News from Google’s Matt Cutts last week sent a massive ripple through the SEO community. Never one to mince his words, Cutts stated in his blog post The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO that “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.”
The reason this announcement feels so galling is that – ironically – quality guest blogging felt like one of the last bastions of ethical, or “white hat”, SEO. While your competitors might be using spam directories, buying sidebar links or acquiring links in other nefarious ways, guest blogging felt altruistic in comparison. Creating a high quality article which spoke to the blogger’s readership seemed like a fair exchange for the exposure and, more often than not, link. And it was by no means an easy process. Bloggers are, very rightly, protective of their blogs and quickly turn away sub-standard copy. In doing so, they became the gatekeepers of quality content in a way that Google’s algorithm can still only dream of.
Having blogged and guest blogged in some shape or form since 2003, I’ve learnt a lot about publishing online – both personally and as an SEO consultant. From my stint as a guest writer for the Londonist, to building connections with great bloggers like Judy at Work from Home Wisdom and Brenda at The Green Familia, guest blogging for me has never been just a cynical exercise in building links, it’s about forging connections.
So is guest blogging dead? No, I don’t think so. If you read between the lines, you can see Google is hoping to squeeze out the spammers and anyone trying to manipulate rankings using guest blogging. Their aim is to increase quality, and I’m on board with that. But I do feel the way Matt Cutts announced these changes does a disservice to bloggers, many of whom have been working for years to bring quality content to the web. It lumps them all together, and tarnishes them with that most pejorative of web monikers – the “spammer”.
I hope guest blogging rises from the ashes. Instead of low quality blogs trying to charge exorbitant amounts for a post, I’d like to see us as a community dedicated to creating quality content together. I think we need to be nicer to each other in our communications. After all, we’re all just people sitting behind our computers (or in my case, standing at my computer) and we shouldn’t forget that guest blogging is about creating a dialogue and sharing ideas. Isn’t that what the internet was made for?
More info on Google & Guest Blogging:
Forbes: Guest Posting Isn’t Dead: Google Just Raised The Quality Bar
Moz: Why Guest Posting and Blogging is a Slippery Slope
Search Engine Watch: Don’t Stick a Fork in Guest Blogging Yet…
Image Credit: Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos Blogging, after Franciso de Goya y Lucientes by Mike Licht (Original image cropped).