Image courtesy: Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan
By now you have probably heard that Google has made an update to the “Link Schemes” portion of their Webmaster Tools. This update quickly became big news in the SEO industry as links are a huge part of SEO. The update also garnered attention because it discussed the practice of guest posting, a common SEO link building strategy. However, before you proclaim guest posting to be dead and shut down your current guest post link building strategy, let’s take a closer look at this update and try to determine what it really means for guest posting.
What the Update Says
While the update mentions some different ways of acquiring links, we will focus solely on guest posting for the purpose of this article. Here is what Google said in regards to guest posting:
“Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links”
Guest Posting is Dead?
That short sentence listed above sent the SEO world into a frenzy. Guest posting is of course a popular link building strategy in the SEO industry, so naturally the mere mention of it on the Google Link schemes document caught the attention of many SEOs.
In typical fashion (when Google or Matt Cutts says anything about SEO), the initial reaction from the SEO world was a bit hysteric. If you work in the SEO industry, you have probably heard by now that SEO has “died” at least a couple times and after Google’s update to their link schemes document guest posting was getting the same treatment. However, now that there has been some time to let the dust settle, we can take a closer look at this update and try to determine what it truly means for guest posting.
Rather than Dying, Guest Posting Continues to “Mature”
Obviously I am not in the “guest posting is dead” camp, as I am writing this guest post now. I believe that updates like these are more proof that guest posting is continuing to mature as an SEO strategy rather than simply being dead. Updates like these continue to push guest posting in the right direction as an SEO and link building technique.
The first portion of the update describes “large-scale guest posting campaigns”. I believe this is a sign that Google is targeting large-scale, robot driven guest posting campaigns that use spun articles (as it is much more feasible to generate these campaigns with robots rather than actual human beings). This is a very good thing for guest posting as it punishes these types of tactics which provide no value to anyone and give guest posting a bad name. This reinforces the idea of quality over quantity and continues to raise the bar for guest posting.
The latter portion of this update states that guest posting campaigns that include keyword-rich anchor text links will also be considered link schemes. I believe this is another step in the right direction for guest posting as it begins to target links that may be unnatural or that don’t add anything to a post. These types of links typically lead to a product page and can often be misleading.
For example, an article about the most important elements of a wedding that contains a link with the anchor text “wedding flowers” that leads to a product page of wedding flowers. This link does not add to the article or provide value to the reader, as a person who was actually interested in purchasing wedding flowers would most likely not be reading blog posts to shop for them. These kinds of links are useless to readers and are only meant to game Google’s algorithm and by eliminating them, guest posting practices can continue to mature and develop.
What this Means for Guest Posting
What this all means for guest posting is just more of the same. We must continue to follow guest posting best practices by creating useful and quality content while keeping relevancy at the forefront. Do not try to cut corners and mass produce spun articles or attempt to stuff exact match keyword anchor texts into all of our guest posts.
When using guest posting as a link building strategy, the goal is to earn a backlink (that is relevant and useful to the reader) to your site by providing valuable content that benefits the person reading it first and foremost. I see no reason for Google to punish these types of guest posts as they benefit the user, which is what Google wants.
Google aims to make things easy for the user and they craft their policies accordingly. This is why, in my opinion, this latest update to the link schemes doc actually strengthens guest posting as guest posts should be created with the user (or reader) in mind as well. By continuing to hold guest posting to a higher standard, updates like this improve the overall guest posting landscape and make it a much more viable SEO practice.