Guest bloggers? The safest option is NO

guest-bloggersAmid the spammy emails we get from SEO companies, agressive domain name resellers and other forms of snake oil merchant, we have been receiving an increasing dose of emails from people wanting to be guest bloggers on our website.

If you get approached by these people, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Would my audience benefit from the information being offered?
  • Will there be any SEO or awareness-building benefit?
  • Is the content being offered authentic, polished and exclusive?
  • Do I know the author?

I know, that’s a lot of questions, but I can pick them off quite quickly. Let’s get started.

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging is simply the act of adding a blog article to your website from a guest writer or contributor.

Usually, the guest blogger approaches you with the offer of supplying an article of relevance to your website, in return for including links back to the guest author’s website, blog or product(s).

Would my audience care?

If you are being offered articles or infographics (images that convey information about a topic, largely through imagery rather than text) on a topic relevant to your audience, my question is, why aren’t you producing it yourself?

I take a firm position on this matter.

The people who visit, return to or bookmark your website are typically doing so because they find your approach to your subject matter to be valuable.

If a topic being offered is core to your subject matter and you have not produced anything on it yet, my suggestion is to use the approach as a prompter to creating something yourself.

The overriding principle is this: topics you cover should be those that move you towards achieving your strategic marketing goals.

Therefore, it should be fairly straightforward to assess the topic and decide to produce something yourself or ignore the offer.

Does guest blogging offer any SEO benefit?

The short answer is, yes it did, now it will less and less for THEM.

For the guest blogger, having numerous links back to a website from all around the web is SEO paradise.

Well, it has been.

This year, Matt Cutts from Google spelled out categorically that:

guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.

When Google determines something is spammy, watch out, penalties will follow.

Mind you, that is the warning for you, if you want to use guest blogging on your site for content.

If you ARE the guest blogger, Matt says that despite the loss of SEO benefit, getting your content onto a site that has lots of the RIGHT traffic will still have value.

So the short answer is, guest blogging works best for the guest blogger. Do you want to be used that way, while risking negative SEO ramifications?

Is the content you’re being offered authentic and exclusive?

One of the massive downsides of running guest blogs is that your site will be like dozens, hundreds or thousands of other pages, depending on how widespread the guest blogger has promoted their work.

Jennifer L is a marketer who offered us an infographic on customer service in the social age.

A quick google reveals that same infographic has now been used in many places.

That would have made the process ALMOST meaningless to us from an SEO perspective (which page should google send traffic to when searching for customer service in the social age?).

In Jennifer’s case, she seems legit, depsite sending us a generic email and using a gmail address as her business address, but how will you know that an unsolicited guest blogger has not simply plagiarised other people’s work, which would land YOU in the legal poop?

The work involved in checking the bona fides of a piece of work may well be outweighed by the control and power of creating your own content.

Do you know the author?

Finally, I would like to pick up on part of the Matt Cutts quote, above, in relation to knowing the author.

His suggestion that he would only allow a guest blog from someone he knew personally and would vouch for talks to my previous point about authenticity.

At the end of the day, you are blogging for your own professional development, for your own SEO advantage, for your audience, and for your strategic marketing goals.

The temptation of going for the ‘quick fix’ of using guest blogs, should raise red flags if you are serious about creating an authentic persona for your audiences.