In 2014, Google's Sergeant of Webspam Matt Cutts delivered a death wish to guest posting as we once knew it. He declared that guest posting purely to gain links and increase ranking would be penalized. The important takeaway was that guest posting itself would not be penalized, but rather guest posting to solely to gain links would be.

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The Backstory Of An Imperfect Internet

In a perfect world, bloggers in similar industries would connect with one another via guest blogging opportunities. It's a mutually beneficial relationship as one brand's readers benefit from another's innovative ideas. The guest blogger is then awarded with exposure as those new readers migrate to the guest blogger's home site via a backlink.

But, alas, things are not that simple.

SEOs discovered ranking rewards via backlinks that abused the system and misled readers. Spammy links prompted Matt Cutt's announcement to penalize link building through guest posting.

All is not lost, however, as guest posting remains a safe practice when done properly and for authentic reasons.

Outreach Marketing Still Has Its Place

After you come to terms with the fact that spammy guest-posting tactics are dead, you can begin to move forward and reap the other benefits guest posting has to offer, some of which are as follows:

Thought Leadership

A contributorship spot on top blogs in your field allows you to position yourself as an expert. Create valuable, insightful content and you will gain readers.

Networking

Guest posting will inevitably allow you to connect with more people. Ideally, your high-quality content will be noticed, which will in turn attract more people to you and your brand. The theory is that as your social reach expands, your profits will increase as well.

Business Connections

Forming positive relationships with other people in your industry is always wise. Offering attractive content via guest blogging will act as an introduction to other noteworthy individuals in your industry.

Site Traffic

The guest post itself will likely bring more people to your website. This is even truer if you are pursuing high-quality opportunities which have already built up strong and engaged audiences.

(For more on what outreach marketing is and how a common business owner can do it, click here)

Guest Blogging Done Right

The first step to appropriate guest blogging is to find the best opportunities to showcase your content. Land a spot as a guest blogger by taking the following steps:

1. Do Your Initial Research

Determine who the heavy hitters are in your niche. Figure out who they are targeting and take a look at their backlinks using your favorite SEO tools. Who is their competition? Which keywords are they going after? Answer these questions through proper research.

2. Check For Engaged Readership

Make sure the site is engaging readers. Are the blogs receiving comments? Is the site active on social media? Who is the owner of the site and is this person active as well?

3. Get To Know The Site And Its Audience

Once you know which site you're targeting, familiarize yourself with the guest-posting policy. If there isn't one, take a look at what other guest posters are writing about. Pay attention to the format, style and tone of the blog. Which types of posts get the most engagement?

4. Make Yourself Known

Begin commenting on posts and establish a name and face to your insightful comments. This serves as an introduction before you ask to share your content via a guest post.

Create Stellar Content

Now it's more important than ever to bring something new to the conversations. There's a lot of noise out there in the blogosphere - make sure your content is not rehashing what's already been said.

Consider including captivating visuals as part of your post, such as graphs and high-definition images. Use research to support your claims, and be sure to quote the experts.

What Not To Do

Although it can be tempting to fall back into old habits, don't. Guest post for the right reasons and maintain focus on authenticity. Recognize that the following tactics can cause setbacks:

  • Reaching Out to the Wrong Crowd. Don't look for exposure in the wrong places. Stick to what you know best and the rewards will follow.
  • Providing a Messy Pitch. Be sure create a concise, yet insightful pitch when trying to land a spot as a guest blogger. Use succinct bullet points to quickly translate your ideas.
  • Trying to Work the System. Play fair and the rewards will follow. Relying on loopholes and cutting corners is never good for the long-term.
  • Accepting Posts from People You Don't Know. Don't risk your reputation by accepting a guest post from an unknown source. Get to know your contributors first.
  • Using Excessive Link Exchanges. Creating partner pages solely for the use of cross-linking is a bad idea. Also, avoid relationships solely based on a linking partnership.
  • Buying or Selling Links That Pass PageRank. Exchanging money or free products for links is considered a link scheme and can be penalized.

Is It Too Late To Change?

If you've been doing it wrong or relying on ill-advised guest-posting tactics, it's never too late to change. Identify the bad links via Google's Webmaster Tools and work to get them removed or nofollowed. Furthermore, you can contact website owners directly and ask to have bad links removed.

To avoid future problems, stay up-to-date with Google's changes and never opt for deceitful SEO tactics. The algorithms change every day, but one factor seems to remain constant -- genuine content and authenticity continue to be rewarded.