Guest blogging has traditionally been one of the most effective ways to get targeted traffic to a website as well as improve your search engine rankings. Over the last few years, however, Google has changed many of the rules regarding SEO and many techniques that were once effective are now risky. Consequently, guest blogging needs to be done carefully and tactfully in order for it to remain effective. Guest blogging done wrong is more than just a waste of your valuable time and energy, but can actively hurt your blog. Here are the three biggest signs to telling if your guest blogging is helping or hurting your image.
Fortunately, you can still get many benefits from guest blogging if you approach it in the right manner. The following six tips will help you get the most out of this strategy while staying in the good graces of Google and the other search engines.
If you want to get the best results from your guest posts, you should seek out sites that are relevant to your niche or industry. If, for example, you have a website on the topic of credit repair it would seem strange for one of your articles to appear on a gardening site. That’s an extreme example, but the principle is clear enough. Not only will you get more traffic from relevant sites, but the search engines will view these links as more natural and valuable.
The only exception to this rule would be if you have the chance to write a guest post for an authority site that covers many different topics. An example of this would be a magazine or news site that publishes and curates all types of content. These are always good sites to be published on.
This is one of the most basic principles of the post-Panda and Penguin world, and it’s relevant to guest blogging as well as other types of SEO strategies. Sites that are too willing to accept guest posts, especially for a fee, are ones that you should stay away from.
Make sure you research a site before inquiring about writing guest posts. Check out things like their page rank, traffic, topic and the overall look of their site. If you see a bunch of articles that look like they were created from an automated article spinner, you are better off not having your article there. This would be an example of guest posting doing your site more harm than good.
In general, you should look for sites that are high quality, and relevant to your own site for guest posting. Even if it’s harder to get published on these sites, you are better off focusing your efforts in this direction. Quality is definitely more important than quantity when it comes to SEO today.
This may seem like a strange concept if you are accustomed to thinking in traditional SEO terms, where more links are always better. Today, however, Google is very wary of too many links pointing to the same site. The search engines know that this is a deliberate SEO strategy rather than natural linking.
One of your goals as a guest blogger is to get your name circulated and for people to start recognizing you as an authority in your field. This doesn’t require millions of links. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t link back to your site, but you should do this with discretion. For example, if you have an arrangement with a particular site to write a guest post every week, you could include a link once every two or three times.
A related issue is that you should be sure to diversify your link building efforts. This means that having the vast majority of your links coming from any one source is not good for SEO purposes. This includes guest blogging, which is why you should not rely on this method alone for your links. You should seek to build as many different types of links as possible. Aside from guest blogging, you could use sources such as videos, social media sites, web directories, forums, press releases and document sharing sites. This type of diversity has a natural appearance, and is more impressive to the search engines than a single type of link.
When you do find blogs that are willing to publish your guest posts, make sure you adhere to the contemporary rules of SEO. For example, consider how you use keywords. You will want to include some keywords that relate to your topic, but do not engage in keyword stuffing. In other words, use keyword expressions as naturally as possible.
On a related note, never include anchor text that isn’t relevant to the topic of the article. You should include, at most, one link to your own site using relevant anchor text. You can also include links to authority sites that help to provide more value to readers.
To really be safe when it comes to anchor text, you should switch from using exact match keywords to long string anchor text. The fact is, Google is starting to regard any type of anchor text using keyword expressions as suspicious. You can include your keywords in the anchor text, but it’s best to make it part of a longer sentence or expression. For example, rather than having your anchor text “dog training tips,” it could be “for more information see this website containing many dog training tips.”
Google Authorship is one of the newest aspects of SEO that people are starting to focus upon. This involves setting up your Google+ profile, complete with photo, and claiming authorship to all of your content. This can be done with your guest posts, but it should be done with care.
The purpose of Google Authorship is to build credibility as an author and to make it easy for people to find all of your content. One advantage of this is that you are likely to get your articles posted with your picture, which makes the listing stand apart. You do need to be cautious about Google Authorship, however. This has to do with the above point about diversifying your links. If most of the links pointing to your site are from content written by you, this does not indicate diversity at all. For this reason, you don’t want to overdo it when it comes to linking to your own sites.
When using Google Authorship, it’s also especially important to make sure that the content you’re linking to is high quality and doesn’t break any basic SEO rules such as keyword stuffing, irrelevant anchor text and the like. Remember that while Google Authorship is useful and convenient in many ways, it also makes it easy for Google to penalize you if you are violating any of its rules!
If you have kept up with recent SEO developments, you know that Google has devalued links from article directories. One of the hallmarks of article marketing has always been the author resource box. This is the section at the end of the article that contains the author’s name and usually a blurb that includes a link back to his or her site.
Most guest blogging uses the same formula, with a website URL or anchor text following the author’s name at the end of the article. This is the type of guest posting that Google is starting to crack down on, because it’s obviously an SEO tactic. There’s no rule saying that you have to place your anchor text at the end of the article. Placing it in the middle gives it more value, as it’s more clearly part of the article rather than something you tagged on to get traffic and links.
Keeping an eye on the comments is the most basic way to gauge your audience response. Negative comments are normal, so just seeing one or two negative comments isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully you’re speaking to a diverse audience, and some of them are bound not to agree with you. However, if the comments are largely negative, you may want to take note. If you receive primarily negative feedback, it may be a sign that you’re posting on the wrong blog. Posting on the wrong blog means that the audience of that blog is filled primarily with people who are not your target audience and are unlikely to look kindly on your views.
This means that, not only will they be unlikely to visit your blog to read more of your material, but they may also speak negatively of your writing in other areas, spreading negative word of mouth. This negative word of mouth may turn off potential readers who would otherwise be more open to your ideas. For example, say you’re guest posting on a tech blog, and you have a low opinion of Apple. If the readership of that blog is primarily in favor of Apple (even if the blog takes no official stance itself), your posts are not likely to be taken well.
Readers may mention you in other tech based spaces, where there may be a mix of people who like Apple, and people who dislike Apple. Even those who would agree with your message may be turned off by the negative comments about you, reducing your potential audience. It may also turn readers off from the blog entirely, meaning the owner of the blog is not likely to recommend you to others, and may ask you to stop posting.
Specific things to look out for in negative comments include specific recognition of your name, or handle. This means that the readers have noticed that your content specifically differs from the content they enjoy. While they do know who you are, it’s not in a good way. This name recognition means that they will be ill disposed towards you in future posts as well. Just by seeing that you wrote the piece, their negative feelings towards your writing may carry over, even if you’re writing a post they normally wouldn’t mind. Another bad sign is if you comment on the blog yourself, and people respond negatively to your comments, based on your previous writings.
Another simple way to check if your guest blogging may be hurting you, check how many blogs you write guests posts for. Are they all relevant to your topic? Your first instinct as a blogger may be to write for as many sites as you can, to get your message out to as many people as you can, and to get as many search engine hits as you can. However, the old saying about quality over quantity is apt. The blogs you write for should be good matches to your content. They should be relevant enough to your topic that you’re still talking primarily to your target audience, but different enough that you’ll stand out, and show how your personal blog offers unique content. The more sites you’re writing for, the higher the chances are that you’re missing these criteria on many or all of them. If readers feel like you’re spamming sites for hits, it will reflect negatively on you, and cause problems for your blog.
Even if you are writing for the write blogs, writing for too many may stretch your abilities too far. Your writing as a guest poster may not exactly match your writing for your own blog. Your writing should be catered to fit the content of the blog you’re writing for. This means guest posting isn’t just a matter of writing a post, but researching the site you’re writing for, and trying to find material that fits. Again, it’s a search for a perfect balance between enough like the site it will be well received, and different enough that you’ll stand out. It may not be possible to put in that much work for too many sites at the same time while retaining quality, and your voice.
When using a guest blogging network, a random blogger on the Internet will be paid to write about your services or product. These types of entries on the blog are sometimes skipped-over by the blog owner’s readers because they state that the entry is sponsored. This basically means that anyone reading the blog is going to know that the blog owner was paid to write about your services. It is a lot like seeing a commercial that states that the people who are raving about a product were paid to talk about it.
Also, guest blogging networks don’t always screen their writers as well as they should. Someone might pick up the entry that you need written and the post is filled with a lot of filler text or spelling errors that it actually makes you look bad as a company owner. Using a guest blogging network basically makes you rely on the service to find a good blogger and this is not always the case for people who use these types of sites. The person writing about your product or company might not know a lot about your business and they could even get facts wrong when writing the guest blog entry.
Another major issue that people have found with guest blogging networks is that they look like spam and can negatively affect a new or growing company — when you have a lot of random bloggers talking about your product and these bloggers are being paid to do so, it easily comes across as a spam post and many people will avoid reading these because they hold no true value. This is just another thing to keep in mind if you are considering using a guest blogging network for yourself and your own company.
Guest blogging is best done regularly, and for a small number of highly relevant blogs. Check how many posts you’ve written for the blogs that are the best fit for your content. If it’s only a few, the chances are the readers haven’t gotten much of a chance to know who you are. Depending on how clear the site makes it that your post is a guest post, readers might not even realize you exist. The optimal way to guest post is to allow the readers of a blog to learn who you are, and want to read more of your writing. If you become a regular fixture on a blog, readers can gradually learn more about who you are, what your views are, and what sort of content you like. The better your readers know this, the more likely interested readers are to visit your blog. It also means it’s more likely that they’ll recommend your blog to interested friends, even if they’re not personally interested. Ultimately, not letting your readers know who you are is one of the worst things you can do, even worse than getting primarily negative feedback.
Again, imagine that you’re writing for a blog and get negative feedback. Those readers may spread negative word of mouth. But if that word of mouth is accurate to the content you offer, some parties may be interested. If someone criticized a film for containing too much action, a fan of action films may be intrigued, for example. It’s not optimal, but it may still draw in a few people. But if the readers have no idea who you are, and you don’t write often, they won’t be able to say what about your content is unique, or worth reading. It’s more likely that they’ll forget about you. All of your hard earned work will go to waste.
Worst of all, if you get a negative response, but you don’t give your readers time to know who you are, any word of mouth on you won’t reflect what you have to offer, meaning you’ll be pushing away potentially interested readers, without much hope of attracting anyone at all.