Back in January, Matt Cutts (head of Google Web spam) told everyone that guest blogging is dead. What did he mean by this and is it really the end of guest blogging as we know it?

First off, let's explain what guest blogging is for those who are a little confused.

I'll assume you know what a blog is, yes? You should have a blog on your site right now, if you don't then you should get one (here's why) and make sure you write something regularly to keep people coming back to it. However sometimes it's useful to get someone else to write for your blog on a subject they're particularly knowledgeable about. Likewise, someone might want you to write on their blog about something you're pretty good at. This is called guest blogging and it's a fairly amicable and nice process. Lovely.

If these blogs are high quality and chock full of great content then everybody wins and usefully, you'll get a great link from somebody else's website and that's surely a good thing. However, as with most things in the SEO world, some people come along and spoil the party with their dodgy methods and spammy shenanigans. For a long time now there have been plenty of people who have realised that this is not only a good way to get links but also a great way to increase rankings and they've been abusing the system somewhat.

Getting guest posts on some blogs has been way too easy and there have been a number of websites that actively encourage people to submit posts. Some sites have even sprung up that act as directories and gateways to lots of guest blogging opportunities. A blogging directory isn't necessarily a bad thing, but quality has fallen drastically and in some cases become spammy. It's obvious in some cases that the blogs are simply there for links and so this prompted Matt Cutts to announce:

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.

But what does “doing a log of guest blogging” mean?

As with all things from Google, there's ambiguity all over the statement because surely he's not saying “stop all guest blogging”? People are still doing it, check out http://searchenginewatch.com/ and click on the authors, they're nearly all guest posts. So what's the difference here?

Disclaimer hat on…

It has to be remembered that Google changes its mind with alarming regularity. They obviously say they don't, but they do, and when they do it could end up with you losing a lot of rankings so here's what we believe right now is the best thing to do about guest blogging.

The first thing is, if it's easy to get a guest blog gig then it's probably not worth doing it. The way to get your posts on to another blog is to make sure it's good content and the guy checking needs to have a good vetting procedure. That means that if you just rock up to a blog, contact the owner and say “hey, can I post some stuff” only to be told “yeah, fill yer boots”, it's likely that the blog isn't very good and full of bad content.

The same applies to your site. If you get people asking to post guest articles on your blog and you just let anyone in without vetting, expect to have a lot of very poor content posted and for it to affect your own ranking. But there's worse. If you're a part of one of these big networks that automatically allows people to post on your blogs, then beware because Google is now going after them protectively.

So what can you do?

First of all, guest posting has a lot of value, just not as a way of just getting links. One of the things Google wants you to do is to reach out to people and make sure you're seen as the authority in whatever niche you find yourself in. This can mean guest blogging. However, choose good quality sites only and make sure they have a decent vetting procedure. Also make sure they're relevant to your marketplace. It's absolutely no good posting about car maintenance if the blog is generally all about Internet marketing.

Keep these things in mind:

  • A good blog will have quality guidelines and good vetting procedure
  • It will be niche specific and not too broad in scope
  • It will already have a lot of top quality writers

For example, I write for Business2Community and you have to show them some good quality articles you've written first before they'll let you write for them.

So is guest blogging dead?

Personally, I don't think so. In fact, with LinkedIn just about to launch its own publishing platform, I'd say that guest posts are going to become very important indeed.