Guest Posting in 2015: What’s It All About?

Since Matt Cutts talked about sticking a fork in it back in 2014, there has been much debate about the purpose and value of guest blogging.

I think it’s still worthwhile, and we value contributions from beyond our team, but the landscape has changed over the past two years.

In this post I’ll look at what guest posting is all about now and the value it has for writers and publishers.

Guest Blogging for Links is Dead

The key point from Matt Cutts’ statement is that guest blogging should not be about obtaining links from sites like Search Engine Watch. Or link-building in general.

Matt Cutts’ statement on guest blogging:

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 link-building strategy.


Despite this pronouncement, it still happens. Guest writers will try to insert links to their sites, and we editors receive approaches from people who are clearly all about the links.

In the past, it has been an easy way to gain links. This resulted in a torrent of crappy guest posts and – I speak from experience here – tons and tons of low quality blogging approaches to editors. As someone who has worked for online publishers, I welcomed Cutts’ statement to an extent, as it did ease the flow of guest blogging approaches for a while. Moreover, it forced publishers to deal with the issue.

Some blogs and publishers were concerned about the penalties they may suffer if Google perceived that they’d provided links in return for free content.

In this context, it was obvious that the link between SEO and guest blogging needed to be broken.

As a publisher, my approach to this is to have a policy of no links to guest authors’ own sites, or to those of their clients.

This has a number of positive effects:

  1. It removes the perception that guest authors are writing on sites like this in return for links.
  2. It tells the guest authors that they can’t just cram loads of links into posts pointing at their own websites as a reward for guest blogging.
  3. No links means that guest bloggers have to write for other reasons than link-building.
  4. Point three deters a lot of lower quality approaches and saves us editors time.

So What’s the Point of Guest Blogging Now?

For the publisher, contributed articles have several benefits:

  • A different perspective. It’s great to have a view from people working in digital marketing, running agencies, e-commerce sites and so on who have a different experience than our writing team.
  • Promotion. Guest writers who have large networks on social media can help to promote your content to new audiences.
  • Search visibility. Google wants content and guests providing the kind of quality posts we’re looking for will help us to improve our search visibility.
  • Quality content. Good guest writers who want to show off their knowledge should provide some quality, and hopefully evergreen, articles which are is valuable for our audience.


I should add that editors and publishers need to be careful about relying on guest bloggers and the types of articles they publish. It’s important to make expected standards clear, as well as general expectations over frequency of posting.

On Search Engine Watch and ClickZ, I intend to have our in-house writing teams producing more, and so the proportion of in-house to guest content will change.

I value guest writers, but it’s important for sites to have their own distinctive editorial voice.

What of the guest author who has sweated over the creation of a masterful blog post?

Well, there are benefits for them too:

  • Branding. Whether it’s your own brand or that of the business you represent, guest blogging offers the opportunity to make yourself known to a wider audience.
  • Build your personal reputation. If you know your stuff and can write well, then writing guest articles provides a platform for your insight. Instead of doing it for links, writing posts that have real value and tell potential customers how much you know is more likely to win clients over. It’s a chance to show how clever you are.
  • Improve your writing skills. Writing for bigger sites means you’ll gain some valuable feedback from editors, as well as the readers.
  • Share ideas and start discussions. Blogging allows you to start a debate with readers, and the audience provided by a bigger site should provide more feedback.

Audiences for established sites like this aren’t stupid. They can see if a post has been written with the aim of nabbing a link. Or if a post has been written just for self-promotion. It can be very obvious and reflects badly on the author and the site.

On the other hand, if you offer knowledge and insight, and provide your audience with tips and guides which help them do their jobs better, then you will see the benefits.

In Summary

While guest posting has changed recently, I think it still retains a lot of value for publishers and guests alike.

The key is the quality of the contributed articles. If content is written for the right reasons, not for links or self-promotion, then it helps the writer find an audience, and helps the host site achieve its goals.

What do you think? Do you still see guest blogging as valuable? Has Matt Cutts’ statement reduced the number of low quality guest posts?

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