My immediate reaction was, “Oh, no! Now what?”
Not to worry, though, Cutts says using guest blogging to build backlinks is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the Google gods. But, it’s what he didn’t say that concerns me.
In his video published Oct. 9, 2012, Cutts says, as a blog owner, you should be happy to accept guest blog posts from “high-quality writers” who can bring unique insights to your blog. Cutts went onto discuss how some guest bloggers might not be as well-known or as knowledgeable as their “high-quality” counterparts but, generally, their guest blog posts should be welcome on your blog, too.
Then Cutts switched gears and talked about it from the guest blogger’s perspective. According to Cutts, many bloggers who use guest blogging to build backlinks are spinning their submissions and treating them with the same lack of concern for quality as they do their other link-building activities, like the articles they submit to directories for example. From my own personal experience, I have to agree.
Over the last five weeks, I’ve been studying the URLs and content on one particular blog. (The name is irrelevant and I wouldn’t share it anyway, so don’t ask.) This blog is a Google PR6, it’s about three-and-a-half years old and it has well over 1,000 posts, a good percentage of which are guest posts.
Most of those guest posts are poorly written. The grammar is atrocious, and most contain no fresh or unique information — they simply regurgitate the same old content you find all over the Web. None of the guest bloggers could be considered “high-quality writers” by any stretch of the imagination. It’s obvious these posts are being submitted for the backlinks.
Now, here’s where blog owners need to start reading between the lines and putting two and two together.
In his video, Cutts says: “Just be mindful that (guest blogging) can absolutely be taken to extremes and, in the same way that some practices which make a lot of sense when you think about it with high-quality people, when you’re just doing it as a way to sort of turn the crank and get a massive number of links, that’s something where we’re less likely to count those links.”
If Google is less likely to count those links, what does that say about the blog those links are coming from? In other words, are you risking your ranking by accepting those lesser-quality guest blog posts?
Until now, discussions on guest blogging always focused on how it benefits both parties and what you can do to have your guest posts accepted. But there’s never been a discussion on what it does to your blog if you’re the one publishing the guest posts. With the proliferation of guest posts popping up all over the Web, maybe it’s time to have that discussion.
Are You Risking Your Own Rankings When You Use Guest Bloggers?
The blog mentioned above is PR6 but, if you saw it, you’d know that ranking has very little to do with the quality of the content. The owner is a master at keyword research and SEO techniques. Nearly every single URL on his blog ranks No. 1 on the index.
However, at least one-third of those URLs are poor quality guest blog posts and the only reason they’re at the top of the index is because they focus on non-competitive, irrelevant keywords — because they’re written by guest bloggers who are just out for a link.
As it stands, this is a win-win situation for both parties. The guest blogger gets a backlink from a high ranking blog and the blog owner gets more URLs indexed which improves his ranking across the entire site. The question is: How much does publishing this poor-quality content hurt his integrity with his readers? And, more important: Now that Google is talking about guest blogging, could he potentially be risking his rankings?
Take A Look At Your Internal Linking Structure
One reason this blog has a high page rank is because of the internal linking structure. Every single post on the blog is within two or three clicks of the home page. Everything is linked together, which is exactly what Google wants.
But what if one-third or more of your internal links were devalued? Even worse, what if they were also de-indexed? Remember, Cutts just said, “… we’re less likely to count those links.”
It would seem like a no-brainer: If you’re a blog owner, don’t accept poor-quality guest blog posts. Yet, I see it every single day, on blogs in all niches, all over the Internet.
Look at it From Your Readers’ Perspective
A lot of blog owners accept guest blog posts to “pay it forward” and help a new blogger get some exposure — and that’s wonderful. But, aside from the fact that you’re not really helping them if you let them believe their poor-quality work is acceptable, you need to take a look at it from your readers’ perspective.
Your readers come to your blog because they respect you and look up to you as an authority figure, someone they can learn from. When you introduce them to no-name, poor-quality bloggers who are just out to get a link, then they’ve got to wonder how you got to be such an authority if you’re hanging out with these “lesser- quality writers” — aka: Spammers.
Think about your favorite talk show host. What kind of guests do you like to see? Usually, the guests who bring in the largest number of viewers are those who out-rank the host in some way. Oprah is famous herself but when she interviews someone even more famous, like Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks, her ratings skyrocket.
I already have several blogs that I no longer visit because they’ve basically turned into article directories. They accept guest blog posts from anybody with a pulse. People land on article directories as a result of an organic search. But they don’t go back when they
need more information. They do another organic search and go somewhere else. And that’s definitely not the way you want to run your blog.
I know some blog owners are vocal advocates of guest blogging so they accept every guest post that comes their way. But you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Do those guest posts really bring in that much additional traffic? If they do, does that additional traffic
convert into subscribers and/or increased sales?
Do your regular readers read those blog posts, leave comments, and share? Do your followers think those guest blog posts fall into the “quality content” category? If not, you may be watering down your blog, at least as far as your subscribers are concerned.
More important, in the not-to-distant future, you may be risking more than your reputation. You might be risking your ranking with Google.
Don’t Just Accept Guest Blog Posts, Ask For Them
I think a lot of blog owners are under the impression that their only options are to either accept guest blog posts or reject them but you have a third option. Why not ask for them? And not just from any Tom, Dick or Harry who happens to need a backlink and sees your “We Publish Guest Posts” banner. Why not ask those “high-quality people” Cutts is talking about?
Which bloggers do you look up to? Who do you turn to as your own source of information? These are the guest bloggers you want.
These are the guest bloggers who will add value to your blog. These are the guest posts that will survive the updates if Google decides to start penalizing blog owners for posting poor-quality guest blog posts.
Donna Anderson is a freelance writer specializing in website content. She writes for Infowars.com and guest blogs about Guest Blogging for money! http://smbcontest.com/how-to-get-more-out-of-guest-blogging/