Has Matt Cutts put the boot into guest blogging? Dr Dave Chaffey doesn't think so. It's still a powerful digital marketing technique, he says - but if you're churning out low-quality content to irrelevant blogs, it's time to sharpen up your quality standards.
The rising popularity of content marketing received a setback in January with strongly-worded guidance from Google’s Matt Cutts that guest blogging may a high-risk SEO activity in future. This is big news for content marketers since guest blogging is a really common content marketing tactic - because it’s effective. Through writing on a complementary site, you get an opportunity to raise the profile of your brand plus potentially gain links back to the site of the author. It has been used by many media sites and brands, so many businesses who use content marketing will be alarmed by this.
The guidance in his post of 20th January 2014 is seemingly unequivocal:
“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.”
Cutt’s explains the reason he is making this call is, as a blogger with a successful site, he receives many spam emails with offers to write exclusive articles, provided that there are links back to the site.
You may well have heard about this pronouncement, but the reason I’m covering it is that often perceptions of marketers are clouded by the headline, and future opportunities to use a technique can be missed. In this case there was a lot of commentary from mainstream bloggers and publishers claiming that there is nothing wrong with guest blogging - indeed, it’s a natural part of web publishing. Later in the day Matt Cutt’s retracted and showed that the practice shouldn’t end provided guest posts are of sufficient quality. He says:
“*I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
"I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful*“.
It’s useful to have this clarification from Matt Cutts, but given that this is a grey area, it’s useful to think through your approach, either if you host a guest blog or seek to post them elsewhere. Here are ten ways to review your approach to guest blogging that I will be taking as guest hoster and poster - in fact I have done most of these already over the last year to eighteen months.
So that’s how I see it at the moment, it is fine to continue with quality guest blogging on related sites which aren’t solely for the purposes of SEO. There is a lot more to content marketing than guest blogging. I’ll be explaining what in next month’s article where I will look at recent research I worked on showing how companies are using content marketing.