The concept of guest blogging is simple: write something and find someone else to publish it. It also works the other way around: find someone who has content and publish it yourself.

If it’s so simple, why is guest blogging receiving a lot of attention – some of it negative?

The truth of the matter is that this simple activity can be – and is being – abused. As a result, search engines such as Google have turned their attention to guest blogging, putting measures in place that can lessen, and maybe even negate, the positive effects of your efforts.

Guest blogging may be a dangerous tactic unless you do that properly.

Given that, is it worth engaging in guest blogging in the foreseeable future?

The answer is a resounding yes.

The trick is in making sure that your guest blogging efforts remain relevant and effective.

How do you do this? Here are some practical tips to bear in mind.

Put your best foot forward.

footIn all honesty, I have to admit that I have not gotten my hands “dirty” in the guest blogging realm as much as I had in the past six months or so. Oh, I’ve written a guest posts for a long time, and I have gone through so many guest post requests. Only in recent times have I really engaged in the activity on a large scale, and boy, if I have learned one thing, it is this: You have to put your best foot forward.

So many people see guest blogging as a quick and easy way to get links and exposure, and this is probably the biggest mistakes a guest blogger can make.

Quick and easy may be applicable in some cases, but this does not equate to good results. Quick and easy can also be equated to poor quality content and link sources.

When writing a piece for guest posting, make sure you follow the host’s guidelines to a T. They were created for a reason, and your chances of being published will be higher if you follow them. More so, don’t get fixated on the word count. Focus on your message instead!

If I had to give only one piece of advice to guest bloggers, it is this: only submit articles that you will be 100 percent proud to publish on your own blog.

Don’t make it all about the backlinks.

Continuing along the lines of quick and easy, many guest bloggers see the activity as a way to garner backlinks. Sure, that is one goal of guest blogging. There is no use denying that.

However, this is also the point where Google can easily mete out penalties. If you’re obviously only after quick links, you’ll probably serve up poor content. You might also end up gathering links from sites which won’t benefit you at all. As Matt Cutts himself said, don’t make guest blogging your only way of gathering links. (Notice that he didn’t say using it as a way to gather links is “bad”.)

So, before you set out in your guest blogging efforts this year, I suggest getting the “backlink gathering” mindset out of the way. Throw it out of the window.

Instead, focus on what you highlight in your own blog: offering pieces of content that real people will find valuable.

Be selective.

selectiveThis works both ways – whether you’re looking for sites to guest post on or you’re going through guest post requests for your blog. If you’ve been hustling for guest posts for a while, you’ll notice that it can be very easy to find sites that will accept your requests. You’ll have even more people vying for your attention to publish their content.

Newbies will probably get excited at the vast potential awaiting them. After a while, though, you’ll realize that when it’s easy, it’s probably not beneficial!

What I mean is that you’ll probably discover that many sites that have little or no requirements regarding guest posting are poor sites, which won’t bring you any value. You’ll also discover that a large majority of guest post requests for your blog are duds.

I don’t mean to be cynical here, but it’s the truth. Better to realize this early on and learn to select sites and guest post requests that are of high quality rather than to waste time on the others. Yes, I learned this the hard way.

Remember: it is okay to say no to a guest post request; it is okay to pass up on a chance to guest post for another blog.

Nurture your contacts.

I cannot emphasize the importance of quality contacts enough. You may not consider yourself a networker, but if you want to make your guest blogging efforts relevant, then you have to take on some qualities of a networker.

You have to be willing to reach out to new contacts. You have to be willing to interact with people via Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, and email. I’m not talking about generic, spammy comments, mind you. Meaningful interactions count!

More than making new contacts, however, it is imperative to nurture them. I am not a natural in this respect, but I had to learn, and I can proudly say that I have learned well. Nurturing contacts does not mean you have to be constantly in email. It means you keep in touch now and then, even if you don’t need anything from each other. It can mean simply saying hi on social media. It can mean retweeting or sharing a post of theirs.

The bottom line: guest blogging is a give and take activity.

Noemi Tasarra-Twigg is the editor of Freelance Writing Jobs, an online community for freelance writers. They provide daily job leads as well as resources for writers. In her downtime, she “keeps tabs on the industry” by trolling her favorite web sites.

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