Bylines are lines that exist in a newspaper or on a blog which name the writer of the said article. This can also sometimes be used to name and describe a business, brand or organization, depending on the nature of the article and the intended purpose from a marketing standpoint. Knowing how to use and write bylines is an important skill and one that can help you to grow your brand.
What is a Byline?
In these cases, the writer is normally an irregular contributor. That is to say that they contribute articles from time to time but aren’t necessarily staff writers. The same could be true for a blog, in which case the byline will normally describe someone who writes occasionally or is writing as a one off – often this is used in the case of a guest post.
Staff writers or regular contributes to blogs will normally not need bylines because they will have their own bios. In newspapers and magazines, these will often be at the front of the paper and on blogs they will often have their own author page. An exception is the column writer, who will often only write a single column in the magazine each week, month or day and will have a little byline there to explain who they are.
What is a Byline for?
For marketers, bylines have a lot of potential benefits.One of the most pertinent benefits is the guest post. A guest post is a particular type of content that a writer produces for a website and then gives away for free. Websites of course want as much content (writing) as possible, because this is what people come to their sites to read. Not only that, but content is also what Google will ‘index’ when it decides which sites go to the top of the SERPs. In short, more content is very good for SEO and for helping your business to reach the top spot.
The guest post is then given away for free then and the site will of course be keen to publish it. In exchange though, the writer will normally expect to receive a link back to their own website. They will then be featured in the byline with a short description of who they are and this will then encourage anyone who reads the content to follow that link and check out the full site.
This is very beneficial as a way to get direct traffic as well as to boost your SEO. If the article is well written, then your audience is going to enjoy it and hopefully want more content like it. They will also see the fact that you have been featured on the blog they read regularly as a kind of testimonial from that blog. The affiliation with that company will make you seem trustworthy and they’ll be more likely to want to read whatever you have to say as a result and potentially to subscribe to your site!
This is also how the same thing works for Google. Google looks at links on other sites as referrals and it considers these to be indicators of a site’s quality. What’s more important than the quantity of these links is their quality. That is to say that your links should come from sites that are based on the same subject matter and more importantly, that are high quality themselves and that Google trusts.
Downsides of Guest Posting and Bylines
That said, there are downsides to this strategy. Firstly, Google’s Matt Cutts has tried to suggest that marketers be less reliant on guest posting. He is quoted as saying:
“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and morespammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”
This might seem like a damning review of guest posting, but it shouldn’t be taken that way. If you’re looking to build links, guest posting is still one of the only ways to do this and there is no way that Google can tell the difference between a guest post and a ‘genuine’ post that refers to your site.
Except there kind of is, which is to say that Google can tell when lots of links to your site look the same. Repeated use of bylines can look spammy because it looks like you’re trying to manipulate Google. A few times makes you look like a professional, but repeated use is tired. So instead, you should also try writing guest posts that include your links inside the content in a natural way. That mention other links as well and that use natural sounding anchor text.
Writing a Great Byline
For when you do use bylines, the aim is to keep these short and to the point. Try to write in a way that quickly and efficiently describes who you are and what you do and what your site is about. The aim here is to make people interested in following the link, so perhaps include a ‘call to action’ where you mention that they can find more of the same on your site. But don’t make this salesy. Guest posting is only worthwhile if you are getting your articles on top sites. And that means you need to act a little classy!