If you were accepting guest blog posts or contributing posts as a way to gain links with any economic exchange, you might have to reconsider. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, recently published a post about the downfall of guest blogging, as the practice creeps into spammy territory, which has now caused great debate. While guest blogging used to be a respected link building practice – and still might be okay in some instances – it is now often considered a violation of Google’s quality guidelines. And in the future, Google could penalize websites that accept guest posts if Google believes the business is attempting to gain links without truly earning them.
Unfortunately a lot of unknowing SMB owners are falling victim to misinformation and negative guest blogging practices, as they are approached on a daily basis by companies offering content creation services by way of disreputable tactics. Many SMBs do not have the time, resources, or know-how to realize that these activities can hurt their overall search rankings and online visibility.
In some cases it might still make sense to publish a select few guest posts on your blog for added exposure and reach, but as a rule of thumb, there should never be an exchange of money for the post and you shouldn’t accept a post if you don’t know the author on a personal or strong professional basis.
Instead of placing all of your eggs in the guest blogging basket, it is best to focus on authentic link building. Here’s how.
Several on-page SEO factors exist and can help boost your website traffic. This certainly includes creating quality content such as informative blog posts, FAQs and videos. Additionally, keyword-rich title tags are vitally important as they help people and search engines determine the purpose of your website.
When creating titles for your websites pages, keep them between 40 to 70 characters and include primary keywords. Remember that if your title is too long, it will be cut off on search engine results page.
Use social media to help build your business as an authority in its respective industry and increase search rankings at the same time. A broad and authentic social media presence can lead to winning more followers and ultimately customers.
Develop interesting ideas that people can engage with on a local level whether it be community marketing or educational insight. Consumers are more likely to participate, share and interact with content – building more links for your business – if it is highly relevant and valuable to them. Maybe you are sponsoring a local Little League team or participating in a community event. Write a post about it and do so in a personal way.
Most importantly, as an SMB owner, you need to be involved in all of your marketing efforts. If you’ve hired someone to help, be a part of the strategy discussions and development, so that your marketing is organic and effective. It isn’t wise to hire someone and then drop out of the activities. Good marketing will result in good link building.
All aspects of link building have changed from guest blogging to article marketing to PR – and you have to find authentic ways to build your brand, communicate your offerings and value and create a voice. Sound online marketing strategies are the key to good link building and SEO.
Guest blogging might have been a good strategy at one point but now due to many companies trying to game SEO, this has changed. Creating original, personal content that is relevant for your local business and distributing it across your website and social media channels will help you achieve better search rankings and greater online visibility.
Chris Marentis is the founder and CEO of Surefire Social, a provider of local digital marketing services for SMBs. He previously served as CEO of Clearspring Technologies (now Add This) and senior vice president of AOL’s Interactive Marketing group.