Why You Should Think Twice Before Accepting a Sponsored Post or a Guest Post

I must confess, I love the idea of both guest posts and sponsored posts. Guest posts may be an awesome way to get free quality content and build relationships with other bloggers and site owners. Sponsored posts are a fantastic way to generate good revenue without placing any ads on your site. Both are great to tap into new audience and are very natural and logical thing to do.

Some of you may have assumed I am going to say that both methods are often done in a way that clashes with Google’s understanding of quality, breaking their infamous webmaster guidelines. No, that’s not exactly what I mean. I don’t believe Google has a way of knowing that guest post is guest post unless you specifically say so. Similarly, I doubt their ability to tell sponsored post from regular post with outgoing link unless, again, you specifically state that.

While I don’t believe there is anything wrong with these activities, I do have another concern – tiered link building. For those who don’t know, tiered link building is when you build links to your site following a very specific scheme:

  • Tier 1: High quality links that points directly to your site.
  • Tier 2: Garbage links from comments, Web 2.0 properties, article directories and social bookmarks that point to your Tier 1 pages with links to your site. They never point to your money site.
  • Tier 3: Even worse links that point to your Tier 2 pages with links to Tier 1. They don’t point to money site or Tier 1 sites.

Oftentimes Tier 2 and Tier 3 will use spun content, unreadable content, comment spam etc. In some cases it may even use links placed on hacked sites – something you definitely don’t want to be associated with. These garbage Tier 2 and Tier 3 links are often built automatically using software and are always in thousands. So if you accept a guest post or a sponsored post (or any form of paid or free link) from someone who practices tiered link building model, your site will be Tier 1. Tier 1 are basically good sites that are used as buffers to filter all the garbage that comes from Tier 2 and Tier 3.

Obviously not everyone does that, but you want to think twice before accepting another tempting offer. The very reason why they do this is because they know that pointing bad links to their own sites will get them penalized but if they place a buffer or filter, also known as your site, they will gain all the benefits of higher PR and better rankings without any risks whatsoever.

My Recovery from Google Panda

My Recovery from Google Panda

I am a little hesitant to write this post but since I am making the news on Seroundtable I figured I will at least mention this on my own blog :).

A few weeks ago Google’s Matt Cutts announced softer Panda update which will release some sites that have signals of quality but fall into gray area… I don’t know what I did to fall into gray area but apparently this was case with one of my sites.

I posted this image from Google Webmaster Tools in Webmaster World forums and it eventually made to Seroundtable:

My Recovery from Google PandaMy Recovery from Google Panda

After a couple of days it actually became even more pretty:

My Recovery from Google Panda

Unfortunately while impressions rose even more, clicks settled and don’t rise anymore.

Here is how my Google Analytics (Google traffic only) look:

My Recovery from Google Panda

The last day is Friday, so it’s typically lower than Monday through Thursday, so I expect traffic to rise back on Monday.

If you are curious you can read my Panda story here.

In short, I was hit for the first time on June 29 2012, four days after official Panda announcement and lost more than 50 percent of my traffic. Then I was hit on May 9 2013 by Phantom update and lost another 50 percent of the remainder. What happened now is that while my rankings look like pre-2012, i. e. I seem to rank for everything I used to rank in the past my actual traffic is more like pre-May 9, which is still only 50 percent of what it used to be. It feels like old positions simply don’t bring as much traffic anymore.

And here is my favorite shot:

My Recovery from Google Panda

Google traffic only.

You can see I had some good days before June 29 2012. You can see how my traffic was slashed in half overnight and stayed that way for about a year. Then another hit came on May 9 2012. I freak out and remove Google Analytics altogether to prevent myself from watching stats, hence one day drop to 0. I don’t last though and re-install Analytics next day :). You can see my latest recovery at the end, however it still feels like peanuts comparing to beginning of 2012.

What did I do? Hard to tell. I always believed there was nothing wrong with my site, hence whatever I did wasn’t an attempt to fix my site. Having said that, there were tons of changes to the site. I know this doesn’t help, but I won’t mislead you with speculations.

UPDATE: One month later and it dawned on me that the recovery is nearly 100 percent. The traffic climbed even further and then there were some pages I removed and put into separate site. That site became immediately successful and if I combine traffic for both sites I am very close to what it was before, perhaps 100-200 uniques less (per day) but really close.

Lost Rankings But Bounce Rate Decreased? Here is Why…

Lost Traffic But Bounce Rate Decreased? Here is Why...

Times and times again I hear webmasters saying that while they lost traffic in Google’s update, the quality of their traffic improved. They typically see:

  • Increased time on page
  • Decreased bounce rate
  • Improved conversion rate
  • Increased percentage of returning visitors

Lost Traffic But Bounce Rate Decreased? Here is Why...While it might seem strange at first there is nothing mysterious about it when you think of it carefully. When you are no longer number one in Google’s search results, but, let’s say, number seven (ouch!) people who bother to explore your site have different qualities than those who simply click on whatever comes first.

They have:

  • more time to explore your subject (which should be obvious because they reached you at no 7)
  • more interest in the subject
  • or both!

These people actually do have time AND desire to read what you have to say instead of just skimming through the pages, click on your links and perhaps even purchase what you are offering. Because they have these qualities they actually read what you have to say and do so mindfully, hence they are more likely to come back.

While I don’t suggest for a second that it’s better to be no 7 than no 1, what I am trying to do is to explain improved user metrics.

It’s somewhat similar to what happens in Google Adwords. Bidding on first spot in Google Adwords is unnecessary and is often regarded as waste of money. You can be number two, three or even four in Adwords, receive less traffic but have much higher conversion rate for exactly same reasons I mentioned above.

The difference between organic search results and Google Adwords is that in Adwords you can control your placement by bidding more or less, you can tune in to optimal position, getting same number of conversions as advertiser in no 1 spot while paying less, but in organic search results you don’t have this level of control. In addition, many webmasters earn by selling advertising based on CPC or number of impressions. This monetization model will of course cause your income suffer greatly when you lose your rankings in no 1 spot.

Want to Have Your Logo in Google Search Results?

Want to Have a Logo in Your Search Results?

Something funny happened to me. I verified my authorship in Google and had my picture showing in search results. Then I decided I don’t want it there.

I was quite confident that if I change my picture to anything that cannot be confused with headshot, the picture will automatically disappear. I wanted to make a point that I am not trying to mislead Google and uploaded a picture of palm tree in desert instead of my own photo to my Google+ profile. The result? It has been four days and that palm tree is still showing next to my search results. Click-through rate? Great, as usual. How long this is going to last? No idea.
Want to Have a Logo in Your Search Results?

Now this is really interesting. Some people might want to take an advantage of this and upload their logos or something really catchy. I find this really amusing!