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.