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Guest Blogging or SPAM?

Guest blogging is a powerful tool for marketers. The potential benefits are endless: enhanced credibility, bolstered company reputation, industry insight for customers—you name it. During my days as a fledgling writer, guest blogging allowed me to expose my personal brand as a freelance writer to editors and potential hiring managers. (Plus it built my confidence in my journalistic skills.) And after I sent those guest blogs as writing samples to hiring managers, I got a job offer. In the same way I used guest blogging to illustrate my writing skill set, marketers can show off their knowledge, products, and services through guest blogging. They can boost SEO, gain links, and build authority.

But in recent weeks guest blogging has come under fire. The spark was ignited by Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google. In January, Cutts published a post, “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO.”  Cutts’ new position? Anyone using guest blogging as their primary way to gain inbound links is abusing the system. “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,” Cutts says. Ouch. That audacious post left readers to assume that Google is fine tuning its ability to detect the authenticity of links and content.

Granted, if employees are guest blogging solely for link building and higher page ranking, they should consider revamping their marketing plans. In this case, Cutts is right to urge us all to take a good look at our content marketing strategies. However, marketers shouldn’t throw out the baby with bathwater. Guest blogging—in its purest form—remains a respectable, effective strategy in marketing.

For the many marketers who want to continue to use authentic blog posts to help build a brand, consider these effective practices for guest blogging.

1. Be selective. When someone on your marketing team writes a guest blog, he or she should be judicious about the topic, where the blog will be published, and for which company the marketer is guest blogging. Choosing a company whose reputation, products, and mission are respected may help to boost your company’s credibility. Selecting a company with a damaged reputation could have a negative reflection on your products and services. Take the time to research and build relationships with other companies that provide great exposure, similar target audiences, and have a mission with which your company can be aligned. And remember that selectivity goes both ways.  If your marketing team has a blog, be selective of the writers who are allowed to write on your company’s platform. Selectivity will help boost your company’s credibility.

2. Focus on building a brand and a reputation. Remember that guest blogging is all about exposing your brand to the right people and getting those people talking. Write about the unique aspects of your brand. Have a clear message that you want the readers to know. Part of building a brand is positioning your company as an established authority in your industry. Guest blogging is a great way to show that the people on your team have valuable information, can identify trends, and can add to the conversation.

3. Provide lots of insight. Give your target audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Share business tips that may help small business owners. If your company has an amazing, dynamic office space, post those pictures with your guest blog. Most importantly, give your readers an understanding of your industry. Your marketing team has a plethora of knowledge that readers want to know. When marketers provide insight to customers, they often reciprocate that insight with loyalty.

4. Be original. Every guest post should be unique. The goal isn’t to churn out innumerable posts in an effort to gain backlinks to your company’s site. The goal is to build a brand, make a connection with your target audience, and provide potential customers with original stories, insight, and advice. The more original and distinctive your content, the more likely others will want to share your company creed, advice, and products. Also, be genuine. Guest blog only when your company has a message to share or a story to tell.

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