The other day, Matt Cutts – who runs Webspam at Google – wrote a blog post on why you shouldn’t use guest posting to build links. Here’s a quick snippet from his blog post:
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.
Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.
This statement made a lot of SEOs worried and frantic as they have been using guest posting as their main source of link building. And although it may seem like guest posting is going to die, my prediction is that guest posting will help with your rankings…just not the way you think it may.
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Here’s what I think will change:
Google will discount the spam
Guest posting is a great way to drive traffic, increase sales, and grow your brand. Matt Cutts stated it himself. By no means is he trying to say that you shouldn’t guest post. Instead, he is stating that it is becoming spammy.
This means that certain companies are emailing every single blogger they can find, asking to guest post. I get these emails myself each and every day, and I just ignore them because I know 99% of the people hitting me up are just looking for a backlink from my site.
The reason guest posting won’t work the same way it used to is because companies are trying to guest post on irrelevant blogs. The content they are publishing isn’t high in quality either. In other words, they are trying to do the bare minimum to get a link.
So, what I think Google will end up doing is this:
- Discount guest-post links from irrelevant blogs.
- Discount rich anchor text links from guest posts.
- Start looking more at author rank to figure out if you are writing high or low quality content.
- Place more emphasis on social signals as the more social votes a post has, the higher its quality usually is.
In the end, if you are using guest posting to rank for specific head terms, I don’t think it will be a good long-term strategy. But if you use it to help build up your brand, referral traffic, and overall sales, it will continue to be a great strategy.
In addition to that, I think guest posting will help with your overall site authority and long-tail traffic, but I will get to that a bit later in this article.
Blogs will crack down on guest posters
I know bloggers right now that can get you links from Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes, and a lot of other high authority sources.
How are they able to do this? They applied for guest author accounts and were given one. Some of their accounts are “instant publish”, meaning that their guest posts are automatically approved without an editor reviewing the content.
The bigger blogs, like Huffington Post, are already starting to crack down on this as too much spam is being published on their blogs. I know for a fact that Huffington Post started to become irritated with some guest posters as a few of them started stuffing in rich anchor text links to auto insurance sites.
The smaller blogs won’t care as much, but I see the bigger blogs requiring all guest posts to be approved by editors, just like Entrepreneur Magazine does.
This will make it harder for you to get links from guest posting sites, especially from the blogs that have the authority. This means you’ll have to take the time and actually write good content that is relevant, without stuffing links.
So, if you want to obtain links from high authority blogs, which I feel Google will still put value on as they typically have editors who review the content before it gets published, you’ll have to:
- Focus on writing high quality content that actually educates the reader.
- Avoid using rich anchor text as it will cause editors to disqualify your post.
- Link to your own website only when it is relevant and benefits the reader.
- Link out to other sites, including your competitors, if it benefits the reader.
By following the four points above, you’ll notice that you’ll get more guest posts accepted, the posts will get more social love, and they will rank better in the search engines because you are doing what’s best for the reader.
Guest posting will help with SEO
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.
But the links will still help with your overall site authority and, more importantly, increase your overall long-tail traffic. And in my opinion, that is more valuable than ranking for head terms as 80%+ of your traffic should be coming from long-tail keywords.
If you want to play it safe with guest posting, I recommend the following:
- Only post on relevant blogs – ideally these blogs should also be larger than your website. In other words, do it because it will help with branding, traffic, and sales. Posting on bigger blogs that are also relevant will provide you with more good exposure than posting on small, unknown blogs.
- Avoid using rich anchor text – rich anchor text will become a huge red flag and will probably cause your site to get penalized eventually, especially if you are building these links through guest posts.
- Share the love – you won’t be able to link out to your site only. From Wikipedia to your competitors, you’ll have to link out to whichever site benefits the reader the most.
- Build up your author rank – with Google Plus becoming more popular, it will be easier for Google to determine how good of a writer you are. So, you’ll have to focus on publishing only valuable content as you won’t want crap tied to your author account.
- Co-citations are valuable – even if you don’t get a link from a guest post, just having your site mentioned in the article can help with rankings. I think Google will place more emphasis on co-citations in 2014.
If you are looking to increase your search engine rankings for head terms through guest posts, you are wasting your time. It may work for now, but eventually it won’t.
But if you are looking to increase your overall branding, referral traffic, and sales, you should continually guest post. This will also help you improve your overall site authority, which should help increase your long-tail traffic.
So, what do you think about guest posting? Will you continue to leverage it?