You Need To Stop Writing Bad Guest Posts

Google's Hummingbird algorithm change is bad news for guest posts, but SocialTimes Editor B.J. Mendelson has some advice to help you weather the storm.

Earlier today, I was trying to figure out when and for whom I wrote my first guest post. I know I was blogging on and off before blogging was even a word. I know my first regular post as a staff writer came back in 2004 for (the very Not Safe For Work) BurningAngel.com. No. I’m not linking to it. It’s a porn site. I’m not really sure why a porn site wanted someone to review new albums for them, and I honestly don’t remember, but that’s where I started writing for other people. So I guess you can call those guest posts, since they were unpaid and I was using the reviews to get myself exposure, which eventually lead to a job freelance writing for Wonka Vision Magazine. If you have any idea what Wonka Vision Magazine is, let me know. I want to shake your hand. They were a nationally published music magazine that started out as a fanzine distributed around Philadelphia, and eventually, parts of New York and New Jersey, which is how I came across them.

Anyway. Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Some of you may have been guest posting for as long as I have. Some of you may be new to it because of the term “content marketing”. Like “inbound marketing”, “content marketing” is a nauseating buzzword that’s being thrown around by the same jerks who were trying to rip people off while posing as “social media experts”. Hey, can you do me a favor? Slap the next person you speak to who refers to themselves as an “inbound marketer” because holy crap does that need to stop immediately. We are all marketers. Just. Plain. Marketers. Nothing more. Nothing less. Putting a dumb term in front of the word marketer doesn’t make you any better or worse than anyone else. It’s just a sleazy way to build up traffic and sell products you may not need.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Google made another change to their search engine recently. It’s the next installment in their well intentioned, but often quixotic, quest to stop crap from surfacing so highly on their SERPs. That’s Search Engine Results Page, for those of you not down with the lingo of SEO Practitioners. “Humming Bird”, which Google dubbed the update in order to give it a cute name so people can’t get too butthurt about it, allegedly puts the focus on longer, original, content that’s geared toward the site that content runs on. So, in other words, if you’re one of those people who posts stuff for The Huffington Post thinking that’ll give you exposure (LOL), and then you go and post that same blog post on your website, you’re not going to see much benefit from doing so. (For more on why blogging freely for HuffPo is stupid, read Social Media Is Bullshit. No use in repeating an entire chapter here.)

So that change alone is pretty significant because that has been a common practice since at least 2008. But the more important change is actually the one having to do with content geared toward the website it runs on. In other words, you can’t just write a bunch of random crap anymore, throw in your keywords, and hope that those links and feature on that website are going to do your website any favors. IF Google is telling the truth (and IF the amount of +1’s don’t nullify any other factor in how they rank articles), you need to rethink your guest posting strategy.

Yes. Guest Posts are a great way to help fulfill other goals. They’re really good at moving books (authors, take note), and you can make a decent argument that any exposure is good exposure. That’s only true to an extent, but when you’re first starting out and have a limited budget, guest posts are a huge help.