Guest blogging is one of the latest buzzwords in content marketing. Nearly everyone understands what it is (it's essentially writing blog posts for another blog, as a guest), but not everyone understands how to do it, whether Google likes it, why to do it etc. Fortunately, Matt Cutts of Google answers one of these questions in a video published several weeks ago, but he left out a few crucial aspects about guest blogging that ought to be addressed.
What if You Pay to Have a Guest Post Published?
In the video, Cutts says that Google is fine with guest posting for links, as long as the content quality and the link quality are really good. If the practice is taken to extremes by publishing awful guest posts all the time, sort of treating it like a new way to submit tons of articles to tons of places, then that will work against you. However, Cutts does not address paying to have your guest post published, which is something that we have come across with our own guest posting services.
This is important to address because Google doesn't like back links that are paid for, and will count those against you. However, if you pay to have someone write you a quality guest post (with a few back links included) and/or you pay to have it published, do those count as paid links? Technically, they would be paid links, even though you didn't pay money for the links specifically, although without the payment those links won't exist. If so, then all that work is for nothing. If it doesn't, then all those blogs that are charging may be driving away otherwise great content by scaring away those who don't want to, or can't, pay the fee.
We've encountered prices as low as $25 and as high as $150 for a guest post that includes links (this $150 charge was even for a link that was meant to cite a statistic, not be a backlink for a client). That's pricey for most bloggers and businesses that want to engage in business blogging, and that price only goes up if businesses want to hire someone to write these quality guest posts. We'd very much like to offer a guest posting service, but we also don't want to offer a service that won't help our clients in the long run. We also hate the idea of charging $300+ for one guest post, since there aren't many in our target market that can afford that.
What about Guest Blogging Guidelines?
It's so easy for everyone to talk about guest blogging, but it's incredibly tough to implement. One of the reasons for guest blogging is so tough is that each blog has its own set of guidelines i.e. formatting, word count, number of links, where/how to submit the post, post approval how often they publish. It's taken us as long as one month just to get a single post published, since it could take the contact a while to review the post, to follow up with our emails/submissions, and to schedule the post for publication (if the blog approves the post).
If Cutts had addressed some optimum guest posting guidelines, or maybe provided suggestions to what makes a great blog post, since Google has done something similar with normal blogging, it would make a world of difference. Those accepting guest posts as well as writing them would have some sort of standard to abide by, and working through all these different guidelines may make things a bit easier. Yes, Google doesn't want anyone writing blog posts or guest posts for the sake of Google, but Google is also big and powerful enough to set a few standards. The search engine just did that with normal blogging, saying that it is favoring quality content that's of value to potential customers over those that simply meet quotas and Google's algorithms.
Guest Blogging is Great, but at What Cost?
We, like a lot of other bloggers and marketing companies, are all for guest blogging, but it's harder to do than most people think. It may be worth it if you're a blogger, and you have the time and the writing ability to write guest posts on your own and work with various guidelines and schedules and topics. However, not everyone or every business has the time for that. Not everyone has time to find another blog for a post that's been previously rejected. Not everyone has time to even find blogs that are active, yet interested in what we want to write about.
There's a gap here that needs to be bridged, one between folks who want to engage in guest blogging but don't have the time and/or ability to produce great content and folks who run great blogs that may need this content but don't consider guest posts or want to charge $100 for it just because it has a few links. If people are going to be encourage to do guest posting, then we ought to make it as painless a process as possible.