Rant: Guest Blogging is NOT Article Marketing 2.0

SEO Spinning TopGuest blogging is possibly one of my favourite offsite SEO strategies. There’s tons of benefits in doing it and it’s (mainly) good, honest, ethical work. It’s certainly not an easy link building strategy (but then again, these days, link building shouldn’t be), but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

It seems as though the SEO world has ‘woken up’ to guest blogging this past year or so. Obviously there are those who have being doing it for longer or who have always carried it out, but now it’s considered a typical and popular strategy. Unfortunately though, when something gains popularity, there will be those who taint it – they’ll try to be lazy, cheat the system and automate it if they can.

A few industry peers have shared some of their guest blogging nightmares, from the perspective of the blogger accepting content. Mike King of iPullRank has shared an example of some low-quality spun content he was offered, while more recently, Mike Essex of Koozai has shared examples of some of the terrible outreach he has received, claiming that “around 80% of the guest blog requests [he] received went straight in the bin.”

Of course, the authors are not the only ones to blame. While some of those wanting links will try to do it in the easiest way possible, some of those giving the links will take advantage of the opportunity – and attempt to profit from it.

At my previous job, we tried to do a lot of guest blogging, not only on behalf of our clients but on behalf of ourselves as well. I first started guest blogging over a year ago (early-ish 2011). Back then, with one client, I didn’t have a single blog come back to me and say “actually, we only accept posts if you pay us as well.” For a later client, a couple of weeks ago, the 80/20 rule kicked in: in one industry, about 80% of the people I approached asked for payment in addition to the post that they were receiving for free. As I said earlier, I do wonder if the difference between the two times was not because of the types of industries (although it could’ve been a factor), but because people are getting wise to guest blogging, especially recently. After all, why give away something for free (i.e. a link from your blog) if you could make money from it?

A few weeks ago, I resorted to Twitter (as always!) to let off some steam:

Perhaps an overreaction (hah)! Anyway, a friend of mine @replied to me, giving his thoughts:

While I do see his point, and guest bloggers should be grateful for the exposure (even at a cost beyond the time it has taken to write the content and conduct the outreach), my concern is that the overall quality of guest blog posts – and therefore guest blogging as a practice as a whole – could be affected.

I’d argue that if someone is not charging money to receive guest blogs then quality will be an extremely important factor. They’ll only want good quality content and dismiss poor content and poor outreach (similar to the two Mikes I mentioned above). However, if someone says “pay me £100 and I’ll publish it,” is quality really going to be that big a concern to them? After all, for people who are that way inclined, if they had to choose an excellent post for free or a mediocre post that also earns them a tidy £100, which one would they choose?

Spam Gift SetAnd this is the problem. Guest blogging will become tainted and ultimately lose its shine and its value. Similar to infographics, which are a current concern due to the abuse they’ve been receiving in an attempt to get links. In an ideal guest blogging utopia, guest blogging is about offering good content for free, which is hosted and published for free. Everyone wins – the blog owner gets good content for free and for his/her troubles, the link builder gets a link. But when a spammer approaches a blog that accepts payment and may or may not give a crap about the quality of the content it receives, then we have a problem.

Unfortunately, guest blogging is becoming Article Marketing 2.0. Lazier, spammier SEOs think they can just send someone a spun article, give them a few quid and happy days. Instead of an article directory or a ‘fake’ blog network, the content is going on a more ‘legit’ blog (even if it’s not really more legit, but just looks that way), so the spammer gets the added benefit of looking less spammy, too.

I know it’s not something anyone can do about it, and that unfortunately this stuff happens. It’s the way it is. When something gets abused, it devalues the process for everyone, even for those who were playing nice and doing things properly.

But sometimes it’s good just to let off some steam, even if it’s just a few hundred words in a blog post.

Rant over.

[Image credits: “SEO” spinning top: Todd Hall (note: it actually says “SEQ,” but that “Q” looks so much like an “O,” don’t you think?); spam gift set: Seoulful Adventures]

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