Guest Author: Denizen Vs Citizen – Which One Are You?

CopyPress CEO Dave Snyder has time and time again made reference to the end of spammy guest authors. He has cleverly pointed out the difference between a “guest” and a “contributor”. Last time I heard him speak at a function, he made a joke about how low-quality, backlink-seeking guest post content is similar to a squatter.

Every time he references a squatter I am forced to visualize a dirty, unhygienic mess of a person, crouched in the corner of a room. This visual then gets me thinking about the two scenarios for how this squatter affects a blog – either he sits there, living off someone else’s resources, existing unnoticed by the other residents of the “house”, or he is the unwelcome center of attention and he stands out like a weed in a flower patch.

This got me to thinking about the upcoming Penguin updates, and how I interpret and define authorship. With all of the speculations on how Google will ultimately differentiate between a mere guest author/post and a contributor, the best analogy I can think of would be to compare the two groups to denizens and citizens.

Dictionary.com defines denizen and citizen as such:

Denizen – someone who inhabits a particular place

Citizen – a native or naturalized member of a state, city, town, or other political community

The Denizen

When the term “guest blogger/author” or “guest post” come to mind, it sometimes leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It has become such an obnoxious substitution word for “people trying to get something out of you”. The whole concept of “I’ll write for your site, and you publish it with this link/photo/word in it, and we’ll call it even.”

Regardless of the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” agreement, I find the overall process to be generally fake and deceitful. The content contributed by these guest authors are often low quality, irrelevant to the content of the hosting site, and will typically include a link that won’t ever be clicked by the reader. Writing content soley to appease search engines will not get you far, especially with all of the ongoing algorithm changes.  This type of guest poster is like a denizen; the author has submitted content (good or bad) and the content just exists to provide for itself and live off the land, if you will.

Think of this guest post denizen as a foreign exchange student wondering around your country. They don’t know much about your culture, they might not care about how your city was built – they just need to know how to get from point A to B. They might be semi-nice to you while they live under your roof, they might offer money to buy your dinner, but ultimately, you have a stranger sleeping on your couch who doesn’t know your last name.

nicole1The Citizen

On the other side of the coin, you have the contributor: a guest author who has delivered high-quality content repeatedly, who understands your audience and your vertical, and the content they provide offers genuine value to your readers and your site. A contributor is a rarer find, and won’t tarnish your credibility; if anything they will increase your authority in the space, and your content will serve as a better-rounded resource for your audience and for searchers.

This valued contributor is the citizen. They are a member of your site, in the sense that they understand your niche, they understand your site’s demographic and they offer unique, well-received content. More importantly, they put in that extra effort. They are not just a visitor or a guest in your blog home; they are a friend, a colleague, a roommate, family. They belong to your community.

nicole2

What it all finally boils down to, is that regardless of what specifically Google is targeting next, if you’re creating content you’re proud of, and doing the process well, you shouldn’t be heading for the hills with every algo update. If anything, you should be anxious and excited for Google to clean out the guest posting flotsam and jetsam that exists today, and to make room for the quality SERPs we’ve all been craving.

As a blogger what concerns you most about the updates?

As a company that is actively guest posting as a denizen, how are you adjusting your strategy to stay relevant after the algo updates?

So, which one are you: the denizen or the citizen?

Do you put in that extra oomph to make your content great? Do you take the time to learn your publishers, do you build relationships, or just links?

It’s time now, more than ever, for content to be written for content’s sake: for the reader. Create awesome content, bring a fresh perspective to the table, share your experiences as case studies, do your research.

Writing for the sake of SEO and to satisfy keyword metrics is again being filtered out of the system, and frankly I can’t wait.