Time to flip the guest posting system on its head?
We’ve all seen the Google announcements about guest posting - it doesn’t bode well for the future of services like this in their current format, does it?
One of the biggest Postjoint customers has just had one of their clients slammed by Google for guest posting - a large brand in the UK and garbage implementation of guest posting by them has just seen them nailed harder than Jesus. I don’t know that members involvement in the downfall but thats not really the point - what is is that Google clearly don’t appreciate what we’re doing here and we need to work around it and evolve.
imo, the current system is seriously flawed, let me use a made up example here. Lets say I’m promoting an e-commerce site called Bobs Protein that sells protein powder. So I write a post titled “best ways to take supplements to fit with your gym schedule” and upload it to PJ.
I get a bunch of random offers from unrelated sites as normal - and the more obscure your client niche is, the more likely you’re not going to get anything an exact fit topic wise. So lets say the best blog that applies to post it is a blog titled “Dianes Blog - Living With a Kid With Diabetes”
There is no actual link topic wise between the blog in question, and the post uploaded. But realistically I might have one choice to make - use Dianes blog or reupload it. And if your topic is already obscure then you know re-uploading is likely to just leave you in a cycle of burning credits re-uploading looking for a topic match that is never going to come.
Bob desperately needs links… Diane desperately needs money… neither party is particularly impressed with the deal but they both go ahead anyway. Both are putting themselves on the chopping blog with Google later on.
Its a short term approach for everyone involved - Postjoint included. As when either Bob or Diane (or probably both of them) get link warnings in their WMT accounts later on… they’d need to have rocks in their head to continue to use Postjoint and add fuel to the fire. Even if Diane isn’t directly penalised - Bob is going to list her url in either a ‘look i removed all these paid links’ reinclusion, or a ‘look, heres my disavow file’ - the problem for Diane here might not be instant, and it might take a few more Bobs but eventually she ends up nailed too - and this ain’t the bible, this stuff is actually real. So there will be no resurrection here, when you’re dead you stay that way.
To me, there is a very very obvious way around all of this, but it would require a complete rework of the PJ system. The current system is on its last legs anyway…completely off topic blogs forced onto whoever is the least worst of 5 choices regardless of topic, is a fools way to continue to do seo in 2014. Its going to take a few more rounds of Google penalties for the sheep to realise this though, so I suppose some people will just blunder ahead for a while yet till this really hits home.
It would be significantly better to have blogs bid on content that had’t actually been written yet. i.e. I put up a job saying I want to write a post linking to a protein powder site. The blogs bid on it, I get 5 bids as normal. I then choose one and write the post specifically to fit.
So in my example above, Diane agrees to the post. I then go and write ‘Suitable gym and exercise routines for people with Diabetes’. This content is an absolutely perfect fit for both sides. And if neither of them get whacked for it, one side keeps building links, the other keeps making money, and PJ sit in the middle getting their commissions on all these deals, everyone stays happy.
Or we can stick with the status quo… we all get caught by google and give up on guest posting completely.
Right now from a personal point of view I’m struggling to see a long term in PJ membership for any sites I care about. I just can’t justify continuing to add off topic content to random blogs. I love the way you bring buyers/sellers together as done right this is a massive time/money saver… but I think guest posting as we all know it has had its day and we need to evolve asap.
I know some blog owners may be wary of accepting an unwritten post - but thats what the feedback system is there for… if someone has written 100 posts and not had any complaints then you can be fairly confident they’re going to supply you with something good. And right now you can’t really judge a post by an excerpt from it anyway - you can check it for general spelling/grammar, but you can’t actually tell whether its a proper structured post, or just 600 words of nicely spelled ramblings. And any turds of a post that were submitted, could be pushed through a report system and turned down anyway.
Andrei Dinu commented
As long as PJ requires dofollow in guest posts, they clearly violate Google policies. I was requested by PJ via email to publish dofollow for all links in guest posts so I clearly refused it.
People still don't understand they have to write quality, useful and catchy articles where the promotional purpose should be secondary. Here is a good example from my website - http://lerablog.org/internet/best-web-directories-for-2013-2014/ (an article with over 4k organic views).
But let's take the example of a blog post about home loans. Writers simply speak about general things that actually exist everywhere on the net. They don't write anything original, they don't do a thoughtful analysis of the subject considering different sources, make comparisons and cite those sources (linking to them).
Instead, what they do is to write a piece of text, then include a fuckin' spammy keyword somewhere in the article or in the signature (that link MUST be dofollow of course, otherwise there is a problem) and after some time they wonder... why did Google penalize their website. Is that simple as 1,2,3... Google no longer accepts such spam practices and this is excellent in my opinion.
Don't blame Google for your own mistakes. Better evaluate and make the necessary adjustments to follow their TOS.
Also if you done something like the 2nd method, it would be good to see a dollar amount of say the average of their last 5 bid amounts. If I've got a $30 budget and they're asking for $150-200... there is absolutely no point in me allowing them to see who I'm link building for.
This would potentially cause some major problems... to the point where there is projects I'd like to use Postjoint for, but couldn't.
In the past Google didn't have any major problem with guest posting... so it was no big deal to have my url reasonably public (i.e. anyone with a post joint Blogger account could see it). Plus it was just one of 5-6 links in an article - even if anyone cared, nobody could say which of the links was the 'real' one and which were just in there 100% naturally to make it a useful article.
But if the system is turned around and we're writing content to suit the accepted offer... we could only realistically list the one single link we knew was going to be in there - the rest would have to be chosen after offer was accepted as they'd be chosen to fit in with the topic.
This to me is too much of a risk with the current setup of anyone with a blogger account being able to browse / save / store / do want they want with lists of publishers. imo this isn’t a fair spread of the risk of having to expose data - the blogs bidding on the job don’t need to show to anyone other than the jobs they directly bid on… but the advertisers are having to show it to absolutely everyone. I emailed you about transactions that took place that I had zero direct input in… but I had info on them as I had a publisher account and was pretty much just being nosy and looking around in there.
To a publisher, is there really that much difference between seeing:
“I’ll link to http://www.BigJoesInjuryClaims.info using the anchor Check big joes site out"
“I’ll link out to a high street solicitor based in North England - a legitimate business who have been established since the 80’s and been online since 2001. I will use a brand anchor, or a click here if you prefer”
If that isn’t acceptable, then there are a couple of options that would help and remove the need to display the advertiser url to absolutely everyone.
The first idea is you let us do it like above, with a description of the link rather than the link itself. Someone can bid on the job and it then displays the url. They can then immediately retract their bid if they like. But they would need to be limited in the number of retractions they could make, otherwise its just the same as having the url on display for everyone to begin with.
My other idea would be to let us list jobs with a description of the url again. Then let potential bidders click a “I’m potentially interested in this job, let me see the url” button. They would then need to provide the url of the blog they want to publish it on - but this would be private and only shown to the advertiser, not everyone else. I could then decide whether to let them see the url or not. If their blog isn’t a good fit then I already know I’m not going to accept a bid from them, so there is no reason for me to take the risk of letting them see the url.
I think however any changes are processed… keeping peoples url’s more private than they are currently needs to be a major concern.
We have to show the outbound links in advance otherwise bloggers won't know what to expect and you're unlikely to receive offers, especially from the better sites.
Google have said stop guest posting in bulk - I think at this point you need to accept you're not within Googles terms no matter what you do, and proceed on that basis (ie making sure bloggers don't get to see url's until deals are actually agreed). I no longer really want to show every single blogger my url's I'll be linking to. I just want to say "I'll link to a manchester solicitors site & a handful of other links to keep the post being useful for users"
There is no way a marketplace for posts with links in them is EVER going to be within Googles guidelines from this point onwards surely?
From a personal point of view I'd love to see anchors seriously restricted... but how are you going to realistically do that? We can all download spreadsheets of sites we've blogged on. Some people will be able to download that number x5 (if they saved all their bidding sites too).
If you ban anchor text links... people will just hit up all those blogs directly and the end result is the same - I'm sourcing links through PJ and ending up sharing a spot with posts with crap anchor text spam. Its not going to matter to me how it got there... just that its there.
I'll email you in a second about some anchor text bits... something re someone elses site that wouldn't be fair to post here.
We're thinking of banning anchor text links altogether in the short term, only allowing brand / company name or neutral links. This is being abused and many marketers still don't seem to understand the dangers of over optimisation.
As for sponsored traffic posts, most of our users are from the SEO camp. But thats not to say that couldn't change with better localisation and more demographic data.
We are in favour of flipping the system so that content is not created until a connection is made. But then with the payments and follow links we'd still be violating Google's terms.
With decent sites being scared of linking out, how do you get them on board? Especially when content is not always to a good standard.
I think 2) would be very very hard to implement in a way that worked in bulk. You might get the occasional post that drives real traffic customers... but they'll be the exception.
The blogs readers are all completely random - anyone clicking through is just a curiosity clickers. Then you add in they’re american blogs, you can only legally sell the product in UK, or it requires a credit check, or its 50kg and £10 and you couldn’t ship it anywhere else… its near impossible to get qualified traffic from them. Plus a blog post falls off their front page and won’t realistically send any more traffic (bear in mind if you add 4 other links to the post to make it look/read better, you’ve just thrown away 80% of the traffic that did click out of the article). From an seo angle… the link benefits you for months/years after placement. Honestly, I think 90%+ of people using the system are doing it for those reasons, rather than traffic and there is no way around that at all.
Letting us create briefs for bloggers to bid on would be a good one - perhaps letting way more than 5 people bid on it, let us accept multiple bids, and schedule them through a month or whatever? Most people are going to need to schedule them anyway, to have time to get everything written (if we were writing them rather than the blog owner).
Other publishers will be along in a minute to hate on my next idea I’m sure… but imo anchor text links need reigning in, big time. How about no more than 10% of posts having a commercial link with an anchor text link in it. With the other 90% having to be brand, url, click here etc, or random long tails. Some people are, to speak frankly, taking the piss with anchor text links and it continues to paint a huge target on the back of this type of link building in general. I’m not sure if you could do this though - it might just mean people bypassing the system and dealing direct to get their chosen anchors.
Your comments come at the right time JJ. For the past few weeks we've been thinking about how to re-invent PJ and come up with a longer term strategy thats works for search engines, bloggers and marketers.
We're considering new types of opportunities where:
1) Marketers could create a brief and say what type of blogs they're interested in, receive offers, then work jointly with the bloggers to get a post published. Either party could write the content ensuring that it aligns with both objectives. Marketers could accept as many offers as they wish. This wouldn't be a guest post anymore however and we're not sure how to coin this yet.
2) More focus is given to driving real referral traffic via sponsored posts. Obviously the blogs would need to established with verified traffic stats and we'd try and provide traffic reports. No-follow and disclosure as standard.
We're keen to evolve and adapt. We want to do a better job of making connections which is what we see our primary focus as. Your suggestions are welcomed.