When you think of fast food, your mind may revert to an image of McDonald’s. When someone mentions shoe brands, you may immediately think of Nike. Why is this?
Through brand awareness, these companies have brought an unparalleled level of exposure to their products. In short, they’ve been seen so many times by so many people that consumers immediately think of their brand.
This is one facet of internet marketing that is quite often overlooked. Granted, the way Nike and McDonald’s approaches brand awareness is not the same as the owner of a newly-launched website necessarily would. However, there are plenty of techniques that allow business owners to “get their name out there.” In the past, guest blogging has been a method that many have used to build an audience, increase SERP rankings, and gain some recognition as an authority within their niche. With all of the recent Google updates, is guest blogging still effective?
Since the launch of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, site owners have begun to realize just how important relevant and high quality content is. Not only is it necessary for giving their target audience something of value, but Google may actually drop their ranking unless they are churning out incredible content regularly. This can put a lot of pressure on a site owner to produce, so now more than ever, websites are turning to outside sources for guest posts. This allows them to offer something of value without having to lift a finger. Unfortunately, as of late, guest blogging has come under some scrutiny within the internet marketing world…
Where Did the Controversy Begin?
In 2012, Matt Cutts, who is head of the Google Webspam team, and generally the person that relays the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm changes to the public, addressed guest blogging. Cutts said that guest blogging can be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved, but when it comes to abusing guest posting by adding too many links or offering low quality material in an obvious manner to gain backlinks, then Google will not look kindly upon those posts or the site that they link to.
Then, earlier this year, the Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, John Mueller, mentioned in a video interview that he would suggest making guest posts or submitted articles “no follow” because they are typically used to manipulate search rankings and aren’t “natural.”
So from the interviews that these two well-informed Google employees gave, it would suggest that Google’s algorithm attempts to interpret whether the link is a form of abuse or is legitimate. This is obviously still up in the air as no official has actually come forth and shown the public how Google could even interpret between good links and bad. Just to be on the safe side, it may be best to politely ask the other site to make any links in your posts “no follow.”
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss how guest blogging CAN be beneficial for building brand awareness.
Obviously, if you were to ask sites to make all links pointing to your site “no follow,” then you wouldn’t gain any rankings directly from those backlinks. So from a purely SEO standpoint, they are useless. However, guest blogging is an effective tool for generating traffic. By approaching a well-established site within your niche and asking them to post your article, you can easily siphon highly targeted traffic. Why bother with paid sources when you can literally borrow the traffic of other sites without spending a single dime?
Another obvious benefit of guest blogging is that it will build your recognition as an authority figure within your niche. Every business should strive to be seen as the “go to” authority within their field so that whenever a potential consumer thinks of your niche, your business immediately comes to mind, just like with McDonald’s and Nike.
The only way for this to happen is for you to be seen, and seen often. Most likely the followers of a more established site will trust the views and opinions of that site. When they see that site promoting you through a guest post, they will immediately see you as an authority; someone that has an extensive knowledge within your niche that they wish to possess. That is why they WILL check out your site and may even decide to opt into your email list. This can easily turn into a viable source of income if your site is set up correctly.
In summation, guest blogging is still a highly valuable tool for marketers. It will allow you to spread your message among many channels so that it may be heard by your target market. Do not buy into the hoopla of those that try to demonize guest blogging because of the few short interviews given by Cutts and Mueller. As long as all of the links within your guest post are “no follow” there is no downside to guest blogging. If used correctly, you can generate a vast amount of traffic from multiple streams in a short amount of time. Plus, if leveraged properly, it can also be a literal cash cow for your business.
Most of all, through guest blogging you can reach a new audience and lift your brand awareness to new heights. Eventually, with enough exposure, maybe you’ll be seen in the same light as the McDonald’s and the Nikes of the world; to where you’ve gained so much exposure that when consumers think of your niche, they immediately think of you. The ONLY way this will happen is by being seen by your target audience, and the best way to do that in the online world is through guest blogging.