With all of the recent hoo-ha over Google penalties for bad link building practices, the SEO world has moved ‘en masse’ over to Guest Posting as a big part of the link building process.
Now, whilst reading the updated webmaster guidelines and specifically the page on link schemes and what constitutes a link scheme one small section jumped out at me:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
“Posts that contain links”
Well, if we look at the full list of things that go against the webmaster guidelines for link building now it is almost like a who’s who of low-end SEO techniques from years gone by directories, forums, link exchange, buying links and now they have sneaked in this ‘exchanging posts that contain links’ line which I think needs a little more examination given the current trend for guest posting.
Is Guest Posting Next?
Is guest posting okay for SEO? Well, as with so many questions about SEO the answer is it depends.
To better illustrate this, let us for a second consider article marketing and sites such as ezine articles. These types of sites allowed anyone to post an article and had an automated system that made sure you only added links at the bottom of the article, that it was a certain length etc. Each article was supposed to be reviewed by the site admins but in reality, the articles going on there were nothing short of gibberish. Computer generated (or spun) versions of articles, English language articles wrote by people with only a loose grasp of the English language. In short, most of the posts on this site, whilst they contained links, were total and utter dirge.
What kind of links matter?
We still know that links are an extremely important part of ranking a site or page and equate for close to 50% of that pages total ability to outperform its peers but just what kind of links matter and move the dial in a positive direction?
If you strip the technical out of this and consider just what kind of recommendations matter to you? Recommendations from friends? Recommendations from known trusted sources? Search engines are exactly no different to this and as their job is to order and organise search results they want to trust recommendations (links) from trusted sources (articles on high-quality sites) that are themselves recommended (linked to) by lots of other trusted sources.
So, are guest posts okay for SEO?
Well, as mentioned above, that depends. It depends on the quality of the post that you are putting out there and whether people will recommend it with social shares or links. It depends on the quality of the site that you are putting the post on and hopefully their strict editorial policies meaning that only posts of a strict quality get posted.
As an example, a little further down the link schemes document, there is a snippet of what they don’t want to see (the links are underlined):
most people sleep at night. you can buy cheap blankets at shops. a blanket keeps you warm at night. you can also buy a wholesale heater. It produces more warmth and you can just turn it off in summer when you are going on France vacation.
If it’s easy, it’s worthless
At the end of this all comes down to one simple fact – if the link is easy to get, if lots of people have links from the same place, if the article never gets ranked, referenced, shared or linked to then… it is probably of a low value and therefore, any link from it is also of a low value.
To flip this on its head, you could in principle have an article on squidoo or ezinearticles or some other low-quality source used purely for link building and that could be a killer piece of content. It then could be well read, shared, linked to and do well in search and that article then may have some actual clout and value and a link from there could work. I would venture that it would be a whole lot less valuable than if the article was put onto a real site with a strict editorial policy for guest posts but the point remains, if that article was valuable then a link from it would provide some benefit.
Get to the point already
Are guest posts okay for SEO? Well, yep, I would say as long as you make sure the post is of a high quality and is posted on a high-quality source and you make sure to work to utilise some sensible anchor text then you will see value from this approach. Likewise, you can apply this kind of thinking to every kind of link, even the lowly directory link has a place where those directories are high quality, used by real people and human edited so only the good stuff gets in.
It’s still all about the links baby
As someone with nearly 12 years experience in one way or another in this SEO game I would have predicted less emphasis on links by now but it certainly seems that is not going to change anytime soon so whilst you do need to play a bit more carefully, you still need links to be competitive you just have to make sure you get the right kind!
Any questions or if you want some help with your link building please drop a comment or get in touch and be sure to (recommend) share and link to this article 🙂
Update – 12th October
Google has just clarified their stance on Guest Blogging and what we say above pretty much hits the nail on the head. The general guideline is to concentrate on quality, don’t treat guest blogging like article marketing and another interesting takeaway which may (or may not) better indicate some underlying algorithmic approach is the talk of article length. So, make it relatively long, make it worthwhile, have something good to say and publish it somewhere where it will be read, shared and linked to and you should be okay.