If you haven’t already, I’d love it if you would read Matt Cutts’s The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO post to understand the context of my post.
“Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way anymore.” – Matt Cutts
It’s hard not to chuckle at least a little bit. These darned marketers ruining the last decent tactic we had around here! Get off my lawn!
Guest blogging devolved because so many people tried to make it scale, but instead of scaling, they ruined the value. Before that infographics were all the rage. Before that it was blog networks and article submission sites. Before that it was directories. You know what? On a small scale and done properly, some of these tactics can be fine if expertly executed. But les Googles has taken it upon themselves to combat the leviathan—marketers attempting to take advantage of their search engine rankings with unsavory tactics.
There is way though because there is a will. Guest blogging is a good tactic when done properly. If you’d like to go forth doing good guest posting, here are easy guidelines to follow:
Don’t only do guest blogging
“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.” – Matt Cutts
Do you see what is missing here? I do! The word “only” isn’t included in the first sentence. You shouldn’t stop guest blogging. Why? Because it’s a great tactic. You need to stop the crappy “guest blogging”—that is, anything that can be more rightly thought of as article marketing—you have been doing for the last few years, however. If your quality has gone down the slippery slope, yes, it is time to take a break from guest posting. But! If you can hold your own with godlike prose on spectacular domains, I think it is okay to continue your path of heavenly content.
One of the most important attributes of guest posting is the same as other link building tactics—you don’t simply rely on one tactic. Why in the name of Larry Page would you do this? Do not put your eggs into a single basket; you will be set up for potential massive failure.
Why not check out these super, rad alternative tactics? Look at the broken links (internal/external), directories, events/sponsorships, internal links, local citations, non-linking mentions, organizations, partnerships, and social profiles! Every single one of these tactics has a caveat so, remember, use in moderation.
There is a plethora of tactics to use that you might not have taken advantage of yet. If you’re having trouble thinking of some, you haven’t seen The Complete List of Link Building Strategies or checked out Brian Dean’s Backlinko blog. If you don’t have the resources, at least create content on your own site and fuel your awesomeness with social and internal links.
When there is too much emphasis on a single link-building tactic, Google will attempt to regulate its potency in the algorithm because people will somehow scale it. There are few tactics left unscathed, but anything that starts scaling on Fiverr will come under fire eventually. While it may be awhile before the reaping begins, you have some time to sow other types of links to avoid any future problems. Please take away that diversity is key, and links are a positive side effect from solid content.
Halt exact match anchor text and author bio footprints!
Don’t be so gaudy with your exact match phrases in that fine content you created. Seriously, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself with your finely tuned anchor text phrases – this will only result in something disastrous. Anchor text has been targeted time and time again by manual penalties and algorithms. Say no to forcing exact match anchor text. You are outdated and will be castigated.
There are three healthy approaches for anchor text: partial (the longest-tail you’ve ever seen) branded phrases, branded, and letting the anchor text fall where it may. When in doubt, you should go with your branded phrase. Anchor text’s purpose is to describe what a reader is going to see when they click, so use your link like a bibliography.
The author bio needs to change every time you post to a new site. If you are guest posting so much that it is a burden to write a new bio, you are guest posting too much. It really should not be a challenge to write your name and some blurbs about your life. The author bio helps establish you as an authority about the post’s topic. If a reader is interested in you, maybe you will end up with some clicks on your blue text.
Nofollow the links if you aren’t sure
2013 was the year of the nofollow. Nofollow is not a catchall solution, but, if you aren’t sure, it’s probably best to utilize it. Whether it passes authority or not (I think it does pass some) is not the highest priority.
Have some standards
Guest posts are great if you are using them to drive traffic, increase brand awareness, and share knowledge. You aren’t going to accomplish those goals when your terribad blog post goes live on what looks like a made for AdSense website.
Use your best judgment when prospecting for opportunities. This has to be on a case-by-case basis, and only you and your friendly search quality reviewer will know whether an external site is a good fit for you. Some generic but acceptable qualifiers that apply to everyone for guest posting are: topically relevant, most of the content is not guest content, and consistent, high-quality content (no grammar mistakes, long form content, content variety).
Win the partnership before asking for gifts
“In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.” – Matt Cutts
Before you send any more “unsolicited spam email,” your focus should be on finding sites that are not soliciting guest posts. Chances are great that the query you used to scrape the SERPs is being used by at least a couple of other people exploiting the same opportunities. But you know what? The best opportunities will be the ones not advertised. Start at the top by finding the types of content that interest influencers and your traffic.
Need some help with that? Try some really targeted off-page SEO campaigns or Buzzsumo? Take a step back from what guest blog posting has become and return to the way it used to be – contributing your top-notch content to high quality sites. The key to take your guest posting to the best form is getting to know influencers well enough so they will vouch for you and post on their site.
Want a second opinion?
If you’d like to read other great opinions on the guest blogging debacle, head over to Jon Cooper’s What To Do After the Guest Blogging Apocalypse post or Jerod Morris’s Matt Cutts Declares Guest Blogging ‘Done’ … Are We All Screwed?. The general consensus is: do more than just guest blogging and focus on quality. You keep those in mind, and you’re as golden as anything Midas ever touched.
Bloody SEO’s always find another way to get Linklove after their best tactics got busted.
I always look forward to the next tactic that will be on the chopping block. Have any of your own predictions? Thanks for reading.
Thanks Travis for mentioning Buzzsumo, it’s something I hope you find useful 🙂
I agree developing relationships with influencers is a much better approach than bluntly asking for a guest post. You need to be useful before you can ask an influencer to help you out. Simple things like sharing their content, commenting on their posts, and understanding their interests will help develop rapport. Although I must admit it can be hard as an agency to do those things, much much easier for an in-house marketer to go with this approach.
My pleasure, Henley. Buzzsumo is a great tool, and you keep adding features so I’d be remiss if I did not mention it.
Being useful to influencers is super tough, but it is why those links will be quality. Processes can definitely be even more tough and time-consuming agency-side because you have to deal with internal and external resources. Maybe, that’s a good focus for link builders – cutting through the fat to make the most of your resources when fulfilling as an agency marketer. Hurm…. Thanks for reading!
In the past, everything Matt Cutts has said turned to gospel of Google. Do you really think that they won’t be able to police this? Or, will we be looking at a grading system for guest blog posts?
It is going to take time before Google can police guest blogging well. There are already “grading systems” in place but not specific to guest blogging. We know that Google is able to grade content quality, and their skill at doing so is only going to get better.
I believe Google will search more actively for bad guest blogging and use manual penalties. Once they’ve accrued enough defining features for a “bad” guest blog post, Google can integrate those markers into their algorithm. In time, yes, it will be gospel. How much time though? No one can be completely certain.
Too right – the good guest blogs are worth their weight in gold, and not just in the context of rankings.
I find the best way is to become a contributor to multiple websites, and write every month. Sometimes, you might want to link – if it’s relevant. Sometimes, you don’t. No mention of guest blogging… no anchor text links like it’s 2005… happy days.
Would you recommend hosting a webinar but having a guest speaker as the host?
For example take this article recapping a guest webinar: http://goo.gl/xhlpLp
Would this relate to guest blogging?
Yes, I would definitely recommend having a guest for a webinar. The tactic is somewhat related to guest blogging because you have a guest contributing content to your site. The primary difference is the format of the content. In this case, the content format is audio and less focused on text. Having a guest contributor is still a solid way to build relationships, content, and links at the same time.
I beg to differ. Solid link tactics or best practices will never change. What does keep changing is the spamming tactics, then once exploited by the masses, Google then decides to include an update to help with the “spam” aspect of the search result tactics.
Thus creating a perceived notion that a certain strategy such as guest blog posting no longer works. What it really all comes down to is having a diversified link building profile and getting authoritative mentions on related websites.
“It’s not hard, just hard work.” – Jordan Rodriguez