Lately, a seemingly endless crowd of so-called SEO gurus fill their days by crying how their favorite tactic, guest blogging, is officially dead. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s “webspam team” even added fuel to the fire, stating “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.”
A tactic that had worked for years to produce phenomenal results for millions of marketers suddenly vaporized. Throw in the towel—guest blogging doesn’t work anymore and our only recourse is to tap into our 401K accounts to pay for loads of PPC ads, right?
Well, not so fast, Chicken Little. Despite the hysteria, guest blogging is not dead. Not by a long shot.
Before we get into why this hysteria is nonsense, let’s take a minute to explain guest blogging. Essentially, it’s when you submit your article to be published on a more popular website. You earn exposure (and usually a link to your website) and they earn valuable content.
It’s pretty simple and it works really well, but it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time and energy to find blogs in your niche that accept guest posts, contact them, follow up until you get a positive response, and then write an article that someone else would be willing to publish on their own blog.
After seeing the results it could produce, marketers started getting lazy and used automated software to submit the same poorly written article to thousands of blogs. They would hire people to churn out garbage articles for a few dollars a piece and then spin dozens of variations of the same article, simply swapping a few synonyms here and there.
But few credible bloggers would risk their reputation and image by publishing such utter trash.
That lead to shitty blog networks plastered with ads that would accept any and all articles. Now everything was automated; you pay some kid in India to write an article about “best diet pills online” and then use a program to churn out a thousand variations of it, and with the click of a button, you could submit them to thousands of blog networks, all linking back to your website.
This is not guest blogging—it’s spam.
Neither the articles nor the blog networks they are posted to provide any value to visitors. But it worked for a while. The sheer volume of backlinks from a diverse set of URLs virtually guaranteed a first-page ranking in almost any industry. And Google couldn’t seem to figure out how to stop it, after all, their entire algorithm was based on backlinks.
Eventually, they get their shit together and Panda was born, decimating most of the blog networks in one fell swoop. (There was a lot of collateral damage along the way, but they didn’t seem to care about that.) This meant that all of the links acquired through these networks disappeared, along with most organic ranking. It also gave Google tremendous insight to identify questionable linking tactics. Before long, Penguin came along and rather than just devaluing websites with questionable link profiles, Google began actively penalizing them—sometimes resulting in a permanent ban from the Google index.
Shorter: Marketers identified a tactic to get a website ranked, scaled and automated it to the point of abuse, tons of crappy sites ranked well for a little while, and to save face, Google destroyed said tactic along with a lot of websites in the process.
But the truth is guest blogging is only dead if you’re stupid and lazy. The premise of guest blogging is to leverage a platform with an established audience to get your name out. It has always worked and always will. The key is using it to build your own brand and cultivate your own audience. Think strategic—not tactical.
You’re shouldn’t guest blog for that pretty little link at the end of your article. (Though that doesn’t hurt.)
Ranking for a particular keyword isn’t the end goal. You should guest blog because having your name associated with trusted blogs bolsters your credibility. You should guest blog because it puts you in front of your target audience. And you should guest blog because it can drive relevant traffic to your blog.
No, my paranoid friends, guest blogging is not dead, it’s just returned to its authentic roots. Real people producing real content for real visitors. It’s all about relationships and value. Produce both and you’ll also produce results.