The execution squad of guest blogging has been racking up a number of hits lately.
The first “big” hit was on BuildMyRank…
And now PostJoint, despite doing their best to tell everyone they’re different.
Then you have Matt Cutts writing blog posts on how guest blogging and posting is dead:
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 more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.
— Matt Cutts, Head of Google Webspam team
So, it seems like it’s yet another Search Engine Optimization tactic to discard into the dung pile in the folklore of history…
Or is it?
Could there be a way of doing guest posting and guest blogging that’s not spammy, but instead offers value to your visitors and ultimately your site, too?
Here are two words to calm your anxious and terrified SEO heart:
The “biggest” problem Google has had with these glorified blog networks is the scaling and spam that comes with it.
Our dear friend, Matt Cutts, even says there are many good reasons to do guest blogging:
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.
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.
I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.
— Matt Cutts, Head of Google Webspam team
See, the issue is about quality.
Google wants quality, and a lot of guest posting is just auto-generated, spun, low-quality content.
And it’s more like content on blog networks, which Google absolutely, positively hates with a passion of a thousand burning suns.
So put the link scheming and low-quality, spun content together and you’ll get a nice fat Google slap in your face.
No wonder Google goes ballistic over this.
Still, some of it seems like a bit of overreach and an overreaction, but Google is Google and we’re not — so, suck it up or get out of the game, says the Professor of Harsh Reality.
How To Do Guest Posting That Ranks Your Sites And Makes Google Happy
What then, are we to do about all this?
There is still room for guest posting done right. The biggest element that’s being removed and is under attack is the scaling aspect of it.
Scale, unfortunately, tends to turn great SEO into “SpamEO”.
Google aims to deliver relevant, quality search results to its users.
Your guest blogging and posting needs to give Google what they want.
Yes, it means you might not be able to scale it to the same degree as before.
Yes, you will need to invest resources and time into either raising the bar of what you’re putting out or start cranking out relevant, useful, resourceful, helpful, likeable, shareable content.
Even if you decide to continue down the path of guest posting for SEO purposes, you would still need to heavily modify what you do.
It needs to look real.
If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.
The best way to make something look real is for it to actually — wait for it — be real.
In no way would I advocate for you, or anyone, to set out to deceive Google’s algorithm.
But what are some of the characteristics of great content that your visitors and Google likes?
Let’s go through a checklist you can use to make sure you’re on the right side of the law and history, shall we?
The Guest Post Guidelines For Fun & Profit
The first rules you need to keep in mind are these:
- Like it or not, it’s “guilt by association”: If you get associated or “connected” with anyone engaging in publishing or sharing spam, you’ll suffer.
- If you publish spun, irrelevant, spammy content on your site, you will suffer.
- If you create spun, irrelevant, spammy content and have it on someone else’s site, you will suffer.
Things like co-occurence and co-citation, what other sites are linked to alongside yours, and so on, all matters to Google.
It’s like a nightmare version of Six Degrees of Separation.
Just avoid “bad internet neighborhoods”, okay?
1. Have high standards for your guest posts
Only publish guest posts that you know are authentic, not spun or copied, is helpful, valuable, insightful, useful for your visitors and readers.
Raise the bar, use expert authors as much as possible (those with other guest posts in the wild, have some social media currency, recognition, and good track record). The guest poster needs to be seen as a credible authority on the topic at hand.
It should go without saying that guest post content is highly relevant and on-topic for the rest of your site. If you’re publishing on a magazine and news site, keep it within category parameters.
2. Be proactive with, and pay attention to, your linking
In general, if in doubt, nofollow links. Be critical and discerning about the sites you link to.
Do not put links in the author byline or bio section. That’s a red flag. Put your links in the article, where it makes sense, and don’t worry too much about anchor text. Do not force keywords to fit.
If you absolutely need to have an author link, consider linking to their social media profiles, like Google+ (for authorship benefits, too).
Your outbound links should be to other high-quality, authority websites. A rule of thumb would be around 4-5 of those and then you can consider link to your site or other sites.
Don’t send your visitors off to websites that will give them a bad experience. Don’t link out to questionable websites that would associate you with them.
3. As always, it’s about your content
Content of quality, relevance, well-written, and valuable to your readers are a must. I know, everyone says this and everyone knows this, but how do you pull it off?
You cover topics, questions, ideas, how-to’s, know-how’s, focused around what your readers and audience wants. Keyword research still plays a role, and still indicates what people are looking for. Don’t neglect finding them and using them.
Use a variety of media here, such as video, images, and audio.
Pay No Attention To the Doom And Gloom Prophets
The pattern of outcry and panic in some parts of the SEO community is predictable at this point.
Everyone is declaring a tactic dead and spends a few months blogging about it.
Guest posting is not dead. It’s just the automated, scaled, spammy version of it that is becoming harder to pull off.
Think about it: if “guest posting” was dead, then all magazine and news blogs would be done and dead with. Google would fail as a search engine.
Just like “link building” still happens, and “blog networks” are still around, so will “guest posting” be a tool in the SEO toolbox.
You probably shouldn’t call it that, though, and instead focus on the marketing and PR aspect of what “guest posting” actually is meant for: getting attention and traffic.
The end-goal is still the same for SEO: drive relevant traffic to your website.
Any guest posting should be done with this in mind: you want to attract new visitors.
Make sure that your quality guest posts appears on sites that will help you accomplish that.
It can be done through a targeted campaign of quality content, strategically positioned on relevant websites.
Keep on guest posting, just do it right.