January 20, 2015

Guest blogging has long been a popular way to build backlinks to your website. The premise is simple enough: you write an article for a blog that already has a high degree of visibility in the search engines, and in that article, you have a link back to your own website. However, Google’s Matt Cutts stated in a post on his blog on 2014, that if you’re still using guest blogging to build links, you should probably stop. Coming from the head of Google’s web spam department, it’s no surprise that a lot of online marketers have grown anxious about continuing to use guest blogging as an SEO technique.

The Problem with Guest Blogging

As is the case with many SEO techniques that were once effective, guest blogging has been used and abused over and over to the extent that Google has shown a growing concern in the practice. All of the problems with guest blogging are a result of poor practices and the fact that numerous marketers have abused the whole system immensely by focusing solely on artificially increasing their search engine rankings.

There are entire networks dedicated to guest blogging, such as article directories and websites that are often disparagingly known as content farms, where the emphasis on quantity very much outweighs that on quality. The problem with guest blogging is exactly the reason many marketers use it: blog posts that are written entirely for gaining backlinks tend to be written for the search engines rather than for people. Unsurprisingly, the result tends to be of very low quality.

Guest Blogging Is Not Completely Dead

There is nothing inherently wrong with guest blogging, although as an SEO technique, it has become heavily inundated with spam. However, and particularly as far as Google’s algorithm is concerned, there’s no technical difference between a guest blog post and any other kind of written content online. After all, there is no technical difference between a top-quality news article published on CNN’s website and a post written by a guest blogger or freelancer for any other high-standing website. What really matters is the motive behind it and who the individual is writing for. If your motive as a guest blogger is solely to get links to your website, and you only think of it as an SEO technique, then you’re not likely to get very far. After all, these motives are precisely why Google is concerned about guest blogging.

As a writer, whether you’re writing for your own website or writing a guest blog post, your aim should be to write something for a human audience and not for the search engines. Successful guest blogging is about building relationships with both the publisher and his or her audience rather than building links. Your aim should be to become a regular contributing author to a blog or other website that your own visitors are likely to be interested in and vice versa. This relationship should function in a similar manner to that which regular contributors have with newspapers etc.

As a general rule, you should avoid guest blogging networks, particularly those of the kind that will publish pretty much anything. These content farms have been crushed in recent years by a stream of Google algorithm updates, and you’ll only be wasting your time and even risking getting your own website penalized if you focus your energies on such networks.

To summarize the general best practices of guest blogging in 2014, let’s take a look at the following points:

  • The only articles you write for another blog or website should be relevant to your own content in such a way that visitors are likely to find both parties’ websites interesting. Avoid generic guest blogging platforms and set your focus on a specific audience without paying too much heed to the search engines.
  • Be wary of using keyword-rich anchor text in your
  • guest blog posts, since this raises a big red flag in Google’s eyes. Your guest blog post should only use links that are likely to be useful to your human readers. In fact, you should also not be afraid to link to websites other than your own where appropriate, particularly when citing factual information.

In conclusion, don’t look at guest blogging as a way to artificially increase your search engine ranking or even as a way to build links to your website. Instead, consider what your human audience might be interested in so that your content will drive valuable, relevant traffic to your own website.

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