Given the huge Google Penguin update in the Spring of 2012 and the rolling Panda updates that occur once a month, guest blogging has become the #1 way for people to acquire backlinks to their sites. The SEO industry has gone into overdrive to ping all bloggers whether they can guest post their “free and unique” content in exchange for one or two links. I get 5-10 requests a day from spammers or complete strangers, and it’s getting old real fast!
I absolutely love great quality guest posts that provide a unique view point or something I have no expertise on. Given Financial Samurai doesn’t employ staff writers (can’t afford it!), I try and argue points from the other side to ensure I get as much balanced content as possible. Posts such as “Socialism Is A Means To A Brighter Future” is one such groupthink abolisher which has been quite a hit based on the number of views.
When your answer to all things illogical is “everything is rational,” it’s sometimes hard to understand why someone would complain about not being able to get ahead if they only work 40 hours a week or less. It’s hard to understand why someone would not enjoy being in debt after deciding to spend way more than they earn for a long period of time. Haven’t all the goodies provided more comfort than the discomfort of debt? If they didn’t, you’d stop spending!
HOW GUEST BLOGGING WILL RUIN YOUR SITE
Let’s say you started a site 10 months ago and finally get a Google Pagerank of 4 from 0. You are super pumped, as you should be because the largest search engine on the web deems your site to be valuable in their subjective eyes.
With a Pagerank of 4, you start getting flooded by freelance SEO’s who want to put up guest posts on your site. Many of them are willing to pay you money as well! You’re thinking, free content + money = a no brainer! Accepting such “guest posts” is easy money IF the content is original, non-spun, and has something of value to add. I firmly believe you can do what you want on your site and nobody, not even God or Google can tell you otherwise.
Where the trouble begins:
1) You start accepting way too many guest posts. The reason why readers come to your site is for you, not so much for other people. Readers want to hear your voice, your opinions, your details. Staff writers are fine, so long as they stick around and share their story as well. It’s when you start receiving random guest posts from random people who share nothing about themselves, never comment, and never return that really starts to put a damper on your site. Accepting too many guest posts dilutes your site’s voice.
2) You start accepting low quality guest posts. Perhaps you are hungry for content, or perhaps you are getting an offer too good to refuse. If you start publishing poor quality guest posts, you are going to ruin your site’s reputation quickly because everybody can tell you are publishing the guest post for financial reasons. I recommend everybody to at least spend some time editing each guest post and adding your own opinion in an “editor’s note” at the bottom. This way, you stay involved with your readers.
3) Your guest posts contain links that are irrelevant to your genre. The SEO folks should be contacting sites relevant to their client’s sector, but some of them still don’t. If you have a guest post on a home security system, but your blog just talks about your love life and never about real estate, renting, homeowners insurance, etc, your guest post is irrelevant unless your ex is a psycho killer! If you are accepting guest posts from strangers outside your community, make sure they are relevant.
IF YOU WANT TO HOST GUEST POSTS THAT AREN’T REALLY GUEST POSTS
1) Have the writer at least read the last three of your articles so they can try and match the quality of your content.
2) Spend some time editing the article further for basic punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
3) Add an “Editor’s Note” at the bottom to provide your thoughts on the topic.
4) Make sure you don’t overrun your site with guest posts. Once a month or a 10:1 ratio or higher is a reasonable guideline.
5) Keep posts relevant.
STAY VIGILANT ABOUT YOUR CONTENT
There are freelance writers who make $10 to write a 300 word article on five steps to tie your shoelaces. The SEO company paying for this $10 article is then offering more money to bloggers to host this article because their client is paying them even more. Such crappy articles, which are probably spun dozens of times, exist because bloggers are willing to publish such articles.
The only way we can root out web spam is for bloggers to just say NO to crap! How many times have you done a web search for something only to find the most thin, useless article ever? If I’ve torn my meniscus, I don’t want some 300 word article on what to do. I’d like thousands of words of substance, and will pay an action for such substance!
If you are offered a deal you just cannot refuse, just don’t overdo it. Keep such “guest posts” to less than 10% of the number of monthly posts (10:1 ratio or higher). Of course if the guest writer is someone you’ve heard of, or part of your community, welcome them with open arms. Just make sure you differentiate between a real guest blogger and one that just flies by night.
The larger your site grows, the more at risk it becomes. In the end, Google may very well end up penalizing you and taking you out of their search algorithms for an extended period of time. Traffic is the key to generating sustainable long term revenue, not vanity metrics. Google WILL drop the hammer on you, especially since you are well aware of their policies after the 2012 carnage. Think long term and defend your Prime site like Sparta!
START A MONEY MAKING BLOG
It’s been six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. The average age of the top 1% posts is 2.3 years old. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over two years ago, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that’s completely passive.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. Who knows where your new adventure will take you in 2015 and beyond!
Photo: Chichen Itza End Of Your Blog, SD.