Matt Cutts , the head of the Google Webspam team recently caused quite a stir in the SEO community with his recent blog post announcing that guest blogging for links was in fact dead in the eyes of Google. Cutts declared that if you’re using guest posting as a way to build links in 2014, you need to stop or face possible penalties from Google.
“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.”
Guest posting has been a strategy business owners have used for years not only to share their expertise and knowledge to audiences reading blogs within their niche, but also as a way to build exposure for their brand while building backlinks to their website within bylines of their guest posts, which could help with search rankings. Google now frowns upon guest posting only for backlinks, saying that bylined links via guest posting should be no followed. Cutts later went on to say that:
“It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.”
So some guest blogging is still acceptable, but only in the ways Google says are okay. Gotcha Google. Cutts and Google’s stance on guest posting is confusing even for those familiar with Google webmaster guidelines so I will try to help make sense of what exactly this means and how to approach guest posting moving forward.
1. You should avoid guest posting on low quality websites that are solely comprised of guest posts and that aren’t topically focused. It’s important that any guest post you author should be tied to the business and marketing goals of your business, not just your SEO goals. The sole purpose of your guest posting shouldn’t be just about building links to your website. Authentic guest posting can provide many other benefits such as:
- Branding for your business and for yourself
- Widened exposure for your business
- Networking opportunities
- The ability to establish yourself as a credible source within your community
- The ability to add valuable information and resources that potential customers and other experts within your industry can benefit from
2. Don’t put the focus of your guest post on building links, but on providing well written, actionable advice that is both helpful and relevant to the community your business serves. This will provide far more value than a single bylined backlink could ever provide.
3. Make sure to avoid guest posting on websites that publish your work under a general “guest poster” or “guest author account”. Only target sites that let you post under you real name. This helps build not only your personal brand, but also your business brand.
4. Don’t judge guest posting opportunities strictly on the opportunity for backlinks. Some sites may not offer backlinks or may require any link in your article to have the no-follow tag. Try to think more about the exposure and traffic your guest posts will receive rather than the opportunity to earn backlinks. Identify sites for guest posting that have large followings, both social followings and a lot of on-page interaction with their users. You’ll want people to comment on your content and ask questions. More engaged users are more interested users and more likely to remember you or your brand.
5. Guest posting shouldn’t be used as a one and done opportunity for a link. Guest posting should be about developing lasting relationships that span over more than a short time period. Pitch a series of content ideas or posts as opposed to just a single post. Build up a following with a different audience so that they look forward and tune in each time your content is shared. This will hold the attention span of your audience much longer than a single guest post. Successful marketing initiatives ensure that potential customers not only remember your product but have a positive association with it.
Low quality guest posting strictly for links will no longer provide much value, if it ever really did. Guest post for the right reasons using the right tactics that I’ve outlined above and you will continue to see great results from your guest blogging efforts.
Matt Zajechowski is a Link Building Specialist at Digital Third Coast, an search engine marketing agency based in Chicago. You can find Matt on Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.