January 22, 2014 by Ryan Miller
Once upon a time, guest blogging used to be a great way to gain some exposure for individuals looking to get their name out there or for burgeoning websites who offered established authors publishing opportunities in order to gain visibility. Many times, these posts would be accompanied by links to help promote the author in some way such as linking back to their company’s homepage.
As with everything that on the web where links can be interjected, guest blogging over the years has become less and less about finding quality authors and quality content for a website’s readership, and more about a delivery system for getting backlinks to manipulate pagerank. Multiple businesses now exist solely for the purpose of generating content for blogs by their stable of on hand bloggers. All they ask in return is a “dofollow link or two in the article body”. A once great content generating system has now become rife with spam looking for a quick backlink.
Due to the continuing diminishment of content quality and the rise of these guest blog farming sites, there have been several cries over the past year or so that guest blogging is dead. Now, Matt Cutts, who heads the Google webspam team, is officially declaring the guest blogging for linkbuilding purposes dead. In a blog post earlier this week, Cutts writes:
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.
This sounds like Google is getting better at being able to detect the authenticity of links within body content and target those links which appear to be out of sync with the rest of site. Guest blogging with dofollow links, especially if money is exchange behind the scenes somewhere along the process, would be construed as paid links which is against Google’s policy guidelines.
Now, this is not to say that guest blogging cannot continue to be used to generate content for your website, but webmasters should be much more selective about whose content they publish. Webmasters should also make sure to add nofollow tags to any links within that content. In Cutts’ blogpost comments, he adds:
If the links in a guest post are nofollowed then it doesn’t affect PageRank, so that would be within our guidelines. I agree that some guest blog posts can be a good way to get exposure to a new audience. I just wanted to highlight that guest blogging as a whole has gotten pretty spammy at this point.
This approach would help revert guest blogging back to its original purpose. You can still use guest blogging to help get your name and content out there, and maybe even get some additional authorship credentials while staying within Google’s guidelines.
So, there are two big takeaways from Cutts’ announcement. First, if you have previously used guest blogging as a tool for link acquisition, you should remove this from your process, or begin self-applying nofollow tags to any included links. Second, if you are a webmaster you need to be more selective about whose content you publish, and if you get any unsolicited emails from guest blogging firms to either ignore it or require that any published content would need to contain nofollow tags on all links.