Unless you live in a cave (in which case, how are you reading this!) you probably know that Google is somewhat on the warpath against guest posting and indeed it seems that the final stronghold of white-hat link builders has been turned over to the black hats!
Personally I don’t like the notion of black and white hats, I just like to find ways to build more traffic, ethically… But anyway:
- Guest posting used to be a very reputable & good thing to do
- Mass guest posting & bad intentions have given it a bad name
The fuss kicked off with a blog post by Matt Cutts proclaiming the death of guest posting, which is here if you haven’t read it already.
Of course this post was quickly edited afterwards with some important qualifications and it has been discussed ad nauseum already. But this was a strong sign of what was to come.
A while later, Matt Cutts tweeted about a manual penalty on a very well-known website (myBlogGuest) which was a forum for people who wanted to take part in guest posting. Which has created quite a storm.
The Results Of This Are…
Well firstly, we don’t use MBG so this wasn’t a big concern, but for the record my understanding of MGB is that they weren’t really doing anything more than providing a platform for bloggers who wanted guest posts to find bloggers who wanted to write guest posts.
All the same, Google clearly believe that use of MBG puts you in a bad neighborhood and they may be right. Unfortunately, any system that makes SEO easier will be used by “black hats”.
So Why Should You Care?
Ok, so let’s get to the point because really all that matter is what you can do about these new developments, so what should you take away from this information?
The rest of this post will focus on what this development actually means for you, and what SEO tasks you should and shouldn’t be using going forward:
Nothing Has Changed
All of the recommendations I will make below were already good advice. The only difference now is that the cost of doing things that go against this advice is that you are even more likely to regret it.
Stop Building Links For Links
If you are working hard to build links to your website, stop doing it. Artificial links can clearly get you in trouble – even if you are building them ethically – and changing your mind set is the easiest way to avoid trouble. Here are some interesting thoughts on the real meaning behind Matt Cutts’ declaration.
Try To Earn Links
Earning links is hardest for small sites with no traffic, but Google knows that and will take that into consideration. In other words, you don’t need hundreds of links to compete with the big boys, you just need to do something to get noticed.
Build Links To Earn Them
Remember that links aren’t just an SEO thing, they’re also what people use to get around the web and find new things. If you want to earn links you need to write great content and then you need the right people to see it.
This may sound a little contradictory, but you need to build links. Not for the sakes of SEO, but in order to build traffic. If you view every link opportunity as a chance to generate traffic and build your brand’s reputation, you will be much less tempted to cut corners and do spammy thing.
With that in mind, there are plenty of ways to build links to drive traffic:
- Guest posting!
- Commenting on blogs
- Being active in forums
The crucial thing is that you’re doing these to build an audience and a brand, not a link profile. Which means that you should be doing things like:
- Being active on important websites in your niche
- Being consistent and helpful
- Becoming a regular guest author on each blog
- Not caring if a blogger wants to no follow your link
Basically, forget SEO link building. If your only goal is to gain traffic and a receptive audience then you absolutely have to write the best content and you have to make sure that your brand is aligned with the audience that you are reaching out to.
Over time you will become a familiar face and people will become more willing to link to your own content and talk about you – which is when you start receiving natural links.
Go For Social Shares Too
Remember that the social graph is also important, but better still is the fact that social shares are often much easier to earn than links because:
- Not everyone has a website to link to you from
- But almost everyone uses some form of social media
This is why it is critical to optimize your content for social media shares and viral-ity. But first you need to understand where your users come from and which social platforms that they use so that you can optimize accordingly.
Think About More Than Links
The importance of links will depend to an extent on your website and what stage you are at. If your site is brand new then your top priority should be to generate traffic because that’s how you get the ball rolling.
But once you have some traffic (and even while you build it) you should be spending time making your website better. This of course still includes old favorites such as:
- Page titles
- Meta description
- Image Alt tags
But in addition you should think about making your website better for your visitors. In particular, how you can reduce bounces and exits and keep more of your hard earned traffic on site and interacting.
Of course that’s a topic for another post, but a few things worth considering are:
- Increasing page load speed
- Working on your headings and titles
- Using CRO to reduce bounce rate
- Using heatmaps to understand how visitors view your site