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May 24, 2013

Guest Blogging In The Penguin 2.0 Environment

In my previous post, I had covered the Impact of Penguin 2.0 on Link Building and SEO. In this post I will solely concentrate on Guest Blogging and how it has changed in the post Penguin 2.0 era.

However before I proceed any further, it would be helpful to recapitulate what Guest Blogging is all about and why it is considered such an important SEO tool.


The Concept of Guest Blogging

The concept of guest blogging is easily understood with an example. Let us consider that there are two individuals X and Y. X owns Blog A, while Y owns Blog B. X approaches Y with a proposal to publish an article on Blog B in exchange for a link that will point to Blog A. This is how Guest Blogging works.

Why is Guest Blogging an Important SEO Tool

Continuing with the same example, X publishes an article on Y's Blog simply because doing so will give him a link back to his own blog. Thus guest blogging is nothing but a link building exercise which will help X's Blog improve its search engine rankings.

We know from experience that generally speaking, the number of links that point towards a website (from other sites) play a crucial role in determining its search rankings. Links are akin to votes of confidence in favour of a site.

It may seem to you at this point that more the number of links that point towards a site, the better is its search engine rankings (for a relevant keyword). However such a proposition is not entirely true as you will see in the ensuing paragraphs.

Guest Blogging as it now Exists

What started out as a simple link building exercise among bloggers, has now become so popular that organisations have taken to it as a parched takes to water. Guest blogging now forms an integral part of most organisation's content marketing and SEO strategies. 

Guest Blogging Outsourced

It is seen, more often than not, that organisations who have adopted guest blogging lack the necessary time and staff availability to invest into guest blogging. They have therefore embraced outsourcing. All they do is to pay money to content marketing firms who do the rest for them.

These firms produce content in the bulk for their clients, approach other bloggers to post articles on their blogs and follow up with them until the so called 'guest post' is up and running.

The organisations originally outsourcing this work generally have little control over the entire process. All they are interested in knowing is the number of articles (with links) that have gone live during the period.

 
The Problem that lies in this Approach

The problem lies in the fact that these organisations have managed to commercialize the entire process of guest blogging. As mentioned earlier, they pay money to content marketing firms to create and submit posts on their behalf. These agencies in turn produce content in bulk so that they can find more backlinks for their client websites (and make more profits for themselves). And, in trying to do so what they compromise is on content quality. Most of the articles they produce are spun and thus unacceptable as far as Google policies are concerned.
 
Moreover the very fact that these articles are of a poor quality mean that none of the popular blogs will ever pick them up. Thus these articles end up getting published in sites that hardly seem to know the meaning of the word quality.

What has changed with Penguin 2.0 and why this approach to Guest Blogging is no more Effective

Penguin 2.0 targets webspam of all kinds. With Penguin 2.0 over-optimisation and poor-quality link building can hurt you. In fact, low-quality links do not count anymore. Thus if your site has hundreds of links coming in from unrelated low quality blogs or websites, you might be a potential target for the imposition of a Google penalty.

Now if you have had outsourced guest blogging to an external agency (or bulk posted content on other sites on your own account without assigning much importance to quality), you are indeed running the risk of a Penguin 2.0 downgrade should most of your links come in from low quality sites.

Guest Blogging in Penguin 2.0 Environment

Post Penguin 2.0, you will have to give your guest blogging strategy a serious rethink and adapt the same to its requirement. Thus, you need to.. 

1. Focus on Content Quality

Armed with a quality article, you can safetly approach any authority blog within your niche for a guest posting opportunity. If you devote sufficient attention to the aspect of content quality, you will never have to worry about getting your articles published in a low quality blog/site again.

2. Choose Authority Blogs within your Niche

When zeroing in on blogs/websites to guest post on, choose sites that are related (in terms of content) to your own blog/website. This will help your link building efforts appear more natural to Google Algorithms. If a large proportion of your links come in from sites that are 'unrelated' to your content, you are running the risk of penalisation.



3. Bring about Anchor Text Variations

Since Penguin 2.0 seeks to target 'over-optimisation' of all kinds, bringing about Anchor Text variations assumes greater importance. If you use the same anchor text for all your links, the same hardly seems natural. Instead introduce variations in your choice of Anchor Text. 

For example, if you have targeted the anchor text "Best SEO Tools" in one of your articles, you can use the anchor text "Best Tools for your SEO Needs" in your next post. Also use a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords as your anchor text - as I have done so in the example.

4. Link Throughout your Site

Again to make your link building efforts seem more natural, diversify links through your site.

Reviewing your Link Building Efforts and Protecting your Site from a Possible Penalty

At this stage generate a list of sites that link back to you. You can use any good SEO tool available in the market for this purpose. Even the Google Webmaster's Tools comes in handy for this purpsose. If you had outsourced your link building efforts, you should ask the concerned agency for such a list.

On an appraisal of this list, if you find that a number of links pointing towards your website make you susceptible to a Google penalty (based on the factors discussed above), you can either use the Google Disavow Tool to disown such bad links or make specific requests to the concerned webmasters to take down such links - the former being a more effective approach. 

With the Disavow tool you can tell Google not to consider external links from certain sites while determining the rankings/authority of your site and thus protect your website from being de-ranked.

I hope with this article I have been able to clear all your doubts regarding Guest Posting post Penguin 2.0. For any queries or suggestions please feel free to use the comment form below. Thanks for reading.

Image Via: Agentblackhat.com

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