Blogger Beware, Google Might Be After Guest Posts
Let’s face it, we love guest blogging. From a PR & SEO standpoint to the blog owner side it’s a win-win with a guest blog post. The blog owner gets free (hopefully good) content, the PR Pro gets some impressions and exposure for their client and the SEO (hopefully) gets a link back to the client’s website. Like I said, a seemingly good set up for all parties looking to benefit from a guest blog post.
However, with all good things on the web, guest blogging is supposedly coming to an end. When a few sites and spammers take advantage of the above exchange to an extreme level to influence search rankings Google might take notice. And they have. Last week, Matt Cutts, the head of web spam at Google reiterated his position and despise of guest blogging for SEO specific purposes. The synthesis of the article and the community is that guest blogging for SEO is quickly fading away. The practice is getting out of hand and spammy to the point that too many bloggers continue to publish poor quality content with questionable links that have been influencing Google rankings.
Google hasn’t said how they plan on enforcing guest blog posts but I have a feeling that a bigger emphasis on its authorship program and good quality, authoritative content will be in the near future. All of which makes sense but as of now quality guest blog posting can go on as normal. The rules might be changing a little bit but realistically I don’t see how Google can keep their thumb on this aspect of the web quite yet. More attention will be needed from guest bloggers and blog owners but I feel that guest blogging for PR & SEO benefits is still an acceptable tactic. Here’s my advice:
What Should PR Pros & SEO’s Do About Guest Blogging?
I understand where Google is coming from and I understand the context of Matt’s article. The above situation describes a method that’s sole intent is to try and manipulate search results and manipulating search results is a violation of their webmaster policy. The way we build links at PadillaCRT is that we lead with PR. We lead with the story/angle/uniqueness of what we’re pitching to a blogger and a link(s) occurs naturally due to it’s relationship and relevancy to the content and blog. Should we get penalized for that link in the post? No. Keep in mind the easiest way to think about a link is like a vote. If you link to a site, you’re essentially “voting” for it in Google’s eyes. If a link is a vote and a blog owner stands by our guest post due to its relevancy, insight and usefulness why wouldn’t they feel compelled to “vote” for our links that reside on their blog? No need to nofollow the links – our links represent good content that’s relevant to their blog that Google and the rest of the world should know about.
I still stand by my tips for guest blogging as they are still relevant despite Google’s frustration with the practice. I still believe that guest blogging is a worthwhile tactic if you are going after active, relevant and quality blogs related to your niche. With that in mind, here’s some additional advice the will keep you on Google’s good side.
- Don’t fish for SEO links: Lead with content, if your content is good links will fit in naturally. If your content and links make sense and are relevant to the blog you are pitching their is no reason that the links wouldn’t be followed. just don’t pitch your bloggers asking for back links.
- Pitch Great Content: I’m so tired of talking about “great content,” if you’re really trying to market your client through a targeted and insightful guest post make it unique, inspiring and thoughtful. And if it gets picked up please don’t use that article to pitch other bloggers… keep it classy and give these bloggers some really good stuff and a reason to post your content.
- Diversify the approach: I think nowadays a tread lightly approach can be applied to guest blogging and you don’t want all of your eggs in the guest blog basket. We don’t know how or when or how big Google might react but not going crazy on the “large-scale” guest blog post front will keep you under Google’s radar.
- Your link may get a nofollow: And if it does get a nofollow its not the end of the world. Yes, we all want followed links but Matt’s article will definitely be putting more blog owners in the skeptic category around guest posts and links. If your article does get picked up your site will still benefit from awareness and traffic even if the link is a nofollow.
What Should Blog Owners Do About Guest Blogging?
Google does acknowledge that in the right context a guest blog post is a very acceptable form of content/promotion. If you are currently accepting guest blog posts, be careful as poor quality posts could potentially harm your website and Google rankings. Here are a few tips to keep your guest posts clean:
- Own your site: Don’t give access to guest posters etc. and be in control of all posts/content. Opening up your site to others is a sure fire way to get in trouble. I doubt many quality blogs have this type of open door policy but it should get mentioned.
- Accept great content: I’d pass on thin articles that are link heavy and very thin. I’d say an acceptable guest post needs to be in the 500 word range and contain some useful insight and visuals etc. Keep in mind these people are pitching your blog for a reason so be picky with what type of content you accept. Make sure you read the content to make sure it makes sense and is relevant to your blog’s niche as well.
- Work with credible sources: If you know your guest bloggers keep them tight. Avoid any offshore requests or any off looking emails directly looking for links or to get paid for a posting. If you have familiarity with your sources you know what they can provide and deliver.
- Don’t be afraid to use nofollow: Most likely when you accept a guest post it will contain some links. Depending on the context and type of post 2-3 links should be all that’s necessary. The links should reference different sources and be unique, relevant and specific to the article. If the links in the post “seem weird” or irrelevant to the post run away. The last thing you want to do is associate you blog with some dicey irrelevant links. If all of the links check out and they seem to link to credible websites they should be fine. However, if you have hesitations about the links in the guest post make sure you provide a nofollow attribute to the hyperlink. Many blog owners may not know about or how to do this but applying nofollow to select links could help how their blog is perceived in Google’s eyes. Keep in mind the easiest way to think about a link is like a vote. If you link to a site, you’re essentially “voting” for it in Google’s eyes. Applying the nofollow attribute to select links will still pass traffic to the site but will make the link oblivious from Google’s ranking algorithm.
With Google’s ranking algorithms and rules ever shifting SEO is definitely a moving target but for now I don’t see a real threat to quality guest blogging.
About Jason Poulos:
Jason Poulos is a PadillaCRT and Buzz Bin alumus. With a degree in communications design from VCU as well as experience in web development and digital marketing, Jason brought a unique blend of assets to PadillaCRT. In 2012 Jason helped win four awards for his SEO work on PureCanadaMaple.com.