For an SEO-enthusiast, checking Matt Cutts' blog is not unlike checking the weather. You don't have to do it, necessarily, but it's nice to know which days you're going to want to bring an umbrella.
Of course, the weatherman isn't always totally accurate. There was that one time he called for a foot of snow and all we got was a drizzle.
If you're one of those folks who like to stay on top of the SEO forecast, you've probably seen Cutts' post last month called "The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO." It was pretty anxiety-inducing; it's hard to hear, verbatim, that "if you're using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should stop," right from the horse's mouth. "Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done"; Cutts goes on, "it's just gotten too spammy."
But I think it's the next part that we really need to pay attention to: "In general I wouldn't recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn't recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy."
So, you mean, you wouldn't guest blog without doing it right? Shocker. The weatherman might as well have told us that it's going to be hot near the equator.
I have to disagree that guest blogging is "done," "dead," or "too spammy," as Cutts argues. The fact of the matter is that, yes, spam is going to be spammy, but guest blogging is rampant with opportunities for those of us who truly want to reap the benefits. It's all about doing it properly. Here's what defines good guest blogging – a practice that, I think, will never truly die:
- Increasing brand awareness. Does your brand have a unique voice? Does your company have something unique to contribute to the industry? Is it entertaining? If you're guest blogging on a site whose audience is well within your brand's industry, and your blog post gives the audience something to remember your brand by, you shouldn't have a problem.
- Being authoritative. Get your facts straight. Be thought-provoking rather than obvious. Use statistics and numbers to reinforce your points.
- Building relationships. Get to know the others in your industry, and collaborate rather than compete if need be. Build relationships with bloggers and see if you can pitch a series of blog posts rather than a single post. Use LinkedIn and Google Plus to get to know other people – people who want to give you guest blogging opportunities rather than people who need to be convinced.
- Give and take. If you're not sure how to build relationships, start by trading opportunities. Let a name in the industry blog for you, once in a while.
- Not having your eye on the prize (links). Remember that links will come naturally if your content is good.
- Be an expert, not a guest blogger. Know what you're talking about before pitching an idea; don't do it the other way around.
And if you want to take guest blogging opportunities on for your own blog, use the above as guidelines to find quality contributors. Valuable guest blogging is all about building relationships, which goes both ways.