The Effect Of Guest Blogging On SEO: A Discussion Of Google Penalties

guest posting penalised

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

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=”” 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.

Caylie Price, owner of Better Business Better Life , is currently working her way around the interwebs with her 21 day Blogging For Growth tour. She is also co-author of How To Host A Swingin’ Blog Challenge. Download the first chapter FREE to learn more.

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  1. Great article Caylie on a very current and important topic for guest bloggers. I agree with you that Google always wants to rank and give value to high quality content. In my opinion quality is shown by the uniqueness and length of the content, the stats for the page performance eg average time spent on page and the number of social shares.

    I’m interested to know why you included four links at the end – doesn’t that split the link juice from the page four ways instead of giving you one high quality link? Or are they “nofollow” links as per your suggestion in the article?

    • Hi Mel,

      Thank you so much for your comment and questions.

      I’m so glad you asked about splitting link juice. Originally when I create the bio for the Blogging For Growth tour my aim was to encourage readers who found my writing valuable to visit my websites and opt in. In the interest of transparency (and feeling a bit daft) I hadn’t actually thought about SEO.

      You are absolutely correct that having more than one link splits Google juice. I’ve actually just asked Shae to change some of the bio links to no-follow.

      Glad you’re keeping my honest! 😉

      • Thank for responding Caylie, your objective totally makes sense. It was only because of the topic of the article that motivated me to ask 🙂

        • whoops, slip of the finger, I could write that in proper English “It was the topic of the article that motivated me to ask”

        • Hi Trudy,

          Thanks for asking. When you guest post on a site (like I have here with Sassy Web Words) then link back to your site, Google and the other search engines recognise this and assign a little value to it in terms of search engine optimisation.

          When you add more than one link, the SEO value will be split between the links. To prevent the split you can choose to make links nofollow. This means that while the reader can click and follow the link, the search engine crawlers know to ignore it (thereby splitting the value/Google juice between less links).

          I hope that makes sense.

  2. Good article, Caylie. I think a lot of people are panicking over this, but if you are writing quality posts that are different each time and submitting to quality sites, you’ve got nothing to fear! Thanks for the info.

  3. Great information, Caylie. I had been a little angsty about this, but essentially it’s about quality. Thank you for being my morning Xanax 😉

  4. Thank goodness I don’t rely on Google and SEO for my site. Google can pull out all the pandas and penguins they want to – my readership continues to increase (mostly due to tips I learned from a friend who has over a quarter million readers a month – without relying on SEO).

    • Wow that’s amazing. Would be great if you can share some of those tips with us Amethyst.

    • Brilliant Amethyst! It’s good to increase your chances of being found through SEO but it’s humans who decide whether or not they will return (and that’s what really counts!!)

      • Too true, Caylie. You know our friend who gets all that traffic, too. She has fabulous tips. Not sure if I should post her info here, though, as I’m not trying to steal traffic from this great site. Maybe find me on Facebook and I will tell you? Or Caylie can get permission to spill it here. 😉

  5. Thanks, Caylie. It’s good to know that quality is a priority, and as long as we’re doing our due diligence we’ll stay out of the penalty box. 🙂

  6. Very informative article, especially for someone like me who is just beginning to guest post!

  7. I’ve received some awful pitches for guest blogging from big drug companies and legal firms who are just trying to get their links where-ever they can – and when I dug further because they sounded fishy I was horrified to see how many people they duped.

    This is a good thing and hope it doesn’t affect the real deal guest posts! I like to be a guest and to have people guest post on my blog.

    Could you get geeky on me and explain this section please? 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

    And could say a bit more about backlinks being no-follow – won’t this defeat the object of getting links on other sites?

    Thanks for such an informative post!

  8. Great post!! I’ve been thinking about guest posting and definitely a lot of great information here to think about. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. A well written and informative post guys. I’m very selective about who I let GP on my site (or maybe just fussy). I’ve GPed on several sites, but am pullling back a little, it’s so time consuming to write something decent.

    I agree it’s about not putting all your SEO eggs in one basket and not relying on one tactic to deliver results.


    • Hi Kate,

      I totally agree with what you said about quality posts being time consuming, and really why bother if you aren’t going to do an awesome job!


  10. Caylie, This was so helpful. I don’t have guest posts but so good to know that quality will always rise to the top and Google is helping that happen.

    • True Silvia, for all the conspiracy theories about Google they are definitely doing the right thing with guest posting.

  11. This type of stuff goes right over my head most of the time. Thanks for clearly explaining and laying out the details. I had no idea you could do “nofollow” on links, that’s very helpful!

  12. Thanks for the updated info and helpful coding tips, Caylie!! This can get very confusing at times – especially when things change so often!!

  13. Nathan Brook

    I don’t doubt there will be some kind of penalty on guest posting tactics. I don’t think it will be a sweep against all guest posting as a rule. At the end of the day, the quality is the most important thing.

  14. Thanks, great post. I really like your point of view
    I m going to translate your article into my native language and publish on my blog and hope it’s notproblem for you.
    I find your opinion quite interesting, but the other day I stumbled upon a completely different advice from another blogger, I need to think that one through, thanks for posting


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