Some Thoughts on Guest Blogging

By David Veldt - 03/28/2014

There's been some excitement in the SEO world in the past few days. It doesn't take much to get people in our industry all riled up, but this one is spurring some real anger toward Google for assuming the roles of Relevance Police, Judge and Executioner.

The issue at hand is that of guest blogging. For the unfamiliar, guest blogging is the practice of writing an article for someone else's blog, for the reason of reaching a new audience and hopefully converting some of their regular visitors to become regular visitors of your own. The owner of said blog benefits from free, [hopefully] quality content. Of course, many - if not, most - guest bloggers have been doing so as part of their SEO and link building initiatives. Writing an article strictly for the perceived value of the link presents some pretty glaring potential issues and a disregard for the experience of the reader, so it's no surprise that Google has had its eye on the practice.

Like any new link building tactic that the SEO community gets excited about, it was only a matter of time before Google decided it was being abused and those abusers should be penalized. What's different in this case - and the reason why so many SEOs are up in arms - is that Google seems to be taking its efforts in sending a message about guest blogging too far, and many are feeling muscled into a state of fear.

Let's back up for a moment. As previously mentioned, many saw some sort of action against guest blogging coming for a while now; so when Matt Cutts said guest blogging was done back in January, it shouldn't have been a huge surprise; and it really shouldn't have been a surprise that some actions against guest blogging would be right around the corner. Yet, having a flair for the dramatic, many in the SEO community lit their pitchforks anyway.

Fast forward to last week, when MyBlogGuest.com got hit by a Google penalty. MyBlogGuest is one of the biggest guest blogging networks and very well-known in the SEO space, so it was seen as something of an act of war on the practice that many have been dedicating a lot of time an resources to for a few years now.

This week, the issue was brought to a fever pitch. A blog run by Doc Sheldon was penalized for a guest post published a year ago. It wasn't just that page that received the penality, however; it was the entire site. Matt Cutts later tweeted on the issue, confirming that the subject of the post had nothing to do with the subject of the blog, so the manual penalty was "on point."

There are some major, disturbing problems with this. First, no matter how you slice it, Google just made a decision about what a blog should be allowed to write about. In the Doc Sheldon case, the relevance of the article was argued and somewhat justified, but what if I decide I want to publish something completely off the topic of digital marketing and online business, just to give myself and my readers a fun change of pace? Should my entire site be penalized in Google because I varied my content and linked somewhere new?

That's the next issue. The entire site? If they don't like the intent behind a link, why not just devalue that link? At most, penalize the page. But to penalize an entire site that rarely even publishes guest posts as in the aforementioned case is just a ridiculous show of power.

So, here's where we are today: People are scared to post on other people's blogs, bloggers are afraid to accept those posts and everyone is afraid of how to link to the author's site if the post is published. The thing to remember is that guest blogging is NOT dead; guest blogging for SEO IS dead. I really wish Matt Cutts wouldn't have made such a definitive statement in saying that the whole practice is dead.

How do I know? Well, because in saying that guest blogging as a whole is dead, you're saying that no blog or other online periodical can ever accept contributions from writers that are not on their staff. What an impossible thing to accomplish, much less monitor and manually police.

If you know someone who runs a blog with an audience you could benefit from, by all means approach them and work out a topic you could write on. If you know of a blog you really want to write for, by all means approach them as well. Just make sure you're writing quality stuff, and don't even try using keyword-rich anchor text in a link back to your site. Find reputable blogs and write good stuff. Simple as that.

Bloggers who are open to accepting guest posts, be vigilant about who you allow to write on your site. Review their own site and previous writings. You are endorsing this person, so make sure you trust them and their work. Accept posts that are nothing short of great and review all of the outbound links they've included.

It's truly a shame that people are intimidated by what Google might do should they choose to publish what they want on their own blog. Fortunately for Doc, his penalty was lifted about 5 days after he submitted a reconsideration request, and a lot of backlash has resulted from his experience, so hopefully some good comes from all this. Time will tell.

In the meantime, keep writing.

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Rob McNelis

10 years ago

Hey David,

Found your blog from a comment you made on BBT. Nice design and post!

Write for people, not search engines, right? 🙂

Best,
Rob

David Veldt

10 years ago

That's right! It's a simple concept and it boggles my mind that people can't wrap their heads around it. Search engines have always strove to determine whats best for the user, so we know exactly where they're going, so wouldn't a good future-proof strategy be to write for the user?

Thanks for stopping by!