A few years ago I blasted a particular person about spreading word that blogging was dead. He considered himself, and even called himself, “tech savvy”. Which, it turns out even if that was accurate, his information was a little suspect, to say the least. So why dare I say guest blogging is dead? Well, I didn’t; Matt Cutts, spam master of Google did.
“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”
– Matt Cutts
Some years ago, before there were huge content farms like Fiverr, ODesk, and others, getting an opportunity to guest blog or finding someone to guest blog was like winning an Oscar. Today, however, with people willing to write a few hundred words for a couple of bucks things have changed dramatically.
There is one very important caveat in the quote from Matt above: Unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. This little bit of information is highly valuable and still gives us hope for sharing content, networking within our own profession, and delivering quality content to our readers. This is, after all, what Google wants from us. As long as we are providing good, relevant content, not linked to marginal sites, we are providing a service to our readers and to Google’s searchers.
Guest Blogging Can Still Be Of Value
Try this for a guest blogger strategy:
- Only accept posts from people you trust
- Check the content for plagiarism or duplicate content
- Manage the format of the content on your site
- Only allow links to trusted resources of value
- Add index, nofollow to any links of lower value
- Use guest content sparingly and accordingly
- Monitor your analytics closely and be prepared to change
Driving home the importance of the nofollow link let’s take a look at how Google recently penalized a leading guest blogger website, MyBlogGuest. From that article, by Jennifer Slegg, this quote, “If MyBlogGuest had focused on the content and the value of the guest blogging, such as traffic or exposure, while ensuring that all links within an article had to be nofollowed, then it’s likely MyBlogGuest wouldn’t have been targeted and penalized.”
Obviously the tactic works, or worked, or the spammers and gray hatters would not have bastardized it. Repeatedly the most important thing to Google is tricking their spider into following bad links, spammy links, from otherwise trusted sites. Using nofollow (there is a plugin for WordPress here) on links is the most important step you can take in creating value for your readers, giving your readers (and not the Google bot) the opportunity to visit the author’s site, and protecting your reputation.
Special note: hiring a writer to create content for your website or blog works the same way. When you hire a reputable ghost writer, however, everything should be in your name with no links to the author’s site or questionable third party sites. Still, you need to check all of the content and make sure you are not allowing a violation of Google’s policies and risking action.