Matt Cutts’ latest blog post titled ‘The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO’ stirred a number of reactions (426 comments on his blog post to be precise).
And with an opening paragraph like this, you can understand why:
“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.”
This immediately scared the jeepers out of a number of SEOs, link builders and digital marketers – and with good reason.
It’s not 2012 anymore. This was the year that guest blogging got out of control when ‘online marketers’ worldwide went in search of any blog or website that accepted guest posts to get their (largely sub-standard) content published. Couple this with a keyword anchor text link or two back to theirs or their clients’ website(s), and boom, Google handed out more penalties than tissues to remorseful marketers.
Cutts goes on to say:
“Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way anymore.”
This indeed used to be the case. And like anything in link building, once it started to work, every marketer jumped on the bandwagon. And when people jumped on, the quality of it went down. Thus, leading to Matt’s discouraging blog post.
Since it was published, Cutts has clarified his directness, seeing as the post was largely taken out of context and aggrandised to epic proportions. But in case you missed his update, I’m going to break it down for you based upon what I’m seeing in the industry.
Is guest blogging dead?
Matt hints several times in his blog post that guest blogging is dead for the low quality sites. Here are a couple of quotes from his article:
- “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.”
- “Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t seem to hear me say to steer away from low-quality guest blog posting”.
- “Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”
I wrote that you should steer away from low quality link building techniques many times in 2013 – and low quality guest posting = low quality links.
There have been numerous blogs set up and surviving on content from guests – many without a quality check. The majority of the time, these were set-up solely to make money – whether that be through AdSense, affiliates, selling links or even charging guest bloggers to publish content on their site.
The worst part was when link builders were guest blogging on non-related websites! It got out of hand and quite rightly Google has acted upon this now.
But this doesn’t mean that guest blogging is dead.
So why do I guest blog?
Guest blogging is not dead. As Matt Cutts stated towards the beginning of his blog post, “guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book.”
It can still be this way. But only if you do it to add real value, like asking a highly-respected author to guest blog on your blog, or be the highly-respected author that is guest blogging on someone else’s high quality blog.
By high quality, I mean sites that are getting links from top sites, have a (large) audience and have a large social following. Somewhere where your piece will actually be read and that it’s not solely about an anchor text link.
Here are a number of other reasons why I guest blog.
I’ll be honest about it, because it’s true: I guest blog as a way to increase my exposure, to put my name on the map and to put myself in front of audiences I would not otherwise have been able to get in front of.
I have a story to tell. I have knowledge to share. My hope is that in return people will like what I say, follow me on my social profiles and generally develop trust in me.
One thing that was overlooked by many marketers when it came to guest blogging was the referral traffic and potential leads from these. If you’re blogging on the right blogs for your community then you should be expecting to send traffic and referrals your way.
All of these reasons equate to me wanting to add real value and insight about a subject that will engage an audience.
Where is guest blogging heading?
Hopefully now the low end marketers and spammers will panic and stop their tactics of filling the internet up with junk and that the cream will rise to the top.
I expect a number of blogs to lie dormant over the coming months – blogs that were relying on guest posters and guest articles and were making money from them. I expect see a lot of these dying out now.
There are also a number of websites out there which were set up in the early days of the internet that existed like a true media production outfit, with authors contributing content on a regular basis; in fact, Copyblogger accept and publish guest articles. The small difference is that these sites are still going because people are writing about and offering genuine value.
If you can get a guest post slot on the BBC, a newspaper, or a top blog in your industry you’re still going to take it of course. These types of guest blogging will still be of good value, so don’t just disregard guest blogging because of what Matt Cutts said. Cutts even updated his original post because it tarnished all guest posting and blogging with the same spam brush. Here’s his update, copied verbatim:
- Added: 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.
Guest blogging and guest posting is not dead. The ‘spammy’, ‘churnalised’, low quality type of guest blogging is done – and it’s been dead and buried for a while.
If you want to succeed with guest blogging and posting, do right by your audience, maintain high quality and don’t act like a spammer! Don’t blog just to chase hypothetical algorithmic ranking factors; blog to add genuine value!