Proving that nothing ever stays the same for long in the world of SEO, Matt Cutts has caused a stir amongst the community by questioning how guest blogging is used to increase search engine rankings. Posting on his own personal blog, he has advised webmasters to stop using guest blogging as a way to gain links. Similarly, he discussed the importance of only accepting guest posts on your own blog by authors that you’re willing to vouch for, who are truly capable of creating insightful and useful content.
So, what does this mean for your SEO campaigns? Here, we take a look at what you really need to know to be in with the best chances of success.
Why have we reached this stage?
A few years ago, any SEO worth their salt would happily tell you that guest blogging was one of the cornerstones of a really great campaign. It was your opportunity to get your content out there on various great quality blogs, and you’d be rewarded with search rankings – after all, it was a pretty good indicator that you were an expert in your field who knew what you were talking about.
As with all things though, the method quickly started to be abused by spammers and black hat marketers. There was a steady increase in the amount of guest blogs out there that were poorly written and obviously created just as a quick-fix solution for gaining a back link.
This considered, it’s no surprise that Matt Cutts has spoken out, and indeed, many people are shocked that it has taken him so long. As Google’s priorities are proven time and time again to be concerned with quality of search results for users, this is yet another step in that direction.
Basically, guest blogging has become a disguised link building system, so it’s very clear why Matt Cutts is against it in this capacity.
So should I stop guest blogging?
It’s a little bit more complex than that. If you’re sending out substandard articles purely for SEO purposes, then yes, you need to stop doing this if you don’t want it to have a negative long term impact on your site. But if. on the other hand, you’re building relationships with great writers who provide stellar content for your site, there’s no reason why you should reconsider your approach. This isn’t the type of activity that is being discouraged, and done correctly, guest blogging will still have a place in an SEO strategy. In fact, even Matt Cutts himself has recently accepted guest submissions to his blog. And if it’s good enough for him, you can safely say that it’s good enough for you.
In addition to this, it’s worth noting that SEO isn’t the only benefit of guest blogging. It can be a fabulous way to drive organic traffic to your site, and to build relationships with other website and business owners that may have long-term benefits. It’s an overarching marketing method as opposed to just an SEO tool, so make sure that you consider the full picture before making any decisions about your future actions. Think about it this way – would you turn down the opportunity to write a guest blog for the Huffington Post because they were offering you a no-follow link? Of course not, because you’d see the impact that it could have on your web traffic and your overall reputation and brand awareness.
As a rule of thumb, before accepting any guest blogs for your own site, ask whether you’d be happy to personally vouch for the author – because in Google’s eyes, this is exactly what you’re doing. Of course, this works both ways – if you’re looking to get guest blogs published, are they of such a high quality that the webmaster in question will take a similar position?
Guest blogging still has a very important place in online marketing, and probably always will. Though it’s not the time to cut your guest blogging altogether, it is the right time to review your quality procedures. Are you working with a team of skilled writers who you can rely on? Do you have stringent review processes in place if you’re publishing others’ work on your own blog? Do you truly value quality over quantity?
If anything, now’s the time to take guest blogging more seriously than ever before. Rather than viewing it as a simple transactional activity that serves to build your search engine rankings, focus on making it something in which your business really excels. This way, the long term benefits will be much greater.