The kind of wake-up call nobody wants: 6 AM on your day off; builders have started drilling, and they're not stopping any time soon. Some SEO practitioners likely had a similar feeling when Google's Matt Cutts published his "The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO" blog post in January 2014.
So long, guest blogging. Oh, and Happy New Year!
Blogs started no-following their links, and some stopped accepting guest posts altogether. But here's the thing, Cutts was doing everyone a favor. Poor content began to be culled, and companies refined their strategies to what those strategies should have been in the first place.
It's not about links
If that's all an SEO company thinks of SEO, it shouldn't be hired.
Guest posting is a cost-effective way of generating inbound leads. Anyone can be passionate. Anyone can write (in fact, everybody writes!). Guest posting is also highly powerful as a form of generating brand awareness and building relationships. You can tap into the audience the site owners have created, and the site gets free content: win-win.
Editors used to get spammed daily with guest-posting requests. Now SEO firms have backed off ("Matt said we can't be friends—sorry"). There is now a content gap that needs to be filled, and editors are more likely to listen. That gives you an open door, an opportunity. Maximize your use of it.
Relevancy is not what you think
Your time is precious, don't waste it. Think long and hard about the audience behind the blog, the true meaning of relevance.
For example, when I think of the highly technical SEO blogs I read, I would say (potentially) 90% of the readers are SEO companies. They are also the ones posting. Meanwhile, their target audience is consuming content elsewhere—possibly over at Business Insider or Forbes. Sure, the posters build some connections, but it's highly likely these sites were stops on their journey for one reason: links. Oops.
Guest posting is an effective inbound strategy only if you pick the blogs that your audiences are reading.
Site quality has a new meaning
You shouldn't need to check a link profile to know the caliber of a site. Assuming I've landed on MarketingProfs for the first time today, I'm instantly hit with "Trusted by over 624,000 Marketing Professionals". OK, these guys are serious. I go to the About Us page:
- 600,000+ members
- 221,000 followers on Twitter
- 76,500 on Facebook
The list goes on...
Those figures are buttressed by two recent articles I notice (here and here), shared over 600 times, combined, in just a few days. Where do I sign?
Pick sites of a similar caliber to this one. Is that site going to drive high levels of targeted traffic, build an essential relationship, or help you to gain credibility in that niche? If not, don't post there.
Use the site's post-contribution guidelines as a way to make sure your content is a good fit. A guest post will give you brand awareness, exposure—traffic you'd have to pay for otherwise. It may be your only chance to give a lasting first impression to a potential client. So you can...
- Just about satisfy guidelines, or...
- Do your best to go above and beyond what the site editor requires
Go the extra mile. Most blogs will reference examples of what they like. That's usually because those posts were popular; check them out before you start.
Look at layout, length, titles, how takeaways are presented, images, and more. Does your content meet the blog's standards? What do the examples include that your content doesn't? Is there anything that can be incorporated to make yours better than the examples provided?
Attention to detail will give you a much better chance of having your contribution accepted.
Nearly 7 in 10 people (67%) like reading content from brands they are interested in. Interest, or awareness, takes multiple interactions and time to develop. So, it makes sense to contribute monthly to, say, five blogs (or whatever number is realistic for you), rather than five new blogs every month.
Select sites you think will be the most powerful. One-off or ad-hoc contributions should be considered only when the site in question suggests it yet you really want to be associated with that site. If you're doing the suggesting... you're posting on the wrong site, or you're approach isn't right.
Allocate time wisely
It's ridiculously easy to get overwhelmed after short-listing sites; writing is a lot of work. Be realistic. How many sites can you manage—2? 10?
Take baby steps. Talk to editors, get articles approved—log how long the process for each site takes. If you act as a freelancer, or guest posting is going to be a small part of your routine, cap it at one day for guest posting per month. Monitor results and scale when you are happy doing so.
Craft an effective bio
When crafting your bio for the site you'll be guest posting on, really put some thought into who your audience is. What is the next step you want them to take? Can you word your bio in a way so that it becomes a step they want to take? Don't stop at a personal introduction or a company overview. Make your bio a solid call to action.
That said, I see guest posting as a relationship-building process that progresses to leads. As a writer, I'm one component in the digital marketing process. Pushing the relationship-building angle rather than the "hire me" angle is going to be much more effective in the long term. I want people to email me, let me know what they are working on, share some views—that's my angle.
So, don't fall at the final hurdle... What angle is going to get your readers to take the next step?
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