I’ve sung the praises of guest blogging in the past. But in recent months, Google have been issuing increasingly stern warnings about using guest blogging for link building.
The latest of these was a pretty blunt blog post from Matt Cutts of Google (the man who brought us Panda and Penguin) where he basically said “don’t do it”. He later backtracked a bit and qualified it to “don’t do it if you’re just doing it for links”.
So why has guest blogging become problematic and where does that leave the confused small business owner?
The principle behind guest blogging is a good one. It gets exposure for the author and fresh content for the blog owner. The problem arose when SEOs, thwarted in their previous pet techniques of links farms and dodgy directories, jumped onto the guest blogging bandwagon. They started flooding the internet with shoddy articles and private blog networks set up purely for the purpose of building links. If you’ve ever read some of this stuff you’ll know exactly what I mean – blogs full of pointless articles with appalling grammar and links to irrelevant sites.
If you (or more likely your SEO agency) have been doing that kind of guest blogging, then stop.
If you’ve been contributing quality articles to blogs which have real people reading them, then carry on. However, you may want to take a few precautions in case you get caught out by a future Google clampdown.
Watch the anchor text in your links (the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink). It’s one of the signals used to detect link building activity – use your brand name rather than keywords or phrases.
Also watch out for sponsored posts – if you have paid to have an article published on a blog (many wedding blogs offer this to their advertisers, for example), then links should be tagged as “Nofollow” – meaning Google will ignore them when judging the authority of your website. Many blogs don’t do this and for now they get away with it. But this may not last.
As always, the best approach is to think people rather than Google when publishing content on the web.