Has The Guest Blogging Bubble Burst?

by Wayne Barker November 26th, 2012 

I don't know whether you subscribe to the Google Webmaster Help YouTube channel, but it can be a great way to keep up with how to stay in Google's good books. Don't get me wrong there is a lot that Google doesn't tell us and sometimes most of the time you have read between the lines to get a fuller picture, but by and large it is a genuinely helpful resource.

Guest blogging has been a popular way of acquiring links for a number of years now – and since Google has started to penalise sites for lower quality links the popularity of guest blogging has sky-rocketed. As with most things in SEO the rise in popularity correlates fairly well with abuse of the tactic (it 's not a strategy so don't get me started on that!)

As the abuse becomes more widespread you can expect Google to be clamping down shortly – if they haven't already. Which leads me to the fact that Matt Cutts has actually posted two videos on the Webmaster Help YouTube channel is any many months deidcated to guest blogging.

For some time SEO's have been talking about the right way to guest blog, why you should really be guest blogging and what the real value of it is. I even wrote this post on why you should think beyond the link – but the evidence on the how's and why's are there in the videos from Mr Cutts. If you want to do it correctly and for the right reasons, and if you want the best possible return for your guest blogging activities all you have to do is listen carefully…

What is Google's view on guest blogging for links?

What is Matt Cutts saying?

You know, Vanessa Fox, Danny Sullivan, these sorts of people who write something on a different blog. Generally, you should be happy to have them write an article for you. 'cause they're bringing a lot of insight.

We know that Google is not going to give up on Google Plus – it is there biggest social win for like, well forever. As your author profile becomes more intrinsically linked with the rankings over the coming months and years you an bet your bottom dollar that the stronger authors are going to be getting the biggest gains. There will be no more hiding behind pseudonyms or outsourcing you blogging to a country that doesn't speak your language. You need to be building your own profile or developing relationships with those that have good a good standing in your niche.

So that's the short and simple answer. The longer answer is, sometimes it gets taken to extremes. And you'll see people writing, you know, offering the same blog post multiple times. Or spinning the blog post and offering it to multiple outlets. Where it almost becomes like, almost like low-quality article bank sort of stuff.

Come on, Google have a whole bunch of smart people working there, they cracked article directories blog networks and other low quality tactics – do you really think that you are going to get away with the spun content on low quality sites for much longer.

So you definitely do see a lot of people where it's like "OK, I'm gonna write this blog post. Well, actually I'm gonna outsource that to somebody else who's not an expert. And then I'm just gonna insert my hyperlinks that I would like to get into your blog post.

Whether you are placing the content or hosting the content you need to be thinking about people. Who is writing this? Are they an expert? What do they have to offer? Is it original? Does it have something worthwhile to say? Does it add value?

I think in the SEO space, there is a lot of that. Two, three, four hundred words, what's the bare minimum to guest blog post to get by? Whereas, the sorts of links that we'd like to be counting more would be the higher quality articles where somebody really put some work into it and they have something really original to say.

You need to go the extra mile and produce guest posts that have something to say, that are not a standard 'Top 10' list with no added value. Take your time and craft something that you would want to read – or share – or link to.

Does Google take action on spammy guest blogging activities?

What is Matt Cutts saying?

So the short answer is yes, Google is willing to take action if we see spammy or low quality blogging, guest blogging, whatever you want to call it. It's basically just placing low quality articles on that site.

Okay, the pedant will point out that Google say it is 'willing' to take action and that can be taken a number of ways. My interpretation is that when the esteemed Mr Cutts says 'willing' it means that they have in place the ability to not count, devalue and (maybe – but probably not at the moment) penalise these sites. If your low quality guest blogging doesn't seem to be having the desired effect on your rankings, maybe this is the reason why.

And so I would be cautious about using that as a primary link acquisition strategy.

Guest blogging is a tactic, not a strategy. No one link building/earning/acquiring tactic should make up your entire strategy – you need to spread it around. Have a number of tactics that make up your bigger strategy.

You always, as the site owner or as the person who's trying to get links, have to think about the quality of the links, the quality of the content, the amount of work that is put into it, and fundamentally whether users are going to be happy if they land on that page.

I don't think I need to add any more after that one. I think it is fairly clear what Google wants.

Guest blogging isn't dead (yawn).

It's all about the quality – overused I know, but if you want to win long term everything you do on the web hast to be of high quality. Take the web out of it, go back to the time before the Internet – successful businesses generally became successful by being good at what they did, providing quality services or products.

Don't lose sight of this just because you want your business to succeed online as well.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Using AuthorRank To Future-Proof Guest Posting  

Wayne Barker

I work for Boom Online - an Online Marketing and SEO company based in Nottingham, England.

Boom Online

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12 Responses to “Has The Guest Blogging Bubble Burst?”

  1. Malcolm Gibb says:

    Guest posting purely for contextual link building is on its way out and is an overused and over exploited technique anyway. However real guest posting that adds value to both parties through insightful and quality content that people actually read is another story and is worth so much more than the en masse spun articles guest posted purely for contextual links.

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Hi Malcolm,

      Unfortunately it is like everything else in SEO – as soon as Poole figure out that it can be exploited (and start to do so) it means that the end is nigh! What I take comfort from in Matt Cutts videos (and let us not forget that he does cloud the truth a little in order to spread FUD) is that he specifically mentions big names in SEO and says sites should be happy to have them guest. it all comes down to the quality – again – if you are exploiting it you are eventually going to get caught. whether that ends up as a penalty or a devaluation is another post entirely!!

  2. [...] Has The Guest Blogging Bubble Burst?, Search Engine People [...]

  3. I suspect that the guest blogging bubble may already have burst. From a user experience perspective, the fact that a blog has posted your article does not have much of a relationship to the quality of the site to which your author link connects to. A link from an author block is certainly not a natural link. Thus, while quality guest posts won't incur penalties, they may not pass much link authority

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Hi Randy,

      I don't think the bubble has burst yet even though the videos would suggest that Google are on to the less than desirable versions of guest blogging. It usually takes Google a while to figure it all out correctly! I think that we can ascertain from the videos that Google does see some inherent value in guest blogging when done right and there is no reason to think that a link from a bio an a high quality (or highly relevant site) will not pass the value that we would hope.

      Having said that I hope that Google can figure out a way to sort the wheat from the chaff on this one. In my opinion guest blogging has always been about a lot more than the link (http://www.boom-online.co.uk/think-beyond-the-link)and so in my eyes will continue to be an important tactic when used correctly.

  4. Alex Morris says:

    Thanks for this, I found it very useful. I write lots of blog posts and have a journalism background so I like to think I offer up interesting, entertaining and unique content. I'm quite sick of the sight of the SEO list guest posts; "10 Ways To Use Twitter" etc. as they're so obviously either spun or spurious in general – just there for the links in the byline, basically.

    I urge all guest posters to really put some time into their content and make something unique and interesting. Luckily a lot of people are already doing this, but there's still a huge amount who are being a bit lazy.

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Couldn't agree more Alex!

      There are always going to be those that are lazy and look to a way to automate and scale things up. In the videos Matt makes a few references to spinning and article banks whilst still hinting that it is a valid tactic if carried out correctly. People seem to have presumed a lot from these vids – it isn't a dead tactic, it is one that you should use when the opportunity arises.

  5. Javi says:

    I dont follow Google's Webmaster Channel on Youtube (I will now!), but if there have been two videos on there about guest blogging, it is certainly no coincidence. I remember reading something similar a couple of weeks back, about how people have started misusing guest posting and the 'wrath of Google' was inevitable. They'll certainly introduce countermeasures in order to deal with this, perhaps as part of the next update? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Hey Javi,

      I don't think it is a coincidence either ;)

      Google are either trying to burst the bubble through FUD or they are in the position where they are close to some sort of update that looks at low quality guest posting. Let us not forget though that they have recently trickled out information about de-valuing infographics.

      IMO if you are doing it correctly you have nothing to worry about!

  6. mantic59 says:

    Guest blogging has definitely "jumped the shark" as an SEO strategy. It should be viewed as one way to network with like-minded bloggers, to reduce the workload of generating on-topic content.

  7. brad says:

    Thanks for suggesting Google's Webmaster Channel. I have seen this video before, but now I know I won't miss any new releases.

  8. [...] I'm not here to preach about relationship building and whether they have any real ROI for a small to medium business. I'm not here to preach about #RCS or whether the guest blogging bubble has burst. [...]