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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You can’t sell airplanes in AdWords

How much risk does your product or service entail?

Some products have low risk to them. A consumer can try a different flavor of gum at low risk. A B2B vendor can order a new kind of thumb drive at low risk.

Other products are riskier. Signing a new marketing agency can be risky, especially if they demand an unbreakable annual contract. Buying a new CRM is risky. Selecting a college is risky.

As risk increases, our willingness to take a leap of faith diminishes. Our buyer’s remorse for a new brand of soda lasts only as long as it takes for us to spit it out and throw it away. We’re comfortable making that leap. Our buyer’s remorse for a house, a car, or a college can last our entire lives, so making that leap requires much more trust.

If our willingness to take a leap of faith declines as risk increases, why do we ask people to take big leaps in our marketing?

For example, I’ve seen AdWords ads trying to convince people to buy a new SaaS-based service right in the ad. Click here and buy now, only $1499 a month! I’ve seen auto dealers run banner ads with eCommerce hooks in them. These are risky transactions!

The higher the risk, the higher you need to aim in the funnel to get any kind of conversion. Got a new pack of gum? You can ask for the sale inside an email or with a media placement. Got a new college? You can’t even ask for a lead. You’ve got to start by building awareness and trust.

You’re not going to sell an airplane in AdWords.

Take a careful look at the advertising and marketing you’re doing and place yourself in your buyer’s shoes. How much risk are you asking them to take? If you don’t know, assume that the leap of faith is greater than you believe it is. The reality is that as marketers, we have great difficulty thinking like our audience. To mitigate that, we’ll need to experiment by marketing higher up in the funnel.

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If you’re currently running transactional campaigns, experiment with lead or list generation campaigns. If you’re running lead generation campaigns, try branding campaigns. If you’re currently running branding campaigns, try awareness campaigns.

Measure with care! You may find that the higher-level campaign performs much better than your existing campaigns. That might mean that your product or service is riskier to your buyers than you believe it is.

Risk, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We can’t tell our buyers that we’re less risky than their current choices. We can only market to them in the way they’re most receptive to our message.


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Should you blog during holidays?

Here’s a fun exercise to try that might save you some time this holiday season and for every holiday going forward. Should you blog, post social media updates, or be active online during holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, etc.?

There’s an easy, simple way to discern an answer. First, why are you active? Is it for your own creative outlet or mental discipline? If so, then carry on as normal, regardless of what time of year it is.

If it’s to drum up business, then go into a service like Google Trends. Let’s look at how this might work.

Google_Trends_-_Web_Search_interest__marketing_-_2008__2014_-_United_States

First, go to Google Trends and specify a comparison by time range (1).

Next, type in the most broad search term that your company can be found for, such as marketing, public relations, concrete, etc. (2)

Third, be sure to set geography so that you get results for the country or countries you operate in. (3)

Next, pick the general kind of audience that visits your website. For my blog, I set it to Business & Industrial > Advertising and Marketing, because that’s who tends to read this blog. (4)

Finally, pick the current year and a year six years in the past. Why? Because you want to match the day of week patterns. (5) If you’re looking at holiday traffic, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on a Thursday in 2014. The last year they fell on a Thursday was 2008, so in the example above, I added 2008 in for an apples to apples comparison. There are significant differences in traffic when you have mismatches in day of week, because behaviors change.

Think about it for a second – if a major holiday occurs on a Friday, people tend to take the day before off, but they’ll more likely than not work the first three days of the week. If a major holiday occurs on a Thursday, as it does this year, people take off Wednesday AND Friday, and in many cases just bag the entire week if they have the vacation time. Simply doing a year over year comparison will give you less of a true comparison, and since many websites don’t have 6 years’ worth of data, Google Trends provides a handy substitute.

Based on this chart, the answer is that if you’re looking for new business during the holiday seasons via your blog’s traffic or social media, there’s a good chance you’ll come up short. Pour the eggnog or the wassail, schedule what you can, but don’t stress about it too much – not many people will be knocking on your door in 2014!


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