Times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan once wrote. The worlds ongoing evolution impacts on all aspects of our lives, increasingly including the virtual one. What used to work perfectly before, over time, will have to transform into something else to keep going. Google knows this more than most. More than ever, your website will need to adapt to meet these ever changing times and, in particular, if you accept guest bloggers, that time is now. If this affects your website, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your brand and use these changes to your advantage.
Guest blogging used to be a perfectly acceptable way of generating links to your site, but it is increasingly being regarded as spam by search giant Google. If you run a popular site, you’ll find it is easy to make some good money by accepting guest-blogging from the inevitable content marketeers, but be warned. While you may make money in the short-term, if your site continues to do this, it will start to be ‘punished’ and you’ll feel it where it hurts, Google’s Page Ranking! See for yourself what Matt Cutts had to say on the decay and fall of Guest Blogging for SEO.
Throughout 2013, Google was warning the online business world that continual use of link-building as a way to promote your site would not help. In fact, with the release of their recent Hummingbird update, ‘backlinks’ could have the exact opposite effect on your SEO strategy that you desire.
Over time, sites that have regularly accepted guest blogs have found themselves on SEO company databases marked as ‘guest friendly’ sites. This leads to even more spam-heavy, specific content creation sites inundating them with requests. These offer the site’s owner, financial rewards as well as exposure. However, the increasingly dubious sources ultimately provide poor content written exclusively for the purpose of link-building. Let’s not forget, they’re doing it for THEIR benefit, not yours! This lack of quality control has scuppered all the good work created by those who have built a following through thoughtful, engaging content. Continuing down this path from now on, will see your site drop down the rankings and drive away many of the readers you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. As the hits dry up, so will the effectiveness of your site to the spammers and the attraction of loyal users. In the end, you may lose both.
There are things you can do to avoid falling into the spam trap. Firstly, don’t use guest blogging as your ONLY way to generate links to your site. It has certainly been the route of choice for many years, but times change (remember what Bob Dylan said) and so must how you gain links. Remember they are not the be all and end all. It’s also worth noting that this doesn’t include those websites who operate a multi-author blog experience.
Don’t underestimate the attraction of well-written, researched, interesting and relevant content on your site. Google isn’t. Think about it for a second. Google is starting to prioritise quality content on websites over link-building, vacuous articles. Is that really a bad thing? Surely, websites that generate frequent, genuinely creative work from talented writers should benefit more than spam-heavy linked sites shouldn’t they?
Of course, it’s easy to talk about ‘high quality’ articles. What makes any article, a high-quality one? Well, no surprisingly it’s the same in the virtual world as it in the ‘real’ world. First of all it needs to be 100% your own work; no plagiarism allowed. Secondly, don’t think punctuation and grammar are optional, they’re not. It needs to be a well-written article, who wants to read content that’s part article, part puzzle. Finally, the article needs to be relevant to the people reading it. You’ll have worked hard to cultivate an audience by doing exactly that. There’s a reason real people keep coming back, why you get as many hits as you do and why the spammers are interested in the first place. Don’t let anyone spoil that with articles not worthy of your site or your readership.
Also, don’t think guest blogs are completely dead as far as improving your page ranking is concerned. It isn’t. Sites just need to be more discerning about where those blogs come from. Try and only use bloggers who have been recommended from reputable sources or those that you know personally. Utilise social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and yes, Google+, to further broaden your online presence to promote your brand. Tell as many people as possible, in as many way as possible, that new content has arrived and let them find out how good it is.
Let me just be clear. We are not saying that guest blogging, or even guest posting, is dead as a writing experience. It’s not. It’s just that the ‘follow’ links that form an intrinsic part of most guest blogs are causing the problem. Remember, if the links are ‘nofollowed’, then they don’t affect PageRank. A high-quality guest post with ‘nofollowed’ links can still be an effective way to get exposure to a new audience and spread your message.
Before you leave thinking ‘all links = bad’, remember those links that are absolutely essential, but too often easily overlooked. They are the ones to other interesting articles that already exist on your site. Point them from one article to another, relevant ones that readers may also be interested in. Help their navigation by linking to those pages within your site. Keep the reader engaged. Don’t be shy in advertising yourself or your brand. These sites were here long before Google and its algorithms arrived and they will offer readers interesting and compelling content for many years to come.
Hope this information helps you tackle the latest Google updates on guest blogging. Remember, quality matters and if your writing has that quality, you can help your site/blog from suffering.