Effective today, we are discontinuing our guest posting service. The reason for this change of service is that Google's most recent algorithm changes, Panda and Penguin, are largely cracking down on paid backlinks. Since our guest posting service is a huge gray area when it comes to the backlinks in the content that we provide, we are no longer offering the service and our current clients that are currently receiving the service will be phased out this week.
What's the Issue with a Guest Posting Service?
The reason why a guest posting service is a gray area is because sometimes we have to pay a blog or publication to publish the post, and all the time, we are paid to write the post. Essentially, if Google doesn't catch any of this, everything is fine. However, if we (or our client) is caught paying blogs and publications for posts, then we/our client is the one who is penalized. Paying a blog or publication to publish a guest post with links is considered paying for links, even if you aren't paying for the links themselves (some charge because the content is designed to help a business, so from that perspective it's considered an advertorial). From our understanding, the blog/publication charging for posts doesn't necessarily get penalized, unless they do it often enough or allow in too many low-quality content. Of course, we do not want our clients to be penalized, as that's the opposite of what we want to accomplish.
What about Paying Simply to Have the Post Written?
As for paying someone to write you a quality guest post, that's also a borderline practice. Technically, if you didn't pay that person or that guest posting service to write you that guest post, then the backlinks you eventually get from that post wouldn't necessarily exist. Although paying for a quality post isn't against Google's rules, we don't want to put ourselves or our clients in a position where we might have to pay for publication. We also don't want to spend months and months finding a suitable blog or publish our post at no charge. It ties everyone up needlessly.
So, What Options Do We Have?
There is one solid option right now, with a second one in the works. The one solid option is to take on guest blogging on your own. That means you have to take the time to build relationships, to find suitable blogs and publications, to learn their guest posting guidelines, and to write the posts. It's time consuming (something that factored into our decision to discountinue the service), but if you do it all by yourself without paying a cent to any blogs or publications, none of the search engines will penalize you.
The second option, is to find and to develop platforms that will syndicate business blog content (we are developing one such platform right now). With platforms that cater specifically to business blogs, they can find the exposure and earn the backlinks they seek, without worrying about paid links and penalization. These platforms will also discourage businesses from relying on less effective SEO techniques in order to get found, such as keyword stuffing, blog commenting, and article directories.
Overall, guest posting isn't a bad thing, and could actually help your SEO and your referral traffic. But, all that only happens if you do it correctly and you do it as independently as possible. We personally think that charging to have posts written and published should be okay, as this penalty really hurts businesses more than professional and hobby bloggers. However, we don't make the rules for the search engines, and we certainly don't want to offer any services that could jeopardize our clients.