Guest blogging as an SEO strategy has been on the decline, and with the announcement made by Google’s engineer Matt Cutts telling webmasters to stop using guest blogging as a way to gain links, people are now scrambling trying to figure out what to do next.
The Loss of Respect for Guest Bloggers
When guest blogging began, it was a big deal. Having a high-profile website invite you to post content on their site was an honor. This started an SEO strategy that many websites incorporated as a means to get high quality content on their site without having to write it on their own.
Before long, guest blogging became a tactic used by webmasters to gain links. Mass amounts of spam were churned out by fake guest bloggers, and this is where respect was lost. Today, webmasters must be extremely careful about what they allow on their site. If using content from a guest blogger on their site, they should be able to vouch for that blogger.
During the rise of the guest blog scenario, tons of low quality content flooded the web, and those who accepted those guest bloggers, or sites that faked them for links, lost serious credibility. So, now Matt Cutts is saying guest blogging is a thing of the past, and anyone wanting to build links in this way will be penalized.
Google Authorship is a great way to vouch for guest bloggers, and still keep it alive on your site. By having your guest bloggers create an account, not only on your site, that offers a simple bio, but also having them set up a Google Author page that offers more detailed information about their expertise, guest blogging can be kept alive, and still be very beneficial.
Do Not Be Blind
Just because a website owner is unaware of the potential dangers of poor quality guest blogs, it will not stop them from being penalized. If a spammer who promises fresh and free content to enrich their site approaches a webmaster, and the webmaster walks into the trap blindly, but with good intentions, they will still be penalized. The guest bloggers will promise higher rankings, but with the disguised link schemes that they are really offering, credibility is lost for your site, and penalties will happen.
If someone contacts you out of the blue with an offer of free content, be very skeptical.
Is Guest Blogging Really Dead?
Guest blogging can still be very beneficial to your website, if it is done right. Guest blogging helps to increase audience reach, increases exposure, and it an awesome branding tool, so why is Matt Cutts telling you to stop? What he is really saying, is stop doing it wrong!
Guest blogging, simply for SEO purposes is where people go wrong. Stick to guest blogging as a natural way to increase exposure and only use high quality bloggers who you trust and you will be fine. Webmasters who are using only quality authors who they can vouch for are not part of Google’s target. So, many site owners are confused about the two sides, but it should be very clear, the bad side and the good side, there is no middle ground.
How to Use Guest Blogging for Exposure and Traffic
Guest blogging is not dead, just using it for SEO has died. Using guest blogging as a way to increase traffic and exposure for your brand is still a very acceptable practice. Think about it, if CNN, or the New York Times wanted to post something on your website, would you turn them down? Of course not. There is still plenty of value in a quality guest blog, you just need to learn how to spot the quality, and how to spot the spam.
New webmasters need to look for guest bloggers who can direct traffic to their site with the quality content they provide, as a way of a referral. Suggest nofollow links for content that is posted on your site just to be safe, and only allow postings that are high quality, relevant, and useful to your audience.
Who is Being Targeted?
Not everyone is in the line of fire with Google’s guest blogging gun. The low quality sites that rely on multiple bloggers are the ones being shot at first; sites that use high quality content that rely on multiple bloggers are not even in Google’s sights.
So, if you are using guest blogging as a way to build your audience, and not a link building strategy, chances are you are safe. Conduct regular quality audits on the writers who contribute to your site just to keep things running smooth. Always check any outgoing links to ensure the bloggers are not sneaking in paid links that could ruin your sites credibility.
Does Google Really Get to Call All of the Shots?
As a webmaster, you can ignore Google’s guidelines, but it is not recommended. Google can choose to rank or not rank any site they want, how they want, and when they want. If you do not follow the guidelines Google provides, there are consequences. But, Google is not the only search engine, although they are the largest.
So, if you feel like Google is pushing you around, telling you what to do and what not to do, do what you want, but do not expect good results from the powerful search engine. The guidelines they have in place are for the better good, crooked black hat SEO tactics used by spammers have caused the red flags to be raised; Google is just trying to keep everyone honest. So, if you are being honest, and have been all along, there is probably nothing you need to change.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Guest blogging is not dead, it is just being revised to reflect what it used to be. What was once used as a way to build an audience was turned into a spammy SEO tactic, that is what needs to change. If you use guest blogging on your site, and the purpose is for branding, traffic, and reach, you’re fine, as long as you keep the quality level where it needs to be. Google is not killing off guest blogging, or telling you it is not allowed, they are simply offering a set of standards in which everyone should have stuck to in the first place.
So, do not consider guest blogging as dead, consider it rejuvenated. When it started, it was a respectful and meaningful thing, but as time went on, it was turned into something ugly. Google said enough, and took what was once beautiful, cleaned it up, and tried to show the world that doing things the right way is much better, and that trying to be sneaky, underhanded, or even a little bit shady will get you nowhere, even if it did in the past.
If you follow the above tips, you will be fine. Not all webmasters were using black hat SEO tactics, and even a majority of them who were, did not mean to. The shady tactics that became the norm in the SEO world were difficult for some webmasters to determine if they were black hat or white hat tactics, especially for beginners. Google has made it much clearer and easier for everyone to understand, and with the penalties being presented to those who do not listen, they are hoping to wipe out the black hat, and even gray hat techniques all together, so there will be no question as to what is the right strategy, and what is not.