Don’t Be a Guest-Post Bottom-Feeder!

April 10, 2014
by Kimberly Treacy

Guest-Post_ Big Red SEOHere at Big Red SEO in Omaha, we understand that developing a long-term content strategy is the best way to go about garnering more traffic, readers, and sales. A lot’s been said about the practice of guest-posting lately, with industry experts like Matt Cutts stating that it can lead to penalties if not done for the right reasons. First, let us say that it’s right to be wary when it comes to guest-posting, especially when Matt Cutts (who heads up the Google Anti-Spam division) is leading the charge against it.

Many companies see guest-posting as an easy way to gain more traffic from those who are higher on the readership food chain. This was very common in the world of old school search engine optimization and years ago it was tolerated, but not anymore! One of the main reasons guest-posting is on its way out is that many people would guest-post in industries that were not their own (and thus offered no true value to readers). Simply put, this isn’t what guest-posting is supposed to be.

Today, our SEO and content creation team at Big Red SEO will tell you what’s misguided about this common mindset and explain how developing your own company blog can benefit your business if you go about it the right way.

Why The Host-Parasite Dynamic Doesn’t Work in SEO

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat—if you’re guest-posting on a popular site for the sole purpose of drawing their readership to your less-popular site, even when your company has little to nothing to do with theirs, you’re doing it wrong. How so? You’re setting yourself up as a “para”-site, not a guest.

“Linking” is a core term in the search engine optimization industry and many companies, those new to SEO as well as those who had been performing SEO for years, would use guest-posting as an avenue to achieve external links to point back to their company (i.e., their website).

Here’s the main concern with this practice: just as relationships aren’t built on association alone, getting a mention or link on an authoritative site doesn’t make you an authority.

In order to justify guest-posting, the guest has to share a genuine interest in the host’s industry. In theory, if you’re taking the time to research, analyze, create, and distribute advice, tips or suggestions in a given industry, you need to ensure that you are actually an expert.This isn’t an arbitrary rule handed down from Google on high–honestly, it’s just common sense.

What If I Want to Guest-Post in My Industry?

If you are looking to guest-post on a website that is associated with your industry, one that provides value and 100% unique content (meaning no duplicate text), then you’re headed in the right direction. At Big Red SEO, we generally do not participate in guest-posting; however, we know of several industry leaders who do and perform it successfully with no penalties. Again, chances are if you are an industry expert or leader who provides legitimate value with what you write, readers will be more than interested in what you have to say. Remember, if you’re putting your name on content, make sure it’s truly great.

Why Posting in Non-Relevant Websites Can Hurt You

Creating deceptive articles that contain links which have no relation to your business can cause confusion and irritation for your readers. Think about it this way: if you’re clicking to read an article about one subject and the link sends you down a rabbit hole to a website that has nothing to do with what you wanted, you’re going to be irritated. This can cause you to question the website you’re on as well as the information being provided.

At Big Red SEO, we recommend avoiding guest-posting on sites that aren’t in your industry. Do not create deceptive articles that link to your business. If you do, you can find yourself being penalized in addition to losing the respect of your readers (who might have been your potential customers!).

Don’t be a parasite by going after traffic at any cost

So far we’ve told you that it’s not recommended to guest-blog, that you should not create irrelevant links that can confuse readers, in addition to explaining how all this can hurt your business. If you are scratching your head attempting to find out what to do now, keep reading.

As content creation experts, we recommend for you look at what makes the sites you want to guest-post on (in your industry) popular in the first place. If you take the time to reflect on what another site is doing right, you’ll always find the following things:

  • Valuable Content: Whether you’re targeting Forbes or your local area news site for guest-posting opportunities, these publications have mountains of up-to-date content that’s interesting and informative (read, valuable!) to their readerships. Once you spend some time reading what they publish and identifying what makes their content valuable, you can start creating your own beneficial content.
  • Authority: Authority stems from valuable content. At Big Red SEO, we highly recommend you start by writing content with the goal of helping a reader navigate your industry, and if that content actually proves to be helpful, you’ll have scored some authority points with that reader. In the future, they’ll be more likely to refer to your expertise on other industry matters, and they’ll also be more likely to tell other people about you. It’s that simple process repeated again and again that builds authority.
  • Community: The last piece of the puzzle is how a popular site interacts with its readers. If someone has a question, a quality site answers it quickly, and the answer serves to build an ongoing relationship between site and reader. Big fish sites take the time to start conversations about their content and keep them going!

Be the Big Fish!

At Big Red SEO we recommend that your goal in guest-posting shouldn’t be to piggyback on another site’s success without putting in the work to be successful yourself. Being in the website optimization business for several years, we’ve seen first-hand that a lot of subpar sites treat guest-posting this way. They write content that appeals to the host site but is irrelevant to their industry. This can lead to the host site picking up their content and sending more traffic to the “para”-site, but what does this do besides frustrate readers who think they’ll be taken to a site that interests them, only to find that they’ve been deceived? It’s this practice in guest-posting that has led Google and others to penalize guest-posters and warn others against it.

At Big Red SEO, we know that guest-posting is great in theory—at its best it builds communities, contributes to ongoing industry conversations, and makes readers aware of other sources of great information that they may not have known about before. At its worst, it props up sources of weak content at the expense of those who put hard work and passion into their content and community development.

Since it’s possible to get quick returns with minimal effort from parasitic guest posting, especially when using “black hat” SEO techniques, it will always be a prevalent problem. At Big Red SEO, we recommend focusing on your own company blog first–by putting time and effort into crafting valuable content full of your industry expertise and knowledge to use on your own blog, you’ll be investing in a solid and steady long-term strategy for your search engine optimization efforts.

Your business will be much better served by producing great content that you can then share across your own site, increasing your traffic and providing those searching for answers relevant information to your industry. We don’t guarantee many things in the SEO world, but what we can tell you is if you create 100% relevant content about your industry, you will not have to live in fear of a Google penalty or tsk-tsking from your industry peers.

Contact Big Red SEO Today at (402) 522-6468!

Remember, creating relevant content can be one of those tactics that really can help your long-term SEO strategy. If you go about it in the right way, you will gain respect from the industry peers in addition to local newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets– remember that these outlets also perform research!

At Big Red SEO we develop strategies to help our clients rise to the top of leading search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. If your company could use more online exposure that brings more traffic and conversions to your company website, give us a call at (402) 522-6468 or fill out our contact form to find out what we can do for you!

Kimberly Treacy

About

Kimberly Treacy (Talbot) is an SEO Guru with a ‘no bullshit’ attitude. As the owner of Big Red SEO, she provides companies of all sizes what they need to know to get their business in front of those looking for their services and products. Big Red SEO is one of the few search engine optimization companies that offers ‘industry exclusivity’ meaning we only work with one company within an industry and their market at a time.