In a recent Hangout session, Google Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recommended putting nofollow links on all guest posts in a website.
Asked about the validity of links coming from guest posts, Mueller responded by saying “I would almost go as far as to say ‘well, even those kinds of guest posts where you do contribute significantly to a site, maybe it makes sense to just have those links nofollowed and have it such that you profit from the people who actually go to your site because they think you wrote something fantastic and they’re interested in hearing more from you.’”
He further described towing the line between legitimate guest posting activities and spammy guest blogging where people can reach out to dozens of websites volunteering to write and sometimes offering money for the opportunity to do so.
Mueller further talked about guest posting campaigns scaled up to the hundreds or thousands where a big picture pattern emerges. In cases like these, he said that it’s really just you planting links to yourself without legitimate references and endorsements coming from other webmasters.
Mueller described these situations as “tricky” and that he would not recommend webmasters to go about things this way. This is not the first time Google representatives have hinted at the potential dangers of guest posting for links. Several years ago, Matt Cutts famously wrote that “guest posting is done” since the practice has been corrupted so much for the sake of manipulating rankings.
This makes perfect sense as Google’s PageRank algorithm was created with links acting as “votes” in mind to reflect a website’s popularity and authority. The more authoritative a website is, the greater Google’s inclination is to rank it. Guest posting, when done at scale and in a low-quality fashion, perverts the essence of link-based authority because it takes away from the spirit of editorial referrals.
Naturally, this will not sit well with many SEOs out there as guest posting has become the cornerstone of many link building campaigns for about a decade now. The scalability, predictability and reliability of the method makes it more commercially viable as a service. This, in turn, makes it the preferred link building technique among many in the search marketing community.
Time will tell whether Google will take a more hardline stance against guest posting than it currently does. The best advice is probably to still do some guest posting but also to start looking into other ways to earn quality links.