Brittney Sheffield / Digital Marketing / March 11th, 2014

Why We Gave Up the Guest Post

There’s been a lot of discussion in the last six months about link building best practices, especially every SEO’s favorite tactic to run into the ground: the guest post. Is it dead? (Probably.) Who killed it? (You did. Me too.) When’s the funeral? (It’s a Viking funeral, so prepare your fire arrows.)

Toward the end of last year our marketing department saw the writing on the wall and decided to officially retire the guest post from our tool box. This wasn’t a decision we made lightly, but it was time (both for us, and for the industry). Happily, things have changed around here for the better. Here is a deeper look into why we chose to put the kibosh on the guest post.

Google Isn’t a Fan

We don’t agree with everything that Google does, but some things are just inevitable. Matt Cutt’s recently addressed this subject and shed light on the types of guest blogging that Google encourages. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t include the types of posts that could be written by anyone or be recreated over and over again. Generally, Google is looking to reward blogs for quality posts from people who are known authorities on particular subject matter.

Dog Tired
Blog owners are dog tired of bad pitches and poor content.

Blog Owners are Tired

Part of the reason Google is largely over the guest post is because blog owners are tired of receiving crappy pitches for posts that are only vaguely related to the interests of their users from SEOs who didn’t even bother to learn anything about their blog or audience. These days, unless you have a good relationship with a blog owner, or if a post is uniquely crafted in a way that makes it a perfect fit for a specific blog, you’re going to have a hard time successfully pitching to a blog owner.

Even Quality Content Isn’t Always Effective

If you’re creating content on the behalf of a client, chances are you aren’t viewed as an authority on the subject matter – but that doesn’t mean your content isn’t helpful. We always worked – and usually succeeded – to deliver content that was useful and engaging for a blog’s readers. Even so, the most visited dog grooming blog in the US isn’t going to publish a post from someone without a good reputation in the industry.

Which means your post about ‘Grooming Tips that will save you Money and Won’t Stress Fido Out’ will probably be accepted by a blog that has an OK domain authority, but little user interaction. In other words, since you have absolutely no assurance that your content is actually reaching your client’s actual or potential customers, you’re just casting a wide net. At that point the most value your client will get out of that post is a link back to their site – a link that isn’t given a tremendous amount of weight by Google.

Sourcing is a Black Hole

A black hole for time and sanity. And even when you create well-written content that will be valuable to a blog’s readers, you can still have a hard time finding someone to publish your work. Why? Because of all of the jerks that are creating poor-quality content and spammy pitches. Unless you are a recognizable expert on the subject matter a blog owner will need to be floored by your content before he or she will even consider publishing it. And if they do like your content, it will probably go live in two months because their content calendar is full until then.

They Make Us Sad

Seriously. Our team’s morale tended to nose-dive when we were stuck in a rut of creating strong content only to be shut down by the places we wanted it to live and settling for a spot on blogs that had a two-month backlog of posts to publish first. Not to mention at that point the link we received wasn’t valuable enough to justify the hours spent researching, writing and sourcing. Our time is better spent on tactics that we know will get our clients results.

We’re More Creative Than That

We have some exciting ideas at 352 and most of them are not best manifested in a blog post*. We have challenged ourselves to think outside of the blog post box when it comes to publishing content. From infographics (yes, we know – everything comes around again) to Google Hangout sessions,  SlideShares to email campaigns. We have had many ideas that could have easily been turned into a blog post, but instead we are coming up with ways to better reach our target audience and craft the content in a way that they will excited about and want to and share.

These tactics create more business for our clients and well-packaged content tends to create more buzz for itself. As one example, our Tampa marketing team recently planned and executed a Google Hangout session for a client, which focused on questions from potential customers. The Hangout lasted 30 minutes and had more than 160 participants. From that recording alone,  we received several media mentions and were able to create 21 video clips to promote the business which can now be repackaged for other uses.

So is your team giving up the guest post too?

*One Huge Caveat

So, it’s confession time: 352 marketers still guest blog for clients when we can establish ourselves as the authority on a subject, create compelling content and publish it somewhere that will reach our clients’ existing and potential customers. Just like every other digital marketing tactic that SEOs have run into the ground over the years, the guest blog sucks. Right up until it doesn’t. Just like the infographics we mentioned above, there is a time and a place to properly utilize a guest post – and you can be sure that we’ll jump on those opportunities when we can. But we’re happy to say we’re moving on to better and brighter things.

Image credit:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

  • https://www.352inc.com Nicholas

    “Generally, Google is looking to reward blogs for quality posts from people who are known authorities on particular subject matter.” – curious as to how this “known authority” is gained and/or measured (or bought) – assuming of course it’s even objectively quantifiable…

    • Brittney Sheffield

      Good question. I think it’s still hard (maybe impossible) to measure the weight Google is giving a blog for having “known authority” guest post. The idea is that people of authority have an online following, which should lead to more interactions and shares. In the future I think Google’s web spam team will find more ways to discredit people who are putting out low-quality post and reward those doing it the right way. You may want to check out the last video on the page I linked to up there ‘guest blogging that Google encourages’. I think it comes back to building relationships with people on and offline so they want to chime in as an expert on your blog or want you to write as an expert on theirs.