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Is guest blogging still valuable in 2014?

I recently read Matt Cutts article on the decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO whilst searching for the effectiveness of the practice. It seems that there’s still potential for guest blogging, but it’s been exploited by many trying to achieve some SEO quick wins (namely getting as many backlinks to a website as possible).

The good – High quality, worthwhile and relevant articles

The general vibe from the SEO community seems to be that there is still potential for guest blogging, despite Google coming down hard on some of the ‘looser’ practices (and rightly so!). It really comes down to the quality of the article, and the quality of the website that you’re publishing on.

Articles written by thought-leaders and industry experts, which delve deep into the topics being discussed is a good first step to ensuring a good quality article. The article should be of high-enough quality to ensure it’s engaging and detailed enough to make people want to read the whole article (and add comments!). But it’s also about the relationship of the author with the guest blog site’s readership.

The article also needs to be relevant to the publisher’s site. A shorter, topical article will go much further than a long, irrelevant one. The quality of the site comes into play here too, with the “take anything” attitude sites falling foul of Google’s expectations. Why would you want to be associated with those sites?

The bad – Paid for links, spammy articles and keyword saturation

Paying for links, keyword saturated anchor text and non-influential articles are just three examples of poor guest blogging. As Matt Cutts demonstrates, there has definitely been a significant increase in the quantity of bad quality *spammy* guest blogs.

Ultimately, if you’re guest blogging in an attempt to get lots of keyword rich links back to your site, then you should probably consider stopping. Matt suggests in the article comments that adding ‘Nofollow’ is a good tactic, meaning the links won’t effect (negatively or otherwise) PageRank. That in itself doesn’t make the article useless – not by any means.

The ugly – Blog spinning and replicated content

And then things get really bad. Blog spinning (the practice of submitting a slightly varied article to 100′s of blogging directories at the same time) is, quite obviously, going to attract Google’s attention. As will submitting the same guest article to multiple sites. No longer are the blogs unique and of a high value!

So, is guest blogging still valuable in 2014?

From everything I’ve read – Yes. But not so much for increasing PageRank (though backlinks, at least). It seems that due to the increase of spammy articles emerging since 2012 Google has took a tough stance and has devalued those backlinks. That’s not to say that guest blogging isn’t a good practice, simply that it shouldn’t be seen as a ‘quick win’ to get links back to the site and ultimately increase PageRank.

What I (and Matt Cutts) is trying to say is that “Guest blogging is OK – for exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc - but Guest blogging for SEO is not”.