Guest Posting Is Not Dead If You Do It The Right WayGuest blogging is dead.
Matt Cutts doesn’t mince any words: “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”
I understand where he’s coming from but I disagree.
The reality is that guest blogging as a way of linkbuilding has been a risky practice for quite some time and it’s all because of execution.
We’ve all gotten those guest post emails from complete strangers. They always love our stuff, they are long time readers, and they want to contribute unique content to the site. Oh and they want backlinks. Or they skip all the puffery and just offer to pay money.
This happens because building links is still important and this is just the latest way to get them. (is it really any worse than searching the web for broken links and suggesting your site as a replacement? I’m not sure)
Unfortunately, building a lot of links for targeted keywords, especially valuable ones, looks manipulative. Big companies can more easily get away with it because they might add a thousand links a month and a dozen are for a targeted keyword. As a blogger, most of us can only add a dozen in a month and even three targeted keywords will look suspicious.
So is guest blogging dead? Hardly. It’s all about execution.
Why Are Guest Posts Dangerous Now?
Back before Panda, Penguin, and a variety of unnamed algorithm updates, I had great success writing guest posts with targeted links back to Bargaineering for high dollar keywords. I even used blog carnivals to build links, even though my feeling was that it was relatively low value (it was easy, didn’t hurt then, so why not?).
It was incredibly effective, I was able to retain strong positions in the search results for years. A few years ago, you could see marketers were “discovering” how useful this strategy was. (if you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably noticed a considerable uptick in the volume of “guest post request” type emails)
Guest posting, in its purest form, is beautiful. I have something valuable to say, I want to say it to this brand new audience, and the publisher can publish great stuff with minimal editing work. From there, marketers discovered you could produce less than stellar stuff, wrap it in a $20 (or more) bill, and many bloggers would publish it.
Sadly, the well has been poisoned.
Today, that strategy is risky at best, especially for a blogger who doesn’t get many links to begin with and uses guest posts to link back to their site with targeted keywords.
How You Should Be Guest Posting
This should be well known but bears repeating – make sure you write awesome posts.
Everything is predicated on you demonstrating that you are an expert and worth listening to.
The crappy guest posts, the ones that are often paid posts look like they’re paid posts. They look like someone spent no time on it, or bought it from a bulk writer, and we all know what they look like.
Don’t be like that. Write really good stuff. Each post you write is an advertisement for you.
Your goal in guest posting should be traffic, not keyword rich backlinks.
Specifically, it should be traffic that translates into email subscribers. Not Facebook likes, Pinterest pins, Tweets, or anything on a third party platform that can change the rules on you. You want email subscribers so you can reach them again once they give you permission.
Stop linking to yourself in the body of the post with keywords you’re hoping to rank for. Not only is it dangerous, that’s exactly what Google considers manipulation. It’s only a matter of time before some algorithm change takes over what manual reviewers do right now.
Link back to your site with a call to action. I learned this watching my friend James Clear. In his bylines and bios, he would link back to a newsletter signup landing page with a very clear call to action.
Here’s the byline I use on US News:
Jim Wang is an entrepreneur, who founded microblogger.com. For actionable advice on how to build your own business, join his free newsletter.
My post in US News & World Report about how you should buy that latte links back to a newsletter signup page in the byline. It would later be syndicated by Daily Finance and Yahoo! Finance – each would send me a slug of email subscribers.
These are people who want to get emails from me. They want actionable advice on how to build their own business and so they clicked through. Then they signed up.
Next, make sure you have authorship set up so you’re continuing to build your credibility.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can create a specific landing page for each “appearance” tailored to the audience. I may not do this for a guest post but when I did a Google+ Hangout with the co-founders of Digital CoLab, I told watchers to go to this page to get a PDF that covered the tools we mentioned in the Hangout. (if it’s Monday Jan 27th when you read this, the Hangout is tonight and you can join it here at 9 PM Eastern)
This strategy is similar to offering a signup incentive, except it’s tailored. You’ll want to try this with any large audiences to improve your conversion rates. It has a lower return on time for most guest posts though.
How will Matt Cutts’ message change the way you approach guest blogging?
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