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Google’s head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, sent the SEO world into a panic this week. On his official blog he wrote, “If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.” This wasn’t wholly unexpected news. During 2013 Google consistently warned the business world of overdoing spammy content and link-building techniques, drafting in new Google software to promote creativity. Their attempts appear to have failed. Many posts now completely ignore Google’s expectations for online content, which has brought about the end of traditional link building.

The announcement left many in shock, but since the post went live the news has been welcomed as an opportunity for great new content to be uploaded onto the Internet. This means businesses will have to alter their approach to content creation, as guest blogging enters a new, spam-free era. Here’s what to expect and how to adapt.

Spam Problems

Guest blogging, once a source of global “reaching out” and online interaction, has become a burden for many sites. Many are simply inundated with dubious requests, which turn out to be spam heavy or spun from a content creation site. Worst of all, these sites can become listed within the SEO community as places which accept guests posts, leading to a surge of requests, many of which will merely be an exercise in backlinks and keywords.

Matt Cutts has described this as the “decay and fall” of guest posting, stating, “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.” It’s a clear indication Google are seeking change, and the response for businesses keen on the practice is to adhere to Google’s expectations. Here’s how you can go about this.

Embracing Creativity

Writers, SEOs, and others have been musing over Cutt’s dramatic statement. Many small businesses rely on guest posting as a means of link building, but this way of thinking should be dropped. On what could well become a legendary blog post, Cutts went on to write, “In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.” This statement indicates the future of online article writing — it’s about building a name for yourself. This is straightforward enough to begin, with social media formats such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook there to broaden your online connections. 

The chances are you could already be adhering to Google and publishing fantastic content on good quality sites, which is a perfect way of promoting your work to the Internet community. If you’re using guest posting as a link-building exercise, though, pay heed to Matt Cutts and put an end to the practice. Notable techniques which are a major source of notoriety are as follows, and should be dropped from an SEO campaign:

  • Keyword-heavy posts
  • Spun articles from content creation sites
  • Backlink-heavy bylines
  • Repetitive and unimaginative content
  • Writing on poor-quality sites
  • Poor-quality writing (spelling mistakes, bad grammar, poor structure)
  • To a lesser extent, using copyrighted images without permission

Simply put, embracing the creative process, rather than thinking purely of potential sales, is the way forward. For further advice on adhering to Google’s quality expectations, visit their Quality Guidelines video. From here you can develop your marketing scheme towards creative practices. Of major importance is acquiring a skilled writer, as through this you can build online relationships with article writing and social media endeavours. Developing an online reputation through creative output is the new goal, away from spam, and it must be embraced.

Verifying Your Content

Whilst Facebook and Twitter remain the most popular social media formats, G+ is where businesses should also focus their attention. I’ve written before about the importance of signing up to Google Authorship and Google+, but it is now absolutely imperative to be on them in order to vindicate your hard work. Fill out your Google+ profile in full and link to your articles to display your work’s quality. With Google Authorship signed, your Gravatar image will appear next to your posts.

It’s important to state the need for quality content. From now on, think of the articles you create as proper writing and/or journalism, not a link-building practice for extra traffic. You are representing your company online, and if you plague sites with dubious content, this will backfire. Following the initial dismay to Matt Cutt’s blog, the news has been welcomed as it opens the door for the genuinely creative sites, and writers, to benefit from their hard work. Writing articles should be a engaging and beneficial process for all concerned, so focus on your area of expertise for unique content. You can start by working on your company blog, for instance, and then branching out onto highly rated sites with unique, great quality content. Contact people within your niche, comment on Communities in Google+, and generally enjoy the online experience.  It’s all down to hard work, connecting with new people, and promoting your unique skills, but it’s all for the greater good.

About Alex Morris

Alex Morris is a Copywriter and Social Media Manager for the award winning Soap Media. He has also worked as an SEO Executive and Digital Marketer for a leading small business in the UK, and has been a business writer and blogger since completing a Masters Journalism degree in 2007. He spends his spare time developing a satirical blog whilst working on a debut novel.

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