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Google Gives Guest Posting the Green Light

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Heads up, SEO buffs! A new Google Webmaster Help video on YouTube was just posted, and the topic de jour? Guest posting.

 Finally.

After years of speculation, intense debate, and algorithm updates galore, we finally have a little to go on when it comes to the art of the guest post.

We already know that high-quality links are imperative for a top spot in the SERPs. However, until now, we haven’t had much to go on aside from PageRank. The higher the PageRank, the more Google trusts a website. That much we know. To obtain “dofollow” links from these websites, guest posting seemed to be the best way to go. But how did Google feel about the practice? Would we be penalized?

Google has often been sketchy (and downright cryptic at times) about its stance on guest posting, but the release of this video has confirmed things we’ve been assuming for quite some time now. The best part? There are some hidden gems that provide much-needed insight into guest posting successfully – and ensuring that links to your site are counted by Google when calculating your position in the search results.  

Understanding the Subtext

In the video, Matt Cutts first spouted off the definition of “high quality writers”. He explained that well-known writers would always be the most successful in their guest posting efforts, even going so far as to point out that professionals in their respective industries post back and forth on related blogs all the time, and Google actually recognizes the value-add of guest posts when they come from respected contributors.

Cutts pointed to leaders in the SEO world as an example of high quality writers. He mentioned Lisa Barone, Danny Sullivan, and Vanessa Fox by name and cited them as examples to back his case.

If you search for these authorities in Google, you’ll find that each one has some common characteristics, most notable of which is their appearance in thousands of Google+ circles. They’re also found in many other places around the web in the SEO niche.

What does this mean for you?

It means the more reach you have, the more weight your guest posts will carry. Using the authorship tag is a big part of that (more on authorship below). Fortunately, guest posting has a kind of “snowball effect”. Once you build up momentum by getting your name on stuff around well-known sites in your niche, website owners will increasingly grow more receptive to your guest posting queries. Plus, if you’re persistent and dedicated, you may just become regular name in the industry from your efforts. In that case, people will begin to come to you – and submitting queries will become a thing of the past.

Things to Stay Away From

In his video, Cutts laid out some clear “no-nos” for guest post marketers. For example, this should go without saying, but spinning anything at this point is out of the question. Even if you hand-spin the same article, Googlebot will pick this up as an “article farming” situation, and you’ll be penalized along with the websites that unwittingly host your content.

That’s a surefire way to make enemies in your niche – not something you want to do if you’re trying to become an authority in your industry. You need all the respect and friends you can get, so make sure your articles are all unique and of the highest quality – anything less may just leave you blacklisted.

Another type of bad behavior is submitting the same article to multiple websites. Some Internet marketers have sworn by this technique for years, but Cutts’ clear disdain for the practice means that Google’s officially put it to bed for good. Instead, submit completely unique pieces to each website.

Your Action Plan

First, make sure you’re targeting high-quality websites to host your guest posts. Don’t query cold – you need to build a solid relationship with website owners before you approach them.  This means commenting on popular websites in your niche religiously. Stick to roughly ten or fifteen websites in the beginning to get your feet wet and build from there. Make your presence known. Reach out to webmasters via email from time to time to ask for advice or to discuss an issue. Don’t pester them; just casually build a relationship. Then, when the time is right, you can ask for the guest post.

Make sure you follow Google’s guidelines to attach authorship status to your guest posts. This will help you become more known around the Web for your intellectual contributions to your industry. Google provides the following instructions for attaching authorship to your work if you don’t have a related email on the domain hosting your content (which would be any domain on which your guest post appears):

Once you’ve started to build a reputation, you can begin approaching the bigger-name blogs in your industry with guest post queries. Attach the “rel=author” tag to your posts so your name and Google+ information will appear in search results alongside your work. Before you know it, you’ll be making a name for yourself in your niche, and people will begin coming to you to request guest posts for their websites.

Now that’s how to become a leader in your industry. I’m guilty of making quite a few digs at Google for some of their updates over the past year, but this makes sense. The social web is upon us, and the more visible you are, the more your star will rise – and don’t doubt for a minute that guest posting will play a key role in your success.

 

What experiences have you had with guest  posting? Do you think the new authorship tag will help you get your work published on other websites in your niche?

  

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