Foreword: I write this post, not as a marketer, but as the owner of my own personal website.
With Penguin and Panda hitting websites hard in 2012, many marketers looked at other linking strategies to build up their inbound marketing. Unfortunately, many marketers are still shooting themselves in the foot by adopting new tactics with their old SEO strategies in mind. How so? Let’s take a look at one of the most popular approaches of 2012, Guest Blogging.
What is Guest Blogging?
In short, it is writing a blog post for another website that is not your own. Guest blogging provides many mutual benefits for both the writer and the owner of the blog:
- Writers can increase their online presence and get to share their knowledge with an expanded audience
- Writers are awarded with a link from the owners site (some higher PageRank sites require ‘X’ minimum posts)
- Blog owners grow their website with additional content for their audience
- Both writers and blog owners can use the content to reinforce their authority
- It’s relationship building!
All the above benefits are as great and important as each other, yet many focus on the goal of obtaining a link only. Quite often, the goal is approached by using the same strategy that deteriorated their rankings with Penguin and Panda – offering low quality, invaluable and generalised content. So if this sounds like you (or you want to know what NOT to do), read on!
3 Top Reasons Why You Won’t Get a Link as a Guest Blogger
I actually don’t post that much on my personal website, but my PageRank is still enough to encourage the odd marketer contacting me about guest blogging on my website. I’ve received mail – but none have been fruitful, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who denies the opportunity to allow external content onto my site. If you have been rejected, listed below are a number of reasons why you may not be accepted as a guest blogger
1. You’re targeting the WRONG audience
Old Strategy: Building links or weak content on external sites with a high PageRank that may or may not be related to your industry
‘New’ Strategy: Contact webmasters of high PageRank websites that may or may not be related to your industry
Despite having a website about photography and digital media, I’ve received requests to feature content about jewellery and cell phone monitoring software with links back to company websites. Sure I could spin the content somehow to be about jewellery photography or cell phone monitoring in the digital media age – but that requires effort on my part, for content that does not even benefit my site or most importantly, my audience. You wouldn’t expect to see heels for sale at the butchers, so why would you expect things to be different in guest blogging?
And even if you do manage to get a link using this strategy, it won’t be as valueable as it could have been on a more targeted website.
New ‘NEW’ Strategy: Employ brand and/or product monitoring software to see who is already talking passionately about you and your products. Reach out and thank them, and keep them in the loop whenever you have new products or services to share. Some of my favourite monitoring tools include Google Alerts and Social Mention.
2. You’re Copying and Pasting a Generic Template
Old Strategy: Duplicating content with links on low quality blogging networks.
‘New’ Strategy: Reaching out to blogs with the same pre-made template of your content
Both of these strategies are like firing a shotgun over 100 yards away and hoping you’ll hit something. What’s more, email templates are often advised as a great tactic because they may be sent out hundreds of blog owners at once in the hopes that one will reply. This could not be more wrong!
Let’s take a look at a template sent to my personal website, PaulaLay.com:
“Dear PaulaLay Staff!”…
See how this is already going wrong? Guest blogging is about building a relationship with other blog owners, however it’s clear that this marketer did not put in the effort to identify me as a person, rather than a company.
New ‘NEW’ Strategy: If you want high quality links, you’re going to have to put in high quality effort. Find out more about who the authors and/or owners are, personalise your message and tell them why you want your content featured on their site, and what you can offer them. Quality will always trump quantity.
3. You ask for too much from non-existing relationships
Old Strategy: Spin one content multiple times and distribute onto low quality blog networks
‘New’ Strategy: Write one piece of content and ask blog owners to post it on their own website, and get them to write a short description about it.
The most common instances that I have come across this point is with Infographics. The guest blogger-to-be has created an Infographic, and now wants you to not only feature it on your website, but write something about it too. Many blog owners do not have the time for this and quite often, who you are and the statistics you produce often have to be verified. This is why building a relationship is important first – so that blog owners can trust the work you produce and be more ready to share your content to their audience. In the case of blog owners, they wouldn’t lend a car to a stranger, so why would they lend you their valuable audience?
New ‘NEW’ Strategy: Spend ample time creating content that offers so much value that people will WANT to share it onto their own blogs without you asking. Have the code available on your page so that they can easily copy and paste it onto their own blog. Less work for everyone all around? Yes please!
And if you’re successful?
If your old strategies do get you links using the above strategies, that’s fine. But also remember how fine most webmasters and SEO’s were before Panda and Penguin hit. Low quality content and lack of authoritative links won’t hold up your rankings in the long run, or get your content shared socially.