Matt Cutts Declares “War” on Guest Posting
Thanks to an overseas SEO spammer, Google’s head of search engine spam department (Matt Cutts), recently received an email soliciting guest posting services which put him in somewhat of a bad mood, leading him to write a post on his blog slamming guest blogging.
He made it pretty clear that he was wholeheartedly against guest posting – or at least when used for the sole purpose of SEO. He did later update the post, explaining:
“I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.”
John Hall, contributor for Forbes.com, also talked about this in his post “Guest Posting Isn’t Dead: Google Just Raised The Quality Bar”. Where he responded to Matt Cutts’ post, explaining that guest posting can still be performed when done correctly, stating, “If you’re meeting quality standards, you’ll be fine.” He later describes “quality content” as content that:
- Provides original content and has substance.
- Isn’t promotional.
- Doesn’t stitch existing content together.
- Uses a voice that’s human.
- Speaks to a publication’s readership.
So, we’ve established that guest posting isn’t necessarily dead, but what about guest posting for the purpose of search engine optimization? Is this going to put a lot of SEOs out of work when 70% of their SEO business consists of guest posting services?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in full support of content marketing and stand behind it 100%, but while some SEOs insist on only using on-site SEO tactics and content creation, it has been shown that backlinks are still a major ranking factor (3rd biggest impact on rankings) on search engines. So if backlinks have such a huge impact on search engine rankings and SEOs’ main method of getting those backlinks (guest posting) is being put under the magnifying glass, how does that affect the future of SEO?
Legitimate Guest Posts vs “iStock” Guest Blogging
Working in the online marketing industry, I’ve had a lot of people come to me asking for 30+ links to their site for $100. I have a hard time not chuckling when I hear someone ask for that and yet, there are hundreds of companies (mostly from overseas) who still offer hundreds or thousands of links for a few dollars a piece – I still see people asking for this on oDesk and Elance.
These mass produced blog and guest posts are ruining the reputation of legitimate guest posting everywhere. Nenad of Nenad SEO wrote an article outing these many fake bloggers, labeling them “iStock bloggers” due to their common stock photos used as their profile pictures and their use of fake names. Often times, Nenad notes,
You pay them. They post the article.The article stays there a week or two. The article is gone. Rinse and repeat.
What if you’re not one of those cheap guest posting scammers? What if you’re creating high quality content for your guest posts, but still paying publishers to post to their site? Well, paid links are against Google’s policy, and Matt Cutts is pretty adamant about not doing guest posting for SEO purposes and says, “…if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
So, can you still use guest posting for SEO? You can, but it’s becoming more and more regulated, and chances are, if you’re outsourcing it to a marketing agency, it’s probably not up to par with Google standards. If you haven’t been caught yet, doesn’t mean you won’t down the road.
A More Legitimate Method of Link Building With Guest Posts
There are a number of other methods to build quality links to your site, including content marketing or link baiting, but they’re not always very efficient, which is why people turn to guest posting. If you can’t buy guest posts without being afraid to go to sleep at night in fear of a Google assassin stabbing you in your sleep, then here’s another viable option: Hire an online marketing, PR company, or SEO consultant to write quality content for you, then share that content as a contributing guest poster on prominent publications. You’ll get your coveted link, you’ll be sharing high quality content, you’ll look like an industry authority, and you’ll be following all of Google’s guidelines.
Google doesn’t want to see fluff content, which is what 90% of guest posting is these days. If you’re paying for guests posting service and it’s costing you less than $200 for a post, it’s probably going to be full of fluff. Google doesn’t want you buying links, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pay to have someone write awesome content for you that people will want to share. If you have to pay a webmaster in order to get them to post your article, it’s probably a crap post. Good guest posts (especially if their exclusives) are like throwing a 100 dollar bill into a busy sidewalk, everyone will try to grab it up first.
As far as the future of SEO goes, I believe it will consist of more calculated strategies, better content, and fewer shortcuts.