Guest Blogging Debate: Is It a Good or a Bad Strategy?

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Is guest blogging really dead? The SEO and marketing crowd has been all abuzz about it of late after Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, spoke out against it. According to him, guest blogging is NOT a good strategy for building links to your site in 2014.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”

These are powerful words coming from one of the most respected individuals in the SEO industry and someone who happens to be employed by the world’s largest search engine. Cutts’ recent stance was stimulated after he received an email in which someone pitched him about posting on his blog and offered money to essentially gain links. He equates the behavior with “paying for PageRank” and having others spread spammy links on blogs.

Cutts has been hinting that guest blogging was being frowned upon by Google since 2012, but in recent months, he has voiced his concerns even more:

While Cutts raises some very valid points, there are still questions that arise related to whether guest blogging should no longer be practiced. For instance, what about the majority of the search industry that is guest blogging on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and other industry online publications? To this point, respected news outlets such as Forbes encourage contributing writers.

So, what does this mean? Is guest blogging really invaluable or not?

Though what Matt Cutts says cannot be taken lightly, it is important to think about what a guest post really means for you and your business. The main area that Cutts is concerned about is the poor links, a.k.a. spammy links, that some businesses and brands push for the mere SEO benefit. Again, this does hold merit as the blogosphere has grown. Popular blogs ProBlogger and Copyblogger, to name a couple, have stopped accepting blog posts from unsolicited bloggers.

However, the purpose of guest blogging is not just for the linking benefits. Guest blogging also has marketing benefits. For starters, guest blogging provides a valuable branding opportunity for businesses. It also allows for exposure, targeting a specific audience, community building and lead generation, which are all huge marketing objectives.

Chris Street of Bristol Editor recently saw the benefits of guest blogging prove true after he had a guest post published on Social Media Today:

–          More than 650 shares, Likes and re-tweets across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

–          Nearly 700 visitors to my blog within one day, clicking on this link from the published article

–          A new client signing up from Vancouver for six months’ blog marketing consultancy in 2014

Street also pointed out that his content resided next to social media giants such as Chris Brogan and Brian Solis, which added credibility to both his post as well as his name.

Still, the question remains: is guest blogging good or bad? The short answer is there isn’t a clear cut answer. We’ve heard Matt Cutts speak out against it, and we’ve also heard valid arguments for it. But, if you’re trying to determine whether or not you should pursue it and include it in your marketing plan, think about your business goals.

If you, for example, are only looking for the SEO benefits associated with guest blogging, then you may want to re-evaluate your SEO strategy without incorporating guest blog posts. When Google says it’s cracking down on a certain area, it does. And I, for one, would not want to get on Google’s bad side.

On the flip side, if you look at guest posting more from the marketing standpoint of branding, reach, etc., then you may not want to write off guest blogging completely. You want your marketing efforts – including your SEO strategy – to align, but the other benefits you receive from guest posting could prove greater than the SEO value you may or may not receive.

The best advice for pursuing guest posts is the same advice for content creation on your own blog – make sure you produce high-quality content. If you’re going to reach out to Social Media Today, for instance, your content better be good enough to sit next to the likes of Chris Brogan and Brian Solis.

While it’s likely this debate will continue for some time, when it comes to your next steps, concentrate on your goals and strategies to see what does or doesn’t fit.

Image courtesy of John Watson on Flickr.com.

 

Abby Johnson

Abby brings a unique perspective to the mix because her background consists of both traditional broadcast and public relations to now the world of online. She is very skilled at looking at the big picture and understanding how to get the message across to a particular audience.

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