I have worked in the SEO field now for several years and one thing that is ever so consistent is the way that the game keeps changing. For example, the search engines at one point claimed that guest blogging is a great way to optimize your site and a great way to get links, and then a short time later (a year or 18 months later) they say that now guest blogging is not a good way to get links and is not going to be good for SEO going forward.
Way back in the day when I first started doing SEO the very same thing happened. I worked for a reputable SEO company in Manchester as a content writer and link builder. The content I was writing was mainly for clients’ websites and our main link building strategy was to find directories to place links on.
Old ways to build links
Getting a load of good quality directory links at that point in time (around 2010-2011) was a great way to help our valued clients’ websites to rank better in the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing etc. I happily spent my working week building links via directory links and when any content was needed, I was asked to write some quality content. This type of SEO is now virtually worthless and Matt Cutts has recently stated that you shouldn’t build links from directories. I agree with this decision, as it was very easily manipulated.
Video of Matt Cutts saying guest blogging is good
If you look at this video here, from way back in October of 2012, you’ll notice that Matt Cutts from Google’s web-spam team states himself that guest posts are a secure way to get a site to rank better in Google. He states that as long as you are writing quality articles, which are useful to the user or visitor, that these posts will benefit a site in regards to search engine optimization.
Quality vs Spammy content
He does also say that if this practice is taken to an extreme and people start to abuse this as a ‘spammy’ way to get links, that it could be viewed as low quality by the search engines. Of course, many spammers have since been abusing this as a means to simply get links and Google is now saying that if you are Guest blogging for links, you should stop. I do however think that if you’re doing the ‘odd’ guest post that is very high quality, that this should be acceptable to promote your brand. See this article about what Matt Cutts is saying now, in January 2014, about Guest Posting. http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging
Yet again, the SEO community is at a turning point, as we will now have to consider other ways to drive traffic to our websites. Matt Cutts sounds to me like he is now saying something that is quite different to what he was saying back in 2012, but then again, I suppose it’s all down to how it is translated. I do remember listening to that video that I mentioned when it first came out and thought, guest blogging is the way to go as everyone else is starting to do it and it works really well. That being said, it’s another thing that has been over done by spammers all over the web.
Change of heart?
I suppose we all have the right to change our minds and opinions on things but it leaves the SEO world in a position that we are never sure the best way to turn. Will Google now de-rank sites that have lots of guest posts on them? Or will they de-rank sites that have lots of links pointing to them from guest posts?
I personally don’t think it would be fair if Google did cause any ranking penalty to any sites which have been creating high quality content for the benefit of the links pointing from them because they condoned it just a few years ago and now they are saying guest blogging for SEO purposes is dead.
I don’t know.
I suppose we will all simply have to do what we have always done: Do the best we can with what we have at the time, and do it to the best of our abilities. If SEO is changing again then we will all just have to change again with it. I suppose if we continue to create only the very highest of quality content, like we always have done then we may be OK.
Google clamping down
Google have been consistently clamping down on sites that carry out techniques which they consider spam, so it is crucial that you ensure you stay firmly within their guidelines. Yesterday, I came across an Infographic on Twitter about how to spot Google penalties. It’s a good resource for seeing if you have been penalised. Other sites to look at are things like the Moz algorithm change history.
Let me clarify something. We do use guest blogging as a means to get links, branding for our website and visitors from the blogs. We also use several other methods to get links. I believe as long as we are not using guest posting as our only means of getting links, that we will be fine. It’s the people who use guest posting and guest posting alone that could get hit by penalties after the next Google algorithm change.
Don’t say you were not forewarned.