Here at SixEstate we phased out guest blogging for SEO purposes awhile back. The rise of spam companies entering that vertical was one significant reason for doing so, and Google’s constant efforts to rein them in over the last year or two was another.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, laid it on the line in a recent blog post:
Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking ‘guest post outsourcing’ and writing articles about ‘how to automate guest blogging.’
So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.
Immediately the Internet was filled with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Many are convinced that this means that guest blogging is dead, period. But that’s not what Cutts is saying.
What Makes a Guest Blog Good or Bad?
There is a gulf of difference between a good guest blog and a bad one, and these days the vast majority of them are bad. The two big quality indicators for distinguishing between the two are:
- The content does not match the subject of the blog
- An abundance of keyword-rich anchor text
A real guest blogger, said Cutts, is an expert on the subject matter and doesn’t drop a large number of keywords in anchor text.
In short, emails pitching unrelated content and offering to increase your search rankings with their provided guest blog posts are spam. Accepting their proposals will now cause your rankings to drop.
These propositions are made by companies that make their money by shoehorning keywords and links to their clients into each post. This is going to backfire now that Google is hauling out the ban-stick. As a matter of fact it will probably impact those who have used such tactics in the past.
Don’t Avoid Genuine Guest Posts
This is not an indictment of all guest posts. Cutts himself notes that a good guest post can benefit a blog though exposure, branding, increased reach, community, and more. The vast majority of pitches you will receive as a webmaster do not fall into this category. This does not mean you should not invite experts to guest blog for you — just be careful of offerings from cold contacts.
Team blogs like this one can breathe easy, as Cutts states in his update to the post:
I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.
So, while there is a lot of sound and fury surrounding the topic, it really comes down to not taking the short path. The basic takeaways are as follows:
- While easy to implement, guest posts that are hawked to you most often come from content mills. Avoid them like the plague.
- Guest posting can be useful, but only if is solid content that is applicable to your blog. Experts you invite are fine, and having their works on your site can be a distinct advantage.
- If your blog is entirely composed of guest posts, it will see repercussions in the SERPs.
Care to share your thoughts? Chime in with a comment, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Image by EPSOS
George "Loki" Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.