Everybody knows Matt Cutts. Over the years, the head of Google’s web spam team has developed a reputation of being the guru of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, with his blog functioning as a kind of Nostradamus-like predictor of the general trends that everybody who’s looking to make a living online has to take notice of.
Sometime before taking a temporary leave of absence (which has so far extended well into 2015), Matt Cutts launched a diatribe against what he perceived would be the perils of guest blogging going forwards: that they’re in clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines, that they lead to spammy content, that the trend has lost its initial authenticity etc.
Now, it must be said that Google’s war on so-called “grey-hat” SEO practices is born out of good conscience. No one wants the Internet to return to the lawless times of the late '90s and early '00s. I think we can all agree that the online world is a better place without pop-up ads congratulating you on having won the lottery every five minutes (CLICK HERE!). Still, what is initially begun with the best of intentions can quickly turn stifling, as Google’s newest regulations have often shown an authoritarian streak that’s unbecoming of the search engine giant.
Proclaiming that guest blogging is dead is kind of like saying that sea shells should no longer wash up on the shore. It doesn’t stop them from coming, and it also doesn’t forbid shady seashell salesmen from trying to hawk them onto unsuspecting customers. But just as selling seashells by the sea is a bad business practice, so is doing guest blogs for nefarious purposes. And you know who gets to call that? Regular people.
That’s right. Over the years, people have progressively become more Internet-savvy, up the point where their bullsh*t detector has gotten sophisticated enough to organically reject poor-quality content that doesn’t lead to the advancement of the online experience. It happened with keyword stuffing, and it will happen again with crappy guest blogging. However, in the right hands, guest blogging can be a tool that enriches and refines the World Wide Web, something that diversifies blogs and makes the Internet an overall better place.
So let’s say you’re someone who’s just getting ready to dip their toes into guest blogging. Maybe you have a platform that would thrive with multiple voices on-board. Or perhaps you’re a blogger with an itch to expand your brand’s reach. What exactly are the benefits of guest blogging and how can you go about it without engendering the wrath of Google?
It’s a great way to build relationships
The blogosphere can be a notoriously dense maze of opinion makers and shrewd middlemen. Entering it can be a little bit like infiltrating a smoke-filled poker parlor: you can barely see anything through the haze, but you can tell that plenty of people are having fun and making money inside. So it’s a great idea to foster relationships right from the get-go. Guest-blogging can be a fun experience where people get to exchange ideas and express them in a public forum, not to mention help spread them across social media. You can make friends and get your foot in the door at the same time.
Sharing is caring
When you let someone post on your blog, you’re basically allowing that other person access to your audience. This way, everyone can benefit from a new viewpoint or another source of information. It’s a bit like when authors write introductory passages for their fellow writers. It helps build trust around another person and introduces him to a world that he may not have had access previously. Can it be abused? Sure. But who better to safeguard against that abuse than the very people who have a vested interest in keeping their blogs read-worthy and spam-free?
It does help raise your profile (and search ranking)
But this is mainly a consequence of the free-flow of high-quality content, instead of the prime motivating factor behind it. People who guest blog just for the hell of it will be phased out in the end. The ones that remain will do it because they love the idea of exchanging quality content between different online communities. Building up your reputation can open doors to important places and few things are better than being granted a guest spot on the website of your dreams. If that means that more people will start appreciating your brand, then you’ve already earned it.
Remember: quality will always win out in the end, your guest post decisions should be yours and yours alone, and the public will reward or punish you according to the level of value you provide. Telling people what they can or cannot do has never worked out over the long term. All it does is foster resentment and make people look for alternatives that allow for more freedom and flexibility.
Ultimately, the gist about guest blog posts (seeing as you’re actually reading one right now), is that it allows for the proliferation of opinions and ideas spread across multiple platforms, something that should be a given in any self-respecting free market, even one as seemingly chaotic as the online world. The need to police and reign in Internet excess is understandable, as things can get a little rowdy in here. But isn’t that what makes it the ultimate refuge from censorship and repression? The last bastion of freedom in a world that doesn’t seem to care for it that much anymore? And what a special kind of messy, beautiful freedom it is.
Guest blogging is dead. Long live guest blogging.
Do you think guest blogging is alive and well? Let us know in the comments.