does google penalize guest posts?
Right up at the google results is (tenses can sure be confusing online – this post won’t be on top forever):
And there are a bunch of similar articles listed on the same page.
So what’s going on?
All these guest posts “offers” we’ve gotten from folks who assure us an article on anything except writing is exactly what we need are really an attempt to scam google by collecting inbound links from other sites (ours if we fall for it). In theory, the more of those, the higher the site will rank on a particular search term or two.
Except, those links are considered by google as “unnatural.” They’ve built an algorithm that helps them spot unnatural links and if “enough” are found, will penalize the site where they are found. An example might be a link here to something about pitbulls. (And yes, as writers we find ourselves writing about anything and everything. We’re talking about guest posts here.) Frankly none of us needs even one of those unnatural links.
When I write a guest post for another writer it’s natural, and it can be natural when I write for a blog on a totally different topic as long as I’m really addressing that blog’s audience. Google’s goal is to make it possible for us to find what we’re looking for without the junk.
Does this really mean no more guest posts?
No, it doesn’t.
It does mean we need to be more careful about the guest posts we accept for our writing blogs. It also means we need to handle them differently than we have in the past.
Stop labeling them guest posts – we really don’t need to do this. When Lori writes for me it’s just like she’s writing for any publication. The label guest post is superfluous.
Be super strict about not allowing non-writing related links. That definition is broader than you might think at first, but if someone wants to write about writing and link to, oh, I don’t know, their site about selling boxing equipment, you probably ought to refuse at least that link if not the post.
Include author bio’s with every post that isn’t yours. A three or four line author bio explaining who they are and why they are qualified to write for you with a link to their writing site or their writing blog is a must. If they are going to write more than one post for you, create a page for them as well, with links to all their articles on your blog.
Make sure any outbound links are also natural. Every outbound link in their post must be natural. If you’re dealing with someone you know, this probably won’t be a problem, but double check all the links anyway. It’s a good habit.
Be sure the content is unique. Do I even need to say this to writers? I know how time pressed we can become and how tempting a guest post is when the wheels are coming off your life. Just be careful. Another way to say this is it’s your blog so it’s your content. It’s your responsibility, period.
Does this change your thinking or your policy on guest posts? I’m rewriting mine. Does this mean it’s okay to just delete those bogus requests? I think so, don’t you? What’s your take?
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