Guest Blogging Slam: Bye, Bye Easy Links

Blogging Services from Angela Booth

If you’ve been using guest blogging for SEO and links, the freezing winds of Google are blowing your way. Matt Cutts’ web spam team is looking at businesses which use others’ blogs to get easy links.

Search Engine Land reported on a tweet from Matt Cutts, “Today we took action on a large blog network.”  The article says:

The belief is that Google specifically went after MyBlogGuest.com. If you Google their name, it no longer shows up in the search results.

Ouch.

Does this mean that guest blogging is DEAD?

No, no, no… As I said in an article on guest blogging on my Fab Freelance Writing Blog:

Google’s warned people against guest blogging, when it’s done to scale – that is, if a company gets a thousand pieces of crap a month written solely for the links. When it’s done with quality content, and not solely as a link-getting activity, Google has nothing against the practice, as Matt Cutts noted:

“Added: It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context… And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.”

So if you’re creating genuinely useful, quality content, and offer that content to others, you can use guest blogging for promotion.

It’s all about your intent…

Think about your intentions with guest blogging. Do you want to post on a blog which is read by your target audience because it’s a good marketing strategy? Go right ahead.

Or do you want some easy SEO link juice? If you do, beware. Anything which is done to scale will come back and bite you.

FWIW, I’m still guest blogging, and I’m blogging for my clients too. It’s worthwhile, esepcially if you want to build your search profile as an authority in an area. And of course, to get traffic. :-)

It’ll be interesting to see how this Google slam works out over the next few weeks.

Web Content Dilemma: Guest Posting, Yes or No?

Web Content Dilemma: Guest Posting, Yes or No?

You want traffic, so you post Web content to your website or blog regularly. It works. However, with a tsunami of content flowing onto the Web each day, it’s very hard to get noticed. You decide that you need more content to draw traffic.

One day you have a lightbulb moment, and decide that you need to write guest posts for popular websites. They get much more traffic than you do, and they offer a link back to your site. So you offer an article to a popular site. Your article is accepted, and you get your link, and a trickle of traffic. Your daily traffic is increasing.

Guest posting is amazing, you decide. It works! So you spread yourself far and wide, posting on others’ sites, and chasing links.

I love guest posting, and enjoy posting on sites like LifeHack. However, Google’s Matt Cutts has repeatedly warned that overdoing guest posting may not be a great idea. Sooner or later, Google will come down on websites which chase guest posting links.

The solution is…

Post your best content on your own website.

MOZ CEO Rand Fiskin, in Why Guest Posting and Blogging is a Slippery Slope suggests:

For your marquee content, your best stuff, I strongly – see how I’ve underlined strongly – strongly suggest using your own site. Reason being, if you’re going to put wonderful stuff out there, even if you think it could do better on somebody else’s site, in the long term you want that to live on your own site.

The problem with guest posting is that even if your name is on the content, you’ve lost some rights (maybe all rights, in some cases) to the content. Even if your guest posting venue merely claims exclusivity for a couple of weeks, and you retain all rights, the content nevertheless is posted on someone else’s website.

It’s a dilemma. Should you guest post, or post your Web content primarily to your own website?

When to guest post…

Consider your business goals, as well as your marketing goals. What do you want to achieve in the longterm? If your aim is to be a thought leader in your industry, your choice is obvious: post your best content to your own website. Make the most of your content too – repurpose it. Integrate your content with the rest of your website.

When should you guest post? Ideally, when you want to form a relationship or partnership on the website on which you post your Web content. Or, guest post on a website which is read by your target audience.

Consider that guest posting your content is a short-term solution. Yes, you get links, and those links may be valuable right now. However, you’ve lost control of that content.

As Rand Fiskin suggests in his article, guest posting can be a slippery slope, if you look on it as an easy way to get links and traffic, and start to scale it. Some links can damage your website.

We’ve discussed repurposing your content. As time goes on, you can reprise your content too, as long as the content lives on your own site.

Web content is valuable. Think carefully before you give your best content away too cheaply.

Quick update… is guest blogging DONE?

Some hours after I posted this post, I received Matt Cutts Declares Guest Blogging ‘Done’ … Are We All Screwed? from CopyBogger.

(Giggle) Love the title. 

I went to the source, Matt Cutts, who’s made it clear that he’s talking about guest blogging solely for SEO:

Added: It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.

You can create guest posts as Web content to your heart’s content. Just make sure you’re not doing it SOLELY for links. And keep your best stuff on your own site, as much as possible.
Blog management

, and on Twitter: @angee

You’re a Star: Shine Brightly With a Customized Publicity Campaign This Week

PR Publicity

What could you do if you had an unlimited advertising budget? Maybe you’re salivating, thinking of all the advertising you could buy.

Sadly, even with an unlimited advertising budget, your results may not be as amazing as you hope.

Here’s why. When you buy advertising, you’re limited to the advertising venues you choose. In 2013, audiences are fragmented. If you choose to advertise on radio and TV, you won’t reach all the people in your target audience. Your audience may miss your ads completely. That’s money down the drain. The same applies to any advertising venue – you’ll reach just a small part of your potential audience.

Every business needs to advertise. However, for true effectiveness, you need something else: publicity. Publicity amplifies the effect of your advertising, and it’s long-lasting. I’ve often told the story of I first got into copywriting… how a press release I wrote changed the fortunes of my employer.

You need publicity as well as advertising

Few businesses strive for publicity. Public relations tends to be a mystery. Businesses may not even be aware that most news stories in print and digital media originate from a press release.

Here’s a secret: journalists mine their press releases looking for the faintest glimmer of gold amongst the trash. Finding a story is GOLD to them. Providing that gold isn’t easy. However, it’s possible. What could your company achieve if a journalist or three wrote about you? If you appeared in Google News?

You need just two things to create a powerful publicity campaign: time and imagination.

Firstly you create the content for your campaign, and then you launch it.

What do you need to include in a publicity campaign?

A few days ago one of my writing students contacted me about a new ebook she’s launching. She asked me what she would need to include in her first publicity campaign.

Good question. The short answer is, anything you like. It’s your campaign, so whatever you think goes. Ask yourself some questions. How much time do you have available? What results do you want?

Let’s say that you want to create a customized publicity campaign this week to promote something. That “something” could be your business, a new product you’re launching, or a service you provide. As in the case of my student, it could be an ebook. Maybe it’s something for your community – your child’s school needs new sporting equipment, and you’re running a donations drive.

Your first step in any publicity campaign is always to set clearly defined goal.

The next step is to decide what your message will be, and commit to staying on message. “Staying on message” throughout your campaign is perhaps the hardest thing to do, as any politician will tell you. It’s a challenge, but you won’t get the results you want unless you manage to do that.

Let’s get started…

Step 1: set a clearly defined goal

Write down your goal for this publicity campaign. Please don’t omit doing this. You must write down your goal, because you won’t remember what it is tomorrow. Trust me on this one.

Step 2: what’s your campaign’s message? Write it down

Write down the message in a sentence, preferably on a sticky note (stick it onto your phone), as well as in your diary. Make sure the message is in front of you DAILY.

Step 3: create a media kit

According to Wikipedia, common components of a media kit include:

Backgrounder with historical information on the company or individual.
Fact sheet listing specific features, statistics, or benefits.

Biographies of key executives, individuals, artists, etc.

Past press coverage

Photos or other images (high resolution) of key executives, logos, products, etc.

A press release detailing the current news the media kit is sent in reference to

Media contact information (usually of a public relations department or spokesperson)

Collateral advertising material, such as: postcard, flier, newspaper ad, etc.

You can put anything you like in your media kit.

At a minimum, include a company backgrounder, some photographs, and anything else you think would be helpful to a journalist or blogger who wants to write about whatever it is that you’re promoting.

Many companies add their company’s media kit to the “media” section of their website. You can do this too.

However, for the sake of this publicity campaign, create a customized media kit which focuses solely on your goals for this campaign, rather than on your company as a whole.

Let’s get started with your customized publicity campaign

Set a date on which you’ll begin your campaign. Please don’t put it too far in the future. Give yourself a week for preparation. If you give yourself too much time, it won’t get done.

Next, decide what you’ll include in your campaign.

You could include: a series of press releases, Facebook and Google+ pages, a webinar, guest posts on blogs, a blog tour, content marketing with articles… anything you like.

Ask yourself: What am I comfortable creating? Or hiring someone to create for me?

LIMIT yourself. Don’t aim to include too much. A press release, a blog post, a YouTube video, and a couple of articles, might be all that you can comfortably create in a week.

Every company has different resources. Use them. If you have a mailing list, make good use of that list. These are people who want to hear from you, who have done business with you, and who know you. They can help you to get the word out. So include mailings to your list in your list of activities for your publicity campaign.

Create your creative material

Create your material. If you’re a copywriter, you can do it yourself. Alternatively you can hire someone.

The time element: avoid becoming overwhelmed

We’ll have more to say on the various elements of a publicity campaign later – I’ll create some additional how-to material for you on this blog.

For now, consider the time you have available.

If you’re doing everything yourself, creating all the creative material might take you a week or more. Aim to have everything ready before you launch the publicity campaign. Once you launch, you’ll be so busy talking to people and running your business, that you won’t have time to create additional material.

However, don’t set the launch date so far in the future that you procrastinate. As stated, I recommend that you take a maximum of ONE week to create to your campaign material, and then a week to execute. Any longer than that, and your campaign will stall.

Just get it done. :-)

There you have it. You’re good to go. Set a goal for your campaign, decide on a message, and start creating your material today.

Content Marketing in 2013: Guest Blogging Still Works

I’ve had some questions from writing students about guest blogging. Apparently the word in the online marketing community is that guest blogging is “no longer effective”.

That’s false.

Eric Ward makes good points in this post, Five Linking Myths That Need To Go Away In 2013:

“My dad used to tell me you are known by the company you keep, and this is true in the guest blog posting world as well. So, the way to use this tactic effectively is to think of it not as a mass shotgun approach, but a laser target approach.”

The point about guest blogging is promotion — get your name out there.

Get your name out there

As long as you choose popular and relevant blogs for your guest posts, what’s not to like? You get traffic, and links. It’s not a silver bullet, but then nothing is. :-)

I wish I had more time to devote to guest blogging; it just hasn’t happened this year. I hope I can squeeze more in next year, both for my clients, and for myself too. As regards guest blogging for myself, I’m like the cobblers’ children who go barefoot; I’m so busy doing stuff for others, there’s no time left over.

So, if you’ve been hearing people scoffing about guest blogging, ignore the nay-sayers. Get your material onto great blogs. :-)

Here’s an excellent post on Blogger Outreach from Blue Glass which will help you with your guest blogging pitches.