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Authority Guest Blogging Minus the Links & Traffic

by Jon Cooper
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Stop. This isn’t the typical guest blogging post. I’m here to open you up to an entirely new game that guest blogging will introduce us to, and no, this has nothing to do with links & traffic. I’m really sorry because this is a link building blog, but please, keep reading.

Now that we have authorship markup, there’s a lot more at play when it comes to guest blogging. I’ll get straight to the point:

You can build authority & trust by getting influential authors to guest blog on your site (tweet), and you as an author can build authority & trust by guest blogging on top industry sites. 

Think about it. If all of the top industry leaders wrote a post on your site (and if proper authorship markup was implemented), don’t you think Google will think you’re a much more authoritative & trusted site?

Which brings me to this point: This is a legitimate strategy for building trust. In the past (and the present), people have always told you to “build a trusted site”, but that statement is so intangible it’s ridiculous. This is one of the few “how to” strategies that actually builds trust.

On the flip side, guest blogging on top sites is now more than links & traffic. If proper authorship markup is implemented, you as an author, a separate entity than your site, will build up authority & trust if you guest blog on top industry sites, which in turn makes your site more trustworthy & authoritative. And if you as an author become authoritative & trustworthy, you can now leverage yourself for added benefits to sites looking for those two golden characteristics (oh, the possibilities…).

I know it’s reinforcing the fact that you should be guest blogging, but I want you to think about the “having guest authors” side just as much as the other, if not more.

Side note: When I realized this reality, I promptly emailed AJ Kohn (25k in circles), Jonathon Coleman (5k in circles), and even Rand Fishkin (40k in circles). Of course, 2/3 said no (AJ then wrote about it), but I got a maybe from Rand (I had to work out a deal). My goal is to get as many authors with a high number of followers on G+ to write for my site. If you have 5k or more, you might see an email in your inbox from me sometime soon.

But don’t think it’s as easy as just emailing them and asking for them to contribute. Instead of thinking that they’ll want to get a few links & traffic out of a post, go into outreach actually offering something. Whether it’s a post in return, or even some sort of compensation, work what you have to get that guest post to happen.

A few tips to rap this short post up:

  • When guest posting, always make sure proper authorship markup is implemented. Just like getting as many LRDs as possible, you might see ARDs (author root domains) pop up sometime in the future, so get credit for each post you write.
  • Implement authorship markup for all of your guest bloggers BEFORE the post goes up. This just makes sure that you actually make it happen.
  • When guest posting on an authoritative site, try and get the author of that blog to write a post for you, too. Reciprocal guest posts, anyone?
  • Be willing to do whatever it takes to get an industry thought leader to write a post for your site, even if you tell them they don’t have to spend much time on it at all.
  • Consider hiring freelancers to write a post or two that have high authority on G+.

One last thought: For the longest time, it was links that were the only things that could pass authority & trust. Sure, social came along, but it hasn’t done much so far. But with this realization on authorship, the game has really changed, because this might be the first on-site SEO factor that can determine authority. Crazy, right?

What are your thoughts? Is this new to you, and if it is, do you think there’s anything here, or is this purely theoretical? I’d love to hear what you guys are thinking.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 121 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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23 Comments
  1. Whoa. Great insight into the author markup, I could definitely see this as an on-site authority indicator. While reading this I couldn’t help but remember the traditional concept of links, where the more links from authoritative sites one has the better the site will be perceived by Google. I came away from SMX Advanced with the notion that links won’t count as much as they used to, and from your idea here, I see how authorship could likely fill this void.

    You’re on to something here for sure- a portable, standardized, and reputation-backed tag which all points back to G+

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Great point Harris! I don’t think the link’s value will decrease, it’ll just have to make room for new metrics like these ones.

  2. Daniel says:

    Interesting idea. However this could also translate to “People Person => Authority => Top ranking”. This would certainly suck for site who don’t have people- or blogger skills, or are just not active on gplus or did not implement the authorship markup for whatever reason (maybe they are not a tech person and rather just update their blog about wood carving projects instead) but who still provide good and interesting content.

    This would be very sad because sooner or later you potentially only have Duds with a high follower count floating on top – think about searching for “music” and you get results for Justin Bieber because: “a few million followers can’t be wrong”. Eventually you could also end up with “authority groups” who just link and +1 each other to gain authority – kinda like on digg where at the end a few people would run the site and even links to some pharma spam site would get ~300 votes and hit the frontpage.

  3. Giuseppe says:

    Good post Jon, I do think authorship will be a major factor in the future. I agree almost completely with you, even if I’d some considerations.
    Authorship has to be verified and if you get a guest post from an authority you also have to be sure he adds your site in the contruibutor section on G+: this could not always happen…
    Second, being in 5k circles doesn’t imply an author has a great AuthorRank, since it depends on the quality of the connections too. One could be in fewer circles but have a bigger AuthorRank. Moreover, it depends on the quality of the content that the author provides. If an author doesn’t write often I guess he will not have a big AuthorRank although is an industry authority. How much one is authoritative is in a good part a matter of engagement on their content (mainly on Google+, I fear).

    Last, I won’t discount possibilities with authors that aren’t so famous at the moment but could be in then future: it could be easier to have them guest posting on your blog now than when they’ll be more famous (and busier).

    On the other part, I’d reasonate in same terms: writing for a blog that now isn’t so well known could be an opportunity that you might not have when it becomes more famous… The important anyway is being sure authorship is properly assigned.

    The key concept of thinking of authorship more than links, anyway, is something everybody should pay attention to.

  4. Jon, this is definitely the way things are headed. I think the authorship markup is moving towards more accountability on the web. It’s a non-social share way to quantify the quality of any author. The hope is that good/authoritative authors won’t put their name on spammy crap and will hopefully make people think twice about it.

    I’m also sure articles that have authorship will get a small advantage over posts that don’t. And that may be something that becomes stronger over time. Yes, it could affect older articles that lack authorship markup, but it reminds me of what’s going on in front end development pushing web standards.

    For instance, jQuery (a javascript library used practically everywhere on the web) is potentially not going to support IE 6, 7, and 8. Those browsers, although used by a high number of people, hold back development of cool, new, things when developers have to make backward compatible sites that degrade from something awesome to something completely different.

    I think authorship markup is the same. We’re being told to get on the boat or stay on Legacy Island with old technology. I plan to get on board. Great post Jon!

  5. Mark Hughes says:

    Hi Jon, as always, thank you for sharing. Guest posts and content marketing does seem to be what absolutely everybody is talking about in the industry right now. In certain niches, I think this is totally relevant.

    However, in other niches, this seems to be creating a whole load of work for already busy business owners. If you want to run an online business, you should be able to concentrate on making your product the best it can be, ensuring that your site is accessible to both users and SE crawlers, and promoted in all the right places.

    Now, business owners are being told that they also have to become “authors” or pay for existing authors to create content? It seems like a tangent; a distraction from what website and business owners should really be doing. Which is, ensuring that their core business is as strong as it can be, that they are promoting their site in the right places, and getting real links that drive traffic and sales.

    The concept of authorship seems to me to favour a minority. And I’m not saying this is the reason you are talking about it, but this idea is always being presented to us by existing authoritative authors. I can see the merits of this and why it would pass on valuable information about authority – but I worry that it could end up making the web a less democratic place.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Mark, I’m totally with you, but the concept you introduced (and not targeting you in anyway, I hear it all the time), frustrates my greatly.

      If businesses want to succeed online, then they have to adapt. If they want to spend all their time on their product, then they can go ahead and do so. They can be left out of the online opportunity pie. But complaining that this is outside of their core business is absurd. Those who accept the new reality that online is played by a new set of rules will ultimately reap the benefits. The others can stick to offline marketing & business, which might work best for them.

      Sorry for the rant, but that’s just how I feel about that :/. But thanks for the comment Mark, I really appreciate you going in depth on that & taking the time to write it; it means a lot.

      • Mark Hughes says:

        Thanks for the reply Jon, and no worries for the rant – I appreciate you taking the time to respond and it’s fine to get . Firstly, I should clarify that I’m not 100% against authorship, as it may have come across. Perhaps I haven’t had this conversation as much as you, so I wanted to present a different side of the story. I can’t really argue against your point that business owners who don’t / aren’t able to become an author, or at least employ one, may get left behind. SEO is constantly changing and I suppose everyone has to accept that they may find themselves jumping through a few more hoops in order to adapt. I guess that’s life – you either have the talent, the connections, or better still both, otherwise you won’t succeed.

        Thanks again for putting your point across Jon. For what it’s worth, I think it was well worth having the chance to put that argument to bed as I know many people are thinking about this.

        • Mark Hughes says:

          * get passionate, that was supposed to say at end of 1st sentence – sorry!

          Man, I hope that mistake doesn’t affect my author rank :P

        • Hey Mark,
          For the businesses which can’t employ or are unable to become an author, there’s also rel=publisher. This is sort of like rel=author, but instead of an individual writing the content, it’s a business entity. Likewise, it links to a G+ page instead of a profile. Check it out – http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1708844

        • Mark Hughes says:

          Thanks Harris, and yeah I am aware of rel=publisher. The same premise will apply, though: unless you’re creating content that is being shared, it’s not going to impact upon your author-rank for that publisher profile. As Jon suggests, if author-rank comes into play, then anyone wanting to prosper online will probably have to get involved. Those that don’t have time or skill to write will have to motivate others to guest-post and piggy-back off the author rank of others. It’s interesting because I imagine many business owners will have their heads in their hands, but I guess the same could be said when people first started to talk about link building. Things change so you have to adapt, like it or not!

    • Mark, no business can survive without marketing. Doing whatever it takes to get a website ranked is not a distraction; it’s a core part of doing business online.

  6. Authorship does seem to be playing a bigger role these days. I have noticed some differences in how video’s are displayed in universal results if the person is deemed an authoritative source. They show up with two links under the videos. I would guess that these links improve the CTR from organic listings. We have already seen improved click through from having the authors image pop up next to the listing in the SERPs. Ultimately this authorship gives online marketers one more way to promote sites, themselves, and improve click through rates. I guess it is time I start guest blogging for others.

  7. Halfdan Timm says:

    Hey Jon,

    A great read, thanks for that. I really, really hope, that this – ARD as a natural thing to develope besides LRD – will become a ranking factor someday. I took the first steps today to bring one of the authorities in the danish field to guest post on my blog with succes and he’s agreed to follow the formula here: Him taking the author-credit Google-wise.

    Now we just need Google to get rid of splogs, eh? :-)

    /Halfdan

  8. Nice one John.
    I’ve been pumping up the ‘authorship kudos’ factor of link building/guest posting as a benefit for clients for a little bit too. I still find it to be a bit of a hard sell for sites/web admins at the moment who just want to see clicks and conversions – and have been trained to consider links being the ‘golden’ metric. This authority metric is still something that, outside of search marketing and ‘nerdier’ circles at least, still seems like a pretty little gimmick to some.
    ARD as a measurable will light a bit of a fire though.

    PS: If you ever want to do a guest post on my site John, just let me know ;)

  9. Sunny says:

    I can understand why it is important to build trust and to network with others in the industry. If we have a blog that can use some expert writers then guest blogging is a perfect option. The downside I see to this new way of people trying to brand themselves is that they are trying to piggy back off the success of other bloggers who already did the leg work to get the readers and traffic. Hopefully people will offer real value and build lasting relationships. It is competitive in this internet game and like has already been mentioned each of us has to adapt to these changes if we want to survive.

  10. Kelly Watt says:

    Hi John,
    Very good read and I agree this will have an increasing effect on SEO. Have you don’t any AB testing with the authorship to come to any empirical conclusions on the results? I think its a good time to by a writer/blogger right now. You are right that its something we have to adapt to, not complain about.
    Thanks!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I haven’t done any testing, but I can almost guarantee it’s a factor. Considering how much authors are being weighed visually in the search results (i.e. picture, # in circles), I would find it ridiculous if this obvious conclusion hadn’t been made yet.

      Thanks for the comment Kelly!

  11. Great points Jon. We actually made the move to only accept guest posts from bloggers willing to link with their Google+ profile for many of the reasons you have touched on here.

    It seems to be working because the guys and girls wanting to post and link to insurance.com, etc have walked away. It is definitely separating those that want to blog for the right reasons. Now to find more of those people. You wouldn’t like to put a post together for us would you?? Joking of course (not really).

    If anyone is interested in reading our post explaining our reasons behind the move http://www.onqmarketing.com.au/why-were-only-accepting-guest-posts-from-google-users/

    P.S. I’m a subscriber but I think first time commenter so let me say I love your site design!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Quentin!

      Great idea, I think that definitely weeds out (like you said) those that are there just for the two bio links.

      Glad to see you’re commenting though, hope you stop by more often :D

  12. Paul says:

    I thought backlinking is dead by now due to Penguin. So how can guest blogging be of any help if even the authority sites’ backlinks will not have any effects.

  13. Gary says:

    Hi Jon, I have been considering guest blogging for some time after hearing a James Martell podcast which spells out the benefits as does your post. the only thing that has been putting me off is how do you know if your writing is up to standard ? after all its one thing to get an Ezine article published but surely guest blogging needs to be a lot higher quality?

  14. Aman Singh says:

    Really thoughtful. If anybody asks me how do i build links for my clients. The only answer is to use guest blogging tactics. Most of the time, people don’t even know what they were doing while using bots that is why they got penalty. After penguin, guest blogging is the only link building tactic i think.

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