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22 Jun 2011

How Guest Blogging Can Send Your Brand and Reputation Straight to Hell

Guest Blogging and Brand Reputation

I wrote my first guest blog post in December 2008 for Ann Smarty’s SEO blog. My post was titled “The 7 Reasons Every Blogger Should Be Guest Posting.” Although it’s been two-and-a-half years, I still believe in what I wrote. In fact, I could have easily titled the post “Why Every Marketer Should be Blogging and Guest Posting.”

The reasons for my strong recommendation of guest posting included:

  • Exposing your content and brand to a new audience
  • Increasing RSS subscribers
  • Creating a mutually beneficial situation for the guest blogger and host blog
  • Benefiting from networking
  • Providing a fresh perspective to the host blog’s readers
  • Harnessing a different social network to spread your content
  • Building quality links

I purposefully put building quality links at the end of my list. The point of my post was not highlighting guest blogging as an awesome link building tactic. I wanted Ann’s readers to understand there are so many positive benefits to guest blogging that it’s foolish not to employ it in your arsenal of online marketing strategies.

I subsequently wrote about how guest blogging positions you as an expert in your field. I still believe this is one of the most powerful benefits and compelling reasons to guest blog.

When a Good Thing Takes a Wrong Turn

ReputationYou’re probably aware that a lot has changed since December 2008. The popularity of guest blogging has increased significantly over the last two and a half years. In fact, many Internet marketers and SEOs now view guest blogging as the new de facto way to build links. While I noticed this belief was on a steady rise, it seems Google’s Panda update ignited this issue like a wildfire in California.

Although it may seem to go against what I’ve written in previous posts, you should not use guest blogging solely for building links!

I’m a professional SEO, link builder and marketer, so I completely understand the need to build links. But I truly believe there are much better ways to build links than throwing together short guest posts that simply litter the blogosphere.

I usually get several low quality guest post requests per week. I reject these requests because it’s obvious they’re nothing more than a link grab. Canned and impersonal guest post requests are becoming just as bad as traditional link exchange spam!

What happened when link exchanges spiraled out of control? Google cracked down on them. The current exploitation of low quality guest posts means it’s only a matter of time until Google takes action once again.

If you think I’m jumping the gun, it’s important to realize there’s another factor at play. More blog owners are charging for publishing guest posts! We all know how Google feels about links that involve money changing hands.

It’s Not Just About Google

The likelihood of Google taking action against low quality guest posts isn’t the only reason not to make link building your primary guest posting focus.

My original discussion of guest posting highlighted 7 benefits this practice offers. But if you’re trying to shortcut this process, you’ll miss out on 6 of those benefits. Links are great, but so is bringing in real visitors who want to spend time reading your blog.

I also mentioned I advocated guest blogging because it can solidify your reputation as an expert in your field. However, what happens when you attach your name to meaningless guest posts that provide readers with no value? Not only will it not help you, but it can damage the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build! The last thing you want is people within your field blogging or Tweeting about how they’re tired of seeing your spammy posts popping up everywhere.

Put in the Work and You’ll Reap the Rewards

There is nothing wrong with getting byline links when you’ve produced a worthwhile guest post. You may get tired of hearing about quality content, but it needs to be repeated because it’s what Google and readers want.

Take the time to come up with guest posts you would want to read. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, grab a pen & notebook and go for a walk outside. You have plenty of ideas floating around in your brain. Sometimes it just takes getting away from the constant flow of information on your screen to pull them out.

Producing quality guest posts can take more time. But you’ll find this is time well spent. Your posts will generate more results for your brand. You’ll also find it’s much easier to get quality posts published on blogs lots of people actually read.

People aren’t going to stop their attempts to spam the blogosphere. The best thing you can do as a blog owner is just say no when presented with these types of posts.

Putting in the work and holding your blog to a higher standard will keep your brand and reputation out of blogosphere hell!

geraldweberAbout the Author:
Gerald Weber is an internet entrepreneur from Houston Texas. He founded sem-group.net in Dec. 2005 
and more recently co-founder viralcontentbuzz.com follow Gerald on to learn more.

23 Comments

  • Ana | Traffic Generation Jun 22, 2011

    I am very picky when it comes to what is posted on my site. After all, it is my reputation that is at stake.

  • Brian Jun 22, 2011

    I agree and believe that just like everything else in the world some people we begin to take advantage of a good thing and ruin it for those playing by the rules. This is industry is constantly changing… One of the many reasons I love it. Great article by the way.

  • Ann Smarty Jun 22, 2011

    Amen to that, Gerald. I see too many people misunderstand and abuse guest blogging and I hope they will read this post!

  • Vera Jun 22, 2011

    Very helpful article, for someone who is managing blog for a short time. I completely agree! Especially with the part where you write about ” getting away from the constant flow of information on your screen”. Ever since I got exposed to “social media stuff” and started to follow different people I liked, I realized that it is hard to come up with something that would be in my opinion beneficial to my readers, and not to repeat somebody’s theme. Yeah, I have days, when I feel that everything was already written. And that’s too bad. I am taking your advice, and go for walk right now!

  • Tyler Jun 22, 2011

    “I also mentioned I advocated guest blogging because it can solidify your reputation as an expert in your field.”

    The importance of this point can’t be emphasized enough. Using your blog and guest posts to establish yourself as an authority can open more doors than you thought possible.

  • Gerald Weber Jun 22, 2011

    @Luana at N0t.info,

    “Link exchange does not get penalized if it’s genuine and the consequence of a true blogger2blogger relationship. ”

    Yes I know that there are legitimate reasons for link exchanges and these won’t be penalized. There is difference between you and I exchanging links because we are friends and going on an all out reciprocal link exchange campaign.

    However sounds to me like you understand where I’m coming from.

    “Like you, I believe in genuine link building: by genuine I don’t mean sitting back while waiting for backlinks to come magically in, but by being open and kind to people and their discussion, provide them with quality content and answers to their questions, ”

    We are 100% on the same page here.

    @Brian,

    I also love that the industry is constantly changing. It keeps things new and fresh as and keeps us on our toes.

    Glad you like the article!

    @Ann,

    I concur, and thanks for sharing the article Ann. :-)

  • A. Tatum Jr Jun 22, 2011

    I agree. I see a lot of guest post that are just thrown together. I’ve only written about 3 or 4 myself, but I try to take my time and come up with an interesting topic and cover all the bases.

  • Gerald Weber Jun 22, 2011

    @Vera,

    I’m glad you found the article useful. Have a great walk! :-)

    @Tyler,

    You are spot on here. Guest blogging in conjunction with social media has opened many many doors and has been an integral part of my business’ success.

  • Eric Jun 22, 2011

    I’m glad you brought up the point about guest blogging affecting your reputation. Too many times, people get so caught up in wanting to grab as many links as they can that they end up attaching their name to low quality content that can damage their brand. The same thing goes for the blog owners too. Publishing low quality posts from guest authors waters down your own blog too.

  • Ritu Jun 22, 2011

    Awesome piece Gerald! I think one of the things most bloggers tend to forget is quality of it all. The thing is both the blogger and the guest writer must be on the same boat when it comes to content. If one of them has different opinion in regards to content (some bloggers want guest simply to fill up their quote, and some guest writers just want a link back) then it should be a no go. I guess we all need to have a certain set of ethics that we abide by in the world of blogging as we do in life.

  • Scott Bradley Jun 22, 2011

    As I was reading this my head was nodding up and down in total agreement.

    Awesome post Gerald…as always!

  • Lee Jun 23, 2011

    Guest Blogging is indeed a good way to get quality backlinks, however, as some had mentioned here, most blogger tend to write low quality contents without realizing that their brand might be damaged in the end. It reminded me when I worked at IT company last time, I was considered to be a good programmer, but I did one stupid thing that almost makes our clients lose money then after that, it takes me some times to rebuild the trust. So be careful guys, trust is hard to build but easy to destroy.

  • Flodner Jun 23, 2011

    Great explanation. I agree with you. One bad quality post is enough to completely spoil your reputation. And then it would be very hard to restore it.
    But paid guest posts are one more opportunity for bloggers to earn money and if the content is relevant it may be ok.

  • Ileane Jun 23, 2011

    Hi Gerald, great advice here. I get approached from potential guest bloggers a couple of times a week too and if I don’t know someone, I always request writing samples. Do you have any advice on other ways to vet potential guests? Thanks!

  • Ivin Jun 23, 2011

    I don’t know if Google’s going to directly penalize you, but bad quality posts being posted will be representative of your blog as if you wrote it. That’s what guest bloggers should understand. That’s why you should vet.

    I take care of this by having done a post about guest posting linking to articles I wrote of blogging standards and giving people examples of the bare minimum I expect. This post is liked to from the guest post image in my sidebar. This way I don’t get request from someone not prepared to work hard on their posts. And, this way the posts are of excellent quality for general standards or up ion par with my own guest post quality.

  • Gerald Weber Jun 23, 2011

    @Eric,

    “The same thing goes for the blog owners too. Publishing low quality posts from guest authors waters down your own blog too.”

    Exactly and this is why it’s so important to politely reject these low quality guest posts.

    @Ritu,

    ” I guess we all need to have a certain set of ethics that we abide by in the world of blogging as we do in life.”

    Well said. It basically boils down o one thing. Is the guest author showing the blog host respect?

    @Scott Bradley,

    Thanks buddy!

    @Lee,

    “trust is hard to build but easy to destroy.”

    Words to live by my friend!

    @Flodner

    “”But paid guest posts are one more opportunity for bloggers to earn money and if the content is relevant it may be ok.”

    Actually I see the potential for many problem with this practice. Just to name a couple.

  • Warner Carter Jun 23, 2011

    One thing will never change. If you put out crappy content it’s gunna hurt you. Whether anyone wants to accept this or not, anyone who contributes to the web anywhere has a responsibility to put out the best they possibly can. Sure it’s a challenge, live is a challenge, nobody will ever change that.

    I have a friend who is studying to be a journalist. She works hard to write well and to produce the best she possibly can. Her career is progressing steadily as a result, in spite of 12 billion people who seem to think they are journalists but never have or will make a cent writing. Its no different for your SEO or link building. Trash is trash and it winds up in the round file eventually.

    I even offer guest posting as a service to some of my clients but my writers are all people who love to write and would be writing no matter what. We get a lot of complements and real comments on the writing because it is informative and written with flair and that drop of creativity people who love what they do always naturally add. Because of that my clients are very happy being on some of the best known blogs there are. Of course its a lot more work, so is everything that works well.

    I don’t sweat Panda, I embrace it. A study by nichebot keywords even showed there was a marked difference in which articles at ezinearticles got slammed. The good original articles lost substantially less position than the ones that read like those magazine articles in those free magazines on airplanes. Boring articles about nothing suck, and people who guest post with junk will get pushed aside, ignored and left in the dust. Bad products, stupid movies, not funny jokes….whatever.

    We are challenged by life to be at our best or accept mediocrity.

  • Spencer Jun 23, 2011

    good post, great advice, we have a great model as well

  • Gerald Weber Jun 24, 2011

    @Warner Carter,

    Your comment is like a mini blog posts in itself. LOL

    A very insightful mini blog post that does a great job of backing up my overall point here. Thanks :-)

    I also don’t sweat Panda. If anything it has helped my business. I have lot’s of new clients as a results of Panda. Hehe

    If there’s is one thing we can be sure of in the SEO industry it’s change. And that’s part of what makes this business so much fun. There is never a dull moment.

  • Randy Pickard Jun 27, 2011

    Gerald – Given that this article was picked up by Sphinn, it seems like this guest post worked out pretty well based on all seven of the bullet points above on the benefits of gures posting.

  • Latief Jul 01, 2011

    Yes, guest blogging with back links purpose is ridiculous. They are not appreciate the benefits being a guest blogger such build a new connection and engage with other bloggers. But still since people need more links, few people must do the dirty jobs :D

  • David @ SEO-writer.ca Jul 29, 2011

    Not to downplay your great article, Gerald, but I found the image amusing. A quote about “forever” illustrated by tracks in sand – tracks that won’t last the day. lol