So by now every SEO worth his/her salt has read Matt’s post about guest posting. Personally I think it’s a non-event because the signs were pretty clear last year that guest posting was being used way too much as a strategy and getting perilously close to a spam tactic.
I’d like to clarify the type of guest posting I am talking about is the usual “Hi Webmaster, I’d love to write unique content yadda yadda yadda” which seems to clog every inbox the way the old school link requests used to.
However, If you work with an influential person and help them improve their profile by arranging blogging opportunities for them then that’s completely valid and indeed valuable, but I digress.
This isn’t new
In April 2013 State of Search (now State of Digital) stopped accepting guest posts because they were getting out of control. The last time I submitted a guest post for a client was around February last year as it was just getting overused.
Why spammy guest posting doesn’t have a place in digital marketing
Spammy guest posting is flawed from the outset as it forgets a few basic things:
Bloggers are people too
A good blog is intrinsically personal to the blogger. They take the time to write about their experiences and opinions both of which are exceptionally personal. No matter how well a guest post is written it’s not their opinion and therefore any guest post approach that comes from someone that they don’t respect or admire falls on deaf ears.
So if you are just peddling content for links you are automatically limiting yourself to lower quality blogs that supplement their weak content with, you guessed it, more weak content. As a result these blogs are not even close to being influential to their target audience.
Lack of any genuine audience
These spammy guest blog sites that accept content from non-influentials do not have a genuine audience. There is no real followership or any other benefit to the post besides the link value which is tenuous at best. Are we really still peddling these as a good idea?
The Digital PR Alternative
I could go on about the link neighbourhoods and the lack of control you have on them accepting a heap of payday loans content that could hurt you in the future but I’d rather talk about the digital PR alternative.
Analyse your Audience
Your client sells a product or service to people. People are funny things, they have needs. Get under the skin of what they need that isn’t just your service. Start evaluating those needs as they may be “how to I grow my business” if you are in B2B insurance sales for example. Broaden the scope and start developing content ideas around real people.
Develop your integrated campaign
Once you have the needs of your audience then start looking at them over the year. Do their needs change in January as opposed to March? What is top of mind for them pre-Easter? Get your social media people in the room and ask them what posts get shared the most and why. Get your customer service people in and ask what needs they see when and why. These discussions will distil into content ideas that can be delivered across multiple channels. Once done you have your content calendar but more important you have content angles that are interesting to your audience.
Develop your outreach strategy
From that point you start developing your press releases about your upcoming content promotions with collaborative opportunities to work with bloggers and e-zines. It may be that your prioritise certain influential bloggers more than others to create a ripple effect for your brand. If your creative ideas are strong enough they will stand out in their email and they will want to work with your brand. The point is when they write about your brand it will be authentic and influential and not blatantly labelled as a guest post.
Don’t focus on links focus on relationships
You won’t get every link. If you get a link that’s great, it’s way more valuable than 20 spammy guest posts, if not then you are still helping influence an audience. It is also not just benefitting the SEO channel, the ideas you have contributed can help social, digital PR and the content channel.
Granted it is way more difficult to scale but in my experience this year when we have implemented the above we haven’t needed to go at it en-masse. The quality is there and it supports the overall brand objectives. It has also allowed our clients to see the creative angles they can execute digitally which has in turn generated more digital budget for 2014.