Back in July, there was much commotion in the SEO world over a few words from Google’s John Mueller discussing how guest post links should be no-followed if intended for link building. As a result, the industry went into pandemonium, questioning if guest posting was “dead” or still a safe tactic to use.
This was foolish for multiple reasons:
- Quality guest posting is a fantastic means of building up an audience (and yes, some links too) that has the approval of Google webspam team’s Matt Cutts.
- The complexity of trying to determine whether or not a single piece of content is “quality” (beyond seeing if it is plagiarized or spun in the context of other pieces) creates a serious challenge for Google
- Many guest posts are written with no SEO intentions by people who don’t even know what link building or SEO is.
That said, the words from Mueller should serve as a warning to people: don’t go to an extreme with your guest posting. But what does that actually mean? Here’s some advice you can take with you as you consider guest posting a part of your strategy:
1. Change Your Mentality
Start by being honest with yourself: are you producing mass amounts of content with the sole intention of earning links? If links weren’t a factor at all, would you still be pushing “publish”?
Guest posting is NOT about building links. Yes, you can be intentional about earning links from the places you post, but your sole motivation for guest posting shouldn’t be the link in the byline.
Guest posting is an amazing opportunity to build an audience and expose yourself to a new market. You can use what you write to establish your credibility and demonstrate your talent.
So if the only reason you (or those you’ve outsourced) are writing is to earn a link along the way, shift your focus.
2. Never, Ever Spin Content
The posts you write should be written with the intention of people actually reading them. No matter how sophisticated you think your spinner is, there are telltale clues for search engines to pick up on.
Yes, you could get away with human spinning – but why would you try? If the goal of your guest posting is to build an audience or establish credibility, spun posts on generic blogs aren’t going to accomplish that for you.
3. Don’t Create Obvious Patterns
If you’re trying to guest post “at scale”, you’re leaving an enormous footprint for Google to pick up on. The anchor text you use, the wording of your byline and the frequency with which you publish are all potential indicators of spam.
If you’re going to guest post, be selective – publish your best, original work and kiss bulk, over-optimized anchor text goodbye.
4. Be Picky About Who You Publish To
Sketchy guest posting usually means having a third party write or spin your content and then distribute it across a number of blogs across the web that have no editorial process and no real visitors. The blogs may have no relevance to any particular topic and come loaded with the low-quality guest posts of other people on every topic under the sun.
Real guest posting doesn’t revolve around earning a single link in a byline; it’s about earning an audience from a credible source. Choose to publish your work on well-respected, actually-frequented blogs where human editors pick and choose what gets to stay.
Evaluate the other content on the blogs, too. Is it readable? Are the posts full of manipulative links? If so, your quality post could still look guilty by association, so it’s best to avoid.
- Websites with a high domain authority….
- With targeted, high quality content written by real people, that…
- Actually gets read, commented on and shared
5. Use Google+ Authorship
Authorship allows you to claim ownership over your pieces across the web and attribute your quality work back to your own personal profile. If you want to avoid getting thrown in the junk bin, behave like an actual author. Google can follow the breadcrumbs back to the source and use your account to help sniff out whether or not you’re a manipulative spammer or author extraordinaire.
Don’t Believe the Hysteria
Guest posting isn’t going anywhere – but spamming is dying a slow, painful death. If you want to stay clear of Google’s ire, avoid looking or sounding like a spammer. Publish unique material in places people go for information and insight, mind your anchor text and connect it all to an established profile.
As long as you don’t treat the guest posting channel like a megaphone for your crappy content, you have nothing to worry about.