A few weeks ago, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, declared guest blogging as “done” saying, “stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”
Cutts was responding to a flurry of spammy practices being conducted lately by brands as large as Expedia. What began as a great way to put relevant information in front of relevant audiences became just another way to get a link. As Cutts said:
“Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking ‘guest post outsourcing’ and writing articles about ‘how to automate guest blogging.’”
But guest blogging – true, authentic, guest blogging – remains a fundamental way to drive traffic and build awareness, so long as you’re doing it right.
1. It’s Time Consuming. Guest blogging, or any effective content marketing effort, is not easy. It takes significant time and strategy.
2. It Requires Relationship Building. In the example Cutts offers on his blog, he was contacted by someone he had never met or heard of, who didn’t seem to offer anything of relevance to his audience (or know, even, who his audience was). When you’re doing guest blogging “right,” you should be contacting publishers who know you and your brand (even if it’s only through social media), and whose audience is relevant to your brand and vice versa.
3. Your Content is Engaging and Useful. Your content should be highly relevant and useful to the audience you’re trying to reach. And any links within your guest post should also be necessary and useful. (You would never, as Expedia did, link to “United Airlines” – people know where, and how, to find a United Airlines fight – they don’t need your help.)
4. You’re Reaching Your Audience. The goal of guest blogging is to increase awareness of your brand, and your expertise, among your target audience. If you’re doing it simply to garner an inbound link, you’re doing it wrong.
Guest blogging is still a powerful weapon in your content marketing arsenal – especially for smaller brands who want to engage with niche audiences. But if you’re doing it with the intention of gaming the search engines, you’re doing it wrong. For more information on creating a guest blogging strategy that will work for the long term, check out this white paper about building content marketing partnerships.