Last month Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Web Spam, effectively announced the demise of guest-blogging as a strategy for SEO. Actually, if you have been paying attention, he and his team have been hinting at this for over a year now. But what does that mean for the multifamily housing industry, and where do we go from here?
What is Guest-blogging?
Guest-blogging is a practice by which authors write articles or posts of some sort, and post them to another individual’s website. This blog post will typically include a link back to the author’s website at some point in the text. This is beneficial for both parties because the blog gets quality content without having to write it, and the guest blogger gets a back-link to their site.
Guest blogging becomes ‘spammy’ when the link itself is seen as being more important than the content. This leads to very generic pieces being written and posted on countless low-quality guest blog sites, simply as a means of obtaining back-links. But these backlinks aren’t worth much when compared to a quality link that has been earned honestly, and in light of Matt’s recent statement on the subject, they could actually end up hurting you. But now that we can no longer count on guest-blogging as an SEO strategy, what can we do?
Add a blog to your website
As Rand Fishkin and other industry visionaries have been saying for years, content is king. The best strategy for any website continues to be frequent generation of original content. Be relevant in your community, and you are sure to see an increase in both rankings and traffic to your site.
Another benefit of blogging on your apartment community website is that it brings a new opportunity for branding. Establishing a connection between your brand and the local community is key in gaining credibility with Google and prospective renters alike.
Set up Google Authorship
Google Authorship is one way Google is trying to promote quality content as they address the issue of spammy guest-blogs. Authorship allows Google to do two things: 1) confirm, with some degree of certainty, that an author is a real person. And 2) it allows Google to quantify their relative trustworthiness by calculating how often they post, along with a number of other variables. By rewarding authors for posting often, Google had encouraged them to take credit for their work. This promotes a higher level of quality because a specific writer’s name is attached to each piece. Now each blog this writer posts on your site carries a little more weight in Google’s eyes, thereby helping your site become an authoritative source.
Do I sound like a broken record yet? There is simply no excise to not be using Google+ by now. Not only does posting a link to your blog help your website, but it also helps the writer’s Authorship score. And as I mentioned earlier, higher authorship helps the website. This self-reinforcing process continues each time a post is shared in G+.
Not only does sharing a blog post on G+ help improve authorship and domain authority, but it also tells Google to re-crawl your site for new information. Each time your site is crawled, Google uses the new information to improve the way your URL is categorized within their system. This often correlates with an increase in traffic to the site, and you don’t need me to tell you why that’s a good thing – do you?
So, rather than obsessing over how many backlinks you got this month, consider putting all of that energy into creating interesting content your renters want to see. If your residents pay rent online, you’ve already got an audience at your disposal. It’s just a matter of finding out what speaks to them. At the end of the day you should consider this: If this content is so great, why not simply post it on your own website? If it isn’t the kind of thing you want on your own site, then why allow your brand to be associated with it in the first place? Don’t waste your time gathering spammy back-links. If your content stands on its own, you won’t need to pay anyone for a backing because people organically will do the linking for you – for free!