Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, caused an uproar in the SEO community yesterday when he published a blog post on his personal blog claiming guest blogging for SEO purposes is dead.
In his post, Cutts offered a history of how guest blogging has moved from being a reliable source of high-quality content to now being overrun with spam.
“Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy,” wrote Cutts. “In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.”
As Cutts’ words spread across the web, many SEO bloggers took to their own blogs to offer their take on the demise of guest blogging.
With so much being said on the topic, we’ve put together a round-up of industry reactions, summarizing comments from a selection of popular SEO bloggers.
Blogger Christopher Penn wasn’t surprised that an “automated, low-quality, easy-to-outsource” SEO tactic like guest blogging is on its way out.
In his post titled, “Be Happy that Guest Blogging For SEO Is Dead,” Penn advises bloggers to continue as if there were no Google: “Would you still pursue guest blogging if there was no SEO, if Google wasn’t looking over your shoulder? Yes, absolutely.”
Penn writes that the death of guest blogging for SEO is a “good thing” for content marketers focused on creating quality content:
If you’ve been relying on spammy guest blogging practices for SEO purposes, then it’s time to move on. If you’re still bringing in guest bloggers who you know, trust and vouch for personally, then chances are Google isn’t going to hurt you.
Andy Beal is another blogger who is happy about Cutts’ announcement. “I’ve grown tired of the gazillion guest post pitches I receive every day,” writes Beal, “Seriously, it’s become worse than the paid link spam emails.”
Beal claims he had already stopped taking guest posts unless he knew the author personally. He goes on to write that he believes guest blogging for exposure – a tactic Cutts vouched for when he updated his post – is still a valuable tactic, “There’s nothing like a quality guest post to get your name in front of a different audience and generate direct traffic back to your site.”
(Cutts later updated his post to clarify that guest blogging is still worthwhile when trying to gain exposure, branding, increased reach, and community.)
Some weren’t as thrilled about the news and even took offense to Cutts’ post.
“Even after Matt Cutts’ well thought out response toward guest blogging, I believe they [Google] penalize link building techniques (as opposed to strategies) out of the sheer fact that Google obviously doesn’t even know what guest blogging is,” writes Kevin Phelps on GuestBlogPoster.com.
Phelps claims Cutts isn’t talking about actual guest blogging tactics when he says “Guest blogging is dead,” but is instead referring to manipulative, spammy techniques.
“Lumping those who legitimately contribute to real websites with spammers isn’t fair and it’s not something Google can even enforce unless you’re engaging in spammy techniques,” writes Phelps.
Ann Smarty, who also runs the MyBlogGuest.com service, wrote a post on SEOSmarty.com claiming she isn’t concerned with Google. “Google is NOT your friend or your partner,” writes Smarty, “If you grow big enough, Google is likely to become your competitor. Do you really want to depend on Google?”
Smarty tells beginning bloggers that if somebody likes your content and wants to publish it, there is nothing broken. “If someone wants to contribute to your blog and you LOVE what they have to say? Do you need to be on your own because Google wants you to be alone?” asks Smarty.
She later updated her post, clarifying bloggers should not go against Google guidelines. “What I was really trying to say,” writes Smarty, “Do marketing as if Google didn’t exist,” echoing Penn’s advice to continue as if there was no Google.
Copyblogger’s Jerod Morris cut to the chase, writing, “Guest blogging is not done, dead or destitute. Have standards, do right by your audience, and play to win in the long term. In short, don’t act like a spammer.”
Morris pointed out that Google will fail as a search engine if it begins penalizing sites with quality content in the form of a guest post. “Quality always wins,” write Morris.
Search marketing software provider Wordstream published a post on its company blog with similar sentiments. Wordstream’s Elisa Gabbert argues that any SEO tactic will fall victim to the same spammy charges overtime, not just guest blogging.
She says publishers concerned with being penalized by Google should: 1.) Only publish good guest posts; 2.) Don’t label the posts as guests posts; and, 3.) Build relationships, not links.
“Google has always stressed that quality, unique, user-friendly content is the key to search engine rankings,” writes Gabbert, “My guess is, sites that publish content that meets all those criteria won’t be penalized, whether or not some of those content pieces are guest posts.”
The founder and CEO of SEO consulting agency Yoast.com agrees with Cutts: “The latest tactic being hammered by Matt Cutts is guest blogging,” writes de Valk, “As the owner of a fairly popular blog, I can only agree with him: it’s gone too far.”
De Valk’s post focuses on the link building attributes of guest blogging, claiming, “Branding is the new link building.” He expands on the idea that guest blogging is out:
So SEOs have a choice: now that Matt has said guest blogging won’t work anymore, are they going to try and find the next disposable tactic? Will they remain tricksters? Or are they going to become real marketers? I think that as an industry we’ve been relying on crappy tactics enough by now.
De Valk goes on to emphasize how brands need to rely on a variety of tactics – and not just rely on one – to optimize their SEO efforts.
Ryan Jones shares de Valk’s opinion on tactics versus strategies on a the OutSpokenMedia.com blog.
“Guest blogging is a tactic, not a strategy,” writes Jones, “It’s time our industry took a step back from the ‘what’ and started taking a longer look at the ‘why’ of SEO tactics.”
He goes on to say:
It seems whenever an SEO tactic becomes popular, Google decides to take action on it…Google hates automated tactics that provide little value to actual website visitors such as creating links and content just to increase search rankings.
Jones believes that while spammy guest blogging is dead, quality guest posts are not. In his post, Jones outlines a number of SEO tactics that have fallen from grace, from link directories, to press releases, comments and infographics.
“You wouldn’t turn down a column on CNN or an editorial in the Huffington Post if they said you couldn’t have a dofollow link, would you?” asks Jones, “It’s about the audience, not the HTML.”