At the beginning of 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts made headlines by stating that guest blogging was dead. This caused a lot of stir in the online community. People naturally got defensive and protested this as unfair. After all, hasn’t almost everyone used guest blogging to help with SEO at some point or another?
In late March, Cutts followed through on his statement and shut down a popular guest blogging website called MyBlogGuest. This proved he was serious about his campaign against guest blogging for SEO. At the same time, though, it’s worth noting that many businesses have continued to guest blog and have benefitted from it.
Many report that their guest blogging yields more traffic and higher page rankings. This is because they write high quality, informative posts that are of interest to readers. These posts enhance the reader experience, so they’re in line with Google’s goal of making the internet better for the end user.
Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Guest Posts
Maybe the statement “guest blogging is dead” was a little too harsh. Cutts could just have easily said “spam blogging is dead,” but that may not have gotten everyone’s attention quite so well. What Google is really undercutting is the use of generic, shoddy blog posts with no value to readers that only exist to provide back links. These kinds of posts have become more and more popular in recent years, so much so that Google now considers them a black hat SEO practice.
It is perfectly acceptable to guest blog if your posts provide real value to readers. That is, they don’t just provide spam links disguised with poorly written copy. Any links you include should be organic and not seem like overt marketing ploys.
An endorsement is fine, as long as it makes sense given your post. If you regularly guest blog on topics you’re knowledgeable about, you could gain exposure and build your brand. Just keep in mind that you should only work with legitimate blogs and bloggers, ones that aren’t just in the business for back links. You don’t want to be penalized for any questionable practices, even if it’s inadvertent.
Find the Right Places to Blog
As mentioned above, you don’t want to be associated with any spammers. That means if you want to guest blog, you need to find legitimate places to publish your posts, and this involves a little research on your part. Sites like MyBlogGuest used to allow you to search for sites accepting blog posts, but given Google’s crackdown on spam blogs, you now have to dig a little deeper for opportunities.
It’s a good idea to start by identifying important blogs in your industry. This will make it more likely that they’ll accept your content. For example, if you’re interested in environmental issues, you might consider writing for a blog covering oil scams. Next, find out which blogs accept guest posts, and reach out to the blog owner when you’re ready to pitch the story. You can also follow some important guest bloggers in your industry and find out where they’re publishing their posts.
Pitching your idea first is better than writing an entire post and then hoping someone will accept it; this way you won’t waste your time if they’re not interested. Also, certain blogs may have specific length and other requirements. You can write the post with these requirements in mind if you get in touch with the blog owner first. Although it may seem like common sense, be sure you’re as professional as possible in your initial contact.
Use the blog owner’s real name — it’s usually listed in the contact section. “Sir or madam” can sound distant and makes it look you were too lazy to find out the owner’s name. When writing, let the blog owner know who you are and explain why you’re qualified to write the post. Also, make sure your message is grammatically sound and makes sense. Finish with an e-mail signature including your contact information and position title (if appropriate).
If You’re the Blog Owner
Blog owners have to be just as careful about guest blogging as writers do. After flagging MyBlogGuest, Matt Cutts revealed he would also be coming after the publishers of spam guest blogs. That means you’re responsible and will take the hit if someone posts sub-par content on your blog.
Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent penalties by reviewing guest posts before they’re published. You may also want to turn potential bloggers down if anything about them raises a red flag. For example, it’s not a good sign if there are numerous grammar or sentence structure errors in the initial contact message they send.
With Google’s latest restrictions, guest blogging is more regulated than ever before. However, you can use guest blogging to your advantage if your content is high-quality, interesting and doesn’t use spam links.