Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts made it clear in January why he was killing guest blogging for link building: “It’s just gotten too spammy.”
The reality is that most guest blogging is low quality and therefore not good for users. As Google is all about giving people the right (high quality) information, it is no surprise this step was taken.
RIP guest blogging?
For link building yes. If this was your main reason for doing it then you will have to put your thinking cap on and produce better content that naturally earn links.
One reason guest blogging was so popular is that it was seen as cheap and relatively easy to churn out an article (or recycle another one), send some emails and hope someone would bite. We’ve all received a guest blogging proposal email promising a unique article and probably deleted them immediately. If you are still doing this, STOP.
After years of abuse, guest blogging can now become what it was always about – building reputations and relationships. Well thought-out and well-placed guest blogs expose your brand to a new audience and give you much greater reach. KPIs for guest blogs should focus on the relationships that were built and the reach it gave you.
The benefits of guest blogging
Guest blogging has mutual benefits for both parties: you get exposure to a new audience and the host site gets a piece of high-quality content with minimal effort and access to your audience through your own promotion.
A well-written guest blog on a good website has more benefits than 10 okay ones on low authority sites. It:
- establishes you as an expert
- builds brand reputation
- builds an influencer network/community and extends your reach
By consistently guest blogging, you will start to gain momentum and build a respected reputation.
KPIs for guest blogging
Guest blogging straddles SEO, PR and brand so KPIs should be around these.
As the post is not on your site, you will not be able to track engagement metrics such as time spent on page, session duration etc. You can always ask the blog host for these and for any social data they have, e.g. how many times the article was shared.
Metrics you can measure are:
- Referrals from the site
- Event goals from these referrals, e.g. newsletter sign-ups and enquiries
- Number of comments the post received (if the site it is on allows comments)
- If the number of followers to social media accounts went up (for the author and the company)
- Referral and direct traffic increases when the article was posted
- Article ranking for subject-related keywords
When promoting the post, you should use a URL shortner such as Bitly to track the number of clicks it receives.
Don’t just focus on numbers – the qualitative benefits are also important. What relationships did you build from the post? What comments have you received from contacts about it? This is more intangible but it gives you greater insight in to how the author, company and post are perceived.
How to approach guest blogging
Get your pitch right. Using a generic template will not work and leave a bad impression. Make it clear:
- Why you are approaching them – show that you have read their blog and suggest potential relevant topics.
- Why their audience would be interested in the guest post
- That you require any links to be no follow. Make it obvious that you are not looking for links.
- How you would promote the post to your audience.
Example pitch email
Ideally target blogs that you know and like.
I read your blog regularly and wondered if you would be interested in an article idea I have?
The article would be about [summary of article]. I think this topic would strike a chord with your audience because [state reasons]. I have a draft of the article that I would be happy to send over.
We would promote the article through our social networks and other regular communications activities such as our monthly newsletter, which has over 3,000 subscribers and includes recipients from [brand name clients].
We would not publish the article anywhere else and would need any links to our site to be no follow.
If you are interested, please let me know.
People need to trust you – by featuring your guest post they are effectively endorsing you. You must give them the confidence that you are genuine and trustworthy.
Have changed your guest blogging tactics since Cutts’ announcement? Is guest blogging still part of your PR and content marketing strategy?