Reverse your guest blogging strategy

Rusty

Guest blogging as a marketing strategy has been relatively simple up until this point. You write for other blogs, send them your post (which invariably contains one or more links to your website), and if they publish it, you get credit from search engines for an additional link to your website.

The purpose of guest blogging is to generate links. Links create authority which signals Google that your site is worthwhile. Earning Google’s favor means better performance in unpaid search, which in turn means more traffic to your website.

Just about a year ago, Matt Cutts, the webspam emeritus at Google, made the following statement:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

The real goal of guest blogging isn’t more links. It isn’t better search engine performance. The real goal of guest blogging is increased traffic to your website, achieved through multiple intermediate steps.

Here’s something to consider. What if, instead of pursuing lots of intermediary steps, you went straight for the final goal of increased traffic? How would your marketing strategy change?

Chances are the few blogs you chose to write for would be highly targeted. They’d be sites that have the audience you want, and the site would be willing to give you relatively free rein to submit content that generates clickthroughs to your site. You’d be behaving as though Google didn’t exist, which is aligned well with Google’s web quality guidelines.

Extend this concept even further. What if you reversed the process of guest blogging? What if, instead of you submitting content on other peoples’ sites, you aimed instead to invite them to your site? You’d reverse the process of placing content other places and instead opened your doors to others. At first glance, this might seem to be self-defeating. It’s not; in fact, it’s an incredible way to build links in a more reliable fashion. Why? If you choose your guest bloggers well, they will bring their own audiences and direct attention to the content they created on your site. Paradoxically, by giving up space and audience on your website to someone else, they can bring you even more audience, not to mention lots of new links.

For example, a few years ago, I invited 11 friends to blog here while I was on an extended leave of absence. Each of those 11 blog posts drove tons of new visitors at the time, and each has dozens of links to them from external sources that continue to feed my website’s SEO value to this day. Was that more impactful than me just getting one link from an external website? You bet.

Here’s the catch: to make this work, you must give more than you get. Promote your guest bloggers’ posts on your blog as rigorously, if not more so, as your own. Shine the spotlight on them. Give them clear, equity-passing links in their posts. Only when you give more than you get will you reap the long term rewards. You can’t approach reverse guest blogging from a scarcity mindset.

Rethink your guest blogging approach. Does it make more sense now to pursue the end goal directly – traffic – than through a series of indirect steps with the hopes of obtaining favor from an algorithm? I’d argue yes.

And if you missed the excellent series, here are the posts:

Other posts in the series:



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My Top Blog Posts of 2014

Tired with coffee

As the year winds down, let’s rewind the clock and look back at what you really liked in 2014. These are the top 10 pages of 2014 on my blog by page views. A reminder, if you’d like to construct your own top 10 lists, there’s a quick tutorial here.

#10: Benchmarking your site in Google Analytics. A quick tutorial on ho to know where you’re leading and lagging versus your peer competitors.

#9: What does marketing strategy look like? A post about understanding strategy vs. tactics with a very simple analogy.

#8: Improve On-Site SEO with Webmaster Tools Data Highlighter. This is a video I shot that walks you through how Data Highlighter works. It did wonders for improving my site’s search ability.

#7: Review of the Inaugural MarTech Conference. There’s nothing like the first conference in a series. Here’s what I learned at MarTech.

#6: The Cognitive Importance of Storytelling. I ventured into academia to understand working memory and why storytelling is important to marketers who want people to remember them.

#5: How to get started with Google Tag Manager. One of Google’s most useful tools, Tag Manager is still somewhat arcane.

#4: How to analyze all your 2014 tweets. When Twitter changed its data export algorithm, everyone benefitted. Here’s how to get your top tweets.

#3: Klout Perk: The Keurig 2.0. I wrote up a review of this device as part of a Klout Perk I received. I’ve actually gone back and amended it a couple of times.

#2: Figure out what to change with Google Analytics Benchmarking. This is a follow up post to #10, in which we look at year over year benchmarking trends to see what’s changed and how things are moving.

#1: How to read the room as a speaker. The most popular post of the year, this shows my method of reading a room so as to better get a feel for the crowd when you’re onstage.

For everyone who’s stopped by my blog this year, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing the content I create. Let’s keep making interesting things together in the year ahead!


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Klout Perk Review: Keurig 2.0

I received the Keurig 2.0 brewing system via Klout as part of a Klout perk. While the instructions from Klout say that I’m under no obligation to review it, I will anyway. So, here goes.

The system itself has a larger footprint than equivalent current models. It’s probably 25% larger than the equivalent previous model.

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The simple buttons have been replaced by a somewhat intuitive touchscreen, though the navigation gets confusing when you try to brew a carafe rather than a cup. I intentionally did not read the manual, because not reading the manual best simulates my state of wakefulness prior to coffee.

The newest feature is the ability to brew a carafe with a significantly larger K-Cup than the single service K-Cup.

So, is the system any good? For the positives, it’s much quieter than the older table-top models. Instead of the loud buzzing sound it makes when drawing water from the reservoir, it now makes a quieter pulsing sound. If you’ve ever tried to brew a K-Cup early in the morning while not waking anyone up, the new machine is definitely quieter.

For the negatives, a couple of big sticking points. First, the new system incorporates what is effectively DRM. The system scans the top of K-Cups for the Keurig logo and if it doesn’t see it, it won’t work. I predict a cottage industry in taking used K-Cup foil seals and cutting out the logos to stick onto third-party cups to keep them working.

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Second, the new carafe feature is nice in concept but the results are poor. K-Cups already tend to be a little on the weak side – in order for me to get a cup of coffee that matches my tastes, I typically have to brew two 6-ounce cups of one of their bold roasts. The carafe setting has no ability to control how much water goes into the carafe vs. coffee, so you get a weak, watery pot of coffee. If you like weaker, watery coffee, then the carafe is going to make you deliriously happy. I, however, am unimpressed, which is a doubly bad state for me prior to coffee:

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The verdict? If you own a Keurig system already and it’s not broken, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade. Don’t spend the money for DRM that doesn’t benefit you, and a carafe of weak, watery coffee. Stick with the Keurig you already own. If you don’t own a Keurig, the Keurig 2.0 is a capable machine with tradeoffs. If you want to use your own coffee with a reusable filter, you’re out of luck unless you glue a used Keurig label on your K-Cup holder (and I’d recommend an Aeropress for that anyway).

Update: After several months, something has gone wrong with this machine. It now makes a cup of coffee in slightly less than 3 minutes, significantly up from the 30 seconds or so it used to make a cup of coffee. Even after repeated cleaning and such, it’s still working badly, but not badly enough for me to send it back.

As always, thanks to Klout for the Perk and to Keurig for the machine. It’s now available for purchase everywhere. (Amazon affiliate link) I don’t know how much use I’ll get out of it, but at least it’s pleasant looking.

Disclosure: I received this Klout Perk for free. No other compensation was given.


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