Using guest blogs as a SEO tactic

Depending on where you’re at in terms of your SEO knowledge, you may know that including guest blogs on your own website has been a valid tactic over the last few years. And although there have been a few warnings about it in the past 12 months, it’s by and large been seen as something good. Well, it now seems like that’s about to change.

The latest statement by Matt Cutts (Head of webspam at Google) on his blog leaves no doubt as to the seriousness of the message and if guest blogs are something that you allow on your site you should probably consider putting a stop to it. Or at least give it some serious thought.

If you scratch a little bit on the surface, the message is not quite as clear as it first appears though. Does he really say that a good quality guest post written by someone from your network, and on a topic that suits your site? Well, yes and no. The ambivalence in his statement has sparked a lot of debate in the comments sections on his (personal) site – many people are genuinely upset as they’ve taken it to mean that good quality content might not get the exposure it deserves as site owners try to navigate the SEO obstacle course.

Reading the comments, Matt does his best to clear things up. What Google appears to be cracking down on is the more and more common practice of spammy guest posts – when website owners get approached out of the blue by someone unknown who’s offering to provide them with guest posts. If accepted the posts will almost always be poorly written, although on-topic and they will include links that will have all the characteristics of paid links.

So in effect the guest blog becomes nothing more than ‘content with a back-link’ (remember article spinning?) that offers little in terms of value to the reader.

The trick is to be very discerning when it comes to who you allow to provide guest posts to your site, as well as ensuring the topic genuinely offers something of value to your readership. Below a few things it’s worth keeping in mind in relation to guest blogging:

  1. Make sure that the post adds value to the internet – if it’s not genuinely contributing to making the internet a better place (better information etc.) then it’s probably not worth having.

  2. Use no-follow links – there’s one rule of thumb when it comes to links in this scenario: if the link isn’t ‘natural’ use the nofollow attribute.

  3. Make sure the content is NOT spun on other sites – always ever use unique content on your site, unless there’s a specific reason for not doing so.

  4. Make sure the post avoids keyword rich anchor text as it’s use is a common SEO tactic, and would most likely have a negative impact on your site.

So the message is: don’t guest post on other people’s sites for SEO purposes and link building, but do it because you have something important/interesting/valuable to say, and only accept guest posts on your site if the post(er) fulfils the same criteria as above.

Here’s a video where Matt Cutts talks about how Google views guest blogging for links:

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