with titles more like “10 Ways to Bootstrap Your Startup Business”, or “5 Money Saving Tips For Home Based Businesses”. Do you see the difference?

I suggested that we craft articles offering helpful money saving tips to business owners and managers generally, not articles specifically about toner. Toner reasonably fits into that broader context, and Jim gets credit for the ideas.

The benefit to this approach is that small business blogs are much more likely to publish a piece that caters to many of their readers’ interests. In the process, Jim gains credibility and a healthy dose of link juice from each blog to which he contributes this informative content. Wanting to write about what he’s selling doesn’t afford Jim much of an audience. However, if Jim commits to writing and publishing high quality articles with solid takeaways on a consistent basis, he’ll be well on his way to getting published (and linked) from many authoritative sites.

It’s Not About Referral Traffic, It’s About SERP Placement

Another client, Paul, is in the business of selling herbal diet pills. Initially, we explained that guest blogging is about providing informative content, and not about promoting your business. “The benefit to you”, I explained, “is powerful, yet indirect.”

Quite reasonably, Paul requested that we show him the first article for his approval before marketing it to blogs on his behalf. When the first article was ready, I sent it to him and got pushback because the piece contained not only information about herbal diet pills, but it mentioned prescription diet pills as well. He wanted his product to get all the attention. Like our other client, Jim, Paul wasn’t thinking about how to put his topic into a broader, more interesting and more informative context.

My response to Paul? “These blogs do not exist for the purpose of promoting your business. But they can help you reach your goals by passing along healthy doses of authority to your website if you give them the kind of content they need. Stop thinking of these articles as advertisements, and start thinking of them as helpful content that will earn you powerful back links in exchange for making a valued contribution to the publisher’s audience.”

In most cases, click-through referral traffic is an insignificant result of guest blogging. The real value is in the PageRank boost that can make a big difference to SERP placement– where most sites gain a large majority of their prospects and earn the bulk of their revenue.

The Ah Hah Moment

During our chat, I could sense the lightbulb going off in Paul’s mind. He took heed to my advice and began to widen his perspective on guest blogging. He’s getting articles posted consistently about dieting, health, fitness and nutrition, and is beginning to see noticeable improvements in SERP placements for his site as a whole.

Unlike advertising, the benefits of guest blogging are indirect. Yet, they are much more powerful than traditional advertising. Each dofollow link you earn from relevant, authoritative blogs passes authority that you simply can’t earn by publishing on your own site, buying ads, or publishing to low quality article sites. Overtime, your website will become an authority in your industry and you will enjoy the type of steady, free, organic traffic that your competitors envy.

Guest Blogging Is a Virtuous Circle

Guest blogging, like any form of content marketing, embodies the timeless proverb “the more you give, the more you get”. It’s not about being a salesman, it’s about being a maven. Don’t persuade your readers. Teach them. Marketing on the web is about creating a virtual circle of prosperity. The larger the contribution you make in the form of new, useful information, the more you gain in the form of authority, visibility and new business.

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Posted by Dan Ripoll

Dan Ripoll is co-founder and CEO of - a content writing service that offers free, high quality guest posts to bloggers. The website features a blog post ideas section which makes it easy for bloggers in any niche to source fresh content ideas for their own blogs.

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