The ‘End’ of Guest Posting

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) changes quickly; what you knew last week might already be out of date. It changes quickly because the web changes quickly; Google has to react to explosions of activity – both positive and negative – as well as continually refining its search algorithms to optimise their users’ experiences.

Earlier this year, Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts sent the Internet into a frenzy with an announcement on his blog in which he declared that:

“If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Cutts has been foreshadowing this statement for quite some time; his blog post even charts the spiral of bad practice that has led to Google taking such a dim view of this outreach-based strategy. But here he urges caution in no uncertain terms – basically, blog posts are now like press releases: they’re still a good idea in a traditional marketing sense, for building brand awareness, spilling traffic and growing authority – not building links to your website.

Not quite the end of guest posting, then, but the basic lesson is to not worry about the links. I’ve been analogizing link targets with hospital waiting time targets. If you run the hospital, you don’t rush people through the door untreated; you don’t just rely on the existence of targets to drive the time down; you don’t lower your standard of care. You improve your efficiency properly, and methodically and maintain best practice. If your link-building is just target-based, you’ll be in A&E before you know it. Analyse your processes and your systems and your tactics, and optimize those things, and you’ll be on your way.

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