The Rise and Fall of the Guest Blog

Head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts, caused a stir recently when he suggested that one of the mainstays of SEO marketing, the guest blog, was on its deathbed.

Matt opens on his own blog with: “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

He blamed a descent into endless spamming as the cause, adding: “We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking ‘guest post outsourcing’ and writing articles about ‘how to automate guest blogging’.”

The history of the guest blog

The usefulness of guest blogging quickly became apparent with Google’s algorithm for rewarding solid links to and from reputable sites. Link building became an industry in itself and guest blogs were the ideal medium to get them out there.

spam linksThe problem arose because link building was suddenly the raison d’être rather than a useful add-on.  Guest blogging became about blog volume and the number of links you could squeeze in rather than about content quality.

There were sections of the marketing fraternity who were only too happy to supply this specialist service – some would say to the denigration of the marketing community itself. They developed content producing programs that could farm out hundreds of blogs strewn with links at the press of a button. It all got messy and the quality quotient dropped. Dramatically.

The consequence of this was that guest blogging got a bad reputation, certainly within marketing circles.

The future of the guest blog

Fortunately for those who believe that the guest blog has a future, help is on the way. The search engine is evolving, becoming ever more sophisticated. Google is introducing and working on search algorithms that reward good content rather than links.

Matt Cutts was, of course, talking about the death of what many call spam blogging. To those who see marketing as an industry of skilled and talented professionals, the last rites are welcome and, to many, long overdue.

quality guest blogs

Good guest blogging has always been valuable and will remain so. There is still a need for quality, well-written content that is relevant to its target audience. A worthwhile guest post may well have an eye on marketing and brand promotion, but it is primarily informing, entertaining, serious or witty, but, above all, meaningful to the reader.

A number of comments to Matt Cutts’ blog entry were from bloggers who had been contacted to host guest posts. Believing they were going to get something interesting and valuable for their readers, instead they invariably received poorly written articles containing multiple and often dubious links. Among these professional bloggers there is a sense of relief that the spam blog may have had its day.

It’s good news for that large band of talented writers out there who have seen their skills degraded by spam blogging over the years. It’s also good news for all the companies who depend on their services to enhance their brands.

If we are truly moving away from a dependence on link building to more meaningful content, then the guest blog is set to thrive again. It may have to compete with a multi-channel approach but there is no doubt that a well-placed series of guest posts can add value to any marketing campaign.

We have featured a number of related guest blog posts on our website over the years and we will continue to seek articles of interest and relevance to our readers. If you have a contribution for the blog then please submit your article to sales@thelasthurdle.co.uk – minus the spam links of course.

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In this article we refer to an article by Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webspam Team, you can read his full article on guest blogging on his own blog 


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