3 Reasons Guest Blogging Isn't as Dead as Matt Cutts Says It Is | Wordstream

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3 Reasons Guest Blogging Isn't as Dead as Matt Cutts Says It Is

January 20, 2014
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Matt Cutts just declared guest blogging dead:

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.

Well, I’m convinced.

Is Guest Blogging Dead

Just kidding! Guest blogging may be on Google's radar, but I wouldn't close the coffin lid just yet. Here’s why.

All SEO Gets Spammier. SEO Still Isn’t Dead.

You could substitute almost any SEO technique into this sentence, and it would be true:

Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of keyword targeting then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of link building then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of image optimization then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

And so on. If an SEO tactic works, then it will get more and more spammy with time; there is no spam-proof SEO technique. Every technique has to adapt over time with the competitive landscape and the algorithm. Likewise, marketers always need to focus on long-view quality over short-term effectiveness, regardless of the technique. But just because spammers start doing something doesn't mean you have to stop.

In fact, I might argue that few SEO techniques get “more and more spammy” by proportion. In other words, they’re not going from 10% spammy to 50% spammy. You just see more spam because there’s more of everything – more good guest posts, but more crap and spam too. Eventually there’s so much of everything, good and bad, that it becomes very difficult for Google to sort through it all. They get frustrated and try to tell us, the content creators, to police ourselves so they don’t have to. (But somehow I doubt the spammer kings are taking Matt Cutts’ advice to heart.)

There is no *technical* difference between “guest blogging” and any other kind of content.

Google can’t algorithmically differentiate between guest blogs and other kinds of articles. Blogs and websites aren’t legally bound to disclose that anything they publish is a guest post or not a guest post, and in some cases it’s just a matter of perspective.

Think about it – a lot of the content that appears on high-quality news sites like the New York Times, or extremely popular, high-ranking sites, like the Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, is created by freelancers. If you author a bylined article for a site that you don’t own or that doesn’t employ you full-time, is that a guest post? The categories are murky because we only think of it as “guest blogging” within the SEO industry; it’s not a term from the world of journalism. There's no foolproof way for Google to determine the motives of any given author, whether they wrote and published something for links, exposure, money, or pure altruism.

Still, if you’re worried that Google is going to crack down on guest blogging, there are a few things you can do. As a publisher:

  • Only publish good guest posts. If it’s not spammy, it’s not spam.
  • Don’t label them as guest posts. You can include an author bio without spelling out “This is a guest post.” And if the content is valuable to your readers, it shouldn’t really matter where it came from.

And as a writer:

  • Don’t guest-blog for guest blogging farms. If a site has a “they’ll publish anything” reputation, stay away.
  • Build relationships, not links. Get a gig as a regular contributing author or columnist at a good website that has a relevant audience. Build a readership there that’s more valuable than a one-off guest post.

Google has always stressed that quality, unique, user-friendly content is the key to search engine rankings. My guess is, sites that publish content that meets all those criteria won’t be penalized, whether or not some of those content pieces are “guest posts.”

Guest blogging can be valuable even without the links.

I’m not saying you should strip all the links out of your guest posts. I don’t believe that Google can actually tell the difference between guest posts and other kinds of content, so it has no way to algorithmically devalue links embedded in guest posts.

Nonetheless, spammy links are the main reason that Cutts wants to “put a fork” in guest blogging: “we’ve been seeing more and more reports of ‘guest blogging’ that are really ‘paying for PageRank’ or worse, ‘we’ll insert some spammy links on your blog without you realizing it.’”

So again, if you’re worried: Just don’t put links in your guest posts. “So why am I guest blogging?” you ask? Links and referral traffic are two of the big incentives for guest blogging, but without those, you still get brand exposure. If you write a high-quality piece of content and want to get it in front of a bigger or different audience than you have on your own site or blog, guest blogging is a way to do that. You can attach your name and your business’s name to that content, even if you don’t include any links back to your site. Or, ask the publisher to no-follow the links. Remember, Wikipedia links are no-follow, but can still drive a lot of valuable traffic.

So, in sum:

  • Don’t panic. Just as you now see spammers going around asking the people they spammed to remove old links, I imagine we’ll start seeing “guest post removal requests.” But you don’t want to remove legitimate links or legitimate content for no reason.
  • If you weren’t spamming before, you’re not spamming now. All your past guest blogs didn’t magically turn into spammy pumpkins overnight. As always and as ever, quality is what really matters.
  • Keep your eyes on the guest-bloggin’ prize. If you were previously guest-blogging for the do-follow links only, rethink your priorities. Contributed articles can offer other kinds of value.

UPDATE: Cutts Says Don't Guest Blog "for SEO"

Matt Cutts' updated his post in response to the response. Here's part of what he added:

It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. 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. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I think it's worth responding to this. What Cutts, I'm sure, means is: "Don't write a super-crappy guest post just so you can get a link." But I don't like his phrasing because it implies that intentions matter more than outcomes, as though your motives must be 100% pure. But you can do something at least in part "for SEO purposes" and still create something that offers incredible value to users. If Google ranks your content on the first page, and users that click your link are happy with what they get, and it helps your business at the same time, what's the problem? In any case, Google can't figure out via some kind of algorithm what your true inner motivations are; what they're looking for in the end is quality content, not pureness of soul. Further, branding is part of SEO (Google loves brands!). Exposure and increased reach are the main goals of SEO. These things are all related. Somehow "SEO" has become the bad guy, and "branding" is still OK. But whatever you call this stuff, the goal is still the same: to get people to pay attention to your business.

My guess is that Google will penalize sites, not guest bloggers. And it'll be the same crappy sites that have been hit repeatedly over the past year or so, sites that don't offer value on the whole. Quality content, guest post or not, will continue to rank. (And yes, links will continue to be important.)

Comments

CarlJ
Jan 20, 2014

Not all guest posting is dead and buried but only the low quality, spammy one where the only goal of guest poster was to gain a dofollow backlink not to reach a new audienceThe marketing agency exposed in the investigation Matt confirmed is aware of cought bribing bloggers to post articles on their sites http://searchengineleaks.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/guestpostshop-bribing-bloggers-investigation/ 

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 20, 2014

Low-quality spammy guest-posting has been dead for a long time, but squashing all guest blogging because some people are doing it wrong is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Matt Cutts' statement makes the issue sound very black & white, but there's a spectrum of quality.

Go Mungo SEO
Jun 04, 2014

I think alot of what you say is very true, however there is now a very thin line between what Google sees as a spammy article and what we see as a legitimate valued piece of content. To me the safest way to add a link is to use the brand name or even the brand's url, and stay well away from inserting keyword-rich anchor text links. Even if you just add the one optimised link this will draw the attention of google one day and you will get slapped for it. Another piece of advise I would give is if you have ever released press releases with PRWeb/PRnewswire then do a link audit of your site as these press releases including the links can and do appear across multiple sister sites that will carry these dofollow links, which again you will get penalised for by Google if these are indeed keyword-rich in character.

Rod Collins
Feb 03, 2014

If guest blogging is done correctly and offers users something they will benefit form it will not hurt you, the issue is putting a lot of articles out there that are of no beneficial use to anyone. Trust me those where my tactics in the past and all id did was cause my sites "mostly casinos"  to lose their rankings I have since removed the meaningless posts out there at least the ones I had someone else write for me and have been increasing my search rankings with good uality guest posts which are now actually generating me better traffic.The bottom line is keeping it legit and keeping it real and I agree guest blogging is not dead. 

Ralpheal Jackson
Feb 07, 2014

Nice, I mean really thanks for the insight, totally clear somethigns up, although I was kind of thinking along the same lines in terms of what Matt Cutts meant with the whole Guess Blogging deal.Really it's all about marketing these days, which I think will cause us marketers to reach, learn and grow if we want to continue to have successful online businesses. It seems if we keep marketing first, then everything else will take it's own course in terms of SEO and overall web traffic.Thanks for sharing this information with us, - Great Stuff!Ralpheal

Shahin Abdulla
Mar 14, 2014

Hello elisa, I am a newbie blogger and I am planning to increase my blog PR in next upadte. If Dofollow links is not allowed in Guest posts Then how can I Increase My PR. Now a days it is very challenging to get Rank in Google.

Kenny Doucette
Mar 18, 2014

This is the third article in 30 minutes that I have read about Matt Cutts and his opinions on guest blogging being dead. I really like this one (great pic of the coffins) and am beginning to think that Cutts has fallen out of love with blogging.  I agree that it should be more about building relationships than just building links, however, there will always be people looking to befriend eachother in order to get the backlink they are looking for.

Mike Jones
Mar 19, 2014

Guest blogging is likely to continue as a matter of fact, so I agree with the post. However I believe Google will eventually sort out some way to devalue the quality of these links, as it is subject to abuse. That being said, I'm gonna get my fill while I can.

Mahesh Gurav
Mar 19, 2014

I think Google wants to close SEO and wants to earn money...because each and every one or two monthsGoogle updating his algorithm ( courtesy Panda and Penguine update)  in SEO ..You can't do this ....you can't do that.. ..other wise your website willbe penalised in search engine ....So i request to Google technical team,  please announce that algorithm very soon where we can't do anything for SEO..Just do only Google adwords if you wants good ranking on search engine... 

Android Apk file
Mar 19, 2014

Very nice post, but i am little confuse about this topic... Thanks Chris and also matt ...

Nathan Brook
Mar 21, 2014

Thanks dear for sharing such a nice post, i think the bloggers should post some quality posts. I think that google should also change his process for the guest posting to promote the blogs

Robyn
Mar 21, 2014

I agree with you Elisa.Guest blogging is not very different from any other link-building activity. It all boils down to quality trumping all.I believe guest blogging has matured as with many other "SEO" activities. To stand out, be effective and be on Google's good side, we need to continue to provide useful and quality content.If Google kills guest blogging then many other link-building activities should logically die as well.

mitz
Mar 24, 2014

Please note that not all guest posting is junk content and then consider the following: If all you care about is Google then you can think what you want.. Building websites and creating businesses is not for Google's benefit and they should have nothing to do with how you run your business. Who made them BOSS? If you put a link out there and they don't like it, all they have to do is ignore it. Really? All you bloggers that are giving in are just helping Google box us into a corner where there will only be their traffic to get. The blogging world will be extremely limited. A serious business does not sit and wait for traffic and guest posting is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for Google traffic. A good guest post can make my business anywhere from $100 to $1200 and it is usually free. It takes hard work but it is obviously worth it. So why would I listen to Google when they tell me to stop? What is the real alternative? Should I sit and hope Google will be nice and keep sending me traffic? Should I be happy to earn half of my income or should I go and get more customers for my business and make it flourish? Of course Google wants to kill all amazing traffic sources because that is what they do, sell traffic... and at the moment it is flowing around too freely without Google intervention. 

Mohammed Saimon
Apr 01, 2014

I don't know what should I do now? Will I go for guest blogging or not?

Prerit
Apr 02, 2014

Thanks for such a helpful post, Elisa !You're correct. Guest blogging saw a fall by seeing that statement by Matt Cutts but it isn't truly dead and you gave out valid reasons for the same.Again, great article 

James M.
Apr 21, 2014

Awesome article Elisa.Lot of people do believe that the whole of guest blogging is dead but i try hard to tell most of them that guest blogging isn't totally dead but spammy guest blogging or low quality guest blogging is what google just took care of. Thanks for sharing this, ~James

Marc
May 13, 2014

There's going to be a black hat version of any white hat tactic. For a taste of "black hat version" of anything internet marketing, give Warrior Forums or WickedFire Forums a stroll.  

Catherine Stevens
Jun 04, 2014

Many people are looking to guest posting for a link back to their website, but a quality post can also drive traffic to your site. 

Shinderpal Jandu
Jun 09, 2014

Good common sense articleIts amazing overall in SEO how  1) most people do little thorough work  2) If they do its one program they bought and they push it to excess. Very rarely do i see articles with a proper perspective and depth like this.  Thanks.  Very few writers today have such a gift as this writer to explain in common sense and good perspective.

Jannatul Ferdous
Jul 07, 2014

Guest blogging is not dead at all. But the way people take to do this blogging for only backlink pupose is fully dead now. And I guess those are using gues blogging in bad way are already got the punishment.

pihu
Jul 22, 2014

thax  for great article. I still think guest posting will help your rankings, just not in the way it used to. Because you have to avoid using rich anchor text and only link to your site when it benefits the reader, you won’t rank for head terms as easily as you could in the past. If you want to play it safe with guest posting, I recommend go with high page rank.

lissa k
Aug 13, 2014

Hi,the article is really nice.

anda
Sep 05, 2014

Thanks for such a helpful post,You're correct. Guest blogging saw a fall by seeing that statement by Matt Cutts but it isn't truly dead and you gave out valid reasons for the same.Again, great article 

shawnie
Sep 09, 2014

I know of a SEO company that still do guest posting for their clients. The sad thing is, they've been hit badly by the Google updates. What I don't understand is they seem to stick with their age-old strategies. It's not surprising they've lost too many clients coz of bad strategies and being complacent. It's disheartening especially for clients who are just starting online and spending thousands of dollars for crap SEO.

Vasid
Sep 26, 2014

Well written.I also believe guest  blogging should be promoted for good reasons.

Maryindicizzazione
Oct 16, 2014

Hi Elisa,I agree with you: guest posts can also imply good quality contents. In any case, I'm not sure that if a blog has a section named "Guest post", Google will not penalize the blog. I mean that's a variable that be quite easily "found" by Google. What do you think? Thanks

Spark
Oct 20, 2014

Guest posts are not dead, but Google has become more sophisticated in detecting spammy and spun blog posts.Also: they're a lot harsher with penalties...

Anonymous
Nov 04, 2014

Im impressed of all those SEO people who works in their own company and dedicate a entry to talk about a fact explained by a Google empoyee.This is not about what you think guys, is about what has been explained, you like it or not.

David Weightman
Jan 22, 2014

Hi Elisa!I also happened to visit and read the blog of Matt Cutt and based on my personal perspective, Guest posting can have both advantages and disadvantages and that depends on the discretion of the web marketer. If the SEO working on the site is more concerned on the websites publicity provided that he or she is careful in sharing links to others, that I can say that he's doing it right. But if the purpose of publicity is to spam site, well I think that's something the he needs to consider since it's not helping. I like your idea that it is important to build relationships, not links. Helping others is a good deed, as long as it doesnt compromise the intention why you want to build relationship to your fellow web marketer. thanks for the post! 

Larry Kim
Jan 22, 2014

If i was designing an algo to kill off SEOs that are using guest blogging as an SEO tactic, i would:* Look for 1-off posts written by people who aren't regular contributors.* devalue those links, especially if they're off topic, anchor-text rich, or link to content that is trying to rank in super competitive SEO keywords.   

Abhinatha
Jan 23, 2014

I generally agree with your stance here Neil. It’s true that the spammy pitches have gotten out of hand, and we also believe that author authority is the answer to the problem. No need to roll out another penalty or algorithm change that could result in more collateral damage, a’la Panda and Penguin. They have the answer, if only they take advantage of it when they aim to tackle the guest blogging situation. I wrote about this last night on my own blog – let’s make the vision of identity verification and author authority a reality. The time is now.

Henry Smith
Jan 23, 2014

Don't even think of spammy content. I always bet for grammatically correct informative content for my website as well as for blogs. Oh yes, don't make your content overly promotional. Thenn also you might get penalized by Google or any other search engine as suggested by many SEO experts. So, what should we do? Rely on genuine and innovatibe content and share them in various online blogs, social media and bookmarking sites. I am sure this way you can get your desired result.

Harsh Wardhan Singh
Jan 23, 2014

Elissa,I would like to thank you for putting down very reasonable points against Matt Cutts warning and then in the end pointing out what actually Matt meant. So far whatever Google has made the changes, improvements in terms of SEO the only thing I feel is that if Matt could explain his points in a more understanding manner so that it could be clear that if not this then that. I think that aprt from the Guest spamming thing Google mainly wants everyone to use the Google Authorship and ultimately use Google+. Your post is great specially the points, I will tweet this link with the points.ThanksHarsh

George Finecott
Jan 23, 2014

I think Matt Cutts is basically colloquialism be extremely watchful of who you embrace on your blog, which we might as well have been in any case. Additionally be careful what blog you compose for. Also just utilize guest blogging as a component of a generally method. Broaden your connections fellows. Anyway Very impressive article you have shared on this blog

Ramesh
Jan 23, 2014

Great post, Elisa. I think the point you bolded near the end is what I think he means and what I think is important. I think it's okay for us to slam spammy content and poorly-written articles. But content that's informative, valuable and engaging - and still has a backlink - should be and is acceptable in our industry.

Vajrajit
Jan 24, 2014

I understand the concern regarding spam, however, we see this with everything on the new these days.Instead, please could we please have some guidelines for sites who accept guest posts rather than giving the impression that Google is saying sites shouldn’t accept them at all!Being able to write good quality content and having it published on a quality site should remain a privilege. I am all for spreading myself around web, helping other site owners and their readers …. so should Google.

Robert Antolin
Jan 24, 2014

OK, I wonder if guest blogging is not good anymore because of spamming, what about comments on blogs, is that ok, is that not spamming? Maybe is that good now but in future will be bad as guest blogging for Google?

Dan Stratford
Jan 27, 2014

Thanks for the voice of reason. Nice to see like minded people. Every year since 2007 I began seeing "SEO is dead" articles appearing this time of year-funny that this year started with Matt Cutts nearly saying that a part of it was dead. Obviously it is not dead, or even Matt Cutts would need to find a new job?

Robert
Jan 27, 2014

I still believe guest blogging is a good practice on the net that should be continued.  I like your idea that it is important to build relationships and not links. 

The Broken Son
Jan 28, 2014

Why anyone would have a problem with what Matt Cutts is saying, all he is saying is that guest blogging is spammy, and the content is used over and over. It's not worth arguing about, if Google wants people to stop guest blogging Spam, people should listen to what he's saying, because it's just a matter of time before your blog gets de-indexed. If I had to do that job, and see the same information over and over, I think that would annoy me, and if it annoyed me, It probably annoys others too. Because at the end of the day, the people are trying to get something out of it, aren't they, and there methods of trying to get something out it, are kinda blackhat, don't you think?  If you would like any information on how to get traffic, please visit my blog Lol

Angela
Jan 28, 2014

This post sums up exactly what I was thinking. It makes no sense to do 0 guest blogging if you have a good source of quality sites to choose from that will help you reach your audience. As Elisa said, nearly everything is subject to scrutiny and any method can basically be used for good or evil. I do wish they could look at the whole instead of the indivual parts. It's like failing a kid in class for one bad grade instead of looking at the sum of their work.

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 22, 2014

Thanks David!

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 22, 2014

I think the "off topic" and "anchor text rich" filters would be valuable, but that would be true regardless of whether or not the content was a guest post. They'd essentially be looking for manipulated links. Who cares who wrote it if the links are manipulated?

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 24, 2014

Sorry Robert, comment links were devalued a long time ago.

Anonymous
Jul 28, 2014

Legit guest posts is a good way to determine how popular a site is...People like Buzz...Do you post on dead lonely blogs or forums?Most likely not....Maybe google should penalize spam blogs, then allow the tocome back when they have proven to google changes have been made.... If google contines to go down the path that they are on, thenSEO as you know it maybe over in the future, and I would bet theyare trying to find away for the internet to go on without backlinksof anykind, as google will not be happy until they are gone.... I know google wants to clean up the spam on the internet, but we all do notspam, and by killing certain types of seo, you are killing off the good of seo too... remember, google does not care if your site makes money or not; This notwhy google is here; They are here to provide a high quality search platform....and if you get caught up in their panda schemes or whatever, then your done,I doubt any google ceo's have a hard time sleeping at night because your done...

CarlJ
Jan 20, 2014

Elisa,I think the line is crossed on guest post purpose : It is created for SEO or for audience ?! The audience doesn't care if the link is nofollowed (just what Cutts sugested) while in terms of SEO a nofollow link is almost useless. 

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 20, 2014

Eh, none of us are mind-readers. If a company creates an extremely useful, informative, user-friendly site, who cares if they did it "for SEO purposes"? That's not a scam or a form of spam. If users are being served well, I don't think the secret motivations of the site owners really matter. "Search engine optimization" isn't inherently evil, it's only bad if you're trying to rank content that isn't useful to users. Trying to police motivations like that -- it's like saying you can only sell a product if your SOLE goal is to help people, but almost everybody is working in part for the money. You can do both -- serve users AND run a business. Online businesses have to do SEO, the question is whether they do it in a scammy/spammy way or not.

Himanshu
Jan 21, 2014

If we Don’t label, 'guest post' as guest posts then how google is going to understand that it is done for getting links only. 

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 21, 2014

LOL, exactly.

David
Jan 21, 2014

The same way they've been identifying other bad content. A high percentage of unoriginal (in an algo sense) content and also a high percentage of commercial keyword links on a site. In the post comments matt specifically mentions keyword rich  anchor text  so I think the real word message is be very careful to minimize the amount of keyword rich links.  It's a algorythmically identifiable footprint.  

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