You may have read headlines that say guest blogging is dead, but in 2015 some marketers say this tool will be resurrected. If this marketing strategy does come back to life this year, though, expect to see a fair number of changes.
Lisa Chu, who owns a children’s formal clothing brand named Black N Bianco, has morphed traditional guest blogging into a viable marketing strategy for her small business. Chu, along with other marketers, believes guest blogging will evolve this year.
Before getting into specifics, it’s worth looking at what guest blogging was in its heyday and how it all fell apart. With that background, we can start to form expectations for its upcoming evolution.
Guest blogging when it was the thing to do
Guest blogging started out as a grassroots effort to aid in link building. The old strategy went something like this:
Let’s say you own an online jewelry shop. You’d write a post as a guest blogger for another company, one that’s connected to your industry, and include keywords and links back to your jewelry store’s website. Aside from getting exposure to a new audience and boosting website traffic, you had a good chance of boosting your Google page ranking because of the SEO value of the keywords and links back to your site.
The evolution of guest blogging
What started out as a good marketing strategy (circa 2011) has since fallen flat. Over time, the quality of articles dropped significantly. Content was chock-full of keywords that companies wanted to be associated with through Google. Hyperlinks were wedged everywhere, and useful information gave way to SEO.
“Guest blogging started out authentic, but once it became popular people starting abusing it,” Chu says. “Soon the term ‘guest blogging’ was associated with spammy and low quality sites.”
It prompted a cease-and-desist order from marketers about a year ago. Plus, Google caught on to these antics and made adjustments to its page-ranking algorithm.
So, for the past year or so, the guest blogging front has remained quiet. However, some marketers and small business owners have found ways to tweak the guest blogging idea to make it a viable marketing tool once again. Here are three (evolved) guest blogging strategies to use in 2015:
1. Offer a sample product
Reach out to your niche audience in a new way by offering a sample product to influencers. Encourage those influencers to write a review of your product on their website. Chu does this; she reaches out to Mommy Bloggers who fit her target market. She doesn’t write an article for them. Instead, she gives the blogger a sample of her product. In return, the Mommy Blogger writes a review about Chu’s clothing online. Here’s an example. “This was a successful campaign because it brought my brand to the forefront of my niche target audience,” Chu explains.
“The guest blog post featured an honest review with real photos of my product. I used this guest blog post as a way to build awareness, credibility and authority to my clothing brand.”
2. Try a “Guest Post Day”
Become an active member in your industry both online and in person. For example, join online forums and local business associations to start cultivating relationships. Consider working with your new contacts to guest author blog posts.
Here’s how it works. A guest author writes an in-depth, thought-provoking piece for the site. In return, the author has a picture and bio at the end of the article. The bio contains a few links back to the author’s site.
Of course, you’ll need to have high standards if you use this tactic. Make sure the guest post covers a relevant topic, is well written and of interest to your readers.
It’s a way to build relationships and brand authority, Chu explains.
“Companies will start using guest blogging to spread their knowledge and help build their voice as a respectable industry leader,” she says.
3. Write your own content
Some marketers are investing the time they used to spend guest blogging back into their own content creation. Think about it. If you write top-notch, industry-leading content that people want to read, link building will take care of itself. People will naturally share your content because it’s that good.
Of course, you’ll have to do some promotion. You can’t write off-the-charts content and hope people will stumble upon it. This is where a well-built social media audience comes into play. If you are active on social media and follow other leaders, your content is more likely to be shared.
Will your guest blogging strategy evolve in 2015? Share your comments below.