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Tempest in a Guest Blogging Teapot? (Why Matt Cutts Has ZERO Relevance to REAL Guest Bloggers)

blog-stormSo Matt Cutts started a bit of a firestorm today, with a post on Search Engine Land titled “Stick A Fork In It, Guest Blogging is Done”.

And of course, my being the Freddy Kruger of Blogging and all, I promptly got about a hundred emails from friends and students asking what this means for all of us.

Well,Β I saw the same post, and I’ll be honest… I rolled my eyes a little. πŸ˜‰

The thing is, there are two different kinds of Guest Posting:

  1. The spammy kind that Matt Cutts is talking about, that people use to get backlinks from unsuspecting blogs.
  2. The real kind, that Matt Cutts had nothing to say about, where real bloggers write real content and put it on real blogs to build relationships with real people.

So yes – Matt Cutts is right that the scammy and spammy type of guest post, that blog editors (including us) see dozens of every week, will stop working, and stop being recognized by Google – and good riddance!

(Honestly, I don’t know what took them so long!)

But for real guest posters, like yours truly, and all of our students – well, the guest posting that we do never had anything to do with search engine optimization anyway, and was always about creating good outcomes for bloggers, writers and readers.

And none of that is going to change.

A guest post, when done in the relationship-building way, will still be a great way to:

  • Connect with, and offer value to, other bloggers in your industry.
  • Gain exposure, and capture the interest of a new audience.
  • Provide a trail back to your own space on the web for people who connect with what you had to say.

If those are your goals, then I really don’t believe that a Google algorithm change (or a whole host of link-seeking spambots, for that matter!) are going to make any difference to the good outcomes that you’ll see from getting out there, producing great content and engaging honestly with new audiences.

Anyway, those are my two cents, for what it’s worth.

You can also read Copyblogger’s response to this bit of nonsense, and I also noticed thatΒ Matt has since elaborated his position to make it clear he’s talking about guest blogging for SEO vs. Relationships.

Well, all’s well that ends well. πŸ˜‰

Questions? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer.

About Danny Iny

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is the CEO and founder of Mirasee, host of the Business Reimagined podcast, and best-selling author of multiple books including Engagement from Scratch!, The Audience Revolution, and Teach and Grow Rich.

44 comments

  1. As with a lot of stuff regarding blogging, the folks concerned with creating real, engaging content need not worry at all, because their intentions are made clear through their writing. Likewise for the spam-baiters who would rather fill up an entire column with keywords and non sequitur rubbish than actually sit down and write something of value (that takes time and talent).
    β€˜By their fruit you will recognize them,’ isn’t just a passage in Matthew.

  2. I keep seeing Matt Cutt’s articles (he’s had follow-ups) posted and re-posted on LinkedIn with everybody throwing in the towel and saying, “Okay, we’re done here. No more guest blogging.” The big hang-up is the idea of back links. Apparently having back links to your blog is what gets you in trouble with Google algorithms. So for further clarification, does this mean that when we guest blog on quality sites with quality content, we can’t even include our URL in our signature line? I know I’m missing something vital here. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Danny! I have read through Matt’s article, and he clarified that Google wants to decrease the influence of spammy guest blogging. However, it is not as obvious what is their position regarding relationship-building guest blogging like you, Jon Morrow and his other students promote (and, as someone here said, it is as old as the Bible, and guest-preaching in the synagogues!).

  4. Matt Cutts is to Google and search what Alan Greenspan was to the Fed and financial markets: You can never get a clear answer from either. Greenspan was a lot better at obfuscation, but Matt is learning!

    Either way, I think Google’s “webspam” team is a little overzealous. They have proven in the past that they over-react, bend to pressure, and backtrack. But sometimes it takes MONTHS for them to admit they’re wrong.

    I say: Don’t worry one iota about Google and guest blogging. I agree 100% with you, Danny.

    Outreach is the name of the game. Do it right, and you will reap the benefits – DIRECT traffic from your target audience, while gleaning some authority by association.

    Do it wrong and Google will slap you silly.

  5. There is a lot of publishers and writers using guest blogging to provide us with great content so it would be a huge shame for the whole industry to be penalised. Obviously something needed to be done as it has turned into a spammy tactic for a lot of people but I would hope Google can identify and only target the low quality stuff.

  6. Oh, AND…
    Since when do guests invite themselves? All of mine, I INVITED. What is it with them horning in? Am I confused?
    Well, that was a rhetorical question, I think… πŸ™‚

  7. I do wonder, though, how do I get a guest blogger on my site? By okaying him, right? I mean, how could I not know if it was spammy and not reject it? This part puzzles me. Someone blogs for me and I allow spam?
    Do please explain that part, someone!
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Katherine, hope you don’t mind be jumping in here. The Matt Cutts article is about the value that Google places on links into your site from posts you have written elsewhere. The reason the “SEO Spammers” try to get guest blogging gigs on popular blogs is because they know that (prior to this anouncemet) a link inot your site from an authorative site will give you extra SEO points and push your site up the rankings. Most bloggers who want to build a good reputation wouldnt dream of allowing anyone to write poor quality rubish on their site and allow links out to the spammers site. However there are a large number of sites that are not really bothered about reputation in that way, they just want “content” to try to improve thier rankining. Google is trying to make this less worthwhile by reduceing the SEO value of external links. The emails that he was talking about are the huge number of requests that the spammers send to popular blogs in the hope that someone might take their eye off the ball and let them write something on their blog. The problem is that the blogger then has to wade through these if he doesnt want to miss that genuine gem from an honest hard working writer!

  8. Thanks!
    Danny, thanks to YOU, I was in position to be the go-to gal for a large group of bloggers. I just sent them the link to this and blew them away! Nice feeling. πŸ™‚
    One of them said, “What a cheap Cutt!”

    πŸ™‚

  9. I recently opened up some of my business blogs to accept guest posts.

    So far, with just one exception, I’ve only received the spammy kind of submissions, with inappropriate back links. It takes me so much time to tell people “no” and then try to explain why I won’t run their post, that I’m considering no longer accepting guest posts.

  10. Matt’s article is nonsense. Those of us who accept guest posts on our site and do it to build relationships will vet every post and turn away the spammy ones. They’re so easy to recognize – you can tell even before the author submits them – the quality of the pitch usually indicates what’s coming.

    Guest blogging is a marketing tactic that produces excellent results if done well, and Google has nothing to do with it.

    Thanks for responding on this one, Danny.

    1. You had me laughing aloud with your response, Jessica.

      I’ve received quite a few of those pitches, and can’t imagine anyone failing to recognize the “gimme some SEO backlinks” desperation in the pitches.

      “Dear Mr. Sowrite, we noticed your lovely blog and my company would love to emplace an articles directly related to your topic. Please let me know right away if you’d like us to write high quality guest posts about Legalize Casino Gambling for your website.”

      Yeah, THAT’S my key topic, for sure! Anybody who reads Mr. SoWrite’s blog knows that. πŸ™‚

  11. That’s good news! I feel like SEO blogging should be called something other than guest blogging since it gives the practice too much dignity.

  12. Thank you SO much for the clarification. I guess I’m still new enough and naive enough in the blogosphere not to have experienced spammy guest posts so didn’t know what that meant. So I’m off to finish my current quality gpip (guest post in progress).

  13. The problem isn’t articles like that because they are trying to make a valid point. It’s that the media (and readers) who pick up on the incendiary title and then don’t elaborate or read through. Kudos for Matt Cutts for coming up with a title like that because he knew it would get picked up and cause controversy. Actually, a little jealous of the brilliance πŸ˜‰

    1. You nailed it, Myrna!

      I’m off to go write this post: “Collaborative Writing is Dead! Google Snuffs Author Partnerships”

      Of course, I’ll be talking about collaborative writing of cheesy SEO-stuffed content turds like some of us used to write for $5 apiece. LOL, maybe not…

  14. I didn’t see the article, but I can imagine it created quite a stir. Everything you read these days (by reputable bloggers) clearly promotes guest blogging to build your reputation and business. It seems the food scares (eggs are bad for you, eggs are now believed to be good for you, etc) are trickling down to writing platforms. Sheesh! What some people will do to get a rise out of the public!

  15. Hi Danny, Thank you for putting some perspective on this firestorm created via Matt Cutts yesterday on guest blogging. My question is does he consider contributors or multi author sites in the same way? There are many excellent blogs out there that are multi author contributors.

    1. Hey Lisa, see my comment above – I wouldn’t worry about it at all, as long as the content is good, and it’s presented to an audience that appreciates it. πŸ™‚

  16. Danny my perspective is that Google is trying to make all links no follow. Except perhaps internal links. This way any of those scrappy sites which links to you and make them do follow will get their butt burned.

    That means people will need to focus more on creating awesome content.

    My other thought is may be Google could tweak their algorithms to track external links linking to more than one page.

    Because this is likely the only way Google would be able to determine a site is a guest post site. What’s your thought?

    1. Hey Peter, you raise a good question – how would Google even tell that it’s a guest post in the way that they’re describing?

      What it’s really going to come down to is engagement; if they see crappy articles that are short, look like spun content, and have two keyword-rich links pointing to a particular page, then that looks fishy – but what else is new, right?

      If the content is good, people are engaging with it, sharing it, etc., then that signals to Google that the content is relevant and authoritative – that’s all they’ve ever been looking for, and that isn’t going to change.

      1. I see a new niche being born: helping beginners to start strong.
        Beginners usually have no audience and no engagement. Now they are put even further away in the internet food chain.

  17. Guest blogging = getting yourself on the front page of a blog with your well-written piece.

    It’s kind of doing “PR”, with your own writing.

    How can it ever be dead if it’s pure content from a real person for real people?

    That’s how I see guest blogging. Seeing it as a way to “get that one link back” is too narrow-minded.

  18. Guest posting isn’t dead. Spammy guest posting is dead, as Matt Cutts said. He was just a little too hasty in writing his obituary for guest posting. I actually received the exact spammy invitation he included in his post and instantly hit the delete key. The poorly written guest post requests I receive are quite shocking and I keep getting more of them. So I believe Matt was referring to those spammers and not legitimate guest posts. I’m running a guest post tomorrow, which I think has good content. We’ll see what Google thinks.

  19. Superb response, Danny, thanks a million! Excellent link to Copyblogger’s response helps defuse the attention grabbing headline Matt Cutt uses to get everyone’s attention. I’m convinced he must be one of your students to write such a traffic generating title, right?

  20. I heard this on Moz.com and automatically knew this Google update had to do with spammers. Long as you keep it on the up and up and not abuse the tools given, Google can’t touch you. Thanks for a great post Danny.

  21. Very helpful thoughts, Danny. Thanks for addressing this. I don’t know about anyone else, but as a blogger who likes guest posting I’m breathing a sigh of relief. πŸ™‚

  22. Danny, certainly Matt had set a firestorm!

    I had gotten stuck, but you have made it clear now! Thanks.

    But i still say, there are a lot of fine people who have been doing fair guest blogging and were engaging in guest-blogging to create better audience, and pushing them to make their links’ no-follow, only because of those who have this habit of turning every authentic tactic into trash after abusing it. Is that good?
    I read Matt’s post on his blog about this, and i didn’t like the tone where he gave impression of guest blogging being over-all spammy! :/

    1. Hey Samra, I know what you mean, but don’t take it personally – he doesn’t really see much of the real guest blogging that smart people are doing – just the spammy stuff (we get a ton of those emails, too, and they drive us crazy!).

      Ultimately, Google wants to track relevance, and if a guest post is really good (as measured by social signals, engagement, etc.), on a respectable site, then I think they’re still going to give it all the authority that it deserves – it wouldn’t make sense for them not to.

  23. I heard about this over at CopyBlogger I believe. I highly doubt that Guest Posting is going anywhere. In principle, it’s as old as the Bible where they asked random folks to preach in the synagogues. lol!

  24. “Guest Blogging is Dead.” Yeah, just like when some said email is dead. And I thought only famous actors are the only victims of death rumors. πŸ˜€

  25. Thanks for this update Danny.

    My heart stopped when I checked my email. I do have to agree that guest posting should be to build relationships and communities, but I sure wasn’t complaining about the link juice!

    Like the other updates, I guess we all just need to factor this one in our strategy and pivot. That’s all you really can do I suppose.

    To anyone out there who is effected by this update at all…just keep swimming πŸ™‚

  26. Danny, listening to you makes my life sooo easy! I heard this news from others, and after being in your Audience Business Masterclass and observing your engagement, I knew I could wait to see what you had to say, before taking any action. At the very least, you save me alot of time. And angst.

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