• The death of guest blogging? Nope, just don’t be faceless.

    Guest blogging was called into question recently by Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts, who said in his latest post that “people should put a fork in it.” However, as far as we’re concerned, that’s a little dramatic, and here’s our view on why guest posting still has its place and benefits the online world, providing it’s done spam-free and to best-practice.

    ID-100214987Cutts said that guest writing for blogs has become dominated by SEO companies, using nasty links to increase exposure and in turn making the practice more and more ‘spammy’.

    He writes-off guest posting saying that the cause of its demise is the use of ‘low-quality links’, and that if guest bloggers cannot be vouched for by the person they’re writing for, there is a chance that Google could recognise it as spam and your page rank will actually be adjusted accordingly. He did later correct his statement on guest blogging being dead by clarifying that he meant this in relation to SEOs and page rank.

    In Google’s quality guidelines it states that links intended to manipulate page rank or sights Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Webmaster guidelines.

    However, while there will inevitably always be some groups who use blogging for ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, in my view guest posting is still a great way to gain exposure for yourself or your brand, and if done correctly it can offer tremendous value for your readers. Links or backlinks should only really be used if they are relevant, and not to solely increase Google ranking but that’s the currency these people want to play with.

    It could be argued that since guest bloggers do not even get paid for what they post, taking away a link to their own website means they are getting even less for their efforts.

    No SEO technique is spam-proof and blanketing all guest posts with links as spam is unfair on real people who are genuinely working to produce high quality work although there are a lot of them out there. Well-respected blogger, Neville Hobson wrote the following just after this was announced:

    Every week, I receive two or three requests to publish guest posts on my blog.

    The requests come by email from people I don’t know who almost always have a Gmail address, not a recognisable company domain. And there is usually nothing in the email about the person other than a name (which often doesn’t quite match the name in the email address), and no links to any presence on the social web.

    They offer to be guest bloggers, writing posts for my blog on a wide variety of subjects, some of which match topics I am interested in and/or have written about myself in the blog. More recently, many of the emails that arrive offer to create or post infographics.

    Are such requests worth considering, even accepting?

    In a word, no.

    I love that as he puts it so eloquently – I get around 10 of these a week and my blog isn’t even that mainstream. These people aren’t fooling anyone they just want my Google juice they aren’t bothered about my readers at all. If I had met these people or engaged with them online I might be interested. However, I usually receive and email that starts “Dear Blogger” and I immediately hit the Junk mail button.

    Questions could also be asked about Matt Cutts’ opinion or knowledge of guest posting as well as his broader agenda. Even high quality sites like The New York Times and The Guardian use freelance bloggers and it seems unlikely these media outlets would come under the same scrutiny as a nastily branded blog.

    In the past, when Google has flagged something it doesn’t agree with or believe demonstrates bad practice, it is usually followed by the obligatory algorithm update. With this in mind it will be interesting to see how the search engine tackles guest posts, and whether a one-size-fits-all model is rolled out because I think this will be a challenge to get a search bot to ascertain the difference between a real blogger like me and Neville or a spam blog.

    Here at Rinsed Insights, our team still advise our clients on delivering guest blogging programmes because if you do them properly, they are great at building relationships. I still believe that guest posting can establish a client as a thought leader. Even though they have an SEO benefit and may carry external links, guest blogs of high quality offer genuine value to a business, and to the reader. The trick here is to try and add value and not just go looking for links aimlessly.

    The above article originally appeared on the Prohibition blog. Image used via FreeDigitalPhotos.com courtesy of Stuart Miles.