Add it to your long list of things to do; in the post-Panda era, guest blogging is one of the most powerful ways to rank higher with Google. The Panda-dubbed updates to the Google algorithm that started changing ranking factors (and search results) in early 2011 have dramatically shifted the search marketing game.

 Where once a brute-force effort to blanket the internet with spammy back-linked content and stuff keywords for ranking could convince Google that a site was worth a high rank, now the focus has shifted more clearly to original, quality content. Google is in the business of serving up the most relevant online resources, so naturally, it wants websites to earn their search placement, not take it.

 This change has been difficult for many SEOs and site owners to handle, especially when they thought they were playing by the rules all along. Google’s demands are necessitating a shift in role from “webmaster” to “publisher.”

 Earlier this year, Herman Dias wrote aninterestingarticle called, “Your social media and SEO game plan for 2012.” Mr. Dias notes that among the most important ways you can survive what is probably only the first wave of Panda attacks, is to build quality, long lasting backlinks via guest blogging.

 As SEO marketers, we need to take a different approach to ranking on Google and driving free organic traffic to our sites. If you have done any kind of SEO, you know what the key principles of ranking on Google are.

  • choosing the right keywords
  • building a well optimized site with good content
  • building quality backlinks.

These are the core principles of SEO, and they may get you on page one of Google, but you won’t stay there for very long. You have to do more and more of what the big G wants.

 Doing more and more of what the big G wants boils down to delivering more value to consumers. Google dominates search because it delivers the best, most trusted window into the internet. Any time search results are not what the consumer wants, Google’s brand suffers, and so does it’s ability to monetize traffic through advertising. In essence, good SEO means helping Google fulfill it’s promise to consumers for great, relevant content.

 Guest blogging delivers the quality, while giving you more opportunities to focus on appropriate keywords, optimize more content, and gain authoritative backlinks. Some consider guest blogging to be time consuming, but compared to what? Few SEO tactics can reliably deliver the same results that guest blogging can.

 On-site work, like blogging on your own site, for example, can make incremental improvements to your site’s depth, but getting that same content placed on another site expands both your online footprint, and also your credibility as it relates to your anchor keywords in the guest blog content.

 Less-intensive off-site work, like directory registrations or blog commenting might seem easier because they can provide a higher count of backlinks. However, let’s revisit Google’s mandate for quality. Directory registrations and comments are easy to do because they require little of the user and Google knows this. They also do not provide much in the way of endorsement value from the host site, which means Google doesn’t think very highly of them.

 What does Google think highly of? Original content that others have deemed worthy of sharing, which are the essential tenets of guest blogging.

 Forget about more links. Think: better links.

 There is no better link than a contextual link from keywords you specify, from a content-rich page that you optimized, on an authoritative site that is relevant to your own site.

.In addition to becoming an active guest blogger in order to build your search engine credibility and therefore free organic traffic to your site, Mr. Dias also recommends putting social media to work for you as he predicts the next wave of Panda updates.

 Google has started giving social media a lot of importance. It rewards sites that incorporate the core SEO principles and social media strategies by ranking them on page one and keeping them there. In fact, I think last year was the start of the cleanup process by Google. So if you think you got away without incorporating social media to rank on Google, you’d better make the change now or you may be surprised.

 Maintaining a decent level of activity on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube help support your SEO goals as Panda moves forward in its quest to give its Google search engine users quality content by also incorporating signals for freshness, endorsements from individuals (as opposed to just sites) and relevance to your own social network. Google Plus Your World in particular, delivers search results that relate to activity from your social connections on Google Plus. That means, if people you know mention you or your content, their connections are more likely to see you right on the first page of Google.

 How does this relate to guest blogging, you ask? What better way to make connections in your industry, gain personal credibility and increase engagement with people you don’t know than by sharing your great ideas on their sites? Google Plus Your World is super-charging the SEO benefits of deeper engagement by literally putting social results front and center.

 Give freely of your own content through guest blogging and help Google help you, or keep your content to yourself and find that Google doesn’t take much notice.

 

 Mike Sobol is a partner at GuestBlogGenius.com, an innovative contentmarketingplatform which enables SEOs and website owners to fully outsource their guest blogging campaigns.