What Matt Cutts Really Said About Guest Blogging

Cliff near Portinatx

A couple of days ago the blogosphere blew up because Matt Cutts wrote a blog post that supposedly said that guest blogging was dead.

Cutts is the head of Google’s Webspam team and is very influential on search engine optimization which is why people pay very close attention to what he says.

I was surprised by how many people seemed to take his post literally because to me it seemed clear that he is saying Google is continuing to refine their approach to how they evaluate the relevance/quality and importance of the content that is posted online.

If Google’s goal as a search engine is to provide the most relevant and  valuable content to search inquiries than they have to continue to look for ways to minimize/eliminate spam.

One of the ways to do that is to try to force websites to focus on not publishing spam or to risk being devalued and or ignored by Google.

Link Building

For years there has been a link building game in which writers pitch publishers to accept a guest post on their blog/website. The idea is that writers need exposure and publishers need content so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“I’ll accept a link and exposure to your audience in exchange for your publishing my high quality article.” As the recipient of multiple pitches I can tell you those last three words always set me off because I never understood why reception of a high quality article wasn’t a given.

More than a few of these pitches provided you with weak content and links to sites that your boss, friends and family might find to be of a questionable nature.

It was only a matter of time before Google figured out more ways to tweak their algorithm so that search engine optimization efforts required a more sophisticated approach than just trying to accumulate as many links as possible.

I Told You So

Anyhoo I never believed Cutts comments about guest blogging should be taken literally. What he was saying was that we should focus on providing good content and to be aware of who and where we were linking to.

One person made a snide response to my comment that good content would always be rewarded.

“if you don’t buy it you’re one of the majority who fail to use critical thinking here.”

Cutts added a section to his blog post that is worth reading (See bel0w) that proves that I might not have failed critical thinking. I didn’t email it to the person who made the snarky remark to me, but I wanted to. 😉

Added: It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. 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. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.

I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.

Good content is always of value.

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  1. Ashvini February 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Josh,

    How are you doing ?

    I saw the post at Matt’s blog and I agree with you on this. I have been receiving a lot of posts from people whose use fake name to contact me and ask me for allowing guest post at my site.
    At the end of email , they add “I will require a link”. That link usually leads to a commercial website. I once had a long conversation with a person who asked me why I did not allow these kind of links I have had guest blogged and asked people to do a guest blog but that is only out of respect for their knowledge.
    The spammy method robs people of their good work by gaming the search engine. I hope things look better from here.
    Good day

    • Joshua February 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Hi Ashvini,

      We are in complete agreement. Those links they ask to leave on these posts are often questionable so I am careful about who I let post and what sort of links I let in.

      Hope you are feeling better.

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