Spammy guest posts have been a problem for quite a while. I’ve certainly bitched about being on the receiving end. Here’s what it comes down to folks:
If you’re guest blogging for the sake of building links so you can increase your search rankings, or running massive guest post campaigns, you’re doing it wrong. And you might just get slapped by Google.
Matt Cutts warned us about it weeks ago. The folks at Google even made it clear that guest posts on “high quality sites” aren’t safe. Why? Because if you’re the author of a post, you’re not in a position to lend yourself authority and link juice from another site.
Now Google has gone a step further. They’ve finally penalized a guest blogging network:
If you’re using these kinds of services to get paired with blogs that accept guest posts, you should probably stop. And if you’re still being advised to run big guest post campaigns by the dinosaurs in the writing community who missed the memo ages ago, well, it’s time to move on from there too. It’s crazy how often this crap advice is still tossed about — including from “top” freelancers (one in particular sends emails promoting it at least weekly — but I’ll be nice today and not name names).
“But I’m only doing it for the direct referral traffic and to build name recognition,” you might say.
That’s great. That’s what guest posting was always supposed to be about — good old fashioned PR taken from a trade pub tactic to the Web. At least until the Internet marketers and SEOs got their hands on it and do what they always do — ruin things for everyone else.
But if you really mean that, start making sure your guest post links have the rel=nofollow attribute. I recently started requesting that on new guest posts. And I’m working on changing that for guest posts on this blog too. The only reason you need a dofollow link is if you care about the link juice. And if you’ve built your backlink profile to your site by mass-posting elsewhere rather than earning those links in an editorial way, you’ve built your foundation on shifting sand, and now you’re now at risk.
Does that mean you should stop guest posting or stop accepting guest posts on your blog?
What it does mean is that you need to be more selective. Don’t write for sites that will accept anyone and everyone. And don’t choose sites to guest post on based on the link value you think they can provide.
If the majority of your links come from guest posts, start asking to have the links nofollowed. Of course you can’t force a site owner to do that. The next best thing is to change your policies moving forward. If guest posts don’t make up the bulk of your high-value backlinks, you should still be fine. It’s people who relied on them as a link building strategy that are now at the most risk.
I’ve always been a fan of guest posting as a PR strategy, so this is disappointing in some ways. But as a blog owner, my hope is that Google’s move will help to cut down on all of the crappy and irrelevant requests bloggers receive. I’ve tried weeding it out by not accepting posts from SEO and marketing firms, but that never went far enough. That’s why I had to tighten the rules last year and only accept posts from people I knew from around the community. Many bloggers these days are choosing similar paths.
Here are a few tips moving forward:
- Request nofollow links in your guest post bios.
- Don’t try to sneak links to your site into the body of your guest posts (trying to make them look like editorial links).
- Get to know the blogs and bloggers you plan to pitch; give them a reason to trust you.
- Don’t write guest posts for clients — this was never a solid business model, and these paid placement posts are some of the worst offenders when it comes to guest blogging for links.
- Only guest post on highly relevant blogs (and only accept highly relevant posts on your own).
But really, other than going out of your way to request nofollow links, this is the same kind of thing I’ve been telling you for years. It’s funny how slow Google can sometimes be in catching up.
How will this news affect your own guest posting policies and strategies?