This past week has seen Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, state that guest blogging for the purpose of link building - is equivalent to outright spamming (you can read Matts blog here). Cutts highlighted the fact that many SEO experts use guest blogging as an underhand way to build links and to increase traffic, rather than to engage viewers with quality content. The question now is - how will Cutt’s opinion impact upon SEO and guest blogging in the future?
What’s wrong with link building?
Well, in essence what Cutts has said is that there are an increasing number of guest blogs that are written for the sole purpose of SEO - to influence a websites ranking. This practice violates Google’s guidelines which are set up to help Google find and index a website.
To be clear, this means that embedded within the guest blog are hyperlinks to external websites that not only allow viewers to go directly to that external website, but more importantly allow search engines to follow the link. Google views links to other websites as a vote of confidence in the destination website and the more links to a website – the greater the page ranking.
So guest posts have been used to build SEO links to external websites for no other purpose than increasing the websites page ranking in Google. Now there is nothing wrong with a link to a guest bloggers website – that is not what I am talking about here. The issue is that many guest blogs are becoming more about chasing links, than sharing quality content with people.
However, all is not lost - guest blogs are still a great way to engage both customers and people with similar interests – and there are two simple ways to make sure that you use guest blogging safely:
- SEO and link building – If you are a guest blogger make sure that you write quality content that helps, educates, inspires or interests the reader. If you are a webmaster and accept guest blogs, ensure that you have full confidence in the guest blogger’s integrity.
The aim of guest blogging is to interact with the audience and build meaningful relationships, rather than to write boring content with the sole aim of SEO link building through a backdoor.
- Nofollow links – If you are confident that the links in a guest blog are natural and there is no intent to increase page ranking, then there is no reason to use the nofollow tag (you might like to go here and read a great post on when to use the nofollow tag).
In essence, the no follow tag is a piece of code that tells Google to not follow that particular link to the external website. This is important when money changes hands, such as in advertisements or affiliate links. It is also a really great way to discourage spammy comments on your website or blog.
The following code sets up the ‘rel=nofollow’ tag for an individual link and instructs robots not to follow that specific link:
Guest blogging certainly has a solid place on the Internet - but make sure that it is of high quality, engages your audience - and avoid spammy, low quality SEO content that simply chases the link.