When it comes to blogging and link building there are a handful of effective ways to make connections while enhancing your marketing strategy. Outreach emails, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and collaborating are all great ways to broaden your reach and presence within an industry. But like many other long-standing practices, some people have abused the practice of guest posting and raised red flags to Google that there may be too much of a good thing circulating.
In late May, Google issued a formal warning about shady guest posting practices. In it, they discuss the notable increase they’ve seen in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated post.
While they clarify that guest posting isn’t at all a bad thing when it informs or educates users to another cause or company, they also reiterate Google’s guidelines on link schemes. Link schemes, as referred to as the main intent to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site, are a violation of those guidelines when taken to an extreme.
Included in this article were a few specific examples of practices that violate Google’s guidelines:
- Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
- Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
- Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
- Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)
The warning then goes on to encourage sites accepting and publishing guest posts to ask questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?
Quick Dos and Don’ts for Guest Posting
There are always ways to abuse a respected practice, but this warning doesn’t mean you have to abandon your guest posting strategy altogether. Rather, it simply means that content distributors should keep their guest posting practices clean, spam-free, and honest in their intent. To do that effectively, here are a few quick dos and don’ts for your guest posting strategy.
Do be transparent: Be clear about why you’re pursuing guest posts. This might involve you saying something like, “Hey, I think this article I wrote really fits the message of your website well and is something your audience would enjoy.” If you can’t be transparent about why you’re seeking a guest post, then you probably should be pursuing the opportunity.
Do provide quality content: If you’re trying to guest post on another website, it should be your best content. The same goes for featuring guest posts on your website. Remember, Google rewards quality content that provides the best value for users. Low-quality content almost never performs well or is recognized by Google.
Don’t outsource your guest posts: You shouldn’t be sourcing your guest posts from a content farm or broker, firstly because it’s dishonest to the featuring website and secondly because it’s missing the point of guest posting entirely. Write your own guest posts and do them well.
Don’t be spammy about guest posting: Google’s guidelines on this couldn’t be clearer. Don’t keyword stuff or spam the internet with an article by having it published across multiple websites, or it will likely end up marked as spam.
It’s always important to remember that you’re trying to build relationships, not just links. While having a featured guest post certainly has its benefits in terms of SEO, it’s also important to pursue opportunities that have a long shelf life. By broadening your network through productive and mutually beneficial relationship, the rest of the link building and guest posting opportunities will follow.