Matt Cutts sounded the death knell back in January when he warned that anyone who guest blogs solely to acquire links should stop. The ax fell on March 19, when Cutts tweeted that Google had penalized a large guest blog network.
The search engine didn’t name the victim. But MyBlogGuest owner Ann Smarty confirmed it was her company that took the hit. The website no longer ranks on Google for branded terms.
This Google penalty could have big ramifications for MyBlogGuest publishers. Already, users that have links pointing to their site that originated through MyBlogGuest are seeing invalid link notices in their Google Webmaster Tools accounts. The penalties initially appear to be limited to those who used MyBlogGuest to find outlets for their guest blog posts and the links within them. But Matt Cutts also tweeted that, “When we take action on a spammy link network, it can include blogs hosting guest posts, sites benefiting from the links, etc.” That means those blogs could very well see a ranking drop for their site and specific pages.
Why did Google go after MyBlogGuest? It’s unclear, but one can surmise that Google wanted to send a clear warning to the SEO industry. Ann Smarty says she doesn’t consider her company a blog network, but many consider it to be exactly that.
MyBlogGuest had a very open policy on linking, and had stated that links couldn’t be nofollowed. However, it was an open secret in the industry that agencies were using MyBlogGuest to promote clients as well as writers who would sell links quite openly – a practice that is strictly against Google Webmaster Tools policy.
Unfortunately, even though many writers included links to sites in their blog posts that had nothing to do with MyBlogGuest. Those unwitting sites could face unnatural link warnings and/or penalties, too.
Does this Mean Guest Blogging is Dead?
Guest blogging isn't dead, as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons. I’m still guest blogging – right here on the SEMrush blog. But I never agreed to be a guest blogger only for the sake of search engine optimization. I’m doing it as part of an overall marketing strategy. Since I’m an SEO copywriter, SEMrush is a natural fit for my audience. People who read this blog are interested in search engine optimization and search marketing. If I write an article that contains useful content, there’s a chance that someone will then visit my website to find out more about my services. And if they like what they see, they’ll contact me to see if we would be a good fit to work together.
A lot of people took Matt Cutts to task after he declared guest blogging dead. But he explained that he wasn’t trying to “throw the baby out with the bath water.” He acknowledged that there are still many good reasons to do guest blogging such as exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.
If you want to be a guest blogger, do it for marketing reasons, not SEO reasons. Approach a blog in your industry that reaches your target audience. And then write a high-quality article that demonstrates your expertise. Use the opportunity as a way to promote yourself and your company, not your website.
By the same token, if someone approaches you about writing articles for your blog, be skeptical. You should ignore or politely decline any emails that include statements like these:
- “Should you be open to the idea, we can consider making suitable contribution, befitting to high standard of services that your blog offers to larger audience.”
- “All I ask in return is a dofollow link or two in the article body.”
This person is only looking for links and doesn’t care about your audience. If you accept this article, you’re just opening yourself up for a potential penalty from Google down the road.
Seek guest bloggers you know, like and trust
A better strategy is to ask people that you know in your industry or a complementary industry if they’d like to be a guest blogger. Your blog will benefit when you deal with people who you know, like and trust.
For instance, if you’re a financial planner, you probably know people in related industries, like tax preparation or estate planning. Ask them to contribute an article to your blog. They will benefit by having their articles exposed to a new audience, and your audience will benefit by learning something new.
Gloria Rand is an SEO Copywriter & Social Media Consultant, who specializes in developing innovative programs that help people maximize the power of the Internet, and quickly increases their online visibility, profits and success. You can view her last article for SEMrush here: “How SEO Techniques Can Help Your Email Marketing Campaign."