In 2014, software engineer Matt Cutts declared that guest blogging was nothing more than a distant memory. In his blog article, The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO, Cutts says “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 any more.”
Is Cutts right? Are the days of guest blogging over? As a then major spokesperson for Google, these questions beg answers.
What is Guest Blogging?
Simply put, guest blogging (also known as contributing) is when a writer focuses on a specific niche and their area of expertise on a topic is featured in a content piece for a blog that is not their own. Lots of blogs offer guest spots subject to the editorial team’s approval for publication.
A Reason to Say No to Guest Blogging
Guest blogging began when blogging and content marketing developed a relationship. Throw a little search engine optimization into the mix and writers were flooding to the Internet for guest blogging spots. The main purpose was for the writer to gain some notoriety while drawing attention to the site they were writing for. And it didn’t hurt any feelings that the writer’s byline usually connected to a brief bio in which links to the writer’s online presence were present.
As time progressed, guest blogging shifted from a respected marketing strategy to a hot mess. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie, so much so, that inboxes of some bloggers and websites became spam-tastrophes.
However, the mounds of inquiries weren’t the only problem. The poor quality of the submitted and published content became an issue. Misinformation and poor resources began to detract potential visitors to the site. Therefore, this did nothing for a site’s content strategy. And as Google hammered down more and more on quality over quantity, this hot mess turned ripe.
Guest Blogging Should Make a Comeback
Imagine you’re a gourmet chef. You’ve cooked for some mom and pop diners; however, you want to cook for the five-star restaurants. You make inquiries, and you finally get restaurant job offer. Your skills are a perfect match, you put the restaurant on the map, and you draw in new customers. In the meantime, people are learning your name from culinary magazines, flocking to eat your three-course perfection. This is what guest blogging is supposed to look like.
Is it worth saving? The answer is yes.
Matt Cutts alludes to the fact that the poorly written articles and spam-festered inquiries are bad. Essentially, he (and Google) wants you to stop guest blogging the wrong way.
So the question is; how do you make the most of guest blogging for a positive impact?
Here are some things to consider:
#1: Do Your Research
If you are a blog owner and receive an inquiry about guest blogging for your site, be sure you can validate the inquirer’s credibility. Start by asking for:
- Links to other sites they have blogged for
- Writing samples to review the quality of their writing
Next, run their name through a search engine to see if they are a real person. Before you let anyone hold contributor status on your blog, you have to confirm it’s not a waste of your time.
Contributors very rarely (if ever) receive pay for guest blogging. They instead receive some free promotion, introduction to a new audience, and the opportunity to build SEO. It is imperative to ensure they are legit and quality oriented, otherwise they could damage the reputation and ranking of your blog, not to mention become a large waste of valuable time.
If you are the writer looking to guest blog, do research on the company or website you are approaching. Start by:
- Checking Domain Authority: A website with a low DA (less than 40) doesn’t necessarily mean bad juju; it may simply mean they are new enough to Moz and Google that their numbers are low pending more activity, shares, etc.
- Research Readership: The ultimate goal of guest blogging is to gain exposure. For business professionals, you’re looking to gain visibility to potential consumers. Make sure the site you’re considering gets a good amount of traffic before you commit. And ensure that traffic is comprised of your target audience.
- Research Quality: Is the blog filled will quality copy? The last thing you want is to slap a byline in the middle of a minefield of poor to mediocre quality content. It could seriously taint your reputation and pigeonhole you with the “unwanteds” of the Internet.
#2: Be Demure in Your Approach
As a guest blogger writing your own copy or enlisting the services of professional copywriters, it is your responsibility to convey your main goal. Approaching a blog with no clue of what you want to gain is never a good look.
Be smart, suave, and smooth when it comes to your pitch. You need a plan. Remember, it’s not just about how you can put your name out there, but also, what you can bring to the table.
Many blogs ask for submission of the piece(s) you would like to publish instead of an “I want to write this for you” pitch. If it is at all possible to include a cover letter with your submission, do so. However, keep in mind that the person (or persons) receiving and reviewing your submission are busy. Do not be long-winded, and do not submit subpar work as it will result in either no response or a staunch, perhaps eternal, “No!”
Also, understand that guest blogging is a contribution. If you approach a blog with the I want to be paid for my time attitude, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Some blogs pay for guest posts, some don’t. Do your research and understand what you’re getting into before inserting foot into mouth.
#3: Content, Content, Content
The quality of writing that you present is important. It reflects who you (and your business) are professionally. It indicates your level of professionalism. It also represents the website you guest blog for, and they will not publish shabby copy. With this in mind, focus on producing your best work by:Dusting off your grammar book, reading it, and applying it.
- Dusting off your grammar book, reading it, and applying it.
- Remember, even if you made the first move, you are a mere guest. Your job is to help make the person who invited you to look credible. Don’t come to the party just to be the guy or gal who had once too many cocktails and caused an embarrassing scene.
- Stick to what you know. Don’t try to write about how to be a good parent when you have no kids. Instead, write something that is relevant to your wheelhouse and also important to the blog’s audience.
- Don’t be boring. Use your unique voice, but know when and where to rein it in to match the website you’re working with.
#4: Understand SEO
If you don’t know the SEO side of guest blogging, learn before you approach. It can be beneficial to your content marketing and SEO strategies.
Search engines are depending on a new, quality-driven SEO model. Websites are in competition for that top spot on the SERPs, and the content you contribute matters more than ever. You must produce content that is bigger, better, and more relevant
Links are important to guest blogging. They build the publisher’s SEO, and they also build yours when used in good taste. If you’re allowed to incorporate a link within the copy that leads back to your website, you can improve everything from your backlink profile to search engine ranking.
#5: Domain Authority is Necessary
According to The Content Marketing Institute, domain authority is important. Whether you are searching for resources to insert into your article or playing around with the keywords on your page, domain authority offers authenticity and relevancy.
What does that mean for you as a guest blogger? Investing in domain authority pays off, especially if you want your piece to be noticed. You don’t want to seem credible; you want to be credible.
On each guest blog, you should have a little blurb about yourself at the bottom. Attracting new foot traffic to your own site will increase your own domain authority, increasing the chances of other sites wanting you as a guest blogger.
If Content is King, Social Media is Queen
Some could argue that websites themselves are starting to become ancient. With the new wave of social media, utilizing it will certainly drive up your credibility. Be sure to include your social media status when you approach a site about guest blogging. It is important for them to see that you have your own mainstream presence.
Guest Blogging Can Make a Comeback
Guest blogging has abundant advantages. For the contributor, you gain tons of knowledge and experience. You also strengthen your portfolio and build a reputation. For the blog owner, you get to introduce your audience to fresh content and attract new traffic by doing little more than reading, approving, and publishing.
The key to refiguring guest blogging is weeding out the people who make it awful for everyone. Matt Cutts is correct when he said guest blogging is dead. However, he never said it cannot be resuscitated and made better than before.
Additional Contributor: Anita Lovett
Featured Image Credit: Mohn Haniff via 123RF