The Guest Post is not Dead.

By Jakk Ogden on January 23, 2014 in Content Tips
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Happy Thursday Content Heroes, I hope you had a good time testing out all of the WordPress plugins I recommended to you a week ago? In case you didn’t know, that piece went a little crazy, and sent over 3,000 unique visitors to the Content Hero blog within 48 hours. It seems that my assumption that there were a lack of decent plugin lists for content marketing was true!

Anyhow, enough of that. Let’s focus on the topic at hand: Guest posts.

In case you missed it, Matt Cutts published a rant article on his blog on the 20th January, titled ‘The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO’.

As you would expect from a Matt Cutts piece, soon after it was published it went viral and bloggers, marketers, business owners, and everybody in-between threw their arms up in protest or agreement.

Whichever side of the pitchfork you’re on, it’s important to understand what Matt Cutts was referring to when he wrote his article. The clue is in the headline:

‘The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO’, not ‘The decay and fall of guest blogging for exposure, outreach, branding, and every other legitimate reason’.

The premise of Matt’s piece was this – guest blogging which is done to manipulate search engine rankings through text links which pass PageRank is a clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and thus, guest bloggers who practice this will see their website punished.

Although Matt didn’t use the word punish, that’s what could happen to a website if it were found to violate The Holy Bible Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

I have worked within the online marketing industry for more than seven years now, and marketers have known for at least half of that, that guest blogging for SEO is a tactic that at the very least carries a lot of risk. I have known of websites which have been penalised (genuinely penalised with a Webmaster message), because of their overzealous guest blogging tact. I will admit that link building still is an essential component to a healthy search strategy, but what Matt Cutts is getting at is that guest blogging for the sole purpose of attaining links is done.

In fact, he recommends you stick a fork in it. This phrase was what caused the most stir among marketers, but again, most failed to understand what they should be sticking a fork in – guest posts for SEO.

Matt Cutts was ultimately forced into adding clarification on this. He said “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.”

For all the reasons listed by Matt Cutts, the guest post is not dead. In fact, you could make a case for it being more important than ever before.

Guest blogging is just as valuable as ever…

…but marketers must do it for the RIGHT reasons.

For as long as guest blogging has been a common format of content published by brands, there has been a general checklist for what a quality guest post is.

This checklist has not changed.

If you are writing guest posts that engage a blogs audience, and that follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you are doing nothing wrong.

If you are guest blogging for SEO, to attain do follow links or for any other purpose which aims to increase your search engine rankings, you are not guest blogging for the right reasons (according to Matt and Google). It is you who Matt Cutts was referring to when he said “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.”

Here are a handful of the right reasons for guest blogging:

  •           Branding
  •           Community
  •           Ecosystem
  •           Exposure
  •           Reach

These are legitimate reasons to guest post. They carry no risk to your website, so long as you abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Brian Clark, Copyblogger CEO, got it spot on in reply to Matt’s article:

If you were running your site like a true media production, this whole “no guest blogging” thing would be even sillier to you.

— Brian Clark (@brianclark) January 20, 2014

@MichelleDLowery  My point being, treat it like a magazine, with quality standards, and you’re fine. cc: @mattcutts

— Brian Clark (@brianclark) January 20, 2014

Although Brian is talking from a publishers point of view versus the marketers, his tip works for both: focus on quality.

With Brian’s tip fresh in your mind, here’s some pointers from yours truly:

Tips for guest blogging in 2014

– Get your guest posts published only on high quality and relevant websites.

– Specifically request that your link is made no follow.

– Do not (even if no follow) have anchortext that is keyword rich.

– Integrate Google Authorship so that Google can better understand that your guest post is quality, not spam.

Tips for sites accepting guest posts

– Always no follow links within the content (whether they are in an author bio, the article body, or a signature).

– Always review the guest posters website for relevancy. If it isn’t relevant, don’t link to it.

– Only accept content that is relevant to your website and your audience.

– Consider a requirement for long-term commitment, to attract brands that want to add value to your website, and not benefit from a quick traffic boost.

So, the guest post is not dead.

Nope, not even close.

I have chatted to several marketers that I respect dearly about the article Matt Cutts published, and we agree on this:

Guest blogging should not form part of your search strategy, but instead it should form part of your outreach strategy. Guest blogging should connect with an audience and contribute to a websites community. As long as you format your pieces so that they are Webmaster Guideline compliant, there is no risk to your website from guest blogging, and you can continue to use guest blogging as a powerful outreach method.

So, the guest post is not dead. Simply, guest blogging for SEO is a practice hated by Matt Cutts and Google will be clamping down on it in the future. Does that make guest blogging for SEO dead? Yes, it does. I know it, you know it, Matt certainly knows it. It’s been a long time coming, and now that it’s here, I’m actually quite thankful because this could be the beginning of a new type of guest blogging strategy for brands – one that puts quality at its core, rather than backlinks.

If Matt Cutts has achieved one thing with his article, it’s a kick up the backside of marketers who use guest blogging for the wrong reasons.

Happy guest blogging!

Your turn

What do you think to the article Matt Cutts published? Do you agree with what I’ve written? Yay or nay, I’d like to hear your opinion! Comments are open below, or tweet us @content_hero or me @technoholicjakk.

The Guest Post is not Dead.
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About the Author

Jakk OgdenView all posts by Jakk Ogden
Jakk Ogden is the founder and managing director of Content Hero. Jakk's background lies in marketing, advertising and publishing. He is partial to the clever infographic, Mark Twain, golden age comic books and Johnny Cash. He has written over 3,000 articles that have been published online. Connect with him on Linkedin, , or buy him a coffee in Leeds to talk about how high quality content can grow your business.

6 Comments

  1. James @ IMH Media January 23, 2014 Reply

    Jakk, you’re right, and the sooner readers of the Matt Cutts blog take a step back and realise what he was talking about the better. If you ask me, guest blogging HAS been ruined by search marketers, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a place in an outreach strategy.

    • Author
      Jakk Ogden January 23, 2014 Reply

      I think that’s a fair assessment, James. Marketers should remember that there are plenty of high quality websites to guest post on still and the ecosystem hasn’t been ruined entirely. The quality publications determined quality guidelines for guest blogging long ago.

  2. Nick Rinnk January 23, 2014 Reply

    Spot on Jakk. There are technical aspects of SEO that remain important but everything else should be down to good marketing – create quality content and build relationships. Stop chucking out content just for links and use it for engagement, traffic and branding instead. Link should always be a bonus, not the primary goal.

    • Author
      Jakk Ogden January 23, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for stopping by Nick! Your comments couldn’t be truer. SEO is still important, but marketing your business and building your brand outweighs this.

  3. Andrea Hall January 23, 2014 Reply

    “Consider a requirement for long-term commitment, to attract brands that want to add value to your website, and not benefit from a quick traffic boost.”

    Amen to that. Too many publications don’t build relationships with guest bloggers. You want to attract guest bloggers who want to build value, not links.

  4. Stephanie Riggs February 2, 2014 Reply

    After the Matt Cutts posts everyone is talking about guest post and saying it is dead. It sounds good to read any post which is saying guest post is not dead and still useful. No doubt some people are using this method just for spamming but if we build natural guest post on websites related to our niche then it will improve our website ranking.

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