Matt Cutts, the head of the Webspam team at Google, declared guest blogging dead. There was much hand wringing and brow furrowing as the blogosphere went wild. At least that part of the blogosphere that concerns itself with matters like SEO and blogging was a little miffed. For example, there were posts claiming Cutts lost his mind or that he has gone too far in his efforts to combat spam.
At first blush the critics seemed to be on to something. As with so many things, a more careful reading was required to help you discover that Google's guru of spam is not guilty of breathless hyperbole after all. He was talking about the very specialized practice of guest blogging for SEO. Technical jargon aside, guest blogging for SEO has little to do with content and more to do with spam. To which I say good-bye and good riddance.
The reality is that guest blogging as a means of building brand identity is alive and well. The reason guest blogging can't be killed is because not even Google can tell the difference between an ordinary blog post and a guest blog post. What Matt and his team have done is to further refine the Google Page Rank algorithm in order to identify spam that masquerades as a “guest” blog post.
A Two-Way Street
Quality guest blogging is a symbiotic relationship between the guest blogger and the blog host. The blog host gets the opportunity to add original content to their site without having to pound their heads against the wall to come up with fresh ideas. The guest blogger gets to promote themselves, their business, or their website, to a broader audience. All in all, a rather nifty arrangement for everyone concerned.
The story doesn't end there in a shower of sunshine and lollipops because the world just isn't that simple. There are pros and cons to both sides of the guest blogging relationship and they are worth exploring before you jump in with both feet. After all, an informed decision is the best decision.
The primary measure of a blog's success is the number and frequency of its readers. In order to acquire new readers and existing readers coming back is to keep the quality of the content fresh. New and interesting posts give readers a reason to return. Fresh content is also a great way to attract new readers through referrals by current readers and as a result of searches.
Blog Host Pros: Coming up with original ideas and conveying enthusiasm, day in and day out, can become a grind even for the most committed blog hosts. Guest bloggers can go a long way to filling your blog with quality content written in a positive voice, as for the guest blogger this is something new and exciting.
Guest Blogger Pros: You get the opportunity to reach an untapped audience with your message. With or without traditional links your name or brand gets exposure, and the opportunity to drive traffic to your site.
Blog Host Cons: No matter how you let the world know that you are accepting guest posts, you are going to be inundated with spam and less than quality submissions. Separating the good from the bad can be a tedious and time-consuming process.
Guest Blogger Cons: In a word; Rules! You are going to have to follow the rules of the blog's host if you want to be published. You will also have to alter your voice to match that of your host. This can be a tricky situation, especially if you already have a strongly established voice for your brand.
An important component of a blog's success is the consistency of its posts, in terms of both their quality and content. Loyalty or habit can only retain readers for a short time before they abandon a blog where the quality of posts falls off. Blog readers are also very particular about both the content of posts and the style in which they are written, which is why establishing and maintaining a consistent set of standards is so essential.
Blog Host Pros: After you weed out the spammers and amateurs and have a stable of solid, regular contributors, who understand, follow your guidelines, and write in a voice consistent with yours, your blog can flourish thanks to the influx of quality content guest bloggers can provide.
Guest Blogger Pros: After a few posts, writing in the voice of your host will come as naturally as when you post to your own blog. Your reputation will be enhanced by the quality of the company you keep, and through your association with your host's blog.
Blog Host Cons: Familiarity breeds more than contempt, it can also breed complacency. Even after you found a cadre of contributors, you will have to be on the lookout for slips in quality. Drops in quality are seldom dramatic, but usually happen in small incremental steps, which over time can lower the overall quality of your blog, and affect your reputation.
Guest Blogger Cons: When the quality of your host's posts, or your fellow guest bloggers, falls your brand reputation may suffer by association.
Whichever direction you are approaching guest blogging from, it is essential that you develop, and stick to a set of best practices that works for you. There are, however, some rules that are universal and should be a part of your list.
Time Management for Blog Hosts – This means setting aside enough time in your schedule to review, edit and approve submissions.
Time Management for Guest Bloggers – For guest bloggers time management is about making sure you don't over extend yourself by committing to more guest posts than you can deliver on time and of the highest quality.
Beware of Spam for Blog Hosts – Review your guest blogger's posts with a wary eye, watching for spam, and links whose destination content changes over time. A seemingly legitimate post with a link to quality content can have the destination page changed to one that can do your reputation damage.
Beware of Spam for Guest Bloggers – Monitor your host's content for signs of spam and unethical SEO practices that work their way into the host site. If you spot a trend developing let your host know. If they don't address it, seriously consider ending the relationship.
The Bottom Line
Guest blogging has a lot to offer both hosts and guest bloggers, but the decision about whether to guest blog or not is up to you. What works for someone else may not work for you. Evaluate your needs and goals and honestly ask yourself if the time and effort to get involved with guest blogging is worth it to you.