Has Google killed guest blogging?

Photo by Kirsty AndrewsThe keener eyed of you might raise an eyebrow that a guest blogger is tackling this topic, but over the past week guest blogging has come once again under scrutiny.

The industry chatter about the risks of guest blogging has been getting louder for more than a year. The first the warning shot was fired by Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts with his decay and fall of guest blogging post. Three months later and after a host of website penalties, it had become clear that guest posting was indeed a major risk if undertaken for the objective of SEO.

Then, My Blog Guest was hit with a penalty and completely de-indexed.  The experts started debating if all the publishers that signed up to the service would be hit too.

So should you do guest posting and is it risky?

In short, guest blogging is fine if done for PR purposes and at my company we still recommend guest posting and comment pieces to our clients. It can drive a lot of traffic, reach niche audiences, improve brand awareness and generally be of great use to your audience.  You have nothing to fear if you use it wisely. Guest blogging can also provide SEO benefits, but just make sure that optimisation is not your number one objective.

What are the signs of risky guest blogging tactics?

Risky guest blogging is pretty easy to spot. Here are some signs to check to see if your next guest blog is worth it.

Are you only doing guest blogging and nothing else?

If you only do guest blogging and don’t do any other activity which builds links naturally to your site then the chances are your website sticks out like a sore thumb. This might not mean an automatic penalty, but it could be a risk.

Are you using non-brand anchor text on links?

The chances are if you are using commercial anchor text (i.e. the product category on a link instead of the business name) then you might be running the risk of a penalty. Since 2011 it has been a bad idea to use anchor text anything but very sparingly. Anchor text manipulation is very easy to spot so don’t over do it. Or even better, avoid using anchor text all together.

Are you guest blogging solely for SEO purposes?

Guest blogging solely for SEO purposes is against Google’s terms of use. First and foremost you should be guest blogging to reach the audience of that blog and not to manipulate Page Rank.  If the answer is yes then be very careful or be prepared for a slap from the Google gods.

Do the blogs you target only take guest posts and little else?

There are lots of exceptions to this rule, but the chances are that if a blog only does guest posts from hundreds of different authors, rather than regular contributors, the website might be risky.

Is there low social engagement on the blogs?

Coupled to point three in this list, if the site takes lots of guest blog posts AND has low social engagement then it’s probably low quality and might do more harm than good.

What does the link profile of the guest blog posts look like?

Don’t forget to run the blog through an industry tool and look at its trust metrics. For example use MajesticSEO’s Site Explorer to see if the trust flow is low or if it is much lower than its citation flow.

James Crawford is the managing director of PR Agency One