Matt Cutts (head of Google Web Spam) last night updated the internet on the latest focus for Google’s algorithms. The focus of belt-tightening is now on Guest Blogging.
For anyone who is unsure of what Guest Blogging is…
Guest Blogging is the art of writing an article for another blogger/company/entity online. The term is fairly broad as you could apply the term Guest Blogging to guest writers on industry websites, or in fact freelancers on news sites.
A Quick History Lesson
Guest Blogging has been occurring for years. In the pre apocalyptical landscape that Panda and Penguin created, the value of Guest Blogging was fairly low on the agenda. SEO’s built PageRank (PR) 1, PR2, PR3 + links all the time, mainly focusing on text links rather than content articles. This is because agencies made good profit margins on this type of linking and in truth, it worked.
Shuffle forward closer to the Panda/Penguin updates and the Search industry started to move towards writing content and embedding links in OTHER PEOPLES SITES. I imagine someone reported how it had worked for their website and a premium was added on by agencies for this content writing service (which was often automated, leading to random articles which stuffed random anchor text keywords…)
The process was simple: Create article>Send to blog submission network in random country>Get link
Google realised that in no way was this good for the internet and realised just how much people were trying to circumnavigate their algorithm. They had been monitoring blog networks for a while, and realised that no one EVER READ the blogs which were being placed as the blog sites where very spammy.
With the swipe of a sword (or execution of code) Google de-indexed tens of thousands of blog networks (over 80,000). Business owners cried, agencies went bust and ironically many blogs were written about it.
Some time (and a lot of testing later) SEO’s realised that Google wanted relevant links (they had been saying this for years) and had to find a way of getting them. Blogs which had been previously fired into the online ether started to get placed on websites in a similar industry. The quality of content genuinely increased and (a little) more care was taken in strategy. In theory, this should have been ok…
Google’s Guest Blog Update
It’s never that simple in the world of SEO. Before long, people struggled to write good content. Agencies margins were squeezed due to having to get better writers and their arsenal of outreach techniques struggled.
There was no Creativity.
Agencies started sending out messages (as outlined by Matt Cutts) asking for their content to be placed on other websites. They promised good quality articles, bragged about how they knew what they were doing and preached ethical. They would even pay for the link (as long as it passed PageRank).
Backtrack to the start of this blog entry.
‘Old’ SEO: Place link on website (PR1,2,3,etc) which passes PageRank and pay for Link
‘New’ SEO: Place link on website (PR1,2,3,etc) which passes PageRank and pay for Link
See why they are looking to stop it?
What does this mean for SEO?
Firstly, SEO isn’t dead.
What Matt Cutts (and Google) are saying, is don’t pay for links. If you do guest post, use a NoFollow on the anchor text. If you are Guest Blogging for a genuine reason, you won’t care about passing authority, right?
If you are already doing the above, then great. This will probably mean you have many other good techniques for building natural high quality links. You write good copy, you produce interesting material, you actively engage with users through a creative medium and use Social to tell everybody about it. You are a Content Marketer.
If you don’t do the above, and rely on Guest Blogging or Article submissions, or anything else which you consider “a little dodgy”, then all the best. After Google deindex the Guest Blogs which have helped you to increase authority, and your websites rankings drop, re read this article.
What’s next for SEO?
This will be the start for the next phase of Google changes. I work with lots of bloggers who have really succesful blogs (top 50 in their specialism!). They get DAILY emails from SEO agencies acting on their clients behalf, which go something like this:
Hi XXX we are an amazing agency based in the UK. We see that you are a top [insertbloggertype] and would love you to review our clients product. we will pay you for writing a review on your blog of their product, or alternatively give you X item. All we ask for is a DoFollow Link a couple of times in the article, we could even write the blog for you!!
Lots of Love
See the similarities in ‘review for links’?
My advice is to analyse all of your link building practices. If you can honestly say that “Place link on website (PR1,2,3,etc) which passes PageRank and pay for Link” isn’t part of what you are doing, then you may just be OK.