Guest blogging has been a popular tactic for acquiring inbound links in the name of SEO. Along with many other tactics, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started seeking out as many guest blogging gigs as possible. The approach rapidly deteriorated and we saw people offering the same article to multiple blogs, slightly spinning the article to make it appear “unique,” and using little to no discretion about where they were guest blogging. Now everyone is talking about the death of Guest Blogging as a part of an SEO strategy.
A few days ago Matt Cutts took a stand on guest blogging and said, “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.”
Before I jump into my take on Matt Cutt’s most recent stand on the subject, here’s a little history.
As early as 2012, he began cautioning people about guest blogging. In my mind he made it pretty clear that it “could” have value if you contributed high quality content to high quality (relevant) blogs.
The practice of guest blogging continued to deteriorate and many of the articles were outsourced to non-experts, contained links to sites that were low quality and/or lacked relevancy between the blog and the target website. The quality of articles seemed to be irrelevant and it was all about getting “lots of content” and inbound links.
Matt fired another warning shot later in the year and made it clear people should be cautious about using spammy guest blogging practices and – Google is willing to take action if they see spammy or low quality.
In May of 2013 John Mueller provided excellent advice about the use of no-follow links. It’s best summed up by this quote from Barry Schwarz’s article: Google: Guest Blogging For Links? You Better Nofollow Those Links
“Google’s John Mueller, said in general, it is best you nofollow links in stories you write, especially when those stories are guest blog posts for the purpose of link building.
In general, that is Google’s advice. If you link to something with the intent that it should help your Google rankings – then nofollow the link. If you write something without that intent and the link is really natural, then there is no reason to nofollow the link.”
Last but not least in December of 2013, Matt more firmly stated that Google will take action when it detects spammy guest blogging practices occurring.
Ok, so now that we’re done with the history lesson I’ll give you my 2 cents on the subject. I don’t think guest blogging is dead, not in it’s original intent. I do think the practice of spinning out low quality posts on low quality guest blogging sites is dead and personally I think that’s a good thing.
Providing seed articles to a company who pays writers pennies per word so they can re-write an “original” piece of content full of links so it can be published on a website or guest blogging platform solely for the purpose of SEO is a tactic that has worked but is no longer valid and maybe never should have been.
Writing quality content is hard work, it takes research, subject matter expertise, and time.
There are still many valid reasons to guest blog: exposure, public relations, community outreach, and a way to build authority to name a few. Yes I get it, now the links are no-follow, so you’re wondering if it’s still worthwhile. My answer to that is yes because it’s part of a larger marketing strategy, one that goes beyond building links. Having the opportunity to get exposure on a high quality relevant blog or website is still valuable; it helps gain visibility and who knows, someone might just click through that no-follow link and visit your website. In the end isn’t it all about getting quality, qualified traffic?
I have to wonder, if everyone who was chasing this Holy Grail had stopped to ask themselves one question: “If search engines didn’t exist, would I still do this?”
Would the outcome have been different?