Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Flipboard 1 Photo via Wikimedia Commons Guest blogging ain’t what it used to be. It has definitely changed since Google web spam chief Matt Cutts proclaimed the death of guest posting for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes with his “stick a fork in it” comments in early 2014. One of the problems was that brands turned to SEO agencies to handle guest posting campaigns. Those agencies care little about branding or reputation. Seeing guest posting as a low-cost method to produce loads of links to improve search engine results for clients, they sought large numbers of websites to accept low-quality, often identical content. They often placed keyword rich anchor text in links. The links were a kind of payment for supplying the article. In time, website managers realized that they could suffer from accepting SEO-motivated guest posts. By publishing low-quality submissions, they saw their own search results deteriorate. Readers of established websites can quickly discern if a post was written strictly for self-promotion, reflecting badly on both the author and the site. That’s why experts recommend that publishers establish clear standards for quality and set general expectations over frequency of posting. Stricter Website Policies on Guest Posting Many web publishers have implemented stricter policies regarding guest posts and their outgoing links. More websites, especially leading websites capable of passing on higher page rank, now require nofollow links in guest posts. Graham Charlton, editor in chief at ClickZ Global, said his approach is to permit no links to guest authors’ own sites or to their clients. Proponents of the nofollow policy say it has several positive effects. Eliminating the SEO benefit of guest posts screens out low-quality, off-topic submissions. That saves editors time reviewing and rejecting submissions. It removes the perception that guest authors are writing in return for links. Guest authors realize they can’t stuff posts with links that point to their own websites as a reward for guest blogging. Instead they must focus on providing quality, relevant material. The policy raises the question: Why, then, would guest writers invest their time writing posts? The non-SEO Benefits of Guest Posts Even if links are nofollow, submitting guest posts provides strong non-SEO benefits, experts agree. Guest posts can provide superb branding and reputation-building benefits. Done correctly, they expose the guest writer and their business to a wider audience. They provide a platform for the writer’s insights. Posts with real value that tell potential customers how much the writer knows are more likely to win clients than poor posts stuffed with links. Developing interesting stories and presenting them in compelling ways are strengths of public relations professionals. The recent changes in the purposes of guest posts mean PR can gain greater influence in guest blogging campaigns, building natural back links and generating website traffic. Many in PR are the new go-to experts in SEO. Some even claim that SEO as a career is on its deathbed. With the changes in focus of guest blogging, PR is now taking primary responsibility for SEO strategy and content development. Stick a Fork in It? Some marketers seem to have misread and over-reacted to Cutts’ “stick a fork in it” post. He did not state that guest posting was dead. In a January 2014 blog post, Cutts complained that guest posting had become disreputable. “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy,” he blogged. “In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.” Google’s web spam team would take a dim view of guest blogging in the future, he predicted. Let’s make it clear: Cutts targeted the practice of guest posting purely for SEO, the growing abundance of low-quality posts done only to gain page rank, paying for links, and automated guest blogging. Seeming to back track, Cutts then added that there are still many reasons for guest posting, including exposure, branding, increased reach, and community building. Top-notch guest bloggers abound. He was only urging skepticism, or at least caution, about accepting guest posts that don’t pass a quality test. “I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said. Savvy PR pros are adjusting their tactics. Guest Blogging Recommendations for PR Experts offer these tips to PR pros pursuing guest blogging opportunities. Seek quality sites. Carefully targeting submissions to high-quality sites and sites relevant to their niche will produce better results than a scattergun approach. In today’s PR environment for media placements, quality beats quantity. Beware anchor text. Keyword-rich anchor text within the article that points to your website may risk search engine penalties. An example of such a risky practice is a widget company author placing a link in an article to his widget.com website with the anchor text “buy widgets.” (“Anchor text” describes the words that are in the link.) Limit backlinks. Experts now advise linking to your site only in the author’s bio and generally avoiding linking to your site in the article’s body unless there’s a reason. Stress relationships. Today’s guest blogging best practices call for emphasizing relationship building over one-off placements. Syndicate. If you can locate syndication partners willing to accept previously published work, you won’t need to create new content. The canonical tag can prevent problems with duplicate content caused by identical guest posts on different websites as well as duplicate content on a single website. The HTML code <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://yourwebsite.com/blog” /> tells search engines that the link points to the original, authoritative content that should be indexed. It is placed in the web page’s header section. Ask the syndicator to include the canonical code in the republished article’s source code. Record your progress. Tracking your guest blogging efforts is essential for understanding your results. Recording contacts in a customer-relationship management (CRM) program or spreadsheet can be very helpful in tracking your blogger relations efforts and contacts. Editorial calendars, which can be downloaded for free, can also help with that task. Monitor your work. A social media listening service is critical for monitoring how your guest posts create reaction in social media. It can also track other brand mentions to help assess PR strategy and effectiveness. A social media monitoring service that searches on key phrases (without brand names) is especially valuable as PR personnel contribute many guest posts to a range of different blogs. Work flexibly with bloggers. Sometimes blog owners will reject the post you submitted, but ask for something different. Accommodating them can help develop the relationship and lead to published articles in the future. Engage readers. Responding to comments from readers can encourage them to return to the web page and elicit more comments from readers. Asking readers to share their opinions can spark a discussion. Be evergreen. Although time-sensitive posts are often valuable, their web traffic typically fades. Evergreen content, by contrast, holds its value over time and can continue to deliver incoming web traffic for years. Strive for quality. Fresh, original content is essential for a successful guest blogging program. Simply rehashing existing content and posting it on a different blog won’t suffice. Google despises republished content. Bottom Line: Google’s emphasis on combatting spammy guest posts and stricter guest post policies at many websites have removed much of the SEO benefit from guest posting. Guest posts for branding and education – the forte of PR – are now the accepted standard. Organizations that turn to PR professionals for guest posting strategies now have the advantage, while those still employing SEO firms risk suffering penalties from both search engines and readers. This article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog. Twitter Tweet Facebook Share Email This article was written for Business 2 Community by Kane Pepi.Learn how to publish your content on B2C Author: Kane Pepi <p>Kane Pepi is an experienced financial and cryptocurrency writer with over 2,000+ published articles, guides, and market insights in the public domain. Expert niche subjects include asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and the prevention of financial crime. Kane is particularly skilled in explaining complex financial topics in a user-friendlyView full profile ›More by this author:VoIP Basics: Everything Beginners Should Know!Bitcoin Investment, Trading & Mining: The Ultimate Guide for BeginnersIs This a Better Way to Set Your 2020 Goals and Resolutions?