Guest Post ROI: The Data Behind 273 Guest Posts Says It’s No Good

guest-postI bet that you have at least one guest post under your belt.

So let me ask you something:

– What was the ROI of that guest post?

Did you achieve what you expected? Are you happy with the results?

Or maybe you didn?t have any specific goal in mind and wrote your guest post just because everyone else is doing it?

I reached out to 500+ bloggers (big and small) and asked all of them pretty much same questions.

The amount of feedback and data that I got from that outreach was totally overwhelming (to say the least) and I can’t wait to share all these golden nuggets with you.

But first?

HUGE THANKS to everyone who contributed! This post would not exist without your help.

What do you get from publishing a guest post?

Initially I wanted to focus on tangible metrics only.

Specifically – the amount of referral traffic that you can get from a guest post.

A lot of people eagerly shared their numbers with me. Some even took things a step further and did a small research of their own.

Check out this spreadsheet by Ryan Robinson, where he calculated his conversion rates from different guest posts and suggested what could influence them:


But quite a few people insisted that the ROI of guest blogging went far beyond these “tangible metrics”:

Donna Moritz

?Guest blogging for me, is as much about the opportunities as the traffic.

Through guest posting on a whole range of sites, I have:

  • been offered bigger roles as a contributing writer at sites like Entrepreneur and Social Media Examiner from earlier blog posts;
  • developed relationships with blog owners that lead to being affiliate for their products and programs or them being an affiliate for mine;
  • attracted new clients and projects;
  • been interviewed on podcasts;
  • booked quality paid speaking engagements.

…all of which developed through guest posting for blogs I developed a relationship with.

Think of each article not just as a way to get traffic to your site but a way to build relationships with the people who might promote your business and your content to their own communities in the future in a myriad of ways.?

So after bouncing emails with about 400 bloggers and marketers (in the course of 4 months) and processing all their data and insights, I have distilled 5 main benefits of guest blogging:

  • Referral traffic;
  • Quality backlinks;
  • Exposure & Credibility;
  • Nurturing relationships with great people;
  • Monetary reward.

Now let me go deeper and explain why you’re unlikely to get any of that with your next guest article.


I consider myself a rather experienced guest writer.

I wrote guest articles for many well-known blogs like Moz, Problogger, SocialMediaExaminer, SearchEngineJournal, etc.

So based on my personal experience I can confidently say that:

Guest blogging is a terrible strategy of generating traffic to your website.

That’s not something you hear very often, right?

But don’t just take my word for it.

While reaching out to hundreds of people I have collected the exact traffic numbers behind 239 guest posts that were published on 78 blogs in the marketing niche.

So do you want to know the average referral traffic across these 239 guest posts?

56 visits!

Not impressive, huh?

You can easily get visits for as low as $0.10 via Facebook ads, which makes a guest article with 56 visits worth about $6.

How pathetic is that?

But I’ll tell you more.

Out of these 239 guest articles, 35% generated less than 10 visits and only 15% generated more than 100 vists:

[tweet_dis_img inject=”Average referral traffic from a guest article is only 56 visits!”]01-traffic-guest-post[/tweet_dis_img]

At this point I should note that “referral traffic” was measured for a period of the first 7 days since publishing a guest post.

If you would like to know why I limited the timeframe to first 7 days only, please download the bonus materials to this article, where I go a bit deeper into this research and explain a few extra takeaways:

[fancy_box id=5]BONUS: [content_upgrade id=5774]CLICK HERE[/content_upgrade] to get extra insights and takeaways from my research of Guest Blogging ROI.[/fancy_box]

But I’m sure you would like to know which blogs generated the most traffic.

So here’s the Top 10 (based on the data that I have on my hands):


Please don’t rely on this chart too much though.

I only compared blogs where I had referral traffic on 3+ guest articles, which allowed me to calculate an average number. These were 35 blogs out of 78.

But if you would like to get the full spreadsheet with all 78 blogs – go grab the bonus materials from the yellow box above.

All in all, these traffic numbers are not impressive if you ask me.

Even with a maximum of 539 visits from a guest post, I can easily get 3x more traffic from publishing that article on my own blog.

So I will repeat it again, and this time, make it “tweetable”:

[tweet_box]Guest blogging is a TERRIBLE strategy of generating traffic to your website.[/tweet_box]

But on the other side, I love what Dominic Bnonn Tennant has to say about it:

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

“I’d say it very much depends on how much guest posting you do, and how much traffic you need.

One post won’t have a huge effect. But posts on a dozen different blogs will start to add up ? especially if you can keep producing new content, since there is always a small trickle from each post, and over the long term these can combine into a decent stream.

I’ve actually found guest posting to be the most effective way to get traffic a website, all things considered.

Remember, I did say “all things considered”.

That was my way of saying, “For the average solopreneur like me who has limited time, energy, and expertise.” :)

For people like us, ranking in Google is not an effective strategy because it’s not even feasible, let alone reliable.

Obviously all the big blogs get massive search traffic. That’s because they’re big.

But solopreneurs don’t run big blogs. They run tiny blogs.

So really, their best bet for traffic is to get second hand search traffic off the big blogs anyway ? which means guest posts.

Because of this, until you’ve built up a massive audience, there’s no point even having your own blog.”

So let’s see what “an average solopreneur” could do if he wanted to squeeze more referral traffic out of his guest articles.

How To Get “Second Hand” Search Traffic

One of the best ways to grow traffic to your website is by making it rank on the front page of Google for a bunch of nice keywords.

But ranking on top of Google is incredibly hard.

So in his quote above, Dominic mentioned a cool workaround that I don’t see many people talking about – “second hand search traffic”.

Let me explain what that means.

I bet you already know that when Google decides which of the two similar articles should rank higher, it looks at these two factors:

  • The authority of a website – how many other websites are linking to it;
  • The authority of a page with the article – how many other pages are linking to it.

(at Ahrefs we have metrics for that: “Domain Rating” and “URL Rating”)

So if you want to analyze your chances to rank for some keyword, just search for it in Google and see how powerful the pages that already rank there are.

You can use Ahrefs Toolbar to quickly check that:


Quite often you’ll see that UR and DR of the pages that rank for your desired keyword are way too strong in comparison to those of your own website.

So your chances of ranking for that keyword with a page on your site are very very slim.

That is why, instead of publishing that article on your own site, you might consider submitting it as a guest post for some other big authority website (that has all the necessary SEO metrics to rank well).

Once your guest article climbs to the front page of Google – it will start bringing consistent search traffic month after month and some of these people will click the links in the article and land on your own site.

That’s what Dominic meant by saying: “get second hand search traffic off the big blogs”.

And it works!

Take a look at this guest post by Peter Sandeen.

Peter told me it has brought him 2310 visitors and 1549 email subscribers to date:

Pasted Graphic

And the traffic doesn’t seem to fade!

All because this guest post ranks on the front page of Google for many great keywords.

I used Ahrefs to check which keywords Peter’s guest post ranks for in Google, and here’s what I saw:


So if you want your content to show up on the front page of Google but your own site is too weak – consider writing a guest article for a big and well-known resource.

However I would still prefer to publish the article on my own blog and hustle real hard to make it rank in Google, so that I could enjoy 100% of that traffic.

And Ryan Stewart seems to be with me on this one:

Ryan Stewart

“With StartupBros looks like that guest article ranks in Google and that is why it’s bringing me consistent referral traffic.

Yet in the first 7 days there were only 120 visits.

But I don’t take ranking in Google into account, because I’d rather make articles on MY site rank in Google, than try to make my guest articles on other sites rank in Google.”

As well as Nick Kolenda:

Nick Kolenda

“All of my articles are extremely long, detailed, and research-driven.

With those “epic” pieces of content, I think they’re best suited for your own blog.

That way, you can attract the links and build the brand and authority of your own blog and domain.”

How To Determine If The Blog Is Worth Writing For

It’s totally awesome when your guest article gets to the front page of Google and starts sending consistent “second hand search traffic” your way.

But more often than not you’ll see this:


That’s a screenshot of my referral traffic coming from a recent guest article at SocialMediaExaminer.

At first there was a small spike – that’s when regular readers of SME checked out my newly published article and clicked the link to see my blog.

But then my guest post got pushed down by a bunch of newly published articles and the traffic from SME faded to nothing.

I got a total of 26 visits from that article.

Which is a pretty miserable result for SME blog with 5,294 Alexa Rank, right?

But wait…

Who said that Alexa is the right metric to evaluate the referral traffic that you can get from publishing a guest post on that website?

I had enough data to study the correlation between Alexa ranking of a blog and the referral traffic coming from a guest post that was published there.

And it turned out that there’s almost NO correlation between Alexa and referral traffic.

At first it sounds counterintuitive, but when you give it a second thought – it starts to make perfect sense.

If you would like to know my thought process behind this, grab the bonus materials below:

[fancy_box id=5]BONUS: [content_upgrade id=5774]CLICK HERE[/content_upgrade] to get extra insights and takeaways from my research of guest blogging ROI.[/fancy_box]

So is there a better metric that you could look at in order to evaluate blogs for guest posting?

I studied how referral traffic correlates with a few different metrics across 273 guest articles and here’s what I’ve got:


As you can see, all correlations are pretty poor.

With “1” being “direct correlation” and “0” meaning “no correlation at all” – anything below 0.3 is not significant.

And yet the number of comments seems to be a much better indicator of the size of a blog’s audience than Alexa ranking.

I was also surprised to see a high correlation with Pinterest pins, considering the fact that social shares are generally a vanity metric and they never correlate with traffic.

And I didn’t include Twitter in my research, because they recently discontinued their share counts.

All in all, my data set was very small but the gut feeling tells me that on a bigger scale these correlations would decrease even more.

So please don’t rely on any of these metrics if you want to learn how many people will read your guest article and click the links in it.

If that is important to you – just ask this question directly to the owner of a blog.

How To Maximise Your Referral Traffic

Now here’s the actual reason why my guest post at SocialMediaExaminer didn’t bring me much traffic:

There was only a single link to my blog in that article – from my author byline.

So remember this:

If you want to get referral traffic, you need to link to your website from the body of your guest article.

(actually I did have links in the body of my guest post at SocialMediaExaminer, but they were edited out. *sigh*)

I studied how links in the body of the article improve referral traffic across 152 guest posts on 23 blogs.

On average, posts with links in the body of the article generated 387% more referral traffic than posts that only had links in the “author bio” section.

[tweet_box]Guest posts with link in the body of the article generate 387% more referral traffic[/tweet_box]

And to be honest, most bloggers have noticed that long ago:

Lesley Vos

“A link should be placed at the beginning of a guest post, and it should be mega relevant to bring us so desired referral traffic.

I think that guest bloggers should keep it in mind if they are going to get max ROI with content in particular.

Sure, it’s not always possible to place such a link because blog hosts have their link policy and guest posts guidelines. But if you succeed here… Well, lucky you :)”

But here’s the fun part.

Including a link in the content of your guest post doesn’t guarantee that readers will click it.

For example, this article that you’re reading right now is full of links to further reading, but did you click ALL of them?

Of course not!

Here’s what Mary Fernandez says about it:

Mary Fernandez

“I also imagine that the traffic numbers will vary quite a bit depending on how effective the call to action is.

For instance, I think the reason my Facebook ads post did so much better was because I had a highly relevant call to action (to view a video walkthrough of the steps detailed in the post). Plus, the call to action was not only in the author bio but also in the body of the post.

By contrast, the post on standing out had just one, much more general call to action in the author bio (to join my private Facebook community for more tips).”

So placing a link within your article is not enough.

You need to make people click it!

There are quite a few ways to do that, but the single most effective one is a cool psychological trick called “curiosity gap”.

I don’t tell you what it is though, because there’s a great article that I want you to read: “Should You Use a Curiosity Gap to Persuade Your Visitors to Click?”

(see what I just did? I created a “curiosity gap” and added a “call-to-action” to make you click that link)

Becoming A Regular Contributor Is Bad For Traffic

I don’t have any actual data to support this claim, so it will be based purely on the feedback that other bloggers shared with me.

Peter Boyle

“The more you write for one blog – the less traffic you’re going to get as their audience starts to remember your name.

I?m actually on the writing team at Crazy Egg. The amount of back traffic I receive decreases steadily as my name becomes known with their audience.

They see me as a CE writer, not as an independent marketing consultant who?s utilising a high traffic blog (and thus, not worth checking out my own site).”

Paul Jarvis

“What I?ve noticed is that the first time you write for a new publication is the best chance to gain signups. After that, their audience has already heard of you and signed up if they were interested.”

Think of writing for blogs outside your niche

I know that most people who read BloggerJet are marketers. And since our core expertise is marketing, we feel most comfortable when we write guest articles for other marketing blogs.

But don’t you think that we have completely oversaturated the marketing niche with our content?

I hear a loud “YES”.

So why don’t we just look around and bring our expertise to other niches?

Will Avila clearly has a point:

William Avila

“When we post on marketing blogs like SEMRush or other marketing sites, we don’t usually get much traffic.

However, when we post on say a Real Estate site explaining to them on how to do marketing, we’ll get a ton of traffic.

Industry blogs for us are good for relevant links, but traffic that converts to sales is usually non-marketing sites.

Honestly I never thought that the low traffic numbers from guest posts in marketing niche may be because the audience is pretty well educated and it?s very hard to impress them with something really new and make them click through.”

How To Not Waste Your Referral Traffic

And lastly, after mastering the art of squeezing more traffic out of your guest articles…

Don’t just land these people on random pages of your site!

The best practice is to create a landing page that would turn these visitors into your email subscribers.

This works really well for Devesh Khanal:

Devesh Khanal

“If you don’t send people to a dedicated landing page to turn them into email subscribers, it’s not worth it.

Look at the numbers from CrazyEgg blog. 209 visitors isn’t worth it. But 132 subscribers is.”


And I absolutely love how Alex Turnbull from GrooveHQ tailors the greetings on his landing pages to the blog where the traffic is coming from:


Unfortunately, most blogs will not let you put links to your landing pages into the content of your article.

But you can put this link into your author byline, like the PROs do: “What Elite Internet Marketers Do With Their Bylines That You?re Missing Out”.

Use content upgrades in your guest articles

I’m a huge advocate of the “content upgrades” strategy.

And if you care about growing your email list (which you should), the single most effective thing you can do with your guest article is put a content upgrade in it.

Here’s how Bryan Harris generated 500 email subscribers from a single guest article by doing just that: Part 1, Part 2.

He calls this strategy “Expanded Guest Post”, but in essence this is just a guest post with a content upgrade in it.


As you may already know, I work at Ahrefs – the best backlink research tool on the planet (yes, I am biased, but these people aren’t).

So here’s the data from our latest research study, where we were looking at correlations between higher ranking in Google and the amount of backlinks pointing to the page:


As you can see from this graph, the amount of referring domains that link to you has a very high correlation with Google rankings.

But the best correlation belongs to native Ahrefs metric called “URL Rank”.

That’s because “URL Rank” focuses on quantity + quality of backlinks, while “# of Ref.Domains” is a purely quantitive metric.

In other words…

If you want to rank high in Google – you need a lot of backlinks coming from diverse QUALITY sites.

And guess what is one of the best ways to get these backlinks?

Guest Blogging!

But hey, didn’t Matt Cutts say that guest blogging for SEO is dead?

I don’t think so.

Here’s a recent case study which proves that guest blogging still works like a charm for building quality backlinks and moving your content to the top of Google’s search results.

So did Matt Cutts lie to us?

I don’t think so.

Go read his article again and you’ll realise that he is talking about “spammy” guest posts, not the genuine ones:

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.

Sure, if you order 30 articles at Fiverr and submit them to “no name” blogs – you’re going to get yourself in big trouble.

But if you opt to write 2-3 guest articles per week and pitch them to best blogs in your industry – this will work like a charm.

Unfortunately, most people still prefer to look for the loopholes instead of hustling hard.

That is why many famous blogs have removed their “Write for us” pages and are no longer accepting guest articles:


And even if you manage to get through with your guest post, their editorial team will most likely delete all your “self promotional” links (like it happened with my latest SocialMediaExaminer guest post).

So building backlinks via guest posting is now harder than ever, but it’s still possible: “How to Build Keyword Rich Links With Guest Articles When All the Odds Are Against You”.

In fact, most bloggers that I’ve talked to are writing guest articles mostly for the sake of landing quality backlinks other than generating referral traffic to their sites.


Whether you get any referral traffic or not…

Whether the editorial team allows any backlinks or not…

You’re still getting your content seen by thousands of people that have never heard about you before.

This alone can lead to many things:

Jeffrey Kranz

“This post brought almost no referral traffic, but an acquisitions editor saw it and reached out to me about writing a book.

We’re in talks!”

Ryan Stewart

“I’ve landed about 90% of my clients from guest posting.

In fact, my largest client came from the first post I wrote for you guys (Ahrefs Blog).”

But don’t let these raving feedbacks fool you.

Most of your guest articles won’t result in any great opportunities.

And here’s why:

“The results can be hit or miss depending entirely on how the host wants to give you attribution for your article.

If they don?t introduce you properly at the top of the article, many readers may not even know it IS a guest post and won?t even think to click back.”

But you still have one perk left that is absolutely impossible to take away from you – credibility.

The fact that some famous blog has published your content can only mean that you’re 100% legit.

That is the reason why many bloggers put the logos of the big blogs they wrote for on the homepage of their sites:


In all honesty, if I were offered to write for – I would not care about traffic or backlinks, but you’ll see Forbes logo on my blog pretty much the same day my guest post is published.

But the real magic happens when credibility is combined with “second hand search traffic”.

Credibility + “Second Hand search traffic”

A few months ago I met with Josh Steimle at “ClickZ Singapore” conference and he told me about his guest article at Forbes, that has been a consistent source of leads for their company pretty much from the day it was published:

Josh Steimle

“We average around 25 leads per month from that single article, and at the moment it accounts for $50,000 or more of our monthly revenue.”

And I’m not surprised actually, because look at all the keywords that it ranks for in Google (and the monthly search volume of these keywords):


How amazing is that?

People search for “best seo company”, find that article at Forbes and think: “This guy must be a real deal if he writes for Forbes, let’s see if I can hire him”.

Too bad it’s pretty damn hard to replicate this.


I love this quote by Sir Richard Branson:

[tweet_box design=”box_15_at” pic_url=”” author=”Richard Branson”]Succeeding in business is all about making connections.[/tweet_box]

Ask any successful guy if there’s some “mentor” or “advisor” behind his success and more often than not the answer will be positive.

Here’s a screenshot from Brian Dean’s AMA at Inbound:


So as you can tell, having a mentor is a must.

But where do you get one?

There are many ways to connect with awesome people in your field.

I have already described some of them here: “3 Easy Outreach Hacks To Make Influential People Notice You“.

But if we’re talking about connecting with bloggers, one of the best ways to melt their heart is to write a guest post that will generate boatloads of traffic to their blog.

Do that a few times in a row – and this blogger will become your best friend. (I?m exaggerating quite a bit, but you get the idea)

And I’m not the only one who thinks so:

Leo Widrich

“Of course, that?s the one thing I keep coming back to. Relationships are hard to track, but are actually the most valuable things that you gain from guest posting.

At the end of the day, if you do a lot of guest posting you simply make a lot of friends.”


Here’s the best part.

What if I told you that you could get all of the above… PLUS a monetary reward!

A lot of blogs are desperate for professional writers.

Just look at Problogger’s Job Board, where a bunch of new listings appear every single day:


I myself have used this job board 3 times to find experienced freelance writers and paid them from $50 to $650 per article (sometimes even more).

Obviously, when you’re getting paid for an article you can’t self promote too much – you have to focus on the business of a person who hired you.

But you still have your name on that article and a link to your personal website in the author byline.

So you’re getting all the aforementioned benefits anyways.

Here’s a quote from someone who preferred to stay anonymous:



“I don’t do unpaid guest blogs. The ROI isn’t there anymore.

Around half my posts on popular marketing blogs are paid for by the site, and any time I do an unpaid guest post (I still do quite a few), I have a company paying me to organically include a link in the article.

To write the type of high-value, in-depth marketing articles people want these days, you need to be linking to case studies, tools, studies, and authoritative blog posts.

So I have simply accumulated a lineup of companies that will pay me to link to their case studies, tools, studies and blog posts when I’d otherwise be randomly picking between them and their competitors.”


If you only need fast cash and you don’t care about all these other “side benefits” – consider “GhostWriting”.

This is when you write an article that will later be published under the name of your client.

In this case you don’t get all the perks that guest blogging has to offer, but you can ask for up to 2x more money.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how some famous bloggers seem to be everywhere with their guest articles and you wonder – “how do they manage to write so fast?”

Well, they use ghost writers.

So if you want to scale your guest blogging – consider hiring a few ghost writers to help you out.

And this wraps up my study of “guest post ROI”.

But I have a few more guest blogging tips to share with you.


I’m sure that after reading my study you have mixed feelings.

On one hand the data clearly shows that the vast majority of guest articles fall flat.

But on the other hand you regularly stumble upon success stories like this one:

Bryan Harris

“On the day of the guest post it received 1,086 and 686 the day after. Of those 1,782 visitors 73% of them were new visitors.

The traffic influx was from loyal readers of the blog that heard about me and came here to learn more.

But they didn?t just checkout my site, they became members. In the two days since that post 215 new people have subscribed to this site, an overall conversion rate of 12%.”

Without a doubt it IS possible to get a lot of traffic from your guest articles.

As well as generate high quality backlinks, enormous exposure, instant credibility, amazing relationships and some nice money.

But the truth is…

All these success stories where people nail it with their guest articles are nothing but statistical OUTLIERS.

You see them so often, because no one will talk about dozens of their failed guest blogging attempts.

But after they get a SINGLE win, they’ll be talking about it everywhere: on their blog, in their guest posts, on podcasts, on Quora, etc.

There’s even a term to describe this phenomenon – “Survivorship Bias”.

James Clear

“Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.

There might be thousands of athletes who train in a very similar way to LeBron James, but never made it to the NBA. The problem is nobody hears about the thousands of athletes who never made it to the top. We only hear from the people who survive. We mistakenly overvalue the strategies, tactics, and advice of one survivor while ignoring the fact that the same strategies, tactics, and advice didn?t work for most people.

When the winners are remembered and the losers are forgotten it becomes very difficult to say if a particular strategy leads to success.”

This is how you get an impression that guest blogging is such an effective marketing tactic.

Don’t let these shiny success stories fool you!

These “outlier” guest posts are a perfect combination of knowledge, experience, hard work, timing and pure luck.

It would be silly to expect this kind of ROI from every guest article that you write.

Unless of course you have a clear objective and you are ready to do all it takes to achieve that.

By saying “do all it takes” I mean using all these tips that I’ve shared above plus one more thing that I didn’t mention.

But that one last thing actually matters more than everything else.

Secret Guest Blogging Hack: “Write Something Epic”

If your article is nothing new and you’re just re-hearsing stuff that has already been said dozens of times on dozens of other blogs – please don’t expect any extraordinary results from it.

In other words…

If you don’t want to get average results from your guest posts – don’t write average guest posts!

[tweet_box]If you don’t want to get average results from your guest posts – don’t write average guest posts![/tweet_box]

So how do you write a truly outstanding article and get the ROI way above the average?

Well, this question surely deserves a big meaty article of it’s own (which I am planning to write someday), but for now I will give you two short tips:

  1. Learn everything that’s already there on this topic, because it’s the only way to make sure that what you’re about to write is somehow unique.
  2. Walk the walk; experiment; do something; act! – you’ll often find out that your output from applying a certain knowledge is different from what was promised. But now you have something to write about, don’t you?

Sorry for such a vague advice. I promise to write a full fledged article about this. (someday)

Meanwhile I suggest you to check out this article of mine: ?The Guide To Strategic Writing: How to Get Traffic, Subscribers & Sales With Your Articles?

Smart Alternatives To Guest Blogging

As you can tell by now, guest blogging is not some kind of a magic pill that will make your blog and business grow as soon as you start doing it.

Just like with many other things in business – [tweet_dis]you have to work to make it work[/tweet_dis].

And since we’re often limited in resources (time, money, team, etc), we’re always looking to focus our efforts on things that have the highest ROI for our business.

So why don’t you consider these cool alternatives to guest blogging:


Just recently I was invited on a podcast, which was entirely based on a huge article that I published last year here on BloggerJet: “The Guide To Strategic Writing“.

Let’s see the ROI:

  • A bit of traffic – check;
  • Backlinks – check;
  • Exposure – check;
  • Relationships – check;
  • Money – hey Loz, why didn’t you pay me? (just kidding)

In other words, I got everything I get from an average guest post – all in about 45 minutes.

Writing a guest article would take me much longer than that.

And actually, many bloggers prefer podcasts to guest posts these days:

Douglas Lim

“Yeah that’s exactly what I mean, searching out opportunities to be a guest on a podcast.

You talk for 30 mins, people get to hear your voice and your personality.

For me, talking is way easier than writing.

And usually the presenter will ask you to share your URL at the end where people can find out more about you.

I find people resonate with that a lot.”

Here’s some further reading, if you’re interested: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Featured on Podcasts (and why you should)


In case you’re not familiar with the term, “syndication” is when an article from your blog is being republished on other sites.

For example, Gregory Ciotti has his personal blog syndicated by LifeHacker on autopilot:

Gregory Ciotti

?I happen to be syndicated with Lifehacker for my site Sparring Mind, which means that the contributions editor checks out my new posts, and if they are a match with the Lifehacker audience, she?ll republish them.?

I’m not sure if syndication has a better ROI than guest blogging, because it’s not that simple actually.

But in any case, that is a nice guest blogging alternative to be aware of.


If your primary objective is traffic (and leads) – you might consider going all in on one of the insanely popular platforms and milking traffic from it.

For example…

I see that people get mind-blowing traffic from Slideshare: “Breaking SlideShare: How I Got 2,000,000 Views from Only 16 Presentations


And some of the bloggers who I’ve talked to confirm that:

Henneke Duistermaat

“Early last year when I compared guest blogging to SlideShare, I found that SlideShare was performing better in terms of generating subscribers.”

Other people are nailing Quora: “Easily Growth Hack 1,500+ Visits From Quora“.

And actually I’m not that bad with Quora myself:


Don’t know about you, but for me answering a specific question on Quora is much easier than writing a full-fledged article on the same topic.

I’m not too active on Quora right now, but back in the days I was easily landing around 500 referral visits per month by answering just a few questions every week.

And finally, you can be nailing the all famous Reddit: “I gained ~770 subscribers by spending a few minutes each day commenting on posts“.

Though for me personally Reddit has been a hit and miss.

Over To You

Thanks a lot for making it to the very end of this guide!

6.000 words is no joke and it scares me to think how many evenings I’ve spend emailing back and forth with hundreds of bloggers and marketers to collect the data and insights for this post. Not without the help of liters of coffee, brewed in all ways possible.

So now I’m keen to learn what you think.

What was your own experience with guest posts?

Do you agree with the takeaways of my research or would you argue with them?

I’ll be glad to talk to you in comments.

UPDATE: I know that many people never read comments, but there’s an awesome one from Jon Morrow (CEO of Smart Blogger, Former Editor at Copyblogger) that you just can’t miss, because he clearly has a point.

Tim Soulo is the Chief Marketing Officer and Product Advisor at Ahrefs, a leading tool trusted by hundreds of thousands of SEOs and marketers worldwide. His SEO-related data research studies have been cited by media giants, including Inc, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat. He's also a regular speaker at some of the largest industry conferences around the globe, such as PubCon (US), BrightonSEO (UK), and the Digital Marketers Australia Conference (AU).


Add comment
  1. You absolutely CRUSHED it with this post, Tim. I think most blogger blindly guest post without ROI ever crossing their minds.

    And that’s why this is the one post anyone that’s about to start a guest posting campaign needs to read.

    • Tim Soulo

      thanks, Brian!

      I just didn’t feel that guest blogging was working for me and my blog as good as some “experts” suggested.

      Hence this research :)

    • I agree with you on both points: (1) Tim totally crushed it with this post (2) Most bloggers guest post without tracking or analyzing ROI.

  2. Great post! Thank you, Tim.

    There are so many different opinions on Guest Posting. It’s good to have some data. Like Brian said, you crushed it!

    I do wonder what the Backlink King, Brian Dean, thinks about Guest Posting :)

  3. Hi Tim

    This is fascinating – I’ve been looking forward to this data coming out.

    I’m obviously biased in favour of podcasting, and the one we did together was great – so I’d always choose this over guest posting if I couldn’t do both (either hosting or guesting).

    I think your cheque got lost in the mail by the way :-0



  4. Wow Tim!!

    This is a massive and an amazing list of things to look out for and for with guest posts.

    TBH I have never written a guest post (i wanted to get my site looking great first, and then pitch).

    This is going to help me soooo much, but i was so surprised how little referral traffic they get.

    I think I will try leverage the other sites DA/CF/TF to create amazing content to rank, then receive referral traffic long term.

    Thanks for the awesome post :)

  5. This post is a monster Tim and I’m sure you are going to get many folks sticking around it ;)

    No doubt it took you 5 months.

    what if you submitted this as a guest article on one popular blog? That will drive crazy traffic to it right? and what do you get in return?

  6. Nathaniel Allison

    Long but detailed and incredibly informative. Thanks Tim

  7. Tim!

    You’ve nailed this one.

    As someone who guest posts A LOT, I can totally relate with this study.

    Guest blogging is rarely effective for traffic generation only.

    But there are multiple other benefits that are MUCH bigger than traffic.

    Thanks for putting in so much effort into this post.

    I can see myself linking to it in my up coming guest posts :)


  8. Guest posting for SEO is meaningless.. Unless you’re an authority (like Ryan Stewart or various others have become) and can GP on the biggest sites in the world, that TF10 SEO Agency website people are writing a GP for, wasn’t worth the 5 hours spent writing a blog post.

    I personally use guest posting in 2 ways:

    – I use it to hijack an audience with permission – I write a very targeted post to a very targeted blog that’ll transition their audience into mine, you can see this in my GPs on Matthew Woodward’s blog or the various interviews I’ve done with people like Zac Johnson.

    – I use it to expand MY site.. I accept guest posts on my sites (not my SEO/IM Blog, but other sites I own) from authorities in the industry, and hijack their audiences, add huge amounts of content to my site and use their writings to gain organic visitors using keyword optimize titles, URLs and other things so I get rank. If you can get 10 people to write 3,000 word guest posts for you blog, dependent on the niche.. It could be worth in excess of $10k.

  9. This was epic!

    I’ve done guest posts and I know that they don’t work the way people describe.

    And you’ve absolutely crushed it with this research.


  10. Awesome stuff, Tim.

    When you reached out to me for my referral numbers I was a little embarrassed to share them because my posts did so poorly. It’s nice to see it wasn’t just me.

    I don’t regret my guest posts even though I hardly got any referral traffic from them. For example, once I got a piece published on Moz it helped my credibility big time. Once you’re on Moz everyone assumes you know what you’re talking about, even if you don’t.

    • Tim Soulo

      “Once you?re on Moz everyone assumes you know what you?re talking about, even if you don?t.”


      That is the story of my life in one sentence :)

      The very first guest article I wrote was a post for Moz. Should I mention I didn’t know shit at that time?

      Well, that article won the best post of 2010 in three nominations out of four.

      Success formula? “Research + Luck”

  11. It?s some very useful information, Tim! You?ve done an excellent job, so in my articles, I?ll include a link to this post.

    Now I notice more often that the point of guest posts isn?t in traffic. It?s one of the long-term strategies. I think that for the majority of people it?s rather the building of relationships, getting the links and the ability to make money. And it?s cool!

    Not that long time ago I became a guest writer myself. I?ve got some similar results: 50 visitors and 10 subscribers. That blogger even got more visitors from my mailout than I did (I?ve got only 500 subscribers though). But! The blog where I published my post wasn?t as cool as in your examples. + I got some new friends! For me, it?s the most important thing.

    The question is always in the uniqueness of your post, in getting feedback from your reader. If you touch them deeply, you should wait for big results to come. But it?s difficult to write epic posts. :)

  12. Excellent post, Tim!

    I totally agree with the view point that guest blogging is about a lot more than generating traffic.

    In addition to getting a guest post to rank well in search engines, getting listed in the “popular posts” section is another way of getting traffic beyond the initial few days. I’ve had, for instance, guest posts listed in the side bar of Unbounce and Copyblogger, and these have performed far above average (of course it depends a little on how often a blog updates this list of popular posts).

    While SlideShare is a great alternative (or perhaps it’s better to say: addition) to guest posting, it doesn’t necessarily work for every niche. It’s a B2B platform.

    Lastly, I’ve personally not seen a dip in referral traffic from being a regular contributor. Like with a lot of these things, everyone needs to keep an eye on their own figures and determine whether a tactic still works or not. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

  13. Tim, this is incredibly helpful and inspiring. Now I have a go-to post to link to when I talk about growing traffic and authority using guest post. Cheers!

  14. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. This post is everything that a valuable piece of content should be – nice work! Hope it gets you your own ROI for the time put in; you deserve it. Will be sharing ASAP.



  15. KILLER :) I don’t often use that word but felt compelled to say it.

  16. Tim, this is AWESOME.

    I think it’s super important for anyone interested in guest posting to measure the return on time (guest posting vs publishing on your own blog). Personally, I see much better returns for publishing on my blog, but to each their own!

    – Gotch

  17. Great post Tim! You really do a fantastic job of breaking down the potential benefits and your conclusions are spot on.

  18. Long and informative article. Clear all doubt about Guest Blogging.

  19. Boom! This is what I want to read on the Internet, the unbiased truth.

    It pretty much sums up my results with guest blogging, hit or miss even when you cross all the ts and dot all the I’s.

    Great post, keep em coming

  20. Geeze, This is a killer article. Lot’s of valuable insight here. Thanks for the share.

  21. Wow this is gold. This blew my mind “So if you want your content to show up on the front page of Google but your own site is too weak ? consider writing a guest article for a big and well-known resource.”

    Thank you for this.

  22. Thanks, that’s a great piece of useful information! I need to say that doing guest posting is mainly used for brand recognition, seo purposes and traffic if you get the link within the body of the article. If the link is within the author bio, than you will get little traffic, but it will help improve your rankings.

  23. Hi Tim,
    Thank you for including my response in your data. I also appreciate you sending your article to me, so I can read how it all turned out.
    I agree with these commenters. Your article is extremely impressive. First, it’s clear you put a tremendous amount of time into it. Congratulations on all these well-deserved compliments.
    Next, you didn’t end on a dismal tone. You explained how people can still benefit and ended on an upbeat note.

  24. Tim, guest posting has its place, for both new bloggers and experienced bloggers alike.

    People guest post for different reasons.

    Perhaps they have a story to tell and it suits someone else’s blog better than their own. (Like my post on The Wonder of Tech, about how I fell victim to a computer scam.)

    Perhaps they want to simply get their content in front of their target audience. (Like I did, when I guest posted on Problogger, trying to get my free e-book in front of some bloggers that I didn’t know.)

    Perhaps they want a funnel to their paid course. (Gina Horkey has guest posted on Wording Well to sell her course to my freelancer readers. And yes, I am an affiliate of hers!)

    Some freelancers, after freelancing for a long time, will REFUSE to guest post for free, as you mentioned.

    Clearly, you can see that there are many reasons (plus a bunch more that I’ve not listed here!!!) for guest posting.

    I think you should’ve added a bit more about these different reasons to this article! LOL

    But hey, you totally nailed the stats angle!

    Sharing this now, Tim.

    Keep on crushing it!

  25. Hey Tim

    It’s rare to see an article of this quality so congratulations, you did a fantastic job mate.

    I had the same sort of results with most of my guest blogging efforts – I was beginning to wonder if it was just me or if the idea of guest blogging being the best way to get referral traffic and subscribers was true.

    Like you say its a combination of a lot of things, but some timing and luck are involved in the guest posts that really take off. I also think over time guest blogging has diminished in the sort of results the average blogger can expect for a number of reasons – over exposure being one of them.


  26. Hi Tim,

    EPIC post! I completely agree with the 5 benefits here, but what do you think would of blogging for new and upcoming blogs that are starting to get traction and that could be one of the next “big blogs”?


  27. Awesome post! Being a smaller and newer blog, I never expected to get too many referrals for my guest posts, but when you average it out, I am getting about the average number of referrals. It’s crazy to think I am doing just as well as some of the bigger blogs!

    Honestly though, I don’t guest post for the referrals. Because of the type of blog I have and what I want to do with my blog, it is all about the exposure and helping others. Either way though, this gives me a lot to think about when it comes to guest posting! Thanks for sharing.

  28. To guest post or not to guest is indeed a million dollar question with both sides having its own merits and demerits and this is something Tim’s post has really delved into.

    I have had my own reservations when it comes to guest post but this post of yours has somehow made me to reconsider my position.

  29. Hi Tim,

    When you first reached out and asked me to contribute my thoughts to this post, I thought you were trying to illustrate that guest posting always has a positive ROI.

    And while the benefits of guest posting are many, I really couldn’t see a direct financial return on the time invested doing it.

    (For the most part… there are always exceptions, such as the Forbes example in your post)

    As a freelancer, I also know that a number of my peers win new clients through guest posting.

    And that’s great, except that I believe I could earn more in a shorter period of time by pitching targeted clients and networking than I could through taking the time to carefully craft an impressive guest post.

    Anyway, great piece of content you’ve put together here. Pleased to have connected with you!



  30. Hey Tim! Being one of the guys participating (behind the scenes) on this post let me tell you that I agree with you 100%. If you’re only looking for referral traffic, you’re pretty much doomed. Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, they are greater ways of traffic. You’ll still be spending a ton on time on your guest posting anyways, so you’d better do it on things that really bring your traffic (if that’s what you’re looking for).

    However, I’ll still be doing a lot of outreach over the next couple of months. Mostly because of the credentials and the “expert” status that being featured gives you, but also because of another, super important thing.


    When I’m looking for guest blogging opportunities, I usually contact people I really admire! In fact, some people I wouldn’t have the chance to go through a series of email with, if it wasn’t for the post we’re crafting together. This is also true for any podcast interview I’ve done.

    I actually search for people and blog owners that I’d love to WORK with, or even have a beer at some point. And guest posting is a great way to kick start a conversation.

    So once you get a tiny bit of referral traffic, a lot of authority, maybe some new leads, definitely new clients, help a ton of people in the process, and make new friends and colleagues in this space, I think it’s still worth it.

    Thanks once again my friend!

  31. Thank you for the epic article, Tim!
    The data reveals many truths. I think guest posting works if we carefully choose where to post our content. Where does our ideal audience hang out? That’s where to post!
    I stopped posting on TinyBuddha, as much as I love writing for them, because my ideal client isn’t there…
    So, it’s a matter of carefully targeting large platforms with significant engagement and that cater to our ideal audience.
    Same happens with podcasting; if we’re guests on a podcast with 100 listeners, we won’t get great results out of our guest appearance.
    Overall, I recommend guest blogging as a strategy to not necessarily bring loads of traffic to our site, but to build the authority we need as experts in our field. Thanks!

  32. I’m glad someone besides myself finally wrote about this topic; maybe they’ll listen to you better than anyone’s ever listened to me.

    I’ve written maybe 9 or 10 guest posts over the years… always asked to do it. They’ve gotten pretty good response on those blogs, and they were popular blogs. Yet it never ended up bringing me any kind of traffic whatsoever.

    I did an experiment once where I gave an interview on someone else’s blog, wrote a guest post, and stepped up my commenting on other blogs. The last was far and away the best strategy for getting more people to visit my space than the other two, which generated nothing whatsoever.

    I don’t decry guest posting; I just want people to know that it probably won’t bring them the benefits they’re expecting. Good stuff!

  33. This post is awesome, Tim, and I’ve found my experience lines up with the results you’ve uncovered. Most guest posts I’ve written deliver a poor amount of referral traffic which in turn means a low ROI. However, the posts I have seen drive decent traffic all include backlinks in the article and not just in the bio, although these usually get edited out, as you mention.

    The biggest benefit I’ve seen from guest posting is QUALITY referral traffic for solopreneurs. Back when I was freelancing, nearly 100% of my leads and clients came from guest posts on KISSmetrics, even though the overall traffic numbers were low. Publishing on sites like KISSmetrics was also a huge credibility boost when speaking with potential clients.

    I’ve also noticed the same thing as Paul Jarvis and Peter Boyle where the biggest traffic bump comes from the first guest post and decreases with subsequent posts.

    With all of this in mind, I’d think twice before conducting a guest posting strategy in the future since the traffic can be dismal and when you compare the return on $200-$500 spent on a guest post versus $200-$500 spent on Facebook ads where you’ll frequently get better results with the ads.

  34. So much content, so little time! No seriously… this was great and I can only imagine the amount of time it took to pull it all together and format it so nicely.

    Awesome content and once again confirming the power of guest blogging — depending on why and how you are using it. Keep up the great work!

  35. Guest posting has never been something that got me excited, never really got into it like many others but have considered doing it for my blog.

    Very interesting results. Seems to me it’s more ideal for 3rd party validation than it is a sustainable, long term, traffic generation model.

    Ugh… love the information you provided, but now I feel it’s necessary to test it out myself, maybe do a test between FB ads vs. guest posting.

  36. Hey Tim,

    Thank you for this study, and for including me! :-)

    In regard to guest posting ROI, there are a few comments I would like to add to the discussion:

    1. Before you decide to write any guest post, you should get clear on what you hope to accomplish from it. As you and several others had mentioned, ROI can mean many different things, not only referral traffic.

    Since you reached out to me last December, I have written more guest posts for various sites, and every single time I have seen a massive ROI. After writing a handful of guest posts, I now have…

    -Several high-profile “As seen in” logos (including Inc, which came about when they republished a guest post I wrote for CreativeLive)

    -Half a dozen podcast interviews, an invitation to speak at a summit alongside influencers who I admire, and the opportunity to interview other influencers for my own podcast

    -Approx. 100 new email subscribers per guest post, on average

    -Features on other authority sites, besides the ones I wrote for (e.g. Neil Patel)

    -Relationships with influencers (a result which is hard to quantify… it’s priceless really)

    -I even landed a job working for Syed Balkhi as Content Marketing Manger for OptinMonster!

    I know I’m far from being the only one who has seen these kinds of results from guest blogging. But even if you only count the “As seen in” logos?which are guaranteed?then guest blogging is totally worth it for someone looking to increase their credibility.

    So in terms of ROI, I disagree with your takeaway that guest posting is “no good”.

    2. I have a question: How did you select the participants for this study?

    I do not doubt the accuracy of the data you gathered from 239 guest posts published on 78 blogs in the marketing niche. However, there are several factors which can make or break your guest posts in regard to referral traffic.

    That is, there is a right way and a wrong way to play the guest blogging game. Unless you held each participant to those standards, we have no way of knowing whether they actually followed the “rules” of the game.

    If I were to do a similar study, I would hold all participants to a set of standards similar to the following:

    -Guest posts should be written for sites that have a highly-engaged audience (they consistently get lots of comments and shares on their posts)

    -These sites should give credit with a prominent byline, which needs to be on the same page as the article itself (you shouldn’t have to click on a link in order to see the full byline)

    -The link in the byline should include a relevant call-to-action (such as, “Click here to download the shopping list for this recipe”) <–This is SO critical, and so many guest bloggers don't do this, but instead include a general link to their website and social media accounts!!

    If your guest posts do not at least meet these 3 standards, then you aren't going to get good referral traffic.

    3. It would be helpful to see similar data across multiple industries, rather than just the marketing niche.

    Those are my thoughts. Thank you again for all your months of hard work on this… this was a serious undertaking!!


  37. Wow, that post must have been a massive amount of work. Congrats on pulling it off! Excellent information too (I participated).

    I have a lot of experience with guest posts, so here are some additional comments from me:

    – The amount of subscribers vastly depends on the niche.

    – Guest posting is a beginners’ strategy that will help you get your first subscribers and fans and build valuable relationships, which are worth more than the subscribers. Once you have 1.000 – 5.000 subscribers and built your relationships, drop this strategy.

    – Post doesn’t just equal post, because your results vastly depend on how good your bio and your landing page are. And like you say, a link in the body of the post or in the introduction above the post will give you a lot more subscribers.

  38. Matt Zajechowski

    Very informative post Tim. I feel like many digital marketers have moved on from guest posting and on to content marketing as it sends way more traffic than guest posting. This data backs up what I suspected to be true for some time. Glad to see this post come together. Cheers!

  39. Neil

    Awesome stuff Tim, keep up the good work!

  40. Epic post, Tim. For the most part, I agree with what you say here, but I feel like I should point out a few quick things.

    While it’s true that the immediate referral traffic from a guest post is terrible for most people, the long term traffic can be superb if you are strategic about it. When you’re writing a guest post, you either want to rank for competitive search term, sending a long-term traffic flow, or you should write follow-ups to the guest post on your own site and then ask for links and shares to those follow-ups.

    Using those strategies, I’ve written posts that have gotten over 100K visitors over a period of several years. That’s pretty good for ROI. :-)

    And that brings us to the other important point: like many strategies, guest blogging is subject to The Power Law. A small number of people get fantastic results from guest blogging, and others get almost nothing.

    Here, you explain that as some posts being outliers, but that’s actually wrong. True outliers are random. If outliers were the case, then someone could write one extremely successful guest post, and the rest of their guest posts would do nothing at all. That’s relatively rare.

    What’s far more common is a small number of writers CONSISTENTLY get extraordinary results, and nobody else is able to replicate them. That’s not because of randomness. That’s because of two things: skill and strategy. If you’re really freaking good, and you follow a really smart strategy, you’ll get great results. On the other hand, if you kind of suck, and your strategy sucks, you will get poor results. And the vast majority of guest bloggers (99.99%) fall into the second camp.

    It’s important to note that you see the same power law for EVERY tactic in EVERY field, not just guest blogging or publishing in general. It’s a bedrock fact of life that the people at the top get the vast majority of the benefits, regardless of their endeavor. Some people look at that and say, “Well, I might as well quit.” Others look at it and say, “Well then, I’m going to do everything it takes to be the person at the top.” To me, that mindset is what separates the winners from the losers, not the tactics people choose.

    • My thoughts exactly, Jon (and more eloquently put). :-)

  41. Pat

    Hi Tim,

    This is a looong one, I noticed that when reading yesterday and I came to the heading “#2 Quality Backlinks.” That’s only a third of the way through. But all of the hard work is greatly appreciated.

    Help me out here;) you want to put your epic articles on your own blog because epic (great idea, lots of free content for readers, lots of links, likelihood of beau-coup comments) will do more for you at your own website. Right?

    And favor number 2, posts that are likely to be outliers (likely to garner high numbers of engaged comments, click through-s, email signups), should be submitted for guest posting at a wide number of blogs and often. Yes?

    I’ll keep my request to two for now, thank you.


  42. Hey Tim,

    Yep, you crushed it with this one now. I appreciate you approaching me about contributing to this post but as I also had mentioned, I just don’t do much guest posting. I understand why most do but I would do it mainly for the relationships I can build through the connections I can make.

    I know a lot of people who guest post and they haven’t had the results they had expected either so you really did a lot of research for this post and I don’t think this can be denied.

    I appreciate the work you put into this Tim, thank you so much for sharing it with us and it’s obvious that everyone else definitely feels the same way.


  43. Great article. And a scary one. :).

    I guess the better option is to syndicate the article after publishing it on your own site. If it is good post top websites would still like to republish.

  44. I think you hit all the hot spots and I’m with you on not seeing the ROI of guest posting in my own biz. I know it works for some but there are very specific factors to consider – such as brand, audience, topic of focus, etc.

    As you shared, it’s all about experimenting to see what works for you but if guest posting doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up – recognize it’s not uncommon & try another path!

    Love that you touched on many different perspectives vs just trying to shove one opinion to the readers. Great post!

  45. Hey Tim,

    I thought I was the only one that didn’t get a lot of traffic back to my blog from guest blogging.

    The best results I’ve gotten was the shares and comments on other blogs. Besides that, The most traffic that I’ve gotten was doing an expert roundup post.

    Now I have a different frame of mind towards guest post. Like Adrienne, I’ll mainly do it for networking and relationship building. Besides that, I don’t expect too much.

    I really appreciate all the hard work you put into this post. It actually gave me a feeling of relief LOL….

    Thanks for sharing Tim! You’ve definitely did your due diligence!

  46. Enjoyed reading this, Tim, and a lot of valuable insights.

    For me, guest posting should just be a regular part of a content repurposing strategy, and that’s how you’ll get the ROI over time.

    Focus on your own blog first and foremost for the long-term ‘traffic bank’ (all ‘big blogs’ today started small). Then see how the same content can be recrafted/reworked for other blogs that serve the type of audience you want to reach.

    (For a few blogs, it may be preferable to do this the other way around. Give them the ‘epic content’ initially, rework it for one or more posts on your own blog later.)

    While not every guest post you do is going to bring a lot of referral traffic or be outstandingly successful, the results they bring mount up over time. By measuring those results, you can improve and refine what you do.

    Plus the 80/20 rule applies here as elsewhere. 20% of your posts will far outperform the others. The 80/20 rule again applies to that 20%, and so on.

    Those who succeed focus on gaining mastery of the strategy through continual improvement, rather than focusing on a few short term results that may not play out.

  47. Dave Hockly

    Tim! I had a big aha! moment during this post. Thank you. Your research is not going to waste :).

    I am about to start a blog to generate new clients for digital marketing services. I’ve been planning away happily, preparing to ‘practice what I preach’. Knowing digital marketing is a competitive space makes me question where I can add value.

    The Aha! moment is understanding that my business model works off finding great clients that will commit to long term digital success. I don’t need to guest post the most advanced digital strategy on a major blog platform, I need to provide value to my potential customers.

    My goal is not to build a huge audience for bragging rights.

    Right now I want great clients. Like gorizen, I’ll get better ROI (great paying clients) out of applying the strategy to a specific niche in a monster guest post, not just creating digital marketing posts shared from influencers.

    Yes, transitioning into an authority like Ryan Stewart can lead to landing clients, but it may not be the fastest way to get there. I’m banking that there are big clients working with agencies with no online rep at all.

    Would others agree? Your opinion is appreciated.

    So a big thank you for getting our brains thinking Tim!

  48. Enjoyed reading this post as it gave me much to think. I agree that guest posting is good when it gets customers and makes branding. I don’t do much guest posting but when I do, I always try to answer all possible questions through content so that it actually helps my targeted customers. And thankfully, I got good results from most of my guest posts. Thanks for writing this post and clearing the concept.

  49. Bozi

    Wow, what an awesome article, lot of people will get disappointed after reading it but hey, better to face the truth now than later. Podcasting would definitely be my favorite vs. guest posting – it is 3-10x faster (depending on hoe detailed are your guest posts), it builds much better connection and authority and finally, quality of leads are way better. Thanks again, you nailed it!

  50. Hey Tim –

    Great job. Glad to have participated in this… I’m going to bubble and stew a bit on your results… but it’s genuinely depressing and at the same time exhilarating (since I did better than average)…

    Long story – short seems to me that guest blogging for traffic is a crap idea… but guest blogging for relationships, social proof, etc., maybe not so bad…

    Thanks for a great piece Tim… I know it took forever to write.

  51. I think you make a lot of good points here, Tim. However, I also think your data is flawed, and if not your data, your conclusion.

    52 visits seems like a laughably low number to me and suggests many of the guest posts you picked to study simply bombed. Now this may be due to lack of skill or lack of a good strategy. It may be the writing, the topic they chose to write about, the bribe, the byline, or the blog they chose to write for.

    I think you come to a false conclusion though when you say it’s a terrible strategy as a whole. People go about it in different ways, and the people who DO see great results simply have the skill and follow the right strategy.

    Guestblogging can be done wrong and it can be done right.

    By your logic, blogging itself is a terrible strategy because most bloggers fail to reach the success they’re hoping for. If you picked 300 blogs at random from the millions of blogs that exist, I doubt the average monthly revenue would make a great case for blogging. (Especially if you excluded company blogs, which are more prone to having experienced marketing teams behind them, and just focused on solo-bloggers.)

    I’d be willing to bet that average number would be just as depressing as the 52 average visits you noted here.

    But would that make you say blogging isn’t worth the trouble? I doubt it.

    It’s not the fault of blogging that someone’s blog isn’t making money. It’s the fault of the blogger. Same thing when it comes to guestblogging.

  52. I’m pretty new to blogging really but here’s my take: most strategies only work for the few because only the few are willing to put the effort in to master them. Same goes for outreaching or any other. If one person is getting a great result from something, so can I. Or you. And I’ve got more than 52 visits from one guest post. In fact more than 520, way more. And I have very little idea what I’m doing yet. Just imagine what’s possible – of you bother to apply yourself:)

  53. Wow… What a monster post! So much information and I just kept nodding my head agreeing on everything I was reading.

    I have to say that I never considered any of the alternatives but will definitely try them out.

    I like the idea of podcasts but I don’t think I’m a great speaker. However writing a good post takes a really long time.

    Will probably come back to this post several times because there’s many things I read and wanted to further research.

    Thanks for typing out all this info. Time to have a look at slideshare ;)

  54. Epic post, and you managed to change my mind.

    I’ve been bouncing between writing guest posts and pitching podcasts to interview me, as I have a very unique message and niche (Use your mojo to unleash your full potential).

    I love talking about what I do and with my exotic israeli accent and rich language I make for quite a good guest on audio.

    I can then also take these podcasts and re-publish them on my own podcast, with the original podcaster’s permission.

    Nearly all podcasters don’t just mention the guest’s website on the podcast, but also have an accompanying blogpost that includes their name and website link, and they might repeat it again on the iTunes/Stitcher description.

    In comparison, guest posting takes tons of time to write and edit, as well as potentially paying an editor.


  55. Hi Tim,

    Very nice of you for sharing it with us.

    Having a guest post is so important for a blogger to drive a good no. of audience to it, so nicely made it understand the meaning of a guest post.

    The whole post is described perfectly and makes us know the importance of guest posts, as we get stuck to ours personal in the seek of audience which can be direct regulated to our post in a big amount.

    Thanks for the post.
    Have a nice day.

    ~ Harshwardhan

  56. Hi Tim,

    No doubt, it’s a great post for bloggers. I often used to think how reputed bloggers produce so much content frequently. So, it was from Ghost Writing. :). Secondly, the ROI part is an eye-opening for most of the blogger who just started and looking for an opportunity to write for some famous blogs.

    Yes, it is not easy to cover up 400 bloggers for a post but you did it. Great work. On the other hand, it is also not easy for a reader to go through the entire post (6000 words), But you have crafted the article in an interesting way that I could not stop myself to get to the end.

    Hats off, Great reasearch and Thanks for sharing.

  57. Second Hand search traffic! i never even thought of that. there are more benefits from that kind of traffic such as a good backlinks and refereed authority.

  58. Hi Tim,
    It was amazing to read your views about pros and cons of guest posting.
    For some bloggers it worked but for some it didn’t work out. For those it didn’t work out for it is obvious to panic.
    Many of the bloggers have enjoyed the taste of success by guest posting of other bloggers. Guest Blogging is surely an effective way to gain recognition in field of blogging. Many websites use guest posting for generating back links.
    It is said that Content is soul of your writing. A good Content can give you a good reach and recognition in this field; it will be a long term investment.
    Guest posting gives you a platform to showcase your writing talents, So it should be used effectively.
    You have explained it very well why guest blogging help you to get more traffic on your blog.

    Thanks for sharing with us.
    With regards,

  59. Guest Post has tremendous opportunity to drive traffic and also to create quality backlinks. Google hate spammy guest post that are created to influence their backlinks. However thanks for writing such a detailed and informative post.

  60. Hi Tim, You have shared such informative post on guest post. Glad to know such interesting knowledge behind guest posts. Happy to read the views and thought of great personality’s in guest posting.

    Ghost Writing sounds like funny but nice to know about it too because I was unknown before about it. I must agree with your opinion on guest posting. Guest post is not a necessary event but highly recommend to come visit new audience. The data behind guest post is amazing and useful for everyone who are thinking about guest post.

    You have introduced very well with great personality here of guest posting and glad to know about them. According to me guest post play vital role to grow the traffic and new email subscription.

    Thanks for sharing such brilliant mind of yours about guest post in front of us.

    – Ravi.

  61. Hey Tim,

    Glad to read your lovely post,

    Guest blogging is incredible strategy to develop traffic to website or we may say it plays crucial role to gain additional traffic to our website.

    Strategy to generate traffic to website is changing day by day due to huge competitor but guest post is effective one and almost blogger follow this strategy.

    Commonly people take help from social media to gain traffic to their website, this option is also valuable. Here I have learned many things as additional advantage of guest post this will very beneficial in way of gaining traffic.

    Thanks for sharing your worthy post.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

  62. Tim,

    First off, let me saw that you’re cool :D

    Second, my thoughts on guest posting have been as followed:

    I target sites with a minimum domain authority of 30. I use the Gmass Chrome extension to send emails to site owners in bulk. For every 100 emails I send, I typically get a 5% response.

    For sites that I want around for a long time, I ONLY use outreach (no paid linking stuff). I only use paid linking on sites that I’m willing to lose (just in case Google updates their algorithms and my traffic disappears).