If you follow even a handful of prominent SEO experts on social media, you’ll have noticed a new storm brewing.

Guest blogging is under the microscope. And some people are panicking that Google’s got another nasty update up its sleeve.

But our experience gives us no reason to panic. At Red Robot Media, we work exceptionally hard to create high quality guest blogs for our clients, and we don’t think there’s anything to worry about if you’re investing in the right kind of material.

The Guest Blog Debate

Marie Haynes wrote an excellent article about the ethics and implications of guest blogging a couple of weeks ago.

The content of her article has been picked up by a number of other blogs since, creating a whole new discussion: is guest blogging just another form of spam?

Right now, a large proportion of my working day is made up with guest blogging assignments. Some are relatively low-key. Others are posted on some big blogs that get a good amount of traffic, such as this Kissmetrics post that I wrote last week, or my Servint post about hosting, or my new blog for A Small Orange.

Clearly, these posts are valuable and aren’t spam. But I definitely see guest blogs that skirt a very fine line. I would assess them very simply like this: is it quality content?

If it is, you have nothing to worry about. It’s not in Google’s interests to dissuade you from publishing quality content, and there’s no way they’d risk upsetting people that write some of the best articles on the web.

Guest Blogging: Back to Basics

Google doesn’t penalise people for no reason. It wants to improve the quality of search. If it sees people gaming the system, it’ll try to step in to prevent that.

In order to understand the guest blogging issue, you need to critically assess a guest blog in terms of its quality and its purpose. Is that guest blog original, unique and thought provoking? Or does it exist simply to get a link on a page, rather than tell the reader something new?

When you boil it down to the basics, you can quickly see where Google’s coming from.

Now, I don’t believe Matt Cutts is saying all guest blog links should be nofollowed. I believe he’s saying that a spam link is still spam if you hide it away in a boring article.

Note his specific use of the phrase “quality thresholds”. The problem is not in the guest blog; the problem is the junk content that’s being passed around as a quick fix.

Should You Continue With Guest Blogging?

Disclaimer: I’m a SEO copywriter, not a SEO expert. But I can see traffic flowing to articles I write. And I get phone calls from my clients’ competitors asking me for tips on doing the same thing. So I know it works if you do it right.

That means – surprise surprise – raising quality, not cutting corners and investing money.

If you’re pitching content to other blogs, you need to ensure your content meets or exceeds that quality threshold that Matt Cutts mentions. That means hiring a content writer that knows their stuff, staying on topic, investing in lengthy, detailed articles and giving people articles they really want to read.

As long as you’re not trying to spam, cut corners, deceive people or spin content, you’re doing what Google wants, and it’s much more likely to tolerate a link back to your own blog so people can find out more. Indeed, Matt Cutts specifically say that “a guest post is something that a fantastic author has thought deeply about…. Posts like that can be a great way to… built links or traffic or help with your SEO”.

Cutts also points out that there’s value in authority, so choosing a writer that has (or is building) a reputation is valuable. It might cost you a little bit more than a $1-per-500-word anonymous content mill, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run. Your site will become an authority site, not just a rolling selection of recycled articles from random, unknown ‘guests’.

Has guest blogging worked for you? Let me know in the comments.


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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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