On January 20th, Matt Cutts posted his famous rant against guest blogging. He’d just received a spammy email from someone asking to write a post for his blog …in exchange for a link.
I guess Matt Cutt’s blog is a bad target for link building. Who knew?
Matt’s response was loud and clear: “Stick a fork in it. Guest blogging is done.” The reaction from the SEO community was immediate. As a tactic, guest blogging fell out of favor instantly.
Or did it? It’s been six months now. Is “guest blogging done” as Matt declared? Let’s take a look at the state of the tactic…
Did Google Really Take Action?
Yes. On March 19th, Ann Smarty’s My Blog Guest was penalized and de-indexed from Google. It has not been restored and traffic is down.
But it was widely speculated to be a PR move on Google’s part, intended to send a message to the SEO community. Aside from this, there have been no solid evidence of penalties, manual or otherwise.
Have Authorship Changes Affected Guest Bloggers?
Yes, the removal of author’s Google+ profile pictures and circle counts from search results on June 25th has potentially reduced the visibility of high ranking guest posts. But the (relatively unknown) Author Stats report in Google Webmaster Tools is still available.
Just log into GWT using your G+ login and look under “Labs.” Reviewing my own Author Stats, impressions are steady, but clicks are down about 10% since the change.
Are bloggers still writing guest posts?
Yes. We did a survey of 1000+ bloggers and asked about guest blogging. We defined “guest posts” as posts written for sites other than you own. The data shows that most bloggers are writing guest posts.
Only 42% are writing exclusively for their own sites. About 5% of bloggers publish most of their content on other websites.
So did guest blogging actually decline?
If so, not much. Clearly, search volume for the phrase “guest blogging” hasn’t died.
Judging from my inbox, not much has changed.
- As a website owner, I’ve seen no decline in the volume of the kind of automated spam emails that Matt received on that fateful day.
- As a blogger, I’ve seen no decline in requests to provide content to blogs.
Why didn’t it decline?
Put simply, it’s effective. But like any SEO tactic, if you’re just doing it for links, it’s probably not great marketing. When done right, guest blogging is about PR, branding and connecting with a new audience.
Matt recognized this in an addendum to his rant.
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.
Guest blogging survives because it’s awesome. It’s creative. It’s social. It’s collaboration. That’s why it’s a brilliant way to promote content. One side brings an audience, the other brings the content.
“I never gave much credence to Matt’s “stick a fork in it” post,” said Stoney deGeyter. “The problem is that junk posts are junk posts, regardless if they are guest posts or not. Ultimately, Matt tipped Google’s hand by letting us know they still can’t effectively weed out this junk algorithmically. So instead, they manually go after guest blog posts networks? What about the quality posts? Don’t those matter? What Google did was to penalize intent rather than the outcome. It’s not about the quality but rather the intent of the one posting. If they write great content via a guest blog network, that’s a greater sin than writing crappy content outside of the network. I don’t think that helps Google’s cause,” concluded deGeyter.
BONUS! SEO Tip for People Who Hate Guest Blogging: Get Interviewed.
Maybe you’ve quit guest blogging because you think it’s lost it’s SEO value. You suspect that links in author bios are devalued. Or maybe the value of links in the content is devalued if it goes to the same domain as the links in the author bio.
Here’s a tactic for you: get interviewed. An email interview gives you contribute content to authority websites (and potentially include links) without leaving a trail in the author bio.
Interviews are conversations. Conversations start with introductions. Here are a few ways to introduce yourself to leading bloggers.
- Ask the blogger to share their favorite post with you. Every blogger is proud of something they’ve written and they’ll be happy to send it along.
- Offer to interview them. Most people will accept immediately. Here are five types of email interviews that work well.
- Make a YouTube video, introducing yourself and offering to collaborate. You cut through inbox clutter. You also might blow their mind.
Nurture that relationship into a collaboration on content. When it starts to grow into a friendship, interview opportunities are close behind.