Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s web spam team and runs a blog about SEO best practice. You can be fairly sure that when he gives a piece of advice it is worth following. Earlier this year he wrote on his blog that writing guest posts on other people’s blogs as a SEO technique is now a bad idea. This took the SEO world by storm because many blogs did just this regularly. It was way both to interact with the community as a whole but also to increase their rankings on Google through quality backlinks – the reward for writing somebody else an article.
A fair few blogs have been penalised for being spammy in how they use guest blogging – but is it really obsolete?
So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.
So Matt is saying stop guest blogging. What he isn’t saying is that guest blogging is bad as an SEO technique. He is clearly saying not to rely on it though.
Here is a video response to a question that he posted in his blog. Again some strong themes coming from this is don’t spam, don’t purely rely on guest blogging as a link building strategy and don’t duplicate your articles everywhere.
Is Guest Blogging Really that Bad?
Well first let’s look at where this post is coming from. Matt Cutts’ job is eliminating spam content from Google’s listings. If you care to read the whole article he seems pretty annoyed that people are abusing guest posts almost like they are the next link farms. He mentions that he himself was contacted probably by an automated email from somebody offering to write him an article but asking for:
a dofollow link or two in the article body
Now asking Matt Cutts – Google’s anti spam bigwig to give you a link seems to me what irritated him into writing the blog entry. I feel this is probably of huge personal anoyance to him because what has been in the past a legitimate great way of building an audience – and therefore improving your standing on Google – has now become hugely spammy.
Thinking rationally however I feel that guest blogging can still be used for great effect.
How Can Guest Blogging Help My Audience Grow?
If you post a relevant article on somebody else’s website you are accessing their usergroup. These are people who are unlikely to know about you however if you do a good job of engaging them with your content then chances are they will start to follow your blog. If the content is good they will share it with friends and your usergroup will grow. Overtime this will naturally create inbound links.
There can be no problem to this model. While Google uses a very sophisticated algorithm; it isn’t omnipotent in being able to tell if a relevant link, from a relevant site, in a well written article, that hasn’t been spammed across the internet is secretly a guest post which should be penalised. Thinking logically it is impossible to do this with code without also penalising websites with multiple authors and outbound links.
What Issues Can Guest Blogging Cause?
So if you read Matt’s article it mainly focuses on spamming as this is his job. Duplicate content is the SEO devil avoid it at all cost. This is nothing new. In the past people often wrote the same article and submitted it to as many sites as possible to generate back links. Now it is vital to remember that you want to build a quality link from a quality source – a well optimised site with good sections on your subject matter.
So now we have established if you are going to guest blog create unique content, the temptation is just to write something that pushes your blog on the reader. Write great content which makes people want to find out who you are and what you do. If you write a great and relevant article people will search you out and follow you naturally. If you write a blog entry aimed at purely to create links the quality of the article will suffer. People won’t finish reading it and certainly won’t want to find and read your other material.
In conclusion the two really important things to remember is don’t write duplicate content – only write bespoke articles for individual blogs. This will keep your entries as relevant as possible and that is what SEO is all about. Also don’t just focus on the link building aspect and write a poor article. This won’t help your own audience grow and makes you look unprofessional if you want a column in anybody else’s blog.
I think what Matt Cutts is really saying is just don’t spam, this will have interesting repercussions for press releases but if you write a good guest article on a relevant blog it really can’t do any more harm then the excellent exposure it creates.