There has been a lot of talk in the SEO industry lately crucifying and vilifying the noble tactic of Guest Posting. Matt Cutts, the Godfather of linking and posterboy for SEO, released a blog post on The Decay and Fall of Guest Posting earlier this year that set the industry into a state of panic, with many sensationalising and declaring that Guest Posting is ‘dead’.
I believe that as usual, the SEO industry has thrown the baby out with the bathwater and has fundamentally missed the whole point of why Google and Matt Cutts have put Guest posting under the spotlight. Instead it is the way in which SEO vendors are using deceptive Guest Posting as a way to trick Google that has come under the spotlight, rather than the real organic Guest Posting that increases brand awareness, drives referral traffic and also as an added bonus – boosts up your SEO profile like no other.
I am here to show you why Guest Posting is still sexy and demonstrate how it is still not only a great SEO tactic if done correctly, but also a great tactic for boosting up your brand’s exposure, generating social signals, shares and driving referral traffic to your business. Heck, I’m doing this by means of a Guest Post right now!
I will demonstrate this by explaining:
- What are links and why do people want them?
- What is Guest Posting?
- How have people manipulated Guest Posting
What are links and why do people want them?
Before jumping into what links are, I must explain what Google looks at when ranking a site holistically. When Google looks at who ranks and who tanks for a particular keyword they look at two main factors:
How relevant is your site to the search term. E.g. ‘Sell red shoes’. I have a website in which I want to sell red shoes, so I need to have content on red shoes to make my website ‘relevant’ for this search term. Boosting your site’s relevancy is done through content and Technical SEO (title tags, URLs and other geeky stuff we are not here to discuss today).
Google wants to know that they are showing the website which holds the highest authority and popularity for a search term. This is predominantly determined by your links.
- A link is another website referring back to you (like I did above to Matt Cutts post, this is a backlink to my site). In the past, it was a matter of quantity over quality.
- If you think about links logically they are a good metric of measuring how popular your site is. If I am popular, I will be talked about in lots of places right?
- Google is also factoring social signals such as Google +1s , Facebook likes and shares too.
People like receiving lots of links to their site to show Google they are an authority, get better rankings and generate more visitors, sales and enquiries.
What is Guest Posting?
Guest Posting is a method used by bloggers to increase traffic to their website by producing great content and getting other website owners, relevant to them to share this content on their website blog. This method has many benefits:
- Increasing your exposure to relevant readers
- Boosting up your authority as a publisher on Google
- Getting exposure and traffic back to your website
- Building real organic links back to your website
How have people manipulated Guest Posting?
At its core, Guest Posting is a mechanism for doing online PR, however people have however used this process as means simply for acquiring links. Rather than focusing on the real benefits of Guest Posting and looking for quality opportunities, people are instead looking at quantity to get rankings. Its not about all of the discussed benefits, its more about ‘let’s acquire as many Guest Posts irrespective of quality to get more rankings.’
Google has methodically cracked down on most forms of link spam, to stop people from manipulating the search results by spamming links to their site. Google wants to see that any links you earn are natural and have been earned, in this case by offering great, fresh and relevant content.
Guest Posting was always viewed as ‘white hat’ and safe, because it was content driven and added value. Many SEOs claim to have started changing their focus to Guest Posting and white hat, when really a lot of what is going on, and what google is penalising is what I call ‘counterfeit Guest Posting’ or manipulative Guest Posting.
Examples of this are:
- Guest Posts on websites that no one reads that are heavily optimised with exact match links. i.e. they are simply there for the purpose of acquiring a link.
- Guest posts that are on websites that have no general theme, and have lots of guest posts for all different types of businesses talking about random topics. i.e. they are simply there for the purpose of acquiring a link.
- Guest Posts that are on websites that are owned/controlled by the SEO vendor and have all of their clients on this network. i.e. They are simply there for the purpose of acquiring a link.
I think you are starting to see the general theme here, if you are guest posting simply for the purposes of getting links you are definitely doing it incorrectly!
Good Guest Posting is all about:
- Producing high quality and shareable content
- Identifying high authority and relevant publications that would find this useful (would you rather have your business featured in the Ulladulla Times, or the Sydney Morning Herald?)
- Having a structured plan for getting this content to the right people (seeding) and encouraging them to share it. This then benefits your efforts towards building a more targeted audience (and traffic) to your website.
- Once this content has been accepted by a relevant high authority site, then sharing and leveraging off this exposure that you are getting through social media and branding.
Guest Posting not only leads to great SEO, but great exposure, growth and branding. How better can you establish to Google that you are an authority and influence in your industry, than being featured on quality publications to talk about your field of expertise? Google is not on a war to stop this, rather Google is simply trying to knock out the ‘counterfeit’ mass production versions of this. Versions SEO agencies are trying to replicate through deceptive means.
To answer your question of ‘should I continue to guest blog?’; if you are Guest Blogging simply for links, with no emphasis on quality or relevance, then as Matt Cutts says “stick a fork in it”. But if you are Guest Posting properly, on good quality sites, with relevant visitors and not spamming links back to your own site for SEO, then I leave you with a plain and simple message delivered by way of the following poster: