Throughout 2013, guest posts were one of the most popular strategies used by brands and individuals to help improve their rankings in online searches. In January of 2014, however, Google announced that they were going to start punishing those who were ‘spamming’ guest posts just for the SEO benefits. This is just the latest in a long line of updates from Google that is meant to discourage any type of activity that is done only to manipulate search results.
The announcement from Google has caused many people to worry about losing rankings from in the search engines, so they completely abandoned the strategy of guest posting. While understandable, this is a big mistake. Guest posts remain one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a site, as long as you do it properly. In order to keep your rankings safe, you must follow these strategies for guest posting.
Keep it in Your Niche
The most obvious indicator to Google (and the other search engines) that you’re attempting to manipulate their results using guest posts is when you submit guest posts outside of your own niche. If, for example, you have a website focused weight loss, it doesn’t make sense to write a guest post on a car audio enthusiast website. Google can easily see that the links used in the post aren’t related and will flag them as spam. Too many of these and you’ll quickly start to lose your ranking in Google’s search results.
Your guest posts don’t have to be in an identical niche, but make sure it is closely related to avoid problems. For example, if you’re in the weight loss niche, you could guest post in exercise- or fitness-related niches, or diet plan sites or even motivational sites. Just make sure the post you write is related to the site you’re writing for, as well as your specific niche.
Write for the Visitor
While in the past many people would write guest posts thinking exclusively about the backlink, that’s not a good strategy anymore. You should always write specifically for the audience that will most likely read it. Providing them value will not only ensure they stay on the page long enough to read the entire post, but they will also more likely click on the links within the post to visit your page.
Google measures things like how long people are spending on a specific page and how many of them are following a link. If the numbers are extremely low, it may indicate to Google that the guest post is not providing value to the visitors, which could cause them to drop your site’s rank.
Don’t Overdo It
If you’re focusing all your efforts on guest posts, and not adding high quality content to your own page, you’re just asking for trouble. Your primary focus should always be to fill your site with high quality content that your users will love. Writing great guest posts should only be done once in a while as part of an overall marketing strategy. Depending how active your site is, a guest post should be done, at most, once per week.
Remember the Real Benefit
One last thing to keep in mind, which doesn’t really have anything to do with SEO, is that the real power of guest posts aren’t that you’ll get better rankings in search engines. The real benefit is that other popular sites in your niche will be linked to your site. This brings in extremely targeted traffic, which has already been exposed to your work. When done properly, this traffic should convert visitors into buyers at a much higher rate than virtually any other type, and for any business, this is the real goal of all marketing efforts.