As the importance of content creation in online marketing increases, many companies find themselves floundering when it comes to finding outstanding and engaging content on a regular basis. Even if you only post twice a week, that’s 104 (thereabouts) blogs that you must either create or curate in a single calendar year.
When one thinks about how long it takes, in both research and writing time, to create so many blogs, the pressure to produce can get a little overwhelming and can also compromise the quality of your blog in general.
The question of guest blogging has been swirling passionately around marketing circles as of late, mostly due to guest blogging’s emerging status as a spammy, inauthentic alternative to producing quality, effective content. There are also several benefits to be enjoyed from guest blogging, however, that would be done away with if all guest blogging was deemed “done.” What exactly are the benefits of guest blogging?
Are those benefits outweighed by the possibility of spamming the online world with links to low quality, non-authoritative websites and content? Here are some pros and cons to the new world of guest blogging and how your company blog should approach the subject.
What Are the Benefits of Guest Blogging?
The benefits of guest blogging begin at the benefits for your brand. Building a solid online presence, especially on social media, can do wonders for your brand’s reputation and the amount of potential customers you’re able to engage. A company with an awesome brand combines the human element that modern web users crave with the content and reputation that they need to reach (and appeal to) the most ideal audience.
In its ideal form, guest blogging was a way to boost your brand’s network and reputation by welcoming content from a reputable, respected name in your industry or similar circles. Linking to the websites of good guest bloggers means you provide Google with quality, authoritative destinations for your links and attach your name to someone whose web presence is as strong or stronger than your own.
Allowing posts by guest bloggers who offer a solid reputation, have a thorough knowledge about your own industry and can provide your followers with relevant, engaging content is using guest blogging the way it’s meant to be used. You’re giving Google a true representation of the highest quality content on the web, content that is linked to not because of an army of SEO dark wizards scheming behind a curtain, but because the source is deserving of high ranking based on the quality and authority of its origins and writer.
The exposure, networking and respect your brand can gain from posting quality content are certainly substantial benefits; are they substantial enough to possibly dissuade you from turning your back on guest blogging entirely, forever and ever? Some say the new developments in SEO make guest blogging obsolete and detrimental to your company. What are these developments exactly?
Guest Blogging as Ultra Spam: Opening the Floodgates
A small story we sometimes tell people when they ask about allowing guest bloggers onto their blog goes as follows: our friend Bella had been blogging on her own for a couple of months and heard about the seemingly wonderful opportunities attached to guest blogging. “Allowing reputable writers and companies to provide material for my blog?” thought Bella, “Why not?”
Bella’s inbox was immediately filled with questionable “bloggers” who advertised themselves as “representatives of prominent marketing agencies” or “experts” in their field who were willing to provide her with “high-quality, relevant” content free-of-charge. All they asked, Bella remembers, is that she allow two links to their website within the body of the article.
What our friend Bella immediately experienced after she began seeking guest bloggers was not a population of quality, authoritative voices willing to lend their content to her brand’s blog, as guest blogging had been pitched to her. Instead, she was being spammed by link juicers looking to cheat Google’s PageRank system by upping the amount of links to their own site without actually earning the links.
Unfortunately, Bella wasn’t savvy to the new, unethical methods of link juicing being abused to the fullest by these SEO tricksters and ended up publishing a few very spammy “guest blogs” to her brand’s website, ultimately damaging her brand’s reputation as a trustworthy, ethical authority in her industry.
Bella’s misstep isn’t anything that can’t be undone by quickly wising up to the PageRank schemers and their ploys; looking for spammy or questionable wording in your guest blogging candidates’ offer emails is the first step. If they offer to produce content for your business, but their business is in a completely unrelated field, it’s not only likely that they won’t be able to produce authoritative, relevant content for your blog, they also might simply be looking for a blog to dump bad content onto for the link juice.
Additionally, any kind of offer of free work in exchange for “dofollow” links in the post is a siren wail that you’re dealing with an unethical spammer that will damage your company’s reputation.
Another red flag in the very beginning is a guest blogger who has clearly never viewed your company’s website or even bothered to educate themselves about the basis of your business. When you receive potential guest blogs that center around topics completely unrelated to your industry and are useless for your audience, it’s likely that you’re dealing with a link juicer who is simply looking for outlets through to spam his or her company’s website.
Is Guest Blogging Really Dead?
When it comes down to it, discontinuing guest blogging altogether might be a case of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” According to Matt Cutts, the head webspam finder at Google, using guest blogging for Search Engine Optimization purposes is simply a bad idea: “…a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”
However, the careful selection of guest blogs, especially for multi-author sites, is a great way to build great relationships with fellow industry leaders, gain exposure and place wonderful content on your blog to inform and engage your audience.
At the end of the day, guest blogging has taken a serious hit with the upswing of dishonest, link juicing spammers looking to tarnish your brand’s reputation in exchange of a few (ill-gotten) points on Google’s PageRank. But tightening your belt and reviewing your guest blogging applicants with a more discerning lens can help you weed out the negative possibilities and still reap the benefits that guest blogging has always offered.
Originally published Feb 5, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016