Thursday, March 13, 2014

Say Goodbye to Guest Blogging for Your SEO Strategy

 

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 


When Google talks SEO, the whole digital world listens. And when Google says a popular SEO tactic should cease and desist, the demise is inevitable. So say goodbye to guest blogging.
Earlier this year, the notable Google engineer and search expert Matt Cutts wrote a personal blog entitled “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO.” In it, he doesn’t mince words about the diminishing SEO viability of this prominent blogging practice. Cutts writes:

“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.”

While a post on Cutts’ blog doesn’t automatically signal the end, it’s close to enough to warrant a shift in perspective. Google is on to the declining value of this content, and with no indication of a reasonable shift, guest blogging has seen its heyday. It’s time to employ other SEO efforts.

The Rise of Guest Blogging
You know those summarized write-ups at the start of various books, usually written by a prominent author or expert in the given field? That’s what guest blogging used to be. Years ago when the practice first hit the scene, it was a supreme honor for a popular blog to ask a writer to contribute as a guest. A request like this indicated the writer held prominence or talent in the field, and it wasn’t so much an SEO move in the beginning as it was a way to amass quality content quickly and easily.
Guest blogging became a successful SEO maneuver because of the emphasis Google placed over the years on fresh, quality content. And as most of us know, once something proves to be viable in the world of search rankings, the masses adopt the strategy almost overnight.

The Fall of Guest Blogging
Fast forward to 2014, and guest blogging has become a spam-ridden, borderline shady practice. The vast majority of sites now employ “guest bloggers” to submit content for free (or pay extremely low rates), simply to garner content for content’s sake. The result is a plummeting commitment to quality, and an oversaturated amount of content that almost completely lacks value.

Nowadays, accepting guest blogging content can truly diminish a site’s rankings. It tarnishes credibility and value. One practice in particular has landed guest blogging in hot water – authors have actually started paying prominent publications to post their blogs, which some sites naturally spied as an easy source of revenue. The posts, however, were normally link stuffed advertorials with little to no value to their readers, and thus to Google. Just as vile, some sites literally steal posts from other blogs, citing them as guest submissions.

It’s easy to see how the lack of integrity and commitment to quality has rendered guest blogging a near-useless tactic.

Cutts Tried. He Really, Really Tried.
The recent backlash against guest blogging is hardly a surprise to anyone who has been observing the trend. But despite repeated warnings and requests for a change in strategy, guest blogging has worsened. In turn, Google’s viewpoint has therefore strengthened.

Ignorance is Not Bliss for Site Owners
One of the more despicable aspects of guest blogging lies in the ignorance around the lack of quality. Site owners are mesmerized by content in general, convinced that they need plenty of it, and fresh pieces at that, in order to be a Google darling. While this is not incorrect, the vast majority of blog posts are just marketing-centric drivel littered with links. As Cutts states:

“. . . we see a lot of business owners with small blogs getting tricked by spammers. If you’re doing really high-quality guest blogging to get exposure or branding, that’s great, but the majority of guest blogging offers these days are sliding into scuzzier and spammier areas.”

If a webmaster isn’t staying current on SEO trends, they simply do not know how much these posts are damaging their site’s rankings and credibility. The logical move then is for Google to stop rewarding the practice on any level.

Is There Still Room for Quality Guest Blogging?
Cutts does make one additional point very clear – guest blogging is not dead overall. If you’re using it as an SEO strategy, that should cease and desist. If you’re using high quality guest blogs as a way to increase brand awareness, community reach, and overall exposure, there’s still a great benefit in continuing the tactic.

In addition, sites that use multiple authors in a large meta-blog, like SiteProNews, will be supported by Google in their efforts. Cutts emphasizes that these kind of sites are not targeted for a decrease in rankings:

“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.”

The final word is very clear: guest blogging is no longer a viable part of an SEO strategy. Quality content is always essential to content marketing, SEO, and branding in general, so if you’re doing guest blogging the right way, there’s no reason to stop all together. You will, however, need to broaden your SEO plans and include more of Google’s top tips to stay competitive.