Guest Posting is Dead. Long Live Guest Posting!

Guest-Posting-is-Dead-Long-Live-Guest-Posting

Many businesses and online marketing practitioners have taken to using guest blogging as one of their strategies for getting links and subsequently growing their business. Recently, however, there have been talks of guest posting being dead and the talks became even more intense following Matt Cutts’ bold statements on his blog.

Before we give our own answer as to whether guest posting is indeed dead or not, let us first look at what Cutts actually had to say about it. Here goes …

  • Guest blogging has become very spammy, so people should stop using it as a link-building strategy.
  • Like many other SEO strategies, guest posting started out as an authentic and effective practice. As more and more people joined in, however, many began using it for the wrong reasons.
  • You should only accept a guest post if you can personally vouch for the author.
  • Google’s web spam team can be expected to “take a pretty dim view” of guest posting from here on.
  • There are still several good reasons for business owners to do guest blogging (branding, increased visibility, engagement, etc.).
  • People should be more skeptical or at least more cautious when someone offers to guest post on their blog or let them guest post on the other party’s blog.

There you have it. That’s the gist of what Matt Cutts said on his blog. What he is saying, therefore, is that guest blogging is pretty much dead as a link-building strategy, but it is far from dead in and of itself.

Why Guest Posting Still Lives

As it was pointed out, there are still other good reasons for you to do guest blogging. In fact, many of these reasons are the original reasons why some online marketing practitioners came up with this strategy in the first place. And these are also the reasons why we believe guest posting will live on.

From its inception, SEO in general has become spammier over the years, but it’s still here.

Many people interpret Cutts as saying guest posting is dead because it has become spammy. Well, keyword targeting has also become spammy. Link-building is also one SEO strategy that has become spammy. Many SEO tactics have become spammy over time, but people are still using them to some extent these days.

People are still targeting keywords, although they’ve veered away from the old practice of stuffing their content with keywords even when they no longer make sense. People are still building links, although they’re now more careful as regards the quality of the links. Just because spammers have invaded the world of guest blogging, doesn’t mean you have to stop doing it. The key is in learning how to leverage guest posting moving forward, just as we learned how to target keywords and build links without getting penalized by Google.

Technically, guest blog posts are the same as all other types of web content.

Do you honestly believe Google, or any other search engine for that matter, would go to the trouble of trying to identify which pieces of content are guest blog posts and which are not? True, they may classify documents automatically based on certain phrases specific to guest blogging, but with guest posting is really about  quality. If you published great content on a good website, are you going to be penalized for that? I don’t think so, otherwise this would be totally unfair. Also, there are no legal provisions requiring websites and blogs to disclose whether a particular article published on their site is a guest post or not. Besides, no one has even come up with a concrete and detailed definition as to what a guest post is.

Does the term “guest post” refer to anything posted on a particular site that wasn’t written by the site owner or any of his “official” writers? Much of the content on popular sites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post are submitted by freelancers. Are these considered guest posts as well? Even if Google somehow finds a way to differentiate guest posts from other types of content, they still won’t know whether the author published it for link-building purposes, for branding, or for any other reason.

You can benefit from guest posting even without the links.

Matt Cutts himself has said there are many good reasons to guest post, and it is these reasons that keep guest blogging alive as a content marketing strategy. Consider Cutts’ statements again. He is advising marketers to stop guest posting if they’re doing it solely for the purpose of building links and if they’re going about it such that practically half of the post is comprised of links.

If you guest post primarily to reach a wider or a different set of audience, and if you don’t include any links in your post or at least limit to one link per post, then you should still be safe from any penalties Google may be planning. Most sites allow you to write a short author’s bio to go with your post, so you can still promote your business by making sure your guest post contains truly relevant and useful information and then telling readers who you are and what business you’re in so they’ll know where to get more of that kind of information.

How to Do Guest Posting Moving Forward

Okay, so you can still do guest posting, but you’ll have to do it right. Exactly what does “doing it right” mean? Here are a few tips:

Know Your Purpose

It is when people don’t have a clear purpose for their guest posting activities that they start reaching out to practically every blog owner they come across, asking to have their articles accepted. If you’re a blog owner, not having a clear purpose could have you ending up with guest posts from just anyone who asks to have their work published on your blog. This is how you get into trouble.

Why do you want to get into guest posting? Is it to establish your credibility? Is it to increase awareness of your brand? Is it to connect and engage with your target market? When you have a clear purpose for guest posting, you’ll be better equipped to create excellent posts that actually resonate with the community of the blog on which you’re posting.

Think “Series”

When someone offers you a slot for a guest post on a very good blog try to pitch a series of posts, rather than a single post. This will help you establish a reputation of being an “expert contributor” as opposed to simply being a guest author. In the same way, when you invite other people to guest post on your blog, try to get them to post a series instead of a single guest post. This should raise your blog’s credibility as an excellent source of useful industry-related information.

Take Note of Google Profiles

If someone invites you to guest post on their blog, check to see if the blog owner has a Google profile. If someone asks for permission to guest post on your blog, check to see if he or she has a Google profile. As much as possible, work only with people who have Google profiles. Anyone who has one can add a “contributor to” link to that profile. This helps you get recognized by Google in a good way. If a would-be contributor or a blog owner inviting you to guest post doesn’t have a Google profile, it may be a good idea for you to suggest they set one up. You could even help them with the process.

Develop Relationships

Make a list of the best contributors to your blog; those who post the most relevant, most entertaining, and most up-to-date content. Make another list, this time of the best blogs you’ve guest posted on; those who are most consistent in publishing only high-quality posts. Take the necessary steps to develop and maintain a solid, long-term relationship with these people.

Let’s say one of the contributors on your “best” list once wrote a series of posts on social media marketing (SMM) and now you feel the need to post an article or two about merging SMM and SEO. You could ask the same contributor to provide you with the necessary posts. If you once guest posted on a blog where you got overwhelming positive feedback from readers, you could ask for a regular guest post slot (once or twice each month, for example) on that blog.

Forget About Links

Matt Cutts emphasized that it is guest posting for the sole purpose of building links that has got to stop. When you guest post, therefore, stop thinking about whether you should link to your site or not. Focus on getting the other benefits, such as building authority and getting your brand message across to a wider audience. This should help you maintain a consistently high quality for your blog posts, whether you’re posting to your own blog or someone else’s.

The bottom line: Guest posting for link-building may indeed be devalued, but guest posting per-se is not. In fact, just like other SEO tactics and strategies, it’s probably here to stay.

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About 

Traian is Director of Search Marketing at Pitstop Media Inc. He has more than 11 years experience in helping small and medium businesses generate and convert organic traffic from search engines. Connect with Traian on Google+. He is also the author of the Ecommerce SEO book.