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So, How Do You Do Guest Blogging Properly?
Last week we looked at the furore that erupted when Matt Cutts declared that guest blogging was akin to spam and that guest bloggers were destined for Google Hell. Actually, he didn’t say that bloggers would go to hell but it was strongly implied. As often happens when someone high up in the industry criticises a favoured SEO tactic (especially someone as high up as Matt Cuts), emotions got the better of every Tom, Dick and Harry and the internet was awash with related blog posts. Some were very emotional indeed, while others (like ours) tried to take a calmer and more holistic view.
Now that some time has passed and the dust has settled, people are realising that Cutts didn’t herald the end of guest blogging, and that instead of focusing on the consequences of bad guest blogging, what they should do is untwist their knickers and focus on the benefits of good guest blogging.
And what is “good” guest blogging?
Good guest blogging has a purpose – other than building links, that is. According to Jen Lopez, Director of Community at Moz, the purpose of your guest blogs should be aligned to your (or your clients’) business and marketing goals. These options typically include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Establishing authority
- Engaging and connecting with your audience
- Increasing website traffic
- Increasing conversions
You can achieve all of these by being entertaining, informative, interactive and, above all, by producing good quality content.
Good guest blogs are also written for readers and not for search engines, or even for clients who think that they know what search engines want.
What this means is that you need to spend a lot of time researching and writing each post, as opposed to knocking out five posts before lunchtime because you have a quota to fill. Find blog sites that are relevant to your client and then come up with a topic that will wow the readers. It doesn’t have to be mind-blowingly out of the box, but it does have to add value to their lives.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of good guest blogging is that it’s … good. Guest posts need to be well written. There is no room for careless spelling mistakes (although no writer is infallible) and while only the truly pedantic will argue about every comma placement, you don’t want your punctuation resulting in ambiguity or confusion. There are plenty of examples of punctuation gone wrong, like this great headline on the cover of a magazine, “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog”.
As it stands, Ms. Ray is not up for mom-of-the-year, but she could be on the FBI’s most wanted.
Your ultimate goal is for readers to finish reading the post and feel that it was two or three minutes well spent (finish being the operative word – it’s all about attention, baby). Ideally, they should be so grateful that you enriched their lives that they are moved to write a comment or, really ideally, share your piece on their social networks.
But wait, there’s more
Yes, there’s more to good guest blogging than a good purpose, a good topic and amazing writing. Lopez cites Everett Sizemore, a Moz Associate and director of R&D, Special Projects and Moonshine at seOverflow, who provides nine tips on how to improve your guest blogging. They’re all important, but the top three are probably:
1) Establish and nurture a genuine relationship with blog publishers. This means that you need to go further than the standard “Hi, how are you? I saw your site and would like to propose a guest post that I think would be perfect for your readers” email. It takes some effort but the mutual returns could be well worth it.
2) Don’t call yourself a guest author and don’t let the publisher call you one either. Sizemore says that you should insist on your own contributor or author account. Now, many quality publishing platforms like their ‘expert contributors’ to have their own account (especially if the relationship is going to be long-term) but not all publishers have this facility. It shouldn’t be make or break, but what you do want is rel author markup, which means you need an authentic Google profile.
3) Don’t discount sites just because they nofollow links. They might be doing it to protect your credibility, as well as theirs. Remember, it’s not all about links. Think about your purposes – think of the bigger picture. With this in mind, don’t include links for the sake of it and give up exact match anchor text.
Guest blogging is not rocket science, nor is it brain surgery. You aren’t going to win a Nobel Prize and lives aren’t at stake (livelihoods maybe, but not actual lives). If good guest blogging can be summed up in three words they would be:
Get them right and you’ll avoid Google Hell while putting readers in seventh heaven.
Image credit: Ed Yourdon, CC BY-SA 2.0, via flickr