Don’t Be a Lemming by Following the Crowd Off a Digital Cliff

Cartoon lemmings scamper off in a groupEnthusiasm and a proactive attitude can take your digital marketing a long way, but it can take you a long way down if you don’t know what you’re doing and why. When an interesting offer hits your inbox and promises you an easy path to the goal, you should be suspicious. If you set aside the flashy promises, do the proposed marketing methods really fit into a wise long-term strategy?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways to stand out online, and not all of them are good for you or your business. Following the crowd into low-quality content schemes, sketchy backlink deals, and quick-fix pitfalls may give you a temporary boost, but it can just as easily send you plummeting off a digital cliff.

The problem is that most businesses are bombarded with emails, chats, and calls from people promising quick wins with virtually no effort. Some are easy to weed out as spam, but some can make you feel like you’re missing out by staying on the straight and narrow. Need an example? Take a look at an unsolicited email a client of ours received recently.

Guest Blogging 101: Don’t Fall for This Email

If you don’t have a strong understanding of Google’s guidelines, then you might not realize that taking advantage of the guest-blogging offer in the following email is a bad idea:

Reciprocal Guest Blogging With Our Law Firm

Good Afternoon,

I am writing to inquire whether you have an interest in chatting with our Managing Partner, Wayne Cohen, about guest blogging with our law firm (on a voluntary, reciprocal basis), which can benefit both your firm’s site and ours. I should mention that Wayne is a past President of the D.C. chapter of the AAJ (formerly ATLA), adjunct law professor of trial skills at the George Washington University School of Law, and one of the leading personal injury lawyers in D.C.

This type of exchange has had a such a major impact over the past few years on the way in which we get our cases that we have a content coordinator (me!) who spends half her day scouring the internet to find firms in other jurisdictions that would be a good fit for this type of exchange. Specifically, we check your domain and page authority and page authority using Moz at

The proof is in the pudding. We have over 600 keyword phrases on page 1 of Google, and we get 60-80 inbound case leads per week.

The courtesy of a reply is greatly appreciated!


Melanie Lineberger

P.S. For what it’s worth, we got very fed up many years ago with digital marketing companies, and took matters in-house.


On the surface, it might look like a legitimate offer. It lacks the usual signs of spam emails. It seems to be from a real firm. You might read this and think it’s an opportunity to get your content in front of new audiences and score a few backlinks for minimal effort. Don’t fall for it.

Google has clearly stated that attempting to manipulate the system with low-quality blog networks and link exchanges is a big no-no. What it boils down to is that you will be penalized for attempting to manufacture your own backlinks. Reciprocal guest blogging—where you offer a backlinked guest post in exchange for the same—violates the search engine’s guidelines. While it’s true that some businesses are getting results using workarounds and loopholes, their success is only temporary.

If you're looking for quality websites to submit guest blog posts to check out Izideo's list of 1,500+ quality guest blogging websites by category.

The Right Way to Stand Out Online

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take any guest-blogging opportunities. You just have to be picky about why, where, and how you share your content. Stick with opportunities that:

  • Make sense for your industry.
  • Require nothing in return.
  • Are affiliated with an authoritative organization.
  • Share actual knowledge, not just links and ads.
  • Feature only high-quality content meant for a specific audience.

All of this applies to more than guest blogging, too. Over the years, people have found all kinds of ways to “game the system” online. Google has repeatedly changed its guidelines and algorithms to close those loopholes and root out unethical behavior. Even if you see competitors getting away with it—or benefitting from it—in the short term, their success isn’t meant to last.

Google has been extremely consistent in telling businesses that the best way to stand out online is to create high-quality content that people naturally want to link to. Be an expert. Be an invaluable resource. Put the focus on your audience. Write content people want to read. Create digital materials that stand out on their own merit, not because you found a way to cut corners. Put in the legwork to get great backlinks ethically. Work with marketing partners you trust, and adhere to Google’s most current guidelines. It’s not a quick fix for your digital marketing, but it’s a proven strategy that has paid off for our clients over and over again.

If everyone else in your industry is doing it, should you be doing it, too? Contact our marketing experts for a free website analysis that will set you on the path toward ethical marketing that works.

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