Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, offically called it for guest blogging in his personal blog last Monday.
Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.
This doesn’t surprise anyone. Way back in July of last year, Google started issuing warnings with a video that warned webmasters to make the links given to guest bloggers NoFollow. By October, the message had evolved to “Only allow guest posters in moderation.” In December, they openly referred to guest blogging as “spammy.”
And now, Cutts has literally said “Stick a fork in it…it’s done.”
But Is It Really?
This is a pretty obvious example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater if they mean it. Of course, Google only “means it” if they put something in their algorithm that punishes guest posting — and to be frank, even defining ‘guest posting’ is a tough job.
There are lots of high-quality multi-author blogs out there. If they choose to add a new author that Google hasn’t seen before, does that count as a ‘guest post’ until such time as Google decides the new guy is ‘on staff’ somehow?
There are oodles of blogs out there that will take someone else’s post and use it as given under the name of the blog’s current author. Does Google have some way of comparing content to the point where they can identify someone else’s work posted under the blog’s publisher’s avatar?
The Thing That’s “Done” Is Crappy Guest Posting
The answer clearly is ‘no, guest posting isn’t done.’ What’s done is people using the tactic of ‘let’s manipulate blogs that are high-ranking but only tangentially related to my topic into linking back to me.’ That kind of thing, Google is highly sensitive to — and blogs who allow other people to create low-quality content that links back to a low-quality page are going to see their ranking suffer as a result.
Like most things on the Internet, we SEO people have taken a good concept — put high-quality concept on relevant websites for SEO purposes — and run off the ends of the Earth with it. It was never the right idea to put crap content on irrelevant sites, but somehow that’s exactly what people ended up doing. And now, because of it, we have Google breathing down our necks. We probably should have seen this coming; we were the architect of it, after all.
The ‘white’ path continues to be what it has always been: don’t make crappy content, and especially don’t try to foist crappy content off on an otherwise solid website. Take care of your fundamentals, and the upper-level payoffs will come. Anything designed to be ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ is going to fail, period.