In yet another "sky is falling" moment in the world of Google algorithm updates, it was proclaimed in 2014 that Guest blogging was going to start being a sure-fire way to earn your site some negative ranking love. Attacking guest blogging is one example of how the internet has changed since the release of Google's Penguin and Panda updates. When put together, Google's algorithm updates have worked on improving the quality of site content listed in search results.
One key aspect of this has been the Penguin updates. Google Penguin is about addressing the quality and relevance of links to webpages. Its aim has been to stamp out blackhat tactics where link volume and anchor text from poor quality links have unduly influenced webpage ranking.
How Does Guest Blogging Upset Google?
Google's Webmaster guidelines state a variety of reasons why your website might receive a manual or algorithmic penalty. One of these, relating to link building, states:
“Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword rich anchor text links...”
In terms of guest blogging, the problem is around generating articles that contain links to your own website, usually keyword links within the article, purely for that link.
This is one reason why article directories got hit in one of the rounds of algorithm updates. Poor quality content generated purely to build back links, on what were basically content farms were devalued.
As soon as the easy win of submitting content to an article directory was removed, people began looking at guest blogging as a way of replacing that link building tactic. This in turn led to where we are now, where guest blogging is a target for Google.
Real guest blogging can still be a great tactic both in terms of building links and building traffic, but only if you understand what guest blogging should be and how to implement it properly.
What Is Guest Blogging?
For as long as the Internet has existed, people have written articles for publication on third-party websites. In return for writing the article it is almost universal practice to credit the author with a link to their own sites, usually in the form of a biography at the end of the article.
Guest blogging in its most noble form is no different to the freelance columnist in your newspaper, offering an independent opinion in writing.
Google even encouraged this in a way through its authorship program, which allowed webpages to individually been linked to a Google+ profile.
As soon as Google caught onto guest blogging manipulation, authorship was removed. But the horse had already bolted, and if they hold their hands up, it was partly Google's fault for encouraging people to use Authorship.
How Do I Know If It Is Worth Me Taking The Risk?
In the post-Penguin world many people have turned away from guest blogging. To quote Matt Cutts, head of webspam Google, many people have taken the advice he stated at the time:
"So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done…"
But despite that, many people do still write guest blog posts and it works well for them. They are also not receiving penalties because of the way they are going about it. So to successfully guest blog you need to understand how to be seen as doing it for the right reasons.
A good link to your site is one that comes from a high quality and relevant website. It will also be an active site with a history, strong audience and social media buzz. All the signals will tell Google that the site is not there to generate links.
In essence, guest blogging is worth it if you change your mindset on why you are guest blogging. Gaining a link should be a secondary concern. What is positive about guest blogging is it allows you to broaden your audience, demonstrate expertise and highlight your brand.
Tips For Successful Guest Blogging
If you want to convince Google that you are guest blogging for the right reasons then the best thing to do is make sure you are following a simple set of guidelines to demonstrate that.
1. Only submit high quality content
Your article should be completely original, impeccably constructed and should offer a personal and unique viewpoint. Simply by reading it, somebody should be able to tell that this is a valuable piece of content.
2. Be careful about including links
If you are referencing other webpages from within your article, make sure these are reputable and relevant. If you are intending to link to your own website within your article then make it a highly relevant link and ensure you also link to other high quality resources within your niche. This will make it less likely that Google will decide your link is purely an attempt to build links.
3. Encourage social interaction
Google will be looking for social connections to help spot if your article is being liked by human beings. So encourage discussion at the end of your article, share it with your own social media following and encourage them to read it and share it.
4. Only guest blog on reputable sites
Unless a site is well established and has a strong following then I would suggest you do not submit the guest blog post to it. It's also advisable to have some sort of personal interaction with the person who runs a site to ensure that integrity.
Make A Guest Blogging Decision Based On What Is Best For Your Brand
You may decide that there are other ways to build links. Guest blogging is under the microscope so if you are to use it as a method of link building then it is not something that should be seen as a five-minute job.
However, if you invest serious time and effort into producing great guest blog posts and getting them published on high quality sites then guest blogging is still a great strategy for producing links, traffic, social media exposure and building of your brand.