Guest blogging is dead for SEO. Where does this leave marketing?


By Chris Lee

Google engineer Matt Cutts, who heads up the search engine’s Webspam team, recently announced that guest blogging – a tactic of drafting content for hosting on other sites with a view to generating links back to a target site – was no longer of value to ranking high on Google.

The move appears to be part of the ongoing fight against spam, but for Andy Headington, CEO of UK agency, Adido Digital, the move is disappointing. NMK caught up with Headington to learn what marketers can do now.

Fighting spam

In Cutts’ own blog post, he argues that millions of spam requests are carried out every day by less than favourable SEOs to acquire links for their clients.

“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,” Cutts writes. “Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book.”

Cutts continues: “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking ‘guest post outsourcing’ and writing articles about ‘how to automate guest blogging’.”

But for Headington, the problem with the move is that Google is also punishing genuine bloggers for reaching out to their communities to help provide valuable content.

“In my mind, there is real value for users and blog owners to share their knowledge with other users in the same or complementary industries,” Headington told NMK. “It has happened in the offline world for years where knowledge experts have spoken at other events to share their expertise. Is that spammy? No. If a blogger writes on another blog and adds real value to their readers, is that spammy? No.”

Is Google throwing the baby out with the bath water?

The move to devalue or wipe out value of guest blogs seems overzealous to Headington from an SEO perspective.

“If guest blogging is done properly, it should be a great of quality signal to Google’s algorithm that the authors and blogs involved are trustworthy. I’d like to think that most SEOs by now understand the value of quality content and those doing things artificially will only lead to wasted time and pain,” Headington argued. “Targeting the spammers and ‘old school’ SEOers seems the wrong approach to me. But perhaps Google’s infinite databases know more than me, I prefer to look at things from a best practise approach.”

Headington argues that perhaps the other less obvious reason for the move is to take another tool away from the traditional SEO and make them push more on social to get content promoted, shared and read.

“Google+ recently introduced a ‘promote your content’ feature on the Google ad network so if content doesn’t attract links or rank well in the ways marketers have become used to, Google now has another way to promote content, albeit in a paid-for way,” Headington concluded.

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