John Waghorn

To Guest Blog Or Not To Guest Blog – That Is The Question

23rd May 2014 Content Marketing Blog, SEO Blog 6 minutes to read

Blog Questions and AnswersGuest blogging – it’s a minefield right? What sites can you write for, where should the link go, should you even ask for a link these days? These are all valid questions that any online business needs answers to. The good news is you’re in the right place.

If this is new to you, let’s quickly recap. Guest Blogging is a practice of online marketing where one online business would write for another website for additional exposure, referral traffic, as well as SEO value (especially in the old days). On the one hand, this could work well – assuming your content is hosted on a quality site – not just for the purpose of SEO. On the other hand it could be disastrous. This is where your business needs to know the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of guest blogging.

Google Clamp Down

Google-Screen-300x200Back in January this year, Matt Cutts – the man heading Google’s webspam team, said the following about guest blogging on his own personal blog:

“If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop… Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy… I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”

Cutts further clarified his stance on Guest Blogging by adding:

“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 optimisation (SEO) purposes.”

The additional comments now change the angle slightly from don’t use guest blogging anymore, to do it with a degree of caution, not solely for SEO, and within certain parameters.

The Evolution Of Guest Blogging

Gone are the days of guest blogging here, there and everywhere just to generate links back to your site.

As time has gone on and more guest blogs have been sourced, along with a rise of low-quality sites looking to achieve financial gain, Google – the enforcers – have once again tightened their guidelines. In doing so, they have restricted the power of this marketing activity – however, in some respect this is by no means a bad thing.

Sites like My Blog Guest, which were designed to help people secure posts through a database of contacts and establish relationships have also felt the brunt of Google’s force. Since they punished what they refer to as a ‘guest blog network’ the site no longer appears on page one for branded terms and was last seen on a page of double figures. Another ‘guest blog network’, PostJoint, also received the same treatment a few weeks later. Now, it should be noted that whilst on the surface of things the two sites did not physically flout Google’s guidelines, it was more the purpose of the sites – and what they meant in the grand scheme of Search Engine Optimisation.

Should You Use Guest Blogging?

Marketing concept torn newspaper headlines reading marketing, stWith Google taking a heavy stance on the issue, at this point in reading the post you’re probably asking yourself if there is any point in utilising guest blogging as part of your online marketing strategy. Well in short, the answer is yes.

Guest Blogging should no longer be perceived as a tactic to obtain a link for SEO value. It should be a relationship that has been established between your business and another’s, where your content is adding value to their readership. Therefore engagement and social influence are really important – real people need to be reading and sharing your content – not robots.

Think quality. Not in terms of PageRank, but in terms of the content that’s being produced, the branding and the audience. Driving good quality referral traffic as well as adding value to an audience should be at the heart of any guest blogging effort.

In this sense you need to invest time and effort establishing relationships with the right people – not sites – or at least speak to agency who can facilitate that ;-).

The Benefits

If you find a site that meets all of the above criteria then guest blogging still offers a number of benefits. This may well change in the future if Google decides to clamp down further, but for now we can only work with what we know.

The benefits that still apply to guest blogging today include:

  • Additional branding and PR
  • Exposure to new and existing audiences
  • Driving referral traffic to your site
  • Gaining credibility in your industry or niche
  • Building and strengthening your community
  • Authorship in the SERPs (encouraging a higher Click through Rate to your content)

As a result of these factors, guest blogging still holds value today, as long as it’s done properly on a decent site and posts are spread out over time.

Ultimately, if an established site in your industry wants to feature a piece written by you that links back to your site or features a citation/no followed link, then you aren’t going to turn this down. As Cutts states himself, the benefits shouldn’t solely be for SEO purposes – and in this case they won’t be.

To Follow Or Not To Follow?

For a long time now, the issue of whether to follow or no follow links from guest blogging sites has been another area of contention and debate.

If you are a regular contributor to a site, then instead of linking back via an author bio every time you create content, the site may allow you to have an individual author page.

Linking policies may also come down to the individual site that you are working with. For example, some may state that you can only receive a citation or no followed link, whilst others will be happy to accept one or two followed links within a bio or the body of the text. Remember that you will still benefit from securing a placement with a site that uses any of the above, regardless of their preferred method and site policy on following or no following links.

If you don’t want the link to be followed, because you feel as though the site isn’t good enough, then you shouldn’t be looking to guest blog for them in the first place. However, a nofollowed link isn’t always because a site is poor – even if it’s an excellent site and they wish to nofollow external links, it’s still good; remember, you’re not looking for SEO value anymore.

Do You Have The Resources?

Employee Strategy DiagramGuest blogging takes time. You need to establish and build relationships with editors, publishers, site owners and understand which blogs are appropriate for your audience and which are best to stay clear of.

On top of this you need to know how to create compelling content that is going to connect with your audience and adhere to the site’s guidelines and policies.

As a business, you may feel that guest blogging is an area you want to pursue, but firstly ask yourself if you honestly have the resources, time, connections and experience to do a good job.

If the answer is no, then you’ll be better off working with an agency that can make a difference to your marketing campaigns and push your site, business and brand in the right direction. For more information check out our Content Marketing service or Contact Us today.

For now at least, guest blogging is still a worthy marketing strategy, and for the reasons explored above it’s not one that you should disregard just yet.

Image credits

Thumbnail blog image from Bigstock

Google image from Bigstock

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