“The death of this and the death of that.” Ohh internet, if only I had a penny…
It’s really hard to let a week go by without someone calling a given practice/method dead. I think it all started when some poorly informed people proclaimed blogging (as a whole) being dead. Then it was SEO. Then AdWords, and so on. Anyway, it’s only natural for guest blogging to kind of follow the trend.
And indeed, the web has been very vocal about the demise of guest blogging lately. Where by “the web” I actually mean Matt Cutts – the head of
scaring people webspam at Google. In January, he said this and started a new chapter in the discussion:
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.
World-wide, there was literally only one person happy about this message – Matt himself. So after a couple of days of backlash, he was forced to edit his opinion a bit. This is what he added:
It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. 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.
The main reason why marketers and bloggers got scared after seeing Matt’s initial message was because it seemed like guest blogging was going down as a whole – that you could no longer benefit from posts on other people’s sites, or what’s even worse, that they would actually hurt you.
How did we come to this?
How the guest blogging threat came to life
Back in the day (and since it’s the internet we’re talking about here, “back in the day” means five years ago, at most), guest blogging was really hot.
And I’m not trying to imply that everyone was guest blogging. On the contrary, there was just a relatively small group of bloggers who had enough courage to reach out to other blogs and ask for a guest post spot. What I mean by hot is that many blogs were accepting guest posts by default.
That being said, they didn’t accept any old piece of writing (quality was always the must-have trait for guest posts). But if a post was good enough, there was no reason for a site owner to decline it.
This was all due to the fact that hardly anyone had any “guest blogging policy.” You could just write a post, send it out, and get accepted without having your motives questioned. It was simpler times (it was better times?).
But then, some people began exploiting the whole practice using methods that were – how do I put it – a bit shady in nature.
For instance, instead of publishing articles that were relevant to their target site, they aimed at getting any kind of article on any kind of site. Then, instead of making the links relevant, they aimed at getting any kind of link possible. And finally, instead of even writing the article, they produced spun content or even stole it from other sources.
Such guest posts, if they got published, brought nothing of value to the table, and they were only cluttering the web and creating thousands of unrelated links that Google had to identify and devalue.
So fast forward to 2014, Matt had to say “enough of this nonsense!” When in fact, he was just reacting to a trend that was already happening on the web.
Ban on guest posts
A while ago, much earlier than Matt concerned himself with guest blogging, a number of popular blogs – blogs that were once guest-friendly – decided to shut down their doors. Just to name two examples:
Around a year ago – on 1/19/2013 ProBlogger published this:
“Our strategy for 2013 means that we can no longer accept unsolicited guest posts on the blog. Our submission guidelines page has been updated to reflect this change.”
The submission guidelines page itself holds this stance and extends the policy to 2014 as well:
In 2014, ProBlogger is taking a different approach to the content we publish. That new approach means we can’t accept any unsolicited submissions at this time.
Maybe it’s just me, but since when I was online, I always remembered ProBlogger as the main place where new bloggers could get some reach through guest posts, and eventually build their brands while interacting with the community. And this is actually something I know from experience. I have 15+ posts of my own published on ProBlogger, and they all gave me some worthwhile results in terms of recognition, leads, traffic – you name it.
The second example; here’s Copyblogger and their updated guest posting guidelines page, saying:
UPDATE: Thanks a lot for thinking of us, we very much appreciate it. For the moment, our editorial calendar is full, and we’re not accepting unsolicited guest posts on copyblogger.com.
The ban at Copyblogger is not new, but it is still relevant. The sole presence of the guidelines page means that Copyblogger was quite open to guest contributors just a couple of years ago.
So what does this all mean? Will the blogosphere continue shifting towards the no-guest-posts policy?
“Yes” … and “no” for guest posts
I really don’t want to bore you with a lengthy explanation of what to do if you still want to incorporate guest blogging into your promotional methods, which you should (unsurprisingly). So, if you’re looking for a quick fix, here it is:
- Don’t attempt to guest post if the only thing you want out of it is SEO. And I’m not saying this because “I want you to do the right thing.” No, what I care about is your (and my) results. Therefore, what I want to say is that if you rely on guest posting as an SEO practice, one day you will certainly be disappointed. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but the day will inevitably come.
- Guest post only if you have the time or the resources to create a truly stunning piece. This means that no article spinning and no low cost article production will be able to cut it. Either spend enough time or some good money to have a quality article created.
Now, the easiest way to find out if your motives for sending an article to a particular site are valid or not is to ask yourself the following:
If the link I get out of this is a “nofollow,” will I still want my post to be featured there?
If the answer’s yes, go for it. Put in the work, get a great piece created, and have it featured for the whole world to see! And this is the message I’m leaving you with today.
Finally, don’t worry that much about what Matt Cutts is saying on his blog. Google just wants us to believe that they have things figured out. When in fact, the reality proves that they are not nearly as efficient at their job as they say they are (feel free to check ViperChill for an interesting piece on Google’s shortcomings).
What’s your take on this whole debate? Is guest blogging still on your menu?
Head photo by smemon / CC BY 2.0