SEO Strategy or Strychnine?
Guest blogging and Penguin has been a hot content marketing (and SEO) topic. One tactic marketers used was to write content for others to publish in exchange for a link. Links are an important signal to Google and can potentially improve a website’s organic search visibility. Well, earlier this year Matt Cutts lambasted this SEO practice on his personal blog. If that’s wasn’t enough, Penguin 3.0 rolled out less than two months ago. The SEO gloves came off; Google didn’t pull any punches on websites who were trying to manipulate their link profiles.
How It Used to Work
Guest blogging (pre-Penguin algorithm changes) was a way for an SEO to get links. They would pitch an article idea to a Webmaster who managed a site with good search visibility (ranking). Webmasters knew that Google looks for fresh content, it was a relatively easy sell. Within that article was a link back to the author’s or a client’s website. Ok, that seemed fair enough. You write content for me, I’ll let you have a link. It was a respectable practice as long as the content was quality and the association between the two websites were relevant and added valued.
Then the tactic was used more and more by SEOs looking to game the system to get better and faster rankings. Then Google figured out that the content wasn’t quality; and the guest bloggers were recycling material just for the purpose of collecting links. Then came a Penguin.
Smacked by a Penguin
In 2012 Google responded to guest blogging with Penguin — an algorithm change aimed to decrease search visibility for websites who were participating in link schemes. According to the guidelines set forth in Webmaster Tools, violations include behavior that manipulates inbound or outbound links from a website. The quality guidelines go on to cite these examples:
- Buying or selling links. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging good or services for links; or sending someone a free product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
According to Search Engine Land, if your site was hit by the latest version of Penguin you have to wait until the next release to see if you’ve redeemed yourself. There was a year between the Penguin 2.0 and 3.0. Yikes, that’s a long time to wait in limbo. However according to Google sources, they are working on a system that allows for refreshes to occur more frequently.
Guest Blogging, Penguin or Panda Style
What’s the impact to guest blogging (Penguin style) and content creation? The days are gone when you try to peddle yourself as a guest blogger to various websites in the hopes of getting links. Large-scale campaigns are simply a no-no especially for marketers who respect the wrath of Google. Building unnatural link profiles is a kiss of death. Google is handing out 400,000+ manual penalties to websites every month. Yet Grey Hat SEOs are still up to their old tricks. We get at least 10 solicitations a month. As a response we send them links to Matt Cutts videos, Google’s quality guidelines and our own posts that explain why it’s a dangerous practice.
Is there any guest blogging practice that’s ok? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is:
- As a byline on an industry or association site where it’s clear why you are a guest content contributor.
- The article is unique and doesn’t appear anywhere else on the web.
- It’s relevant to your business and industry.
As you can tell by the above recommendations, this is not a mass-marketing approach. It is targeted and used sparingly. It is done to add value. It is done when you have a legitimate and ongoing alliance with another website.
What’s your opinion about guest blogging, Penguin 3.0 and Google squashing link schemes?
How can we help?
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