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The Ultimate List of Guest Blogging Do’s and Don’ts

“Stick a fork in it; guest blogging is done” was Matt Cutts’ summary to a recent blog and video he posted.

To some extent, this statement was perfectly justified in context. But taken out of context, you might be left thinking, “if guest blogging isn’t allowed, then what is?!”
While we understand Google is trying to control the effects of spammy and black-hat SEO, we don’t think Matt’s comments should be taken too literally. We firmly believe guest blogging is a form of PR which goes way back. And done correctly, it’s something you absolutely should be doing.

You see, before blogging, before the internet (and yes, even before Google) it has always been commonplace to see journalists writing for different publications. For example, it wasn’t unusual for a Guardian economist to write a piece for the FT, or for a fashion designer to write a feature article for Vogue magazine. It’s nothing new. And it won’t go away.

These writers might be freelancers writing for a fee, they might be experts in their field writing to generate interest and awareness, they could even be PR agencies writing on behalf of a client.

Why Guest Blogging is Most Definitely NOT Dead

News outlets, online media centres, and of course blogs, all benefit from great quality content. They need it to survive. It’s what we’re all striving for with every post that’s written. We want to keep our readers engaged, excited to return to read our next piece and eager to share it with their networks.

This means going beyond our own pool of knowledge, bringing in experts who can write specifically about their niche, prolific authors, experienced journalists… and yep, bloggers.
Guest blogging done right is just another way of generating positive PR, with the added benefit of getting a link back for it.

The Ultimate List of Guest Blogging Do’s and Don’ts

With that in mind, we thought we would give you WMG’s ultimate list of do’s and don’ts when guest blogging, to make sure you don’t get into Google’s bad books, but you do take advantage of this great PR tactic.

The Do’s:
  • Make sure the site you are writing for has great content on it already. When people link to it, it’s important that they see this content immediately. It should add value to the post and reassure readers that it really is authoritative in its field. TIP: Link directly to the site’s blog or news centre if there’s something worth talking about already on there.
  • Develop great working relationships with your blogging network. At WMG our outreach specialists develop personal relationships with their own network of bloggers. This means they trust that the content we write is always excellent, and good for their site and their readers, and we know that they work hard to keep their site as informative and engaging as possible. We see it as a PR exercise, ensuring we retain excellent relationships with our journalists and bloggers.
  • Ask yourself why you’re writing the piece. If it’s because you need a link, then it’s the wrong reason. If you’re writing because you’re genuinely adding value, because it’s relevant and useful, then you are doing it for the right reasons (and a link in return is the icing on the cake – not the primary reason for writing it!)
  • Use a dedicated writer. Pieces written by professional writers are better quality; they have a better understanding of what’s interesting and unique to readers, so you’re more likely to end up with a really great piece of content.
  • Create assets that add value. Infographics, images, diagrams, videos and downloadable content like white papers, how-to guides and quick-guides are far more valuable than just a blog post alone. They won’t only add value to what you’re already writing, making it more likely a site will like what they see, but it creates content which is more likely to be shared, linked to, and talked about. This creates brand awareness and great exposure (and again, might even get you links back that you weren’t expecting!)
The Don’ts
    • Don’t send outreach emails en-masse. Personalised emails to bloggers, journalists and authors in your niche who you want to build a relationship with work far better, and are more likely to generate better results in the long run than sending spammy messages around the world in the hope that you’ll get a few responses.
    • Don’t make guest blogging your only link building tactic. Use it selectively and as just a part of the wider link building campaign.
    • Don’t send automated posts, don’t create spun posts or duplicate posts across multiple sites.This is spam. Plain and simple. And this is what Google wants rid of.
    • Don’t use Pseudonyms. Whether you’re an in-house writer or an agency copywriter writing on a client’s behalf, its far better to write as yourself, build your own online authority utilising Google+ and LinkedIn profiles to leverage your expertise within your niche.
    • Don’t turn down great guest post opportunities with no-follow policies! We see this a lot at WMG and it really gets us down. People have great opportunities to post on sites with authority, with a huge following or a great brand presence, but because the site has a no-follow policy on its links, it gets turned down! The value should be in the traffic, the exposure, the brand awareness, the opportunity to communicate a message to an audience you’ve never spoken to before driving them to take action or learn more. A no-follow link can have a lot of value.
    • Be aware that Google doesn’t like paid-for links. Whether this is payment for content, a payment for an asset, or a tip. Google takes a dim view of this practice and it can be damaging to your link profile.

Key takeaway:

Guest blogging is another form of PR. Instead of the medium being magazines or newspapers it’s a blog. And instead of dealing with journalists and authors, we’re working with bloggers and webmasters. But essentially, the tactics are exactly the same. Site owners must continuously strive for excellent content which engages readers and drives them to take action, much like offline media.

To get a link in return is the icing on the cake. It should never be the sole reason for creating the content in the first place. If you remember this, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. And guest blogging in this way is most definitely alive.