Guest Blogging: The Matt Cutts Aftermath

In January, Google Webspam’s Matt Cutts declared guest blogging a spammy practice. For the next 24 hours, the marketing world was in a flurry, desperately trying to figure out a substitute off-page SEO tactic.

Three months later and what is the marketing world up to? Well, we’re still guest blogging but with a different purpose. Moz summarizes the goals nicely in their January blog post:

  • Branding, branding, branding
  • Build credibility in a specific niche
  • Increased traffic
  • Exposure to new audiences
  • Community building
  • Authorship

What have we learned from this? Google is keeping a closer eye on guest blogging, but there are still benefits of a valuable, transparent contribution. Here are some tips to the most effective guest blogging:

Establish your expertise
With editorial staffs getting smaller, there is a tremendous opportunity for B2B brands to complement editorial content output with guest blogging. B2B brands can help journalists by churning out more educational (less “selling”) content that will be useful to a publication’s readership. Before you start writing, determine your firm’s true areas of specialty. If you’re an accounting firm that works solely with manufacturing firms, there’s no point in trying to force it for a larger audience. Editorial staffs can typically tell if you really know what you’re talking about, so don’t try to stretch your areas of expertise. Remember: Instead of faking it, write what you’re well versed in.

Targeting smaller niche publishers can maximize web traffic
It’s very easy to be enchanted by the idea of your byline on high-ranking websites like Forbes, Huffington Post or Wall Street Journal. But is it truly realistic for your business? Think of niche content hubs like smaller publications, local media, industry specific blogs and forums for placement of your guest content. Starting small and targeted can often yield greater results in terms of future web traffic and exposure to new audiences. For example, the SCORE Small Business Success Blog only posts one contribution daily, so a website with a smaller archive means visitors see your content frequently compared to a digital magazine posting 10+ pieces per day.

It’s not about the link, it’s about the brand
Google Webspam’s biggest concern around guest blogging for SEO is that spammy marketers would ask for back linking at the expense of low quality content. It’s a valid concern—as marketers who write simply for a link aren’t writing for the right reasons. Guest blogging should be considered a branding tactic, not an SEO tactic. Of course, some SEO kudos will be gained from well-done guest blogging, but writing should be for many other gains.

Around the same time Matt Cutts declared the end of guest blogging Bop Design was gaining better awareness among the marketing community. This was all through, you guessed it, guest blogging. Thanks to contributions on blogs like SCORE, Business2Community and Moz—Bop Design improved branding, built credibility and increased web traffic. Guess it’s not so dead after all.


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