So that's that then.
With the recent decree from Matt Cutts stating that guest blogging is "done", reinforced by a manual penalty imposed on the popular blogging community MyBlogGuest, can guest content possibly have a future for online marketing?
Well first of all, let's take a look at what is certainly not okay.
Spammy, Key-word Rich Content
So obvious it seems barely worth mentioning, creating content that is stuffed with your exact-match key phrases and posting it across the web is definitely not cool, and it hasn't been for ages.
You knew that anyway, though – but what else can we forget about entirely?
Posting Content On Low-quality Sites
Long ago it became apparent that the only way to achieve a good quality backlink via content was to make that content unique, well-written and with a branded rather than an exact match link. Once you've got your content ready you find a nice multi-author blog with a PageRank of 3 or 4 and there you have it! Just sit back and watch the link authority come rolling in.
Well this is primarily what Matt Cutts was talking about when he said that guest blogging was dead. Creating a lot of content (albeit unique and non-spammy) and publishing it across the web on low quality websites with the sole aim of link-building.
Why would you want to do that anyway? After all, if you've spent time writing a quality post, only for it to go on a site that has no relevant traffic, it's a bit of a waste.
So What Can You Still Do?
Does Matt Cutts' warning mean that the practice is completely dead in the water? Well no actually, but you need to ensure your heart is in the right place when you do seek to publish content offsite.
If you do either of the two things mentioned previously, then it is clear that you are guest blogging for one reason and one reason only – to gain links.
"Okay, I'm calling it: if you're using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop."
Matt Cutts, January 20th 2014
That's the opening sentence of Cutts' post, and the fact that he says "using guest blogging as a way to gain links" is key. As he goes on to say, there are plenty of reasonable and valid that you'd want to publish content elsewhere.
Offsite content containing a nofollow link may not offer any direct SEO benefit but it does still allow you the opportunity to reach a new, relevant audience that could become customers.
However, if you do get the opportunity to share your expertise with a site that is authoritative, influential within your industry and regularly posts its own content then it is unlikely that a quality post with a followed backlink is going to incur Google's wrath.
Ultimately you have to ask yourself, 'What am I publishing this content for?' If it is for brand awareness/increasing your reach then go for it.
What Should You Keep On-site?
As we've established, off-site content needs to be of the highest quality if you want it to achieve your goals of engaging with your target audience, but what about your most valuable content? This, undoubtedly, should be kept on-site every single time.
This is the content that has that extra something special, be it in depth analysis of a piece of industry news, a useful and engaging interactive feature or a well designed and highly informative infographic. This is the sort of content that is going to be shared and linked to organically, and publishing it offsite is going to limit the benefit your website and your brand receives from it.
Do you think off-site/guest content is dead? Are there better alternatives? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.