“Guest posting is a white hat SEO technique.”
If you have been living with this notion all this while, let me break the myth for you.
Any form of intentional link building done at scale is against Google’s guidelines and is marked as spam. That includes “contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts” often used as a disguise to build backlinks at scale.
Don’t believe me? Here is Google’s official take on what it considers as spam:-
Why this discussion on Guest Posting?
Guest posting, when done right, is a great way to boost your traffic as well as SEO value.
Not only do you leverage someone else’s traffic but you also end up generating a backlink for your website.
Let me clarify, Google approves of this practice if done keeping the above steps in mind (read the guideline again).
While it seems like a pretty straightforward and logical thing to do, the hard truth is that spammers have turned guest posting into, well a spammy activity.
Here’s a typical reply you get when you approach a website with a guest post request:-
If you go by Mathew Woodward’s guest blogging insights, 58% of his guest post database asks for payment to place a guest post.
A similar study by Ahrefs done way back in 2018 points to the same fact: 52% of the people they reached out to for guest post request asked for payment.
Did you get a hunch of the quantum of spam that’s happening?
So what’s Google doing to websites recently?
Guest posting has become such a big spam that Google has already started taking action to nip this tactic.
Increasingly, I have started seeing webmasters getting manual warnings from Google. Here’s one such case below.
Good thing (for the website owner) was that Google disabled only the value of backlinks originating from this website.
Across all such cases I have read, there’s absolutely no impact on rankings or traffic. But Google is unpredictable and you never know what’s coming up next.
If you are a publisher, you are definitely at risk if:-
- You don’t vet out the websites that you link out to as part of the guest post attribution.
- The guest post doesn’t align with the needs of your audience.
- You publish only guest posts and nothing else on your website.
- You specifically mention your guest post charges on your website.
If you are a marketer, Google algorithms are already keeping a watch on you. It’s great if you haven’t been penalized yet, but there’s no guarantee for it not happening in the future.
As a marketer, you risk of getting noticed by Google gets significantly high if you are following the below mentioned practices:-
- You have been using guest posting as a method to build links at large (Google doesn’t specify the definition of “large”, but I assume it’s more than just the volume of backlinks. It may include the velocity of link acquistion or the spread of authroity of backlinking websites).
- Your guest posts are not unique or great. At worse, they are shallow or another repetition of the same old stuff.
- You use anchor rich text within the guest posts, plus you are building links for the same set of keywords/pages.
- The websites linking back to you are not diverse (in terms of authority). All backlinks coming are from high authority websites.
How to create a Google proof guest blogging strategy?
Please understand that I am not discouraging you to do guest blogging.
My only suggestion is to be really thoughtful when you get something out on a 3rd party website.
And if you are the 3rd party website, you need to be cautious before you allow anyone to leverage your website authority.
While the purpose of this post is not to teach you how to do guest blogging, let me talk about a few guidelines that should be your North Star.
Here’s a recommendation from John Muller on how to backlink from within guest posts.
As Google tightens its guidelines for guest post publication, it’s time to be extra cautious (both as a marketer and as a publisher).
Rather than involving payments, build relationships with bloggers/webmasters. Understand their success KPIs and pitch for guest posts that can help them achieve it.
And as a bonus for reading this article till the end, here’s a link to the Facebook post where you will find more than 300 real Facebook users offering their website for guest posting.
Don’t forget to comment about your approach to guest posting.