The two key benefits of guest blogging are the opportunity to connect with a new audience and improved search engine optimisation.
Providing excellent quality content for your host blog not only endears you to your host; it’s more likely they will introduce you to their audience before the post starts and allow links to your website in the bio box. Further, valuable content provides an incentive for readers to seek more information about you and to read more of your content.
Guest blogging also enables greater search engine optimisation through links from the host’s site back to the guest blogger’s site. Search engines identify this as an indication of value and authority (along with many other factors) which lead to the guest blogger’s website appearing higher in relevant search results.
Google And Guest Blogging
From the above explanation guest blogging would appear a simple and easy tactic to getting ahead on the interwebs. Write a few posts, find a few hosts, publish and bingo, life seems just fine and dandy; but is all that soon to change?
In the past 25 Panda updates Google has sought to punish low-quality and/or spammy sites; allowing better quality sites to rise through the rankings. Penguin updates targeted sites using:
- Aggressive exact-match anchor text
- Overuse of exact-match domains
- Low-quality article marketing & blog spam
- Keyword stuffing in internal/outbound links
The ongoing updates beg the question: what will Google target next?
All the major search engine optimisation focused blogs have been discussing the possibility that guest posts are Google’s next logical target. Certainly it is widely known that some individuals and organisations have been attempting to game the system by mass producing guest posts of low quality and publishing them wherever someone will accept them.
So will high quality, genuinely valuable guest posts be penalised if Google cracks down?
Matt Cutts from Google shares the view of the monolith:
The Guest Blogging Future For The Majority
The reality is most of us don’t have Lisa Barone or Vanessa Fox knocking on our blog door offering to guest post so is guest posting still a worthwhile tactic if you aren’t rich and famous?
The short answer is yes – with conditions. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and Google will make you earn your keep but guest posts still offer value if you get the following right:
Google Authorship is designed to help the search engine identify who wrote which content. Your Google+ profile picture will also show beside your content in search results. Why is this important? It’s believed that Google will soon introduce AuthorRank similar to PageRank. Your goal should be to use Google Authorship to demonstrate the quality of your content which will mean higher AuthorRank and in turn search engine rankings.
Google Authorship can appear a little confusing to set up if you are not a coder as many tutorials currently discuss inserting HTML into your site files. A much easier option is to search the WordPress directory for ‘Google Authorship’ and choose a plugin to do the more difficult steps for you.
Choose Guest Posts Wisely
As the host of a guest blogger you might assume you are safe from Google penalties; after all you are not trying to increase backlinks to your site. If you believe this you assume wrongly. Google has indicated it will penalise both the guest blogger and host if the quality is not up to scratch.
How do you ensure a quality guest post?
- Review the guest blogger’s website to identify whether they are knowledgeable on the topic they wish to write about.
- Ask yourself if the focus of the post is relevant for both your and the guest’s blog.
- Minimise the number of backlinks allowed and check they direct readers to appropriate content.
- Keep all posts longer than 300 words. This doesn’t mean waffle. Cover all key concepts and messages concisely.
Diversify Your Link Profile
Don’t rely on only guest posts to improve your search rankings. This looks unnatural and Google will easily find the anomaly. In addition to guest posts you can diversify your link profile by submitting your blog to blog directories; or increasing links from social media profiles, forums, wikis and article sites.
Make Guest Post Links ‘NoFollow’
If you are still concerned that you will be penalised by Google for hosting guest bloggers make links within the posts and bio boxes nofollow. This means readers will be able to click the links but search engine bots will know not to follow them.
You can use nofollow on individual links by simply typing rel=”nofollow” after the link in the href tag. A typical link would look like:
<a href=”http://yourlinkhere.com” rel=”nofollow”>Your anchor text here.</a>
The Guest Blogging-SEO Verdict
The world of guest posts and search engine optimisation as we know it is ending but it will give way to a much improved experience. Consumers of content will enjoy better quality information while guest bloggers providing excellent value will be rewarded with new readers and higher rankings.
Do you agree with this verdict? Do you think Google can accurately decipher between high- and low- quality guest posts? Will you need to change your guest blogging ways?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.