Matt Cutts, Google webmaster evangelist, recently stirred up a storm of controversy by announcing that guest blogging was “done.” He later clarified the statement by saying that guest blogging purely for SEO was done.
But you’re a KISSmetrics reader, and you already knew that – right?
So what’s the real truth behind Google’s newest announcement? Are you going to be penalized for blogging on other sites? Are your rankings going to collapse because you have blog contributors? Not likely. But there are a few caveats you’ll want to keep in mind whether you’re considering guest blogging as a promotional outlet or looking to bring guest bloggers on board to freshen up your site content.
If You’re a Blog Publisher
DON’T: send out waves of open invitations to anyone and everyone looking to contribute. You will get substandard writing, perhaps even content that has been “spun” (meaning words have been exchanged and sentences shifted to give the “appearance” of a new article to avoid Google’s duplicate content penalty).
DO: Take the time to research experts in your niche. Who are the prolific, consistently good writers that attract comments and invite discussion? Assemble your guest blogging “dream team” and don’t be afraid to reach out to knowledgeable professionals in your field to invite them to contribute. By the same token, don’t be surprised if they ask about your budget. You get what you pay for, and high quality, well-researched posts take time to write.
Quora is a great place to find knowledgeable professionals who may be open to the possibility of guest blogging for you. Simply type in your topic to find questions asked (and answered) around it.
Blogging is one broad topic on Quora with thousands of followers
You can then click on the avatar of the person answering to see what else they’ve posted. Underneath their main photo are social media outlets and sites that you can reach them through. Usually these are sites like Twitter and Facebook, but from there you can likely discover their main website and contact them that way.
An example of a Quora bio with Twitter and WordPress under the profile picture
DON’T: Let your guest bloggers publish their article on your site without your approval. This may sound counter-intuitive, after all, you’re probably looking to reach out to guest bloggers simply because you don’t have time to do everything yourself. Why not let them publish their articles on the site directly? Simply because it takes the editorial oversight and quality control out of your hands. Do you really want a guest blogger inserting a heap of do-follow anchor text links back to their site in every other sentence?
DO: Write up a set of editorial guidelines. This HubSpot article has an excellent overview of the types of things you’ll want to consider when crafting your guidelines, such as your link policy, your content review timeline, topic approval and more. Require all of your guest bloggers to read and sign off on these guidelines. It will create a smoother process for everyone, and save you precious time when editing posts!
A few examples of editorial guidelines any serious blog publisher should consider if they want to recruit guest bloggers
DON’T: Be afraid to ask bloggers for topic suggestions. It’s a good idea to do this a month in advance if you can, so as to plan your editorial calendar effectively. Ask the blogger to submit a few pitches on topic ideas they’d like to tackle, and offer a few of your own, particularly if your analytics are showing searches coming to your page and ending up empty-handed. Great, actionable content is always in-demand.
DO: Be clear about exclusivity. Not only does having the rights to the post your writers provide help you avoid the dreaded duplicate content smack, but it also positions your blog as a credible source for information not found anywhere else.
If You’re a Guest Blogger
DON’T: Jump at the chance to write for every blog that asks – even if they offer to pay. Consider which blogs can help you better market yourself in the long-term, and align yourself with those, as Google still likes to see relevant, quality backlinks. Although this does mean keeping your blogging circle smaller, your reputation and authority will grow as these blogs grow, keeping you tightly inter-woven with their success.
DO: Welcome feedback. It’s one thing to have an editor completely rewrite your post in “their” style, but it’s another thing entirely to be open to constructive feedback and suggestions on where and what to improve. A good editor knows this and will work with you so that you can maximize the traffic and comments your post gets while still retaining your own unique writing flair.
DON’T: Use junk terms. I’m talking about phrases like “cutting edge leadership solutions” and “value-added pivotal marketing services”. If you can’t clearly communicate what you do in plain English, your visitors won’t understand, care, or be able to see how your business may benefit them (remember the old copywriting adage: What’s In It For Me?)
DO: Provide images. Great guest blog posts often showcase results from others’ case studies, charts, graphs, screenshots and other examples. Even if you’re not a graphic artist, you can use simple (free) tools like Simple Diagrams and Easel.ly to better explain the points you make.
An example of an Easel.ly template
DON’T: Neglect comments. This sounds like it would be filed right under the “Well, duh!” section, but you’d be surprised how many promising guest bloggers write a post, check a box and then rush off to the next opportunity. Getting published, getting backlinks and getting orders is just as much about your involvement in the comments as it is writing for the blog itself.
DO: Write a great bio. The guest blog in question may limit you to how many links you can have pointing to your own site, so use them wisely. I really like the AuthorSure plugin for WordPress (free) which ties in your Google authorship along with links to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social networks. Blogs who use it automatically give their authors added exposure, while the author themselves can concentrate on making their bio encourage a click-through.
The AuthorSure plugin helps guest bloggers get even more exposure by linking to their social networks, bio and additional posts they’ve written
A good bio often includes one or more of the following features:
- Your name (obviously!) and a nice profile picture (that image of you grilling burgers last summer with that “Kiss the Cook” apron isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid…Same goes for a profile picture of your company logo).
- A link to your mailing list where users can subscribe for more content. Let them know what they can get as a subscriber.
- One or more phrases of anchor text that you’d like linking back to your website where possible
- Any other social media outlets where they can connect with you (AuthorSure takes care of this automatically if you use it).
You’re welcome to use my bio at the end of this article as an example to create your own! The blog publisher may request that bios be written in first person (“I’m a conversion expert and copywriter”) or third person (“Sherice Jacob is a conversion expert and copywriter”) – ask if you’re not sure!
The Big Question: Is the Future of Guest Blogging in Jeopardy?
Guest blogging used simply as a cheap way to build backlinks is well on its way out, yes. But guest blogging for authority, shared expertise and networking is far from over. Whether you’re a blog publisher or contributor, taking these do’s and don’ts onto consideration will not only give you a well-oiled blogging machine, but also create the kind of content resource that Google can’t get enough of!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!