When Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, went on a tear about the decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO, all everyone heard was, “Guest blogging is dead.” But that’s not what he was saying at all.
Matt Cutts actually gave an example of what Google was looking to KO in the guest blogging world, and it wasn’t the kind of guest blogging that we’re going to tell you how to do today. It was an example of a cheap link building tactic that was disguised as guest blogging.
So how did this link builder go wrong, aside from sending a spammy request to the head of Google’s Webspam Team?
For starters, if the person had actually known who they were sending this to, they wouldn’t have sent it. This automatically shows that it is a templated request sent by someone who doesn’t actually read the site at all – they just found the contact form and blasted away.
Next, they offered to make a “suitable contribution” – i.e., they offered to pay for placement of the content and the link. Buying links is a huge no-no in the big book of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Last, but not least, they note that all they want in return for their generous service is a dofollow link or two in the body of the article. Dofollow, in SEO terms, means that the link will pass magic Google juice from the site the article is placed upon to the site that is linked to. So while the request seems like it is offering great content, it is really saying, “Here’s what I will give you in order to put some links on your website.”
Even if you get past everything else, the request itself is poorly written. You can’t send a poorly written request to a well-written blog. It pretty much says that they don’t actually take the assurance of “well written” too seriously.
I hope that now you can see what Google is saying no to. It’s not to guest blogging as a whole, but to bad link building requests that are passed off as guest blogging.
How has this hurt the world of guest blogging?
Aside from striking fear into the hearts of guest bloggers everywhere, there has been significant damage done to the guest blogging world. For starters, lots of quality blogs have closed their doors to unsolicited guest blogging requests.
So even if you are not afraid of Google retribution, you might find it harder to get a spot on a great blog in your industry than guest bloggers have in the past. But don’t worry – it’s not impossible. It just takes a little bit of effort to go a long way.
Ways to benefit from guest blogging the right way.
To keep yourself out of the unsolicited guest post submission pile and to prevent your website from getting the Google slap, you’ll need to follow these steps.
Find blogs that you can contribute to based on their authority. You’ll know an authoritative blog because it will have quality content, lots of engagement (comments and social shares), and usually a strong social following. You can start your search using sites like Alltop that lists top blogs by topic.
Get to know the blog you want to contribute to. If there’s only one author on the blog and they have closed submissions, you probably won’t get anywhere. If there are multiple authors, then you have a shot. Subscribe to their posts using an RSS reader like Feedly or via e-mail and read their posts for at least a week or two. For bigger sites, start this process a month or even sooner before you send in your request.
Follow the blog on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Get bonus points for also following the blog owner and editors of the blog on these social networks when possible. To find them, just look at the blog’s about page or team page, such as Mashable’s then engage with these people regularly.
After you have a pretty good feel for the content and the people behind the blog itself, reach out to them to see if they would be interested in adding a new contributor to their ranks. Tell them that you are truly a fan of their posts (with specific examples such as “I especially loved the Facebook cover templates you shared last week.”) and that you would love to contribute content that is equally impressive. At that point, suggest a few titles you had been thinking about writing for them and also add in a few impressive links from content you have created.
Do not at any point say that you want a link back to your website. If you’ve gotten to know the blog, you’ll probably already know if they offer author’s a byline with a link back to their website – most do. Therefore, you already know you’re going to get a link.
Write a piece of content for the blog that matches the rest the content you have read so far in length, quality, and topics. Do not promote yourself or your business within the main content itself – that’s what the author bio is for. And when you do put a link to your website in the author bio, think about making it something that people want to click instead of linking it to perfectly SEO’d keyword anchor text. Also, be sure to include your Google+ link so you can claim Google Authorship.
Don’t stop after you submit your post! Once it goes live, promote the post on your own social networks, thank people who share your post, and reply to the comments you receive on your post. This will show the blog owner/editor that you are serious about wanting to make it a good experience for their audience, and not just a self-promotional tool for yourself.
Finally, send a follow up e-mail to the blog owner or editor you submitted the post to originally to see how they thought it performed with their audience and if they would be interested in you submitting another post. Keep the relationship strong – you might find you get tons of referral traffic from them for each post you submit, making it worthwhile to submit more!
If you follow these steps, you’ll ensure that more of your guest posts get accepted at quality blogs, and that Google will love your work!