Everyone hates web spam. It does no one any good, save for the spammers’ target sites which may see a temporary (even month’s long) bump in SERP rank, and the spammers themselves who will get another paycheck for doing the dirty work. Like everyone else with a blog, Matt Cutts is tired of it, so he made his disdain of spammy guest blogging as clear as he ever has.
Before you go panicking about the viability of your marketing strategy and whether it should include guest blogging anymore, just read his post. Please.
OK, now that you have his full take on the matter… No, seriously. If you haven’t read it, do that first. I’ll wait. Don’t worry, I can amuse myself…
After Matt’s initial bombshell of a rant– he’s quite a mild mannered fellow so his rants are rather pleasant compared to most– he added a vital clarification after his post received some reaction.
It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. 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.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.
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 reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.
At Content Blvd, we feel exactly the same way. We will manually review and reject dozens of hopeful guest post submissions today, on behalf of the publishers who have installed our Write for Us widget. We also reject account applications from many spammy publishers who have no problem putting up content no one actually wants to read. Why do we bother?
We believe in a better internet, where the best content wins.
In the same exact way that Google’s mission is to deliver the highest quality search results for anyone who chooses Google as their search engine, Content Blvd’s mission is to ensure that any publisher or brand user is compelled to deliver only the best content for their readers. Unfortunately, SEO myths die hard. So do the businesses that claim to be able to get boatloads of awesome contextual links for you. And so do the spam blogs who enable them.
I mean, really, who in their right mind emailed Matt Cutts with a spammy guest post solicitation?!
Someone who doesn’t know better, that’s who. Someone who has a job in a cubicle, probably in another country, who is fed lists of blogs to target, and is getting paid the same, whether it’s an effort that actually improves a client’s SEO or not. That link builder doesn’t care, and he might not even know better. It’s too bad that his employer very likely does know better, but he pitches clients who don’t. He gets clients to trust him and hope that he knows SEO better than they do. And after so many outreach letters, some spam blog says “Yes, I can use that content.”
So they pay to get links. And while they may get the links they ordered, it doesn’t necessarily help their sites at all, and could certainly hurt. Try proving that it did hurt, however, as a marketer who is only a novice SEO. When a site’s SERP rank drops, a powerful argument could be made to double down on industrial-grade link building, as opposed to abandoning it. Give my sympathies to your marketing dollars as they kamikaze themselves at these link building outfits.
What to do? What to do? Here’s what you do:
Stop Guest Blogging Now If…
- You don’t care about your content or whether anyone reads it.
- You have no idea what’s being written on your behalf or where it’s going.
- The target site you’re trying to market isn’t actually worth the links.
- Gaming SEO tactics is the only way you get anyone to your site.
- You obsess over details like anchor text and link placement to cover your tracks.
Continue Guest Blogging If…
- You work hard to share good ideas with readers.
- You respect the publishers who are open to sharing your content.
- Your target site is something consumers would be happy to find.
- SEO is just one source of traffic to your site.
- Your links are from reputable, relevant sites; you’re more concerned about reaching an audience, than about anchor text and linking details.
And Just to Make It Really Easy for You…
As a brand marketer, would you be willing to tell Matt Cutts what you do to market your site? If so, your SEO is likely as pure as newly fallen snow. If not, take a look at your tactics and ask yourself some hard questions about whether your marketing strategy is sustainable. You certainly shouldn’t expect that producing good content will somehow get you found all by itself– being passive about your marketing is not good business– but promoting your site shouldn’t require guerrilla tactics.
The choices you make to actively promote your content, your site and your products do not need to conflict with Google’s desire to serve up the best content for it’s users. Matt Cutts himself has said that any time you attempt to add value to the internet, you’re doing the right thing.
Be a Good Steward of Your Content Ecosystem
When readers go online, they expect to find something worthwhile. Search engines, premium publishers and every smart content marketer is trying to give it to them. Don’t treat your content like throw away SEO spam of yore. There is no use in filling pages with words anymore. It doesn’t work.
Sustainable content marketing is about more than just writing quality stuff, however. It’s about respecting your audience, your peers, and the publishers who help you share your message. Think of it like an ecosystem. To help it provide for you over the long term, you must be a good steward of your content environment.
If you come to Content Blvd as a brand, expect some tough love. We don’t care that you want to pay us– we care that your content is good.
And if you come to Content Blvd as a blog publisher, expect some scrutiny. We don’t care that you’ll publish any and all articles– we care that your site matters to real readers.
In the long run, only the best content can win. In the meantime, we’ll be gobbling up spam content, so our great publishers (and Google) don’t have to.
Image credit: Giphy.com