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The Future of Guest Blogging (No, it’s Not Dead, Despite What Matt says) By on January 21, 2014

Google’s anti-spam pinup teddybear, Matt Cutts, has just written a post about the pending doom of guest blogging for SEO purposes. As the publicity started doing the rounds, and less than 24 hours after first publishing it, Matt added a clarification saying there are still many good reasons to do guest blogging and there are many great multi-author sites out there. So as a marketer or blogger, how do you make sense of this?

Guest blogging is widely used by top sites, and this will continue

Many renowned websites have multiple authors and accept contributions from guests. These include CopyBlogger, Boing Boing, NYT, Moz, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and various other magazines and newspapers. Newspapers have had guest columnists for years and will continue to do so.

There is no way that Google can throw every site that accepts guest contributions into the same basket. If they did that, not only would the backlash be immense, their search results would suffer. CopyBlogger goes into more detail about this over here and so does Marketing Land over here.

So as a blogger or publisher, if you run a quality operation, and you’re not engaging in spammy tactics and obvious giveaways, chances are you will be fine.

Google can’t decipher between guest and normal articles

Technically there is no difference between a normal and guest article. Author bios are subjective and Google can’t tell whether the post has been written for links, personal branding, money or any other reason. This is of course if other spammy signals like thin content, excessive keyword backlinks, duplicate content, etc are not present. In which case, your article or site would fall into Google’s filters whether you use guest posting or not.

A lot of Google’s recent comments seem to be more focused on PR scaremongering to stop people doing what they don’t want you to because they still haven’t figured out how to stop it algorithmically. Why else would they send out warnings manually?

How *not* to do guest blogging

If you’re churning out tonnes of low quality articles that offer no real value, perhaps even using spinning, and you’re getting them published on equally poor sites then in Bill Hartzer’s words “you probably deserve to get slapped“. Tactics like this will bring you under the radar of Google’s Pandas and Penguins and its only a matter of time until you are penalised manually or algorithmically.

Put yourself in Google’s shoes. Imagine there is a site that sells blue socks. The site has hundreds of exact match anchor text links containing their target keyword. Most of these links are from authority lacking post farms and thin articles. That would be an easy to detect footprint, and certainly not a site that you’d want in your search results, right?

Don’t be spammy. Don’t write crap articles and get them published on crap sites. Don’t send emails to Matt Cutts soliciting for guest posts (come on, who in their right mind would do such a thing)!

The right way to do guest blogging

Instead of focusing on guest blogging as a means to get links and boost your search rankings – a change in mindset is needed.

In its own right, guest blogging can be an effective way to diversify your traffic sources, increase your visibility, get in front of the right audience, and even gain new customers if you’re committed enough. But for it to work, you need to produce engaging, quality content and get it front of real people, on real sites. 

A big part of what we do at PostJoint is manual moderation. We do not accept sub-standard posts, and all sites are manually checked to ensure they are real. All of our blogs are 100% independent, and using PostJoint does not leave any footprints whatsoever.

good-bad-ugly

Author Bios: The good, the bad and the spammy

We think a pending Google algorithm update will target these poorly-tended-to bios which are a key giveaway to spammy tactics. Let’s take a look at how to and how not to do author bios.

For the purposes of illustrating an example, let’s look at two polar opposite ends of the spectrum, starting off with the spammy end.

This was a guest post contributed by Ally from the marketing department of Quality Tinned Goods Co, a tinned goods wholesale online retailer.

Here, we have a thoroughly blatant author bio from an article written purely for SEO purposes. She’s put little to no thought into the author bio and has even used an exact-match anchor text. Only a first name is used making this look very spammy. You can bet there will be many such author bios out there like this and they need to stop.

Now, let’s take a look at a better example.

Ally McSpam is an author and recognised authority on tinned goods, currently working for Tinned Goods Co. Ally specialises in the retail and wholesale of produce shipped in tins and you can connect with her over on Google+.

This is a much cleaner example. This includes the writer’s Google+ link, the branded anchor text has been made with the reader at the forefront of consideration and there’s even synonymous variations of the keyword weaved in (known as LSI-writing). Not to mention there is a full name, showing search engines and readers alike that the writer of this content is a real person.

In short, the bio is useful, it’s associated with a real person, it sounds natural and is not spammy.

Top tips for publishers to avoid being whacked

  • Don’t use usernames like guest author or guest contributor on your site
  • Don’t have a guest content category on your blog
  • Don’t accept commercial keyword anchor text links in author bio’s
  • Don’t link to sites that you deem to be untrustworthy
  • Only accept well written and researched content that is relevant to your site and audience
  • Don’t be afraid to link out to quality websites – it’s in your interest and Google likes to see this
  • Consider giving author bio pages when there are several contributions from the same writer
  • Make it easy for your blog posts to be shared on social media with strategically placed buttons
  • Keep your ratio of self posts vs guest posts in check

Top tips for marketers to avoid being whacked

  • Avoid obtaining too many links from author bylines, place links within the main content body
  • Avoid mass posting, especially on sites laden with guest posts
  • Only post on sites that have a good link profile of their own
  • Don’t publish the same article on two or more sites and don’t use article spinning
  • Write engaging, meaty posts that are backed by solid research and include images
  • Don’t rely on guest posting as your only means of obtaining backlinks - mix it up
  • Link to your Google+ or Twitter account from your posts to show you are a real author
  • Use keyword rich anchor text infrequently, focusing instead on branded and neutral links
  • Mix your self-serving links up with links to other quality, third party sites
  • Don’t have multiple links to the same site from one article

Matt Janaway has written a brilliant post detailing the pattern that most spammy guest posts follow, and in contrast, what real guest posts look like.

Follow these steps and find yourself in higher favour with Google and with your time spent more productively. Matt Cutts has continually pointed towards the most obvious and spammy tactics, and these are what you need to avoid.

Guest posting (and link building) will continue to be a key ingredient in every good digital marketing campaign and every good website. Website owners, writers and search engine optimisers just need to take note and prepare a plan of action.

Note – This post was originally published in May 2013 but has been refreshed and updated in light of recent events.

45 Comments

  1. Gail Gardner says:

    My best tip for writers is that whatever links you want need to be an integral part of the content. If the company wants to make sure people know about their promotional products, write posts about how to increase business using promotional products for a site whose readers are small business owners and managers.

    Don’t hang a link that doesn’t flow with the content at the very end of the post. That makes it look like you bought the content – or wrote it in advance – and then hung a link at the end of it. Make your content about the topic you want more visibility on and use links naturally within that content.

    Google is likely to be looking for guest posts to slap, so use your bio to show you are an authority in a particular industry and to link to a page about you and one or two social networks where you are most active.

    Sites that have insisted on no links in the content and only links in the bio need to adapt best practices. What I’ve seen that I believe will be the strongest are posts that link to 1-3 authority sites in the content plus one link that is important to you.

    Stop pitching generic post ideas and start writing about how whatever you want to link to benefits the readers where you want to be published. If it is a small business site, use small businesses in your examples and link to them.

  2. It is so important to make sure that in every way that even if you are taking an SEO approach, that you are pouring quality into each aspect of your posts. Be it the author bio, type of wording, title, etc., it is important to be in the middle – someone who can deliver content to the blog and community but boost your site in the way that you need to. There’s an art to it, but it’s definitely possible.

  3. Rob says:

    I am an editor for many high quality sites and the guest posting guidelines have been tightened on all of the sites. Meaning that blatant links using keywords to home pages are pretty much a flag and articles like this won’t be posted. It’s best to link to to relevant content on the site you want to target with backlinking. The whole idea is to keep it natural and keep the quality of the content high. I’ve had to turn down so many posts because of these and if these were done more naturally you guys can be getting some really good backlinks on high authority sites. So, quality and natural looking backlinks to make it work.

  4. [...] The future of guest blogging with PostJoint by @SaleemYaqub: Some key tips on how to improve the quality of your guest posting and how to avoid spammy behaviour in the eyes of Google. [...]

  5. Shruti says:

    Great post. Question, what do you advise clients that had “old school” seo doing article marketing or guest blog platform posting? Should they ask those sites to remove links, disavow….would love your thoughts on that.

    • Shannon says:

      Ammon Johns of ISOOSI says that no, you should not stress over disavowing *unless* your site has been penalized. Then you should use it like a chainsaw to cut out the bad stuff. If you have not been penalized, your time is better spent creating fantastic content.

  6. […] sure to read The Future of Guest Blogging with PostJoint (And How to Protect Your Sites) and especially note the recommendations regarding author […]

  7. Rajeesh Nair says:

    I believe Guest Blogging should be done to connect with the bloggers and their audience more than going just for the sake of getting authority back links. If done in abundance, one day that will catch Google and other search engines eye and will be considered as a spam act.

    Rather than posting one article as guest on other authority blogs, I suggest to go for a single high PR and authority blog in a month and post 5-6 articles there and create the kind of opportunity to get in eye of the audience… and the traffic will surely follow… Also your author rank will rise as well..

  8. […] Find out how PostJoint ensures only the highest quality content for both the publishers (bloggers) and those who create it by reading their post (new today) Guest Blogging is NOT Dead. […]

  9. Saleem, in the middle of writing my comment over on Bill’s site, I noticed you’d released this article.

    I’m glad for your thoughtful response to the whole guest blogging situation as put forth by Matt Cutts. Indeed, I’m hopeful that sites like PostJoint and GuestCrew will provide more leadership to small businesses who use guest blogging as part of their marketing strategy.

    As I mentioned in my other comment, maybe the light shining so brightly on guest blogging will alert small businesses and brands to the need to use it as intended — awareness, PR, marketing — and they will direct their SEOs to properly use the medium for the good of the business.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Vernessa. Historically, most SEO strategies eventually get abused to the point where Google is forced to update their filters. Let’s hope that everyone using guest blogging changes their mindset and things settle down. In any case, we think its next to impossible that all sites using GB will be tarnished with the same brush.

  10. 3Leaps says:

    Of course if guest blogging is dead so is the website :P

  11. Krasen says:

    This is very good example with the “Author Bio”
    I still see many articles on PostJoint with 3 backlinks with different anchor text pointing to 1 URL.
    I don’t think this is good for SEO.
    Many authors still don’t know how to make “stealth” (invisible for Google) link building :)
    I completely agree with you – there’s no way to determine if post is guest or not :)

    We should think and insert links smarter and all will be good! My websites with guest posts are still receiving good traffic from Google.
    So, again: Build links smarter! Use long-tail anchor text and write quality articles

    I completely agree with Jerod Morris at http://www.copyblogger.com, remember Google or not:
    Quality will always win!

    Thank you PostJoint

  12. George says:

    Google can’t decipher between guest and normal articles ? to overcome this google may check the number of articles under that particular name,if its one surely its guest blog,its that simple.

  13. Shannon says:

    I fully believe that Google already knows how to detect thin (craptastic) content. I also agree that they have a right to filter that thin content out of their results pages. Does this affect guest blogging too? Sure does.

    That doesn’t mean that guest blogging cannot be done successfully. There really is a right way to do it. Adding exact match anchor text on bare minimum word count articles that were obviously not researched is a definite red flag that the article is thin. Eventually, this content will be penalized and if you are guest posting, it may get the publishing site penalized too.

    No matter where you put it, fantastic high quality content is the way to go every single time. If it isn’t fantastic content, just don’t put it out there to be added to the rest of the low quality craptastic miasma of spam. It’s like yelling at a wall – there’s no point in doing it and gets you nothing in return.

  14. Yaniv says:

    What about Google Authorship? Isn’t it a clear sign that a writer is participating in guest blogging?!

    • admin says:

      Good point, and quite contradictory in some senses!

      • Gail Gardner says:

        Everything is contradictory on purpose. For example, if you only publish content on “quality” sites your link building will look “unnatural” (see the image in the middle of this post http://growmap.com/natural-content-creation/), but we are warned to only publish on “quality” sites.

        The bottom line is there is no way to guarantee Google will not penalize you eventually or take away your traffic or lower or eliminate your PageRank. That can happen whether you build links or don’t and whether you guest blog or don’t.

        We must stop focusing on Google and focus on making sure the real potential buyers for a business know about them and are persuaded to at least look at their site. Once they arrive, we must capture them to a mailing list and improve our skills at knowing precisely what to send them.

        That is complicated while converting search traffic into immediate sales is easy. But if you don’t get better at the complicated you are at the mercy of Google. Learn to do it right. Figure out what your potential customers want and send it to them consistently so that when they are ready to buy they remember you. Those who do this well will not care what Google does.

  15. […] The Future of Guest Blogging (No, it’s Not Dead, Despite What Matt says) | Saleem Yaqub via PostJoint. […]

  16. Matt Porter says:

    I think cleaning up the poor low quality sites that offer on articles is something else that also needs addressing and encouraging the sites to create their own content to on site.

  17. Andy says:

    Guest blogging with dofollow links is dead.

    Many websites were manually penalized and requested to add the nofollow tag to the links as well as mine. I did this and hope they will bring back my PR which was fortunately the only one affected, not the traffic.

    IT IS A MUST to use the rel nofollow tag if you want your website don’t get penalized….

    • Andy says:

      Just got de-penalized 15 days following the reconsideration request :)

    • Krasen says:

      I think that you are using too aggressive link building in your articles ;)
      I hate when I see 1 article with 3 backlinks to 1 domain. It will be seen by the blind people that this is written for seo reasons… good-quality articles with top information (tips, tricks) + rel=”author” link will not be banned.

      Google’s anti-spam pinup teddybearar can’t oblige the WWW to use nofollow links, that’s what I think :D

      • Andy says:

        no, absolutely no. Max one no-authoritative link per article. Anyway, all external links in my blog are now nofollow (as per what i was required by google) so I don’t care that much on the links but the quality of the articles alone.

      • Mars says:

        I got penalized also by Google for Unnatural outbound links from my website. As Andy did, I applied nofollow tag to all the links from my website.

        Now the question is, are we still be able to get opportunities if we add nofollow to the links of those articles being awarded to us?

    • Krasen says:

      + if you have traffic – why the hell you need PageRank :D

  18. Krasen says:

    it’s possible ;)

  19. […] The Future of Guest Blogging (No, it’s Not Dead, Despite What Matt says) – PostJoint […]

  20. Jessie says:

    PostJoint, with MyBlogGuest being penalized, why do you believe that your marketing platform is different? I’m curious to get your thoughts on this and how can we as marketers and bloggers protect ourselves from Google’s manual penalties. Right now I’m worried that your the next target, the owner of MBG personally tweeted that your platform should be getting penalized because marketers are paying for links. Please let the community know what your plan of action is and if the rules are going to be changed here.

    Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment Jessie. We’ve written a new blog post that explains how we are different. Basically, our site list or user base cannot be browsed or crawled like it could on MBG. We’re also planning a bunch of new improvements over the next few weeks.

  21. Major says:

    Well explained…

  22. […] like MyBlogGuest, did talk back to Matt Cutts early on about guest blogging being done. And then after MyBlogGuest was penalized, […]

  23. […] like MyBlogGuest, did talk back to Matt Cutts early on about guest blogging being done. And then after MyBlogGuest was penalized, […]

  24. […] like MyBlogGuest, did talk back to Matt Cutts early on about guest blogging being done. And then after MyBlogGuest was penalized, […]

  25. […] probably brought attention to itself with a series of blog posts about why guest blogging isn’t dead despite Cutts’ claims and why their guest blogging system is different from MyBlogGuest. They […]

  26. […] responded back to Google regarding Guest Blogging Being Done< by them, it was just like MyBlogGuest […]

  27. […] like MyBlogGuest, did talk back to Matt Cutts early on about guest blogging being done. And then after MyBlogGuest was penalized, […]

  28. siwar libya says:

    Of course if guest blogging is dead so is the website :P

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