Spammy guest blogging is dead? Well duh.
I’m amazed at how many people have their knickers in a knot after Matt Cutts’ latest announcement. In case you missed it, Matt’s latest post contained this interesting quote:
In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.
In a word: duh.
I know, I know. People loved the magical link juice guest posting provided. That’s why blog owners receive emails saying, “I’ll write for you in exchange for a backlink.” It was never about connecting with their audience. It was all about getting the link.
Sadly, many site owners turned a blind eye and said, “OK.” They put an unknown writer – a writer they had no prior relationship with – in front of their readers. Why? To fill editorial holes. Because it was “free” content. Because they didn’t know any better.
(Note: I’m not talking about the site owners who researched their writers, carefully reviewed their submissions and insisted on quality writing. And neither is Matt – he makes that very clear in his post. There are a lot of great editors/sites out there that accept quality posts from smart writers. And there are a lot of excellent guest bloggers. They are doing it right. I’m talking about those other folks.) :)
This type of spammy guest blogging reminds me of the “article submissions and spinning” tactics from back in the day. Instead of focusing on quality writing (and quality submissions) people spread their articles around like a virulent word virus. And yeah. We all know how that turned out.
Spammy guest blogging is not marketing. It’s a stupid and short-sighted tactic like putting flyers on every car in a parking lot. After all, when you use the “spray and pray” marketing method, you’re not really targeting your audience, are you?
Is it any wonder that Matt said, “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”
So here are some things to think about:
If you publish a blog, you are a PUBLISHER. And that means you have a responsibility to give your readers the best possible content. If you are accepting blog posts from anyone without doing some due diligence, you are putting your reputation (and now your rankings) at risk. It is far better to run fewer posts than it is to run a bunch of crappy ones. Econsultancy has a great post on how they are looking at this from the publishers’ perspective.
If you are a (quality) guest poster, think “does my audience read this publication” rather than “ooh, this would be another tasty link back to my site.” Write a post that’s laser-focused on that publication, the audience and their needs. Think of guest posting as a marketing play – not an SEO/link building play. After all, isn’t reaching a new audience better than just a link? As Ann Smarty said, “Do marketing AS IF Google didn’t exist.”
And if you’re a (spammy) guest poster, please give up now. Publishers are now on notice that your content will do nothing but get them in trouble. Save yourself (and everyone else) some time and quit sending your, “I will write an original and quality 500-word post in exchange for your back link” emails. Thank you.
Will my blog still accept guest posts? Sure. At the same time, Tracy, my editor, handpicks many of our guest posters. We don’t accept unsolicited posts.
Will I continue to guest blog? Yes. If it makes sense.
Is guest blogging dead? Not necessarily. But doing it just for the SEO play is dead.
I’m so glad.
Photo thanks to Quinn Dombrowski (fliers on cars, taken too far)
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Great article, Heather.
The one statement that really spoke to me was “Do marketing AS IF Google didn’t exist.”
That means several things, but the most important idea that I got was to forget Google and concentrate on your audience, your readers. That is who we all should be writing for, correct?
If we do that, Google will notice and in a good way!
Do rad things people want to write about. The problem w/ that philosophy is most SEOs have no idea how to create anything rad enough to write about.
You are totally right. I think guest posters should do their own research as well. Getting to know how the site you want to publish on is doing and more importantly who is their audience is vital. You should do this in the process of deciding if you want to write for them or not.
What are your thoughts on my wishes to use writing excellent articles for top notch websites as a springboard for seeing if people like what I have to say and want to read it? Should I not try to contact webmasters as a guest writer, seeing as I have no website to promote? How would I best get my written word out there and see what feedback I get so as to improve myself as a writer?
It may make sense for you to build out a freelance writing site before you start to guest post. Quality publishers are going to be pickier than ever about who they choose to guest post. Plus, editors will want to see past work and verify your expertise. Without a site they can review, they may pass you by..and ignore your pitch.
You can *maybe* overcome this with an extremely targeted pitch letter (and some extremely targeted samples.) You could certainly try. However, I know that even the SEO Manager for Brookstone talks about checking out a freelancer’s site before bringing him/her on. He thinks that building a site is a fundamental step for all freelancers.
Besides, having your own site shows people that you’re a professional. And that’s a good thing. :)
“forget Google and concentrate on your audience, your readers. That is who we all should be writing for, correct?” The trouble is, forget Google and your audience won’t find your articles as easily as if they will articles which are are well written and written with Google in mind.
You could argue that there’s little difference between how to write a good article and how to write to optimise your position in search engine results. I’d suggest that many people (myself included) go back and tweak what we’ve written just to improve them even a little bit because of how they might be read by spiders rather than by people.
I agree, @John. SEO copywriting is certainly not dead. And keyphrases are still important. :)
It seems to me that every Google update takes web copywriting away from tired SEO techniques and back to traditional marketing. That’s good news for us all.
Exactly, @Craig. I feel the same way. :)