Matt Cutts made his strongest statement yet on guest blogging, declaring it dead as a linkbuilding tactic.

This does seem to be a broad statement and, as Editor of a blog which accepts (and values) guest posts, Google's policing of the internet can be irritating. 

Still, there's no doubt that guest blogging has been hammered as a link building tactic, to the extent that we've become tired of guest blogging approaches. 

So how will this affect sites looking to accept guest posts?

According to Cutts: 

So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.

Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging as a linkbuilding strategy.

So what does this mean for sites accepting guest blogs? 

We have accepted guest blogs for many years, and in part this has helped us to put out more quality content even with a relatively small writing team. 

We don't offer links as a thank you for free content, though we do place a link to authors' websites and social profiles in their blog 'signature'. This isn't about links, but instead to provide a way for interested readers to find out more about the author. 

In the light of this latest announcement, we may have to review this policy. 

According to Rishi Lakhani

I would go for no follow (on guest blog links). Ideally, I would advise sites NOT to accept a high volume of guest posts at all, especially low quality content. If the post doesn't add any real value, it's most likely seen as spam. 

Richard Baxter from SEOGadget advises that sites should be more selective in their choice of guest bloggers: 

One piece of advice we give our clients is that they should be very diligent as to who they are accepting content from. Ask yourself: is the author genuine, do they have a strong social following, and are they perceived as experts in the field they’re offering to write about?

The example guest blogging approach Matt Cutts points to is something obviously spammy, such that I can't see any respectable site accepting, and the kind of email we would just ignore. 

Still, as we have now expanded our writing team I expect we'll be a little more cautious over what we accept in future, and I do think it's better for us to create more of our own content. 

That said, given that we have used guest blogging in the 'right' way, I do feel aggrieved that it seems to have been devalued over the past couple of years. 

Perhaps we should call it someting else? Here's some suggestions from @SEOSherlock

How will Google deal with 'quality' guest blogging? 

Cutts did later add some clarification, pointing out that this was not aimed at 'multi-author blogs' and that he doesn't want to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater'. 

So how will Google tell the difference between quality and spam in guest blogging? Rishi Lakhani believes all large scale guest blogging is now risky: 

Quality guest blogging would be judged on the merit of the site that the post is on and the relevancy of the content to the recipient link. However I think the spam team will judge the volume of guest blogging - if it's fairly high as a link building tactic, it's most likely to be seen as spam. 

But is Google able to tell the difference between good and bad guest blogging? Richard Baxter has his doubts: 

Of course, there is such a thing as quality guest blogging, but I don’t think Google is terribly good at detecting 'good', 'passable' or 'bad' guest posts. Not without incurring a lot of false positives in its results. My general rule is, if people need to debate the quality of a link that’s a sign it’s not great, and it may mean it’s very difficult to detect with machine learning.

As we saw from early Panda and Penguin, there was a great deal of collateral damage (sites penalised that shouldn’t have been and vice versa) and I suspect deeply that a rollout to programmatically detect this type of activity would be exceedingly difficult and harmful to very legitimate websites.

Is guest blogging still valuable? 

I would say yes, though clearly not as a linkbuilding tactic. However, guest blogging shouldn't just be about gaining links. In our case, we insist on a longer term commitment from guests, and we don't accept one-off posts. 

Kevin Gibbons has written 99 guest posts for this blog. Here's his view:

I remember we had this conversation last year. My opinion is still unchanged - my answer was back then was that I have written 99 guest posts for Econsultancy over the years, if I had done this solely for SEO I would have stopped at 1!   I don't directly work for Econsultancy, and never had, but that doesn't mean that my content on the site should be penalised over full-time employees - and I don't think this is what Google intends to do. A lot of highly respected journalists are freelance, that doesn't mean their content should be valued any less because of the desk they sit at.   The problem is these tactics get over-used and start to stand out as SEO footprints, so you do need to consider what this looks like to Google and be selective over publishing only the best content possible for your audience. The obvious signs are clearly things such as links to commercial landing pages, but also poor engagement on posts, and single posts by one author - or even worse to Google, anonymous authors. 

For us, guest blogging allows us to publish useful content from a perspective our writing team can't always provide - from the point of view of a PPC manager working for a big brand for example. 

In return, the guest blogger receives exposure in front of a readership of digital marketing and ecommerce professionals, and a chance to showcase their knowledge and skills. For me, there's more value in that than a link or two. 

As Cutts says, the lesson here is for publishers to be sceptical about any guest blog approaches, and that single-tactic SEO isn't where it's at. Oh. and these guys will need to find another tactic: 

Graham Charlton

Published 21 January, 2014 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (34)

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Phil Adams, Head of Planning at Signal

It seems to me this just places even further emphasis on the quality of the site linking to you.

If you write a guest post for the Guardian, will that link be discounted? Probably not.

But if your strategy is based on gaining hundreds of guest post links from poor quality sites, it's highly unlikely you'll gain any value given the recent announcement.

over 4 years ago

Paul North

Paul North, Head of Content and Strategy at Mediarun

As usual, this raises more questions than it answers not helped by the fact that for SEOs, Google is essentially 2 entities now: the algorithm and the Web Spam Team. Both have different capabilities and can see things the other can't.

The advice appears to be: "Build high quality links to your site. Just don't *look like* you're trying to build high quality links to your site."

over 4 years ago



Matt’s announcement regarding the end of guest posting was for marketing agencies that bribe bloggers with money and low quality content to publish articles for their customers.

In a comment he agrees this practices were widely used and Google wants to put a stop to it and also warn bloggers about practices like this investigation confirms:

“Amused to read that Paul GRobberts/Estcott/Scott/Vichi/ is such an expert and covers so many diverse topics like guest post, seo, banks, insurance, pest control and hmm.. dildos I continue my research:”

So this is about this serial guest posting companies and not about genuine bloggers which share quality content becoming an authority in their niche.


over 4 years ago


Jon Rhodes

We just have to be really careful which blogs we write for and which authors we accept on our blogs. If in any doubt whatsoever, it's probably best to use nofollow links.

over 4 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

"That said, given that we have used guest blogging in the 'right' way, I do feel aggrieved that it seems to have been devalued over the past couple of years."

I completely agree. Like any other link building tactic, the spammers take advantage of it and ruin it for the rest of us. I think guest blogging is still great as a brand building, authority establishing, and traffic driving tactic, even if you aren't getting too many links from it. You are getting exposure to a new audience every time your content appears on another site. The key has always been finding the right site.

over 4 years ago



This honestly makes little sense! Does a print magazine accept only articles from staff writers or do they assign to outside people as needed? The answer is that almost without exception, print publications accept articles and assign content as needed from outside resources, as well as their in-house staff.

A blog should be no different, if you are truly trying to give your readers the best experience. A blog with a single voice, viewpoint or opinion gets old and stale quickly. By offering content (quality content) from multiple writers, you bring a vibrancy to the table that will engage your readers over the long haul.

There is a difference between actually posting a great and relevant article from a fellow blogger, and selling a guest blogging spot to the highest bidder, whether it enriches the rest of your content or not.

To say that 'guest blogging is dead' is a short-sighted stance. We will continue to accept GOOD content on our network, as we have always done, and let our readers continue to help us grow through their continued support and sharing of our content.

The bottom line is about reader engagement - and whether it is accomplished via guest blogging or internally produced content should not matter. Only the reader's experience is important.

over 4 years ago


Linwood BIngham

It seems that there needs to be a shift in what the REAL value of guest blogging is perceived to be. If you're using it purely as a way to gain a giant link count, then Google has just screwed you. If you use guest blog posts as a way to establish a sense of authority on subjects related to that blog with an audience that may not be familiar with you, then it should still serve to generate traffic for you regardless of whether or not Google gives any weight to those links in terms of your search rankings.

over 4 years ago


Steve Pohlit

I have several high content sites where I publish content for business owners and real estate investors. Each one is set up the same. In the settings I check the box where comments require admin approval. If a comment is not relevant it is not approved.

Alternatively if I leave a guest comment like I am doing now it is relevant to the topic.

This approach works for me and hopefully is not a problem for Google or anyone else.

Thank you for the insight on this issue.

over 4 years ago


Donna Duncan

Matt Cutts very specifically said "if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop" ( He didn't say "stop guest blogging altogether". Two different things.

Lizzie Borden murdered her parents with an axe. That doesn't mean axes should be outlawed for chopping wood. (Sorry, but it gets my point across.)

As you and others have pointed out, there are and remain very good to guest blog. If you continue to provide value to your intended audience without trying to draw too much attention to yourself, you'll be fine.

over 4 years ago


Adam Lee

A lot of Google's comments recently seem to be more focused on PR scaremongering to stop people doing what they don't want you to because they still haven't figured out how to stop it algorithmically!

The concept of penalising ALL guestblogs is ridiculous. The PR industry offers press releases and content out to other sites for the purpose of PR, not for links or SEO but for promotional value. Google will effectively penalise an entire industry that has done nothing wrong because can't figure out how to penalise the shit content that is put onto pointless websites.

In reality this will come down to quality. Like the guys above have said if the site is good and the guestblog is valuable and doesn't have spammy/optimised links within the copy then I doubt it will be penalised.
You won't get penalised if the guardian or BBC runs a piece about your business, well I would hope you wouldn't anyway!

over 4 years ago


Robert Wright

It sounds like what happened with PRWeb Releases a few years back, that is, link optimized press releases had an effect that was beyond the gains that Google was comfortable with, so, She implemented a diminishing return. As a policy, it works well for Google.

over 4 years ago


Richard Hussey

I tend to agree with Adam. I can't believe that Google really wants to stop legitimate guest blogging. I can only hope that the headline was intended to scare off those focused on link building while leaving the more thoughtful marketers and SEOs to read on to the real message in the article body.

And if Google really can't tell the difference between a host site with authority and a link farm, or good quality content from link bait then what has all the hype of the last 18 months been about?

over 4 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Just to follow-up from my comments in the article; rather than just applying a blanket rule that "guest blogging = bad", I'd expect Google to look at the signals around what quality content looks like.

Great content will always be great content - in whatever form it is published. That's been my view on infographics, even advertorials/native advertising if done and labelled properly, and the same applies to guest blogging.

But what Google are taking into account much more is human engagement factors such as social signals, quality comments, author authority and page-level link metrics. If you write a guest post, it has to stand out as great content and be rewarded based on merit - otherwise it's likely to be very easy for Google to spot as an SEO tactic, and let's face it if there's no engagement behind it, why should it be rewarded?!

over 4 years ago


Matt Stannard

I find a lot of this quite interesting and indeed that Matt Cutts had four videos on his blog which essentially say the same thing - produce natural sharable good quality content.

Thinking differently about this, perhaps Google are saying actually, this way of producing links won't work for SEO anymore. Obviously linkfarms, spammy sites etc. will probably continue to be penalised,, however updates like Hummingbird, Topic focused search (see their patent yesterday) and co-citation could actually make trying to rank for "keywords" this way less valuable.

Topic focused search is interesting as things which don't contain keywords i.e. Hubble ranking for Astronomy searches mean that even if had built lots of back links for astronomy I may no longer rank as well for that keyword.

over 4 years ago

Malcolm Slade

Malcolm Slade, SEO Project Manager at Epiphany Search

Kevin (Gibbons) and I were discussing this during Brighton SEO last year.

It all comes down to being a contributor rather than a stop by one link dropper.

The fact that Kevin has written 40+ posts for Econsultancy makes him a valued contributor to the site. He has an author profile, his posts get commented on, shared and he comments and interacts with other peoples posts.

The term Guest Blogger has now become more of a name for "content that was provided by X along with £Y (or any other currency) as long as I include a link to Z).

Add value to a site over a period of time. Have a human face. Contribute to the success of that site.

Which reminds me I should write another post as at present I only have one under my belt.....

over 4 years ago


Dave Cable

Only having been in the industry for a few years, I have always taken the viewpoint that common sense is the best approach to anything within SEO. As long as relevancy is provided with your content and the point of creating the article was to showcase your knowledge/expertise then you are doing things "the right way". A link should be seen as a bonus.

With the increase in influence of citations however, surely working in collaboration with blogs, building long term relationships and providing value for readers will always be something google will value.

This may be a very simplistic view and possibly not correct but I rarely try to over-complicate matters which makes it easier for me to explain to clients. Just need to pull my finger out and start making time to write more!

over 4 years ago


Louis Rix

I agree with Richard Baxter's comments that Google will probably find it difficult to tell apart a good, fair or poor guest post in general. However, i do believe Google can / will devise a system for devaluing links from websites that have been built or turned into guest posting monstrosities! I can tell them a mile off so surely Google can.

Guest posting for SEO has had it's day but contributing real quality content for quality sites (such as this one) isn't. If you get a link great if you don't you shouldn't really care as you have contributed something for the good of the web in a sector you care about.

An important factor must be the relevance of the content sitting on a particular site and the qualities that site possesses. Sites with no active audience and that are purely there for guest post purposes should be canned. Contributing to a community you care passionately about is not a bad thing and going after quality business partnerships over crappy links on a PR1, DA16 site hosted in Mozambique will always turn out to be the winning formula.

Don't forget the wider marketing mix too! Guest posting alone won't get any business to the top of the SERPS and if it did they won't stay there for long! Business mentions within Google's search has to be a ranking factor so think outside the box - how can i get more people talking about my business?

There's no get rich quick gimmicks anymore.

over 4 years ago


Mr Cooper

I'm confused? Is this an indirect way of Google and Matt Cutts pushing Google Authorship and Author Rank?

over 4 years ago


Paul Rice

I can't help but instantly look back at your rant last year about requests for link removal along with all the ethical content writers and link baiters that jumped onto it suggesting that there was a purist path and those that weren't on it were an annoyance.

This new shift from Google is exactly my point about 'Everyone' being at their mercy. Things change rapidly and what was good last year isn't necessarily good this year. You may now have to assess your impact on friendly guest bloggers and your own outbound link profile. Seeing a cliff drop in analytics is a gut wrenching experience (I'm not suggesting this update will produce this for Econsultancy).

If you make any kind of income from Google be it direct or indirect then there's no place for righteousness as you're in the same boat and changes just affect different segments at different times. The fact is that you need the content that is provided by Guests and without it, your landscape would be a very different place.

Typically there's an annual shift from Google end of Feb to March so let's all buckle up (together).

over 4 years ago


Aimee Joseph

Great Summary and our thoughts exactly!

'We don't offer links as a thank you for free content, though we do place a link to authors' websites and social profiles in their blog 'signature'. This isn't about links, but instead to provide a way for interested readers to find out more about the author.'

This is how we approach guest blogs also.

We've just published a blog on this topic and have similar sentiments about it!

Will Google's Next Algorithm Penalise Guest Blogs?

over 4 years ago

Neale Gilhooley

Neale Gilhooley, MD at Evolution Design Ltd

How dare Bloggers attempt to monetise their audience relationship. Only Search Engines can do that.

over 4 years ago

Chris Norton

Chris Norton, Managing Director at Prohibition

Guest blogging can be good if its great content but I agree the whole essence has been ruined by too many spammy "I will write content for your site in exchange for a link" type posts.

However, if you still believe someone is an expert and can genuinely help your blog I think it will still work. I think this type of policing is going to be difficult. I imagine Google will look for sites that have done millions of guest posts just to get a link back.

over 4 years ago

Simon Dunant

Simon Dunant, Owner at NewRise Digital

Malcom Slade has the best comment here. Guest blogging has been invaded by the ill thinking link prospectors that are completely blind to the damage they're doing to their online reputations with "one stop link dropping".

Guest blogging should definitely be about solid long term writing partnerships between parties that want to work together on a long term mutual basis. Think of it as a committed mastermind with long term win-win benefits. I think this is exactly what Matt Cutts is encouraging here so the sentiment is right. Whether their algorithm will align to this sentiment awaits to be seen.

There's nothing wrong with including guest content but if you're not curating that content or it's author for quality and reputation then blog owners should perhaps reconsider their goals if they're happy to pump out sub par content no one really wants to read.

over 4 years ago



Definitely too broad. Authorship certainly helped encourage the practice of guest posting, so why should we be penalized? To me, this is just opening the door to more spammy solicitations of journalists and under the table deals.

over 4 years ago



I really liked the comment about common sense. This should always be the target, and I guess Google is also aming at that in a way.
But this battle betweem spam&quality content just seems never-ending - you come up with good solutions and BAM - someone's spoiling it

over 4 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

Crikey. imagine that anyone would want to build hypertext links between documents on related topics, between websites. How very CERN 1989.

I mean imagine an easy way of logically linking between authority papers on related subjects that was useful to the reader ;)


over 4 years ago


Joe Halsall

Well what are we meant to do now then! is there anything we can do anymore Mr Cutts?????

over 4 years ago


Dave Harris, Job Title at SMD

@Joe Why, spend more money on AdWords, of course!

over 4 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Totally agree Graham. The value is in sharing knowledge, insight and information with an audience, and getting the brand exposure, as well as engagement through the number of shares and comments and how well the content resonates. This should be what drives guest blogging. It wont die, but just like with everything in seo, content and digital, it means stepping up and doing things right for the user.....and ultimately Google.

over 4 years ago



I think there should be proper procedure for guest post, which might includes the analysis of content for guest post for duplicate content, copy writing condition, writers detail, content type. if we keep a proper check on guest post we can able to filter the spam content or auto post functionality.

over 4 years ago


Benj Arriola

Well if Matt Cutt's says it, we do it, and we did it on video. We stuck forks in it everywhere!

over 4 years ago



I think this whole discussion, while interesting, is actually focusing on completely the wrong thing. If guest posting is still being used on a site purely for SEO purposes, then it's being mistreated.

The questions being asked for any content that goes on your site should be; does this add real value to the visitors to my site, will it generate profitable and quality traffic and will it improve my brand?

Cr*ppy content, regardless of what it's called, should be a thing of the past... Not a strategy that we get upset about when it stops working.

over 4 years ago


Kim Seo Jeong, SEO Expert at Nitrous Marketing, LLC

Regardless Guest posting will always be beneficial to businesses just in terms of cross promotion and building brand authority.

over 3 years ago


Ananya Nair, Assistant Professor at SVES Enginnering College

Guest posting is always valuable for blogging. Nice information its really helpful for bloggers.

3 months ago

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