Why you should Stop Guest Blogging for SEO Purposes
Using guest blogging as a tactic to improve organic SEO has been seen as an unviable method by many SEOs for some time now. Due to the decline in quality of blog posts and the increase of lesser quality content through guest bloggers, Google has had to take action against this growing problem.
Matt Cutts, Google's head of web spam has recently posted on his own personal blog, where he advises webmasters that using guest blogging as a way to gain links should no longer be used. He went on to mention that if you're accepting blog posts from guest bloggers then you should ensure the posts are written by a trusted source of quality and credible content. You should also keep this in mind if you're submitting your blog posts to other sites.
He goes onto say "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 its become a more and more spammy practice, and if you're doing a lot of guest blogging then you're hanging out with really bad company."
So what exactly is guest blogging all about, where did it come from?
Well, back in the day, guest blogging was seen as something to be proud of, especially for those writing the posts. There was respect to be gained when a high profile website invited you to guest post on their blog. You can appreciate that it was seen as a big deal when a high profile website thought your content was quality enough for it to be republished on their own site.
Guest blogging was in essence a respectable practice and could be compared to having a respected author write the introduction to your book. Because of this, it was an SEO strategy many websites employed. It also gave them an opportunity to publish high quality content without having to create it themselves, as well as introducing their readers to new topics by new writers they felt their readers would enjoy.
Don't get me wrong, guest blogging when used legitimately has been very popular for site owners, authors and readers, not only as a way to improve a site's SEO but also credibility. This was of course before spam posts were churned out en mass to take advantage of this opportunity and guest blogging was used as a tactic to build links cheaply.
A few years ago, if someone wanted to write a guest blog post the answer would more than likely have been "yes". But with the exponential rise of low quality and spam sites looking to build lots of links through guest blogging the answer would now be "no". If of course you're willing to vouch for the person writing the post, know them well, or if the author is happy to 'nofollow' their links, then we can presume the author is genuinely looking for a new audience with which to promote their quality content, instead of a way to gain keyword rich links.
The decline of quality & the rise of spam
Be aware that visitors to a website expect quality and it's this quality which reflects a site owner's credibility, as the site owner should be able to vouch for the quality of the content on their site. Having caused an influx of low quality content disguised as blog posts over the last few years, guest blogging can seriously tarnish the credibility of an otherwise reputable website.
Authors have also started to offer payment to sites they perceive as high quality, so they can publish their blog post to gain high PR (page rank) links. It may be easy to think "hey, easy money" but don't be fooled. These "authors" are simply disguising paid links in the context of a guest blog post, which more often than not is of poor quality, written for low cost, perhaps even stolen from other websites, leading to duplicate content... not good!
So... when it comes to guest blogging, just forget, it's done. Guest blogging has just become too spammy and to recommend accepting a guest blog post would be unwise, unless you can genuinely vouch for the author or know them personally. On the same hand, don't rely on guest blogging for any SEO link building opportunities.
Exploiting the uneducated
To really appreciate the dark side of this spammy link building method we need to look at the uneducated site owners. Those site owners who aren’t necessarily involved with the SEO community, unaware of the dangers poor quality content can have on their site, who are then being exploited to publish guest blog posts by spammers. Spammers are all too happy to promote how their posts will add to a site's "freshness" with "unique content", helping to improve organic rank through blog posts. These posts however will ultimately penalise the hosting site because all they are, are disguised link schemes, built to generate backlinks around poor quality blog content.
It's easy to understand how it happens though, it's a form of online flattery for someone to approach you and ask to post an article on your site. Heed this advice, if someone contacts you out of the blue offering to post an article on your site, it pays to be sceptical.
Is high quality guest blogging still valuable?
Please note the title of this post which refers to using guest blogging as an opportunity to boost SEO. Although Google and SEOs are cracking down on this method, Matt Cutts still doesn't want to discourage guest blogging, as there are still many cases where it can be useful to site's visitors. Branding, community building, exposure and increased reach are all positive reasons and these reasons all existed before Google came about and will continue long into the future. Of all the spammers lurking in the depths of the digital world there are still many high quality guest bloggers out there.
So in conclusion
We know that link building leads to better ranking and better ranking leads to more traffic... more sales, but unfortunately due to spammers exploiting the system, trying to manipulate Google, from a pagerank perspective, this tactic of using guest blogging to build links is dead. Guest blogging however will more than likely always have its place in the digital marketing ecosystem but its shifted away from being a source of unnatural link building to being used as a tool for increased branding, exposure and traffic. Ensure you can vouch for the people you allow to guest blog on your site and that you can be sure websites who want to publish your work are credible in their quality, or it will be your credibility and pagerank which suffers.
Have you experienced guest blog spammers on your website? What steps have you taken to ensure this doesn't continue?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.