This entry is a guest post by Jayson Bagio, the owner of SEOTeky. You can follow him on Twitter: @seoteky. The opinions expressed on this post doesn’t necessarily reflect my views as an online marketer.
Have you been using guest blogging to build your online presence? If you are into guest blogging, then this post is for you.
Guest blogging is a helpful way to be in front of other people’s audience. Or should I say, the other bloggers’ audience. It can help you reach your target readers, and it’s also a very powerful platform to share and demonstrate your expertise.
And on top of that, you can also drive referrals from the content that you have shared. Though it can also become a bigger advantage (in SEO and branding perspectives) if you can get a link or two from those blogs where you’ve contributed a content.
But of course, there are thousands of people who see guest blogging as a method to build links. Therefore, abuse and manipulation are becoming an issue again for Google. If you are guest blogging for links, then you should stop it because Google is starting to hunt guest bloggers like you.
If you are not aware, Google recently updated their webmaster guidelines about link schemes. They warned large scale guest blogging with keyword-rich anchor texts and undisclosed sponsored posts with do-follow links that pass PageRank.
See the webmaster guidelines for link scheme definitions.
We’ll never know how Google would assess if a guest blog is low quality or manipulative. All we can do is to raise the quality standard of our works in order to dodge the bullet of the soon-to-be guest blogging penalty. So let me share with you five ways to avoid this upcoming penalty:
Defining the Signals or Metrics of a Quality Website.
Choosing where to guest blog is by far the most important method to make the most out of your content distribution efforts. Raising your standards makes it easier to identify quality websites that will really matter for your off-site marketing campaign.
Traffic and Social Stats is the biggest signal that you need to look at. Checking these stats will allow you to determine the true state of the website you’re targeting to contribute a guest post to.
Many SEO’s are doing guest blogging for links and they don’t even consider digging in on traffic and social data. All that is important is that they get a do-follow link and have their anchor texts on the post.
Well if you want exposure and referrals, these metrics are important for you to succeed. The higher the numbers are, the better.
Pagerank is still a good a metric to use in determining the quality of a website. It is a metric or point system given by Google to websites that measures the site’s importance in its index.
You just have to know if a pagerank is valid or fake using tools available on the Internet. There are webmasters out there who forge Pagerank to attract guest bloggers to get free content.
Quality Score from many of the best and leading tools online is an important scoring basis as well. Some of the most known and reliable site metrics in the industry:
- MOZ.com’s Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA)
- Ahrefs rank
- AC rank from Majestic SEO
These tools can help you decide which ones are quality and not.
Ad Positioning and Usability are also important factors. If the blog is an ad-laden site, pitch your content somewhere else.
Heavy positioning of ads on the page’s above the fold can result in a low quality score from Big G based on the page layout algorithm that Google released early January of 2012. Excessive ads disrupt user experience:
And you don’t want to guest blog on these types of sites.
Link Neighborhood also plays an important part on quality checking. A website that links to bad neighborhood sites like viagra, porn, and casino can hurt you more than help you.
With all these, you can easily measure the quality of the website where you are pitching for guest blog opportunities (hard earned content).
You might wonder, “Why would I trouble myself to check these things out? My client or my site only needs a link, that’s all.” Now’s the time to change your mindset. Guest blogging for links might be your bread and butter, but raising your standards will be beneficial to your site in the long run. Not only through the authoritative links that you acquire, but also with the traffic referral and brand exposure that you get.
Guest blogging is more of a networking tool. And in networking, connecting with the right people is as vital as networking itself.
Getting your site/brand connected with other entities that have strong potentials of progressing in social web and search, can directly influence your site’s ranking ability as well.
Google already laid out the mechanics in this game of guest blogging; all you have to do is follow.
Implementing Authorship for Guest Bloggers
AuthorRank is somehow foreseen as the future of link metrics (and ranking signals). And implementing authorship markup on all of your works (even on guest blogs) is one way to let Google distinguish individual publishers who’re expert on certain topic areas.
On implementing authorhship markups:
List the URL of the website(s) where you contribute guest blog posts to on your Google + account.
Go to your G+ home page, then click About. In the Links Section, click Edit at the bottom. Go to Contribute To. Click Add Custom Link. Type in the name of the website in the Label text box, then insert the URL of the website you are contributing to.
Click Save when you’re done. Then on your bio or author byline from your guest article, link to your Google+ account’s URL and add the rel=author tag.
Draw The Line on Massive Guest Blogging Campaigns.
Google publicly warned webmasters on massive guest blogging campaigns through their webmaster guideline. Here is a massive guest blog service inquiry from someone that I received.
Imagine 200 guest blogs per month, isn’t that a torture to the SEO company or for your website to have? 200 guest blogs per month – that is massive and really easy to track.
If Google is dead serious about their warning, then these people should be scared right now.
Anyways, I opt not to accept his offer, I do not have the man power to deliver it anyways.
Right now, I don’t see 10 to 20 guest blogs as a massive campaign. As long as you know how to diversify your link profile and have the purpose to genuinely help people solve their problems (and build brand awareness along the process).
If you are doing guest blogging, then don’t forget that you can combine it with other online marketing platforms (relationship/community building, social signals, branding, lead generation, etc…) to make it look more appealing not just to Google – but to you target audience as well.
Nothing Beats Quality and Relevant Content.
This may sound cliché, but content is really the king. We all know how a well-written, relevant article can impact how the audience percieve your brand’s value — it’s a great way to attract more visitors and gain more subscribers.
As you continue to spark the interest of the crowd, you can expect to see more positive results along the way.
Simple ways to generate content:
Feedly is a very good replacement for Google reader. Track your favorite blogs and get content ideas through this feed curator.
Google Suggest lets you see what topics people search for.
Understand Your Horizontal Niche. Think out of the box and find topics that can help you expand your reach. See the image below, fashion can be vertically related to fashion tips, list and trends. But fashion can also be interrelated to parents, money making, apps and so on. This is called horizontal guest blogging.
However, there are still guest bloggers who would rehash content to pitch to different websites. We all know how Google despises spun, scraped content. In the Webmaster’s Guideline, you’ll see those types of content that violate Google’s policy.
If you’re having a hard time to come up with your own article, it would be better to start first with an outline, or have it written by someone who knows more about the niche you are targeting. Pack your content with as much useful information as possible.
Forget Links, Focus On Your Brand.
Link is all that matters – this has been our mindset since day 1 when we started to learn about SEO and link building. Even when I started doing guest blogging for some of my clients, all I wanted is to get dofollow links.
We can all change. Build your brand and become an authority on your niche as they say. I won’t go far on this topic. Just like Jason Acidre, right now this good looking guy gets interview invitations from different authority blogs. And many other opportunities because people consider him as an expert in the industry. When he writes, people read, when he talks, people listen, when he shares, people click – that is influence at it’s best.
Jason doesn’t have to think of guest blogging anymore, because he continuously provide solid contents on Kaiserthesage.com, consistently built his rapport in the link building space and established his credibility as one of the best.
Now many SEO’s from local and international scene are begging for a chance to have him interviewed. Some conferences in the international scene are also inviting him. While other SEO experts meet with him whenever they get a chance to be in Manila.
Build your brand, that is the only way you can cut guest blogging in your efforts. “When we brand things, our brains perceive them as more special and valuable than they actually are” – My favorite quote from Martin Lindstrom, on his book Buyology.
Here are some of the best brand building content that you need to see if you want to further understand branding:
- Build Brand Advocates through Social Media Marketing by Neil Patel
- Brand Building Strategies for Link Building by Jason Acidre
- Developing Your Authority to Become An Influencer – The Cult of Influence by Mark Acsay
- Why Brands Should Have Stronger Opinions by Lindstrom
When you build your brand, you become an influence and you win relationships. At the end of the day, when all the link building efforts get boxed-in by Google, all that is left are the relationships that we were able to build.
Google wants the Internet to be a place where REAL people engage in conversations of their chosen interest — that’s why they’re humanizing how algorithms work. Be as realistic as possible; start oozing out those creative juices! Guest blog with a purpose.
Few notes from Kaiserthesage:
If you’ve been already active with guest blogging for the past couple of years, you might want to review your already existing links (particularly their anchor texts) and deoptimize them. Use branded links instead.
If you’ve penetrated strong industry blogs in the past (robust social, traffic and domain authority), you might want to be in touch with them again, and pitch to become a regular contributor instead. Multiple links from a strong link source translates to relationships/association – which is a powerful trust indicator for people and search engines.
Don’t just leave your guest posts once they are published. Participate in the discussions, connect with their audience, and help share the content. These things help build more positive signals to the content. Always remember that “authenticity” is key to succeed in online marketing.
Start implementing authorship markups on your guest posts.