Showing posts with label Google Alert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google Alert. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is Your Blog in Danger of Google’s Guest Post Shakedown?

Did you know blogs that publish guest posts could be penalized by Google? I didn't at least not before reading about this latest news regarding the practice, a few days ago. Yesterday, I also received an email containing tips from another blogger on how to play it safe when publishing content from guest bloggers.

The overall message from both of these posts is that our blog’s search engine rankings, traffic and general reputation could be affected if we publish content written by third-parties. Sounds scary, right? I don’t blame you if you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck is going on. Just remember that this guest posting penalty thing isn't as simple as A-B-C; Pun intended for all you folks gearing up for the April Challenge!

Most, if not all concerns surrounding the matter stem from a video that Google released where it’s CEO explained why they frown upon guestblogs. Just like mainstream media, however, some bloggers who have brought attention to this news are sensationalizing the situation by yelling “penalty” first but ignoring the rest of what he said. If you are among the bloggers who did (or will) watch the video and listen – I mean, really pay attention to what is being explained, then there might not be much for you to worry about. Does this mean you’re safe from being hit by some type of sequel to the Panda and Penguin updates? Not at all – and this is where things get kinda risky for those of us in the blogging arena.

All of these practices are simple to implement – for me, at least. I do suspect, however, that it might take some time for a lot of bloggers to adjust their guest posting routines and develop a new – more Google-friendly practice in how they manage guests on their blogs. So, the news comes at a very inconvenient time. I considered outsourcing the posts for my blog via guests -- after shelving the theme that I initially wanted to use for this year’s A to Z challenge. I was going to invite 26 people to write a post for my blog and now I’m going to have to change that plan up a bit.

I’m also currently at the beginning of making what will be several, or more, guest appearances around the blogosphere; promoting my short film campaign, which runs all the way through March. How in the world am I going to swing this? I’ll tell you how – the same way you’re going to save your own blog from being shot down by search engines like there’s a hit out on you by Frank Costello (as played by Jack Nicholson) in “The Departed.”

Here’s how we’re going to make this happen through a summary of proper guest posting practices that I learned from blogs managed by Darren Rowse and Neil Patel.

  • “Guesting” Language Hurts Your Blog
Stop using language such as “guest post” and any derivatives of the title including “guest author,” “guest blogger,” etc.  on your blog. Do not address people as guest bloggers nor posts as such in your titles, within the body of the content itself or in any introductions or closings that you add to the post.

The Remedy: A good rule of thumb is to publish blog posts in a manner similar to magazines and newspapers. When was the last time you saw “guest writer” in an issue of Rolling Stone, VOGUE or Architectural Digest? There is a reason you didn't  so take heed of how these publications do things when it comes to featuring posts on your own blog.

  • Say No to Bios/Bylines Filled with Several Links
Author bios and/or bylines should not contain more than two links. In fact, links aren't even be necessary if you just create a page with short bios of all your contributors and then link to their blog or wherever else readers can find them.

The Remedy: Create an author page for each contributor and link their name to those pages, OR, link their name to their blog/website/social media page or whatever. That could count as one of the two maximum links, so they wouldn't even need to add more to their bio, OR, just stop allowing guests to send you bios containing a link to every single online site or social media profile they have online. Since I don’t have a staff of people and am short on time, I’d likely opt for the two latter solutions.

  • Don’t Pimp your Blog’s “Write for Me” Page in Exchange for Guests
Telling potential readers that they will receive link(s) when contributing to your blog is a violation of Google’s linking policy. Receiving a link back to a blog or social medial profile should not be the sole benefit of someone being featured on your website.

The Remedy: Change your “Write for Me/Us/this Blog” call for submissions to something less saturated. Again, this is a good time to check out what the Big Boys do and follow that model. Next, establish editorial guidelines that include a requirement for original content that was not previously published elsewhere.

If you wouldn't eat food that somebody else already chewed up and spit out, then why would you accept blog posts that were seen on another website? It’s what’s known as “duplicate content” by Google’s standards. By the way – secure the rights to these posts, while you’re at it. Doing so brings the extra satisfaction in knowing that a contributor won’t spin something they wrote for you today, into a post for another blogger, tomorrow.

  • Be Selective About Who You Feature on Your Blog
Don’t just accept posts from anyone and everyone who submits something to you – especially content that is already written. In fact, why are you even accepting open submissions in the first place? It’s much easier to review, accept and reject queries or proposals or cover letters or messages of intent than to have to read through entire blog posts.

I thought that most bloggers already knew this (…even I don’t write or submit guest posts blindly. I query FIRST and then wait for a response from the blogs that I’m interested in submitting a post to), but, I guess there are blogs out there who just put up an “open call” and take everything that comes their way.

The Remedy: Only accept posts from people who have a track record of writing great content on other blogs – and on their own website! Do a Google search for the name of your potential blog contributor; this search should not yield a bunch of spammy websites and spam links. If it does, then that’s a red flag and you may have a spammer trying to ride his or her spammy wave through some of your blog’s link juice. Also welcome contributors who are community builders and can add some discussion to your blog, by responding to comments on their post.

  • Restrict Access and Privileges
It is not necessary to give contributors author accounts to your blog, like handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Maintain a filtering system that compliments your submission guidelines, by restricting the publishing privileges allowed on your blog to you only. Are there exceptions to this tip? Yes, of course there are exceptions. Does this mean that leaves more work for you in terms of formatting, scheduling and publishing posts on your own? Yes, but in many cases, that’s better than the alternative -- being penalized by Google. 

The bottom line is that unless they are a part of your main administrative team or a regular contributor who has established a good track record of posting on your website, everybody online shouldn't have the access and authority to publish anything they want on your blog. When contributors publish blog posts about weight loss or diet pills on your homeschooling and parenting blog – you know you have a problem!

Solutions to the Guest Post Dilemma in a nutshell: 

Stop telling people you have guests. Those who read your blog already know who is who, thanks to author bios, tags and/or bylines. Speaking of author bios, those of contributors on your blog should contain two links maximum – and they better not be spammy (diet pills, SEO marketers, Viagra, anyone?). The bio link concerns could be solved by designating a page on your blog for all of your contributors. Of course, this part (making a “contributors” page…which also takes a lot of time to setup and maintain) is optional – I’m surely not doing it unless I feel it’s useful. That day isn't coming any time soon.

Now that we’re all up to speed on the happenings of blog post authors, Google rankings and best blogging practices, I’m pleased to report that this long post is done.


*Photo by: atduskgreg

Monday, May 28, 2012

Feedback Needed Please!

Badge artwork by A to Z artist Ada Z
    This post brought to you by Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out:         

         Today I had originally planned to post about the negatives of the A to Z, but instead something else came to my attention which I wanted to get your opinions on before I continued with the Challenge evaluation.   I will discuss the bad next Monday.

Something else we'd like some feedback on:

        Here's a link that was brought to my attention through my Google Alerts for "Blogging from A to Z Video Challenge"    You might enjoy checking this out. I found it to be quite a surprise.   I've never seen a YouTube notice like this which includes not only all of the entries for the A to Z Video Contest, but also many links to blogs that have something to do with the A to Z April Challenge.  Check this out.   Your blog may have been included.   Have you seen something like this from YouTube before?

            So far in the Reflections or the evaluations posts I haven't read anything about the A to Z Video Contest.   I'll tell you more of my thoughts about the contest in a couple of weeks, but perhaps you can tell us yours in today's comments.   Did you pay much attention to the Video Contest?   Do you think it added value to the Challenge?   Were the video promos that were later linked to on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere effective in reaching those unaware of the Challenge?   

             Did you watch any of the videos?   If you missed them, you can find them at YouTube or at the A to Z Video Challenge.  How did you like this year's video entries?   What suggestions would you give to the entrants?

               Would you be interested in submitting a video for a future contest?  Would quality prizes such as gift cards, video related equipment, cash, or something else be a greater incentive to participate in a contest of this nature?

              What suggestions do you have concerning a video contest for the A to Z Challenge?   Are there other types of pre-April contests we might consider to bring more attention to the A to Z Challenge?

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