Earlier this year, during the morbid month of January, the head of Google’s webspam team Matt Cutts dropped a bombshell for SEOs. His words were exactly these:
“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.”
Yet, as bloggers began to go crazy on their keyboards to announce the end of the road for SEO, others looked a little closer at what Matt actually had to say.
Matt wasn’t calling for the end of guest blogging altogether. In fact, he was only highlighting something that most SEOs already knew. Yes, guest blogging had become a principal link building strategy, yes this is spammy and yes it goes against Google’s quality guidelines.
In stating the obvious, Matt was instigating a new wave of guest blogging with a purpose.
Where do we go From Here?
Before we go any further, let’s just make it clear that Guest Blogging is not dead but simply no longer effective as an isolated SEO tactic. Matt has warned that Google will no longer respect keyword links built into dodgy, low-quality paid articles for the sake of link-building.
As Matt Cutts put it:
“Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”
Essentially, as guest blogging became easier and spammier, SEOs forgot about all the benefits they were missing from genuine, quality guest posts. If bloggers remember that linkbuilding is only one piece in the larger online marketing puzzle then they can change their perspective on guest posting and re-focus, to accomplish all of the following:
- Brand exposure
- Credibility in your niche
- Increased traffic to your website (the point of SEO)
- Exposure to further, new audiences
- Community building and networking
- The opportunity to add authorship to your posts and have those show up in search results.
When all this is taken into account, it’s clear to see that Matt wasn’t trying to scare SEOs but he was trying to highlight what had been forgotten and essentially, help.
He later added to his blog post, confirming what the SEO world had eventually worked out he was trying to say:
“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.”
How to Guest Post with a Purpose
Now we’ve got past all that jazz about the fake death of guest blogging, we can look at how to move forward. First, take a look at Matt’s advice:
1. Improve the Quality of your content: If you’re article is genuinely of value then it isn’t spammy. Simple as. One way of fine-tuning the quality is to never write anything you wouldn’t want your customers to see. Write with purpose and give value.
2. Build relationships rather than links: Reach out to high-authority blogs to become a regular contributing author in your niche. This way you can gain credibility on the site, to reach a large audience and get much more exposure for your brand than you would from building a link on a site no human ever views.
3. Target relevant blogs: Get your content published on blogs where it fits and adds genuine value. Matt Cutts warns SEOs away from blogs that will accept any article in return for payment as these are blatantly spammy.
4. Avoid links if they aren’t needed: If you can get your article in a quality online publication or blog then a link isn’t needed. Just include the name of your business and your readers can find you of their own accord. You’ll get valuable exposure and traffic without the need for SEO juice.
5. Use Authorship mark-up: Attach your author profile to your posts to show that you are an expert in your field and to improve your credibility as a writer. Mark-up can also help your posts show up in search results.
Google algorithms can’t actually distinguish between a guest post with an SEO intention and a genuine guest post. For example, many freelancers write for high quality publications and blogs all across the internet that may include links and keywords. The chances are, unless you’re mass guest blogging with REALLY low quality content that is REALLY rich in keyword links and blatantly spammy then you won’t get caught out.
Yet, mark Matt’s words…
“Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”