Guest blogging is the most popular way of building links. It’s been working so well for most SEOs that bloggers are getting bombarded with dozens of emails a day asking if they accept guest posts.
Although guest blogging will still work after the Penguin 2.0 update, I think the way you build links through guest blogging will change.
Here’s how I think guest blogging will be affected:
Change #1: Social signals
The more tweets, shares and even Facebook likes a post gets the better, right? Although that’s true in most cases, some authors have been cheating the system with the help of Fiverr.
For $5 you can buy over 100 tweets, likes or any other type of social share out there.
You already know search engines look at social signals to help determine the ranking of a website, but after Penguin 2.0, I think, they will focus less on the social count and more on who is sharing it. If someone with a powerful network of 200 influential (and real) people shares your post, that will carry more weight in Google’s algorithm than a share by someone with a network of 2,000 bots and spam purveyors. If it doesn’t now, it soon will.
In addition, Google will most likely look for evidence whether you yourself are sharing your own guest posts on your own social profiles. Because if you aren’t willing to tweet or like your own guest post, chances are you didn’t write a great post.
Solution: Write great content that you can be proud of… so proud that you’ll share it on your own social profiles. Further to that, you need to start networking with influencers who have a large social following because if your content is really good, they may even decide to share it. You should also message all of the authors who are in your space with popular social followings. When you write a great guest post, ping them to see if they will tweet about it. It’s much easier to get them to tweet or like your post than it is to get them to link to it.
Change #2: Author rank
Author rank is becoming more commonly used by writers these days. This allows Google to see where you are publishing your content and how well it does throughout the web.
If you continually write great content, Google will eventually place more weight on your content…no matter what site you write on.
At the same time, if you continue to put out crap, they’ll keep track of it and devalue the links in your post. It doesn’t matter if you are blogging on Huffington Post or an unknown blog, they will devalue anything you link to if they notice you are just guest blogging for links.
This means Google isn’t just going to be devaluing sites, but authors now too.
Solution: Be even pickier about the content you put out. If you are unsure how to write exceptionally good content, check out blogs like Copyblogger and Problogger as they will teach you everything you need to know about writing. If you want to learn how I create my content, you can follow my guidelines here or check out this guide to guest blogging for your business.
Change #3: Devaluing links
You already know that links from your author bio aren’t as effective as they used to be. I have a strong feeling that these links are going to carry even less weight than they do now.
In addition to that, Google will be pickier on what links they do give a lot of weight to and which ones they don’t.
If you have a rich anchor text link in the first paragraph or two within a guest post, that link will probably be devalued.
If you are just posting the same old infographic on multiple blogs, those links will also be devalued.
The reason search engines have to do this is because it’s easy to get your content distributed all over the web. The sad part is, I can pay people to just shove my infographic on popular blogs like Mashable and Huffington Post and generate back links…so why should those links carry as much weight compared to the links from a well-known author who puts those links within his/her editorial piece.
Solution: Don’t go for easy link building methods, but instead focus on providing value. If you create something that is great, people will naturally link to it. If you come up with a creative way to illustrate your content, e.g., using infographics, you will be more successful at building quality links than if you only have a basic infographic or text. A good example of this is The Advanced Guide to SEO. It’s an infographic that contains over 45,000 words.
Change #4: Devaluing sites
Sites that are consistently linking out to one site will get penalized. Google wants you to link out to many sites, ideally to ones that are authoritative. If you are writing good content, you’ll naturally do this.
For example, I link out to Wikipedia, Forbes and a few other authoritative sites a lot…it’s not because I am trying to game Google, but because those sites provide great information. So, why not link out to them if it benefits your readers?
Sites that also post irrelevant content are going to be penalized, or their links won’t carry much weight. For example, why would a site about dog food be linking out to a payday loan site? It just doesn’t make sense.
Blogs that push spammy links within their content will be devalued. If you do this once or twice, I don’t think there will be an issue, but if you do it on a regular basis, it will really hurt you eventually.
Solution: When picking a site to guest-blog on, make sure to pick one that doesn’t link out to spammy sites, but one that is highly relevant. When you write your guest post, show some love by linking out to other sites that will benefit your readers…even if that other site is your competitor.
Change #5: Co-citations
Have you ever noticed that in many cases when people talk about you or your website, they don’t link to you? This happens a lot with me, especially when it comes to authoritative blogs.
Forbes, and many of the news sites that mention Quick Sprout, don’t always link back to the site.
When I did a search and looked through the last 100 sites that mentioned me, I noticed that 29% of the time they didn’t link back to my site.
If you continually do guest posts and link back to your site, it will hurt you in the long run. Google knows what link percentages are natural, and if you don’t fit within that range, I think, it will hurt you.
Solution: Don’t always link back to your site. Write great content because you want to educate people and share what you have learned. This should also help improve the ratio of sites that mention you and link to you to the sites that mention you and don’t link back.
Some of the changes I mentioned above may not happen in Penguin 2.0, but they are the ones I think will be in the algorithm update. If they aren’t, I personally feel Google will eventually implement them.
What other changes do you see Google making with Penguin 2.0?