To Guest Post or Not to Guest Post?

| Posted in Copywriting, SEO by

Google’s gone update mad and search engine marketers are scampering to keep up. Black hatters are being shown the door and white hatters are watching them leave in smug satisfaction. Some of them at least because, as was bound to happen, some black hatters are still gaming the system and some white hatters have been unduly penalised.

The one constant is the importance of links – it’s the manner in which links are obtained that has changed. Guest posts are as good as it gets these days because they build links ‘naturally’.

The inverted commas are there because guest posts look natural but they can also be manipulated, exchanged and otherwise used in dodgy ways.

The problem with guest posts

Now that guest posts are all the rage, everyone and his uncle is writing them. Unfortunately, not everyone and his uncle can write more than one or two coherent sentences at a time. It’s worse when people outsource their writing. Alas, while they come across as literate in their emails it seems that the people who write for them come from countries where English is not the first language. And while the efforts are admirable (how many English writers can pen fluent and flowing articles in Indian?) they aren’t nearly good enough for publication.

The other problem is that some people will publish these travesties of writing just to get content on their sites or in exchange for their blog posts (even if their posts are well written). The result is a sea of bad content flooding the net and a bad reputation for guest post writers.

Google’s view

Search Engine Journal published a video released by Google’s Matt Cutts, expressing Google’s views on guest posts. So, are guest posts worth it? Yes and no.

  • Firstly, they need to be well written – this is non-negotiable.
  • Secondly, the need to be relevant to the sites that they end up on.
  • Thirdly, they can’t be too short. Don’t slap together a 200-word blog post and hope for the best. Even 400 words might not be enough to get you the attention you deserve. Basically, Cutts says that the longer the posts the better.
  • Fourthly, make good use of Google Authorship. Anonymous writers won’t get very far; recognised authors provide much better value.

Something that Google doesn’t mention, but which is still very important is duplicate content. Don’t do it. Put everything you write and receive through tools like Copyscape to see if there is any duplicate content. If you’re looking at more than 7% then you need to rewrite it or send it back for a rewrite.

To answer the original question, write and accept guest posts by all means. But, be discerning. If you wouldn’t read it if you came across it during a random search then politely decline to put it on your site. The penalties (from Google and the public) aren’t worth the meagre link you’ll get in return.


(Image credit: Cortega9 (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)



  1. Posted October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Good post Sandy. Guest posts are definitely a very fine balance these days.

    On the one hand you want to scale up your link-building, but doing this without shooting yourself in the foot long-term is trickier than ever (with that said it’s always been tricky haha).

    Could you include a link to that video that you mention on SEJ? I must have missed it.

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