9 August 2013

Over recent months various sources have raised questions over the validity of guest blogging and if it is a useful digital marketing method, or if it just harms a businesses SEO efforts.

Guest blogging, like every, link building method before it, has fallen victim to spammers. It is easy to manipulate, easy to mass produce low quality content for, and as such can be treated in much the same way as articles before it were. With writers in India and Pakistan writing three posts an hour for $10 per post, black hat agencies creating blog networks to post these blogs on as guest blogs and very little care or attention going into the quality of either the posts or the blogs they are posted on.

As a result, in walk Google’s spam team ready to clamp down and put a stop to the poor quality content being banded about the web. They, quite rightly, aren’t happy with the abuse of guest blogging, and will be on a mission to clean it up, in much the same way they did article sites, directories, and social bookmarking.

You then get middle of the road guest blogging. Larger agencies who use it as their main link building method. They will have reasonable quality posts written, not the best, but not poor quality as the above are. However, they will still be churning out a high volume of posts every day. Then they will be posting 10-20 posts per Client every month, sometimes more. This is going to start looking suspicious. Unless it’s a huge Client with a brand which is a household name which is naturally going to generate blog posts regularly, there are going to be some flags raised with Google in the fact that so many of their new links each month come from blog posts. This is a pattern Google will look for, and it is something they may well start to penalise with the updates they are working on relating to Guest Blogging.

What savvier agencies do, is focus on SEO in a different way. They work on making sure the website is 100% user focused. Is it relevant to the user, does it make sense, are there relevant keywords dotted about in the text (not stuffed)? Is the company optimised for local search? Do they have a blog on their own site which is regularly updated? Do they have a social media strategy for engagement and is it actioned? Then there is ad hoc guest blogging, maybe once or twice a month, a high quality, relevant blog post will be written and posted on a high quality, relevant blog.

Another, thing that is a real giveaway to Google, is putting the SEO link in the author bio. Put your link in the main text, make it a relevant link, and not necessarily a keyword which doesn’t fit with the content. Also, make sure there are one or two other relevant links in there, even if they go to competitor sites, this looks much more natural to link to multiple sites which do the same thing.

Ultimately, guest blogging, can be extremely beneficial to a company, but with anything in digital marketing it has to be taken in context, and not abused.

Take a look at this video which Matt Cutts, head of the spam team at Google did last year on Guest Blogging.

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