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Guest Blogging 101: What You Should Know

typing-01Guest blogging is a content marketing technique that’s become increasingly popular within the past few years. With all of the recent Panda and Penguin updates Google has rolled out, webmasters are looking for safe, search engine-friendly ways to build backlinks. Guest blogging is frequently viewed as one of the safest and most effective ways to create high-value SEO backlinks. However, there are some things you should know before using it as part of your marketing strategy.

The Basics of Guest Blogging

Let’s first go over the basics of guest blogging, as some people may be hearing about it for the first time. In short, it’s a mutual relationship between an author and a blog (owned by someone else), where the author creates and submits a post on a topic related to the blog’s niche.

The blog’s owner benefits from free, hopefully high-quality content, whereas the author benefits from the presence of a short author bio at the bottom of the post which usually includes a backlink to his or her website.

Benefits of Guest Blogging (From an Author’s Perspective)

  • Establishes yourself as an authority figure
  • Generates direct, targeted traffic
  • Increases brand exposure
  • Builds strong professional relationships
  • Allows you to connect with your audience

Google’s Matt Cutts Discusses Guest Blogging

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team, shares some insight on guest blogging. In this video, he answers the question: “How can I guest blog without it appearing as if I paid for links?

This is a question that many webmasters and bloggers have been struggling to answer, as Google explicitly states that buying links can negatively impact a website’s ranking. Publishing guest posts on the wrong blogs, or paying for them, may have a negative effect on your site’s rankings, which is why it’s important to use caution with this strategy.

More From Cutts On Guest Blogging…

Earlier this month, Cutts shed a little more light on the subject on guest blogging on his blog. The post, titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO,” has caused some serious commotion among webmasters and SEO analysts. The title is somewhat a misnomer, as he eventually admits that guest blogging remains an effective marketing strategy when used correctly.

You can click on the link previously mentioned to read the entire post, but he basically reveals the growing trend of spammy guest blogs used strictly for SEO purposes. He even shows an email from a small business looking to pay for a “do-follow” guest post on his blog. It’s manipulative SEO techniques such as this that are currently being targeted by Google.

It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes,” said Cutts.

Tip #1) Target Relevant Blogs

Relevancy plays a direct role in the success of guest blogging. Webmasters and business owners who submit guest posts to generic blogs with no central theme or niche may trigger a spam signal under Google’s radar. Going back to Cutts’ video published above, he specifically states that “relevancy” is a major factor in distinguishing between a paid and non-paid blog post.

So, what defines a blog as being relevant to a guest post? The answer is simple: the blog should possess a centralized theme that follows the content of the post. You obviously wouldn’t want to submit a guest post about pets to a blog about energy-efficiency. Scan through the blog’s content to determine whether or not it’s a good match for your guest post.

Tip #2) Don’t Overdo It

Guest blogging is something that’s best done in moderation. Sending mass emails to thousands of blogs in hopes that just a small percentage will accept your guest post is a poor strategy that could result in your website being hit with penalty. Submit posts to a handful of highly relevant, authoritative blogs, and once they’re accepted move on to the next.

The key thing to remember is that you want to focus on quality, not quantity when guest blogging. Again, this is a change Google made to their ranking algorithm in an attempt to weed out low-quality websites from their search index.

Tip #3) Watch The Anchor Text

A third tip is to watch — or completely avoid — the use of anchor text in guest posts. If you look at some common examples of guest posts created for the sole purpose of gaming the system, you’ll notice that most of them contain an over abundance of keyword-rich anchor text.