You may have heard all the noise of late around the rumored death of guest blogging. It’s been a heavily debated topic on blogs and Twitter since Googler Matt Cutts wrote on his personal website that 2014 would see the end of guest blogging.
His logic is pretty simple: guest blogging is getting too spammy. Companies are paying popular sites for links and guest posts to drive up their own SiteRank. The content and links aren’t legit, and Google’s job as a search engine is to stop prioritizing the sites that heavily leverage the technique. As a result, guest blogging is dead. Bad actors have ruined it for all the good folks out there.
A lot of smart people have chimed in on the topic, many in disagreement. Jerod Morris’ post on copyblogger is one of my favorites. Personally, I’m with the folks like HubSpot who don’t think it’s time to throw away all your guest blogs just yet. While there are many examples of people trying to trick the system (i.e. Google) with guest blogging, there are also many, many examples of site that are posting original, valuable, and relevant content with guest blogging. My former company used it heavily and successfully. Guest posts were often pointed out by prospects I talked to as being some of their favorite content.
In the end, if Google starts dinging sites who are posting original, valuable and relevant content (regardless of the source), they are failing as a search engine. While giving demerits to everyone who is guest blogging would make Matt Cutts’ very difficult task of prioritizing the internet a bit easier, it truly would throw the baby out with the bath water. Bloggers need to focus on delivering value to their audience, and Google will need to find a better way of solving the spammy-guest-blogs problem.
What does this mean for sales?
This debate is currently a wild one in the marketing world, but there are sales lessons here as well. Guest blogging is a good tactic. But like many good tactics in sales and marketing, it can get out there, get over-used, get abused, and then stop being effective.
Guest blogging is to marketing as working your network for referrals is to sales. Most companies agree that referrals are the best source of leads and convert at high rates to paying customers. As a sales rep, working your network is a great use of your time and a very effective tactic. But if this is all you are doing, you are going to eventually do two things:
- Dry up your network. Even reps with the biggest LinkedIn network are unlikely to have a year’s worth of quota there; they will need to look to other avenues as well.
- Piss people off. Imagine a friend who you only hear from every 18 months when he gets a new job, then calls you just to sell you his new product. That’s a call you probably stop taking.
What do we do about it?
Sales reps know that referrals are a great tactic, but they can’t be your only tactic. Just like guest blogging is a great approach to driving traffic; it just can’t be your only tactic.
If nothing else, when this debate blows over, it should serve as a reminder to sales and marketing alike that you need multiple arrows in your quiver. Aim to be a master of 2 or 3 tactics and proficient at a half dozen more. Marketers who only guest blog are going to fail. Reps who have only one tool for generating pipeline will fail as well.
So get out there and broaden your toolset. Try something new and be OK with failing. Be mindful of warning flags from smart people like Matt Cutts, but realize the best hedge against this apocalypse is having a number of different tools in the bag.