Does Guest Blogging for Your Small Business Work? Yes, But …

No less than Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s web spam team, has called it: Guest blogging is dead. You know what’s worse? He said this three years ago — so if you’re still relying on it to increase traffic to your site, you might be wasting your precious time.

Guest blogging used to be one of the best ways to get your small business noticed. Just partner up with another business blog, write a post or two, and BOOM — you had it made!

By effectively piggybacking on another business — preferably one with a bigger following than your own — you could tap an entirely new audience. Followers would roll in. Sales would increase.

It’s not just the direct clicks from the other blog, either. By having another website link to your own website, you are effectively receiving an endorsement that adds to your “score” in Google’s eyes. The result: higher placement in search results, which means more clicks, which means more traffic, and therefore more chances of a sale.

The bad news? That’s not the way things work anymore.

The good news? Guest blogging still works — as long as you do it the “authentic way.”

Don’t Guest-Blog for Its Own Sake (And Be Careful With the Guest Posts You Accept)

Guest posting started out innocently (and authentically) enough. The idea was to gain exposure on an influential website: Their audience clicks over to your site via a link, and they’ll also pass on some of their “link juice” to you, which is awesome for SEO.

Like many good ideas, though, guest blogging was exploited and corrupted by the unscrupulous. Spammy linking and content farms were born. Over time, Google learned to combat this practice to help truly valuable websites (theoretically) stay ahead of the slimy competition. It may be tempting to hire some cheap freelancer to write meaningless articles to “build links” for your site, but don’t go there.

Instead: List the websites you truly find valuable: those that inspire you and provide you with useful information. Start a conversation with the authors, and see if it makes sense for you to share on each other’s website.

Introduce Yourself and Your Ideas

Gone are the days of instant traffic increases simply because you had the good fortune to team up with a popular blogger. Now, it takes a bit more work. It’s no longer enough to keyword-stuff and try complicated SEO tactics for a guest blog — because even if it did work (which it won’t!), it would drive traffic to the original blog, not your own.

Instead: Use the opportunity to introduce yourself, your ideas, your philosophy, and your brand. That’s what matters, and when you present your best side to the world — sans all the salesy stuff — you’ll get noticed in due time!

Aim at Your Target — Not Theirs

It’s tempting to connect with a big-name blogger and try to “convert” their audience. But people who religiously read a blog about apples aren’t going to be interested in oranges. You’re only wasting your own time.

Instead: Align yourself with bloggers who have the same interests and audiences as you! If you’re a baker, there is little to no point in trying to guest blog for a small engine mechanic — no matter how popular they may be.

Connect With Your Own Audience

Plenty of people can write outside the scope of their own knowledge. A person who regularly blogs about turtles can just as easily research and write about 11th century Vikings. But as easy as it is to disconnect with someone else’s audience, it’s just as easy to lead your own audience astray.

Instead: Do what you do. While it’s fine to guest blog for the backlinks and the bios, if your own existing audience doesn’t identify with your guest blog, it’s all for naught.

Make Your Site Amazing

Let’s imagine you have done everything correctly. You introduced yourself and your ideas. You aimed at the correct target. You made sure your blog post connected with your audience — not someone else’s. In fact, you rocked it so much that people are now flocking to your site.

But what will they find when they get there? Expired links? A site hasn’t been optimized for mobile? Shoddy HTML or MySpace-era backgrounds?

Instead: If you’re going to guest blog, it’s important to prepare for your own “guests” before you ever submit a post. Make sure your website is up to snuff. Put some thought into your user experience. Make sure your guests are properly welcomed if (and when!) they arrive.

Guest blogging isn’t dead — not by a long shot. However, the rules have changed significantly. It’s not enough to throw a post on every blog you see. You have to put yourself out there, reach the correct audience in the correct way and be prepared for them when they come!

Need some more advice to position yourself as a leading authority of whatever-it-is? Get in touch with Mischa Communications! We’re ready to help you hit your mark!