Guest Blogging has its demons
Link building and guest blogging is being attacked from every angle in 2014, and expect to hear it declared dead by many SEO’s and Google experts. My Blog Guest (MBG) has been the biggest ‘blog network’ hit with a recent penalty due to its so called infringement of Googles policies and low quality blogs in its network. The site itself originally appeared to serve a good purpose but the quality of the blogs went severely downhill and it became no different to an old skool link exchange resource. At one point it was suggested it had 73,000+ users swapping posts across its forums and resources. Many of the users of the network have already received penalty warnings from Google and these will continue to roll out in the coming weeks. As mentioned in searchenginewatch.com “MyBlogGuest had a very open policy on linking, and in fact stated that links couldn’t be nofollowed, there are going to be many sites that writers happened to include in their blog posts that had absolutely nothing to do with MyBlogGuest. Those unwitting sites could face unnatural link warnings/penalties as well.”
Many have said the MGB have been used as an example to add a bit of fear into other bloggers and similar networks but I ask the question “is all guest blogging really dead and buried?”
Here is what Matt Cutts wrote on his blog in January 2014 regarding guest blogging, which couldn’t have been more black and white if… Well, if it was written in black and white:
“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.
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…”
This is a clear statement of intent for the year: Tackle the guest blogging situation head on.
There are probably not a huge number of people who sympathise with Matt Cutts, but there are times when he must feel like he is banging his head against a brick wall or shouting at the rain. His hand is being forced to deal with people who are ignoring every video, blog post, warning and Panda update that he and his team put out there into the websphere.
However just because something is declared dead, it doesn’t make it buried. Guest blogging can make a return to prominence again, and as long as you focus on quality and aren’t simply hunting for links, there is no reason why you should lose it from your marketing plan just because of all the drama and uncertainty floating around the subject. Guest blogging is about adding value to the readers and not just for gaining a backlink for SEO purposes. If your blog posts are on the right sites in your industry or those that you are targeting then a section of your audience may/should already be there. At the end of the day why would you waste content on a site that isn’t going to find your audience? This is a form of marketing after all so don’t lose sight of who your audience is and what your objectives are.
Despite the terms ‘guest blogging’ and ‘guest posting’ taking a hit and being viewed as a spammy practice, there are ways to pull the blogging consensus back to their favour, and that is by using the following in your strategy:
- Focus on quality over quantity – including occasional 2,000 words+ of content with stats, unique insights, interviews and never-before-seen images, footage and ideas within the content. Ok this isnt always possible with every post but why not take that little extra time to mix it up a bit amongst those smaller snippets you usually do. You can’t find fault with something that is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of quality.
- Instead of trying to get 5 links, focus on getting one link from the best possible source, with a piece of content they will be banging your door down to get their hands on.
- Storytelling over box-ticking – People are far more likely to engage and share a story if there is shared experience within it. There are so many articles that tell you how to do something yet all they are doing is regurgitating ideas or copying something else that is already out there. Telling a unique story is what has made journalism work for hundreds of years. Why not implement a bit of reporting into your blogging strategy?
- Creative content – Video, animation, multimedia, infographics – They might take a little extra time and money to create, but people will want to see it and that will ultimately increase your chances of your content making a viral impression on the web.
The theme here is time. Take time to make your content special: occasionally longer (but focused, don’t waffle), unique (tell a story that hasn’t been heard before but audiences will understand – and share) and creative (think about what people like to see on the web: Images, videos, infographics – Think visually). If you are regurgitating current news make sure you at least have your own spin and opinion on it, you wont earn any plaudits without any attempts to do something original or your blog will become just another bit of web fodder. That little bit of extra time and attention will soon be getting the quality links and social media shares that you were before, but without having to worry about Matt Cutts and his Webspam team chasing you down and penalising you. In time, you could even become an example of how to use guest blogging legitimately and effectively, which in turn will bring you even more exposure.