Whoever said that search engine experts have a tendency to screw up a good thing weren’t far off the truth. When a useful, innocent technique is discovered to have great value for ranking sites, everyone rushes in to exploit it. With time, the technique becomes less useful, not only to those who enjoyed its benefits before anyone muttered “SEO,” but also to the search experts themselves.
That is exactly what has happened to guest blogging.
Bad news first: guest blogging as we have come to know it as a linking strategy is, for all intents and purposes, done. It’s finished.
Now the good news: for the smart content marketer, Google’s Penguin 2.0 update has opened up guest blogging as an exciting “new” opportunity to extend your reach, gain exposure, and build a bigger following. Links will happen as a nice side effect.
Today, I’ll explain how SEO experts caused guest blogging, as a link-building strategy, to go through a radical change. You’ll then learn 3 things to do today to take advantage of the new opportunity.
Why Content Marketers Should Prioritize Guest Blogging
Forget about Google for a moment and consider the reasons people contributed material to popular blogs in the past. First, they gained valuable exposure. By putting their best material in front of the blog owner’s audience, they could gain new fans and improve the visibility of their brands.
Second, the content marketer gained quick entry into a new niche. Someone hungry to make a name for herself could tap into an already existing community. That’s difficult to do on your own blog.
Third, they established a relationship with an authority in their niche: the blog owner. That relationship not only gave them credibility, but often led to other opportunities.
The key to all of the above, of course, is high-quality content. Without it, you can’t expect to win fans, build brand loyalty, dominate your niche, or make nice with influencers. And that’s where things went off the rails.
Where Guest Blogging Went Wrong (Thanks To SEO Experts)
Search experts learned pretty quickly that getting content on other people’s blogs was a great way to build links to their sites. The problem was, they needed to build lots of links fast to rank sites quickly. Writing guest blogs took too much time. So, many of them hired out the writing at bottom-of-the-barrel rates. At the same time, they had software created to identify thousands of blogs they could post their articles on.
The result: a lot of low-quality content began to pop up on blogs. It became a form of article marketing. Worse, much of the content was off-theme. It veered away from the blogs’ main topics, leading to a lot of less-relevant outward links pointing at a variety of low-quality sites.
How Google Tried To Fix The Problem
Google tried to fix the problem with Penguin 2.0. The algorithm update stressed relevant content and links from high-quality sites. It was no longer enough for SEO experts to pummel every blog in their niches with content of questionable quality just to build links. The content needed to be thematically relevant to the blog’s main theme. It needed to be well-written. And it needed to trigger some level of engagement (comments, social shares, links, etc.).
Google’s Penguin 2.0 update flipped guest blogging on its head, at least for SEO experts exploiting the strategy for short-term gain. The immediate benefits – i.e. a quick influx of links – evaporated. They did so partly because of the algorithm’s new focus and partly because blog owners were now more careful about the submissions they accepted.
For the savvy content marketer, this has cleared away a lot of competition. But that doesn’t mean getting published is easy.
3 Tips For Getting The Most From Guest Blogging Post-Penguin
In many ways, guest blogging is even more valuable now than it was prior to the Penguin update. Thanks to Google, you now have much more to gain from the strategy. That is, if you use the right approach.
#1 – Focus on high-quality sites.
You want to be published on blogs that Google considers to be authoritative. Check each site’s incoming links. Are other high-quality sites linking to them? Take a look at whether posts center around a particular theme or if they’re all over the place.
#2 – Create good material.
Writing well-written, insightful, and useful articles has always been important, particularly when tapping into another’s audience. That’s what increases readership, attracts fans, and improves your brand. But it is doubly important now that Penguin 2.0 has prioritized signals that reflect quality.
In each guest blog post you write, highlight a problem, offer a solution, and provide actionable steps the reader can take to solve the issue on her end.
#3 – Leverage authorship.
Google has done content marketers a huge favor by launching author rank. This is a platform that connects everything you create with your author profile in Google+. I’ll explain exactly how it works in detail in the future. For now, suffice to say that it gives you a way to develop an audience based on everything you write. It doesn’t matter whether your material appears on your blog, someone else’s blog, or an authority business site.
Guest blogging not only continues to work, but can be even more effective now than it was in the past. If you’re a gun-slinging SEO expert interested only in reaping short-term gains with shady tricks, you’re in for a long, hard trek. If you’re a content marketer who wants to build an audience around top-notch material, now’s the time to strike!
What changes have you made to your guest blogging routine based on Penguin 2.0? Have you changed your blogger outreach strategy? Have you altered the way you create blog posts? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below!