Why Guest Posting and Blogging is a Slippery Slope

Why Guest Posting and Blogging is a Slippery Slope

Sarah: Howdy Moz fans. This is Sarah Bird,
and I am the new CEO and that’s why I am doing Whiteboard Friday. Today, we’re going to talk
about guest blog posting because that’s SEO. Okay, so the first thing you have to do is
think of something [Rand guides Sarah aside] … Sarah to Rand: But I’m the new CEO, and that
means I do the … Rand: Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another
edition of Whiteboard Friday, which I will still be doing for, well for a very, very,
very long time to come I hope. Today I wanted to tackle a tricky topic. I know it’s going
to be a controversial one because a lot of folks in the SEO space do a lot of guest posting
and guest blogging, but there’s a challenge here. So I made some predictions last week,
a couple weeks ago now, in the new year about what 2014 will bring. One of those is that I predicted that Google
will be taking some webspam action, essentially the Webspam Team will be building an algorithm
to target guest posters, people who do a lot of guest posting and a lot of guest blogging
at scale to get links back to their site in order to rank. This is a very common strategy
that many, many folks use, and here’s why it’s a slippery slope. So oftentimes we start up, up here. You’re
sort of super white hat, and “Oh, yeah you know I’ve got some great stuff to share, but
my site doesn’t get all that much traffic so maybe I should go and see if Huffington
Post or Mashable or maybe the Moz Blog or any of these sources will take it because
I have a great post.” Hey, what do you know? A lot of the time if
you have something relevant and useful and great to say and you have some great ideas
to share, some great visuals, some data, fantastic. You can get those guest posts on those big
sites. Then you start to slide down the slope a little. You think, “Oh, yeah, that Huff
Post piece went really well, and hey, I got a link. I got a live link out of it. Maybe
that link will help me rank a little better, boost my authority, and I don’t know, that’s
kind of nice. I should do some more guest posts and get more links. Maybe I’ll find
some sites that can send me some traffic and boost my profile and authority out in the
sphere and get a few more links.” This is still totally, pretty much fine, pretty
much okay. But then you slide down this little slope. There’s this devious little part right
here, between the I’m doing this for kind of authority boosting and traffic sending
reasons and I’m just doing this for the link. So you slide down the slope, and then you
get, “Oh, man, finding decent sites that will take my guests posts is really hard, and I
keep having to write really good stuff and come up with new ideas because they all want
unique content. You know what? Maybe I’ll just start going to any places that I can
go where I’ll get a link. Then eventually you slide down into this sort of total black
hat territory where you are, “You know, I bet I could scale this and even automate it.
I’m going to use a team of outsourced writers, and I’m going to use a team of outsourced
placement specialists. I’m going to write some little thing to scrape through the links
I download from OSC from my competitors and scrape through the Google results and find
any place that’ll take a guest post, who’ve taken five or more with spammy anchor text
before, because that’s what I want.” Oh, brother. That’s why I call this the guest
posting slope of madness. Madness! It is madness, because think about what happens here. Essentially
you’re going down this slope, and maybe you’re seeing results, more and more results, but
you don’t know whether these links and these links that you’ve slid down into are actually
really helping you or whether the authority and the profile that you’ve built from these
good ones and all the other good marketing activities and the things your product is
doing and your brand is doing are helping you, and you might think these are. So you
keep doing them and then bam! You get smacked by a Penguin or the guest posting algo or
whatever it is that comes next, and you have to go and try and get these folks to remove
all these links, you have to disavow them, you’ve got to send your reconsideration requests,
you’re out of the search results for weeks or months at a time, usually months, sometimes
years. What have you done to your site? What have
you done to your SEO? What if you had taken all this effort and energy and put it into
just doing this stuff and then once you built up this authority doing most of the posting
on your own site where people would be linking to you? One of the frustrating things about guest
posting that people forget all the time is that when you are putting content somewhere
else, especially if that’s good content, especially if it’s stuff that’s really earning traffic
and visibility, that means all the links are going to somebody else’s site. Somebody else
is earning most of the attention awareness, and granted some of that is transferring on
to you and that’s why we do guest posting. But you have to be aware of that, and that
leads me into some flawed assumptions. Flawed assumption number one: More links are
always better. This is not the case. This is not the case. I have seen many, many sites
with just a few, a handful, a few dozen to a few hundred great links far outranking their
brethren with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of links. All links
are not created equal. Less editorial restriction is better. When
you’re guest posting you’re like, “Oh, they’re so picky, these editors. Man, they want me
to jump through all these hoops. Let me find some place that’ll just take whatever I’ll
throw them.” Guess what? If they take whatever you’re throwing them, they’re taking whatever
the rest of the Internet is throwing them, and we all know what the rest of the Internet
looks like. Number three: The link matters more than other
factors, other factors like traffic and influence and credibility. Also not the case. I’ll be
totally honest. I will take a great guest post that refuses to link to me or that only
no follow links to me if I know that 5,000 or 10,000 people are going to read that piece
and a few hundred people are going to re-tweet it and a few hundred people are going to like
it on Facebook, because that is boosting my influence and my authority, and that is creating
all kinds of things that will have second order effects that impact my SEO and my broad
web marketing far better than just a link. When should you guest post and blog? Well,
like I said, if you’re trying to reach that new audience, that new audience that another
site or page or blog has captured, great. Guest posting is a wonderful choice. For example,
let’s say here at Moz we’re trying to reach into the design community. We might go to
some wonderful web design sites, Smashing Magazine, for example, and say, “Hey. Would
you guys want maybe a good resource on SEO for designers?” They might say, “Yeah, great
we’d love you.” Perfect. That’s a perfect marriage there. In addition to creating a relationship with
another organization through content, I also love this. This is a great way to build some
early stages of relationship with another company before you do a formal partnership,
and it helps to see whether there’s kind of an overlap between your two organizations’
audiences, such that you might want to do a deeper kind of relationship, maybe a sponsorship
or an investment together, project or product together. Quick note here. For your marquee content,
your best stuff, I strongly — see how I’ve underlined strongly — strongly suggest using
your own site. Reason being, if you’re going to put wonderful stuff out there, even if
you think it could do better on somebody else’s site, in the long term you want that to live
on your own site. The last note I’ll make is that Google’s Webspam
Team has been telegraphing for nearly a year that they are coming after sites that are
using guest posting tactics at scale. You’ve heard comments from Google’s Head of Webspam,
that’s Matt Cutts. You’ve seen comments on the Google Webmaster blog. You’ve heard them
talk about it at conferences. If you’re not getting the message, they are sending it directly
to all of the folks in the SEO world that guest posting and guest blogging are targets
for webspam in the future. So just be very, very careful please and stay
up and don’t fall down this slippery slope. All right everyone, thanks so much. Take care.

11 thoughts on “Why Guest Posting and Blogging is a Slippery Slope

  1. Guest Posting is great, but it's also precarious.
    What you need to know before implementing this strategy. #blogging  

  2. I'm continually amazed by how many people think guest blogging was invented by the SEO and link building community.  Guest blogging was here long before link building was and it is still one of the best ways to get on a bigger stage than your own to get in front of your best prospective visitors and customers.  It had nothing to do with SEO when it started, and it has nothing to do with it NOW, so there is nothing to be declared "dead" by Cutts or anyone else.  

    Guesting is a way to put some of your best content on someone's high traffic site in front of their readers to attract them DIRECTLY to your site, social, or products.  Period.  End of story.  

    What Matt Cutts declared dead was spamming.  NOT guest blogging!

  3. can someone please explain to me how writing a post without acquiring a backlink helps your influence? Sorry if it's a stupid question I'm not being a smart ass I'm here trying to learn this game. Thanks in advance.

  4. I recently got the opportunity to guest post on the french Huffington Post (Im a photographer) I wanted them to use an intro of my text, and then link back to my website so people car read the full blog post. They ended up actually using the entire post. So now, my content exist twice on the web. I can't ask the Huffpost to change it, since its already posted. Should I take it down from my website? Thank you so much for your great content!

  5. I might be viewed as a pariah for saying this but I blame ESL bloggers. Y'know, where the "articles" they produced or spun or whatever were clearly NOT from a native English speaker. (I won't say "wrote". Notice I said spun or produced. It would be sacrilege to say ESL "writers" are writers — these ESL types simply can't hold a candle to the skills of a native English speaker in nearly 100% of all cases. I'd say 99.999999%) And it's funny (funny in a positive way/a feather in Moz' cap) that this video was only weeks before the March 2014 Matt Cutts hammer came down.

  6. Good Content is not what Google wanths ! I have tried with one client website. Hard work with good content and verry good links, but the website was not ranking like other websites with NO CONTENT, SPAM DUPLICATE CONTENT, ETC! Competitors are using Black SEO and they will be in top. They get the website penalized … they build a new one and so on !

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