Guest blogging for many years has been an effective part of many companies SEO strategies; building exposure, branding, a strong community, and increasing a websites reach.

But things took a turn back in January 2014. Matt Cutts, the head of the web spam team at Google, posted a hugely talked about blog post titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”

His opening paragraph had SEOs spitting their Monday morning coffees out in surprise.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

And just incase readers of his blog weren’t 100% sure what he meant , he continued —

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”

This left many digital marketers, ourselves included, questioning whether we should stop perusing the process and focus our time on an area of SEO that is preferred by those in charge at Google.

Fast forward to July 2015 (18 months since Matt Cutts’ blog post) and many in the industry are still wondering if guest blogging is an obsolete form of SEO. Well here at Pivotal Web Solutions we partly agree with Cutts’, but we’d just reword it slightly different. Something along the lines of ‘The decay and fall of bad, spammy, link begging guest blogging for SEO’

And like many of the other areas that have succumb to spammy practises in past, link building, keyword targeting and image optimisation, guest blogging is still important and a fantastic way to build a strong, knowledgable community, increase web traffic and showcase your expertise. But it’s all about quality content, guest post or not.

So what can you do to successfully host guest posts and contribute to other blogs?

  • Be sceptical
    As the the old adage goes, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ If someone contacts your business offering to guest blog for you, it’s likely to be spammy. The chances are they don’t know anything about you, your business and customers, and as nice as it is they’ve contacted you, it’s likely just for follow links. Do your research, find their past posts and ask yourself what benefit they will bring to you and your business.
  • Write for the reader, not Google
    Too often are bloggers engrossed in making sure keywords and phrases are scattered throughout the post, that they tend to overlook the most important part of their post, the quality of content. A blog post that keeps people interested and engaged, will be shared and read much more and ultimately result in more organic traffic, than a post written with as many keywords as possible.
  • Only allow high quality postings
    Just because they are a ‘content marketer for a high end digital marketing agency in London’ doesn’t mean they will provide any benefit to your business. Look for guest bloggers who can direct traffic to your site with the quality content they provide, as a way of a referral. Even suggest nofollow links for content that is posted on your site and only allow postings that are high quality, relevant, and useful to your audience.
  • Focus on building relationships instead of growing links
    The aim of guest blogging should be to promote an engaged community where people can discuss the themes of your blog post. It should be a valuable sources of information – not an advertisement. By making sure your blog posts are well written, appealing to the audience and promotes discussion, you’ll start to build a readership there that’s more valuable than a one-off guest post.
  • Avoid guest blogging farms
    This goes back to what Matt Cutts’ was explaining. Black hat tactics have always been used by bad SEOs – guest blogging farms are no different. They will publish any content on their site including irrelevant and badly written posts which will be penalised heavily by Google. Keep well clear of these sites, as you will receive a Google penalty. And they are very bad news.

Content marketing is and will remain to be a very relevant area of search engine optimization, whether you are publishing your own blog posts or other blogs. What really matters is making your content relevant, engaging and interesting without filling the text with spammy links that Google clearly dislikes.