Matt Cutts' blog post on The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO sent waves through the online marketing world. His point was simple: if you're guest blogging strictly for links, you're in bad company. However, many readers misunderstood Cutts' article as a complete condemnation of guest blogging. One of his statements from the first iteration of his article seemed to reinforce this by saying "So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it's just gotten too spammy."
However, Cutts later updated the title of his post and added another comment to clarify: "I'm not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.)... I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to "guest blogging" as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I'd recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reases out and offers you a guest blog article."
What's important to recognize here is that guest blogging has long been, and will continue to be, a legitimate and extremely powerful tactic for any marketer for a wide variety of reasons, some of which Cutts acknowledges. I've long been a strong proponent of guest blogging and will continue to be; this very article is a guest blog post. I've even claimed that guest blogging is The One Addiction You Need to Develop As a Business Owner.
Rather than dumping guest blogging entirely, Cutts is telling website owners to stop accepting spammy guest blogs from anonymous people on their websites. He's not telling marketers that they should stop guest blogging (as long as they're not solely doing it for inbound links). Cutts' message reinforces the importance of choosing publications for guest blog outreach with care. Any site that you write for is likely to be scrutinized in some form in connection with your search rankings and Google Authorship profile.
In my article discussing The Top 5 Benefits of Guest Blogging which I published in April of 2013, I noted the following primary benefits:
- Inbound links
- Social Media Growth
In another article I published, I outlined more benefits, including:
- Builds and strengthens Author Rank
- Builds brand awareness
- Associates your brand with the brands Google (and your target marketing) already know and love
- Drives high-quality leads and website traffic
- Generates social signals
I stand by all those benefits, but I predict that, as Google continues to refine its search algorithm, Google will begin to negate the PageRank value of links on a page that point to the author's own website. This is one reason, I believe, why Google is pushing its Authorship initiative so heavily; Google needs to know more about who authors are so they can accurately discount their links (among other reasons). For example, links on this page that point to AudienceBloom.com (my website) might soon lose their PageRank value. Maybe they already have. But that's no big deal. I'm not going to stop contributing guest blogs whether or not that's the case. The other benefits are still real, alive, and well.
And to be honest, the readership, exposure, brand awareness, brand alignment, and website traffic that results from this article are far more valuable than the PageRank from the links.
So, is guest blogging dead? Should you stick a fork in it? No. Should you stop doing it solely for the purpose of building inbound links? Yes. Don't engage in guest blogging simply because you want inbound links. Instead, do it for the many other benefits that it will bring to your business.
Link building is still extremely important; it's one of the three pillars of SEO and should be a focus of your online marketing campaign. While guest blogging can no longer be considered a tactic for acquiring inbound links, there are lots of other ways to build links. Here are 8 Ways to Build Links when Guest Blogging isn't Possible. For more resources related to link building, see this collection.
In the end, building links is really about engaging in a strategic content marketing campaign. That means publishing awesome content, both on your website and off your website. Great content attracts links, clicks, traffic, leads, and sales. It also builds your brand awareness, image, credibility, authority, and loyalty. So, instead of thinking about building links, think about building your brand. And don't give up on guest blogging entirely; just don't accept low quality guest blogs on your website, and don't engage in guest blogging solely for inbound links.