Hosting Content on Third Party Websites: What's acceptable?
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Face of Third Party Hosted Content
SEO and the term 'guest posting' were once like two peas in a rather large pod, but as the world of SEO changes so has the nature of so called 'guest posting'. The rules have changed significantly and while it is now recommend that you should be hosting your content on your site and generating natural links back to you, there are still instances where hosting content that you have written on a third party site is beneficial.
The not so recent updates of Panda and Penguin have meant guest posting has become a more complicated area which Google is increasingly vocal about. There is a distinct emphasis that SEOs should not rely on guest blogs for creating links. Instead they should be focusing on providing an expert voice on their chosen topic only in the most carefully selected, relevant places.
Guest posts aren't completely dead but the rules have changed. Think about which sites you choose to provide content to carefully - is their audience relevant and are they in themselves credible. If not, then don't provide them content - it will go to waste. Try to secure coverage on high profile sites and share your most opinion led, expert advice - content they couldn't possibly get elsewhere. That way it's an asset and will add credibility to your content.
If people only link to the third party's site when sharing the content you gave them don't worry too much - the brand awareness is great and you are well within your right to call them and ask for a mention for the original source of the data down the line.
With this in mind what habits are people embarking on this strategy still guilty of? Who is still not past the stage of guest posting for guest posting's sake.. the tips below can help you identify if you have moved on with the ever-changing rules around providing content to third parties....
The bad and the ugly
If you're still doing this stuff you should be concerned...
Spammy links on keywords within text
Why are you linking to the same page four times in a post? What does this do for the people reading it? If you are including links in your text, great! Thank you for thinking of the readers and offering us the chance to navigate to a page which would be useful. If this page however is the same page you shared with me two lines above and is still irrelevant then I am not interested.
A post completely devoid of emotion or writer's voice
Any piece of writing you have just spieled out for the sake of placing a link needs to be put to one side, preferably the side your bin is on. No one wants to read regurgitated, boring, and voiceless content. Personality is key when you are writing – humour can help you engage with your audience, but make sure you are tasteful and if in doubt follow the golden rules!
Content that is produced solely for promotional/advertising reasons
When you write with the solitary purpose of creating a post for your client and snaking a link into it you are doing yourself no favours. No one wants to read overtly promotional content so why waste your time writing it.
Monetary, physical or otherwise; do not compensate for posts you have asked a blogger to host or write. Google is pretty specific about this and no one is untouchable, you only have to look at recent news to know this is not OK. Your unique and resourceful content should be enough if you do it right.
Poorly placed content
Why would you contact a Crab fishing blog regarding winter wedding dresses? Cater your content to your blogger - If you don't, you run the risk of adding to an already over populated spammy online community. You run the risk of losing readers as well as adding to the sea of spam currently residing in our online world.
What you should be considering (at a very minimum) when you think about hosting content on other people's sites...
Your content should always be unique. Copy and paste should be outlawed in the SEO world – duplicate content as I am sure any SEO worth there salt should know, is a bad thing - not only for the blogs you are hosting it on but the company you are hosting it for too. With both parties loosing why not take a little time write something more suited to domain you want to host your post on.
Links as valuable resources only
This is a good opportunity to host relevant, topical and entertaining content on behalf of your brand. By using hyperlinks to different industry led publications, news articles or even other blogs posts you offer a great asset for those reading your content. If you are writing about fashion trends for the new season and have recently read a story on a fashion magazine about the slimming effects of different colours - include it! Only include links that are relevant and meaningful for the reader as a resource for them to follow.
"A picture is worth a thousand words"
If this is true then what about YouTube videos? Try to include images and videos where possible with your content. Including a relevant video or image adds another layer to your post, making it more interesting and "read-worthy".
What does it all mean for my SEO strategy?
Try to put the idea of guest blogging out of your mind and think about unique research, hard work and using a little bit of imagination. If you didn't enjoy writing the content you offer to a third party the chances are other people wont enjoy reading it. Focus on adding value to a relevant audience not just on building links.
With more and more updates from our friend Google, SEO is stepping into a more fruitful future by providing industry insider knowledge to a growing readership. Those actively trying to improve their position online naturally need to make use of their expertise and help promote their insider knowledge to everyone's benefit. If you are only focused on building links this might not be what you want to hear but this is the best way to invest in your site's organic positions for the long term.