Link exchanges (“You link to me and I link to you”) are strictly banned by Google as a link scheme. A link scheme is “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.” Well that means any link is a link scheme, right? Isn’t the whole point of link building to improve your site’s ranking in the SERPs? While link building can (and does) help your site do better in the search engines, it’s important that you aren’t building links just for the sake of getting that link—there should be more value there such as driving traffic, industry recognition and a stronger online brand. In theory, guest blogging should do all of those things and more for your SEO, but I fear that many site owners and bloggers are starting to treat guest blogging as just another easy way to build links, and not a valuable component of your overall content marketing SEO program. If we’re not careful, guest blogging could easily become the new link exchange.
Here are 3 ways to prevent your guest blogging efforts from turning into a link exchange:
1. Don’t write for any site that will have you.
I know that when you are just beginning on your guest blogging program you don’t have the “street cred” to write for the big industry sites right away; you have to earn those guest blogging opportunities. But just because you haven’t made your way to the top of the food chain that doesn’t mean you have to settle for any blog that will have you. You want to strive to write for the blogs that will actually help build your authority and introduce you to a wider social network. This might mean fewer opportunities but it’s better than writing for spammy blogs or article spinning sites that are bound to get hit by Panda for low-quality content (if they haven’t already). In my opinion a dozen links from a blog network isn’t worth much anyway, so why waste your good content for a shoddy link?
2. Only accept content that will actually help your readers (and your brand).
When the tables are turned and you’re looking to accept guest blogs on your own site, you don’t need to accept every guest writer that comes knocking. Remember that this is still your blog and you are responsible for the content that gets published there. You don’t want to expose your readers to low-quality or irrelevant content because it can actually tarnish your own reputation and drive visitors away. What get’s published on your is going to be indexed by the search engines, so you want to make sure that any guest blog posts are in line with the rest of your content marketing and SEO programs
3. Work with writers you actually want to endorse.
When you publish a guest blog post on your site you are essentially giving your online thumbs up to the author. Not only are you giving them a link or two (an SEO thumbs up), you are also promoting them in social media (social signals) and introducing them to your audience (almost like a peer referral). Make sure your guest bloggers are writers and brands you are proud to stand behind and would recommend even if you weren’t getting a guest blog post of your own on their site.