Guest blogging has exploded in recent years as an effective link building strategy - but do webmasters rely on this tactic  too much?

What MyBlogGuest & BuzzStream Fear The Most

“Guest blogging” is fast becoming an outdated practice. Whenever our industry looks to an artificial link building tactic en masse Google looks to squash it. We’ve seen it with directory submissions, reciprocal link relationships, blog commenting, footer links within client’s sites and we’re going to see it with guest blogging. Pretty bold statement, eh?

The reason I say this is because much of the content produced in these sorts of set-ups is of low quality or re-hashes of what is already out there and this is saturating the web. Google can’t afford to be serving up anything less than the best resources and unfortunately this content churn is making things difficult for them.

Plus Google can often spot a guest blog a mile off.

Ok, so at this point I better be clear about something. Writing a post for another website isn’t the problem. Hell, I’m all for people guest writing for my blog and myself writing for others. But there has to be standards.

I will write for someone in order to build my relationship with that person. I will write for someone so that I can get my quality work in front of a wider audience. I will write for someone if I have something that their audience will find fascinating and insightful. I can’t afford to farm out sub-standard work because this is my reputation on the line. Unfortunately, many won’t see it this way. They will see it as a “natural” way to get an in-content link and return with below-par prose because it is for someone else’s blog and therefore THEIR audience won’t see it. So wrong.

A successful guest blog post will aim for the following:

  • Content that offers REAL value and will stand the test of time because of it
  • Something that both the author and host will be proud to link to, promote and share amongst their audiences

The problem is our industry and services such as MyBlogGuest and BuzzStream are not only making it easy to take short-cuts but also promoting guest blogging as the most efficient path to links.

So back to Google. We have seen Google discount poor quality links (Penguin) and poor quality sites (Panda). It stands to reason that it will be looking to discount poor quality pages & articles as well – those with poor on-page metrics and engagement, limited social signals and links, a high bounce rate, etc. If your link acquisition strategy revolves around guest blogging you must ensure that you are not simply pumping out numerous 400 word articles rehashed from your 5 mins of “research” on the web. If you want your embedded links to be future-proof you will need to offer a little more of what people want and expect (See Blogs: Cheat Sheet).

Additionally, guest blogging for links itself is a manipulative link building tactic at its core (paying for a link in the form of content) and as such, falls under Google’s no-fly-zone. In this video Matt Cutts explains the pro’s and con’s of guest blogging and Google’s view on the practice.

The bottom line is Google currently tries to discount low quality guest posts and links. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google takes  harsher action when this practice starts to get out of hand just like it has with directory submissions, reciprocal link relationships etc. in the past.

When evaluating your next guest spot consider these dead giveaways that could have you paying the price in the future:

  • Mention of “guest post”, “guest blog”, “guest author” etc in the opening or closing paragraphs
  • Carbon-copy “about the author” sections on multiple websites
  • Multiple links to the same external site, or where author’s name links to an external site

If you want to discuss this topic further with me or just hang out, please follow me on Google+

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Wow you made it to the author bio? Go you! What, a little bit about me? Oh OK then, shucks - where to start? When I'm not marketing digitally, you can find me in the sea, on the snow or round the streets with a board at my feet, usually listening to some little known rock band. Catch me on Twitter (@rickeliason) or on my Facebook page where I'm documenting my journey to 100,000 site visitors in 12 months (www.facebook.com/LifeofanSEO).

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