Up until fairly recently, guest blogging was one of the most respected and sought after methods to get quality links. All you had to do was find relevant sites in your niche, offer your services as a guest blogger and you would have a way to get both traffic and links back to your site.
From the standpoint of the site publishing guest posts, this practice was an efficient way to get original content. Yet now, in 2014, guest blogging is yet another one of those tactics that has been pronounced “dead” by many experts. One of the most notable of these is Google’s own Matt Cutts. Cutts has written fairly extensively on the topic over the last couple of years. His view of it has gotten ever dimmer. One of his latest posts is entitled The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging For SEO, which certainly sounds ominous enough!
Why Guest Blogging Became Popular
Before we talk about the death of guest blogging and whether or not this is a premature obituary, let’s briefly look at why this practice became popular in the first place. The concept is fairly simple. If you are looking for a way to get links to your own blog or website, you would offer to write guest posts on another site, preferably one with high traffic and, even better, high page rank.
Guest bloggers generally do not receive income for their posts, only links back to their own sites. This, however, can be incentive enough, especially if the blog for which they are writing is popular. The method can be compared to article marketing, which used to be popular until Google began to penalize article directories and it became very difficult to get links for articles.
Guest blogging, however, managed to outlast traditional article marketing as a linking method. One reason for this is that a popular blog, unlike an article directory, is not readily seen as something created for SEO or link building purposes. As long as the blog has some authority, a link from it can be valuable. Additionally, the guest blogger could hope to get direct traffic from people reading the blog post.
The Decline of Guest Blogging
As Cutts explains in the aforementioned article, guest blogging began to decline simply because, like so many other SEO methods, it was abused. When it became widely recommended as a way to get backlinks, Google began to see it as yet another way to game the system rather than as a legitimate practice dedicated to spreading quality content.
What you have to remember when considering any type of SEO tactic is that, from the point of view of Google and other search engines, virtually any SEO method is suspect. Google would prefer that no one did any type of SEO and that everyone simply created content for the benefit of search engine users. So it’s not surprising that Google would want to crack down on an SEO technique that was widely recommended.
Cutts has a point that guest blogging, like article marketing before it, was being abused. When something is done mainly for SEO purposes, issues like quality and originality become secondary at best. So it’s safe to say that the majority of guest bloggers today are simply re-writing, if not outright spinning, old content in order to gain some easy backlinks.
Is Guest Blogging Truly Dead?
As we can see, there are good reasons why people like Matt Cutts are proclaiming the death of guest blogging. Yet it’s also wise to read such pronouncements with a skeptical eye. Remember that when people like Cutts write for the public, they are not merely reporting the facts. They are attempting to influence our perceptions and behavior. So a more accurate title for Cutts’ article might be “Why Google Would Like to See Guest Blogging Die.”
One of the main reasons why guest blogging is not quite extinct, and is unlikely to become so anytime soon, is explained very clearly by Elisa Gabbert in her article 3 Reasons Guest Blogging Isn’t as Dead as Matt Cutts Says It Is. Quite simply, there is nothing unique about guest blogging that makes it stand out to Google or any other search engine. In other words, as omniscient as Google may appear to be, even it doesn’t have the ability to instantly detect a “guest blog post” and penalize it! Guest blogging is actually a rather broad term that describes one writer writing for someone else’s blog -something that is extremely common all over the web.
Even Cutts admits as much towards the end of the article, when he says “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging…” Overall, Cutts’ piece can be seen as a cautionary message to scare people out of abusing techniques such as guest blogging. To say, however, that guest blogging is dead is only a small step from saying that blogging itself is dead, which certainly seems premature.
Guest Blogging is Alive -But the Rules Have Changed
Does this mean that guest bloggers can simply go about their business, the same as in the pre-Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird world? Not exactly. As noted, Google doesn’t have any advanced radar that allows it to crack down on guest bloggers. It is, however, perfectly capable of penalizing certain actions, such as:
- • Low Quality Content -Including content that is spun or barely original.
- • Keyword Stuffing -Obvious use of keywords for SEO purposes.
- • Anchor Text Not Optimized -Especially using the same anchor text repeatedly in an article.
- • Low Quality Sites -Sites that exist primarily as link farms.
These are all practices that Google has been cracking down on for a few years, now more than ever. This type of behavior, however, will be penalized whether the blogger himself is creating this kind of content or it was written by a guest blogger. So guest blogging really isn’t the deciding factor here. Yet because so much guest blogging does fall into one of these categories, it’s easy enough to place the focus there.
Guest Blogging: How to Make it Work in 2014
Can guest blogging still be a viable SEO strategy in 2014? The answer is “yes,” but only if it is done in the right way. If it’s used as another spammy tactic, without the proper planning, it can do more harm than good. Some tips to keep in mind for successful guest blogging:
- • Choose relevant, active blogs in your own niche. Check blog’s page rank, Alexa ranking and how often it is updated.
- • Write original, well-researched blog posts that provide real value to readers.
- • Use keywords and anchor text cautiously.
- • When giving a link back to your site, don’t use the term “guest blogger,” as this could be a red flag.
In conclusion, it is not guest blogging that is dying or dead, but outdated and overused SEO tactics of all kinds. These type of SEO tactics will fail whether they are used on your own blog, in article directories or in guest posts. On the other hand, there will always be a place for quality content, and this still leaves open the door to guest bloggers who follow the rules.