No more guest posts. That’s the new rule imposed by Google. Everyone’s talking about it. Some are raging about the future. Others lamenting the past.
Except for one thing. It’s not true.
Google hasn’t killed the guest post. The thought that it could is ludicrous. What Google has condemned and is taking action against are specific patterns in the context of guest posting.
Patterns Patterns Everywhere
I don’t really consider Google to be a search engine, but a pattern engine. Ok, just follow along.
Google isn’t some big Dewey Decimal System in the Cloud where digital librarians walk up and down long aisles made of bits and bytes downloading streams of data off of shelves made of ones and zeros.
Google is a pattern recognition and matching company. It uses technology to find patterns so that an input (a search query) can yield an output (a search result).
Humans see patterns everywhere. We see a face on Mars instead of a collection of mountains and hills. We see spirits reaching out from the grave instead of lens flare in a nighttime photo. It’s no mistake that Google attempts to take a very human approach to solving the problems posed to its servers.
Patterns are why Google presents someone looking for “jets” in New York results about a football team while giving someone in Chicago results about an aircraft manufacturer. Google capitalizes on patterns in behavior, geography and history to match you with the best search result.
What does this mean for guest posting?
For legitimate guest posting, nothing at all. Legitimate guest posting will be entirely unaffected.
However, if Google’s pattern mojo recognizes that one or more sites and guest authors are behaving in a manner that implies improper back linking, keyword stuffing or any other behavior that is not solely about distributing good content then that content may be excluded from search results.
What Does This Mean For Your Blog?
Simple. Don’t fall into the pattern. For you there is only one type of guest post that is bad; one that is not of the quality, style and substance that entices your audience.
If you have a loyal audience then write quality content with purpose and expect the same from any of your guest contributors. Don’t turn away guest contributors that can strengthen your blog and add value.
What Is Quality Content?
Google can’t tell you what will make good quality content for your blog. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Quality content – in whatever form that takes for your blog – is what will grow your readership and keep existing readers loyal. Some of that may be home grown content and some of it may be guest contributions. The grander point is that quality content isn’t what Google says it is. It’s what you say it is. And by extension what your readers demand.
Follow this simple rule: Write good stuff like a grown up.
Writing good stuff – stuff that is clear, relevant, organized and grammatically correct – is the key to maintaining a faithful readership. It is also essential for the distribution of your content either through social shares or some form of syndication. No one wants to share crap.
Writing good stuff will keep you on the right side of Google’s Pattern Fence. The side where your content is included in search requests as opposed to the wrong side of the Pattern Fence which is where bad content goes to die.
Don’t let Google’s new announcements about guest contributions persuade you to write alone. Invite those you trust to help make your blog robust, brilliant and of course quality. My recommendation to all bloggers is to seek out the talent that you want writing for your blog. Chances are you know who can be a good contributor to your site already. If you have a good relationship with a person that can contribute great content to your blog, the worst they can say is, “No.” I’ve asked a lot of people for guest contributions and not one has ever turned me down. And I rarely hear otherwise from other bloggers.
Conversely, you don’t need to open the floodgates and ask for unsolicited and anonymous guest writing. That could be a time waster at best and a recipe for Google Pattern Fence Disaster at worst.
What If You Are Guest Or Freelance Writer?
The rules apply to you too. You have to write good stuff. If you are contributing to a blog, make sure you’re writing to the needs of that blog. Don’t write an article about aerodynamics for a mommy blog. Don’t write a blog about dogs on a marketing site. You share a responsibility with the editor of the blog to which you’re contributing to make sure that your contribution fits elegantly into the mix.
You also need to understand the evolving dynamic of blogging in relation to Google. Obtaining links for proper accreditation is perfectly acceptable. However, if you are contributing to blogs in exchange for links that have no value to the article or the blog then you are putting yourself and that blog at risk. So don’t do it.
But what if you are a writer developing content for commercial purposes or products and create legitimate links to products and services that are for sale? Well, I don’t know. I guess that’s a gray area considering Google did not explicitly comment on that. However, here’s my take.
If you are writing commercial content that is clear, unambiguous and does not seek to obfuscate the purpose of your content – even if the purpose is to link to goods or products, then I imagine that you will not be on the wrong side of the Pattern Fence. After all, Google understands that a significant amount of content on the internet is related to commerce.
To put it plainly, if you sell shoes, don’t write posts about dogs because you want to capture keywords and then route those people unsuspectingly to your shoe product page.
If you do, then there is reasonable cause to say that you are exhibiting a pattern that will find you on the wrong side of the Fence. If that’s the case, then there will be one less of you and for that the entire internet should be grateful.