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Guest blogging - how to do it right

Gareth Cartman

A lot of people yesterday picked up on my comments about guest blogging, and how important it has become. And it has become a central part of SEO - to the extent that spammy companies from New Delhi to Uganda are offering 'guest blogging' services that amount to little more than article marketing under a different name.

Eventually, they’ll ruin the good name that guest blogging has made for itself, so we need to tread carefully, and just treat it as writing for someone else’s website. Google’s going to crack down on this eventually, as it cracks down on all of their shady practices, so let’s stay ahead of the curve... And, at all times, remember that if you’re not adding value, then you don’t deserve to exist. Sorry if that sounds harsh. 

Tip number 1: create a target list of guest blog opportunities

Ultimately, for every industry, there’s a ‘pyramid of relevance’. Do you like that term? I’m going to trademark it and make it into an infographic, maybe even put my name in front of it.

Right at the top, you have the closest relevance possible - as you go down, you broaden out into slightly less relevant blogs, and at the bottom, you have generic ‘we’ll take any old rubbish’ blogs. Don’t touch them, they’ll kill your rankings eventually. Focus on the most relevant to your industry first, and look for ‘tangential’ opportunities after.

Tip number 2: don’t complement people on their websites

There’s a school of thought that says you should always complement people on their website when approaching them for a guest blog. Well, that’s rubbish. I get hundreds of e-mails from people saying “your site contains great information that surely helps readers with their day-to-day lives”. No it doesn’t. You haven’t read my blog. Most people who say this are liars.

Keep your e-mail short and relevant: say you’d like to write for them, give them a bit of background on yourself, and they’ll get back to you.

Tip number 3: don’t write for yourself, write for their readers

If you’re going to write for anyone, respect their site and respect their readership. What’s the house style? If it’s not set out in author guidelines, check out other blogs on the site and attempt to mimic them. If the subject is already covered, can you expand upon it? Can you respond to it? Or is there something missing, or something topical, that needs covering?

Tip number 4: link out if you’re allowed

Linking in guest blogs is usually fine, so long as it’s relevant to what you’re saying. Linking to your company’s home page or product pages is generally not fine as it doesn’t add to the argument you’re making in your guest blog post. Linking to your company’s blog - if the blog post you’re linking to supplements what you’re writing - is fine.

So why not write a short article on your company blog, and on guest blogs, reference it. Write lengthier, more detailed guest blogs, but use your own blog as a reference point. And use others, too. There’s no harm in linking to authoritative sources, because linking out is a good thing to do. Even Google knows that.

Tip number 5: ask for a link to your G+ profile in your bio

Always have an “About the author” section, and ensure that you link your name to your G+ profile. If the blogger can add the rel=“author” tag, even better, because it validates you as the author in Google’s eyes, and adds to your author rank. Then, go to your Google+ page and add yourself as a contributor in your profile.

*****

Guest blogging is big right now because it works, but at some point in the future, Google’s going to look at it and say “there’s lots of people doing this purely for ranking purposes” and it will start to filter out the bad ones.

Therefore, you have to be careful about where you blog. Does that blog have followers? Does it allow too many guest bloggers? Are there comments on blog posts? Think about relevance first, and popularity second. If it’s neither, don’t touch it.

Your strategy is to populate that ‘pyramid of relevance’ and work with those bloggers over the long term. Become a contributor. Don’t always link to yourself because you’re not the most important business in the world. Build relationships, be nice, add a little value to someone’s life and you will be rewarded.

Now, I’m off to design my fancy-pants pyramid of relevance and I expect you all to have guest blogged at least five times this morning.

Image purloined from this rather nice website and interesting article about ‘horizontal guest blogging’ (no it’s not about doing it lying down).