Ever since Google condemned large-scale, spammy article campaigns in 2017, there\u2019s been a lot of confusion out there regarding the efficacy and safety of guest blogging. So, is it best to avoid guest blogging? The short answer is no. Guest blogging is still a viable link building tactic. However, there are specific guest blogging practices you want to avoid to ensure you\u2019re not engaging in Black Hat SEO. In this article, we\u2019ll walk through the do\u2019s and don\u2019ts of pitching and writing a quality guest post that will help you build your link profile and foster professional relationships in your industry \u2014 all while keeping you in the good graces of Google. 1. Do set goals for your guest blogging efforts Guest blogging is functionally a marketing campaign, and as we have explained so many times before, a marketing campaign is nothing without goals. When you don\u2019t define campaign goals, it can be challenging to know what kind of data you need to monitor to track success. Some examples of common goals for guest blogging are: \tImproving search rankings through inbound link building \tIncreasing your number of social media followers or email subscribers \tEstablishing yourself as an expert in your field \tPromoting general brand awareness \tGenerating leads by driving traffic to a dedicated landing page Once you have your goals established, you will have a better idea of what kind of metrics you need to be monitoring. 2. Do pitch sites that are reputable and relevant to your niche Quality matters \u2014 both ways. If you\u2019re committed to creating quality content, you should find a website that is also committed to quality. This means steering clear of partnerships with spammy sites, which Google is very good at spotting. Why is this important? Well, the first thing you need to know is that link building is either one or the other: Success by association, or guilt by association. You can strengthen your search rankings through link building efforts with strong, high-quality content on other sites, but it can work the other way around, as well. If you're guest blogging on a spammy site, you will end up looking like a spammer to Google, and be penalized accordingly. How do you know if a site is reputable or relevant? Research! Which brings us to the next item on our list... 3. Don\u2019t neglect research When you\u2019re considering where to pitch a blog post, it is critical to do your due diligence. Not only to make sure you\u2019re pitching to a reputable site, but also to make sure you\u2019re not wasting anyone\u2019s time or clogging up more email inboxes than you absolutely must. There\u2019s a clear difference between someone who has done their homework and someone who is indiscriminately blasting out hundreds of pitch requests. Before reaching out to a potential guest blogging partner, make sure you can answer the following questions: \tWho are their customers? Who is their blog audience? (Protip: The answers might not be the same). \tHow active is their social media presence? How robust is their following? \tWhat\u2019s their site traffic like? (Get a peek with freemium traffic estimation tools like SimilarWeb and Alexa) \tWhat do they generally write about on their blog? \tHave they already written about the topic I have in mind? If so, how can I alter my idea to complement what already exists? \tHave they published guest posts in the past? How strong are they? \tDo they have guest blogging guidelines I need to follow? Answering these questions will narrow the field for you so that you\u2019re only pursuing sites that are relevant and reputable. 4. Do personalize your guest blog pitch It\u2019s really easy to spot a pitch request that has been sent out to hundreds of contacts. Often times, these types of email can leave the vast majority of recipients wondering, \u201cDid they mean to send this to me? Did they even visit my website? This has nothing to do with my business.\u201d Sure, that mass pitch may end up resonating with a couple folks, but in addition to confusing people, it\u2019s also a sure fire way to get your email flagged as spam. Personalizing pitches can take precious time, but it\u2019s worth it. Here are a few things to include in a personalized guest blogging pitch: \tMention how you found them. Was it an existing professional relationship? Did you read an article of theirs that really resonated with you? Did they retweet something you wrote? \tName your topic(s). Explain exactly why you think it\u2019s relevant to their editorial focus and why you think it will help them. \tDemonstrate your authority. Articulate why you\u2019re qualified to write about this topic, and if possible, provide samples of related work. \tFollow any submission guidelines. These are often outlined on a company\u2019s contact or press page. 5. Do consider offering up multiple ideas to choose from Having multiple topics in your back pocket isn\u2019t mandatory, but it can increase your chances of pitch acceptance. You can\u2019t read minds, so you want to be flexible to ensure you\u2019re not shut down simply because they didn\u2019t like the one topic you sent. Plus, offering multiple choices allows your potential guest blog partner to negotiate on topics that make the most sense for their editorial strategy. Of course, in many cases, guest bloggers come to the table with a blog post that is more or less complete and just needs a home. This is fantastic, but it\u2019s still a good idea to have multiple topics waiting in the wings, just in case. For example, maybe you\u2019ve already written a piece, and your goal is to get it published on a particular high-authority website. You know the piece is perfect for them, so you feel confident there is no way they\u2019d turn it down. And yet, for whatever reason, they do decline. Maybe it was because a similar piece is already in their editorial queue (or possibly published on their blog already, if your research wasn\u2019t thorough enough). Or maybe the topic just wasn\u2019t what they were looking for. Regardless, you can probably get that prewritten guest blog published on another site, but your dream of working with your first choice is dashed \u2014 unless you sent some alternate ideas as backups. 6. Don\u2019t engage in \u201carticle spinning\u201d Article spinning works like this: \tStep 1: You write an article. \tStep 2: You pitch and publish that article as a guest blog. \tStep 3: You tweak that article by changing words or maybe adjusting paragraphs. \tStep 4: You pitch and publish that slightly tweaked article as a guest blog on another site. \tStep 5: Repeat steps three and four. Article spinning is a tactic inherently falls under Black Hat SEO. Why? Well, just as with anything in SEO, your strategy and tactics must be underpinned the following questions: Is this content useful to search engine users? Or is it just written to appeal to search algorithms? When you engage in article spinning, it means you\u2019re no longer publishing content for people. You\u2019re publishing with the sole purpose of building links. Not only does this produce sloppy content, but with how sophisticated Google's algorithm is, you aren't doing your link profile any favors. 7. Do consider your link profile when guest blogging If you\u2019re pursuing guest blogging as a way to build links and boost your rankings, then you need to make sure that your link profile is diverse and relevant. Moz defines the term \u201clink profile\u201d as \u201can overall assessment of all the inbound links your site has earned: the total number of links, their quality (or spamminess), their diversity (is one site linking to you hundreds of times, or are hundreds of sites linking to you once?), and more.\u201d Diversifying your link profile is a lot like diversifying your investment portfolio. It helps you weather the storms of change. When Google makes shifts in its algorithm, sometimes certain linking patterns or even certain sites will fall out of favor. If you were relying solely on those now-marginalized linking patterns or sites for your backlinks, you\u2019re probably going to feel marginalized, too. But if you already had a diversified link profile when these algorithm changes occurred, you are probably feeling less threatened since those unfavorable backlinks may only make up a small percentage of your backlinks. So what constitutes a diversified link profile? Well, the ultimate goal is to have backlinks that bolster your authority on any niche topical subjects. So these links should come from a mix of high, medium, and low-authority websites that are topically similar to yours. (If you\u2019re an yoga studio and you receive a backlink from a company that sells auto parts, that may confuse search engines trying to understand what you\u2019re all about.) Another key to diversifying is making sure you have a healthy balance of \u201cfollow\u201d and \u201cnofollow\u201d links. (You\u2019ll also want to keep a regular eye on your link profile and disavow any spammy, low-quality backlinks in Google Search Console. Negative SEO is very real. If a nefarious competitor goes after you with a negative SEO campaign, the damage can reverberate in your search rankings for years. If you think you might have been hit with negative SEO, learn how to disavow backlinks in Google Search Console.) 8. Do treat guest blogging as a serious editorial process If you\u2019re working with a reputable site on your guest blog, then there\u2019s a strong chance that a real human is reading and editing your work before it\u2019s published (at least, we hope). Some sites may be fine with publishing your guest blog after only a light dusting of edits, but be aware that some sites may have more rigorous editorial standards. Here are a few tips for ensuring a smooth editorial process: \tAccommodate revisions within reason. Behind every great writer is a great editor. While only you can decide if being asked to do a full rewrite of your guest blog is worth your time, we do think it\u2019s worthwhile to be flexible and accommodating with suggestions from your editor. \tTry to match the formatting and style of the website you\u2019re writing for. Make your editor\u2019s life easier and do this before submitting your guest blog. Do they use oxford commas? Are they pretty fastidious about header tags? \tBe clear about image permissions. If you have images you want to include with your guest blog, be sure to communicate any permission information regarding where you got them and how they may be used. \tCollaborate on links. Obviously, you\u2019ll want to include links back to your own site, but it\u2019s a good idea to work together on adding internal site links, too. \tCoordinate a plan for promotion. The work shouldn\u2019t stop once the guest blog post is published! Work with your guest blogging partner on how this piece will be promoted on social media, email marketing, and other marketing channels after it is published. When you treat guest blogging as a serious editorial process, you not only produce higher quality content \u2014 you build professional relationships and grow opportunities for future collaboration in your industry. 9. Don't forget about other link building tactics If you\u2019re only relying on guest blogging to build links, you could be missing out on some high-quality backlink sources. A few link White Hat link building tactics you might want to consider include: \tList yourself in trustworthy web directories that are relevant to your industry\/niche. Emphasis on \u201crelevant\u201d and \u201cniche.\u201d Adding yourself to just any web directory can backfire if it has nothing to do with your website or business (or if it\u2019s notoriously spammy). \tContribute helpful, quality comments in forums and blog posts. Participating in a real discussion with real people about something related to your niche can provide context and expert knowledge \u2014 something Google likes to see. \tGive testimonials to products\/services you use in your industry. Talk about a win\/win! This is similar to guest blogging in that you are writing content for another business, but the difference is you get a backlink and they get a glowing testimonial \u2014 all without the time and labor of churning out a long guest blog post. \tAsk! If you notice that a website in your niche mentions your business but doesn\u2019t link to you, don\u2019t be afraid to send an email to the site owner to thank them for the mention and request a link back to your site. \tBuild brand awareness. Ok, this is a long game that is easier said than done, but the fact is, backlinks come naturally when you\u2019re a respected figure or brand in your industry. How active is your social media presence? How often do you engage with others in your industry? Do you monitor, solicit, and respond to online reviews? Do you leverage email marketing? How often do you update your blog? Ready to get started with link building and WordPress Support? The SEO team at Southern Web have ample experience building strong link profile using trusted White Hat tactics. Contact us today to learn more about our SEO services.