Google's vision of the internet is a simple one. It should be chock full of useful and informative content, which is designed to engage with the reader and preferably, be the kind of content that people want to share.
Google doesn't want to get away from guest posting, they just want to make sure it's done properly. Care should be taken to preserve reputation and build thought leadership with a good mix of content of all types.
What A Good Post Should Contain
Guest posting isn't about just rattling off a few hundred words, sticking a link or two back to your site in the body and pressing send, it requires work. The most important thing that should be borne in mind to begin with is relevancy.
According to Google's former search employee Andre Weyhner, "getting a link from a high PR page used to always be valuable, today it's more the relevance of the site's theme in regards to yours, relevance is the new PR."
This means that it's vital to ensure that the content of the site, as well as the industry, matches yours. There's no use posting a guest blog on a site about fishing if you sell household furnishings, for example.
Checking what Google thinks your site is about is simple. Just use the Google Adwords keyword tool taking the following steps:
1. In the 'website' box, type in the URL of the site you want to check (middle box), leaving the other fields blank and ensuring that the check box is left unchecked, hit enter.
2. As you can see, for this particular site the keyword ideas have come up with a lot of suggestions pertaining to SEO, which is what the site is about, so perfect.
If Google thinks that the site is about something completely unrelated, then you have a problem on your hands, which is going to need a lot of clearing up.
Further to checking relevancy and tailoring posts to suit, it's also a good idea spending some time researching keywords for anchor text. These days, using one keyword or phrase on many sites is likely to get you a penalisation. This is of course because the Google bots recognise such links as spam content.
Another reason for researching keywords for anchor text is that whilst they remain extremely useful for on and off site SEO, since the introduction of (not provided) and the growing incidences of it, you really do need to make the most of them.
However, it's worth bearing in mind that anchor text has to be natural. There's been a lot of talk recently about Google devaluing anchor text in author signatures at the footer of the post so bearing this in mind, you may want to put any links in the body.
Make absolutely sure that this is allowed by the target site though and ensure that all anchor text is natural, don't attempt to 'shoehorn' words in, it won't read well. A good piece which is being written around your industry should allow key phrases/words to occur naturally anyway.
Use words that are relevant, along with generic terms such as 'here', 'this site' and so on. The more natural a mix you get, with as little repetition as possible, the nicer the bots will treat your site.
At this point, it's also important to note that the content should be well written, with short paragraphs and sentences, sub-headers, relatively easy to read, depending on your target audience, and free from grammatical and spelling mistakes.
Rule of thumb: if you can't write, don't try, hire a professional to do it for you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Sourcing Guest Post Opportunities
It's important that you source opportunities first, as with every practice in business, the devil's in the details and good planning ensures results. Don't make the mistake of making a generic template to send out as a blanket request though, this is likely to annoy most site owners.
Instead, research the relevant editor to send your request to and address them by name when making an initial approach. Suggest one or two titles with a brief (2 line) description of the content. Ensure that you are clearly offering unique and relevant content, which will have value to the target site's readership.
You should already have set up set up Google Authorship to ensure that you can prove your worth to the search giants.
To do this, take the following steps:
1. Get yourself a clear headshot taken which is recognisable
2. Ensure that your name appears on each page of your content (your byline)
3. Make sure that the byline matches that on your G+ account
4. Verify that you have an email address that matches the domain
Note: It is often impossible to get an email address on the same domain for guest posting, but you can still link content using the following method:
1. Create a link to your G+ profile from the webpage as below
[profile_url] with your Google+ profile URL:
<a href="https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202? rel=author">Google</a>
2. Add a reciprocal link back to the updated sites on your G+ profile
3. Edit the 'Contributor to' section, adding custom links as appropriate for all of the content you want Google to track. This can be altered should you want to hide sites that you're contributing to so only you can see the link
4. Save your G+ profile and update as necessary
Finding guest posting opportunities isn't always easy and if you're new to it and have no established contacts, then it's probable that many of your mails will go unanswered initially. However, you can source sites actively searching for guest posts using resources such as Blogger Linkup, if you're really struggling.
Make sure that target sites are:
- In the same industry sector as yours
- Engaging enough to attract comments
- Target the same audience as yourself
- Makes use of expert opinion
After all, as tempting as it might be to place a post on a friend or colleague's site, it may not be suitable or hold enough authority to make the link valuable.
Track What Happens Next
The object of guest posting is to improve traffic and create a good link profile in order to gain more organic search results. This means that it's necessary to track the results of your efforts in order to see if it's onto a winner.
You can do this by setting up an advanced section in Google Analytics; this will allow you to see which domains are creating the most traffic back to your site. It's also a good idea to track social sharing and comments, as how engaging a post is counts in the eyes of search engines.
To create a new custom segment.
First of all, click on 'advanced segments and choose the add 'new custom segment' button.
Give the new segment a name, make it something to do with the content you're tracking. Next you will need to enter the dimensions for the segment:
Referral path – enter the path for the content page, not the overall domain
Source – track social through here, ensuring that you use the social URL such as plus.google.com, for example.
Keywords -this is self-explanatory and allows you to see the anchor text used which has directed the traffic
Add as many dimensions as you can think of
For guest posts, you can also enter the specific URL of the post when it has been published.
Diversity Is The Key
With every aspect of guest posting and optimisation techniques that go with it, the key to success is diversity. Everything that you do with regard to content should be a diverse mix of opinion, keywords, anchor text, media used (video, images, infographics and so on) sites used, social sharing and so on and so on.
This applies to every part of your content marketing efforts, including articles and downloadable content, the key to success on Google in 2013 depends on two things: diversity and relevancy.
This means that it's also necessary to diversify links, perhaps having them pointed to different landing pages, and anchor text.
Whilst this has to be one of the most over-used term in marketing at the moment, it does hold some water. The web is a much more sociable place these days and as such, it pays to develop good business relationships.
Ask for guest bloggers to contribute to your own site, being very clear about what you want. This means that not only are you gaining valuable links, but you are also adding good quality content to your blog regularly. However, it's equally, if not more important that you create regular, varied and fresh content for the site too.
Ensure you reply to any comments on your guest posts where possible too, not to mention posting it on social media sites and monitoring comments, likes, shares and so on, replying where necessary. This will help to build authority and allow you to create a conversation with your audience.
There's no real mystery about guest blogging and whilst half of the web might be predicting its demise, this is unlikely so long as content submitted is of a very high quality.