Are We Seeing the Dawn of Black Hat Guest Blogs?

black-hat-seoWhat could go wrong with guest-blogging?

You find a blog whose topic complements your own, write a killer blog entry with a back-link to your own blog, and both sites benefit. Used carefully, guest blogging is an excellent way to grow your back links and increase traffic.

Of course, whenever an online activity proves successful, someone tries to abuse the system to trick search engine results.

The abusive tactic enjoys a brief period of success, and then Google comes along and announces the strategy is black hat, ending the SEO feeding frenzy.

Over at AFF Helper, Pawel Reszka suggests guest blogging abuse could lead to Google cracking down, a move which would hurt legitimate guest bloggers as much as the abusers. How you find, submit and follow up on guest blogs could determine which hat you’re wearing (or at least which color hat Google thinks you’re wearing).

Avoid Spamming Potential Blogs

I know, there are thousands of blogs out there, and it’s tempting to save time by using a boilerplate email to contact as many as possible. But as Reszka points out, most bloggers dismiss such queries as spam. Those who don’t, well, if they’re needy enough to jump at any guest blogger, are they really going to provide a quality back link?

Run manual searches for guest blogging positions. Yes, this takes more time, but you need to evaluate the quality of each blog and determine it’s the right fit for your own topic. Sure, a blog with two entries on coding might jump at a chance for a guest blogger, but if you write on last night’s sports game, neither of you profit from the relationship.

Make a short list of blogs and contact each with a customized email. Explain who you are, why you’re an expert in your field, and what you can offer to the host blog. Reszka suggests including the completed guest article in your email. If you don’t want to go that far, either link back to your own blog in the email or provide a portion of the article so they can evaluate your writing style.

Don’t ask for back links. You know you want one, the host blogger knows you want one — heck, Google knows you want one (which, really, is the danger). Everyone knows a back link is expected. Asking for one makes you look less interested in blogging and more interested in building links.

Guest Blogging and Comments

A clear warning sign you’ve contracted with a guest blogger with more interest in links than blogging can be found in the comments section. An invested guest blogger returns, as it were, to the scene of the crime. He or she reads what people have to say about their article, and responds to questions and suggestions.

In the future, this may become extremely important. Search engines may check to see if the blogger frequents the comments, and if she uses the comments to engage with readers or just post URLs to her own blog or business.

With Google Authorship poised to become the Next Big Thing, it should be easy enough to trace a blogger’s comment activity. Search bots will almost certainly take a lack of comment activity into account.

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